We chose this voyage based on timing and itinerary. It marked a return to Oceania after our first voyage on Riviera in 2012. We chose the same PH3 category as before and were very happy with our suite. On future cruises we will consider the Oceania Suite for additional space and comfort. To help readers with perspective we are seasoned cruisers who usually favor luxury lines such as Crystal and Silversea and this was my 60th voyage. We are in our mid 40s.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both smooth. We arrived around 2pm for embarkation and disembarked using an Oceania full day tour and airport transfer. Both were effortless and pleasant.
The ship having recently been refreshed during a 2016 dry dock looked spectacular and almost brand new. It was impossible to see any wear and tear other than minor cosmetic imperfections. Our suite was the perfect choice for this 17 day cruise allowing plenty of space for storage, areas to dine, relax and work. Bedding, as most people already know, is superb onboard Oceania and we slept soundly each and every night. Oceania now offer a purchase list for those passengers wishing to re-create the Oceania bedroom at home.
Dining is the hallmark of any Oceania cruise. The choices and quality of food are beyond any words I can write here. From our experience Crystal Cruises maintains a high level for their food offerings but Oceania, based on this experience, is giving them a run for their money. To say that we indulged heavily is an understatement. It was very difficult to restrict ourselves when menus were presented each evening. From the vegan juice bar in Waves Grill to the exquisite delivery of the finest cuisine at Jacques one is spoilt beyond all reckoning on board Oceania Marina. We live in Manhattan and San Francisco and are exposed to some of the finest restaurants in the United States and yet we found ourselves both impressed and delighted at each meal.
For us, this cruise was really about the dining experiences with friends who traveled with us and new friends that we made on board. Our butler was able to secure speciality restaurants on 10 nights of our voyage but usually only at 8.00pm or 8.30pm reservations. This was not an issue for us at all but sadly it meant that we missed the evening entertainment in the Marina Lounge. We did manage to see a couple of shows including one with guest entertainer Colleen Williamson, who we knew from Crystal. It was lovely reconnecting with her and spending time with her during her brief stay on board. The production shows looked impressive but we were only able to attend one performance. There was varied entertainment including a magician, pianist, singer, comedian etc. but we feel we can not comment adequately in this review. I did give 5 stars for entertainment based on the shows we did see and the availability of such varied acts, even though we did not attend those performances. I didn't want a less then '5 star' to skew my overall rating of this cruise.
We had read various threads that spoke to service issues on Marina. This was not our experience at all. We really enjoyed the staff and crew on board and we always go out of our way to introduce ourselves and engage in conversation whenever we interact with our servers, shore-ex, reception etc. We find it only enhances our overall experience and this cruise was no exception. The level of service was equal to that we have experienced on Crystal and Silversea and we were made to feel special at every turn.
The ports and itinerary were a big drive for us to book this voyage. Thankfully weather allowed us to visit the Falkland Islands and see penguins. The Chilean Fjords were spectacular although our weather was not always favorable so views were often misty. We certainly experienced our fair share of inclement weather but such is life, and it did not mar our journey or experience in any way.
Shore excursions were superb. We enjoyed an O-Life benefit of 5 complimentary excursions. We purchased 2 penguin excursions and pre-paid before sailing. We booked one on board using credits. So a total of 8, which for us is a lot. All of them were very good and the shore-ex team handled all effortlessly including some long tender journeys to and from shore. The operation was very smooth and well orchestrated and kudos to Alexandra and her team for the way they handled the guests.
A special mention in this review should be the amazing Cruise Director, Peter Roberts and his Asst. Cruise Director Jason. These two are really good. It was like having two Cruise Directors on one ship. Both have great personalities, engaged with passengers and provided an excellent line up of daily activities. In particular, the morning television show was both entertaining and interesting. Peter has a very dry sense of humor and it is clear he really enjoys his work. In the final days of the voyage Peter takes the camera 'below deck' and provides a 'behind the scenes' look at the workings of the ship. This was really interesting. I know other lines also provide similar information on their television shows but it is always nice to meet the people who work tirelessly below decks to make our life on board enjoyable.
The ship sailed at full capacity. With all berths taken Marina holds 1250 guests and we were told that we were almost at that number although no exact number was provided, or at least I was not aware of the exact number.
Sadly we did not take advantage of onboard booking privileges. We have several vacations and cruises booked into mid 2018 so our calendar is committed. However, we will most certainly recommend Oceania and look forward to our return in the not so distant future.
This is our second time in this category on this class of ship. The layout and functionality is perfect for any cruise length. The walk in closet is one of the best we have utilized, second only to the Silver Spirit Silver Suite closet. As with most forward staterooms, the PH3 location results in excessive salt on the balcony from sea spray. If this is an issue then perhaps moving further mid-ship on deck 10 into a PH2 might be more suitable. The TV is attached in the bedroom section of the suite and is not on a retractable arm so when seated on the sofa in the living room the television is not angled correctly for optimum viewing. The curtain dividers are decorative only and do not close allowing complete separation of living/sleeping quarters.