We left England on 20th Feb after an overnight hotel stay at Heathrow, flew to Miami for a stay in the Hilton Hotel which was a restful overnight stop before our cruise the next day. We have travelled on Riviera 2 years ago and had a ... Read More
We left England on 20th Feb after an overnight hotel stay at Heathrow, flew to Miami for a stay in the Hilton Hotel which was a restful overnight stop before our cruise the next day. We have travelled on Riviera 2 years ago and had a super, faultless cruise which is why we decided to book again this February. On the day of embarkation we were looking forward to joining the ship again, and were picked up from our hotel to travel to the port at 12.10 p.m. (a little earlier than 12.30, but where we expected to start embarking at 1.00 p.m.). However, on arrival we were informed that embarkation would not happen until 2.00 p.m.
We had received no indication about this delay prior to the cruise, and the reasons behind it, so after eventually joining the ship it was extremely surprising to hear another announcement that we could not join our cabin until 4.00 p.m. So we sat on board with our carry-on bags. Again, at 4.00 p.m. there was a further announcement that access to cabins would still not be ready and we must wait. Just before 5.00 p.m. we were finally given the go ahead to join the cabins. We were relieved after this delay, and expected to start the cruise as normal but on arriving in the corridor accessing our our cabin everybody's luggage was lined up as far as we could see, and guests were trying to find their bags. On entering the cabin, it was not ready and very far from the usual very pleasant state we had previously experienced with Riviera. The bed was made but the cabin was lacking in many things and was quite a shock. As we had expected, we had to go for the usual safety lecture, still unaware of the whereabouts of our luggage, and the ship sailed at 6.00 p.m. After the lecture, we returned to the cabin and eventually found our 2 bags. We felt extremely sorry for the cabin and crew staff who were running around trying to produce the very large amount of luggage, which obviously neglected most of their usual duties. We are not blaming the cabin staff as they were doing two because of this problem.
This totally unexpected and chaotic beginning to a fairly expensive holiday came out of the blue for us, and the fact that we were not informed prior to the trip was an extra problem. After querying this the next day with a senior member of staff, I was told that an e-mail was sent to travel agents late on 18th February (this we have not seen), and we do consider that Oceania should have also e-mailed guests directly in addition to contacting travel agents.
We are regular cruisers and have travelled with other luxury cruise liners. The only indication we received about the virus problem, which had apparently affected 2 previous Riviera cruises before ours, was when we were actually on board - in the form of five A4 sheets of paper dated 22nd Feb about what to do, to keep on washing our hands, etc. etc. and the nature of Norovirus. Sanitation procedures were ongoing for 5 days with constant wiping of handrails, walls, lifts, tables, etc. and at lunchtime the buffet food area was protected by cling film. We realise that the crew had to do their best to provide the hygiene, but the fact that we were caught up in something that had happened before we arrived was not our fault. There was a note to all guests for a complimentary "happy hour" (cocktail, glass or wine, or beer) in the bars from 6.00-8.00 p.m. on 1st March to thank us for our "co-operation and understanding"!
So, after arriving on the ship on Monday 22nd Feb, things were back to normal on Friday, 5 days after the start of a 10-day cruise. Throughout the cruise, we had a lovely cabin stewardess (plus an assistant) who worked very hard, during the first troubled period, and after the difficult event. The food remained very good throughout the cruise, even through the difficult first few days, and we booked four of the excellent A la Carte restaurants.
We ate in the Grand Dining Room as well, where the food was also excellent. The only problem there was the system for allocating guests to tables, causing delays in seating. After requesting a table, guests wait in the lounge area and there is a strange system of the waiting staff trying to find the correct guests in the right order!
I am sorry to start this review in a negative way but the problems were there, and it is difficult to rate the cruise overall because of the these problems, and I have given 4 points overall. This is because the food and staff service were very good, but it was just the initial disappointment of our arrival and disruption to services during the first 5 days, as well as the lack of prior knowledge. Read Less