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welshfamily

Decline in food standards on Sirena. Poor bar service.

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We have just returned from a 10 day cruise around Italy on the Sirena. 

First some background. We are 6 adults ranging from 62 to 30. All frequent cruisers. Not ‘foodies’ as such but we enjoy well prepared quality food paired with decent wines. This was our third Oceania cruise.  

For all those looking for a balanced review I will start with the positives.

The Sirena  is in excellent condition. The refurbishment has freshen everything up. The beds are superb, the cabins well serviced, plenty of towels, mini bar kept filled with choice of cold drinks( non alcoholic). Water is in screw top bottles are refreshed twice a day. 

The wait staff are excellent. Tables quickly cleared in the Terrace and Waves  bar. No problem getting a table or water and sodas.

The ports were outstanding. We took 4 ship excursions, 3 of which were excellent, one poor. We also had 2 private tours. Tender service well run and a shuttle service ( Bari) was put on to the town centre. Leslie ,the CD , ran trivia which was suitably challenging and very popular. Fellow cruisers were a pleasure , a good mix of nationalities, polite,  friendly and obviously well travelled. The children aboard were well behaved. Evening entertainment was as expected as we have been on R class ships quite a few times. As this was a port intensive cruise I am sorry I cannot comment on day time activities.

 

unfortunately I now come to the negatives.

We all had the BIB package which allows beer, all other drinks  and wine by the glass. Service was excellent at lunch on day one. As was Red ginger ( the first of our three specialty restaurant meals). The food in both the Speciality restaurants was excellent. 

First Drinks.

On our second night we went to the Grand Dinning room, we asked for recommendation after we had chosen our food. The sommelier told us in no uncertain terms that the choice on the by the glass was poor and she could not recommend any. We ought to buy bottles if we expected something drinkable. Service was slow. Not as bad as else where on the ship but certainly not good.

In the Terrace restaurant it was nearly impossible to get a drink whilst you ate. Getting a second drink was akin to a lottery win.  This was not the sommelier fault. One served the right hand side, one the deck and occasionally there was one on the left hand side. This was when the Terrace was full.  Polite , intelligent people became demanding. We drank Soda. 

The Martini bar has been a firm favourite of ours in the past however this time there was only one barman and two bar staff. It took at least 30 minutes to get a drink. This was not the staffs fault they were working as quickly as they could. We adjusted our timings to allow more time but so did everyone else. It then took 40 minutes.By day 5 we were forced to complain. The bar manager did respond and it became better but as it was equally as hard to get a drink in the Horizons lounge and the bar cocktail menu was different more people used Martinis and the area around the shops as an over flow.Talk about standing room only. It was just like getting a drink in the most popular bar in town however you needed one hand for a cocktail glass and the other for the shaker. Not the most relaxing way to drink.

On to the food. 

Waves grill was as good as ever.

Breakfast was fine. Not much changed but it’s hard to go wrong with breakfast.

Lunch. Uninspired . Boring. Fortunately we were in Italy and the restaurants on shore were a delight. If we had not had the 4 excursions we would have given Lunch a total miss. As one of our party said it simply was not worth the calories.

The Grand Dinning Room.

what has happened to the Menus!!!

The choice was poor. Appetisers two changed daily out of 6.

one soup changed daily out of 3 and do not ask me to talk about the salads.

The entrees. I really do not have the words to describe some of the choices. Needless to say we ate a lot of steak, salmon and chicken. On two occasions we all left our choice of main course the Beef Wellington being the worse. We are not picky eaters. 

What has happened to the ‘ a taste of .........’ which was always a pleasure. 

We did fill in our comment cards. 

 

Do do more frequent Oceania cruisers think these changes are on all ships or has management decided to try a different menu on the Sirena. Many cruisers wondered if cutting the food bill was a way of paying for the refurbishment.

 

Best food at sea. No, definitely not. 

It is such as shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh dear.   Don't know what to say.    We are on Nautica next week.  Really looking forward to it as we have had a hard year after moving house!!   I sincerely hope the food and wine  is better than your description. Cant believe you were told the wine was not worth drinking.  Our wine package is included and so we have not planned to bring wine on board as we have in the past.    So sorry you were disappointed.  J

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Posted (edited)

This is disappointing to hear as we are taking our first cruise on Oceania (Insignia) in October hoping to see an improvement from the declining standards of the mainstream lines.  Yet, we are reading reviews here of under-staffing, fewer menu items, and lower food quality in some recent reviews. 

 

I know that most cruise lines do not get better over time and that is why we moved from mostly RCI to X over the years.  Now, for the same reason, we are trying Oceania.  We know that it will be better (I hope) than the mainstream lines.  But, I fear that the quantum leap that we were expecting may not be there as anticipated.

Edited by ricka47

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Sad.  We are looking forward to our upcoming cruise on Sirena.  I have seen the new menus. There are still lots of good choices beside the steak, chicken, and salmon.

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Posted (edited)

 I am new to O, and although not going on the Sirena, I appreciate your thoughts.  Sounds like they're making it harder to get a drink to save money.  I sure hope not.

 

DH and I were on a short RC cruise last year on one of their older ships.  We took the drink package and the drinks were easy to order and quick to come.  I hope that your experience was a one time event on O.  Would hate to think that they're skimping on alcohol and servers. 

 

 

Edited by bbtondo
added word i forgot.

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Thanks for sharing

You are not the first to complain about the  service in the Terrace  for drinks

Sounds like the Sommelier  was trying to upsell you

We had that happen in Toscana  this spring  but we were buying  a bottle of wine ..I guess it was not expensive enough 😉

 

The "Taste of ..." is usually at lunch in the GDR    do not recall seeing  it offered at dinner

 

Yes the menus have changed ..some  are not for the better  

I think they are trying to be all things to all people  ..it is not really working  IMO

Still a good line  but ..

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4 hours ago, welshfamily said:

We have just returned from a 10 day cruise around Italy on the Sirena. 

First some background. We are 6 adults ranging from 62 to 30. All frequent cruisers. Not ‘foodies’ as such but we enjoy well prepared quality food paired with decent wines. This was our third Oceania cruise.  

For all those looking for a balanced review I will start with the positives.

The Sirena  is in excellent condition. The refurbishment has freshen everything up. The beds are superb, the cabins well serviced, plenty of towels, mini bar kept filled with choice of cold drinks( non alcoholic). Water is in screw top bottles are refreshed twice a day. 

The wait staff are excellent. Tables quickly cleared in the Terrace and Waves  bar. No problem getting a table or water and sodas.

The ports were outstanding. We took 4 ship excursions, 3 of which were excellent, one poor. We also had 2 private tours. Tender service well run and a shuttle service ( Bari) was put on to the town centre. Leslie ,the CD , ran trivia which was suitably challenging and very popular. Fellow cruisers were a pleasure , a good mix of nationalities, polite,  friendly and obviously well travelled. The children aboard were well behaved. Evening entertainment was as expected as we have been on R class ships quite a few times. As this was a port intensive cruise I am sorry I cannot comment on day time activities.

 

unfortunately I now come to the negatives.

We all had the BIB package which allows beer, all other drinks  and wine by the glass. Service was excellent at lunch on day one. As was Red ginger ( the first of our three specialty restaurant meals). The food in both the Speciality restaurants was excellent. 

First Drinks.

On our second night we went to the Grand Dinning room, we asked for recommendation after we had chosen our food. The sommelier told us in no uncertain terms that the choice on the by the glass was poor and she could not recommend any. We ought to buy bottles if we expected something drinkable. Service was slow. Not as bad as else where on the ship but certainly not good.

In the Terrace restaurant it was nearly impossible to get a drink whilst you ate. Getting a second drink was akin to a lottery win.  This was not the sommelier fault. One served the right hand side, one the deck and occasionally there was one on the left hand side. This was when the Terrace was full.  Polite , intelligent people became demanding. We drank Soda. 

The Martini bar has been a firm favourite of ours in the past however this time there was only one barman and two bar staff. It took at least 30 minutes to get a drink. This was not the staffs fault they were working as quickly as they could. We adjusted our timings to allow more time but so did everyone else. It then took 40 minutes.By day 5 we were forced to complain. The bar manager did respond and it became better but as it was equally as hard to get a drink in the Horizons lounge and the bar cocktail menu was different more people used Martinis and the area around the shops as an over flow.Talk about standing room only. It was just like getting a drink in the most popular bar in town however you needed one hand for a cocktail glass and the other for the shaker. Not the most relaxing way to drink.

On to the food. 

Waves grill was as good as ever.

Breakfast was fine. Not much changed but it’s hard to go wrong with breakfast.

Lunch. Uninspired . Boring. Fortunately we were in Italy and the restaurants on shore were a delight. If we had not had the 4 excursions we would have given Lunch a total miss. As one of our party said it simply was not worth the calories.

The Grand Dinning Room.

what has happened to the Menus!!!

The choice was poor. Appetisers two changed daily out of 6.

one soup changed daily out of 3 and do not ask me to talk about the salads.

The entrees. I really do not have the words to describe some of the choices. Needless to say we ate a lot of steak, salmon and chicken. On two occasions we all left our choice of main course the Beef Wellington being the worse. We are not picky eaters. 

What has happened to the ‘ a taste of .........’ which was always a pleasure. 

We did fill in our comment cards. 

 

Do do more frequent Oceania cruisers think these changes are on all ships or has management decided to try a different menu on the Sirena. Many cruisers wondered if cutting the food bill was a way of paying for the refurbishment.

 

Best food at sea. No, definitely not. 

It is such as shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were on Sirena earlier this year and late last year. Never had less than 2 bartenders in Martinis or Horizons during Happy Hours. Whenever there was a break for one, still didn't have much of a wait.

 

My chief complaint about the bars is the need to request fresh squeezed juices for cocktails with premium booze.

 

I agree that the wines by the glass may only have 3 or for wines I would consider decent. We most often bring our own wine onboard and usually add the occasional ship bottles (primarily from the "bin end" list). And bar service in the Terrace Grill can sometime be a challenge. Of course, a kind word to a maitre'd and someone appears immediately.

 

The approach to the GDR menu (across the Fleet) changed about 9 months ago. We like the more focused simplicity while retaining the nightly offerings for less adventurous diners. BTW, we found the GDR Beef Wellington (on Nautica this past June) to be excellent. 

 

You've done the right thing by using your comment cards. They do influence policy/practice changes.

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sure hope things change for the better...we want to book iceland on the sirena for 2021 but with reviews like that about the food, not sure I want to do that anymore....

 

hope people really use the comment cards to get the food up to O standards...

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I’m sorry to hear your review! I’m new to O with 2 Riviera cruises coming up! My question is with the Olife  drink package given as a perk, was getting a drink a problem because of that or is this also if you do the upgrade which we plan to do?

Denise😊

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13 minutes ago, cruisesport said:

 

hope people really use the comment cards to get the food up to O standards...

 

If we experience a downward trend, a consistent couple of days of the same, we send a note directly to the GM. If we’re not happy why wait?

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I have to agree with the original poster. We were not eh same cruise ( our first on Sirena) and I can only completely agree with what was said. I felt sorry for the wait staff and barman in Martinis, they were run off their feet. We were a group of 8, and although we enjoyed ourselves, we did feel that Oceania are letting things slip. It felt almost as if Sirena is a training ship for new staff. We will sail with Oceania again, but never on Sirena.

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Enough people are saying standards are slipping that I won't contest the statement.  We didn't find this to be the case on our last cruise but that was in May 2018 (on Riviera) so what we experienced isn't relevant now.  BUT I think that to say you'll never sail on a particular ship because you were dissatisfied with the staff is somewhat pointless since personnel change on a regular basis.  It's not as if the crew are permanent employees.  They have contracts for a certain period (six months?) and then they take leave for a while.  The odds of their coming back to the same ship are also somewhat unlikely.  Some do, I'm sure.  But do most?

 

 

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I do believe it's a matter of reduction in numbers. I hope Oceania realizes this might be a penny wise and pound foolish move on their part. 

 

It's been obvious to us on our last couple of Oceania cruises. Because we're used to Oceania we are more accepting than someone that might be coming from a mass market line expecting to be blow away by the service and the food. 

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I have to agree with the OP regarding the food in the GDR.  WE have been on Marina once and Riviera 4 times.  The last was in March when we experienced the new menu for the first time.  It is now very limited and dishes are often repeated every few days with a somewhat limited choice. 

 

We also felt that the afternoon tea had declined since our last cruise.  There wasn't a central area with help yourself hot and cold items any more.  The sandwiches were very ordinary and the cakes nowhere near as nice as previous.

 

Clearly Oceania IS cutting back on spending per head on food.

 

We are not big drinkers so didn't experience problems with getting served at Martinis.

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We took a Cuba cruise on the Insignia in December 2017.  We noticed then that the staff in the dining room seemed short staffed.  We spend little to no time at the pool, so cannot comment on that.  The cruise was still good, but it was noticeable.  It did not bother us much mainly because it was not bad, but Oceania has set such a high bar that is was only in comparison that it did not meet it.  There were also a larger number of awful people on that cruise.  They were treating the staff badly and that has to wear thin to those paid to smile.   Our next cruise was on the Riviera in December 2018 and it was back up to what we would call Oceania Standards.  I assume the Cuba cruise was a one off and we have more cruises booked on the expectation of great service.  We will be on the Sirena in January.  The crew will likely be different but the level of staffing will not, so we shall see. 

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2 minutes ago, Whiteowl said:

 

 

We also felt that the afternoon tea had declined since our last cruise.  There wasn't a central area with help yourself hot and cold items any more.  The sandwiches were very ordinary and the cakes nowhere near as nice as previous.

 

 

 

We are on the Marina in July and the one time we were able to make afternoon tea the central area was there with plenty of things to eat.   Not sure if your experience was the anomaly  or ours.  

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12 minutes ago, Whiteowl said:

We also felt that the afternoon tea had declined since our last cruise.  There wasn't a central area with help yourself hot and cold items any more. 

what hot items were at afternoon tea ?

I have only seen warm scones  ..what have I been missing??

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10 minutes ago, KS&JW said:

 

We are on the Marina in July and the one time we were able to make afternoon tea the central area was there with plenty of things to eat.   Not sure if your experience was the anomaly  or ours.  

April  we had the usual  central table  but unclear what hot items whiteowl had 🤔

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1 minute ago, LHT28 said:

what hot items were at afternoon tea ?

I have only seen warm scones  ..what have I been missing??

 

There used to be small hot pastries and other bite size savouries

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Just now, Whiteowl said:

 

There used to be small hot pastries and other bite size savouries

really??

OMG  I never have seen them before  I will have to be observant

 

I know they used to have  a flambe item on the smaller ships  

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With the recent increase in the number of new ships coming online, the demand to fill new crew positions has increased proportionally. The need for additional crew and staff has all but depleted the pool of "experienced" crew members. As a result many positions are being filled with inexperienced "newbies" working their first contracts and/or people who really shouldn't be in these positions. This becomes apparent in slow, inattentive service ... disgruntled crew members ... etc. 

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3 hours ago, Mura said:

Enough people are saying standards are slipping that I won't contest the statement.  We didn't find this to be the case on our last cruise but that was in May 2018 (on Riviera) so what we experienced isn't relevant now.  BUT I think that to say you'll never sail on a particular ship because you were dissatisfied with the staff is somewhat pointless since personnel change on a regular basis.  It's not as if the crew are permanent employees.  They have contracts for a certain period (six months?) and then they take leave for a while.  The odds of their coming back to the same ship are also somewhat unlikely.  Some do, I'm sure.  But do most?

I never said I wouldn't sail with a particular ship because of the staff, but because of the cost cutting and the fact it wasn't up tp scratch. The staff were doing their best under the circumstances. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Whiteowl said:

 

There used to be small hot pastries and other bite size savouries

At the risk of being call something  not so nice

 

They have not had the self serve option for several years now  many people try to help themselves but usually  a staff member  will step in & help first

When were you on the ships that had these hot pastries at tea ?

DH goes to tea daily  & has never seen them  on the daily afternoon tea

Just curious

 

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43 minutes ago, firsttimers68 said:

I never said I wouldn't sail with a particular ship because of the staff, but because of the cost cutting and the fact it wasn't up tp scratch. The staff were doing their best under the circumstances. 

I was responding to the last line in your post #11 which said "We will sail with Oceania again, but never on Sirena".  That sounded to me like indeed you were refusing to refuse to sail on a particular ship.  Forgive me if I thought you were talking about staff and NOT about cost cutting, etc.

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FULL MOON 😱

lots of grumpy people here  this weekend 😎

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