This review is for the Marina Baltic “Viking Homelands” trip commencing in Copenhagen on September 12 and ending in Amsterdam September 24, 2017. We were first time Oceania customers. Previously on RCL, Cunard and Celebrity from 1992 to 2015. Overall, 9/10 for our first Oceania experience; we are very pleased. We were in a regular veranda # 8075. We will book again with Oceania when circumstances permit; what Oceania offered met our requirements and our expectations with a few exceptions noted below. We chose Oceania this time because this itinerary had different ports for departure and arrival and the best selection of destinations for a Baltic cruise we have ever seen; including Oslo and smaller ports like Tallinn and Visby. This selection of ports and trip itinerary is not provided on the mass cruise lines. We did not use Oceania excursions - we used TJ travel for St. Petersbury and Berlin. TJ travel was excellent and would use them again. Trust this review will be of interest/assistance to those on the Oceania board as well as other Cruise Critic members. SUMMARY Our review is based on Oceania marketing materials – their statement of their product. The review is based on what we experienced versus what Oceania stated they would provide, the “O” Life Difference. Your assessment may be different. Please know, we are very skeptical consumers – We believe nothing in writing and wait to see what actually happens. We are not loyal to any service provider and monitor exactly what product is received from cruise lines, restaurants, hotels etc. We are “value for money” consumers – price is only one analysis component. “The Finest Cuisine At Sea” – Hard to evaluate unless you have cruised a lot on most of the lines. Will say most of the food was very good; high quality, large and varied selection in the theme restaurants, well prepared, good presentation. As expected of a premium line, in Tallinn, the chef was able to get fresh sea bream and it was served in Toscana. Super excellent. The breads and sweets were of the highest quality – especially the pain au chocolate which was real French pastry not bread dough like on the mass lines. The example of the food that typified the quote above was the dessert lollipop – a small cone wrapped in gold foil. It had a sugar cone and inside was a fresh strawberry, raspberry etc. with chocolate ganache on top and icing. This was available most lunches and dinners in the Terrace buffet; do not see that on a mass line. Little things matter. One of the things that drove us away from Celebrity was they started to put a fake coffee creamer on the breakfast tray (vile to say the least). The breakfast tray on Oceania was exceptional – it was over the top. Real cream in a stainless steel container. WOW. Could not be more pleased. Please see below under negatives regarding food. “A Variety Of Distinctive Open-Seating Restaurants, all at no additional charge” – That statement is somewhat misleading. All cruise ships have a minimum of one (1) open seating, included in the fare, the pool deck food venue. What was different from the mass cruise lines was the open-seating Grand Dining Room with no charge. This venue was excellent from size, location, tables, service, fit and finish. “Gourmet cruise created by world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pepin” – His “every day favorites” in the Grand Dining Room were not so special frankly. The plated products we were served were mass cruise line quality. A piece of naked salmon and green beans supplemented with your choice of sides in separate dishes. His food in Jacques was a slightly better quality than we have had on Celebrity. You need to try harder Oceania in this regard. “Epicurean enrichment programs” – Yes, very well patronized on sea days. Seemed high end with very engaged chefs and enthused guests. “Award winning itineraries” – Tried to find out who gave Oceania an award – nothing. Will say their itineraries are well beyond the mass lines – Oceania does not repeat an itinerary, and they usually leave and arrive at different ports. You definitely get more value on Oceania voyages versus the mass cruise lines when you factor in the effort and cost to fly these days. The “Viking Homelands” itinerary was the best of the Baltic season across all cruise lines. “Intimate, luxurious ships catering to just 684 to 1,250 guests” – This is a big difference versus mass cruise lines. A huge advantage and worth paying for. “Exceptional personalize service” – received all that. We were in a regular veranda stateroom. Our dear stewardess put a white towel down by either side of our bed every night. Our slippers were put there. When you undress at night, you are on this special towel, not the carpet. It was worth so much to have this – the little things make a huge difference. “Country club casual ambiance” – Delivered. I would say that with a few exceptions, guests dressed country club style, with significant high end golf wear. “Acclaimed Canyon Ranch Spa Club”- Did not patronize Regarding entertainment, was good quality and appropriate for the target market. Good singing ability and costumes. Entertainment aimed at target market; baby boomers. No lavish vegas style productions. The port lecturer was from a California university - fact based and dry but ok. This is an adult cruise line, there were no children present nor are there any services available to support same. NEGATIVES As is typical of life, there is usually a few items that are at variance with expectations/advertisement. Room noise. Two sources of noise. Given the cruise line, we had expectations of acoustical quiet with the exception of the inevitable door slamming. Not provided on Marina. First, there was constant “banging” from the staterooms on either side. Why? Because the drawer/closet drawer closers were so strong they pulled the drawers/closets back into place with a huge “bang”. Repeatedly over and over at all times of the day and night depending upon the schedule of our neighbours. We were awoken every morning early with “bangs” beside our head while lying in bed. We made sure to manually close all our drawers so there was no “banging” from our stateroom. We have to say that it was most disturbing because it was random and loud. This is obviously a systemic design flaw in the ship creating noise – because never had this before on any other ship. Second, the acoustical application in walls/ceilings seemed poor because we constantly heard foot falls above us and TV sounds from both sides – again, never experienced this on other ships. To summarize, we were not pleased with the stateroom acoustical privacy and it is a show stopper for us regarding another booking on Marina. We assume that other guests have heard this so really do not know if this is an issue for other guests. Concierge. Guest Relations recommended we speak with Concierge regarding the noise issue. We submitted a form. Received a call and had a short discussion. We were dismissed by both the employee and the supervisor. No interest or empathy happening with this business unit. Terrace Café – Given this is a premium cruise line and the stated “finest cuisine at sea”, we were disappointed at the limited range of food in this venue. Half the café had the same food so there was much less choice than you would think. Things like only a single style of pasta offered (not a pasta bar with multiple inputs), no “ethnic” food bar rather some nights had a theme menu given the day’s port etc. There were more limitations on choice than we thought. Grand Dining Room – As mentioned earlier, the Jacques selections were not impressive and not in compliance with “finest cuisine at sea”. Further, some entrees like sea bass pasta and fried avocado were awful and cheap and should never have been presented on Oceania. Other entrees were acceptable but to be frank – not generally any better than the entrees on our last Celebrity cruise in the MDR. So Oceania, the Grand Dining Room menu was not totally in compliance with “the finest cuisine at sea”. HIGHLIGHTS Small Vessels – What a total joy and privilege to be on a 66,000 ton vessel. It was manageable and simple to enter and exit. We lacked for nothing but had everything. Were able to see other guests and staff often. A total joy and we are pleased to pay for an intimate experience of a ship this size. Inclusiveness – This is big item for our household. Notwithstanding suites and their lounge; everyone on the ship mingled. Everyone ate in every food venue – there were no guests segregated in a separate dining area as is increasingly the case on the mass cruise lines. This is a reason we moved from Celebrity to Oceania. We enjoy meeting everyone on the ship over drinks and dinners. If Oceania changes this, we will remove our patronage. Many guests we spoke with felt the same. Guests – The class and decorum of the guests simply outstanding. A significant step up from Celebrity guests over the years. Gracious, knowledgeable, dressed well, not fixated on booze. Service – No words to describe the excellent service by the staff (except Concierge noted earlier). Every staff member we interacted with were classy, gracious, pleasant, enthused, would look you in the eye and many, many smiles. When a plate was done, it was gone between 10 to 30 seconds. Outstanding. The level of service and personalized service was simply amazing. We are more than pleased to pay for this level and quality of service. Totally spoiled now. Compliments to all those wonderful hard working staff. Themed Restaurants – Simply the best food dining arrangement we have experienced. So much better than assigned to a single dining venue and having to pay extra per the mass lines. Oceania you have a winning concept here. This will bring us back to Oceania. Had dinner at 4 different themed restaurants with outstanding food and service. Were able to book additional nights beyond our base of 4, so that was excellent and efficiently handled. The food and service was outstanding in each restaurant. Cruise Director – Nolan Dean was excellent. Professional, courteous with humour and energy. Nothing forced here, a genuine professional enjoying his job. Class from beginning to end. High Tea – Outstanding, oh my. Blows the high tea on QM2 out of the water. Total quality and care and class. Watching the chefs assemble the servers and describe each food item was outstanding. This was well attended by guests and we can see why. Room Attendant – We had a delightful room stewardess and assistant who kept our room perfect. These staff were not performing their work with the agitation and franticness that we have experienced on other cruise lines. Coffee Bar and Library – Excellent layout with the coffee bar, sandwiches and sweets section than followed by the library then followed by the card room – an excellent layout which was highly patronized. RECENT OCEANIA THREADS Bland Food - We have no previous experience with Oceania so can-not say. Will say the food tasted good overall considering most of it is probably previously frozen and produced in somewhat mass quantity. Found the food in Red Ginger (ate there twice), a bit bland. Asked for more spice and sure enough it tasted “alive”. We met numerous repeater guests and asked them this question. Most said the food was of poorer quality and taste a couple of years ago but has improved since. COMPARISON TO MASS CRUISE LINES I have been a CC member for over 15 years and have seen and experienced much related to cruising. Oceania is not suitable for every cruise guest. Oceania is not a high energy, high entertainment experience. We believe the focus is on quiet enjoyment, excellent food and service, relationship with the sea and guest interaction. Oceania does not try to keep you entertained all the time and does not encourage loud activities and behaviors. There is limited to no upselling. Oceania keeps the scale of their product at the low end with smallish ships which encourages intimacy between guests and crew and guests. It is a fairly simple on board product which is executed very well and with pride. Since 2010 or so, the mass cruise lines focus on product cheapening, booze, nickel and diming, mega ships, class favoritism, “ship in a ship”, inward ship design, minimizing itinerary in favour of on board revenue generation, shorter itineraries, gimmicks like magic carpets (celebrity) and in many cases abandoning the long-time guest in favor of the millennial. This appeals to some and repels others as to be expected. Pleased to say, Oceania appears representative of the golden age of cruising prior to 2010. Celebrity is our previous cruise provider and the Oceania product (and guests) are simply the previous Celebrity (and well beyond that) before Celebrity changed their product. On Marina, around the pool were staff offering flavored ices like I enjoyed on Solstice in 2013. The high tea was like I enjoyed on the Zenith in 1992 and Century in 1998. There were petite sandwiches in the Marina coffee bar like on Solstice in 2013. In the Marina Grand Dining Room, you were able to choose your sides just like I previously enjoyed on Celebrity. Regarding service; we have considerable empathy for the staff on the mass cruise lines given the cutbacks and increasing complexity of the ship experience. This class and that class and that class dining only for lunch but not dinner and on and on in a complex matrix of delivery requirements. Met numerous staff on Marina who were quite open about leaving Celebrity, RCL and Princess in particular because it was impossible to do a good job given the reduced staff levels combined with increasing complexity and having to deal with customers who were constantly demanding more and more and explanations on differences in class amenities. Oceania seems to have a straightforward product which makes it easier for staff to deliver and guests to understand and evaluate. We appreciate that and it must be so much better for the staff considering their circumstance. Fortunately there is considerable choice in cruise service providers, so hopefully each consumer can find a good fit. We believe that with the constant change in the industry and the cruise line chase for increased profit, it is becoming necessary to reduce brand loyalty. Hence why we moved to Oceania for now. For the moment, our decision analysis has been rewarded.

Excellent Oceania Product

Marina Cruise Review by ABoatNerd

38 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2017
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Verandah Stateroom
This review is for the Marina Baltic “Viking Homelands” trip commencing in Copenhagen on September 12 and ending in Amsterdam September 24, 2017.

We were first time Oceania customers.

Previously on RCL, Cunard and Celebrity from 1992 to 2015.

Overall, 9/10 for our first Oceania experience; we are very pleased. We were in a regular veranda # 8075. We will book again with Oceania when circumstances permit; what Oceania offered met our requirements and our expectations with a few exceptions noted below.

We chose Oceania this time because this itinerary had different ports for departure and arrival and the best selection of destinations for a Baltic cruise we have ever seen; including Oslo and smaller ports like Tallinn and Visby. This selection of ports and trip itinerary is not provided on the mass cruise lines.

We did not use Oceania excursions - we used TJ travel for St. Petersbury and Berlin. TJ travel was excellent and would use them again.

Trust this review will be of interest/assistance to those on the Oceania board as well as other Cruise Critic members.

SUMMARY

Our review is based on Oceania marketing materials – their statement of their product. The review is based on what we experienced versus what Oceania stated they would provide, the “O” Life Difference. Your assessment may be different.

Please know, we are very skeptical consumers – We believe nothing in writing and wait to see what actually happens. We are not loyal to any service provider and monitor exactly what product is received from cruise lines, restaurants, hotels etc. We are “value for money” consumers – price is only one analysis component.

“The Finest Cuisine At Sea” – Hard to evaluate unless you have cruised a lot on most of the lines. Will say most of the food was very good; high quality, large and varied selection in the theme restaurants, well prepared, good presentation. As expected of a premium line, in Tallinn, the chef was able to get fresh sea bream and it was served in Toscana. Super excellent. The breads and sweets were of the highest quality – especially the pain au chocolate which was real French pastry not bread dough like on the mass lines. The example of the food that typified the quote above was the dessert lollipop – a small cone wrapped in gold foil. It had a sugar cone and inside was a fresh strawberry, raspberry etc. with chocolate ganache on top and icing. This was available most lunches and dinners in the Terrace buffet; do not see that on a mass line.

Little things matter. One of the things that drove us away from Celebrity was they started to put a fake coffee creamer on the breakfast tray (vile to say the least). The breakfast tray on Oceania was exceptional – it was over the top. Real cream in a stainless steel container. WOW. Could not be more pleased.

Please see below under negatives regarding food.

“A Variety Of Distinctive Open-Seating Restaurants, all at no additional charge” – That statement is somewhat misleading. All cruise ships have a minimum of one (1) open seating, included in the fare, the pool deck food venue. What was different from the mass cruise lines was the open-seating Grand Dining Room with no charge. This venue was excellent from size, location, tables, service, fit and finish.

“Gourmet cruise created by world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pepin” – His “every day favorites” in the Grand Dining Room were not so special frankly. The plated products we were served were mass cruise line quality. A piece of naked salmon and green beans supplemented with your choice of sides in separate dishes. His food in Jacques was a slightly better quality than we have had on Celebrity. You need to try harder Oceania in this regard.

“Epicurean enrichment programs” – Yes, very well patronized on sea days. Seemed high end with very engaged chefs and enthused guests.

“Award winning itineraries” – Tried to find out who gave Oceania an award – nothing. Will say their itineraries are well beyond the mass lines – Oceania does not repeat an itinerary, and they usually leave and arrive at different ports. You definitely get more value on Oceania voyages versus the mass cruise lines when you factor in the effort and cost to fly these days. The “Viking Homelands” itinerary was the best of the Baltic season across all cruise lines.

“Intimate, luxurious ships catering to just 684 to 1,250 guests” – This is a big difference versus mass cruise lines. A huge advantage and worth paying for.

“Exceptional personalize service” – received all that. We were in a regular veranda stateroom. Our dear stewardess put a white towel down by either side of our bed every night. Our slippers were put there. When you undress at night, you are on this special towel, not the carpet. It was worth so much to have this – the little things make a huge difference.

“Country club casual ambiance” – Delivered. I would say that with a few exceptions, guests dressed country club style, with significant high end golf wear.

“Acclaimed Canyon Ranch Spa Club”- Did not patronize

Regarding entertainment, was good quality and appropriate for the target market. Good singing ability and costumes. Entertainment aimed at target market; baby boomers. No lavish vegas style productions. The port lecturer was from a California university - fact based and dry but ok.

This is an adult cruise line, there were no children present nor are there any services available to support same.

NEGATIVES

As is typical of life, there is usually a few items that are at variance with expectations/advertisement.

Room noise. Two sources of noise. Given the cruise line, we had expectations of acoustical quiet with the exception of the inevitable door slamming. Not provided on Marina. First, there was constant “banging” from the staterooms on either side. Why? Because the drawer/closet drawer closers were so strong they pulled the drawers/closets back into place with a huge “bang”. Repeatedly over and over at all times of the day and night depending upon the schedule of our neighbours. We were awoken every morning early with “bangs” beside our head while lying in bed. We made sure to manually close all our drawers so there was no “banging” from our stateroom. We have to say that it was most disturbing because it was random and loud. This is obviously a systemic design flaw in the ship creating noise – because never had this before on any other ship. Second, the acoustical application in walls/ceilings seemed poor because we constantly heard foot falls above us and TV sounds from both sides – again, never experienced this on other ships. To summarize, we were not pleased with the stateroom acoustical privacy and it is a show stopper for us regarding another booking on Marina. We assume that other guests have heard this so really do not know if this is an issue for other guests.

Concierge. Guest Relations recommended we speak with Concierge regarding the noise issue. We submitted a form. Received a call and had a short discussion. We were dismissed by both the employee and the supervisor. No interest or empathy happening with this business unit.

Terrace Café – Given this is a premium cruise line and the stated “finest cuisine at sea”, we were disappointed at the limited range of food in this venue. Half the café had the same food so there was much less choice than you would think. Things like only a single style of pasta offered (not a pasta bar with multiple inputs), no “ethnic” food bar rather some nights had a theme menu given the day’s port etc. There were more limitations on choice than we thought.

Grand Dining Room – As mentioned earlier, the Jacques selections were not impressive and not in compliance with “finest cuisine at sea”. Further, some entrees like sea bass pasta and fried avocado were awful and cheap and should never have been presented on Oceania. Other entrees were acceptable but to be frank – not generally any better than the entrees on our last Celebrity cruise in the MDR. So Oceania, the Grand Dining Room menu was not totally in compliance with “the finest cuisine at sea”.

HIGHLIGHTS

Small Vessels – What a total joy and privilege to be on a 66,000 ton vessel. It was manageable and simple to enter and exit. We lacked for nothing but had everything. Were able to see other guests and staff often. A total joy and we are pleased to pay for an intimate experience of a ship this size.

Inclusiveness – This is big item for our household. Notwithstanding suites and their lounge; everyone on the ship mingled. Everyone ate in every food venue – there were no guests segregated in a separate dining area as is increasingly the case on the mass cruise lines. This is a reason we moved from Celebrity to Oceania. We enjoy meeting everyone on the ship over drinks and dinners. If Oceania changes this, we will remove our patronage. Many guests we spoke with felt the same.

Guests – The class and decorum of the guests simply outstanding. A significant step up from Celebrity guests over the years. Gracious, knowledgeable, dressed well, not fixated on booze.

Service – No words to describe the excellent service by the staff (except Concierge noted earlier). Every staff member we interacted with were classy, gracious, pleasant, enthused, would look you in the eye and many, many smiles. When a plate was done, it was gone between 10 to 30 seconds. Outstanding. The level of service and personalized service was simply amazing. We are more than pleased to pay for this level and quality of service. Totally spoiled now. Compliments to all those wonderful hard working staff.

Themed Restaurants – Simply the best food dining arrangement we have experienced. So much better than assigned to a single dining venue and having to pay extra per the mass lines. Oceania you have a winning concept here. This will bring us back to Oceania. Had dinner at 4 different themed restaurants with outstanding food and service. Were able to book additional nights beyond our base of 4, so that was excellent and efficiently handled. The food and service was outstanding in each restaurant.

Cruise Director – Nolan Dean was excellent. Professional, courteous with humour and energy. Nothing forced here, a genuine professional enjoying his job. Class from beginning to end.

High Tea – Outstanding, oh my. Blows the high tea on QM2 out of the water. Total quality and care and class. Watching the chefs assemble the servers and describe each food item was outstanding. This was well attended by guests and we can see why.

Room Attendant – We had a delightful room stewardess and assistant who kept our room perfect. These staff were not performing their work with the agitation and franticness that we have experienced on other cruise lines.

Coffee Bar and Library – Excellent layout with the coffee bar, sandwiches and sweets section than followed by the library then followed by the card room – an excellent layout which was highly patronized.

RECENT OCEANIA THREADS

Bland Food - We have no previous experience with Oceania so can-not say. Will say the food tasted good overall considering most of it is probably previously frozen and produced in somewhat mass quantity. Found the food in Red Ginger (ate there twice), a bit bland. Asked for more spice and sure enough it tasted “alive”. We met numerous repeater guests and asked them this question. Most said the food was of poorer quality and taste a couple of years ago but has improved since.

COMPARISON TO MASS CRUISE LINES

I have been a CC member for over 15 years and have seen and experienced much related to cruising.

Oceania is not suitable for every cruise guest. Oceania is not a high energy, high entertainment experience. We believe the focus is on quiet enjoyment, excellent food and service, relationship with the sea and guest interaction. Oceania does not try to keep you entertained all the time and does not encourage loud activities and behaviors. There is limited to no upselling. Oceania keeps the scale of their product at the low end with smallish ships which encourages intimacy between guests and crew and guests. It is a fairly simple on board product which is executed very well and with pride.

Since 2010 or so, the mass cruise lines focus on product cheapening, booze, nickel and diming, mega ships, class favoritism, “ship in a ship”, inward ship design, minimizing itinerary in favour of on board revenue generation, shorter itineraries, gimmicks like magic carpets (celebrity) and in many cases abandoning the long-time guest in favor of the millennial. This appeals to some and repels others as to be expected.

Pleased to say, Oceania appears representative of the golden age of cruising prior to 2010.

Celebrity is our previous cruise provider and the Oceania product (and guests) are simply the previous Celebrity (and well beyond that) before Celebrity changed their product. On Marina, around the pool were staff offering flavored ices like I enjoyed on Solstice in 2013. The high tea was like I enjoyed on the Zenith in 1992 and Century in 1998. There were petite sandwiches in the Marina coffee bar like on Solstice in 2013. In the Marina Grand Dining Room, you were able to choose your sides just like I previously enjoyed on Celebrity.

Regarding service; we have considerable empathy for the staff on the mass cruise lines given the cutbacks and increasing complexity of the ship experience. This class and that class and that class dining only for lunch but not dinner and on and on in a complex matrix of delivery requirements. Met numerous staff on Marina who were quite open about leaving Celebrity, RCL and Princess in particular because it was impossible to do a good job given the reduced staff levels combined with increasing complexity and having to deal with customers who were constantly demanding more and more and explanations on differences in class amenities. Oceania seems to have a straightforward product which makes it easier for staff to deliver and guests to understand and evaluate. We appreciate that and it must be so much better for the staff considering their circumstance.

Fortunately there is considerable choice in cruise service providers, so hopefully each consumer can find a good fit. We believe that with the constant change in the industry and the cruise line chase for increased profit, it is becoming necessary to reduce brand loyalty. Hence why we moved to Oceania for now. For the moment, our decision analysis has been rewarded.
ABoatNerd’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Verandah Stateroom
Cabin B1 8075
Cabin location on 8 deck excellent - no public rooms above or below. No service doors opposite.

Cabin well maintained and excellent size and fit and finish. No complaints.

My next comment is not specifically about this cabin.

I believe this pertains to ship design. Please read the review above for details.

There is significant noise in the cabin due to the "banging" of the drawer and closet door mechanisms. Further, the sound attenuation in ceiling/walls seems poor as we could hear foot falls and voicees/tv from adjacent rooms.

Not the quality of construction one would expect of a premium cruise line.

Otherwise, the room was excellent and well located
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews