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76 San Diego to South America Cruise Reviews

My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes ... Read More
My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes rare but even he said it raw. Served luck warm and sent back several times. Sell excursions under false pretenses as they said Mira Flores locks were busy and we would most likely see a ship go through. Tour guide said no ships go through 9-3 and all cruise lines know this. Internet very slow and down a couple of days after I payed a lot for it. Guest relations just kept making excuses “it’s hot outside that’s why air does feel good. Paid for a massage and didn’t enjoy it cause it was so hot from no air!!!! Will never go on this ship again. Same activities everyday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because ... Read More
This cruise was chosen because the ports were places we had not visited yet. While 15 nights on board were about 7 too many, we were able to visit 6 new cities during that time. Our days at sea were restful & quiet overall, because most of the passengers were well past 80 years of age. The noise level was low & service by staff attentive & friendly. Holland does a good job overall. Internet service should be offered & fresher fruit served on the buffet table. The 'nickel & diming' of the passengers is annoying & why many choose other cruise lines for future trips. The on shore excursions were better than those on the Westerdam Mediterranean cruise 2018. I feel for the staff who have to accommodate so many seriously handicapped individuals who often put others in jeopardy due to there physical limitations. May the staff receive extra pay for these duties. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was ... Read More
Did this cruise before twice, and really liked the ports. So much more to see in each area. The excursions were really great, on board a different story. The EXC events were lacking in quality speakers, related to the itinerary. There was one naturalist that was great but only gave 3 lectures. The Mexican Ambassadors gave a great performance on deck. On the down side, the usual lectures on culture, history or the region were lacking. The speakers seemed to talk down to the audience and read from brochures. They were not experts in the field. The EXC person talked to the audience as if they were kinder-gardeners. The food was outstanding as was the in stateroom staff. The service was great and the ship was well organized and on time. The culinary classes did not emphasize health promotion. There was heavy emphasis on taste drawn from fats and salts, hardly appropriate for the middle aged audience or above. The last time we did this same cruise there were more on board activities, lectures and enrichment programming. Considering the number of fabulous ports offering rich history, art, culture and welcoming people, it is too bad there was such a lack of enrichment opportunities. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was ... Read More
The ports were new to us and the timing worked so we chose the 30-day Incan Empire Voyage. Embarkation was OK, we heard later this year the ship will be under review as to updates. Cabin fine, but the tiny TV and limited channels was annoying when in quarantine. Staff were friendly and helpful. Entertainment seems to have improved, enjoyed most of the comedians, but music still too loud. Good selection of presenters. Wish the port talks were available on TV in rooms, not just the excursion sales. We didn’t realize that some of the ports were industrial and how long the free shuttles would be. Also the poverty, so I recommend taking a lot of $1 bills. We are so fortunate. The biggest disappointment was the food. On the first night, Feb. 2, there was about an hour+ wait for the dining room (we chose anytime dining) so we went to the Lido. I chose a baked potato, chicken and green beans. The butter just sat in my potato, the chicken was not hot and the lovely green beans were not crisp or hot. Second night was Super Bowl so the boys went to watch the game and the girls went to the dining room. Third night, couldn’t get into the dining room again without a long wait so spoke with the Hotel Manager, I mentioned the disappointing cold dinner on the first night and our friends (4 star mariners) complained they never had to wait long for dinner. We were comped to the Pinacle Dining room, meals good. My husband got sick and went to the medical centre on Feb. 11, staff caring and prescribed Tamilflu for him and recommended I take some too. He returned on Feb. 17, had X-ray and new prescription. This is March 9 at time of writing and my husband is still congested and coughing. I sent a message about the cold dinners and a very nice staff member came to the table that evening to see if my meal was hot - it wasn’t. He returned other nights but seldom heard it was. Had a good Indian lunch one day, nice spices and hot temperature. I don’t know what the temperature of the food is in the kitchen, or when it is picked up by the servers, or brought to the serving stations, served and finally eaten, but it is too long. Manners dictate we wait for everyone at the table to be served before diving into our meals, but with staff cutbacks, there are not enough bodies to clear tables and serve the food while it is still hot. HAL May think it is elegant to have your server present everyone with their dinner, but perhaps they could take a tip from places where more than one server delivers meals while they are hot. Their DiveIn snack bar with make your own fajitas and tacos was also a huge disappointment with cold foil wrapped soft taco shells, barely warm meat fillings, cold cheese. I can’t help but think poorly kept food adds to sickness, and there was a lot of heavy congested coughing and people quarantined to their cabins on this trip. First and last 30-day voyage for us. Air conditioning on ship, especially in the Atrium worked overtime. Captain tried to explain why it was so cold. Took about six excursions. Enjoyed Lima’s water fountains at night. Disembarkation was best ever! I doubt we will travel with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary and price. This is the longest we have ever cruised. The crew were fantastic.From the cabin stewards to the dining room staff, they were all courteous, respectful and bent over backward to ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary and price. This is the longest we have ever cruised. The crew were fantastic.From the cabin stewards to the dining room staff, they were all courteous, respectful and bent over backward to see we were happy. The food almost always was outstanding. The dining room is where we ate mostly but occasionally we had a hamburger on the pool deck. They were hand made and delicious. If I had any complaints it was all the activities we wanted happened at the same time of day so we had to choose. We took advantage of the bridge lessons, the bar hop (that was fun!), all the trivia games, the pools, the casino tournaments, the guest lectures and the library. I would have attended more of the computer skills classes but they were a little early for me or else they conflicted with something else I wanted to do.. Andrew in the piano bar was amazing and we saw some movies in the little theater. We were sad to leave them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This was our 29th cruise, the 9th on Holland America and the 3rd on Maasdam. The cruise line has really cut back on staff, food quality, activities as well as maintenance of the ship. We had soot coming out of the air conditioning vents in ... Read More
This was our 29th cruise, the 9th on Holland America and the 3rd on Maasdam. The cruise line has really cut back on staff, food quality, activities as well as maintenance of the ship. We had soot coming out of the air conditioning vents in our cabin the entire 28 day cruise. Both my wife and I became ill because of this and gerenally we are very heathy people. Walking down the hall ways one can smell strange things. We also had “stuff” backing up out of the bathtub/shower drain. We had four visits to see the doctors who are very good and very busy and very expensive. The internet was very slow. Internet service in 2018 should not be slow. On one of our visits to the doctor the doctor had to look one of my wife’s medications. He had very fast internet service. The ship and the passengers apparently have different internet service speed. The excursions were ok to good but keep in mind that the person writing the descriptions of the excursions should get a job writing fairly tales. That is true on all cruise lines. We did receive credits for the slow internet and a nice critic for the other issues as well as a free dinner at the Pennicle Grille. We were on another cruise 2 months prior to this cruise on another cruise line and did not have one complaint. It’s a shame that Holland America and Maasdam have declined so much. Hopefully they will find there way back. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Incan Empires, 25 February - 25 March 2018 Route: 28 day voyage: San Diego – Cabo San Lucas – Huatulco – Puerto Chiapas – Panama City – Trujillo, Peru – Lima – Manta, Ecuador - Puntarenas, Costa Rica – Corinto, ... Read More
Incan Empires, 25 February - 25 March 2018 Route: 28 day voyage: San Diego – Cabo San Lucas – Huatulco – Puerto Chiapas – Panama City – Trujillo, Peru – Lima – Manta, Ecuador - Puntarenas, Costa Rica – Corinto, Nicaragua – Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala – Manzanillo – Puerto Vallarta – San Diego 1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers, and the focus of this cruise was to see “something different.” We spent 13 days on land and had 14 sea days. Seven stops were new to us. Only two stops (Cabo and Panama) required tendering. All the other stops were in ports that had varying degrees of support for cruise ships. This is not a “regular” cruise and is only done once a year. We were a full ship; due to the length of the entire cruise, most passengers were of older age. There was only one child (pre-school) on board. More than 100 passengers got off in Peru to visit Machu Picchu; they were replaced by the same number of new passengers who had had done their own pre-cruise travelling and then took the shorter, 2-week, cruise back to San Diego. This resulted in an influx of younger passengers. We had a Neptune Suite on the 9th deck that made for a comfortable month’s cruise. 2. Travel to San Diego and Embarking: While we made our own plane arrangements, we did use the HAL hotel (Sheraton Marina) and shuttle to the pier. This is a comfortable hotel on the yacht harbor; it was a bit crowded, though, with overnight guests for two HAL ships, plus attendees at some conferences. The HAL service, from greeting at the airport to delivery the next day at the pier, worked well. Having checked in on-line, we got on the ship quickly (once we got through the port security check). Our cabin was ready, and luggage appeared later in the afternoon. 3. The Maasdam: An attractive ship, partly because of its small size (1,300 passengers). It is a bit tired; it is going into dry dock around August –September before it moves to the Pacific for 2019. However, the facility was still in good shape and the crew was topnotch. Our cabin was comfortable with all the space and storage drawers/closets. Details can be seen in the cabin descriptions on the HAL website. The bathroom had a tub shower. There was a small safe and a small refrigerator. The flat screen TV (set up for DVD movies) received the usual news, movies, music, etc. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are few announcements on the PA system. The Captain does a daily report from the bridge, and the Cruise Director may make a daily announcement on activities. There is also a daily newspaper based on the New York Times. Air conditioning on board is an issue. Unless you love cold temperatures, bring a sweater. The thermostat in the cabin did not adjust to any temperature. Thus, near cool San Diego, it was very cold. As we approached the 80 – 90 degree countries with high humidity, the cold a/c actually felt pretty good. This not only applies to the cabin as temperatures fluctuated in the different public areas. 4. Meals: We had pretty good results with HAL’s “As You Wish Dining” policy. We could not make our desired reservation (7PM table for two) on-line before boarding. We asked out Neptune Lounge Concierge to see what she could do, and the best she could get was a “possible.” Actually, it turned out that we had our table for 2 at 7PM right from the first night; we were shifted around a bit for 2 or 3 nights, but then we were settled in with the same table – and the same staff – for the entire cruise. We should note that no matter what ship or line you are on, including the Maasdam, the first night’s dinner is disorganized as diners and staff sort out who sits where and when. The entire ship dining room is on two levels, and it’s noisy. Quality of food was very good, but not exceptional. There were times when we or fellow guests would have liked something simple and not all “gussied up,” but it was not available. New for us, was the offer of smaller portions (“half” or “small”) when we were not hungry. On the other hand, if a guest wanted more of a dish or cut of meat, it was quickly provided. Lido Buffet: We used it for lunch and a couple times when we wanted just a bite for dinner. There was quite a variety of good food, whether you wanted a meal, sandwich, or salad. The dessert area was equally varied. Specialty Restaurants: We only had lunch once in the Pinnacle Grill. The dishes, presentation, and staff were excellent. There are plenty of bars and food outlets on board. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. We settled into the Ocean Bar for after dinner drinks. The music there was pleasant for listening or dancing. 5. HAL dress code: There were four “gala” nights; the rest were all “smart casual.” “Gala” for men meant anything from tuxedo to jacket with no tie. Maybe one day HAL will eliminate this “gala” or “formal” business and accept that passengers are on vacation and want to relax and be comfortable. Like to dress up? Sail with Cunard; we have, and my tuxedo got a workout. 6. Shore Excursions: Make your shore excursion reservations online! This saves you standing in line at the ship’s tour desk. It will also save you some money as we noticed some excursions cost more in the onboard reservation forms compared to the website. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. Tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship’s staff, you have support when there is a problem. In Cabo we had a whale watching tour cancelled due to the weather and seas. As we had no interest in a different tour, our refunds were entered in our shipboard account. Our Puntarenas tour was cancelled as the only road we were to take into the mountains was closed for repairs. We did opt for a different tour; the refunds and new costs were all entered in our account. Travellers with any mobility issues should do their homework in studying shore excursions on this cruise. Can they deal with cobblestones? Also high humidity and heat up to 100 degrees? Can they walk in gravel and sand? Besides stairs in buildings, can they handle stairs in buses? In many of the modern 40+ passenger buses it takes 6 narrow steps from curb level to step on the bus and get up to the aisle leading to the seats. In some countries, 20-passenger mini-buses are used due to narrow streets. However, they are totally inconvenient for passengers who are around 6ft. Further, there are two seats toward the back where the rear wheel covers protrude above the floor. It is impossible for anyone over 5’1” to sit in these seats, especially since the tours using these mini-buses average about 3 hours driving time. Telling a 6 footer to “find another seat” is NOT a solution, nor is telling a 5 footer stuck on the wheel cover to do the same. A possible solution is to not fill these small vehicles to capacity. Travellers, and their agents, need to research – beyond the cruise line shore excursion descriptions – to learn if they will be able to participate in, and enjoy, the excursions on this cruise. 7. Shipboard entertainment: We saw a few shows of the review type and the guest artists. They were pleasant and entertaining. The combos playing in the lounges and bars were fine. There were different guest lecturers on board. Of note was Michael Chriss, an astronomy professor from the University of Arizona. His “sea day lectures” on the heavens, related to history and the arts, were entertaining and educational, The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: lectures, bingo, exercising, movies, etc, etc. The library was so-so; we recommend you load up your Kindle or iPad with books before boarding. The art auctions were ever present, but were relatively low key. The casino seemed to have good business. The selection of duty-free liquor on board was not great, but adequate; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin before disembarking. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. Early in the cruise, passengers were notified that HAL was changing the shops on all its ships with different/new vendors. The changeover on the Maasdam began on this cruise; by 21 March all the shops were closed, and personnel were busy packing up all their merchandise. It was rather pleasant to have NO stores on board for three days! 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts. The amounts are charged to each person’s shipboard account. You have nothing more to do. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar and wine bill automatically adds 15 percent. If you want to tip anyone for exemplary service, you can give him cash in an envelope. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your voyage, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer. You receive a receipt for everything. If you keep the receipts, it is easy to check them with your account. You can access your account with your key card, and get a printout, at a machine (looks like an ATM machine) next to the Front Desk. If you have a computer or phone, you can access your account through the ship’s WiFi. There is NO charge for this service; you just have to register. You should be able to settle any bill questions beforehand and not spend departure morning in line at the Front Office sorting it out. We did receive a final paper bill the morning of our disembarkation. 10. Disembarkation: Not bad. We could remain in our cabins until called. We were even called ahead of schedule! It was smooth going in the terminal getting our luggage and passing through Customs and Immigration. As we had hours to kill before our late afternoon flight, we took the city tour/airport drop off trip. There were personnel outside the terminal pointing us at the correct buses, and we were on our way. 11. Conclusion: This was a fascinating trip; despite the little glitches, we were happy to have taken it. This is the kind of trip you do once. We would not repeat the exact trip, but we would not object if some of the stops appeared on another – different – cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I chose this cruise because it had several ports that I have never visited.Embarkation was the easiest I've ever experienced. We boarded before noon and our OV cabin was ready. We were on the main deck which just under the promenade. ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it had several ports that I have never visited.Embarkation was the easiest I've ever experienced. We boarded before noon and our OV cabin was ready. We were on the main deck which just under the promenade. We were midship and equidistant from the elevator banks. We had the late seating in the MDR. Our dining waiter and his assistant were great and we were happy with all our meals in the evening. The service during breakfast and lunch was less satisfying. We were seated promptly, but then there were long waits for everything, -for coffee, for our orders to be taken, for the meals to arrive, etc. One day, our order was lost and after 55 minutes our first plate arrived. No one apologized although they admitted that our order had gone astray. Again, the food was tasty, albeit too salty for my taste. If you are wondering why we didn't eat in the LIDO it is because of a food allergy that is best accommodated by preordering and eating in the MDR. We enjoyed the frequent lectures focused on Latin America history and politics given by Tommie Sue Montgomery. They were well informative, organized, interesting, and well-presented. We didn't miss a single one of hers. The most interesting port for us was Salaverry in Perú. The nearest city was Trujillo. (We were advised to not visit Trujillo.)The ship had several excursions that visited sites from the Moche Culture. We were blown away by the extensive archeological sites. Amazing! Do NOT miss this opportunity to see this. Another favorite port was Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala. Again, we took a group tour from the ship to the City of La Antigua. It was a Holy Festival Sunday and the town was full of Guatemalans participating in making flower carpets on the cobbled streets. We visited a true Jade Museum. Don't miss it! We didn't buy anything, but it was truly a museum. A arqueologist who had found Jade in Guatemala and who had been featured on the cover of National Geographic back in the 1970's talked to us about Jade for 10-15 minutes. There were free clean restrooms there and it felt like an oasis of peace. The vendors on the street were aggressively trying to push their wares. However, there is an artisan market not far from the park in front of the cathedral. The street vendors were not allowed in the artisan market and it was much easier to look at the wares and bargain there. The last port I will mention is Puerto Vallarta. I mention it because we moored some distance from the Malecon where we are used to mooring. To get to the usual area, we would have had to catch a taxi to get there and another one to return. Across the street from where the ship was moored, was a huge Walmart and Sam's Club. I'm sure this location was picked for the benefit of the crew. I believe HAL should have arranged to have buses to transfer passengers to the Downtown/Old Town/Malecon area. I would have paid for a bus ride. The last couple of days of our cruise we had the great pleasure of seeing porpoises, dolphins, and whales breeching while walking on the promenade deck. We watched them over an hour on both of our final sea days! Exhilarating! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The more you cruise, the more you learn. This I know for sure: when the prospect of going to lunch or dinner fills you not with joy but trepidation, it’s time to find another cruise line. This 28-day Incan Empires voyage was our ... Read More
The more you cruise, the more you learn. This I know for sure: when the prospect of going to lunch or dinner fills you not with joy but trepidation, it’s time to find another cruise line. This 28-day Incan Empires voyage was our 13th cruise together on Holland America but, regrettably, not a good one. We weren’t alone, meeting a number of veteran cruisers with a varying litany of complaints about HAL, the Maasdam, or both. Some of them retain dogged loyalty to the line but, for those of us willing to make choices, HAL will lose customers and showed no sign on this cruise of wanting or being able to attract new ones. The itinerary was just fine: 12 Latin American ports in seven countries. The onboard service, with one or two glaring exceptions, was excellent. Old and cranky the Maasdam may be, but we heard just one tale of a leak or flood on this trip. Our standard outside cabin was adequate but frustrating. Comfortable beds, decent sitting space, enough storage, but arranged to encourage frequent collisions between the inhabitants. Only one plug-in outlet, so we had to negotiate charging schedules for our various devices. A noisy crimp in the floor. Badly designed reading lights. Tiny TV. For one day-long stretch we had no TV news reception at all because the funnel was blocking the satellite receiver. Not even HAL could make that stuff up. At least the voyage channel had been fixed since our last Maasdam cruise: welcome, but with far too little information. And the bathroom: don’t get me started. The only AC plug is above your head, and you had to clamber up and over into the tub. The man who designed the shower controls is a masochist. As for the public rooms, the showlounge has always had lousy sightlines, but the shows themselves were an improvement on recent offerings. The head office has cut the show-band from nine to five players over the last few years but the five were a talented bunch. The production shows looked to us like revamps of old standards, but the dancers were the best we’ve seen in a while, apparently employed by a sub-contracter in London. The guest entertainers were consistently good, though HAL saved money by having several of them perform twice. Too bad so many of the geriatric passengers were asleep by nine o’clock, leaving the in-house musicians with almost no one to play to. On its busiest night, I counted 21 passengers in the casino. The dealers spent huge chunks of their time staring at each other. Cost-cutting was most evident in the dining areas. Taking buffet trays out of passengers’ hands has saved, an officer told us, one-third of Lido food costs; never mind that you now need training as a juggler to get your food to a table. Eliminating most self-service is supposed to reduce the spread of illness but it means you almost never get what you really want. The Dive-In place near the pool somehow managed to take more than 20 minutes to cook a cheeseburger. Our experience with Holland America’s ponderous bureaucracy would make fertile material for a stand-up comedian. Pre-cruise, we filled out all the forms required to get our boarding passes, only to get a cascade of emails telling us we hadn’t done what we had done. A phone call finally resolved the matter, though we’ve found on other occasions that if we book through a travel agent, HAL often refuses to talk to us even for very basic information. Part two: We received a bottle of champagne in our cabin from a company which doesn’t know neither of us drinks champagne. Could I exchange it for soda pop, like Sprite? No, I couldn’t. Why not? Policy. Whose policy? Head office. Would the nice lady call and ask a manager? Yes, and she did, the food and beverage manager: same answer. So I gave up. Not five minutes later, she phoned our cabin. Policy reversed: four (four!!) cans of Sprite (worth $9 retail) would be traded for the champagne. Stand-up material, as I said. I’ll spare you the other examples; trust me, they’re just as bad. I’ll spare you also the three examples of bad service, for which I blame not the crew members themselves but the standard of training and management taught and implemented by the cruise line. The Hotel Director is a fanatic runner – miles every day, on board and ashore – but his attention to business may be a bit lax. The cheerful and enthusiastic cruise director, Ryan Baird, directed almost nothing, trivia questions excepted. Asked to put a small passenger gathering of like-minded crafties in the daily program, he declined, citing head-office control of every word. The (rather pointless) Captain’s Toast was scheduled at exactly the same time as late-sitting dinner: fixed by head office; no chance of a change. In fact, the 7:45 dinner sitting was seldom more than half-full. The other couple assigned to our table showed up twice in 28 nights. We stopped looking forward to dinner fairly early in the cruise, finding the main course offerings quite bland and unappealing. When we had main courses the food was invariably too dry or overcooked or both. Appetizers were varied and tasty, but the serving sizes had been cut back to a laughable level. (One night, I ordered Coconut Shrimp; result; two shrimp, each an inch long). Soups were very good, as were desserts, though sugar-free options would be welcome. Our dining room service, however, was superb. Our lead waiter, Reza, and his assistant Hakim were as good as or better than any servers we’ve had. HAL may have declined in some areas, but its Filipino and Indonesian service staff are consistently very good; without exception, they greeted us passengers with smiles, something sorely absent now on some cruise ships. We were told by an officer that Holland plans to hire more service staff from other countries: bad idea, IMHO. The line is also upgrading its EXC shore programs, intending to give passengers a richer (and, I’ll bet, more expensive) cruise experience. So they sent as our EXC guide on this cruise a young woman who had never been to almost all the ports we visited. I called her Ms. Google, for her skill at telling us what any decent search engine would produce after a cursory sweep. Cheerful, yes, and frank about her lack of knowledge, but woefully ill-prepared. The blame for this goes not to her, but to her employer. The ports – main reason we took the cruise – were fascinating. In Cuyutlan, Mexico, near Manzanillo, we gently put day-old turtles onto a beach so they could scramble to the sea, not to return (if they survive) for at least 18 years. We saw a huge LNG carrier traversing the new locks in the Panama Canal. We watched, with thousands of others, the dancing fountains at a park in Lima, Peru on a Saturday night. We declined to spend $2799US each for a 54-hour tour to Machu Picchu; people who did said it was exhausting and memorable. There were three ports where I stayed on board and, after talking to other passengers, had no regrets. But different people have different tastes. In summary, good trip, not such a good cruise. We’re taking a rest from Holland America for a while, at least until we hear that our concerns have been met, or, of course, a rock-bottom price makes us hold our noses and take the plunge. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to just get away, and enjoy some warm weather. We did that! however, we were greatly disappointed with many things this cruise. it is very obvious that a big staff reduction has taken place in all ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to just get away, and enjoy some warm weather. We did that! however, we were greatly disappointed with many things this cruise. it is very obvious that a big staff reduction has taken place in all areas. Service on lido deck, in the showroom , crows nest, was very poor. I had a problem with my computer, and there is no technician available to help. Why? Everyone is not an expert with todays technology. had to get a refund for my computer time, as i could not connect to comcast, for my e mail, and no one could help me. The dining room service was very spotty. Very few days, did we have our entree before 6:30, for our 5:30 reservation. Our table was #50, and we all complained. Our table consisted of 4 and 5 mariner and above, so this is not what we were used to. The new tour department, is not very friendly, nor are their tours described good enough in the brochure. They did not want to answer direct questions. With very long piers, it is very difficult to walk the pier, in the hot sun, for 80 year old people. i was told twice, there would be transportation, but there was not. The one land and sea tour, there were not enough seats on the boat, for all of the people to be seated. Not acceptable at all. Could go on, but afraid, its too long already. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We are experienced cruisers with more than 50 cruises. This was our second cruise with Oceania. The first one was, 10 years ago. This review is about a 35 days cruise on the Oceania Sirena from San Diego to Rio de Janeiro including the ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers with more than 50 cruises. This was our second cruise with Oceania. The first one was, 10 years ago. This review is about a 35 days cruise on the Oceania Sirena from San Diego to Rio de Janeiro including the Amazon River. During our trip, I have also had a live thread, which can be seen on the Oceania Forum. We had a wonderful cruise on board Oceania Sirena. The cruise came to an end and we are back home now. About the ship The ship was familiar from the beginning, because we have cruised before many times with Azamara, which has the same type of ships. Standard Cabins are small and bathrooms are tiny. The ship and cabins are well maintained and kept in a pristine condition. An area of improvement could be to add or renew the filter for the type of smoke that comes out of the ship, when in movement. That smoke was for us, many times, annoying when sitting at the Terrace outside for lunch. It has a peculiar smell. Nevertheless our overall impression of the ship is very positive. About the itinerary We have chosen this cruise because we were interested in cruising the Amazon river. As a matter of fact if Oceania would not have offered that possibility, we would have not taken this cruise. The ship started in San Diego, which for us, international guests, is more complicated than Los Angeles or Miami. The ports of call in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean were as good as any port in those areas. Our favorites were Tobago and Curaçao. I would have preferred to stay overnight in one of those ports and maybe skip Bridgetown. The crossing of the Panama Canal as usual spectacular. An interesting port, because of the historical implications was Devils Island. The cruising of the Amazon river did not disappoint us. On the contrary, we had lowered our expectations, thinking that cruising there with a large ship was not going to be that good. We were surprised by the diversity of the ports and we have enjoyed most of them. I did not like Santarem very much because I found it very loud, with loudspeakers everywhere. We have enjoyed Manaus, Parintins and Alter do Chao. The other Brazilian ports outside the Amazon, were all known to us: Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador Bahia and Rio. We like Salvador Bahia the most and we were surprised by a different aspect from Recife. Rio de Janeiro was our disembarking port and having been there many times we did not stay. Overall, we are satisfied with the itinerary. About the entertainment on board There were plenty of activities on board: bridge, golf putting, knitting, pilates, etc. We have appreciated very much the enrichment lectures, specially from Dr. Don Klein. We have learned a lot through those lectures. The production shows on small ships like Oceania Sirena are not particularly inviting. I do appreciate the efforts of the young entertainers but somehow, those shows are not to our taste. Maybe because we do not know the music being played. We have liked single performances like the one from Jamie Stewart: music from Frank Sinatra and friends. Our favorite entertainers were the Panache string quartet and the Band. We have tried not to miss their performances. About the food and wine Yes, we do think Oceania has the best dining experience in comparison to other ocean cruise lines. We found the house select package a good choice as part of the Olife offer. Now, this was a long cruise of 35 days, so there were many repetitions of food. Since Oceania offers many restaurants we have tried to avoid getting bored by changing venues as much as we could. Our favorite restaurant is the Red Ginger. The wines included in the house select package, were all quite good imho. Now, some were better than others and unfortunately those better wines would disappear quite soon. It was confusing because the lists of available wines were not updated. I imagine that it is a matter of logistics. This is an area of improvement since it has caused many complaints not only during this cruise but we remember having seen it also before our cruise in discussions of Oceania cruises at the Cruise Critics Forum. Despite of this, we are very satisfied with the quality of food and wine during our cruise. About the shore excursions I guess the main complaint about the shore excursions with Oceania are the prices and that the excursion’s team is not really interested in providing port information unless you have booked an excursion with them. We have booked only two ship excursions and they were fine. Since we have done many things on our own in the ports, we could see that prices of excursions when bought locally were half the price. I am not sure who is getting the overheads for those inflated prices for excursions. Anyhow, we consider this a weakness. About the shops and the services at the Spa Similar to the shore excursions, the prices at the Spa are very expensive even comparing to other ocean cruise lines. So we did not use those services. The shops unfortunately, did not have in our opinion, a good selection of products. We were lucky that we did not choose the option of non refundable on board credit as part of the Olife offer. We would have been in trouble spending it. About the officers, the crew and service on board We are very satisfied with the excellent service on board the Sirena. The restaurant managers, sommeliers, waiters and cabin attendants were efficient and friendly. We did not experience any situation, in which who could have had a reason to complain. The Manager, Rafaelle Cinque, the Cruise Director and the Concierge were always available and taking corrective action in case of need. We are happy to have cruise with such high qualified and friendly officers and we hope to meet them again. A BIG thanks to all of them. They have made us feel at home and have treated us, as if we were very important persons. Our overall assessment of our cruise with the Oceania Sirena is that it was a very good cruise. We would certainly now actively look for Oceania offers when we are looking for future cruises. Our thanks go also to the cruise critic members, who have followed my live thread. You have encouraged me with your interest and comments to share our experiences with you. It was not always easy, since I was some days lazy, but you an me, made it together. Have happy cruises! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We just returned from a 35 day cruise on Oceania's newest ship - Sirena. This is actually one of the old "R" ships which Oceania has 3 of already. Sirena is now the 4th "R" ship. When Oceania took over this ship ... Read More
We just returned from a 35 day cruise on Oceania's newest ship - Sirena. This is actually one of the old "R" ships which Oceania has 3 of already. Sirena is now the 4th "R" ship. When Oceania took over this ship from Princess, it was in deplorable shape and underwent a massive renovation. Horizons was redone completely opening up the room making it more functional. Princess had added men's and woman's bathrooms which is necessary as the old "R" ships don't have a bathroom on the 10th floor and one has to walk down one flight. The room now is much nicer. I hope they will add bathrooms to the other smaller "R" ships. The Penthouse cabins have been redone. The bathroom which had a small shower and tub, has been upgraded. They took out the tub and shower and made a much larger shower, which is great. We unfortunately were in one of the veranda cabins which doesn't appear to have been updated. But we visited a penthouse and the occupants really enjoyed the changes. Restaurants: The "R" ships have 2 nice restaurants aft on 10 and one Main Dining room on deck 5. Then there is the Terrace café on deck 9 which is a self serve lunch and dinner facility. The change that Oceania made was in the 2 restaurants on deck 10. Oceania's other "R" ships have the Polo Grill and Toscana on 10. Oceania turned these 2 restaurants into one for one of the restaurants on deck10 combining both menus. So we still get our lobster, and steaks, plus some of the great Italian dishes Oceania is famous for. This restaurant is called The Tuscan Grill. To be noted is that not all of the menu items that were in Polo and Toscana are offered. The trade off is the other restaurant on 10 was turned into Oceania's famous "Red Ginger" (which is only on their larger ships) and is absolutely beautiful. RG doesn't exit on the other R ships that Oceania owns. I really like this change because I enjoy RG. Then Oceania added Jacques for lunch in the MDR. This has been fabulous! Of course, now we're fighting the extra pounds we gained with all this wonderful food. The other services on Sirena are the same as all of Oceania's ships' services. The officers and staff are always wonderful. Ports of Call: It's important to research this before you book a cruise. If you enjoy luxury ports where the towns visited are clean and beautiful, don't book a cruise that goes to the Amazon. But if you want to learn about the primitive life along the Amazon and the history of this part of the world, then you will enjoy this cruise. Oceania always comes up with different and interesting ports to visit. Entertainment: I usually enjoy the shows that are put on by the hired entertainers but this cruise we only had 5 such shows for 35 days. The CD, Dottie who is fabulous, asked the 2 top entertainers to come up with a show on their own. This was the best show they played. The other entertainment is usually one person playing an instrument. While these people are usually good, it makes for a boring show in my opinion. I think for longer cruises, some of the main production shows should be repeated. Since they are always held at 9:30 sometimes people are not finished dinner yet, or are too tired to attend. This would give options. This cruise took place over the holidays, and it was the first time we've ever been away for the holidays. The ship was beautifully decorated and we enjoyed the festivities that Oceania created. We were also given a nice gift from Oceania. In close, I understand that Oceania put a lot of money into renovations of Sirena, but it seems to be a work in progress with a lot to still be done. I enjoyed the different feel of Sirena. I also enjoy cruising on their larger ships. Sirena adds a variety to the fleet with the changes Oceania has made. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this cruise rather last minute when we had to abandon plans for a land tour due to a number of reasons. We are so glad we did. This cruise embarked 60 miles from our home making it easy to get to with no prior arrangements. ... Read More
We chose this cruise rather last minute when we had to abandon plans for a land tour due to a number of reasons. We are so glad we did. This cruise embarked 60 miles from our home making it easy to get to with no prior arrangements. And, the itinerary included a couple of destinations that were high on our TO See list. This ship isn't really equipped for or caters to children. So I would not think it would be a good choice for families. The string quartet was excellent and we enjoyed their music before dinner every evening and at afternoon tea when we added that to our busy schedule. The staff on board was attentive, friendly and very approachable. Food quality, selection, preparation and presentation in the Terrance Buffet, Main Dining Room, and in the specialty dining Red Ginger and Toscan Steak House is exceptional and better than on any ship on which we have cruised. The ports were all interesting and most of.our excursions were made through folks on Cruise Critic. The ship tours were disappointing, but we had only a couple of them. They were rushed, had too many people and were held up by folks who were mobility impaired resulting in considerable loss of valuable siteseeing time at the various stops. Also, many of the guests on the ship tours chat endlessly so that it is hard to hear the commentary of the local guides. We avoid ship tours for those reasons. We will sail again on the Sirena or other Oceania ships and look forward to doing so. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
The itinerary. We have traveled a lot & truly enjoy venturing to different countries. We like to engage with the locals wherever we visit to find out what the heartbeat of the community is & what makes it tick, On this ... Read More
The itinerary. We have traveled a lot & truly enjoy venturing to different countries. We like to engage with the locals wherever we visit to find out what the heartbeat of the community is & what makes it tick, On this particular trip we met people who were aghast at some of the ports & extremely poor communities we visited. We found the mindset of these people had expectations that it was just like home & could not believe that Oceania would take them to such places. The reason to travel is to broaden ones horizons & see how the rest of the world lives & copes with their lot in life. Everyone has a story & it is so important to listen??? The naysayers complaints were 1st. world country & I truly hope that when they returned to their homes that they would take a few minutes to reflect on the hardships of others. The Sirena crew were wonderful---they would do anything to please their guests & from the captain right down to a deck hand they fostered a wonderful ambience that felt like one big family. My hat is of to each & everyone who were part of our wonderful journey---thank you from the bottom of our hearts & we look forward to joining you again in the near future. The only thing that we would fault Oceania on were our flights. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose the cruise for the Itinerary and based on Oceania's reputation. Well yes the food exceeded expectations, so much so it was too fancy and by the end of the cruise we were looking for plain and simple. The Entertainment was ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the Itinerary and based on Oceania's reputation. Well yes the food exceeded expectations, so much so it was too fancy and by the end of the cruise we were looking for plain and simple. The Entertainment was very, I mean very poor with old and has been entertainers, a lot of repetitive entertainment and a poor use of the ships own entertainers. Do not cruise Oceania if you want to be entertained you will be disappointed. Shore excursions, we did only do 2 Ships excursions but both lacked content and were vastly over priced. Passengers .. the vast majority of guests were great and this helped to at least make the sea days bearable as although they offer activity's its the same old boring stuff over and over again. Crew .... The Room Stewards, Waiters, Drink staff all worked their butts off and were excellent. The Officers were aloof and did not really mix or respond to the passengers, preferring to mainly look the other way when they walked past. And lastly if you happen to book and get a BEST PRICE Guarantee, don't count on it we found it was not worth the paper it was printed on due to the FINE PRINT. We will most probably not be back, having cruised in excess of 60 times with other much better lines, Goodbye Oceania and Good Riddance. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was our first cruise with Oceania, ship Sirena, for 35 days, 2017-2018. Picked this cruise line to experience a smaller passenger venue and interesting itinerary. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Best Western Bayside Inn in San ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania, ship Sirena, for 35 days, 2017-2018. Picked this cruise line to experience a smaller passenger venue and interesting itinerary. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Best Western Bayside Inn in San Diego, very close to the ship terminal. This hotel picked you up at the airport and also took you to the cruise terminal. Bonus! Staff was very friendly and helpful. Room was very clean and more than adequate for a stopover. Bought our bottles of wine for our ship cabin at a new store called, Roma, a short walk away. It is an Italian deli style atmosphere so you could buy a meal, drinks or snacks if desired. Embarkation was painless, efficient and welcoming. Cabin 6016 was nicely appointed, plenty of closet, drawers and bathroom shelf space. Used fabric packing cases for the first time and they measured 9"wide x 12"long x 4" deep (could be 2" longer if you want) and they fit right into the drawers for easy access, also for final packing. In the beginning, we had A/C issues which were taken care of immediately. Our only complaint was the swaying of the ship which could really be felt. It took a little bit of time to adjust to the motion. We were not overly impressed with the food but you could always find something to eat. On the other hand, other passengers were very pleased with the cuisine. One thing that stands out for me, on two occasions, the lobster and shrimp were mushy to the taste in the Grand Dining Room. I had a better cooked lobster and shrimp at the Terrace Buffet. A special thanks to Uptal and Rangit for their expert cooking of it. We appreciated the Terrace Cafe Buffet method of serving food. All food was served by staff to avoid cross contamination. Kudos to the person who had that idea! Also, if you wanted to eat outdoors, there was a very nice area outside the dining room on the back deck. Tours? We did it ourselves. For our first stop, it was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Since we had vacationed here before, we got off the ship, approached the local tourist information booth at the bottom of the gang plank and asked questions. The artisan' s market nearby was our focus, no lengthy tours. There is a shuttle that transports you, for free, to the market. Just ask the representative for directions. Across the road from the terminal is a Walmart, Sam's and a huge shopping mall. We replenished our room wine supplies and picked up some mosquito repellent and other toiletries. Beautiful Chilean and Argentinian red wine cost $6.00 to $8.00 U.S. a bottle. I booked one city tour in Nicaragua with "Julio Tours Nicaragua." I did so on line. No money up front, to be paid after the tour. For a van, it was $60.00 U.S. per person for a city tour of the colonial city of Leon. Refer to his web site for details as prices will fluctuate over time. -Entertainment was okay. Some shows were better than others. Overall we had a good time because the Oceania staff were exceptional and we met a lot of fun people to tour with. A special thanks to Nancy and Cal from California, John and Denise from Barrie, Ontario, Margaret and Mesfin from Geneva, Joy and Mike from Callander, Ontario and Kevin and Margaret from New Zealand for helping to create beautiful memories. Pros: -nice cabins-plenty of storage space-toiletries-outstanding Maid-Veronika and Cabin Stewart-Wayans who anticipated our every need-example:wine glasses for our room -food is okay-Terrace Buffet offers enough variety that you can find something to eat, lobster and shrimp almost every night was a real treat -Staff serving you in the Terrace Buffet eliminates cross contamination, food waste and food was served hot as well -service is excellent by all waiters on board-a special thank you to the Terrace Cafe staff where we ate most of the time-Dianne, Shane, Mary Jane, Joy, Sue, Alina, Jimmy, Juan, Uptal, Rangit, Yusseff, tall Milos, Ariel, Erik, Louisa, Maritisa just to name a few. -very interesting itinerary for the 35 days, enjoyed the sea days to recuperate after touring -shuttle bus almost at every port to transport you to the terminal, city central or artisan market -being able to bring wine on board for your cabin was a bonus-check out Puerto Vallarta's Walmart for great wine prices (no problem bringing "large" amounts on board) and beautiful, reasonably priced t-shirts-also purchased some reasonably priced, beaded, local crafted jewelry and colourful cotton pants at the Artisan market near the pier -excellent library facilities-no need to bring reading material -extra curricular activities during sea days if you wished to participate-Bingo, Bridge, Trivial Pursuit, Needlepoint, cake decorating, Ping Pong, Shuffleboard, Golf Putting, Bean Bag Toss, Canasta, Mah Jongg, Country Line Dancing etc. -live music playing everywhere on the ship at different times -4:00 pm. Horizon Tea Time is very elegantly served with a music ensemble -embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient and easy -thoroughly enjoyed the food and service at the Tuscan Steak Specialty Restaurant. -very clean ship in all areas -port side cabin seemed to be the best when docked for viewing and shade on the balcony -issue with A/C at the beginning of our voyage. The repairman was prompt and addressed the problem efficiently -Tourist table was set up inside, near the gangplank so you could secure a map or information before exploring. Bonus! Cons: -a big concern for people who suffer from seasickness-totally unexpected was the extremes of ship motion especially on the ocean segment and I don't get seasick-may have to insist on mid-ship cabin to avoid most of the turbulence -tours were outrageously expensive that were offered by the ship-arranged our own with local guides and with another couple on board for safety-see my descriptions of different tours,especially Manaus. -very few port talks about what to see outside the ship tours to familiarize yourself for independent exploring-ship information was dated at these talks and tourist bureaus at each port were overrun with passengers from other ships and English was limited-suggest you do your own research of each place prior to the cruise so independent touring is easier -beware of a ship doctor visit-could cost as much as the cruise itself-LOL-**take your own cold/cough medication, Cipro antibiotic, seasickness prevention -Destination Desk staff were very aloof and not very helpful especially in regards to ship to shore help at the end of the voyage. $519.00 U.S. for a van to take you to your hotel is unreasonable to ask. No guidance was given regarding reliable taxis at the terminal- fortunately, we found our own gypsy cab outside the cruise terminal, very reasonable, took U.S. money, $80.00 to Copacabana Beach, Golden Tulip Hotel Rio Leme Hotel (see review), good, safe driver, father and son enterprise, great help with our heavy suitcases, "Nascimento Tour" cell: (55+21) 99701-2813 97058-8820 -regular taxis wanted $100.00 U.S. -did not enjoy the Red Ginger Specialty Restaurant. Service was excellent but the spice cilantro, garlic were used heavily in everything you ordered. You have to like those spices. -stores on board were lacking in variety-overkill with jewelry promotions -passengers were mainly very elderly people who did not appear happy for the most part-if you laughed at meals you received disapproving stares from the old folk around you-we are seniors but I felt overwhelmed by the sadness of the older people, on the other hand, no children aboard and we met some like-minded people to party with. -"free" internet was very spotty and you kept losing connection Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Cruise: San Diego to Rio de Janeiro on Oceania's Sirena - December 16, 2017 to January 20, 2018. Cabin - Concierge Balcony Category A1 This was our (my wife and I) 19th cruise and first one with Oceania. We chose this cruise ... Read More
Cruise: San Diego to Rio de Janeiro on Oceania's Sirena - December 16, 2017 to January 20, 2018. Cabin - Concierge Balcony Category A1 This was our (my wife and I) 19th cruise and first one with Oceania. We chose this cruise because we liked the itinerary and also because we had sailed on the R1 with Renaissance, around the turn of the century, and had fond memories of that sister ship. We are going to get rid of the sour taste in our mouth, up front, before we go on! LINGERING SOUR TASTE: The one area we were extremely disappointed with was the Destination Services area (Shore Excursions and Port Services). The excursion costs were exorbitant, excursion contents were way below par, some tour guides were high school students, some tour guides could speak very little English, the department staff had none or very little port information/assistance to offer and were totally unresponsive and tactless, almost to the point of being rude (including Gustavo Brasil, the manager ~ I have no Supervisor on the ship. Fill this form and complain to Miami office ~ who was almost never to be seen except when he came for his dinner). Waste of BIG money and waste of valuable opportunities on Oceania’s shore excursions! Ah, that feels better! On to the rest of our experience!! DEMOGRAPHICS: Most of the guests appeared to be between 65 to 85 years of age (few younger, some older). While there were people from several parts of Europe, Australasia and some other places, most of the people were from the US, UK and Canada. SHIP: In spite of its age, Sirena is a very beautiful, well appointed and generally well maintained ship (brass railings on the stairs need to be polished, though). However, the ship appeared to be under-powered for the itinerary and we found ourselves racing at maximum rated speeds many a times (sometimes even slightly above the maximum rated speed), presumably to catch up on time. The ship rocked way too much (the pitch - front to back, more often than roll - side to side), just about everyday. The Tender Service was very good. The SIrena, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica (the smaller 4 Oceania ships) do not offer as many benefits/amenities at the Concierge Balcony A1 level as Oceania's larger ships. The Cabins were small but well maintained and furnished tastefully with reasonable amount of storage space. The public places were very nicely decorated and well maintained. The Library - collection, furniture, decor and maintenance - was excellent. SERVICE: The Embarkation and Disembarkation were quite smooth with a minimal wait. The cabin was ready a bit ahead of time. The bags were handled carefully and delivered promptly. The Officers were quite visible, friendly and easily approachable. The staff was very friendly and generally very eager to please guests in almost all areas - Special Mention must be made of Housekeeping, Laundry Service, Entertainment and Restaurants' staff. Sirena held a mid-voyage survey about guest experience and they actually read the filled forms and followed through with responses/corrections right away - Impressive! The exception to the foregoing being the Destinations Services (Shore Excursions and Port Services) Department. FOOD: This is a mixed bag with quality of dishes, variety in menus, and service being inconsistent from restaurant to restaurant. (a) There are 2 Specialty Restaurants (Red Ginger - Oriental, Tuscan Steak - Italian Steak House) and there is no extra cover charge for either. Each offers its own exact same menu every day, from day to day. The food and ambiance in both is mediocre with Tuscan Steak being a bit better than Red Ginger. The locations of the two restaurants is poor - Deck 10 Aft. Both are generally not crowded and service in both restaurants is good. (b) The Grand Dining Room (main restaurant) is spacious, has excellent decor and the food quality is good with a different menu every day but the service was extremely slow. If you didn't mind spending 2+ hours at a dinner table then this is your place. This restaurant also served Lunch as Jacques Bistro. (c) Terrace Cafe is a semi-casual buffet. This is a popular place and seating is tight, at times, for the demand. It has a large variety on the menu from day to day with lobster tails, steaks and shrimp (all cooked to order before you) every day. The service and food quality are both excellent. (d) Waves Grill is a pool side grill (under shade) and has a salad and dessert bar and cooked to order (limited) entrees. The food and service is good and this a good place for a quick lunch. (e) Room Service is at no extra charge and in addition to the three meals it is available for snacks in between meal hours. The menu is, of course, limited but the food is good. The quality of delivery service is somewhat sub-par with orders not being filled right or at times delayed (luke warm). The mini-bar in the cabin is stocked daily with soft drinks of your choice at no extra cost (charge for alcoholic drinks/snacks). (f) There are some nice special features like the Four O'Clock Tea in the Horizons Bar, two Cocktail Parties (more for repeat guests), Cake Decorating and Ginger Bread House Decorating Contests, Food Demos and Themed Dinners which sometimes include local fare. PORT INFORMATION & ENRICHMENT LECTURES: This is one of two areas that was sub-par (the other being Shore Excursions). In this case it was either because of bad/boring information or bad presenters. ENTERTAINMENT: The Serena has a small but a very talented and energetic entertainment staff headed by an excellent Cruise Director, Dotty. They have great personalities, work well together and also double up for a variety of other on-board activities. Special mention must be made of Frank, Gabriela, Hunter and Shandy, the vocalists. The orchestra does a good job! The String Quartet is excellent! The talent, quality and style of outside contracted artists/entertainers varied and could use improvement. Special mention must be made of the excellent Bridge Instructors/Tournament Directors team of Dave and Dianne who did an outstanding job! On-board Entertainment is Sirena's untold secret. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We should have done our research about Oceania's Destination Services (Shore Excursion and Port Services) prior to booking. As indicated above, this is a major shortcoming of Oceania and apparently quite well known, but we were not aware of that. This is a major Black-Mark on the image of an otherwise good ship/cruise line. Enough said about this area! THE BOTTOM LINE(S): On the whole, it was a good cruise but definitely over-priced for the value. Sirena is a beautiful, well maintained ship. But it was under-powered for this itinerary and therefore mis-matched for this cruise. It has an excellent entertainment staff and very good shows for a small ship. The food and restaurants are significantly over-rated. The cost of Shore Excursions was exorbitant and the content was terrible – they were the worst we have experienced in our 19 cruises. It has excellent officers and staff who provided excellent service (except Destinations Services/Shore Excursions staff). If you like a quiet ambiance and good service, can handle the daily rocking of the ship, you want lobster tails, shrimp and steak for every lunch/dinner, you get port information on your own and arrange port visits/excursions through your own vendors, or stay on board during port stops and and read a book in the wonderful library, or buy your favorite drink in a short/tall glass and lay by the pool, enjoy the sunshine and get a good tan, and, yes, you don't mind the cost of all this, then this is definitely your cruise and you will love it! Now we know what Oceania is all about and hope our above experience is useful to you! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Superb time. Food and service were impeccable, as always; excursions were mostly excellent. Updates made to Sirena were nice improvements. The ideal cruise for mature adults (not recommended for children). Staff attentive, ... Read More
Superb time. Food and service were impeccable, as always; excursions were mostly excellent. Updates made to Sirena were nice improvements. The ideal cruise for mature adults (not recommended for children). Staff attentive, knowledgeable, helpful, pleasant, and engaging. Our cabin was always immaculate and well-stocked; our butler anticipated our every need. String quartet was the best we've encountered on Oceania. Lots of on-board activities, day and night: Bridge classes & afternoon social and duplicate play, Bingo, Team Trivia, great enrichment lectures, cooking demonstrations, variety of music shows, country fair, golf & ping pong, etc. One can be as athletic or couch-potato-ish as desired. But you're always going to have excellent food and drink. We were too pooped at the end of each day's activities to take advantage of the evening - and late evening - activities! Dining options are different on Sirena: Grand Dining Room essentially the same, but at lunch-time has a French Bistro vibe and menu. Toscana and Polo are combined into a Tuscan Steak House to make room for Red Ginger (as in the larger ships). Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of ... Read More
HAL used to have great service and class. This was a 34 day cruise from San Diego, Calif. to Rio de Janeiro. On the first half from San Diego there were no activities except for trivia and unhosted cards.But there were a lot of opportunities to spend your money at bingo and on all the sales going on. It was like a floating Walmart. At the pool, it was difficult to get a glass of water or iced tea but plenty of waiters walking around to sell drinks.We went on the first half of this cruise last year on the same ship and noticed a huge difference in the service. They cut back on cabin stewards and on waiters - both in the dining room and Lido. One night in the DR, it was 25 minutes before our order was taken and over 2 hours to finally get to dessert which I was too angry to eat. Some of the entertainment was very good. The Zaandam dancers were very good the first time, good the 2nd time but really boring by about thee 5th time. American Test Kitchen was good but over the 34 days, they had repeated the same recipes several times. On several of the gala nights (which they cut down on) we got one lobster ravioli instead of lobster tail. There was no sail away party in San Diego or Neptune party when we crossed the equator like last year. The restrooms near the lounge were out of order a number of times. The best service on the ship was the front office people. They were always willing to answer questions and help. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. ... Read More
The cruise offered a chance to circumnavigate South America with mostly interesting ports. Speedy embarkation, The ship has sophisticated/muted interiors and an outstanding display of art & musical memorabilia throughout the ship. Cabin 6180 looked fine, spacious with all amenities but when the ship was at sea a creaking/grating noise came from the junction of the veranda & the ceiling, the noise was pretty loud and nonstop. It was as if Sir Francis Drake's ghost has come to stay. After many complaints (most were ignored-front desk staff was useless except for Precious) wooden wedges were placed (helped) and then removed for safety reasons. Cabin was changed only at San Antonio (over 2 weeks). We dined mostly in the MDR, the food was hot, very good and the choices were ample. Service was amazing, we switched to a permanent table after a few days, Aang & Daniel our waiters remembered every request and Mr. Manik the assistant MDR manager was also very helpful. Ate a few times at the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed the food and service. Activities were pretty limited and adjusted to the average age of the passengers. Entertainment was average. All staff was courteous and went out of their way to help. Most ports were interesting as a jump off point or in themselves, shore excursions were privately organized with shipmates met on CruiseCritic roll call (highly recommended)and only two were the ship's, they were well organized & the guides were very good. We enjoyed all aspects of the cruise apart from the cabin noise, A letter to HAL after we came back home did bring some consolation though it would have been better if the problem was resolved on board. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary, R/T San Diego and to go to Machu Picchu which had been a bucket list item for many years. Aside, from Lima, the ports were very unusual -- not in a good way. The west coast of Central and ... Read More
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary, R/T San Diego and to go to Machu Picchu which had been a bucket list item for many years. Aside, from Lima, the ports were very unusual -- not in a good way. The west coast of Central and S. America was not a trade route so, towns were usually a couple of hours inland with not much to see. Once you've seen one Aztec or Mayan ruin, you've pretty much seen them all. I guess if you haven't ever seen really large ruins in other parts of the world they would be interesting. Our ports were, for the most part, cargo/container piers. Our cabin had water problems for 3 of our 4 weeks. Issues were smelly water backing up in the tub and sink and a broken pipe under the floor between the bathroom and closets. There was no connection between the two issues. The staff was extremely nice and apologetic but, could not make up for an old ship. Unfortunately, the ship was sold out so we could not move to a different cabin. One Neptune cabin had no AC for the entire month long cruise. Imagine spending that kind of money and to suffer with heat? Dining room menus didn't appeal to us and we only ate there once. We dined quite a few times in the Pinnacle and mostly in the Lido. Both were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
HAL is changing directions and have deleted Karaoke and poolside activities. No Ambassadors from San Diego to Lima and halfway back. So that left Trivia for at sea days. Trivia in the morning, trivia in the evening and trivia all day ... Read More
HAL is changing directions and have deleted Karaoke and poolside activities. No Ambassadors from San Diego to Lima and halfway back. So that left Trivia for at sea days. Trivia in the morning, trivia in the evening and trivia all day long. Bad decision by HAL as this was the most boring cruise that we have been on. The CD, John, just made excuses, but all he did on board was to announce entertainment and conduct Trivia. Several problems with this older ship, including two tenders breaking at Fuerte Amador - unacceptable delays. Even the fueling plans went awry and we ended up spending extra hours in Panama to re-fuel. Food was average but the main dining room service started out exceptionally poor and dinners ran over 2 hours long, forcing excessive use of the Lido, where food was less than average. Need to clean up your act, Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Let's start with the positive. The Singers and dancers were wonderful. The food was good and the crew was very friendly. Our cabin was nice and our steward was great. Many ports were good and easy to find thing to do if you ... Read More
Let's start with the positive. The Singers and dancers were wonderful. The food was good and the crew was very friendly. Our cabin was nice and our steward was great. Many ports were good and easy to find thing to do if you didn't take a shore excursion from the ship. There were 4 or 5 ports that made you feel trapped. If you didn't take a shore excursion you had to pay to take a shuttle to get to a safe or interesting part of town. We often were docked at the shipping ports and were not allowed to get a taxi or walk from there. The activities planned on board (other than the nightly shows) were very limited unless you wanted to learn about history(the speakers they had were dull or misinformed) or triva. It's pretty bad when you go to check out DVDs and they say you may only have one because too many people want them. That says they had nothing else to do. It wasn't until the last few days when the Mexican Embassadors came aboard. Many people had trouble with their cabins: toilets not working, DVD players not working, and to top it off our neighbor had his sink and toilet overflow in the middle of the night. We were awaken by the sounds of vaccuums and blowers trying to dry out their carpet. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I chose the itinerary so that we could go to Machu Picchu post cruise. The itinerary was a bit shorter than we would normally cruise. The embarkation in San Diego was great and uneventful. The disembarkation in Lima was another story, ... Read More
I chose the itinerary so that we could go to Machu Picchu post cruise. The itinerary was a bit shorter than we would normally cruise. The embarkation in San Diego was great and uneventful. The disembarkation in Lima was another story, which was bad due to the Callao Port. It was a freight port without passenger terminal facilities at all. Port authority supposed to provide shuttle services to the port gate as well as to San Miguel Mall. But the small vans used for the gate shuttle were obviously not adequate and late to move passengers who had independent arrangements for both days (March 8th and March 9th). This was the first HA cruise where we found the service and on board activities were bad or non-existent. There were not enough people in the front office resulting in long line ups. In the dining room two servers had to service 30 passengers resulting in 2.5 hours dinner time. The traditional on board activities like dance instructions, taichi classes, golf putting and chipping contests, ring toss and sand bag toss games were all but disappeared. They cut the librarian position as well. For some reason the cruise director or captain did not announce whether the ship was cleared to disembark in any of ports we visited. To add insult to the already bad situation we encountered a bad sewer back up in cabin 562 and it was a mess, not to mention that they ruined our luggage. It is being pursued now with HA for our damage. Entertainments were not as good as before so we skipped most of them on this cruise. Instead we watched several movies. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Chose solely for the Itinerary, 3 days in Lima, allowing for Macchu Pichu trip. The friendly but sometimes dozy staff, were average best. The cruise director, if you wish to call him that was invisible. Boring sea days, no music, ... Read More
Chose solely for the Itinerary, 3 days in Lima, allowing for Macchu Pichu trip. The friendly but sometimes dozy staff, were average best. The cruise director, if you wish to call him that was invisible. Boring sea days, no music, entertainment , bar b ques, 'nada 'at the Vista Pool. The on board entertainment was the worst we've experienced, We are seniors and we are not dead. If the only place one could dance and party was the Crows Nest, explain how this works when you have shore excursions the next morning. Some guy named Wayne , a piano player -singer who is soooo bad, you wonder who hired this guy. A duo piano-violin players playing the classical tunes to 2,4, 8, or 12 people? It was like walking into a funeral, Total waste of space and time. Did I mention the erratic AC? the last two nights we froze in our SR. Please sink this ship so that the fish can enjoy it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017

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