We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, the smaller ship size, the expectation of great food and service, and our past experience with Oceania. The cruise overall was wonderful. The ship was clean, our penthouse suite was amazing, and the ports were awesome! This was our first time visiting Spain and Portugal and we loved it!
Embarkation was a disappointment. We asked numerous times before we left what type of COVID test we needed, and we were told each time that either a PCR or a Rapid Antigen test within 72 hours would be fine. When we got to the port, the port authority said the Antigen test was not acceptable, so we had to get a new test at a cost of $130 before they would let is board the ship. Then after we boarded, Oceania told us that was a miscommunication with the Port Authority, and they refunded our money. Not a great way to start the trip, for sure.
We realized pretty quickly that the ship was no where near full. The Sirena can accomodate approximately 700 passengers. We were told there were 450 passengers on board, but we estimate it was probably more like 300 at most. You would think that would be a good thing, but the crew and staff were obviously not ready for it. The service was much worse than our previous experience on Oceania. It seemed like most of the waitstaff were inexperienced and probably quite a few were in training. The bartenders were using menus and books to make drinks; even the drinks that were listed on the bar menus. The wait staff had difficulty at times describing some o the dishes. On a few occasions, we witness passengers' tables being cleared before they were finished with their meals. It seemed as if there were too many staff with not enough to do. Maybe due to the small number of passengers on board.