We chose this cruise - our 4th on Oceania ships - for the September timing and the itinerary. We explored Venice for a few days prior to embarkation (is there a better port for a sailaway?) and were delighted to combine old favorites (Sorrento, Civitavecchia, Monaco and Barcelona) with new-to-us ports like Kotor, Montenegro, Corfu and Taormina. This was our second cruise on Sirena, and the experience was even better.
First, we thought the ship excursions were better organized and for the most part had excellent guides. Being used to independent travel, we would not have taken ANY ship excursions had they not been included in our fare - but our view has tempered somewhat after this cruise. Tours in Taormina - where we were able to enter the Greek Theater despite a Dalai Lama event - and in Cannes to Gorges du Loup and Gourdon - were extremely worthwhile and worry-free. If travel wasn't so fraught with delays and misadventures, I would cruise - on Oceania ships - more often.
Second, the food was back to the level we have come to expect on Oceania after a somewhat disappointing Panama Canal cruise last December. We dined twice in Red Ginger, thus were able to sample several items between us. I did have to order that wonderful Ginger Lemongrass tea from Tea Forte when we got home. Tuscan Grill, the combination of Toscano and Polo Grill from the O-class ships, just doesn't work as well for me as well as having the two venues separate - it's simply too difficult to choose between entrees, much less appetizers, salads and desserts. Service, from our amazingly telepathic cabin attendant to the Terrace Café servers who remembered us from a cruise nine months earlier (I DO love my desserts) and everyone in between was stellar.
I gave our cabin - a regular veranda stateroom - only 4 stars because of the very small bathroom. We're both average size - but that shower is tiny! The O-class ships have much bigger bathrooms in the same stateroom class, if that's important to you. Other than that it's amazing how much storage space there is in the room, love the veranda, and don't forget to pre-order your favorite (non-alcoholic) beverages for your refrig before you leave.
Since this was a port-intensive cruise (NO sea days) we were up early and off the ship every single day, usually doing something active. For us, that means bedtime before the ship's entertainment begins. We don't miss it, since it's low on our priority list (seriously, it's not EVEN on our priority list). We also didn't make it to many enrichment lectures, though the few we attended were very well done and very helpful for the itinerary. The lectures ARE taped and replayed, but we maximized our time ashore and never watched.
Will we be back? Absolutely: we have our third cruise on Sirena coming up in May, then two more on her sister ship Nautica! Happy travels to all!
Kotor is amazing and virtually undiscovered. The City Wall climb is easy to do on your own, then grab a very inexpensive beer or gelato in a sidewalk café on the way back to the ship.
This was probably the weakest excursion we took, with way too much time at the monastery and no time for photos in the lovely Paleokastritsa area. The stop overlooking the airport would have been better spent as free time in Corfu-town, which was interesting.View All 11 Paleokatsriza Walking Tour Reviews
Our tour guide Lana was amazing - her knowledge of history, mythology and pop culture was impressive, PLUS she got us into the Greek Theater when we had been told it was impossible. Weather was perfect, even did some pottery shopping.View All 101 City Tour Reviews
We LOVE Sorrento, having spent a week here when our son worked in London. Thus we've covered just about everything in the environs, including Naples. Therefore, on our last two cruises we've hopped an early morning hydrofoil to Capri. Two years ago we rode the Monte Solaro chairlift, and this year we hiked around the other end of the island to the Faraglioni and Arco Naturale. If you start early (before 10?) and do the walk counter-clockwise, you'll end up at Le Grottelle for a well-earned lunch.
This would have been a two- or three-star, but the wine tasting at the end turned out to be a lot of fun with some great camaraderie. No one wanted to leave.View All 17 Lake Bracciano Reviews
wow, amazing! we went on our own to Eze-village since I've always wanted to see the Botanical Garden at the very top but never had the chance in previous visits. The views of the Riviera were incredible, and the village itself was beyond charming.
Wow, another perched village, this time high up in the mountains after an incredible bus ride. We were glad to be on the inside lane going up (the route down is much quicker and tamer). Again, unforgettable views and a charming village.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did take a ship excursion last-minute of "3 Medieval Villages." The tour guide compared and contrasted the three aptly, and we learned a lot.
Barcelona - our disembarkation - always rates five stars, but we sensed the disorder to come just a week later with the independence referendum. There were explosions on Friday night along Las Ramblas - probably fireworks but at any rate not the greatest idea in the exact spot of the terrorist truck attack just a month earlier. We were happy to leave when we did and hope to be back next year in better circumstances.
Having been to Venice several times we simply wanted to explore new sections of the city on our own.