We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed one night at the Hilton Marina hotel - very nice; best to get a room in the tower. Had a closeup view of Port Everglades. Breakfast buffet was WAY overpriced but there is a Starbucks in the lobby. ... Read More
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed one night at the Hilton Marina hotel - very nice; best to get a room in the tower. Had a closeup view of Port Everglades. Breakfast buffet was WAY overpriced but there is a Starbucks in the lobby. My favorite FLL hotel is the Lago Mar, but for just an overnight the Hilton was half the price. Took a shuttle to Miami.
Embarkation line was quite long and slow, but we realized why when we got up to the desk - even though we signed and faxed the affidavit to Oceania ahead of time, they made everyone fill out another one. Then the clerk had to go file it and find our cruise card. Once on the ship we went to the Terrace Cafe (buffet) for lunch; couldn't get into our cabin until 2pm. I really prefer how Princess does it - no one gets to board until all the rooms are ready but then everyone can go there immediately.
Muster drill was a surprise....not only did everyone have to drag their life jacket with them to the meeting place and put it on, but we all had to file outside and stand underneath our lifeboat! We stood there (with no announcements from overhead or the crew) for 15 minutes in the 80+ heat!
Cabin - had a B1 verandah. Was much smaller than we're used to; was OK for a 7 day cruise, but we would feel too cramped on a longer cruise. Beds are fantastically comfortable! Air conditioning worked great. Loved having our favorite non-alcoholic beverages in fridge and replenished daily. The loveseat was very comfortable. TV was too small and in an bad position to see well on the loveseat. The bathroom was our major dislike - very, very small with a shower that was only 2'x3'! Had to sit sideways on the toilet or knee would be shoved into the door jam. We mostly took showers in the spa (which has 2 large, nice showers with gel, shampoo and conditioner). Room had little storage space; again, sort of doable for a 7 day cruise, but not for a long cruise.
Ship decor - gorgeous in public areas! Very classic and elegant. Very small elevators (4-6 people) was a surprise. Nice to be able to walk anywhere on the ship in a very short time! Never had lines at Guest Services or Shore Excursion desks.
Spa - changing room (one for men; one for women) was beautiful and had a large steam room, 2 showers, lockers, and a fridge with free Gatorade and water. Spa terrace "hot tub" was always lukewarm, though, and the bubblers were broken.
Food - mostly very good. Had a well done steak (ordered medium) in Polo. Toscana was OK but not fantastic. MDR food was very good (especially breakfast) but servers seemed very stressed and overworked at dinner. We preferred eating in the buffet - same food as MDR but didn't take 2 hrs and could dress much more casually. We thought the MDR food was excellent for all meals. I know they serve the food onto your plate to avoid spreading illness, but at busy mealtimes it took SO much longer since many people were waiting to be served. No staff took my plate to the table (I had read that), but that was fine with me. Lobster tail & filet sandwich at Waves was fantastic! Breads and pastries were excellent, as were the lattes. Afternoon tea was good (no better than other ships, though), but there were not enough seats on sea days and I'm not going to show up early to stand in a line for tea.
Lectures/entertainment - the Cuban lecturer (Sandy Cares, I think) was fantastic, but the venue was so crowded and we short people couldn't see well. I ended up just watching the video of her talk on our cabin tv. I don't really like evening shows, but these were really late (9:30pm). By then, I'm tired and want to just relax.
Service/staff - very good service and friendly staff, but honestly they weren't better than on other ships I've been on.
Cuba was AMAZING and wasn't anything like I pictured a communist country. We were able to wander around as we pleased, the people were very happy and friendly, and we went to many local places where no other tourists were. Lots of locals speak English and would approach us when they heard us speaking English. They just wanted to chat and meet an American. They all said they were happy with their way of life, but wish they could leave their country to travel. That made me sad.
In Havana, we only took one ship excursion - to the Melia Cohiba hotel for the Buena Vista Social Club show....was fantastic!! The rest of the time, we wandered around on our own (went to church, a pharmacy museum, shops in homes, cafes), then took a classic car tour for an hour - he stopped at many places for us to get out and take pictures, then took us back to the ship at the end.
In Cienfuegos, we hired a private classic car/driver and guide for the day. Wow....how fun! We walked around a nice neighborhood and saw the palace, visited a beautiful hotel where we had a Cuban coffee on the rooftop terrace, had our hair trimmed at a local beauty salon, ate lunch at a paladar, bought cigars/rum, and visited a park and church. Best day in Cuba!!
In Santiago de Cuba, we took a private tour in a classic car. Went to a fortress, San Juan Hill, Revolution Square and Fidel Castro's grave. It was a nice tour, but took too long as many cars were traveling as a caravan.
Disembarkation was a breeze. Can't wait to visit Cuba again!! Read Less