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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the luxurious rooms and service, and the smaller number of people on board. We were very pleased with the service and accommodations, the food was superb in every restaurant, and the amenities such as spa, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the luxurious rooms and service, and the smaller number of people on board. We were very pleased with the service and accommodations, the food was superb in every restaurant, and the amenities such as spa, exercise room, butler service, etc was exceptional. We couldn’t ask for a better ship and crew. Our butler was extremely knowledgeable and helpful to us. All of the staff on the ship were very accommodating and pleasant at all times. We really felt like they were genuine in their actions. We took a cooking class and had a lot of fun learning how to cook Mediterranean food. The restaurants were exceptional and all gave a top class experience from the wait staff, food, wine, etc. the travel overnight to the next port was a great way to move from port to port each day. The embarking to port was easy and usually close to town for walking or catching a taxi. The tours were well planned and easy to access. A few shorter tours at each port (2-3 hours) would have been helpful to add to the tour options. Overall the cruise was exceptional and I will consider other cruises on Oceania! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We are not new to cruising as this was our 15th cruise but the first with Oceania. We were attracted to Oceania because of the French Polynesia itinerary as well as its reputation for good service and food. We absolutely loved the ... Read More
We are not new to cruising as this was our 15th cruise but the first with Oceania. We were attracted to Oceania because of the French Polynesia itinerary as well as its reputation for good service and food. We absolutely loved the itinerary as well as the very good service by our cabin staff and butler as well as the food in the specialty restaurants. However, we found that the added costs were not compensated by our expectations for value. To begin, we were very disappointed by how we were received upon boarding as well as departing. Our experience with other cruise lines has been that we were greeted with a welcoming drink as well as food available. Likewise, upon departure, we have been provided with coffee and muffins/danish etc. None of this was available on the Marina. We arrived with 200+ people on our 8 hour overseas flight. There was no welcoming drink and by the time we checked in, all food services were shut down. One would think that a table of refreshments would have been provided by the ship. Similarly, upon departing at an early hour (5:40 am), that coffee and a muffin could also have been provided. This was neither a good first or last impression of the cruise. As part of our booking, we were provided with free unlimited internet access. This was a total joke since access was not available in most parts of the ship. Moreover, it was impossible to upload or download photos or documents. Finally, it was impossible to contact others via FaceTime or Skype. On all of our other cruises, this was never a problem, I then learned that for an added $15/day, I could upgrade to unlimited streaming. I did so. However, although I could sometimes (but not always) access FaceTime, I still could not upload photos or download documents. This was particularly concerning since I needed to be reached due to an ill family member. Needless to say, this caused considerable stress. I enjoy working out. The fitness center was tiny and the room for classes was even tinier. On a positive note, the fitness instructor, Diana was superb. She knew her stuff, was inspirational and very nice. There was a sign up sheet for classes which was done to limit the number of passengers attending. However, the fitness staff let in whoever showed up. As a result, there was often 20 passengers in a class that was listed for 12. This made the experience challenging and at times, unsafe. The Terrace Cafe had a limited variety of food. At times, I would have loved to have a scoop of tuna or egg salad. This was never available. Although a crew member was immediately available to serve us water, coffee or juice, anything else was simply unavailable. On three occasions I asked for sparkling water and never received it. The dining room was very pleasing. The staff was great. But the food was hit or miss. Some was excellent while others, just awful. The speciality restaurants were excellent. We especially enjoyed the Red Ginger. We found the cruise offered excursions outrageously priced. We only took one excursion from the ship - a one hour glass bottom boat right for $129/person. We enjoyed it but it was very overpriced. Alcohol prices were similarly overpriced. I didn't order one drink the entire time I was onboard - simply out of principle. The most outrageous cost was the airport to port & return transfer. Since we our flight arrived at 9:40 pm and left at 8:40 am and because we were unfamiliar with the services in Papaeete, we decided to take the transfers. Each one way transfer was $129/person. The ride was under 10 minutes. Worth of all, there were delays at each end. This was utterly ridiculous. From now, we'll stay with Celebrity our preferred cruise line. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, in particular the visit to Bermuda. Unfortunately, the Bermuda sojourn was cancelled due to hurricane Florence but was substituted with visits to Portland Maine and St John's New Brunswick. The ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, in particular the visit to Bermuda. Unfortunately, the Bermuda sojourn was cancelled due to hurricane Florence but was substituted with visits to Portland Maine and St John's New Brunswick. The ship with 645 guests was the smallest we have cruised on by far but worries about space and amenities ranges were quickly dismissed.. Public spaces, gym, pool area etc were all sufficiently spacious for demand and the ship felt "spacious" throughout. Embarkation and disembarkation were efficient, stress free and speedy which was very different to most previous cruises we have taken. Additionally, two tendering days were handled efficiently by the crew to provide a faultless, efficient and comfortable service. Levels of service in every respect were exemplary from an excellent crew - it was very obvious that the ship had an excellent crew to guest ratio. Guest services was manned by highly efficient, capable and courteous staff 24 hours a day and on each of several visits made there were no queues whatsoever - never had this before on 23 previous cruises! Questions and queries were always dealt with reassuring words of advice and information which certainly left one feeling satisfied with the service received. The gym was very well furnished with an excellent range of technogym equipment which allowed us to train all body parts effectively. Additionally, treadmill and stepping equipment was always available with no waiting on all of our numerous visits although the fairly high age profile of guests on board might be a factor here! Gym staff were excellent in terms of support and advice and was the best experience we have received in a gym to date. Staterooms were very spacious and well appointed with high quality bathroom toiletries provided alongside bathrobes and slippers.The stateroom was kept immaculately clean and tidy by our steward for which we were very grateful. The only slight negative with stateroom space was that we could not store our luggage under the bed or elsewhere effectively so limiting our stateroom space. This being said, we know that other guests managed to store their luggage under beds so maybe our luggage was too large! The food in all venues visited was absolutely superb and Oceania's claim to providing the best food at sea was well substantiated in our opinion. We did not use the Grand Dining Room for either breakfast or lunch preferring the buffet at the Terrace Cafe for both. However, this was by no means 2nd best with both the service, range and quality of food available being magnificent. Guests were served at each station efficiently and with a courteous manner, hot and cold beverages were served by very attentive waiters throughout who were always available to lend a hand or find a table in your chosen location. Evening dining was open sitting which worked brilliantly and we only had to wait for a few minutes on the first cruise night which was expected. Again, service was exemplary in all respects and food options and quality superb. Our visits to both Polo Grill and Toscana were memorable with unrivaled menu choices and really special service levels although we agree that the Grand Dining Room experience daily was in itself very special day in and day out! Entertainment provided on board was the weakest area as the on board singers and dancers were few in number and performing in a small show lounge with unsuitable seating for show viewing and with poor sight lines for all further back than the first few rows.Seating was on a level with the very small stage which limited what performers could provide. All of the entertainment team worked incredibly hard but entertainment is not Oceania's main focus and in no way detracts from the overall experience as numerous other factors combine to provide an overall brilliant cruise. The pool area was very well managed with very comfortable sun loungers provided as well as blankets on a couple of breezy mornings.We always found available sun loungers where we wanted and we were very frequent daily visitors to the pool deck. Additionally, the running, walking track was a real bonus providing an unimpeded resource which was well used throughout the day. Altogether a memorable cruise and our best cruising experience to date fulfilling all of our high expectations of the cruise itself and oceania in general. The gratuities payable each day by guests were richly deserved by all of the crew in our opinion and we thank everyone on board for looking after us so well throughout the cruise Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We booked a concierge level stateroom with the O-Life package including 5 tours. Air arrangements made by Oceania got us into Montreal late in the day. The cruise was supposed to start in Montreal but due to high river levels making ... Read More
We booked a concierge level stateroom with the O-Life package including 5 tours. Air arrangements made by Oceania got us into Montreal late in the day. The cruise was supposed to start in Montreal but due to high river levels making passage under bridges difficult, we had to be transported to second port of call in Trois Rivieres to embark. Oceania's arrangements for transfers to the ship were abysmal. We had to wait, standing around for two hours before a bus arrived to take us to the ship and no refreshments, even water, were provided in the waiting location or on the bus. The staff handling the transfer at the airport were poorly informed regarding where buses were and what arrangements would be made for dining when we arrived at the ship after the dining venues were scheduled to close. Fortunately, buffet was kept open late to handle the many late arrivals. Our stateroom bathroom was not cleaned well when we arrived -- unclean glasses and residue on shelves in stateroom. Stateroom staff was quick to remedy problems, and were generally responsive throughout the cruise after that. The stateroom was what we expected and in good condition. Bed and linens were quite comfortable. Room was quiet. Food was, in general, quite good. Comparable or better than Crystal. We found the food and service at specialty restaurants Jacques and Red Ginger to be excellent and better than specialty restaurants on Crystal, but food and service at both Polo Grill and Toscana were major disappointments. Food at Terrace buffet and Waves grill was quite good and service and quality of coffee offerings at Baristas was great. Lectures were distinctly inferior in quality and number to Crystal offerings on the cruises we have taken with that line. Exercise classes also were more limited and the exercise instructors were a clear step below Crystal exercise classes and instructors. Most tours were excellent, although the overview tour of Dublin was uninformative and generally disappointing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Oceania is still one of the best cruise lines and the Riviera is one of the best ships in the fleet. It's large enough to offer all the amenities and yet small enough to feel intimate in many ways. We once again had an Oceania suite ... Read More
Oceania is still one of the best cruise lines and the Riviera is one of the best ships in the fleet. It's large enough to offer all the amenities and yet small enough to feel intimate in many ways. We once again had an Oceania suite and this is one of the finest staterooms on any ship we've been on; large enough to live in long-term. There is a butler and a stateroom attendant to look after your every need; the suite is serviced at least twice a day. it also comes with a mini-fridge with soft drinks and beer, and the bar has six full bottles of premium liquor. We swapped the liquor for six bottles of wine that we drank in the restaurants and the suite. And the food remains to be some of the best - anyplace.There are four specialty venues aboard and there is no additional charge for using them. With the Oceania suite, you have two nights in each restaurant. Plus there is the Grand Dining Room, the Terrace Buffet and Waves Grill, plus a barista and the daily high tea. This ship is a foodie's delight! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We sailed for the first time with Oceania Marina, the reason being we wanted to try a smaller ship. One of the difference we noticed right away, that we were not pestered to have our Photo taken and no Art Sales. It is a beautiful ... Read More
We sailed for the first time with Oceania Marina, the reason being we wanted to try a smaller ship. One of the difference we noticed right away, that we were not pestered to have our Photo taken and no Art Sales. It is a beautiful ship. The drinks are a bit expensive, but there was a Happy Hour each day between 5:00 & 6:00PM. Afternoon Tea at 4:00 PM in the Terrace on deck 15 was very nice with either listening to the String Quartet or the Piano Player. Very enjoyable. Everyone was able to dine in their Specialty Dining Rooms free of charge, which was great. You did have to make a reservation ahead of time, as we were in a Penthouse Suite the butler made the reservations for us. The only objection we have as Canadians that their Cruise Prices are in US Dollars. When we paid our Down Payment the exchange rate was app. 1.28 when the time for the final payment was due our Dollar was quite a bit lower closer and the exchange rate was 1.38. We think if Oceania want to have more Canadian Passengers, they should start pricing their Cruises in Canadian Dollars for the Canadians. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Oceania's Marina has the best quality food of the 8 cruise lines we traveled on, but there are major problems in entertainment and excursion policies. We were booked in a Concierge cabin and dined 6 times in specialty restaurants. All ... Read More
Oceania's Marina has the best quality food of the 8 cruise lines we traveled on, but there are major problems in entertainment and excursion policies. We were booked in a Concierge cabin and dined 6 times in specialty restaurants. All served superb food, especially Jacques. All pax get 4 free reservations and our Concierge was able to arrange two extra dinings. The 4pm tea service and violin concertos were excellent. The service quality in all areas and room were outstanding -- no complaints about the ship or its personnel. It was my 2nd cruise on the Marina. However, Miami HQ has major policy flaws. Passengers (pax) are given a choice of on-board-credits or free excursions; however, the OBC can only be used after departure. All of our excursion requests were fully booked by other pre-cruise pax and the prices are about 25% more expensive than other cruise lines. If you book five pre-cruise excursions, the price is reasonable. HQ simply doesn't arrange enough excursions to meet demand. To use our OBC we booked two $193 massages and paid for tips. Other OBC pax bought liquor or items in the boutiques. You should not select the OBC option. There is only one show at 9:45 pm every night and that is past our bed-time for early next day events. The reason is dining only starts at 6:30 pm and specialty restaurants also offer 7:30 and 8:30 options. On average dining took 2 hours 45 minutes, so there can only be one late show. All but one other cruise line we traveled on had an early show that Oceania refuses to offer. This voyage started in Southampton thru Copenhagen. Since we couldn't book excursions, we arranged our own thru cruise critic blog or per trip advisor recommenda-tions. We visited most ports before and enjoyed all of them. The lectures by a Professor were academic, but didn't help much for independent travelers. We never knew what berth we were docked in or that free shuttles were provided to city centers in Zeebrugge, Goteberg, and Copenhagen. There were continual problems with accessing online wifi especially in late afternoon. I used the fitness center and group lessons. On my prior Marina trip the fitness classes were too crowded, but not this time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
With more than 60 cruises on all levels of cruise lines (from Carnival, Celebrity to Cunard) as a guideline for this review, my husband and I are not sure we would be enticed to cruise on Oceania again when considering the price of this ... Read More
With more than 60 cruises on all levels of cruise lines (from Carnival, Celebrity to Cunard) as a guideline for this review, my husband and I are not sure we would be enticed to cruise on Oceania again when considering the price of this cruise compared to our experience while on board. Driving over to Miami is nothing out of the ordinary for us, but pulling up to a small, unorganized porter area to drop off luggage and then a long wait in line to prepay for our garage parking was not the standard we expected from a luxury cruise port. The port employees park here as well and finding a place not under the top floor sun was difficult. Once we entered the check-in building, it was a breeze. Ship is elegant, lovely lounges surround pool and Terrace Spa area is perfect for afternoon whirlpool and nap. But, some guests do not respect the serenity and carry on as though it's a pool party area. Gym is well equipped but noticed no hands-on staff nearby to help with equipment. More than 3 machines had TV/Radio not working and no one to notify. The sanitary wipe containers were usually empty by mid-morning. Our penthouse suite was not ready when boarding near noon, so we went to the poolside bar to have a cocktail. Asking for Absolute for my Bloody took forever as the bar did not have it stocked. Husband asked for Bud and was told they do not carry that beer. For two days he drank Corona, at a higher price, and then saw another passenger with a Bud bottle. This was the normal level of service with the bars on board. Slow and not polished. Plus the drinks are more expensive than on other lines. The suite was lovely. The bed and linens were exceptional. Tons of storage and probably the best layout we've had on any ship. The bathroom was wonderful, too. Problems with A/C during night continued even after reported and supposedly repaired. Always got hot during the middle of night. The veranda was very salty when we arrived. Seriously...huge pieces of dried salt were on the deck and every chair and railing had salt residue. Not a great first impression. Finally cleaned the next day. Our butler, Gyan, was attentive without being annoying. Suite was always clean and our stewardess and assistant should be commended, too. The steam room did not work probably during the entire cruise. Repeated reports to spa manager, guest relations and finally a mid cruise questionnaire brought attention to the engineer. We were told it was clogged and new parts needed when returning to Miami. Food ranged from average to excellent. Polo was just OK, Ginger and Jacque's excellent. Toscana was very good, too. Grand dining room ranged from average to suburb. But, other than Ginger, all the service was slow. Entertainment was fine. Enjoyed the string quartet prior to dinner and also the piano in the martini bar. Saw a couple of shows and they were nice. Nothing exceptional, but entertaining. Only booked one Oceania 7 hour excursion while in St Lucia. For the high charge, all land transportation should have been Air Conditioned. When in parking lots, we noticed Royal Caribbean buses were more new, in better condition and with A/C. We both took the Italian cooking class and it was a great experience. Lots of fun and out of the ordinary. Would highly recommend any class. Heard lots of conversation from fellow passengers who had cruised on Oceania previous. Liquor is very expensive, food has gone downhill and service isn't what it used to be. At times the crowding on board seemed unbearable. Ship's muster caused stairway congestion and pushing. Finding pool lounges could be tedious for those who didn't come on deck early in morning. Disembarking was not smooth either. The halls were too narrow to accompany all the wheelchair and hovercrafts trying to get to a lounge to wait to be called. Passengers were "stuck" after exiting elevators as no one could move. Cruising on the Oasis of Seas seemed less populated than the Riviera when comparing wait for elevators or entering dining room. Think we'll continue to cruise on Celebrity or RCI where our club's level provides complimentary cocktails and will upgrade to at least a jr suite. We believe it to be a better value and equal experience. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We are spoiled by three cruises on the Riviera. Open seating and four specialty restaurants (at no additional charge), spacious standard rooms (larger than other fleets' suites) and exceptional suites...perhaps the largest at sea. I ... Read More
We are spoiled by three cruises on the Riviera. Open seating and four specialty restaurants (at no additional charge), spacious standard rooms (larger than other fleets' suites) and exceptional suites...perhaps the largest at sea. I think all with walk-out verandas. To a man and woman, exceptionally friendly and helpful service. No kids programs, so usually no more than one or two teen-agers and only a handful of folks with strollers. A generally upscale-but-not snooty clientele. The bathrooms are exceptional. Shower AND a bathtub (with shower) in each. Good storage...and exceptionally so in the penthouse suites. (Walk-in closets, huge bath, etc.) I think the only ships with cooking classes (where YOU cook!) and an artists loft guided by an artist in residence. The cooking classes are exceptional (not free), the artists loft is free. This year, they have Graham Denison on board as the artist in residence, and he is simply superb. Worth a trip almost just to see him work, hear him talk about painting and art (a 25-year Disney artist), and work one-on-one with people as they bring their ideas to canvas (often for the first time.) Hard pressed to find a better traveling experience. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This was our second Oceania Cruise, our second cruise ever, the first one being a Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Oceania also. We had such a good experience we wanted to do another cruise with Oceania and compare. We wanted easy travel ... Read More
This was our second Oceania Cruise, our second cruise ever, the first one being a Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Oceania also. We had such a good experience we wanted to do another cruise with Oceania and compare. We wanted easy travel and relaxation. We absolutely loved our cruise. This was a 10 day voyage leaving from Miami on Feb 12, 2014 and called Caribbean Hideaways. We started with 2 days of sailing The Atlantic Ocean to get to our first port of the trip. They were 1. Tortola, British Virgin Islands. 2. St John's, Antigua. 3. Bridgetown, Barbados 4. Castries, St Lucia. 5. Gustavia, St Barts. Then there was 2 days sailing back to Miami. We did not use Oceania's air arrangements. We made our own arrangements and arrived a day early to avoid any possible problems with weather or mechanical delays. We stayed the night at the Marriott Stanton South Beach Hotel which was a short taxi drive to the cruise port terminal. We arrived at the cruise terminal and they started the embarkation process around 11:00 am. Our cabin was on the Concierge Level, room 10075. It was a very easy and quick process. We boarded the ship and they directed us to lunch at the Terrace Cafe. The lunch buffet was beautifully presented and delicious with many options to choose from. We sat outside and enjoyed our view of the Miami skyline. We then went to the pool area until our bags arrived at our room which was around 3:00 pm. We enjoyed all of the Specialty Restaurants and shared our table with others as a way to meet people. We also enjoyed our breakfast at the Terrace Cafe every morning, and a couple of times for dinner. great food and sitting outside is lovely in the morning. The staff at the Barista Coffee Bar were terrific and made great coffee's. We also enjoyed the Main Dining Room for dinner several times. Always good food and service seemed slow in the morning. We had lunch several times at the Wave's Cafe, usually a smaller selection of food but good and friendly staff. We did the La Reserve Dinner on Valentine's Night. It was fun and people were more dressed up for the night. We did the Exploration Menu and the food was delicious and there was plenty of wine. The staff looked like they were having fun also, very friendly and informative. The only shore excursion we did thru Oceania was the Tortula, British Virgin Island Bath Excursion. Usually we book our own excursions but the times with the ferry to the Bath's didn't work out so we went with the ship excursion. It was well organized, crowded on the ferry but plenty of free time to enjoy the water and beach. The Rum punch at the end was not very good, tasted like watered down Kool-Aid. The rest of the excursions we booked on our own or did taxi tours on the island. There was a meet and greet that was arranged by a couple on cruise critic that was held the first sea day in The Horizons Lounge at 3:00 pm. We met several other people at that and saw them several times throughout our cruise. We did several nights of the entertainment that started at 9:45. It was a musical theme show and was pretty good. The staff everywhere was friendly and willing to help in anyway. We also got he unlimited internet service. I don't know if this is common but it seems very expensive and very slow. I really think this is an issue that Oceania needs to address. My husband was trying to do some work daily and the slowness was a real problem. I also hear other passengers in the Business Center complaining about it as they were trying to work also. I also went to a Italian cooking demonstration one day that was very good. The Cruise Director was around greeting and talking with people thru out the day. We also enjoyed the bar but he pool or Martini Lounge for a before dinner drink. We did not buy the drink package, it seemed expensive and we chose to purchase our drinks or bottle of wine at the time of dinner. Another problem was the lack of chairs at the pool, I know that is to be expected but it was a problem because if you went to attend a ship program and came back, your chair was taken and it was hard or impossible to get another. We did not use the Concierge Lounge very much. We had a fantastic time and did book another cruise for next February, the Radiant Rhythms itinerary. Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro. They offer a nice early booking discount and you can cancel within a reasonable time frame before. We highly recommend cruising with Oceania the minor problems were nothing big and look forward to several more cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
The embarkation was very easy, though it was busy. We dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin and then went to have a buffet lunch. Everyone smiles! A very nice atmosphere. The gym has excellent, modern equipment. There is an excellent ... Read More
The embarkation was very easy, though it was busy. We dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin and then went to have a buffet lunch. Everyone smiles! A very nice atmosphere. The gym has excellent, modern equipment. There is an excellent choice of DVDs to watch in the cabin. The library must be the largest on a small ship. Some quibbles: 1. $27.99 per day for wifi! Much cheaper off ship. e.g. in Grand Turk in the shopping area in the port go to "Froots" where it is free. In other ports we went to a café and for the cost of a drink were able to log on. In Castries, St. Lucia wifi in shopping centre in port area costs $5 per appliance for whole day. 2. Head phones at gym cost $9. Bring your own. 3. They add 18% to every liquor item from a drink to a bottle of wine. Why? Wine prices are similar to those in a good restaurant. The wine selection is good. 4. The food is very good with a good selection in the four speciality restaurants...difficult but not impossible to get additional reservations. 5. The buffet restaurant for dinner is nice with a good selection. Be aware! Though in all the other restaurants one can get to the restaurant at 9pm, at the buffet restaurant they start clearing the food away promptly at 9pm. We had arrived at 8:45pm, no one warned us that the food was about to disappear. 6. Polo, Toscana, and Jacques and well worth going to. The lobster in Polo is very good! If one does not enjoy water sports, there is not much to do in the Caribbean Islands. We did enjoy visiting George Washington's house on Barbados. This was more a "reading" holiday. The black and white chairs on Deck 14 are very comfortable. The music near the pool is not too loud...a blessing! We have cruised with Oceania 4 or 5 times now. The service is good, people smile, the afternoon tea is good. A lovely cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Having done 44 cruises throughout the world, we deem ourselves as experienced cruisers though this was our first Oceania cruise experience. Our first port of call and embarkation was Istanbul - good thing the ship was in dock for two days ... Read More
Having done 44 cruises throughout the world, we deem ourselves as experienced cruisers though this was our first Oceania cruise experience. Our first port of call and embarkation was Istanbul - good thing the ship was in dock for two days - we checked in at 8:45 PM on the first day. Needless to say, by the time we checked in, we were exhausted after going thru three airports and the layovers. So not impressed with the air arrangements thru Oceania. There are four specialty restaurants, one grand dining room and the buffet. The specialty restaurants are free of charge but reservations are mandatory - which are difficult to obtain as there are so many passengers on the ship. One night, we showed up at the "Red Ginger", without a reservation, in hopes of a possible cancellation. We waited for 10 minutes before the Maitre'D decided to grace us with her attention and then we were rudely told that, "no reservation, no service". So not impressed with her stuffy attitude. Subsequently, we had our chance to dine in the Red Ginger Restaurant (Asian Fusion) - excellent cuisine. My French onion soup from the specialty French Restaurant was served lukewarm. The grease from the cheese sat like a film on top of the soup. This trip was port intensive therefore many times, we returned from our shore excursions well after 2 or 3 PM. After 2PM, the ONLY place one could have lunch would be in the Wave Grill - which is a burger/sandwich joint with a small variety of salads for the afternoon. One can only eat so many burgers with fries. We ended up dining in the buffet most of the evenings due to the unavailability of reservations in the specialty dining rooms. The buffet has an excellent choice of sushi (rolled to perfection), all-u-can eat lobsters, steak, prime rib, organic roast chicken and a large selection of appetizers, a chocolate fountain with assorted fresh fruits and beautiful desserts. We did notice that the entree selections lacked anything spicy so if you like curries or Sichuan, forget it. Their soups and pizzas were unpalatable - nursing home style. We love to dance and they had two excellent bands on board. We especially enjoyed the band called "Siglio" - they played ballroom music to tempo which pleased us no end. The shows were good - just don't expect the productions that you normally see on Princess or Carnival. We enjoyed the gym facilities and we liked being able to help ourselves to bottles of Vitamin water or Gatorade. The gal who taught the stretch classes was very personable, yet very professional and knowledgeable in her presentations.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Had sailed on Riviera, Marina's sister ship, last September in the Mediterranean. This cruise, which began in Copenhagen and visited Warnemunde, Germany (Berlin); Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn,Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, ... Read More
Had sailed on Riviera, Marina's sister ship, last September in the Mediterranean. This cruise, which began in Copenhagen and visited Warnemunde, Germany (Berlin); Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn,Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden, appealed to us for its fascinating itinerary, and we knew from our previous experience that the ship would be superb. Although this is not within anyone's control, the weather was unbelievably beautiful every day - clear and sunny, calm seas. A total joy. About us and our expectations: we are not party cruisers, in fact, would hate a ship with that emphasis. We love reading, music, quiet reflection and conversation on the balcony, exercise walks around the deck, rejuvenating spa treatments, full-out touring during the day and a good meal and restful evening to prepare for the next day. We enjoy meeting friendly like-minded people who are mature and cultured. We didn't care about the casino or the lounge (though we did love listening to the charming and talented Romantica String Quartet from Belarus most evenings in the Grand Bar). In short, Marina's low-key ambiance, marvelous food, hospitable staff, refined (by this I do not mean stuffy, snooty or pretentious-- rather, gracious) fellow passengers, and beautiful appointments suited us just fine. Some reviewers have said that the shore excursions, hotels and airport transfers arranged through Oceania are overpriced -- we used them all and were pleased with the convenience and felt that we got good value. In St. Petersburg we did arrange an evening out with a local company, balletandopera.com, and attended a wonderful performance at the Mariinsky theater -- but the driver who took us there and brought us back was downright scary, raising thoughts of the fate of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. There is a measure of quality control and accountability when you use the ship's vendors that reassures new cruisers like my husband and me. You know, for instance, that you won't miss the ship if your tour runs late. However, it must be said that in Helsinki the shuttle bus arrangements made by the ship were disastrous, resulting in confusion about the pickup point and a queue that required an hour's wait at least - a huge waste of time given the short time we had in that port. Wonderful service, lovely stateroom, beautiful veranda. One quibble - I know that maintenance has to be done during the voyage to keep the ship in the top shape that it is, but when our balcony had to be varnished and painted on Day 9 it was a pain - looking at something on shore I stepped in the fresh blue paint at the edge of the balcony and tracked a little onto the teak. I was sorry about this but on the other hand felt that I should not have had to worry about freely using the balcony we had paid so much for. Our criticisms, thus, are very minor. Overall, good value and a memorable experience. I actually spent some time writing detailed port reviews below but a technical glitch eliminated them all - so, suffice it to say that all were memorable in a good way. St. Petersburg was mixed but fascinating - the dark Russian soul and legacy of Soviet oppression still evident - we'd rate it a 4 but paradoxically it was a highlight of the trip, esp. an independent outing to the Kirov Ballet at the fabled Mariinsky Theater.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2013
Third cruise on the Marina. I love a new ship no smells or mold. Penthouse 1 a perfect size for a longer cruise. Butler and cleaning staff were excellent. Room under Waves Grill a bit too much noise at times. Gym and trainer excellent. ... Read More
Third cruise on the Marina. I love a new ship no smells or mold. Penthouse 1 a perfect size for a longer cruise. Butler and cleaning staff were excellent. Room under Waves Grill a bit too much noise at times. Gym and trainer excellent. Good equipment and nice selection of classes at the gym. Was a wine cruise, with good lectures on wine. Food not the best. The special wine dinner at $95./person was exceptional. Food service and wine were 1st class. The specialty restaurants are okay, but you need patience, service is slow. Main dining room good food, slow service. The Terrace Grill(serve yourself) okay, but food selection limited. Not a very friendly atmosphere, excepting our butler and cabin cleaners. Cruise director it very good and friendly. Officers kind of cold. Biggest complaint are the outrageous excursion costs. These are over the top. Get off ship and get your own tours or book online before leaving home. I wouldn't use their airfare or transfers. I like direct flights and I have at least 4 days before and after cruise in hotels of my choice. I would sail with them again, book most of my own tours, airfare, transfers, etc. The staterooms, room service meals, and the gym are the main reasons. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was our third cruise with Oceania. The Riviera is their newest ship. Everything was bright and shining. The staff are so helpful and cheerful. Embarkation: We flew from London to Venice and were taken directly to the ship. ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Oceania. The Riviera is their newest ship. Everything was bright and shining. The staff are so helpful and cheerful. Embarkation: We flew from London to Venice and were taken directly to the ship. Check-in was very easy and someone showed us to our cabin. Our luggage arrived quickly. We had some light lunch on arrival. The washers and dryers are at the other end of the ship. Everything seemed to be at the other end so if you do not want a long walk, get a cabin with a lower number. Cabin: We chose a cabin that has concierge services and Bosco, our butler, was all that one could ask for. Dining reservations? No problem. Fruit? No problem. DVD not working? No problem. Restaurants: We had pre-booked three of the four restaurants. Oceania would not allow us to book for the same restaurant twice. We did not want to eat in the Asian one. A minor complaint, I admit, but still as we were entitled to pre book four why not allow us that? The main dining room is vast. That one and the buffet do not require reservations. We actually preferred the buffet because one could overindulge in grilled lobster tails! The other three, French, Steak House, and Italian are a bit pretentious but fun none the less. Loved the selection of olive oils in Toscana and that and their bread basket would have been a perfect meal! They serve tea every afternoon at 4pm. Sandwiches and cakes and a string quartet playing Bach as well as popular tunes. Lovely. We had breakfast every morning and lunch as well in the buffet restaurant. We like sitting outside. The breakfast had practically everything you could desire to eat if you were from the West. What the Chinese and Japanese guests thought of the breakfast I do not know. Perhaps Oceania could cater for them at breakfast and then the rest of us could have dim sum instead of eggs! Passengers: On our two previous Oceania cruises, the passengers were almost 90% American. On this cruise this was definitely not the case. It was a much more international group and we met people from many different European countries as well as Asian countries. It made the cruise seem much more cosmopolitan. Pool Area: There are many lounge chairs though in the afternoon it would be difficult to find a place to sit. There are places to sit to avoid the sun with very comfortable chairs. The staff are ever helpful in bringing drinks. Our only complaint was that they did insist on playing music, and sometimes music with words, which makes it almost impossible to read. We used the fitness room in the afternoon. It is small with very up-to-date equipment. It got very crowded in late afternoon. They provide you with water and towels. I loved the newness of the bikes which enabled me to play Patience while doing my exercise. The 30 minutes flew by! I am quite spoiled now. There is an extensive library there. Very quiet with cosy chairs. We had access to the Executive Lounge where they had current copies of The Times and other papers. I liked going there for a cup of tea. We did not go on any organised tours. The places we were visiting did not warrant such an extravagance, as the tours are very expensive and the places are easy to see on one's own. Disembarkation: We left the ship at Civitavecchia which is about an hour away from Rome by car. They close breakfast at 8am and expect you to be off the ship by 8:30am. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
The disappointment started in Barcelona we wanted to spend a day and a half of sightseeing in Barcelona we asked Oceania to get us a room at a hotel they suggested the Rey Juan Carlos This was a terrible choice because of its non ... Read More
The disappointment started in Barcelona we wanted to spend a day and a half of sightseeing in Barcelona we asked Oceania to get us a room at a hotel they suggested the Rey Juan Carlos This was a terrible choice because of its non desireous location a long distance from any central Location. Secondly the cruise line charged us 2 1/2 times the published rate of the hotel. the Biggest aggravation was that we had to be out of our rooms by 8:30 am to take bus to the ship Which we could not get to our cabins till after 3:00 pm. It seems that the entire reason for that was To sell us an overpriced 4 hour tour of Barcelona. The ship itself was beautiful but how bad can a new ship be. The thing that was touted by Oceania Was the food and for the most part it was very acceptable. the buffet food was plentiful but I kinda Like my food served hot and this was impossible. The famous restaurant Jaques was a total dissapointment the food was good but not exceptional . The thing that disturbed me most was the French onion soup gratinee a total dissapointment I have had better at a local diner. The two venues that were good were Red Ginger(good service,hot food good presentation and very satisfying, The other was Polo also good service, hot food, good presentation. Also the main dining room was Quite adequate but not outstanding. Thing that also seemed that every aspect of the trip was only for the convenience of Oceania On the day of debarkation we were told to have our luggage out in front of our cabins by 8:00 am and Had to be out of our cabin by 9:00am . We were bussed to the Istanbul airport at 9:30 am and We had to wait at the airport with our luggage for over 2 hours we could not check in to our flights untill 2 hours before flight time. The thing I recommend to every one do not bring your computer for the Wi Fi is so slow that it is aggravating and they charge a fortune for the service $21.95 per day plus one time install charge of $3.95. Also do not book a hotel through the cruise line, also book your flights on your own to your own convenience. And book your own tours they are much less expensive usually better more comfortable and more convenient you will save as much as 75% Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We've traveled on Oceania before and are always pleased with the quality of fellow passengers. On any transatlantic, the average age is 75+. We were in a concierge veranda room, which gave us access to daily newspapers and last minute ... Read More
We've traveled on Oceania before and are always pleased with the quality of fellow passengers. On any transatlantic, the average age is 75+. We were in a concierge veranda room, which gave us access to daily newspapers and last minute reservations at specialty restaurants. We received one evening each per our contract but could book any morning through the concierge. Our favority was Toscana, Red Ginger, Polo and Jacques in that order, but all the food was excellent. The room was large and it was great having access to a computer, although the shower was tiny. Europeans often prefer bathing and this ship was designed in Italy, but the passengers were overwhelmingly American. We visited Key West before the trip, Bermuda, Madeira, Tangier, and landed in Barcelona. On Bermuda we purchased daily transportation passes near the terminal. The highlight was St. Georges, as it was too cold for snorkeling. On Madeira I booked excursions for 6-8 people (recruited people onboard) with Happy Tours and on Tangier with Tifo. Both were much better and cheaper than cruise excursions. Trip ended in Barcelona, so there were many sea days. The lecturers were horrendous and I gave up after the first day to play bridgeeven though this was my first time to ever play duplicate. The food was so good that I had to concentrate on not gaining weight and worked out in the futness room every sea day. The room for group exercises is so small that it reminded me of my shower. I didn't realize until halfway through the cruise that you can purchase fitness room tickets for all group exercises and get reservations before other PAX. The nightly shows were generally good expecially the song and dance events. The violin concerto was excellent except it coincided with happy hour and drinking passengers were loud with no interest in classical music. Overall a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
My husband and I just returned from a 10 day cruise in the Caribbean on the Oceania Marina. He described the food as the best ever, and he is not a person given to superlatives. We both felt that the service was outstanding - the best ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 10 day cruise in the Caribbean on the Oceania Marina. He described the food as the best ever, and he is not a person given to superlatives. We both felt that the service was outstanding - the best we've ever had. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and seemed genuinely interested in serving us. We enjoyed all the speciality restaurants. Again, my husband, who is a meat and potatoes person, found something that he really liked at each of the restaurants. He fussed about going to all except the Polo Grill, and then enjoyed his meal at each one. We loved the Terrace Cafe for breakfast and dinner. Waves was perfect for lunch. We ate in the Grand Dining Room for one dinner and one breakfast and the service was outstanding. The food was about the same as we got at the Terrace. We liked the idea of country club casual. We appreciated that no photographers were slowing us down or insisting on taking pictures. The fact that soft drinks and bottled water were included was nice. The entertainers on the ship were talented and friendly. The one ship shore excursion that we took was good. Everything was well organized until we disembarked. That was the only snag of our trip and could have been easily avoided. We rode the elevator down in the terminal building. It was packed and we were in the front. We turned to the left as we got off and did not notice that everyone else turned to the right. There was no one from the ship and no one from security anywhere on that floor. We went outside and then realized that we had not gone through immigration and had not seen our luggage. When we tried to get back in, we were barred from doing so. I don't think the ship's person that stopped us believed that we had gotten out of the building without being stopped. He went to the door that we came out and saw that no one was there. He immediately got a security person in place. He finally found our luggage, but it delayed us about 45 minutes considering that we would have been able to get right into a taxi when we first walked out and it was 45 minutes later before we were finally able to get into one. We liked all the ports of call except for the Dominican Republic. I heard others complaining about that stop also. The concierge on Deck 9 was helpful. The cabin stewards were the best we've ever had. This was definitely an older crowd. The ship was very quiet. It was relaxing. I would love to go on Oceania again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2010
Greek Isles Odyssey, 10-22 Sep, 2010 onboard Oceania ship, Nautica 3 days in Athens pre-cruise and 3 days in Istanbul post-cruise This is the "executive summary" or should I say, well expanded ES of our cruise. It will ... Read More
Greek Isles Odyssey, 10-22 Sep, 2010 onboard Oceania ship, Nautica 3 days in Athens pre-cruise and 3 days in Istanbul post-cruise This is the "executive summary" or should I say, well expanded ES of our cruise. It will be a combination of "here's what we did and liked/didn't like" and lessons learned from first timers (it may be worth exactly what you are paying for it ?)) Diane and I are not cruisers per se having only been on one 4-day NCL cruise in 2005. I am a retired navy guy so this is like a busman's holiday for me. Don't get me wrong, I love being at sea and the Nautica spoiled the heck out of both of us! (Okay, I've just finished this Executive Summary and found myself on page 6. So the first part will be a bullet point of key items. If you care to drudge through the full write up be forewarned that I did say 'drudge'. I don't mind answering direct questions and will read the Oceania board on Cruise Critic every so often should you have a question. Here goes.... Pre-cruise: • Join and absorb Cruise Critic boards about Oceania, ports of call and the roll call for your specific cruise. • Check out Tripadvisor dot com for city restaurants, hotel and site recommendations • Open up a separate checking account with an ATM card. Deposit funds for the cruise - protects your main bank account funds. • Use a 4-digit PIN for your cards. Do not start the PIN with a zero • Learn some language words and phrases. Audio books In Flight {Greek} Learn Before You Land and great • Pre-pack two weeks before the trip. Guys - no sports jacket is needed On board the ship • Concierge stateroom - 216 Sq. Ft including veranda; lots of storage space. Veranda a must • Board early especially if this is your first time on the ship. Lots of activities that first day • Get the small floral arrangement if you plan on ordering one • Future Cruises presentation - don't waste your time • Coffee available 24/7 in Terrace Cafe, starboard side. Machine makes single cups of coffee, cappuccino or latte. Horizons coffee and Danish service opens at 6:15ish. Room service is QUICK! Enjoy the coffee while sitting on your veranda. • In-room frig: you can get it stocked with your favorites Restaurants: • Toscana was favorite; Polo Grill excellent with unwavering menu. Grand Dining Room also excellent. • Food was well prepared and presented well. Service was fantastic with one experience in the Polo Grill being a bit too much. • Maximum time we ever waited to be seated was 3-4 minutes. Portion sizes were great. • Tapas on the Terrace was most often the choice for breakfast buffet. • Fruits and vegetables always fresh and plentiful • Can order a bottle of wine and have it available in any restaurant. • Additional reservations are made in Terrace Cafe at the start of breakfast. Line up early for better chance. • Pastries & cake were uniformly dry. Off ship activities: Port tours: Ship tours are good but don't cover as much as most privately arranged ones and are usually more expensive for what you get. Go with private tour guides who have been recommended on CC boards. Tendering: Ship tour folks have priority boarding of tenders but usually space is available from the first tender on for DIYers Get tender pass in Nautica Lounge - try and be there about 15 minutes before first ship's tour group is to arrive On board comments and general demeanor by ship's staff. • Problems and requests are handled very, very expeditiously. The entire crew is warm, welcoming and eager to be of service to make your trip the best it can be. Diane and I would rate the cruise 5 + stars Pre-cruise Planning help: I joined Cruise Critic and absorbed every bit of information that I could about the ship and the different ports that we were going to. A world of experience is available for the taking (ask your question - you'll get an answer! (in retrospect, I really don't understand anyone who complained loudly about shipboard stuff - it wasn't perfect but darn near) The roll call for our trip wasn't as active as I thought it would be but those of us who did communication were able to set up our private tours very quickly and nicely. I also reviewed TripAdvisor dot com and found that the ratings of the hotels, restaurants, etc. were fairly spot-on. Use of ATM on holiday On the advice of a CCer (Cruise Critic blogger), we opened up a separate checking account at our bank, transferred funds to meet our ATM needs while on the trip and felt much more comfortable knowing that our primary checking account was safe. !Use a 4 digit PIN that does NOT start with zero for use with European bank machines! Other stuff Learn a few language words & phrases. In-Flight Greek (& Turkish) Learn Before You Land audiobooks (under $12 through Amazon) are an easy way to learn a few key phrases in {Greek and Turkish}. Simply learning how to say Please, Thank you, good morning (and for me, "Beer") will bring you much warmth from those you come in contact with. Prepack Two weeks before our trip we pre-packed. Our goal was to travel with one (count 'em) ONE medium sized suitcase each and a reasonably sized carry-on. Pre-packing gave us an unhurried opportunity to figure out what goes where, what was missing and what we needed to take out. We made our goal! Guys, you really don't need a sports jacket! I took one but only wore it once. Next time it will stay home!! Shipboard stuff Stateroom Stateroom 7063 (starboard {right} side amidships was our concierge home-away-from home for the 12 day trip. The size was reasonable as we didn't spend very much time in it. What is nice - and I wouldn't do it any other way - is the veranda. Now I know there are lots of folks who would rather spend the $$ ion something else on the trip but having that veranda to view the waves, watch the sun rise or set and other out-of-ship experiences while sipping coffee in the morning or a cocktail at night makes it all worthwhile. We slept most nights with the slider ajar and the soothing sounds of the ship and sea along with the fresh ocean breeze was priceless. Our trip was a celebration of several milestones (we stretched the truth a tad on how close in time we were to those events}: Diane's x0 birthday; our 25th wedding anniversary and two or three other minor occasions. In addition to receiving a Happy Birthday card and a Happy Anniversary card (and celebratory dinner in the Polo Grill complete with a special cake and singing wait staff) I ordered a floral arrangement for the room. It was a beautiful bouquet which livened up the room with color and fragrance but...after 3 days it simply was in the way. At 216 sq. ft. of floor space, including veranda, the floral arrangement assumed a disproportionate amount of space as time went by. (If you are going to get an arrangement for the room - get the small one) Boarding time Next time, we are going to board earlier. On the day of embarkation, we took a private tour of Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon and planned it so that we would arrive at the port of Piraeus about 3:30. Boarding and check in was quick and painless. When the limo pulled up to the pier area we were greeted by a Nautica staffer and a crew of stevedores (I think the Greeks call them that too). The luggage was checked against the manifest, tagged (I forgot to attach the ship's luggage tags...oops) and whisked away within a minute. Carry-ons over shoulder, the security and passport check was perfunctory and the bus to take us to the gangway (FYI: It's NOT a gang-plank...that's whats ya gotta walk when yur feed to the fish...arrrgh, matey} Had we known the 10 minute wait on the bus, the 10 second bus start up and door closing and the 23 second ride to the ship could have been avoided by walking...another "next time". Before actually boarding, our passports were checked again against the manifest, another package scan and we were escorted up from the deck 3 entry to deck 5 and the Nautica Lounge. There were 3 lines for checking in: Owner's Suite Vista Suite guests (1 couple in line); Concierge level guests (3 couples in line) and all other staterooms (10-12 couples). Pictures taken, "World Cards" made and given - along with a nice amount of shipboard info to read (no test on the material was ever given). The World Card is a combination ID, room pass and charge card. (WARNING - make sure you keep the World Card from magnetic stuff or whatever causes them to go flat. We had to get new ones 4 times! What's worse, if one person needs a new one both must get new ones.). The Nautica Lounge check-in took no more than 10 minutes. Up two levels to deck 7, turn left then right to head aft on the starboard side to room 7063. A quick check out of the room and read of some of the info we were given along with more papers that awaited us in the room. Champagne was cooling in the ice bucket and the floral arrangement was beautiful. As luggage had not yet arrived our plan was to tour the ship top to bottom. Forward and up the stairs (on naval vessels those things which you climb taking you from one level to another are called ladders. On the Nautica they were STAIRS - too ornate to be plain 'ole ladders.) to deck 11 - sun deck and cabanas - down the steps to deck 10, u-turn to walk forward and into the Horizons Lounge; back across the fitness track and visit the library and peruse the vast selection of books. Chatted with another couple we had met in Athens for a few minutes as we walked out to view the pool deck partial filled with passengers who were enjoying the sunshine and water in the pool... It had been about an hour since we boarded and so we skipped the rest of the self-guided tour and returned to 7063. Our luggage had arrived and was waiting impatiently for us in the passageway. Unpacking time! There was plenty of room for all of our stuff. In fact the plastic hanging shoe bag that we were going to hang over the bathroom door wasn't needed. Lots of wooden hangers in the closet, a safe for valuables and we were set. There were dual electric outlets: 110 & 220 on the desk and another in the bathroom so using the3-slot extension cord I brought it made recharging all of my electronics relatively easy (I had fried my outlet strip in Athens so I did need to change items to be charged every night). Just as we were wrapping up the distribution of clothes the call went out for the mandatory lifeboat drill. The Orange (lifejackets) stored in the closet were donned and all passengers made their way to the Grand Dining Room. A short presentation about how to put on the lifejacket was given and we trundled off to our lifeboat station on the outboard walking area of deck 5. There we listened while Leslie Jons, our fantastic cruise director, gave the "In case of emergency" lecture to all. By the time we scurried back to our stateroom it was time to dress for dinner which was preceded by our Cruise Critic party held up in Horizons Lounge. This was a no-host event that one of the bloggers set up with the concierge ahead of time. Nautica provided us with simple snacks and the wait staff was very attentive to our need for much needed beverages. Dinner in the Grand Dining Room followed on the heels of the CC get together. Bill & Vickie from Palm Desert, California shared a table with us that first night (I was delighted to see that they were both beer drinkers!!). This night, like every night eating in the GDR there was absolutely no wait for a table. But we did linger over the scrumptious meal and waddled out about 9:30 fully sated and satisfied. It was perfect timing as the ship got underway about 10 and we watch Piraeus harbor fade from sight from the comfort of Tapas on the Terrace, aft on deck 9. As both of us were quite tired by then we shuffled off to our room and readied for bed. Our heads were spinning with all of the constant activity that had gone on since we boarded! As we paused on the veranda - Diane with her evening tea and I with a final cocktail - we both agreed that "Next time" we will board earlier so that we can enjoy the ship and the day as a much more leisurely pace. Other stateroom related info Bashi, our room attendant, was great! Never did we see him without a smile or a warm hello. He (as well as a number of the staff) was kind enough to let us into his life. We learned about his home in the Philippines, he's family and some of his life's detail. It made us feel very welcomed. Bashi made up the room twice each day. (and even worriedly asked us if he could when we had the "do not disturb" sign on the door just so that he wouldn't need to). The room temperature/humidity was higher at night than we normally like. That was easily corrected by leaving the slider to the veranda ajar. That had the additional benefit of serenading us with the sounds of the ocean while we slept. Room service is 24/7. The last day was the only time we used it for anything other than morning coffee. Which leads me to one of the absolute necessities - morning coffee. The first night neither of us slept particularly well. I finally gave up trying to return to the land of Morpheus, grabbed my Kindle and went looking for coffee. In the Terrace Cafe on the starboard (right) side just aft of Waves Grill there is a new coffee machine which makes decent single cups of your favorite hot beverage: coffee, cappuccino or latte. I wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep. If you want coffee and Danish about 6:15ish then the urns of caffeinated, decaffeinated and hot water (for tea drinkers) are set up in the back of Horizons Lounge on the starboard side (sorry about the starboard/port thing.. I just can't bring myself to say left side and right side on a ship) But there is an even better way! Room Service! Here's how to: Arise groggily from your deliciously comfortable bed, pick up the telephone handset, feel around on the floor to find the handset because you dropped it; press #02 on the telephone keypad -the metallic voice will tell you to wait a few seconds while it's paging room service; hang up the phone and about 5 seconds later it will ring. A -much too cheery for this time of the morning - voice will say, "Good morning" and you can hoarsely mumble, "Two pots of coffee, quick"; hang up the phone and go put your bathrobe on. You'll need to do that quickly because it never took more than 4 minutes (usually 2) for a smiling waiter to be at our door with our two carafes of coffee! THAT was well worth the 1 Euro tip that we gave him. In-room frig The under-desk refrigerator is stocked with an assortment of things: water, soda, wine; beer, hard alcohol, etc. You can ask your room attendant to stock it with your own personal choices. The water is free and the alcoholic beverages are a price similar to that which you pay on an airline. As has been described on the CC blogs you can bring your own booze or soda aboard and drink it in the room (or in a lounge area if you don't flaunt it). Restaurants For us the choice of where to eat {I was going to list the 3 main meals but there are other times that you can eat/dine/sup that it begins to sound like Shire-like {as in Lord of the Rings}: "breakfast and then seconds, 3rd breakfast, 11 o'clock snack, lunch, tea......")...our choice of dining venue was mostly driven by the day's activities. Breakfast was usually in Tapas on the Terrace (7:00-9:00) and the buffet line. There are two sides to the main hot buffet area, both mirror images. Between the sides is the daily specialties; French toast, omelets, pastries. On the aft side of the room the food choices are the fruits, cereals nuts and berries, yogurts, etc. Fill the plate and head out to the alfresco area (or indoors) to select an empty table and await others to ask if they can join you or select a table already in use and join them for conversation. The wait staff will get you coffee, tea, juice, etc. Diane always has fruit for breakfast and the selection of fresh fruit in Tapas was extraordinarily good & fresh. I occasional tried a pastry and quite frankly found them to be very dry. This was uniformly true in all dining venues for all pastries and cakes - the only real disappointment in eating on the Nautica. The Grand Dining Room was my choice 3 times as I absolutely needed to have the grilled lamb chops - I was in heaven. The GDR is sparsely used for breakfast. Most days we were ashore at lunch time but we did eat in Tapas and Waves. Waves has burgers and good milkshakes and smoothies. My favorite sandwich was the Mahi Mahi burger with a side of French fries. Truth be told I found the fries to be a bit saltier than I like and the shakes to be a bit on the thin side. Never did eat lunch in the GDR. Like the fruit, the salad and fresh vegetables were excellent and always crisp and fresh. Dinner time is an adventure that we savored. Most of the time at home we are very plain eaters: grilled chicken (occasional fish or meat) and steamed veggies or pasta with a snippet of sauce. Dinner is over in about 20-25 minutes, max. On board the Nautica we lingered. Drawn by the multiple courses of the meal and conversation with new found friends resulted in supper being a 1 ½ - 2 hour event. We made reservations in the Polo Grill and Toscana on line before the cruise. Choosing nights early on in the cruise would, hopefully, give us a better opportunity to snag additional meals in these specialty restaurants. Our favorite restaurant by far was Toscana. The setting is soothing, the service was impeccable and the food on both occasions was done and served to perfection. The first meal in Toscana was, in our minds, one of the top dining experiences of our life. The bread basket delivered to the table was a work of art and the breads were crisp on the outside and tender, moist and warm on the inside. Our largest challenge was the olive oil and vinegar choices. The condiment cart was wheeled up to us and there was a choice of 8 different varieties and flavors of olive oil. {I need to go back to school and take a course in oils!). Salad, appetizer and main course were all perfectly size - thankfully. The menu is reasonably stable but there are nightly specials. The choice of pasta (capellini?) with crab salad was heaven on a plate. Diane had it as an appetizer and I for the main course. The place settings on the table are beautiful and very much enhance the meal. (however, while at school studying up on olive oils I am going to take a refresher in which of the 47 knives, forks and spoons to use when). I did mention the service being impeccable. Between the head waiter, 2 or 3 wait staffers assisting, the sommelier and the maitre 'de being unobtrusively attentive we felt well cared for yet not hurried. The Polo Grill has an Englishman's den feel to it. Leather upholstered chairs and china that evokes visions of fox-hunting pay compliment to the wood paneled room. We ate here three times (third visit was a gift from the Maitre 'de, Georgios (sp??). The food was good but first meal porterhouse steak was gristly . As I mentioned before, we found the portion sizes in the restaurant venues to be a good size (un-American like because the sizes weren't gigantic). In the Polo Grill it was a bit different. The steak was put in front of me and I took one look at it and said, "This isn't a Porterhouse steak, it's a porter mansion!" and I ordered a small one. I simply can't even imagine trying to wrestle with a 32oz steak! The first dinner in the Polo Grill also felt somewhat rushed. We were seated promptly (good) a menu was ready to be handed to us even before we sat down, drink order taken, and immediately the waiter was there to take our order. Bread, salad and main course seemed to come before we were finished with the previous course. Both issues turned into positives, as far as I'm concerned: On our mid-cruise comment card I made mention of both negatives from our visit to Polo. That card was turned in at the reception desk on deck 4 in the morning. By that afternoon we had received a call from the Polo Grill chef and Georgios, the Maitre 'de. The chef said he was glad to hear of our problem and assured us it would be looked into and taken care of - all future cuts of meat were excellent. We didn't get a chance to talk with Georgios about the rushed feeling but during our second meal in the Grill, 3 nights later, he stopped at our table and spoke to us at great length about our concerns. He apologized and then offered us another reservation, which we took. During the second evening in Polo the service was much better, less hurried. By the third visit we are positive that Michael, our head waiter, had been told to ensure that we were well cared for. We enjoyed Michael all three times there as he was very personable and very good at his job! The Grand Dining Room dining was also very high quality. Naturally the room is a bit noisier than the smaller venues but still within reason. The wait staff was usually prompt and took good care of their charges. There was only once when it was necessary to ask about our food delivery. Food was generally very tasty, well presented and the right temperature. Twice we couldn't decide between two entrees and opted to have both delivered together...made for a crowed table. Room service meals - The only time we had room service for other than our morning coffee was the last day. While packing we ordered some cheese and crackers. It was delivered within about 10 minutes and was a nice arrangement of several types of crackers and a good assortment of cheese - including, as our video showed - Limburger. I haven't tried Limburger since I was a pre-teen when my grandfather and I would take cheese and pistachio nuts down into the basement to share. It definitely is an acquired taste which we still have yet to accomplish....and really are not going to try. While we are on the subject of dining: There are several things which, in my opinion, make dining onboard Oceania Lines even nicer and one that's not so great: • You can order a bottle of wine with a meal and have it available later in most of the ding venues: Toscana, Polo, GDR and even Tapas. • Tip is automatically included with drinks and, of course, there's no tipping in the restaurant. It is very nice that when you are finished with a meal or a drink at the bar you simply get up and leave • Michael the head waiter in the Polo Grill • Making additional reservations in Toscana and the Polo Grill is cumbersome. The ONLY way to get additional reservations above and beyond your room's allotment is to go up the Terrace Cafe and wait in line before breakfast starts. I tried it twice arriving each time about 15 minutes before the restaurant opened and was about the 7th to 8th person in line. Didn't get additional seating either time. There's got to be a better way. Other shipboard related stuff Tours at each port It is not difficult to learn a great deal of information about most places that the ship will stop. Googling the name of the city/area will reveal a wealth of information. Tripadvisor dot com is a good site to find out information about restaurants, hotels and even places to visit. Of course, the tried and true book guides: Frommer's, Rick Steves (excellent!) But the best spot is the Cruise Critic boards. There you can ask very specific questions and learn from the experience of well-seasoned travellers (ya might say that some are...wait for it...old salts!) We decided, after extensive research on the various ports to do some DIY, some with a privately arranged tour and, to gain the experience of it, some shipboard tours. Most private tours that we took were much, much better than ships tour because we saw more sites, learned a greater amount of detail, could customize the tour to suit the tastes of the fewer number in the group and for the most part were less expensive that the ship's offerings. With a ship's tour there is always the necessity to ensure that ALL of the tourists in the group are on the bus or with the group as you explore. This means that the pace is CONSIDERABLY slower than a small group. Of course, due diligence must be taken when setting up the private tours: ensure the extent of the services that will be provided by you guide: transportation, dialogue while riding; qualified (and licensed) tour guides at major sites (Or at least arrangements for such a guide); itinerary and naturally the price. Confirm the arrangements about a month before the date of your tour AND confirm a day or two before. Using a cell phone is easy and relatively cheap in most places and well worth the dollar or two it costs to use. The use of tenders by those who are DIYing it or taking a private tour is painless. As can be expected, these on a ship's tour have first priority on the tender. However, if there are extra seats on a tender others may use them. We never found a day when we weren't able to get on the first tender leaving the ship. In the daily bulletin the ship's tours will be listed along with the time to report to the Nautica Lounge to pick up the tender tickets. If you are taking a ship's tour the voucher(s) for that tour will be in your stateroom when you board. Take the voucher to the Nautica Lounge at the appropriate time and trade it for a tender ticket that has on it the number of the tender to which you are assigned and bus pass. Wait in the Lounge until your tender is called (A nice Swedish voice will gently call out, "Those on tender #1 may now proceed to deck 3". Follow the leader down to the debarkation deck, deck 3. If you are DIYing or private touring and you want to get off the ship as early as possible be in the Nautica Lounge about 15 minutes before the first ship's tour people. Go up to the check in desk and they will give you a tender pass. If there are seats on tender #1 that's when you'll go. We took private torus in 4 or 5 ports and were always able to get on the first tender. Most of the time when we DIYed it we didn't leave the ship until an hour or two after the first wave of tenders departed so there was never any wait. In fact, the cruise director will announce when open tendering starts so you don't even need a pass. Returning to ship is even easier. Hopefully you've remembered where the boat pulled in (suggestion - take several pictures of the surrounding area so that on return from a long day of walking/shopping the location can be confirmed) There was always a welcoming Oceania umbrella with a table that had cool drinks of water or juice and a few chairs. Ship staff is on hand and greet you with a nice smile. The shore based staff will check your World Card to ensure that you are headed to the correct ship. Of course, if the ship is pier side there is no restriction on when any passenger can disembark. Other minutia and opinions: Cost of "extras" onboard. DIY vs. Laundry service. Opinion - we were on vacation we did not want to spend our time in the Laundromat. Even with sending out underwear to be cleaned and several loads of shirts/slacks/dresses our total laundry bill wasn't any more that $50 {yes we did rinse out our socks in tour bathroom}. Booze: No more costly than could be found at a decent bar/restaurant. $4.50 for a 'standard' beer and $6.00 for the two or three premium ones (Guinness, Grolsche). $9-10 for a martini. {I recently went into a local bar complete with pool tables and one or two patrons drinking shots & beers (NOT a high class joint). My bourbon on the rocks cost $8} Shipboard booze cost is really not excessive. 18% gratuity automatically included: I'll ask you this: If you got out to dinner at a nice restaurant and wait for your table at the bar with a martini or two, what will the bill be and how much tip will you leave? I see a $20 tab, I'm probably going to add 3-4 dollars - 15-20%. $12/day/person added to your ship's invoice: Again consider what would it cost if you would eat breakfast and dinner at a restaurant (the adjective 'nice' is assumed). Breakfast would cost $15-20 and dinner $60-80 at a minimum. Total per day would be $75-100. A 15% tip would then amount to between $11 & $15. Considering all of the other services rendered $12 ain't half bad. Port touring: I had meticulously planned a combination of ship & private tours and several stops where we DIYed it. Those DIY days were to be lighter on the shore based activities. Alas we didn't follow through with that plan. Reflecting back, we wished we did have more time on board the ship to lounge by the pool, join in some of the activities and just relax. NEXT TIME Future Oceania Cruises presentation: If it is anything like the one they gave on our cruise, don't bother. It was simply a reading of the list of cruises coming up. (If one of my students had made a presentation like that I would have flunked him/her) Response to 'suggestions' (read: problems). Whenever there was an issue that was brought to the attention of a staff member it was addressed immediately. You will notice that I didn't say "most of the time" because it was dome EVERYTIME. This is an extraordinarily superior service (and obvious mandated goal) of the ship and by extension the company... (The response was so good that one needed to be mindful of off handed comments because it may result in an unnecessary immediate response). Cases in point: Mid-cruise comments. This was filled out about the 5th day of the cruise and turned in to the reception desk before going ashore about 9 AM. When we returned in mid-afternoon, the door in our room was fixed; there was a note about reusing towels on our bed and a message from both the chef and the maitre 'de from the Polo Grill on our telephone's voice mail. The chef spoke to us about the quality of the meat cut and assured us it would be watched - never had a problem in the next two visits there. We missed being able to take immediately to the Maitre 'de, Georgios (from Corfu) but he came to our table 3 nights later and we spoke at length about the service. This concern was attended to and we were offered an extra reservation in the restaurant - which we took. A mention to Bridget, the trainer in the gym about missing towels brought an instantaneous supply; a question about use of the equipment launched a full blown demonstration on the equipment and some good info on work out routines. Bridget, by the way, was delightfully upbeat and pleasant any time we saw her in the gym or elsewhere on the ship. General ship's crew demeanor: The treatment and pleasant willingness of ALL of the crew was another very strong point of the ship. Especially those with whom you have numerous contact; room attendant, waiter, bar tender they were not only pleasantly polite but genuinely happy in their positions. Learning about their lives and families made the trip even more special because you felt a bit like you were with your own family. Was the entire ship-board experience perfect? NO, but then again perfection wasn't expected. But overall, 99% of the time we felt pampered and felt that whatever we wanted we could have. It was delightful to be spoiled and for us... NEXT TIME will definitely be Oceania Read Less
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