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Sail Date: August 2019
2019 Oceania Cruise Line - Celtic Kingdoms (MNA190804) on the Marina Dates: August 4, 2019 through August 17, 2019 Ports of call: Embark at Southampton UK Edinburgh(Newhaven) Scotland Invergordon Scotland ... Read More
2019 Oceania Cruise Line - Celtic Kingdoms (MNA190804) on the Marina Dates: August 4, 2019 through August 17, 2019 Ports of call: Embark at Southampton UK Edinburgh(Newhaven) Scotland Invergordon Scotland Glasgow(Greenock) Scotland - Missed(did not dock due to weather conditions) Dublin Ireland Cork(Cobh) Ireland Portland UK Disembark at Southampton UK This was our second cruise and first time with Oceania Cruise Line. We opted for a PH Suite (11035) and a trip that left us at the same port from where we started to allow us to extend the vacation in London UK. We chose an upgraded beverage package which we probably will not do in the future unless there are a lot of days at sea. The location of our suite was very convenient, near the executive lounge. It was spacious, nicely appointed and quiet. The staff in all areas of the ship were a standout. The passengers were a bit more mature here than on the Norwegian Cruise Line, though one could still find beverage glasses left in inappropriate places. The cruise line is known for the dining and wine experience. The main Grand Dining room was exceptional in ambiance, cuisine and staff. In my opinion, it out performed two of the specialty venues - Jacques and The Polo Grill. Jacques and The Polo Grill were not particularly special meals or service. However, both Toscana and Red Ginger were outstanding. We returned to Red Ginger for a second evening meal. Meeting and enjoying the company of other passengers was much easier on the Marina than the Norwegian Dawn. The two wine tasting/lectures were every informative and enjoyable. Mary Ann and I both enjoyed the services at the Canyon Ranch. We took one cruise sponsored excursion in Dublin Ireland. Frankly, the River Cruise DUB-006 OS was a disappointment. The tour guide banter during the boat ride on the Liffey was fun but there was no time for any questions and answers. The excursion continued on a cramped bus that sat in horrible Dublin traffic along all the streets that paralleled and bridges that crossed the river. We fared far better on our own in both Dublin and Cork. Both cities are very conducive to walking and the shopping is great fun. Our time spent in Scotland with Highlander Tours (Andrew McAlindon) was by far the absolute acme of the trip in Edinburgh and Invergordon. We were not able to dock in Glasgow(Greenock) Scotland due to severe weather. We have posted a review of Highlander Tours on the TripAdvisor site. The Hotel Rubens at the Palace is a very nice place with nicely appointed rooms and baths. The location in London is convenient but the lobby is cramped. The staff is solicitous and the Curry Room has excellent Indian food. We managed to see "Hamilton" at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London - a real serendipitous treat. We lightened our wallets when we shopped and ate at Harrods but it was lots of fun. I purchased the quintessential long trench coat at Burberry on Brompton Road - very nice staff and a great all-weather coat. The flights on British Airlines were typical long distance air travel - forgettable if you are lucky. We were bumped from Premium Economy to Business on the return trip from Heathrow, but had to wait 45-minutes on the tarmac at Logan in Boston for a terminal slot to become available. The food is a bit better in Business class but I am not fond of the seating arrangement. We were not able to be seated together. C'est la vie. We have used Patty Dyer as our AAA Northeast Travel Consultant on other occasions and she provides stellar service. I have posted reviews on Goggle Maps for many of the places we visited during the trip. In all, this was a wonderful vacation trip, full of joy and lasting memories. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We selected this cruise based upon itinerary. We really wanted to sail around the Iberian peninsula and also have the opportunity to explore the Bordeaux wine area (this gave us two days in Bordeaux). The extra addition of Tangier in ... Read More
We selected this cruise based upon itinerary. We really wanted to sail around the Iberian peninsula and also have the opportunity to explore the Bordeaux wine area (this gave us two days in Bordeaux). The extra addition of Tangier in Morocco was also enticing and we loved our tour there. It was our second time with Oceania having previously sailed on the sister ship Riviera. These are the two "larger" ships with about 1200 passengers. The cruise appeared to be pretty full and sold out. This is the perfect size ship for us- I like that it has the four xtra restaurants yet not too large to get around easily. It is beautiful and well maintained. We flew in same day and left directly so utilized the ship transfers - they are expensive but it is not easy to get to Southampton.Two hours of crawling traffic all the way down. Other ppl we met booked driver on their own and got taken to the wrong port - taxi drove away and they had to find another way to the ship. I was not happy with the way all of the luggage was tossed together by the airport porters and not supervised by Oceania staff.Our two bags were together and got separated. We get into our cabin took until well after four PM until my husband got his suitcase - mine came right away. So the perc of getting early access due to concierge level was moot - you cannot get unpacked without you luggage. This time we opted for the Concierge level with a veranda. Last time we took one of the non-concierge level veranda rooms(they are very tiny verandas). on the 7th level (there are a few with extended verandas and that was awesome - I might do that again especially in a warmer climate). Two main reasons we chose concierge level was to be able to book the specialty restaurants earlier and to get the dates and times we wanted. Also, and people might not know this.....There is a difference in room service breakfast offerings. Concierge level includes hot breakfast options like omelets, pancakes, French toast and oatmeal. Non-concierge level gets continental breakfast only with only cold options. This was a port intensive trip with many early morning meet-up times for tours. We are not morning people and it is easier to get breakfast in the room then to trek up to the 12th floor, wait for elevators and such. Also, we selected a room nearby the concierge lounge (9046) and near the elevator and stairs and it was very convenient. Concierge lounge is great to run in for quick coffees, teas, light snacks at any time of day. There are no coffee makers in the cabins and not all that convenient to get to the other places on the ship that have coffee. You can run in in your bathrobe and many ppl did. As for the concierge himself - we did not interract with him all that much - he did make us one extra restaurant reservation but the two reasons just cited are the main reasons we selected it. I am not sure I would spend the xtra again esp if you are on a Caribbean cruise without a lot of ports. Considering the ship has been around since 2011 it looks extremely good - especially the common areas. The cabins are showing some wear and tear like bedskirts, carpet and drapes but overall ok. I am not a fan of the decorating or color schemes but I am not moving in permanently. There are no electric outlets in the bathroom so you have to dry your hair outside at the dressing table- hairs get all over the place ( I am a neat clean nut type) and did not like this. Another pet peeve is how they clutter up all of the counter areas and desktops etc with toiletries, papers, stuff we do not need or want - took it out and hid it inside our suitcases until we left - barely had room for our own stuff. The touted "Bulgari" toiletries were nothing special at all - just a name. Food on Oceania is absolutely awesome for the most part - very few thing were less than a home run. We are foodies and live downtown in a very food-centric city. We dine out often at some ot the best restaurants in the area and even the country. Main dining room is always changing up their offerings. Presentation is outstanding. We loved Polo, Toscana, and Jacques.... not a huge fan of Red Ginger... It seems that Red Ginger doesn't know what it wants to be. Trying to mix too many types and styles of food - they should stick to one. Sushi there not great. Sea Bass - sauce too heavy - nothing all that awesome. I thought this on the first cruise also. They should maybe try to update it with Korean robatayaki skewers, Japanese Izakaya style food, updated Chinese (they need to do some serious R & D). Come to Philadelphia and go to Royal Izakaya or Double Know for example. We mostly took excursions offered by the ship with one exception - (the tour to Alhambra from Granada was sold out and we went on this tour with Spain Day tours - it was very good). We selected the O life eight excursions as our option. We are not the type that like to spend so much time exploring and researching all these options. What some people might not realize when they complain that the Oceania tours are too expensive is the following. Once you have booked even six tours (three per person) - every tour you book after that is 25% off (If you book before sailing). The eight "free" tours satisfy this requirement - therefore if you take the eight tours as your O life Option (the include any tour up to and including $199.00 base price)... save some of the less expensive ones for those you will pay out of pocket and get them for 25% off. This is essentially a $1600 credit and a far better value in our opinion than only getting the $800 credit that was offered. As far as the alcohol and spirits package - it is ridiculously expensive - you would have to be a borderline alcoholic to consume that much booze and we like to have cocktails, drinks and wine as much as the next person. We always book our own airfare - if they do it - they can route you in inconvenient ways unless you pay 75 dollars per person which allows you to select your own flights. We always use the same airline due to points and got a first class upgrade on the way over which is hard to negotiate on the with the cruise line doing it. Common areas on the ship such as the pool area, barristas, library, etc are all really nice.We did not try the culinary center or painting classes but people seemed to lvoe it. Entertainment is mixed - we don't care - we didn't go on the cruise for that reason. They had a comedian who was British and very very funny - saw him twice. Most of the music sounds like it is for our parents' generation in their nineties and kind of corny - like Peggy Lee.m(Seriously?) We grew up with rock and roll. The sailaway parties are great and fun - but I think they should offer at least one free drink to all of the passengers that one time - they had drinks on trays but you had to pay for them. The band and singer in Horizons was great (they also played at the sailaway party) - we would've liked to dance but no one was dancing. Part of the reason is the stage and dance floor is kind of lit up and you feel like you're on stage alone. Hardly anyone was up there in the evenings. We were on smaller river boat in the past (Uniworld - also awesome) and had a chance to do a lot of dancing- this is not a dancing type of crowd - a little disappointing. Same thing on last Oceania cruise. All of the staff is pretty much friendly and very professional. However, on this cruise as compared to last one - it seemed some of the staff was very new and did not know certain things. The waiters in the past got to know us and connect with us and tell us some things about themselves - did not happen this time - they did not seem interested in engaging and were a bit more stiff and formal. That's fine. Age group on this cruise seemed to be average late sixties and seventies with many much much older. Saw two kids the first day but none after that. (wonder where they went?!) There is nothing for kids to do on this cruise. It was a bit too chilly to swim but we did have a few warmer days and was lovely relaxing around the pool in the sunshine. Our fellow cruisers that we got to meet were mostly very friendly. They also seemed to be a lot better dressed and less frumpy than our last cruise. I even found some nice things in the shops on board. Had no idea it would be so cold in Bordeaux, etc - had to buy a pullover sweater - had not packed one. Two weeks was a long cruise for us - was glad to be getting off the ship - cannot really understand how ppl do much longer ones - I would be a fat blimp. Hard living in such close quarters after a couple of weeks also. Also, we are not cruise-only type of ppl - we also enjoy going to hotels on land and having more time to explore at our own speed. With so many ports - no time to really dine ashore - never had a chance to get good tapas in Spain etc. Oceania needs to offer more cruises that feature two nights in each port rather than a new one every day. The write-ups in the daily "Currents" (the daily cruise list of activities and port info) tells you about all the things a specific port is known for (looks like they copied and pasted out of pre-written tour books) and it is not realistic that you will be able to do much independently in just one day -especially if you take a tour - they do not allow very much free time during the excursions. In Porto (which is gorgeous) we had only thirty minutes to shop or get a coffee at the "Ribiera" - first twenty minutes spent finding a bathroom. I would def sail with Oceania again but might also try Crystal - the latter includes everything other than excursions and has many shorter itineraries with multiple nights in port. Ports - Too tired after flying - we did not visit Guernsey - was a warm sunny day (few others at the beginning were - was great relaxing around the pool. Bordeaux - took two excursions - one to the St. Emilion area and one to Bordeaux to visit vineyards and have tastings. Both very good. The first included plenty of time to shop and tour the city of Bordeaux and have a bite at a cafe - just great. Could not tender at Biarritz - sea was too rough. This cruise had some very rocky days on board - I took Bonine most of those sailing days - it works - non- drowsy formula. (even a half a tablet works but take it in advance by at least an hour before sailing). Bilbao was a wow - spent two days there - loved the Pinxtos(Basque style tapas) we had on our own at the Plaza Nueva (arcade NeoClassical Square) near the old town - don't miss it - fun to walk around; La Coruna - could have skipped this one other than Hercules tower. Porto and Lisbon both great - did ship tours both days and went for a port tasting. These are both ports that need an overnight stay. Cadiz we went on tour that included Flamenco (was great) and some tapas ( they were far from great - have had much better at Jose' Garces reataurants in our home town and the Sangria was not good either). Overall, a wonderful fun cruise - did not get sick this time - had fun. Highly recommend Oceania. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Nautica Round British Isles 9 - 21st September 17 This is our third Oceania cruise. Our first two were on Riviera, but we have cruised on Nautica before when she was Princess’ Royal Princess many years ago. We are English and ... Read More
Nautica Round British Isles 9 - 21st September 17 This is our third Oceania cruise. Our first two were on Riviera, but we have cruised on Nautica before when she was Princess’ Royal Princess many years ago. We are English and live around two hours’ drive from Southampton. We arrived at around 2.30 pm at the terminal. Check in was pretty straight forward as there were no guests waiting and we were soon on board and in the Terrace Cafe having a bite to eat. Our bags were waiting when we got to our stateroom at 3pm. THE ITINERARY Nautica was sailing from Southampton UK and visiting Newcastle, UK, Edinburg and Glasgow Scotland, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dublin, Ireland, Liverpool UK, Holyhead, Wales , Waterford, Ireland, Portland, UK and finally returning to Southampton. There were two sea days. We had not been to these Cities before. THE SHIP Nautica is very “old fashioned” in the best possible way. Her decor is comfortable and inviting. No glitz. No loud music. Just cosy. There are two sets of lifts and they all face the same direction so you never turn the wrong way to get to your stateroom (well hardly ever), There were only 580 guests on board, short by nearly 100. The majority of guests were American, with the rest made up of Canadians, Australians and Brits with a few Italians, Germans and French. All the British guests we met on board had not visited the ports before! THE STATEROOM We were in Veranda Stateroom 6084. This is the very last stateroom before the Owners Suits on the aft of deck six. The accommodation is small compared with Riviera. There is adequate drawer and wardrobe space, but the entrance, wardrobe and bathroom doors all open onto each other and when you exit the bathroom, you can easily “loose” your travelling companion inside the wardrobe!! The bathroom is tiny and the shower cubicle even tinier. You learn to live with it, but it is not ideal. Bed and bedding is wonderful, but bedside cupboard is ridiculously low and inaccessible. The general lighting needs modernising as it is quite gloomy. At certain speeds and/or wind direction this room is subject to quite lot of engine noise and vibration. I do not recommend it for that reason, even though most of the time it was quiet and comfortable. SERVICE I have read on here that service in the restaurant is not up to scratch; that there are queues at reception and long waits for room service. None of this happened to us. Restaurant service was exemplary. Jacqueline on the desk at the MDR remembered our name and room number within a couple of days. She was always charming. We always got a window table at breakfast. Alan a senior waiter was excellent. Irene was always smiling. There were others who impressed us, but I do not remember all the names. Room service was astonishing. We counted two minutes from ordering our tea in the morning to it arriving in the stateroom……. every morning. The terrace cafe was never full. The cruise was not full to capacity, perhaps that helped. PORTS We enjoyed every port but one. We did not take Oceania’s tours they are much too expensive and not value for money, in our opinion. We used the shuttle bus sometimes and arranged private tours on other occasions. Surprisingly the least enjoyable port was Dublin. After the shuttle bus we took a Hop on Hop off ride. Dreadful traffic, cold and windy quite “run down” in many areas. Nowhere we wanted to have a closer look at. Disappointing. Everywhere else we found interesting and absorbing. We are so pleased we took this cruise. The sea was kind. with only one lumpy day. ENTERTAINMENT This was mediocre. We only tried three shows and walked away from two of them. Tuxedo was the only good one, and it was great. Generally our entertainment was a long leisurely dinner with interesting new friends. We were last in the dining room more than once!! I am sure the waiters were not amused, but of course, they never let us know. To sum up. Excellent trip. Good weather. Oceania did not let us down. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our first cruise on Oceania. We arrived at the terminal at noon. Embarkation was quick. Our luggage was collected. We got our seapass and were on the ship. We checked out the Terrace Cafe and Windows Grill. We had hot dogs and ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Oceania. We arrived at the terminal at noon. Embarkation was quick. Our luggage was collected. We got our seapass and were on the ship. We checked out the Terrace Cafe and Windows Grill. We had hot dogs and fries. Sat outside near the pool while we waited to get into our cabin. Oceania allows the higher level cabins earlier access. When you are allowed access, your luggage is outside your cabin. Our cabin was on deck 8 close to the elevators. It was nicely appointed with lots of good storage space. The bed was very comfortable. The veranda had 2 cushioned chairs and a table. The bathroom was large. Loved the walkin and separate tub/ shower combo. The Bvlgari toiletries were good. The public venues were gorgeous. Ate some meals in the Grand dining room. For breakfast and lunch we liked the offerings at the buffet or grill. Dinner in the Grand dining room was good. Dinners at the specialty restaurants were outstanding. Best was Jaques and Polo. The elegant tea was presented everyday at 4 pm. Loved the scones. Baristas made excellent coffee. Baristas served some pastry and sandwiches. The Library had an excellent selection. We took 3 included excursions. 2 were good. We enjoy booking private tours or exploring independently. Oceania excursions are overpriced. We shared a full day Wales tour with friends we met from our rollcall. We were a bit annoyed by the lack of "included" shuttles. Shuttles were only available in a few ports where the port provided them. We only tendered in Newhaven(Edinburgh). Tendering service was slow. We enjoyed some of the entertainment. The nightly entertainment was typical cruise fare. Liked the live music in the bars. Best was the piano player in Martini Bar. Disembarkation was well organized. We liked the cruise. While we did not book a future cruise, we will book again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We made a spur of the moment decision to go and it was one of the best last minute decisions. Our friends had already booked the cruise and because of their excitement about the cruise and it's destination ports,we went. Our ... Read More
We made a spur of the moment decision to go and it was one of the best last minute decisions. Our friends had already booked the cruise and because of their excitement about the cruise and it's destination ports,we went. Our experience started with the gracious and well trained staff that were always helpful. The accommodations were great with a lot of closet space. Our stateroom was generously sized with a veranda and a spacious bathroom. The bed was very comfortable ( best mattress ever )! Oceania is known for it's excellent cuisine and the Marina did not disappoint. We even had one of their special wine tasting dinners causing us to wish we had signed up for another one! We did dine in all of the specialty restaurants, and concluded that the Italian restaurant was tops. But, the food is so good that we really enjoyed all of the restaurants. We would definitely cruise with Oceania again. Only negative was the pricy shore excursions.The staff for the excisions ,in my opinion, should have done some homework regarding the ports as to whether or not there was construction on and around the sites, waiting time, length of time standing in line, and what was actually open. We should have done our tours privately! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose the 12 day Stockholm to Amsterdam Whimsical Waterways tour. We arrived one day early in Stockholm to explore the city and stayed at the Hotel Kungsträdgården, very will situated and excellent accommodations. Hotel breakfast was ... Read More
We chose the 12 day Stockholm to Amsterdam Whimsical Waterways tour. We arrived one day early in Stockholm to explore the city and stayed at the Hotel Kungsträdgården, very will situated and excellent accommodations. Hotel breakfast was included and well above expected with hot items, Swedish specialities, extensive breads, excellent fruit. Embarkation was smooth though delayed two hours. Disembarkation in Amsterdam was announced to be ahead of schedule and included about 1 hour total of waiting in lines to leave the ship and then to get taxis. Those using the more costly transport services provided by the Oceania were able to proceed much more quickly. We were upgraded to a B2 stateroom 7065 in the center of the ship. At no time did we experience seasickness though I am prone. This room is connecting. While locked, through the door we could hear toilet flushing and cans of soda being opened! The bathroom is spacious and the room well appointed. The bed is very comfortable with high quality sheets. The veranda is lovely and was enjoyable as we entered and left Oslo, for sunrises and sunsets etc. I made special requests for drinks in the fridge and they were able to find almost all of them. The With OLife promotion we selected 4 excursions, $400 OBC and internet. Having internet access on the ship was nice to check email, send photos, read the paper. To those who complain about connection speed, I would suggest looking up Louis CK's appearance on Conan O Brien under "Everything's amazing". We chose excursions in Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen and Gydnia. Of these, only Gydnia we could not have done on our own. It is an industrial port and would require some transport to either Gdansk or elsewhere to be worthwhile. Other ports including the three we did with Oceania excursions are possible to do on your own. We chose Guide Guru for St Petersburg and were very pleased with the excellent price for a small group tour, the pleasant tour guide, wifi on the van, comprehensiveness of visit and flexibility of small group (6). Food on the Marina was excellent in all venues. Service is sometimes slow in the Grand Dining Room and specialty restaurants, whether you eat degustation style with multiple courses or not. We notice that service begins to slow as the assistant waiter tends to take over for dessert service. In the GDR, Red Ginger and Toscano, waits for dessert and coffee were quite long. Terrace buffet has excellent food as well with lobster, steaks and sushi always available. During the cruise, there was a Russian night and a German night at Terrace which is nice considering that cruising does tend to limit opportunities to sample local cuisine. Terrace and Waves offer options to eat outdoors to enjoy views especially when sailing out of Stockholm, into Oslo through the fjords, etc. Each of the speciality restaurants has extras that make the experience more 'special' but the chopstick choices, hot towels, tea choices in Red Ginger seemed overly fussy. Having lived in Paris and having studied cooking, we found Jacques to be exceptionally good with French classics with excellent execution and service. Lobster thermidor, gratin dauphinois, terrine foie gras, all excellent. Some items were mistranslated though. Brandade de merlu is incorrectly translated as chilean sea bass. (The chilean sea bass in Red Ginger is excellent.) Afternoon tea is enjoyable. The finger foods do not vary much, but are done well. Tea service goes from 4 until 5pm where Horizons quickly transforms to Happy Hour. One leisurely afternoon, we stayed conversing with new friends from tea to happy hour. Unfortunately, no one cleared our table of tea service, even after our happy hour drinks arrived. The staff seem to be perfunctory to their duties with cocktail staff were unwilling to clear tea service from our table. We asked the server twice and then floor manager Vikram who seemed to be more interested in chatting and flirting with other servers than clearing the table, but were ignored. Entertainment is not a strength on Marina with shows every night in the Lounge at 9.30 or 9.45. Every other night, there is a production show. Other nights, there was live music, either vocalist, a musical duo or on one evening the ships classical pianist. This show was particularly disappointing as it turned out to be an interpretive jazz and contemporary concert with commentary. There is however a lending DVD selection and an excellent library. Live classical music in the lounges is quite nice. I attended one enrichment lecture on amber. The speaker was not the most vibrant, but the presentation was informative. No spotlight was ever put on the speaker, leaving me unsure of what he looked like! The fitness room is well equipped. I was able to get a machine every time I wanted. The fitness room fridge is stocked with cold water, Gatorade and Vitamin Water. The steam room and sauna are available to all guests at no charge. On the at sea day, these rooms were crowded, but otherwise, I was the only one each time I visited. These however close at 9pm at the same time as the spa, although I would have wished them to be open a little later. Though not perfect and perfect should never be the expectation, service is very good to excellent. Our steward Anna was lovely and although I say perfect is not to be expected, I found her service to be so. The crowd on this cruise was mostly older retired couples, but this is not to say exclusively so. There were a few families, a few 'younger' couples and a few group of friends. Everyone who enjoys cruising and good food in a relaxed atmosphere would be comfortable here I think. The value of Oceania is in the inclusiveness of most dining and beverages. I must admit, the Oceania forums on CruiseCritic being at times a bit snarky, that I was wary about meeting people on the ship, afraid there would sniping or putting down of others. I am happy to report that the cruisers I met do not seem to be those that are active on the forums and everyone we met on the cruise were quite nice, normal and down to earth. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We had not cruised with Oceania before and were pleasantly surprised. The size of the ship was perfect- not too big, easy to get around and never a line anytime or anywhere. Not even on an elevator.The service from everyone was stellar. ... Read More
We had not cruised with Oceania before and were pleasantly surprised. The size of the ship was perfect- not too big, easy to get around and never a line anytime or anywhere. Not even on an elevator.The service from everyone was stellar. The bedding was luxurious which provided a good nights sleep. A regular cabin with a veranda was spacious with abundant storage, large tub and a small shower. Even on this size ship they made sure to include many lovely common areas and niches for cozy conversation. Arrival and departure were a breeze. Free shuttles at certain ports were an additional bonus and very appreciated. The fine dining ambiance was exceptional and the food excellent but the space is extremely limited. You can make a few reservations prior to sailing but dining in these restaurants after that is almost impossible. The buffet is transformed into a lovely dining area with a grill station which includes fish, chicken and meat but unfortunately they repeat the actual buffet recipes. We did not dine in the main dining room nor did many others. The excursions were over priced and we opted not to take any thru the cruise. The evening entertainment was not very enjoyable although we went hoping it would improve- it did not. It was obvious that this was not a priority for the cruise line. The drink package was very overpriced. I hope corporate reads this and changes their policy. We were fortunate to get a very good price for the cruise and that made this an extremley good value. We would go again and are willing to pay even more to sail on Oceania Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Embarkation went very smoothly. As we had not been on a cruise before, we didn't know what to expect. Our first impressions of Marina exceeded our expectations. We were very impressed with what we found on boarding. A magnificent ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly. As we had not been on a cruise before, we didn't know what to expect. Our first impressions of Marina exceeded our expectations. We were very impressed with what we found on boarding. A magnificent staircase in front of us and a string quartet playing, which was a wonderful welcome followed by lunch in the Terrace Cafe which was wonderful and had such a large array of different foods to eat that were of the highest quality. We cannot speak highly enough of all of the staff on the Marina, who gave us some of the best service we've ever had. We went to all the specialty restaurants during our cruise and were very impressed with the food and the service. One thing that was a small negative was that being Australian, we are used to good quality Asian cuisine with strong spices and flavours. Red Ginger left us feeling somewhat disappointed that we had eaten much more authentic and flavoursome Asian food in Australia and in Asia itself. The food in Red Ginger was much more bland than what we are used to. We absolutely adored Toscana and we were also very impressed with the Grand Dining Room. We were also amazed that a sommelier waits on every table in every restaurant, including the Grand Dining Room. We enjoyed all on board activities that we participated in, including trivia, name that tune, and bingo. We also really loved spending time in horizons first thing in the morning, where a coffee corner is set up. It is very quiet as most people are the buffet breakfast or in the grand dining room. Horizons has some magnificent views first thing in the morning, especially when coming in to a port. We also used the ship's fitness centre on a number of occasions during the cruise, which was very good. Our shore excursions were all very good with our stand out favourite being the tour of Ypres - Flanders Fields. We had a lot of fun on board and enjoyed all of the bars, including Martini's the Grand Bar, Horizons and the bar near the pool. We also loved the casino. We didn't see many of the entertainment shows as these often clashed with our late dinner bookings, but those that we did see were quite good. While there were some children on board who were very well behaved, we were grateful for Oceania's policy that doesn't encourage children, as this keeps the atmosphere as a truly adult and mature experience. Overall, fantastic Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
If you love the Nautica, Insignia or Regatta you will love the Sirena - it is the same ship (almost). I have done over 35 cruises and 10 on Oceania. I sailed on the Sirena when it was the R4 and when it was the Pacific Princess. I love ... Read More
If you love the Nautica, Insignia or Regatta you will love the Sirena - it is the same ship (almost). I have done over 35 cruises and 10 on Oceania. I sailed on the Sirena when it was the R4 and when it was the Pacific Princess. I love Oceania and loved our most recent cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon. Some observations - Oceania billed this as a "renovated" ship" - I was not able to see much "renovation". New bed and new carpet - but that was about it. The food in the Grand Dinning room was even better than before and we chose it over the specialty restaurants on occasion. The loss of the Polo Grill is no big deal and the addition of Red Ginger is great. But Tuscan does not compare to Toscana - Tuscan was actually quite disappointing. Saw too many kids on the cruise - never saw that before on Oceania - not well received by the typical Oceania passenger. Oceania entertainment has always been third rate - they added a small production group to our cruise and it improved to 2nd rate. I had hoped with the presence of NCL that the entertainment would improve. The rooms are comfortable and the room attendants are terrific. As usual, Oceania's tours are grossly over priced and we continue to book our own when possible - did twice as much in Casablanca for 1/3 of the cost by booking our own tour. I see that a number of reviewers complained about how hard it is to get additional reservations at the specialty restaurants. You should know that the higher priced cabins can make reservations on line early - before the cruise and also get more guaranteed reservations. You need to go to the Terrace Cafe during the day and ask to put on wait list for the specialty restaurants. All in all - it was Oceania - we just booked two more cruises on them! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Have done many cruises on the Nautica. Love the small ship atmosphere and the\of the ability of the ship to stop in smaller ports. The ship is beautifully decorated and easy to negotiate. There is a great selection of dining choices ... Read More
Have done many cruises on the Nautica. Love the small ship atmosphere and the\of the ability of the ship to stop in smaller ports. The ship is beautifully decorated and easy to negotiate. There is a great selection of dining choices and all are delicious. The speciality restaurants are especially nice and they are included. We downgraded to a obstructed view cabin and were not bothered by the loss of square footage. Still had a good sized window. The service on the ship has always been first class. The cruise director and staff did a wonderful job keeping passengers informed. The ports were interesting but don't expect sunbathing weather. The ship offered a wide variety of tours and excursions. We were able to do several of the ports on our own and didn't use the ship's tours. Dublin was a fun port. Will not hesitate to cruise on the Nautica in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This cruise was beautiful and interesting, far more so than we expected. It was a Southampton round trip, themed around the Vikings. The itinerary was: Edinburgh, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Akureyri and Isafjordur in northern ... Read More
This cruise was beautiful and interesting, far more so than we expected. It was a Southampton round trip, themed around the Vikings. The itinerary was: Edinburgh, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Akureyri and Isafjordur in northern Iceland, an all day navigation of the staggeringly beautiful Prince Kristian Fjord in Greenland, followed by Paamiut and Qaqortoq in Greenland, then back to Reykjavik for two days, then Derry, Belfast, and Dublin Ireland. That is a lot of ocean to cover so there are 5-6 sea days. We loved the natural beauty, it was like witnessing a very new Earth, with evidence of volcanoes, glaciers, earth quakes, and seismic plates(we put one foot on the Eur-Asian plate and the other on the American, while they were venting steam and slowly separating!) Culturally and historically the trip was fascinating. We love the Oceania smaller ships. We particularly appreciate the friendly and competent staff. The dining options aren't vast, but the Grand Dining room is pleasant and the selection is broad enough to not be boring after three weeks. The two specialty dining rooms are Toscana, Italian, obviously, and Polo, a steak house; they require reservations but no extra fees. We do not go to the entertainment, enrichment activities, or the buffet venue, so we can't give information about those things. We are too busy researching the next destination or reading our books. We always book private guides with our cruise critic "friends" and then it is such fun to finally meet on the ship. The only drawback is the glacially slow internet, but it was recently announced that Oceania is updating the capacity and speed. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
While having cruised about 25-30 times on various popular lines, this was our first cruise on an Oceania ship. We chose this one for it's itinerary which included Scotland, Shetland and Faroe Islands, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland ... Read More
While having cruised about 25-30 times on various popular lines, this was our first cruise on an Oceania ship. We chose this one for it's itinerary which included Scotland, Shetland and Faroe Islands, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland (multiple ports). We met many lovely fellow cruisers. The ship is richly elegant, not glitzy like the more popular lines. The room was pleasant (veranda), but the shower was quite small! The one disappointment was the food, which Oceania makes a big deal about. We found it to be good, but no better than Celebrity, Royal Carib, or others. While the cruise was more expensive , we found the OLife incentives to be quite worthwhile. Taking this into consideration, the price difference was not that much to be concerned about. Would we travel on Oceania again? Absolutely! What we found particularly interesting was that the breakfast and lunch buffets were served to us. We did not handle the serving pieces ourselves. Therefor the passing of germs from one person to another was greatly diminsihed. The was an absence of sickness and coughing, so prevalent on other lines. Very nice! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We have sailed on Oceania 5 times on their smaller ships and loved them. We were a bit nervous about the bigger ships, thinking it might lose that personal touch, but it was great. Even with 1000 people, nothing ever seemed crowded. The ... Read More
We have sailed on Oceania 5 times on their smaller ships and loved them. We were a bit nervous about the bigger ships, thinking it might lose that personal touch, but it was great. Even with 1000 people, nothing ever seemed crowded. The staff was outstanding and the food was wonderful. Oceania always has slightly more imaginative itineraries than the other luxury lines, like Seabourn and Silversea. All of the specialty restaurants were excellent and Jacques was especially delicious.I had lobster Thermidor and crepes Suzette - utter decadence. The cooking stations are a super addition to the ship. The regular veranda cabin was very comfortable - we usually opt for the penthouse cabins on the smaller ships, but we're fine in the regular veranda cabin. There was a great mix of passengers on board and an equally nice mix of staff. The Riviiera as a beautiful ship,, the art work isn't to my taste, but that is personal. All in all, a great cruise Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
We have sailed several times before, but this our first on Oceania. We were offered a great deal to change our Oceania South American cruise to this one, so we took it. We were given a penthouse suite with a butler. It also entitled us to ... Read More
We have sailed several times before, but this our first on Oceania. We were offered a great deal to change our Oceania South American cruise to this one, so we took it. We were given a penthouse suite with a butler. It also entitled us to 3 nights in each specialty restaurant. The room was spacious and had a tub shower. What a treat! We sailed from Southampton to Edinburgh, then to the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands and to Akureryi, Iceland. Things went well until we were headed to Greenland for two stops. Because of ice floes (in late June) we were unable to go to our planned locations. Instead, we went around Greenland to Nuuk, Greenland's capitol. We all made the best of it. Unfortunately, because of the change in plans and the slower sailing due to icebergs in the area, we missed time in Reykjavic and missed Londonderry all together. We added three days at sea, but we were safe. We stopped at Belfast, Liverpool and Dublin before returning to Southampton. We did not take any Oceania shore excursions, but booked private ones ourselves. They all turned out well. Oceania provided two wonderful lecturers. Because of the extra sea days, more lectures were presented. That really helped. Also, there were games throughout the day. The trivia team contests were very competitive. The other entertainment ranged between very good and so-so. The staff was wonderful. They always had good attitudes and made us feel welcome. Ray, the cruise director, was a hoot. The food was great in all venues. We usually do not frequent the buffet, except at lunch, but it was so good and plentiful, we had breakfast there too. The specialty restaurants were good as was the main dining room. The passengers, as a group, were older. But we met some of the most wonderful people. Because the amount of passengers is relatively small (under 700), we got to know so many interesting people with great stories. It was a lovely cruise and well worth the money. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
1. Ship size - just right. Considered the small end of a mid-size ship. Very clean. 2. Crew to passenger ratio - not 1 t 1 but close. 3. Crew/steward/waiter service - absolutely marvelous. Alway a smile and greeting from someone ... Read More
1. Ship size - just right. Considered the small end of a mid-size ship. Very clean. 2. Crew to passenger ratio - not 1 t 1 but close. 3. Crew/steward/waiter service - absolutely marvelous. Alway a smile and greeting from someone on the crew anytime, anywhere. Somewhat offputting at first. We are never are used to customer service like this. Just outstanding. 4. Tips - figured into your invoice. Only have to add to steward, waiter, etc if you think you rec'd exceptional service. 5. Depart/Arrival - easy; painless. Well organized. You get early boarding with a concierge level booking or better. 6. Food - every "best" you have ever heard about a top cruise ship. With a little will power, you can actually eat better and more selectively than another other place you might go. You can gorge or eat positively; take your choice. Buffet was alway overflowing w/vegetables, fish/shrimp/lobster tails, beef of some sort, main courses, sushi, desserts and on and on. Main dining room had food and service equal to the two (2) specialty restaurants on board. With concierge level booking, you get two meals at each of the specialty restaurants. Absolutely the best, most courteous service imaginable; any food selection was "to die for". Don't know much about wine? Just ask the wine steward. It may cost A LOT, but you'll have wine of a quality and taste you might never have experienced before. A real education given right at the table. Just plain fun. 7. Drink costs - really, really high. Drink programs were 'ouch' expensive, and you would have to drink yourself to death to make it worthwhile. Stay away if you can. A bottle of champagne and a red in your room on arrival. You can take these bottles to any of places you can eat. Will uncork for you and serve graciously. No charge. You can bring a bottle back on board. However, if you do this, there will probably be a charge to open. 8. Room - splendid! Good room to move around; good storage space for unpacking for the duration of the cruise. Very clean. IF you have any concern, they will take care of it for you yesterday. 9. Excursions - just as you have ever been warned before. Expensive. Some good; some not so good. Nothing that just blows your mind. Lots of city drive thrus enroute to a destination that were literally "drive-bys". Our trip to Loch Lomond dropped us at a small beach and cove that looked like anywhere USA. Had large mall area, so you know what the setup was for. Unless you are good at booking separate tours off the economy/off the boat, you are kind of caught. In retrospect, I would go to TripAdvisor, etc to see what I could find. Had to motor in at only one docking; easy and fun for something different. 10. Nightly shows and cruise director - cruise director was a hoot. Personable, overboard a little but just a fun guy. Shows were generally very good. Boat band/orchestra was above average. Ship's performers - some standouts; some should just sign harmony in the background. But worth attending most every night., 11. Misc - PM tea time; snack shack. Great and great again. You could eat breakfast and lunch or snack time here anytime if you just wanted some alone time away from the buffet or main dining room. Did not use the pool or spa. Workout area was well equipped for a ship. Watch out for the trainer - very nice guy who could get you to spend a fortune for most anything you might do at a regular gym/fitness center for free. Shopping - not a chance. No gambling either. Lots of folks were into it tho. OVERALL: High cost of drinks; high cost of excursions - nothing new. Rated five stars just because all the other things outranked these two downers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We felt compelled to write a review after reading review after review of complaints!! Really folks! It's appears to this reader that many reviewers attitudes need to be checked at the door! First, how in the world can so many ... Read More
We felt compelled to write a review after reading review after review of complaints!! Really folks! It's appears to this reader that many reviewers attitudes need to be checked at the door! First, how in the world can so many people remember everything they ate? Did they have a recorder at each meal and do they work for competing cruise lines???? Marina is an awesome vessel with awesome staff and crew!!!! The food is delicious! If one finds a complaint with a dish, simply ask for something different or a replacement. Wait staff will gladly accommodate ! If this is not handled,simply ask for Maître D! We were at a table where after eating three fourths of a steak, the guest said that it was cold!!!! We told the wait staff and they replaced it in a timely manner.... Room service is outstanding! Always yummy and on time breakfast ! Brendan and Ann always going above and beyond!!!! Room Stewards always kept room spotless and supplied twice a day!!!! Always kept us informed and never,never rushed us!!! Officers approachable ! Concierge's Jeff and Javier always accommodating BUT you have to ask if you have a need. Do not assume they know your needs!!! Special shout out to Emma and Lisa Excursions are very expensive if purchased from ship!!! Aside from the expense, the procedure for joining excursion is horrible !!! It's like a cattle call and then stampede to get to bus!!!! Alaska on Regatta was different and wonderful for each excursion! That being said, DESTINATION SERVICES ON THIS CRUISE WAS THE BEST WE HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED! We did ports on our own, many times using free shuttles! DESTINATION SERVICES STAFF WERE ALWAYS THERE TO HELP OUR EXPERIENCE ! And the disembarkation directed by this department was the smoothest LOUISA OF DESTINATION SERVICE IS ONE OF THE MOST SINCERE AND HELPFUL STAFF MEMBERS AND ALWAYS WITH A SMILE We were able to connect to the internet and never kicked off. In Dublin , due to port authority we could not connect, but there was lots of free wifi in Dublin. Ship internet is expensive and not lighting quick but not as slow as all the complaints!!! Entertainers were really trying to please the audience ! We realize it's not Broadway and many could complain about that!!! The orchestra , band and string quartets outstanding ! Guest lecturers great, especially Dr Rodger Cartwright engaging and informative! Cruise Director Julie James outstanding. Church services were held every Sunday! The staff and crew on this cruise was A+. Always polite ,many calling us by name at every turn! We felt community and family!!!! Hats off to you Hilde Crankshaw, Oceania Cruise Representative for helping us with all the particulars of this trip! You are always there for us! Bravo. Bravo. Bravo Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
(I´m Swedish. More of a 2*-man, than 5*) Cruising ranks low, when I plan holidays. Nevertheless I now and then cruise. Hithertho always with different lines (RCCL,HAL, Costa, NCL). Oceania was a step up. In many aspects. From outside ... Read More
(I´m Swedish. More of a 2*-man, than 5*) Cruising ranks low, when I plan holidays. Nevertheless I now and then cruise. Hithertho always with different lines (RCCL,HAL, Costa, NCL). Oceania was a step up. In many aspects. From outside Nautica looks rather plain. Inside impressing. Beautiful public areas, cabins, and dining rooms. I was very surprised that on this little ship had more space for myself outside my cabin, than on any of the three to five times larger ships I have been on. You could always find place to sit wherever you wanted. Now bit for bit: 1. Standard balcony cabin. Very, very attractive. I loved it. Really not large, but enough for us. Especially the bathroom gave limited space. But I prefer that than an even smaller cabin. The beds 110%. From hell to heaven compared to NCL, with their sweaty pillows. Free non-alcoholic in the fridge. The TV was an example of the opposite to HD. But that I count out. A tip: Try to get a cabin where you move forward sitting in the sofa. Not for example our 6025. 2. Public areas gave astonishing space. Used to crowded rooms on other ships. Elegant everywhere. 3. Sundeck: Lots of extremly comfortable sunbeds. Always empty available. Pool very small. The 2 bubble-pools very popular. 4. Walking-track very short. But it was so wide, that you could even jogg, same time lots of walkers were there. Strange: All the much larger ships I cruised on, gave less opportunity for jogging. 5. Gym. Super. 6. Dining: The dishes always served hot. And tasty. Especially in Toscana. Our favorite. The only dissappointment was the steaks in Polo-grill. But perhaps americans like that kind of meat. Thick and absolutely non-tasting. Second to Toscana, we prefered the self-service Terrace-café. Nice to see what you put on your plate. Wines: The cheap ones were not cheap, neither good. The more expensive were ok, but far too expensive. And the offered packages were also very high-priced. Stay sober on Nautica. Or drink in yuor cabin. (Bottles allowed to bring aboard.) 7. Bars: drinks very expensive, and contained only ice and soft drinks. Perhaps a hint of alcoholic. I took one, and just laughed. 8. Evening-shows: Very high standard for such a small ship. And varied. 9. Day-lectures in the theatre: Don Campell talked around the history in ports to arrive. For me, and I believe for many others, this was the best hours on the cruise. I will never forget him. And his lectures. 10. Excursions. We took 5. That was exactly 5 too many. Guides, dull, duller, or even duller. We envy those smart people who went out on their own in every port. 11. Staff: On former cruises they have been very nice. Here they were fantactic. As I began, I´m not a cruiser. But if I cruise again, it will be on a ship of this size. Worth every extra buck you pay. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We are the sort of cruisers who bring our own water bottles, a 12 pack of water and flavored drink packets to avoid the $4.50+ bar charge most cruise lines impose on passengers for just a bottle of water. Oceania is a different ... Read More
We are the sort of cruisers who bring our own water bottles, a 12 pack of water and flavored drink packets to avoid the $4.50+ bar charge most cruise lines impose on passengers for just a bottle of water. Oceania is a different "animal". We were delighted to find that bottled water, smoothies, malts & shakes, espresso and latte were all part of the cruise price. The Ship was clean, well maintained and easy to navigate around. We really enjoyed the speciality dining and the food portions were perfect. Our inside cabin was adequate in size, beds comfortable and the shower just a little too small for my Texas size husband. Cabin service was excellent. We never felt the ship move. All staff were very well trained and friendly. We met the most interesting people who were well traveled, mostly retired and primarily Canadian or American. Many of them had been on the ship on the New York to Dover cruise, were doing the Dover to Copenhagen, and then continuing on into the Baltic Sea. This not a ship for families with teens or younger as they have no scheduled activities. We will definitely cruise with Oceania again, but will opt for a larger cabin. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
Oceania Marina, Cultural Connoisseur, September 27, 2013 – A Review About Us: My husband and I, both in our very early 50’s, booked this cruise aboard the Marina to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We have both cruised ... Read More
Oceania Marina, Cultural Connoisseur, September 27, 2013 – A Review About Us: My husband and I, both in our very early 50’s, booked this cruise aboard the Marina to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We have both cruised extensively on many different lines in the past, but this was our first “O” experience. We have usually cruised with our daughters and extended family. This was the first time in a very long time that we cruised with just each other. We initially had some reservations as to how we would fit in with the passenger demographics on the ship. I can now honestly report that, although we were probably among the youngest 10% or 15% of the passengers on the cruise, we never felt out of place and we met the most wonderful people onboard ... some of the most interesting people that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. There was always a good conversation to be had, and we left the ship with many new friends who we hope to be able to travel with again in the future. We participated in the Roll Call for our cruise here on Cruise Critic (again, something we had never done before), and arranged, and/or took part in, private excursions in every port. We had incredible private guides in every port. It would be very hard to pick a favorite. I’ll go into more detail below. I recommend getting involved in your Roll Call thread. I can’t even begin to explain how much better of an experience it is to take part in small, private tours of 6-8 people, as opposed to the big bus tours that the cruise line sells. Not to mention that the private tours end up being less money. Pre-Cruise: We booked our air through Oceania, taking advantage of their air-included offer. We also paid the $150 per person deviation charge, in order to fly in a day early and fly home two days after disembarkation. We got to choose the exact flights we wanted, with no issues whatsoever. We arrived at Gatwick on Thursday, September 26 and took the train to Winchester, where we spent a leisurely day getting over the jet lag. We stayed at a great bed & breakfast, the Old Vine, and had a private transfer on Friday morning for our 30-minute ride to Southampton. Weather: We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout our vacation, with very little rain along the way. It ended up being warmer than we had anticipated, so most of our sweaters and such ended up being unused. The Ship: The 2 year-old Marina is impeccable. It is the most elegant and one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen. And, I’ve seen A LOT of cruise ships. Day and night, you would find the crew hard at work, polishing and scrubbing, to make sure that Marina was always at her best. The ship’s crew is happy and friendly. They are genuinely happy to be there to help you have the most amazing cruise experience possible. Their friendly conversation never seems forced or fake. They seem to truly care about each passenger and remember you from day to day and from venue to venue. On our last morning aboard, when we were having breakfast at The Terrace, many of the servers who we had had the pleasure of meeting during the course of the cruise stopped by our table to wish us safe travels home and to ask how our cruise had gone. I was amazed that they remembered and touched by the gesture. Our Stateroom: This was our cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and so we splurged on a Penthouse Suite. It’s a perfect stateroom and was extremely comfortable for us. The closet is a walk-in and provides ample storage. There are also plenty of drawers in the dressers in the stateroom. The bathroom is beautiful, although the shower could stand to be just a tad larger. We loved the Bulgari amenities. The bed!!! It’s the most comfortable bed we’ve ever slept in. Period. End of Story. All the linens in the bedroom and bathroom are awesome. Our stateroom attendants did a fabulous job of keeping our room very clean. There was never an occasion when we had to call them back in for something that was overlooked or forgotten. With the Penthouse comes a butler. I can’t say enough good things about Churchill, our butler. Friendly and full of information, he was able to give us the inside scoop on all the best dishes to sample at the restaurants. He also graciously and with a smile served us a full, hot breakfast in our stateroom on almost every morning of the cruise. And we had some pretty early starts because of all of our private tours. One night, we had dinner brought in to the stateroom from Toscana. He served it course by course. Wonderful! There are so many things that he did to make our cruise better. There’s no way to go into it all here. Suffice it to say that he spoiled us. And we loved it! Dining: The food quality and the dining experience onboard Marina are so far and above anything we’ve experienced on any other ship! A comparison to previous experiences is almost impossible. The only thing that is in the same league is our dinner at Remy aboard the Disney Fantasy. And that’s a $75 per person surcharge, without wine. Each and every venue aboard the Marina was outstanding, from Waves to The Terrace to the Grand Dining Room to the specialty restaurants. We also had the pleasure of dining one night at La Reserve. We had the Exploration Menu, which was wonderful! It’s the only surcharge restaurant aboard (not counting Privee, which is more of a dining room where food is brought in from other restaurants) and was well worth the additional fee. Course after course, each paired perfectly with wine. It was a three and a half hour experience that I would love to repeat again! Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows on Marina. Our very enjoyable entertainment consisted of the wonderful dinner conversation we had with new friends in the varied restaurants onboard. Ports: This cruise was very port intensive and visited places that, for the most part, neither of us had been to before. Bruges: We joined the private taxi transfer arranged by another person on our Roll Call. I believe the company was Taxi Snel. We were picked up at the gate to the port at 9 AM and returned to the ship at 5 PM. Once in Bruges, we followed a walking tour that was posted online by Brentjes. It was a great tour, very detailed, with lots of information of what you are seeing and easy to follow. The tour as printed begins at the train station. We started it at Markt Square and followed it around backward. It was pretty much the exact tour being followed by the ship’s expensive walking tour of the city. Great day in a beautiful city. I’d love to return someday. Le Havre: I arranged for a private tour for 8 through Overlord Tours. Our guide was Oliver, and he was fantastic!!! We went to Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, Point du Hoc, Saint Mere Eglise, Utah Beach, Angoville au Plain and to some secluded places that we would have never been able to find, or enter, had we ventured out on our own. Oliver made the landing beaches come alive for us. I can’t recommend Overlord or Oliver enough!! St. Malo: We joined a private tour arranged by another person on our Roll Call. The tour was with Westcapades and our tour guide was Marc. We went to Mont St. Michel, Dinan and had a very brief visit to St. Malo. There were six of us on the tour. Marc was very good. Mont St. Michel is fascinating! It’s a place that everyone should visit at least once. Dinan was beautiful! I enjoyed our time there and the local pastry, Kouign Amann, that we got to sample. I would definitely recommend Marc for a great day out of St. Malo. L’Orient: I had arranged a private tour with Marie-Laure at Brittany Visits. The plan was for us to visit Quimper, Pont Aven and Concarneau. The night before we arrived in L’Orient, I received a message from the Purser that Marie-Laure’s husband had been hospitalized and that she would not be coming the next day. I was sorry to hear that her husband was ill, and I truly hope that he has recovered. The timing of the cancellation really did not work well for us to be able to arrange anything else. We decided to take the free shuttle into town and explore. L’Orient is pretty much a regular mid-sized modern French city with not a whole lot to see and do. There is a U-Boat yard that was used by the Germans during WWII. After a little while in town, my husband and I chose to go back to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Le Verdon: I arranged a private tour with Maryse at Bordeaux Excursions. She is fanastic!!! We visited 3 Chateaux (Gruaud-LaRose, Pichon-Longueville, and Lynch-Bages) with a brief stop at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and a beautiful lunch at Chateau Pomys. The harvest was just getting underway in Le Medoc. It was a spectacular day, planned to perfection. I recommend Maryse wholeheartedly. I hope to visit the Bordeaux region again and will definitely book with Maryse to show me the other areas of the region. Bilbao: We took the free shuttle that Oceania provided into town. We visited the outside of the Guggenheim, and its gift shop and then walked along the riverfront to the “Casco Viejo”, or old town. It was very picturesque and it was nice to just wander the streets here. We enjoyed a very inexpensive lunch of pintxos (what tapas are called here) and the local wine, Txacoli. We took a taxi back to the ship from the old town. La Coruna: We booked a private tour to Santiago de Compostela and La Coruna for 6 through Luca Renzini of Best Private Tours. Our guide was Anton. He was excellent! Anton showed us all the sights in Santiago de Compostela. The star of the show, of course, is the cathedral. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Butafumeiro swing in the church. We had a lovely lunch in the old town here. We then went on to La Coruna, which was a very nice place, too. The weather had cleared up and we had magnificent views from Hercules’ Tower. I was a bit nervous about our arrangements in this port, since there were no posted reviews of Best Private Tours or Luca. I would recommend booking with him in the future. He is able to arrange tours out of most European cruise ports. Had I had a few more hours of notice, I would have contacted him about booking something after our Lorient guide cancelled on us. Oporto: We joined a tour booked by one of the others in our Roll Call through Tours by Locals to the Douro Valley. Our guide was Orquidea. She was very good and very nice. This tour is beautiful, with jaw dropping sights at every turn. There is a lot of driving involved in getting down to the valley floor from Oporto. It took us over three hours to reach Pinhao. We had beautiful, clear weather. Had it been raining, it would have been a really scary ride. There are many, many curving narrow roads with sharp, hairpin turns. That being said, I loved this day! We had a spectacular lunch at Quinta do Portal. The setting for this lunch was beautiful! The food delicious, and the company of our guide and the others in our tour was lovely. We then went to the winery for a port tasting. Who knew that port wine came in three colors! They were all delicious, too! As long as you’re aware of all the driving, this is a very worthwhile tour. Lisbon: I arranged for a private tour with Alex at Top Ten Tours. Alex is a wonderful guide! Another best guide for this trip! We went to Sintra, Caiscais, and Lisbon. The van he used is brand new and has wi-fi! This was yet another day that we had spectacular weather! The Pena Palace above Sintra is a really beautiful place! Our pictures there are incredible. I think if I had it to do again, I would skip Caiscais and spend more time in Lisbon. I do want to go back to Lisbon again. If you have a chance to book a day with Alex, do it! He is really wonderful! Cadiz: We took the train from Cadiz to Seville with two others from our Roll Call. The train station is located right across the street and around the corner from the port. It couldn’t have been more simple. The people we travelled with arranged for a walking tour of Seville with Marta Casals. She was very good! We were with her for three hours and we visited the Plaza de Espana, the Cathedral, the Alcazar, and the Barrio Santa Cruz, among other places. Marta made the very most of our short time with her. She is another of our “very best” guides for this trip. Post-Cruise: Sadly, our time aboard Marina had to come to an end. We spent two nights in Barcelona, at the Catalonia Catedral Hotel in the Gothic Quarter that was located right across the square from the old Cathedral. We had been to Barcelona before, and this was our favorite part of the city. Our first day was spent wandering the curvy streets of the Gothic Quarter. On our second day, we booked a full day trip to Montserrat with Spanish Trails. They are awesome! Our guide, Dan, was yet another amazing guide. Montserrat is unbelievably beautiful! We had an amazing lunch at a restaurant in the national park at the foot of Montserrat. We then visited a vineyard for wine tasting. We ended our day at the overlook at Montjuic, with Barcelona spread out at our feet. Our day included all expenses. I recommend Spanish Trails very highly. I will be booking some of their other day trips when we return to Barcelona. Overall Impressions: The Marina is an exceptional ship and this itinerary was fantastic. We enjoyed every second of our vacation and have already booked our next trip aboard Marina.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Thursday 15 August 2013 We had been given an official boarding time of 1pm but thought it wouldn't hurt to arrive early and we didn't mind waiting in the terminal if necessary. When we arrived at the terminal, very few other ... Read More
Thursday 15 August 2013 We had been given an official boarding time of 1pm but thought it wouldn't hurt to arrive early and we didn't mind waiting in the terminal if necessary. When we arrived at the terminal, very few other people were arriving and we walked straight in to check-in. Nice touches included the blue carpet at the entrance with Nautica and Oceania Cruises on and a table with complimentary orange juice and iced water. After check-in - passports were kept - and the usual credit card swipe, we were given our cruise cards (World Cards in Oceania speak) and a letter to say boarding would begin at 1pm and cabins would be ready at 3pm. As we went through security and I headed for the embarkation lounge, we were called and invited to board the ship. The ship's card machine was set up on the Promenade deck and crew were stationed at various points to direct us straight to the Terrace Restaurant (buffet). As we crossed the main pool deck I was impressed by rows of sun loungers, steamer chairs and twin steamer chairs, all with thick cushions and white towelling covers. We found a table on the open deck at the stern of the Terrace Cafe and then went to choose food. In the buffet all food is served to you at all times. Plates were also given to you from behind the counters and cutlery was on the tables, which were laid properly as at dinner. I chose a delicious vegetable lasagne followed by a strawberry concoction. I don't know what it was called but was heavenly - my first introduction to the renowned Oceania food. It was also very nice to be able to order any soft drink or sparkling water - it is all included on Nautica. My plates were carried to the table by a waiter. After lunch we wandered down to Reception to pick up the daily programme and then found a sunbed each and lazed until 2.30 when an announcement told us the cabins were ready. We had a standard twin outside stateroom on Deck 3 with a porthole. Unfortunately the bed was made up as a double though! A quick call to reception soon got it sorted with no fuss or bother. The mattresses are pocket sprung, and covered two inches of memory foam. The bedding is 1,000-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen and a down comforter. They were certainly the most comfortable I have had on a cruise ship. Cabin amenities include bath robes, slippers, soft drinks and small bottles of water in the fridge, two large bottles of water on a tray with glasses and bottle opener, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, hand soap, bath soap (for the shower), shower cap, cotton wool, cotton buds, umbrella, shoe horn, shoe shine cloth, two hairdryers - one fixed in the bathroom and a hand held one, plug-in nightlight, TV and DVD player (DVD's available free from reception, catalogue in cabin). Best of all, the bedside lights had an ordinary lamp and an additional reading light on a flexible stalk, which could be switched independently so as not to disturb your cabin mate. Storage is not wonderful - one large double wardrobe, and one half robe with half hanging and four drawers. One side of the dressing table/desk is a cupboard with four more small drawers and the other side a cupboard with one shelf. Under the flatscreen TV is a corner cupboard with shelf and safe. We had a sofa, very comfy padded headboard and huge mirrors. Attention to detail was such that as you pushed the toilet lid down, it closed itself quietly - like soft-closing kitchen drawers! Having unpacked, we set off to explore the ship. As another R ship like P&O's Adonia, we were familiar with the layout and much seemed to be identical even down to the tartan carpet in Horizons (Crows Nest on Adonia). However, there was a huge casino (for the size of ship) and the buffet is very different indeed - more of that later. Muster drill was at 5.15. We assembled in Muster Station A, were checked off a list at the door and were assigned Lifeboat No.1. We were asked to wear our lifejackets and after the usual announcements were led, in boat groups, to our lifeboat so we knew exactly where we had to be in the event of an emergency. British are in the minority at around 10% but this just made a refreshing change and everyone was friendly. By then it was 7pm and time to go change for dinner (Nautica has no formal nights, but I wanted to freshen up). We headed for the Grand Dining Room and joined the short queue. When we got to the Maitre D' he asked if we would like to go to the Polo Grill as there was spare capacity there while we would have to wait for the MDR. All other dining venues are free/included but you are normally only allowed to book once per cruise so we had no problem heading up to Deck 10. I chose beetroot and Goats cheese starter, Caesar Salad, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi and New York Cheesecake with caramelised top! Dessert was accompanied by home-made jellies and coffee. Dinner ended about 10.30 and the ship died - we thought many were probably jet-lagged but this was normal throughout the cruise. As it was so port-heavy, most people rose early. Often we were in port until 8pm so it was natural we were all tired by 10.30. Friday 16 August - At sea This was one of our two sea days. We had breakfast in the Terrace Cafe - the plates carried to my seat by waiters who also served coffee and fresh orange juice (with bits). The range of fresh fruit alone was amazing - every day three different type of melon, papaya, mango, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. It was lovely and warm outside in the sun, overlooking the wake. I went to the Destination desk to book a tour (the only official ship's tour I took) and pick up quiz sheets. After a browse around the library (open 24/7 - just take what you want within reason as there are other guests to consider, and return before end of cruise) I sat on deck in sun and did a puzzle. We had lunch on deck at Waves Grill - burgers, paninis, sandwiches and wonderful icecreams, smoothies and milkshakes. After lunch I was dozing in the cabin but was woken by an announcement from the captain. He said some of us may have noticed our change of course due west as we needed a helicopter evacuation for crew member with head injury. We stood and the watched the whole operation from the pool deck where we were allowed to stand. After lowering a paramedic etc the RAF Sea King flew alongside the ship and the pilot and winchman waved to us all. He circled a few times and then came back in to collect everything and everyone. We then had our first Oceania afternoon tea in Horizons - this was better than Cunard IMO - string quartet, sandwiches brought round on tray, three-tier cake trolley and a stunning all-round view to boot. Hot water arrived in a teapot, with another waiter holding a wooden box containing a huge selection of different teas from which to choose! By then it was time to go to cabin to get ready for the captain's welcome party. This was the only time the deck officers mixed with passengers. Drinks were free-flowing. We had dinner in the GDR and I still feel this was the best meal of my life so far - starter of caviar on blinis, the miso-glazed sea bass and a cappuccino dessert served in a chocolate cup. Went to see the Show before bed. There were five entertainment staff on board. The Cruise Director, Nolan Dean, was from the UK and probably the best CD I have had- always around the ship chatting etc. As on CMV, it was the CD who made all passenger announcements about going ashore etc. All five of the team not only ran sports tournaments, quizzes, needlepoint classes etc, but were also the show troupe, both singing and dancing in the shows. Nolan also did two one-man comedy and singing shows. Additionally we had Rick Thomas -an Illusionist. The cruise was a Music Festival at Sea to celebrate Oceania's 10 year anniversary and on board were the Fjord Cadenza Ensemble - a wonderful classical group. There was also the on-board show band, a cocktail pianist in Martinis and a string quartet who played at teatime and in the Atrium at cocktails. Saturday 16 August - Edinburgh I woke very early and got dressed to go up on deck to see my first ever glimpse of the Forth Bridge as we sailed under it into Rosyth. After breakfast (outside on the terrace) we prepared for a day in Edinburgh. The Tattoo was still on, as was the Fringe Festival. There was a free shuttle bus to Inverkeithing Station so we waited on the dockside and chatted with others in order to get the first bus and ashore quickly. At the station, we bought a £5.50 return ticket from the machine and crossed over the line to the far platform almost as soon as the train arrived. It took about 25 minutes into Waverley Station. Unfortunately it was drizzly so we found a taxi to take us up to the Castle where we started our day. The queue was not too bad so after buying our tickets we headed up to the Castle. The road slowly got windier and quite rough as we climbed up into the Castle Keep and joined the short queue to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. There was lots to see and worth the entrance money overall, but the jewels were probably not worth it if it meant a long wait. After working our way down again, we walked down the Royal Mile, filled with souvenir shops, mostly selling kilts, whisky and items with Scottie dogs on. We had a sandwich and a drink in the Festival Hub Cafe. Lots of Fringe entertainment happening on Market Street, and Cannon Gate etc. Went into St Giles Cathedral where a lovely concert was in progress - piano and saxophone. We got back to Waverley Station about 2.15 and then took ages to find out which platform we were supposed to be on. First told 11 (wrong), then 17 (wrong), then finally 2 so managed the 2.27 train to Aberdeen via Inverkeithing. We had a short wait for the shuttle bus but the sun was now out and quite hot! On our return to the ship I quickly changed before we went up for the wonderful afternoon tea again (I cannot make a habit of this - too much food!). Sailaway was very delayed presumably by the fierce gusting wind. A tug arrived and attached first at the bow, then moved to the stern. It took ages to slowly move the stern out and edge away from the berth before retracing our route under the two bridges. As Nautica sailed under each bridge the captain sounded the horn three times. Then it was time to go back down for a shower and to change for dinner. Sunday 17th August - Invergordon, We were not arriving until 12 noon so had a leisurely breakfast and then went to the Stitch & Chat. Oceania provide free needlepoint kits to make small items such as a spectacle case or bag. If you complete one during the cruise you can choose another. By 10.30 we thought it time to grab a bite to eat as Nigel, our private tour guide ( www.shorexcursions.co.uk) wanted us to be off the ship as soon as possible. Four of us were first off and we waited a short time for two more and then set off in Nigel's silver VW people-carrier towards Dunrobin Castle. Once there (amid a vintage car rally), Nigel spoke with Alistair, Lord Strathnaver, who directed us round the back into the private grounds. We walked through a tiny gate into the area where falcons and hawks were kept, guarded at the entrance by a beautiful, huge owl sitting on a flower pot! we wandered through the stunning grounds for around 40 mins before meeting everyone back at the falconry area. Alan, the falconer, then gave a public demonstration using three birds. An hour later we went up to the main castle and toured through some of its many rooms. At 3.45 we set off back towards the ship, driving along Loch Fleet in the hope of seeing seals (all on the opposite bank). We did see an osprey nest, swans, cormorants etc and then stopped at Millionaire's Viewpoint. Back in Invergordon we were driven past a number of murals and then back to Nautica, via a gift shop of course. Can thoroughly recommend the tour however, which was tailored to our time available. We were on board just in time to watch a show of Scottish song and dance put on by locals in the Nautica Lounge. At 7.30 we also had a marching pipe band on the quayside to send us on our way towards Lerwick. By now it was 8pm so we decided to eat dinner in the Terrace Cafe. I have always said I would not eat dinner in the buffet restaurants but on Nautica is was more akin to a proper dining room, serving the same dishes in fact. Monday 19th August - Lerwick Got the 9am free shuttle from the container dock (Holmsgarth) into Lerwick. Just after breakfast there was a torrential rain shower so it was not looking good, but after that it cleared dramatically and the sun came out making a nice day in the end. It was interesting to watch the crew of the oilrig supply ship berthed behind us go up onto their helipad to take photos of Nautica! As we went into the Tourist Information Centre we saw an advert for a boat trip - this was a cruise ship special (2 hours instead of their normal 3), so we booked. There were just six of us, plus skipper Alan and his wife Robbie - a marine biologist, who live on the boat throughout the summer. We first sailed round the harbour looking at the buildings (and a female seal who popped her head to look at us!), then set off through the main channel. Saw terns, common and grey seals, an Arctic Skua, cormorants, shags, eider drakes, guillemots, ravens and lots of gannets fishing. Later the boat was anchored over a wreck and they sent down an ROV and set up a TV screen so we could see what was under the boat. Robbie explained things in detail. Finally after 2 fascinating hours, we were dropped off at the pier and set off walking. Back on board, we went to the Trivia Quiz and joined with another team - all Americans so we were warmly welcomed for our UK knowledge! We came joint second so I got my first 2 Big O points! These are built up throughout the cruise and exchanged on the last day for various gifts - bookmarks, hats, t-shorts etc! We went back down to the cabin to wash and change for the dinner we had booked in the Polo Grill. We were not late going to bed as clocks went forward an hour that night. Tuesday 20th August - Alesund We arrived early and I rushed up on deck to watch us berth. I don't think I've ever seen a ship docked so fast - we appeared to race up towards the berth and then dead slow, a sideways thrust and we were there. I have to say the berthing and departures were all very sleek, swift and timely throughout the cruise. We never saw a queue to get off the ship - it was all efficient and quick. Our plan was to take the HoHo Bus - 200 NK - to the Sunnmore Museum. We did the full round trip first - the views from the high mountain viewpoint at Aksla were fabulous - then went round again as far as the Museum. Here were lots of turf-roofed old Norwegian country houses of various periods, boat houses etc. in a lovely woodland setting with streams. We had coffee and apple cake and then went back to wait for the HoHo bus. As we went back up to Aksla again I saw that while we were gone, Adventure of the Seas had arrived! We got off in town and wandered the shops. Back on board, we got up to Horizons just in time for afternoon tea. At 8.05, during dinner, we felt the engines power up and saw Nautica edging out from the quayside and swinging 180 degrees to sail back down the fjord. Wednesday 21st August - Geiranger I set the alarm for 5.45 am to watch the sail into Geiranger but we were already well into the Fjord by then. I made it up on deck just in time to see us sail past the Seven Sisters Falls and about 20 mins later we were there. The tendering operation was like any other - as independents we had to get tender tickets and wait in the Nautica Lounge, but we were called to board almost immediately. I got the Sightseeing bus to Flydal, and the two famous view points, wandered around, bought souvenirs, and then tendered back to ship. I had a quick lunch at Waves Grill as I wanted to watch our sail back down the fjord to pick up the overland tour passengers at Hellesylt. I wondered why one tender remained afloat as we hauled up our anchor but it soon became clear. Captain Ressa was going to give every passenger an amazing view of the Seven Sisters and the Suitors falls. With the tender acting as a range-finder for the ship, the captain did a slow 360 turn in the fjord. In the middle of the turn, we paused to one side to allow Artania and the Hurtigruten steamer Nordlys, to sail past us then continued to turn another 180 degrees before sailing to Hellesylt to pick up our tour people. Unfortunately it was very wet but standing on deck staring up at the huge mountains, with the wonderful music of Grieg coming through the speakers on deck - total magic. Thursday 22nd August - at sea. Our second and last sea day and it was lovely to finally get a lie in. It was warm enough to take advantage of the sun deck. As it became chilly, I asked for and was brought a thick woollen blanket by the pool boy and tucked in on the soft sun beds. A deck stewardess brought a cappuccino to complete the pampered feeling. We had lunch in Terrace Cafe before changing and going up to play shuffleboard. Since only six of us were playing anyway I won another Big O point for coming third! It was a lazy afternoon. Went to the Trivia quiz at 4.30 and our team won, then got dressed for dinner early as we wanted to go to the final recital by the Fjord Cadenza Ensemble. It was wonderful listening to the music of Grieg while remembering our sail through the fjords yesterday. Tomorrow the Platters are joining Nautica. We were then at a bit of a loose end as we had booked Toscana but not until 8.30 so we sat in the Library and watched us sail between the Inner and Outer Hebrides, before joining our table of six for a fabulous Italian meal - huge selection of breads, an olive oil menu etc. By the time we completed our meal it was 11pm so bed. Friday 23rd August - Belfast. We had a leisurely morning since Nautica wasn't due to berth until noon. Had breakfast and then went to needlepoint and chat. By then we were well in sight of Belfast docks so went up on deck. We had a good sight of the new Titanic Museum and the Harland & Wolff Gantries as well as an old WWI battleship. The day before I had filled in the mid-cruise comment sheet and as we went back to the cabin this morning, a knock at the door revealed the Asst. Housekeeping Manager regarding my comment that the cabin needed hooks for wet coats! Impressive! We berthed about 20 mins early so were ready and off the ship to meet Paddy as we had booked one of his Black Cab Tours of Belfast and the Giants Causeway. We had a short chat about what we wanted to see (happy to skip the Bushmills Distillery in favour of Dunluce Castle) and then set off into Belfast City. Our driver explained that, as a Catholic, there were areas he could not go. I was quite shocked as to how divided the city still was. The Protestant areas were adorned with flags, bunting and even the kerbstones were painted red, white and blue! A huge wall still divided the city into two. I asked why it was so high and was told to stop missiles! We drove along the Crumlin and Shankhill Roads where huge political murals had been painted onto houses, commemorating events various events. In one area the back gardens of the houses were all encased in wire to protect the inhabitants - horrendous. At checkpoints in the wall were heavy gates, closed at dusk in a kind of curfew. There were even Protestant and Catholic taxis, which could not travel in each other's areas! If you want to travel from one side of Belfast to another you have to change cabs! I had no idea it was still so segregated in the city. After this depressing start, we set off into the Antrim countryside - very English looking - up to a viewpoint to see the Carrick a Rede rope bridge. Unfortunately the weather had turned drizzly but we still had great views. Then to a little beach to see what is the smallest church in Ireland -St Gobbans. It is licensed for weddings - as long as you don't want more than 5 people! Next to it is a small cottage with portholes and steamer chairs that were spares intended for Titanic and her sisters. Next we drove to my highlight - the Giant's Causeway. After an hour there we went to Dunluce Castle. We just managed a few pictures before the rain set in in earnest and we repaired to the tea shop opposite for warm home-made scones, cream, jam and raspberries with tea. By then it was time to return to the docks. We made it back at 7pm so after a quick wash and change - to Martini's for a drink and their delicious nibbles - crisps, nuts etc. we decided on The Terrace Cafe for a light dinner (after the tea!). Saturday 24th August - Dublin I am not sure now if I have described breakfast properly. Having chosen a table, waiters bring coffee, juices, water etc. They also often carry your plate for you. The choices are large - lots of fresh fruit, a range of hot food - sausages, pancakes, scrambled eggs etc., cereals with hot, cold, whole or skim milk. Smoked salmon, cheeses and pastries to die for. You can have any coffee you like - latte, cappuccino etc. As we were doing our own thing in Dublin we didn't get up too early. I was up first so went up on deck to see where we were and was surprised to see we were berthed at the mouth of the Liffey, right beside the o2 arena. The ship couldn't get any closer if they tried. This was my second time in Dublin this year, but as the first was very wet we had only done the DUKW tour then. We caught the free shuttle bus into Kildare Street and had a stroll past the gift shops etc, to the statue of Molly Malone and the Tourist Information Centre, through Temple Bar and over the Ha'penny Bridge before catching the Hoho bus in Connell Street doing one complete circuit before getting off at Trinity College to see inside the buildings. I decided the queues were too long to see the Book of Kells so we then had a homemade soup and a Guinness in a nearby pub before picking up the HoHo bus again to Dublin Castle. After a quick walk around we got the Yellow Route HoHo back to the centre, a look around again and then the shuttle back to Nautica. Back on the ship, three Guarda officers were watching everyone come back on board. Went to Trivia before changing for cocktails in Horizons - there were choices of three different cocktails of the day each night at $5 (plus 18% gratuity). Otherwise cocktails were priced from $10, other drinks from around $8 although there was a Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm - buy one, get one free. All were accompanied by a little stand holding three different types of nibbles, plus canapes. We headed down to the Grand Dining Room for dinner where we were taken to table for 8 by the window. Sunday 25th August - Cork Woke up early as this was the one day I was taking a tour. I was ready just in time to watch us sail past Cobh and over the river to Ringaskiddy where Nautica was to berth. This was because Balmoral was supposed to be berthing in Cobh but in the event she arrived just as we left and we passed in the channel - Nautica blowing her whistle but no reply from Balmoral - which looked rather down at heel and a bit rusty. After breakfast I went to the Nautica Lounge for 8.45 and exchanged my tour ticket to Kinsale for a tour bus pass No.4. Tours on Nautica are rather like tendering operations in that respect. We were soon called and filed down to deck 4 and out to the waiting coaches. It was not long before we were on our way with guide Mary and driver Pat. We drove through rolling countryside not unlike Britain to Fort Charles overlooking Kinsale Harbour, and from where you could see the Old Head of Kinsale where Lusitania sank. Then to Kinsale itself where we went into a hotel for scones and tea before having 2 free hours to explore. It is a pretty town of coloured houses and narrow lanes. It was Sunday but most were open as the town was hosting the International Disabled Sailors Championships. As I sat by the harbour a seal popped its head up to see what was available to eat. We took a different route back, alongside the Bandon River where we had a brief stop for photos. We got back to the ship at 1.30 and I dashed up to Waves for a veggie burger before Shuffleboard - three more Big O points for winning! Nautica was put through a hard swing to starboard to clear the pier and then it was back downriver past Cobh again. We sailed very close to the town and hoards of people lined the waterfront to watch and wave at us and a fair was in full swing in the small seafront park. In the distance by the lighthouse, Balmoral was just arriving and we passed very close to each other. It is the big finale tonight, entertainment wise so headed up for cocktails in before dinner. I chose caviar on potato, chicken consomme and lobster tail followed by pistachio tartlet topped with orange and grapefruit segments. We finished at 9pm and went to get seats in the Nautica Lounge to watch The Platters. Their show was followed by the whole crew filing into the lounge so they could all be thanked - from Captain to cabin steward, and on the way out of the lounge they all lined the corridors. Monday 26th August - Portland Our last day! Since we were not arriving until 10am at Portland we had a leisurely breakfast and were able to watch us dock. Once we were ready we set off in the free shuttle to Weymouth. It is many years since I was last here and the town was, to all intents and purposes, new to me. Back on board I had a quick lunch outdoors in the Terrace Grill before going up to play shuffleboard. The weather was beautiful so it was a sun lounger in the sun for the rest of the afternoon until it was time for the Trivia Quiz where our team - The Bruins (UCLA) came joint first - again. So, I ended up with 20 Big O points - enough to redeem for a T shirt with 5 over! Back in the cabin I finished packing and changed for dinner. We had a cocktail each in Martinis before going out onto the promenade deck to watch the Weymouth Brass Band and some soldiers fire a three gun salute for us. Tuesday 27th August - Southampton Around the middle of the cruise we had been asked to complete a disembarkation form with onward travel arrangements and asking what time we wished to disembark - any time between 7am and 9am. We chose 8.30 then, but as independents it turned out we could disembark whenever we wished. The whole operation was very civilised and easy. Those travelling on airport transfers were directed to specific lounges so there was no-one hanging around the gangway as on most ships. After a nice breakfast out on the stern deck we collected our hand luggage and just disembarked. All in all, an interesting and enjoyable cruise - although I can't say relaxing! I am not a fan really of these very port-intensive cruises but Americans don't like sea days! The service and food, with a few exceptions, was excellent. Waves Grill became very busy especially if a tour had just returned and a burger could take 25 mins to come. For some odd reason, both we both felt we had just had a really long cruise, even though it was only 12 nights. Usually the time flies past when you are having fun, and we did have fun. My friend's theory is that, in some ports we arrived between 10am - noon so the morning was like a sea day, and then we had our port day from noon until 8pm - effectively two days for every one! Would we go again - like a shot, given the right itinerary and a similar bargain price. I think we would both like to try their two larger ships - Marina and Riviera, with 1100 pax, purely as there are more on-board activities like cooking and painting classes. Highly recommended!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
We embarked on our 20th cruise overall, and third on Oceania Cruise lines, on September 12, 2012. We sailed on Marina from Dover to Barcelona, hitting many interesting ports on the Atlantic coast of Europe and disembarking in Barcelona on ... Read More
We embarked on our 20th cruise overall, and third on Oceania Cruise lines, on September 12, 2012. We sailed on Marina from Dover to Barcelona, hitting many interesting ports on the Atlantic coast of Europe and disembarking in Barcelona on September 27. We are middle-aged (mid-fifties) and enjoy many types of trips, especially cruising. Our original itinerary included the ports of Zeebrugge (Bruges), Le Havre, Saint Malo, Concarneau, La Rochelle, Le Verdon, Bilbao, La Coruna, Oporto, Lisbon, and Casablanca, before ending in Barcelona. Our call at Oporto was cancelled due to dock strikes in that town and the unrest across northern Africa led to the substitution of Gibraltar for Casablanca. We appreciate Oceania making the right decisions for the security of their passengers. Pre-cruise arrangements: We received a "free" London hotel night through Oceania when we booked this itinerary. We started our arrangements directly with the cruise line, and then transferred the booking to a new travel agent; she was able to get us $600 of shipboard credits. We paid for transfers from London Heathrow to the hotel; transfers to Dover were included with the hotel booking. We made our own flight arrangements on United and Lufthansa airlines. The hotel was the Hyatt Regency "The Churchill", near Portman Square. It was a very nice hotel and they had a room available when we arrived so we could nap and shower. Embarkation: We arrived at the port of Dover before 1:00 pm after leaving our hotel at 10:30 am and embarkation was pretty fast. Our PH2 suite was available immediately upon boarding. We stowed our bags and valuables, had lunch, and signed up for the Prestige drink package ($50 per person per day) and the unlimited Internet package ($25 per person per day). Our bags were rather late getting to our room, with the second bag arriving only a few minutes before the lifeboat drill. Our butler Xavier was great for getting stuff resolved, however and he found that bag a few minutes after we asked about it. We met our Roll Call group (over 100 folks) in Horizons lounge after the lifeboat drill. Suite and ship information: Our PH2, deck 11 forward, starboard side, was fantastic and very roomy. We had the mirror image PH2 on deck 11 (port side) last September. Marianne and Hilda meticulously maintained the room. One minor complaint: Used wine glasses often sat in the room for a day or two before being removed. The ship is very beautiful ad understated, with interesting art works and lovely public spaces and still looks brand new. We like the size for the most part, although this became a topic of "hot discussions" with other passengers. Activities: We don't do many activities on-board, but we did sign up for two culinary classes and enjoyed those immensely. We were supposed to have a culinary excursion in Casablanca, Morocco, but that port call was cancelled. We did use the Sanctuary spa area and enjoyed this location. Dining: Oceania is, of course, famous for its dining experiences. We had excellent meals, overall, especially our dinners in Red Ginger and Toscana and our special Explorations menu experience at La Reserve (definitely worth the up-charge). We never ate in the Grand Dining Room once during our voyage; on nights where we did not have a specialty restaurant reservation, we much preferred the buffet-style Terrace Cafe, with its incredible grill, salads, appetizers, side dishes, pastas and desserts. We had two dinners in Jacques; the first one was excellent. Unfortunately, the second dinner (arranged by our butler on my husband's birthday) was very disappointing. I had a steak that was so salty it was inedible. My hubby agreed with my assessment. They were quite apologetic and offered me something else on the spot. The Polo Club was very good, but didn't seem to be as sharp in terms of service as Toscana. We also loved the Waves grill on deck 12, but their system of ordering and delivering to tables often resulted in hilarity and mixed-up orders. It seemed like every time we found an empty table, it did not have a number on it so it took a while for them to find us. We often had the continental breakfast in Horizons before an early trip ashore -- a perfect place for a quick and quiet breakfast. Service: Service was very good to excellent, with a few minor exceptions. The bar staff at the Waves bar seemed to be difficult to flag down. They also closed this bar quite early, regardless of the weather on deck. One issue that occurred that was not a fine moment on the behalf of their staff happened one evening when we were sitting at a table near the Waves bar and apparently, they were going to rehearse in the same area for a show for a deck party later that night. The Cruise Director assured us we could stay put, as they would be close to us, but the rehearsal would not require us to move. We were working on uploading photos to our travel blog when a young cruise staff officer from Romania came over and told us rudely to "move it, right now", with no apology, no offer of a drink, nothing. We were a little irked, to say the least as we lost our internet connection when we moved and we wrote this guy up on the final survey as someone in need of much better people skills. However, one bad apple cannot ruin a good experience overall. Our room staff, as noted above, was very good and we enjoyed chatting with our butler, Xavier, who was from Mumbai, India. The celebration for my husband's birthday was very nice, with two cakes. The laundry service was also excellent and very quick. Entertainment: The pianist in the Martini's bar was superb and the string quarter was very good. We avoid shows on ships like the plague, so we cannot report on their quality. We never turned our TV on in our suite so we have no idea what was offered. We did not go to any entitlement programs or lectures. Internet service: We were pleased to see that they had a new unlimited Internet package on-board for $25 a day. The speed was pretty good and we didn't have to worry about minutes accumulating. Shore excursions: The shore excursions for Oceania cruises are ridiculously priced and of a mediocre quality and are probably one of their biggest weaknesses. We did three ship excursions. Two were advertised as "on your own", but we were quite annoyed that they had to treat us like children and march the busload of passengers across the towns of Bruges and Seville to "meeting points", rather than trusting us to find the buses again. A last-minute excursion we booked in Gibraltar was actually rather good, thanks to the antics of our driver/tour guide. In all the other ports (we visited 12 ports in total, including our debarkation port of Barcelona), we booked private excursions for just the two of us or did our own thing, did small independent tours with Roll Call members, and even rented cars in two ports (Le Havre and Saint Malo). Port summary: Many of our ports of call are not on the list for port reviews because they are small and unique. Every port had something that was very memorable for us. Our private tours in La Rochelle (to Cognac) and Le Verdon (to the Medoc region) were outstanding. Our Lisbon port review notes our excellent experience there with a private tour. We also had good private tours in La Coruna and in Barcelona. We did our own thing in Concarneau and Bilbao and had a nice day in both ports. Disembarkation: Disembarkation in Barcelona was extremely fast. From the time we left the ship to getting our bags and hailing a taxi to our post-cruise hotel (booked independently), it was a matter of minutes. Summary: I would say that this was an excellent experience, overall. One more comment: One thing that a cruise line can't control is the caliber of the passengers, sadly. Many of our fellow travelers were the most annoying, entitled, snobbish brats we have encountered on any cruise. They complained about everything and many of them walked around with perpetual frowns on their faces (the complaints included the weather, the tide being out ruining their photos (no joke), the changes in itinerary, the size of the ship, the speed of service in a restaurant, you name it). It is depressing to see so many people take for granted the wonderful opportunity to do a nice cruise like this. It became so tiresome to strike up a conversation and immediately have to listen to a litany of what I would call "first world" complaints. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
Lovely ship: Marina is truly delightful. She can seem a little beige in places but that is offset by some very interesting and colourful artworks on the walls. And they weren't for sale! The Grand Dining Room is light and airy with ... Read More
Lovely ship: Marina is truly delightful. She can seem a little beige in places but that is offset by some very interesting and colourful artworks on the walls. And they weren't for sale! The Grand Dining Room is light and airy with a fabulous central crystal chandelier; the specialist restaurants interesting in their layout and appearance (loved the water wall in red Ginger), while a Lalique inspired staircase leading up from the Reception area expressed understated elegance. Great ambience. Terrace buffet tables are a little crowded together but the food service area was spacious. Cabins (sorry but being a Brit I struggle to call them staterooms) are spacious and well appointed. Entertainment was average. Cigarette smokers are catered for in one area on the pool deck and in a totally separate section of the Horizons lounge, which seems a reasonable compromise. Didn't try the Artist's loft or the cooking lessons but both were praised by those who did. Didn't even look for the gym or spa. Downsides are few: the Grand Bar is just a wide corridor that has comfortable seating but no bar, service being by wait staff. Drinks and excursions are quite expensive. Wi-Fi is the slowest we have experienced at sea, which was surprising considering it is the same system as on Regent Voyager, another vessel in the group, where it was just slow rather than snail-paced. Our cabin, a PH3 number 7130 at the stern, is slightly narrower than other PH cabins which proved problematical only when my wife was busy at the dressing table and I wanted to get past. It has a fantastic L shaped balcony that is possibly the largest on the ship, though the constant rain and wind sadly made it an area into which we rarely ventured. However the room is quite noisy when docking (putting a positive spin on it you could say it provides a free early morning wake-up service) and was dreadful when we were tendering in the Firth of Forth and the ship had to constantly use its engines to maintain station. Nice granite and marble bathroom with a full size tub; shame about the plastic walled shower cubicle. There was a crack in the washbasin when we moved-in and our cabin steward very efficiently arranged for it to be replaced when docked in Edinburgh (so we'd be out of the way). Unfortunately the very keen maintenance crew nipped in while we were still at breakfast and it was impossible to use the bathroom before leaving for our day in the city. Mildly annoying: efficient arrangement spoilt by poor communications. Great crew: staff on most cruise ships are good but you sometimes feel the smiles are forced. Not on Marina. The hotel crew on Marina were exceptional. I can even find praise for the Reception and Security staff, which is unusual as they are at the pointy end of customer relations. My wife and I had dinner one night with Dominique Nicolle, the General Manager. Just six people in total so not a grand affair, but very relaxing and informative. Never did discover why we were chosen. When we had to spend an extra day in Dublin because of poor weather at sea the Destination Services staff quickly arranged additional excursions at short notice. Very efficient. However it is beyond belief that anybody can charge up to $279 for a five hour walking tour around Dublin, even with a free glass of Guinness. Let's assume (the minimum) 10 participants: that's a total of $2,790. Deduct the cost of a guide (say $50 per hour for five hours) $250, and the price of a coach (I'm guessing) $500, plus ten pints of Guinness, $20. Profit $2,020. Wow. I suppose they have to make their profit somewhere. Our cabin was kept absolutely spotless by two attendants and what was particularly interesting was that the cleaning crew never bothered us while we were "at home" and had always finished by the time we returned from wherever. It was like a sixth sense. That may be why I didn't get their names (but they did get a tip). We had a butler, Bento, who was courteous and efficient, but does anybody actually need a butler? The only one who has actually provided added value by anticipating our needs to the point where he was able to remind us when we had forgotten things ("I brought some afternoon tea just in case you had forgotten to order it" -- which we had. Likewise white wine for my wife) was Pravin on Azamara Journey. Sadly I can't comment on the Deck crew. We met the Captain once, at his Welcome Reception. A short smiling Italian who could be everybody's favourite uncle. Never saw him again (which could be why I can't recall his name) or any of the other officers who drive the ship. They might have made appearances but not that we noticed. And we only heard one of the daily state-of-the-nation speeches that most ship's Masters make around noon, and that was brief and to the point. I don't doubt for one minute the Captain's abilities as a seaman - he is very experienced - but cruise lines that cater for mainly English speakers need people at the sharp end who can converse fluently and comfortably with their guests, because we have to face the fact that chatting with and schmoozing passengers is an important part of the Master's job description. Those who have sailed with John McNeil on a Regent vessel or Jason Ikiadis on Azamara will know what I mean. Excellent food: Best we have experienced, and we have sailed with Seabourn, Azamara, Regent, Princess and a few others. Whether in the MDR, four speciality restaurants, Waves or the Terrace buffet it was always of a very high standard with friendly service. Afternoon tea was to die for (actually with all that cream and fat it probably could kill you if you were on a world cruise). The wine selection "by the glass" was good but we usually chose bottles of French wines that we were comfortable with (must take a course in New World vintages). I was impressed that the sommelier knew why our Chapoutier Rhone wine had Braille on the label. Poor communications: Edinburgh in Scotland is served by two cruise ports. The handy one is Leith, which is a longish but direct walk from the centre of the city. The other is South Queensferry, which is a $30 taxi ride. Our itinerary said we would berth in Leith. The map on the ship said Leith. The Captain, in the only announcement we heard him make on the day before arrival, said Leith. However a note received from Destination Services prior to his announcement advised changes to some excursions because we would be arriving not at Leith but South Queensferry (which would also mean tendering). So I went to check. They confirmed the change. Following the Captain's noon announcement I rechecked. After all you expect the Captain to know where he is going. They said, though rather obliquely, that the Captain was mistaken. That night was the Captain's Welcome Reception. I mentioned to Willie Ames, the very amiable (note the play on words) Cruise Director, that there was some confusion about where we would dock in Edinburgh and if there was to be a change to the itinerary a full announcement should be made as many people would have private arrangements in Leith. Willie looked at me and said "But South Queensferry is still Edinburgh, isn't it?" No announcement was made and the next morning some passengers found they were 10 miles from where they had expected to be. Oceania didn't even provide a free shuttle coach but luckily a local entrepreneur saved the day by bringing one and charging £6 per person. Awful weather: Strong winds and heavy rain followed us around the UK and Ireland. Not the fault of Oceania, of course, and I have tried not to let it colour this review. It meant that the pool deck was mainly empty - there was certainly no hogging of loungers. Deck staff had little to do but I suspect it threw extra pressure onto wait and bar staff in the warmer and less moist parts of Marina. It also meant that as long as you wore a jacket, eating in Waves on deck was a pleasant and uncrowded experience. The pool deck didn't drain well so wet shoes became the order of the day. Tendering was "interesting". As mentioned earlier the foul weather caused the ship to spend an extra night in Dublin (where we had already spent two days) and so we missed our visit to Waterford. But the worst part had been earlier when visiting the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. The famous stones are a long way from the car park. Two small buses ferry people backwards and forwards the mile or so, but the queue for transport down to the stones was enormous. So we walked. When we got to them the skies opened. No shelter and an even longer queue for the return bus. So we squelched our way back up the hill. Not happy. CONCLUSION: Being British we knew the weather risks involved in taking a cruise around the UK and Ireland even in "flaming June", but worked on the principle that "It wouldn't happen to us". Well, it did. But the weather didn't seem to dent the enthusiasm of the hundreds of Americans and smattering of passengers from down under who had come to find their Scottish or Irish roots. Oceania Marina is now our favourite cruise ship. It just edges Azamara Journey into second place and Regent Voyager into third. We had been on Voyager only three months earlier and it was strange to see her moored across from Marina when both ships were in Kirkwall. We could see (through the raindrops on the window) from our present cabin the one we had inhabited on Voyager in April. Later this year we will be making our second Oceania cruise, this time on Nautica; again out from Dover but ending in what we hope will be a warm and dry Rome. With Nautica being an R ship it will be interesting to compare her with Azamara Journey, an identical former Renaissance vessel. And as we are looking closely at another Nautica cruise for 2013 I think you can take it we are now big fans of Oceania - despite the "constructive criticism" above. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Service I have never had better service aboard ship or on land than I had on this cruise. The staff appeared to have been instructed never to say "no," even if the request had not been made. When a few couples were early for ... Read More
Service I have never had better service aboard ship or on land than I had on this cruise. The staff appeared to have been instructed never to say "no," even if the request had not been made. When a few couples were early for breakfast at the Terrace Cafe, the staff opened it up for us unasked. When a passenger dressed only in a swimsuit started eating at a table in Waves, a server came over with a towel and asked him if he wouldn't be more comfortable with that over his shoulders. It wasn't a shirt, but it did the job tactfully. The Marina has a few wheelchairs for use solely aboard ship, yet a staff member let an obviously irritated and out-of-line passenger take one wheelchair ashore because the passenger thought he could visit a venue that might not have wheelchairs. Ship On all the Cruise Director's announcements he referred to "the beautiful Marina." That grew repetitious, but the adjective is correct. The Marina is beautiful and has just enough glitz to make an impression. Most of the artwork was too abstract for me, but I recognize that it was all in good--if modernist--taste. Marina is still relatively new, and it was shiningly clean. I noticed no spots on the windows or furnishings, but there were signs of wear on the carpet near my bed. The stateroom had all the storage space needed and was a good place to relax. One closet door needed fixing, and a workman appeared promptly when summoned by the room steward. The fix took some time, but the door gave no further problems during the cruise. I have read a good deal on these boards about the showers on the Marina. I am tall and wear extra-large sizes, and yes the shower stall was a squeeze, but I could shower. On the other hand, I expect better from Oceania than a shower stall that is a squeeze. Embarkation and disembarkation The shore staff in Civitavecchia was ready for us. Embarkation formalities were brief, there were no lines to speak of, and within a few minutes we were aboard, followed promptly by our luggage. Disembarkation in Dover was different. We were tagged to get off at 8:00am, but our group was not called until 9:30am. Our fellow passengers who had close plane connections were visibly anxious, and there were some complaints when those on tight schedules were permitted off the ship out of order. Despite repeated requests, some persons whose groups had not been called congregated at the gangway exit slowing the departure of groups that had been cleared to leave. The Cruise Director was active and high-profile throughout the slowed debarkation, which he attributed to a shore-side conveyer being broken. "Fifteen wonderful days cruising will be forgotten, and the passengers will complain about this," he sighed more than once. In one minor snafu on the part of the ship's personnel it was at first announced that passengers could wait in the public spaces, then all passengers were asked to gather in the Marina lounge, and later this was reversed to let passengers return to the (more comfortable) public areas of the ship. Food and drink We ate well aboard the Marina. I cannot think of a single complaint about the food. My vote for the best dining venue is Red Ginger, closely followed by the Grand Dining Room. The best single dish I had aboard was the grilled seafood in Red Ginger followed by any number of entrees in the Grand Dining Room, including the Veal Oscar. We paid extra for a wine dinner at La Reserve and thought it was not worth the money. One ate (and drank) as well in the other ship's restaurants. I think the Baristas bar is under-appreciated. The coffee was the best on the ship, and the espresso is as good as the best ashore. Baristas had all the snacks that are in the concierge lounge, plus biscotti and other items. The coffee-flavored custard was excellent. Baristas has an outside view not found in the concierge lounge, the Grand Bar or Martinis. During our one day at sea Marina laid on an elaborate brunch buffet in the Grand Dining Room. It was as usual excellent, but I could find no fruit. What I took to be a purely esthetic display of food was in fact a serve-yourself section of berries, melons cut into forms, and artistically arranged slices of mangoes, pineapples, kiwis, and the like. I almost felt bad about heaping the fruit onto my plate. Almost. The Oceania Web site says the House Select beverage package includes beer when drunk with meals. That is true but inaccurate since the House Select package does not include the Asian beers served in Red Ginger, nor does it include the draft Heineken at Waves. The publicity should be clearer on this point. Entertainment I cannot recall the name of a quartet from Ukraine which played in the sixth deck lounge across from the grand bar, and also during some lunches in the Main Dining Room. They were talented players who chose well-known pieces from the classical repertoire. I am usually too tired from touring to go to the Marina Lounge at night, but having heard the quartet around the ship I went to a program they had and it was excellent. I felt the group's appearance in the Mariner Lounge in the evening should have been better publicized in the Cruise Director's morning TV program. Physician Dr. Ian Gardener, the ship's physician, gave me outstanding treatment after I had a mishap while ashore. I needed X-rays, stitches, analgesia, and a corticosteroid injection for my knee, which he provided. Dr. Gardener also successfully treated a rash I had picked up in Rome, and identified another potential problem that my internist is following up on. Dr. Gardener is an interesting and well-informed person who I would have liked to have dinner with. Meeting him mitigated the unpleasantness of stumbling over a curbstone in Barcelona. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand ... Read More
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand new-and quite beautiful. Very spacious-even more so than the Oceania R-Ships. We sailed with less than 1,200 on a 65,000 gross ton ship, so venues were very uncrowded and there was never really a line or wait for anything—Except the tenders in tender ports-which was fairly frustrating at times as those of us on private tours were delayed leaving the ship while they got all of the shore excursions off first. The Grand Dining Room was very ample with tables always open. Each of the four main specialty restaurants was very nicely done. Unlike the R-Ships, the Marina finally has a real dedicated theater-style showroom. Some people may like the lounge seating of the R-ships to this, but, to seat enough people for a ship this size, this is the right way to do it. The walkways in front of each row of seats was sufficiently wide enough to allow people to pass without forcing anyone seated to stand and the viewing angles were pretty good from most seats. The only questionable part, IMHO, were the desk-type tables that pulled up out of the armrests-a little too tight for most of us overeating cruise passengers. Of course, I never saw many people using these. Cabin: We were in one of the "Oceania Suites"--#12006. What can I say? One of the best and best thought-out suites I have ever seen on a ship. I could live in this suite. Living/Dining Room, TV Room, Bedroom, more than ample walk-in closet, two bathrooms (Though every husband we met said the same thing—the wife pretty much took over the "big" bathroom and the husbands all ended up permanently relegated to the "guest" bathroom!). Private (one-person) Jacuzzi on the balcony with a big screen TV over the Jacuzzi! Very nice-sized bar came fully stocked with a bottle of Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Black Label Scotch, a red and a white wine and a bottle of Gin (which I quickly traded for a second bottle of scotch!). My only real issue with the suite was that there were so many light switches that it usually took me 20 minutes to figure out how to turn off all of the lights. My wife's issue was that there seemed to be constant whistling from the bedroom sliding glass door on windy nights. Of course, I slept right through it. Service: The dining room and specialty restaurant service was even better than I recall from past Oceania cruises, if that is possible. Grand Dining Room staff was excellent, very accommodating—never a problem. Specialty restaurants, of course, were a step above. Our "team" taking care of us in our suite—Butler Ravi and the Assistant Butler (whose name suddenly escapes me) were always available to fill all requests, and our Cabin Steward, Jahaira and her two assistants were just flat-out excellent.. Food: Food, of course, was the highlight of the cruise. And, this, of course, was the "Jacques Pepin cruise". Jacques was staying just down the hall from us and we were invited one night to La Reserve for dinner with Jacques and his wife and his Sous Chef, Jean-Claude and his wife and a few other passengers. Absolutely the most incredible dinner experience. Appetizers and champagne, followed by six incredible courses with a wine paired to each one: Scallop, Risotto, a Fish dish, Chateaubriand, Pear and Goat Cheese and a Chocolate Mousse topped gateau. Three and a half hours of sheer pleasure and great conversation. We also had eight specialty reservations, two in each of the main four, and we managed to squeeze in an extra at Toscana for our final night—a very special final dinner onboard with two couples with whom we had shared most of our private tours. I think of all of the specialty restaurants (aside from La Reserve), Toscana was my clear favorite. Starting with the choice of Olive Oils and Balsamic vinegars and through the meal, everything was outstanding. And the Veal Scaloppine Marsala my favorite dish on the ship. And, the Pennette San Gimignano as a "side dish" was incredible—I could have eaten that as a full meal and been very happy. Of course, the other specialty restaurants were each very good in their own right. Red Ginger was a big hit with everyone. Very well done. Get the Sushi as an appetizer. Entertainment: Food, of course, was the high point—and, as usual with Oceania, Entertainment was the most disappointing area—Although, it was actually a considerable improvement from our past Oceania cruises. With the dedicated stage and showroom, they now had a troupe of singers and dancers (four of each) putting on actual "production shows" with costume changes and some variety. Not quite up to the par of the production shows one sees on other cruise lines, but definitely a worthy bit of entertainment. We especially enjoyed Jennifer, from New Jersey-one of the young singers. They did the "Welcome" show and three other full productions plus participated in other activities around the ship. The spotlight performers were a mixed bag: Artur Banaskiewicz - Violinist: He did two shows before leaving mid-cruise. He was good at what it is he does, but two full shows of gypsy music on the violin is far too much for me. I think I found his manner of speaking and accent more entertaining than the music. Danny Buckler - Magician/Comedian: As a magician, his act was fairly pedestrian. Small time magic starting with the trite and obvious "Indian Rope Trick". But, as a comedian, this guy was clearly the most entertaining act on the ship. Great rapport with the crowd, quick delivery and reaction. Absolutely charming. Two shows. Agata Sava - Soprano. Two shows. We missed her first show as we were in La Reserve for a long evening, but, after seeing her second show, we were more than happy that we missed the first. Absolutely excruciating—a soprano who had trouble hitting the high notes. And a style reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein in a full body cast. No movement, little expression—and an accent and delivery that made it sound as if she did not speak English—at all. Sounded as if she'd memorized the lyrics by sound or phonetics. The worst. Bruce Parker "California Soul Man": Two shows (we missed the second). He was actually quite good—very energetic. Sort of the Anti-Agata Sava. Moved around the stage, involved the audience. Really worked it. If there was a problem, it was in the material and the audience. This was, quite simply, not an R&B/Motown crowd. And, among all of the available R&B/Motown material, he tended to pick some of the more obscure songs—not good to do with a crowd who isn't into that style of music and only knows the "big hits". Don Bryan - Ventriloquist: I've seen his act before—must have been on Nautica. Decent Ventriloquist, funny enough act with a couple of entertaining twists The nights in Le Verdon, Cadiz and Livorno, there was no real show. Ports: HONFLEUR - 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: We didn't really have an interest in doing a long D-Day beaches tour here and we'd been to Rouen and Giverny on a recent cruise stop, so we decided to just walk around Honfleur, visited the Boudin Museum and returned to the ship in the afternoon. Picturesque little town. SAINT-MALO - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of eight to Mont St. Michel, Dinan and Saint Malo with Westcapades for 80€ pp. Our guide was Marc, the owner of the company. He did a very nice job of providing commentary on the way to Mont St. Michel in the morning. Having left the ship promptly upon arrival, we beat most of the crowds to this site. Very impressive old monastery. Then it was on to Medieval Dinan. Very nice little town, free time and lunch, then back over to St. Malo, where we parted ways with Marc and walked through the walled city, then tendered back to the ship. One key here with the early start was to report to the showroom ahead of the time the first of the ship's shore excursions was to depart—so we were able to get tender tickets for the first tender while the shorex participants were still amassing. http://www.westcapades.com/english.php PONT AVEN - 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: It was raining a good portion of the day, so we just spent some time wandering around Concarneau. Very touristy little town-walled medieval city—a short walk from the tender pier. LA ROCHELLE - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This is one of only two ports where we took a shore excursion—"Saintes & Cognac", a full day tour for $199 per person—not bad as shorexes go—we had a nice little visit to La Rochelle, then Saintes and then a tour of the Hennessey Cognac distillery with tastings. Only real negative was 38 people on the tour. BORDEAUX - 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. -Here we had a simply marvelous tour with Maryse of Bordeaux Excursions, party of 8 for 118.75€ per person. Maryse picked us up at the pier in Le Verdon and drove us to two wineries in the morning-- chateau LOUDENNE www.lafragette.com - Crû Bourgeois of Medoc - also called the "Pink Chateau" for its outstanding XVIIth Century architecture and château LYNCH-BAGES in Pauillac, listed in the 1855 Classification Medoc Wines www.lynchbages.com, then lunch at "brasserie" LE CAFE LAVINAL www.villagedebages.com After lunch, we continued through Saint-Julien and Margaux vineyards with stops for pictures by the renowned chateaux (Pichon, latour, margaux, etc...) Then on to Bordeaux for a walking tour through the city. Maryse is one of the best guides we've had. http://www.bordeaux-excursions.com/-English- BIARRITZ - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - Actually, the port is St. Jean de Luz. We had nothing planned here. We thought we might take a taxi to Bayonne or Biarritz, but we found the town of St. Jean so charming that we spent the day here instead. Took the little tourist train (5€ per person) for an orientation of the city, then just walked around on our own. BILBAO - 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we decided to do the city on our own. A free Oceania shuttle took us to the center of town from where we walked to the "Casco Viejo"—The Old City, then around the riverfront to the Guggenheim Museum. There are three very interesting and distinct bridges across the river near the Guggenheim. We crossed the river on the first, then took the elevator to the top of the second and came back across the river on the third, getting some incredible photos on this route. LA CORUNA - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we hired a private tour for six of us with Brendan Lowe of Guided Galicia. Brendan is an expatriate Kiwi living in Vigo—very nice guy. We went, in the morning to the Pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela through the church, market and town, then on to Cambados for lunch, then to the town of Betanzos then back to La Coruña and a visit to the Tower of Hercules -Cost for the tour was 91.67€ per person. http://guidedgalicia.blogspot.com/p/cruise-tours.html OPORTO - 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Here we were supposed to do our second shorex—"The Medieval City of Guimaraes" (half day, $119 pp), but the city was completely fogged in and they could not dock the ship—so, disappointingly, we missed this port altogether. CADIZ - 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.: We had a party of 10 here on a private tour to Seville with Cadiz and Beyond for 85€ per person. It was, by far, the hottest day of the cruise—46 Celsius/114 Fahrenheit. Our guide in Seville was excellent and the visit to the Cathedral and the Palace was quite interesting. No way we walk up the Giralda Tower in that heat though! Still, Seville is an enchanting city. http://www.cadizandbeyond.com/CruiseTourClubRollCall/tabid/167/Default.aspx/ CASABLANCA - 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we booked a private tour for six with travel exploration Morocco for a cost of $108 per person, payable in advance by credit card in US$. Our guide, Redouane, met us at the ship and took us to the Mosque, the Synagogue and an open air market and on a driving tour through the city. Both the Mosque and Synagogue were impressive, each in their own way, but most in our party were not thrilled with the market or the city itself—sort of filthy with crazy traffic. http://www.travel-exploration.com/page.cfm/About_Travel_Exploration BARCELONA - 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: After several visits here, we know Barcelona so well that we did not see a need for a tour. This visit, we made it a point to visit a couple of sites we've neglected in last visits. We, basically, wandered through the Barri Gotic, visiting the Synagogue (Oldest in Europe and rediscovered only a few years ago) and the Cathedral, then a visit to El Corte Ingles and a stroll down Las Ramblas. MONTE CARLO - 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of 8 visiting the towns of Grasse (and the Fragonard Perfume Factory), Gourdon and St. Paul de Vence. St. Paul is one of my favorite towns in France-incredibly picturesque. Cost was 65€ per person. privateshoretrips.com LIVORNO - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This was our second shore excursion—"Pisa - Lucca - Puccini", approximately 10 hours for $179 per person. After an interesting visit to the home of the composer Puccini, we visited the beautiful walled city of Lucca and the wonderful Pisa with its Leaning Tower and other landmarks. Only 16 passengers on this tour and a very good guide, making it one of the better shore excursions. ROME - Here, we joined a group of eight for a tour of the main sights of Rome with Valerio Nacci of NCC. For only 50€ per person, he picked us up at the ship and took us to the Vatican, Trevi, Piazza Navona, Vittorio Emanuel, Pantheon and Coliseum, then dropped us off at our hotel and returned the others (who were doing back-to-backs) to the ship in Civitavecchia. Very much worth the price. http://www.nccportodicivitavecchia.it/en/index.asp http://it-it.facebook.com/people/Valerio-Nacci/100000180156934 Pre-Cruise: We flew into Heathrow several days before the cruise, rented a car and spent four nights in Canterbury, staying at the House of Agnes: http://www.houseofagnes.co.uk/ Excellent little bed and breakfast. It's a centuries-old B&B, but we had a very modern and newly built-out "stable room" for £80 per night. The place was very well run with an excellent breakfast. There was ample convenient on-site parking though the driveway was a little difficult to navigate. The location was right outside the main West Gate to the old walled city so everything was in close walking distance. Canterbury turned out to be an outstanding choice for a pre-cruise stay. Much nicer than the industrial Dover, yet within a half hour drive of the port. We took a charming river boat ride one morning, visited the Cathedral the next and took a drive out to the picturesque town of Sandwich the third. Other than that, we just relaxed, walked about the town, ate, shopped and enjoyed. Post-Cruise: We spent two nights in Rome post cruise at the Residenza Farnese: http://www.residenzafarneseroma.it/ A steal at 120€ per night. One of the absolute best locations in Rome. About a block from the Campo di Fiore and about three blocks from the Piazza Navona on a quiet side street. The Campo di Fiore is now one of my favorite piazzas in all of Rome. A vibrant piazza lined with several very reasonably priced restaurants with ample outdoor seating. We ate in two of them: Maranega: http://millerrome2011.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-addition-to-campo-de-fiori.html and Sloppy Sam's: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sloppy-Sams/101906753220836?v=info I had pasta in both and both were VERY good. It is hard to beat the outdoor tables on the Campo. My wife loved the Gelato at Blue Ice. They have not one, but two, locations within a block of each other on the road leaving the Campo in the direction of the Piazza Navona. All in all, this was an absolutely GREAT cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not to be missed ! The Terrace Cafe is beyond belief. It is set up like a wonderful restaurant and not as a cafeteria. The food is outstanding and one would not be wrong to eat every meal here. Fabulous choices each meal. The main dining room is OK, but the choices are somewhat limited with some weird concoctions. We only ate two of our dinners there, since all the other restaurants were so fabulous. No extra charges except for the special Wine and Food at "La Reserve" The PH3 cabin we had was great. Feels like a 5 star European hotel room. Wonderful marble bathrooms and beds that are beyond belief. I have a serious problem with beds as I get backaches every night. Even at home, I have not found a bed to solve this problem. Well, I slept like a baby all 12 nights and never had a backache. I would give anything to have brought that bed home with me ! Makes other cruise lines feel like you are sleeping on a cot. The entire ship feels more like a hotel than a ship. Quality everywhere. The crew was outstanding and so was the entertainment. Every show, either production or outside entertainers was first class. The thing that impresses right off the bat is that nobody is trying to sell you anything. No photos, ( never had our picture taken once ), no soda specials and water charges, no hawking of boutique wares in the corridors, etc. The lack of formal nights is wonderful. Country club casual is the attire, but you do see many woman dressed up and even some gentlement in tuxes, but if you just want to wear a shirt and slacks, no problem. Everyone complied with the dress code. Even the internet worked very well. Our embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. Our cabin came with a Butler, who seemed to know exactly what we wanted and when we wanted it. He was everywhere, but was not obtrusive at all. Port tours were OK, but nothing different than any other cruise line. They all use the same outside vendors. The port tours are more expensive than some other cruise line charge, but they were very well organized. We did miss two ports due to weather, the sea swells being too much for the tenders to safely operate. However, Oceania cruises are very port intensive and missing these two actually were enjoyable to a degree to have some more cruising time. All in all, a very impressive and enjoyable cruise. While on board, we booked another cruise for April, 2012. Highly recommend doing this as you get an additional 5% discount for booking on the ship. Read Less
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