Marina Cruise Review by elway296
- Sail Date: September 2016
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
- Cabin Type: Verandah Stateroom
Embarkation was smooth though delayed two hours. Disembarkation in Amsterdam was announced to be ahead of schedule and included about 1 hour total of waiting in lines to leave the ship and then to get taxis. Those using the more costly transport services provided by the Oceania were able to proceed much more quickly.
We were upgraded to a B2 stateroom 7065 in the center of the ship. At no time did we experience seasickness though I am prone. This room is connecting. While locked, through the door we could hear toilet flushing and cans of soda being opened! The bathroom is spacious and the room well appointed. The bed is very comfortable with high quality sheets. The veranda is lovely and was enjoyable as we entered and left Oslo, for sunrises and sunsets etc. I made special requests for drinks in the fridge and they were able to find almost all of them.
The With OLife promotion we selected 4 excursions, $400 OBC and internet. Having internet access on the ship was nice to check email, send photos, read the paper. To those who complain about connection speed, I would suggest looking up Louis CK's appearance on Conan O Brien under "Everything's amazing".
We chose excursions in Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen and Gydnia. Of these, only Gydnia we could not have done on our own. It is an industrial port and would require some transport to either Gdansk or elsewhere to be worthwhile. Other ports including the three we did with Oceania excursions are possible to do on your own. We chose Guide Guru for St Petersburg and were very pleased with the excellent price for a small group tour, the pleasant tour guide, wifi on the van, comprehensiveness of visit and flexibility of small group (6).
Food on the Marina was excellent in all venues. Service is sometimes slow in the Grand Dining Room and specialty restaurants, whether you eat degustation style with multiple courses or not. We notice that service begins to slow as the assistant waiter tends to take over for dessert service. In the GDR, Red Ginger and Toscano, waits for dessert and coffee were quite long. Terrace buffet has excellent food as well with lobster, steaks and sushi always available. During the cruise, there was a Russian night and a German night at Terrace which is nice considering that cruising does tend to limit opportunities to sample local cuisine. Terrace and Waves offer options to eat outdoors to enjoy views especially when sailing out of Stockholm, into Oslo through the fjords, etc.
Each of the speciality restaurants has extras that make the experience more 'special' but the chopstick choices, hot towels, tea choices in Red Ginger seemed overly fussy.
Having lived in Paris and having studied cooking, we found Jacques to be exceptionally good with French classics with excellent execution and service. Lobster thermidor, gratin dauphinois, terrine foie gras, all excellent. Some items were mistranslated though. Brandade de merlu is incorrectly translated as chilean sea bass. (The chilean sea bass in Red Ginger is excellent.)
Afternoon tea is enjoyable. The finger foods do not vary much, but are done well. Tea service goes from 4 until 5pm where Horizons quickly transforms to Happy Hour. One leisurely afternoon, we stayed conversing with new friends from tea to happy hour. Unfortunately, no one cleared our table of tea service, even after our happy hour drinks arrived. The staff seem to be perfunctory to their duties with cocktail staff were unwilling to clear tea service from our table. We asked the server twice and then floor manager Vikram who seemed to be more interested in chatting and flirting with other servers than clearing the table, but were ignored.
Entertainment is not a strength on Marina with shows every night in the Lounge at 9.30 or 9.45. Every other night, there is a production show. Other nights, there was live music, either vocalist, a musical duo or on one evening the ships classical pianist. This show was particularly disappointing as it turned out to be an interpretive jazz and contemporary concert with commentary. There is however a lending DVD selection and an excellent library. Live classical music in the lounges is quite nice.
I attended one enrichment lecture on amber. The speaker was not the most vibrant, but the presentation was informative. No spotlight was ever put on the speaker, leaving me unsure of what he looked like!
The fitness room is well equipped. I was able to get a machine every time I wanted. The fitness room fridge is stocked with cold water, Gatorade and Vitamin Water. The steam room and sauna are available to all guests at no charge. On the at sea day, these rooms were crowded, but otherwise, I was the only one each time I visited. These however close at 9pm at the same time as the spa, although I would have wished them to be open a little later.
Though not perfect and perfect should never be the expectation, service is very good to excellent. Our steward Anna was lovely and although I say perfect is not to be expected, I found her service to be so.
The crowd on this cruise was mostly older retired couples, but this is not to say exclusively so. There were a few families, a few 'younger' couples and a few group of friends. Everyone who enjoys cruising and good food in a relaxed atmosphere would be comfortable here I think.
The value of Oceania is in the inclusiveness of most dining and beverages.
I must admit, the Oceania forums on CruiseCritic being at times a bit snarky, that I was wary about meeting people on the ship, afraid there would sniping or putting down of others. I am happy to report that the cruisers I met do not seem to be those that are active on the forums and everyone we met on the cruise were quite nice, normal and down to earth.
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