My wife and I choose this cruise as we both wanted to visit French Polynesia. We did explore other Cruise Lines but based on the itinerary we choose Oceana Cruise Lines. We had never sailed on Oceana before and were not sure what to expect from them in regards to an overall cruise experience. After spending 12 days on the Sirena we concluded that we definitely made the right choice in regards to the ship and Cruise Line as the service provided by the staff on this ship surpassed all of our expectations.
The food on the Sirena was excellent and the variety of food options provided in the Grand Dining Room was impressive. The staff in the Grand Dinning Room went out of their way and paid a great deal to detail to ensure our dinning experience would be memorable. The two speciality restaurants onboard the ship, The Tuscan and Red Ginger, were a gastronomical delight. Our favourite speciality restaurant was the Red Ginger whose selection of oriental food would satisfy any foodies expectations. What both my wife and I found refreshing was that no extra charge for eating in a speciality restaurant unlike many other Cruise Lines.
What we found a little surprising aboard the Sirena was the size of the cabin and bathroom. Both rooms seemed to be a bit smaller than what we have experienced on other cruise ships. Specifically the bathroom was quite small with little space for toiletries and other personal items. The shower was very small and provided little space to move in. The plastic shower curtain was a bit out of place as it seemed that it really didn't present an image the cruise line is trying to project.
The impression one gets from the interior of the ship was that it reflected more of an image of the elegant decor of the old Trans Atlantic Liners than that of a modern cruise ship. This is particularly evident in the public spaces. The overall appearance of the ship is very good as it seems to be very well maintained and clean. Due to the size of the ship one does on occasion find themselves running into the crew delivering goods and supplies to other areas of the Sirena.
The entertainment onboard the ship is adequate and quite good. Due to the limitations of the show lounge it is unrealistic to expect major production shows on a ship this size. The entertainment was quite similar to what one tends to see on a cruise ship including comedians, magicians, string quartet ,singers and dancers. Based on the size and restrictions of the stage on the ship the performers put on very good shows.
Activities on the ship again were quite similar to what sees and expects on other cruise lines. Bingo, dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, enrichment lectures, etc.,were quite evident and frequent throughout the cruise. The enrichment lectures were provided by a very informative and knowledgable quest speaker whose lecture topics were specifically about the Pacific Region. One of our favourite activities was the Traditional High Tea Service at 4:00PM which we attended and enjoyed on a number of occasions.
Many of the Islands visited on this cruise provided limited options in regards to excursions. The majority of the excursions revolved around water activities or land tours. These limitations are a result of the lack of tourist resources on these Islands which are far from being fully developed in comparison to other areas of the world. The natural beauty of the Islands and the friendliness of the Islanders make up for many of these limitations. Shopping is limited to local artisan crafts and an ongoing supply of pearls. This cruise is not recommended for those whose focus is not on the above mentioned activities of water sports or sightseeing.
It should be noted that access to these Islands is through tenders. The Sirena Staff were quite efficient in providing the tender service and overall the tender process appeared to go smoothly. Unfortunately persons with physical disabilities could find this cruise problematic in regards to overall mobility, specifically in regards to the tender process and lack of excursion options available on these Islands.
Although our overall experience on the Sirena was very good there were some minor issues that created some concerns during the cruise. We arrived in Papeete around 10:00PM and by the the time we picked up our luggage and gone through French Customs it was around 11:00PM. We arrived aboard the Sirena around 11:15PM. We then went through the embarkation process on the Sirena. During this process we were advised that there would be a life boat drill shortly and to come down to the Show Lounge with your life jacket. After being on a plane for 10 hours and being in the middle of the night we felt that this was a bit unreasonable. Furthermore, we still had to unpack our luggage as it arrived in our cabin at the same time. We were also facing a 8:00AM shore excursion the next day which due to our arrival time on the ship had limited our time to get some rest.
On disembarkation day the ships staff advised all passengers that they had to clear the ship by 9:00AM. What became a serous problem for many passengers was that the first flight out of Papeete that day was at 10:00PM. Those who did not have any post cruise arrangements where basically left on their own. Oceana had provided a day room at the local City Hall but those who went there advised me that there was limited seating and food. Furthermore, there were no facilities to shower or store their luggage. What is of concern is that the 10:00PM flight was a charter organized by Oceana. One has to wonder why Oceana was not able to negotiate a better time for a Charter Flight particularly for those left stranded in Papeete that day.
Regardless of the issues regarding embarkation/ disembarkation both my wife and I had a fantastic experience on the Sirena and would have no hesitation in recommending the Sirena and Oceana Cruise Lines. The service provided by the staff of the Sirena was exceptional and the dinning a gastronomical delight. As a result of this experience on the Sirena we have booked another cruise on Oceana.
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