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.
ENJOYED THE OCEANIA CRUISE(S), BUT NOW READY TO TRY
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
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
As previous Oceania cruisers, my wife and I looked forward to our 10 day, Barcelona to Rome cruise on the new Marina. We can confirm the glowing reports that have been circulating about the vessel. However two negative comments need to be made. The designers of the ship (and their publicity folks) stress the benefits of each stateroom having a tub and a separate shower. To make room for that tub, the triangular shower is very small. A normal person cannot comfortably turn around without bumping into the walls, much less bend over to retrieve an errant piece of soap. What a poor design. Not one of the passengers that I spoke with even considered using the tub. A major design mistake. Secondly, when the wifi is used in the cabins, the reception is very bad. There are frequent drops. The on-board computer guru admitted that only the computer lab offers decent connectivity. Not designing the proper wifi connectivity on a brand new ship is extremely poor planning. While the dining venues on the Marina are very good, everything should be top rated for a cruise of this price.
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 hasdefinately been the first and last time that I will set a foot on a ship of Oceania.
PS . the food was excellecent,the staff was friendly and the management condescend, arrogant and definately not customer satisfaction oriented.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in a nursing home, Oceania is the cruise line for you. Based on our prior experience with Oceania, we booked our third cruise with them. Unfortunately, the low Oceania ratings on the internet are highly accurate now that Norwegian cruise line took over. Definitely no longer a luxury cruise line.
Pre-cruise communications with Oceania:
We were told by Oceania customer service that breakfast was NOT included in our two night Cape Town pre-cruise hotel stay for $1336, but of course once at the Victoria and Alfred hotel we found that it is always included. The same room was available on line for $900 less and always included breakfast, but we stupidly chose to use Oceania’s pricey pre-cruise hotel expecting to have excellent Oceania customer service. The onsite representative was very cordial and friendly. We did expect the onsite Oceania representative to help us with the ship location (no-he could not get an answer from Oceania), our lost luggage (no-Oceania told him he was not to get involved even though we did not have a local phone), where the ship will beat debarkation (no- Oceania told him they did not know), timing for going to the ship for embarkation(not available until the night before), tours for the day we disembarked the ship –(no, none available), when will we clear customs, (no- not known), will taxis be available (Oceania told us no, but there were lots of them), restaurant suggestions (no-use the hotel concierge instead) etc. Unfortunately, Oceania had not informed the rep of any of the information we were requesting so we figured it out on our own. The V&A hotel was nice but definitely not in the same class as the Table Bay Hotel nearby. We stayed at Table Bay Hotel recently when we toured with Lion World Travel and it is a wonderful experience!
On Board Activities:
Many of the passengers on Nautica were very OLD and immobile, even to the point of not being able to carry their buffet plates! To put the typical day into perspective, sadly the highlight of each day was afternoon tea with chamber music right after bingo-bridge,etc. LOL %uF04A I think we expected a much more active cruise. There was not even one port lecture offered during the entire cruise! Activities and entertainment was pretty much non-existent. We don’t do trivia, bridge or pinochle, etc. No port lectures or maps were offered in advance or information on how to get from the ship to the towns. DVD’s were offered (I watched 14 movies) and books were available in the library (I read 3 books).
We had a nice cabin and attentive attendant. With concierge level we were supposed to be able to request Bulgari personal care products, but our cabin attendant said they were out of some of them. Water, ice and soft drinks were replenished frequently. We are thrilled that we had category A veranda and definitely used it a lot except for when the ship had rough seas around the Cape Hope
Enrichment lectures: No port lectures were offered, but there were two guest speakers for the 15 days. One white South African man was knowledgeable about apartheid but the presentation was very sanitized and did not really address how the blacks and colored were REALLY impacted with no real schooling or opportunity for jobs. It reminded me of how after WWII ended there were NO Nazi’s in Germany and the people said they did not know about the concentration camps. In S. Africa the blacks and colored (yes, that is the politically correct term) had over two generations where the children were not taught Science or Math, and most were not even taught how to read. The lecturer on ship showed a photo of the ballot when Mandela was elected and since so few could read there was a box next to Mandela’s picture to check. I think it would have been really interesting to hear firsthand from those who actually experienced apartheid from the other non-white side. On the way back to the airport, our “colored” taxi driver described growing up in District 6 and during apartheid 60,000 people (including him and his family) were forcibly removed from their homes so white people could build on the land. They were relocated in shanties about 20 miles from town with no way to get to their jobs. We did go to the District 6 museum and it is heart wrenching to think this happened in the 70’s and 80’s!
The other speaker was an ancient forensic pathologist (or scientist) from Great Britain who droned on and on about his career back many years ago. Extremely boring, definitely not like “Ducky” from CSI. %uF04A Not sure what his speech had to do with South Africa or Namibia?
David and Kim were both ineffective at helping people with choices of tours. When I asked questions at the destinations desk, I was told they did not know because none of them had been to the ports before. They answered that neither had been to the ports so how would they know where the ship would dock, how to get to the towns, shuttles and schedules, etc? (Guess they don’t know how to use the Internet). Plus neither was helpful in directing people to the appropriate tour buses/vehicles. At one stop I stopped by to see if there was a map or schedule (not expecting one of course) and was told by Kim that the local Rep would come on board later, after we left on our tour. When I walked away I noticed that the local rep was already set up across the lobby! I got the information I needed and went across the room to tell Kim to look across the room at the Rep so she could direct others.
The very overpriced tours were just huge busses of people going from one toilet stop to another and “viewing” the sights from the bus window. Besides some being canceled, a few tours were even cut short and no alternatives given. Oh well, DH says Oceania should rename themselves “Norwegian Cruise line small ship”. Shuttle buses were intermittent at times, and we were told not to necessarily trust them or the schedule and that taxis were not trustworthy. When Oceania canceled a tour they refunded only $100 pp since they said it was “free” as part of our booking package (the published tour price was double that) but when we re-booked another tour for the same day they charged us full tour price. I said that was unfair and “bait and switch” but they would not budge. So then I decided to just cancel another expensive tour at the end of the cruise and was told it was not permitted because we booked our tours prior to getting on the ship. So policy is THEY can screw with the clients and do whatever, but the clients are not allowed to make any changes. In fact, I met a couple who had been on over 10 Oceania cruises and they wanted to cancel a 7 ½ hour tour because the tour time was changed to late afternoon (for sightseeing!). He told Kim at the Destinations/tour desk his health reasons for needing to cancel but she would only do it for him if I bought his tickets, which I did since most of the open excursions were already booked and we were pretty bored. So Kim checked with her “management” (ya, right!) and they refunded him the discounted price he had paid, but when she sold me his tickets, she charged me the full price! And this was after they canceled the tour we were supposed to be on. It ended up being a rushed, shortened, horrible tour in the dark.
Animal Safaris: Save your money, and go to San Diego Zoo Safari Park, or almost any USA zoo for that matter. Most of the South African “safaris” offered by Oceania were actually penned animals in zoos that were caged and fed. It made it easy to find the animals! We have been on several amazing safaris through Kenya, Tanzania, Kruger, etc. where the animals actually are free roaming and fend for themselves. Lion World offers excellent, authentic safaris.
The village visits were reconstructed buildings for movies and tourists but were interesting. They gave a colorful flavor for what the local culture was like in the past. We especially liked the historical account of the King Shaka Zulu, and also the Xhosa group where Nelson Mandela was born and raised in a more prosperous family and attended law school, which was very unusual for a non-white.
A highlight, Sundowners on Signal Hill was a wonderful end to the 15 day cruise. Sunflower Catering took care of the excellent appetizers, sushi, and drinks. Very classy end to our cruise.
Oceania pulled the bait and switch with our cabin choice. We booked the cruise seven months in advance. Oceania did not inform us before we left for Rome that they had overbooked the cruise. After we had traveled to Europe from Texas, we found out that Oceania was not going to honor our cabin assignment, and was downgrading us to a cabin almost half the size. Once we arrived in the port city it was time to start negotiating for the cabin we had paid for by credit card months in advance. The fact that Oceania charges your credit card months in advance does not mean your cabin assignment is a guarantee. This is their policy and they do not apologize for the inconvenience. We threatened and negotiated to keep the cabin we had already paid for. It was too stressful to fight and negotiate for a cabin assignment to ever consider booking another cruise with Oceania. Gregory L Howard,MD Michelle Howard,MD Houston, Texas
I just returned from a seven day trip on the Riviera under Captain Mario Sanguineti that I was only able to be on ship for three of the seven days.
My story begins last Saturday the 12th. I was traveling from Kansas City to Miami with my wife, two girls (11 and 15 years old) and we were meeting my oldest daughter who is a dancer on the ship since October. It was going to be a family reunion and a chance to see my daughter perform on stage.
After a cancelled flight on Saturday in KC, we were re- routed to Chicago for a Sunday morning flight to Miami. After a series of mishaps with the airlines, my two daughters and wife left on a flight to Miami and arrived in time to board the Riviera; I was not so lucky! A mechanical failure and then a later flight caused me to arrive in Miami at 5:30 pm on Sunday and it was clear I could not make this ship. All of this is NOT the fault of the company.
I called Oceania Cruises’ 800 phone number and explained mysituation to a gentleman who then said that someone would be calling me to help. About 30 minutes later I spoke to a woman who I explained my situation to. I advised her that I would fly to Key West and meet the ship the next day. She said she would email the captain and let him know that I would meet the next day and that someone from her office would call me. I never received a phone call back.
I arrived at the ship at 7:30 AM and was greeted by a security guard on shore and he stated, “We have been expecting you”. I was greeted around 8 AM by one of the ship’s staff and he stated that they were working on my situation. I then sat at security and was eventually greeted by my family from the ship. Soon after, the representative from the ship said we would work this out because we were “family” since my daughter worked on the ship. Around 8:30 AM another officer from the ship greeted me and told me that the Captain would not allow me to board because of the Jones Act. I asked to have the Act explained to me and they, (both representatives from the ship), said I had two choice: board now and get off in Cozumel or fly to Honduras and meet the ship on Wednesday (2 days later!). Then, the two representatives, who were standing right next to each other, were now having a difference of opinion. One was saying I could board now and the other was saying I had to go to Honduras. Two people, standing right next to each other form the same ship had 2 separate opinions! I said I would choose to board in Key West. I was then asked to wait while they went back to the ship to talk with the Captain.
After waiting about a total of three hours, I was told that I could not board in Key West now because the Captain, for some reason, would not allow it. I asked for an explanation and was not given one and then asked to speak directly with the Captain; I was denied that request.
I had a small suit bag that I had brought with me that I wanted to give to my wife so she could store it on the ship for me. I also needed a fresh set of clothes that my wife had in my suite case located on the ship since I had been in the same clothes since Saturday night. I sat for about another hour at security to get my bag scanned and put on the ship; for some reason nobody was in any hurry to help the situation. Since I had time to kill while waiting on my bag situation, I called my attorney to see his position who then informed me to contact a Maritime attorney who was located in Key West. In speaking with a local attorney, he said he had never heard of anyone being treated like this and his research came to the conclusion that a $200 penalty (fee) would have to be paid by me and I would be allowed to enter the ship. He also was informed by a retired Captain from another cruise line; he was actually the Captain of Captains of this other cruise line and he also had never heard of anyone being denied access to a ship after they had missed the cruise in Miami. Thirdly, I spoke with the security company on the dock and they stated on numerous occasions that other cruise ships had similar situations of people missing a ship in Miami and they were allowed to board in Key West. Can you tell me why I was singled out and denied access?
Now, here is where I was completely screwed by the company!! I left Key West around 5 PM and had to drive to Miami to catch a flight to the capital city of Honduras (rated the 2nd most dangerous airport in the world). So after driving for three hours, I got a hotel and spent the night at the airport in Miami. I flew to Honduras on Tuesday and then had to hire a driver and drive nine hours to the port city in Trujillo to meet the ship which also brought a number of other events that I won’t mention at this point.
I arrived at the security check point at the port at 6:30 AM and was greeted by more news; they were not expecting me and I had to wait out in the heat until I was finally allowed to board the ship at 12:30 on Wednesday.
Can anyone from the company explain to me why I was treated this way and ruined the trip for not only myself but also my family?
BTW, I was greeted aboard the ship by a number of the guests whom I had never met who expressed their frustration at the ship and also apologized to me for having to go through this ordeal; I was never apologized to by any of the crew members! I actually confronted the captain on the final night of the cruise and asked him to explain his position; he just said I needed to contact customer service. For a cruise ship company who prides itself on being a “family” I must have been the stepchild that nobody wanted around. Is this how how they run their business????
I sent this letter to President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio and have not received a response.
My wife and I recent sailed on the Regatta from Miami to Lima. It was not our first cruise but our first on Oceania and our most enjoyable. The food was outstanding, the service impeccable, and fellow travelers congenial. I must single out the cruise director, Ray Michaels, for his charisma and outstanding communication skills. The super bowl show was real fun and the religious services conducted by Mr. Michaels was stirring. I would also like to comment on the excellent sound system in the Regatta Lounge. I have difficulty hearing and certainly appreciated the outstanding sound system. I would have rated this a "5" except for the stingy drinks and warm glasses. A small but important issue.
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.
Summary: At a time when many cruise lines are cutting back on the overall quality of their products and service as a result of the low yields generated by aggressive pricing actions to keep their ships full, along comes Oceania who advertises premium/luxury cruising that combines good old fashioned superb dining, excellent service and engaging itineraries at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, my opinion is that Oceania is degrading considering that our expectation based on previous reviews was not fulfilled. I feel that two trips on Holland America, Celebrity, or Princess would be a better buy than our one trip on Regatta. Everything we found lacking â€“ shaved time in port, poor dining room service, lack of entertainment, inconsistent food quality, overpriced excursions, crowds in the Terrace CafÃ©, expensive internet, and too many tenders â€“ can all be found in previous reviews. Yet, still the reviews provided a 95% favorable rating. I would give Regatta three stars (out of five) and say it definitely needs improvement. Our first two and one-half days were rather rough for the Caribbean. Several hundred passengers sought medical help. Oceania provided airfare as part of our purchase. Note, not "free" asadvertised, but part of the total cost. Our flight left Houston (Bush Intercontinental) at 6 AM. To arrive at 4:30 AM we had to stay at the Mariott that is part of the airport with airport concession prices. Our flight was full. At the Miami airport we were indeed met by 5-6 Oceana representatives who did nothing but check our names off a list and point at our luggage and point to the bus where we should take our luggage. This "service" was $118. (The first people we met on the Regatta had taken a cab from the airport for $20.) The lines were a bit unusual to board. The line for concierge service had about a 100 people; the line for staterooms (us) had two couples. But we had to wait for about 10 of the 100 to be served before it was our turn. The sign in was quick. Lunch buffet was ready at 11:30 AM. We had boarded at 11 AM. Rooms were not ready until 2 PM. The Cabin: We were located in cabin 4035, an inside cabin. The cabin was of nice size (200 square feet plus 48 square foot bathroom). There is a large desk with two 110-volt outlets and lots of storage in the sitting area as well as a small table and one chair. We asked for an extra straight back chair and did receive one. Each cabin offers a safe that can be programmed for the passenger's use and a television with several channels going 24 hours per day. There was an unfortunate event on Thanksgiving. TV reception was blocked by two adjacent, larger cruise ships. No football until we left port. The Restaurants: The Regatta offers several dining venues that really set it apart from other cruise lines. While there is no surcharge for the specialty restaurants, there are restricted reservations for lower class passengers (in staterooms). The Grand Dining Room: This is the main dining room on the Regatta that does not require any reservations. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers fine dining from a complete menu for all meals. A hand-painted fresco ceiling tops the Grand Dining Room where a tuxedo-clad wait staff serves elegant six course meals. We ate dinner in the Grand Dining Room on most days and consistently had poor service. Dinner would take over two hours with surprising gaps between courses. Appetizers, Soups, salads, and desserts were generally above average. The Regatta complement of guests is generally in their 70s and 80s. This could be justification for small entrees. During the cruise I received three scallops, four slices of beef short rib, and a Beef Wellington the diameter of a coffee cup. I understand one could order more, but one of the weak serving points was that the waiter never came back after serving the entrees to see if the orders were correct, wrong, or insufficient.
I must comment that the wine list on the Regatta was extensive and expensive. For example, a Beaujolais Villages that I can buy at my local grocery for $9 is on the list for $50. The wine waiters are a little aggressive. One night my wife asked for a glass of red house wine ($6.95). The server showed her a Merlot and she asked for something different. The server suggested a Cabernet without telling us the new, improved price ($11.95). Toscana: We dined in Toscana on our first night. It was a large challenge since we had risen at 3:45 AM. But when we lower class persons made reservation, only the first night was available. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal; but, it took three hours. I had Osso Bucco that was excellent. However, my wife had rack of lamb that was not done properly. Polo Grill: The Polo Grill boasts a classic steakhouse atmosphere, offering a selection of aged beef and fine seafood. We ate at Polo twice. I had a ribeye and a porterhouse. Both were inedible due to grease and gristle. My wife says they were broiled on a flat grill (no holes) so the grease had no place to go except back into the meat. In an other incident, we saw a waiter (or helper) combine butter from two dishes left at other tables into one butter dish, adding a nice flat top. The Terraces Restaurant: This is the ship's buffet for breakfast and lunch and was very popular. Breakfast saw a great assortment of fruit, hot foods (eggs, pre cooked omelets, bacon, sausage, ham and such) cold cuts, cheeses, various bread choices and a cooked-to-order egg and omelet station. There was always fresh juice available and coffee/tea was served at your table. Lunch saw another buffet with excellent choices and quality. There was also a pizza station open for lunch as well. The Terrace Cafe serves breakfast and lunch buffets. The major difficulty with the Terrace CafÃ© is no lines. There is no way to handle crowds and people interfering with each other. Waves is a poolside restaurant serving traditional barbecue, fresh salads, sandwiches, and homemade ice cream. One time at WAVES, the servers put four hamburgers out for the people who ordered them. Along comes a passenger who takes the top off of each hamburger to see which was his order. Needless to say, my wife threw her top away. The Regatta Lounge: The Regatta Lounge was the place for all the events on the ship. The evening's entertainment took place here, as did the Captains Welcome and Farewell parties. There was never a need to go early to reserve a seat as there were always plenty of tables and chairs (likely because the entertainment was not that attractive). The Library: Simply the most beautiful library on any ship anywhere! There is a reasonable amount of fiction and travel books. The reference material, however, is worthless. The Cruise: Sunday, November 20th, 2011; Miami, Florida
ITINERARY FROM OCEANIA BROCHURE: The brochure information is reprinted below to show five dockings and one tender port: VIRGIN GORDA, BVI â€“ DOCKED â€“ 10 HOURS ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA â€“ DOCKED â€“ 10 HOURS GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTS â€“ DOCKED â€“ 10 HOURS TORTOLA, BVI â€“ DOCKED â€“ 8 HOURS LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC â€“ DOCKED â€“ 8 HOURS GRAND TURK, TURKS & CAICOS â€“ ANCHOR â€“ 6 HOURS Below is what actually happened. The most likely explanation is that Oceania saves money by not docking. Also note that tendering removes about one hour of port time; more if you are not on a tour. VIRGIN GORDA, BVI â€“ TENDERS â€“ 1 PM TO 7 PM, 6 HOURS ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA â€“ DOCKED â€“ 10 HOURS GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTS â€“ TENDERS â€“ 10 HOURS TORTOLA, BVI â€“ TENDERS â€“ 8 HOURS LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC â€“ DOCKED â€“11 AM TO 5 PM, 6 HOURS GRAND TURK, TURKS & CAICOS â€“ TENDERS â€“ 2 PM TO 6 PM, 4 HOURS Mon Nov 21 We usually have Room Service on waking up. The Regatta was fairly prompt and brought cups about half the time. We had coffee the first morning and it was not drinkable, so we switched to tea. Tue Nov 22 At Sea Wed Nov 23 Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands Arrival at Virgin Gorda was late. There was an announcement on the morning of the arrival that there was engine trouble. This has been mentioned before in reviews of the Regatta. Virgin Gorda is famed for its unique Baths area, where visitors explore caves and natural pools formed by large, smoothed boulders. Over 500 of the ship's 650 guests went ashore on tenders. I don't know how many took excursions from Regatta. Thu Nov 24 Antigua The largest of the British Leeward Islands boasts 365 beaches and crystal-clear waters. History buffs will want to tour Nelson's Dockyard National Park, where one of the great admirals of the 18th century kept his fleet. We had a fine taxi driver take us around the island for over two hours at $20 each (compared to the cheapest ship excursion at $65 each). The driver was extremely knowledgeable and well spoken. Antigua has its own personality. There are many colored houses and many small, older houses. Rain water is for drinking and tap water is for washing. The interior is covered with hills and vegetation. Gasoline is about $6 per gallon. Education has a high priority. Most schools are new. There are two colleges and a medical school. Fri Nov 25 St. Barts The atmosphere of this unique island is similar to that of a small French village. Most visitors explore the pearly beaches, open-air restaurants and cafes and chic shops of this eight-square-mile island. Of the island's 14 beaches, St. Jean is the busiest and the best for people-watching, while Governor's Beach is the most scenic. St. Barts and Gustavia are the most expensive places in the Caribbean. The ferry from St. Barts to St. Martin was interesting. The price for tourists (visitors) was about twice the price for residents. Sat Nov 26 Tortola, British Virgin Islands Tortola is small in size, but huge in natural beauty. The island is capped with bold mountains and fringed with breathtaking beaches. The prime sites here are Cane Garden Bay and Sage Mountain National Park. Each island visited has spectacular beaches and water sports. I wonder how many of the majority 70s and 80s passengers took advantage of such wonders. Sun Nov 27 La Romana (Casa de Campo), Dominican Republic 9:00 AM 5:00 PM Casa de Campo, a lush resort retreat in La Romana on the Dominican Republic's southeastern coast, offers myriad recreational options for visiting cruise passengers. We hired a taxi driver to take us to Altos de Chavon cultural village about 20 km from the docked ship. It is a reconstruction of a sixteenth century Spanish village now housing museums, a chapel, restaurants, etc. All in matching style. Our driver also stopped for shopping and gave us an extensive tour of Casa de Campo. He also let us stop for an hour at the Marina to have some adult beverages. The charge was $30 each compared to the excursion from the ship only to Los Altos at $45. Mon Nov 28 Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands This small island, only six miles long and three miles wide, provides all the activities sun lovers need. Scuba diving, horseback riding on the beach, playing golf or whale watching (in season) are the major draws. Grand Turk is noted for Margaritaville and is listed as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Tue Nov 29 At Sea Wed Nov 30 Miami, FL 7:00 AM We were told to vacate our room by 8 AM. We left the ship about 9 AM. We had a long stay at the airport until our 2:50 PM flight. The security at Miami was noticeably more stringent than most airports probably because Miami is a major entry point for illegal entry.
Oceania Cruises has earned a fine reputation by providing great food, good and personable service on friendly well-maintained ships, with interesting itineraries. The company lived up to that billing on our recent 24-day Amazon Adventure cruise aboard Regatta. In many ways, we had a fabulous experience. Unfortunately, a series of planning and communications failures by Oceania marred the trip and left many of us frustrated. The check-in procedure was a disaster, a purported computer snafu that kept us waiting in the terminal three hours. Worse yet, ports promised in promotional literature last year were switched. One port was skipped altogether. At a key port, we lost half a day of touring time because of sailing delays. The crew aboard ship, regrettably, didn't even want to acknowledge the problems. Let's hope there has been some private rear-kicking in the Miami headquarters.
This was an ambitious cruise: leave Miami, go through the Caribbean, visit various islands, then enter the Amazon for eight days and visit Santarem, Boca da Valeria, Parintins and Manaus for two days, then stop at various Caribbean islands on the way back to Miami. We paid about $5,900 per person including tipsfor our stateroom, 4049, very well located just steps from the reception desk and central stairway.
The ship, although 13 years old, looks all but new. We had to look hard to see any maintenance issues. Our stateroom was pretty, in near-perfect condition, and quiet. Everything, including the air conditioning, which was really needed, worked fine.
The stateroom attendant was seldom seen, but kept up the room twice a day in timely fashion. The public areas of the ship were very attractive and very well maintained. You could occasionally see crewmen doing painting, which is a good sign on a ship. The food was very good, sometimes excellent, sometimes even superb. The top chef was available to talk to passengers almost every day. They do, however, need a better recipe for scrambled eggs and hash browns in the mornings.
Oceania has no separate charge for any of their restaurants. Let's hope that continues. The two specialty restaurants were excellent. Restaurant service was usually pleasant and good, although a little slow at times. Overall, the staff throughout the ship were a joy to be around.
Entertainment was of mixed appeal. In various parts of the ship, we had a string quartet, which really adds class, a piano player, and a band. All were good and entertaining. Other entertainers were brought aboard for special appearances, and some were quite good. Passenger laundry facilities and internet service, like on all Oceania ships, were terrible.
The enrichment lecturers weren't very useful. We suffered a lot by not having an Amazon naturalist aboard. Shore excursions offered by the ship were overpriced, and we heard numerous complaints about them. We booked private guides in several of the key stops, including in the Amazon, and they provided great experiences for us.
The problems on this cruise came with the ports. As we boarded, we were informed we would not stop in Tobago but rather go to Port of Spain. This was not an even trade. Because of that change, we lost a shore excursion we had booked privately in Tobago. They could have informed us of this change days before we left home. After Port of Spain, the schedule failed to allow enough time to get to Santarem. They knew or should have known that weather in this area can pose problems, and they surely knew that Brazil customs authorities are feuding with the United States and might hold us up as we entered the Amazon. Because of these delays, we arrived in Santarem at 3 p.m. and lost half a day of our privately arranged shore excursion. Our stop at Devil's Island was skipped, purportedly because of high seas. Again, they knew or should have known that this stop is chancy for cruise ships. We were NOT warned about that in promotional literature. As a result, we expected and looked forward to the stop. The captain could have tried to land, or could have waited for several hours to see if the seas calmed. He did neither, and did not even go slowly past the island to give us a photo opportunity.
Originally, Grand Turk was to be our final port. But we were told after we had made our reservations that would change to Nassau. Again, not a fair trade. While on the Amazon, if Oceania had planned properly, we would have had more time to visit one other city, perhaps Belem. Or we could have been given an overnight stop in Santarem. Instead, we spent too much time in Caribbean ports.
We registered these concerns on board, including to the captain directly, but the ship personnel saw nothing wrong. They didn't seem to grasp that they should deliver what they promised. They never apologized for the computer snafu at check-in. Considering complaints on other Oceania cruises about changing ports, and now the mysterious problem with Insignia, one has to wonder if Oceania is slipping a bit. While we love the memories of our Amazon trip, the big question is: would we schedule it again, knowing what we now know? The answer might be no.