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Nautica Cruise Review
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
360 Reviews

Oceania vs. Princess

Nautica Cruise Review by rlb1950

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jul 2019
  • Destination: Norwegian Fjords
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View

For those interested in a comparison, let's look at the differences between Oceania and Princess. We were on the 18-day Dublin-Copenhagen segment. This was our first cruise with Oceania. We are elite with Princess. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary: Norway and northern Russian ports.

Oceania has considerably less merchandising pressure. There is no crew of photographers. The crew seems under less pressure to sell extras. There are no "cruise ship art" events. Speciality coffees and sparkling water are available without extra charge. Speciality restaurants are available without extra charge. On the other hand, the cheapest bottle of wine on Oceania is about $10 a bottle more than on Princess. That generally put wine above what I was willing to pay.

The ship felt less crowded and there was never a problem finding outdoor seating (although the Northern itinerary may have had something to do with that). 650 passengers instead of thousands does make for a different (and pleasant) experience.

Oceania does live up to its reputation for good food. The dining room food was consistently a notch better than Princess. The buffet food was also very good. However, the buffet was typically more crowded than I'm used to on Princess.

Our cabin (C1 ocean view) was equivalent to what we'd expect on Princess. Surprisingly, the cabin steward was good, but not as good as is typical on Princess.

There were two ship lecturers. We only went to the lectures by one, but she was outstanding (https://cruisethroughhistory.com}.

I liked the smaller venue for ship shows, although the noise level (at times 90db or more) was louder than I'd like.

Passenger demographics: Oceania is a bit older and fellow passengers are on average wealthier. They also have a tendency to provide lots of details on their previous exotic Oceania cruises. At first that was useful, since we've not been on Oceania before, but enough was enough....

Shore excursions are overpriced. We generally don't book ship excursions, but we took their tours to make life easier for the three Russian ports, and we booked the bird safari at North Cape (a mistake).

In Lerwick we hired a cab for the day. I tried to rent a car, but waited too long. I'd recommend planning ahead and getting a car. Even if you feel a bit uncomfortable driving in the UK, traffic on Shetland Island is thin.

We walked around Bergen, a lovely port. Instead of the Oceania excursion to Mt. Floyen, we booked in advance on-line (https://www.floyen.no/en). Efficient and lots less money.

In Kristiansund, there is a company that takes off from the cruise dock and heads up the local fjord for a lot less than Oceania.

The Russian tours were fine, although private packages would have saved money.

North Cape was a good tour — but we could have done it for less than half the Oceania price on our own. My advice is to rent a car (there is a company at the pier that will rent a car for 1500 NOK). That would allow both the bird safari and a drive up to North Cape, and save a whole lot of money. Thee is also a public bus, although an expensive one, from the pier to North Cape. The tourist office at the pier has the details.

Although the cruise to Flam is spectacular, I can't say I'd recommend the railroad trip — but if you do take it, don't book with Oceania. You can either book on-line in advance or buy a ticket once you get there. Flam itself is a town of about 500 that absorbs thousands of cruise ship passengers, and is entirely uninteresting on its own.

Cabs in Copenhagen (Uber withdrew from the city) are readily available at the cruise terminal and will set you back less than the Oceania transfer.

In sum, Oceania is about twice the price (or more). If I had a choice between them I'd take Princess assuming identical itineraries. However, Oceania's smaller ships bring one to places Princess doesn't. I wouldn't hesitate to book Oceania again — but only if the itinerary was one that Princess could not match.


rlb1950's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean View
Cabin C1 4051

Entirely acceptable. The location was excellent, and the noise level low.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Lerwick (Shetland Islands)

We found a cab. Considerably cheaper than the Oceania tour and much more flexible. I'd also suggest renting a car (do so in advance). Even if you are nervous about driving in the UK, traffic on Shetland Island is light.

Alesund

There is a local company at the dock that will sell your a cruise up the local fjord at a reasonable price.

Bergen

Don't book a ship tour. If you want to go to Mr. Floyen, you can book a ticket in advance and save a lot of money (https://www.floyen.no/en).

Flam

The cruise to Flam is delightful. The town itself isn't. I wouldn't recommend the pricey railroad trip, but if you do it don't take the ship tour. You can book a ticket in advance or buy one at the town when you arrive.


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rlb1950
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