We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we were not disappointed. The itinerary was amazing and we were successful in arranging private tours in all of the ports except 3 where Oceania had booked all the spots in the preferable tours. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we were not disappointed. The itinerary was amazing and we were successful in arranging private tours in all of the ports except 3 where Oceania had booked all the spots in the preferable tours. In those ports, we had no choice but to book with the ship and it was ridiculously expensive. The tours were great but about 4 times what we would have paid with the same tour operators if we had been able to book privately!
The ship was a great size - we much prefer the smaller ships. The ship was always spotless, with crew cleaning and attending to any issues constantly. However, Oceania seriously overbooked this cruise and we were not able to reserve the cabin we originally wanted, a Concierge Veranda, even though we booked 15 months in advance of sailing! Instead we reserved a Veranda, with wait list for Concierge. We never were able to crack the wait list because Oceania had booked this particular cruise with 30 alumni groups attached to Go Next. The alumni groups did not bother us from a noise standpoint, but when the various alumni groups arranged their individual cocktail parties (usually about 4-5 groups at a time), they took over the Horizons Lounge, making it nearly impossible for the other passengers to find a seat in the lounge. One night, due to rough seas and inclement weather, we literally could not find a seat ANYWHERE on the ship to enjoy a cocktail. Alumni groups had taken over Horizons Lounge and all the other passengers were vying for a very few seats elsewhere. We were very irritated by this because we had paid for the cruise, too, but we were relegated to sitting in the sofa and chairs near the Reception Desk and walking up a level to the bar to get our drinks before dinner. We felt this was a huge mistake on Oceania's part to allow this kind of usurpation of the public areas by one group only. Once we hit better weather, these problems went away, but it was still aggravating not to be able to go to Horizons Lounge for a drink because it was occupied for most of the cruise by the alumni groups.
We found the service to be excellent, with the exception of a few hiccups the first 2 nights in the dining room. Once the wait staff and sommeliers got their acts together in the dining room, things were very smooth there as far as service went. We had a favorite waiter but he was often fully subscribed (I have a feeling others wanted him as their waiter, too). However, from day 3 on, we had few service issues in the dining room at all for dinner. Food was always outstanding! We also had wonderful service in the specialty restaurants and at the Patio Grill. Even the buffet the one night we ate there was excellent. All in all, I would say that kudos are in order for the food and service. Red Ginger and Tuscan Grill were both fabulous with outstanding service and excellent food.
We were disappointed to say the least in the Cruise Director, Julie. She was very nice but she was not very visible. She was the worst Cruise Director we have ever experienced on any cruise line. She was not as enthusiastic as most we have sailed with and she did not create an air of excitement. The cast shows were good and 4 of the 6 kids were very good but 2 were only mediocre. We have experienced far better on other Oceania cruises and other cruise lines, even on small ships. Where most Cruise Directors are highly visible and always mixing with the cruisers, Julie was nowhere to be seen. It just appeared to us that she was a bit tired to be in this highly energetic job. The comedian was very enjoyable, as was the guitarist, but my favorite was the pianist. He was amazing!
The cabin was comfortable, although small. We were one of the couples who were given an offer we couldn't refuse to move to a lower cabin. We moved from Veranda to a cabin on deck 3 with a porthole. We were concerned that we would feel claustrophobic but that was not the case. The cabin was only about 50 SF smaller than a Veranda cabin (and that may be in the balcony), so we were fine. The bathrooms are incredibly small, as others have said. How anyone of any girth at all could fit into the shower, I do not know. But storage was great and we had no issues. Seeing as how the seas were so incredibly rough (3 nights of constant rocking and rolling with an inability to walk the halls without holding onto the rails), we would have never been able to use our veranda balcony anyway. The porthold afforded us some amazing views of the sea up close and personal when we were in the roughest of the waters. It looked like we were inside a washing machine but we were also positioned in the best spot on the ship for stability - smack dab in the middle on a lower deck. All of that rocking and rolling allowed for great sleeping!
The few issues we did encounter did not spoil our vacation at all and the itinerary was worth it. The free specialty restaurants, the free water given to guests as they disembarked at each port, the ability to do our own laundry are all good perks. I wish that ice cream, pizza and cookies were available all day long instead of only until 2:00. Plus it would be nice to be able to get something light to eat late at night instead of only through room service. Some cruise lines offer all of this and it would be easy to do - Oceania should consider this as well. On this cruise, the casino and boutiques were prevented from being open while in New Zealand waters. This was a problem, as there was very little to do after dinner except the show. Many people just gave up and went to bed. Oceania should have done better research and known that this would be the case and it should have prepared some other kind of entertainment for the evening. They acted like this was a big surprise and if it was, shame on them. Nonetheless, when the boutiques were open in Australia, they were not that good, so this was a disappointment, too. But even with these few disappointments, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and are planning to sail Oceania again. Read Less