We were very curious about Oceania, and all the brochures that were piling up from the mail piqued our interest as well. We actually thought we were their targeted demographic; our WSJ had brochures enclosed weekly. Also, a few years ago, while at an awards ceremony on another line, the well-traveled couple next to us suggested we'd love Oceania. So on May 21, there we were, efficiently boarding in the port of Barcelona, but without our typical embarkation photo! There is no photographer on board. Hmmm .....no champagne or crew delighted to welcome us either! We'd booked a concierge level cabin, and after a disappointing embarkation lunch of fish cooked to cardboard in the outdoor cafe, made our way to our floor. Suitcases lined the hallways and landings. Passengers were locating and lugging their unwieldy bags down the corridor in both directions to their cabins. Being newbies, we followed suit. Is this the way it's done? Still not sure. We have been sailing in suites for the last 20 years. This was the smallest piece of real estate we've had so far (exception river boats), smallest balcony, and more limited storage space than typical. We were still getting sorted, and I decided to visit the lounge on our floor. Quiet....but I found the teabags and hot water, but, alas, only miniature takeout cups with cute mini lids! The novelty of this find only distracted me briefly, before I realized my cup of tea would be about 3 swallows! Oh well, day one, always a few glitches..... Dinner in the Asian restaurant was good; black cod is a favorite of mine, but again a few glitches...... The next many days were filled with ship shore excursions in Spain, Portugal and France. We'd been to several of the ports before, added Bordeaux, Oporto, Bilbao, Cartagena this trip. Some background might be helpful. Oceania mails a lovely personalized book of your itinerary, and a complete list and description of all shore excursions. However, the pricing for ordering multiple shore excursions was complicated, and customer service reps warned me twice to call back before I finalized my selection to make sure of pricing. At the time I thought this was much too complicated and too much phone time compared to other lines, where I can easily choose online. But, if this is how an experience is personalized, so be it. We did basic city excursions daily. Some were more successful than others, but all participating passengers were directed off to their tours efficiently. Returning was another story on at least a couple of days. The full buffet closed at 2:00pm. We found this time rather arbitrary when most of the passengers were touring and returning close to 2 pm. The outside grill remains open longer, the concierge lounge has mini sandwiches and cookies, and afternoon tea is served for an hour late afternoon. Again, food is fine, specialty restaurants are good, and if you obsess over unlimited shellfish, this is the line for you. However, our expectation was that the service level would be impeccable. That was not our experience. All food is served from the buffet. That goes for coffee and water too....repeatedly, we were ignored at table of one or two. On the other hand, plates were removed as soon as a fork was placed down. And those teeny cups? The only ones available all cruise long. My experience in the outdoor grill day 2 was so disagreeable, I would not return. Those lunch crowds after the tours returned filled the outdoor grill to overflowing. I did not know the protocol. I went up to the order window, got yelled at to go get a table....I said there are none now, but may I order, and got ignored totally, totally dismissed, while next person in line placed order. Never. Never. Have I been the target of rudeness like this onboard a ship. ((Aside: I have seen crew members so well trained that they keep smiling even as passengers become impossible!) By Day 3 I was pretty convinced no one cared if I was on board, except our cabin stewards, who were very good at their jobs, and did smile and greet us like they were happy to see us! I did laundry on board, (first time since 1995), as did many others. I did not take a cooking class, nor a watercolor class. I did attend lectures and some of the entertainment. The big ships win the entertainment category easily, with multiple venues, and some exciting options. There's more to the story; I kept my usual log. Oceania is called the "foodie" line for all the lobster and no charge specialty restaurants. The library is great, paneled, many good titles available. Always lots of pool lounges open. Always room in the gym. Many well-traveled passengers on board; average age skews older..... It certainly isn't the fun ship. There certainly isn't a sense of festivity at any time or place. The free internet was so bogged down, we timed out before accessing sites. The gracious hospitality we've experienced from other ships' crew and officers wasn't demonstrated to me as a newbie. There were no washcloths or water coolers when returning to ship. There were no wow moments for us- and we have had many onboard surprises over the years.....the whole voyage was very laid back...... We are pretty low key, but we do leave home for a break from the ordinary, and to enjoy some special memories and interesting places. But indifference? That was our takeaway. We did not book a new cruise onboard.

One and Done

Marina Cruise Review by INSIDERS CABIN

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We were very curious about Oceania, and all the brochures that were piling up from the mail piqued our interest as well. We actually thought we were their targeted demographic; our WSJ had brochures enclosed weekly. Also, a few years ago, while at an awards ceremony on another line, the well-traveled couple next to us suggested we'd love Oceania. So on May 21, there we were, efficiently boarding in the port of Barcelona, but without our typical embarkation photo! There is no photographer on board. Hmmm .....no champagne or crew delighted to welcome us either! We'd booked a concierge level cabin, and after a disappointing embarkation lunch of fish cooked to cardboard in the outdoor cafe, made our way to our floor. Suitcases lined the hallways and landings. Passengers were locating and lugging their unwieldy bags down the corridor in both directions to their cabins. Being newbies, we followed suit. Is this the way it's done? Still not sure. We have been sailing in suites for the last 20 years. This was the smallest piece of real estate we've had so far (exception river boats), smallest balcony, and more limited storage space than typical. We were still getting sorted, and I decided to visit the lounge on our floor. Quiet....but I found the teabags and hot water, but, alas, only miniature takeout cups with cute mini lids! The novelty of this find only distracted me briefly, before I realized my cup of tea would be about 3 swallows! Oh well, day one, always a few glitches.....

Dinner in the Asian restaurant was good; black cod is a favorite of mine, but again a few glitches......

The next many days were filled with ship shore excursions in Spain, Portugal and France. We'd been to several of the ports before, added Bordeaux, Oporto, Bilbao, Cartagena this trip. Some background might be helpful. Oceania mails a lovely personalized book of your itinerary, and a complete list and description of all shore excursions. However, the pricing for ordering multiple shore excursions was complicated, and customer service reps warned me twice to call back before I finalized my selection to make sure of pricing. At the time I thought this was much too complicated and too much phone time compared to other lines, where I can easily choose online. But, if this is how an experience is personalized, so be it. We did basic city excursions daily. Some were more successful than others, but all participating passengers were directed off to their tours efficiently.

Returning was another story on at least a couple of days. The full buffet closed at 2:00pm. We found this time rather arbitrary when most of the passengers were touring and returning close to 2 pm. The outside grill remains open longer, the concierge lounge has mini sandwiches and cookies, and afternoon tea is served for an hour late afternoon. Again, food is fine, specialty restaurants are good, and if you obsess over unlimited shellfish, this is the line for you. However, our expectation was that the service level would be impeccable. That was not our experience. All food is served from the buffet. That goes for coffee and water too....repeatedly, we were ignored at table of one or two. On the other hand, plates were removed as soon as a fork was placed down. And those teeny cups? The only ones available all cruise long. My experience in the outdoor grill day 2 was so disagreeable, I would not return. Those lunch crowds after the tours returned filled the outdoor grill to overflowing. I did not know the protocol. I went up to the order window, got yelled at to go get a table....I said there are none now, but may I order, and got ignored totally, totally dismissed, while next person in line placed order. Never. Never. Have I been the target of rudeness like this onboard a ship. ((Aside: I have seen crew members so well trained that they keep smiling even as passengers become impossible!)

By Day 3 I was pretty convinced no one cared if I was on board, except our cabin stewards, who were very good at their jobs, and did smile and greet us like they were happy to see us! I did laundry on board, (first time since 1995), as did many others. I did not take a cooking class, nor a watercolor class. I did attend lectures and some of the entertainment. The big ships win the entertainment category easily, with multiple venues, and some exciting options. There's more to the story; I kept my usual log.

Oceania is called the "foodie" line for all the lobster and no charge specialty restaurants. The library is great, paneled, many good titles available. Always lots of pool lounges open. Always room in the gym. Many well-traveled passengers on board; average age skews older..... It certainly isn't the fun ship. There certainly isn't a sense of festivity at any time or place. The free internet was so bogged down, we timed out before accessing sites. The gracious hospitality we've experienced from other ships' crew and officers wasn't demonstrated to me as a newbie. There were no washcloths or water coolers when returning to ship. There were no wow moments for us- and we have had many onboard surprises over the years.....the whole voyage was very laid back......

We are pretty low key, but we do leave home for a break from the ordinary, and to enjoy some special memories and interesting places. But indifference? That was our takeaway. We did not book a new cruise onboard.
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