Last minute decision as it was so cheap and I have not visited these places. Have not been on Oceana since she had her refit and it looks good. My (adult) daughter and I shared an inside cabin at the back on A Deck –very spacious, plenty of storage space and well appointed – we could walk a few metres onto a small open deck at the back and steps leading up to the Spa and Gym right overhead.
We attended two Pilates Starter Classes and used the Gym which is well equipped. The Instructors were nice people, professional, and did not make you feel like an idiot (as so often happens to me when I am unable to follow the routine). My daughter had a massage which she enjoyed, but not so much the sales pitch afterwards trying to sell her the products used.
No Tipping required anymore. The staff were wonderful. They were polite, friendly, and smiled all the time. We used the Restaurant most nights to eat and the Buffet for supper twice. We had the most marvellous dinner companions, some of the nicest people we had ever met. Three of the four were vegan and sometimes found it difficult to know what to eat – it seemed their choices were limited. By the end chefs prepared meals specially and waiters checked regularly to make sure their food was acceptable. Our food was absolutely fine as well. We liked the new lunch format as well – more of a Deli/Café menu but you could also have the full 3 courses if wanted.
The Buffet had problems. Not large enough for the numbers wanting to use, long queues regularly, and the late night snacks were much worse than they used to be – very limited choice, cheese in particular was gone within minutes and no more was brought out. Near the end of the week the selection improved, not sure if the result of complaints made or extra food found. The Indian night seemed the most popular and was repeated at the end but re-labelled Tandoori night. There were also Chinese and English food nights.
The drinks selection was extensive and at London pub prices.
I was disappointed at the number of ladies who did not wash their hands in the toilets and the number of people who declined to use the anti-bac gel in the Buffet. Thank goodness there was no Norovirus.
Instead of Cruise Directors there are now Entertainment Managers. I never used to rate Headliners but this time they were excellent with good shows. Two shows had a starter video with a TV celebrity introducing the act (sorry, can’t remember names as never heard of either) and explaining they had helped arrange the show. Visiting acts included Fogwell Flax – we’ve seen him before and he really needs more up to date material, an Annie Lennox Tribute singer who was excellent the first night, but rubbish on the second as she just did cover songs then, and the Runaround Kids who we’ve also seen before. They are very good and sing 1950’s hits, we just didn’t get around to them this time. There were various other groups/singers/pianists around the ship who we listened to as we came across them. Did not use shops, casino or swimming pools – the pools are outdoors and it was cold, but saw a few hardy souls in them.
We did not book any tours. Overnighter in Amsterdam: free coaches ran between the ship and the centre all day and night. We spent most of our time in the Museums, of which there are plenty. Hamburg had free shuttles as well. Zeebrugge – the shuttle coaches run to Blankenburg which is a seaside town a few minutes away from the Port. Those in the know then caught the train into Bruges which takes 15 minutes for €6 each way – the ship’s coach cost £35 return. We stayed in the town which is very nice and even though winter, all the shops were open.
Leaving Zeebrugge, we had been tied alongside the Ventura, which was leaving after us. For the sail away party as we passed them the two captains used their horns trying to outdo each other and it became a bit like the scene in Close Encounters where a person using a keyboard communicates with the UFO; great fun.
One of the best cruises we have been on in a long time.
Inside with bath. Very large, right at the back of the ship underneath the Spa. Very quite, and in good weather would be excellent to just nip out onto the open deck right beside it.
Best bit was the model railway museum - not for geeks at all - lots of stunning scenery, lots of accidents with emergency vehicles flying everywhere, and several major cities all lit up. The USA scenes of Vegas & Florida especially good.
Lovely city. Unable to avoid the smell of cannabis which pervaded certain areas and left me quite dizzy on occasion. Visited several museums over two days, and took an evening wine and cheese cruise along the canals. Will go back as much more to be seen.