We booked this cruise as a less expensive alternative to flying down and staying a few nights in a $1200 a night room in one of the resorts down in Bermuda. The itinerary was perfect-- 2.5 days in St George and a day and a half in Hamilton and well away from the large ships in the Dockyard. A well positioning floating hotel near all the things we like to go and do on the island. It was our first time on Oceania-- we have cruise a bunch and have run the gamut but our more recent experiences have mostly been on Seabourn.
Impression: The ship was coming off a refurbishment and the overall impression was that it was tastefully done-- keeping the clubby atmosphere from before but updating it a bit to be a little more modern. It was on par decor wise with a newer Ritz Carlton. Everything seemed quite new and the ship itself appeared to be a very good condition-- literally the only maintenance fault I could find was the little muster station frame on the back of our cabin door was slightly damaged.
Cabin: We opted not to get a verandah on this drip due to the large amount of time we planned to spend ashore. As many have mentioned, the bathrooms on this class of ship are notoriously small. The shower doors are quite clever in that they open in or out to give you more working space in the bathroom but the bottom line is that you are showering in what amounts to a small telephone booth. Refurbishment of the rest of the cabin was top notch-- tons of storage space for its size. The bed was also one of the most comfortable we've had on a ship. The cabin was quite small though and I think in hindsight I would have booked a larger one had I known (even though the verandah wasn't a big selling point). Ours was also forward on the ship and the first night out we had rough seas-- it was the first time I've ever gotten seasick. I would have picked one much more amidships looking back.
Dining: Oceania gets very high marks for dining and they aren't totally undeserved, but there are nuances. Overall the food is very good. The complimentary alternative dining rooms Toscana and Polo Grill are the best venues aboard for overall quality.
- Grand Dining Room: Overall was very hit or miss. We had one good dinner there, one mediocre. The food is not cooked to order so it does have that banquet hall quality to it-- frankly I was expecting a bit more from them here.
- Polo Grill: I went in thinking this would be my favorite with the clubby wood paneling and dark leather chairs-- it looks like a steakhouse in Manhattan from central casting. We had dinner there one night and it was very good. My New York Strip was well prepared but cut thinner than you get in a shoreside establishment. The others in our group were indifferent to their filets but enjoyed the appetizers and sides. Its a very filling meal so best to skip lunch the day of.
- Toscana: This ended up being our favorite and we were able to score a second reservation the last night (you are guaranteed only one at Polo and Toscana each cruise). The food was uniformly good and it was fun getting to order around the menu and put pastas in as mid courses. A lot of sharing.
- The Terrace: The buffet overall was of a high quality but was lacking in options. What looks like a large buffet (at least as large as it could get on a ship this size) is actually a mirror image of itself on the other side. This is most apparent at lunch where the options are limited. It would be fun if they added more. Breakfast was quite good here with a made to order omelet station.
- Waves Grill: We ended up eating lunch here quite a bit as it was open on embarkation day as well as being next to the pool (where we spent most sea days). The burger is quite good as is the reuben sandwich. The Cuban sandwich left a little to be desired. Ice cream, milkshakes, and a smaller buffet of cold items are also available here and very tasty.
- Room Service: Overall your standard shipboard room service. The only downside to our cabin was that we were not entitled to hot breakfast which was a bit of a disappointment. The two times we ordered continental breakfast it was delivered on time. Their baked goods, particularly croissants, are far and away the best at sea and beat out some much more expensive lines like Seabourn and Regent. We ordered hot items when we got back to the ship late one night-- the club sandwich and pizza were perfectly adequate.
- Baristas: The coffee shop off the Grand Dining Room was a popular spot and overall was very good. They have miniature baked items like croissants etc off to the side during breakfast hours. The only head scratcher was the lack of quality of the to go cups which were generic (no branding?), small and would quickly fall apart-- time to get some proper paper cups in their Oceania!
Entertainment and Activities: We made good use of the bars on board-- mostly the Waves Bar by the pool but also Martinis which is on Deck 5 near the Casino. Everyone was super friendly. A note on the beverage package-- if you drink more than 3 drinks a day just get it. The drinks listed in the menus are single pours which are much smaller than standard in the US. If you want a drink that looks like you would get back at home you have to order a double which can get the drink price to $18-22 a pop. The beverage package saved us a lot of money. Entertainment overall was good but not spectacular. Highlights were the cruise director Carson, the dancers, and the band was really quite good and would play by the pool in the afternoon. Low point was the comedian they brought on who had two shows. To be fair to her it felt like she had to cut out or tone down a lot of her material to not offend people. There was a broadway revue that was good but could have skipped it. The casino was not well utilized and overall the ship went to bed quite early. Horizons up on Deck 10 was the late night venue although it wasn't heavily used.
Service: Generally it was very good, well intentioned, and unobtrusive. Our cabin staff were very good and everything was spotless when we got back to the cabin every time. Service in the Grand Dining room was a bit mechanical. Dining service was much better in Polo and Toscana and on par with what you would expect in a land based fine dining restaurant. Everyone made a good effort to make you happy.
Spa: Canyon Ranch runs this and it was impressive given its small size. The changing area has two showers, a disproportionally enormous steam room, and bottled water and gatorade are provided in small coolers. The changing room opens onto a nice private deck with a large hot tub overlooking the bow. The spa service I got (50 min deep tissue massage) was very relaxing but it was more like a very enthusiastic Swedish massage rather than true deep tissue. Overall the spa is overpriced for what you get but hey, its vacation!
Ports: Bermuda was the main attraction for this cruise and candidly we would have booked whatever was the smallest ship going from the Northeast that was docking at St George and Hamilton rather than the Dockyard-- it just happened to be this one. We spent the vast majority of our time off the ship at beaches and in town and actually didn't return to the ship for dinners, rather eating them ashore as well. The Insignia as a floating hotel was perfect and it was nice moving over to Hamilton the last day to make shopping a little easier and bring you more central to things on the island.
Overall we were very impressed with Oceania. Small bonus for this trip was there were absolutely no kids aboard (I'm thinking owing to it butting up against Labor Day weekend). I would sail them again for the right itinerary.