Regatta Review

4.5 / 5.0
424 reviews

Not quite the Oceania I once knew

Review for Australia & New Zealand Cruise on Regatta
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bahamamama11
10+ Cruises • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Nov 2023
Cabin: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

We are long time Oceania aficionados, and were very much looking forward to this cruise from Singapore to Sydney. The Regatta is a small ship (and I mention this as a plus) which was last refurbished in 2019. While I have no complaints about the condition of the ship, it does not have the "wow" factor many people are looking for while cruising.

My biggest complaint is the unfortunate decline of the "finest cuisine at sea" since the line was taken over by Norwegian. I am not a buffet person, but sometimes the quick in and out works well with excursion schedules. We used to look forward to a choice of a premium beef cut, thick lamb chops and large lobster tails grilled to order at dinnertime in the buffet. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Very thin cuts of (?)sirloin, (in any case a cut of meat I'd never look twice at in the grocery store,) lamb chops so thin you'd need to stack several to make 1" and the cutest little lobster tails have been substituted. Very disappointing. The main dining room often had nothing of interest on the menu, which is also a new phenomenon. The Polo Grill remained strong with lovely meats prepared very nicely. Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant, was a bust on both nights we dined there. The service was quite poor, and the food sometimes even arrived cold. The mains were underwhelming to say the least. The veal was tough. This was certainly not the Toscana we remember from previous cruises. The Waves grill has shown a decline. I looked forward to the 'surf and turf burger' which is supposed to be a filet topped with lobster tail. I can't believe that the beef offered is a filet, and the lobster medallions that top it are overcooked and stringy. Even the ice cream offered is no longer up to snuff. Each day there is a different flavour of Humphry Slocombe ice cream on offer which is divine. The other offerings are grainy and watery, certainly not premium offerings. Overall, the food was good, but not excellent. We had been accustomed to excellence.

Cabin Review

Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

The cabins are more than adequate. We had a balcony cabin and there was lots of storage space. The bathroom is the usual inadequate offering in these older ships- the showers are minuscule as is the entire bathroom. Our cabin was located near the bow and we experienced significant pitch and roll when in rough seas. I've never been seasick before this cruise, and I think it was cabin location. Our room steward did the usual wonderful job of cleaning and buffing twice a day. Absolutely lovely.

Port Reviews

Broome

None of our group of 10 could quite understand why Broome was a port of call as it seemed an underwhelming location. We most fortuitously stumbled upon Broome Dinosaur Adventures and arranged a tour with them privately. It's a family run business with great reviews on TripAdvisor. They were exceedingly helpful right from our first email communication with them. Our tour was led by the owners, husband and wife team Myles and Bec.

We were picked up from the ship right on time, and driven to their business, a lovely spot where they also host weddings! The boat was pulled up to the beach and we were off to see dinosaur footprints. Along the way, the vistas were fabulous. Bec told us a lot about Roebuck Bay's flora and fauna, as well as giving us some fascinating WW2 history of the area.

When we stepped out of the boat to head to the beach where the footprints were to be seen, the water was as warm as a hot tub. You will get wet to just above the knee, and should also expect some spray when the boat is going.

While the footprints themselves aren't a spectacular sight, the significance of them is huge. Myles' enthusiasm was infectious. It was obvious that he loved dinosaurs and knew a great deal about current research in the field. We were entranced.

On the way back to base camp, we anchored in a protected spot and were treated to lovely charcuterie boards and bubbly. Transfer back to the boat was seamless.

We all had a fabulous day, and Broome morphed into a great port of call entirely because of this tour company.

On our return to ship, everyone we compared notes with was quite envious when told about our day and shown some photos. This was a very highly recommended tour, although I don't think that it is offered as a cruise tour.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is the sort of place you think about going back to. Having said that, it is a large island and just getting off the ship to walk around the port would leave you scratching your head as to why you were there.

Our group of 10arranged for a private tour of the Island ourselves, through Kangaroo Island Trails and were fortunate to be led by the fabulous Nikki Redman. Nikki is an amazing wildlife photographer in addition to being a naturalist, and she's just amazing to listen to: very engaging and knowledgeable. She can spot wildlife while driving and talking about the animals at the same time. She even spotted echidnae (we got a good look) while travelling at speed.

Our tour took us all over the island, and she stopped whenever there was an interesting wildlife sighting which was quite often. The Remarkable Rocks (sounds like they were named by Monty Python, doesn't it?) are truly remarkable and worth the drive to get there. Admiral's Arch was a great photo op as well.

At the end of the tour we understood why Nikki has no desire to ever leave Kangaroo Island. It was magical.

Adelaide

A fabulous day with Wayne Elson of Be Consumed tours. Once again, we were able to arrange a private tour (great advantage to travelling in a group!)

From the first email, I knew that we would be hiring Wayne for our day in Adelaide. Every email was thoughtful and considered our unique circumstances. Every stop was chosen to reflect our interests.

Wayne took us on the best wine tour of the Barossa Valley. He had a successful vineyard himself, so he really knows what he is talking about. We visited three wonderful wineries, and stopped for a fabulous home cooked ( by Wayne!) lunch paired with some of his own wines.

Apart from the great wine tasting, lovely scenery and seamless service, Wayne is also a very personable and interesting gentleman. We loved our day wine tasting in Adelaide!

Albany (Australia)

Albany, like many of the stops on this itinerary, is not a glitzy town full of "must sees." It's important to plan an interesting excursion to get the most of it. We once again had a private tour arranged through the Busy Blue Bus. Susan led the group. We hiked in scenic places, visited spectacular beaches, and spent time at the Historic Whaling Station. All the while Susan provided a very interesting commentary. This woman knows so much about the plants and history of this lovely area. Stellar guide!

The Whaling Station was not at all what I expected. There's a bit of a 'feel good' story as it has been set up as a museum by many of the people who lost their jobs when the station ceased operations. The tale they tell through the exhibits is nuanced and compelling. It's well worth a visit.

Surabaya

We could not find anything interesting to do at this port. So we took the provided shuttle "into town." Passing through some very sketchy areas, we arrived at one of the biggest, glitziest malls I have ever seen.

I suppose the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' in Indonesia was very nicely illustrated.

Semarang

This port is just a bit too far away from the Borobudur Temple to do comfortably in a day. Instead, we settled on Gedong Songo, a Hindu Temple Complex of 9 small temples built up the side of a hill. The temples date from the 8th and 9th centuries. This is about 1 1/2 hours drive from the port. The complex is visited on horseback, which adds a bit to the interest in the area. The ride is very sedate as your horse is led by a man on foot who walks right beside you. There is also a geothermal vent in the area that causes impressive smoke plumes.

We arranged to do this tour ourselves through Bersukaria Tours. Yogi communicated with me through What's App quite extensively prior to our tour. He arrived right on time, and was very personable. By arranging our own tour not only did we visit the complex early, when there were hardly any other visitors, we also saved quite a lot of money. Two tour buses entered the parking lot as we were leaving. On our way back to the ship, we decided not to do our planned city tour because of the traffic. We did stop to pick up some Lumpia Semarang (famous food in Semarang) which we chose to enjoy back on board.

Tour guide (Yogi)- 5 stars

Semarang - 2 stars only because of the nice guide

Bali

Bali would have been a much more interesting port of call had we had a better schedule. Unfortunately, we arrived at 1 pm on one day, and departed at 4 pm the next which did not really leave time to go to Ubud, well known for it's traditional cultural, arts scene and beautiful forest en route.

We chose to visit Uluwatu Temple and see the Cecak dance the first day. The Cecak dance performance is interesting, but be prepared to be stuffed into the bench style seats and be part of a massive exodus when the performance is finished. The temple complex was breathtakingly located, but also very busy. The local thieving monkeys were an amazing addition. They wouldn't be as cute had they managed to nab our eyeglasses. These monkeys are so very fast, extremely bold and just love to steal glasses and gnaw on them.

On the way to Uluwatu we also stopped at Padang Padang Beach. The most interesting part of this was the climb down to the beach. The beach is rather average and quite crowded despite charging a small admission fee.

The next day we visited the Royal Santrian Hotel on a Day pass. This was a spectacular day in a beautiful hotel located on Nusa Dua Beach, which was also lovely. We had use of loungers by the ocean, the pool, were provided towels and enjoyed drinks at the bar. This is very much the Bali you see on television.

We arranged our tour through Rio Bali Tours. This was a great option for us- our tours were private, affordable and led by Rio who spoke excellent English and was very accommodating.

Burnie

I hate to rate a port as 3 star when we had such a lovely guide. Sarah, from Coastline Tours Tasmania was absolutely wonderful and we had an enjoyable, if not epic, day.

We started at Wings Wildlife which is a rescue organization. In addition to many wounded/orphaned local animals, they have also managed to acquire lots of exotics. Apparently these were also rescued. In any case, unlike modern zoos the animal enclosures are much smaller so that you have an excellent view of their inhabitants. We watched Tasmanian devil 'feedings' (which are quite gruesome), fed and touched lots of Eastern Kangaroos (absolutely adorable) and saw someone cuddling with a very large wombat. Perhaps not an elegant start, but it was lots of fun.

Unfortunately the platypus did not show when we walked around the beautiful Fern Glade. We stopped at Anvers chocolate, which was cute although at this point in the cruise I certainly didn't need more calories. We also had a wine tasting at a most interesting spot that also manufactured pickled onions.

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