Marina Cruise Review by NorthCoastCruisers
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Concierge Level
Ship and Cabin: As I said the size was great. Lots of seating in the common areas (although the Terrace Cafe got pretty crowded at dinner time). Our Concierge Suite was nice with lots of storage for our clothes and room under the bed for our suitcases. Saw lots of debate about Concierge cost vrs. perks but have to say that in this port intensive cruise we appreciated being able to have a hot breakfast delivered to us prior to our tours. Also we often did not get lunch ashore and missed lunch service so the little sandwiches in the Concierge Lounge were welcomed. I took advantage of the expresso machine in the lounge first thing every morning. We also took full advantage of the 3 free bags of laundry. So for us this choice worked well.
Dining: We ate in all four specialty restaurants and our favorites were Red Ginger and Pollo. Red Ginger was delicious and everything was presented beautifully we were seated with another couple and had a good time. Our only cons would be the noise level in the restaurant was terrible and the seats had such a back slant that they were very uncomfortable - not surprisingly these comments repeated themselves when we talked with other passengers. Pollo was also delicious and we did not the same issue with noise and comfort. My husband liked Jacques but I was not such a fan. I would rate it okay. Really did not like Toscana - my veal scallopini marsala was a disaster, more like veal picatta that had been but in a different sauce. The Caesar Salad was tasteless. One thing that Oceania does with the specialty restaurants is you either have to chose dine with others or dine alone and that choice applies to all of the restaurants. At all the restaurants except Jacques we were seated with one other couple, at Jacques (which was on our Anniversary - something they knew in advance) we were seated with two couples one of which was a conversation dominator - it was the least enjoyable dinner of the cruise. Enjoyed the main dining room where we sometimes dined with others and sometimes dined alone. Terrace Cafe was my least favorite but I do not like buffets, my husband was fine with it. Had breakfast and lunch a couple of times at Waves and had the best rueben sandwich I have ever had. We also enjoyed the fresh juice bar in the morning and Baristas.
Entertainment and Activities: After a full day we found we were too tired for the Evening Entertainment so we never made it to any of the shows. I did do one of the culinary kitchen classes and enjoyed it, I think if you like cooking you would enjoy these classes. Also went to a photography class that was supposed to be on using Photoshop - it was a complete waste of time. Stayed for the painting class which was fun, although I am definately no painter. Went to a "so called" scarf tying class, which taught me a few new ways but was more about selling scarves.
Service: Great, we are pretty low maintenance but everyone was very helpful. My husband needed help at the Terrace Cafe and there was always someone to carry his plate for him from station to station.
Ports and Shore excursions: We enjoyed all 12 different ports of call. Had nine excursions, 2 private and 7 ship tours. Of the ships tours only two were not great - Highlights of Barcelona and Montserrat was the worst - just a total bore (since it was the first tour of the trip we were very apprehensive about our next tours) and the one in Palma de Mallorca was much more intensive then stated (it was supposed to be appropriate for wheelchairs) and my husband was hard pressed to stay up with the guide. We really enjoyed our Valencia tour and the one to Herculaneum was a stand out alternative to Pompeii. We did one O select excursion to an Olive Orchard - when we arrived on ship we found out that the location had been changed but since we had booked a group of tours for the discount we we not allowed to make any changes. The new location did not have the same type of tour and while the host was great and the lunch delicious it was less than advertised and, in our opinion, way over priced. Our two private tours - one in Monaco to Eze, Nice (which was experiencing a government employee strike and had streets closed so we ended up not stopping) and St. Paul de Vence (my favorite stop for shopping) - we did this tour with a couple we met on Cruise Critic Roll Call and it worked out great; and a our second tour was in Liverno to Florence for the Ufizzi and L'Academia with a private guide. Both tours were through Papillon Services and we have nothing but high praise for them.
We have nothing but high praise for Oceania's tender crews. We experienced some big swells and they managed to get us safely off and on the ship. Even my husband, with his balance issues, started to fall backwards once but the two tenders caught him as he was falling and helped him get is balance and get him seated. In Monaco it was so bad that they ended up cancelling the tenders around 6 PM, luckily the ship was already scheduled to dock later that evening and we were able to get on board once they docked. When the tenders were cancelled the officer told us "be glad we are shutting it down, it would have been the worse tender in your life" and the stories from the people on that last tender certainly backed his words up. Everyone was safely gotten on board but it was a very scary trip and only the tender workers skill kept everyone safe.
Pre and Post Hotel Experience: This is were things kind of fell apart especially the Post Hotel. First of all Oceania really provides no information in advance. We were on our own in Barcelona our departure port. Luckily my husband requires wheelchair assistance and our wheel chair helper was familiar with where the Oceania Rep. would be waiting (although there were two locations and he was at the second one). We had our own limo and the Oceania Rep traveled with us to the hotel - it was a silent ride until I started asking questions and then the Rep started giving us an introduction to Barcelona, since the trip took an hour from the airport to the hotel his introduction was welcome. Our hotel was very nice (Ohala Eixample), Oceania had no pre stay events but we did learn that breakfast was included (and it was excellent). We were exhausted and in bed by 8.
Rome Hotel was a mess. The ladies who greeted us were frazzeled. We were given one time for our departure (two days later) and then a different time was posted on the board and no one was there to ask (even though they said someone would be there). We ended up using the time on the board and it was an hour early - so there we are all checked out with no where to go. My husband and I were second in line to check in with them and they made us sit down and wait to be called. Then as more people lined up they started taking people in order - huh? Breakfast was just okay - a separate buffet from the hotel restaurant.
Rome Airport was a whole other story. Our driver spoke no english, which he repeatedly told us, but we were greeted by an Oceania Rep who had a cart and walked us to our check-in. He dealt with the check-in, they noticed that no wheelchair had been ordered and they got one for us. I asked about security and shoes, electronics, toiletries ect. and he explained it all. Cudos to him and Oceania.
If we go again I think we have learned that 12 ports is a couple of ports too many. I would not hesitate to use Oceania, all in all it was an unforgettable trip.
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