Like many avid cruisers, we had several much anticipated cruises cancelled during the pandemic that shut down much of the world in 2020 and 2021. Our cruise, Iberia to Italia, was one of the first aboard Marina, the first of Oceania's ships to return to service post-pandemic. Prior to providing details of our experience it's important to note that there were still a great many COVID restrictions both aboard ship and in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy where our ship ported. On board the ship only had approximately 650 passengers. This worked well as nearly half of the seating in restaurants, bars, and the Marina Lounge (theater), were blocked for social distancing.
We typically sail in Penthouse Suites with Oceania; however, due to our cancelled cruise we had our initial fully paid cruise as well as a 25% Future Cruise Credit to apply to this cruise. We decided to splurge and booked an Oceania Suite. Through a great turn of luck we made friends with Oceania Suite passengers booked on Deck 11 so we were able to compare the two different suite layouts. This 1,000 square foot suite on Deck Twelve (12012) was huge and incredibly comfortable. A true suite with a separate bed room and living area separated by a door, the latter spanned an entrance hall, guest bath with shower (Deck 12 only, the Deck 11 Oceania suites do not have showers), bar, dining table with seats for 4, seating area with a couch and 2 chairs, a large desk, and a TV room with a couch. The bedroom had a large king sized bed, walk in closet, and large bathroom twin vanity, separate tub and shower, toilet, and bidet (there are no windows in the baths on Deck 12, but there are on Deck 11). There's a door between the bedroom and the hall with the closet and bath which can be closed to allow for someone to sleep in a bit longer while the other gets ready. The balcony was the full width of the living room and bedroom with sliding doors in each as well as a double fixed window in the living room. The deck had a whirlpool tub, lounger, and two reclining deck chairs. Initially there were TVs above these tubs, but they were removed during the Oceania Next refresh, probably because they weren't terribly useful to begin with.
The Oceania Suite comes with a fruit basket refreshed daily, daily canapes, and a 6-bottle bar set-up. These bottles are ordered from your Butler after you come on board and include an assortment of wines and spirits all of which you may consume in your suite. If, like us, drinking 6 bottles in 12 days solely in our suite seemed like a tall order, you may also bring them to dinner (or ask your butler to bring them down), where they can be opened for a $25 corkage. We were also greeted with petit fours and a bottle of Pommery upon boarding. This is a bit of a step up from the complimentary Champagne typically provided in the Penthouses.
Lovely suite with lots of space. I wasn't sure the TV room would get much use, but I was wrong. It was a nice place to read the newspaper and watch the port lecture re-broadcast. I thought we might use the guest bath shower to speed up our morning routine; however, that never happened even on this port-intensive cruise.
We booked the hop-on, hop-off bus and had a great time seeing the sites on our own. Our dock was NOT walkable, but Oceania provided a shuttle to/from town.
Dubrovnik was cancelled due to high winds the morning we were supposed to arrive in port. The crew stepped up and added additional on board activities and opened the Grand Dining Room to provide another dining option.
At the time of our cruise Italy requires cruise passengers to take cruise organized excursions in order to enter the country. Out trip to Florence was enjoyable, though we were also required to dine together and the restaurant chosen by our guide was not ready for 28 of us to show up at once.
We boarded in Lisbon and didn't have any Oceania related excursions. The new-ish cruise terminal is very nice and well located in the heart of the city. We did out pre-embarkation COVID testing here and it was well organized.
We went to Pompeii and had a good time. Wear sensible shoes and if you're not steady on your feet and able to walk in the sun for 2+ hours this is not the tour for you.
We went to Avignon and enjoyed our tour; however, the 1.5 hour drive each way cut into the time we were able to spend here.
Seville was replaced by Alicante prior to our cruise due to an inability to secure a dock. This was disappointing as Alicante is fine and worth a visit, but not the draw that Seville was for us.
We went to Eze and a walking tour of Nice. We were there on a Saturday and there was a great food market in Nice. After our tours we walked around Villefranche on our own before taking the tender back to the ship.
We were originally supposed to overnight in Venice at the end of the cruise. Due to Venice's restrictions we were moved to Trieste. This ended up being an interesting port that's worth a visit on its own. We did a tour of Trieste and Muggia. Trieste was traditionally controlled by the Florentine's while Muggia was controlled by Venice. It was interesting to see the different architectural traditions in both cities.