We are experienced cruisers with more than 50 cruises. This was our second cruise with Oceania. The first one was, 10 years ago. This review is about a 35 days cruise on the Oceania Sirena from San Diego to Rio de Janeiro including the Amazon River. During our trip, I have also had a live thread, which can be seen on the Oceania Forum.
We had a wonderful cruise on board Oceania Sirena. The cruise came to an end and we are back home now.
About the ship
The ship was familiar from the beginning, because we have cruised before many times with Azamara, which has the same type of ships. Standard Cabins are small and bathrooms are tiny. The ship and cabins are well maintained and kept in a pristine condition.
An area of improvement could be to add or renew the filter for the type of smoke that comes out of the ship, when in movement. That smoke was for us, many times, annoying when sitting at the Terrace outside for lunch. It has a peculiar smell.
Nevertheless our overall impression of the ship is very positive.
About the itinerary
We have chosen this cruise because we were interested in cruising the Amazon river. As a matter of fact if Oceania would not have offered that possibility, we would have not taken this cruise.
The ship started in San Diego, which for us, international guests, is more complicated than Los Angeles or Miami. The ports of call in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean were as good as any port in those areas. Our favorites were Tobago and Curaçao. I would have preferred to stay overnight in one of those ports and maybe skip Bridgetown.
The crossing of the Panama Canal as usual spectacular. An interesting port, because of the historical implications was Devils Island.
The cruising of the Amazon river did not disappoint us. On the contrary, we had lowered our expectations, thinking that cruising there with a large ship was not going to be that good. We were surprised by the diversity of the ports and we have enjoyed most of them. I did not like Santarem very much because I found it very loud, with loudspeakers everywhere. We have enjoyed Manaus, Parintins and Alter do Chao.
The other Brazilian ports outside the Amazon, were all known to us: Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador Bahia and Rio. We like Salvador Bahia the most and we were surprised by a different aspect from Recife. Rio de Janeiro was our disembarking port and having been there many times we did not stay.
Overall, we are satisfied with the itinerary.
About the entertainment on board
There were plenty of activities on board: bridge, golf putting, knitting, pilates, etc. We have appreciated very much the enrichment lectures, specially from Dr. Don Klein. We have learned a lot through those lectures.
The production shows on small ships like Oceania Sirena are not particularly inviting. I do appreciate the efforts of the young entertainers but somehow, those shows are not to our taste. Maybe because we do not know the music being played. We have liked single performances like the one from Jamie Stewart: music from Frank Sinatra and friends.
Our favorite entertainers were the Panache string quartet and the Band. We have tried not to miss their performances.
About the food and wine
Yes, we do think Oceania has the best dining experience in comparison to other ocean cruise lines. We found the house select package a good choice as part of the Olife offer.
Now, this was a long cruise of 35 days, so there were many repetitions of food. Since Oceania offers many restaurants we have tried to avoid getting bored by changing venues as much as we could. Our favorite restaurant is the Red Ginger.
The wines included in the house select package, were all quite good imho. Now, some were better than others and unfortunately those better wines would disappear quite soon. It was confusing because the lists of available wines were not updated. I imagine that it is a matter of logistics. This is an area of improvement since it has caused many complaints not only during this cruise but we remember having seen it also before our cruise in discussions of Oceania cruises at the Cruise Critics Forum.
Despite of this, we are very satisfied with the quality of food and wine during our cruise.
About the shore excursions
I guess the main complaint about the shore excursions with Oceania are the prices and that the excursion’s team is not really interested in providing port information unless you have booked an excursion with them. We have booked only two ship excursions and they were fine. Since we have done many things on our own in the ports, we could see that prices of excursions when bought locally were half the price. I am not sure who is getting the overheads for those inflated prices for excursions. Anyhow, we consider this a weakness.
About the shops and the services at the Spa
Similar to the shore excursions, the prices at the Spa are very expensive even comparing to other ocean cruise lines. So we did not use those services.
The shops unfortunately, did not have in our opinion, a good selection of products. We were lucky that we did not choose the option of non refundable on board credit as part of the Olife offer. We would have been in trouble spending it.
About the officers, the crew and service on board
We are very satisfied with the excellent service on board the Sirena. The restaurant managers, sommeliers, waiters and cabin attendants were efficient and friendly. We did not experience any situation, in which who could have had a reason to complain.
The Manager, Rafaelle Cinque, the Cruise Director and the Concierge were always available and taking corrective action in case of need. We are happy to have cruise with such high qualified and friendly officers and we hope to meet them again.
A BIG thanks to all of them. They have made us feel at home and have treated us, as if we were very important persons.
Our overall assessment of our cruise with the Oceania Sirena is that it was a very good cruise. We would certainly now actively look for Oceania offers when we are looking for future cruises.
Our thanks go also to the cruise critic members, who have followed my live thread. You have encouraged me with your interest and comments to share our experiences with you. It was not always easy, since I was some days lazy, but you an me, made it together.
Have happy cruises!