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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2004
This will be a realitively quick review. Let me start by saying this is not the "fantastic" cruise line that everybody on Cruise Critic raved about prior to our signing up. We sailed on March 15th from Miami bound for Azores, ... Read More
This will be a realitively quick review. Let me start by saying this is not the "fantastic" cruise line that everybody on Cruise Critic raved about prior to our signing up. We sailed on March 15th from Miami bound for Azores, Cadiz, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal. By the way, all airfare and transfer arrangements were part of the package deal with Oceania Cruise Lines. We were met at the Miami airport by reps from Oceonia (from Las Vegas)and were quickly escorted to a bus to the ship. No problems there and no problems boarding. We were escorted to our veranda cabin by a very nice young lady and settled in. Our cabin was nice but not much different in size than any other veranda cabin we've sailed on other cruise lines. The pillows, sheets and covers were nice but no big deal. We sailed that night around 6 PM looking towards 7 straight days and nights at sea before we hit our first port at the Azores, Portugal. The main dining room, Grand Dining room is very nice but only holds around 370 passengers. (the ship on this sailing had about 680 passengers). All restaurants have open seating (except the two "gourmet" restaurants, Polo Grill and Toscana where reservations are required and you are told that you can only make two advance reservations for both of these restaurants when you board in their newsletter). I forget whether it was the first or second night but when my wife and I arrived for dinner at the Grand Dining Room at about 8:30 (the Grand Dining Room is open for dinner between 6:30 and 9:30 PM), we were told that we would have to wait 45 minutes before we could be seated. We've been on approximately 20 cruises before this Regatta cruise and we've never had to wait 45 minutes for dinner. In all fairness, all the other cruises we've been on all had pre-assigned seating arrangements with two seatings, early and late. The Regatta has only one seating, open seating served between the dinners hours mentioned above. We decided not to wait and went to the Tapas on the Grill restaurant on the 10th deck and had a very nice buffet type meal. (We ate most of our meals in this restaurant. It's called the Terrace Cafe for breakfast and lunch and converts to Tapas for dinner. We were told that the reason for the 45 minute wait at the Grand Dining room this particular night was because it was a Captain's dinner and lobster tails and caviar were on the menu. We had a similar waiting time one other night when King Crab legs were on the menu. Around the 4th day out, we received a ratings form asking everyones opinion on how we're enjoying the cruise so far. Needless to say I mentioned how peturbed my wife and I were that we were told we had to wait 45 minutes for dinner one night. The next day I receieved a letter for a Mr. Volpe, the "hotel" captain on the ship asking for a meeting with me to discuss the problem. We met later that day and he explained that this does not normally happen and he was sorry, etc, etc. but offered no other solution. Mr. Volpe was very pleasant and very professional but obviously there was not much he could do to solve this problem because we had the same wait situation the night they served the crab legs. As far as the gourmet restaurants, Polo Grill and Toscana are concerned, the food was very good but not excellent. We ate in the Polo Grill twice with mixed results both nights. The surf and grill consisting of a small filet and a very small lobster tail were good but I had to send the steak back both nights because of undercooking. The best thing on that menu were the shrimp cocktails. The shrimp were very large and the cocktail sauce excellent. The Italian restaurant was very good as well but again not excellent. The Tapas on the Grill restaurant served paella every night as one of their entress and was very good. Food overall in the Tapas was very good but again, nothing comes to mind as being outstanding. One dish we really enjoyed was the hamburgers served on the pool deck in the Waves restaurant. The hamburgers were excellent. I'm convinced they use sirloin or filet for the beef in the hamburgers. Nice large size and excellent taste. (By the way, let me mention here that there is no surcharge for eating in the two gourmet restaurants as there usually is on most cruise lines, a big plus for Oceonia) Entertainment on the ship is only average. Don't take a cruise on the Regatta looking for Las Vegas type shows; they don't exist. And on this cruise, there was no pool deck entertainment. On every other cruise line I've been on, there's always a steel band on the pool deck. To be fair, on some days the weather was inclement but even on fair days, no pool deck entertainment. Overall, the entertainment on the ship was below average. One important note: The prices for drinks are absurd. I paid $10.62 for a martini in the martini bar, $8 for a glass of only fair wine in the dining room, $6 for a small glass of sangria in the Tapas restaurant, and $6 for a Pina Colada on the pool deck from the Waves bar. All drinks include a automatic 18% tip. Until we got way out to sea around the 2nd day, we were also charged tax with the drinks. Cokes are $2. Speaking of tips, you are billed AUTOMATICALLY $10.50 per person, per day for tips for the dining room help and the cleaning persons. If you would like to remove these automatic tips from your bill, let the reception desk know that you will do your own tipping. Maybe it's my imagination but I felt we didn't get the excellent service we normally got on other cruise lines when the tips were given at the end of the cruise in those handy envelopes. Some of our waiters and waitresses and bus boys seemed to just be going thru the motions. Knowing that they were going to automatically get tips at the end of the cruise seem to me that they were not willing to go that extra mile. Many a time we found ourselves trying to flag down our wait person to try to get a coffee or ice tea refill. This was a repositioning cruise and I honestly believe that there was less of a crew (a lot of new people as well seeming to be struggling to get orientated). We saw many waiters at many of our meals in the Grand Dining room waiting on 8 or 9 tables. His bus boy was always busy running to get the food so on most occasions, our waiter took our orders, delivered our food, cleaned our tables and refilled our drinks when we lucky enough to flag him down. We took two tours, one in Spain to Seville and one in Lisbon. They were nice but how many churches can one see. Other than that, the people in Spain and Portugal were pleasant enough but not overly friendly. Disembarkation in Lisbon was very smooth with no problems at all. Oceonia even was nice enough to send one of their reps all the way to the airport with us realizing that some passengers would have a hard time with the departure screens at the airport. The hell we went thru at the Madrid and Lisbon airports is another horror story that I will not go into. All I can suggest is stay away from Iberia airlines if at all possible. If anyone would care for further details about this cruise line or anything else, feel free to email me and I will answer all questions.   amaes10036@aol.com Read Less
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