It is very difficult to take reviews on any subject and make a personal decision based on them. We are given an opinion from others based on their reviews/needs/rewards/expectations, and use them accordingly. If we try and decide based ... Read More
It is very difficult to take reviews on any subject and make a personal decision based on them. We are given an opinion from others based on their reviews/needs/rewards/expectations, and use them accordingly. If we try and decide based on good reviews, we will find ourselves reasons to pick the bad ones apart, and visa versa. Much of the decision is trying to find the middle ground because there may be many other factors you can't know about. Someone may give a glowing review because they got such a good deal that the cruise seemed almost a freebie, so they would obviously love it. Someone else may have been treated like royalty on another ship, and didn't feel they got the same on this trip. Someone else may love the cuisine on previous ships, and not love it on this one. The truth is that we are not all the same, with the same likes and dislikes. We may all make mistakes in our choices if we base them entirely on what others think because we are not those people. We have to choose something on what we hope is fact, to suit our needs and expectations.
Insignia may have a lower rating, and it could be said that this is only a few opinions based on about 2% of the travellers, but the fact is that Insignia is lower than even its sister ship Regatta, which is the same in almost every way.
We were on the transatlantic cruise from Malta to Miami Sept 12-29. It wasn't the best cruise we've had with Oceania that much is definite. It was different, and with a lot of problems.
Firstly, it was transatlantic. You have to consider that and all the other factors because it's not the usual port intensive cruise Oceania does. We picked up in Malta after the ship had previously done a leg where there was sickness on the ship. What irked many of us was that Oceania knew this and had time to inform the passengers getting on at Malta, and they didn't. Norovirus or similar can be bad for many of a certain age, and on this ship on the transatlantic leg, there were very many of a certain age. Also, if you get sick, you get quarantined, and you and your spouse are stuck in your cabin - both of you losing out on much of your vacation. Many were. However, they didn't get the option to cancel at the last minute had they wanted to.
When we got to the ship at Malta, we were only met by one person on the other side of the street, who directed us in to the tunnel to security. This wasn't normal based on previous times, because Oceania usually have many staff members around even going into many areas at the terminal. There was nobody outside security, or to guide you out of the gift shop, or the walk up towards the ship. No big deal, but it was unusual, and I think it was perhaps because there were staff shortages, due to the illness on board. I noticed immediately the plastic covering on the elevator buttons. Not a good sign.
It is not Oceania's fault they get Norovirus, but it does tend to diminish your experience. In this case, many were sick, crew and passengers, and the crew were working more hours, double shifts, and were washing down walls, elevators, railings, constantly. They tried so hard to sanitize every bit of the ship people put their hands on. Everything was a little sticky, but that was the disinfecting material they had to use. As mentioned by the other reviewer, the library was closed down, the cards, bingo, laundry, mile and sugar and salt and pepper on the table removed, so a lot is affected. It had to be done, but again, this is part of what you want and pay for on your vacation. It's a disappointment when you don't get it. The staff were amazing working to try and get this cleared, but they must have got very tired.
This was our 7th cruise. We've been on Insignia before, and Regatta, and Marina. But since they were taken over by NCL, we just felt things in small ways just were not the same. Just little things I couldn't really say even specifically in some cases but that I noticed had gone down a little. Lack of more "on the ball service"; cutlery having to be asked for, orders messed up, small stuff but it was just different from before, almost like some were not fully trained. The staff though for the most part are wonderful, and the food continues to be very good, although it saddened me to see so much food waste go in the garbage this cruise. I know everyone thinks they pay for it, but it's still such a waste.
The other thing I will say was this cruise was not for us. For the first time we tried transatlantic, and it was not our favourite cruise. Normally we choose Oceania because it's port intensive and we get to see so much in such a short time. But we decided to try it anyway and relax on the way over to Miami but it didn't work out that way. Because of sickness, many things changed on board, but we still managed to meet many lovely people.
We noticed there were "very mature oldies" on board in large numbers. We were told by a staff member that on our cruise 1/3 of the passengers were over age 84 and some much higher, at least 200 of them. Transatlantic cruises are popular with very mature passengers, and some even admitted it was cheaper than a high end home, with better food and hands on service and they don't even have to get off the ship if they don't want to and it ends up in Miami - so who can blame them? And it was the only cruise we've been on where so many people got sick, not just the Norovirus, but heart attacks, a death on board, accidents through fits and falls. Code Mike is the medical call on board, and we heard it called a lot. I've never been on board and heard that code alert before.
We are in our late sixties and felt like teenagers. There were many passengers with difficulties who needed mobility scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, canes, some with Alzheimers, and many of the passengers who could hardly get along the corridor, far less in a lifeboat if needed. And again before anyone gets mad at the only way I can think of to describe the age differences or difficulties they had, I'm not being discriminatory here, just stating facts. These are factors that may affect your decision to take this cruise. For instance, it takes more time on tours to get folks on and off, and in and out of locations, if there are more passengers with physical difficulties. It can cause delays and the tour can run out of time to complete. This cruise had a distinct amount of older mature passengers who found it difficult to get around as much but for all that, they would continue to try and get round the track and keep as active as they could. One day we may be similar, and if so I'd like to know I could get on and off a ship or a lifeboat or even down the corridors if action stations is called. Some folks love to travel when they are in their very mature years, but we'd worry about falls and so on just moving around ship, ports, tours, tenders. It's not easy getting injured abroad, and you better have really good insurance. A few of those who did get sick found that out. Up front payment for the medical on board and also ambulance and hospitals ashore. Claim it later..........but make sure your credit card limit is up there.
The diversion from the hurricane was necessary but Oceania could have perhaps thought of somewhere better. Nassau is not the greatest of places. The downtown trashy, and the beach near the dock with rip off beach chair artists. Atlantis is just okay, but Nassau is not a place to go for two days, especially when you arrive with about 16,000 others in dock at the same time. Most passengers were off and back on in a very short while, and I think that Oceania could have perhaps taken us somewhere better as an alternative. Nassau was probably en route, and way cheaper to use for docking fees.
Insignia states it has an Artists loft. There was no artist on board to do classes although our TA was told there was going to be. From the Oceania website it states that it's only on World Cruises but our TA specifically called and enquired of Oceania for this voyage and was told there was an artist on board, in fact even gave the name of the artist. There were no classes or artist. A volunteer passenger did do Origami in the afternoon to share with other passengers. But for the most part, if you wanted to use it for art, the Artists loft is not always even available to do art in, especially in the mornings, which was one of the reasons we booked. I thought we'd be able to have classes and paint at leisure while going across the Atlantic, but instead it got used for seminars for hair, make up, massage, foot care, back care, all seminars leading to marketing and selling items for the spa. Even on world cruises I don't know how they manage to have an artists loft with no access to water, no sink, nothing much there for anyone wanting to do any art type thing on a voyage except drawing or origami. So, if you want more on the artistic line, choose their other ships with a real larger Artists loft.
Entertainment, well it is okay for the most part. Bear in mind this is not Broadway, never will be. The stage is small, and the lounge actually doesn't help performances, as often the sound seems to vibrate and slightly echo, giving an unfair performance to the artists. It's a lounge or sound problem that sounds worse with anyone who has a really strong certain pitch of voice. They sound like they are screeching. The crew entertainers are just young and try hard. The others try very hard to measure the audience and fit their acts in to the age groups and other factors but it can't be an easy task. If you want party and shows, do the larger ships.
We would go to Happy Hour in the upstairs lounge (two great barmen up in Horizons, one from Bali, lovely guy, and his buddy), and then have dinner in time to manage to fit in the shows. If you don't like them, you can always walk out and go watch a movie.
And speaking about the stage, and the theatre lounge, a word of warning for booking a stateroom on deck 6 forward. It's above the stage, and every day the lounge and stage area is used. Sometimes for Bingo, or Trivia, and then the crew have rehearsals, and then the sound checks. Don't pay a lot for a suite up front if you want a quiet cabin, because you don't have to go to the show.....you can hear it before it starts, sometimes twice a day.
Currently we are not booking again with Oceania. I've asked them not to continue to send me their daily mailings, because I want to save at least one forest this year. I do think if they feel they need to save money, they could try sending out less brochures.
After we got off this time we felt we've done as much as we want with Oceania right now. I hope these insights, good or bad, help you in your choice. Read Less