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THE SECRETS OF ELEVATING YOUR CRUISE EXPERIENCE WITH OCEANIA CRUISES


Sthrngary
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7 minutes ago, WillCruiseForMoney said:

@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.

@WillCruiseForMoney The best butler I had ever had was on Crystal Cruises.  I also had some good butler on NCL in the Haven but also some not-so-good butlers.  The key to my butler experience and improvement over the years is my Butler Letter. Before doing this document, all butlers were just OK.  After, there was a significant improvement.  

 

It does not surprise me that your experience was different then mine. The good news is, we both had a very nice time on the cruise.  Different from the Haven but designed to be so.  My favorite part of the cruise was my friends reactions since they had never cruised before.  So much fun to see.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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Thanks very much for the very through write up, for the most part matches our 3 experiences with O.

 

Regarding butlers the best I can say is, they are people, and as such variable.  Our first was nice enough and best described as competent, but nothing special or surprising was offered.  
 

Our second was superb anticipating wants and wishes he went above and beyond meeting our modest requests.  
 

I think the butler letter is a superb idea and I’ll give it a try for our next sailing in April.  Your tipping strategy broadly matches my own.  I always tip bartenders early and have broadly received exceptional service as a result.  Spirits which are not initially available are “found” and refills just arrive more reliably.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

@WillCruiseForMoney The best butler I had ever had was on Crystal Cruises.  I also had some good butler on NCL in the Haven but also some not-so-good butlers.  The key to my butler experience and improvement over the years is my Butler Letter. Before doing this document, all butlers were just OK.  After, there was a significant improvement.  

 

It does not surprise me that your experience was different then mine. The good news is, we both had a very nice time on the cruise.  Different from the Haven but designed to be so.  My favorite part of the cruise was my friends reactions since they had never cruised before.  So much fun to see.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

 

We are on the Sirena, heading for Amazon. We wrote a "butler letter", and received wonderful positive feedback from him. He was so happy to learn about us, including our needs and pet peeves. We believe that this is one of the best ways to work with a butler (when you have one, as in PH cabin).

 

thanks for everyone who made this suggestion!

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@Sthrngary Thank you for such a comprehensive document. I love reading all of your posts and the detailed information you share.

 

We just upgraded to a penthouse for our cruise next week on Oceania. We have never had a butler before, so your information was really invaluable and timely. May I ask what you usually tip the butler? I have always found tipping upfront makes everyone happy and improves our experience. I'd like to follow your lead on this as well.

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1 hour ago, LabMom57 said:

@Sthrngary Thank you for such a comprehensive document. I love reading all of your posts and the detailed information you share.

 

We just upgraded to a penthouse for our cruise next week on Oceania. We have never had a butler before, so your information was really invaluable and timely. May I ask what you usually tip the butler? I have always found tipping upfront makes everyone happy and improves our experience. I'd like to follow your lead on this as well.

Personally, I consider upfront tipping a form of bribe.  We've never experienced anything but top notch service from our butler without it.  Besides, they may work harder to earn an extra tip than they would if it were "prepaid."  Do note that the automatic gratuity does increase when the stateroom has a butler.  That said, for special requests and really exceptional service, many (including ) think it's appropriate to add an additional amount.  Just my opinion; others may not agree.  

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On 11/27/2023 at 6:32 PM, Sthrngary said:

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 657.44 kB · 297 downloads

 

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44 minutes ago, LabMom57 said:

@Sthrngary Thank you for such a comprehensive document. I love reading all of your posts and the detailed information you share.

 

We just upgraded to a penthouse for our cruise next week on Oceania. We have never had a butler before, so your information was really invaluable and timely. May I ask what you usually tip the butler? I have always found tipping upfront makes everyone happy and improves our experience. I'd like to follow your lead on this as well.

@LabMom57 Oh boy what a loaded question.  This is one of those kinds of no win questions that hijack a thread.  The debate is pay upfront, pay at the end or do not provide any additional tip at all.  I am OLD school.  In my day, you NEVER paid upfront and back then, there was no pre-paid gratuity option.  "I am OLD". As time went on, the pre-paid gratuities became a thing.  

 

All I am going to do is tell you what I gave my butler, not saying it is correct, to much or too little.  I will confirm, it was in the butler letter which addresses why I provided it upfront.  Long story not worth telling.  The amount for a ten day Mediterranean cruise was $200.00 over and above the pre-paid gratuity.  

 

Now you do you and every else can make any decision they want.  

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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Sthrngary--I also enjoy reading your posts and appreciate your knowledge about Oceania. I seem to recall a discussion about tipping.  Here is the question.  If you give a tip to cabin steward or bartender, do they get to keep it OR does it go into some kind of "tip pool" that is combined with the automatic gratuity?

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57 minutes ago, zteamtwo said:

Sthrngary--I also enjoy reading your posts and appreciate your knowledge about Oceania. I seem to recall a discussion about tipping.  Here is the question.  If you give a tip to cabin steward or bartender, do they get to keep it OR does it go into some kind of "tip pool" that is combined with the automatic gratuity?

@zteamtwo I have no clue.  I would assume a tipping pool but allow someone else to comments.  I am not sure.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment

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1 hour ago, zteamtwo said:

Sthrngary--I also enjoy reading your posts and appreciate your knowledge about Oceania. I seem to recall a discussion about tipping.  Here is the question.  If you give a tip to cabin steward or bartender, do they get to keep it OR does it go into some kind of "tip pool" that is combined with the automatic gratuity?

 

I don't know the exact answer, but if my butler or cabin steward goes above and beyond and I give them a tip for that, I want it to go directly to them. 

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On 11/27/2023 at 3:32 PM, Sthrngary said:

The harder I looked, it became clear there was NO real resource and it frustrated me.

 

And now we have Google and plenty more! I'm an info junkie so I go to the good sources. Makes me happier than reading an anonymous source. No wait. Not "happier." Safer.  

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18 hours ago, Harry Lake said:

 

And now we have Google and plenty more! I'm an info junkie so I go to the good sources. Makes me happier than reading an anonymous source. No wait. Not "happier." Safer.  

@Harry Lake Hello Harry.  Thank you for your reply.  Again allow me to welcome you to CruiseCritic.com.  Allow me to clarify.  I am also an "Info Junkie".  My approach is to really get to the core of what is offered, the policies and the rules on how it works and how to gain the maximum value of products and services. This all began 7 years ago.  I wanted to go the the "Handout Music Festival" which is one of the top three/four day festivals in the country.  It happens on the Beach every May.  I was about 60 at the time and not in good health.  They had an expensive and exclusive admission called, "Super VIP".  Enclosed area for comfort/shade, hot tubs, Pools, golf carts, lunch and dinner catered by Beard Chefs, full bar and some many other amenities.  All that was available was Marketing Material which was NOT very specific.  I wanted more to justify the much higher cost.  It did not exist on any social media, using multiple google searches.  The realization that folks that pay that kind of price for Super VIP, don't post all the items and value received.  So, I bite the bullet, paid the price and wrote the article after I attended. I did Super VIP again the next four (4) years.  I did the same thing for the Bonnaroo Music Festival for Platinum and Artist Passes Backstage.  

 

This lead to doing the same research for high-end purchases.  Fast forward, the same opportunity happened for deep research for the NCL Haven.  Same thing happed.  No real deep information happened so I did what I did for the Hangout, bit the bullet, paid the price and wrote the article. This happened again with Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Retreat and recently Oceania Cruises.  

 

I always have most of the information before I try/purchase/book the product the first time.  However the real clear information and how to leverage it to get every once of value comes ONLY after you used the product or service. That is where the rubber meets the road and YES, things are different then my original research suggested. 

 

I hope that clarifies your comment.  The more we all go on a cruise, evaluate the good and the area or improvement.  The better folks in the future can avoid the negatives, focus on the positive and enhance their future cruising experience. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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On 12/2/2023 at 4:53 PM, Sthrngary said:

@zteamtwo I have no clue.  I would assume a tipping pool but allow someone else to comments.  I am not sure.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment

@Sthrngary Any chance you would post your butler letter, I have a list but you may have one that is more comprehensive. Just asking....

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Post Cruise Story: I booked a 10-Day Mediterranean Cruise on the Oceania Vista for October 2025 while cruising last month.  It was so far in the future, there was a 5% early booking reduction, onboard fare reduction and $250.00 of onboard credit.  My travel agency provided free gratuities.  The deposit was reduced to $500.00 per cabin and we booked two cabins. The itinerary was good because we got to go back to a few places, one port we missed and Croatia which was a request from all involved.  Other then mentioned above, that was the only fare discounts or reductions this far in advance. 

 

Looking At All Brands: Just like I did when I booked my November 2023 cruise just taken, I researched the other brands available at the same time as the cruise booked with Oceania in 2025.  NCL Viva utilizing a Haven Suite; Regent Seven Seas Cruise; SeaBourne; Silver Seas; Crystal Cruises; and the list goes on.  My research supports the choice of Oceania from a value standpoint.  I will continue to look and watch for specials, sales, and incentives.  

 

Airflights for October 2025 to Europe:  I used all my points for Delta Airlines for Delta One Business Class for my November 2023 trip.  However Delta just updated their miles program and raised my level for yearly gifts to a lifetime Diamond Status.  I have 4.5 million life time miles and Delta is rewarding my travel.  I now, in February of 2024 will receive four "Globally" Upgrade Certificates allowing my wife and my self to book "Refundable Coach" and receive Delta One Business Class. I won't be able to book the flight until 330 days prior to the return trip.  That is November 2024.  Knowing I will be able to fly business class again makes the trip even better. 

 

All I need now is for Oceania to cooperate and provide some sales that apply to the cruise I choose.  I even suggested to my wife and friends, this time do a back to back.  That did not go over well but I have two years to make it happen.  Wish me luck.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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19 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Our issue with O is that we can never get the itinerary we have booked.  No other cruise line plays so fast and loose with itinerary changes.  


 Our first cruise with Oceania was in 2015 and we are just  about to take our tenth in January  but we have only had one ‘itinerary’ change and that is Izmir for Corfu in May 2024. 
 

Yes we have missed ports due to ‘weather’ but never actually had an ‘itinerary change ‘!

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On 11/27/2023 at 5:32 PM, Sthrngary said:

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 657.44 kB · 362 downloads

A word of thanks for providing this cruise experience document. We are looking at Oceania for the first time and will definitely use your information. 

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4 minutes ago, JDPCruisers said:

A word of thanks for providing this cruise experience document. We are looking at Oceania for the first time and will definitely use your information. 

@JDPCruisers You are more than welcome.  I am no expert but happy to share any part of my recent experience.  Your experience on the Celebrity Beyond must have been with Captain Kate. She is an all time favorite of mine.  What a pro.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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9 minutes ago, Sthrngary said:

@JDPCruisers You are more than welcome.  I am no expert but happy to share any part of my recent experience.  Your experience on the Celebrity Beyond must have been with Captain Kate. She is an all time favorite of mine.  What a pro.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

One thing I'm not clear on is the real difference between PH1, 2 and 3? Location on the ship? Or? 

 

We have yet to be on the Beyond but are booked on her next April. Have been on Apex and Edge and have thoroughly enjoyed them, and all our Celebrity cruises, but with the recent changes to previous services, such as no longer offering a dedicated butler in certain suites, and interested in exploring the smaller premium lines to what they can offer. We're thinking smaller and more exclusive may be more for us at this point. 

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