Quite frankly the thing about Oceania that most impressed me was the hand-holding they provided during travel to and from Papeete, Tahiti, our point of embarkation/disembarkation. We checked our bags in Pittsburgh, and three flights later ... Read More
Quite frankly the thing about Oceania that most impressed me was the hand-holding they provided during travel to and from Papeete, Tahiti, our point of embarkation/disembarkation. We checked our bags in Pittsburgh, and three flights later we got off the plane in Papeete. Oceania chartered an Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A343 for the flight from LAX to Papeete. A brief stop in Papeete at immigration and we were given a flower lei and directed to a bus. We arrived at the dock, boarded the ship, got our ID/Cabin Keys and went to our room. Before we unpacked and stowed our carry-on items, our bags showed up. Sweet! Oceania had people at LAX to direct us to the Tom Bradley International terminal, and at Bradley to direct us to the gate for our flight. These people had lists with our names, and they checked us off, so they weren't just Walmart greeters. Ditto for the return flights, except that we had to claim our bags at LAX and go thru US Customs. We then put our bags back on the belt and we next saw them in Pittsburgh. All this air travel was included in the cost our trip. We've traveled enough that we don't exactly need this level of hand-holding, but it sure was nice and relieved any stress that we may have had.
The second thing we most liked about Oceania was the food. We ate in all four of Marina's specialty restaurants, and we liked them all. It's hard to pick a favorite, although Red Ginger and Polo Grill slightly bested Toscano and Jacque's. We only ate in the Grand Dining room twice, once for breakfast on a rainy morning, and once for dinner. The rest of our meals were enjoyed in the more casual Terrace Cafe where we could dine outside in the warm Polynesian weather with gorgeous views of whatever island we were visiting. Great sushi & sashimi in Red Ginger and the Terrace Cafe. We also spent a fun rainy day in their Bon Apetite culinary center taking a cooking class and eating our Zdelicious (if I do say so myself) results. My wife gained 7 pounds on this cruise, and she's the careful one. I'm afraid to get on a scale.
The Verandas on Marina are wonderful. You can sit down and enjoy an almost unobstructed view of what's out there. Very nice design with only a varnished wooden handrail at the top and several slim metal rails below. RCCI's Explorer of the Seas, on the other hand, was more metal than view from our Grand Suite. But this aspect would very greatly from ship to ship rather than from line to line. If you like to sit outside and take in the views, you'll like your veranda on Marina.
Now for the complaints.
On-board entertainment wasn't much to speak of, other than Tom Drake a funny comedian and music by the Orpheus String Quartet, a "name" chamber music group who performed throughout the cruise in various venues. We also enjoyed the Marina Band. But compared to what we've experienced on Royal Caribbean or Princess, the entertainment was only so-so. But that wasn't why we came, so not a big deal.
Wine & drink prices are too high. A pour of wine might cost just slightly less than a bottle back home. I ran the numbers after we got home and even with the gouging, buying by the bottle or glass still saved us a ton over what we would have paid by buying one of their ridiculously priced drink packages. Royal Caribbean's wine package is much more flexible and reasonably priced.
Land Tours are really overpriced. While this won't come as a shock to anyone who reads the boards on CruiseCritic, it seemed a shame. We signed up for none - zero. No one begrudges Oceania a profit on a service provided, but a simple 3 hour excursion that one could do for $35 per couple would cost well over $100 thru Oceania. I don't know how many of their offerings actually sold out (some certainly did), but if they lowered the prices we would have booked thru them rather than going ashore and finding our own. While I'm tempted to say its not about the money its about refusing to be taken advantage of, in reality its both.
The bathroom (design). Our bath was striking visually. We had both a tub with a European style partial glass partition, and a walk-in shower. We used the shower. My wife showered in the tub once to try it, but used the walk-in after that. The only problem with the walk-in was the size - very small. I don't know about you, but I haven't taken a bath since I was a child. I don't know anyone who bathes. Tubs are so yesterday. Now I'm sure that some people do bathe. But why on a virtually brand new ship couldn't they have fitted at least a portion of the stateroom with only a shower? Removing the tub would have allowed them to increase the size of the walk-in shower by, say 50%, and enlarge the stateroom with the remaining space. If they had done this for say 10% of the staterooms, and identified these rooms as shower only on the deck maps showing staterooms, I would bet these would be the first to sell out in their category. I would predict that if they had tried this, after time and retrofits, eventually rooms with tubs would become the exception rather than the rule. I also wonder why bath tubs on cruise ships seem to have higher sides than at home. On our previous cruise on RCCI's Explorer of the Seas, we almost needed a ladder to get in and out. There we had no walk-in shower option. I'm guessing this is so the water wouldn't splash out in rough seas. Dump the tub! Read Less