...and the "one thing" is - it was too short!
We took a "Medieval Masterpieces" cruise from Venice to Civitavecchia in November 2017. We chose this particular cruise because my husband was celebrating his 80th birthday during the cruise and it was a "birthday present" - better than a party! We actually had done the same itinerary before but I had been ill so not able to go ashore at all the ports. We took a Vista Suite on Deck 9. More about that later.
We live in Switzerland so had the luxury of not having to fly for this cruise. We took a train from Sion direct (no change) to Venice. Got off at Mestre and had a transfer company meet us there to drive us to the ship. (Had we gone on to Venezia S.L. we would have had to haul our bags up/down stairs and onto the "People Mover" and at our age we try to avoid that sort of thing). The driver took our 2 bags to the porters waiting outside the terminal and we then checked in. This took all of 3 minutes. There was no one waiting - it was at 1500 so most people had already checked in. Of course we had the "priority lane" but it was not needed. We had to wait a few minutes to board because the gangway was being re-positioned but by 1515 we were walking down the corridor to our suite - and spotted one of our suitcases being wheeled along ahead of us! The second one arrived 2 minutes later.
The Vista Suite is large - has a sitting/dining room, bedroom, 2 baths and a private gym. We did not use the latter! It also has a huge walk in closet, large enough to put a bed really. being in the bow of the ship there are restrictions on the use of the balcony. You are not allowed to have curtains open at night when sailing - the Bridge needs vision with no "light pollution". When underway the wind is fierce and the furniture has to be lashed down. So bear that in mind when choosing this suite. For us - on a very port-intensive cruise - this was not a problem and it was dark by 1800 anyway so we were not out on the balcony. We liked the suite better than the Owners Suite which we had on our last cruise especially the balcony because the two on the Owners Suite are narrow and crammed with furniture. No space!
Butler service and steward were impeccable. Just what we expect - in fact a bit more than since they filled the suite with balloons on my husband's birthday!
Dining - We ate at the Grand Dining Room for breakfast a couple of times and it was fine. Twice for lunch as well - we had their "Taste of the World" dish, once from Greece and once from India. We like those a lot. And we ordered in from the GDR one evening as well. No complaints. Our favourite restaurant is Jacques. Although we live in a French culture here in Switzerland we think Jacques stacks up very favourably against some of the better restaurants here. The filet de boeuf Rossini is to die for! Tied for second place - Polo and Red Ginger. The meat at Polo was amazing. And at RG we simply order a string of appetisers and eat "Dim Sum" style. We did not eat at Toscana - we have a couple of times in the past and simply do not like it. Portions are too big (even when you ask for a small one) and we prefer northern Italian cuisine anyway. With the Vista Suite you can eat in any speciality restaurant any night you wish - you just ask the Butler to reserve a table.
Tours - the only Oceania tour we took was "Taormina on your own" which was essentially a bus transfer to and from Taormina. On a Sunday in Italy when trains don't run on normal schedules this was practical. For the rest we find Oceania tours are way too expensive and prefer to book tours independently. We had a superb walking tour of Zadar with Sime of Art and Nature Travel. Another fabulous tour of Corfu Town through Corfu Walking Tours (our lovely guide, Nausica, surprised my husband with a birthday cake and candles!) and another really good tour of Valetta and Mdina arranged via Amy Pace Tours. These tours with private guides and in one case a car and driver (Malta) cost us far less than taking Oceania group tours would have done.
Shipboard activities - We were regulars at tea in Horizons !! But aside from that I am afraid we did not do much. No Trivia, no games, not even a putting competition! But from reading "Currents" it was obvious that the Social Staff were putting on things all day long and for those who chose not to go ashore there was always something to do. We went to one evening show - "Lights, Camera, Action" - which was excellent and we loved every minute. It was very cleverly staged as well.
Our Cruise Critic group had a get-together on the second day of the cruise while we were still docked in Venice. We were about 40 people to show up for that and the Cruise Director, Peter, stopped by to welcome us. Much credit goes to "Cool Chili" who organised the whole thing and then had to move it twice (and let people know!) because there were THREE large groups on board who "pre-empted" our planned location.
We enjoyed every minute of this cruise - well, maybe aside from one very rough night at sea! Oceania is a great cruise line and the Riviera a wonderful ship to be on. Our next cruise is already booked (but on Regent) but I have no doubt that we shall be back on the Riviera in the not too distant future and most likely on a Mediterranean or Scandinavian cruise.
A very spacious and well-equipped suite with a huge balcony which wraps around the side of the ship. That is well furnished - 2 chaises longues, dining table and 4 chairs, sitting "nook" with coffee table and 4 chairs plus hot tub and outside TV. Please refer to the review above for restrictions on use of the balcony though.
Main bathroom is huge with a large window. Bath with jacuzzi, large shower, two sinks, loo and bidet. Smaller bathroom has a loo, wash basin and a shower.
Wet bar in the sitting room is stocked with your choice of 6 bottles of wine and/or alcohol from a list given you by the Butler.
Absolutely fabulous. Simi was a superb guide with a huge knowledge of history, art, culture etc. We had a wonderful two hours with him and learnt a lot about Zadar as a result. A real gem of a place - thanks to his explanations!View All 31 City Tour Reviews
We had been in Kotor before and taken a tour. Kotor is a small, lovely, walled city and very easy to walk around - ship was docked right at the town. If you haven't been to Kotor do take a tour of the town and the bay and islands...
Our guide, Nausica, was superb AND a delight to be with. She is intensely proud of her native Corfu town and shares her enthusiasm. We loved every minute of our tour! There is a lot to see in a small place in Corfu town.View All 58 City Tour Reviews
We were not overwhelmed by the view from Dingli Cliffs and while it was good to have seen it - not really worth the effort to get there.View All 5 Dingli Cliffs Reviews
Really we had one tour - Valetta and Mdina walking and car to Dingli Cliffs, with Tanya via Amy Pace Tours. It was well, well worth the €240 we paid for our own guide, driver and car. Tanya was charming and excellent!View All 21 La Valletta Walking Tour Reviews
Mdina is a MUST. Our guide, Tanya, took us to every "nook and cranny" in Mdina. What a beautiful town!View All 46 Mdina Walking Tour Reviews
We took the Oceania "Taormina on your own" tour simply as an easy means of getting to Taormina. Cost was something like $69 pp and since it was Sunday and trains were not frequent this seemed like a good idea. Taormina is a beautiful small town and the Greek Theatre is stunning. Sadly because of the weather we had no views of Etna - but we have seen Etna before.
It was pouring with rain. We waited for the guide and driver we had booked to go to Herculaneum for the morning but she did not show up. After talking with the company it seems our booking, instead of being reconfirmed, was cancelled by their computer system. They offered to get us a car and driver for later that day but given the weather we declined. They then offered us a tour of any Italian city (but we were going straight home!) OR when we come back to Naples, for free. Better than that I think they cannot do. And these things happen from time to time. Anyway, as I said, given the weather we were rather relieved not to be trekking about Herculaneum in the rain!