The cruise had a fabulous itinerary and we chose it for that. We were not disappointed. The cruise was amazing and the ports were phenomenal. Everything was interesting and easily explored. Sometimes we had to travel a distance from port to the points of interest but that is often to be expected with a cruise. We could not have been more pleased with the choice of ports.
We arranged for private shore excursions and were so happy we did. In 2 ports we took ship tours because there were no private tours available. In Limassol, Cyprus, the tour was OK - not great, but interesting. In Salalah, Oman, the tour was absolutely terrible. The ship should have given everyone a refund of the money they charged. The tour was to be 4 hours and it ended up being 2 1/2 hours because of immigration problems. However, the tour was terrible, uninteresting and not worth even $25. Just horrible. We complained, as did many other people. My recommendation is to stay away from ship tours if at all possible.
The ship was lovely and it was kept very clean. We had a problem, however, with service in the Grand Dining Room and in Waves Grill. Both seemed to be short-staffed. Many times there were tables that needed to be bussed at Waves. Since this is an outdoor venue and the weather was lovely, many people wanted to sit outside but we had to bus our own tables sometimes. The staff just couldn't keep up with it. The service in the GDR was excruciatingly slow most nights. We didn't find the wait staff overly friendly - certainly not as it had been on other Oceania sailings. Something was off on this sailing and it was noticeable to many. The menu in the GDR was unspectacular and often plain boring. Several nights there was nothing that any of us wanted. The Jaques Pepin menu never changed and was very tired by the end of the cruise. The specialty restaurants were much better, with better service and food. We found Toscana a bit more to our liking than Polo Grill because the wait staff was better. The food was more inconsistent in Polo Grill, too, but both were FAR better than the GDR. We were able to eat 6 times in the specialty restaurants and we were very glad we could b/c the GDR was just not up to Oceania's normal standards. Add poor service to that on some nights - a 15 minute wait for a waiter to even come to the table!! - and it was a recipe for dissatisfaction.
We always went to Happy Hour in Horizons and had one server who was outstanding, Beverly. She was attentive, knew our drink selections after the 2nd day and was always cheerful. If we didn't sit in her section, she would come to us and ask us why we weren't sitting in her section. She really cared about us and proved that good service is still possible on Oceania. She made our evenings so very enjoyable.
Our cabin was always kept clean, however, when we first arrived, we did not see our cabin steward until the next day! This is unheard of. We knew the name of our attendant but we never saw him. I called for extra hangers and they took forever to arrive. Poor service there on the first day. When we finally saw our cabin steward the next morning, we found out it was not the one who had been assigned to us. The steward originally assigned to us had left the ship in the embarkation port. We figured that there had been some personnel problems b/c surely they would not have assigned him to our cabins had they known he was leaving. Still, no word of explanation nor was there an apology for the replacement. And we still would not have met our new steward if it hadn't been for the fact that he was in the hall when we left the cabin the next morning. Another "off" thing about this sailing.
The Cruise Director, Julie James, is a bit tired and long in the tooth. She was our Cruise Director once before and we didn't think she was all that great. She is friendly and bubbly but that's about it. She doesn't expend a lot of energy getting to know her crowd. We have had CDs who are much more engaged with the passengers. The production entertainment staff was engaging and the kids worked really hard but they were not all that good. They were as cute as they could be but they didn't seem to be that skilled. Sometimes off key in the singing. The dancers were very good and far more skilled. The hired entertainers (magician, musician, flautist) were excellent. They could not have been better and we enjoyed them tremendously.
The professional lecturers were outstanding and we enjoyed their presentations. Since we were seeing so many foreign ports, their input and information was extremely valuable and helpful.
All in all, we have loved Oceania and are willing to give this cruise experience in the cabin and dining room areas a pass. Perhaps something was going on that we were not aware of as passengers. Certainly, we have experienced a much better Oceania in the past. We hope that this is not becoming the standard because if it is, we will be turning our allegiance elsewhere. An outstanding itinerary cannot make up for some of the issues we found.
Nice cabin. Small but quite doable. The cabin is like many other ship's cabins but it is well appointed and the bedding and bed are quite luxurious. The shower is very small and a large person would have great difficulty in it. We made do. Overall, the cabin was fine and was comfortable. The only improvement (aside from the shower and bathroom) would be a couch that could actually seat 2 people. This couch was really only good for seating 1 person. That said, there is no other spot for someone to sit, so if one is on the couch, with no room for another, the only place to sit is on the bed. A slightly larger couch would help.