We chose this cruise to be with friends, and for the opportunity to visit ports and countries in the Mediterranean for the first time. We boarded in Barcelona, sailed for 17 nights, and disembarked in Malta. We unfortunately caught covid two days before the end of the cruise, and had to quarantine onboard, and for an additional week in Malta. Oceania did not handle this issue completely to our satisfaction. While their procedures are sound, execution was not perfect. Before our quarantine, we enjoyed the ship and most of the ports, although some ports had been changed back in February, and some of the new ports were not particularly compelling. We had a large amount of OBC, and used most of it for ship sponsored excursions. Some of them were quite good, others were awful. In some ports, we were docked along with ships from more value oriented cruise lines, and we observed that their excursions were virtually identical to ours in some ports. We did use a private guide service for our day in Rome, which was spectacular. In the future, we will concentrate on using local private guide services. For our expensive excursion in Kotor, Montenegro, all of the Oceania tours were required to stop at a Turkish rug and jewelry store, for an hour's sales pitch to buy rugs. Perhaps this was a requirement of the local authorities.
The onboard cuisine was excellent, with only a few exceptions. The Grand Dining Room service and food was exquisite! We had our same waiter from 2020, and his team took great care of us. The speciality restaurants were all quite good, with the exception of Jacques, which had significant staffing issues. We gave feedback to the managers, and were invited back a few days later. The service was better, but still far below the outstanding service in Polo Grill, Toscana, and Red Ginger. Oceania has dramatically improved their room service breakfast menu, with excellent hot entrees now available (only cold food in 2020). Overall we found the ship clean, and the staff friendly. Covid mitigation procedures were inconsistent, with all crew masked the first week, then no masks after. There are small details that have changed for the worst, which we suspect are in the area of cost cutting. One example is that while our cruise included a tote bag to take home, no tote bags were evident on the ship.
Oceania needs to step up its game in the area of onboard internet access. Having only one free account per stateroom is a real pain. In comparison, our other recent cruise on Seabourn, included one free account for each person, and their internet is more stable. Oceania's tech is way behind the times. No onboard app, poor connectivity. Perhaps when the Riviera goes into drydock these systems will be upgraded.
Our concierge level verandah was clean, however, we did observe some stains on the carpet in the room and in the hallway. We realize that the ship goes into rehab in a few months. The concierge lounge down the hall was our source for great coffee in the mornings. Room service coffee was awful. Space was fine, and our cabin steward was excellent. The bathroom amenities were not particularly outstanding. We speculate that the Bulgari soaps and lotions have had their formulas downgraded.
First time visitors to BCN, fell in love with the city!