We wanted to try Oceania instead of our usual Princess or HAL. My review is very mixed because some things were better and others were not. For example, embarkation was great, we walked right on and there were some little kiosks with nice items for sale before you boarded, including wine which you could take onboard. Disembarkation was horrible. They told us to be on one floor, then changed the floor. Everyone was packed standing in the halls and there was not even a place to sit. I was lucky I could lean against a wall. The disembarked by color code and people would push their way through with different colors. Finally, one passenger took charge and told those whose colors were called to go one way, and those whose colors were not called to go another. I believe we were standing there about an hour, perhaps more.
So this is what to expect from this review. Some things were great, others terrible. The first surprise came when my husband saw there was no promenade deck. Perhaps, I should have checked this, but who would have thought. You could walk on the upper deck exposed to the sun. To make this easier, I am going to just go by category-
Ship - The ship was beautiful, our cabin was beautiful, it was easy to navigate. The bathroom was large with both a tub and a shower and the shampoo and conditioner you could actually use, unlike some of the other lines.
As everyone has probably told you, the onboard specialty restaurants are fantastic. You could also go to them more frequently at no charge if there were openings. If possible, book before you board. You will have a better chance of getting the time you want if you are willing to share.
Main Dining Room - The food was good but the service left a bit to be desired. We did have a GI type of virus during the cruise and I believe it affected more staff than passengers, so that might explain part of the problem. One day my husband finished his lunch before they even brought mine. As the cruise went on, because of the illness, things changed. First they didn't put the rolls on the table, then you could not get salt and pepper etc. By the end, when you sat down, there was nothing on the table. I am not criticizing them for this, as it is probably standard operating procedure but I started saving salt packets because I could not always get them.
Outside Grill - Again, the food was good but it was confusing at first because you order at the grill but then someone brings your food so they ask for your table number, which we didn't know and the table numbers sometimes were not there.
Lido Deck - This is where I was really displeased. From the beginning, you could not help yourself to anything, even a roll. It was hard to communicate with the people serving you between the language barrier and the physical barriers and they would often get things wrong. The salad bar varied every day but not with the usual things.
It was difficult to maneuver and very frustrating.
Entertainment - We did not attend many shows but those we did were not that good.
I did like the art lessons and I heard the cooking classes were good.
Shore excursions - Many of these were included in the cost and they were poorly done. The tour guides did not speak very good English. In Panama, I paid extra for the train and that excursion was very good. I guess you get what you pay for. That said, I do want to commend them for what they did in Lima, which was to have a few select vendors available at the dock, right off the ship. I could shop as long as I wanted while my husband kept an eye on me from the balcony. I believe the selection and pricing were every bit as good as in the markets. Kudos for that!
Since Oceania advertises itself as slightly better than mass market, I had some concerns about the other passengers which were totally unfounded. We met the same types of people we meet on the other lines and everyone was very nice.
So there you have it. I thought it was okay but not a cut above Princess or HAL. My husband hated it because of the service and will not sail with them again.