We recently completed the 23-day Caribbean and Amazon Rivers cruise on Oceania Regatta. Our overall assessment of the cruise is that it was, in general, a good cruise. However, for the pricing, we were expecting quite a bit more. This ... Read More
We recently completed the 23-day Caribbean and Amazon Rivers cruise on Oceania Regatta. Our overall assessment of the cruise is that it was, in general, a good cruise. However, for the pricing, we were expecting quite a bit more. This cruise, along with other Oceania cruises, prices out at about $500/day for a standard balcony cabin. Regatta is an R-class ship and we have sailed on two other R-class ships (Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess--the latter is now the Oceania Sirena) as well as the Seabourn Sojourn, which is also similar in size. So my comparison points are Princess on the lower end of the spectrum (at about $150/day for a balcony cabin or $200/day for a minisuite) and Seabourn at the high end of the scale (at about $500/day for a veranda suite).
Bottom line is that Oceania, although priced like Seabourn (and other ultra luxury lines such as Crystal and Silversea), is much more comparable to Princess. But at 3x the cost. So it was a good cruise, but nowhere near worth the money paid.
We had a “penthouse suite” (exactly the same cabin as what Princess calls a “minisuite” in their R-class ships) and were disappointed that it was not better appointed than Princess. We have had both a balcony on the Pacific Princess and a minisuite on the Ocean Princess. The Oceania penthouse suite is essentially the same as the minisuite on Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess. And smaller than the veranda suite on Seabourn (the bathroom is significantly smaller than Seabourn). Very comfortable, but is it worth the upcharge? Probably not.
Dining was our biggest overall disappointment. We booked this cruise because we were told that Oceania had the best cuisine of any cruise line. Clearly, that is not the case. Seabourn exceeded Oceania in all areas of cuisine and there were certain aspects (pastries and desserts) where even Princess was better. The main dining room offerings were more extensive than Princess (typically 8-10 entrée choices vs. 5-6), yet the food quality and presentation was similar. Princess had several dishes we preferred over Oceania, although we would give a slight edge to Oceania. Being able to go to specialty dining several times at no additional cost was a nice additional perk. The pastries onboard were among the worst we have experienced on a cruise ship, including Carnival and NCL and other mass market cruise lines. The cookies were almost inedible, the sticky buns were not sticky nor even moist. We learned quickly not to order any dessert with flour as an ingredient. I asked the Executive Chef about the pastries and he said these are the recipes they are given by Corporate and he was not allowed to vary from them. The buffet (where we typically eat lunch) was overall much better on both Princess and Seabourn, very disappointing on Oceania. Breakfast served to the room was excellent as long as you didn’t order any pastries or breads.
Shows in the theater were hit-and-miss. The production cast was very good to excellent, although rather small (four singer-dancer combinations and two dancers). One evening the show was a singer from the production cast. Although he was good, he is not solo act level and it was a wasted evening (but apparently done by Oceania to save on their entertainer costs). The other lead female singer did a solo show as well, it was better than the male singer, yet still not solo performer quality. There was a magician-comedian who was so bad we actually walked out during the performance (something we rarely do unless the act is very bad--and he was). The highlight solo act shows were the husband-wife classical guitarists and the tango dancers. The seating configuration in the theater was extremely cramped and crowded, since there was only one show each evening at 9:30, so they had far more chairs in the theater than in the comparable Princess ships (where there were two performances each evening).
One true high point of this cruise is that the Cruise Director (Ray Carr) was excellent. Perhaps the best Cruise Director we have had in 40+ cruises. He was funny, witty and he kept announcements short and to the point. On many of our other cruises, guests would leave at the end of the show because the Cruise Director would come on the stage to babble for 5 minutes about stuff going on in other parts of the ship. Ray actually made it interesting, talking about the port the next day and keeping us entertained. Great sense of humor combined with self-deprecating humor made for a fun combination throughout the cruise.
The activities onboard were being played for “O Points” which people collected throughout the cruise in order to get merchandise at the end. While it could be argued that this works better than giving away pens, etc. throughout the cruise, it took away from any actual tournaments, since people would play until they got their O Points, then leave. And people who didn’t normally play, did, just to get the O Points. So each daily event was crowded with the standard O Point crowd.
The pool deck on Regatta is a considerable upgrade compared to Princess and comparable to Seabourn. Nice teak decks and comfortable, cushioned chairs and chaise lounges throughout.
The Captain on this particular cruise seemed to have difficulty staying on schedule. We completely missed one port (St. Barts) due to both leaving Miami late as well as slow progress in rough seas, but we were also consistently late in other ports as well. To the Captain’s credit, he was able to work out a later departure in Manaus, leaving 2 hours later, which helped everyone who had a full day planned. He also stopped the ship directly on the equator in both directions, a nice additional touch.
We received free Internet while onboard as part of the “O Life” package, which was very nice to have available. However, the system would consistently log you out after a short period of inactivity, so if you were composing an e-mail that took more than a few minutes, you had to login again to send. And the login procedure typically required closing the browser, restarting, clearing cache, then logging in again, making Internet access cumbersome. Yet it was “free” (paid for as part of the O Life upsell).
Wine at dinner was typically $10-$14/glass + tip, quite high compared to other lines (and free on Seabourn and other ultra luxury lines). Gratuities were $23/day per person (over $1,000 for our cabin for this 23-day cruise--yikes), which is the highest we have ever paid for gratuities. Seabourn includes gratuities, another reason Oceania is as expensive or even higher than Seabourn after paying for additional charges such as these.
Service onboard was consistent with what we had seen on Princess, but not up to the level of Seabourn (where the crew called you by name after a day or two). Although the ship was only 70% full (489 passengers vs 680 full capacity), Oceania reportedly furloughed some of their staff due to sailing at less than capacity. The result is that those remaining we stretched too thin in many areas of the ship, such as the buffet, where you often had to wait to be served at each station, since they were not all individually covered. Dining in the main dining rooms was often painfully slow as the wait staff were stretched to their limit, in spite of there being many open tables in the dining room. Service in the specialty restaurants was noticeably better and more efficient.
So would we sail on Oceania again in the future? Possibly, but only if their price point comes down. As long as Oceania continues to price at the same level as the ultra luxury lines, it will be a better value to simply sail the ultra luxury lines. We like the small ship experience, but we can still get that same/similar experience on Princess as 1/3 the cost. Read Less