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THE SECRETS OF ELEVATING YOUR CRUISE EXPERIENCE WITH OCEANIA CRUISES


Sthrngary
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Hello All:

 

Years ago I got frustrated at what it took to learn about true details about some luxury purchases I was considering.  The harder I looked, it became clear there was NO real resource and it frustrated me.  All that was available was the marketing material which was never very clear. Why would anyone consider making a big purchase without know all you could know about the aspects of the product or service.  This began my journey to drill down on the products I purchased.  Whether it is a luxury car, VIP entrance to four day music festivals, high-end coffee machines or yes Cruise Brands.  For each and other topics did a "Secrets" document.  Now I will share this Oceania Cruise document with you.  

 

On CruiseCritic.com, I did my first "Secrets" document for the NCL board.  I originally wrote it in 2019 and revised it in 2022.  This topic was so popular that is as active as much today, as it was back in 2019.  It is called, "The Secrets of the NCL Haven VIP Experience".  The difference is with the NCL Haven thread I cut and pasted the HUGE document.  In this thread I will approach this differently. I am giving you a download for a 38 page PDF document.  It has a "Table of Contents" with page numbers in the beginning so you can pick and choose what you want to read.  

 

For those that want bullet point summary, here is, "What I Concluded About Oceania Cruises From My First Cruise On the Brand":


•    The best approach for me on a port intensive cruise when an All-Inclusive Cruise is NOT financially an option.
•    Much more reserved than a larger mega mainstream ship which is refreshing.
•    Fairly priced when you take the extra amenities into consideration.
•    No real nickel and diming or upsell which was a relief. 
•    Food and dining are better than Mainstream cruise brands but not the best at sea. That I reserve for Crystal Cruises. Also, the Haven Dining Room is much better than the Grand Dining Room. Just my opinion and yes, it is subjective. 
•    The staff are much better trained at anticipating guest needs.  They also do well with a smile and positive reinforcement.
•    Butlers are REAL butlers who are very well trained, but you must know how to utilize them.  
•    The amenities provided from Real Champagne, soft drinks in the suite complimentary are small things but make a huge different to me.  
•    With a good strategy, getting on and off the ship was a breeze.  This includes the last day.  All you must do is let the first wave do their thing. 
•    Main Theatre Entertainment is NOT great which was expected.  Pick and choose your type of show with a positive emphasis on the guest artist.  The small venues suited my group and I best. 
•    Not that many bars/lounges, however, they were always well staffed, and rarely crowded where you could not find a seat.  My favorite was Martini’s. 
•    There are still folks that hold seats in the Theatre, Pool Lounge Chairs, and other venues.  There are still folks that have no manners on a buffet or at a bar. There are still folks that don’t understand what Country Club Casual means. However, far less than I have experience in the past and did not affect our enjoyment at all. 
•    The final point is, we as a group booked another 10-day cruise with the blessing of my wife who had a GREAT Time. That says it all for me.  When a new guest books another cruise, it is the conclusion most folks want to hear to support a good time was had by all. 
 

If you have a question, ask it and I will do my best to get back with you.  

 

"Cruise well and enjoy every moment."

 

 

The Secrets of Elevating your Cruise Experience with Oceania Cruises.pdf

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53 minutes ago, mantadiver said:

Bravo.  I really enjoyed your Haven secrets on the NCL board.  It has a life of it's own. 

@mantadiver Yes, I can't believe how long it has lasted.  I did love my Oceania Cruise also and it also deserved similar attention.  Thank you for the kind words.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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Gary, thanks for taking the time to put this together!  We have our second O cruise coming up on Vista next month - our first was 2 years ago on Riviera, this will be our first suite experience so your information there will be particularly helpful.  I found the rest of your commentary on non-suite cruising on O to be pretty much spot-on.

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3 hours ago, Sthrngary said:


•    Butlers are REAL butlers who are very well trained, but you must know how to utilize them.  
 

 

"Cruise well and enjoy every moment."

 

 

The Secrets of Elevating your Cruise Experience with Oceania Cruises.pdf 657.44 kB · 45 downloads

Then can you give us any suggestions as to "how to utilize them"  ???

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1 hour ago, FetaCheese said:

@Sthrngary

 

Hello, I want to read your document, but when it downloaded to my android phone, it comes up as restricted, and will not open.

 

Suggestions?  Perhaps it will open on a laptop?

 

Thanks 

It opened on my computer. I've had some issues with pdfs on my phone recently but haven't done a troubleshooting session yet.

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Gary really interesting read!

 

I think you summed up my feelings about ‘small ship’ cruising really well. In saying that I’ve never been on a mega ship, mobility issues don’t allow for that, thank goodness! We know lots of people who do sail on mega ships and I always forget about the upselling etc. Not my cup of tea!

 

Just a minor point to add to your ‘book’, you don’t need a butler to have snacks/canapés in the afternoon. We sail both Ph and concierge and when we don’t have a butler we ask our cabin steward for olives and lemon slices to be replenished daily in our fridge and it’s always done. We too enjoy a pre dinner drink on our balcony, weather permitting!
 

I think you have hit the nail on the head ….. ‘unrealistic expectations’ are probably  the real reason for most of the complaints.

 

Hope you enjoy your next Oceania cruise as much as this one!

 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, tobique33040 said:

Oh boy! Thank you Gary. I just downloaded your guide and will read it today. I got some great information from your blog yesterday and I’m delighted to have this resource you have written. Thanks again. 

@tobique33040 Cruising is an evolution of developing needs.  I as well as many other read some of the negative reviews you read.  My goal thought my planning process for over a year was to find out every downside I could, have a plan for it and make my first cruise with Oceania my best cruise with any brand.  Control the controllable is only possible if you know some issues. This allows for "Realistic Expectations".  

 

When we are new to a brand, everything is exciting and new.  The second cruise we are hopping more of the same but reality is, some things, some thing we really liked might change.  Now multiply that by going on the same brand for 4-10 times.  When a few things are different, you become disappointed.  Please take that into consideration with your past experience on Viking as I do with my Past Experience on NCL Haven Cruises.  Also, this gives you some of the reasons for past Oceania Faithful providing some tough love reviews.  Human nature when you find something your really like and it changes.

 

For my future, I booked another cruise for 10-days in the Mediterranean this time on the Oceania Vista. I choose a stateroom below both the staterooms I booked.  Instead of attempting for the specialty restaurants for as many nights as I can get, I will be much more open to every dining venue. We will do more Afternoon Teas, get our coffee at the Barista every morning, and utilize the Executive or Concierge Lounge more often.  Lots of other things that we will do differently.  That is what cruising a brand does for you.  

 

Oceania is worthy of a try based my my experience. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment.

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10 hours ago, Tsunami74 said:

Then can you give us any suggestions as to "how to utilize them"  ???

@Tsunami74 Download the document and look for Butlers.  I have some bullet points I can post if you want more information.  Just let me know.  Learning about what a butler can and can not do is fun.  Good butlers are hard to find.  

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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@Tsunami74 This might help you.  It is from the Journey Document I made for our group.  If you want clarification, feel free to ask.

 

HOW TO UTILIZE YOUR BUTLER:
•    MENUS: Your “Grand Dining Room” menu is on your TV information area.  The Specialty Restaurants Menus are in the suite, on the TV and you can download them off the Oceania Website. You MAY want to attempt to change your specialty restaurant booking that evening in the Specialty Restaurant based on “Grand Dining Room” menu. Make sure you can replace that reservation for another time that suits you before you cancel it. 
•    COFFEE: Bring your morning coffee and pastries if you like, even from the illy™ Barista Coffee Bar. Always give your butler good instructions, a head up, and time to prepare. 
•    RESERVATIONS: Assist in making or changing Specialty Restaurant reservations.  Remember, “NO” guarantees especially on a sold-out cruise and that is why making those reservations pre-cruise as soon as you can, is important.


NOTE: When I upgraded to a “Vista Suite”, I got eight (8) guaranteed specialty restaurant reservations. I will attempt to have the butler add Winkler’s on the second four (4) reservations. 


•    IN-SUITE DINING: Serve you in-suite dining from ANY restaurant.  The butler will do this course-by-course.  Please give your butler a fair head up and only order from one restaurant to avoid confusion. 
•    SWEET DREAMS™ PILLOW MENU: Gain the pillow you want from the Sweet Dreams™ Pillow menu and exchange it for the pillow on the bed.
•    AFTERNOON TEA IN YOUR SUITE: Oceania has Afternoon Tea daily in the Horizons Observation Lounge at 04:00 PM.  You may choose to have a personalized Afternoon Tea in your suite.  As with all uniquely special services, give the Butler a fair head-up. 
•    AFTERNOON CANAPES: Provide you with your afternoon canapes based on your selections provided to them in the morning. It is a nice document you put on your door for your butler. 


NOTE: This seems great for a day or two then it can affect enjoyment of our dinner.  You can tell the butler to skip it. 


•    BUBBLE BATH: Draw you a bubble bath at a specific time.
•    ESCORT: Escort you to the main theatre shows, restaurants and events upon request. 


NOTE: A Butler is NOT your date.  They take you to the location and drop you off. 


•    LAUNDRY: Take care of your complementary laundry of three (3) bags of 20 items each or less.  There is a three-day turnaround time for return.
•    SHOESHINE: Have a scuff on your shoes, give them to your butler. 
•    PRESSING:  You have up to three (3) days after embarkment to provide four (4) items per cabin for pressing. 
•    PORT RESERVATIONS: Gains reservations even for port restaurants. 
•    LUGGAGE: Unpack and pack your luggage.  This is NOT something I have ever had done.  Those that have had it done seem to enjoy it. 


NOTE: I do what is called a Butlers letter.  It gives information to the butler on minor requests, so they don’t have to read our minds. 

 

I hope this give you what you asked for in your post.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 
 

 

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Just a few quick thoughts after skimming it...

 

1. Can you paginate it? Easier to go to a specific section quickly if page numbers are on each page. The TOC shows page numbers, but the pages aren't numbered.

 

2. Where is the daily newspaper discussed, The Currents? Did I miss it? Secret #4 discusses O Onboard Announcements, but you're only discussing the intercom ones. The CURRENTS is priceless and should be STUDIED carefully and thoroughly each NIGHT the day before. (I save all mine for future reference.) What is SAD is how many times I've heard people say, "I didn't know about X, Y or Z" yet Z, Y and Z were clearly mentioned in the CURRENTS.

 

3. I think you're dancing a bit around the reality of bringing BEER, HARD LIQUOR and WINE on board, at embarkation and at each port. Yes, the O FAQ/Policy says 6 bottles of wine, but as you point out that also means hard liquor (your "spirits" from Secret #18). But that also means beer. As my room steward and attendant could attest, at one time I had about 12 500 ML cans of beer, 4 bottles of wine, and 5 bottles of hard liquor on the shelves above the refrigerator. And a bottle or wine and some more cans of beer in the refrigerator. [When we changed cabins on our B2B (going from 9127 to 7036), I spent some time moving my own alcohol to the new room. I had a lot! I fell in love with inexpensive European brandy. From Crete, Serbia and Spain. And the 500 ML cans of beer were usually purchased from E.69 (on sale in Montengro) to no more than a bit over E1.00. A lovely Italian red bottle of wine that I found on the bottom shelf of an Italian grocery store was just E1.49.]

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Great information.  Can you comment on the quality of Oceania shore excursions?  We have always done our own independent ones, but on our upcoming cruise will book some ship excursions.  Do you have any advice as to how to choose the best excursions?

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9 minutes ago, miscstuff1 said:

Great information.  Can you comment on the quality of Oceania shore excursions?  We have always done our own independent ones, but on our upcoming cruise will book some ship excursions.  Do you have any advice as to how to choose the best excursions?

@miscstuff1 I cannot talk about Oceania Shore Excursions.  We choose to do all our excursions on our own.  Sorry. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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59 minutes ago, MEFIowa said:

Just a few quick thoughts after skimming it...

 

1. Can you paginate it? Easier to go to a specific section quickly if page numbers are on each page. The TOC shows page numbers, but the pages aren't numbered.

 

2. Where is the daily newspaper discussed, The Currents? Did I miss it? Secret #4 discusses O Onboard Announcements, but you're only discussing the intercom ones. The CURRENTS is priceless and should be STUDIED carefully and thoroughly each NIGHT the day before. (I save all mine for future reference.) What is SAD is how many times I've heard people say, "I didn't know about X, Y or Z" yet Z, Y and Z were clearly mentioned in the CURRENTS.

 

3. I think you're dancing a bit around the reality of bringing BEER, HARD LIQUOR and WINE on board, at embarkation and at each port. Yes, the O FAQ/Policy says 6 bottles of wine, but as you point out that also means hard liquor (your "spirits" from Secret #18). But that also means beer. As my room steward and attendant could attest, at one time I had about 12 500 ML cans of beer, 4 bottles of wine, and 5 bottles of hard liquor on the shelves above the refrigerator. And a bottle or wine and some more cans of beer in the refrigerator. [When we changed cabins on our B2B (going from 9127 to 7036), I spent some time moving my own alcohol to the new room. I had a lot! I fell in love with inexpensive European brandy. From Crete, Serbia and Spain. And the 500 ML cans of beer were usually purchased from E.69 (on sale in Montengro) to no more than a bit over E1.00. A lovely Italian red bottle of wine that I found on the bottom shelf of an Italian grocery store was just E1.49.]

@MEFIowa All great points, I will include below the NEW version #2 with pages #s.  That was 100% my mistake.  Your comments are excellent and those reading this stream will see your comments and make necessary's adjustment.  Thank you for taking the time to comment.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

The Secrets of Elevating your Cruise Experience with Oceania Cruises_VER2.pdf

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23 minutes ago, Sthrngary said:

@MEFIowa All great points, I will include below the NEW version #2 with pages #s.  That was 100% my mistake.  Your comments are excellent and those reading this stream will see your comments and make necessary's adjustment.  Thank you for taking the time to comment.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

The Secrets of Elevating your Cruise Experience with Oceania Cruises_VER2.pdf 664.72 kB · 0 downloads

Thank you. 10 days on marina last month, first O cruise. We never did afternoon tea (regret), never ate in GDR (no regret), enjoyed outside Dinner twice at Terrace Cafe (surprisingly great). Never ordered dinner in our Oceania Suite (not sure if that is a regret). Booked the same suite for next year on the refurbished Marina.  Loved our Butler!

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6 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

@Tsunami74 Download the document and look for Butlers.  I have some bullet points I can post if you want more information.  Just let me know.  Learning about what a butler can and can not do is fun.  Good butlers are hard to find.  

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

Thank you - I did - good suggestions

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11 minutes ago, FetaCheese said:

@Sthrngary

 

Hello, 

I've searched many ways for your NCL Haven Secrets topic, all to no avail.

 

Will you kindly reply with a link to it.

 

Thanks you.   

@FetaCheese First, thank you for asking.  I will provide the link below.  This post maybe deleted by the moderator because it focuses on another Board on CruiseCritic.com.  I want anyone that sees this post to understand, I am simply providing a source of information per my good friend @FetaCheese .  Below was revised in 2022 from the original topic done in 2019.  The first post is the meat.  Enjoy. Here you go.

 

 

 

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@Sthrngary, nice write-up.  Took me a while to read such a long document, but appreciate all the work you put into it.  Thank you for this well written and very helpful document.

 

I have Cruised in the NCL Haven several times and was in a Penthouse suite on the Riviera early this year.  Most of my experiences were similar to yours.  The one that was different was with the butler.  You talk about the elevated butler experience, and how they do much more for their guests on Oceania.  That was not our experience.  Our butler did do a nice job, but in general was no better or different than our NCL suite experience.  Example 1 - Asked about additional dining at specialty restaurants and were referred to the concierge.  Example 2 - Asked about snacks other than what was on the standard form and were told that they only bring items on the standard from.  Our butler was nice, polite, and personable, but no different than our NCL experience.  Perhaps being in a Vista Suite vs. Penthouse elevates the interaction a bit.  On NCL we have had more attenitive butlers in Owners suites vs standard suites.

 

We did have a positive Ocenaia experience, so will sail on them in the future, in fact we will be sailing on the Oceania Vista in March 2024.

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