We chose this cruise for the itinerary (wanted to visit Florence, Rome, Pompeii, and Venice) and time of year (not summer busy season). Oceania turned out to be a great choice.
The ship is smaller than most. We never waited long for an elevator and could easily find seating at the pool or in the dining rooms, even though we were told it was fully booked. We enjoyed the 24-hour coffee service in Horizons Lounge. What a great place to watch entry into ports or just relax with a book!
This is a VERY port-intensive cruise. Plan on being tired after busy days on shore. We had one scheduled full day of sailing, plus one more because weather prohibited docking at one port. The staff huddled to create activities for the extra sailing day.
Embarkation was not as smooth as we hoped it would be. We had significant delays at the airport waiting for another couple and then waiting for the van. Not the best first impression.
Monaco - Tender was difficult. Scheduled HOHO tour on my own; can also purchase from bus driver. We rode all the way around before deciding where to stop during second round. Check out side streets near the palace - enjoy gelato. Easy to find the bus, not too busy (but remember we were not there during peak season).
Florence - Used an “included” tour for transfer only. You do not need a tour guide. Just download audio file from Rick Steve’s web site (pack headphones) and pre-order tickets to The Accadamia if you want to see The David. Lines to buy tickets are WAY too long. The statue is amazing, esp when compared to unfinished sculptures located in the same room (can even see chisel marks on those).
Rome - After MUCH research, I scheduled a private tour with RomeInLimo. This was the ONLY company that said we could see BOTH the interior of the Coliseum and the Vatican. We did both of those and more by having a highly experienced driver and having pre-purchased tickets. Standing in line for ticket purchase would have taken hours. Find out when tickets go on sale for the date you need and mark your calendar. They sell out, even during the non-peak months. Using RomeInLimo was worth every penny! They even have a web site where you can advertise for others to join you (decreases your expense). And use your CruiseCritic Roll Call to share info.
Naples/Pompeii - Used an Oceania tour that included tickets, transportation, and a guided tour. Tiring but so interesting. Not recommended if you have problems walking. Probably miserable during hot weather.
Kotor - Could not dock due to high winds.
Zadar - Oceania provided transportation into town. Sea Organ is unique.
Koper - Not our favorite. Could have stayed on the ship.
Venice - Oceania excursion that included Murano and gondola ride; quite memorable. Wanted more time in Venice, so took public ferry back to the terminal instead of returning with tour group. Convenient and inexpensive, but be sure you catch the last ferry to avoid $$$$ transportation expense.
Oceania staff was very helpful with disembarkation. We bought transfers.
As is undoubtedly true with other cruise lines, be sure to READ THE FINE PRINT, especially concerning cancellation of pre-cruise packages. We were unable make the flight due to a medical emergency. In spite of the reason, Oceania would not refund the hotel charge, because the date was too close to our embarkation date. My advice is to schedule such packages on your own. I think the hotel would have credited at least part of the fee if I had booked directly with them. I hope that our travel insurance will cover this, the cost of rebooking flights ($1600), and a tour we missed.
Entertainment - Not their strong suit, but usually too tired to attend.
Service was OUTSTANDING! Everyone was courteous and helpful. Our flights home were cancelled due to an airline strike, and Oceania made all rebooking arrangements for us.
Dining - We went to the buffet most nights. We were surprised to see lobster and grilled shrimp offered every night. Offerings not as extensive as those on larger ships, but we always found menu items we liked. Favorite meal was the Osso Bucco and Tiramisu at Toscanna.
Enrichment - I attended the cooking demo. Informative and entertaining! Educational programs re upcoming ports were recorded and could be viewed on tv.
The cabins are due for remodeling. The space that otherwise would have been a balcony was part of our room, and we had a shelf under the window that gave extra storage. The weather was cool, so we did not care about having a balcony. Not much to see while cruising. There are few of these cabins, but book one if you can unless you want private outdoor time and weather is expected to be conducive.