Length: 593 ft
Registry: Marshall Islands
One of the smaller R-ships, great food and service, but not the opulence or quality of Marina or RivieraBest For People Who Want
A casual experience on a small ship cruise; a port-intensive itinerary;open seating dining; no additional charge alternative restaurants; a strict smoking policy.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Languid days at sea with nothing to do, onboard sports facilities, extensive children's activities.Onboard Experience
Oceania Cruises offers extraordinary food and service but the prices have crept up over the years as Oceania has learned how to market its ships more effectively. Regatta has retained many of the features that made her popular in a previous incarnation as a Renaissance's R-ship - single, open-seating dining; three alternative restaurants, and a casual dress policy. There's a computer room with classes; plenty of open-deck space, two Jacuzzi whirlpools alongside the pool, and myriad comfortable and inviting bars. The library is open 24 hours a day and will lend you one of its vast collection without a deposit. And the new restaurant Tapas on the Terrace may offer the most romantic dining at sea; you dine by candlelight on the wide aft deck at a table with starched white linens.
The staterooms received extensive comfort upgrades fleetwide including sheets and pillowcases by Ralph Lauren, cushy mattresses, down comforters and extra pillows.
Regatta's smaller size allows the ship to visit more unusual ports of call including places like Bordeaux, Guernsey, Palma de Majorca, Malaga, and Oporto, Portugal.
On the other hand, we'd be derelict to fail to note that, spirits, wine, airport/cruise transfers and shore excursions are all somewhat pricey on Regatta. Moreover, Oceania Cruise Lines makes no bones about not caring one way or another if there are children aboard. After endless hours of ping-pong, shuffleboard, small-pool swimming and TV in the cabin, your kids may be likely to sulk. And just so you know - smoking is forbidden everywhere but on the starboard side of the outdoor Pool Deck.Decor
With wingback chairs facing faux marble fireplaces, paintings hung on landings above Chinese vases, miles of brocade drapes and fabric, dark wood paneling, carved moldings and wrought-iron staircases, the ship has the feel of boutique hotel. The no-nonsense staterooms evoke modern European city hotels.Public Rooms
In general, the ship has an "English inn at sea" look. In the bow, the spacious, woody Horizons lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows and brass telescopes on three sides. The Martini Bar attached to the casino can make you 29 kinds of martini making it a very relaxing space in the afternoons while the pianist is playing standards. At night, a jazz band takes over.
Decorated in traditional English style with warm red upholstery, mahogany paneling, and faux garden skylight and marble fireplace, the library is veddy comfortable, and well-stocked.Cuisine
Featuring the culinary mastery of the iconic Jacques Pepin, the food onboard is above average in the main dining room and buffet areas, and often extraordinary in the alternative restaurants.
Marina (January 2011) and Riviera (April 2012), the new 1260-passenger ships, include 10 eateries onboard including the eponymous "Jacques" which will features some of Pepin's personal favorite recipes. It has been said that no cruise line chef has ever devoted as much attention to a single restaurant as Jacques Pepin has devoted to "Jacques". He even designed the format of the menu and has his personal artwork hanging on the walls.
With single, open seating and four restaurants to choose from, dining on all Oceania ships is as varied as it is consistently delightful. The accent is on variety, and it is highly recommended that you make as many reservations as possible in the alternative restaurants if you are not too tired after a day in port. If you are tired, a casual stroll at your leisure to Tapas on the Terrace is a great way to get fast service and great food without waiting.Restaurants
The Grand Dining Room, which opens at 6:30 p.m. and serves until 9:30 p.m., is commonly very crowded, and the acoustics in the center of the room preclude easy conversation. Bowing to customer sentiment, Oceania recently added 26 tables for two. Don't, if you enjoy seafood, miss the pan-seared scallops over Parmesan risotto.
The Terrace Café, adjacent to the pool deck, is a grand place for breakfast. There are always servers ready to put the food on your tray for you, which we suggest you allow them to do.
Reservations are required for the popular Polo Grill (catering to the carnivorous) and Toscana restaurants. The clubby Polo Grill is the most intimate of the three, and offers fresh seafood in addition to the the kind of delicious red meat entrees carnivores adore. Tapas on the Terrace adds new dishes every evening.
Waves, the outside luncheon grill, offering burgers, chicken, salmon,and even fried calamari, plus a daily special and salads, is the place to head for a late lunch ('til 5 p.m.). Everything's served with fries that are wonderful when hot, so-so when not, and cole slaw that will make you moan ecstatically. There's a high tea every afternoon at four in Horizons.Service
The primarily Eastern European staff is very attentive. They even carry your trays to your table in the casual breakfast and luncheon buffet. And those in the ship's computer center must be the best tech staffers at sea. Room service is unfailingly prompt. The only inevitable crunch occurs in the dining room when everyone arrives for "open-seating" dining at the same time, usually within the first half-hour of opening. The best bet is to be either the first in line, or wait until an hour after opening, in order to avoid the rush.Tipping
Since Oceania has a flexible dining program, gratuities of $11.50 per person per day (including children) are automatically added to the shipboard account for all dining room and stateroom personnel. An additional $3.50 per passenger per day is added for suites where Butler Service is provided. is at the passenger's discretion, however, so the amount may be increased, decreased, or all gratuities can be removed, by contacting the front desk. Gratuities of 18 percent are automatically added to bar charges and spa services.Entertainment
Regatta has a fine onboard orchestra, a string quartet and pianist. Each evening you can enjoy shows in the 358-seat Cabaret Lounge. However, Oceania will tell you frankly that entertainment is not high on their list of priorities as most people find a long day in port followed by haute cuisine to be more than enough for a satisfying day.
The casino is small, with 30 slots and tables for blackjack and roulette, but no craps. Depending upon itinerary, standard shipboard activities like bingo, bridge and dance lessons are limited, since you're in port most of the time. The incomparable cyber-cafe offers instruction, but classes fill up quickly, so don't dawdle.Cabins
For the three smaller ships: Inside cabins are the smallest aboard at 160 sq. ft. Outside staterooms measure 165 sq. ft., some with portholes and others with large picture windows. Category C and D outside cabins with private balcony are 216 sq. ft., including a 45 sq. ft. balcony. Suites with private balconies are a spacious 322 sq. ft., including a 17' x 4.5' balcony with two chairs and a table.
These ships have 330 guestrooms, suites and penthouses, more than half of the outside staterooms with verandas. Every cabin aboard has a "Tranquillity Bed," dressed in 350-count Egyptian cotton linens, silk-cut duvets and goose-down pillows.
Standard cabin amenities include TV with CNN, MSNBC, another news channel and six movie channels showing continuously throughout the day; good closet/drawer space; hair dryer, and a personal safe. All cabins except suites and owner's suites have bathroom with shower. Suites and owner's suites offer butler service, bathtubs and mini-bars. Oceania has added wonderful mattresses and down comforters, but the only mini-refrigerators are in Concierge Level cabins and suites. Staterooms are homey and attractively furnished in Wedgwood blue fabrics and carpeting, accented by yellow drapes and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Those who have cruised in suites aboard other ships will find the standard bathrooms to be small on these ships. While there is a large mirrored cabinet for toiletries, counter space is very skimpy.
The Category A Owner's Suites, ranging from 786 to 962 sq. ft., are all located either completely forward or aft, bad locations in inclement weather. Forward owner's suites (numbers 6002, 6003, 7004, 7005) have direct sight lines of the rope deck on the front of the vessel. Two forward suites facing the front of the ship lack ocean views. Suites have large bathtubs and more counter space.
Though prominently displayed in cabin as though to say, "I'm complimentary; drink me," the bottles of Evian are in fact $3.50. The sole Laundromat, on Deck 7, charges $3 per load, but nonetheless attracts long queues.Fitness/Spa
The small fitness center has five treadmills, five bikes, and several weight machines and free weights. A walking/jogging track circles the top of the ship. Several aerobics classes are scheduled each day.
The small spa. operated by London-based Harding Bros. Ltd., offers a menu of treatments ranging from lavender deep-cleansing facials (only $59), holistic citrus facials ($99), foot and ankle massages (a bargain at $39) and aroma stone therapy massages ($159, though most massages start at $99). classes, including Pilates, are complimentary.Attire
With no ties required and "country club casual" recommended at night, you'll see women in everything from blouses with pants and skirts to much more elegant attire.
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.
Reviews of Oceania Cruises are typically very positive, and for a reason. Oceania, in a time of cutbacks everywhere, continues to do a great job. We took the Lands of the Midnight Sun cruise on Insignia, leaving Dover on July 23 and traveling up the west coast of Norway, into various fjords, and eventually to Murmansk and the polar ice cap. We disembarked in Copenhagen on August 10. The views, the experiences, and the memories will last the rest of our lives. Yes, there were some glitches and shortcomings, partly explained by the ambitious nature of this itinerary. Our experience wasn't perfect. But Oceania is a fine cruise line and we had a fine time.
We haven't sailed on this line in four years, and we wondered if we would see evidence of cutbacks, like those reported on other lines. We saw nothing of the sort. The food actually may have been better this trip than our trip of four years ago. Frequently it was very good, sometimes excellent, sometimes even superb. Oceania has no separate charge for any of their restaurants. Let's hope that continues. The service in the restaurants was,at times, a little disorganized. But overall, the staff throughout the ship was excellent. Always pleasant and helpful.
The ship itself looks like it just came from the shipyard. In fabulous shape. Traditional, but not old-fashioned. Hardly a scuff mark to be seen. Frequently we saw workers doing touch-up painting. Once I observed the manager of the buffet use her finger to test for dust on a ledge. We paid about $5,800 per person including tips for our stateroom, 4049, very well located just steps from the reception desk, central stairway and elevators. The room was pretty, in near-perfect condition, and quiet, about average size for a cruise ship, with dark woods, a large window, and a comfortable queen-size bed. The air conditioning worked. Storage space was adequate. The bathroom was on the small side, with adequate storage space but with a tiny uncomfortable shower. The hot water was always hot.
The entertainment, if anything, was better than four years ago. We had a string quartet, which really adds class, a piano player, and a band that was entertaining. We enjoyed recitals by a classical pianist and a classical clarinet player. The juggler/comedian should have been left at the dock. The ship threw several parties, complete with free snacks and drinks. The captain and other top officers attended, and if you wanted to talk to any of them, it was easy to do. The top chefs were frequently available, too. When we arrived in port, an official from the local tourist bureau was usually on the ship first thing. Very helpful. Shuttles into town centers were sometimes offered free, which was another benefit.
The problems we encountered related to communications, planning and shore excursions. First, the polar bear issue. Oceania inadvisedly left people with an impression we could see a polar bear. Cruise brochures featured polar bear pictures. We checked before we booked and found that seeing a polar bear on this cruise would be highly unlikely. So we weren't upset. Still, Oceania was guilty of a little false advertising. Another mistake was making two stops, in Oslo and Bergen, on Sundays. Most regular stores close in Norway on Sundays. We lost great shopping opportunities. We could have used a naturalist on board. We lacked good, moment-to-moment information about some of the wildlife and scenery we were seeing. The shore excursions were over-priced and lacked imagination. Many passengers scored better excursions by setting them up themselves. In Murmansk, however, visa regulations prevent that. We were stuck with the ship excursions and they came up way short. Granted, Russia is an extremely difficult country to deal with. Murmansk is a treasure trove of history, tragedy and courage in the face of travail.
Many passengers didn't grasp that, and came away saying this stop was a waste. It was one of the highlights for us, despite the inadequate shore excursion we took. Glitches and shortrcomings aside, this was an excellent cruise on a route not commonly traveled by ships. Insignia threw one party for passengers who have sailed before on Oceania, and it was a huge affair. Of the 680 passengers aboard, more than 400 had sailed at least once on Oceania. That's a tipoff to how good this cruise line is.Cost