My wife and I are frequent cruisers and chose this cruise as an alternative to the all inclusive lines where we always are charged for something we don't take part in. We also used this cruise to determine if we wanted to hold or cancel a 45 day trip on this ship next year out of New Zealand & the South Pacific.
Our embarkation in Miami was swift and without incident. Our first port out of Miami was Havana which was absolutely wonderful. Then things started to go downhill, as we did not touch land for the next 5 days.
My number one complaint with Regatta was that the ship has trouble maintaining its published schedule. On the previous cruise the ship missed at least one port and was 3 to 4 hours late into Nassau. On leaving Havana we were told that we would be several hours late into our next port, Cartagena, Columbia due to "minor technical difficulties" (a good friend says this is code for "we are now going to lie to you"). We did not have a long scheduled call in Cartagena and sure enough we arrived just after lunch and departed almost an hour later, without ever going to a dock or even dropping the anchor. You could see it but not touch it.
The canal was fantastic as always, but the next port was Costa Rica, a much appreciated stop.
The following port in Nicaragua was missed account political unrest, code for rioting. Oceania must get a pass as it is out of their control. Subsequent stops were in Acapulco and Cabo. Low and behold, we were about 45 minutes late into Cabo. A trend is developing ....
On leaving Cabo San Lucas it quickly became apparent that we would not be on time into San Francisco. The ship provides basic navigation data (Chanel 3 on the room TV) and it was not too hard to do a speed and distance calculation on the number of hours needed to travel the remaining distance. 36 hours later the ship admitted what I already knew and then the natives became very restless when it was obvious that they would miss flights in San Fran (my wife and I were continuing on to Alaska). Off of LA the ship diverted around military maneuvers making the late train later.
Any ship making a passenger change out needs to arrive around 6 AM to have max time to swap, clean and provision. Our San Fran arrival was at 2:30 PM, and it was a disaster. After arrival we were told to sit in the show lounge to await clearance. This took about 1.5 to 2 hours during which almost no announcements were made. We later learned that US Customs was to blame, but no one came on to blame them and comfort the rapidly rising blood pressures. We later learned that those getting on were equally frustrated and I'll bet that there is a review out there from one of those folks.
When we finally got off, we (through passengers - there were about 40) were given a much shortened bus tour of San Francisco. On returning we were greeted by a mob scene of new passengers trying to board. We reboarded, cleaned up and went to the city for dinner rather than face those mad folks, some of whom never got the word that the ship would be late.
Later we learned that we would spend the night in San Francisco and leave at 10 am and would, again, miss another port - Astoria, Oregon, one which we had greatly looked forward to.
After missing that port, things got back on schedule. On the last port we did leave 2 hours early to make our last port of Vancouver, on time.
In all we missed 25% of our scheduled ports. We had planned on a full day in San Fran, instead we got off close to 5 PM and had to be on board the next morning at 9 AM. I spoke with ships management about the delays, as many others did as well. The delays were blamed on weather. Yes, we had headwinds, but as I pointed out, any ship should have head winds 50% of the time. I refused the excuse and using facts about missed ports simply explained that that many missed ports (search other reviews on this site as well) indicates a problem. One of two statements is true: The ship cannot maintain tight schedules account mechanical issues OR the team responsible for planning and scheduling has made grave errors and not allowed for any "wiggle room" on longer segments.
Overall, the missed ports and lateness really ruined the cruise for us. We have been on crossings (Atlantic) with fewer sea days. On board though the rest of the cruise was very good to excellent.
On board service was excellent. We never had an issue. The service staff, largely Filipino and Indonesian was better than many of the ultra luxury lines. This great service was in bars, restaurants, cabin service etc.
The quality of the food in the specialty restaurants was excellent. 5 stars for both. The buffets and main restaurants had a few issues. I would rate these at about 4 stars. The only bad item encountered was pizza which looked like the stuff you buy in an American convenience store.
Related to the food is a problem that can't be solved. Both segments were full. On arrival at the Veranda buffet, you knew it. There wasn't a table to be found unless you hovered waiting for someone to get up or eat at an odd time. This held true for breakfast and lunch and I'm not sure about dinner as we are not buffet eaters at dinner. Yes, we could storm the door upon opening but that is not our style. When you did get a table you faced a mass of people at the food stations and there wasn't much room to move.
My wife and I purchased a beverage package. Having sailed on all inclusive lines, we didn't want to worry about every drink. If we want only an additional 1/2 glass of wine, at the end of dinner then no problem. The problem occurs that having paid for the beverage package, you still had to present your room card. We were told that this was for accounting and inventory control. After several days the crew knew we had the package, yet we had to always present at least one card, a real pain when you are trying to get up and go.
Approaching San Francisco I tried to get a beer with lunch. Oh no - it didn't happen. Despite having paid for it the system closed to the old passengers as they prepared for the new. Real reason - once they closed out the old they couldn't charge them anymore. There was zero accommodation for those of us going through. Luckily, I bought a bottle of rum in Havana, so we retreated to the room and opened it!
Overall the ship is showing its 20 years of age, though Oceania works to keep it up. The interior is beautiful with fine woodwork and paintings. Carpets have an Oriental theme, public chairs are plush though some areas show signs of aging, with torn lamp shades and other minor things. Outside, you won't find much rust, though you will find many layers of paint which indicate repeated paintings. The pool had 1 inch square tiles which were falling off in mass. The crew was gluing back plastic replacements, which were again falling off.
Our travel agent warned us not to expect much for entertainment. We found that she was wrong as we enjoyed almost all of the entertainment, including the ships shows (we saw them all twice). However, like the Veranda, if there was a popular show you better arrive early as the lounge did not accommodate everyone. On at least 2 nights we left because there were no seats available.
Another note needs to be addressed that was a negative, though possibly unavoidable incident. The ship underwent a GI "protocol". Yes - the Norovirus appeared. We knew something was up leaving Acapulco when the cruise director came on the noon updated suggesting that anyone with stomach issues report to the doctor for a free consultation. Given a previous Oceania experience (see my January review on the Riviera) the treatment would not be free. Within 24 hours, full protocol was in effect. The ship took away things that multiple folks would touch. Not nuts trays or appetizers with cocktails. No cream, sugar, salt pepper or bread trays. No water set out for anyone to take. No menus in leather holders. On arrival, tables were bare and staff brought everything, but left nothing. Through it all both the fitness center and casino remained open, which I found interesting. The protocol or reactive management is set by CDC. However, reviews on this site indicate that this is not a first for Regatta. Passengers who showed symptoms were quarantined for 48 hours. In one case they escaped and security had to run them down. The protocol went until 2 days north of San Francisco when things gradually returned to normal. In total we had 5 days of limited service. The protocal also called for extra cleaning in San Francisco which further added to the woes of being late with new passengers arriving.
We also found that the dress code on Oceania left something to be desired. The line allows shorts after 6 anywhere except the dining room(s). You can also wear baseball caps. Most dressed nicely, but there are always a few who have to take full advantage. Many dressed nicely for the specialty restaurants, but it was not enjoyable to be in the bar with a coat and tie on sitting next to an individual in a jogging suit with his hat on backwards.
We enjoyed a penthouse with butler service. The room was wider which made a big difference. See the review below.
In conclusion, this may not be the line for us. We have many nights on Seabourn, Crystal and Regent. All are all inclusive though all have been taking big price increases. I suspect that we will be back at some point though it will be in a Penthouse or Oceania Suite on one of the 2 larger ships. And, it won't likely be a long voyage.
If you are moving up from Celebrity, Holland America, RCL or NCL, you will most likely love Oceania. Due to the feeling of being cramped at public venues, (plus the other listed issues) we just don't like it. Oceania puts almost 700 people into a 30,000 ton vessel while Seabourn has less than 500 in the same tonnage ship.
New Zealand trip canceled.
The room is wide - a real plus. It is 50% wider than standard rooms on lower decks. We loved the sitting area. Two nice chairs with a large comfortable sofa. Your bed is close to the sitting area which my wife did not like.
Balcony chairs were 2nd rate. The room was clearly not new but at the same time was far from threadbare.
The room is much smaller than Penthouses on the lines we have traveled. The space is taken away in the closet and bathroom.
The closet was a cabinet, not a walk-in, we could live with it and after discussion we would not give up living space account the closet.
The bathroom was a "one butt bathroom". Don't even think about trying to have two there at one time. There was a tub shower. This required that you step up and in to get into either the tub or shower. Anyone with even the slightest mobility issues would have problems.
Our butler was somewhat of a tough nut to crack. He was extremely efficient, but not the most personable. We did finally get him to come out of his shell a bit and, because he did everything asked, promptly, he revived a tip and max stars on the comment card.
We loved the cabin stewardess and assistant, both very personable and efficient.
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