It is probably important for you to know my wife and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 25 years we’ve sailed a total of 31 times on Celebrity, Azamara, Viking Ocean, Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC.
This was our first sailing with Oceania. We picked this cruise largely because of the itinerary and the price, which was moderate for an upscale line at $523 a day for both of us, not including air. From my research it seemed Oceania’s closest competitor in size of ship, amenities, and on-board experience is Azamara. Both lines appeal to the same type of passenger who is looking for an all-inclusive, upscale cruising experience. Having sailed Azamara before, I was curious how Oceania compared with them.
Our stateroom was an interior room on Deck 7. It was a better than average stateroom experience in how quiet the hallways were. Maybe it was because that even though we are in our 50’s and 60’s, we would rank in the upper 25% of the youngest cruisers on board. We were also impressed with the quality of the mattress, linens and towels. Our room was kept impeccably clean with two cleanings a day and nightly turn down service and chocolates. Soft drinks are free in your stateroom refrigerator. On the downside the walls were a bit thin and we could hear our neighbors talking. Also, we noticed at night the temperature of the hot water and water pressure dropped. If you take evening showers you may want instead to take your showers before 6 pm. Another issue is that the water pressure is already very low in the stateroom showers. I often elected to take my shower up in the men’s locker room that had plenty of pressure and heat.
Walvis Bay is a difficult port to negotiate as the dock is a mile or more from the city center. The town can be easily done on your own. There isn’t a whole lot to see, so I suggest you book a tour to Sandwich Bay. The scenery of the dunes coming down to the ocean and the drive along the beach are unique. See if they will also take you out to Pelican Point to see the hundreds of thousands of seals. We overnighted here so we were also able to go visit Moon Valley, which is similar to the Badlands of South Dakota. We were able to climb Dune #7, which was the highlight of that outing.
Port Elizabeth is a place with more touring options. There is a nice mall there if you want to stay in town. There are a number of day trips that can be taken to surrounding sites. We opted to visit Addo Elephant reserve. We found it to be a worthwhile excursion. If you are booking excursions off-ship, give yourself plenty of time to disembark. The local authorities insist on face-to-face immigration that can take up to an hour after docking to clear.
Richard’s Bay is a bit of a sleepy stop. I would recommend getting a guide and heading off to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Park. It takes about 1:15 minutes each way, depending on traffic. We were able to spend about 4:30 hours in the park. Typically, going to game parks in the middle of the day is the absolute worst time to see the animals, but when you are on a cruise there are no other options. That said, we really were lucky. We saw several dozen elephants in the park, twice as many as we did at Addo and at closer range. We also saw seven grey rhinos, four water buffalo, four giraffes, and scores of impala and warthogs. It was certainly worth the $200 USD per person that we paid an off-ship tour company we booked through East Coast Safari (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lots her to see and do. We did the hop on and off bus which goes everywhere you want to go with a good narrative. A great way to get a feel of the town.