We choose this as our first experience with Oceania, as it offered an itinerary to match an anniversary celebration. Travelling on a newly refurbished ship, and the marketing around service and food were deciding factors also. Up to now, we had only cruised Seabourn (4), Silversea (3), Crystal (1), Sea Dream (1).
We enjoyed the cruise very much, but unfortunately some areas did disappoint. The marketing of this brand is excellent, but in my opinion, over promises in some areas, and under delivers in reality.
The ship refurbishment in most areas was beautiful, but it was just a pity that they seemed to miss some areas. Specifically the Terrace restaurant which we found cramped in the buffet area, and the furniture and lighting is dated. The ambience was dreary. The serving areas very dated too. We would not sit inside, and were lucky to always find a space outside, albeit often sharing a table. All other dining venues were very pleasant on the whole, although personally we felt that the main dining room would have benefited from lighter window treatments, to make it a little more contemporary.
Our penthouse suite was beautiful and I much preferred it to similar size accommodation on Seabourn/Silversea. You may have a smaller bathroom and no walk in closet, but storage was ample, and never using the bath, I appreciated the larger shower. We really enjoyed the width of the cabin and the light. All appointments were excellent. We visited a verandah concierge suite which was extremely cramped in my opinion. You have to remember that these ships are 20 years old, and even after refurbishment, they still don't come close to the modern style and layout of say the modern Seabourn and Silversea ones, with their wider spaces, light and modern stylish spaces.
We found the vast majority of staff to be cheerful and helpful The predominant asian waiting staff were efficient and cheerful, but sometimes things got lost in transition, and culturally it was not possible to build rapport over the week as we were able to do with the higher ratio of European staff on Seabourn/Silversea. Our butler was excellent and efficient.
The cruise director - well.... he just made announcements and opened/closed the entertainment, and to be honest little else. A waste of a salary in my mind. I think that we must have been on auto pilot for much of the time also, because I have never been on a cruise with such invisible officers, if they actually existed. In fairness we did not go to the introduction evening, but usually officers interact, or are at least visible, throughout the cruise. This certainly did not happen.
Ranged from average to excellent, but I'm sorry, Oceania most certainly does not offer the finest cuisine at sea. The Terrace restaurant was the biggest disappointment. Breakfast felt chaotic, and variety was lacking. We gave up on fresh egg orders, and those from the griddle. As with breakfast, the lunch variety was lacking. It looked good, until you realised that the buffet was a mirror image in parts with items repeated each side. I commend any attempt to reduce waste in buffet restaurants, but I also don't expect to be served basically everything and to be asked how many prunes I want, how many pieces of melon etc, not at the price we paid. This was annoying, and slowed everything down, adding to the chaos at times. Dining at the speciality restaurants was very enjoyable and we managed to change and secure extra reservations. Main dining room, was good - service extremely efficient. Waves grill was good, but again, lacked variety with the same menu board on the wall each day. Afternoon tea was excellent. In our opinion, the Terrace Restaurant should stay open 30 minutes longer for lunch and dinner. It would make a big difference to the feeling of being rushed, and having to rush in to get dishes before they closed. On the food side, I expected a lot more I'm afraid.
All good and arrival/departure was handed well.
All efficient and quick.
On reflection, we would possibly choose Oceania again, but only in a penthouse suite, and with more realistic expectations around service and food.
Beautifully decorated, although some of the fittings felt of poor quality (for instance wardrobe doors). Light and well appointed. Very comfortable beds and linen. Good quality terrace furniture.