I've done three cruises with Oceania before this one and had pretty good times - in those instances there seemed to be some fun folks interested in mingling with the solo travelers and the smaller ships were more cozy and open to mixing people - there were always plenty of shared tables and lots of inclusion. For some reason, this cruise had a different vibe - perhaps because it was the time and place if nothing else. Most of the people were elderly and coupled. You had to be careful of your remarks so as not to start a row over the situation in England or the US or elsewhere. The ship's crew was OK but not as friendly as on the past few trips where I'd been - they seemed to get friendly with a few folks from previous segments and ignored the newer passengers other than to say hello. I felt that they could have done more to facilitate mixing at night by having a standing shared table with a couple of crew members or entertainers on hand to encourage participation. Instead, you had to be in with the crew to get an invite to a fun table other than two scheduled events that were pretty dull. Other cruise lines are doing a more sophisticated job of courting the next generation of traveler - but I didn't see that here. We were an afterthought. On Silversea, they have cocktails scheduled nightly for solo travelers with a couple of crew members who then offer to take them to dinner; on Seabourn they put an invitation in your door ever single night if you ask for that service and you are always at an interesting and eclectic table.
The layout of my room was wasted space. The huge tub was ridiculous and while I was fine as a solo, I kept thinking this would be way better if the space was used for a walk in closet. I found the concierge staff to be well below par of the staff I'd dealt with previously - normally when they know you are solo, they work to get you in at night at a shared table - that only happened after I raised a complaint - which I hate to do. I paid twice what other folks paid and got about half the service. I've always tipped on top of the scheduled gratuities but not this time - I never had any sort of personal interaction with the crew to make it worthwhile.
The atmosphere was more sterile - the upstairs coffee area is almost too big and impersonal. Also, the timing for the Internet cafe is off - if I grabbed a coffee and sat at a screen, inevitably an elderly person would approach me for help because the guy staffing it had bass akwards hours to assist people. There were a few of us who spent plenty of time assisting other passengers.
I will say this - the entertainers with the ship's crew were very outstanding. Much better than any other ship and that young woman from the Netherlands was astoundingly good - but then they were focused just on entertaining at the shows - where on the smaller ships the entertainers did a lot more to intermingle with the passengers - maybe they didn't sing as well but they were more fun to be around.. So here, better entertainers but not as much fun. Here's a hint - don't just dance on the dance floor at night - look for people who need a dance partner and ask them to dance with you. Every single night.
Also, I had a bizarre and nasty fitness room experience - mostly because for some reason this ship has but two regular eliptical trainers and pretty much every single person wants to use them. I had started an hour long workout in the middle of the afternoon when most people were off the ship and another gentleman was next to me doing the same thing. We were two of five people in the whole place. A woman walked up and demanded that we get off and give her our machines. She relentlessly harassed us for the next 40 minutes and then returned with a rough looking attendant who had taken her at her word that we were the wrong-doers. When I let the attendant know that I wasn't happy with the situation, she accused me of being unpleasant. The man got off his machine and the lady insisted that it was too dirty for her to use. Did the attendant step in and get someone to clean the machine? Nope - stood by hands on hips whilst the mathematics professor cleaned up the machine top to bottom. Hey - he was on vacation and paying.
Finally here's a hint with outside entertainers - please ask them not to use the solo women travelers as the butt of their comedy routines - just saying. It was a bit unnerving having to sink down in my chair for fear that I would be called out.
Don't get me wrong - I managed to have a good time, met some folks I'm still in touch with, and there were some good people and plenty of fun - but when I'm on vacation, I don't want to have to work for my fun.
OK but wasted spaced better spent on storage.
Ya know what? I stayed over night here after having a rough train experience from Milan. And I found the hard scrapple town very interesting. They had a jazz festival at night; food was great; you could swim in the sea; and there was a vibrant dinner scene. If you stayed at a B&B like I did, you met other people and also had the advantage of being in the back area where the locals hung out.