Nautica Reviews

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8 User Reviews of Nautica Cruise Ship

Enjoyed Oceania Cruise(s), but ready to try Azamara!
Publication Date: November 5, 2013

ENJOYED THE OCEANIA CRUISE(S), BUT NOW READY TO TRY AZAMARA!

We took our second Ocenia cruise this year from Istanbul visiting some Greek Islands and Turkish ports before  ending up in Athens (Sept/Oct 2013). This followed our first cruise on the same cruise line from Vancouver to Alaska in May 2013.  Although for the Mediterranean cruise was on the Nautica, and the cruise to Alaska was on the Regatta, the two ships  were so similar that sometimes, we forgot exactly which ship we were on!

Having read some comments of passengers' experience of other cruise lines where not all staff were nice and pleasant,  this was something which we take our hats off to Oceania - practically all the Ocenia crews and staff were very pleasant and friendly.  They always smiled and greeted you when they passed by you. They worked  hard and always tried their best to please, and nothing seemed to be too much trouble. We were very impressed with their positive attitudes and the good training from Oceania management. Our belief is that the high quality of staff at Oceania Cruises is really one of the

key strengths of the company, and that's why their cruises are so popular and successful.

We were met by an agent of Oceania Cruise at Istanbul Airport where a coach took us to the boat docked near the olden part of Istanbul city.  The traffic was so bad it took us about two hours to reach the Nautica. Some of us felt it might have been quicker had we got off the coach and walked - however, it would have been a problem had we done so as we all had quite a lot of luggage with us!

CUISINE

We know a lot of people raved about the wonderful cuisine and high standard of cooking on Oceania. Yes, we agree with them to a degree, but we have to say eventhough the cooking on Oceania was generally very good, it was not perfect! (Sorry, sorry, we know, we are being rather picky here! Gulp!!).  For example, to us, the bread served on Oceania Cruises (both Nautica and Regatta) was not very nice - it tasted to us as if it was dry and some was quite hard - the exception was the selection of breads in the Toscana Italian restaurant.

We were also disappointed by the roast "lamb" which was really very tough , and the lamb curry with chewy meat, all were served in the Terrace (Buffet) restaurant. Their smoked salmon did not always taste fresh, it was as if it had been in the freezer/fridge(?) for too long and the texture has gone past its best. Their scooped ice-cream curiosly tasted as if was not properly frozen. At their Asian-theme lunch in the buffet restaurant, their Asian dishes were not very authentic and some of their Asian dishes actually tasted pretty awful ! Being Asian, I dare claim to have some knowledge of how "good" Asian food should taste like! An exception to the poor quality of their Asian dishes was their sushi, which was very nice.

Of course, as there was such a large choice of foods to eat, we never went hungry because if some dishes or food items were not to our tastes,  there was always something else that we would enjoy. We won't list  them as we are sure other passengers in other reviews have mentioned them already!

It was a shame that in the buffet restaurant, passengers could not help themselves but had to be served by ship staff. Perhaps this might have something to do with hygiene but the dishes were covered by plastic covers which steamed up so much it was sometimes difficult to see what was being served at meal times.


Soft drinks were complimentary but wines and other drinks had to be purchased. The wine and drinks prices were quite expensive, in our view,  and this was made worse because like most American cruise lines, Oceania Cruise Lines added an extra 18 per cent on top of their already pricey drinks!

ACCOMMODATION

The cabins in the Nautica had beds with luxurious mattresses and plump pillows and it was very pleasant to sleep on. We never had much problems sleeping because of the comfy beds - even when the sea was quite choppy and the winds was tossing the boat a bit, we were sleeping fine! Each room had a fridge stocked with a selection of soft drinks and sodas and it was replenished every day. The room was cleaned twice a day and towels were replaced twice daily as well (if needed). The towels were not as luxurious as in some really nice hotels but they were adequate.

As some passengers commented the shower rooms were quite small, however, it is untrue that all cabins have the same small shower rooms.
The larger rooms from penthouse suite upwards have bigger bathrooms.  Even the smaller shower rooms were not that bad - you could move around quite adequately
unless you have a back the size of an elephant!

We were not sure if Oceania cruises were trying to do some "cost-saving exercise" because the luxurious Bulgari toileteries which we had in the earlier  Alaskan cruise were replaced by Oceania's own home-brand toiletries, which seemed somewhat cheaper-looking (clumsy looking big bottles of shampoo instead of the quaint small bottles from Bulgari, for example)  . A "down-grade" in toiletries, maybe?


ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES

There was a daily newsletter that keeps passengers informed of the activities on board. The cruise director also made regular annoucements and appearances on TV to keep us up-to-
date on the cruise. As the Nautica was a medium-sized boat, it probably did not have as many activities as in the larger cruise ships. There was a small but comfortable library, an ultra-expensive internet room, a spa and sauna, destination talks, cocktail piano sessions, string quartet, and the evening entertainment in the Nautica Lounge . We were disappointed that the evening entertainment in the Nautica Lounge was not on every evening. The standard of their own home singers were just average - their song choices were not all very good -, but the ship had some guest entertainers who were actually better than we expected. There was a magician, a guest musician, and a guest singer. The African-American guest singer was really a class act and we wished he had done more shows on our cruise - he was great.

There was also a couple of channels on the ship TV but  one area we thought the company could improve on is the quality and choice of TV channels.

The library could offer some "giant jigsaws" for passengers to partake throughout the cruise (some cruise lines like Fred Olsen already have that).

PASSENGERS

The majority of passengers appear to be north of 60 years old - but many seem to have aged so gracefully and they still looked very well, it must have been the good life they have had, or they took the trouble to take care of themselves !  Having said that, there were passengers of other ages too, but there were very few children on board. So if you are not too keen on kids running around and screaming on deck, this boat is for you!!

THE CRUISE ITSELF

Our cruise started from Istanbul, and it sailed to Kusa Dasi, followed by Marmaris ,Mykonos and Santorini. Before we sailed to Santorini, the Cruise Director whetted our appetites as he indicated Santorini was one of the most beautiful islands he had even seen. However, when we reached Santorini, we had an announcement that because the sea was too choppy, the captain had cancelled our stop there - it was too dangerous to take the tender boats to land on Santorini Island.

We would have preferred that eventhough we could not land on Santorini , the captain could have at least sailed around the island. Instead,
we sailed away into the seas without any fixed destination in mind, as if just to kill time and to pass the day. So all we did was waste fuel , saw no land, and adding more carbon to the earth sailing almost aimlessly ! What a waste of time that was!! We had nothing much to do at sea that day and found ourselves eating even more of their delicious food out of boredom! At least, that was our excuse for eating more! Lol.

Eventually, the boat headed for Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete which we docked the following morning. Our last port of call before reaching Pireus (for Athens) was Nafpleon. All these places we visited were nice, but it was a shame we had to miss the "Jewel in the Crown" of Greek islands, Santorini. Still, nevermind.


DRESS CODE

There were no formal nights but guest had been advised to dress "country club casual". That was one of the things we liked about Oceania cruises, we could be in stylish surroundings and eat in elegant restaurants, yet the men did not have to dress up in suit and ties or tuxedos like penguins. Some of the women passengers did take the trouble to dress up very elegantly though, although they were not required to do so.

EXCURSIONS

From our previous Oceania cruise, we realised that the excursions offered by Oceania were very expensive and you could get better deals  else where - instead of taking any excursions from Oceania, we checked for alternative and cheaper cruise excursions online.


CONCLUSION

We really enjoyed our first Oceania cruise to Alaska.  Although we enjoyed the second Mediterranean cruise as well, because practically everything on board was the same as the boat on the first cruise - decor, cuisine, etc, etc - by the time our second cruise finished, we thought that we had a nice time but we have had just ample experience of Oceania cruises to last us for a little while. The next time we would like to try going on another cruise line to experience service possibly from a "different angle".. The thing with Oceania is, you know what you are getting, but many things remain the same for a long time, cruise after cruise. The same menus, the same decor, the same rooms, etc, etc. Only the ports of call are different. We would like to try different menus and different decors from different cruise companies. Isn't travelling about exploring new things and new experiences?

We would have liked the Captain and General Manager on the Nautica  to be more available and mixed more with  the passengers. We were looking for the start of the cruise party to meet the captain but did not know what happen, because we did not hear of any invitation. Later on there was a party for Ocean Club members - we went there, the General Manager was there but the Captain was absent giving the reason the sea was choppy and he had to take care of the boat. That was fair enough but we hardly got to see the captain after that. Senior management on the boat seemed
somewhat low-key, apart from the Cruise Director.  Were they avoiding the passengers or what?

We have already booked on a cruise middle of next year with the rival company to Oceania, Azamara Club Cruises - curiously, it will be on the Azamara Quest, which is the same "R" class boat as the Nautica (as well as the Regatta) . Hopefully we can compare the two cruise companies to see which one is better!  We did not feel that Oceania has done enough to keep us cruising just with them and with no other cruise companies  (that does not mean we will not cruise with Oceania again, we will, but not too soon!). The Oceania Club membership  has too few benefits to mean much to us.
 

 
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Oceania Nautica 2/13 Hong Kong to Beijing
Publication Date: June 14, 2013

Unfortunately, my review is rather long and detailed (25 pages), so it cannot be posted on here. And CM policies forbid me from including a link to my website where you can read it. However, if you would like to see my complete review, you can PM me and I'll be happy to email the link to you.

Overall, while we thought it was a nice 17-night cruise, we felt it was overpriced, over-hyped, and under achieved. We definitely did not feel the food was the 'finest cuisine at sea', like they advertise.

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Far East/Orient
Publication Date: March 11, 2011

Inform all passengers on the ms. Nautica, sailing from Tianjin to Hongkong, that the Japanese Government has asked not to call on japanese ports, as their focus is on rescue and reconstruction. We were scheduled to call on Hiroshima and Kobe (600 km south of the disaster area).

We were promised an alternative itinerary.Well it was very simple.Oceania decided to cancel our calls on Hiroshima and Kobe, stay an extra day and night in Shanghai,sail directly from Shanghai to Okinawa, extend our stay in Keelung and on our way to an extra night and day in Honkong,make a call on Kaohshiung, at reduced speed to fill the time gap.The result: We sailed ca 1150 nautical miles less (1/3) and miss the most interesting part of our cruise.But Oceania saves ca $ 450.000 on less fuel consumption. (ca 250 mt MGO x $750 and 500 mt bunkeroilx $530 -prices Petromedia Bunker World Index dlvd. Tianjin )

The compensation for this loss: Nada-niente-nothing.Not even a bottle of wine to go with the dinner but instead an arrogant reaction of the cruise director about all the problems they had, to cope with the new situation.This has

definately been the first and last time that I will set a foot on a ship of Oceania.

Pierre

PS . the food was excellecent,the staff was friendly and the management condescend, arrogant and definately not customer satisfaction oriented.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: May 10, 2009

We took 14 Days East Mediterranean Cruise on the Nautica, one of three Oceania ships. The experience was delightful. Our cruise began May 10, 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey, went to Mitilini, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Strait of Messina, Amalfi/Positano, Taormina, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice. We recommend the ship to any adults who want good food, good company, and good experiences ashore.

We spent a day in Istanbul before embarking Nautica. We had a private tour to the wonderful sites Topakapi Palace, Church of St. Sophia, Blue Mosque and Covered Bazaar. Enjoyed it very much. We had our arrangements through Transbalkan Tours (www.transbalkan.com) which we used them for Ephesus as well during the cruise.

We overnighted in a boutique hotel located in the old city. Next day we took a cab to Nautica. Boarding process was simple and friendly. We were in our stateroom within 15 minutes of leaving the taxi and at the welcoming lunch buffet 10 minutes later. Most of the luggage arrived promptly. The final piece was delayed a couple hours.

We found the stateroom, 4049, well located -- about 35 steps from the reception desk, central stairway, and elevators. The room was

beautiful, in perfect condition, quiet, about average size for a cruise ship, with dark woods, a large window, a comfortable queen-size bed, a small desk and padded stool, small love-seat and a coffee table, and a functional TV that showed movies. Storage space was more than adequate, and suitcases fit under the bed. We had no balcony, and never felt we needed one. The bathroom was on the small side, with adequate storage space but a tiny shower. The hot water was always hot, but the shower is probably the worst feature of the Nautica. An attendant cleaned the room twice daily, did a perfect job, and was seldom seen.

Overall, the ship was beautiful, very well decorated, traditional but not old-fashioned, and superbly maintained. You could hardly find a scuff mark anywhere. The ship carries only 680 passengers, which puts it on the small side these days. We, and everyone we talked to, liked the size, which was big enough but not too big. While cruising, the ship was stable. The swimming pool was small but adequate, with two whirlpools, and the deck area was adequate. There were a variety of places to sit in the sun or lean on the railing. There was a nice library, a good-sized fitness area, a small casino, and two shops. A string quartet frequently played, as did a pianist. The stage entertainment was typical of cruise ships. There were few children on our trip, and there should have been none.

Nautica doesn't encourage children, and these kind of trips aren't suited for them. Food was usually very good, sometimes excellent, and a few times even superb. It would occasionally fall into the "okay" category. The elegant Grand Dining Room operates during specified periods as announced each day in the ship newsletter. You are not assigned a table or an eating time.

There are no formal nights. You dress "country club casual." No tie or jacket is required for men. Some jackets but only a few ties were in evidence. You decide whether to eat with others or not. Service was good. The buffet, at the stern of the ship, has superb views and is called the Terrace Caf? for breakfast and lunch and Tapas for dinner. On three consecutive evenings, we sat at one of the outdoor tables at the buffet and watched the sun set over the Black Sea, an experience to treasure. Menu selection was varied, and presentation was excellent in both restaurants. Oceania advertises that "legendary chief" Jacques Pepin created some of the dishes on the menu. That seemed overrated to us. Near the pool was a grill, operating from about noon to 4 p.m., where you could get good hamburgers and hotdogs, a few other sandwiches, ice cream, and go through a salad buffet. There are two alternative restaurants, Toscana, featuring Italian, and the Polo Grill, featuring beef. You make reservations, but do not pay extra at them. While fine, they are over-hyped. The dining room and buffet were just as good. The Nautica does not scrimp on food. Prime rib was on the menu several nights, a roast sucking pig was served one day, and shrimp prepared in various ways was available almost every day.

We met the captain once at a ship's party. Otherwise, he was not much in evidence. Tours of the bridge, kitchen and engine room were not advertised. A concierge is available during the day. When our room keys acted up, he quickly had the problem fixed. The staff comes from many countries, and most had good command of English and were very friendly.

Shore excursions were as with many ships, terribly overpriced. Details about them, necessary to decide which ones to select, were hard to come by before we boarded. Calls to the 800 Oceania number were answered by dour, unhelpful individuals. For some of the port of calls we decided to pre-book private shore excursions through local tour operators before boarding to Nautica. We were very happy with the tours provided through them. Saw more and Saved a lot.

Local Tour Operators We Used: Santorini: www.santorinidaytours.com Kusadasi: www.transbalkan.com Athens: www.athenstaxi.net

In talking to many of our fellow passengers, we heard nearly-unanimous praise for the Nautica. A surprising number of them had been on Oceania two or three times before, although the company has existed only a few years. One woman, apparently a chronic complainer, said maintenance of her stateroom was lacking, crew were impolite, and food was not "phenomenal." It was difficult to believe her first two claims. As for the food, meals were always enjoyable and delicious; for "phenomenal," you go to gourmet restaurants. Several passengers got on board without their luggage. I suspect that was the fault of airlines. I would strongly advise against arriving in Europe on the same day your cruise ship departs - WAY too much opportunity for trouble. Service in the Nautica buffet was at times a little slow. The staff should also enforce the dress code. We had a few louts who came to the buffet in sleeveless t-shirts and baggy shorts, and one who talked loudly on a cell phone.

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Black Sea
Publication Date: September 2, 2007

We embarked in Istanbul and disembarked in Athens. We got a penthouse suite that was extremely comfortable and had unexpected amenities such as a fantastic bathroom with a wonderful shower. Our stateroom was on the 8th deck very close to the bridge and it was very quiet. Unfortunately, we heard that guests who stayed in our deck (for about 500 dollars more per person because of a 'supposedly' preferred location when it came to pitch) whose suites were directly below the pool area (on deck 9) heard the staff arranging pool chairs late at night and early in the morning. They never got a proper night's sleep.

We found the service on Nautica to be extraordinary; professional and friendly. The only exception was on deck 11. We rented a cabana for privacy. The waiters were so eager to please that they would come in every 10 or 15 minutes (sometimes even more often) to offer drinks and food. I was woken up on a number of occasions from what would have otherwise been wonderful naps. Nautica provides house phones in every cabana, so there was no need to come up unless called.

Embarkation

and disembarkation were efficiently handled and organization was very good. It made us feel safe that should there be an emergency, the staff knew the drill. The only glitch in organization we encountered happened while in port in Istanbul, and it was a serious one. We signed up (independently) for a tour that required us having our passports. The passports were not at the Purser's office (they were somewhere on land) when we needed them even though we had given the Purser 12-hours notice (as soon as we boarded the ship for the first time and relinquished our passports). It frightens me to be in a foreign country and 1) have someone other than me in control of my travel documents and 2) not have ready access to them. Fortunately, we are citizens of another country as well, so we used our second passports and nothing was lost, but I really think that personal documents should never leave the ship and ought to be available for retrieval at all times.

The ports of call vary enormously in terms of importance or interest. Istanbul and Athens are obviously fantastic ports of call, but others are frankly not worth it. The port of Nessebur, in Bulgaria, is very quaint in spite of how commercial it is. The 13th and 14th-century churches are little jewels. Their frescoes are in good shape and the cobble-stone streets are precious. The jewel of the town, though, is the icon museum. The collection is small but very well chosen. We took a private tour to Bourgas with a stop in St. George's monastery along the way (it is a quaint structure from the mid-19th century with some pretty non-school icons). Bourgas proved to be especially interesting to my husband because of the exceptional beauty of its women, but the city doesn't offer much. Nessebur is lovely, but it takes just 3 hours to walk it. Not much more to do than sit by the pool. Fine, but I can do that at home.

The next port on the itinerary, Constanta, has little to offer other than blue-collar beach resorts. The ruins in Histria (and the tiny museum) are not worth the drive and the other local trip option, the monument in Tropaeum Traiani, is a modern (1977) reproduction of a less than stunning classical monument commemorating Trajan's victory over the Dacians (you can't do both; we did Histria and it is blah). There is an option to go to Bucharest; the ride takes 2.5 hours (250 km) but, when we sailed, the road was under construction and the drive took 4 hours each way. Did not take that option.

Odessa was interesting. We took a private tour. It was a treat to see the homes of Bialik, Alechem, Babel, Jabotinsky and so many other impressive intellects. We had typically Ukrainian food at mediocre restaurant, but at least the golubzie my husband ordered were quite good. Then came Sebastopol. The Balaklava valley is as beautiful as the French Champagne country and the historical interest is considerable. We also stopped in Bakhchisaray and paid homage to Pushkin, and we were lucky to catch a Tatar wedding in the palace's mosque. The food (the bread, fried stuff, yoghurt, and tea in particular) in the Tatar villages is delicious. We found all of the Ukraine impeccably clean and we could eat in the markets and buy from fruit stalls everywhere. The produce all over the Black Sea is extraordinary in the late summer and we ate extremely well on shore. Best grapes, eggplant, peaches, figs, peppers, and tomatoes ever. Lamb was succulent and perfectly prepared no matter how you ordered it. I'll come to food on board later.

Although Yalta is just a short drive from Sebastopol, Oceania takes you to Sochi first, and they do it slow. That sail can be accomplished overnight and they do it instead in two nights and a day on the way going, and overnight on the way back to Yalta (48 hours total sail time). The eastern Black Sea was fairly aggressive and my husband (and a good number of the passengers) got sick during that sail. The patch was obviously not enough for him and many others.

After the long sail we finally got there. Sochi is beautiful geographically but of absolutely no interest. Furthermore, no one had a Russian visa, so we were obliged to be escorted at all times. The tour options were dismal: a tea plantation or Stalin's Green Grove with a stop at a spa with sulfur springs built during the Soviet era. Would have loved a peek at the amenities of the rather monstrous “spa,” but they wouldn't let us near it. All we saw was the spring. Not at all culturally interesting.

The dacha is one of many Stalin had, contains no original furniture other that a bed and a desk, and I'm sure someone is making it a home when the tourists are gone. There was a very moldy foam kickboard by the indoor pool, for example, of a much later vintage than anything Joe saw. Oceania doesn't give you the option of securing a visa (like they do for St. Petersburg, for example) probably because they know that there is very little to see in Sochi and it's neither worth the money nor the trouble. The port is not worth visiting, at least not with what it currently has to offer and much less to pay for 2 days' sailing to do so.

Yalta is interesting for historical reasons and is also beautiful geographically. It is full of spas (called sanatoria) and very green. Unlike Russia, the Ukraine doesn't impose any restrictions on visitors, at least not if you arrive on a cruise, and you can walk on your own and explore. Much nicer experience.

Then comes crossing the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. Nautica reaches the Bosphorus at 4 pm and enters the Mediterranean at sundown. The views of Istanbul are magical and the coast of Gallipoli impressive. At dawn you are back in a different Turkey: slow-paced, quiet, bucolic. Ephesus, especially the terraced houses, is unforgettable. The museography is as wondrous as the one that holds the Ephesus marbles in Vienna: stainless steel and glass.

Our guide took us to a market in Selcuk that has a lovely antiquities museum; we the had lunch at a simple restaurant that had some of the most wonderful mezze, and different, too. One dish was that inimitable Turkish yoghurt that shines like porcelain and has the consistency of mayonnaise mixed with fresh purslane. Simple, gorgeous, and delicious.

Next was Santorini, with its marvelous blues and whites. The village is no longer, for the locals have sold their homes to store owners, restauranteurs, and hostel/hotel people. The views continue to be magnificent but traditional life is now dedicated to tourism. We had a starter of marinated octopus, for no money at all, that was perfect.

The cruise culminated in Athens. A great way to end the trip. Now, would we cruise again with this company? Most definitely not. We chose Oceania partly because it is less stuffy than other luxury companies in that you don't have to really dress up, but partly also on the reputation of Jacques Pepin. One reason we are displeased is that we felt that those two wasted days at sea to get to Sochi are unforgivable at the prices one pays for a luxury cruise, but the real reason is that the food on board was just awful. Mostly, it tasted like Business Class airplane fare. Of the more than 30 meals we had to have on board, we only had 3 dishes that were delicious: a bouillabaisse and a whole leg of beef done by Chef Henrique Sparrow in Tapas, where, by the way, you could always find a very nicely prepared (although nothing extraordinary) soup, usually (but not always) a good roast, simple crisp mixed veggies (boring but well made) and good salads; and a fettuccine with a duck ragout in Toscana. That's it. We also had honest meals in Waves, where the hamburgers were quite good (don't get the hot dogs) but I can get those for a lot less than what we were paying for food per day on Nautica. In the Grand Dining Room we had one meal and did not go back. I had veal medallions with crab, béchamel sauce and a demiglace that was sweet. It tasted (and looked) like airplane food with the béchamel dry and hard like mashed potatoes. In Toscana (reservations needed and you can only go there once if in a regular stateroom, twice if in a suite) I got a Maine lobster Fra diavolo that had been frozen too long and too late, for it was fishy and stringy. I did not dare eat it. In the steak house, Polo (same difficulty getting in as in Toscana), my prime rib (ordered medium rare) came in grey, no juice, and with a rainbow on the surface because it had been sliced several hours before. The filet mignon was also grey and dry. We cancelled our second reservation there.

The only good thing I have to say about the chefs and cooks is that they are attentive. When we wrote in the mid-cruise evaluation that the lobster was fishy, executive chef Wolfgang Meier called us to apologize. When the prime rib and the filet mignon at Polo's were served and returned, one of the sous chefs appeared and Meier later contacted us to apologize for having overcooked both. When I asked him how come they had fresh broccoli and cauliflower every day at Tapas but in Toscana the vegetables were either canned or frozen, he said that most everything is frozen. It shows. Unbelievable, since we saw and tasted the fantastic produce in markets all over the Black Sea. One cook told us that when he was recruited, he was told that Nautica's restaurants (in spite of all being cooked centrally midway and then finished in the restaurant kitchens), were fast approaching a Michelin one star. Other sous chefs (and some of the cooks) whom I won't mention by name so as not to get them in trouble, once they saw we knew food, told us in no uncertain terms that the food is really touch and go and generally overcooked. Some of them, in fact, would discretely say no with their heads if they saw we were about to order or pick something that was especially bad. Yes, THAT bad. Great people, bad ingredients, worse systems.

Finally, the reason we will never cruise again with Oceania is that, when it comes to technology, they are terribly behind. There are no Movies on Demand on the TVs and, when we went to the front desk to ask for the list of available CD titles to check out, we were told that they had 4 hard copies of the list and they were lost. They could not print out another one because that document was not at the front desk computers. The young woman was a sweetheart, though, (I cannot stress enough the quality of the staff), and said that she could recommend a light movie for us and went and got it. Lufthansa had about 20 digitized movies on Business Class for a 10-hour flight and Oceania had none for a 12-day cruise. But probably as bad as the horrible food was the atrocious Internet access. Dial-up service at 95 cents a minute. It cost 2 to 3 dollars just for the browser to launch! An average session just to check email (not respond to it, God forbid) was about 10 dollars a pop. OK, maybe at sea it might have to be dial-up, but in port? Can't believe it.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: July 2, 2007

We took an East Mediterranean Cruise on the Nautica, one of three Oceania ships. The experience was delightful. Our cruise began July 2, 2007, in Piraeus, the port for Athens, and went to Santorini, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Delos, Mykonos, Thira, Katakolon, Corfu, Dubrovnik and ended in Istanbul. We recommend the ship to any adults who want good food, good company, and good experiences ashore.

We spent several days in Athens first, at the Athenaeum InterContinental. Oceania had a welcome desk there before cruise departure, but you could seldom find the Oceania person and when we finally did, she was unhelpful and gave us inaccurate information. The InterContinental put us in a taxi to the cruise terminal, where we went through a perfunctory and useless security check. From there, Nautica took over and the boarding process was simple and friendly. We were in our stateroom within 15 minutes of leaving the taxi and at the welcoming lunch buffet 10 minutes later. Most of the luggage arrived promptly. The final piece was delayed a couple hours.

We found the stateroom, 4049, well located -- about 35 steps from the reception desk, central stairway, and elevators. The room was

beautiful, in perfect condition, quiet, about average size for a cruise ship, with dark woods, a large window, a comfortable queen-size bed, a small desk and padded stool, small love-seat and a coffee table, and a functional TV that showed movies. Storage space was more than adequate, and suitcases fit under the bed. We had no balcony, and never felt we needed one. The bathroom was on the small side, with adequate storage space but a tiny shower. The hot water was always hot, but the shower is probably the worst feature of the Nautica. An attendant cleaned the room twice daily, did a perfect job, and was seldom seen.

Overall, the ship was beautiful, very well decorated, traditional but not old-fashioned, and superbly maintained. You could hardly find a scuff mark anywhere. The ship carries only 680 passengers, which puts it on the small side these days. We, and everyone we talked to, liked the size, which was big enough but not too big. While cruising, the ship was stable. The swimming pool was small but adequate, with two whirlpools, and the deck area was adequate. There were a variety of places to sit in the sun or lean on the railing. There was a nice library, a good-sized fitness area, a small casino, and two shops. A string quartet frequently played, as did a pianist. The stage entertainment was typical of cruise ships. There were few children on our trip, and there should have been none.

Nautica doesn't encourage children, and these kind of trips aren't suited for them. Food was usually very good, sometimes excellent, and a few times even superb. It would occasionally fall into the "okay" category. The elegant Grand Dining Room operates during specified periods as announced each day in the ship newsletter. You are not assigned a table or an eating time.

There are no formal nights. You dress "country club casual." No tie or jacket is required for men. Some jackets but only a few ties were in evidence. You decide whether to eat with others or not. Service was good. The buffet, at the stern of the ship, has superb views and is called the Terrace Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and Tapas for dinner. On three consecutive evenings, we sat at one of the outdoor tables at the buffet and watched the sun set over the Black Sea, an experience to treasure. Menu selection was varied, and presentation was excellent in both restaurants. Oceania advertises that "legendary chef" Jacques Pepin created some of the dishes on the menu. That seemed overrated to us. Near the pool was a grill, operating from about noon to 4 p.m., where you could get good hamburgers and hotdogs, a few other sandwiches, ice cream, and go through a salad buffet. There are two alternative restaurants, Toscana, featuring Italian; and the Polo Grill, featuring beef. You make reservations, but do not pay extra at them. While fine, they are overhyped. The dining room and buffet were just as good. The Nautica does not scrimp on food. Prime rib was on the menu several nights, a roast sucking pig was served one day, and shrimp prepared in various ways was available almost every day.

We met the captain once at a ship's party. Otherwise, he was not much in evidence. Tours of the bridge, kitchen and engine room were not advertised. A concierge is available during the day. When our room keys acted up, he quickly had the problem fixed. The staff comes from many countries, and most had good command of English and were very friendly.

Shore excursions were as with many ships, terribly overpriced. Details about them, necessary to decide which ones to select, were hard to come by before we boarded. Calls to the 800 Oceania number were answered by dour, unhelpful individuals. For some of the port of calls we decided to prebook private shore excurions through local tour operators before boarding to Nautica.

Athens: We used Spiros from www.athenstaxi.net He is very reasonable -- around 200 euro for up to 4 people for a full day tour.

Rhodes: We used Nick of Rhodes Private Tours nick-ax@rho.forthnet.gr -- We went all over Rhodes and over to Lindos -- great trip.

Kusadasi (Ephesus): We used Ephesus Private Tours. E-mail is ephesustours@yahoo.com web website: http://connect.to/ephesustours -- I found them very courteous, professional, and very quick to respond to my emails. There are many wonderful reviews about this company. They were first class and the guide was very helpful and informative.

Except Mykonos, in the rest of the ports we booked ship's excursions. Among them our favorite port was Santorini! We took the half day tour and still had time to shop and make it back to the ship for a late lunch. Everyone takes either the gondola or the donkeys back down to the tenders! Fun!

In Mykonos, we didn't take a tour because the ship has a shuttle bus to town. We enjoyed the photo opportunities here as well as shopping for music. We heard some complaints from people who paid for tours here, but then there are always some unhappy campers everywhere!

In talking to many of our fellow passengers, we heard nearly-unanimous praise for the Nautica. A surprising number of them had been on Oceania two or three times before, although the company has existed only a few years. One woman, apparently a chronic complainer, said maintenance of her stateroom was lacking, crew were impolite, and food was not "phenomenal." It was difficult to believe her first two claims. As for the food, meals were always enjoyable and delicious; for "phenomenal," you go to gourmet restaurants. Several passengers got on board without their luggage. I suspect that was the fault of airlines. I would strongly advise against arriving in Europe on the same day your cruise ship departs -- too much opportunity for trouble. Service in the Nautica buffet was at times a little slow. The staff should also enforce the dress code. We had a few louts who came to the buffet in sleeveless tee-shirts and baggy shorts, and one who talked loudly on a cell phone.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: August 11, 2006

We just returned from our 28th cruise, on the Oceania Nautica, and my wife says it is her best ever.

We flew to Barcelona a day early to enjoy the city, staying on the Ramblas in Hotel Royal. $159 plus tax and we had a room overlooking the Ramblas on the 4th floor. No noise. And it is a short ride to the pier.

We stayed in a category B2 balcony cabin, number 6077. The next cabin forward was a B1, and more expensive. All the balconies in categories B2, B1 and A1, 2 and 3 (concierge) are the same size. Only the suites on Deck 8 are larger. Balconies are very private. The cabin is typical of balcony cabins, but had no refrigerator. The shower is very small.

Dining Service is exceptional, with 400 staff for 684 guests; they really appear to enjoy their work and provide exceptional service. Dining is open seating in the Dining Room, and at Tapas on the Terrace (the high-end, buffet-style dining); and by reservation in the two specialty restaurants, Toscano and Polo. There is no service charge for the specialty restaurants. There are plenty of tables

for two, and only twice did we have a short (five minute) wait for a table, in the Dining Room. Dinner menus seemed to have a lot of steak and beef, but there was an ample choice of fish, which included sea bass, grilled tuna, corvina, swordfish, salmon, and a wok seafood dish of shrimp, scallops and salmon. Desserts were excellent, including creme brulee in the dining room and specialty restaurants. Tables for two are arranged close enough to others to talk, but far enough to be "separate".

Entertainment The single pool was never crowded and there are plenty of loungers, including double seating lounges, all with cushions and terrycloth covers. The casino is small but adequate. We had not expected much entertainment, but during the 10 days we had three shows by a staff of four singers. We also had a terrific illusionist and two musical/singing performances by a husband-and-wife team...the husband is the orchestra director. There is also a pianist in the piano bar nightly. Dancing was available nightly in a variety of locations, usually the Horizon Lounge on Deck 10 forward where a sextet from the orchestra played until 11 or 12 at night.

There are no live "port talks," just a repeating short TV talk by the cruise director, and there was no port map with the daily newsletter. We didn't learn until until the fourth port thatt for a few hours each port morning, someone near the purser's desk distributed local maps and provided directions and port information. These passengers are, for the most part, 55+ and well traveled. We heard no "griping" on the entire cruise!

Dress While the cruise was advertised as "country club casual," and the brochures showed men in jackets, in fact there were very few jackets and no ties, although women did wear nice dresses in the evening, including some cocktail dresses. The day wear was the same as on any other ship.

Internet service is VERY slow but they do have wireless hotspots all over the ship. The Internet lab had about 24 work stations, and there were two more in the library for use if computer classes were in session.

The ship had good TV options, with CCN, Fox News, BBC, and a number of movie channels. There were no lines on board, for anything, even tenders (except for embarkation check-in, which was done onboard in a lounge). There was absolutely no pushing of tropical drinks and no onboard photographers, at all. Fine!

In Barcelona they allowed me to go back on the pier, purchase wine, sangria, and gin and bring it back to my cabin.

Our itinerary was termed "Art Reigns Supreme," and the ports reflected that. Sailing from Barcelona, we visited Marseilles, Monte Carlo, Civatavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Florence/Pisa, Amalfi, Taormina (Sicily), Valetta (Malta), one day at sea, and an overnight in Athens before debarking. As a smaller ship, we often got choice berths, with the larger ships staying farther from the port.

Sightseeing I think I have now seen all the churches and museums I could stand for a while, but the art was superb, including Gaudi in Barcelona, the Vatican Museum, the Accademia in Florence, St John's in Valetta, and of course the Acropolis, Agora, and Plaka in Athens. Without doing a travelogue, I will add that I did use Bob's Limos and Tours (http://romelimousines.com) in Civitavecchia and Livorno, and we were very pleased with experience - especially with the driver in Livorno/Florence/Pisa, who even took us via the Tuscan countryside at our request. In Athens we used George Taxi and Limo (www.greecetravel.com/taxi), where George's son Dennis picked us up in a limo instead of taxi, as his father, the taxi driver, was on vacation in the islands. He took the time to help me find the house I lived in there from 1972-75, and at our request took us to a local (non-tourist) restaurant for lunch, where we enjoyed salata horiatiki with a giant slab of feta and kalamata olives, tzetziki, moussaka, lamb fricasse, and swordfish kabobs.

The "free air" included was on Lufthansa from Washington Dulles to Barcelona via Frankfurt, and Air France from Athens via Paris to Dulles. Lufthansa was superb, and both offered multiple meals, complimentary wine and cordials. All our baggage made it, leaving a day early, but some passengers whose flights were through London never got their luggage until we arrived in Athens, due to the security scares in London. On the way back, at our connection in Paris, they researched all carry-ons and body-searched every passenger. Having watched the news on Fox and CNN, we had no problem with this, but it meant we didn't try to bring back bottles of olive oil or liquor as we had planned.

Oceania is a bit pricier than the premium lines (HAL, Princess, Celebrity), but the service and ambiance is wonderful.

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Black Sea
Publication Date: July 2, 2006

Travelers may not know about a relatively new line called Oceania Cruises, but they should learn. We took The Black Sea Interlude on the Nautica, one of three Oceania ships. The experience was delightful. Our cruise began July 2, 2006, in Piraeus, the port for Athens, went to Santorini, Kusadasi, Yalta, Sochi, Sevastopol, Odessa, Constanta, Nessebur and ended in Istanbul. We recommend the ship to any adults who want good food, good company, and good experiences ashore.

We spent several days in Athens first, at the Athenaeum InterContinental. Oceania had a welcome desk there before cruise departure, but you could seldom find the Oceania person and when we finally did, she was unhelpful and gave us inaccurate information. The InterContinental put us in a taxi to the cruise terminal, where we went through a perfunctory and useless security check. From there, Nautica took over and the boarding process was simple and friendly. We were in our stateroom within 15 minutes of leaving the taxi and at the welcoming lunch buffet 10 minutes later. Most of the luggage arrived promptly. The final piece was delayed a couple hours.

We found the stateroom, 4049, well located--about

35 steps from the reception desk, central stairway, and elevators. The room was beautiful, in perfect condition, quiet, about average size for a cruise ship, with dark woods, a large window, a comfortable queen-size bed, a small desk and padded stool, small love-seat and a coffee table, and a functional TV that showed movies. Storage space was more than adequate, and suitcases fit under the bed. We had no balcony, and never felt we needed one. The bathroom was on the small side, with adequate storage space but a tiny shower. The hot water was always hot, but the shower is probably the worst feature of the Nautica. An attendant cleaned the room twice daily, did a perfect job, and was seldom seen.

Overall, the ship was beautiful, very well decorated, traditional but not old-fashioned, and superbly maintained. You could hardly find a scuff mark anywhere. The ship carries only 680 passengers, which puts it on the small side these days. We, and everyone we talked to, liked the size, which was big enough but not too big. While cruising, the ship was stable. The swimming pool was small but adequate, with two whirlpools, and the deck area was adequate. There were a variety of places to sit in the sun or lean on the railing. There was a nice library, a good-sized fitness area, a small casino, and two shops. A string quartet frequently played, as did a pianist. The stage entertainment was typical of cruise ships. There were few children on our trip, and there should have been none.

Nautica doesn't encourage children, and these kind of trips aren't suited for them. Food was usually very good, sometimes excellent, and a few times even superb. It would occasionally fall into the "okay" category. The elegant Grand Dining Room operates during specified periods as announced each day in the ship newsletter. You are not assigned a table or an eating time.

There are no formal nights. You dress "country club casual." No tie or jacket is required for men. Some jackets but only a few ties were in evidence. You decide whether to eat with others or not. Service was good. The buffet, at the stern of the ship, has superb views and is called the Terrace Café for breakfast and lunch and Tapas for dinner. On three consecutive evenings, we sat at one of the outdoor tables at the buffet and watched the sun set over the Black Sea, an experience to treasure. Menu selection was varied, and presentation was excellent in both restaurants. Oceania advertises that "legendary chief" Jacques Pepin created some of the dishes on the menu. That seemed overrated to us. Near the pool was a grill, operating from about noon to 4 p.m., where you could get good hamburgers and hotdogs, a few other sandwiches, ice cream, and go through a salad buffet. There are two alternative restaurants, Toscana, featuring Italian, and the Polo Grill, featuring beef. You make reservations, but do not pay extra at them. While fine, they are overhyped. The dining room and buffet were just as good. The Nautica does not scrimp on food. Prime rib was on the menu several nights, a roast sucking pig was served one day, and shrimp prepared in various ways was available almost every day.

We met the captain once at a ship's party. Otherwise, he was not much in evidence. Tours of the bridge, kitchen and engine room were not advertised. A concierge is available during the day. When our room keys acted up, he quickly had the problem fixed. The staff comes from many countries, and most had good command of English and were very friendly.

Shore excursions were adequate, but, as with many ships, terribly overpriced. Details about them, necessary to decide which ones to select, were hard to come by before we boarded. Calls to the 800 Oceania number were answered by dour, unhelpful individuals. Information from excursion leaders on the ship was much better. Guide service ashore was generally good, as was the quality of English spoken. Shuttles to bring you closer to a town center were offered in two ports, and were quite helpful. An official from the local tourist bureau was usually on the ship the morning of a docking.

In talking to many of our fellow passengers, we heard nearly-unanimous praise for the Nautica. A surprising number of them had been on Oceania two or three times before, although the company has existed only a few years. One woman, apparently a chronic complainer, said maintenance of her stateroom was lacking, crew were impolite, and food was not "phenomenal." It was difficult to believe her first two claims. As for the food, meals were always enjoyable and delicious; for "phenomenal," you go to gourmet restaurants. Several passengers got on board without their luggage. I suspect that was the fault of airlines. I would strongly advise against arriving in Europe on the same day your cruise ship departs–too much opportunity for trouble. Service in the Nautica buffet was at times a little slow. The staff should also enforce the dress code. We had a few louts who came to the buffet in sleeve-less t-shirts and baggy shorts, and one who talked loudly on a cell phone.

A few words about our ports. Athens and Istanbul are utterly fascinating. You can easily spend five days in each city. Santorini was crowded but interesting. Kusadasi is a Turkish/European resort, and is close to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, which everyone should see. Yalta was wonderful. We toured the conference hall where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met to discuss the end of WWII. Sochi is a prime Russian vacation area, very interesting, and we got to tour Stalin's Dacha and stand by his desk. Sevastopol and Odessa in the Ukraine are interesting cities where you can just walk around and the soak up the atmosphere. Outside of Sevastopol, we toured the battlefield where The Charge of the Light Brigade took place, with a guide who was clearly enthused about her subject matter. We spent a day in Constanta, Romania, and another day in Nessebur, Bulgaria. Some passengers pooh-poohed those two stops, saying they offered little. Untrue. They offered a real slice of Romanian and Bulgarian life, a highly beneficial experience.

Bottom line on Oceania and the Nautica–get their pamphlets and consider their cruises.

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