This was our third Oceania cruise and overall we enjoyed it very much. We chose it because we wanted to experience a trans-oceanic crossing.
The Cruise Director, Peter Roberts, and his team were excellent and the shows amazing given the smallish cast. It was also good to see the cast members participating in other activities – even just meeting and greeting in the Marina Lounge. It made up for an initial lack of visibility of the senior officers, though that did improve. I don’t understand why the officers are not simply instructed to move about the ship using the public areas.
The staff were as always friendly, helpful and efficient, though the standard of spoken English of some of them was less than expected. At times the staff numbers assigned to the Terrace Café seemed not to match demand; though this must have been a challenging cruise in this respect as it was by no means full and the interest shown by passengers to go, and stay, ashore varied considerably by port.
The ship, including our cabin, was very clean. Following a problem on the previous cruise the ship was almost paranoid about cleanliness with hand sanitisers everywhere and frequent reminders from the Cruise Director. We welcomed this though, amazingly, some passengers still took no heed. On previous Oceania cruises we thought that they took a rather relaxed approach to this compared, for example, with Celebrity where staff squeeze into your hand as you enter the self service restaurant!
We liked our cabin very much, particularly the large bathroom with both bath and separate shower; but the wardrobe can be difficult to access. Inevitably, with an ocean crossing, there was a large build up of salt on the balcony and balcony furniture and we were surprised that this was not regularly washed down. It made it very unpleasant to sit on the chairs.
The talks by the two speakers, each with a very different style, were interesting and relevant.
We didn’t use the ship’s tours which as ever seemed ridiculously expensive, but took advantage of three excellent private tours – many thanks to those who made the arrangements.
Now, the food. Oceania has a very inflated view of its culinary expertise, comparing the speciality restaurants to 5 star onshore restaurants. Sometimes they reach this standard (notably in Red Ginger, often in Jacques) but frequently they don’t, and we found the food in the Main Dining Room particularly unimpressive. I do not understand why this should be. The line claims to spend much more on food per passenger than others and this seems to be born out by the menus, and the quality of the ingredients is clearly very high. The only explanations I can think of are that they are losing concentration on achieving first class food on every plate served and have been simply resting on their laurels. Also, it must be incredibly boring producing the same dishes night after night, cruise after cruise. Given the number of repeat cruisers its time Oceania refreshed the menus in the speciality restaurants; and why aren’t there more dishes of the day?
Three particular irritations of mine were the dreadful “mass produced style” bread at breakfast in the Terrace Café. The kitchens are capable of preparing wonderful breads, and indeed the croissants are excellent, so why not for breakfast too. Although one could ask specially for English bacon it arrived looking and tasting very unappetising. I don’t know how it was cooked but it certainly wasn’t grilled (broiled). Finally, why can’t they cook decent soft boiled eggs? The ones at the counter which were said to be soft boiled were hard. The ones they cooked to order were almost raw after allegedly having been boiled for five minutes. Some training is needed here.
Finally, in the Terrace Café each evening they offered a cook to order service for steak, lobster, salmon and lamb chops. They could introduce more variety, and I wish they would do away with the stomach turning, dried up examples which are left on display.
Enough of my moans. Oceania offers very civilised cruises which are a cut above some other popular lines, attracting an interesting mix of clients in a relaxed but never sloppy style.