As a couple who has cruised many times on HAL, Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess, Viking and Windstar, we decided to look into Oceania as their smaller ship with exceptional food and service reputation appealed to us. Much of the cruise was not only disappointing, but actually frustrating. Our boarding passes stated that our embarkation time would be at 6:30 p.m. There were two busloads of passengers who Oceania had booked on our flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona. We got onto the first bus, but when it arrived at the ship at 6:30 there were no porters. The few employees there told us that they'd sent the porters home since the ship would be leaving in half an hour, and we'd have to carry our own suitcases and bags the 1/2 block-plus to the ship. We are in good shape, yet it was a struggle to get there with everything we'd packed. When we got to the ship, there was nobody to check us in as we boarded, and we were told to go to the main desk where there were two overwhelmed employees who had no idea how to do so with a line of passengers that continued to grow and get angrier as the employees struggled. Quite a few passengers on the second bus didn't make it to the ship before it sailed at 7:00.
The rest of the cruise didn't go much more smoothly. The crew seemed incredibly unknowledgeable, and generally unhappy. Many of the passengers we spoke with agreed that "something just seemed wrong," and that this wasn't what they'd experienced with past Oceania cruises. The concierge and registration desks were often not staffed, and when they were, the most basic questions were beyond their abilities. Most frustrating was nobody ever being able to answer exactly where the ship would dock in relation to the city that we were scheduled to visit and whether we'd be shuttled in or be able to walk in. We finally stopped asking if they had a map so that we could figure out where to go once we left the ship and were often told to "just look for an information booth once on shore."
The food was hit and miss; sometimes good, but not often exceptional except for one meal at Red Ginger that was very good. Steaks at the Tuscan Grill were okay, but not prime and were cool by the time they were served. The ship itself is beautiful, and we were happy with our Deluxe Oceanview Cabin, but overall, the cruise was overpriced and not what we'd expected. We won't be traveling with Oceania again.