My wife & I had been looking for a cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary, and the journey of Oceania's Nautica from Hong Kong to Athens immediately captured our fancy. It included so many of the destinations we had dreamed of visiting but thought we could never afford. Among the places we had wanted to visit during our lives were Petra, Cairo & the Pyramids, the Upper Nile Valley and the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, Viet Nam, Mumbai, Ko Samoi,& the Suez Canal Singapore. In addition,we were able to leave the ship for three days to take an independent trip to the incredible temples of Ankor Wat in Cambodia. There was also a diversionary side trip to the Taj Mahal, but we opted out because would miss Mumbai. As a special treat, our Captain took us through the cauldron of the Santorini volcano at sunset on the way home. This ship & captain was the same one who outran pirates in 2009, and we had 2 extremely interesting enlightenment sessions about pirates and the full description of the failed attempt last year. The enrichment sessions were extraordinary, and plentiful. On every day at sea, there were 2 or 3 interesting sessions, with well known speakers like CBS Olympic, NBA, Masters Golf, NFL announcer Vern Lunquist; Harry Chittick who thoroughly entertained us with stories history,culture, hollywood scandals, and a brilliant 5 hour narration through the Suez Canal. The President of the American Universery in Kabul, Afganistan enlightened us with insight about Islam, the struggles in Afganistan, and his perspective on international affairs. It was a credit to their presentation quality that you frequently had to arrive in the theatre well ahead of lecture time to get a seat. The biggest surprises: The beauty, architecture, parks, and modernity of the cities of Singapore and Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. They both rival the greatest cities in the world. Immaculately clean, prosperous, and ready to challenge the best of the west. Second surprise: Going to the pyramids and realizing that they are only a 10 minute or so walk from the millions who live in Cairo, with a dozen or more 5 star hotels just across the street.
The highlight destinations were the extraordinary ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Well worth the hour walk each way. An extraordinary sight, lost to the world for many centuries, and just re-discovered less than 100 years ago. Also, the great temples of Ankor Wat in Cambodia. There were more than 40 of themin addition to the main temple, which is a World Heritage Site. I would like to compliment the staff on Nautica for their thorough and complete assistance to us in making this side trip, even though we made our own arrangements in Siem Reap. They were also very acommodating in assisting us for a private side trip to Luxor, even though they had a much more expensive trip to Luxor, sponsored by the ship.
As to Nautica, it is one of the fabulous, smallish former Reniassance ships, with all the charm and sophistication of those vessels, but all the amenities of the big ships. Dress was smart casual - No tuxedos needed, and with the heat in this part of the world, that we great with us. Just the right size at 678 passengers. We had the best cruise director (Dottie)of any cruise we have been on, and the entire staff (from 47 nations) was extra special but unintrusive.
Food was SPECTACULAR! 5 dining venues: Polo Steak House, Sabatini's Italian, Tapas of the Terrace, Main Dining Room, buffet. In addition there was an extraordinary lunch cafe (with free fruit smoothies & milk shakes, kobe cheeseburgers, Phily cheese sandwiches, and great salads) and of course, room service. The quality, presentation, and service was comparable or better to any top rated restaurant in America. The best I have ever had! No set meal times. You often needed to make advance reservations at Sabatinis and Polo,but all restaurants accepted walk ups.
Entertainment was limited, but very high quality. There was regional talent and cultural experiences. A great full band, and three other entertainer groups.
Managed by the finest staff of any ship I have sailed. Our cabin steward collected dark chocolates for me daily when she found I was a chocoholic, and even lent me her personal wash basin and filled it with ice when I sprained my ankle.
We met some amazing and very interesting people on the cruise, and have made some lifetime friends (whom we have already visited with). The group was generally in their 50's 60's, and 70's, but very hip (Loads of IPods, IPhones, Blackberries, laptops, and Kindles around) and most loved the casual atmosphere. Plus, they and amazing stories to tell and experiences to share.
I guess you get the idea that I really liked this Cruise Line and their staff. Before you think that this is a paid commercial, let me tell you about a few things I found fault with: 1. The ship doctor had the bedside manners of Mussolini or Howard Cosell, and overcharged me grossly. 2. The Port of Mangalore, India was the sorry-est port I have ever experienced in 30 years of cruising. No one on the ship could tell me why we stopped there (Ask them in Miami, they told me, they tell us where to go, and we take it from there). 3. The guest laundry was small and pathetic. It was so bad that the ship comedian had as the evening entertainment a play called "Episodes in the Laundry" featuring guests experiences there. 4. The "Crafts Ladies" who ran the daily craft program were pretty pathetic. I don't think they will get another gig. I had better crafts from a high school girl at the public playground.
This was a real deal! We paid $7,899 each for the cruise, but that included airfare from Washington to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and return from Athens on Air France, all gratuties, and $500 each room credit. There are 4 rooms on decks 7 & 8 near the front which are the same size as balcony suites, but the area where the balcony would be is enclosed with a big round window. The result is the largest cabin on the ship (plus 80SF) except suites at a regular outside cabin rate. (My cabin # was 7007)
7007 - Has extra space as the area where a balcony would have been has been added to the interior, which makes the interior really large. In addition, there is a giant round picture window so you can see everything. We had our steward bring in 2 extra chairs, and we had private parties for our regular group (8 people) in our room, with snacks and drinks from room service!Same price as some "Outside" cabins with as much as 80 square feet smaller space.