We chose this trip for a few reasons:
1) the itinerary - to sail around Cape Horn/southern ocean
2) Timing - wanted a trip over the holidays (this one was from Dec 19-Jan 4)
3) Friends had sailed on the Oceania Marina ship To the Baltic a couple of summers ago - and had raved about their experience
SERVICE: Overall, the service was fantastic - ratio of Crew to Passengers is 1.56:1 - - with 1250 passengers I think. We were told there are146 chefs on board and can see that this must be true. This makes sense, as the food on Oceania is ranked as one of their big selling points.
All of the day to day crew on board couldn’t have been nicer/more pleasant/professional - from housekeeping, butler, waitstaff.
Not such great marks for the Reception Desk, Concierge, Destination Services and Reservations desks - we were never greeted with enthusiasm or smiles - and were made to feel as if we were bothering them. NOTE TO OCEANIA: Those desks are your first face to the customer - would recommend that you staff them with pleasant and accommodating people.
We never saw the Officers - who made themselves scarce - with the exception of the “Meet the Bridge” cocktail reception and the Captain who said Farewell at the end during the “Crew Salute”. We would have liked to have heard and seen the Bridge Officers more often.
FOOD: There were four Specialty restaurants - NO UPCHARGE for any of the Specialty restaurants which was great- and you were able to book One reservation at each restaurant in advance of departure. Because we had a PH1 suite, we were able to reserve as of Oct 5th. The food in all was very good, but service at their signature Jacques, was less than stellar. Don’t overlook the Grand Dining Room which had a different menu every night and fantastic service! And the Terrace Cafe (amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets!).
SPA: Used the Spa for Acupuncture (3 sessions) and a manicure - - those were all great - however, I didn’t like the hustle/upsell for products or additional sessions - it was fairly high pressure. Did Pilates and Yoga classes - they were OK - they guy leading the classes is really more of an intense “Bootcamp” guy - used the equipment in the gym - plenty of it - water bottles, towels, mats, well equipped gym.
Because we had a Penthouse suite, we had access to the private Spa Deck, which to us, was such a nice perk. It was super quiet, soothing music, right on the bow of the ship - in nice weather, it was a perfect place to be - watching the ocean in front of you, sitting in lovely cabana seating, and also had two hot tubs up there. Spent time reading and relaxing there.
Being our first Oceania cruise, we were favorably impressed, but others we met who have done numerous (Oceania) cruises - mentioned that the ship/food were not as up to snuff as it used to be before Norwegian acquired them. To us, It was a beautiful ship, everything very clean - and the food was fantastic. However, you can see that materials/carpets/furnishings could use a touch up - and from what we heard, they are planning a refurb in April/May 2020.
ITINERARY: overall, the ports of call were nothing to write home about - but we were on this cruise for Cape Horn, Falkland islands, Ushuaia, Chilean Fjords - and we were IN AWE and not disappointed.
1) Started in Buenos Aires - recommend that you arrive in BA early. We gave ourselves two full days there and it was perfect. Oceania had us in the Alvear Art Hotel which was really nice and modern - big rooms, lots of USB ports, great shower, bedding, etc - the contemporary sister to the more lush Alvear Palace. Did a Tango show one night (booked it through Viator - $156 for two of us - at Piazola (?) - fantastic two hour show, plus dinner, plus option to take a 30 minute tango lesson - which we did and it was a lot of fun.
Day 1 (arrival in AM) Walked around the city - walked to the Recoletta Cemetary (Eva Peron burial site) - we used the Tour Guide who shows up there every day at 3pm for a two hour tour, and so glad we did - we would have missed so much otherwise. Had dinner at hotel because we were exhausted.
Day 2 - full day of walking to The Obelisk and to Plaza de Mayo. (FYI, pronouncing “y’s” is the sound of “je”. So, Plaza de Mayo sounds like Plaza de Majoh). Gorgeous architecture all over BA - very French - The Paris of South America as it’s called. Plaza de Mayo is the home of banking and federal buildings including the Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires (gorgeous! Make sure you walk through and spend time) and the Casa Rosado (Pink House) where Eva Peron stood on the balcony to address the people of Argentina.
Returned to hotel mid-day and had a delightful lunch buffet and iced teas and included a glass of wine! - Total of $33 (!) for Two people! Prices in BA very good.
2) Montevideo (Uruguay) - felt like you needed to be on your guard a bit - the market area was interesting and felt safe enough - but you probably don’t want to wander off too much more without a guide. not much to see there.
3) Puerto d’Este (Uruguay) - ended up skipping this due to incoming inclement weather and the Captain wanted to keep moving to stay in front of the system - which was appreciated - (we still had very uncomfortable seas for a 12+ hours, but subsided.
4) Puerto Madryn - nothing to write home about - We had an excursion planned to see the Penguins at Punto Tombo - but ended up bailing on it - because it was going to be a THREE HOUR drive each way - and then only one hour of seeing penguins. Didn’t feel like doing the 6 hour drive for penguins. We were glad we cancelled - and there were plenty of other opportunities to see Penguins in other portions of the trip.
Instead, we got off the ship and walked for an hour or so into/around town - nice little beachy town, clean, civilized and didn’t seem so poor, like Montevideo did (nor as sketchy). Huge tide comes in and out of there. And the sea seemed dirty, especially close to shore, like sewery... (Smelly for sure).
5) Falkland Islands - very cool that we were able to even get there. Many cruises cannot make it in there if there is rough weather. We arrived on Christmas morning, thus, not much open, but it was great to walk around and look at the charming British homes/shops.
6) Ushuaia - WOW FACTOR all the way - this was where the trip REALLY took off. Woke up to a brilliant, clear, sunny crisp morning - and a gorgeous harbor filled with sailboats and dramatic snow-capped mountains all around us.
EXCURSION: Boarded a high speed catamaran for 90 minutes - packed with people, stopped for about 90 minutes at Estancia Haberton (oldest farm in Argentina) and then took a two hour bus ride back which had spectacular scenery (and a few moments of good naptime!)
Sailed the Beagle Channel for about 90 minutes - saw Terns, Sea Lions, Lighthouse, Mountains
7) Cruising CAPE HORN & BEagle Channel - AWESOME! SO EXCITED that we got to circumnavigate the Cape Hornas Islands - truly the last slice of land before you get to Antartica. There was talk that we were going to skip it - due to what looked like poor weather conditions, but the weather-gods were with us, and Captain decided (after much prodding from us and fellow passengers) to do Cape Horn - - after all, THIS is the reason we chose this itinerary! In addition to seeing the infamous Cape Horn, we also Enjoyed a full day of Glacier after Glacier - magnificent!!
EXCURSION: Estancia Fitzroy - sheep farm - About a 90 minute bus ride each way - to a very cool sheep ranch - saw tons of old artifacts - old plane, trucks, dishwashers, stoves, demonstration on sheering sheep, little calves that I got to nurse with milk, baby lambs, big bull and cows and llamas and herding dogs - watching them corral the sheep.
Wonderful Lamb BBQ lunch - with salads, wine, dessert
8) Cruising the Chilean Fjords (two days) - beautiful as well - tucked into the archipegleo (thus better/smooth sea conditions) and saw islands after islands going by. (We LOVE the sea days - getting into the rhythym of the sea, having time to relax, read, exercise, spa - and think we had more Sea Days than land days on this itinerary which was perfect for us.
9) Puerto Charabuco - as we started heading north on the Pacific side of South America - EXCURSION: did a Wellness Excursion on New Years Day - a 90 minute catamaran ride through beautiful fjords, mountains to Thermal Hot Springs where we relaxed/rejuvinated in three different thermal pools - they served us drinks, waters, snacks - and then another catamaran ride back - volcanos, and gorgeous scenery!
10) Puerto Montt - Disappointing and Dirty. (This is a place where you SHOULD have an excursion planned!) We did not have an excursion, so got off the ship and walked to “the Markets” - little shanties with trinkets for sale - didn’t buy anything - crossed over the street and were going to walk into the Centro (center of town) but as we proceeded, lots of homeless, urinating/deficating in the streets, graffiti all over - it was gross - so we cut our walk short and went back to the “Civilization” of Oceania Marina.
11) Cruising Pacific Ocean to San Antonio (Santiago disembarkation) - at sea for a day
EMBARKATION: Good and smooth
DISEMBARKATION: Fubar - could have been better organized process
ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES ONBOARD:
1) They had a few speakers - but our favorite was Greg Wheeler, a retired (10 year) professor from Cal State Poly. As a Geologist, he taught us a lot about the earth, ice ages, volcanos, glaciers, etc - we always looked forward to his lectures and tried not to miss them.
2) Hands on Cooking Classes with “Chef Steph” (Stephanie Hirsch - who used to work with Julia Childs for many years). THESE CLASSES WERE EXCELLENT!! $69 per class - you work in pairs - my husband REALLY loved these classes as well. Really cool clean kitchen - we watched and listened up close while Chef explained what we were cooking, doing, how to prepare - and then she sent us back to our workstations to do it. Then you get to eat your cooking and everything was Fabulous! (We did our classes at 4pm - 6pm - - SUGGESTION: Try to book for 10-Noon classes - because then you can eat your food without guilt - especially if you have dinner plans, you will be too full to eat dinner if you do the 4pm class!)
3) The head chef - French guy can’t remember his name, brought along a side kick each time - either the Italian Pastry Chef, etc - and it was a like a comedy show - - very entertaining yet also instructive. (Not to be considered a substitute for Chef Steph classes, though!!)
ENTERTAINMENT: While some of the entertainers were not top notch, what made it worse was the lame audience. Passengers just sit there - don’t show any energy - didn’t clap or inspire the performers. C’mon people - lighten up, have some fun, show the entertainers you appreciate their efforts, at least.
- There was a group of singers/dancers who were sweet young things, seems that they are getting their start. Not necessarily top notch Broadway talent, but you have to start somewhere and they had great energy and were fun to watch. They performed three or four nights.
- Salvatore Hasard - multi-faceted musician and singer who performed on two nights - FANTASTIC - plays multiple instruments and great voice.
- Paul Hughes - also FANTASTIC - singer, crooner, does standards - i.e. Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble - really great
- Nicole Sasser - female trumpet player and singer - very personable and a good musician- but to her credit, she plowed through despite a Dead Audience.
- Comedian and Magician - who we did not go to see
CRUISE DIRECTOR: Speaking of Comedian, Peter Roberts always had a good joke or two each day -but he was a bit of a flamboyant clown. I think Oceania would do better to be represented with a more upscale professional tone - not stuffy - but someone who epitomizes the class and service of Oceania.
WOULD DEFINITELY DO THIS TRIP AGAIN. And will go with Oceania again. Very impressed overall with the quality and service we experienced.
For a 16 night cruise, we wanted a larger suite - and our Penthouse 1 (PH1 - Suite 11-014) was Spacious - huge walk in closet with plenty of hanging/drawer space. SUPER comfortable “Tranquility” king size bed with delectable 1000-thread count linens - haven’t slept that well forever.Pillows were too squishy for my liking but had we asked - our Butler probably could have rustled up others. Bathroom was large enough -with walk in shower, separate tub with shower and sink (only one sink). Good storage space for toiletries. The balcony was pretty small - accommodating two regular chairs (not chaise lounges).
TV channels were minimal but that’s OK - we were busy most of the time and really didn’t even care to watch tv/movies. (Suggestion: provide guests with TV Guide - with movie names, times, channels, etc)
Colorful in some ways - but area is a bit sketchy - didn’t feel 100% comfortable/safe
Loved Buenos Aires overall - just need to be mindful of pocketbook and make safe travel arrangements/transfers in advance
Quaint town and so remote - the people here have to be hardy souls and extremely self-sufficient! Throwback to years gone by.
Magnificent harbor and great tour - catamaran ride, lots of penguin, sea lion and other wildlife sightings, then visited the farm (oldest farm in Argentina?) - and the highlight of the farm was their little museum which had incredible artifacts.View All undefined undefined Reviews
90 minute bus ride each way with fantastic scenery - and the sheep farm itself was a great experience, culminating in a yummy BBQ (lamb) lunchView All undefined undefined Reviews
Town felt dirty and was not fun to walk around - homeless and hustlers