We embarked the Nautica in Venice on 7/28/06. We connected through Frankfurt on Lufthansa from the US. Our flight in Frankfurt left an hour late and two of our bags arrived in Venice before we did, but we didn't find that out until ... Read More
We embarked the Nautica in Venice on 7/28/06. We connected through Frankfurt on Lufthansa from the US. Our flight in Frankfurt left an hour late and two of our bags arrived in Venice before we did, but we didn't find that out until spending over 1/2 hour in the baggage claim office. However, all was found and we were jubilant.
Oceania was a little slow, we thought, transferring us to the cruise ship. We were concierge level and expected a little more in the way of service in being transferred and during embarkation, but nothing extra in the way of service was provided other than a separate desk when we walked into the Nautica Lounge on deck 5.
We were transferred in a bus and left sitting en route during a couple of stops with the A/C turned off. When we arrived to one check-in building, our bus driver just left the bus without instructing us to get off. Finally, we reacted on our own and departed the bus. We transferred through a building, scanned our hand baggage, walked out, and then boarded ANOTHER bus to be taken to the ship.
By this time, after spending time at the airport looking for lost baggage and waiting to connect via the transfer provided, there wasn't a wait anyway so any concierge benefits provided were inconsequential other than being allowed in our stateroom before others were at 3:00 p.m. (it was about 2:30 at that time). In addition, typical of what we've found on other lines, there was no white glove escort to our stateroom.
After checking in, we were handed our room key and left to navigate the maze through the Nautica lounge to find our cabin. When we first walked in, it kind of took our breath away because it was quite small. We adapted during the two week cruise. Being heavy packers, we found room for most of our clothing, which is saying a lot for the storage capability in the small cabin.
We booked many of our excursions in advance--all of our tickets were delivered on a timely basis later that evening, and during the cruise, some excursions were cancelled. We were disappointed by the cruise lines' decision to cancel an Amalfi coast drive trip, which was one of the main points of the cruise for us. Most of the excursions were good to very good, they can be pricey, but what we've found is you get your money back in the comfort of the tour, the organization and lack of thinking you have to do in a non-English speaking port. Taking excursions independently is a matter of choice--we did both on this cruise.
We found the service exceptional on the cruise.
The food was good to great, depending on the item and how rushed staff were. Some nights, if the dining room was busy, food might not be to temperature or the service was slow. On nights that were slow, we found the opposite. We dined in the Polo Grill (chop house) three times. Several steaks were not prepared to order (medium) and were at least medium well--we did not complain as taste was not compromised. Steaks in the main dining room were cooked to order better, surprisingly.
Toscana (Italian themed restaurant) was good, as we only ate in there one time. We didn't like the fact that some times to get a reservation in the alternate restaurants meant compromising to a sharing table. Many nights, after a long, exhausting day in port, we were ready to unwind with a private dinner. We cancelled several reservations in the restaurants due to this. In the main dining room, we like the eat at your leisure option, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. We received tables for two there as requested. Service was good to exceptional.
We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast and lunches in the Terrace Cafe. Staff literally go out of their way to assist you with selecting items from the food bar (I like the idea of staff serving and passengers not handling all of the food) and helping you to your seat and retrieving drinks and water. Service in this location was the best we've ever experienced.
The drawback for Oceania is that for the price paid, the best they amenity they have to offer is service, especially in the dining areas. The ship, while traditionally decorated in design reminiscent of a country club, and very well maintained, isn't any more fabulous than any other ship afloat. The boat rocked a lot in sea swells.
Our cabin attendant was good, but no better than those we've seen on other lines.
The cabins are small. Production shows are mediocre. Limited shopping on board with two highly priced boutiques. Average fitness room. Average destination services staff. You still pay for a la carte beverages other than tea/coffee. You still pay for tips.
It is a matter of whether the perceived value--excellent service vs. other amenities--is worth it to you to sail on this line.