This was our first Oceania cruise- and we're glad we did! I have been hearing about how great Oceania was from friends for several years, but we have become quite partial to our familiar Celebrity. We've also cruised with Seabourne, and actually preferred Oceania in that it seemed a little less pretentious, and the specialty restaurants were wonderful.
We chose this cruise because of the amazing deal- we ended up with internet, cabin credit, free gratuities, and a drink package, as well as free shore excursions for a very reasonable price. On Celebrity, we always upgrade our beverage package to the premium one, but were really glad that we did not on this cruise. Generally, we mainly drink wine with our dinner, and don't drink a lot that isn't around meal times. The basic beverage package covers all wines and beer with meals- with no price limit by the glass. This differs from Celebrity in that the better wines are only available on the premium package. Probably different if you wanted to drink several cocktails in the evenings.
We flew into Rio de Janeiro, and elected to come three days early to go to the Iguazu Falls- so glad we did! It was very easy to arrange to just tag a one hour flight to Fos do Iguacu onto our incoming flight and carry on. We easily booked a hotel- the Viale towers- that was more than reasonable for the price and right in the middle of town, so that we had a choice of restaurants. Tip- go onto Trip Advisor- there were a few very good restaurants to choose from. Try The Mafia- lovely little Italian place- make a reservation- they will come and pick you up from the hotel. Also eat at Zaragoza- great old style elegant Spanish restaurant with wonderful paella. We found that the desk staff at the Viale were very helpful. The breakfast came with the room and it was very good, with lots of selection of hot and cold food, as well as a very good cup of coffee.
From the Viale, we took the staff's recommendation and caught the local bus to the Brazilian side of the falls- for about 1.50$. The bus stopped right at the entrance, and we only walked about one block. It was very easy to spend 2-3 hours walking around the paths at the falls and we walked over to the bird sanctuary after- about 2-3 blocks away. A lovely day! The next day, the staff arranged a taxi to take us to the Argentinian side of the falls- for about 45.00$ he helped us through the border crossing and waited for us for four hours while we were at the falls. It was nice to see them from both sides- you do get closer to the falls from the Argentinian side, but you are above them, so it gave a great perspective of their size to have seen them from below the day before.
We flew back to Rio easily, and checked onto the ship by 11 am. We just took a taxi from the airport to the ship for about 30 dollars. We were able to sit in the buffet restaurant, until our room was ready at about one. We had been offered and accepted an upgrade to a Penthouse suite so really enjoyed the extra space. The bed, as per reputation, was extremely comfortable. There was more than enough storage space, with a walk in closet, as well as many drawers in the room. We had a butler for the first time, Akshay- who was lovely, but underutilized as we didn't quite know what we were supposed to be asking him to do! He shone our shoes, ironed a few things, and helped us get reservations practically nightly for the specialty restaurants. The ship was not full, or I assume that would not have been possible. Despite our understanding that there was only one reservation at each of the restaurants per cruise, the reservation desk in the main lobby was very reasonable to work with to find reservations on a daily basis. Try all of the restaurants- Red Ginger was definitely our favourite- the duck confit and watermelon salad was so good! Because we had a penthouse suite we were also able to order off the specialty restaurant menus for room service and we did have a few of those salads along the way. The staff were amazing in the entire ship and called us by name, and remembered our favourite wines for dinner.
We had breakfast daily in the Terrace restaurant- lovely to sit outside with a huge selection of foods, juices and coffee drinks. Even dinner was very good in the Terrace when you wanted a break from the two hour multi course dining experience. The Grand Dining room was great for dinner. All in all, the only trouble was figuring out how to ration out the places to eat so that you didn't feel overfull all of the time. We finally tried the 4 pm tea in Horizons on a rainy day in Buenos Aires, and it was lovely, with a four piece string band playing classical music. The only problem with the tea was that it was hard not to overindulge and ruin your dinner!
The ship itself has many lovely quiet areas to hang out in- the library is exceptional, and adjoins the coffee shop- so you can sit and read in deep comfortable leather chairs while sipping cappuccino and munching on bakery treats. We had access to the area at the front of the spa for lounge chairs and hot tubs- also a great spot.
We went daily to the trivia sessions- Peter, our cruise director was so funny- and he seemed to deal pretty well with the die hard, very serious, fight to the death teams that were really taking themselves way too seriously.
We went to several of the entertainment shows- a British band called 5 O'Clock Somewhere were absolutely fantastic. The ships own crew were pretty good. The house band was also quite good. We enjoyed the educational lectures about the local area that were put on in the afternoons. There were no cooking classes due to some funny Brazilian laws. However, I must admit that we go on holidays to relax and love to spend a lot of time just chilling and reading our books, so I'm not really a good judge of quality of the shows- We loved the air of relaxation that the boat promoted.
All in all, I'm very happy that we tried Oceania, and look forward to sailing with them again.
We loved our Penthouse suite! The location was good- at first I worried that it seemed a little far back, but after getting onto the ship, realized that this is a small distance compared to the big Celebrity ships we are used to. In the end, it was nice to be able to walk up one flight of stairs to the Terrace Restaurant.
Our room was nice and big- with a walk in closet, a lovely sitting area with a large balcony, and lots of storage in the room and closet. It was great to have lots of hangers and space for our clothes. The linens were luxurious, and our room attendant brought my husband a non down pillow when he was getting stuffed up with allergies. The bed was big and comfortable, though had a centre ridge from being two twins put together. Our bathroom was lovely- my husband is 5'11" and had no issue with the rain shower head that very tall people complain of. It was nice to have a full tub, and the Bvlgari toiletries were really nice. It was also nice to be able to access the Executive lounge for coffee drinks, and snacks, tv, and news papers. My only complaint is that there is no great place for lighting to apply makeup. The blowdryer is ok but you can't dry your hair in the bathroom- no plug. The outlets in the room are half American and half European, so difficult to charge multiple devices without adaptors. The outlet at the bedside table is European, so I was happy to have brought an adaptor.