Year Started: 2002
Ships in Fleet: 5
Summary: This cruise line features some of the best cuisine and itineraries in the cruise industry, a top pick for value and excellence in style
Regions:Australia/New Zealand, Caribbean, Oceania/South Pacific, Etc.
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Seniors. Luxury Travelers. Foodies.
Regions:Alaska, Caribbean, Eastern Seaboard, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Foodies. Luxury Travelers. Seniors.
The Regatta is a comparatively small ship and has both the pluses and minuses that you would expect. The minuses are the small staterooms (we were in "Concierge" class which is supposedly somewhat of a premium category) with only a small loveseat and no other chair. We took one of the chairs from the very small verandah and brought it inside...crowded but at least a place for two to sit. The other primary minus is the Oceania gouging on prices. They put an outrageious 18% charge on all drinks, soft or hard and their prices are high for even a cruise line. Converting ounces to metric. a .75ml bottle of Jim Beam generates a little over $106 to Oceania, and that is their cheapest bar bourbon.
The pluses are numerous. First, the staff is uniformly great (and worth the $13.50/day/person gratuity). They are from all over the world, primarily eastern Europe. We enjoyed our contacts and they were many because of the "open" seating. The ships decor was warm and very tastefully done. Their library was extensive, most inviting, and was on the honor system...no checking out, just select and take.
Food wasvery good with their "upgrade" restuarants serving excellent specialty dishes...one a "surf and turf" menu and the other Italian oriented. Both menus were large and interesting. The main dining room had fewer of the speciality items but their menu was extensive and very good. Similarly with the "Tapas" buffet for breakfast and lunch, (and dinner if desired) and the Waves poolside grill.
The biggest surprise was the entertainment. My wife and I never thought too much of shows on other cruises but Oceania has been smart enough to hire a smaller numberof truly professional performers. After seeing one show, we made a point of going every night (except for the comedian).
All in all, except for the stateroom size we were very impressed and would consider cruising on Oceania again.
Regattas's a beautiful ship, a bit large for our tastes but not too big. Mostly positive comments about food, service, etc. But watch out for a few negatives, too. Her shore excursion prices ae obscene, her liquor prices are high too. Open seating means you'll never get to really know your waiter and helpers.
Entertainment is second rate, the casino is tiny but okay if losing money is your want. Smokers are lepers, with no smoking on cabin verandas and no where else other than two tiny sections (one outside) far removed from other passengers. The much touted bedding is nice, but not the reason to book. Still, we'd consider another cruise on Ocenaia if the destinations appeal.
Our party of four sailed aboard the June 14 British Isles cruise of the Oceania Insignia. We have each been on at least 10 cruises, including a 2000 trip on the Renaissance R-3.
We had a great cruise. The ship was beautifully outfitted, service was excellent, food was good to excellent; destination services were very poor; cruise staff was excellent with one glaring exception. We chose our own air and ground transportation, as those offered by Oceania were substantially more expensive. We used Krest Transportation (we found them on londontown.com, a really helpful website) from Heathrow to our hotel. At 40 pounds total, it was much cheaper than the Oceania arrangements. After we booked our cruise, Oceania began promoting two free nights in London. We called and they were given to us with no hesitancy. They even included transportation to the ship. The hotel was the Crowne Plaza off Blackfriar's, near Fleet St. -- not a terrific weekend location, but with London's transit system, it's easy to get anywhere. The hotel was very nice for a short stay.
The best I have experienced. We walked off the bus in Dover at about11:30 a.m. and literally walked onto the ship. Leaving was even better. We informed our cabin attendant that we weren't leaving the room until about 8:30 and she replied that it was no problem whatsoever. Again, we literally walked off the ship, found our luggage and were off. We hired Steve Knibbs at airport-transfers.fsnet.co.uk to take us from the ship to Heathrow. It was cheaper and much more comfortable than taking a bus.
For the most part, the ship was beautiful. The public rooms were nicely decorated, especially Martini's Lounge and the piano area, where we spent a significant amount of time. The addition of teak tables, chairs and lounges at the pool and Terrace was a quality touch. The three restaurants were well decorated, especially Toscana, and the library is one of the best I have seen at sea. The cabins were generally fine. Beds were comfortable but the pillows were too soft for my taste. The teak deck on our veranda was a nice touch. I don't remember it on the R-3. Bathrooms are very small, and taking a shower is an interesting experience.
On the downside, the Thalassotherapy Spa and the men's locker room were a mess. The spa water was never above body temperature and even after several guests commented, nothing was done. I was told by one of the spa personnel that the temperature was correct, which is nonsense. Neither of the controls of the two showers in the locker room worked, which seems odd considering the ship just had an expensive reconditioning. Also, the bubble control on one of the two spas on the pool deck did not work, and it took a week for those two spas to get to the correct temperature.
Food and Beverage
Dining room: We only had dinner here, so I cannot comment on breakfast or lunch, but the food was superior to other ships I've been on, except for salad choices, which were very odd. Soups were excellent, as were pasta and risotto choices. Entrees were very well done.
Toscana (Italian alternative dining room): Disappointing. We ate here only once, and all four meals were mundane. I get better pasta at Olive Garden.
Polo (steakhouse alternative dining room): Generally well done. We ate here three times and weren't disappointed, although it would be nice to see selections change during the cruise. It's important to note that there is no extra charge for the alternative dining rooms, but reservations are necessary. The restaurant staff only allows passengers to make two reservations in each restaurant, and as a result, there were several open tables during the second week.
Waves (pool deck): The hot dogs and hamburgers were excellent; fries were so-so, although they were usually hot. They were advertised as hand-cut, but it was obvious they were not from fresh potatoes, but re-formed. We enjoyed being served here instead of forming a queue, as is done on most cruise lines.
Terrace Café: While there were plenty of selections at both breakfast and lunch, the food here was just average. I was surprised there was no area to order custom-made eggs or omelets.
Tapas on the Terrace: Never made it there.
Coffee was excellent, and being able to get espresso in the dining rooms at no charge is a definite plus. A few more hot tea selections would be nice. Juices were well done.
The wine list was only average. It was too dependent on California. We expected more choices from France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa and South America. Beer and distilled spirits selections were very good, although it varied greatly from bar to bar. A few of us are dedicated single-malt scotch drinkers, and it would be nice to have the same selections throughout the ship. I realize that liquor is a profit center, but pricing was a bit high. Wines were often at 3x retail and beer/spirits were too high as well: $8 martinis, and single malt scotches at $7-$10. Not a deal breaker, but pricing could use some refinement. Unlike other cruise lines, Oceania had no problem with passengers bringing liquor on-board for consumption in the stateroom. Corkage fee was $20.
Mae, our cabin attendant, was seldom seen, but our needs were addressed quickly. The cabin was always kept neat, and ice was always in the bucket. We had two minor problems: Our thermostat control was broken, and the connecting door between our cabins was missing a pin. Both were attended to within 48 hours.
Bar/Dining Room/Wine Service
This was absolutely first-rate, the best ever. Suzy, in the Martini Lounge, knew our names and what we were drinking after the second visit. Katy, the chief wine steward, was an old friend from the R-3 and could not have been more helpful. Every waiter, bus person, service person, whatever, always said hello, had a smile, remembered us from other venues. On the second night of the cruise, we had a long wait for dinner in the dining room (60 min.) and after several conversations, the maitre d' finally moved us to a table in the Polo Grille. He made it up to us the rest of the cruise by remembering to seat us with Katy & Gustavo (a GREAT waiter from Argentina) each night we dined there. Kudos to Nickolai and Andrei in the Polo Lounge, Gustavo in the main dining room, and Dan in Martinis Lounge.
Bob Cook is possibly the worst Cruise Director I've ever encountered. He made several mistakes in public gatherings, erred frequently on public messages and gave evasive answers when confronted with simple questions. Sarcasm is an art to be used delicately and is obviously an art he has not mastered. He simply came across as crass. I understand this was his first trip as director, but the job seems beyond his capabilities.
The rest of the staff was wonderful. Larissa, Ryan and the others were friendly, outgoing and handled their duties with ease, grace and fun. Assistant Cruise Director Shani Reay was even better. She is talented, funny, friendly and has a knack for keeping passengers happy.
String Quartet: Talented, capable musicians.
Orchestra: Terrible. They sounded like an oompah band. The vocalist spoke poor English and did not know the words to many songs.
Piano Player: Jerry Blaine is the best pianist I've heard at sea (or maybe anywhere). He is not only talented, but is open, fun and giving -- a great choice.
This was the biggest disappointment, for two reasons. First, many tours are grossly overpriced. I realize these are a profit center, but on several occasions we matched or exceeded the tour offerings on our own, at prices just one-quarter of those available through the ship. Second, the destination staff clearly and purposefully misled passengers on the availability of taxis and bus transportation in several ports. In the two ports where free shuttles were available, passengers were not informed until arriving in the port. In other ports, the cruise line had the temerity to offer roundtrip shuttle service at two different prices, depending on length of stay. Mario, the concierge, gave us correct information and made attempts to at least mitigate the lack of preparation of the destinations staff.
Ports of Call
The ship visited Edinburgh; Peterhead; Invergordon; Lerwick in the Shetland Islands; Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands; Dublin; Waterford; Holyhead in Wales; and Falmouth in Cornwall. Since we took no ship tours, I won't comment on the stops, except to say that by hiring a taxi or using the bus system we met more locals, had better tours and saved a considerable amount of money.
The cruise line adds $10.50 per person, per day, to your bill. Frankly, the staff deserved every bit of that amount. Anyone not wishing to pay that amount can have it lowered.
Oceania is a very good cruise line, but there are definitely some areas that need improvement. Based on conversations we had with many passengers, their feelings were similar to ours. Would we travel on Oceania again? Probably, because we really like the size of the ships and they tend to offer interesting itineraries. But their price point is significantly higher than Celebrity, Princess, et al. While service and comfort are extraordinary, the high tour and alcohol pricing somewhat degrades the value proposition. A little giveback in these areas would help.
This is a superb experience. Read the extensive Cruise Review on sister ship Regatta elsewhere on this website. All of it applies equally to Insignia.
The cuisine, especially at Tapas on the Terrace, is excellent. The service everywhere is friendly and hard working. If you want a 600 passenger ship with no glitz--just good service and food--plus some entertainment this is the place. Did I mention the mattresses, pillows and terry robes in the cabins?
Downside: Overpriced tours and wine. Example: Secrets of the Vatican at $1,000 a couple.
Would we go on the Insignia again? We are checking its itinerary (and Regatta's) already.
The March 3, 2004 sailing of the Regatta started with the easiest check-in/boarding process we have ever experienced.....we have sailed on Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and several others and this was the best ever....we left our luggage at the curb, walked up the stairs to check-in (which took less than 5 minutes) and were ushered to our cabin.
The cabin was above average....my wife and I generally prefer an inside cabin (so we can nap) and this cabin was perfectly located. Everything on the ship was easily accessable. Cabin service was outstanding...a simple call on the phone brought service within minutes. The bed was all that was claimed...fine linens, a nice cover, and perfect firmness in the mattress. Even the linens were great.
The four open seating restaurants were all supurb...The Grand Dining Room provided typical menus....but served with great style. Appetizers were particularily good with Escargot and pate's available at most every meal...The Toscana Restaurant (supposedly Italian, but more continental) served terriffic lamb and great pasta. The Polo restaurant was more the surf and turf variety....the lobster and filet were always perfect. Breakfast and Lunch in the buffet offered a wide choice....custom omlets to simplecontinental fare. Service in all of the restaurants was flawless.
A word about the crew.....49 countries were represented and everyone we came in contact was very courteous and friendly....the best crew we have encountered in more than 20 sailings. Most crew members were Eastern European and all seemed genuinely interested in making sure the passengers enjoyed their trip.
The ship itself was beautiful. It gave you the feeling of an old English residence or tavern. Entertainment in the showroom was good, but the piano player in the Martini's Bar was supurb...My wife and I spent most evenings listening to him..The small casino seemed adequate, since no one had to wait to play the slots or any of the tables.
Shore excursions were adequate, although a couple were cancelled for lack of interest...others were substituted. Prices were reasonable, although my wife and I often hire a local cab or van for our own excursion. Islands visited included Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St. Barths, Antigua, Dominica, La Romana (Dominican Republic), St. Kitts and Nevis. The only small flaw was the dual stop in St. Kitts and Nevis....there really wasn't enough time in either island.
Simply put...this was the best cruise we've taken, the best food, the best service, and a great value...we will sail with Oceana again, and often.
We were on the "Caribbean Hideaways" 12-night cruise of Oceania's Regatta last week. Here are our thoughts:
We are a married couple, in our 50s, and this was our tenth cruise. Previously, all our cruises have been on "mainstream" lines such as Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity. This was our first "upscale" line to try.
Embarkation was smooth and quick; we were on in a flash, and escorted to our stateroom by a smiling white-gloved attendant. Our cabin was a Category B balcony, and it was pretty much the same as the other cruises we've been on, except that there are very high quality sheets, a down comforter, and six down pillows on the bed, making for a very relaxing sleep experience. The room had no refrigerator, and, as we like to have a drink on our balcony from time to time, we brought a soft-sided collapsible cooler that our stewardess kept filled with ice daily. We brought our own wine and vodka and kept these iced down.
The public areas of the ship are gorgeous. I am an interior decorator, and very critical in this area, and I was blownaway! The oriental rugs, elaborate draperies, fine furniture, and dark wood paneling evoke a luxurious "Ritz Carlton" feeling.
There are four restaurants, with open seating in each. They are all very good quality. I would rate the food an A-; it was the best we've had at sea, but not better than the best restaurants on land. The French pastries were to die for!
There was a lack of entertainment options, in our opinion. At night there is only one show -- at 9:45 -- and while they were good, they were not to everyone's taste. If you did not go to the show, there was little else to do at night. The dancing options were limited to before dinner, and then after 11 p.m., and in 12 nights they only had dancing for the "younger set" (under 60) twice. Otherwise it was the fox trot, waltz, and rumba. The pool deck was also pretty quiet -- no parties or reggae bands, just relaxation.
Mike took some computer lessons during the day, and I mainly was out by the pool during sea days.
One thing we really liked is that the size of the ship offered numerous opportunities to meet new friends, as you kept running into the same people. And we were part of an Internet group that had met before going (Yahoo Oceania board) and were given a very nice cocktail party to get the cruise started off right.
The service was excellent in the cabin, but a little lacking in the dining venues. I guess we were expecting better due to Oceania's claim that they "cater to your every whim." I would say we've had better service several times in the past on less expensive lines.
Would we sail Oceania again? Probably in Europe, where it's all about the ports -- then we could go, go, go during the day seeing all the sights, come back, shower, change, eat a nice meal, and crash in a good bed. In the Caribbean, I would go back to Celebrity or Princess, which have lots more fun activities, good food, better service, and cost way less money.
This was my first Oceania Cruise. We went with a group of eight from Venice to Barcelona for 14 days. We arranged our own pre-package in Venice that was very nice and affordable and easy to do with the water taxi from the airport that met us. The hotel provided another taxi to the pier for a cost but the overall expenditures for two were significantly cheaper from the cruise pre-package offer.
Embarkation was easy but we had the Concierge class. This was not worth the extra dollars except for the early boarding and the chance for two nights at the specialty restaurants vs.. one. That is the only value. We got only two items pressed on arrival and they advertise as concierge class- complimentary pressing on arrival- read the very small print.
I loved the small ship and it was great for Europe where you are very busy and tired on port days but I know on a trip with more days at sea I would have been bored with the lack of activates both day and nights. In the casino many of the slot machines were broken for most ofthe trip.
Ports of Call: We arranged for our own driver in the big cities such as Rome, Florence, and the French Riviera.It was half the price offered from the ship. Other ports we did on our own when we arrived and it turned out great. Most are very walkable and easy to get taxies or boats to the islands and between small cities. We took the ferry between Amlfia coast and Positono and it was very affordable and allowed us time enough to experience both. In Corfu we rented on the spot two taxis who took us all over the island for about $30 per person and we saw the other side of the island, had lunch out and visited the old town. It was Sunday with many closed stores so that was a good use of our time there. It was easy to do it. I was disappointed in the change in 2 ports and we missed Portofino and docked in Genoa and the ship made no effort to accommodate the clients for transportation with the change. I have heard that this is a common Oceania complaint.In addition many of the other clients who did the Oceania shore excursions were very disappointed and felt they were not worth the money or time. We found that even in Rome and Florence many of the experienced travelers took the train in on their own and did just fine
The Service and staff were the best I have ever had but the food was no better than a Princess or Celebrity. The specialty restaurants were ok but did not change the menu from one night to the next and I enjoyed the venue more than the food. I loved the Tapas restaurant and the Terrace for breakfast- great choices and always very fresh with great service.
The entertainment was geared toward those over 70 and this was a very young 40-60 crowd who walked out many shows. We knew in advance though that the entertainment was not what Oceania was all about.
All in all a good experience and I would do Oceania again for Europe of South America but would not spend the money for the Caribbean or Mexico cruises.
Barcelona to Venice - 14 days
Well, here I sit at 3:00 in the morning after returning from the above cruise. This is what I usually do after a trip abroad - either write a few thoughts or manage digital pictures AND try to shake off the jet lag in the process.
Usually I write a full review but I think I'll just go through a few subjects about Oceania and the cruise.
First of all this was a very enjoyable cruise - how can most of them not be?
Embarkation can either be smooth or not. We were literally the first passengers to arrive at the terminal in Barcelona at around 9:30a.m. We had 2 days in Barcelona and were able to see as much as we wanted there and then were anxious to begin our experience aboard Regatta so we checked out of our hotel and arrived early. Speaking of the Barcelona hotel, make your own reservations as opposed to booking something through the cruise line. We spoke to many passengers who had paid DEARLY for the precruise package and their accodmmodations weren't much better than ours. Speaking of ours, whenwe finally arrived at our 3-star booked hotel, the Europark, they were overbooked. This initially sounded horrible after having just arrived from a 24-hour ordeal from the west coast, but since they were overbooked, the hotel clerk informed us that there was a 4-star hotel just up the street they would book us into at no extra charge and they'd also throw in comped breakfast for everyone and also the extra cab ride to get us over to our new hotel, the Nunez Urgell. By European standards, they were nice accommodations and the comped breakfast was fantastic. If you can't deal with your own taxi transportation to the pier, then book your hotel with Oceania, but I highly recommend doing what we did!!!
Back to embarkation, once we arrived at the terminal, obviously the ship wasn't ready for us yet, and if you had a "concierge level" booking you were free to board from 11:00 a.m. on. All others had to wait till 1:00 p.m. This really was annoying for the bulk of the passengers as everyone seems to be getting on from 11:00 but they had to wait till 1:00. Not a great way to start a vacation. This seems to be the running comment in these reviews. I think they should just let you board if you're there ready to board. They can make up the extra frills for those paying for them once they're starting the cruise. I mean there were a few people literally yelling at Bruno, the concierge, who was also doubling as the 'greeter' in the terminal.
Also one VERY ANNOYING thing was if you weren't concierge level or an Owner's suite occupant, you got a letter presented to you at embarkation that told you you could ONLY have one sitting at Polo Grill and one sitting at Toscana for the duration of the cruise. The letter the 'concierge level' got was TWO sittings at each, and the letter that the suite residents got was UNLIMITED sittings at the specialty restaurants. If I'm not mistaken, when perusing the brochure before I booked the cruise, I could have sworn that two sittings were standard for EVERYONE so that everyone could have an opportunity to eat there. Well, at 1:00 p.m., naturally you have to make the dash up to the restaurants to secure your sitting in the 2 specialty restaurants since everyone who got on starting at 11 was able to make theirs. So I made one reservation in each for our party of four and midway through the cruise, I demanded another sitting in Toscana. It was like pulling teeth, but I was successful. You just have to know what you want and you have to ask for it. We didn't bother dining again in Polo Grill as it wasn't that much better than the Dining Room, but Toscana had OUTSTANDING food.
Generally, the crew is outstanding. A few names and positions are worth mentioning here. Bruno Haag, the concierge, is outstandingly attentive. He is very patient - especially at embarkation (see above) - and will get you anything you need. We needed a cab called to the ship to take us to the Vaporetto station in Venice for a sunset cruise up the Grand Canal and he came through wonderfully. There were a few other things we required throughout the cruise and he was always very friendly and efficient and you can get whatever you want done and done right. The dining management is fantastic. Actually most of the dining staff and some other crew are frighteningly psychic, too. It's almost as if there are microphones/cameras in the staterooms and public areas. They seem to know exactly what you need when you need it. Names worth mentioning: Anatoly, Terrace Café manager; Andreas, Grand Dining Room maitre'd (On the morning we docked in Civittavechia (Rome), obviously there were hundreds of passengers on excursions and we failed to receive our preordered continental breakfast in our stateroom before heading out on our own tour; Upon our return to the ship that day, Andreas had realized the oversight and provided a bottle of Chianti for us to enjoy with our dinner - very nice touch!!!); Florin, Grand Dining Room waiter (why this gentleman isn't a maitre'd is beyond me. I've never come across a waiter so attentive and pleasant on any cruise in my life, and I've cruised about 12 times or so.) Florin serves table no. 27 (a well-placed table for 4 not too far from the windows; highly suggested) in the GDR and we always requested his table and only once did we not get seated in his area. The service that one night - while good - was not as good as at his table - once again, worth mentioning. I've read reviews from others complaining about having to wait for a table for the GDR. Only once did we have to wait and that was because we wanted a certain table. Other than that, we never waited more than a minute to be seated in the GDR.
This is a little difficult to review. Having not sailed with Oceania but with Princess several times, Norwegian a couple times, RC a few times, and a couple of defunct lines many years ago, I wasn't sure what to expect. The food is good - don't get me wrong - and one of the nice things about Oceania is that they don't 'overfeed' you in the dining room like Princess used to do. The food portions are adequate and there's a big 'fancy' variety on the plates, but, some nights in the Dining Room just seemed boring is the best way to describe it, while other nights were outstanding. Also, a nice place to eat is the Tapas on the Terrace if you don't want to go through a complete 4- or 5-course meal and want to be a bit more casual. Lots of tasty seafood and neat stuff up there. The Polo Grill was so-so and Toscana had an excellent menu and great food. The service was GREAT in Toscana on the first night we dined there but was noticeably not as good the second night in there. Continental Breakfast in-cabin was typical and always served promptly - other than the Rome hiccup. Room service had an extensive menu and came in handy one night while in Sorrento late. We hadn't eaten since a lunch we had out on a tour and wanted to see Sorrento at night so we came back at around 10pm and had a great couple of dishes delivered to our stateroom. It's kind of nice not to see the waste of those silly midnight buffets anymore. Needless to say, after 14 days of eating like this, it's time to give the body a break!!
One more thing about food/drink. The $20.00 corkage fee for bringing in your own wine is absolutely CRIMINAL. I think $10.00 should be tops ($5.00 for that matter) to open a bottle of wine. The wine steward Nikolay, while a nice man, will try to snooker you into higher priced wines. Be wary of this and shut him down early in the cruise or you will have to take out a second mortgage to pay your bar bill. And he pours the wine briskly throughout dinner so before you know it, you've gone through 2 or 3 bottles real quickly. When we want our own wine, we pour it in our room in a glass and bring it to dinner. Call it cheap or whatever you want, but this stuff adds up in a 14-day cruise. We went to both wine tastings throughout the cruise and got to taste some fine wines at a reasonable price. Some people had final bills stuck in their doors that looked like thick novels on the last day of the cruise.
My wife and I traveled with her parents on this cruise mainly to see Italy where my mother-in-law's family is from originally and her dad's family is also from Slovenia so the Dubrovnik port was also a highlight. We pretty much saw most of what there is to see in Italy on this cruise and had a few nice private shore excursions with Claudio Caponera (http://www.limoinrome.com) in both Florence and Rome and also Salvatore Lucibello (firstname.lastname@example.org). Excellent tours!! Since Claudio was already booked by another family for Rome, he provided Carlo, his associate - just as good if not better qualified (and easier to understand; sorry Claudio) as Claudio to show us Roma. Excellent tours and I highly recommend them in these bigger and more popular cities. It's the ONLY way to see everything. People say you can't see Rome in a day; we saw everything we wanted to see in Rome in one day - and more. I also highly recommend adding the Vatican Museum to your Rome tour. We talked to some people who had booked the Florence/Pisa tour off the ship and all they saw of Pisa was the tower as it went by the window. They couldn't even get out of the bus!!! Claudio dropped us off in Pisa and we could walk around for a half hour (all you need) and take that classic fixing-the-tower's-lean picture that is so overdone.
Salvatore took us not only to Pompeii, Naples and along the Amalfi Drive, but he also took us to my mother-in-law's fathers birthplace of Caserta just outside of Naples and was the perfect gentleman and waited for us to have lunch at a family-run restaurant frequented by the locals. It was great not to have any other tourists in town for this excursion and some great homemade pasta for lunch. Amalfi was a big disappointment to some passengers who were planning on this port in the itinerary. The captain decided to go to Naples instead of tendering in Amalfi the day after Sorrento. Naples isn't the jewel city of Italy, believe me, but it turned out great for us because we could just walk right over to the ticket office in Naples and we picked up ferry tickets to the island of Capri. We wouldn't have been able to do this had we tendered in Amalfi as we used up the entire day in Sorrento on a private tour. However, this changing of itineraries promotes absolutely ZERO goodwill on the part of Oceania. Many people planned this cruise BECAUSE of some of these ports and many were disappointed. The reason given was because of wind over at Amalfi and tender safety. However, friends of ours who went on Salvatore's tour the next day from Naples confirmed the fact that there was absolutely NO wind over there that day, but another cruise ship tendering instead.
This concerns me for my future cruise plans with Oceania. I mean can they really be trusted with not changing future itineraries on the fly like that?
Anyway, we can't complain too much about the weather, though. Our cruise experienced almost 100% perfect weather and the only time it rained was in the morning in Corfu. Other than that, there was absolutely no weather except great weather.
Not much to say here. Like mentioned previously, we had 3 private tours and 5 off-ship tours. The off-ship tours were adequate as we didn't do most of the full-day ones. I don't like sitting in a bus for most of the day and we like to use half the port stay for an excursion and the other half to explore on our own. I would have liked to have more knowledgeable information for some of the ports. The so-called expert information guides that board the ship in the ports in the morning were mostly clueless when you asked them a question. In Venice for example, a little more explanation would have been nice on how to best use the Vaporettos for getting around the city. I mean once you figure them out, it's a snap, but it would have saved some time. Also in Venice they didn't dock where they promised they would dock so it cost more to get to Piazza San Marco than it normally would have. They claimed that the dock was damaged, but it looked like a vessel was docked alongside San Basilio anyway as we passed it to head to the Stazione Maritima.
Anyway, time to get back to bed to bank that long-lost sleep from yesterday. Enjoy your cruises..
My husband and I, together with several other couples and single friends, were privileged to be on the March 15th sailing of the Insignia from Barbados to Barcelona. Much of what we had read in previous reviews was borne out on what has to go down as one of our top three of about 25 cruises. And, several of the earlier criticisms seem to have been rectified. We took only about three tours, prefering to explore on our own in the other ports. Those tours seemed to be fairly priced and we did, indeed, get good value for the cost.
Also, although there was some strong criticism of the cruise director on a 2004 sailing, I have to say that Shani Reay, the cruise director during our cruise, has to be one of the best ever. She was everywhere and we constantly wondered when she slept. She was a talented entertainer as well, but she took the cruise experience of her passengers very seriously. The captain, the cruise director, the assistant cruise director -- in fact, all of the staff that provided services for us, were just outstanding.
We will definitely sailon Oceania again as we like the smaller ships and love their itineraries.
On March 15, 2004 my husband and I took the 14 day transatlantic cruise from Miami to Lisbon. This was our first cruise on Oceania Cruises and I was quite pleased with the most elegant appearance of this ship (Regatta). The public areas reminded me very much of a 5 star hotel. The ample draperies and golden sconces that adorned the windows and walls reminded me of a bygone era of true ocean liners.
Every area of the ship was impeccably clean and polished. Our cabin attendant was excellent and very pleasant. She went above and beyond her normal duties to please us and we tipped her extra. The down comforter was so comfy that we looked forward to going to bed! The Egyptian cotton towels were very absorbent and large. There were robes and slippers available in every cabin on board...not just the higher end categories.
The food on this ship in every venue was truly the best on the seas! It was well seasoned and presented in a very attractive manner. We have taken 36 cruises so we have had an enormous experience in this category! Some of the passengersreally complained about the service in the dining room, but we could see that the problem was not with the wait staff but with the Maitre'd. He would not completely fill a section of the restaurant. That made the wait staff start a new couple with an appetizer when there were people waiting for their deserts. There are two alternative restaurants, Toscana and the Polo Grill. We celebrated my birthday in the Toscana restaurant. The food, the service and the ambiance were truly superb. The Polo Grill was nice, too, but we went back to Toscana 3 nights!
We knew that the entertainment would not be the Las Vegas type production shows which are on the mega ships. But we did not miss it. We had a wonderful female vocalist, Holly Lipton, who sang to a packed crowd. Nana Mukhadze, a beautiful young woman with extraordinary pianist talents was welcomed very enthusiastically. We had the pleasure of the comic talents of Vic Arnell. And, one night we were entertained by Broadway singing sensation, John Paul Almon. The showroom was beautifully decorated with brocaded fabric chairs and the tables were appointed with small night club type lamps.
The guest cultural enrichment lecturer was Vice Admiral William J. Hancock. Since his retirement, Vice Admiral Hancock has been an independent consultant specializing in Defense Logistics and Defense Transformation. His talk was titled "Transformation in the Defense Department - The Rumsfeld Revolution". The lounge was filled everyday that he spoke, a real tribute to his interesting and thought provoking talks.
Bingo, Trivia quiz and the spa were very popular activities during the day. Since we had lots of sea days, we had an opportunity to visit the very well equipped gym and spa. Plenty of treadmills, bicycles, free weights and resistance machines were available. When you checked into the spa, you were given a key to your locker and after your shower you could wear the locker robe and slippers back to your room. The products in the spa were way over priced as they are on most ships but the facial I received was very professional and relaxing.