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10 Oceania Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the ... Read More
I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the Assistant Cruise Director, they were amazing. The food and service on Riviera was also amazing and due to this experience the folks that I met on the Riviera decided to book Insignia 14 day Caribbean. Thank goodness we were with 6 other friends, or we could not have bared the thought of 2 weeks on this ship. Where to start...let's start with the biggest problem, the cruise director! We disliked him so much, we can't even remember his name, we believe it was Ray. We heard the guy on the loud speaker announcements daily and didn't get to see him until day 5. We tried to be friendly with him and one person in our party went over to him to see if he was going to sing at karaoke or not - the Cruise Director was staring at this phone all through the event. He looked up at the person in our group and very sarcastically said - "I hire singers, I don't sing", then went straight back to his phone. All of us were dumbfounded! Believe it or not, it got worse, he then went over to the bartenders and started pointing and laughing at our group - we had no idea why, perhaps he thought his sarcastic remark to a gentleman in our group was funny???? Disgusting!!! Remember, when traveling as a group of 8 on Oceania we spent over 50K for the two week cruise - this type of behaviour should not be tolerated. School children are better behaved! The food quality, in my personal opinion, has dropped since we cruise on Riviera in 2017. On Riviera, the quality and selection were extremely good - especially in the specialty restaurants. On Insignia however they were marginal. My entree in Toscana was horrible - how on earth can you mess up a plate of pasta? The pasta in the buffet was 100% better. I went to culinary school for 2 years, and believe and am qualified enough to remark on the food quality. * The buffet was mediocre and repetitious. * The main dining room was the best place to eat, but again, the quality was not up to par * Bar Services at all venues were quite good This ship underwent a dry dock very recently and it appears they just concentrated on the cabins and updated the furniture and carpet in the public areas. On the pool deck the boards were loose and warped. I watched more than one person take a stumble on it. There were very elderly people on this, you would thing that Oceania would spend the money to fix the teak deck. The ship also looks tired on the outside - lots of rust and Overall - Your World, Your Way - I think not. This will be our last Oceania Cruise. The cost associated for this trip was NOT fulfilled in any way. We have paid much less on Princess, Celebrity and Holland American and no longer see the benefits of this marketed "UPSCALE" line. This line needs to re-think their approach, it's not working any longer. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our first Oceania cruise after many on Celebrity and Holland America. Our French Polynesia cruise was a charter so some of our experiences likely are different from a "regular" cruise so I'll try to stick to the ... Read More
This was our first Oceania cruise after many on Celebrity and Holland America. Our French Polynesia cruise was a charter so some of our experiences likely are different from a "regular" cruise so I'll try to stick to the parts I think you would find on both. First of all, we loved the size of the ship compared to the larger ocean liners. At 1,200 guests this made the ship much more manageable and easier to explore. We also loved that it seemed much less commercial than other ships -- no art sales, few shops, a tiny casino. This ship was built for relaxing. We had a penthouse suite which in a word was awesome. Tons of space, tons of storage (so much so that we probably didn't use half of the drawers) and a huge walk in closet. It was a perfect place to relax and unwind. Being in a penthouse suite gets you a butler -- he was very efficient and useful. We had him book our spots in the specialty restaurants but he was on hand for almost anything we needed. The food -- even in the main dining room -- was by far the best we have experienced on the 15 cruises we have taken before. The specialty restaurants in particular were terrific. We especially loved the French-themed one. Another plus was that at least for this cruise there was no surcharge for any of the specialty restaurants. We only ate in the main dining room three nights out of eight. Not great for the waistline but wonderful for the palate! Since this was a charter, most of the entertainment was brought on from the charter company so it's impossible to rate the Oceania's entertainment. Just understand that since this is a mid-sized ship the entertainment venues are not what you would get on a larger vessel. As for service, we generally had excellent service throughout. The one hiccup we had was resolved to our satisfaction and the staff bent over backwards to apologize and rectify the situation. Travel to French Polynesia is more expensive than other destinations but we were very happy with our cruise and with the Oceania Marina. I'd book Oceania again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
There were some islands on this cruise we've not been to before, which is the reason we took it. That & the wonderful food on board Riviera. We do need to stress that entertainment is rather bland on this ship. The food IS the ... Read More
There were some islands on this cruise we've not been to before, which is the reason we took it. That & the wonderful food on board Riviera. We do need to stress that entertainment is rather bland on this ship. The food IS the entertainment. We're both in the food industry & this is a reason we've done 2 cruises on the Riviera. We'd have gone back in 2020 for another 14 days, but the only cruise is a 14 day "midweek" type cruise. We hate getting back midweek. We like that 2 day relaxing affair that a Fri-Sat cruise ending affords. Unpacking etc. winding down from the enjoyment & getting ready to be back to work(Uhhgg!) We've noticed with lots of cruises, that the quality starts to slide each year. Not so on Oceania. Our cabin was 8100, which is a great cabin. You hop off the elevator & you're right outside your door. NO noise issues at all. The only thing was, that a prior guest had "bent" the shower door a bit, so it didn't close properly. This allowed water to get out, which wet the floor allowing for the floor tiles to get wet & "pop" up. We notified our attendant about this...It looked like it had been going on awhile as you could see new grout in the floor. This time they fixed the problem & no more issues after about day 3. The room itself was very nice. Fairly large for a Veranda type cabin. With a decent sized Veranda, that you could actually relax on. If there is one thing about Oceania that we've noticed, it's that they really don't offer much to the LGBT community. There was one & only one get together & it was set right at dinner time. Needless to say we didn't attend. Last year we share a table with a Texas couple In Polo Grill, who upon "figuring" us out, just totally "clammed" up for the rest of the meal. Not a good experience for us or them. This Year we had to again share a table(this time in Jacques)The couple saw us & immediately came up with the excuse that the table was too close to the entrance(not at all!) So we had a 4 person table to ourselves & thoroughly enjoyed it. It's obvious to the reader that we try to not share tables to avoid making us or other tablemates uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We love Oceania for its amazing service and outstanding food quality and variety. We've been sailing on Oceania for the past 15 years and just got off the Marina yesterday. This was an unusual itinerary since it had so many sea days ... Read More
We love Oceania for its amazing service and outstanding food quality and variety. We've been sailing on Oceania for the past 15 years and just got off the Marina yesterday. This was an unusual itinerary since it had so many sea days (which we both love). We boarded the ship in Papette, visited 4 ports in French Polynesia and then sailed to Hawaii and visited 4 island ports there. We sailed 5 days from Kawaii to Los Angeles where we disembarked. We really enjoyed the ship's excursions. We did an excursion in every port. We enjoy nature, birds and photographing beautiful landscapes - we were not disappointed. The Pacific Ocean was as calm as a lake (we were quite lucky). We had perfect weather on every port day and all but one sea day. Our butler proved outstanding service - including room service breakfast on disembarkation day. We have booked a 30 day voyage August, 2019 sailing from London to NYC - visiting Iceland, Greenland and some of Europe. That will complete 31 Oceania cruises for us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
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
Sail Date December 2017
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in Europe so all seemed good; bad decision. We did not realize nor did our travel agent, that Oceania advises you of your stateroom the day before sailing. Thus you options to select another stateroom or cancel was not an option. My recommendation would be never to book a cruise without you knowing where you will be. As to the ship, the Sirena is a 17 year old ship and it still looks like it. Other than make all the staterooms smaller to gain more revenue, it is a mystery as to where the money went. The biggest shock was the size of the Penthouse. It had no closets and very limited space to put your clothes. Any cruise over 12 days would be an issue. The bathroom is a joke. You can almost take a shower, go to the toilet, and shave without moving. The width of the bathroom is so small it is hard to describe it. The shower is approx. 3’X 4’ I feel sorry for the passengers that did not have penthouses. On the positive side, the food was great. The ports we visited were great. The disappointment was their decision to stop in a great port on Sunday when 90% of the sights were closed. They stayed there the full day loading ship supplies. Making things worse, is the ship hit an underground cable due to a Pilot error. We had to stay another day in port and miss a great port that was on the itinerary. They offered everyone a $200.00 shipboard credit on a future cruise; they can keep it. I strongly recommend you stay from this ship if you want to experience a great cruise; there competitors offer such better choices Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose Oceania because of the itinerary. We have never been to the South Pacific or Easter Island before. With only about 800 passengers aboard, embarkation was swift. We were early so we didn't have access to our cabin but ... Read More
We chose Oceania because of the itinerary. We have never been to the South Pacific or Easter Island before. With only about 800 passengers aboard, embarkation was swift. We were early so we didn't have access to our cabin but there was plenty of room for our carry on bags while we had lunch in the Terrace Café buffet. All of the food was served to us, no guests handled any of the serving utensils to help curb the spread of illnesses, and that continued throughout the entire cruise. We were booked in a concierge level cabin and it was a little smaller than we expected and the balcony was not very large either. The closet was barely large enough for a long voyage but it contained drawers, a safe, as well as hanging space. The shower was tiny but we did also have a bathtub and plenty of storage space in the bathroom. Enough about the cabin - let's get on to the food. Food and service on board was fabulous. There are four specialty restaurants and there is no added cost to dine in any of them. Reservations are required because they fill up quickly. We enjoyed Chilean sea bass in Red Ginger, the Asian restaurant, and it was probably the best we've ever had. Lobster tails are available every night if you choose to dine in the Terrace Café. The Marina did have the finest cuisine at sea, as advertised. We had lunch in the dining room most days and enjoyed their around the world tastes that changed daily. There were seminars about our destinations and more, and hands on classes for art (free) and cooking (for a fee). We also used hand held audio guides to learn about the art on the ship (Picasso is one of the artists). The musical reviews on board were the same as other cruises, full of energy and talented young performers. A string quartet was excellent, as was a comedian who came on board for two shows. Shore excursions were adequate although quite expensive. The South Pacific isn't commercialized yet as so many other ports so choices were limited. We will definitely plan another Oceania cruise. The service and atmosphere were far superior to other cruises we've been on (29 past cruises with Holland American, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Carnival and a few others). Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise to meet two requirements– he wanted to go to Rio and I wanted to go on a cruise! Based on that requirement and the time we were able to go, only Oceania and Regent had itineraries that worked (and they ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise to meet two requirements– he wanted to go to Rio and I wanted to go on a cruise! Based on that requirement and the time we were able to go, only Oceania and Regent had itineraries that worked (and they were identical). So based on our TA’s recommendation and our own preferences based on what we’d read on Cruise Critic about both lines, we chose the Marina for our cruise. Before boarding the ship, we spent a few days in Paris and a few days in Barcelona. In Paris we stayed at the Best Western Premier L’Horset Opera, conveniently located close to the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. Advice: go to the Louvre first thing in the morning, and use the entry that is in the shopping center below the museum. You get in quick, and if you are lucky, as we were, you can see the Venus de Milo in a completely empty room, and the Mona Lisa with only 50 other people rather than 1,000. In Barcelona, we stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona Hotel on Pau Claris, again, really nicely situated for many sights, and shopping. Also easy access to the Metro. A must see in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia. We made prior reservations online for entry and for a tower climb, but the weather was bad and the towers weren’t open. But we didn’t have to stand in line in the rain to buy tickets. Highly recommend getting tickets in advance. Embarkation to the ship was a breeze – we got there at around 10.30am, and were in our suite by 11.15am, with our luggage by 11.30. Super easy. The ship is everything that has already been said about it – beautiful and classy. And the staff is amazing. We were onboard for 19 days, and I can’t think of one time when service was below excellent. We had some issues with technical equipment in our suite, which was resolved by the ship buying new equipment in Gibraltar, since it turned out the glitch was because we were trying to use new technology and the ship is two years old (and therefore out of date!). But the efforts of our butler (Lector), the GM (Dominique) and the Concierge (Javier) were outstanding. We never felt unheard. Some observations on the ship: Clientele – upscale, well travelled. We heard some comments from long time Oceania cruisers that this itinerary had attracted some “overly entitled” folks, and we did see a bit of that, especially when it came to seating and access on the tour buses. A large contingent of more senior folks that sometimes behaved like high school kids without a chaperone…pushing and shoving and cutting in line. But overall, a relaxed, country club atmosphere. There was also a large number of LGBT on this cruise, including us, and we never had any concerns. The clientele is sophisticated, smart and accepting…..and we felt totally at home. The spa is fantastic, but the steam room is very small. The gym is great, but got very crowded on sea days. As is normal on ships, massages and other treatments were very expensive, but we enjoyed them anyways. Entertainment – we didn’t ever go to the Marina Lounge except to disembark for excursions. The Casino is small, and the selection of games is a bit weak. But the staff is very friendly and Nico did a great job making me feel at home. Food – there is little to say here except I want the cookbook. Red Ginger is amazing, Toscana and Polo are wonderful, Jacques is enjoyable. However, the lack of rotation on the menus at the specialty restaurants meant the choices got a bit repetitive. The Grand Dining Room – we ate there twice. The second time was for Thanks Giving Dinner, and I have to say it was the worst meal on board. I don’t think the chefs “got the concept”. We never ate at Waves Grill, and we regret that. We were told on our last day that it’s one of the highlights. Who knew? The Terrace Buffet was adequate, apart from never being able to find a table and sometimes the service was slow to non-existent, especially if you were seated inside towards the entry doors to the Grill. Butler service – if you are blessed to have one, USE it. We did course by course in suite dining, we did last minute reservations at Red Ginger, we did a cocktail party with canapés….we got advice and information on ports of call, we got laundry expedited…..you name it. Let the butler do his/her job. At first, it was a bit weird to have a hovering attendant during meals, but by the mid-point of the trip, he was becoming a highlight! Lector made a huge difference in our enjoyment of the cruise. Suite – an amazing space. We were in 12009 Oceania Suite. Glorious indulgence. The media room separate from the bedroom meant my husband and I could indulge in our different rest/entertainment needs without any issues. The balcony and Jacuzzi were an indulgence that we used a lot. The only issues I’d have with the suite was the overly complicated lighting (we never did work out what switch did what, and in the middle of the night trying to turn on one bathroom light, we sometimes got a Vegas style light show instead), and the glass doors which negated the isolation of the bedroom from the rest of the suite (particularly during said Vegas light shows). Some observations on the itinerary: Cartagena – didn’t really do much here. Went ashore and walked around. Gibraltar – wonderful experience. Did the “Walking Tour of the Upper Rock” excursion, and the guide (Karen) couldn’t have been better. We got so much out of this tour, we forgot the outrageous cost for excursions that Oceania charge. Lanzarote – it was raining, and our submarine tour was cancelled due to lack of interest. Also, scheduling a port stop on a Sunday in a place that closes down on Sundays was never a good idea. The place was shut. Tenerife – amazing tour “Canadas del Tiede”. The bizarre Martian landscape of the volcano was worth every penny, and the House of Balconies in La Oratavia was wonderful. The lunch we could have skipped. Cape Verde – don’t get off the ship. Really. Recife – unless you go to Olinda, another “why?” port. Again, this port stop was scheduled for a Monday, a day that all the museums in the city are closed. Bad timing by Oceania since this information is publically available. Salvador de Bahia – we enjoyed this very much, and will return. We did the “Highlights of Salvador” tour, and it was worth it to get a sense of place and geography, so that on the second day, we wandered around on our own and got a more in depth look at some of the places on the tour. Buzios – we did the “Swim by Schooner” tour….but the water was too cold for real enjoyment. Afterwards, we took a cab to a different beach away from the town, and had a relaxing beach afternoon. Beautiful. Rio de Janeiro – we did the “Best of Rio” 8 hour tour. Again, the lunch could have been skipped. Sugarloaf and the Corcovado was basically the rest of the tour. We had two more days in Rio, and went back to Corcovado again, when it was sunny. It was a lot less expensive and pretty simple to do by ourselves, but probably again partly due to the fact that we had some familiarity from doing the tour. Disembarkation – we were off the ship by 9am, and we organized our car service through our hotel – a cost of about $100, compared to Oceania asking for $395. We stayed two days at the JW Marriott at Copacabana – which was great, but after being away for a month, we were both a bit “tired of touring” so we stayed inside and watched movies for the most part! Flights – all arranged with Delta, not using Oceania. We used points and flew Business Elite – and now we can never do coach again. Overall observations: Oceania is not for you if you want exciting entertainment and partying. It’s not for you if you have young kids. If you want an upscale resort experience, excellent service and food, to return home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated….and maybe a little wiser about the destinations you’ve been to….then Oceania is a good choice.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We are just so thrilled with Oceania that we booked TWO MORE cruises with them. I couldn’t imagine sailing any other line after this experience, and we’ve sailed most of the mass market and even some of the premium lines (Azamara, ... Read More
We are just so thrilled with Oceania that we booked TWO MORE cruises with them. I couldn’t imagine sailing any other line after this experience, and we’ve sailed most of the mass market and even some of the premium lines (Azamara, Cunard, etc.). This is my first review, so be gentle. :) This was an 18 day (10 day on Marina) trip from Stockholm to Copenhagen. We spent 4 days in Stockholm prior and 4 days in Copenhagen after. STOCKHOLM: First off, Stockholm is almost utopia, albeit expensive. I’ve lived in big cities my entire life, and THIS is the city to beat. One almost has to wonder, too good to be true? Then the price factors in. It is VERY expensive, but you do get quality for that price. So I’d translate to say “value”. We stayed at the Sheraton right by Central station (on reward points) and it was perfect. Day 1 was jet lag day after flying overnight from NYC. We took the Arlanda Express (which you should too) and it was super. ARN to Central Station in about 20 mins, plenty of room for luggage, and just a well oiled operation - buy your tickets in advance for a steep discount. After walking out of the (busy) central station, they have a dedicated taxi line just for riders of the train. 2 Seconds and we were in a cab to take the 5 block ride to our hotel. Taxis are expensive - this 5 minute ride cost us about $20 US. But we had luggage and were exhausted so that was money well spent. Tipping here is minimal, so keep that in mind (they make a living wage already, so while appreciated, it is not necessary to tip more than a few dollars (round it up)). We arrived at the Sheraton and our room was not yet ready (granted it was 9am). They had a WONDERFUL coffee shop attached and we sipped and noshed. Again - very expensive by US standards, but it was really really good. Wifi abound we started telling our folks we made it alive and happy, then the front desk manager tells us our room is available. ….5 Hours of wonderful sleep ensue…. We woke up around 4pm and took a shower and got gussied up a bit to head to our Dinner Cruise (en route to Drottningholm and back which just so happened to leave from basically across the street) and we were thinking “buffet food” - Um, NOPE. Let this be the intro into what we found absolutely solid - the food here is TOP notch, and you will pay as such. We drank and ate our way around the archipelagos, and it was simply fantastic. Don’t miss this and it may be the perfect way to start your trip. We got back to the hotel about 10pm and proceeded to pass out. Day 2 - We woke up bright and early, very refreshed and grabbed a bite from the hotel restaurant buffet which, again, was expensive but VERY good. We immediately headed to the subway (T-Bana in Swedish?) and headed over to the Vasa Museum stop. A nice 15 minute walk - and did I say this place was beautiful? - very enjoyable. We were literally the only ones in that museum as we arrived when it was opening. MY ADVICE - DO THIS. We spent about 3 hours, including a guided tour and it started to get VERY crowded. When we left, there was a 2 hour wait to get in. We made the right call going super early and it was fantastic and not to be missed. Just go early or you run the risk of mega crowds (aka Disney World on Christmas day). We actually high fived each other as we walked out and seeing that line. GO EARLY! We took the train back to our hotel and took a nap. We then got gussied up again, had a drink at the popular bar on the corner, and headed out to our special dinner via subway yet again - and boy was it special. Erik’s Gondolen. Hard to explain so look it up, but think a bridge over the water that you can eat in. Food again was very pricy but SO good - and about ½ way into our dinner, fireworks started going off. I kid you not. Could be one of the best meals/experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve been around. Do not miss this place. Return to hotel around 11pm and pass out again. Day 3 - We pack up and checkout after doing that amazing breakfast buffet again. Time to head to the ship (which is in port overnight). We took a cab to the ship as we had that luggage and check in was about as easy as could be. Maybe 5 minutes tops, and a class act.. Dropped our luggage, did the typical check in routine of passport/credit card, and off we were. We had lunch aboard at the pool deck since the rooms were not ready yet. Um - here’s where it gets better. Lobster AND fillet sandwiches? Yup. We noshed and sipped and were just happy campers. I love to cook, but nothing like having this served, included! We then did a quick exploration of the ship (Marina) and by God it was beautiful. And there seemed to be so much to do. Or not. Either way, best ship I’ve been on and it was the perfect size. Our room was available about 2pm so we headed there and unpacked, met our steward who was just as fun as could be, and he grilled us on our likes/dislikes (and took note of the bottle of champagne we brought, and the liquor) and took a nap on those AMAZING beds. We then met another couple from CC for dinner at Red Ginger after taking a very refreshing shower (two showers at a time in a standard verandah? Pinch me). Red Ginger was just great. Very tasteful and TASTY and the miso sea bass was divine! And the foreshadowing begins. After bidding adieu to the fantastic company, we headed to the Martini bar for a nightcap - what a crowd and fun and the piano player was quite the character!! Somewhat tipsy, around 11p we hit the sack and slept so well in those wonderful beds. Turns out our steward had taken care of everything (loungers on the amazing 7008/7009 extended balcony, double ice, fully stocked mini fridge (mixers) and put our champagne on ice). Classy all around and he got an extra tip from us when we saw him next. We started to think we made the right choice…. Day 4 - Ship leaves at 3pm, so we get up early and head out to explore more of Stockholm. We did one of those sightseeing cruises (there were free shuttles via the ship to town). It was great. We hit up the Absolut museum, the Viking museum, and just saw a lot of this city. Unfortunately we screwed up and got off at the WRONG cruise port after a boat tour (the cruise port is NOT YOUR CRUISE PORT) - please be careful here - and ended up almost having to take an overnight ferry to Helsinki to meet the ship. By the luck of God, we found a cab driver who would bring us to the ship. There are three ports - KNOW WHICH ONE! We arrived about 20 mins before gangways up, however my non-chip credit card would not work. Our driver, cool as a cucumber said “do you have euros?” to which I said yes, but up in the stateroom. ME RUNNING UP THE GANGWAY, THROUGH THE HALLS, OPENING THE SAFE, REVERSE, and BACK AGAIN! It’s times like this you just must love the thrill of travel or you’ll be miserable. It was an experience to say the least. Either way, we are now on board and happy (though tired) campers. Guess what? Now we have a Culinary class at 4pm. Frazzled as we were, we headed there and seriously, had so much fun, we stopped being exhausted. Our instructor, Chef Anne was a trip. We ended up making the best dishes, and like 5 of them of varying degrees of difficulty. Don’t miss the Culinary classes. I cook a LOT and I learned a bunch of things from her. This would not be our first run-in. After that we cleaned up/showered and headed to dinner at Toscana. This is the anti-Carnival. Food was spot on, service was spot on, and we met a couple we had seen in town so we asked to be paired up. No problem. A great dinner. Needless to say, we didn’t partake in anything other than glorious sleep after that. Day 5 - We arrived bright and early in Helsinki. This is our one Cruise Sponsored excursion. We met up with Chef Anne and boarded a little (12 people) bus. Off to the market we go. And what a market! Again, I LOVE cooking and eating and this was just sensory overload. Our mission - find things to make crepes out of, and she even provided us 5 euros each to do so. So we went overboard with the amazing forest berries and mushrooms. We then went to the Helsinki Culinary Institute. AMAZING. Broken up into teams of 3-4 we all conquered a traditional Scandinavian dinner of 5 dishes. Let’s just say a few of us made Reindeer Sausage (self included). It was so gross and yet so much fun. Nobody went away unhappy after that. Who gets to do that? After our heavy lunch, requip with wine, we return to the ship, and have an hour off. Then back to the culinary class to make our findings from the market into crepes. And you know what - I’ve been terrified of crepes for the longest time. WE can now both confidently make them, with a saffron spiked base too boot! That was just fun and we met more people and were actively scheming for each other’s time on board as company. Happy dudes. After that we were kind of wiped so we took an hour nap, then headed up to Main Dining Room. FANTASTIC. So unlike other cruise lines where there is a “banquet” feel to the meal. Food was fresh and on spot and really, very good quality.. We headed to bed as the next day was Russia and we knew it would be a long one. Day 6 - St. Pete Day one. I won’t elaborate other than to say, it’s a LONG DAY of a “lot of gold” and “opulence.”. Be ready for a long wait to clear customs the first day. It won’t be so bad after that first day, but again - give yourself ½ hour the morning you arrive… (and we were warned via Currents). We left the ship at 7:30am and didn’t get back until 6pm. We used Alla Tours and it was good - just hectic and lots of “stuff” to see….. It was good - but we were wiped. EXCEPT we had the ballet that night. So we literally quickly freshened up and changed, ran back down, cleared customs, and met our hero (more on that later) bus driver and off we went. The ballet was good but we were starving. We got back to the ship around 11:30pm and ordered room service. Fantastic and rather fast. Thanks guys, because…. Day 7 - Moscow. Up at 4:30am to catch the 6am Sapsan express from SPB to Moscow. Our hero bus driver is there waiting for our group of 11 (again, via Alla Tours). We had one late couple who resulted in our group RUNNING behind Dimitri (the driver) to the train. We got there just in time. Then a 4 hour train ride which was comfortable and not that bad since everyone slept it seemed. Moscow was awesome, but again, very long and tiring. It was told to us that for whatever reason, we could not take the train back as it sold out - thus we were to fly back to SPB. I was actually thrilled since the prospect of another 4 hour train ride didn’t really jive at that moment. EXCEPT - Moscow airports are very different! Anyways, we had a nice dinner/drinks and finally got on the plane, all spread out which was weird. We got through it all and landed back in SPB around 11:30pm. Just in time for…. Day 8 - SPB, DAY 2 - Much more sightseeing, and crowds, and of course the G20 was getting ready to convene so it was a mad house. In retrospect, I’m glad I saw Russia, but I probably would not go back. No fault of Alla Tours - it’s just too much. We were so exhausted by of our day that we all agreed - “bring us back to the ship!” And such we were. We proceeded to take a nap around 3pm, then have dinner at Jaques that evening. Jaques was great and we both raved about it. We were asleep by 10pm after a quick nightcap in Reflections where they had a small band playing hits from the 70’s. The ship left sometime that overnight (we were asleep)..... Day 9 - Tallinn, Estonia. What a surprise! We got up early to have breakfast feeling somewhat rested and dined in the MDR. Very good - not exceptional, but good. Service, as a given, was spot on. We scarfed down our food and headed out to meet our next tour, which was great. First, this city shocked me. It’s a smaller picturesque “old town” vibe. But it’s also extremely cosmopolitan. It’s just hard to explain unless you go. We loved not only our guide who was so laid back in comparison to the last 3 days in Russia, but also the whole vibe. This was a unanimous feeling in our group of 16 on our short 3 hour tour. We loved it and spent all day there after our tour (4 hours)... We got back on the ship around 4pm via the ship shuttle, and headed to our balcony to relax for a bit and sip on some locally sourced wine and admire our wonderful craft purchases. It is really a special place and we almost decided to skip the tour since we were so tired - glad we didn’t. We sailed off at 6pm as we headed to dinner again in the MDR. Again, very good. Went to bed after trying our hand a few times at the Roulette table over a nightcap (one of us hit hard twice) then called it a night. Day 10 - A much-needed sea day… We woke up around 10am. Lazy and Laundry is the word of the morning. We skipped breakfast opting for Baristas (which is AWESOME) and just read, drank coffee and nibbled while loads went round and round. We also sent out a bunch of laundry on their 20 for $20 deal, as well as some dry cleaning. We basically had a lazy sea day, and I’ll remind you - we have had nothing BUT perfect sunny warm weather this whole trip so far. It was fantastic. I had yet another 4pm cooking class which was, like always, a blast. When that ended, it was time to “gussie up” for our La Reserve dinner. DO NOT MISS THIS. Yeah, it’s a big surcharge. But the food and wine you get (7 courses, and tons of very high quality wine) make it worth it. Very intimate, very special. We made so many friends that night we still keep in contact with and the conversation just flows as does the wine. Just fantastic. Needless to say, we were toast after that 3 ½ hour event. Off to bed. Day 11 - Gdansk, Poland. Got up early, had breakfast at the wonderful lido buffet, and then headed out. We had low hopes for this place. Boy were we wrong. There are groups who offer tours by local people and I suggest you look them up. Private and affordable. Just the three of us took his car, and we saw it all, along with walking some of the not-so-touristy streets. It was just fascinating and we loved it. Of course, the three of us sat down to drink a beer at the local brewery and just really had such a good time. A highlight of this trip. He brought us back to the ship around 2pm and we had a milkshake at the ice cream bar (YUM - and I’m not a “sweets” kinda guy), then got ready for another cooking class. Again, a total blast and we loved it. We headed back to get ready for dinner and dined in Polo Grill - at this point the ship was cruising through VERY rough waters. Literal swells of 12 feet + Thank goodness we don’t get seasick but I can say pouring anything was a challenge and walking after a bottle of wine was even more so. We decided to call it a night after a nightcap at Martini’s around 10 pm. Got back to our room and upon checking our email (we bought internet) unfortunately our tour the next day (independant) was cancelled as the guide was sick. We were kind of happy since 1) we wanted another sea day and 2) we would get our money back. We slept like babies that night Day 12 - The first day of bad weather/Warnemunde/Berlin (it had been perfect up till now). We stayed on board since there was no reason to wander around Warnemunde in the pouring rain. Many had booked trips to Berlin, where it was also raining. It was nice to have the ship to ourselves for the most part. We drank coffee at Baristas, planned our upcoming 4 days in Copenhagen, and just relaxed. Also, they had good strong non-ship wifi in the port so we skyped home from the balcony. Also gave us time to leisurely pack up since this was the “night before” - and we had our bags out by 7pm. Dinner was in the main dining room, then we partied a little bit at Martinis again with our new friends. Day 13- Arrive Copenhagen. Disembark. OK - if you get there early, GET OFF EARLY if you plan to take a cab to a hotel or anything. The line was incredibly long and slow. We got off after breakfast around 8am and it took us no less than an hour. Hundreds of people. And it got far worse as we waited. The cabs are in the city taking people around for work, then AFTER 9, they slowly start showing up. Arrange private transport or be prepared to wait. It’s in a covered area, so it wasn’t terrible - and we got to see all the friends we made as we weaved back and forth. So not terrible - just bring your patience. Finally, around 9:15 off we go, and we immediately realized this was ALSO a fantastic city. He dropped us off at our hotel, and we spent 4 wonderful days in Copenhagen at the Hotel Anderson. It’s right near the central station, and near Tivoli (not to be missed at night - plan dinner there!!!!!). It’s such a cool city and we still talk about it and Stockholm. We will be back. OVERALL: Best cruise we’ve taken, and Oceania and the staff did that. We are hard pressed to find fault, and we’ve already booked 2 more on that same ship. Is it a little more expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? YES. Value is what we saw. See you back onboard friends in 10 months then again in 2015! Don't think twice about a cruise on Oceania. They are fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
First, about us. We're a gay male couple, both 50. We took this cruise with a friend staying singly in a nearby cabin. We've cruised on Oceania (and the Regatta) once before, in 2008 (Barcelona to Rome), and once on MSC ... Read More
First, about us. We're a gay male couple, both 50. We took this cruise with a friend staying singly in a nearby cabin. We've cruised on Oceania (and the Regatta) once before, in 2008 (Barcelona to Rome), and once on MSC (Eastern Caribbean), in 2011. I walk with forearm crutches and bring a wheelchair for trips with a lot of walking. We opted to not get an accessible cabin because Regatta only offers those as interior cabins. We originally worked with an Oceania agent when the cruise first went on sail to get one of the rear, larger-balconied Veranda cabins (6093). We were offered an opportunity to inexpensively upgrade to a PH2 cabin and took advantage of it, having been curious about the extra level of comfort and service. I hate to begin on a negative note, but our experience with Air Tahiti Nui was less than stellar. We opted to use miles for the air portion (pulling about $1000 off the cruise fare) and saved up enough miles to go round-trip first class. We found that although TN (Air Tahiti Nui) claims to offer free first-class seats, they only offer business. OK. We booked round-trip business seats between Papeete and Chicago. Several weeks later we got a phone message instructing us to call TN. They had cancelled our return flight and rebooked us two nights later. We didn't have enough vacation time to accommodate this change, so we tried to work with them and American Airlines (our airline which was offering the Air Tahiti Nui deal) to no avail. Adding insult to injury, they had added the flight back, and an additional one later that night, but wouldn't/couldn't put us on. So we ended up traveling coach on the way out and kept these new business seats on the return. It was quite a reworking of our plans and a major inconvenience; we were nearly ready to cancel the trip, but our friend convinced us to persevere. (We're glad he did.) So we flew coach to PPT, leaving Chicago Friday around 630PM and arriving around 530AM. PPT has no jetways, so we needed to stay on the plane until they brought a lift to the plane. PPT employees then whisked up through customs. We'd booked accommodations at the Hotel Tahiti Nui in downtown Papeete; they arranged for a transfer from the airport. We found them and arrived at the hotel before 8AM. I'd had the foresight to book a room for the night before as well so that it would be waiting for us. We settled in an rested for a bit before starting our brief visit of the city. I've reviewed the hotel separately on TripAdvisor, but will briefly mention here that it was a good fit for us. Be aware that the city of Papeete is a dirty urban mess. There is nearly no accessibility. Sidewalks have no cut-outs, are often several inches about street level, and suddenly end without warning. We ended up walking/wheeling on the street with traffic -- very intimidating. We ended up using side streets to get around. The Market was interesting (and accessible). The hotel was within a couple of blocks of the cruise dock. We didn't need any additional transport once we arrived at the hotel. We arrived at the port just after 11AM and waited briefly to be checked in. We were escorted to the Terrace Cafe for lunch. We had the foresight to wear knee-length swim shorts so that after lunch we simply headed out for the pool and dove in while awaiting the announcement that our cabins would be ready. Other folks looked at us enviously; I strongly suggest others follow this policy (or wear swimwear underneath street clothes). The ship is not completely accessible. There is no elevator access to deck 11 where one finds their putting and driving ranges, shuffleboard courts, and private cabanas. It is difficult to get over the air/water seal bombs separating different sections of the deck. And although there are ramps to get through the doors to/from the outside decks, it requires at least two people to use them -- one to hold the door open while another lifts the front wheels to get onto the ramp. Oceania staff was always eager to help, particularly in getting in and out of our cabin. And when dining, I was always offered a choice of remaining in the chair or transferring to a regular chair at the table. Oceania specializes in smaller ports, so this means they far more commonly offer tender service ashore. This means once you clear ship security, you must go down a short flight of stairs (8 steps?) to a lowered platform. From here you transfer to a smaller ship which then takes you to the dock. I was able to get up and down the stairs on my own, and the crew always helped getting the chair on the tender boat and on to the dock once ashore. I'm a smaller guy (145 lbs), and I got the impression that they would have helped me transfer while remaining in a chair if needed -- but don't quote me on that. We were surprised to find a few "friends of Dorothy" (Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans) meetings scheduled. Through these meetings (and through others hearing us talk in the restaurants), we became a group of 11 who met each evening to compare our days, meet as a team for Regatta's Team Trivia contests (we had a blast), and dining and/or enjoying the show together afterwards. I don't recall this back in 2008 -- this was a good call on Oceania's part. We enjoyed the space of the suite. Using a wheelchair in a regular veranda cabin is simply impossible; there's just not enough room. Although the suites aren't accessible, I used them as if they were. I was able to get the chair to the threshold of the raised-floor bathroom and simply rise up from the chair to stand and maneuver to the tub or toilet. (In a regular cabin, I used my crutches and fell once, injuring myself. This was far easier.) It was also wonderful having two reclining seats and ottomans on the balcony where there was room for us both to stretch and relax. In terms of service, however, we weren't sold on the upgrade features. Our butler was very professional and helpful. We enjoyed having a hot breakfast brought up to our room, but more often found it easier to just head to the Cafe. Having the offered canapes meant losing our appetite for dinner. We were disappointed to find that when you order a course-by-course meal, the entire meal must be from the same restaurant, even though restaurants share kitchens. (Our butler did work around this once because their French Onion Soup -- which is spectacular -- is ONLY offered on the room service menu, not in any restaurant.) We did take advantage of free pressing for two garments apiece, but did not ask him to pack or unpack our cases as we wanted to know where everything was. And although it was nice having two reservations in each of their prime restaurants, it wasn't anything we would have otherwise paid for. Happily, Oceania's larger ships do offer a couple of accessible veranda cabins. We think we will go that route on our next Oceania cruise. Oceania's cuisine is one of their best selling points and we were very pleased. There were some misses (particularly the Kobe Burger, which is mysteriously a Chef's Selection in the Polo Grill), but by and large we were very pleased with every meal. Favorites included: Polo Grill: lobster bisque, Maine lobster shelled tableside, filet mignon, Toscana: Aragosta Fra Diavolo con Tagliolini Freschi (lobster & pasta), yellow-fin tuna, lasagna. Grand Dining Room: coconut layer cake, caviar, grouper, duck a l'orange Terrace Cafe: Freshly carved prime rib, spring rolls "Interesting" became our buzzword when describing food -- the blend of flavors was often unexpected, but nearly always entertaining. Oceania's service was outstanding. Once we stated a beverage preference, it was known from then onward. These folks were savvy enough to know that I preferred San Peligrino earlier in the day and Perrier for dinner and later. (Honest -- the taste is different.) Opened bottles of wine were saved for following evenings, of course. And the sommeliers were always helpful. At the Cafe, all either of us had to do was raise our head and someone was there immediately to help in whatever way they could. I often had folks at the buffet eager to carry my plate as I wheeled myself around the buffet and back to our table. The entertainment was ok; this is not Oceania's strong suit. They had an 8-piece band and a string quartet who were both excellent. There was also the 4-piece "Regatta Cast" who were better each night. (Their last night show was ovation-worthy.) Other entertainment included Dale Kristien, who sang Phantom of the Opera in LA for many years. She did a lot of name-dropping and appeared to be her own best fan. Their magician was good, but not amazing. Our cruise director, Nolan, also sang and entertained a couple of nights. Good voice, very witty entertainment. Finally, the Regatta crew. We were overwhelmed by the friendliness and eagerness to help. Everyone seemed to be invested in our having a good time. The crew is from 42 different countries and we found employees on board from places as disparate as Jamaica, Macedonia, Greece, Nepal, Namibia, and Peru as well as the more common Indonesia and Philippines. Everyone went out of their way to greet us and ask if we were enjoying ourselves. It's also worth noting that although the cruise was sold out, the ship NEVER felt crowded. There were almost always plenty of chairs available poolside, even on at-sea days. Do note that they take the "do not reserve a chair" policy seriously. Some fellow travelers were incensed when Oceania staffed removed their belongings when they left their chairs for lunch inside. (Their belongings were returned to them with no problem.) After the cruise, we spent a couple of days at the Manava Suite Resort in Punaauia. Reviewed in detail at TripAdvisor. Short version: it was a wonderful close to our vacation. We flew back on Air Tahiti Nui, business class (non-flat seats, only moderately more comfy than coach), leaving PPT at 1150PM Saturday night and arriving home in Chicago 9PM on Sunday night. MISSING PORTS: Nuku Ova: The port itself was impressive. Nice tiki music show. The rest of the island was dull and very hard to ride in a wheelchair. I would have been happier just watching the show and getting back on the ship. Hiva Oa: It's worth noting that the French Polynesian islands are mostly ringed with coral reefs; once the ship was inside the reef breakwater, the waters were all remarkably calm. Once in the French Marquesas (this island and Nuku Ova above), this was no longer the case. Waters here were too choppy for the tendering process, so we took a last minute diversion to Tahuata. This was not even remotely accessible for a wheelchair; the "road" was dirt and rocks. I stayed on board as the others went on a hike of the main road and up to a Christian shrine about 1/4 way up the cliff. They had a very good time. The island folk did a great job of creating a welcoming port with practically no notice. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
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