As first time cruisers with Oeania, chose this cruise for two reasons: (1) had reserved twice and cancelled because found very similar cruise at almost the same price with Regent Seven Seas, and (2) this cruise took us to places we wanted to see again (Dubrovnik, Kotor, Valeta, Monaco, Marseille), price was very attractive and the potential alternative (RSS) is no longer in quality and value what it once was.
Our experience began arriving at Venice 3 days before embarkation only to encounter record flooding forcing us to almost swim to our hotel just off Piazza San Marco and again swim to emark on the Riviera. Fortunately, we were able to find a porter to take our bagggage and buy boots to waddle behind him.. Embarkation was OK, having to walk under the drizzling rain for abour half a mile, but quick and easier than expected.
Cabin was as expected, not large but not small, adequate balcony, very well maintained and excellent attendants. Bathroom much larger than expected with all the amenities expected, shower equally as expected. And by expected we mean in terms of Oceani's own promotional advertising and our own perception comparing other cruise lines we have experieced such as Azamara, Cunard, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas.
Dining was much better than expected even though twice we found hairs in our meals. The quality and variety of the food quite good, if not excellent, served by crew members who prevented passengers from touching the food even when doing so would not have affected other food. Service was not only clean and efficient, but very friendly and helpful. All dining areas were bigger and amplier than in most other ships we have cruised, with the decoration very comfortable, if not attractive. Very few times were we forced to wait for a table, which upon being vacated were immediatly cleaned and prepared for use again.
Better than expected, since it constantly attracted our attention, was the quality and variety of fruits at breakfast time, especially tropical frutis like papaya and mango, along with kiwi, which were almost always ripe and sweet. Less than expected, the variety of plain bread (as opposed to sweetened breads and pastries), such as what one finds at bakeries and in fact in ALL other ships we have cruised (especialoly european style breads, which are much better than american style breads). We tried breakfast at the main dining room once and decided it was not for us. We never visited the main dining room at lunch and only once for dinner, both times deciding it was not for us.. (No comment regarding food and service,)
The buffet lunch was equally good in quality and variety , as was the buffet dinner (although we frequented the specialty restaurants as often as we could, considering them much better in all respects. Particularly Polo Grill and Red Ginger, without implying that Jacques and Toscana were inferior.
Significantly more attractive than the other three was the service at Red Ginger and in our view the quality and variety of offers at the Polo Grill was superior to the other three. But all were excellent and we recommend taking advantage of them every time possible.
Entertainment was for us good but not excellent. In our view, the singers were not what we expected in terms of profoundness and extension of voice. Their dancing was very good, but as in other ships rather mechanical and repetitive. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the performances and would suggest Oeania add more comics, magicians (the one who performed was above excellence and should be hired as a permanent contributor) and classical piano performers.
In this respect, a comment regarding the theater. Although excellent in seat comfort and amplitud, we consider it should be improved by either raising the stage or increasing the incline. It is very difficult to really enjoy performances from the back because of insufficient incline or the stage too low.
At the various bars and public rooms such as Horizon, the performers were all excellent, particularly when playing classical mushic. Suggest adding more music appropriate to the predominantly elderly passengers (such as us) with pieces from the 30s to the 50s.
The pool area actually better than expected because of its size and comfort. The elevators very efficient and ample, although at times somewhat unavailable due to excessive traffic, which is to be expected. Our Consierge was excellent and the facility equally excellent, both in all respects, as our two cabin attendants. We did have difficulties with the toilet, which several times decided to have its own way forcing us to call for help from the Reception to reestablish its proper functioning condition. We do not know the cause and look forward to having it permanently fixed as soon as possible.
Reception staff was efficient but we found it too serious and somewhat unfriendly in many occasions, perhaps because of their long hours at work and the many requests they may have been receiving from guests like us. Hence, not what we expected, when comparing with other cruise ships we know. Bar tenders, on the other hand, were at all times very friendly although not as efficient or well prepared as perhaps they could or should have been. In this respect, we do praise Oceania for its Happy Hours that reduced the price of drinks by half, since their premium package is overwhelmingly unreachable ($59.95 pp/day meaning daily ingestion of 4 drinks at an average price of $15 per drink to just cover the cost, whether wine or spirits), since walking to one/s cabin was not always smooth.
Excursions were as expected, including the tenders when needed. Well organized and exercised. Excursion staff, however, not very helpful in resolving issues. This happened to us with respect to disembarkation, which they could have easily resolved but insisted they could (would) not. In the end, what we had requested became null because the ship did not apply its established rules, deciding in favor of the flexibility we had requested (we are sure this had nothing to do with our request, rather due to port authorities).
Finally, we were surpried to see so many passengers with disabilities, more than what we expected, even when we have cruised on Regent Seven Seas (many times) and Cunard (also many times), and even more surprised with the excellent service to attend to those in need, at all times and at all places. Even when not necessary or needed, some crew member would appear to serve if and as required, quite often even when not required, just in case. Hence, the cruise line's demonstrated preparedmess at all times, even if or when affecting passenger tranquility -- frequent crew exercises and avoiding two planned ports (Spanish Canary Islands) because of a potentially troublesome ocean, enabling us to enjoy two additional days at sea (which was minimally motioned, in my opinion although no in my wife's opinion).
Excellent. Se our comment above