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4 Oceania Dover Cruise Reviews

We're just off the Oceania Marina's Tastes of Europe cruise, that ended in Rome yesterday, August 26,2011. The impressions are all fresh in our minds. Overall it was a satisfying experience but far from the original ... Read More
We're just off the Oceania Marina's Tastes of Europe cruise, that ended in Rome yesterday, August 26,2011. The impressions are all fresh in our minds. Overall it was a satisfying experience but far from the original expectations built up by the heavy advertisements in press and via internet. The passengers have the opportunity to fill in a feedback document, that we decided against submitting but it does serve as a good template for organising the comments below. We had a Penthouse cabin provided with butler services. The accommodations were satisfactory along with the Stateroom maintenance. Too bad that the cabins are rather poorly built with squeaky doors and hissing sound from the wind outside, that the maintenance crew tried to prevent but didn't succeed entirely. The bathroom facilities were adequate and the towel service was prompt and unobtrusive. The services provided were rather poor. To start with, most of the service desks, the travel desk, the reception etc would not answer directly and one should have expected to be called back in order to register the specific requests. After being denied service for a number of times (related to trip planning, concierge service and another time a special request for room service), we asked to speak to the cruise director. The request did not even generate a call from the director. Instead of it we had our complaints acknowledged by the respective service staff ?!. While we had access to the Executive Concierge service, it was almost impossible to get to the sole person who was supposed to provide them. The line up could take literally over ½ hour at any time of the day. The concierge was only available during limited intervals of the day (about 8 hours). Generally the reception and destination staff and management were 'lost at sea' looking for excuses rather than trying to do their job well. Totally uninformed about the locations we docked at, not ready to resolve any issues on the spot without going for 'approval' (this refers to mistakes in the billing) The cruise staff was rather efficient but annoyingly eager to acknowledge the passengers at all times. This created an impression of artificial courtesy. The same comment goes for the Red Ginger and Toscana restaurant staff. One values one's privacy during the dining experience and a non intrusive, while attentive staff. It does get really annoying being asked 8 times during dinner if everything is all right ! The culinary experience was of a high quality. The specialty restaurants were well appointed (we actually dined twice, at each of them) with a wide choice of on each restaurant menu. The Far Eastern, Red Ginger restaurant was somehow disappointing, by trying to please all tastes but not able to concentrate on any of the far eastern cuisine well. It wasn't either a Chinese or a Japanese or a Thai restaurant, but had a dish from each cuisine . La Reserve's food was of a good standard but the wine pairings were mostly off (their excuse was that the Wine Spectator picked up the pairings ??!! ). The Grand Dining Room was OK.,. The butler service proved worth its price after the first day when our calls were not returned for lengthy periods of time. We had a 'friendly talk' with the butler after which he got 'religion' and probably started servicing us ahead of other passengers. The entertainment was of a very poor quality except for Bruce Parker who did a good job singing the tunes and getting the audience involved. The shore excursions were a real disaster ! The group sizes varied from 40-50 people, the guides were impossible to be heard unless one was at a foot distance away and the tour content was extremely poor. We ended up going of 3 of these but heard the same comments from other passengers who went on other ones. We ended up actually renting a car in three locations, namely in Saint-jean-de-luz, Cadiz and Livorno. The prices charged for the shore excursions were a total rip-off. Overall not a bad experience but it won't bring us back to the Oceania again. Lots of regrets to lose the good food experience (thanks to Jaques Pepin ?...who was on the cruise himself and I caught him ordering at lease 3 times hot dogs for lunch !!!) Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Think of a new shopping mall - dazzling architecture - quality construction - fabulous press reviews - then when you get there you find the same old stuff for sale by the same old 'can't be bothered' sales staff. That sums ... Read More
Think of a new shopping mall - dazzling architecture - quality construction - fabulous press reviews - then when you get there you find the same old stuff for sale by the same old 'can't be bothered' sales staff. That sums up Marina for us although to be fair I must say most crew members were exceedingly nice, friendly and helpful - it was the supervisors, managers and crew that were not up to scratch. Pre-cruise communication with head office was poor - unacceptable would be a better word. Once on board, and the boarding process was excellent, we liked the ship and liked our suite. We'd read prior complaints about small showers, lack of power points, 'plastic' teak on the balconies, etc but overall we'd rate the suite at something like 98 out of 100. Regarding the size of the shower stall - I'm 6ft 200# and found it adequately sized - in fact in any degree of rolling sea I'd be glad it was the size and shape it was. Wearing a tail coat does not a butler make. Nuff said. Silly marketing idea. Restaurants - generally good food but ineffective service. Plenty of wait staff 'running' around but not achieving the basics of attentive service. Choice of food on menu decreased as cruise went on. We were promised "priority booking" in the specialty restaurants with our suite but our so-called butler could not get any booking earlier than 8.30pm, the latest available time, on any day. Twice we just turned up early and were accepted straight away. On one of the others we had to wait over 15 minutes, to 8.45pm, to get anyone to greet-and-seat us and did not get any food until after 9.30pm. General Dining Room was a disaster - tried it twice - never went back. Best service was in the self-service Terrace Cafe - that about says it all. Shore excursions - expensive and nothing special. We've certainly had much better on other cruise lines. Oceania's attitude towards shuttle bus services to the local towns was interesting - Head Office denied having any at all - but once on board the attitude was something like "We understand the local tourist office might have arranged something but you're on your own if you want to risk it". In fact they were run by the same bus companies as the formal tours. Hmmm! The ship is big enough that it could not enter three of the scheduled ports. (So why schedule them?) At two of them there was a slight swell so using tenders was considered too dangerous. Let me emphasize that again - a SLIGHT swell was considered too dangerous. The situation in both places would have been quite acceptable to any normally active person - senior citizen or not. I and others concluded that the small number of physically challenged and/or senile passengers on board affected the decision for all of us. Why could Oceania not manage it better so that the 20 or so who would have had problems did not ruin the day for the 1000 and more who could have handled it? Bottom line? Nice ship - nice staff - poor management - and with all the extras more expensive than a true luxury cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Don't jump to sail the new Marina. unless you prefer an itinerary on the Marina to one on the Regatta or Insignia, or other smaller Oceania. Having Cruised Oceania often, , we were disappointed with the Marina.But first, we have ... Read More
Don't jump to sail the new Marina. unless you prefer an itinerary on the Marina to one on the Regatta or Insignia, or other smaller Oceania. Having Cruised Oceania often, , we were disappointed with the Marina.But first, we have to applaud the STAFF.. They are fantastic, respectful, and bend over backwards to solve any problem you have. Our Penthouse cabin was spacious,,but under cafeteria.. couldn't sleep before midnight, nor after 5 AM due to hearing the noise of set up and clean up above. We were given another cabin on 10Th floor just to sleep in. ASK what is above you before you book the 11Th floor. and ask for a guarantee!! The penthouse is worth the difference in cost if you mind sleeping right next to the sliding closet door (as in the much smaller veranda rooms) with a light that goes on when opened. I get up earlier than my hubby so I would have had to be sure to get all my clothes ready at night so I wouldn't need the closet.in the morning. As it was, I could just sneak out of the veranda room and up to my PH suite in the morning. Or if you don't mind a bathroom for one. The shower, even in the PH is tiny.. Not one person on our ship appreciated the unused tub instead of a larger shower. (except for hanging clothes to dry) Then, the shower has a large celling rain spray.. Forget it if you are very tall, or want to keep your hair dry. You can't move away from it. Although, outside of the shower, , the bathrooms in the PH suites are comfortably larger for two to use. at the same time. The Staff was fantastic!! I can't rave enough about the way they try to make you happy. We did get a second, quiet room to sleep in.. but still can't believe that the most costly cabins PH are the noisiest. We did not make use of the butler.. To us, his being around so much is kind of a bother. If you like to eat snacks before dinner.. or have meals in your room, maybe he is for you..than he can bring that to you. We also had a couple bottles of wine and champagne gifted. they exchanged them for whatever we wanted when we brought them to dinner. We don't drink so we shared with table mates. All in all, we greatly preferred the newer Celebrity Solstice as far as PH cabins, food and night life. The itinerary is the itinerary, which ever ship you take. But for a newer ship, there is no comparison.The Solstice , in early 2010, had fabulous entertainment all night long, incredible theatre and performers, also late night entertainment is great.. Never wanted to go to bed..and we are site seers in our 70's. And don't' drink or gamble, or stay up late. As for the Oceania, we started cruising many years ago on the Renaissance.. we have to say, we GREATLY preferred the originals, Regatta, Insignia, etc. smaller Oceania ships, to the Marina. As did everyone we spoke to on our ship. NOT ONE person said they liked the Larger Marina. better. nor were impressed with anything about the newer version of the ship except for the glossy pamphlet sent out. Happy sailing!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Oceania's new Marina is a fine addition to its small fleet. The enhancements are impressive; two new dining concepts, spacious bathtubs, an excellent performance space, bigger pool, wonderful artworks and a culinary school set it ... Read More
Oceania's new Marina is a fine addition to its small fleet. The enhancements are impressive; two new dining concepts, spacious bathtubs, an excellent performance space, bigger pool, wonderful artworks and a culinary school set it apart from its smaller siblings. But not everything has gone to plan.For example, the library area borrowed from the smaller ships has been split into a new reading area and coffee bar and neither work.But what Marina gains in the excellence of its facilities, it loses in hospitality and service excellence. It accommodates almost twice as many passengers as its other ships and this seemed to me to be the source of its problems. The pinch points that all cruise ships encounter as passengers congregate was never an issue on Insignia. It's a major problem on Marina. We never had to queue on Insignia. On Marina queuing was the norm for the Terrace Cafe breakfast, Grand Dining Room dinner and tendering.Transporting 650 passengers by tender or bus was largely hassle-free on Insignia but seemed a huge logistical issue on Marina. The tenders themselves are badly cramped and ill-designed. On Insignia there was a constant relay of tenders but on Marina the policy seemed to be to fill a tender to capacity and only then, send out another. Port side buses were the same. Passenger queues just to board the infrequent buses at the container ports sometimes took an hour. In time, Oceania may find itself squeezed. It is pretty dismissive of independent travellers in terms of convenience and meaningful information. And at the same time, punishing those wishing to book excursions with excessive pricing. An Oceania excursion around Guernsey costs $100. A local bus costs just £1.Oceania also seems to be playing a dangerous game in its literal descripton of destinations. Dover is described as London; Bordeaux is Le Verdon - 100 km away.Passengers become irritated on realising they are stranded a distance from their perceived port of call. Sometimes disembarking did not take place until 11am and naturally pre-booked excursions had priority. Therefore independent travellers sometimes did not get off the ship until an hour later, constricting time at the destination.In most instances the ports were not attractive harbours. They were featureless container/car ferry ports with little appeal. Perhaps the smaller Oceania ships can access more attractive ports more easily for either docking or fast tendering.The result of all these compounded frustrations seemed to generate a general exasperation amongst passengers, which in turn affected the crew who seemed lacking in confidence. Each was comfortable in their own narrow sphere of work, but could not respond to issues outside their responsibility.In the smaller Oceania ships there was a real sense of community, amongst both crew and passengers. On Marina this was not apparent and relationships that would naturally develop, were absent.Marina is therefore an unbalanced ship. It is much improved and more elegant than its smaller siblings but nothing like as satisfying. My advice would be to stick to those smaller vessels until Marina is able to redress its service delivery. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
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