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636 Oceania Miami Cruise Reviews

We have been on several cruises mainly around the Mediterranean and wanted to try the Caribbean. We normally cruise with Cunard, but they hadn’t any sailings when we were free so decided to try Oceania as we do like our food! We had ... Read More
We have been on several cruises mainly around the Mediterranean and wanted to try the Caribbean. We normally cruise with Cunard, but they hadn’t any sailings when we were free so decided to try Oceania as we do like our food! We had three days in Miami first as we hadn’t been there before. Miami is great for a short break, but I wouldn’t want to stay much longer as not a lot to explore once you have done the Ocean Drive and South Beach area. The ship is fantastic and well presented. Our cabin was spacious and the butler service second to none. Just as good as Cunard. We loved the restaurant choices and had excellent meals in every one apart from a tough rib eye in the Polo Grill. Red Ginger was the best by far. The breakfast in bed was superb. We had the upgraded wine package which was good, but I would have preferred a wider selection of wines. We didn’t do much in onboard entertainment other than the quizzes, but there was plenty to do and other passengers seemed to enjoy it. Service and cleanliness was top notch. The range of ports we visited was good. The excursions, as with all cruise lines, were pricey so we only did one. We found getting a taxi with a knowledgeable driver gave us more flexibility and better value for money. The booking people on the phone were not brilliant. Definitely would cruise with Oceania again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Just left the Riviera for the 4 th time, been on all the ships in this line. Consistency! Decided that travel alone after friend got ill...I was at “ home”. Lovely passengers, crew exceptional as always...cruise director John such ... Read More
Just left the Riviera for the 4 th time, been on all the ships in this line. Consistency! Decided that travel alone after friend got ill...I was at “ home”. Lovely passengers, crew exceptional as always...cruise director John such a pleasure! I typically cruise for itinerary so cruise other upscale luxury liners as sister company Regent...Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal. I think Jacque Pepin brand on culinary part shines through...quality incredible, presentation and taste impeccable. Best food at sea hands down! Big thanks to my bartenders at Horizons and Martini piano bar for their hearts and watching out for me. You made travel without my girlfriend after loosing my husband ( who’s favorite was Oceania) a bit easier as I grew up in my journey of loss. Thank you to entire crew! Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing the ship out of dry dock. Incredible value for the buck. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We previously sailed on the Insignia. We have never been to Cuba before and the cruise stopped at three ports in Cuba. The embarkation was a little slow for a smaller ship. The dining was very good in all the restaurants on board. The Wi ... Read More
We previously sailed on the Insignia. We have never been to Cuba before and the cruise stopped at three ports in Cuba. The embarkation was a little slow for a smaller ship. The dining was very good in all the restaurants on board. The Wi Fi access is free one device per cabin. The speed was very slow at times and some websites would time out before I could login. The cabin size was okay with a veranda. There was limited desk space. There were cabinets and shelves all around to store clothes and personal items. The bathroom was small with a shower and limited shelves. The lightning in the cabin was very good. There were USB ports on both sides of the bed and on the desk. There was one 220 V and 110 V outlet on the desk. There are two banks of elevators on the ship one aft and one forward. The ship was was recently remodeled. The entertainment was very good one show per night. There were activities every day, There is a full casino and bars on different decks on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
What a great opportunity and way to experience Cuba! We had the over-the-top comfort and dining of Oceania, and lots of time to experience this interesting country. With an overnight in Havana, we packed more excursions and time ... Read More
What a great opportunity and way to experience Cuba! We had the over-the-top comfort and dining of Oceania, and lots of time to experience this interesting country. With an overnight in Havana, we packed more excursions and time ashore than would have been possible with other lines that only spend a few hours in the port. Then, getting to experience two cities on the south side of the island provided a unique contrast. While the onboard crowd was a tad bit 'older' than we prefer, the ship's activities fit the bill. And the entertainment was the BEST we've ever experienced on a ship!! The cast worked so well together, have fantastic vocal harmony, and made excellent choices when it came to musical numbers. The couple that provided dance numbers were also soooo good. Then we had sessions where that couple taught us several ballroom dances (now I just need to practice!). Oceania also provided excellent Enrichment talks about Cuba and the history of the area! We highly recommend not only this cruise line, but this itinerary! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our first time on Oceania. We've done a bunch of Caribbean cruises over the years, and kinda got burnt out on it, but the lure of Cuba made this cruise of interest to me. I know Oceania makes a big deal about their food, ... Read More
This was our first time on Oceania. We've done a bunch of Caribbean cruises over the years, and kinda got burnt out on it, but the lure of Cuba made this cruise of interest to me. I know Oceania makes a big deal about their food, and for the most part I would say that they delivered. The dinners that we had in specialty restaurants Red Ginger, and Tuscan Steak were outstanding (5 star). The Grand dining room was excellent too, but just not quite on the same level as the specialty rooms. The only complaint my wife had was about the "lobster bisque" which she ordered both in the Tuscan Steak, and in the main dining room. She said it tasted like fish soup, not lobster bisque. Now I know I'm being a bit picky here, and if this was our only complaint, well then things weren't so bad. The stateroom was adequate, with the bathroom being very small. I was prepared for this though, as I had previously read comments online regarding this. Decor on the ship itself was very elegant, but unfortunately Oceania is intent on mucking this up next year by refurbishing their ships using some sort of boring, modern, monochromatic gray color scheme that came from a Marriott hotel somewhere in Newark, NJ. Too bad that they are going to do away with the elegance of this ship. But for me the best part of the cruise was the 4 o'clock High Tea in Horizons. Just a surreal experience looking out at the ocean while the string quartet was playing, eating finger sandwiches and miniature tarts. Just grand. Would I cruise on Oceania again? You bet I would, but this time probably with a European, or Asian itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We took in a 12 day cruise from Miami to Miami, and explored several Caribbean islands, with two sea days on either end. Exploring Miami If you're new to cruising from Miami, I would recommend arriving a few days early and ... Read More
We took in a 12 day cruise from Miami to Miami, and explored several Caribbean islands, with two sea days on either end. Exploring Miami If you're new to cruising from Miami, I would recommend arriving a few days early and spending the time to take in the city. I can imagine that summer is pretty hot, but in December it was balmy. Highlights included South Beach, downtown, a harbour cruise and the visit to the Everglades. We stayed downtown, but the port is easy to get to, so any decent hotel should not be an issue. Embarkation Is easy and painless. All told, it probably took less than 10 minutes. It does help to arrive early, even if your stateroom is only accessible later in the day, as this enables you to avoid the crowds. It's easy to see that Miami knows how to handle cruise crowds. About Riviera This is our second Oceania cruise, with the first being on Riviera's sister, the Marina. We like the upmarket yet casual atmosphere, the food, as well as the gym/spa. Oceania does not cater for children, but does not forbid them. There were no children on our cruise, however. While the vessel remains upmarket (but not luxurious), Riviera is shown a few signs of wear and tear. Most of the loungers on the private spa terrace were broken, and it's clear that some of the bar stools have been scratched and not repaired over the years. Look beyond this, and you will most certainly have an amazing experience. Dining One tours with Oceania for, among other things, the food. There are three restaurants for breakfast and lunch, and an additional 5 for dinner (if one includes La Reserve.) During a cruise, you should definitely make an effort to dine at each of the speciality restaurants. During this cruise, our favourites were Toscana while Jacques and Red Ginger are a close second tie. Polo Grill is also superb and difficult to fault, but if one has to make a choice... Sadly, the Grand Dining Room did not live up to expectations on this cruise. We dined here twice for breakfast, and while the setting is grand indeed, the service falls short. Dinner at the Grand Dining Room remains exceptional, however. If you do it only once, afternoon tea is a must. It's a lovely setting in Horizons with the quartet playing. One feels very sophisticated. If you like a glass of wine with your meal, or a cocktail around the pool, it's worth taking the beverage package. It makes the surprise at the end of the cruise a little less unknown! Entertainment On this cruise, Oceania treated us to a few outside entertainers. Both were exceptional, while the standard crew are also very good. In addition, make time for the string quartet playing in the evenings near the casino. Service For the most part, service is very good. We had a butler, being in a penthouse suite, and this eases logistics somewhat. Waiters are extremely attentive in all the establishments. Sometimes, however, we found ourselves straining as it's clear that English is not their first language. Sommeliers are generally good, but sometimes are a little scarce during lunch in the Terrace Cafe aft. Cabin This was our first time in a Penthouse Suite. It's recommended for two reasons - the ability to dine in-suite from one of the speciality restaurants as well as the large walk-in closet. We specifically chose a cabin that was below the 12th floor cabins, and not the sun deck, and are grateful we did. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
2nd cruise on Oceania Riviera, 24th Cruise. First sailing was Amalfi Coast, beautiful but - no sea days to enjoy the ship. We very much enjoyed the ship this time. The ship is the perfect size for us, 1250 PAX with beautiful public ... Read More
2nd cruise on Oceania Riviera, 24th Cruise. First sailing was Amalfi Coast, beautiful but - no sea days to enjoy the ship. We very much enjoyed the ship this time. The ship is the perfect size for us, 1250 PAX with beautiful public spaces decorated with large scale holiday decorations, Lalique glass, Art Deco interesting furnishings, Artwork, and lots of seating areas scattered inside and out. Embarkation was quick at about noon and lunch at Waves and Terrace cafe — no, we didn’t eat at both but they are both great choices. The Terrace has a wonderful assortment of choices and the steak and seafood at the grill were great. The nice sized Balcony cabin has good storage and fine linens, comfortable bed, makeup mirror, lots of outlets, marble bath with deep sinks, small shower with wand and rain head good pressure, and big tub with another shower with wand. Loved the Bulgari toiletries. Our steward was very good, supplies replaced and always lots of ice and needed nothing. Spotless. There was no lack of activities though my favorite was my kindle and feet up on my balcony or on the leather chairs in the library after another cappuccino in Baristas cafe. There was mini golf, needlepoint, bracelet making, art classes (fun but I have no talent), lectures were excellent with Adam Tanner, cha cha classes, movies, and much live music. Others played bridge, trivia and more. The show band was wonderful, production singers and dancers exceptional and string quartet very good. Loved the group Ardor in Horizons and the Ukelele player/comedian better than that sounds. There were many performances in evenings and once in a while in afternoon. Do not miss afternoon tea with strings. Specialties- Polo 5 stars, Jacques 5 Stars, Tuscana husband 4 stars, food a bit of a disappointment for me after great food last time and best of all Red Ginger — I had the best meal ever with edamame, greens with peanut dressing, tempura vegetables and filet entree & bounty cake dessert. Husband had red snapper and loved it. Service was great. Not so happy with Grand Dining room dinner especially beef. But breakfast was wonderful. Also prompt and handy is room service although no hot breakfast in balcony cabins. Kudos to all the service people onboard who had such great attitudes. I can’t say that we loved the ship excursions but In Grenada there was an excursion we liked to a plantation with Gorgeous vegetation, interesting owner and natural products. The ship did not feel crowded except for some scarcity of chairs in the shade — but the pool attendants were removing towels and clearing space. Nice cushions and seating around the pool. And not only are non/Alcoholic drinks included but I can go to the cappuccino machine myself any time and press the button for a quick to go pick me up. I can’t say enough about this sailing— I wish I could repeat it many times over. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Chose this cruise to see the Amazon. Went 1500 km to Manaus. Was not disappointed!! Smooth getting on and off. Ports were very good. Shore excursion in St Lucia was not great due to heavy rains and the last hour and a half was in the ... Read More
Chose this cruise to see the Amazon. Went 1500 km to Manaus. Was not disappointed!! Smooth getting on and off. Ports were very good. Shore excursion in St Lucia was not great due to heavy rains and the last hour and a half was in the dark. So not researched very well. Cabin was very comfortable and clean. Dining was very good activities were a lot of fun. Entertainment was usually very good. Small ship so always lots of pool chairs and never crowded. Guest speakers were excellent. Service also very good. Transfer from Fort Lauderdale to Miami with SAS transportation was really good and very reasonable $15 pp and we used the service both going and returning to Fort Lauderdale . Cruise staff were really friendly There were no children on this cruise. Very hot and muggy in the Amazon area and length of cruise 35 days was prob why. Great overall!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
My husband and I love the small ships and have sailed on the old Rennaisance line ships under Princess and Azamara as well as Oceania. The Regatta is scheduled for renovation, and it is sorely needed. They HAVE to do something with the ... Read More
My husband and I love the small ships and have sailed on the old Rennaisance line ships under Princess and Azamara as well as Oceania. The Regatta is scheduled for renovation, and it is sorely needed. They HAVE to do something with the main showroom but it will be a challenge. This cruise was very relaxing, from Miami through the Panama Canal to LA. And we live close to LA so disembarking in Los Angeles is one of the wonderful features of this cruise. Both the service on the ship and the food were terrific. The Entertainment staff was extremely talented and did a great job. If I had a complaint it might have been that both the speakers were covering mainly the same topic, and since there were seven sea days, a little variety would have been appreciated. Also, the ship's choice of movies was dismal, and with seven sea days, a first run movie in the afternoon would not have cost them very much but might have been quite popular. Unfortunately the Ship's personnel had to give us all the government issued warnings on our trip to Havana, such as no "person to person" contact etc. We were scared into taking a bus tour of Havana, one of the ship's excursions and we regretted the choice. It was as bland as it could be. We heard everything the young man was told to tell us, there was no music, no food, no contact with a Cuban other than the guide, no chance to view all the artwork available in the markets. It was boring. We spent over 1/2 hour at the cemetary and that was one of the highlights. Some of the passengers went off on their own and did quite well. We envied them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We are a couple in our mid-50s. The demographics on this cruise, and likely most Oceania cruises, are a small number in their 50s or younger, with the majority who are retirees in their 60s and 70s, and likely a few in their 80s or older. ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid-50s. The demographics on this cruise, and likely most Oceania cruises, are a small number in their 50s or younger, with the majority who are retirees in their 60s and 70s, and likely a few in their 80s or older. We saw a lot of walking canes, one oxygen cart, handful of wheelchairs, and that's OK - live life to the fullest and don't let anything hold you back. We like Holland America and have cruised a number of times as a couple with them but also with our children when they were young and then as teenagers. The comedian made a joke about the geriatric crowd on Holland America but seriously, the demographics on this were not much different. To put our comments into perspective, we are experienced cruises on our 43rd cruise, having sailed previously with Cunard (Platinum), Princess (Platinum), Holland America (3-star Mariner), Disney (Gold Castaway) and 4 cruises with Celebrity (Classic level, I think), two with Royal Caribbean and a river cruise with Vantage. We have some older neighbours (in their early 70s) who have been regulars with Oceania and were disappointed at how the standards have gone down over the years and have now moved on to Crystal. We therefore went into this with low expectations but we must say that this cruise greatly exceeded our expectations and we had a wonderful time. We know that there are many who are loyal to Oceania and for them, there is just no other line to travel with. Our experiences with a vast variety of cruise lines have allowed us to see that each has its strength and weaknesses, and that remains the case here with Oceania. First, the strengths. The slogan “Finest Cuisine at Sea” was accurate as far as our experiences were concerned. Of the 6 lines we have cruised with, we would definitely rate this #1 for cuisine. Celebrity (Solstice class) and Disney come next, followed by Princess, HAL and Cunard in the third tier and Royal Caribbean at the bottom. The Main Dining Room with unique such as Jacques Bistro and the Taste of the World sampler plate at lunch, with unique offerings from dinner, including items from Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger was thoroughly enjoyable. We also enjoyed the few times we ate at the buffet at dinner time to take advantage of the cooked-to-order fish, steak, lamb chops and lobster tails. The library, the unlimited sodas, smoothies, specialty coffees was especially nice treat. We dined once at Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger. Both are great atmospheres although the ribeye was tougher than I expected. The weaknesses are not a big issue. We really like the entertainment on large ships with huge productions but the one show each night at 9:30 pm is good for the size of ship. Great vocals overall, one dancing couple, great music from the ship`s 5 piece band, supplemented with the string quartet at times. We were in a C2 category Deluxe Oceanview in stateroom 4000. While the rooms are on the small size at about 165 sq ft., these bathrooms are the smallest we have ever experienced, not just the shower but the entire layout was very unfriendly. We went to Great Stirrup Cay, nice and compares ok with other ship private islands but nothing close to meeting the standard at Disney's Castaway Cay. Cuba was interesting. The $479 (for two) cost of the "Modern Havana in an American Classic" which included a 90 minute classic car ride as part of a 3.5 hour tour was outrageously costly. Depends on how important it was to do this excursion. Overall, a very nice cruise and a pleasant way to see Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The ship stayed in Cuba for the entire cruise which was great. Absolutely loved Cuba. In Havana the city tour is a must in order to learn about life there. We also did a farm to table ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The ship stayed in Cuba for the entire cruise which was great. Absolutely loved Cuba. In Havana the city tour is a must in order to learn about life there. We also did a farm to table experience which was amazing. As far as the cruise experience we were so excited to take a “luxury”cruise! However, we found ourselves wondering when the luxury was going to start. An upgrade got us a bottle of champagne nothing more (most expensive champagne ever!). Average cruise meals, average cruise wines and to our surprise the “free” drink package was a total joke. It included wine at dinner only which was a shock!! What? The entertainment was average as were the specialty restaurants. Of course we had to pay another $160 to “upgrade”. There was absolutely no difference in that cruise than any other cruise I’ve been on. In fact I think Royal Caribbean is a much better cruise experience and the cost is half of an Oceania cruise. Also, FYI the ship is OLD and needs a refurbishment, and the pool was tiny. To sum it up, loved the destination but did not understand why Oceania claims to be a luxury cruise line. Lesson learned. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This is the first time we have used Oceania. We chose this cruise because it is about the only cruise line which circum navigates Cuba. This gave us the opportunity to visit 3 ports, Havana for 2 days, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. ... Read More
This is the first time we have used Oceania. We chose this cruise because it is about the only cruise line which circum navigates Cuba. This gave us the opportunity to visit 3 ports, Havana for 2 days, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. We also chose Oceania because we have friends who rave about Oceania service and the food. We boarded the ship with very high expectations. Firstly, let me say the staff on Oceania are second to none. They are friendly, helpful and hospitable. Our steward did a remarkable job keeping our cabin up to the mark. The food presentation is remarkable, all food including the buffet presented beautifully. However, the ship itself is old and tired. And it shows. We were told that 4 of Oceania ships are getting a $100 Million refurbish in the future, which will make a big difference. We bought the premium drinks package, and they do serve premium brands. At happy hour there was such a rush on drinks, we were able to wait until the bars had cleared and there was seating in the lounges because of the package. Otherwise there was always a queue of people waiting for drinks. The staff at these times are flat out, but other staff were not recruited to help out. The food itself was disappointing at times. Breakfast in the Terrace Cafe (buffet) was very good, and food was served by staff rather than helping ourselves (possibly because of contamination). Meals at Lunch also very good, both in the Terrace Cafe and the Main Dining Room. In the Terrace Cafe, at the salad bar, the same dressing was served every day when we ate there, no other choices offered. Service was always very good in these venues. Dinner at Red Ginger and the Steakhouse excellent. Dinner in the Main Dining Room in the evenings was a bit hit and miss. Two of my meals, the Osso Bucco and the Roast Lamb were practically inedible. The Osso Bucco was dry and stringy and the Roast Lamb, although rolled, was tough and dry. My husband also had Roast Lamb, his was much better, so we shared it. Mint sauce was not offered and when we requested it, never arrived. We liked the small ship concept of Oceania. However, the age of the ship did not appeal to us. Would we go on Oceania again? Possibly, if the itinerary was something that appealed. However, we went to the Future Cruises Talk and there is nothing new for us for the next couple of years. The one cruise we would have considered, from Santiago to Auckland NZ is available for 2019, but not 2020 when we would like to do it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We went with our Alumni association, which was great fun to have something in common with fellow travelers. We also chose this because of the itinerary "timeless Cuba" which gave us a chance to see three different cities in ... Read More
We went with our Alumni association, which was great fun to have something in common with fellow travelers. We also chose this because of the itinerary "timeless Cuba" which gave us a chance to see three different cities in Cuba. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly. The ship only has 690 passengers which make things so much easier. Dining, getting around the ship and even getting deck chairs was easy. the ship was beautiful and our cabin was a outside stateroom and very clean and roomy. Dining was freestyle and we also could eat at two different specialty restaurants at no additional charge. The first thing we noticed at boarding was no photographers! It was so nice not to be bugged all the time for photos. The passengers were an older group and we enjoyed having no loud music at the pool. In the evening the lounges has nice music and dancing upstairs in the lounge. The entertainment was low key but very good singers and dancers and a comedian. Ports were very interesting, Cuba itself was interesting and the excursions were very good. Moreover , the service and staff were outstanding! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We just completed a cruise on Oceania Sirena, cruising to Cuba. Therr we're eight of us in the group. It was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed seeing Cuba and the food was terrific. Really special. The Red ... Read More
We just completed a cruise on Oceania Sirena, cruising to Cuba. Therr we're eight of us in the group. It was to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed seeing Cuba and the food was terrific. Really special. The Red Ginger's food is as good as it gets The cabin service was great also. The excursions were just OK. Routine cruise eexcursions. Lots of them were cancelled for unclear reasons. The downside was their bar and wine staff focus on money. If we ordered water or a Coke, often they were a bit put out or simply forgot to deliver it. We were charged $50 corking fees. At the table we were told they would credit it. It was on the bill. When I asked about it, they challenged me, saying that is not true. I felt they were calling me a liar. Dumb dumb. Overall, I'm glad we saw Cuva but won't cruise again on Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We selected Sirena and Oceania because the schedule was good for us and the itinerary just what we wanted. Sirena is a smaller cruise ship than previously booked and we wanted to see if size and quality of ship, as advertised, were ... Read More
We selected Sirena and Oceania because the schedule was good for us and the itinerary just what we wanted. Sirena is a smaller cruise ship than previously booked and we wanted to see if size and quality of ship, as advertised, were true. Sirena did not disappoint on either account. With only some 680 passengers the ship was well proportioned for this capacity and certainly there was never an issue with numbers or access to restaurants or facilities. We booked a Concierge Stateroom which was certainly big enough for us although the ensuite was compact, This is an older ship that doesn’t show its age yet has all the features of a stately ship. The ship was immaculately clean and the internal passageways and staircases were equally fastidiously maintained. Ship’s staff were excellent, attentive and ever-present to meet your every need. Food standards were exceptional! Day to day organisation was discrete-with brief rundown of events/activities broadcast once and then you went and did your thing. Everything was included in the cost except alcohol and shore excursions. There was no hassle Re photos or any other big ship pressures eg art sales etc. Perhaps the only - and often mentioned criticism- was the cost of shore tours. They were very expensive. We did our own research and booked tours independently ourselves. We selected the OLife option when booking to cover off internet and gratuities. All in all a very well presented ship with outstanding staff and exquisite food. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
3rd Oceania cruise, 2 on the Marina. this is a smaller ship that the Marina, so it had fewer specialty restaurants but this didn't matter that much. What it did lack was any WOW factor. I hope this will improve when the ships are ... Read More
3rd Oceania cruise, 2 on the Marina. this is a smaller ship that the Marina, so it had fewer specialty restaurants but this didn't matter that much. What it did lack was any WOW factor. I hope this will improve when the ships are redone. EMBARKATION: arrived at port around 1:00 and probably was on ship by 1:20. We went to lunch which was fine. Rooms weren't ready until after 3 for us, because of an "inspection" of the ship. CABIN: We were in an inside cabin, which was small and the bathroom was tiny. DINING: we ate in both specialty restaurants, red ginger twice and tuscan steak houseonce. Food was excellent, service not so much. 20 minutes to get a soda. Dinner at steak house took more than 2 hours, causing us to miss 9:30 show. Staff in main diningroom at times seemed overwhelmed. Food was ok. As far as the buffet, eggs at breakfast were some type of liquid that was not very good. food at buffet was just fair. Even the Surf and turf sandwich at the grill were mediocre . (on marina, they were great) ENTERTAINMENT; surprisingly excellent. For a small ship, we were not expecting muchand we were pleasantly surprised. Also the enrichment program was terrific. Sandra Cares was beyond exceptional in her presentations. We appreciate that these were televised at a later time on the TV. The gym classes were also very good. I took spin, stretch, yoga and pilates. the room was small, so sign up early. I was closed out of a spin class. SERVICE: oUR housekeepers were great, and all staff were friendly and made you feelat "home" rather than needing to sell you something as on other cruise lines. PORTS; We took private tours and I was not impressed by our tour guide, althoughit was much cheaper than Oceania excursion. We went to Havana which was disappointing in that many places were so run down and frozen in time (and not in a good way) We also went to Cienfuegos, and took an hour fifteen drive to the city of Trinidad that I didnt think was worthwhile, but others in our group liked. Santiago wasour last stop, we did this on our own. Walked a 1/4 mile uphill to a main square wherethere was a church, a building that Castro gave his famous speech, and museum calledthe "old house" which was interesting and worthwhile. disembarkation: we walked off and it was quite easy Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our first cruise on Oceania and had chosen to give them a try when we first saw their published itineraries for Cuba. We visited Havana for 2 days, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba on this 7 night cruise from Miami. We really ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Oceania and had chosen to give them a try when we first saw their published itineraries for Cuba. We visited Havana for 2 days, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba on this 7 night cruise from Miami. We really enjoyed being on a small ship and never had any major issues getting seats for meals or lounges on the pool deck. The food was very good. We were very impressed with the Terrace Cafe which is the buffet and offered the same items as served in the Grand Dining Room plus had lobster tails and grilled shrimp every night. There are outside tables where you can dine and also inside tables all with white tablecloths which made dining very pleasant and much quicker than spending two hours in the Grand Dining Room. We ate at Red Ginger one night and was disappointed in the preparation of our entrees. Both were greasy and appeared to have sat for a while before being served. The lobster on my :Lobster Pad Thai was delicious but the noodles were tasty but too oily to eat. The server never came back to check on our dishes so after eating some of each entree, we left with no one even asking if there was a problem. We went to the Terrace Cafe and had dessert. The Tuscan Steak House was very nice with great service and delicious food. Hubby and the Surf & Turf which was prepared perfectly and I had the Veal Shank which was delicious but a very large serving. Waves was a nice place for lunch a few times with the surf & turf sandwhich (sliced filet mignon & lobster) was a real winner. We enjoyed the nightly entertainment by the 8 person entertainment group, the ventriloquist and a female who sang & played the trumpet. The demographic of this cruise was definitely 50+ but very active, seasoned cruisers. This is definitely a cruise line that has worked hard to provide very well trained crewmembers all of whom were very polite. We liked the buffet not being self-service and a chef appearing as soon as I asked about anything special we needed. We were not impressed by the two excursions by Oceania that we took in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. We had a private guide from ToursbyLocals for a group of 8 for the 2 full days we had in Havana. This was a great way to see Havana and also enjoy the Tropicana nightclub the night we were in port. Our guide assured that we had a wonderful tour of the four squares in colonial Havana, a tour in the classic cars, lunch at a lovely paladar specializing in tapas & Spanish food, a night at the Tropicana, and on the second day a farm to table experience in Cojima that was very enjoyable and time to shop at the San Jose Market. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Sirena Cuba Cruise Why this cruise? In a word – Cuba. We had never been there; and were unlikely to make a second visit given our advancing years; so, when Oceania offered this trip we were quick to grab it. This would be our 7th ... Read More
Sirena Cuba Cruise Why this cruise? In a word – Cuba. We had never been there; and were unlikely to make a second visit given our advancing years; so, when Oceania offered this trip we were quick to grab it. This would be our 7th Oceania cruise; and the second on Sirena. It would be for only 7 days with two days in Havana, one in Cienfuegos and one in Santiago de Cuba so it seemed like a good idea- which proved to be true. The ship Sirena is the most recently acquired of four identical former Renaissance ships owned by Oceania. It is small, 684 passengers, but reasonably spacious at 30,277 tons for an above average passenger space ratio of 44. It was completely re-done after Oceania acquired it in 2016, so it has a new appearance. There is a lot of dark wood, and varied furniture looking like the 1940s. There are two elevator banks of 2 elevators each; but they seemed to do the job well. The basic plan is to have entertainment forward and food aft, with the center used for management, shops, the casino, library, pool deck and lounging areas. Decks 6, 7 and 8 are all for staterooms; with about half of Deck 5 and a small portion of Deck 4 for passenger cabins also. Deck 5 forward has the show lounge; Deck 9 the Canyon Ranch Spa, and Deck 10 the Horizon Lounge. The main dining room is on Deck 5, the Terrace Buffet on 9, and Deck 10 has the 2 specialty restaurants, Red Ginger and the Tuscan Steak Grill. All in all, Sirena is a well designed ship; easy to navigate, and very attractive in its appearance. Living Aboard Our stateroom was 8046. The prime motif was dark wood, with light grey textured walls, a large mirror on one wall, and a nice, modern painting above the sofa. The desk arrangement was convenient, and next to it was the decent sized sofa. There were two arm chairs and a small table, probably adequate for room service (which we never use on any cruise). The verandah was good sized with two adjustable cane arm chairs that could be fitted with a padded seat and back cushion. There was a small table and a faux teak deck. The bed had two gooseneck directed focused reading lamps as well as normal wall lamps. These focused lamps made reading in bed very easy. We also enjoyed the full glass wall with the door leading out to the verandah, as it provided nice light all day. The bathroom had a full sized, obviously new shower, with both a rain shower head, a hand held spray head and a towel rack holding huge bath towels in addition to the normal sized bath towels and other towels on racks in the bathroom. There was a single sink, but cabinets and drawers on both sides providing all the room needed for toiletries. The closet was good sized with an easily sufficient number of nice quality clothes hangers provided. As usual on board ship, there was more than enough drawer space for all we brought aboard This was a Penthouse Suite. It is about 304 square feet compared to the somewhat small “normal” Verandah Suite; which we had experienced on other Oceania small ships. We have used the Penthouse Suite on most of our cruises for the ease of use and room. It also offers faster embarkation, free internet, free laundry service and a butler who was very nice, but not used at all. We had enough food without afternoon canapes, thank you. Dining Oceania is a fine dining cruise line. Their larger two ships have 4 specialty restaurants, but the four smaller ones do very well with the 2 noted above. There is no charge for using any of these specialty venues. Overall, with 42 cruises to date on 13 cruise lines; 10 ocean and 3 river cruises; we would rate Oceania’s dining performance as superior to all cruise lines except Crystal cruises; and it is quite close to that line’s marvelous ships. The main dining room is traditional, with excellent service, open dining and a fine selection. Red Ginger is one of our favorite restaurants. Reservations are required, but we were entitled to two, which we took advantage of. We are not steak people (Edith is a vegetarian) so we skipped the Tuscan Steak Grill. The Terrace Buffet has a wide selection and offered some special daily choices by way of Cuban and Italian food. It can get a little crowded for breakfast, but we always found seats. The service is fine. There is a “Barista” café outside the main dining room which offers a free selection of various coffee treats; and a “Waves” sandwich, ice cream and hamburger bar near the pool outside the Terrace Café. Entertainment As a small ship, with limited options, Sirena was constrained in its offerings. There was a small “show” group with 5 singers and 2 dancers, a lady who played the trumpet and a ventriloquist. We only went to one of the “production” nights, and it was okay. The most attractive entertainment offering was Sandy Cares, the Enrichment speaker. We had seen her on an earlier Oceania cruise, and very much enjoyed her well informed and lively presentations on this cruise as well. Oceania is well served by her. There was a very nice string quartet composed of young ladies from the Ukraine, who played every afternoon at tea in the Horizon Room, and several sessions on Deck 5 as well. Unfortunately, these sessions often conflicted with other events as well such as dinner and some special meetings for frequent Oceania passengers. Extending their presentation until later in the evening would be a good idea. The Crew There are 400 crew members on this ship. With a passenger total of 684, the ratio is 1.71 passengers for each crew member. This is a very great ratio, exceeded only by a few of the small, super luxury cruise lines. The ratio on the large ships is more like 2.5 to 3.8. This means that the cabins are promptly and well cared for, the wait staff in all restaurants and the buffet are easily sufficient for fast and friendly service, and the entire operation of the vessel is smooth and pleasant. Embarkation and Debarkation As noted above, our Penthouse status gave us priority in boarding. The Miami cruise terminal set up has a fairly large waiting area. We got there about 10:30, and were among the first on board at 11:00 where, as usual, we had to wait until 1:00 to go to our stateroom. When we checked in we were provided with Cuban visas as promised (for $75.00 each). Of course this allowed us to have lunch in the buffet and to check out some books in the delightful library. Our luggage was at the room when we went there. Debarkation went pretty quickly also, although there is a lot of walking through the terminal involved. We were not required to fill out a customs form and easily got through the customs and border check. In Cuba We sailed away at 5:00 and arrived in Havana at about 8:00 the following morning. We seldom, if ever, use Oceania’s excursions due to their limited nature and very high cost. We had made e-mail contact earlier with a private tour guide, Yuri, whose e-mail is: yuri,arcayaborrego@nauta.cu. Using CruiseCritic we made contact with several people, and some others had made contact with Yuri also, so our group numbered 14. There was much discussion about how to pay for the services. Yuri said that his tour would be both days in Havana, then in Cienfuegos, and then in Santiago. His charges would be 350 cuc (Cuban money) per person for all four tours. Cucs are only available in Cuba. While the “formal” exchange rate is 1 cuc per 1 U.S. dollar, the exchange charges made the actual rate about 0.87 to 1; so 350 cucs would be about $402.00. However Euros had no such exchange premium; so 350 cucs were about 311 Euros. We already had about 280 Euros from prior trips, so we bought 550 more from our bank, and were on our way. We checked in through Cuban customs, showed our visas and were photographed. We then exchanged some Euros for cucs and met Yuri outside the port building. We had noticed on the way in that many port buildings were in very bad shape. This turned out to be true of many places in Cuba. It is a very poor country, with no solid economic base. We all had heard about the pre-Castro American cars preserved by the Cubans, and we saw a number of them, all in very good shape. Of course most of the motor transportation is vis European or Asian vehicles. and I was fortunate to get a new MG taxi with a working ac unit to fight the 87 degree heat. We saw a lot of Havana, including a stop for a very inexpensive lunch, and returned about 4:00 P.M. We were told that next day would be spent mostly walking, so I decided to skip it. Some people on the ship went to a night club show that night. The next day was spent in several museums. Yuri speaks very good English and made his comments enjoyable. The next day was a sea day and we then arrived in Cienfuegos at about 7:00 A.M. This tour was also a walking-museum tour which I skipped again, although it involved about an hours trip to Trinidad. The return to the ship was at about 1:00 since we sailed at 3:00 The final day was spent in Santiago de Cuba. This is a part of the country absolutely dedicated to Fidel Castro. It is where he landed to start his successful revolution, and where he chose to be buried in a rather simple grave. Since this tour also involved walking, Edith again did it alone. What was nice is that Yuri did not charge us for the three days I missed. We paid at the end of each day. As noted, Cuba is a very poor country, without many prospects for the future under its present form of government. Tourism is bringing in some money, but not much with few hotels or resorts, and a limited flow of visitors from the United States. The people are delightful, and very fond of US citizens (and, of course, our money). They make do with limited resources but have talent and energy and a “we will survive” attitude. In Phoenix, where we live we have an excellent Ballet company which has received praise in New York newspapers. 3 of the dancers, including a leading ballerina, learned their art at their home in Cuba. They evidently were allowed to leave, and at least one has returned home between seasons; so it is possible to leave. Concluding Thoughts This was a very worthwhile cruise, even though my limited walking ability severely restricted my ability to see and enjoy the country. There are supposed limits on what Americans can do in Cuba, and the ship uses a couple of the entertainers (who were the only US citizens) to act as OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control, a US agency) officers to keep people informed of the restrictions. However there was virtually no enforcement of these rules. Even the Cuban government, which was everywhere, did not man the entry point in Havana the second day, so anyone on board could simply go ashore and do whatever they wanted to do. We were supposed to go ashore in Santiago de Cuba to surrender our Cuban visas, but if someone did not, there was no follow up. So, if you want to see Cuba in comfort on a beautiful and immensely comfortable ship. Oceania Sirena is the way to go. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose the Oceania Sirena because of word of mouth how terrific the line is and this itinerary for Cuba. I need a handicap cabin, since I have walking issues and sometimes use a wheelchair. I was booked in a handicap cabin originally. ... Read More
We chose the Oceania Sirena because of word of mouth how terrific the line is and this itinerary for Cuba. I need a handicap cabin, since I have walking issues and sometimes use a wheelchair. I was booked in a handicap cabin originally. My agent was then called a month later to say the cabin would be under some kind of construction and no more where available. They then said they would upgrade me to another cabin that would be more then sufficient for my needs. I myself called the cruise line and was told by more then one res. Agent that the cabin was exactly the same, just a little smaller and I would have no issues. Once on the ship I was appalled to find they had passengers in the original cabin I had booked and the bathroom in the cabin they now assigned me had a step up, and having leg issues that made the trip more difficult for me. Because of the cabin size my wheelchair had be folded up and stuck in a corner so we could walk around in the cabin without hitting into it. Very inconvient.. We were 3 couples on the cruise together, who all booked at the same time . We all had issues in the main dining room. The food service was slow in coming and the a/c couldn’t be regulated well. One night we were so cold that they actually brought us blankets to put over ourselves . We were very disappointed that the next evening when we arrived for dinner, they wanted to put us back in the same spot . The staff never even asked us if we preffered another area, etc. The ship needs some updating, which I hear is supposed to happen soon. The ships Lecturer was fabulous and gave us a real insight into everything we would see in Cuba. The beds were the most comfortable we ever had while cruising and the staff outside of the dining room were all terrific. High tea every afternoon was done well and was delicious, as were the specialty restaurants. Getting reservations in those were difficult if you weren’t in a suite or concierge class., even though we tried months before the sailing, our availability was extremely limited. Would we travel again on Oceania, your guess is as good as mine. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (20+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our third cruise with Oceania; the previous cruises were the northeastern seaboard and Bermuda, and India, the Middle ... Read More
My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (20+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our third cruise with Oceania; the previous cruises were the northeastern seaboard and Bermuda, and India, the Middle East and Europe . The 9-day Cuban Charisma Cruise started in Miami on September 24, 2018. We drove down from our home in The Villages through southwestern Florida and the Everglades to Miami. Boarding the ship was very easy. Our room was at the front of the ship on deck 6, room 6001. This was a good location because we were near the areas of the ship we used the most. Most points of interest are on 5 (dining room at the rear) and the Sirena Lounge at the front. Deck 9 has the computer room, card room and spa. The ship was a few years old and was very nice; very clean. The staff was great and the food was excellent. Coffee, including specialty coffees, was available 24/7 on Deck 10 front and also, during select hours on Deck 5 rear. The ship provided complimentary water and soft drinks. The Program Director provided information about tours and basically everything you needed to know on a timely basis. The ship had a cast of great entertainers on board and also a great band. They were very professional and excellent musicians. The cruise line provided a speaker, Sandy Cares, who covered a wide range of interesting topics on Cuba and also, bananas. The passengers and the crew were all very nice people from all walks of life. The people on the ship made the cruise interesting and enjoyable. The only real negative was the price of alcoholic beverages. The prices are ridiculous for what you get. We had a lot of fun playing games and competitions to earn Big O points. We earned almost 200 points which were cashed in on the last full day for Oceania merchandise. The visited Ports of Call follow. KEY WEST – Living in Florida, we have been to Key West many times. It's a fun little city. We took the President Truman's Key West tour. Truman's Key West home was something we had not seen before. It was very interesting and worth the time ... a nice history lesson. We also spent time at a free museum, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; interesting place. More importantly, we enjoyed a frozen chocolate covered Key Lime pie on a stick prior to walking back to the ship. . HAVANA – We took the Old Colonial Havana tour; this was a walking tour that included, to our surprise, a bus tour too. This tour lasted almost two hours longer than scheduled which caused us to miss our next tour. But, that was all right, by then, we really didn't need another tour of Havana. Our guide was a well educated engineer who spoke good English and was very pro Cuba. The walking tour was easy and slow. The bus tour covered much of the city missed on the walking tour including a “5-Star” hotel stop to buy cigars, rum and coffee. We also stopped at a large market near the ship in case you needed to buy more Cuban stuff. We also took the Legendary Tropicana Cabaret tour. This is worth the trip to Havana! The show was fantastic. It started around 9:30 pm and lasted until about 11:15. It was the highlight of Havana. We had very good seats to watch the over 100 performers. It included a complimentary cigar, peanuts, a glass of Champagne and a bottle of rum to share among four people. The rum wasn't the best rum we tasted in Cuba (personal opinion). CIENFUEGOS – On the first day in port, we took the Colonial Trinidad tour. The bus ride to Trinidad was the highlight of the trip. We passed many horse pulled wagons, fields of sugar cane, bananas and various fruits and vegetables. Trinidad is an old city that shows its age. We stopped at La Canchanchara to enjoy a cocktail made from rum, sugar and limes and listened to a local band under a cooling fan. We also stopped at pottery shops located behind a few homes. Lunch at a local hotel was a large buffet including a beer. The lunch was good. This was a nice tour. On the second day, we took the Cienfuegos Dolphins show. This was a bus trip that included a 40-minute dolphin show with many locals in attendance and also, a great flute concert by 10 local young women. This was also a nice tour. SANTIAGO DE CUBA – On the first day in Santiago, we took the Colonial Santiago tour. This was a tour that included a great Spanish fort on the coast, San Juan Hill and the city's main square. Great photo opportunities. This was really the first time we encountered beggars. They were a bit of a problem. We also learned a lot about the history of Cuba and the Triumph of the Revolution. The history of the battle at San Juan Hill and the Spanish Cuban American War was an interesting portion of the tour. We attended the Tropicana Santiago Show. This was very different from the Havana show. It was more African dancing in nature but include one bottle of rum per person, cheese, meats and olives to munch on during the show. The Havana show was much better but the rum in Santiago was better than in Havana. The Havana show was more Las Vegas like while the Santiago show was more Cuban history with a little pop. The music was very, very loud …. too loud. On the second day, we took the Birthplace of the Revolution tour. This tour duplicated the prior days tour at times, but that was fine. It was very informative about the Revolution … the Triumph of the Revolution, as the locals would say it. One of the highlights of the tour was visiting the Santa Ifigenia cemetery. The cemetery includes the body of Fidel Castro and also, the hero of the country, Jose Marti. You will hear about Jose Marti throughout your time in Cuba. The cemetery was the only place in Cuba that was is perfect physical condition. Don't miss the changing of the guard every 30 minutes. TWO DAYS AT SEA – The cruise included two days a sea … a great time to relax and earn Big O points to cash in for Oceania merchandise. All of our tour guides were very good. They all spoke English well and were very approachable. On this cruise, you will learn a lot about Cuba, their free healthcare, free education, guaranteed jobs, low state wages … do your own research. You will see a lot of horse transportation, motor bikes, old American cars, clean streets (at least where you are taken), lots of people just sitting around, structures in need of paint, pot holes, well educated tour guides and generally, very friendly people. You will hear, at least while on the ship, a lot about OFAC. While in Cuba, all you need is US dollars; most stores will take them. The official story is that you will need to convert them into CUCs (Cuban Convertible Peso). The cost is around 85 to 90 CUCs per $100. They are suppose to be a 1 and 1 conversion but if you are from the US, they change a 10% to 15% fee. The CUCs are only for tourists, the locals use Pesos (around 25 Pesos per CUC). The locals like CUCs and US dollars. Cuba is a reflection of what it was, and what it might be in the future. Overall, the cruise was great. You will see many cannons buried in the clean streets, many old American cars and you will meet many very nice people on the ship and also, tour guides and locals. Oceania really took good care of us; they were always there to make sure everything was taken care of during the trip. They really seemed to care. A great trip. If they only reduced the price of alcoholic drinks. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My wife Nicci and I opted to move up to a luxury cruise line because we were weary of the hustle and bustle found on mass market cruises like on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. While we previously enjoyed a Celebrity cruise to Bermuda, we ... Read More
My wife Nicci and I opted to move up to a luxury cruise line because we were weary of the hustle and bustle found on mass market cruises like on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. While we previously enjoyed a Celebrity cruise to Bermuda, we wanted to take a longer cruise in the Caribbean, our favorite vacation destination, that would still jibe with Nicci’s schedule as a school nurse but also would not have many children onboard. When I did research and found the Caribbean Palette cruise on the Insignia, that was most attractive; the additional perks of “the finest cuisine at sea” and having a couple of sea days mixed in with some ports we had never been to (originally Columbia on Independence Day, which was then thankfully later substituted by Havana) also made us very excited, despite the extremely high cost of the voyage. We had some initial concerns, as conveyed to us by our booking agent at Oceania, that we were among the younger passengers aboard (in our mid-to-late forties), but as we are old souls at heart (or so we thought!), that was of little problem to us. What absolutely sealed the deal for us was being able to sail home to Manhattan, thus needing to fly only one-way down to Miami. Overall, then, we had very high expectations for this cruise. I would say that, for the most part, these expectations were met. I will summarize individual facets below, but, despite overarching concerns besides cost that will lead us not to take another Oceania cruise for quite some time, if ever, the cruise was most pleasant and relaxing. Here are our reports and thoughts on what we experienced on the Insignia during our trip: Embarkation: Smooth and easy. As we had booked a Concierge cabin, we had expected to be onboard at noon, but we were able, surprisingly, to board much earlier, at 11:15. Briefly, on the flipside, debarkation was no worse in Manhattan than previously encountered, despite a great delay coming into port. Cabin: As we are used to Carnival-sized cabins, we had little problem, as otherwise seems to be expressed quite frequently in both reviews and on the Oceania boards, with the overall size of the Concierge-level cabin. While the cabin was far from luxurious, and in need of some freshening, there was adequate storage space for both clothing, effects, and luggage, and our aft-facing balcony was also a nice size, having room for a chaise longue, two chairs, and a table. Our mini-fridge was indeed stocked with our choice of beverages (only Coke for me, as Nicci does not drink soda), and there were always at least two large bottles of water left on our vanity with ice that we requested. We found that the air conditioning and room temperature for the first week of the voyage were far too warm, despite setting the thermostat on the lowest setting, and it took us a couple of occasions mentioning this to Housekeeping finally to get Maintenance to address the issue; even then, the difference was marginal, and the only way that we derived any comfort was from an oscillating fan that Housekeeping very kindly provided us. This warmth was also reflected in the water from the tap and shower, which never seemed to fall below lukewarm also despite being turned to the coldest possible setting. The biggest problem that we had, however, which we can confirm from previous reviewers, was the size and configuration of the bathroom, and most especially the shower: these were woefully inadequate and should be addressed in any refurbishment of the ship. The good thing was that our cabin steward Renan was most efficient and pleasant, always keeping the room neat and clean, and he was exemplary of the wonderful service provided elsewhere onboard. Food: Throughout the Terrace area, Grand Dining Room, and both specialty restaurants, the food mostly lived up to Oceania’s marketing hyperbole that they have the finest cuisine at sea. Things were always very fresh and nicely presented. It did seem that there was, surprisingly, a lack of variety of choices, as many dishes were only variations on a theme of the same staple ingredient (e.g., lamb, pork, or beef prepared in slightly different ways or with different sauces). Furthermore, there were times in the specialty restaurants that things could have run more smoothly, such as when we spent nearly three hours at our first night in Toscana or when either Nicci’s steak was most undercooked or I did not receive things that I ordered in Polo Grill. Furthermore, during lunch, the pizza (which, truthfully, I saw virtually no one else order) was mediocre at best. Also, breakfast service for late risers like me is nonexistent, with ample choices ending around 9am; the few times I did partake of breakfast in the Terrace, however, I must say that the omelettes were fantastic, made with freshly-beaten eggs. While these criticisms all may seem niggling, as this food is being provided by a cruise line that seemingly bases its entire marketing strategy on a flawless dining experience, passengers should be expected to have the best of everything. Since this is naturally impossible to achieve, then, let us just say that our expectations were met, but not exceeded, when it came to non-room service food on the Insignia. Turning quickly, then, to room service, I think this was the most pleasant surprise, with ample choices and a delicious Lombardy salad that I was surprised never to see offered anywhere else. I do think that Oceania did not do enough in our cabin to apprise us of the fact that we could have ordered an enhanced breakfast menu from room service, but since we had seen many rooms on our deck with such tags, it was more our fault for not making further use of this service. Finally, even though we made it there only once, the afternoon tea was fantastic, with great savory and sweet finger foods. Activity and entertainment: Our expectations were not high, given what we have read online here, and I think they were mostly met. As befits an older crowd, there was not much to do, with exceedingly low variety, during the day, with activities that never changed from needlepoint to poorly-attended bingo to trivia that we were not interested in at all. The performances of the entertainment staff were seemingly well done, but as we shall comment later on, we were obliged due to seasickness to miss one show completely and leave at the beginning of a second show, so this is most difficult to rate. Similarly, we never attended one onboard lecture except a cooking presentation by the executive chef that was very entertaining. The visiting artists (a singer, a magician, a comedian, and a guitarist) were talented and enjoyable, nothing to rave about yet quite pleasant to watch. What was first-rate was both the onboard band and, especially, the string quartet; the quartet’s skill, despite comments on the boards, was most evident, and they contributed towards our comfort both waiting for evening shows and during the afternoon tea. The casino was incredibly small, almost never full, yet very happily was smoke-free like virtually the remainder of the ship, and we actually came out ahead in our limited play there. The cruise director was adequate at his job, and we appreciated him keeping announcements to a minimum during the day, but Nicci found him not to be warm or genuine, and I will not dispute this assertion at all. We found it curious, as did fellow passengers (as we will expand on later), that there were no movies offered to watch during the day outside one’s cabin, such as in the lounge, until the last night of the voyage; I believe that this is something that Oceania should take heed of for future entertainment. I would say, then, that while we were happy not seeing any “sexy single parties” at the pool, there needed to be much more in the way of activities and entertainment onboard than was provided. Fellow passengers: Aside from the age of our fellow passengers, we did not quite know what to expect, even after having read comments on the boards and reviews. We found everyone very pleasant and easy to converse with, definitely on the more white-collar (and indeed retired) side, and, while we should not be surprised in hindsight, definitely more cosmopolitan: there was a high number of non-Americans aboard, including Australians and New Zealanders (which only makes sense if you think about it as they were escaping their winter). There seemed to be a somewhat-even mix of returning Oceania guests as well as first-timers like us, and what was astonishing was how many of these return passengers were dissatisfied with Oceania, perhaps this cruise in particular, stating that the high level of dining, activity, and the condition of the ship were not met as on previous cruises, whether on the Insignia or another Oceania ship. We appreciated their candor, but we also appreciated that they still found ways to enjoy their vacation and did not let their disappointment affect the experience of their fellow guests. Certainly, given what we saw at the Oceania future cruise desk, people were booking their next trips at a furious clip! I guess the biggest thing that I was surprised at was how similarly everyone dressed, at all times of the day, and while everyone seemed happy, there was also a distinct lack of what I would call whimsy, with no one ever seeming to laugh heartily but instead just seeming to be there, if you can get what I am driving at. Overall, if these people are representative of the Oceania norm, there are far worse cruisers to share a ship with. Ship: This is where our biggest problems lie. We knew that this ship, at around 30K tons, would be the smallest we had ever sailed on, but its lack of size definitely contributed to a lack of stability. So much so, in fact, that the relatively rough waters that we encountered on July 4th led to two-thirds of the ship (including some crewmembers!) to be laid out with seasickness – including Nicci, whom I have never seen ill in eighteen previous cruises with her. Unfortunately, I also had a repeat performance on July 13th, so I really lost two nights out of my cruise, and since I have been in much worse weather on bigger ships with no ill effects, I do indeed directly blame this on the size of Insignia. It seemed that the doors to the decks were always closed due to the high winds, which I understand is for safety, but this made exploring the decks difficult. Furthermore, this ship is in desperate need of refurbishment: tiles from the only pool onboard were flaking off at a prodigious and unacceptable rate, so that oftentimes I would find them sticking either on Nicci or on one of our fellow users. The entire ship seemed to be kept at a higher temperature, I guess to accommodate the older passengers who like to be warmer, and although the elevators mostly were uncrowded, they also tended to run on the smaller side. The décor was quite nice, harkening back to the classic era of ocean liners, and there seemed to be a great amount of public space, from everywhere including the atrium to the well-stocked library. Again, however, this can only provide so much comfort, and I think that not feeling stable while underway is a huge factor in why I would not come back to Oceania. Intangibles: I will skip over our ports of call, except to say this: Bermuda as always is my go-to vacation port, and I am very happy that we visited Havana, but this was a very intense stop only one day after embarkation, and we do not feel the need ever to visit Cuba again. Our other stops were fine, aside from Grenada, which felt distinctly unsafe, and Trinidad, an unscheduled stop (about which more in a second) that looked so unappetizing from onboard that we did not even bother to get off at the terminal to stretch our legs. I did not appreciate for one second that, while we understandably had to deviate stops in St. Lucia and Dominica because of Hurricane Beryl, in substituting Trinidad for these ports, Oceania did not even account for, let alone reimburse for, the refund in port charges for these missed stops, nor provide even a nominal onboard credit due to the inconvenience of adding in another sea day, as we received in the past from Carnival. This left a very bad taste in my mouth. As for other intangibles, I alluded before to the lack of whimsy and similarity in dress that our fellow passengers exhibited, and I guess this is why I always felt somewhat out of place onboard – I wanted to do more than just lie down next to the pool with a book or engage in pleasant banter but instead feel like I was sharing a good time and laugh and relax with like-minded passengers. Fortunately, Nicci and I were able to find one family (from very close to where we live) that similarly sought out fun, companionship, and enjoyment, otherwise this could have easily been a very somber and unpleasant cruise. I think, then, that Nicci and I need to strike a happy medium between the immaturity of Carnival cruises and the relative stiffness of Oceania cruises...for us, this seems to be on Celebrity. Lastly, I just feel that, even with the great service and overall high quality of the food, this cruise simply did not provide us with anywhere near the value that was expected from the exorbitant cost of the voyage. I wanted to write a more detailed review because I never really found anything on this site that would provide me the same insight and information as I hope I did here. I therefore hope that you will find this as useful as I meant it to be. Thanks for reading! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
First of all, bear this in mind: I really wanted to give Insignia a four-and-nine-tenths rating, but there's no button for that, so I settled for a four. Why not just go ahead and punch the fifth button? you ask. Well, a five is ... Read More
First of all, bear this in mind: I really wanted to give Insignia a four-and-nine-tenths rating, but there's no button for that, so I settled for a four. Why not just go ahead and punch the fifth button? you ask. Well, a five is perfection. Insignia is wonderful, but perfection is unattainable for any ship. So four it must be. DW and I are veterans of more than 50 cruises, mostly on Princess, where we are elite. We have enjoyed Princess a lot, but we wanted to step up a bit and have heard great things about Oceania, mostly centering on the food. And it's all true, folks. So let's start at the beginning of our 14-night Miami-to-New York cruise. Embarkation in Miami is painless because this is a small ship. Fewer than 700 passengers, so no unbearably long lines. Also, no ship's photographers to pose you in front of some hokey background picture of the ship set against a gorgeous sunset, or whatever. That can hold up the works, too. Once aboard there was a bit of a hitch. We were allowed to board at about 11:30 a.m. (exact time escapes me), but because we had a low cabin category we couldn't get into our cabin until 1 p.m. So we had to schlepp our carry-on baggage around with us for that time. Not a big deal but, as I said, perfection is unattainable. So what's the first thing you want to do on embarkation day? Explore your ship, right? Wrong. Eat, of course! This is Oceania, after all. So off we go to the buffet, known on Oceania as the Terrace Cafe. Way more than enough to choose from here. I'll talk more about the food later. It gets its own category. OK, so now it's 1 o'clock, we get into the cabin, dump the bags and meet our cabin attendant. Her name is Khachungla. There's one problem with Khachungla: I can't take her home with me. And boy, by the end of this cruise I really wanted to. Never had a friendlier, harder-working cabin attendant, I kid you not. Time to explore Insignia. This is a 20-year-old ship, remember, so comparing it head-to-head against a newer one would be unfair. It has to be judged on its own merits. It is maintained beautifully. Insignia is scheduled for a drydock soon, and a few of our fellow passengers said they could see a need for that. But I could not. No worn-out furniture, no threadbare carpets. Nothing obvious like that. Maybe some things behind the scenes that I was unaware of, but that's speculation. The decor is what I would call English country, but I'm certainly no expert on that. Lots of heavy drapery, dark furniture and deep carpets. Not exactly my taste, but that's just one guy's opinion. Yours may differ. What's important is that the ship is spotlessly clean at all times. One problem that we noticed right away: The elevators are tiny and unventilated. I imagine Oceania can't do much about the size, but when you cram half a dozen perspiring people in there after a summertime Caribbean shore excursion, it gets real ripe real fast. Now about the food (OK, maybe that transition's not the best, but you'll get over it). Simply put, the food on Oceania was the best we've ever had at sea and, as I noted, we've been doing this a long time. Each dish was perfectly prepared and served by a thoroughly professional staff. A few small examples: DW is diabetic, so she wants to know about no-sugar-added desserts. On the mass-market lines, you likely get one selection a night, take it or leave it. On Oceania, you get a no-sugar-added dessert menu with 10 items. DW says they all were delicious, too. I tasted the mousse. Sure tasted like sugar to me. But no. As for me, I need to be careful about my salt intake. Unfortunately, I love soup, which is notoriously salty. But not on Insignia. I know there's salt in there. Has to be. But it's not obvious. I had soup every night and never detected a salty taste. These chefs know how to cook without overloading everything with sodium chloride, and that's a skill missing on other lines. Another thing: the bread. I love it, and the bread and rolls that come with lunch and dinner are to die for. Yes, that's a small thing, but isn't luxury made up of a multitude of small things? We ate in the main restaurant most nights, but also tried Polo Grill, the steakhouse; and Toscana, the Italian restaurant. The latter was my favorite. I had the lemon veal scaloppini. My mouth still waters when I think about it. On Oceania, the specialty restaurants are included in the fare. So why not indulge? Outside the main restaurant is a terrific coffee bar. Fantastic espressos, cappuccinos, etc. Pietro, a barrista there (shouldn't that be barristo? Never mind), made an Americano for me and a breve latte for DW most mornings. Let me tell you, this guy knows what he's doing (as do they all, I suspect). Really got us off on the right foot each day. Mini-croissants and other goodies are right there for the taking, again no extra charge. You get the idea. Enough about food. Let's talk about shore excursions. This cruise included a stop at Havana, Cuba. Sadly, I was unable to leave the ship because of a health problem, but that was nobody's fault. That's right -- while everybody else was exploring Cuba I spent the whole day in bed. Aarrrgghh! I like it when we visit ports I've seen before so I can stay on board and have the ship to myself, but this was ridiculous. DW did take a tour. She thought Havana was unimpressive. "The whole place looks like a bombed-out city," she says. Cigar-factory workers make 80 cents a day. She bought two cigars for me at $10 each. So the factory's product costs 10 bucks and people who produce it get next to nothing. Quite educational. Also, the tour included "art," an alleyway with murals and folk dancers, and a rum factory, both of which she found adequate. Insignia also stopped in Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada and Bermuda. We were supposed to stop at St. Lucia and Dominica, but a hurricane scuttled those plans. We dodged that storm, of course, and got a sea day in lieu of Dominica and a stop in Trinidad instead of St. Lucia. The Trinidad stop happened on a Sunday when nothing was open and the ship docked at a commercial pier, so there was little within walking distance anyway. We looked around for about an hour and returned to the ship. About that hurricane: It was actually nowhere near us, but the sea was still kind of rough anyway, about 3 meters or 10 feet, the captain said. Now, Insignia is a smallish ship, only about 30,000 tons, so, to be honest, it doesn't handle rough water all that well. If you're on one of the newer megaships, you likely wouldn't even feel waves that big. But a 30,000-tonner kind of bobs and weaves like a cork. Many people were seasick that night. Insignia is billed as "charming" and "cozy," and indeed it is, but if you're prone to seasickness, then yes, it can be a problem. But this was just one night out of 14, so factor that into your plans, too. Our last stop was Bermuda. We docked in St. George's and took a bus to Hamilton, the capital, for shopping. We were in Bermuda overnight, so on Day 2, we just explored St.George's, a small but picturesque town. Lots of brightly painted buildings. I thought it was more fun than Hamilton. After leaving Bermuda we had some rough water again, not as bad as before but bad enough to make us late getting into New York, our port of disembarkation. That meant that disembarkation didn't go all that well, and I'm sure some people missed flights home. That didn't affect us because we stayed in NY for a couple of days. Regarding entertainment: It's a smallish ship with a smallish theater, but the shows were fine. Only problem here is the flat floor. There are two levels, but neither is sloped, so sight lines are not too good. I attended one port lecture in this venue, which was excellent. I can't recall the gentleman's name, but he told us all about Bermuda before we arrived there. Regarding the spa: There's an excellent, large steam room which is hot enough to make you sweat plenty but not so hot that you'll have to flee after 30 seconds. It's complimentary. No dry sauna, though. Oceania cruises are aimed at the 50-and-older crowd. Most pax were retirees like us, and there are no facilities specifically for kids. There were a handful of youngsters on this cruise but no small children, which is how we like it. It's another reason we chose Oceania. So, in summary, we loved this ship and cruise. Except for the rough-water problem, it's hard to find any serious negatives. We fell in love with Oceania, and will try one of the larger ships next time. I welcome your comments. KK Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Decided to take a cruise on Oceania Sirena due to the itinerary to Cuba. It was suppose to make three stops but due to water conditions one stop was removed. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and wanted to have a nice room ... Read More
Decided to take a cruise on Oceania Sirena due to the itinerary to Cuba. It was suppose to make three stops but due to water conditions one stop was removed. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and wanted to have a nice room - rented Owners suite #7114 and #7117 for my daughter. Our room was a great size, but on most nights we could not sleep in the room. When the captain had the boat at full throttle our room vibrated so badly that the bed shook excessively, lamps shook even though glued down, glassware in cabin rattled, closet doors rattled, etc. The noise was overwhelming day and night. The vibration in the bed was awful. It caused one to feel sick and overwhelmed. My husband had to leave the room and he slept on a chair on pool deck. Then after stating the issue, our butler was given permission for us to sleep in a standard cabin that was available. The other room was #7030. There was no vibration in that room. So we used our OWNERS SUITE for storing our luggage and showering and slept in a tiny space just to get some rest. This was ridiculous. I am pointing this out to those thinking of renting this suite - don't waste your money. Oceania should make it clear to those looking to rent the Owners Suite that it will have excessive vibration when at full throttle and cruising at night. FYI: we met another guest on the floor below us and he had the same issue. We have cruised on may types of ships - private and larger. We have never experienced this issue. Also, the destination dept. needs to spend some time investigating the excursions they promote. We went on a seven hour trip - The Vinales Valley. Oh my, the Guayabita del Pinar rum Factory (part of trip) was about the size of a store front and wasn't opened when we arrived. Not sure it was a factory - just a place to bottle and sell rum.Then we continued on to learn about the production of cigars. That took place in a cigar drying hut. The owners son rolled some cigars, gave them to a few guys to smoke then did a sales pitch. We stopped at two other sites for 15 minutes and had lunch at one. The trip was not well organized and we really did not see much - just sat on the bus for way to many hours. We then took excursion in Santiago Cuba. Colonial Santiago - well another bus ride to no where. The tour director dropped us off in a square. The church to visit was closed, the hotel there would not let you in unless you paid for drinks (and we did not have time). Tour guide then proceeded to have us walk up a hill to a bar. There was some music and a chance to have a beer. The beer was to be included, but the waitress harassed everyone to pay. The whole thing was a mess. Lastly, I tried to get my nails done at the Canyon Ranch Spa on board. Well they over booked me! What else could have gone wrong. Mainly - I just wanted to alert passengers to the room situation. Spending the money wasn't the issue - it was about getting what you paid for. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Don't listen to any hype on this line. Food is horrible, way too salty. Boat is falling apart, broken drawers, no remote control worked, pool rusty and tiles falling out. NOTHING to do...all guest under the age of 80 hated it and ... Read More
Don't listen to any hype on this line. Food is horrible, way too salty. Boat is falling apart, broken drawers, no remote control worked, pool rusty and tiles falling out. NOTHING to do...all guest under the age of 80 hated it and couldn't wait to get off. Sub par shows where entertainers went through the motions. Most staff were good...2 stated to us the were board. No music, no life, no fun...they actually advertised being cheaper than a convalescent home....seriously. it was a convalescent home, who are they kidding. Cooking demonstration was a comedic act of buffoonery and a total insult. Wine tasting is 100.00, manicure is 100.00 get over yourself Oceania. Noon on sea day and the casino was closed because no one was playing. Snore fest on a dilapidated ghost ship with gross food. Excursions not at all what was advertised and many closed venues. They tried to have us snorkel in contaminated brackish water where dead fish floated on top and it smelled so bad it made me sick. Those who went in were surely ill. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Overall, a tight ship with nice amenities and pleasant servers, but disappointing in some respects; and not particularly good value for the money. Our cabin, dubbed a “Penthouse Suite,” was certainly nice and roomy, but it was ... Read More
Overall, a tight ship with nice amenities and pleasant servers, but disappointing in some respects; and not particularly good value for the money. Our cabin, dubbed a “Penthouse Suite,” was certainly nice and roomy, but it was neither a penthouse nor a suite. The butler service was nice, but the butler himself gave a rather grumpy reception to all but the most basic requests. Excursions were expensive, lackluster and uninspired. Far too much time was spent boarding, driving, shopping, etc., and there was far too little time on the ground with the sights and activities. The excursion to San Juan Hill, Santiago, for example, was a waste of time. Nothing much to see, and not much for the guide to say either, but it took nearly an hour getting there and back and walking around aimlessly. Similarly, the long drive to the Havana Cemetery was a bust. The time could have been much better spent walking through neighborhoods, driving by Havana’s unique, crumbling edifices, or just listening to live music in a cafe. Red Ginger restaurant is widely touted. However, for me it was a flop, plain and simple: Bland, watered-down quasi-Asian concoctions, some a bit too clever for their own good. I complained about bland food and was given a tray with a couple of bottled sauces. This is not five-star dining. In addition, service at Red Ginger was slow and clunky compared to the other restaurants. The Tuscan Steakhouse, on the other hand was really superb in form, food and function. See, I’m not that hard to please. Recognizing that U.S. equal opportunity employment laws have no apparent application at sea (and aboard a Micronesian-registered vessel), it was nevertheless startling that management staff introduced during the welcoming ceremony were almost exclusively Caucasian while their subordinates were a rainbow of diversity. On a similar note, for a cruise destined for Cuba –a musical treasure--one might have expected a band or a show on board with a little bit of a Latin flair or flavor. Not so. The music shows and performers were generic “plain vanilla” down the line, in more ways than one. The “Broadway” show was a real snoozer—literally, I fell asleep. I didn’t go to Cuba to hear well-worn American show tunes. The classical string quartet was nice, but a Latin guitar group with a little percussion would be been more apropos. A disappointment, and a lost opportunity to turn a rather standard, cookie-cutter cruise into a destination-tailored travel experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
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