So far we have always cruised on Oceania’s Riviera but decided to “pay a visit” to her older sister, the M/S Marina. The Transatlantic Passage from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro began on November 28th and ended on December 14th. We flew into Lisbon a day early and stayed over at a hotel close to the port.
On the embarkation day the departure from the cruise terminal was very disorganized and chaotic; no special area for suites guests to wait, in fact Regent was embarking their guests in the same hall at the same time with no clear separation. As we arrived without luggage tags (not our fault), we worried for a while that our luggage may end up on the wrong ship. Eventually, we were sent off to do the registration on board but it was not clear how to get there. All of a sudden an agent showed up and indicated which door to exit to board the ship. We had to follow others hoping it was the right way. It turned out that the ship was located at about ¼ of a mile away and we all walked off into strong, cold winds. All the usual procedures (info, Credit Cards, photos, etc.) were done at the Marina’s reception desk. It was indeed, a very unusual and surprising way to embark.
It is impossible not to compare the two ships; the layouts are the same, locations of restaurants, lounges, spa, exercise room, etc. are located exactly on the same decks and area. The clearest differences (for our taste) were in general, the art work; by far Riviera is much superior and Marina looks/feels older though it’s quite well maintained.
*Cabin PH# 11011 – Nothing was different from the PH on Riviera except some additions like a lighted table mirror, very good to be used to trim your beard or mustache! (or for the ladies to apply makeup) and very much needed wall hooks in the walking closet (good for ties, belts, hand bags). The beds were very soft and the quilt/cover sheet was too heavy making it awkward to handle. The Butler (Mani from India), Executive Concierge (Marlenia/Dominican Rep.), Suite Steward (Carolina/Honduras) and her Assistant (Manuel/Philippines) were outstanding with their prompt and perfect services and they all made this too long cruise more enjoyable. Mani went out of his way to clean spots off of suede shoes. All were very friendly and courteous.
We arrived one day early and stayed at the hotel Turim less than 5 minutes from port by taxi. That evening we enjoyed a fantastic light meal at a local restaurant called the Cantina Ze Avillez on Rua dos Bacalhoeiros. The meal was prepared by a kitchen that had a staff of more than 12 people, outstanding service and food.
*Arrecife – There is nothing worthwhile to see on your own so if you don’t mind to go thru the ‘tour hassle’ I mentioned above, better to take any of the ship’s guided tours.
*Tenerife – Walked to the center of town (long walk and not as nice as it was in Cadiz). We got there on a Sunday, meaning that ALL the outdoor bars and restaurants were taken over by big families with a lot of kids (running and screaming around tables). We walked around trying to find some nice and tranquil place but this was not possible so we went right back to the ship. Advice: again take a ship tour, especially if you arrive on a Sunday!