My partner and I had travelled once before with Oceania on the Regatta and were underwhelmed by our first trip with them. We are seasoned cruisers with this being my 34th cruise and my partner’s 35th. We saw this late Transatlantic to ... Read More
My partner and I had travelled once before with Oceania on the Regatta and were underwhelmed by our first trip with them. We are seasoned cruisers with this being my 34th cruise and my partner’s 35th. We saw this late Transatlantic to Europe two years ago and decided to give Oceania another try. Well, this trip was a 180 degree turn from our first cruise with Oceania. It was a fabulous cruise in generally every aspect with a few minor exceptions.
When we arrived at the Port of Miami (12:30 PM), embarkation was smooth and simple. The Oceania Representatives were courteous and generally efficient and we boarded the ship immediately. When we embarked, we were told the cabins were not ready and a general announcement would be made, but we were able to drop off our hand luggage and go directly to lunch. We were directed to have lunch in the Terrace Cafe on Deck 9.
Along the way we noticed the ship was beautifully decorated in a traditional manner.
The Terrace Cafe was light and bright, and to our delight the staff and chef were waiting with open arms in comparison to our previous cruise. The food service area was nice and had a large variety of foods for a small ship. This was the quality of Oceania's food we had always heard about. The desserts and the homemade ice creams were fabulous. Every day of the trip the food variety was excellent and the service was outstanding. We also loved the Waves Café – my favorite was the surf and turf (lobster tail and filet) sandwich with truffle french fries.
We went to our cabin on Deck 7. We had originally booked an inside cabin on Deck 4, but we were offered an upgrade to a concierge balcony for $450PP and we grabbed it. The bathroom was small/average size, but adequate. We met our new Stewardess Marife and her Assistant, Teguh, They was wonderful throughout the entire cruise and took care of all of our requests.
We then went to explore the rest of the ship, which was quite nice. Everything was decorated beautifully and had lovely artwork and tasteful furniture. After Muster Drill, we met our fellow Cruise Critic members at the Waves Bar for a Sail Away get together. It was nice to have 40 -50 members turn out and many of the group socialized together for the entire trip. The Captain and his Officers were visible and were very personable. You can tell this was a well treated and happy staff and that is what makes it pleasant for the passengers. We went back to our cabin and our luggage had already been delivered, so we unpacked and were set for a cruise across the Atlantic.
Over the course of the trip - we dined twice each in Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger. In Tuscan Steak, we had a lovely dinner of filets and lobster tails which was excellent. Red Ginger was outstanding. On our first visit, my partner had the carmelized shrimp, lemon grass soup and the Mediterranean sea bass and I also had the shrimp, rack of lamb and lobster pad thai. We ordered similarly on the next visit, but I did order the pad thai a bit spicier, as it was a bit bland the first visit. Both restaurants were excellent and service was outstanding. Additionally, the sommelier in Tuscan Steak actually remembered the bottle of wine we had ordered on our previous visit, which was a total surprise.
The Terrace buffet during the rest of the trip was excellent at breakfast and lunch.
The Grand Dining room was beautifully decorated. This is totally open seating and most tables are for two or four. We had dinner with lovely people during the cruise. If we had dinner by 7:30PM, we were able to make the 9:30 show. The staff in the dining room was outstanding. Our Waiter Ronald and Assistant Waiter Putu did an excellent job. We attempted to have them whenever we dined there. Putu and Dario (he worked in Tuscan at night) also worked in the Terrace Café and took wonderful care of us. The dinners in the main dining room were generally very good to excellent and there is an everyday menu as well.
Sirena also served dinner up in the Terrace Café if you chose to dine more casually; lobster tails and lamb chops generally appeared every night up there as well. We had one dinner at the Terrace Café which was fine, but we generally prefer to have sit-down dining room service for dinner.
One minor issue with food – we returned a couple of days from excursions around 4:15 PM and there was nothing to eat anywhere on the ship between 4-6 PM and were a bit disappointed and hungry!! I spoke to the Food and Beverage Manager and suggested that something should be available, if only at the Waves Café – i.e hamburger, hot dog, etc.. and was told “well you could order from Room Service.” I think Oceania needs to take a second look at this issue.
Liquor prices were far too high. Most people did not take the package at $60 per day, per person. That would amount to $1,960 for a two week cruise for two people. We made sure we attended the afternoon happy hour at the Martini Bar and the late night happy hour in Horizons. Michael at the Martini bar was a standout; additionally Wayan did a great job in Horzons. Kalpesh and Alex who worked in both bars were excellent and attentive.
On this trip, compared to our last on Regatta, the entertainment was wonderful with a larger variety for everyone’s interest. Cruise Director Leslie Jon did a nice job. Comedian George Casey did two shows and was hilarious. Guitarist Nestor Santurio was a delight. There was also a pianist, violinist, magician and ventriloquist who were excellent too. The Sirena cast consisted of three men and three women. They did several production shows throughout the 16 day cruise. The cast and entertainers mingled with the passengers throughout the cruise—an advantage of a small ship. We met Sam and Lillian the first day and chatted with them often. The Sirena band led by multi-talented Alex from Miami was excellent, as was the string quartet.
After the show, we met our new found friends at Horizons, which turned into a disco at night. They offered 2 for 1 drinks. Guests could choose music on an I-pad, but it would have been nicer to have a live DJ from the entertainment staff.
The Casino has now been taken over by NCL (parent company of Oceania) in contrast to Century Casinos that formerly ran it – they have increased the stakes and had little to no action. Black Jack tables were $15 or $25 per hand and Three Card Poker was $5, but few takers. I think the Casino needs to promote itself and have some incentives – i.e. Match Play coupons, etc.. The slots were also very tight. We only knew of one winner during the two weeks.
The pool area was lovely and there was some nice relaxing music. We also saw a shift in the clientele – last trip people were much older and stuffier. This crowd was younger retirees and some families with well behaved teenagers and twenty something family members. It was a wonderful mix of passengers and age groups.
On a side note – those hounding photographers and expensive photos have been removed from the ship and it made the trip much more enjoyable.
Excursions – We had five Oceania excursions included and we enjoyed them.
Bermuda - As we have been here before, we decided to take the local bus to Elbow beach and had a nice day on our own.
Madeira, Portugal (Funchal) - We took city tour and it was very pretty and interesting.
Malaga, Spain – We arrived a bit late, as we had some rough waters for a day or two -- so a few of the excursions were cancelled (specifically Alhambra/Granada) and people were disappointed, but it was understandable. As we had been to Granada before we chose to do Marbella and Puerto Banus. We toured the town of Marbella which was clean and beautiful. The tour then went to Puerto Banus – which is the Monte Carlo/Palm Beach of the Costa del Sol. There were all the top shops and yachts. It was beautiful.
Cartagena, Spain – We did the highlights of Cartegena – which was rich in history and a lovely tour.
Barcelona, Spain - We have been here several times before and there is so much to do and see. We did the ship’s tour - Barcelona’s Iconic Landmarks which included lunch. The tour was fine and informative, but you need much more time than a day to really experience all that Barcelona offers. If you have a chance to stay 3-5 days I highly recommend this.
Aix-En and Marseille, France – This also was a full day tour of both areas and we had a wonderful guide and had a great tour of both cities.
St. Tropez, France - We did this on our own. You must tender in and it was wonderful to walk around the town. It is very expensive for everything here.
Overall, our impression of Oceania, since sailing on Sirena has greatly improved since our first trip on Regatta. As I previously mentioned, the demographic was 40's - 70's with a smattering of younger people. My partner is 75 and I am 56 and we both agreed that the crowd Oceania is enticing Baby Boomers and is definitely the way to go, as it provides a more vibrant life on board and the staff enjoyed this clientele as well. We also liked the evolution of Oceania entertainment and nightlife on the ship since our last voyage.
As we stated previously, the service overall was excellent. All crew members are well trained and enjoy their jobs and do not appear to be as overworked as on other cruise lines, There were some wonderful standouts on the ship, as noted above, and they were rewarded accordingly, beyond the daily automatic tips.
Debarkation was smooth and we were off the ship quickly and onto our trip to our hotel in central Rome.
As we are avid cruisers, this trip certainly has changed our mind (positively) about considering Oceania in the future. We would go back on this ship in a heartbeat. It was one of our best cruises. Read Less