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Sail Date: January 2011
Forget "Upper Premium"...this is Exceptional Cruising We took the opportunity last Winter to dive head first into the Oceania waters by grabbing a couple of rooms. A balcony and a penthouse. We traveled to Barcelona in ... Read More
Forget "Upper Premium"...this is Exceptional Cruising We took the opportunity last Winter to dive head first into the Oceania waters by grabbing a couple of rooms. A balcony and a penthouse. We traveled to Barcelona in style via Continental Airline's BusinessFirst product via IAH to FRA and then connecting onward via Lufthansa. I had booked the Eurostars Grand Marina in hopes that the ship would be docked out of the back door, but alas, Marina would be elsewhere close by. We were upgraded at the hotel and had nice rooms with comfortable showers, bedding, and niceties. The Continental breakfast was HUGE. I would order just one if you do this anytime soon. Transfer to the ship was 5 minutes from the Eurostars. Marina was very proud in her stately, but temporary residence, at the port in Barcelona. As this was the Maiden Voyage, there were some balloons and festivities going on at the check in hall. It took all of 2 minutes to complete check in before being directed onto the ship. This ship is understated elegance throughout. Where gimmicks abound on other ships, Marina's designers prefer to make exceptional choices in fabrics and furnishings. Gaudy is replaced by grand. Chrome is relegated to the backseat while crystal takes the driver's seat. Even the carpet says upscale home underneath your feet. More than once, I wanted to walk through the Grand Bar area barefooted. As this ship is essentially non-smoking, the air is clean and the upholstery will undoubtedly stay fresh for a very long time. Areas typically associated with smoke on a ship (bars and casinos) were equally bright and fresh and should stay that way for a long time. Attention to detail is everywhere. Instead of rolling off a litany of those experiences, I'd point you to a cruise critic thread where this was discussed in detail: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1339111 Service was fantastic throughout the voyage whether in the "buffet" area or the Grand Dining Room or the specialty dining spots. Service was always with a smile from a dedicated crew of hard working people from all parts of the world. There was very little out of sync with the service even though this was the maiden voyage. Compared to other cruises, the service was exceptional. Rooms were quite nice. I love the size and general layout of the R and S class Holland ship balcony rooms. Our balcony cabin did have a bit of a noise issue at times in rougher water as well as coming and going out of a crew cabin area just down the hall, but overall the room was nicely furnished and the bathroom was the definition of elegant. Very little plastic can be found in an Oceania Marina cabin. The penthouse cabin had an even larger bathroom space and a well appreciated walk in closet. In both rooms, the bedding and mattress were exceptional. Great food was a signature of this line and significant reason we chose to take this cruise. Each dining spot had fantastic dishes and service. I know some people think gathering up specialty dining reservations is as precious as panning for gold in California, but I will say that the Grand Dining Room did a great job each and every night. Additionally, the menu changes there and can offer some real surprises. The menu descriptions are understated for what comes out on the plate. Also, the nighttime Terrace Cafe is a treasure that should really be tried for variety and beauty. All in all, the dining experience on Marina met or exceeded anything we have experienced at the upper end/luxury hotels in Vegas. Again, exceptional dining is the standard onboard. No matter where you go, you would have a hard time having a bad meal. Unfortunately, you may suffer from the same malady many of us cruisers on Marina had...... 'O'mania. We felt that when we knew our cruise was about to end. Very few vacations meet the expectations of the persons making the journey. Marina exceeded our expectations. For that reason, I rate the Marina 'exceptional'. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
14 Night Transatlantic Cruise on Regatta Nov 2010 Perspective: We are both 50ish ;). We have cruised 25 or so times mainly on main stream cruises, and did cruise once on Crystal. We favor value for the buck and cruising off season away ... Read More
14 Night Transatlantic Cruise on Regatta Nov 2010 Perspective: We are both 50ish ;). We have cruised 25 or so times mainly on main stream cruises, and did cruise once on Crystal. We favor value for the buck and cruising off season away from school holidays. We did a 12 night transatlantic cruise on Regatta in 2008 so many of the following observations where also made in the review for that cruise. Pre-Cruise: We used FF miles to get AA ticket that had a stop in London Heathrow. Flight delayed because of radio problem and missed connection. Two hours delay plus 6 hours in Heathrow for connection. AA/BA provided £10 each for light meal. We missed one afternoon of sightseeing in Barcelona but still had two full days. Embarkation: Our hotel had an 11:00 am checkout time. Checked out then and pulled luggage to taxi stand. Taxi was quick and easy to port. Porter met us at taxi for checked bag. We went straight in to port security which was a breeze, no mention of the bottles of wine that we had in our checked luggage. No lines anywhere. We were able to board immediately. Oceania check in was done on ship in the Regatta Lounge. Then on to the Terrace Cafe where we joined a couple in the back deck area for a sunny mellow lunch. Priority cabins were ready at 1:00 and others like ours were ready at 3:00. Cabin: We had an inside cabin. We booked a guarantee inside about 1 and half year from cruise date and were assigned an inside on deck 8. We loved deck 8 for the convenience during the morning. Easy access to the terrace cafe and the pool deck area for exercise. Very nice mattress style bed with comforter/duvet. Heard a comment or two that the mattress pad was too soft for some and the duvet a bit warm. Cabin was larger than average for an inside; bathroom (particularly the shower) is small. Cabin had loveseat, one stool, and one small table as furniture. The closet, storage area and vanity/desk were typical. Safe worked fine. Our AC dial seemed to control air flow more than temperature. We tended to need to adjust it daily to keep the room a near constant temperature. Cabin was serviced twice daily. It was very clean with very little wear noticeable. No towel animals. Our attendants were very efficient, communicated well, and friendly. Overall Service: The cruise had around 670 passengers, i.e. fairly full. There was lots of friendly staff . Lots of staff were new to the ship and were getting some training. This was not an issue anywhere except in the Main dining room, which will be detailed in the food section. Loved the small ship with no lines. The reception desk had no lines. No lines at port visits or buffet. Very nice. Food: Oceania has added "included" beverages since our previous cruise with them. We asked for sparkling water with every meal which delayed things a bit. Occasionally we would have water from the pitcher poured in our sparkling water which was always promptly and cheerily replaced. We drank mainly bottled water, Indian Tonic, and club soda in the cabin and in the lounges. No issue with getting served the included beverages. A very nice added feature. The Terrace Cafe is the buffet style restaurant. It is set up with two mirror image sides so that there are two duplicate service lines. All food is served for you. Beverages are served at the table. There is a self service beverage center that is always clean and available. It provides coffee, cappuccino, espresso, tea, water, lemonade. For Breakfast, there are omelet stations; area for hot breakfast foods, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, breakfast meats, breakfast potatoes, and hot cereal; fresh fruits; canned fruits; cold cereals; and baked goods. The fresh fruit was the best variety I have seen in many cruises - usually raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, papaya, mango, kiwi, orange, pineapple, and melon. Also the baked goods are wonderful with about 10 different ones offered. The variety and freshness of the fruit and baked goods were EXCEPTIONAL! Lunch at the Terrace Cafe was fairly typical buffet style. Salad bar, prepared salads, hot food, and desserts are available. There is a wonderful ice cream cart with about 4 kinds of home made ice cream and a sorbet available. One is sugar free. Lots of unique favors. My favorite was Cocoa Sorbet. Very rich dark chocolate sorbet. Exceptional! Tapas on the Terrace is the buffet setup for the evening. The seating area is dressed up and tables are setup nicely for dining outside under the stars. Most items from the Grand Dining Room are offered plus sushi and a few extra tapa type items that change each evening. Indoor and Outdoor seating is available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Very nice. Did notice that with an almost full ship the buffet area did get fairly crowded at prime meal times. We did opt for the dining room vs. the busy buffet a couple of times for lunch. We did order room service for one dinner. The order was taken accurately and was delivered accurately. We order soup, salad, and steak which were all perfectly prepared, plated, and served at proper temps. We called at a busy time and the delivery time was about 1 hour. The tray pick up was very prompt. No compliant at all with our experience. The Waves grill is just outside the Terrace Cafe and near the pool area. The grilled sandwiches are excellent. We had the grilled mahi-mahi and the hamburgers several times. We had the salads from the buffet , the grilled sandwich, and then the excellent ice cream for dessert. On this cruise, we rated the Waves Grill as the best tasting option for lunch, just a bit heavy for everyday. The Grand Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast portions were a bit large. Lunch had a very nice variety, several sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees to choose from. Tables for two were fairly easy to obtain at lunch. Dinner in the GDR is the usual wonderful multi course cruise dining experience. O is still a very wine-friendly line. The crystal stemware was beautiful. Nice wine list with reasonable prices, especially on the medium to higher priced wines. Or pay $20 corkage for wine brought on board. There is a wine package that provides a nice discount when you purchase 3 (mix & match) bottles from the package list, and a wine bazaar held on a couple days midway through the cruise which seemed to offer the same wines as in the package plus a few extra. Unlike many mass cruise lines, O. still has a dedicated wine staff, so your waiter doesn't double as your sommelier. The menu offers about 2 cold appetizers, 2 hot appetizers, 1 hot soup, 1 cold soup. 2 salads, entrees that always included seafood, poultry, beef, other meat than beef, vegetarian, and several always available items such as salmon, chicken, and steak. Lobster was served a couple of times and the beef served, including the always available New York strip, was of exceptional quality; in general the quality provided was very good. There is no dancing or singing by staff during the dining service. So now the negative part of the Grand Dining Room experience on this sailing. Tables in the middle section were extremely noisy and the service was slow. For anyone to be heard at the larger tables, they had to nearly shout and when the room is full of people shouting it gets very loud. Tables on the edges of the dining room were better; but were all taken at 6:30 (anyone eating at 7 or later had to sit in the middle or wait until around 8). The service was much slower at almost all diners except one where we did go at 6:30 and sat next to the window. One night we had our appetizer served fairly promptly but then it was 2 hours until the salads were served. Often condiments were never offered, even one night never got salad dressing. The wait staff appeared very busy at all times. Really could not see what the issue was probably the newness of some of the staff. Did not want to complain because without assigned seating you probably won't get the same waiter again so why get him in trouble when you don't really know what the problem is. Noted dining room service problems on the comment card. The specialty restaurants is where O shines in our opinion. There is Polo Grill, a steak house, and Toscana, Italian style restaurant. On our 14 night cruise we ate in them 6 nights (officially we were guaranteed two reservations but we waitlisted for several more). The menus are excellent with many great choices. Our favorites at Polo were the fois gras, crab cake, clam chowder, onion soup, lobster, and filet mignon. Our favorites at Toscana were the bread and olive oil to start (great selection different breads, oils, and balsamic vinegars), minestrone, pastas, and lobster. The service and menu really where Special. Entertainment: As far as the bars and lounges, we visited them several times at happy hour from 5 to 6 most evenings in Horizons and Martinis. Martinis had a piano soloist most nights. And Horizons had a dance combo most nights. This cruise had three lecturers on board. On sea days two enrichment lectures were provided. Highlight was the one lecture given by John McDaniel, famous music arranger. We attended the daily beginner's bridge lesson which was excellent and even played a few afternoons. The transatlantic was a great way to get involved with bridge. We joined a trivia team the first sea day and had such fun that we attended daily. The nightly show started at 9:30 each evening. The nightly show on this transatlantic cruise was not always polished, plus it meant eating very early since the dining room service was slow. We are very easy to please as far as entertainment goes and give O's entertainers a C this trip. We used the walking area above the pool and the gym. Nice locker room with two showers plus steam room (no charge to use). Very nice and not crowded. Did not use the spa or the spa deck area. There is one main pool with two hot tubs outside. The area is teakwood and lined with loungers. Loungers are available in the sun and shaded. Double loungers are also available. Each lounger had a pad and terry cloth cover. Did not use internet service this trip ( yeah!!!). The internet manager did help me get a boarding pass for my flight home which was greatly appreciated. The library is wonderful. Good selection of reading material including recent magazines. Comfortable seating. The Casino is next to Martinis in a walk through type arrangement. It was not very busy during our cruise. Usually about 2 tables open and maybe about 5 slot players. Nice blackjack game for a cruise ship. Six deck shoe; dealer stands on soft 17; $10 min, $5 on some afternoons. I seem to have trained myself to avoid the smoke in these areas, of course on O this area like most is non-smoking; very nice. Ports of Call: Tangier, Morocco We did not do a ship's tour. Our goal was to just walk about it a bit to have the boast of having stepped on the soil of Africa. Well, the local tour vendors are aggressive. They take forever to take No for an answer, all the while warning you how dangerous a place the Medina is and how you have no chance to walk to the Casbah without being surrounded by vendors. One followed us for about 20 minutes before accepting "No Tour" as the final word. We did link up with 4 others and were able to walk as in a convoy. However the entire experience was pretty miserable. If you must see a particular attraction, it probably is better do a tour, even though you will waste a lot of time at the required vendor stops. If you are used to the aggressive environment, more power to you and enjoy. Tangier tour vendors made the vendors in Mexico and the Caribbean seem very tame. Madeira, Portugal No ship's excursion here either. We did get good advice from the local tourist advisor that came onboard to use a taxi to get to the Museum that we wanted to see and then walk back - DOWNHILL. We enjoyed the Museu Quinta des Cruzes and two lovely parks. The tiled sidewalks are lovely but are rough on the feet. We walked back to ship and enjoyed views from the walls along the port. Hamilton, Bermuda We had an overnight call here. The weather was rainy the first day. We got the O provided umbrella out and walked up to Fort Hamilton and then browsed our way back through Hamilton to the ship. The second day was overcast with bits of sun. We took the bus to St. George. We did a guided tour which lasted one hour and was too short because the guide was excellent and the price was right - free. There was a brief play to follow but the rain convinced us to return to the ship. Weather and Seas: Weather in Barcelona pretrip was very mild, wonderful for sightseeing. We had cool temps most days at sea and in the ports of call. We had two days of rough seas, not horrible but enough that maybe half of the cruisers were affected. We had a couple of days nice enough to sunbath. Disembarkation: Oceania gets a low rating here. Not well organized with little information available besides your departure time. Everyone was waiting on deck 4 to depart which was where all previous port departures happened. The gangway was open and manned with crew. That crew and ourselves were surprised to learn that passengers would depart on deck 5. So about 100 passengers lugged their possessions up the stairs or waited for elevators to disembark on deck 5. Summary: Loved our fellow cruisers. Most cruisers were very friendly and outgoing. They usually introduced themselves and greeted you on following days. The bridge lessons and the trivia contests provided us with many friends to dine and recreate with. The fellowship was the highlight of the cruise. On this sailing the Grand Dining Room had some issues. In general O shines with the no extra charge specialty restaurants, few children, practically smoke free environment and small ship advantages such as no lines and onboard convenience. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Background DH and I discovered cruising nearly 20 years ago. We've sailed HAL almost exclusively & are most familiar with their S and R class ships (1200-1400 pax) as well as the unique Prinsendam (793 pax). Oceania has been ... Read More
Background DH and I discovered cruising nearly 20 years ago. We've sailed HAL almost exclusively & are most familiar with their S and R class ships (1200-1400 pax) as well as the unique Prinsendam (793 pax). Oceania has been on our radar for a while, thanks to many positive reviews here on CC. So we decided to do a "test" cruise. Despite our preference for longer, port-intensive cruises, we chose a 14-nite westbound transAtlantic Barcelona to Miami. Even though this was a most unlikely choice for us, we figured we'd get an excellent impression of the Oceania product with so many days at sea. We booked the cruise thru our TA without the included Oceania "free" air. We took the air credit instead & made our own air arrangements. We used FF miles & flew Executive Class into Barcelona where we stayed at Hotel Jazz for 1-nite pre-cruise. Hotel Jazz is a modern boutique hotel at the top of La Rambla, between Placa Catalunya & Placa Universitat. An ideal location for exploring fabulous Barcelona. Embarkation We took a taxi to the cruise port about 1:00 pm & were processed very efficiently by shoreside staff. We didn't need any of the Oceania documents we received pre-cruise - only our passports, which were kept by the Purser for the duration of the voyage. We boarded onto the 4th floor lobby of the ship. First impressions count & Regatta scored. The lobby is beautifully appointed & inviting. We had the feeling of entering a boutique hotel rather than a cruise ship! We noticed a calm & unhurried atmosphere almost immediately & it continued throughout the entire voyage. Stateroom Our A3 Concierge room was conveniently located on the 7th floor slightly forward of the stairs & elevators. The room was bright & airy with every bit of its 165 sq ft interior well planned. There was ample closet space & drawer storage and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror reflected light & added brightness. The bed occupied most of the width of the room, so we learned to orchestrate our movements to avoid collision. The 50 sq ft verandah was large enough for only 2 deck chairs and a small table. The privacy barrier between balconies was sufficient & we really liked the metal railings rather than plexiglass for maximum sea viewing. The bathroom was tiny, but functional & spotless. The shower stall was very small but we managed fine & neither of us was attacked by the shower curtain. Fresh towels were provided twice daily (no opportunity to reuse) and soap/toiletries were replenished as we used them. Towel animals haven't found their way onto Regatta. Oceania has fabulous beds with pillow-top mattresses, 700 thread-count Egyptian cotton bedding & Italian silk-cut duvets. Without a doubt, they are the most comfortable beds we've had at sea. Dining Food is an important aspect of our overall cruise experience. Since Oceania bills itself as having the "finest cuisine at sea" we came on board with high expectations. And for the most part, Oceania delivered. We had some excellent meals and many very good meals in each dining venue. The food was indeed the best we've had at sea but we never had a "wow" moment. Terrace Cafe We ate most breakfasts in the Terrace Cafe. The fresh fruits & berries were wonderful: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, papaya, kiwis & pineapple. There were yoghurts & cheese, hot & cold cereals, muesli and a wide selection of meats, smoked salmon & herring. Made-to-order omelettes & eggs took a while but were worth the wait. Eggs benedict were poached just right & dressed with awesome hollandaise. There was an incredible selection of baked goods made fresh several times daily. Oceania employs French bakers & uses special flour that can withstand the climate & humidity changes found at sea. The results are sensational. Even though the Terrace Cafe is buffet, it's not self-serve. Most food along the line is served. Wait staff bring hot & cold beverages. Good variety of juices but we missed the fresh-squeezed OJ that HAL provides. My DH declared that the coffee was undrinkable while I discovered that hot chocolate made with milk was divine. We ate most lunches in the Terrace Cafe. There was always a wide selection of hot & cold appetizers, salads, soup, fresh-made pasta cooked to order, a carvery station, pizza and several entrees. Interesting cheese selections and tempting desserts. Oceania also has delectable, oh-so-creamy ice cream & refreshing sorbets that are made right on board. Simply the best we've experienced on any ship. We sometimes ate at Waves, the casual grill outside Terrace Cafe. DH loved the Texan Burger while I opted for the Mahi Mahi Burger with bacon and smothered onions. Waves is also the spot for hand-dipped milkshakes, malteds & smoothies. Always a treat. Grand Dining Room The atmosphere in the GDR was elegant, calm & unhurried. It was well staffed by friendly & attentive servers. Knowledgeable sommeliers offered wines & seemed just as happy to bring a house pour as the most expensive listed vintage. We are die-hard late-seating traditional diners on HAL so this was our first experience with open seating. And it worked. We usually arrived at the GDR about 7:30 pm & even though this was peak time, we never had to wait for a table. The Maitre d' quickly learned our preference for a deuce & always seated us at a private table. Sometimes we were seated close to others & could share conversation if we wanted. Food was very good. Creative menus, wide-ranging choices, quality ingredients, distinct flavors, artful presentation, delivered at the correct temperature. The bread baskets offered at the beginning of each meal were superb. We were usually pleased with our appetizers, soups & salads but sometimes we hit a miss on the entrees. Pastas were always excellent, so much so that they rivaled those prepared in Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant. And the "always available" Jacques Pepin Signature Dishes were outstanding. The crispy, salty skin on his perfectly roasted Rotisserie Chicken was yummy. In addition to dinners, we occasionally ate breakfast & lunch in the GDR. I tried the Baby Lamb Chops for breakfast, but I must say that I don't understand what the fuss is all about. We also went to a superb Gala Brunch. I had chilled strawberry soup & fresh-made waffles while DH stuck to his stand-by of eggs benedict. Oh that hollandaise! Oceania does a great job on sauces of any kind. Gotta love those French chefs who aren't afraid of butter, butter, butter! Specialty Restaurants Our A3 room entitled us to 2 reservations at each of the 2 specialty restaurants, Polo Grill and Toscana. We made reservations on-line several weeks before we left. We booked dates early in the cruise to allow us the opportunity to try for additional reservations if possible. When we arrived on board, there was a card in our room which summarized all 4 reservations we had made on-line. Nothing lost in translation from shore to ship. Well done Oceania. Both restaurants are gorgeous. Polo Grill has a very clubby feel with dark wood-paneling, overstuffed furniture & subdued lighting. It has a predictable steak house menu with the usual cuts, sauces & sides. Unfortunately, we felt that our entrees weren't up to par on either occasion. My rack of lamb was overcooked & underseasoned while my NY strip was saved only by a huge dollop of bEarnaise. My DH struggled with an overwrought piece of grilled lobster & overcooked filet mignon. Sides were tasty but arrived lukewarm. Crème brulee and key lime pie were both winners. On balance, we were disappointed with Polo Grill. And truth be told, we think the Pinnacle Grill on HAL is every bit as good in some areas & better in others. Toscana is bright & airy, full of Tuscan colors, light woods & a charming bar specializing in Grappa & Limoncello drinks. It's a culinary adventure just reading the extensive menu! We almost hit a home run at Toscana with everything we ordered. The olive oil & balsamic tasting menu was superb (especially the spicy Holy Oil). Spinach & ricotta ravioli in sage butter was perfectly al dente and full of flavor. Veal scaloppini limon was simple but satisfying. The only notable exception was osso bucco with saffron risotto which was heavy, salty & gummy. We both loved the ricotta cream canolli dessert, so much so that we ordered it twice. We enjoyed Toscana very much, but we didn't think that either specialty restaurant was so much better than the GDR to request additional reservations. We really liked the elegant casual dress code on Oceania & didn't miss formal nites at all. We found that folks dressed very nicely for dinner in the GDR & the atmosphere was every bit as elegant as a formal nite on HAL. Very classy! Many men wore jackets (mostly without ties) in Polo Grill and Toscana. Activities This crossing had 9 sea days out of 14 days & Regatta offered the expected line-up of games & activities. Golf putting, shuffleboard, ping pong, bridge, bingo & trivia were regularly scheduled & well attended. In addition to the ever-popular games, there were watercolor classes, Spanish lessons, dance classes & enrichment lectures, cooking demos, wine bazaars, wine tasting ($), afternoon tea, coffee chats, photo workshops ($) and fitness classes. Mercifully there were no art auctions although the Park West guy did give a few presentations & was available by appointment. There were also a few "big" events. A lovely Tea Dansant was presented mid-way thru the cruise in the Regatta Lounge. This was an amped-up version of afternoon tea with impressive displays of savory & sweet temptations. It reminded us of Royal Dutch Tea on HAL. There was also a Regatta transAtlantic Upper Hall Event, billed as the social event of the season. It turned out to be a nothing but sales pitch in poor disguise. A bust. But the Country Fair was a hoot. This was originally to be staged outside but the weather was overcast & windy. So the entire 5th floor was transformed into "booths" where pax could try their luck at various games in the tradition of an old-time country fair. Dress-a-mannequin, stuff-a-pillowcase, knock-down cans & similar goofy stuff. Many events were timed & Regatta dollars were awarded depending on your speed. It was a blast. Entertainment Each evening in the Regatta Lounge there was an after-dinner show & we went to most of them. We liked the small, cozy, cabaret-styled theatre & enjoyed performances by a pianist, clarinetist, vocalists & a magician. We were very impressed that some of the Regatta entertainment staff were also polished performers who took to the stage & delivered excellent shows. As a preamble to the evening shows, there were game/trivia contests along the lines of Liars Club, Newlywed Game, Who Wants to Be an O Millionaire, Deal or No Deal. These were well attended & a ton of fun, thanks in no small measure to outstanding hosting by the Assistant CD. In various venues throughout the ship, music was provided by a string quartet, an 8-piece orchestra (expanded to 12-piece to accompany Tea Dansant) and a pianist. There was also an after-hours disco in Horizons that reportedly was poorly attended. Port Excursions There were only 3 ports on this crossing: Tangier, Morocco; Funchal, Madeira; and Hamilton, Bermuda. Thanks to CC and TripAdvisor, we researched them & made our own independent plans in advance. Shore excursions offered by the ship seemed to cover the basics but were priced quite high. We did consult Destination Services about a tour but unfortunately they gave us info that we later learned was incorrect. The shorex staff didn't seem to have good knowledge of their excursions, perhaps because they visit these ports only twice a year during repositioning. Crew & Fellow Passengers Our sailing had only 520 pax (75% capacity) with a complement of 397 crew. Quite an impressive ratio. Service was consistently excellent throughout the ship. There seemed to be a genuine team-concept on board & everybody, no matter rank or station, was there in service to the pax. We are used to HAL ships where crew are primarily from Indonesia & Philippines and officers typically from the Netherlands. It was delightful to engage with the international crew of Regatta, who hailed from places such as Greece, Austria, Thailand, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, India, Columbia, Honduras & Jamaica. We are also used to mostly male crew on board HAL. It was wonderful to see the smiling faces of young women working about the ship in many capacities. Many crew were scheduled to leave Regatta when we arrived in Miami. Some were at the end of long contracts & were understandably keen to get home again. Yet they delivered outstanding service right up to our final moment on board. Our fellow pax were a delight. Well-traveled, unpretentious, interesting & friendly. People were comfortable with themselves & it showed. Some pax were in our age group of early 50s but a majority were in their 60s, 70s & beyond. But age didn't matter. We found easy conversation & common ground with many folks. Other Observations Regatta is gorgeous. Beautiful public rooms, elegantly appointed, spotlessly clean. There is absolutely no sign of visible wear anywhere on furnishings, carpets or draperies. It's clear that somebody is paying attention to the details. While the interiors are very nice, we prefer the look of the blue-hulled exteriors of HAL ships with their more traditional sleek lines. We missed the teak wrap-around promenade deck & extensive outside public spaces. On HAL, pax can also access the bow for scenic cruising. On Regatta, there are very few front vistas available for public use. Private cabanas occupy the best forward vantage points & access is restricted. On our sailing, every cabana was marked "reserved" yet none were ever in use, even during scenic sailaways. Disembarkation Regatta was clearly in turn-around mode on disembarkation morning. Breakfast hours in all venues were shorter. Menus, including room service, were limited. We were instructed to vacate our room by 8:00 am and wait in a public lounge for our disembarkation number to be called. This was in marked contrast to HAL where all pax can remain in their rooms until they disembark & breakfast service is as usual. We arrived in Miami at 6:00 am but disembarkation was delayed until 8:30 am. There were a few announcements asking certain crew members & pax to make themselves available to US immigration, but on the whole, the process was smooth & well organized. As independent travelers, we were among the first to leave the ship. We retrieved our luggage inside the terminal & grabbed a taxi to the Miami airport. And sadly, thus ended our first Big O adventure. We are very glad we did this "test" cruise on Oceania. It was fabulous & we look forward to sailing Oceania again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
This cruise review should be read with the understanding that it was our FIRST Oceania cruise of the 18 cruises we had done to this point. The standard for comparison was Holland America Line, with which we have done 11 cruises to date, ... Read More
This cruise review should be read with the understanding that it was our FIRST Oceania cruise of the 18 cruises we had done to this point. The standard for comparison was Holland America Line, with which we have done 11 cruises to date, and whose service and ambience we have thoroughly enjoyed over the years. We chose this particular cruise partly because it gave us a chance to cruise on Oceania's Regatta, a ship (and cruise line) about which we had heard so many positive comments, and partly because the attractive fares offered for the transatlantic route gave us a chance to try it at a moderate price. The booking went well. Our only disappointment was the air routing selected for our return trip from Miami to Toronto. Surprisingly, with so many nonstop direct flights to Toronto out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Oceania's air department gave us a flight on Northwest Airlines, with a stop and change of planes in Detroit. Although other Canadian cruisers had been able to get this changed, Oceania told my TA that we would have to pay $400, and still no guarantee of a nonstop flight. Needless to say, we declined. Our flight to the ship (overnight Toronto to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt to Barcelona) went fine (but why, oh why does Frankfurt make connecting passengers go through security again??!!), and the transfer to the ship was smooth and well-organized. Check-in was a breeze, the best ever in 18 cruises. What a treat after a long travel day. Unfortunately, we had to wait a couple of hours for the cabins to be ready... understandable, but a bit disappointing. Our cabin was a verandah cabin, very far forward on deck 6. Although noticeably smaller than the HAL cabins were are accustomed to, it was adequate and nice & bright and comfortable. The bed was VERY comfortable. A tip, though: If you prefer sheets and blankets to a duvet, ask your cabin attendant to use them at your first opportunity, because the default treatment is duvets. The sliding doors to the verandahs are a nice innovation. We have found that at least half of our neighbors on HAL ships let their (swing-open) verandah doors SLAM shut. The bathroom was another story... "tiny" is inadequate to describe the shower stall, although it's probably a fair description of the bathroom overall. Just be prepared to bang elbows and knees in the shower, and to get very familiar with the clinging shower curtain. One surprise in the cabin was the lack of a privacy curtain between the main part of the cabin and the door to the corridor. Flashing, anyone? The other big surprise was the loud banging every time we crossed a wave at right angles. The seas were fairly rough, and we expected the motion, but not the banging that went on all night long as we crashed across each wave for 2 consecutive nights. We did a "cabin crawl" on this cruise and we were, as usual, impressed with the suites. We thought the Penthouse suite (actually a really large cabin & large verandah, not really a suite) was very nice, without the excessive grandeur of the Vista and Owners' suites. The Staff: Superb in every way. The dining room staff, the staff in all of the other dining venues, the cabin attendants, the bar staff, the activities staff, and the ship's officers and crew were all friendly, cooperative, smiling and helpful. It was definitely the highest service level we have experienced (yet without being "fawning" or obsequious). The Food: In a word: "Wonderful." Oh, there may have been a very few things that we thought were better done on HAL ships (the bread pudding & cobblers, the ice cream with liqueurs, the french toast come to mind) but the preparation of the food on the Regatta, the presentation, and the incredible variety were all first-class. Their breads and pasties were exceptionally good. And the fresh fruit!! The 2 'Optional" restaurants were very nice, and there was no extra fee to use them. If you were booked in a category B thru G cabin C thru G?), you were allowed one reservation in each, and the suites got 2 each. (You could also try for additional bookings if there were vacancies.) We found the Polo restaurant to be of little advantage over the main dining room; in fact, our friends with a suite gave up their 2nd Polo reservation. The Toscana restaurant, on the other hand, was a superb dining experience. One suggestion I would make is to book your specialty restaurants early.... the choice becomes very limited very quickly. (We found it unsatisfactory to have to book our visits to the specialty restaurants without knowing what the scheduled entertainment might be for the selected night.) We also tried the "Tapas on the Terrace" one night. Although we were (again) most impressed by the variety and quality of the food, evening buffet dining was not our preference, so we did not return to that venue. And, by the way, dress is always "Country Club Casual," and all dining venues except the alternative Polo and Toscana restaurants (which require reservations) are open-seating. The Activities: There were enough activities, I think, but certainly not too many, as we expected on a small ship with fewer than 700 passengers. We did fall into a somewhat monotonous routine, with the same events scheduled every day, and always at the same time. Overall, though, we were satisfied. The Activities staff was incredible, with the Cruise Director, David, and his staff of Chris, Emily, Kami & Christopher, all of whom were talented singers to say the least. The remainder of the entertainment (contract entertainers) was adequate for a small ship, but we've seen better. The exception was Mark Worgan, a hilarious magician/comedian. The ship itself was lovely.... a tad old-fashioned, having been built over 20 years ago and then refurbished, but very beautifully furnished and decorated. The layout was relatively straightforward, and it took very little time to feel at home. The public rooms and lounges were warm and welcoming. The main show lounge appeared small but was never overcrowded. There was no movie theatre, but they did show one or two movies in the main show lounge. The orchestra was the best... by far!... of any cruise we have been on. And there was also good entertainment in the Piano Bar (Martini Bar) and by the strings trio. We really missed having a full walk-around promenade deck... something HAL has retained on its ships. The shops on board were adequate (barely) and staffed with charming people. There were VERY few items available such as you'd find in a "tuck" shop on a larger ship, so you are more likely to be shopping for odds & ends at your first port of call. There was also NO shop selling bottles of alcoholic drinks to take to your rooms. I assume for that reason, Oceania is among the very few Cruise Lines that don't mind if you bring bottles of booze onboard (as long as it's for use in your cabin). We did find the bar and wine prices a little higher than HAL, but Oceania IS a step above, and their bar prices (and gratuities schedule) show it. Ports of Call: Tangier Morocco was interesting. We took a ship's excursion that visited the Casbah, the Medina, and some of the nearby coastline. It was very good, but I could have spent a lot more time in the Medina. Would I go back.... it's unlikely. Funchal, Madeira: Beautiful, safe, lively.... we just walked around, went to a craft flea market and to the fish market and others. Never got to see the island. Would we go back? Yes, without a doubt! Hamilton, Bermuda: This was our second time in Bermuda and we enjoyed it as much as the first. Safe, clean and civilized and drop-dead gorgeous. Would we go back? Absolutely!! We were amazed at the number of repeat Oceania cruisers. There were about 500 repeaters on board, or 70%+ of the passengers. Quite an accomplishment for such a new cruise line. The reasons why became clear throughout the cruise. Oceania has definitely raised the bar. (I wonder if that's a reason why we found the always great service on the HAL Zaandam in September to be even better than ever.) We tried once again before the end of the cruise to have our return air arrangements improved, but to no avail. All they could offer us was a later nonstop, at $350 extra and getting us into Toronto at the same time as what we had. We were very annoyed about this, especially when we determined that every other Canadian on board who was returning to Toronto on disembarkation day had been booked on Air Canada nonstop flights at convenient times. We felt badly treated about this issue. Will we repeat on Oceania? Without a doubt. But we'll almost certainly arrange our own air! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
This morning my Sister and her partner are somewhere in Barcelona excitedly awaiting their first ever cruise and they have chosen to join us on Regatta...they will not be disappointed! Barcelona: We were up at 6.00am, ship docks at ... Read More
This morning my Sister and her partner are somewhere in Barcelona excitedly awaiting their first ever cruise and they have chosen to join us on Regatta...they will not be disappointed! Barcelona: We were up at 6.00am, ship docks at 7.00am. Breakfast on the Terrace, great as usual, we appreciate the lack of lines and the smooth efficiency. We get a taxi(10E) to Praca de Espana FCG Station, we wanted to catch the 8.16 train (E20.90 for the Transmontserrat ticket) to Montserrat Aeri (cablecar) We arrive at the base at 9.20 first cable car is at 9.40, only five passengers. The cable car did not accept the train ticket pass therefore we had to pay an additional E5.00 each. The next station (monistrol de Montserrat is where the included funicular departs for the Monastery. Very pleasant visit - no crowds until we were ready to leave, when loads of school children start arriving. We are back in Barcelona by 1.00pm. Shopping and wandering along Ramblas. We meet up with my sister on the ship. They had just arrive and thought that our knock on their cabin door was someone bringing their luggage! Palma de Majorca: There is a shuttle bus from the dock, however, unlike on a previous cruise we are not dropped off near the Cathedral, but just outside the dock gates at a city bus stop. We stopped the first bus (#3) and asked if he went to the city centre, he did, it was about one euro each and we were downtown in 15 minutes. Walked around, saw the cathedral & cloisters, side walk cafe, people watched etc... then a taxi back to the ship (E12.00) Very pleasant early afternoon sailaway sitting on the terrace. Back to our room to discover that our tour to Arles from Marseilles tomorrow has been cancelled, a minor disappointment. The Tour desk was able to get us on to a similar trip to Avignon. Marseilles: We went on a ship's tour to Avignon. It was well organized we left at 8.30 from the Regatta Lounge and the bus parked in Avignon at 9.55. We toured the Pope's palace and were then free to walk around town and buy lunch. We purchased a picnic from a Fruiterer (cheeses, game pie, ratatouille(sp?)wine) and sat on the grass near the bus overlooking the pont at Avignon. We then drove to Le Beaux de Provence a great little, medieval hill town, busy but not overcrowded. We arrive back at the ship at 5.00pm. We had a lovely dinner in Toscana, Ruis the waiter was very friendly and attentive. Saint Tropez: This was a tender port, the tendering was quick and with hardly any line-ups and went very smoothly. We got off at a dock in the centre of the Marina. We walked up to the Citadel and were rewarded with fantastic views of the town and Regatta at anchor in the bay. We were back on board by 2.30 and we spent the afternoon on the pool deck sunbathing and taking a dip in the pool. We had dinner at Tapas with a backdrop of Saint Tropez harbour. The evenings entertainment was a medley of the entertainers singing...it was ok but not good. In fact we wandered up to Horizons after the show and came across a Karaoke event. This was funny to watch especially the slightly inebriated gentleman who gave a rendition of "Macho Man" The cruise entertainment staff ran this very well. There are definitely more people staying up later on this cruise than on our Transatlantic leg. Monte Carlo: Docked at the new jetty, there was a TI on the Dock. We had got off early and the cross harbour ferry boats were not yet running so we walked around the promenade and saw the preparations for the Grand Prix. We caught a bus to Eze along the middle corniche (E1.00). The Bus stops at Cremallaire, Find the TI above the Casino then go directly across the road and up a narrow steep street with steps and the bus stop is in front of you over the road at the top. Eze was fantastic. We left Eze and caught the same bus on to Nice. A great city and the antiques market down near the sea front was really interesting. We caught the train back to Monaco wandered around the Prince's Palace area, saw the cathedral and Maritime Museum and this left us on the clifftop above our ship. There are a series of paths and steps leading down to the dock. We had another great dinner on the Terrace overlooking the lights and harbour of Monte Carlo. I'm ready for a sea day!!! unfortunately there isn't one so we'll have to create a relaxed day in Portofino Portofino: Another Tender port...we took the local bus to Santa Margerita; one euro each way.Nice relaxing day, Portofino was relaxed and we had coffee under canopies on the harbour front while we waited for a heavy rain shower to ease. We got back to Regatta in time to enjoy afternoon tea in horizons. very calm and the waiters are very pleasant and efficient. We went for dinner at Polo. They were busy and service was a little slow, but it didn't spoil the wonderful food or the ambience of the room...elegant and relaxed. Livorno / Sienna and San Gimingano This was a busy, busy day with our first visit to Sienna...wow what a fantastic city. Lots of school children. Our tour guide explained that this time of year is when Italian children (approx 15yrs old) go on cultural trips to their main tourist sites ,this explained why we were seeing all these coaches full of children. We ate a sandwich sitting in the middle of the Campo. So much to see we will be going back. San Gimingano was great, well worth a visit. The tour was well run and the guide was friendly and helpful. We arrive back at the ship to find that our Butler (Mihai) had left us 2 pots of tea and some nibbles. Now that is great service and very thoughtful. We had been away from "home" for 11 hours and this was really welcoming. We wandered up to Tapas for a relaxed dinner. Olbia Sardinia A welcome relaxed day. The shuttle bus into town was easy, if a little crowded. The town was easy to navigate, prices are reasonable. Back on board at 12.30. Headed for the pool. It was very windy and big black clouds were racing across the sky. We sunbathed and cloudbathed by the pool developed goose bumps and to quote my sister "we're British and on holiday therefore we will suffer through this" at least we had no problem getting a sunbed!! (incidentally, we never had a problem getting a convenient sunbed in all the 22 days) We had a message from our son, there was 18" of snow in Calgary yesterday, this goes to prove bad weather is relative. Sorrento /Capri A lovely day. Jet foil to Capri. Bus to Anacapri. Chairlift to the summit. Ch San Michelle for the tiled floor. villa San Michelle. Eggplant pie and beer for lunch. Bus back to Capri Town, wandered around the narrow streets, soaked up the obvious affluence, window shopped along "rodeo drive", funicular back to Marina Grande and a Jetfoil back to Sorrento. Had another outdoor dinner on the terrace and then went back for an after dark stroll around Sorrento along the Via San Cesareo. The ship was scheduled to stay at anchor in Sorrento until 5.00 am the next morning but the Captain had made us very aware of the fact, before anyone tendered off the ship, that he was leaving at midnight. Amalfi / Positano Our last full day, we are fairly relaxed and go to the Grand Dining Room for a full breakfast, it was excellent. Tender ashore at 10.00am tender back at 10.15! a really heavy rain had swept in, umbrellas were turning inside out, we got our raincoats and went back to wander around town, saw the cathedral of St Andrew. Saw a few Oceania umbrellas in the garbage cans on the dock when we returned to the tender. Packing in our room during the afternoon then we had wine on our balcony as the Captain steered the Regatta close to shore for a fantastic sail-by of Positano. Another example of the ship and it's staff and crew taking care of their passengers. We had dinner in the GDR that evening...I don't know what caused the poor, rushed service. Maybe it was last night workload, but after 21 excellent dinners on board, we were left with a poor final impression. But...having said that we have booked two more cruises with Oceania. Disembarkation in Rome This whole event was flawless, the Captain and General Manager were on the dock shaking hands and saying farewell to all departing passengers. Just think there were some fortunate people staying on for a back-to-back. We took Oceania's bus to the airport it arrive at 8.30 a very comfortable time to make our scheduled flight time of 12.30 back to Calgary via Toronto. Summary We are going back to Oceania...the Cabin was quiet, service was excellent, amenities were good, the ship size was perfect the band played good dance music, the ship's condition was excellent, it was clean and well maintained. We really enjoyed this port intensive half of our back-to-back from Miami to Rome. The Transatlantic leg, however, was one long relax...I guess we've turned into sea-day cruisers. By the way, my Sister and partner were so pleased that they had chosen the Regatta to start cruising. My only warning to them was that they have to be careful going on other lines now that they have experienced the relaxed elegance of Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Cruised TA from Barcelona. This was my 7th cruise but first on oceania. After a dreadful cruise on Norwegian Spirit in February I told my TA "No more cruising'. She persuaded me to try Regatta, Im so glad she did. Ship was of a ... Read More
Cruised TA from Barcelona. This was my 7th cruise but first on oceania. After a dreadful cruise on Norwegian Spirit in February I told my TA "No more cruising'. She persuaded me to try Regatta, Im so glad she did. Ship was of a good size for socializing and events. About 700 passengers. Decor was 'classy' but not 'over the top'. CAbins were adequate and comfortable. The food was exceptional, not a bad meal. My DW did not like the scrambled eggs on the terrace, but thats being picky. Toscana was wonderful, you have to try the Chocolate Lasagna, simply decadent Polo had melt in the mouth steaks, restaurant small and personal. Neither Polo or Toscana charged extra unlike lines 'lower down the ladder' Grand Dining room was 'Grand' with good service from polite and efficient wait staff. We ate Breakfast often on the open Terrace at the Terraces Buffet, although a buffet it had great serving staff who, if asked brought tea, juice or anything else. Always cheerful and polite. Cabin Staff were unobtrusive and efficient. The Casino I never used but was of an appropriate size. One plus was the lack of smoking areas and I never smelt smoke the way one does on Norwegian. They had an outside corner and an inside corner. No smoking any where else, on pain of being set ashore. The disappointments were few: The Afternoon Tea with string quartet and white gloved waiters was abandoned after some miserable SOB complained it was 'too crowded' so they spoilt it by moving it to the Terraces Buffet- not the same. The entertainment was great with the Singers Ethan, Brett,Emily and Lindsey with a great CD Rob Wheatley. This team not only entertained but ran Trivia, PAssenger/Crew 'Olympics' Bingo etc but there were a couple of 'old time entertainers A 'Catskills type' comedian called Al and his wife Holly, both IMHO should have retired years ago and a singer called Paul. Not very good. Lectures were great if you liked Baseball (I didn't) or MArine Science. We hit a major storm, Force 10 winds, 30 foot waves which caused us to miss Bermuda. We got $100 cabin credit, which we used on MArtini TAsting and Happy Hour! Travel was good and well organized, British Airways out to Barcelona (via the cesspit that is Heathrow- but thats not Oceania's fault) transfers efficient . Air Canada back on thanksgiving weekend (ugh). I definitely will go back to Oceania for the class,food,civility and great companions and fellow travellers and above all 'value for money' Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Travelled in a group of 10, only 2 of whom had cruised before. We had an extraordinary experience onboard Oceania. The food in all dining areas was exceptional. Ate twice in Toscana and had the lobster. The Polo Grill has a great ... Read More
Travelled in a group of 10, only 2 of whom had cruised before. We had an extraordinary experience onboard Oceania. The food in all dining areas was exceptional. Ate twice in Toscana and had the lobster. The Polo Grill has a great Porterhouse steak. We mostly ate in the Grand Dining Room for breakfast and dinner. (no reservations required). Highly suggest the creme brulee for dessert. Ate a couple of breakfast in the buffet which were also nice, with a view, but we preferred the catering of the sit down meal. Only 1 day at sea, so we were busy. In Marseilles, we walked to town (about 10 min) and took "Hop on/off Bus" around town. 17 Euros each. Great view atop the Notre Dame de la Guard, but be prepared for lots of walking up the stairs. Then on to Monaco, again we walked to Castle area & took open tram around the town. 7 Euros each. Then we took a local bus (#100) to Nice, France. 1.30 Euro each way. Scenery of the French Riviera was spectacular. Took about 45 min each way. Destination Services were very helpful in handing out maps & highlighting routes. Next day, we pre-arranged a driver with "Driver in Rome" and toured Rome. Tour Guide was very knowledgeable took us to all the major sites, including the Catacombs, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to be a small van with only 10 people getting on & off, as compared with a larger group of people. For Florence, we booked "Bob's Limo Service" & highly recommend as well. For the Amalfi Coast, most of group went with "DriveAmalfi" and went to Pompeii and found it to be a great experience. The rest of us took the ferry to Positano (right next to where our tender docked). It was 12 Euros return and well worth it. Scenery from the boat along the coast is breathtaking. Great shopping in Positano, including a shoemaker who made me a pair of sandals while I waited. You could also find lots to do in Amalfi, just by walking around and visiting the unique shops with plenty of ceramics. We didn't do much in Sicily, other than to walk to main square and shop. Some on the ship went on an excursion to Taormina and raved about it. Then it was off to Malta, one of my favorite stops. Took a bus from beside dock (1 Euro) to centre of town. Big fountain there. Toured St.John's Co-Cathedral, which is a must see! Then strolled Republic Street (pedestrian street). Again lots of unique stores & a few internet cafes. There were also stores on the pier itself, including duty-free & Hard Rock Cafe. Finally a day at sea to enjoy the ship. The pool was always crowded so we didn't spend much time there. There were usually ample lounge chairs to be found. We tried to make it for "High Tea" each day. I would highly recommend that as well. We also did the team trivia most days and met lots of great people there. The library is probably the most beautiful room on the ship. The casinos were always full at night. A few of our group would 'donate' nightly. The computer room had about 20 computers. I did take a few complimentary classes on photo downloading. Our final stop was in Santorini. We were tendered to shore and some took donkey to top (you end up walking 1/4 of the way); we rode the cable car (4 Euro each way). Lots to see just in Fira, but we took local bus to Oia (1.20 Euro each way) and had great view from higher up. About a 30 min ride. Would highly recommend the trip to Oia. Found a great bakery in Fira for baklava (ZOTOE). Next day we embarked in Athens. Very organized! Room service provided prior to leaving. In conclusion, this was a wonderful experience. We found the other passengers to be friendly and well dressed for dinner (some men in jackets). The median age seemed to be 45-60's. Ship was easy to navigate and all the staff went out of their way to acknowledge you. p.s. forget to mention the laundry; there were 4 washers & dryers and a very busy spot. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
EXCELLENT/PHENOMENAL/OUTSTANDING !! Having read so many reviews of this and other Oceania ships prior to our sailing and the nit-picky things pointed out by so many; I guess I felt our overall experience on this particular cruise and the ... Read More
EXCELLENT/PHENOMENAL/OUTSTANDING !! Having read so many reviews of this and other Oceania ships prior to our sailing and the nit-picky things pointed out by so many; I guess I felt our overall experience on this particular cruise and the weather and calm seas made this first voyage with Oceania seem to be all of the above and much, much more! Our room was very nice and very accommodating for the amount of time we spent IN the room itself. I could have wished for a slightly larger verandah/balcony and a bit more privacy on the balcony; but it was adequate. The teakwood definitely adds to the quality of the ship on both the balcony and the main outside deck. The ship personnel were very nice and helpful and very present onboard the ship in almost everything that was going on. Our dinner reservations were late almost every evening, so we did not have a chance to avail ourselves of the ship evening shows. so we cannot comment upon those events or the quality of the performances. We found the room was cleaned and well serviced by cabin stewards throughout our entire cruise and have nothing but positives about ice buckets being full/clean towels/linens, etc. when we left the room to go about our activities. I would rate us as "experienced" large-ship cruisers with many other lines other than Oceania. I would have to say in our travels, both on land and sea, that we have had the opportunity to experience some very expensive dining meals in many venues across the world and the shipboard dining experiences we had on the Regatta were simply superb given the fact this was a mid-size ship. Attention to details was impeccable in almost every aspect of the dining experience. Could they have slowed down the services of food delivery in both Toscana and Polo.. yes, perhaps it was a bit too fast, but the presentation, the quality of food and the overall upscale dining experience was very good indeed. I would also advise you that dining restaurants close PROMPTLY, so if you have a late seating; be strongly advised they will close down service before you get finished with your dinner; esp. in the Tapas and Grand Dining Room !! Initially, there was some miscommunication among the Concierge staff and the restaurants about when the dining closed and caused us some grief; esp. on the very first night of our trip...which we resorted to Room Service on our first evening on the ship. As it turns out, it was a a good late food experience and we ended up with a bottle of wine and cheese assortment on our deck following departure from Barcelona. I also have to report a miscommunication with staff since our two bedside table lamps had NO light bulbs upon our arrival to our stateroom. While I called several times to get TWO light bulbs, I got no response from staff about the bulbs. About 11:30PM while waiting on our Room Service to arrive a ship "technician" all armed with his "electrical" toolkit arrived at the door with his trouble-sheet stating I reported both lights to have "electrical trouble" when all I said was they needed just TWO LIGHT BULBS!! He laughed and brought them to us and that was that.....just a communication/language issue. This trip for my wife and I was something that we planned for a long time and did not wish to join "large" ship tour groups to traipse around the various ports; so we did not experience those shipboard Destination Services; but we ran into several Oceania groups as we preferred to do it by ourselves and spend the time alone on shore; but that's nothing against the folks that did so! There are no children on Oceania by and large. I do think there was one 8-10 age girl with her mom and grandfather onboard the ship and the only time we saw them was at the pool deck. Oceania does pay close attention to details that other ship lines go unnoticed. The passengers and crew are/were all extremely friendly and seemed to care about your experiences onboard the ship. The computer room for e-mails and photo downloading is a definite plus for everyone and was well utilized by most during our trip. OTHER FINER POINTS OF DIFFERENCES: 1) Double-seat deck chairs for couples.. makes everything very nice to sit close 2) Walking track-deck for those early morning jaunts around the deck to get warmed up 3) Cozy Bath Robes and Lap blankets for sitting on the verandah/balcony in the morning with coffee 4) Good quality shower gel and soap amenities 5) Tenders are easy since the ship is small enough to not create problems in getting to and from shore ports if ship is not docked 6) Prices for wine/beer and liquor are reasonable prices with gratuities added on each purchase. 7) The "Brunch" in the Grand Dining Room is a wonderful experience complete with Ice Sculptures and great food selections. We will definitely book Oceania again.... - Charlie & Anne Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2006
We just returned from our 28th cruise, on the Oceania Nautica, and my wife says it is her best ever. I had booked several customers on Oceania who raved about the service and we wanted to find out for ourselves. We flew to Barcelona a ... Read More
We just returned from our 28th cruise, on the Oceania Nautica, and my wife says it is her best ever. I had booked several customers on Oceania who raved about the service and we wanted to find out for ourselves. We flew to Barcelona a day early to enjoy the city, staying on the Ramblas in Hotel Royal. $159 plus tax and we had a room overlooking the Ramblas on the 4th floor. No noise. And it is a short ride to the pier. We stayed in a category B2 balcony cabin 6077. The next cabin forward was a B1, and more expensive. All the balconies on the B2, B1, and A1,2,3 (concierge) are the same size. Only suites on deck 8 are larger. Balconies are very private. The cabin is typical of balcony cabins, but no refrigerator. The shower is very small. Service is exceptional, with 400 staff for 684 guests, and they really appear to enjoy their work and provide exceptional service. Dining is open seating in the Dining Room, and Tapas on the Terrace (the high end buffet style dining), and by reservation in the two specialty restaurants Toscano and Polo. There is no service charge for the specialty restaurants. There are plenty of tables for two, and only twice did we have a short (5 minute) wait for a table, in the Dining Room. Dinner menus seemed to have a lot of steak and beef, but there was an ample choice of fish, which included sea bass, grilled tune, corvina, swordfish, salmon, and a wok seafood dish of shrimp, scallops and salmon. Desserts were excellent, including creme brulee in the dining room and specialty restaurants. Tables for two are arranged close enough to others to talk, but separated enough to be "separate". The single pool was never crowded and there are plenty of loungers, including double seating lounges, all with cushions and terry cloth covers. The casino is small but adequate. We had not expected much entertainment, but during the 10 days we had three shows by a staff of 4 singers, and we also had a terrific illusionist, and two musical/singing performances by a husband wife team...the husband is the orchestra director. There is also a pianist in the piano bar nightly. Dancing was available nightly in a variety of locations, usually the Horizon Lounge on Deck 10 forward where a sextet from the orchestra played until 11 or 12 at night. There are no live "port talks", just a repeating short TV talk by the cruise director, and it had no port map with the daily newsletter. It wasn't until the 4th port that we discovered that for a few hours each port morning there was someone near the purser's desk who distributed local maps and provided directions and port information. These passengers are, for the most part, 55+ and well travelled. We heard no "griping" all cruise! While advertised as country club casual and the brochures show men in jackets, there were very few jackets, no ties, and women did wear nice dresses in the evening, including some cocktail dresses. The day wear was like any other ship. Internet service is VERY slow but they do have wireless hotspots all over the ship. The internet lab had about 24 stations, and there were 2 more in the library for use if computer classes were in session. They had good TV with CCN, Fox News, BBC, and a number of movie channels. There were no lines onboard, for anything, even tenders, except for embarkation check-in, which was done onboard in a lounge. There was absolutely no "pushing tropical drinks" and no onboard photographers, at all. Fine! In Barcelona they allowed me to go back on the pier, purchase wine, sangria, and gin and bring it back to my cabin. Our itinerary was termed Art Reigns Supreme and the ports reflected that. Sailing from Barcelona, we visited Marsaille, Monte Carlo, Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Florence/Pisa, Amalfi, Taormina, Valetta Malta, one day at sea, and an overnight in Athens before debarking. A smaller ship, we often were in choice berths, with the larger ships further from the port. Lots of walking! And I think I have now seen all the churches and museums I could stand for a while, but the art was superb, including Gaudi in Barcelona, the Vatican Museum, the Accademi in Florence, St John's in Valetta, and of course the Acropolis, Agora, and Plaka in Athens. Without doing a travelogue, I will add that I did use Bob's Limos and Tours http://romelimousines.com/ in Civitavecchia and Livorno, and we were very pleased with experience, especially with the driver in Livorno/Florence/Pisa, who even took us via the Tuscan countryside at our request. In Athens we did use George Taxi and Limo http://www.greecetravel.com/taxi/, where George's son Dennis picked us up in a limo instead of taxi, as his father, the taxi driver, was on vacation in the islands. He took the time to help me find the house I lived in there from 1972-75, and at our request took us to local, non tourist, restaurant for lunch were we enjoyed salata horiatiki with a giant slab of feta and kalamata olives, tzetziki, moussaka, lamb fricasse, and swordfish kabobs. The "free air" included was Lufthansa from Dulles to Barcelona via Frankfort, and Air France from Athens via Paris to Dulles. Lufthansa was superb, and both offered multiple meals, and complimentary wine and cordials. All our baggage made it, leaving a day early, but some passengers whose flights were through London, never got their luggage until we arrived in Athens, due to the security scares in London. On the way back, at our connection in Paris, at gate check-in they researched all carry-ons and body searched every passenger. Having watched the news on Fox and CNN we had no problem, but it meant we didn't try to bring back bottles of olive oil or liquor, as we had planned. Oceania is a bit pricier than the premium lines (HAL, Princess, Celebrity), but the service and ambiance is wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
Ours was the (in)famous "Libya-less" cruise but, in my opinion, Oceania delivered an end product that was even better. The two ports in Libya were removed, but were replaced by Mallorca, Alicante and Tanger. Gibraltar & ... Read More
Ours was the (in)famous "Libya-less" cruise but, in my opinion, Oceania delivered an end product that was even better. The two ports in Libya were removed, but were replaced by Mallorca, Alicante and Tanger. Gibraltar & Malta, which were previously removed, were also put back on. I'm not a "ticket-puncher" so, having visited the Parthenon, not being able to visit a secondary Greek ruin did not bother me. Besides, if they don't want us there, why would one want to visit (other than to "punch")? We had only done one cruise prior to Oceania, which was Athens/Turkey/Black Sea (lots of Greek ruins). The objective of that cruise was to view a solar eclipse at some lat/lon in the Black Sea ... it was memorable to say the least. The eclipse, that is, not the cruise experience which was just o.k. The ports were good, the shore excursions so-so. We were totally unprepared for what a quality cruise is really like. The shipboard appointments were elegant and appreciated from the moment we boarded through disembarkation. I can honestly say that the cuisine and service was absolutely first class. We recently visited Bordeaux and dined in the highly recommended restaurants there. The meals on board the Regatta were as good or better...but the wine in Bordeaux was better, at significantly lower cost :-) On the subject of the "iron", the ship is a good size and very well constructed and maintained. I have spent time at sea on Navy ships and knew it would be better, but was still surprised. Forty people (on Oceania air) got hung-up in SFO and they announced that the ship would not depart until they were boarded after midnight. I had expected to awaken when the ship fired-up and cast-off...that familiar engine vibration. I was surprised to wake-up off Mallorca, still hearing no engine noise. The other familiar thing missing is that characteristic diesel/lubricant/cigartte smell present on Navy ships (maybe the cigarette portion is now gone :-) Oh, the food is much better on Oceania. I won't do a port-by-port commentary, which have most likely been done by others. I will instead, describe a few unusual happenings or observations. Because of our previous experience with less than superior ship tours, we decided to explore things in port on our own. We found that quite a few shipmates did this, and exchanged ideas and experiences when running into the others on shore. The downside is, in N. Africa, that you have to run "the gauntlet" of touts and taxi drivers just ashore. We only gave in once when we couldn't find the train station in Tunis when a driver offered to take us to the Bardo Museum for 5 Euros. We, and another couple, ended up hiring him for the day. We got to see the Bardo, the Medina, Carthage, and Sidi Bou Said for 40 Euros... which seemed quite reasonable. We didn't know how lucky we were until dinner asea when others related confrontations they had with their drivers for fees upwards of $175 for less than we saw. Just the luck of the draw! Casablanca: Those on the "O-tour" did not get to visit the inside of the Hassan II mosque, which the "hoofers" do. The downside is that one has to hoof-it through the local residential areas, which can be a little unnerving if one regularly watches CNN broadcasts of Iraq. Gibraltar: The view from the top is spectacular! They obviously don't have the litigation problems that we do here in the U.S. You are welcome to walk to the edge of the cliff and take pictures without having any ugly safety railing in the way. We took the cable car up and walked down in time for tea back on board...with sore feet. Others describe Oceania cruises as "port-intensive". This is true, but was to our liking. Others comment that the entertainment is less than spectacular, which is also true. The last truism is that, having hoofed-it for a day in port, getting under that duvet after a gourmet meal is wonderful. Of the two days we had at sea, the highlights were the wine events. The first was the standard tasting, which involved five different wines. The really good one, however, was the wine pairings event. The sommelier was excellent and demonstrated bad as well as good pairings. It was quite enlightening. After 12 wonderful days, disembarkation, the only less than wonderful experience. Oceania is very polite about it but, in no uncertain terms, "Sie mussen weg jetzt erhalten" (you must get off ... NOW)!!! There are less than 700 people on board, but when they are all in the lobby and hallways simultaneously ...... That's o.k., we are hooked and booked another Oceania cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Just as background, I'm 53, and this was our third cruise. Last year we did a Viking River cruise in the Netherlands (loved it!) and the year before that cruised to New England and Canada on a now-defunct cruise line. We loved ... Read More
Just as background, I'm 53, and this was our third cruise. Last year we did a Viking River cruise in the Netherlands (loved it!) and the year before that cruised to New England and Canada on a now-defunct cruise line. We loved Oceania. We booked it because we were attracted to the port-intensive itinerary and the fact that the ship only held 684 passengers. We thought the food and service were excellent, and liked the variety in dining venues. We liked open seating, never had to wait to be seated, and found the service and food consistently great. Toscanna was a feast (and beautiful decor) and Polo could be depended upon to have great steaks and good seafood. Tapas was nice for a more casual meal, although I'm not crazy about buffet. While the food was pretty good, it still was a little less appealing because it was buffet. However, I did learn to seek out the made-to-order pasta. We only did the tea once, but it was fun. We ordered room service once and it came promptly. We ordered box lunches once -pretty good. Most of the time we just ate the breakfast buffet, but had eggs benedict once in the Grand Dining Room. Lunch we were out in port most days, but when we were on the ship, we went for casual (grill by the pool, or buffet, seated on the terrace). Our cabin was the smallest available (180 sq. feet), and inside, but it was attractive and functional. Bathrooms on the Regatta are small but we didn't spend much time in there, so it didn't matter much! Our stewardess (Katarzyna) was fabulous - very personable, always around, always willing to help out if we wanted her to. The cabin was kept spotless. Yes, the beds were quite comfy, although to really enjoy that quilt you had to crank up the A/C, which I'm not crazy about. We didn't take a single shore excursion, since we were trying to save money, and because we're pretty independent to begin with. In Europe, trains are everywhere, so we mostly sought out the train station and did our own thing. I had researched what we'd do in advance. While we missed having some commentary and hearing about what we were seeing, we DID save a lot of money by not taking the ship's excursions. We thought the port briefings were very good, and liked the fact that you could watch them on the TV in your cabin at your leisure. I also liked the web cam, since we were in an inside cabin with no window to the world! We seldom felt the ship move, and certainly didn't have any problem with seasickness. The weather was great, which helped. The nightly shows were modest but of good quality. I only made about half of them (often too tired from a full day in port!) but I enjoyed the ones I did go to. I didn't attend the "enrichment lectures" or art auctions, didn't shop much in the store, and didn't go to the spa or fitness center, so I can't comment on those. Can't comment on the internet cafe (only used a PC in the library once) or the casino, although my husband spent a bit of time there and obviously had a good time..... The ship is beautiful and my fellow passengers were just right for my husband and I (in terms of age mix, background,and all that stuff). With less than 700 people on board, you saw some people more than once, but didn't always run into the same people, which was nice. You didn't feel you were on a megaliner, looking for a quiet space. I really liked that. Embarkation and disembarkation were really fast and easy. The tendering in Portofino was painless. Getting off the ship quickly in port was important to us, and that turned out to never be a problem. The free (or two for one) air flights from Oceania are not the best - (i.e., translate lengthy!!) but I guess you get what you pay for. Service from everyone we encountered without exception was fabulous, although we're probably a little less picky about that than some other folks who've cruised more and/or expect more. Entertainment was a little limited (certainly no climbing wall!), but with the port intensive itinerary and the few "at sea" days, it really didn't matter to me. All of the ports that we visited were fabulous - including under-rated Cadiz and Malaga. I liked the fact that the ship had an overnight stop (in Cadiz). We had originally planned to spend the night in Seville but ended up not doing that. It would have been nice, however, to take in some late night flamenco and soak up that Spanish atmosphere... I heard very few complaints from any fellow passengers on this cruise. The only ones I heard had to do with Destination Services not giving out enough information for independent travelers, but my personal opinion was that perhaps people were expecting just a little bit too much for a new cruise line going to new destinations....(Would they really know where the closest ATM in Marseille is??)Destination Services, did, however, have maps and train schedules for many ports, which seemed adequate to me. We have already booked our next cruise with them - so obviously my husband and I were pretty impressed with them! Overall a wonderful line, with great food, Med itinerary, and service. Read Less
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