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Background: We are veteran cruisers and travelers. This was our 27th cruise, our 7th cruise on Oceania and our first cruise that included ports in Brazil, including a week on the Amazon river. It was our longest cruise to date (22 days). Our primary reasons for cruising on Oceania are their unique itineraries and destinations. Our cruise was re-booked in its entirety right at final payment time to take advantage of the O-Life benefits (excursions, beverage package, internet, shipboard credit). I have some minor mobility issues but these are usually not a concern on the ship or in most of the ports we visited. Pre-Cruise package: We arranged for our own air using miles and flew into Rio De Janeiro on United airlines, arriving November 15. We booked the pre-cruise hotel package through Oceania, which was very expensive, but probably worth the cost in this city. The hotel was the JW Marriott on Copacabana Beach, a very nice hotel with good service and views of the beach. We had two excellent half-day tours with a great guide (Licia) and enjoyed the area and restaurants around Copacabana beach. The transfers were also professionally done. Embarkation and ship: We embarked on Insignia on November 19. The embarkation process was quick and efficient. Insignia is one of the "R" ships in the Oceania fleet and is the oldest. The ship definitely showed its age in various areas, included outdated carpeting and furnishings, barely readable elevator buttons, old signs for ship areas by and on the elevators, etc. The art is uninteresting for the most part. Although we have been on the sister ships Nautica and Regatta and also noticed some outdated and worn infrastructure, it was the most prominent on this ship. Other passengers also noted and commented on the infrastructure. Cabin: Our cabin was an A3 concierge veranda cabin. It was cozy but fairly comfortable, with a small balcony. The bathroom is tiny, but manageable. There is plenty of storage space in the closets and drawers and under the bed. The bed was very comfortable, one of the top features of an Oceania cruise (great pillows, too). Activities: Our primary activity that we participated in on-board was Trivia, which was done at least once a day. This was competitive and fun. Most of our ship time was relaxing and we had a lot of outdoor time because of the climate. Service: The service on Insignia was very good, but was not as superb as previous Oceania cruises. Our requests for water/juice/coffee or other drinks occasionally had to be done more than once in the various dining venues. Service in the Grand Dining Room was exceptionally slow and we only ate in this venue twice. The counter service in the Terrace Cafe was excellent, as was the service in Polo Grill and Toscana (the two specialty restaurants). Our cabin attendant did an acceptable, not outstanding job, on cabin maintenance (trash wasn't always removed, water bottles were not replaced). We did have excellent service from the Oceania Club Ambassador (we like Oceania enough to always consider future cruises and did book a future cruise on-board). We also had laundry done three times and they did prompt and excellent service. Dining: Oceania Cruise Lines is known for the quality of their food. The food on-board Insignia was high-quality for the most part, but the "wow" factor was just not there. With the exception of a few specialty dishes featuring Amazonian fish, the menus were quite repetitive. The beef products (steak, hamburgers, etc.) were not very good at all, with tough and flavorless meats and strange textures. Seasoning was done blandly, even with stir fry dishes and sauces were also not very exciting. The pasta dishes were among the best bets and the pizza (lunchtime in the Terrace) was very good. Everyone was anxious to have BBQ, Mexican food or some other comfort or spicy foods by the end of the trip. Entertainment: Oceania is not known for its entertainment and this cruise was no exception. We went to a few shows that were ok, with the passenger/crew talent show being the most fun. The Insignia Show Band was outstanding, an excellent jazz group full of superb musicians. On the other hand, the pianist/vocalist in Martini's ruined this favorite venue for us. He was singularly untalented, playing piano in a bizarre and mistake-filled style; his singing was worse, a half-talking grunting "sing song" that was very off-putting. Martini's business was down substantially because of this guy and we avoided it during the golden happy hour. We did not use the small casino and it seemed very empty on most sea days. The boutiques are nice but small, and we did find a few bargains after we left Brazilian waters (a 25% tax on on-board purchases is in place while you are in Brazil). We did not use the Canyon Ranch spa services. Internet: The internet on Insignia is the worst we have had in the last 10-15 cruises; it was never better than the slowest dial-up modem speed and often required re-logging in multiple times to stay on-line. I had the free internet, but my spouse bought the unlimited internet to do some work and was very frustrated by the experience. When we arrived in Miami, one of the INMARSAT satellite dishes was being dismantled and replaced, a condition they had to know about during the cruise. My spouse has written to Oceania asking for at least a partial refund for the internet (not likely to happen, I'm sure). The Oceania@Sea representative was useless and rude. Ports and shore excursions: We had five free excursions each, which helped the overall cost of the excursions. The excursions were good to very good. Probably the best tour overall was in Recife, Brazil (an all day expedition to a variety of places) and we also enjoyed the tours in Manaus, Santarem (piranha fishing!), Parintins (the amazing Boi Bumba show) and Barbados. The Amazon river was fascinating and we had two stops in small villages that were quite interesting, besides our stops in Manaus, Santarem and Parintins. We did not leave the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico and our final port, Punta Cana (DR) was canceled due to rough tender conditions. The primary purpose for the cruise, seeing the Amazon river and its tributaries, was the top highlight. Other ship services worth noting: I came down with acute bronchitis due to the heat, humidity and agricultural smoke on the river in the Amazon (having suffered from chronic asthma). The ship's doctor and nurse were superb - very caring and the nebulizer treatments they recommended helped me get back to normal very quickly. The tender crews are phenomenal and are very cautious helping those who are disabled (also true in my case). Disembarkation: We chose to disembark on our own with our bags due to an early flight in Miami. After some delays clearing the ship, the actual process was extremely quick and we were on our way to the airport in minutes. Summary: Our Amazing Amazon cruise was very memorable because of the unique places we saw on the river and the great weather we enjoyed on almost the entire cruise (lots of outdoor time), plus we crossed the equator three times. It was not the best Oceania experience, but we are still loyal to the cruise line and are working a future booking from the open booking we did on board. We like the size of the "R" ships and hope they can do some upgrades in the future on Insignia to make it more up-to-date.

Amazing Amazon cruise was very good, but not the best Oceania experience

Insignia Cruise Review by rubysue

20 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2016
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom
Background: We are veteran cruisers and travelers. This was our 27th cruise, our 7th cruise on Oceania and our first cruise that included ports in Brazil, including a week on the Amazon river. It was our longest cruise to date (22 days). Our primary reasons for cruising on Oceania are their unique itineraries and destinations. Our cruise was re-booked in its entirety right at final payment time to take advantage of the O-Life benefits (excursions, beverage package, internet, shipboard credit). I have some minor mobility issues but these are usually not a concern on the ship or in most of the ports we visited.

Pre-Cruise package: We arranged for our own air using miles and flew into Rio De Janeiro on United airlines, arriving November 15. We booked the pre-cruise hotel package through Oceania, which was very expensive, but probably worth the cost in this city. The hotel was the JW Marriott on Copacabana Beach, a very nice hotel with good service and views of the beach. We had two excellent half-day tours with a great guide (Licia) and enjoyed the area and restaurants around Copacabana beach. The transfers were also professionally done.

Embarkation and ship: We embarked on Insignia on November 19. The embarkation process was quick and efficient. Insignia is one of the "R" ships in the Oceania fleet and is the oldest. The ship definitely showed its age in various areas, included outdated carpeting and furnishings, barely readable elevator buttons, old signs for ship areas by and on the elevators, etc. The art is uninteresting for the most part. Although we have been on the sister ships Nautica and Regatta and also noticed some outdated and worn infrastructure, it was the most prominent on this ship. Other passengers also noted and commented on the infrastructure.

Cabin: Our cabin was an A3 concierge veranda cabin. It was cozy but fairly comfortable, with a small balcony. The bathroom is tiny, but manageable. There is plenty of storage space in the closets and drawers and under the bed. The bed was very comfortable, one of the top features of an Oceania cruise (great pillows, too).

Activities: Our primary activity that we participated in on-board was Trivia, which was done at least once a day. This was competitive and fun. Most of our ship time was relaxing and we had a lot of outdoor time because of the climate.

Service: The service on Insignia was very good, but was not as superb as previous Oceania cruises. Our requests for water/juice/coffee or other drinks occasionally had to be done more than once in the various dining venues. Service in the Grand Dining Room was exceptionally slow and we only ate in this venue twice. The counter service in the Terrace Cafe was excellent, as was the service in Polo Grill and Toscana (the two specialty restaurants). Our cabin attendant did an acceptable, not outstanding job, on cabin maintenance (trash wasn't always removed, water bottles were not replaced). We did have excellent service from the Oceania Club Ambassador (we like Oceania enough to always consider future cruises and did book a future cruise on-board). We also had laundry done three times and they did prompt and excellent service.

Dining: Oceania Cruise Lines is known for the quality of their food. The food on-board Insignia was high-quality for the most part, but the "wow" factor was just not there. With the exception of a few specialty dishes featuring Amazonian fish, the menus were quite repetitive. The beef products (steak, hamburgers, etc.) were not very good at all, with tough and flavorless meats and strange textures. Seasoning was done blandly, even with stir fry dishes and sauces were also not very exciting. The pasta dishes were among the best bets and the pizza (lunchtime in the Terrace) was very good. Everyone was anxious to have BBQ, Mexican food or some other comfort or spicy foods by the end of the trip.

Entertainment: Oceania is not known for its entertainment and this cruise was no exception. We went to a few shows that were ok, with the passenger/crew talent show being the most fun. The Insignia Show Band was outstanding, an excellent jazz group full of superb musicians. On the other hand, the pianist/vocalist in Martini's ruined this favorite venue for us. He was singularly untalented, playing piano in a bizarre and mistake-filled style; his singing was worse, a half-talking grunting "sing song" that was very off-putting. Martini's business was down substantially because of this guy and we avoided it during the golden happy hour. We did not use the small casino and it seemed very empty on most sea days. The boutiques are nice but small, and we did find a few bargains after we left Brazilian waters (a 25% tax on on-board purchases is in place while you are in Brazil). We did not use the Canyon Ranch spa services.

Internet: The internet on Insignia is the worst we have had in the last 10-15 cruises; it was never better than the slowest dial-up modem speed and often required re-logging in multiple times to stay on-line. I had the free internet, but my spouse bought the unlimited internet to do some work and was very frustrated by the experience. When we arrived in Miami, one of the INMARSAT satellite dishes was being dismantled and replaced, a condition they had to know about during the cruise. My spouse has written to Oceania asking for at least a partial refund for the internet (not likely to happen, I'm sure). The Oceania@Sea representative was useless and rude.

Ports and shore excursions: We had five free excursions each, which helped the overall cost of the excursions. The excursions were good to very good. Probably the best tour overall was in Recife, Brazil (an all day expedition to a variety of places) and we also enjoyed the tours in Manaus, Santarem (piranha fishing!), Parintins (the amazing Boi Bumba show) and Barbados. The Amazon river was fascinating and we had two stops in small villages that were quite interesting, besides our stops in Manaus, Santarem and Parintins. We did not leave the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico and our final port, Punta Cana (DR) was canceled due to rough tender conditions. The primary purpose for the cruise, seeing the Amazon river and its tributaries, was the top highlight.

Other ship services worth noting: I came down with acute bronchitis due to the heat, humidity and agricultural smoke on the river in the Amazon (having suffered from chronic asthma). The ship's doctor and nurse were superb - very caring and the nebulizer treatments they recommended helped me get back to normal very quickly. The tender crews are phenomenal and are very cautious helping those who are disabled (also true in my case).

Disembarkation: We chose to disembark on our own with our bags due to an early flight in Miami. After some delays clearing the ship, the actual process was extremely quick and we were on our way to the airport in minutes.

Summary: Our Amazing Amazon cruise was very memorable because of the unique places we saw on the river and the great weather we enjoyed on almost the entire cruise (lots of outdoor time), plus we crossed the equator three times. It was not the best Oceania experience, but we are still loyal to the cruise line and are working a future booking from the open booking we did on board. We like the size of the "R" ships and hope they can do some upgrades in the future on Insignia to make it more up-to-date.
rubysue’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom
Cabin A1 7020
Great location, forward on the port side and not far from the forward elevators. Very quiet. Small but comfortable room. Couch does not hold two people. Bed was very comfortable and the small bathroom was usually kept clean and serviceable. Lots of storage areas. Small balcony, but nice to sit out on and watch the ocean and river.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews