Venice to Rome - great cruise!: Regatta Cruise Review by nparmelee

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Venice to Rome - great cruise!

Sail Date: May 2009
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Venice
This was a 12 night cruise with port stops every day and our second Oceania cruise, we have also cruised on Princess to Alaska and Celebrity in the Caribbean.  Our previous Oceania cruise had been Rome to Istanbul on the Nautica and the three sister ships are very much the same with just subtle differences in decor.  We felt at home immediately.  We were in the younger crowd on the ship, I'm 44 and DH is 58.  The cruise was very port intensive so we did not attend too many of the entertainment venues after dinner, or if we did attend, we often left early.  We spent 4 nights pre-cruise in Tuscany before spending another pre-cruise night in Venice and then 4 nights post-cruise in Rome.  The ports on this cruise were Venice (overnight), Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Taormina, Sorrento, Amalfi, Livorno, Monte Carlo, La Spezia, Portofino and ending in Civitavecchia.

Embarkation was easy, we did need to fill out a health questionaire, the swine flu scare had More just started, we saw sanitizing solution dispensers in evidence every where around the ship, from dock to eating venues and in various other places as well.  We shared a water taxi to the ship with another couple staying at our hotel, this worked out nicely for us and involved a lot less lugging of luggage than taking the vaporettos to the port, the water taxi fee from San Marco area to San Basillio was 80-85 euros.  There were port representatives right where the water taxis stopped and near the vaporetto stop to help take luggage right away so we really did not have to lug anything around except our carry-ons that afternoon.  We went straight to our cabin after boarding to drop off our carry-ons and met our cabin steward, who was just fantastic at anticipating any requests.  After settling in a little bit we then went and explored the ship.  We were docked at the San Basilio dock which made going back into Venice pretty easy with vaporetto passes.

Cabin 7116, aft A2 level cabin on deck 7, was our home for our next 12 nights and it was almost identical to the same cabin on the Nautica.  They have gone to flat screen TVs in the rooms and wireless on the ship and even in our cabin was consistent with speeds in the computer room.  The cabin amenities were very similar to our last cruise and we had plenty of room to store all of our stuff and luggage.  We slept well during the cruise and did not hear very much, if any, noise from the hallway or surrounding cabins.  The aft cabins do have a bit more vibration and noise from the engines and thrusters, on this trip we really only noticed it when we were docking or leaving a port.  We also had a deeper veranda than normal though in those aft cabins and that is why we choose them, we spend a lot of time out there.

Food - we found the food to be very good throughout all the dining venues.  We ate in Toscana twice and the Polo Grill once, the Grand Dining Room for a few dinners and the buffet for all our breakfasts and a few dinners.  All but one of our lunches were eaten in the ports, the one day we ate lunch on the ship we ate at Waves which was also very good.  The wine list was fairly broad in price range and we always found something we liked from it.  There was also a sale in the first day or two where we were able to buy some bottles on sale and without tip or corkage fees to be served in the dining venues.  We also had tea a couple of times in Horizons and enjoyed that as well, nice mix of sandwiches and cakes.  They do use tea bags for the tea, but I can only imagine the mess there would have been trying to do loose leaf for people who are not familiar with it.

Service - we had fantastic service everywhere on the ship.  There were two mornings in the buffet when everybody must have gone there and at the same time, those mornings there was some confusion and a few mix ups, but that was very minor for us.

Laundry - we used the self serve laundry room a few times on the ship and did not have any issues, we happened to get in there when it was not crowded but we saw crowds in there quite often.  One of the washing machines did seem to be a bit fussy, but if you watched over it until it really got going then it was fine.  O has gone to the stacked washer/dryers which made for more space in the laundry room, there are only 2 ironing boards though and there were often lines trying to get to those.

Entertainment - this is one of Oceania's weaker points, but not an important factor for us especially on such a port intensive cruise.  We enjoyed the juggler, Tivor Szabo, his act was not perfect, but definitely fun.  The other musical events were not our style of music so we often left those early.  The quartet was usually enjoyable, they had a few off moments, but overall they were nice to listen to, as was the pianist in the Martinis bar.  The enrichment speaker, Sam Hunt, was very knowledgeable and very interesting to listen to.  His talks were all very on topic with the ports we visited.

Shore excursions - we did all the ports on our own and one port with a private guide so cannot comment on the quality of the ship excursions.  The people we talked to that did utilize them seemed to enjoy them.

Disembarkation was also easy for us.  We had arranged for a private transfer with 2 other couples into Rome.  We were all of the ship in the 8:20-8:30am time frame and all found our luggage very easily.  Our driver from Romecabs was waiting for us and entertained us all the way into Rome.

Internet access - we were able to use wireless from in our cabin and up in the buffet and from various other locations.  Our big beef with Oceania here is that they charge quite a bit per minute and the access is so painfully slow that its practically unusable for anything but very basic email.  Since we usually have to work a little bit on vacation, this was very annoying to us.  The computer room computer connections were no faster than the wireless connection.  This is an issue for every ship we have cruised on and something we wish would improve at some point in the future, either speed it up or reduce the charges for now.

Overall - the itinerary was what drew us to this cruise, the ports were all very good even though it was a very busy cruise.  The port representatives that came on board usually had good information and maps for us to take with us.  We had a really good time on ths cruise and enjoyed meeting up with our Cruise Critic buddies on and off theoughout the trip.  We had 5 tender ports on this cruise and managed to make it to all of them, that was a bonus to us even though we did have backup plans in case we had to dock at another port instead of the tenders.  Our last tender port, Portofino did have some small swells and some people were obvioulsy bothered by them but we're sickos and rather enjoyed the action that day.  We had good weather throughout the trip, a few bits of rain and thunder storms our first few days and drips and drizzles every so often, but overall very nice.  This itinerary was great for anyone who wants to concentrate on some of the different areas of Italy as 2/3 of the ports were in Italy. Less

Published 05/20/09

Cabin review: A27116 Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

The aft cabins on the O ships have deeper verandas, this is a plus to us.  You do get a bit more vibration and noise from the thrusters when docking or leaving dock.  Less foot traffic going by in th aft area of the ship.

Read All Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom (A2) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

This is one port that if we had to do it over again would do it differently.  We hired a car with another couple and drove to the Achillion Palace first.  We felt this site was over-priced at 7 euros per person entry, you only see part of one floor and part of the gardens.  We then drove out to Paleokitrista and looked at the harbor and went to the monastery there.  By the time we got back tot he port area and found some lunch, we did not have enough time to go to the old town area.  Knowing what we do now, we would not have bothered with Achillion at all, probably would have gone out to Paleokitrista, but probably with a taxi instead of renting a car and then would have had the taxi drop us off in the old town area.  This was overall our least favorite day but we did have some nice gyros for lunch and was still enjoyable.

Read 507 Corfu Reviews

We walked the wall in Dubrovnik and then wandered in the old town area.  After enjoying ourselves, we went outside of the wall and found the fort and wandered there as well.  The Orhan Restaurant is at the base of the fort and had a very nice menu with a great view.  We were able to use euros in this port even though the official currency is the Croatian Kuna.  Taxi ride from the dock to the wall was 10 euros each way, we shared a cab into town.  One couple we spoke with said that one of the ice cream places would not take euros so they just went to another one.  Just ask before buying something if they will take euros or if they need kuna instead.

Our next port was Kotor, Montenegro.  There a group of us hiked up to the fortress for a fabulous view.  After we returned to the old town we had a nice lunch and some beers.  Prices here were very reasonable, but many shops do close up at 1:00 for a couple of hours.  Shopping here was less touristy and more every day but there were still some souvenir shops.

The Florence port is really Livorno.  We were there on Mother's Day and there was a train strike.  Not all trains were stopped but we decided that since busses were running and pretty often, we would train to Pisa, bus to Lucca and then bus back to Pisa and train back to Livorno again.  Lucca was very cute, but being a Sunday and Mama's Day, most of the shops were closed.  We walked their wall and just enjoyed ourselves.  Found a fabulous little place where we had probably the best lunch of our vacation and then headed back to Livorno.  We heard at least one Florence to Pisa train get cancelled and saw to Pisa to Livorno trains cancelled but were able to get on a Pisa to Roma Termini train that was stopping in Livorno.  Since we were back earlier than expected to the ship, this was a good day for us to take advantage of the empty laundry room and get a load or two done.

This cruise had a full, long day in Sorrento followed by a shorter day in Amalfi.  I'll combine both of those into one port.  We tendered in to Sorrento and then walked to the Circumvesuviana train station and headed to the Pompeii Scavi stop to explore Pompeii at our own pace.  We were there our last trip, but it was a drizzly and damp day then so we wanted to explore more of Pompeii at our own pace.  We also mae reservations to go into one of the locked houses, these are under restoration and they only allow 15 people per day in them.  Once we go through the frustration of getting to the locked house and getting in to it, we had a very nice half hour there all by ourselves.  We explored the rest of Pompeii for another 2-3 hours before taking the train to Naples.

Once in Naples we found our way to Da Michele for pizza.  We did have to wait about 15 mintues or so to get in at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  The pizza was very good and very cheap, 4 euros, but not necessarily the best pizza we had in Italy.  After our quick lunch (the only place we ever felt rushed to eat as they always have people waiting to get it), we went to the archaeological museum for a few hours.  This was a very nice museum and we are glad we found the time to get there.  From there we walked down to the Naples port and took th hydrofoil back to Sorrento where we wandered and shopped in town and had a nice dinner before tendering back to the ship at around 9:30 at night (last tender at 10:30).

The next morning we anchored in Amalfi and tendered in.  We joined up with 2 other couples from Cruise Critic for a private tour with DriveAmalfi here.  We went down to Positano for an hour or so, then back to Ravello and then back to Amalfi town.  We enjoyed all three towns but noticed that as we were leaving Positano around noon, it was starting to feel quite crowded.  Prices seemed better in Ravello and Amalfi to us.

Naxos, Sicily was where we tendered to for Taormina.  We shared a cab ride up to Taormina from there for 5 euros per person.  The town was very cute, shop early, the stores close at 1:00ish for a few hours here.  We shopped our way to the amphitheater and wandered around there.  After we were done we took a cab up to the Castello Moro.  Very cute, not a lot to see there, but nice views and we had a great lunch there.  We walked back down to the town from here and found some canolli that were really good.  After some more wandering and exploring a taxi back to the ship tender area was another 5 euros per person.  This was a relaxing and enjoyable day.

We happened to be there over May-Day weekend so the Saturday was incredibly packed with people in the San Marco area.  The Friday and Sunday that weekend were not as packed.  Venice is wonderful to wander around in and get lost and just explore.  We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo our pre-cruise night here, it was a great little place with a fantastic breakfast.  There let us store our bags with them for most of the Saturday before the water taxi picked us up to take us to the ship.  They also arranged for the water taxi for us.  Very helpful staff and we would stay there again in a heartbeat if we go back to Venice.

We pre-booked the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace for the Saturday morning, but nothing else.  We enjoyed the tour and enjoyed looking at the rest of the palace after the tour ended.  If time is limited, I would probably skip this specific tour, especially during high season crowds.  The lines were very long on the Saturday at everything near Piazza San Marco.  We avoided St. Mark's that day and went to the other areas like the Frari Church instead.  The best way to see St. Mark's if you are catholic and in Venice on a Sunday is to go to the 10:30 mass.  The organ and choir added a special touch and all the mosaics could be seen and were lit.  It was a very special experience. 

One tip for Venice, many shops sell the same things, however, if you find something and you had not seen it in other shops and really like it, buy it then!  You may never be able to find that store again.

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