This was our third Oceania cruise; but it will not be our last. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, with so many fascinating stops. Probably most passengers selected this particular line and cruise because of 3 days in St. Petersburg; but it was the embarkation port of Stockholm and disembarkation at Amsterdam that made it even better for us; as we spent a few extra days at both ends, visiting Swedish and Dutch friends/seeing what they were most proud about in their hometowns.
We like the larger Oceania ships because of the wider choice of specialty restaurants, Red Ginger being our favorite. We like the variety in the Terrace Café; but not the crowds, and only went there when we knew most passengers would be off on shore excursions. Main Dining Room has upped their game, and we no longer feel disappointed to not get into a specialty restaurant - the meals in the MDR are pretty darned good. The treat of a window seat at breakfast in the MDR can't be beat, even if you are eating alone. Our only complaint regarding food was the quality of the beef on this trip. After a few disappointments in Polo, Toscana and the MDR, we stayed away from steaks.
A few weeks before our sail date, we were offered an upgrade from Penthouse to Oceania Suite, 11080. My husband has recently been having some mobility issues; so the additional space was welcome and the upgrade price was not off putting. We are among the passengers who take advantage of the butler service, for hot in room breakfasts, shoe shines, in room specialty restaurant dining and all the little touches that a butler can add. Roger, from Goa, was splendid. He was VERY attentive, whether in our suite or in the hallways. He always anticipated our needs. Our steward, Ludavina, and her assistant, Ilsy, were equally efficient and friendly.
We took advantage of the classes in the Culinary Center and were delighted to have Annie Copps as the instructor. We had Annie on a previous cruise on the Riviera and love her style of teaching. The classes have been shortened by a half hour; although Annie generally goes a bit over. Everything we made was delicious.
In our three cruises, we have yet to make it to the evening entertainment. We do love the live music in other venues. We did go to High Tea several times - lovely service of sweets and savory with a good choice of tea.
We tried LuggageFree.com this time, pre-shipping our larger, heavier suitcases. They were at the door when we arrived at our room at noon on embarkation days. Disembarkation using this service did not go as smoothly; as most employees in the Port of Amsterdam were unfamiliar with the service. In the end, all was well, and our bags arrived at home a few days ahead of the promised delivery. We will use this service again.
We took only two shore excursions with Oceania, Helsinki Panoramic by Water and Panoramic Gdansk. The tour guide on the first was boring and a bit hard to understand, and the tour was generally disappointing. The guide in Gdansk was exceptional, knowledgeable, good English skills and the tour was interesting. However, the tour was listed as Easy, with little walking, which was not the case. One person of the 13 on the tour actually choose to stay on the bus and napped, because he could not walk distances. More than an hour into a walk on cobblestone, I asked the guide how much longer we were going to be walking; as many of us had chosen the excursion because it was listed as having minimal walking. She responded by letting those of us who wanted to shop or get something to drink separated for 40 minutes - 6 of us went to a sidewalk café and had a cold beverage, 2 went off shopping, and the other 4 stayed with the guide.
We did the first day of the 2-day Comfort Tour in St. Petersburg with Alla. It was very well done; but the long morning in the crowded Hermitage nearly did my husband in, even with his walker. Lunch at a nice small restaurant was delicious, canal cruise was lovely, and there was just enough time for souvenir shopping (World Cup stuff for my grandchildren). We did Bruges on our own - sharing a taxi from port to town with another couple. Loved our day there!!!! Hop On Hop Off in Copenhagen was a bit disappointing; but the shopping adjacent to the dock was great for gifts and amber.
Actually enjoyed this more than the Vista Suite we had in the Med. The aft deck wrapped around, for better views. And, unlike the Vista, we could keep the curtains open as we sailed at night. The Media Room is a great trade-off for the Vista's exercise room. Although it's tiny, it was a great place to get away and watch TV and videos. Living/dining area was great. So was the bedroom and large bath. Walk-in closet provided plenty of room for our six suitcases. Loved getting a bowl of fresh fruit daily, the full bar (six bottles of spirits) and the afternoon canopes (but wish they'd change that menu). Some noise from the deck of the Terrace Café above, but no big deal.
Stayed three nights at Clarion Collection Hotel Wellington. Lovely boutique hotel recommended by Rick Steves. Met Swedish friend for two days of touring. Great city for walking. Bus and boat tours were great. Great food everwhere.
Guide was weak, hard to understand. Boring. Rain didn't help. Couldn't wait for it to be over.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A bit more strenuous than advertised; but the guide was excellent and we did a lot in the time spent. Hermitage in the morning - pretty crowded, with the extra tourists in town for the World Cup. Good little restaurant with typical Russian food for lunch - Borscht was very good. Cathedral and canal tour in afternoon. A quick break for souvenir shopping. Skipped Day Two, as we were just too tired.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Took the ship shuttle to the base of Old Town. Took a moped there with a delightful 19 year old college student pedaling us around/strapped my husband's walker to the roof of the moped. He gave us a super tour for a couple hours. I think we saw just about everything, and stopped for photos. A bit $$$$; but for someone with mobility issues, it was perfect.
Beautiful town was quite the surprise. Guide was excellent and was able to answer all of our questions. Long walking tour of the Old Town on cobblestones. Bus part of the tour was interesting; as we were able to see the influence of Russian control too. More walking than advertised; but the tour was worth the fee.View All undefined undefined Reviews
As advertised, but a bit $$$. OK overview of the city which was super crowded with tourists. Went to Little Mermaid, which was the biggest traffic jam of tour buses one could imagine.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Shared a taxi with a couple we met on Cruise Critic and spend the day on our own in this beautiful city. Did a canal tour and a bus tour - glad we did both; as there are some things that you can't see from one or the other. Husband also took horse drawn carriage ride; while I consumed fantastic mussels & frites at a café on the center square by the clock tower. Of course, we bought chocolates - OMG!!! Perfect day!!
Stayed on after disembarkation at the NH Collection Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square. Lovely hotel, great location. Complimentary breakfast buffet is the BEST we've ever seen - like a grand ballroom, with long tables of everything you can imagine. Hotel staff is wonderful, so helpful.
Spend two days with Dutch friends. Indonesian dinner at Indrapura on Rembrandplein was delicious. Tried the tram - great public transportation and friendly, helpful passengers. Beautiful drive in the country to Breukelen, along the Vecht, with many windmills and dairy farms. Lunch at a café in Breukelen, followed by a drive to our hosts' home in Loenen ad Vecht for dessert. Perfect way to end our holiday in Europe.