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144 Oceania Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Don't do this in the summer. We were hit with temperatures in the upper 90s and higher, with humidity around 100-percent much of the time. Other than that, and the chairs scraping noise from the grill above our stateroom (see cabin ... Read More
Don't do this in the summer. We were hit with temperatures in the upper 90s and higher, with humidity around 100-percent much of the time. Other than that, and the chairs scraping noise from the grill above our stateroom (see cabin review below), this was a wonderful cruise. The ship is on the small side, only 684 passengers. You begin to recognize folks a few weeks into the cruise. There are only two specialty restaurants, along with the Main Dining Room (MDR), the buffet, and the poolside grill. We found the food to be outstanding, especially at the buffet. The offerings changed daily, although there were always certain standard items such as steak and lobster. The food was served to your plate by the staff, rather than passengers handling the spoons and tongs. We appreciate this good sanitary practice. The MDR usually offered a "Food of the World" at lunchtime, specialty items from one different country each day. It arrived on a lazy susan and was delicious. The two specialty restaurants were Polo Grill (a steak house) and Toscana (Italian). Their menus didn't change, and we got pretty tired of them after eating at each of them twice. The steaks were enormous and usually cooked to perfection. If not, the servers insisted on taking them back and trying again. Essentially, there was too much food. I gained 13 pounds overall. Don't take Insignia if you value entertainment. The main lounge doesn't really have a stage and there's not enough space to mount a full-blown production. You mainly get vocalists and solo musicians. Furthermore, there was only one nightly performance at 9:30, which is kind of late. There was a lot of grumbling about this, but frankly, we cruise to see the world around us, not to see acrobats and Broadway-type shows. The ship is relatively old, built in 1998 as part of the Renaissance fleet. It was fully refurbished in 2014 and looks really good. The dark wood paneling and rugs look brand new, and there is wonderful artwork throughout the ship. We did have some chipped paint on our balcony, but nothing major. The staff was unfailingly polite and friendly. We loved our butler and room attendants, and spent lots of time chatting with them. They were generous with the little Bulgari shampoo and conditioner bottles, ice, and (free) bottled water. We don't drink alcohol, so our refrigerator was always kept fully stocked with diet sodas. The enrichment lectures were so-so. Some were very interesting, but others were obviously just cribbed from Wikipedia. We watched many of them when they were replayed on the ship's TV system, but then they only showed the slides. This doesn't work well when the lecturer uses a laser pointer and tells you about a particular place on a map. On our first day passing through the Suez Canal, we encountered a massive swarm of flies that got into everything. It was terrible. The poolside grill had to be shut down and sanitized. But the pesky flies even got into the buffet (and everywhere else), and everyone was constantly waving away those pesky insects. Luckily they didn't bite, and their lifespan expired after a few days. Obviously this wasn't the ship's fault, and they responded as best they could. I would recommend this cruise for couples approaching seniorhood and older. There were a few younger couples, but I think they may not have had a very good time. We did. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The Good- Food and service in the Grand dining room and specialty restaurants were excellent and particularly in the Polo Grill, Red Ginger and Toscana restaurants. The Mediocre – Entertainment was very mediocre, save for the ... Read More
The Good- Food and service in the Grand dining room and specialty restaurants were excellent and particularly in the Polo Grill, Red Ginger and Toscana restaurants. The Mediocre – Entertainment was very mediocre, save for the show personally put on by Leslie Jon, the guest/entertainment manager which was excellent. The Poor – Service in other areas of the ship has deteriorated markedly since our 2014 cruise on the Riviera, particularly- Cabin service - on boarding, we found hairs in our shower that hadn’t been removed from the previous cruise; we also had to ask a number of times for shampoo and conditioner to be replenished, notwithstanding that empty bottles had been left on the floor of the shower; we also asked for 2 wine glasses to be placed in our cabin every day, and most days found only 1 glass present resulting in us having to continually request another. Pool deck service – sitting around the pool area, we were very seldom offered a drink, resulting in us having to often get up and go to the pool bar ourselves. Generally, other than the service in the dining rooms as previously noted, we felt as if many of the staff were in robot mode and them not really wanting to be on board. Also, we noted a real deterioration of staff friendliness, compared to past Oceania cruises. Certain port stops – with 4 sea days on this particular cruise, why does Oceania plan stops in Israel on a Saturday when the country virtually comes to a stop in most respects because of the Jewish Sabbath and a stop in Trapani when virtually everything is closed on Sundays? The Very Poor – Head office customer service: days before departure, we were informed that the stops in Egypt had been cancelled. I addressed an email to the CEO of Oceania/Norwegian in this connection through the Oceania email web server. To date, more than 5 weeks later, I have never received an acknowledgment nor the courtesy of a reply to this communication. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Before the cruise, I read some negative reviews of the quality going down after the NCL acquisition of Oceania. And the quality of their tours is not that always good. In our case, thankfully, the crew in this cruise is the best out of ... Read More
Before the cruise, I read some negative reviews of the quality going down after the NCL acquisition of Oceania. And the quality of their tours is not that always good. In our case, thankfully, the crew in this cruise is the best out of our 3 experience. And the Oceania tour we took in Jerusalem + Bethlehem was fine. Excellent wait staff at Polo Grill and Toscana. Our stateroom attendants were very good. Made to order pasta chef at the buffet was very friendly. The staff, who took the orders, at the made to order grill at the buffet was very friendly too. Food is in general good, but not always the best. On a full day at sea, there was roast pig at buffet, fresh pasta at buffet. Port Said and Port Alexandria were canceled a few days before the embankment! In their place, Oceania chose Limassol, Cyprus and Alanya, Turkey. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Admittedly, we and others were disappointed at the itinerary changes with eliminating Tunisia and the two days in Egypt. That proved prescient as there were terrorist attacks in Tunis and, for our days in Egypt, there were attacks in Giza ... Read More
Admittedly, we and others were disappointed at the itinerary changes with eliminating Tunisia and the two days in Egypt. That proved prescient as there were terrorist attacks in Tunis and, for our days in Egypt, there were attacks in Giza outside Cairo and in Luxor. The substitute ports were less than inspiring but, hey, what can one do? As noted, Trapani in Sicily on a Sunday was pleasant but most places were closed. Limmasol was a dump but Analya, Turkey was a nice surprise being on old Venetian trading port with an interesting port. I note that other reviews complain about the high cost of ship tours. We avoid ship tours at all cost - not just for the high tariff but getting on and off a bus with 30 others is not a positive experience. I was struck how many mobility challenged passengers there were on this cruise, most especially since Oceania had advised prospective customers this was not a suitable trip for those with such problems. I heard repeated complaints about how mobility challenged passengers had difficulty getting on/off the ship's gangplank and ship tour buses. That took up considerable time which may have caused the ire of others. The food was excellent in all dining venues at all meals. We do not favor the specialty restaurants but Jacques was pleasant on the one night. The Grand Dining Room suits our needs perfectly at dinner as we dine early and the staff are eager to help. Our meal in Toscana was marred by the GM seating us - we were the 4th ones in at 6:30 - right next to the waiter station which is absolutely the worst table in Toscana. We objected and then had to wait to be reseated as the GM ignored us. I complained to Boris, restaurant manager, about the attitude problem but aside from that one incident, the service and eagerness to please was top notch at all our meals. Breakfast and lunch in the Terrace were lovely, most especially at an outdoor table. The wine list was fine for our needs and, unlike others, I felt pricing was reasonable and the sommeliers were both knowledgeable about selections on the list based upon our tastes and in terms of servicing our table throughout the meal. Our PH cabin was beautiful, the cabin stewards did a fantastic job keeping it clean and tidy and our butler, Raj, was the best butler we have had on Oceania in almost 10 sailings with a butler. He anticipated our needs, he was not obtrusive and he was a delight to deal with. We avoid going to the entertainment at night as we go to bed early and get up early to tour. This was a port intensive cruise so I am amazed at stories other passengers would relate about staying for the show, then off to karaoke and drinks in Horizons until late. To each his/her own. We don't care for the live shows and the so-called port lectures by the Excursions Desk staff were poor - often just reciting the printed tour description in the sales brochure. Why bother attending the so-called lecture when you can endure it on tv in the cabin? Leslie Jon, the cruise director, was terrific and his management of the afternoon Trivia sessions were masterful. A huge plus. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled professionally and pleasantly. Unlike the chaos and bizarre behavior by senior staff in Miami last year, getting on and off in Rome was flawless. We had a wonderful experience and have booked two more cruises on Riviera. It is our favorite ship - the right size, the right amount of passengers which allows for various options and choices not available on smaller ships. Plus, there is no clustering or queing except for the several instances when tendering into port was required. Finally, there was criticism of the Captain on his announcement after being notified by the Greek authorities of a bomb threat while we were at sea. He might have worded his late night announcement better but had he not so informed guests, the rumor mongering and speculation would have caused considerably more disruption the following morning as many of us saw first hand the crew at their stations and security sweeping the ship. Finally, a special thank you to the concierge Ana in the Executive Lounge on deck 11. She did a wonderful job with so many different (and cranky) passengers but she provided a special personality that made coming into the lounge a positive experience. Love the ship, loved the cruise, loved the effort the staff put forth all day every day. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first experience with O as we are avid HAL cruisers (and are very happy with them). What to really to us has made the difference is that as staff levels are higher (compared O to HAL) that this is surely noticable, from ... Read More
This was our first experience with O as we are avid HAL cruisers (and are very happy with them). What to really to us has made the difference is that as staff levels are higher (compared O to HAL) that this is surely noticable, from embarkation to the final departure. As in general a price for a cruise is higher (O higher than HAL and compared an O inside cabin price to HAl equivelant; it is nearly double the price) you understand than why you pay more. Staff engages with you and many staff, although they all took turns in different stations and/or restaurants, recognized you. They all stopped by for little chats or you were greated with a big smile. Dining was great and all restaurants were great: our favourite was Red Ginger! Main dining room is actually a lovely and elegant place and as we dined later by 8pm, most the time a table to 2 was available. We also made new friends by sharing a table or meeting fellow passengers at the bar or pool. Also the normal buffet restaurant offers excellent meals, for breakfast you require a poached egg? Just order and it si made fresh. I miss the desserts already and specially during lunch I made sure I would treat myself to a home made dessert. The bread (baguette) was crusty and we became addicted to it during our journey. Pool staff was trying to enforce 'not reserving sun beds for over 30 minutes' but still passengers play a silly game: we noticed a fellow passenger reserving 3 beds for 2 persons and jumped from sun to shade when staff was checking, really silly! The shows put on by the professional cast were really good, one show premiered during our cruise and we loved them all: live singing & dancing and 2 of 3 shows had even a 'live' orchestra playing. Greek harbour Gythion was poor: it was a maiden call and there were no taxis at all available: we returned within 30 minutes back to the ship. Excursions we have all done by ourselves, it is amazing to see ship's excursions with 50 seater busses fololow similar routes as your own private ones, only they paid double or triple prices. Israel was amazing (little difficult due to Shabath Saturday). Our cabin was comfortable and cleaned verey well by our cabin attendants, well done! We could not provide many improvement points and can say well done Riviera & crew! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Unless you reserve in the two highest categories, you are treated very poorly. Dinner ereservatiiobns are not a priority unless you are in the top 2 categories, embarking early reserved for special class & expensive tours. Not at all ... Read More
Unless you reserve in the two highest categories, you are treated very poorly. Dinner ereservatiiobns are not a priority unless you are in the top 2 categories, embarking early reserved for special class & expensive tours. Not at all what we expected. Middle &uppe r maNAgement very impressed with themselves and not helpful. One notable excxception is genertal manager Guiseepe. Reception & Assistant purser/concierge have no peopkle skills Service kline & assistanec after tyiou have paid is just as bad or not worse with their Miami office. Tourtes as luxury cruise, NOT Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
CRUISE OVERVIEW:  Cabin: 11051 PH1 Penthouse on 11th floor, mid-ship  Dates: 10/22-10/29/2014 Itinerary: Istanbul, Turkey (2 days); Kavala/Philippi, Greece; Mykonos, Greece; Rhodes, Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Santorini, Greece; ... Read More
CRUISE OVERVIEW:  Cabin: 11051 PH1 Penthouse on 11th floor, mid-ship  Dates: 10/22-10/29/2014 Itinerary: Istanbul, Turkey (2 days); Kavala/Philippi, Greece; Mykonos, Greece; Rhodes, Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Santorini, Greece; Athens (Piraeus), Greece Excursions: All were private except in Kavala (Xanthi) where we booked an Oceania tour FLIGHTS: We paid the flight deviation fee as we wanted to arrive in Istanbul 2 days prior to boarding the ship. The original flights offered by Oceania were terrible -- we researched flights, asked for and received the ones that we requested at no additional charge. We flew KLM from SFO-->Amsterdam-->Istanbul. We went online on KLM after receiving our booking # from Oceania and paid to upgrade our seats. Unfortunately, KLM has a strange system where you pay for the upgrade in airfare class (we paid for economy plus) but they only "request" the seats for you. You must confirm at the airport when you check in. They gave away the three seats we requested -- the three people in our party ended up nowhere near each other. KLM's staff were horrible and misled us and I'd never fly with them again because of our experience. Return flights were with Air France and everything with them went smoothly. We flew from Athens-->Paris-->SFO. Easy check-in, comfortable seats, great free entertainment on board the flights. Our first time flying with them and I would highly recommend Air France. HOTELS: In Istanbul, we booked the Hotel Sultania on our own. Fabulous location, and wonderful boutique hotel with an old-world feeling. Loved the "family room" we booked -- staff was outstanding. Food and view from their rooftop restaurant, Olive, was excellent. Location walking distance to many tourist sites, and public transportation available one block away. Shopping nearby -- we walked to the Grand Bazar and many sites such as the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sofia. Highly recommend this hotel. In Athens, we booked the Athens Gate hotel because of its location. Walking distance to many sites such as the Temple of Zeus, Acropolis, and the shopping Plaka. Metro available right in front of the hotel. Cute, modern boutique hotel. Staff was outstanding. Minor grumble about the lack of fan in the bathroom (short shower produced bathroom walls dripping with condensation & wet/slippery floors). Very small elevators (not for those that are claustrophobic). Free wi-fi (in public areas - charge applies if accessed from your room). Wi-fi was unbelievably slow! But, plenty of local restaurants and cafes that offered fast, free wi-fi. Would still recommend this hotel, and wouldn't hesitate to stay there again. PORTS: Will review separately, where available. Ports that weren't available for review below are included here. Kavala/Philipi/Xanthi - Trust me on this -- Do NOT book through Oceania. Horrible, depressing, awful experience. They shouldn't even offer this tour. Took us to a public park w/river (okay, but cold/windy). Then a bus ride through graffitti filled area to Xanthi. Took us on a very boring walking tour of Xanthi -- not the typical "history" tour we expected. Dropped us off at a tavern that didn't offer enough seating, and the included food was inedible. Gave us "free time" to walk around. No real shopping to be had. Locals were unfriendly (I don't think they are used to tourists visiting their city). Very bad tour. If I could do it over again, I'd just get off the ship and walk around the port. Those on the ship who did that seemed to enjoy themselves, so that would be my recommendation. Ephesus/Kusadasi/Sirince - We booked a totally private tour for the three of us. Included Ephesus ruins, then on to Sirince for wine tasting, shopping and an excellent lunch prepared by a local family on their farm. On the way back we requested to be taken to the leather factory where we got our own private runway show! Such fun! Would loved to have been able to afford the amazing lamb leather jackets, but settled for purses that were in our price range. Would love to go back to Ephesus and Sirince and spend more time there. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: Embarkation: Easy -- Walked right up with no wait at all. Done in 5 mins. Debarkation: Confusing -- No instructions as to where to locate our baggage in the Athens terminal. Got wrong information from one of the employees, but eventually located our luggage despite that. Asked porter to help us with our luggage and get a cab. Was told it'd be 20-25 Euros. After cab driver took off, I confirmed the price -- he stated 28-30 Euros, but I didn't want to argue. When we arrived at hotel, I (over)paid him the 28 Euros. He started screaming at me saying that it was 38 Euros! He scared the bejeusus out of us and we paid him the extra 10 Euros. BE CAREFUL and have the porter or someone confirm the cost of the cab ride, and if there is a problem when you arrive, ASK someone, anyone, to help you. Scary and, unfortunately, made us mistrust all cabs in Athens. SUMMARY: My third cruise with Oceania. I think the specialty restaurants & food in the Terrace Cafe were not as good as on previous cruises. Menus in the specialty restaurants need to be updated. Restaurants, in order of my favorite to least favorite: Red Ginger, Toscana, Polo Grill, and Jacques (which we chose not to even eat in -- we dislike their food that much). Everything else was up to the same excellent standards that I've come to expect and enjoy from Oceania. Loved the 11th floor PH -- we had previously always stayed on the 7th floor (in aft Penthouses). My only bitch about Oceania is the fact that they charge for wi-fi. Why not just build the cost into the price of the cruise? Or, at least charge a reasonable amount. Sometimes you can get it included for free (we did on two cruises). Otherwise, it's approx. $170 for unlimited access for a week. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My husband and I just returned from this cruise with Oceania. This was our 3rd Oceania cruise. The ports of call were awesome - Split and Dubrovnick, Croatia, Kotor Montengro, Greece and Italy. The views were incredible! Oceania is a very ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from this cruise with Oceania. This was our 3rd Oceania cruise. The ports of call were awesome - Split and Dubrovnick, Croatia, Kotor Montengro, Greece and Italy. The views were incredible! Oceania is a very nice ship with great amenities - the restaurants continue to be very good, the customer service is excellent and you always feel safe and comfortable. However, we will NEVER sail with Oceania during the summer months ever again. If you don't want to be subjected to a bunch of yelling kids in the pool and loud people everywhere, you may want to avoid sailing with Oceania in the summer months. There is a very definite difference in the clientele compared to the off-summer months. Oceania is clear in its materials that they cater to a mature adult audience and do not provide activities for children. Their written materials do not recommend families with children. It is beyond me why people would want to book a family cruise with a company that clearly states this. I don't think it is too bad for pre-teens and teens (thought they looked very bored) but it is definitely not the cruise line for kids under 10. The staff does not know how to handle the kids, they just run around causing chaos everywhere. The pool area is too small for everyone in the summer months and we ended up escaping to the canyon ranch spa deck (happy we booked a penthouse room) for most of the days to get away from the crowds, kids and inebriated adults being generally loud and obnoxious. The excursions are not worth the money at all - we just booked our 4th cruise with Oceania and we will not be using their shore excursions anymore. Some suggestions for Oceania: electronic clock in rooms so you can see the time in the dark; update afternoon canape selections; expand pool area; make shore excursions more reasonable. Be more clear on your website and brochures that this is an adult cruise experience to discourage children OR add activities for the kids so they have something to do and are not bothering the adults. While we LOVE the spa deck and the hot tub there, perhaps you should put a cold water pool on the spa deck so there is a quiet place for adults who don't want to be subjected to kids screaming and splashing in the big pool. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just back from the most amazing cruise. The embarkation in Istanbul was very smooth and the welcome aboard was great. The ship is a work of art and certainly the best looking ship I have ever seen. Then you are treated to the many pieces ... Read More
Just back from the most amazing cruise. The embarkation in Istanbul was very smooth and the welcome aboard was great. The ship is a work of art and certainly the best looking ship I have ever seen. Then you are treated to the many pieces of art aboard such as the eight Picasso's in the Casino Bar. Our stateroom was a B1 veranda and was very spacious with lots of wardrobe space and places to put everything. The bathroom was all granite and marble with a bath and shower. I was travelling with my mother so we had twin beds and they were luxurious. The food was outstanding as were all the staff who were all so friendly and remembered our names. I really can't choose a favourite restaurant as they were all fantastic and so different. I thought I would be one of the youngest on board, being 48, as I had read other reviews. I was surprised to see a lot of children on board and they were all very well behaved. There were so many different nationalities as well and everyone got on so well. The entertainment was excellent and run very well by Andy Heath our cruise director.We loved the shows starring the Jean Ann Ryan Company, especially the lead singer Elias Hendricks. Being a smoker I was pleased to see that we had two great places to smoke. One being on the pool deck and one at the entrance to Horizons which was inside but far enough away from others so it wouldn't bother them. We had tenders into Santorini and Zakynthos which were regular and we never had to queue and also shuttles into Corfu and Dubrovnik organised by the Port Authorities which were also regular and once again no queues. We had to miss one port of call,Durres in Albania due to the clearance underneath the ship on entering being only 6.5 metres and not the required 8 metres so we ran a risk of grounding. We went straight onto Kotor and nearly everyone was really happy to spend two days there as it is such a beautiful place. We loved the afternoon tea in Horizons,the captains cocktail party where the champagne flowed and my mother enjoyed the putting green and her afternoons playing bridge. Our Captain was Gunnar Romtveit and I had many a chat with him. All the officers and staff were friendly and made you feel special.Disembarkation in Venice was quick and efficient and was a very sad moment. It was awful having to say goodbye to so many many wonderful people such as W Andre Allen who was the artist from the Artist Loft who I became good friends with. Truly a fantastic experience and can't wait to Cruise on the Riviera again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our 3rd cruise with Oceania and our 2nd on the beautiful Rivera ship. We chose this cruise because of the interesting itinerary and that it was the Rivera. It was great to have 2 days in Istanbul and then 2 days in Venice. Some ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Oceania and our 2nd on the beautiful Rivera ship. We chose this cruise because of the interesting itinerary and that it was the Rivera. It was great to have 2 days in Istanbul and then 2 days in Venice. Some highlights: the cruise into Kotor (amazing and worth getting up at 6 AM) and then the cruise into Venice on the Grand Canal. The Rivera is a beautiful ship and all the restaurants are first-rate in cuisine and decor; our personal favourite is Red Ginger (we love having the 4 speciality restaurants as their smaller ships only have 2); great to get our coffee fix at Baristas and our Concierge Lounge was also first rate service with Katja. Service from all crew was wonderful and having a self-serve laundry facility on each deck is brilliant. We opt out of the include airfare and prefer to arrange our own. Love the room service especially each morning and found all of our cruise excursions very interesting; we like ensure that some ports are just for walking around/touring at our own pace e.g. Zakynthos and Corfu as having an excursion each day can be tiring. Due to low tide/narrow channel our stop in Albania was cancelled and we stayed 2 days in Kotor (told we didn't miss much in Albania and Kotor is so lovely). Did notice more children/teens on this ship which was not the norm but no complaints. We look forward to booking another cruise with Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our first cruise on Oceania (we have previously cruised with Disney, Silversea, P&O, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity and Princess) and we were so looking forward to it, having seen such positive reviews. Embarkation ran very ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Oceania (we have previously cruised with Disney, Silversea, P&O, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity and Princess) and we were so looking forward to it, having seen such positive reviews. Embarkation ran very smoothly and it was good to be able to get on to the ship as early as 11am and have the suite ready at this time. We stayed in Athens the previous night and booked this ourselves, along with transfers from the airport and to the ship. Accommodation We were celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary so treated ourselves to one of the three Owners Suites, which span across the whole back of the ship. The suite is huge and beautifully decorated, albeit with a few slight signs of wear and tear. We personally did not feel comfortable having a real zebra skin rug on the floor and asked for it to be removed for the duration of our cruise. The suite comprises of an entrance hall with a door to a shower room, bar (stocked with 6 full size bottles of your choice of spirits or wine, along with champagne on embarkation) and electronic grand piano. There are also floor to ceiling windows which split the balcony in two. There is a main bathroom with Jacuzzi bath, twin sinks and doors to a shower and separate toilet. The balcony can also be accessed through the bathroom, which we found very handy. There is a huge walk-in wardrobe between the bathroom and bedroom, as well as another of the same size off the bedroom. Both have safes. The bedroom has a very large bed with a selection of your choice of pillows from the ‘Pillow Menu’, and also access to the balcony. There is a large lounge with dining table for 8, a huge corner sofa and access to the second balcony. Both balconies wrap around the side of the ship (bathroom side has a second Jacuzzi bath with TV and the other side a sofa and chairs. The balcony itself isn’t very deep and when the sun loungers are being used, it’s a struggle to get past them. A real shame that it wasn’t made another metre deep and the inside space made slightly smaller, as we personally use our balcony a great deal. The furniture (whilst fairly comfortable) is a very heavy wooden design with very thick arm rests and due to the difficulties with having to climb over it to get past, this resulted in both of us having quite a selection of bruises where we bashed into it numerous times. We found the air conditioning was far too cold at night and despite turning it up to the warmest setting, still resulted in me sleeping in 2 robes and socks one particularly chilly night. After this we slept with the balcony doors open to let some warm air in. Everything was kept very clean and ice, soft drinks etc. replenished regularly. We had the services of the Head Butler who was extremely efficient and delivered everything with a smile. Nothing was too much trouble and we really valued his help. Dress Code In the main very American – polo shirts, chinos etc. for men and casual dresses/trousers for the ladies. We personally enjoy dressing up in an evening would have loved to have a formal evening, but this appears to be going out of fashion, which is in our opinion a great shame. Fellow Passengers Passengers were of all ages & nationalities, and included a number of children, probably due to the time of year we travelled. All we saw were well behaved but some did look rather bored, probably due to the fact whilst Oceania welcomes children, there are no specific activities/clubs for them as on many other lines. Smoking As non-smokers, in the main we avoided the smoking areas but the smell was still noticeable in the surrounding areas. We were also very concerned that even though smoking is prohibited on cabin balconies due to safety issues, some passengers seemed to think the rule didn’t apply to them and took absolutely no notice. This was duly reported. Dining The majority of reviews we have read have been very positive about the food on board. We are both vegetarian (myself practically vegan), so had a very different experience to other passengers. The evening menu in the main dining room had just one dish marked as ‘vegetarian’, however this should have in fact been labelled ‘meat/fish free’ as it usually contained a non-vegetarian cheese such as Parmesan which is NEVER vegetarian as it contains animal rennet. To ensure a suitable dish was available we had to let the chef know 2 days in advance what we wanted and it was sometimes difficult to come up with something without putting them to too much trouble. On other cruise lines we have been given a specific vegetarian/vegan menu which didn’t change throughout the cruise but always had plenty of choice and we should imagine is easier for the kitchen to deal with, in that they always have the ingredients to hand. It also became apparent that you need to be absolutely specific about what you require – for example I said 'a nice salad with baked potato would be good' and I was served a dish of plain lettuce (no dressing), tomato and cucumber topped with a microwaved but nearly cold jacket potato. It was pretty dire! My husband asked for the ‘vegetarian’ option of the day which was a potato waffle topped with asparagus and spinach but asked for a minor change to be made to accommodate our diet. It came to the table without the change being made and very much resembled a child’s meal, as the way it had been plated made it look like a smiley face. Fine if you’re 5. The asparagus had sadly been so badly overcooked it was inedible. We most definitely did not have smiley faces ourselves that evening! The two best meals on-board were in the Main Dining Room courtesy of a collaboration between our Indian Head Butler and an Indian chef, who produced the most amazing Indian meals (vegetable curries, Biryani, naan bread etc). Both meals were absolutely delicious, and made us wonder why on earth there isn’t an Indian speciality restaurant on board, as this chef’s talents were clearly not being utilised. Terrible, terrible shame. As there is always steak available on the menu as a matter of course, it would be fantastic if the Polo Grill (least popular of the speciality restaurants) were closed and an Indian restaurant opened. We would have been in there every night if we possibly could have. Breakfasts We always had breakfast delivered by our butler and served on the balcony. There is the usual selection of hot/cold drinks, cereals, toast, pastries etc. plus when you are in a suite you can also select items from the main dining room breakfast menu, which included hot dishes. Lunchtime Buffet We struggled most with our special diets at lunchtime. There were always salads available but it was very difficult to make up a meal of bits and bobs which never really worked very well together and only ended up on your plate because there was nothing else suitable. There were always two pizzas available - one meat and one cheese and tomato. If you are a vegetarian who is happy to eat non-vegetarian cheese you still couldn’t actually have pizza as the two sets of tongs used to serve it were used for BOTH pizzas. An absolute no-no as far as we’re concerned and extremely bad practice. The burger bar has one veggie burger described as ‘grilled’. Having been alarmed by the manner in which the pizzas were cross contaminated, we checked that the burgers weren’t grilled on the same area as the meat ones and were told ‘no, they are deep fried’!!! My husband gave one a go but they were very greasy and the chips had quite an odd taste (which we thought tasted like the oil was old and needed changing). Due to these difficulties we then ordered from the room service menu which was hit and miss. For example we ordered the veggie burger, chips and coleslaw, in the hope it would be better from RS. The chips were lovely and beautifully crisp and the burger wasn’t greasy, but sadly both were cold. The only thing on the plate which was actually warm was the coleslaw which amused us somewhat as to how they had managed that. The afternoon canapés were usually very good and it was nice to have a menu to choose two items from each day. Speciality Restaurants We only booked for Toscana and Red Ginger as we had looked at the on-line menus and thought they were the only two which could accommodate us. This was correct and fine for us. The meal in Toscana was very good. We enjoyed the food in there and were appreciative of the trouble they had gone to, to accommodate us and told them so. Red Ginger however, was another story! Think Carry On film when we describe our experience….. We discussed our requirements with our butler several days in advance to be sure they could accommodate our requirements, as the night we had booked was for our 30th Anniversary and of course we wanted this to be a special evening. We went through the menu dish by dish, as we are aware this type of cuisine uses a great deal of fish sauce and what may appear to be vegetarian on the surface, often isn’t so. We chose tempura vegetables but asked for the dip it was served with to be changed (due to the fish sauce it contained) and the Asian greens (again asked for the dressing to be changed due to fish sauce). I ordered the miso soup (again asked them to omit fish sauce) and my husband asked if they could do a soup similar to the chicken one of the menu, but omit fish sauce/chicken and use mushrooms instead. If this wasn’t possible we said we would skip this course. We both chose the Thai curry which we had been assured was completely vegetarian by design and didn’t require any changes. We checked the day before that there wouldn’t be any problems as we would rather have cancelled if we were going to cause any problems with our requirements, but was reassured all was well. We sat down and were served some delicious edamame beans and teas from the wonderful menu. We were most impressed and thought we were in for a real treat. The tempura veg arrived but the sauce didn’t seem to be what we had asked for but trusted them due to the reassurance we had been given. The batter was a little greasy for me which was a shame but not a bad dish overall. Then the ‘Asian’ greens arrived with the peanut dressing over them but was quickly whisked away as it should have been served after the soup. Soup was duly delivered and we started to eat. On eating the first mouthful my husband immediately realised there had been a huge mistake in the kitchen and fished out a large piece of chicken. We explained to the waiter what the problem was and he reassured my husband it was definitely vegetarian. Then when he was shown the piece of chicken he realised it most definitely wasn’t. I knew not to eat my soup and that the dip with the tempura had indeed had fish sauce in it, as our requirements had not in fact been noted. Whilst we can appreciate that to many meat eaters this wouldn’t be a huge issue but when you haven’t eaten meat or fish for over 30 years it was an appalling experience. We could see the panic ensue in the kitchen and this was followed by a procession of visitors to our table to apologise (Maitre ‘D, Head Chef, our butler, waiters etc.). To be honest we just wanted to leave there and then but stuck it out so as not to cause a scene. The ‘Asian’ greens were then served (basically lettuce) with a now changed peanut oil dressing instead of the usual peanut dressing. The curry wasn’t particularly pleasant and had an overpowering taste of coriander, which I found quite unpleasant. Of course we will never know for sure what caused it, but at the airport the next day my husband took ill and spent time backwards and forwards to the toilet both in the airport and on the plane, being violently sick. Whilst we appreciated the apologies and concern shown by the staff, we were quite amazed that under the circumstances they still charged us for our glass of wine each! Summary We arranged our own transfer to the airport in Istanbul as the Oceania ones were extortionately priced. It was considerably cheaper to pre-book a private cab than to travel by Oceania coach. The latest you can get of the ship is 9am and resulted in a rather long wait at the airport for check-in to open, which is sadly typical of most cruise lines. Whilst we enjoyed our time on board, the issues with the food are a deal-breaker for us. We were quite shocked that they serve items such as milk-fed veal and fois gras, despite the known cruelty involved in their production. We’ve obviously been spoilt on all our previous cruises, in that our diets have never been an issue and we have been catered for without any fuss or problem. For a cruise line that prides itself on its food we thought it was pretty poor.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
1. Embarkation/Security - Our credit cards and cash stolen during luggage tagging process. The luggage crew, not employees of Oceania created a diversion by attempting to take our luggage and place it on the ship before it had been tagged. ... Read More
1. Embarkation/Security - Our credit cards and cash stolen during luggage tagging process. The luggage crew, not employees of Oceania created a diversion by attempting to take our luggage and place it on the ship before it had been tagged. My husband's billfold was missing afterward and we did not receive our luggage until later that evening because it had been tagged with the wrong room number. The one bright spot was our Concierge liaison who made an otherwise terrible experience as painless as possible. Once notified what had occurred she facilitated and expedited our boarding although she couldn't expedite the delivery of our luggage and of course she told us nothing like that had ever happened before. We have no way to know. No one offered to bring Security into the picture but in hind site we should have insisted. 2. The excursions are extremely overpriced for the quality of the tour received. We were especially disappointed, actually angry about the last excursion titled A Train Journey to Galura. It was the most uncomfortable, unpleasant, amateurish 5-hour waste of time ever. We would have preferred to be onboard enjoying the Riviera's amenities. The Excursion Desk was singularly unhelpful once we returned to ship, referring to the problems as "technical" as if that in some way absolved them from responsibility. We have written Oceania to request a refund for the excursions but doubt they will respond unless it is to offer us something on a subsequent booking. 3. After booking the cruise which we did with 3 other friends we received different answers from different representatives each time we called to ask questions - regarding ticketing for flights, when we should plan on making reservations for specialty restaurants (apparently reservations are granted based on stateroom category so we had few options left by the time we could make reservations and none available for 5 people), and excursions - being told we had to take the same excursion as our travel companion (husband) which in fact wasn't true. 4. The pre and post cruise packages are ridiculously overpriced as well as the transport from the airport to the point of embarkation and from the ship to the airport. We elected to pay the cost of ship to airport just to avoid any glitches in the return trip home. Undoubtedly, Oceania is able to afford the reasonable cruise price only because they nickel and dime you on everything else. All charges are per person, all credits are per stateroom. The Riviera itself is lovely and we were able to upgrade the week before sailing from Ocean View to Concierge level for $250/pp. The crew is attentive, the restaurants do not disappoint and once boarding we were able to obtain the reservations for specialty restaurants for all 5 of us at reasonable times. We talked with some passengers who stayed on the ship for the entire cruise and we considered doing that because with the 2-for-1 fare and free flights it was a very reasonable proposition. We might consider sailing with them again but won't disembark until the end of the cruise next time or if we want to do so will contract with another tour company. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Just returned from my first cruise on Oceania. I am not a huge cruise fan. I've done a few short cruises in the past (Bahamas, Mexico, etc.) and have never really been impressed. In general, I prefer independent travel. That said, I ... Read More
Just returned from my first cruise on Oceania. I am not a huge cruise fan. I've done a few short cruises in the past (Bahamas, Mexico, etc.) and have never really been impressed. In general, I prefer independent travel. That said, I really enjoyed this cruise--more than I thought I would. Embarkation: Read about long lines but honestly, we arrived at noon and were on the ship and in our cabin in about 30 minutes. I couldn't believe how easy it was. Food: Quite good in all venues with a few exceptions. I wish the menu in the Grand Dining room had more variety--it got boring. Really enjoyed both Polo and Toscana (though our second dinner in Toscana suffered from really poor service). I was eager to try one of those milkshakes that people on CC rave about. That was a huge let down. Probably the worst milkshake I've ever had. The smoothies were better. Desserts were the weak point in all venues. If you are calling something New York Cheesecake then it should be New York Cheesecake (believe me, it wasn't). At least four nights I took one bite of a dessert and pushed it away (on the plus side, I saved all those calories). Service/Staff: Overall we were impressed with the staff and the service. And every staff person we encountered was extremely friendly and gracious. High marks here. Though I'm not sure that I felt like we received any special service due to our Concierge level cabin. Pool: Way too small. More like a dunk tank. And of course, not enough chairs on the pool deck. We got lucky--got there early and stayed all day so didn't have to fight for chairs. But I did witness and nasty little argument between a chair saver and someone who got tired of seeing an empty chair sit idle for hours... Spa: Passed on booking spa appointments because they were just too expensive. If I had more OBC to burn, I might have used them. Ports of Call: We enjoyed them all except Limassol. It would have been better to have another sea day and miss this stop. Entertainment: I was surprisingly impressed by the Insignia Singers--they were very good. Their costumes need a huge makeover but their talent was real. Found the CD to be a bit dated in his humor. And, his voice reminded me of Stanley Tucci in The Hunger Games movie. I just couldn't take him seriously. Rechristening Celebrations: Nice but a little over the top corny. I mean, a portrait unveiling???? That said. the ship's Godmother and her husband were impressive in the way they seemed to go out of their way to NOT seek preferential treatment throughout the cruise. Classy folks. Shore Excursions: We didn't use the ships tours. Found great independent guides and definitely preferred to tour that way. Destination Experts: Weak marks here. They didn't strike me as "expert" at all. Other Passengers: All in all we met some really wonderful people--some who cruise a lot. Made some friends along the way. WiFi: In my opinion this was one of the weakest parts of the cruise--connectivity was next to impossible. The only saving grace was that we had free WiFi as part of a promotion. If I had been paying by the minute I would have raised Hell--five minutes to download ONE email (no attachments); web pages timing out repeatedly. If they can get wifi on a plane, there has to be a better way to get it on board a ship! Overall, a very good experience. I think I would try one of the larger O ships next time (I hear the cabins are bigger). I did enjoy the relaxed nature of the cruise--no formal nights and the ability to dine on our own schedule. I probably won't do another cruise for a few years but when I do I will definitely consider Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was the second in a b2b, our first time on Oceania. We've been on most of the mainstream lines and decided to try something more upscale. What a wonderful experience, worth every penny. High Points: Food, Service, the Ship Food ... Read More
This was the second in a b2b, our first time on Oceania. We've been on most of the mainstream lines and decided to try something more upscale. What a wonderful experience, worth every penny. High Points: Food, Service, the Ship Food was outstanding. Ironically, the two specialty restaurants were not wonderful, but the GDR was amazing. Most lines have good food, some excellent. But Oceania was consistently out of this world. Service was excellent. Every crew member was friendly and helpful. Just outstanding. This really made our cruise memorable. The large number of staff really does make a difference. The ship itself was beautiful. I really liked how uncrowded it felt. It was a world away from the small cities at sea common to other lines. No waiting for anything. Well, once, see below. No ship photographer, art auctions or loud announcements. Our cabin (standard balcony B2) was comfortable but cramped. Low Points: A few minor glitches The DVD player in our cabin didn't work. The toilet had some problems. We were told that parts had been ordered and would be installed for the next cruise. Shore excursion staff needs training. Total chaos on arrival in Israel for local customs officials. Shore excurions themselves were good, but overpriced. Port lectures tended to be mediocre. In all, a fantastic experience. We ended up booking a Panama Canal cruise on Regatta for December.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Like all our previous cruises, we booked this only for the itinerary. Oceania was an unknown brand to us, so we were interested to see if it was true to all the raving reviews. This was Insignia’s ‘rechristening’ cruise, as ... Read More
Like all our previous cruises, we booked this only for the itinerary. Oceania was an unknown brand to us, so we were interested to see if it was true to all the raving reviews. This was Insignia’s ‘rechristening’ cruise, as apparently it had been on loan for a couple of years, and was now back in the Oceania fleet. As such, the Founding Chairman and his good lady were aboard for the duration, and although they were seen from time to time, they tended to keep a low profile. ( After the debacle of the previous week’s cruise I don’t exactly blame them!) I’m sure someone will have reviewed that cruise on here somewhere. INSIGNIA is a mid sized 35,000 tonne vessel and exuded a luxurious feel from the moment we boarded. Lots of dark wood, tasteful décor, and probably the most comfortable bed/pillows we’ve ever had on a ship. Cabin was just about large enough, but storage space was plentiful. Bathroom was quite small, but efficiently laid out. Passengers of a certain ‘size’ may well have found it difficult to manoeuver in there. Passenger mix is principally US / Canadian. If I had to to guess I’d say they made up 70%, the rest being from UK, Australia and rest of EU. It is indeed at the top end of the cruise market, and as such attracts a fairly wealthy and discerning passenger……well – it DID until we arrived! There are no formal nights and evening dress code is ‘country club casual’ attire. Unfortunately a smallish number defined this as ‘won’t-make-any-effort-at-all’ so cut off trousers and flip-flops were not an uncommon sight in the Grand Dining Room. I wore a jacket, but soon realised I was in a minority. I think that the dress code could be enforced a little more – but I accept its not easy telling someone to go back to their cabin and change. To be honest, a few people just looked downright scruffy. But it was only a few, and the majority dressed with the ‘casual but elegant’ ethos, to one degree or another. The STAFF are multi-nationality, and without exception are always smart, friendly and can’t do enough for you. Reception staff responded to a couple of small requests very efficiently, and I heard similar from other guests. They even place a man on the quayside at the bottom of the gangway whose only role is to tell you to ‘mind the step’ as you leave or board! My Dearly Beloved ( hereafter referred to as MDB) thought he was checking passports etc, and was so busy grovelling in her handbag she lost her footing and tripped up the very gangway he was there to warn us about! He’s probably been sacked now!! Oceania make a very big thing about their FOOD. Now, call us odd but personally we don’t go on cruises to indulge in constant fine 6* dining. With 2/3 of the world starving I guess we just have different priorities. Don’t get me wrong, we like and expect edible meals in nice surroundings on cruises, but providing the menu is varied, the food is cooked well, tastes how it’s supposed to taste and looks fairly appetising – then that’s really all we ask for. Meals could be taken in the Grand Dining Room, Terrace Café ( Buffet style) or in 2 ‘speciality’ restaurants – ( no extra cost, but must be pre-booked prior to the cruise). I got the impression that someone sat in an office somewhere and created very fancy names for their dishes, just to make them sound good. Early in the cruise I suffered food poisoning from a lobster soufflé, and spent 6 hours dashing into the previously mentioned bathroom while it desperately tried to leave me from one end or the other. MDB ordered a rather nice sounding finan haddock for breakfast, which was so overcooked it was inedible. She asked two slices of plain common-or-garden wholemeal bread, and got three rolls with a posh name. After that we breakfasted in the Terrace Café every day where the choice of food was excellent, and catered for all tastes and diets. Interestingly, the opposite was true in the evenings where shellfish seemed to dominate the buffet, and the Grand Dining Room was the better option. MDB had the nicest steak ever in there, and it inspired me to have my first steak for years. Tender is hardly an adequate description, but for someone who is not a big red meat eater, getting me to chomp on a steak must be Oceania’s greatest achievement for 2014. We did hear occasional grumbles about food, but catering for such varied tastes and diets is always going to be a challenge for any ship. The catering staff ( especially in the terrace café ) seem to be under threat of death if they don’t perform at 200% efficiency. As soon as you’re finished, your plate / glass / bowl is whipped away ( twice I had to stop them as I had not quite finished – just taking a brief respite between mouthfuls!) While carrying food to my table in the Terrace café I was plagued by waiters wanting to carry it for me. To me that level of attention is just suffocating –but I did notice others ( able bodied and active ) actually looking for a waiter to carry their intolerably heavy burden of a bowl of cereal and banana, - bless. I also prefer to help myself at buffets, but this didn’t seem to be allowed ( probably some hygene or health and safety thing ). Wasn’t even allowed to open my own box of cereal ! After a healthy breakfast, the next thing you want is a good day trip. We booked three ( all in Israel ) through Oceania simply because there were some doubts about dates/availability/numbers etc. So we bit the bullet and paid through the nose. However - all were well organised, well conducted, very enjoyable but hellishly overpriced. We booked an independent tour to Ephesus, and did the other destinations ourselves. (The Patmos tour via the ship cost well over 100euro, we did it for the cost of a local bus (3euro each rtn) and some footwork.) If you can’t be bothered to investigate alternatives – or love spending money unnecessarily – then the ships tours are good and used first class busses and guides. ENTERTAINMENT was variable. The resident Insignia Singers were competent and entertaining. Guest entertainers included an excellent magician/illusionist, and a rather sinister looking violinist. The Insignia dance band had the potential to be good – if they could play music that you could actually dance to! Most of it was Jazz / Soul style and while very good easy-listening, was not dance music. ( I seriously think they could be prosecuted under the UK Trades Description Act ! ) We love dancing, and were looking forward to taking to the dance floor each night. First problem for a dancer is that the dance floor is oval – not ideal for routines that rely on a more conventional oblong. Ok if you just want to hop from one foot to another while hugging your spouse, which – given the combination of music and floor – was about all you could do. We can’t be the only ones who were disappointed by this as the final night was billed as Save The Last Dance For Me. By the time they were on their third number, just 3 couples remained. Yes that’s right – 3 ! We actually requested a Waltz as they hadn’t played one any night in 9 days. It has to be said though that after the main entertainment, the ship became something of a ghost ship. Everyone just melted away. Music in the horizons bar was usually the very competent cruise director sat at the bar, sending music from his i-player to the sound system. I counted 7 people in the whole of the lounge on one of the nights we were there. Finally – remember the bad lobster and the overcooked haddock. These, and the overzealous staff were mentioned on the ‘how’s –it-going-so-far’ mid cruise survey. A senior manager actually spoke with us 2 mornings later – apologising for the very minor comment I’d made about the staff – but never even mentioned my toxic lobster or the haddock cooked in a nuclear reactor. That annoyed MDB more than the haddock itself. This seems to be in keeping with other reviews, that Oceania won’t acknowledge or react to problems. Overall – we enjoyed the cruise immensely. We would certainly go with Oceania again, if they were going to where we wanted to go, and at a time to suit our work.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was a dream of mine to do a 5 star cruise in an exotic port, Istanbul we sailed to Ephesus,Santorini,Rome,Livorno,Monte Carlo,Marseille then Barcelona. The staff were friendly and helpful, the food amazing fresh made to order. The ... Read More
This was a dream of mine to do a 5 star cruise in an exotic port, Istanbul we sailed to Ephesus,Santorini,Rome,Livorno,Monte Carlo,Marseille then Barcelona. The staff were friendly and helpful, the food amazing fresh made to order. The ship was well maintained, immaculately clean. The shows were entertaining, however some of the comedians weren't that funny. The casino was dead,no life in it and after 11pm not much to do. The T.V. entertainment in the rooms was good, had the latest release movies and CNN, BBC etc. My only complaint would be doing tours from the ship was EXTREMELY expensive and not very informed of what you were getting for your money. We did a tour from Rome to the Catacombs, which was 1 -1/2 hr drive from The port, drive to a look out over a lake and lunch at an Italian farm house. Well for the 2 of us we spent $ 650 US for the tour we expected something fantastic. NO, NOT we had an rude indifferent Italian tour guide. Lunch was in a run down dump of a place, dried up Lasagne, inedible food severed off plastic plates. When I complained to the ships management they were indifferent, they had there money and it was , so what, to bad. They didn't offer they same consistency of quality on land. So my advice is do the cruise, DONT do the tours of the ship . We spent a total of $1400.00 US on tours and were VERY Unhappy with there attitude. It was such a lovely cruise but to spend all that money and not get value for it left us disappointed. No I will not travel with them again   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We aren't exactly cruise veterans - just a couple of Disney cruises. But for our 25th wedding anniversary I wanted to go big. So we booked Istanbul-Kusadasi-Rhodes-Limassol-Haifa-Patmos-Piraeus on Oceania Riviera. We brought our 19 ... Read More
We aren't exactly cruise veterans - just a couple of Disney cruises. But for our 25th wedding anniversary I wanted to go big. So we booked Istanbul-Kusadasi-Rhodes-Limassol-Haifa-Patmos-Piraeus on Oceania Riviera. We brought our 19 year old daughter along. Simply: the ship is beautiful, the food is awesome, the service is First Class. We had a butler: get a stateroom with a butler! Restaurants: All the table-service restaurants were great, but we especially loved Red Ginger. And the La Reserve wine pairing dinner is incomparable. Bon Appetit Culinary Classes: Highly recommended; very professional and informative; more delicious food we made ourselves. Nearly first-run movies on TV for free: saw all the Oscar nominees. Did all but one shore excursion on our own, but did do the ship's Culinary Excursion in Rhodes: great; more food. Didn't use the casino. Used the spa facilities (beautiful) but not any of the services. Too busy eating or too tired to see a show. Daughter met all the singers and dancers who were very nice to her. She didn't have time to get bored, with Istanbul, Haifa, and Athens on the itinerary. But it is not a party boat. After about 11 you'll have the ship to yourself. Make sure your package includes internet service (it's slow but it works) and understand the alcohol/wine program: it's expensive whether you do the packages or a la carte. Sign up for the reserved restaurants as soon as you can...early reservations go fast. We have only two real complaints: The food is so good you want to eat it all, but you can't. And we are now so spoiled that any other cruise will be a let-down. I need to win the lottery. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our first cruise with Oceania (Regatta) was a gem. We were especially impressed by the quality of the food, so we looked forward to the experience on their decades newer ship, the Riviera. Cabin was great. Service was great. Food was ... Read More
Our first cruise with Oceania (Regatta) was a gem. We were especially impressed by the quality of the food, so we looked forward to the experience on their decades newer ship, the Riviera. Cabin was great. Service was great. Food was awful because the hot food was all to often not hot. We were served supposedly hot food that was at refrigerator temperature. The only hope of being sure to get hot hot food was to only eat burgers at the pool side grill, and who wants to eat EU burgers three times a day for 12 days? Same experience in the specialty restaurants- Had a decent bowl of French onion soup, a mediocre entree accompanied by cold green beans, and an intentionally cold dessert (creme brulee). If you must travel on this disaster of the seas, the only safe way to eat is to go to the cafeteria and get a small serving of everything that's supposed to hot on your plate. Then start sampling. Odds are good that out of 6-8 supposedly hot options, you will find 2-3 that are fit to eat. They well may not be what you want to eat, but a hot fish beats a cold steak. I disagree with another comment which blames the sale of Oceania to NCL fro the decline in food quality. Our Riviera trip was before the sale, and there was a notable decline in the quality of food from our first Oceania cruise years before on the Regatta. Otherwise, nice boat. Great cabin. Good service. Had it not been for the ineptitude of the kitchen and the incompetence of reception* to provide information on the ports, this would have been a most enjoyable trip. But it wasn't. * I listened dumbfounded while the "expert" brought on broad from the local touristic office in Livorno told the people in front of me in the line for port information that the way to get to the train station to go to Pisa was to walk 2 miles up the street outside the port entrance to the main square to catch the # 10 bus. I knew the # 10 bus stopped outside the tobacco shop (where you can get bus tickets) 100 yards from the port. I decided to skip asking the 'local expert' how to get to Lucca by train, picked up a map and went off to the # 10 bus on our own. On arriving at the train station, far ahead of the guy in line ahead on me on the ship, it was easy finding the train to Lucca Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Having cruised before mostly on Celebrity we thought we would try Oceania for a different experience. The idea of a smaller ship "best food at sea" and some ports in the Mediterranean that we hadn't visited before. The food ... Read More
Having cruised before mostly on Celebrity we thought we would try Oceania for a different experience. The idea of a smaller ship "best food at sea" and some ports in the Mediterranean that we hadn't visited before. The food was Excellent, there were a couple nights its was ok in the Grand dining room but in comparison to Celebrity the food was definitely a step up in comparison. (Jacques Especially excellent). We are a couple in our early 40's no kids so we enjoy being on a boat with no children while on vacation. Oceania definitely met that expectation. This Voyage was definitely an older crowd (mid 60's and up) and the energy level was very low key. There was not as many entertainment options as other lines and would have liked a bit more energy and feel that we may have been on Oceania 25 years too early. We did make the best of it but overall I am not convinced the extra cost was worth the good food and less crowded ship considering for the same money we could have booked a suite on another line and had a few more options of things to do. We never do any ship excursions on any line so this was not an issue. One more thing that Oceania Advertises is their shuttle service to city centers where other lines charge. However they do not mention that sometimes its limited service that runs every 45 minutes, so in some port we heard others saying they waited for 3 buses but the line was so long people got angry and were shoving and trying to board the bus obviously frustrated after waiting an 1 1/2 hours and still not being able to get on. We saw the line and realized we wouldn't make the bus and had to take a cab back. A couple of nice things about Oceania, No constant up selling. On Celebrity it seems like every time you turn the corner someone is trying to sell you on a specialty restaurant or a photograph. No such thing on Oceania. The service was excellent Plenty of nice towels and they change your bedding regularly. Never seems crowded although if you don't make your reservations for the specialty restaurants before you go good luck getting in one they are packed every night and when we inquired about visiting one again we were told many guests have not even been able to try them because they did not make reservations pre-cruise. Also embarkation and de-embarkation are a breeze. Since there are so many less passengers you can get right on and get right off. It was nice the last day to still get room service to help get us going before we got off the ship and then just be able to walk off when you wanted and not have to sit in some area and wait for your group to be called. So to sum things up All in all it was a good time. We did get free gratuities and free internet and a $500 shipboard credit with Oceania but it was still $2000 more than a Celebrity Cruise we did 5 months ago for the same time frame in a Concierge level balcony cabin, where we also got 2 free drink pkgs, free gratuities and a $250 shipboard credit. Sometimes you just have to try things and see if its a good fit for you. Hopefully this review helps you make your decision Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We recently returned from three back to back cruises on Oceania's Riviera. We have sailed on their smaller ships before, so this was our first sailing on one of their larger ships. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We have already booked the ... Read More
We recently returned from three back to back cruises on Oceania's Riviera. We have sailed on their smaller ships before, so this was our first sailing on one of their larger ships. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We have already booked the Riviera for our next cruise for 2014. Our prior cruise with another company went from good, to bad to worse when the crew was reduced by 25% midway through the cruise. It was great to be back with Oceania and to experience the Riviera. We took the ship's transportation from the airport to the ship in Istanbul. Embarkation was very quick and easy. We went straight to our cabin and our luggage was already outside our cabin door. We brought them inside and then went up to the Terrace Café for lunch. Note: If you are on a back to back cruise, continuing guests are invited to a special lunch in the Grand Dining Room, away from the newly boarding guests in the Terrace Café. Our cabin, #7131, had an extended veranda with a 6 foot overhang above it. This provided us a choice of shade as well as sunshine. We have suggested that a chaise lounge be provided on these verandas. The cabin size was sufficient for this long of a cruise, and we enjoyed the larger bathroom than those on their smaller ships. The closets were a bit smaller, but they did have lights inside to better see your clothes. Another plus was the night light in the bathroom. Oceania listened to its customers when designing the Marina and Riviera. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and they kept our cabin spotless! We always had fresh towels. The Red Ginger was one of our favorite restaurants and we were pleasantly surprised at their tea menu. There was quite a selection of tea. The pear and ginger tea was my favorite. Our second favorite restaurant was Jacques, French restaurant. For a special dinner try the Privee. We were fortunate to find a listing on Cruise Critic's roll call from a guest offering other guests to join her and her husband, who reserved this table for 10 guests in advance of the cruise. We all received an invitation giving us the date, time and where to meet and then we were escorted to the Privee. Each couple reimbursed the couple who had paid in advance. This was one of the restaurants for which Oceania has a separate charge ($50.00 per couple), and the other is the . The Grand Dining Room is tastefully done, and there are many tables just for couples. All of the meals were served beautifully and timely, with one exception where the meal ticket got lost and there was a delay between courses. The very observant maître d quickly resolved the situation. The Waves Grill offers great sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers for a quick lunch And, it is next to the ice cream bar. There is a selection of ice cream and sorbets which changes daily. Try the milkshakes and smoothies, or create your own sundaes. The Terrace Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet dining. The tables at the dinner buffet are transformed with gleaming white linen table cloths and a different colorful china place settings. One can also dine al fresco on the outside veranda. The Terrace Café also offers special buffets such as Asian, Spanish, Italian, etc. buffets throughout the cruise. For early morning risers, there is a coffee corner in the Horizons beginning at 6:30 am. Fresh coffee, cappuccino, espresso, tea, chocolate, juice, rolls, cereals and fruit is always available. A friendly waiter is there to assist. The Barista on Deck 14 for cappuccino or coffee frappe is a nice hide-away for a quick cup of coffee and a biscotti from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm. The Horizon's afternoon high tea is wonderful, with special desserts, cookies and finger sandwiches. There are specialty drinks of the day at special prices and each day there were "happy hour" prices for drinks in all of the ship's bars for beverages listed in the Martinis Bar menu. The entertainment was very good. Our only complaint was that because we had three back to back cruises, a few of the entertainers repeated their acts three and four times. The "Broadway" type of shows, although repeated, were so well rehearsed that each show appeared new and fresh. The Jean Ann Ryan Company's salute to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber," Now and Forever", was exceptional. Although they now have a true theater, the stage could have been a little higher as well as the ceiling height. When they hoisted the dancers, their shoes came close to the lights. Oceania provides shuttle service in most ports, some free and some for a modest cost. Their shuttle in Barcelona was less expensive than the pier's private shuttle. Unfortunately, the shuttle ran only the first day of our overnight. Although the shuttles were listed in the daily news, I would recommend that a notice of the shuttles also be posted at the gangway. Oceania is for vacationers, and we enjoy the country club casual dress. Thankfully, gone are the formal dress nights. I did not even pack a tie. Also they do not have ship photographers to interrupt your dinner, or stall everyone on the gangway at every port to pose you with a crew member dressed as a... (add your own character)... The shore excursions like most ships are pricey, and always include "shopping". Personally, we cruise to see the cultural things. If we want to shop we stay home. If you don't want to schedule your own private tours, then take the ship's tour. The ship will always wait for you if your tour bus is late. With a private tour, they will not wait. We were very pleased with the Riviera. We enjoy the mid-size ship and the wonderful décor. Four specialty restaurants are an enhancement to dining.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Check-in was a breeze as we arrived at the terminal late and there were few passengers waiting to board. We found our cabin and our luggage arrived soon after we checked out what was to be our home for the next twelve days. The cabin was ... Read More
Check-in was a breeze as we arrived at the terminal late and there were few passengers waiting to board. We found our cabin and our luggage arrived soon after we checked out what was to be our home for the next twelve days. The cabin was nicely decorated, the furniture was not worn the bathroom was spacious with a shower and a tub with a shower. I could not understand the shower in the tub as you could not take a shower without the water spraying out of the tub area because there was no enclosure or shower curtain. There were two chairs on the veranda and a small table. Unfortunately, over the next day, we found that the closet door was broken, the water would not drain from the bath tub and the refrigerator leaked water. It took Oceania three days to fix the refrigerator. Oceania is supposed to be known for their quality food. At least that was the hype when we were checking out possible cruises. We were very much disappointed with the food on the Riviera. If you like Steak and lobster, you shouldn’t have a problem with their menu. The food on the cruise lacked creativity, presentation was poor and they don’t know how to cook vegetables. It seemed that the only thing that they knew how to do when it came to vegetables was steam them until they are mush. In addition, the service at their specialty restaurants, with the exception of the Asian restaurant, is abominable. As an example, we ate at their prize winning French restaurant, Jacques, and had to wait 45 minutes until we saw any food, not even bread. When they finally brought out the first dish, it was not what we ordered. One of the appetizers that my wife ordered was a cheese soufflé. When it was served, the inside of the soufflé was liquid egg. I will spare you the details, but the rest of the meal was a disaster. We had a similar experience at Toscana, but we only had to wait 40 minutes until we saw our first course. At Toscana, the soup that they brought me was cold. They took it back to the kitchen and microwaved it. The way I know it was microwaved is that I added parmesian cheese to the soup after it was served and it was still in the soup when they brought it back. They did not bring me a fresh bowl. Nothing was ever offered to make for all of the significantly below standard service that we received We usually ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet. From day to day there was almost no variation in what was offered. The quality of the food at the buffet was low compared to the reputation that they promote. The cost of Wine, on board souveniers, and excursions is outrageous. As an example, the same bottle of wine they were selling for $56 we bought at Costco for $16 a couple weeks before the cruise. The one bargain is the happy hour that they have from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM where drinks are two for one at the various shipboard bars. An other example are hand painted Greek bowls that we purchased for less than $2.00 on shore were $8.00 on the ship. The cost of excursions were similarly priced. Based on our experience on Oceania, we would never consider another cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Rome-Venice --Sorrento/Capri, Amalfi/Positano, Sicily, Zakynthos, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice -- couldn't ask for a better itinerary or better weather. Try to be to-the-point (not my strong suit) and chronological for the most part. We ... Read More
Rome-Venice --Sorrento/Capri, Amalfi/Positano, Sicily, Zakynthos, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice -- couldn't ask for a better itinerary or better weather. Try to be to-the-point (not my strong suit) and chronological for the most part. We are vets of RCCL, Princess, Carnival, Disney & Celebrity trying Oceania for 1st time, Oceania all the way for our big 45th Anniversary trip with Excursion Package, Air & Hotel package for 2 extra nights on each end in Rome & Venice including all transportation. Oceania flights good except for 3-hour delay on Atlanta-Rome leg which got us into Rome late to find the Oceania rep waiting for us and lovely car for drive to Westin-Excelsior. Beautiful hotel ( plain room) Via Veneto prime location near lots of cafes. That afternoon after napping on the plane, we walked to the Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain. Next day, the only full day we had, we booked a tour through the hotel and were told we could be back by noon to take another tour of the ruins in the afternoon. But our guide was late and we were delayed at a "staging area" before seeing the Vatican. We got back too late for the other tour. We went back to our room ready for a hot shower to find our room not made so we had no dry towels and toiletries not replaced, etc. We spoke to our Oceania rep and she said the hotel would send us some wine but that didn't arrive until she contacted them again. The rep, Vicki, is terrific and efficient -- a great breakfast was provided each morning. She gave a funny talk about Rome life on the bus ride to embarkation. Rome was wonderful. The Riviera is a beautiful ship from outside lines to inside furnishings. Chandeliers particularly gorgeous everywhere including Terrace Grill -- all public rooms. Embarkation painless but our cabin not ready so we had a fine buffet lunch at Terrace. Our balcony cabin was spacious, nicely done with beautiful linens and marble bathroom. Bed was unbelievably sumptuous. I wish the shower was larger -- we had no use for the tub except to hang unmentionables. Good storage in closets but could have been more storage in bathroom. Would have been nice if there was a picture on wall opposite bed and if the TV could be angled to the bed -- small criticisms, we were very comfortable. Cabin steward, Angelica was best we have had in 20 cruises, personable and efficient. Art is everywhere in public spaces -- we especially loved the display at Horizons where there is afternoon tea -- nice presentation of treats at 4-5. Lots of paintings, crystal, comfy places to sit with tables, little private spaces. Plenty of lounge chairs outside sun & shade with thick cushions. Ship seemed uncrowded most of the time. 1st night dinner at Toscana --terrific food & service. Specialty restaurants included in fare and restaurant time is reserved after final payment -- very efficient with little invites in cabins night before. Try lasagna appetizer, cheeses so tasty & fresh along with bread & olive oils -- enjoyable. We had very early long tours planned so all but one day we had room service breakfast -- balcony entitled to only cold breakfast. Never had only a cold option on other cruiselines. Would have liked some protein. But it was prompt -- we asked for berries and it was given each day. One later tour allowed us to try Terrace -- nice selection but eggs were runny unless you braved the line for fresh-cooked eggs. Oceania tours were much less expensive as a package so we selected from their options -- enjoyed them and the guides. Oceania should consider more bathroom breaks especially on the Amalfi bus ride - several people were uncomfortable. Lunches in Terrace and Waves (burgers & lobster & malted) offer lots of variety - excellent. Grand Dining Room is open seating. 1st dinner we were seated at table for 2 at window which we requested every night--food good. 2nd time we tried the GDR we were seated at a table (room not even 1/2 full) between large loud table and table on the other side up a couple of steps so we looked at their feet and they looked down at us. We could not hear each other and asked the waiter to be moved. Don't know why they seated us there. Waiter brought another man who asked, "you want to move your table?" Don't understand why we had to tell again why we wanted to move -- it was obvious and embarrassing with everyone listening. We were moved and food was OK. Terrace dinner one night was very good. Try the risotto and grilled to order options. Polo -- very good food and service. Try perfect chocolate cake for desert Red Ginger -- very good service and I had the best beef teriyaki ever and great tempura vegetables but the other food was not to our taste. At Jacques, we had the most perfect meal for our anniversary and we sprung for champagne. If I knew how to bake bread like this I would put my name on it too. Had Iberia pork, the best potatoes and lovely dessert -- all desserts are terrific. Cappuccino, cappuccino, cappuccino -- included with your fare along with other drinks, soda, bottled water. You could get served your fancy coffee but it was terrific to go to the machine any time you want & press a button yourself whether in china cups or paper to go -- loved this. Entertainment was dull and amateurish. We stopped at the theater for a show with the showband playing before and thought they cancelled it. Only 1 couple dancing and 1 other couple not seated. Music dated and band had no energy -- they seemed bored. Did not see production shows. Rock band in Horizons OK and room almost empty. Captains reception open to all on one of the first evenings with string quartet (did not hear them play any classical music which I love, just pop or country/bluegrass) -- nice appetizers and drinks but very quiet and sedate party. Captain had nice personality but the other officers not very visible on the ship. We did meet the Concierge who said to contact him if we ever needed anything. Entertainment seemed geared towards older crowd - we are mid-60s -- we would have liked it livelier. We did see a Magician/Comedian but it was so bad we wanted to leave after a few minutes but stayed so as not to embarrass the performer. Casino was empty. Our trip took a turn the next day. Our closet door fell off the track and onto my foot the first day and my husband put it back on track. Morning after the reception before the excursion we noticed the bathroom lock didn't work properly -- left a note for the steward to have it fixed. After the excursion, we went back to the cabin -- husband went off to do laundry (self-service on each floor) while I showered. After showering I could not get out of the room. The lock would turn but the door would not open. I banged on the wall, screamed, panicked and turned lock for an hour before I could get the door to open. It was terrifying to be locked in that hot steamy room with no air. No one heard me for 1 hour? I called Reception, she sent a carpenter who said there was nothing wrong with the lock and "can I go now?" Woman from Reception was not concerned and rather dismissive and carpenter did not fix the lock. I was still crying when my husband got back from laundry. I was a realtor for 25 years and have opened many finicky locks and I know when a lock doesn't work. My husband called again and they did fix it again. I thought I was going to die in that beautiful marble bathroom. We called the Concierge and he was very cold. No one from Oceania hotel management contacted us to see how we were doing or checked the work of the carpenter. This definitely affected our vacation. I was nervous, couldn't sleep much the first few days. Next night at 11:40pm we were in our pjs just about to go to sleep for early tour next day & our toilet wouldn't flush. Called Reception -- they sent someone who kept flushing & flushing as the water level came just to the rim & my husband stopped him from flushing again. They sent someone else who worked outside the cabin and after a while noise stopped. But no one knocked or called to tell us the toilet worked and we could retire. We called after a while and asked reception and they said try the toilet and we did. Why did they not have the courtesy to let us know the toilet was fixed so we could go to bed. A later call to the Concierge was not returned. We began to think about what is important to Oceania and to us as passengers. Did we need a line of a dozen fancy dressed waiters holding menus in the Grand Dining Room, very fancy furnishings or did we need a carpenter who knew and cared what he was doing, Oceania personnel who were not condescending and who were caring and professional. We don't expect everything to be perfect -- what is important is what happens when something goes wrong - does the Concierge answer your calls? So much emphasis is on the façade at Oceania, many thick paper brochures, chandeliers, that I think compassion for people isn't there. Staff and other personnel don't make eye contact and aren't friendly as on other lines. My husband was a showband musician who was encouraged to engage with passengers -- Oceania's policy must be different. The last afternoon after our excursion about 2pm we found our suitcases (3) taken out from under the bed and placed on the bed. One of the robes was missing and the cloth not by the bedside. Was this a not subtle hint that we need to pack & get off the ship? We did not appreciate this - service slips often on the last day but this is worse than usual. We moved them so we could rest and packed after dinner as planned. We are just not a good match with Oceania and cancelled our April 19, 2014 Regatta sailing. We had never cancelled a planned cruise before. We wrote comment cards on the ship and contacted Oceania's management weeks ago but have received no response. The only people who could be considered compassionate are our room steward and the Oceania club representative, Carol, who we told our story to in an effort to cancel the April sailing. We were told to get out of our cabin by 8, off the ship by 9 and taken to Hilton Molino Stucky on Guidecca Island Venice only to wait an hour on line to check in. When we were done, the Oceania rep could not be found for quite a while. Hilton people were very helpful & took our hand luggage, searched the bag of the rep for our envelope with instructions and found it. They said the rep was back in the lobby and would be with us in 10 minutes. It didn't happen & after a while we saw her and asked for help. She said, "don't you see the weather (it was foggy), I'm busy and I'm just one person." After all this time, approaching 12 noon, we had missed 1/2 day -- we just wanted to see Venice and all we got was disrespect. We could have been left a note or Oceania could have checked us in since we were prepaid and they had our credit card info. There was no breakfast provided -- Hilton is a shuttle ride away across the canal and our water taxi ride to the airport was 7:45am. Continental breakfast is 20Euros per person and just a cappuccino is 6Euros. Breakfast is customary at this price range -- why not include it. Hotel was beautiful, room simple and if we looked out the window sideways we can see the canal. Luggage was handled efficiently We would not sail Oceania again -- we paid more & got less. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Our trip this year was 2 weeks in Italy, one of which was spent on the Riviera. It was our first cruise cruise with O and we sailed in a group of 6 couples, all well traveled and all experienced cruisers. We were looking for an upscale, ... Read More
Our trip this year was 2 weeks in Italy, one of which was spent on the Riviera. It was our first cruise cruise with O and we sailed in a group of 6 couples, all well traveled and all experienced cruisers. We were looking for an upscale, adult cruise experience with high quality rooms, food and dining and Oceania delivered. We very much enjoyed the O experience. We are not avid ocean cruisers as cruising has for the most part devolved into an experience we do not enjoy. O, however, provided the type of onboard experience and overall quality that we appreciate. Rooms, service, food quality and options, passenger demographic, ship layout and decor, staterooms and attention to detail were all top notch. We appreciated the lack of children, lack of photographers, lack of poolside antics and noise, lack of lines - we enjoyed O as much for what it was not as much as for what it was. The Riviera is an elegant and sophisticated ship with the feeling of a luxury, boutique hotel throughout. Luxe fabrics, beautiful art work, intelligent design aesthetic and excellent attention to detail were admired and enjoyed. Dining was generally a very good experience. We very much enjoyed Red Ginger and Jacques, did not care at all for Toscana (food was overcooked, oversalted and served lukewarm when we dined there and more dishes were returned than eaten), and Polo Grill was good but nothing special. We had room service breakfast each morning, a nice treat, and enjoyed al fresco lunches in the Terrace Grill, when not in port. We were never able to secure additional reservations in any of the specialty venues, which was disappointing. We did enjoy the food and service in the Grand Dining Room. Our Penthouse was lovely and very well appointed and we loved our oversized balcony. Binoy provided excellent service and Angelica and her assistant, Onera, kept our stateroom in tip top condition. Bedding was excellent and we enjoyed the large bathroom and walk in closet. We really enjoyed a twice daily visit to Barista's and the bars and lounges served a good variety of spirits and wines. We did not opt for the drink package and did not regret our decision. Our itinerary was The Ionian passage and most of the ports we visited were very touristy, as can be expected with ports popular with cruise lines. This is the main reason we prefer independent land trips to cruises overall when visiting the Med. This cruise did not change our mind and we will in the future focus on independent land trips when visiting this part of the world. We used private tour companies and had very good experiences with them overall. Getting away from the hordes and seeing the countryside was a huge benefit. It had been about 25 years since I had visited Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Taormina and the first two were a huge disappointment as they have been completely changed by mass tourism, and not for the better. We had little time in Taormina due to a last minute change. We were advised that we had to dock in Messina instead due to tendering conditions, which I personally doubt was the case as the water and water were perfect when were there. We were not at all pleased that our time in this port, the best of the lot, was so limited. Zakynthos as a port was the worst on our route, with no charm IMO and little to offer. Conversations with other guests indicated they felt the same. Corfu was quite lovely and we enjoyed day exploring the island. Venice was even worse than it was when we visited in 2008, with the people mover providing easy access to the thousands of passengers on the 4 ships in port at the time. We walked the city for hours and many of the streets felt more like a flea market than anything. We were very happy to leave after overnighting there and were very pleased with our hotel choice, in a quiet area near the Papadopoli Gardens which provided respite from the masses. We will not be returning to Venice as it has lots its luster to crass commercialism. Our favorite part of the trip was our week before the cruise, which we spent in Milan (visiting Bellagio and Como) and Liguria. Liguria was stunning and we were delighted with our time in Rapallo and wish we could have stayed longer. My last stay in Rapallo was in 2006 and I was delighted to see that it has retained its charm. Should we decide to do an ocean cruise again in the future, Oceania would definitely be an option to consider. But for the Med as well as the Caribbean, we prefer to visit the towns and cities not popular with cruise ships. We do plan a return to Italy in 2015 to spend more time in Liguria and Sicily. The ports visited were not the highlight of this trip for us. But the Riviera itself was delightful and we would look forward to cruising with O again at some point in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first cruise in 10 years. Our last two cruises were with Holland America and NCL both of which fell short of our expectations so we thought that cruising was not for us. Our idea of a vacation is not being around screaming ... Read More
This was our first cruise in 10 years. Our last two cruises were with Holland America and NCL both of which fell short of our expectations so we thought that cruising was not for us. Our idea of a vacation is not being around screaming kids and eating in a crowded high school cafeteria. Our friends who are very experienced world travelers and know us well encouraged us to try Oceania as they felt we would enjoy the more upscale cruise line and fit in well with the type of passengers who cruise with Oceania. They were so right. From start to finish the cruise was a luxury experience. The dining was fabulous and every night I felt like I was in a five-star gourmet restaurant. The food was presented beautifully and always fresh and delicious, perfectly seasoned to enhance the natural flavors withoput masking them. The wait staff was always attentive but not obtrusive, friendly but they knew their place. The ship was beautifully appointed with original artwork everywhere. The attention to detail was quite noticeable and my wife who is as meticulous as they come was impressed as well. Our itinerary gave us a good overview of the Almafi coast with a stop in both Sorrento and Almafi / Positano. We didn't take any of the ship's shore excursions, but I arranged private tours in advance at a few of our ports which were fabulous and one of the highlights of the trip. We docked in Messina in Sicily instead of Taormina "due to weather" which was a joke as every day was clear and sunny and the Mediterranean was as calm as could be. Oceania should have told us the truth why they wanted to dock in Messina. Messina did not have much to offer so we hired a taxi to take us to Taormina which was about a 45 minute drive and a lovely little community. We stopped one day in Zakynthos, Greece which had absolutely nothing to offer in the way of scenery or shopping or anything we could find. Corfu, Greece was lovely and our private tour guide took us all over the island. One of my favorite ports was along the Dalmation Coast in Dobrovnik, Croatia, but the ship departed at 1:00 p.m. so we had precious little time to enjoy it. The cruise terminated in Venice which I'd have to say was a terrible tourist trap. Throngs of tourist crowds everywhere and it wasn't even in season, obscene prices for low quality food and goods, rude waiters in the restaurants, the water in the canals did not have a natural color so it must be treated with a chemical to prevent a smell or algea. We never saw any type of sea life anywhere. I'm glad I went to Venice to see it, but I'm sure I'll never be back., My one criticism was in the Toscana Italian restaurant, our waiter was an Indian national who was fluent in English but spoke with such a thick accent that neither my wife nor I could understand what he was saying. Besides, an Indian waiter in an Italian restaurant just didn't feel right.:) We had the same experience in Red Ginger the pan-Asian restaurant but our Indian waiter's diction was a bit better so we could at least make out what he was saying. That did detract from an otherwise beautiful dining experience. Overall I give Oceania an A- and I've already booked another cruise in the Baltic Sea next year.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Sacred Sanctuaries, August 2013. Embarkation etc. The cruise started in Piraeus, which shares the dingy, seedy atmosphere of many ports. That said, it is worth coming earlier if you want to visit any of the closer islands on a day-trip. ... Read More
Sacred Sanctuaries, August 2013. Embarkation etc. The cruise started in Piraeus, which shares the dingy, seedy atmosphere of many ports. That said, it is worth coming earlier if you want to visit any of the closer islands on a day-trip. There are countless ferries; the cheaper ones, open-air, take a little longer, but you get good views and fresh air. The area of Piraeus marina (on the other side of the city) is quite attractive, with caf's, bars and restaurants. If you dine outside, you get a good view of the Attic Peninsula at sunset, which is charming. Getting on aboard Riviera was no problem; it just took a couple of minutes. Our stateroom (on deck 10) was ready at 13.30. Stateroom There's little to add which hasn't already been widely discussed, but I would insist there is more than adequate cupboard space; the bathroom is fine. A few niggles though, the table is not big enough for room-service breakfast, and unless you are of completely different heights, with one person on the armchair and the other on the sofa, you look at each other from completely different levels, like a monarch looking down at a subject. The veranda has chairs and a table, but perhaps a lounger would have been more attractive. The actual service of room service was always very punctual and polite. The housekeeping service was excellent. The itinerary 'was indeed one of the major reasons for the choosing this cruise. The long days in port, such as Rhodes, and the overnight stops, in Istanbul and Haifa, make the cruise a much more rewarding experience that I could have imagined. In short, if you are used to briefer stops, you would be surprised at the difference this makes. Israel was the major attraction of the cruise, though Oceania might think twice about the actual days spent there, as Friday to Sunday make public transport less available, though it might help sell more shore excursions. There is a train station just outside Haifa dock arrivals hall. Restaurants On the whole, the standard is very high, though I am sure everyone has their particular preference as to which speciality restaurant they prefer. We found Red Ginger to be the weakest by far, basically because the food was bland, often lacking in adequate use of spices, which doesn't mean chilli only. The famous sea bass, for example, just had a slightly caramelized flavour and consisted of a tiny portion served in a big leaf held together by a tiny clothes-peg. The Polo Grill was OK, but if you are not a habitual carnivore and don't think a thirty-two ounce portion of beef represents culinary Heaven, then you might have to look thoughtfully at the menu. The food is basically basic' We found Toscana and Jacques to be more interesting and more flavoursome, despite ' again ' a tiny portion of fish, brill this time, on one occasion. The red mullet salad and the fillet of lamb en croute were really worth the visit. The cheese choice was limited, but the quality was high. In Toscana, apart from the ma'tre, it would be curious to know how many staff really spoke Italian, as the heavily accented greetings were a little tiresome. The risotto was exceptional, but I don't think offering chocolate parpadelle as today's special was wise. The MDR was variable, sometimes really good, sometimes average. Service there tended to be slow at breakfast-time, as the poor waiters seemed to have to walk a mile to fetch the food. The terrace caf' was much busier than the MDR at those hours, perhaps because of the slowness of the service downstairs, perhaps because there was much more on offer in all departments. As a dinner venue, it also works perfectly; the grill department, tuna, lobster, shrimps etc. was excellent. Waves has its adepts. The hamburgers are fine, but 140-pound-plus-sweaty-bellies waiting for ice cream with butterscotch sauce hardly enhances the flavour of the food. We missed out on afternoon tea ' not really the weather ' but Baristas was a daily pilgrimage. On the whole, in the debate on who cooks better, the only relevant comparison I can make is with Celebrity Blu. There, despite the suspect 'healthy' line, the food is sometimes more adventurous, whereas Oceania is more traditional. In Blu, as you are always in the same place, a certain rapport between staff and cruisers develops; in Oceania, if you move around, you will probably never be served by the same person twice. Both options are fine; they are just different. Shore excursions We took none. Apart from one or two to Jerusalem, we found them over-priced, especially as tour operators offer the same or very similar tours at half or a third of the price. This must be a minority opinion, to judge from the lines of awaiting coaches in each port. Two possible alternatives for future visitors to these destinations. First, in Rhodes, hire a car. There are a couple of operators at the port entrance who charge 50 euros a day; booking ahead through other operators is another option. To visit most of the sites of the island: Lindos is outstanding both for its beauty and the number of visitors; the Valley of the Butterflies is truly a curiosity, as well as spending a long time on a quiet beach, is easily doable in one day and relatively stress-free. After all, there aren't that many roads (no pun intended). Having visited Ephesus before, we hired a taxi for the day ' 85 euros '' to visit the ancient cities of Didyma, Miletos and Prienne. The Oceania tour only visited the first two; other operators require the whole day for the three sites. The option we took allowed us to visit all three comfortably within the time at port. Other facilities Entertainment was a little weak, and, as usual on cruises, a terrible sense of d'j' vu creeps in after a couple of days. They tried hard, but perhaps on a mid-size ship, the 'show' requires a re-think. The Spa terrace was a quiet place to visit, but also a very windy one, once Riviera was at sea. The gym was excellent, with plenty of new equipment which, hurrah, all worked. The swimming-pool quickly became a hot bath. Worse than that is the pandemic of lounger-grabbing. The pool attendants do their best, but if they 'or any other cruiseline' really took this seriously, a mutiny would develop and they would be thrown overboard to the sharks. Apart from just leaving a towel to mark territory, there are two variations. The 'briefcase syndrome' familiar to all commuters: a passenger leaves his case of shopping bag on an empty seat beside his or hers. Anyone who dares ask whether it is occupied is often prevented by a glassy stare' Now there is also the 'partner syndrome', when an apparent empty place is apparently taken by a partner, child, etc'who rarely turns up. Why all this still carries on beats me. The library is quiet, an excellent retreat next to Baristas. (Some companies have piped music in their libraries, which is a self'defeating exercise). Wanting to disconnect, the internet package was never an option. We used the Concierge lounge a couple of times. The concierge himself was extremely helpful and effective with dinner reservations. However, the only other service we required, printing out our boarding-card for our flight back was not on the list. We hadn't an internet connection, and they must use expensive paper if it costs 25 cents a sheet. This is annoying, as most hotels I have been in recently do this for free. Leaving' Istanbul. This has nothing to do with Oceania but affects many of its passengers. There seems to a taxi war between those parked on the left and those parked on the right. The latter turned out to be cheaper; they are hassled by their rivals for being so. Istanbul airport in mid-August can't cope with the number of passengers. It took us the best part of an hour to get through security, and clearly there were considerable hold-ups, evident in ground staff heading towards the security area looking for 'any passengers to '' You certainly need plenty of time. The airport shops and caf's are as expensive as anywhere else in the world; in short, not worth it. On the whole' This was an excellent cruise, with good food, a good itinerary, and courteous staff. Would we choose Oceania again? That depends to a certain extent on their marketing strategy, which is much in evidence; special offers are delivered to your stateroom each night. But as they are oriented towards North-American clients using Oceania's flight programme, those of us living on the other side of the Atlantic find this not very helpful and in the end annoying. But that shouldn't detract from an overall judgement of 'excellent.'   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
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