Jump to content
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

Quick Review of Nov 19-29 Barcelona to Istanbul Cruise on Oceania Riviera


Psoque
 Share

Recommended Posts

LauraS
This post was recognized by LauraS!

"Thank you for sharing your review with everyone at Cruise Critic. Please consider submitting it to the site for publication as well: Click: Write a Review"

Psoque was awarded the badge 'Great Review'

We just disembarked Riviera a couple of hours ago, and I wanted to post a few impressions here.  We have done about a cruise a year for the past 20 years on various lines, all the way from NCL to Crystal, as well as a couple of Crystal river cruises and one cruise on Crystal Esprit.  This was our first Oceania cruise and also our first cruise since late 2021.  The cruise before that one was in late 2019.

 

Since Oceania touts itself as a “luxury” cruise line, we will be making some comparison to our previous experiences on luxury lines (Crystal, mianly) as well as mid-range lines (Celebrity, HAL, and Princess).

 

Furthermore, this is purely our opinion based on our first cruise with Oceania.  We have no idea, how their competition is performing post-COVID, since this was our first post-COVID ocean cruise.

 

In general, we had an enjoyable 10 days onboard Riviera.  However, it is very clear to me that Oceania, is not substantially/entirely more “luxurious” than other mid-range lines like Celebrity/HAL/Princess.

 

Our flight arrived in Barcelona the day before embarkation.  We made our own flight/pre and post cruise hotel arrangements.  After spending a night at Hotel Neri in  the “Gothic” Quarters neighborhood, we took a privately arranged tour of Montserrat and the monastery there.  That was a great tour.  HIghly recommended.  We did not see much else of Barcelona since we visited Barcelona before (and saw most of the notable Gaudi buildings then).

 

Boarding in Barcelona was very smooth and punctual.  We actually arrived at the Barcelona cruise terminal around 3 PM and was in our cabin in about 30 min or less.

 

We don’t have the official numbers, but we were told by another passenger that there was “about 1,000 passengers” aboard.  We were also told that there will be only 500 or so passengers on the next segment, since many have cancelled that cruise for the reasons we all know.  The ship did not feel very full most of the time.  There was a fairly large group of passengers from Indonesia on board, as well as a much smaller groups from Japan and elsewhere.  It appears many of the non-English-speaking passengers opted to go to the buffet for all of their meals, which made the buffet a total zoo at typical mealtimes.  We only went to the buffet once, for a later lunch after an excursion.  From what we observed, the Indonesian group was full of multi-generational families, while the rest of the passengers were couples/singles in their 60’s and older.  We notice more mobility-challenged passengers on this cruise than any other cruise we have taken.  We are not sure why this was the case.

 

Our cabin was cabin number 9051, a concierge-level cabin on the starboard side, slightly forward from midship.  We were just a few steps from both the laundry room (which we never used), as well as the concierge lounge (which we used extensively).  Our cabin, we thought, was very specious for the price we paid for (we roughly paid about what we would pay for a lowest cost balcony cabin for a typical 7 day Mediterranean cruise on a mid-range line…like Celebrity/HAL/Princess).  We were particularly impressed with storage space in the cabin, and especially in the bathroom.  We maybe used about 1/2 of the storage space in the bathroom, for example.  The cabin attendants were both attentive and unobtrusive.  The cabin experience was very similar to what we have had on Crystal ocean ships.

 

In terms of the itinerary, we managed to visit all of the scheduled ports of call (Palma De Mallorca, Marseille, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Kavala, and Istanbul) except for Syracusa, which was skipped because of inclement weather…we ended up having 2 consecutive sea days instead of just one.  We pretty much enjoyed all of the ports of call.  We did the ship’s excursions on all of the stops except for Civitavecchia, where we hired a local driver. Some tours were better than others, obviously.

 

The dining experience on the ship was a bit of a disappointment.  This was partly our fault to have a slightly elevated level of expectations, partly influenced by all of the marketing tagline “The Finest Cuisine at Sea!!!”  We were a bit skeptical of this claim also, but since our TA, who has booked a lot of Crystal cruises, had good things to say about the Oceania dining experience, we had an unreasonably high expectations.

 

In our opinion, the whole dining experience onboard was only slightly worse than what we have experienced on our previous cruises with Celebrity, HAL, and Princess.  The quality of the food was just slightly better than that on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, but the dining service was, in our opinion, abysmally inconsistent.  We routinely waited 20-30 min between courses, and we frequently saw the waitstaff just standing around looking lost.  The food in Polo Grill, Jacques, and Toscana was better (comparable to the main dining room on Crystal ocean ships), but the service in specialty restaurants was equally inconsistent.  We did not go to Red Ginger, Privee, or La Reserve.  (We only went to the Terrace (buffet) restaurant once and regretted it.  It was a total zoo.) The problem with our food not arriving in a reasonable timeframe was further exacerbated by poorly trained/empowered waitstaff who looked plain toxic, struggling to meet our expectations.  Since the breakfast service in the main dining room was abysmal, we frequently took advantage of room service breakfast, which was fine.

 

Entertainment onboard Riviera was typical of any mid-range cruise ship.  Nothing extraordinary.  The lounge piano player/singer was not the best.  We are afraid to say he probably takes the cake for the worst performer onboard as well as the worst lounger pianist/singer we have had the pleasure of listening to.

 

I had fun doing the acrylic painting on glass plates in the Artists Loft.  I also attended the cooking class at the Culinary Center.  They were both done well.

 

The bar service at Horizons and Martini’s were excellent.

 

The fitness center onboard was reasonably equipped but was not well-maintained as we expected.  The rowing machine was in a poor shape.  Some of the locker doors were missing a hinge or two.  There were few other parts of the fitness/spa complex that definitely needed some attention including the door to the bathroom in the men’s changing room.

 

Onboard concierge and destination services staff were not sufficiently knowledgeable of the ports of call.  They were pleasant, friendly, and hard-working, but they really lacked the experience we often rely on for local tourism advice.

 

Front desk/reception staff were, as in the case with other mid-range lines, neither well trained or felt empowered to do their best job.  We never made any unreasonable requests, but every request was met with strange facial expressions.

 

Disembarkation in Istanbul was smooth and orderly.  It helped that the new Galataport is seriously well-designed to serve its purpose.  However, some of the mobility-challenged fellow passenger may have found the Galataport to require too much walking.

 

In summary, we did enjoy the cruise (since we consider cruises to be all about the ports of call).  The cabin and the cabin attendants were consistent with a luxury cruise line.  The entertainment onboard, the quality of food, as well as the upkeep of the ship was was more in line with a mid-range line.  The dining service was a bit of a disappointment, even for a mid-range line.  In our opinion, we would place Oceania squarely in the mid-range category, based on this cruise experience.

 

Would we book another Oceania cruise?  We think the answer is dependent on a few things.  If we can find a port-intensive (that’s our preference) itinerary that meets our interest, we would consider booking another one, if the price is right.  We would not consider paying a “luxury cruise line” price for any Oceania cruise at this time.

 

What we liked:

-our cabin/cabin attendants (A+)

-food in Toscana/Jacques (but not their inconsistent service) (A)

-art/cooking classes (A)

-ports of call (A+)

 

We we did not like:

-inconsistent dining room service (F)

-inexperienced concierge/destination service staff (C)

-lack of proper upkeep of some parts of the ship (C)

-Terrace Cafe experience (D)

 

We were neutral about:

-entertainment (B)

 

-

 

 

 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Psoque said:

We just disembarked Riviera a couple of hours ago, and I wanted to post a few impressions here.  We have done about a cruise a year for the past 20 years on various lines, all the way from NCL to Crystal, as well as a couple of Crystal river cruises and one cruise on Crystal Esprit.  This was our first Oceania cruise and also our first cruise since late 2021.  The cruise before that one was in late 2019.

 

Since Oceania touts itself as a “luxury” cruise line, we will be making some comparison to our previous experiences on luxury lines (Crystal, mianly) as well as mid-range lines (Celebrity, HAL, and Princess).

 

Furthermore, this is purely our opinion based on our first cruise with Oceania.  We have no idea, how their competition is performing post-COVID, since this was our first post-COVID ocean cruise.

 

In general, we had an enjoyable 10 days onboard Riviera.  However, it is very clear to me that Oceania, is not substantially/entirely more “luxurious” than other mid-range lines like Celebrity/HAL/Princess.

 

Our flight arrived in Barcelona the day before embarkation.  We made our own flight/pre and post cruise hotel arrangements.  After spending a night at Hotel Neri in  the “Gothic” Quarters neighborhood, we took a privately arranged tour of Montserrat and the monastery there.  That was a great tour.  HIghly recommended.  We did not see much else of Barcelona since we visited Barcelona before (and saw most of the notable Gaudi buildings then).

 

Boarding in Barcelona was very smooth and punctual.  We actually arrived at the Barcelona cruise terminal around 3 PM and was in our cabin in about 30 min or less.

 

We don’t have the official numbers, but we were told by another passenger that there was “about 1,000 passengers” aboard.  We were also told that there will be only 500 or so passengers on the next segment, since many have cancelled that cruise for the reasons we all know.  The ship did not feel very full most of the time.  There was a fairly large group of passengers from Indonesia on board, as well as a much smaller groups from Japan and elsewhere.  It appears many of the non-English-speaking passengers opted to go to the buffet for all of their meals, which made the buffet a total zoo at typical mealtimes.  We only went to the buffet once, for a later lunch after an excursion.  From what we observed, the Indonesian group was full of multi-generational families, while the rest of the passengers were couples/singles in their 60’s and older.  We notice more mobility-challenged passengers on this cruise than any other cruise we have taken.  We are not sure why this was the case.

 

Our cabin was cabin number 9051, a concierge-level cabin on the starboard side, slightly forward from midship.  We were just a few steps from both the laundry room (which we never used), as well as the concierge lounge (which we used extensively).  Our cabin, we thought, was very specious for the price we paid for (we roughly paid about what we would pay for a lowest cost balcony cabin for a typical 7 day Mediterranean cruise on a mid-range line…like Celebrity/HAL/Princess).  We were particularly impressed with storage space in the cabin, and especially in the bathroom.  We maybe used about 1/2 of the storage space in the bathroom, for example.  The cabin attendants were both attentive and unobtrusive.  The cabin experience was very similar to what we have had on Crystal ocean ships.

 

In terms of the itinerary, we managed to visit all of the scheduled ports of call (Palma De Mallorca, Marseille, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Kavala, and Istanbul) except for Syracusa, which was skipped because of inclement weather…we ended up having 2 consecutive sea days instead of just one.  We pretty much enjoyed all of the ports of call.  We did the ship’s excursions on all of the stops except for Civitavecchia, where we hired a local driver. Some tours were better than others, obviously.

 

The dining experience on the ship was a bit of a disappointment.  This was partly our fault to have a slightly elevated level of expectations, partly influenced by all of the marketing tagline “The Finest Cuisine at Sea!!!”  We were a bit skeptical of this claim also, but since our TA, who has booked a lot of Crystal cruises, had good things to say about the Oceania dining experience, we had an unreasonably high expectations.

 

In our opinion, the whole dining experience onboard was only slightly worse than what we have experienced on our previous cruises with Celebrity, HAL, and Princess.  The quality of the food was just slightly better than that on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, but the dining service was, in our opinion, abysmally inconsistent.  We routinely waited 20-30 min between courses, and we frequently saw the waitstaff just standing around looking lost.  The food in Polo Grill, Jacques, and Toscana was better (comparable to the main dining room on Crystal ocean ships), but the service in specialty restaurants was equally inconsistent.  We did not go to Red Ginger, Privee, or La Reserve.  (We only went to the Terrace (buffet) restaurant once and regretted it.  It was a total zoo.) The problem with our food not arriving in a reasonable timeframe was further exacerbated by poorly trained/empowered waitstaff who looked plain toxic, struggling to meet our expectations.  Since the breakfast service in the main dining room was abysmal, we frequently took advantage of room service breakfast, which was fine.

 

Entertainment onboard Riviera was typical of any mid-range cruise ship.  Nothing extraordinary.  The lounge piano player/singer was not the best.  We are afraid to say he probably takes the cake for the worst performer onboard as well as the worst lounger pianist/singer we have had the pleasure of listening to.

 

I had fun doing the acrylic painting on glass plates in the Artists Loft.  I also attended the cooking class at the Culinary Center.  They were both done well.

 

The bar service at Horizons and Martini’s were excellent.

 

The fitness center onboard was reasonably equipped but was not well-maintained as we expected.  The rowing machine was in a poor shape.  Some of the locker doors were missing a hinge or two.  There were few other parts of the fitness/spa complex that definitely needed some attention including the door to the bathroom in the men’s changing room.

 

Onboard concierge and destination services staff were not sufficiently knowledgeable of the ports of call.  They were pleasant, friendly, and hard-working, but they really lacked the experience we often rely on for local tourism advice.

 

Front desk/reception staff were, as in the case with other mid-range lines, neither well trained or felt empowered to do their best job.  We never made any unreasonable requests, but every request was met with strange facial expressions.

 

Disembarkation in Istanbul was smooth and orderly.  It helped that the new Galataport is seriously well-designed to serve its purpose.  However, some of the mobility-challenged fellow passenger may have found the Galataport to require too much walking.

 

In summary, we did enjoy the cruise (since we consider cruises to be all about the ports of call).  The cabin and the cabin attendants were consistent with a luxury cruise line.  The entertainment onboard, the quality of food, as well as the upkeep of the ship was was more in line with a mid-range line.  The dining service was a bit of a disappointment, even for a mid-range line.  In our opinion, we would place Oceania squarely in the mid-range category, based on this cruise experience.

 

Would we book another Oceania cruise?  We think the answer is dependent on a few things.  If we can find a port-intensive (that’s our preference) itinerary that meets our interest, we would consider booking another one, if the price is right.  We would not consider paying a “luxury cruise line” price for any Oceania cruise at this time.

 

What we liked:

-our cabin/cabin attendants (A+)

-food in Toscana/Jacques (but not their inconsistent service) (A)

-art/cooking classes (A)

-ports of call (A+)

 

We we did not like:

-inconsistent dining room service (F)

-inexperienced concierge/destination service staff (C)

-lack of proper upkeep of some parts of the ship (C)

-Terrace Cafe experience (D)

 

We were neutral about:

-entertainment (B)

 

-

 

 

 


Thank you for your post. It’s always interesting to read about other peoples experiences.

 

You mention that this is your first post Covid cruise. We have taken three cruises with Oceania since mid 2022 and one with each of two other lines. Sad to say but none were faultless.

 

I think the biggest issue is that lots of staff who were in the cruising industry are no longer working on ships. When ships weren’t sailing Oceania, for one, was not paying any wages, not even retainers for the butlers. So naturally lots of staff had to find other ways to support themselves and their families. I guess also lots of the staff realised how much home life they were missing when away at sea.

 

So the crux of the matter is that there is so much pent up demand for cruising but not enough well trained returning staff to service all ships. Hence lots of new, and maybe not so well trained staff, on ships. Maybe in a few years when crews ‘meld’ again the service will approach the days prior to 2020.

Edited by Vallesan
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to share your first time impressions of Oceania. While they do describe their ships as "luxurious", Oceania is not a true luxury line, IMHO, We have found the service in the Grand Dining Room to be so inconsistent over the 18 years we're been sailing on O, that there have been some cruises where we never tried dining there at all. Too bad your experience with Terrace was so chaotic and that you didn't try Red Ginger, which is usually the most consistent in terms of quality and service.

Itinerary, with a small(ish) ship, is the most important thing for us and with the way Oceania is now pricing its cruises, it is easier to find a true luxury voyage for just about the same amount of money.

Sorry it was a bit of a disapointment for you and hope you pointed out the deficiencies on your final cruise survey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank You for your excellent review. As you clearly point out, an important part of enjoying your cruise is to temper your expectations and not believe all the marketing hype.

 

One comment, and it’s a personal peeve,  we live in an era of outrageous grade inflation. A (B) grade indicates above average performance. A neutral or average grade would be a C. A”C” is probably a reasonable grade for the entertainment staff. Just average .

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We were on Riviera for the 2 consecutive cruises before you, Trieste to Athens and Athens to Barcelona. Always interesting to read the experiences of others. We stayed in 9129 and 7036 (changing cabins between the cruises).

 

We did our laundry 5 times while on board! We spent 3 nights in Venice before and 3 nights in Barcelona after. So, we loved that. Great to have clean clothes.

 

I found the Front Desk staff to be outstanding. Always willing and able to respond to whatever I inquired about or needed assistance.

 

And we LOVE the Terrace Cafe, even when it is crowded and a zoo. Our two cruises had very large numbers of Asians (e.g., Hong Kong). Yes, they did seem to love the TC, esp. the grilling station. We did our 8 evenings in the specialty restaurants and none in the GDR. We're not too keen on meals taking more than a hour. So the buffet works great for us. And Waves each morning for breakfast.

Edited by MEFIowa
Typo
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Psoque. Interesting read. My partner and I were also on this cruise with another couple who have never cruised before. Our experience was very different to yours. One of our meals (the last night we were in Polo) was slow but each of the other meals was served in a timely manner. We actually had a discussion today (we are staying in Istanbul for a few days) about how impressed we were with so many of the staff.

I certainly agree that the two large groups travelling together had a detrimental affect on the cruise. I really think Oceania needs to reconsider their strategy of entering new markets.
But the “newbies” we travelled with were so impressed they booked another cruise while onboard. My partner and I actually booked two.

If you are staying in Istanbul as we are, let’s hope this rain lets up. Safe travels home.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forgot to mention that the laundry service was excellent on this cruise.  We had three free bags (up to 20 items?  Not sure if that was actually enforced…) on laundry included as a benefit of the concierge cabin, and we sent one “paid” bag out near the end of the cruise.  The first “free” bag of the laundry came back in less in 2.5 days, and the other two “free” and paid bag came back in about 30 hours.  We usually do onboard laundry ourselves if that is an option on the ship, but this time, we thought we can spend more time vacationing.  We would have considered doing our own laundry if this itinerary was not this port-intensive, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Psoque Laundry service is one area that has improved recently, IME.  On my last 2 O cruises (Aug. 2023 and Oct. 2022), we got our laundry back in 2 days, maybe even a little less than 48 hours.  Before that, it was 3 full days and not an hour sooner.  I don't use the self-serve laundry anymore because I don't want to spend vacation time in a crowded laundry room especially on R ships where it's dreadful. 

 

Service in the GDR can be all over the place.  Sometimes bad, sometimes excellent.  We've had both. I think it really depends on how well the staff has been trained and how new they are to Oceania. 

 

Thank you for the review. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Psoque said:

We just disembarked Riviera a couple of hours ago, and I wanted to post a few impressions here.  We have done about a cruise a year for the past 20 years on various lines, all the way from NCL to Crystal, as well as a couple of Crystal river cruises and one cruise on Crystal Esprit.  This was our first Oceania cruise and also our first cruise since late 2021.  The cruise before that one was in late 2019.

 

Since Oceania touts itself as a “luxury” cruise line, we will be making some comparison to our previous experiences on luxury lines (Crystal, mianly) as well as mid-range lines (Celebrity, HAL, and Princess).

 

Furthermore, this is purely our opinion based on our first cruise with Oceania.  We have no idea, how their competition is performing post-COVID, since this was our first post-COVID ocean cruise.

 

In general, we had an enjoyable 10 days onboard Riviera.  However, it is very clear to me that Oceania, is not substantially/entirely more “luxurious” than other mid-range lines like Celebrity/HAL/Princess.

 

Our flight arrived in Barcelona the day before embarkation.  We made our own flight/pre and post cruise hotel arrangements.  After spending a night at Hotel Neri in  the “Gothic” Quarters neighborhood, we took a privately arranged tour of Montserrat and the monastery there.  That was a great tour.  HIghly recommended.  We did not see much else of Barcelona since we visited Barcelona before (and saw most of the notable Gaudi buildings then).

 

Boarding in Barcelona was very smooth and punctual.  We actually arrived at the Barcelona cruise terminal around 3 PM and was in our cabin in about 30 min or less.

 

We don’t have the official numbers, but we were told by another passenger that there was “about 1,000 passengers” aboard.  We were also told that there will be only 500 or so passengers on the next segment, since many have cancelled that cruise for the reasons we all know.  The ship did not feel very full most of the time.  There was a fairly large group of passengers from Indonesia on board, as well as a much smaller groups from Japan and elsewhere.  It appears many of the non-English-speaking passengers opted to go to the buffet for all of their meals, which made the buffet a total zoo at typical mealtimes.  We only went to the buffet once, for a later lunch after an excursion.  From what we observed, the Indonesian group was full of multi-generational families, while the rest of the passengers were couples/singles in their 60’s and older.  We notice more mobility-challenged passengers on this cruise than any other cruise we have taken.  We are not sure why this was the case.

 

Our cabin was cabin number 9051, a concierge-level cabin on the starboard side, slightly forward from midship.  We were just a few steps from both the laundry room (which we never used), as well as the concierge lounge (which we used extensively).  Our cabin, we thought, was very specious for the price we paid for (we roughly paid about what we would pay for a lowest cost balcony cabin for a typical 7 day Mediterranean cruise on a mid-range line…like Celebrity/HAL/Princess).  We were particularly impressed with storage space in the cabin, and especially in the bathroom.  We maybe used about 1/2 of the storage space in the bathroom, for example.  The cabin attendants were both attentive and unobtrusive.  The cabin experience was very similar to what we have had on Crystal ocean ships.

 

In terms of the itinerary, we managed to visit all of the scheduled ports of call (Palma De Mallorca, Marseille, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Kavala, and Istanbul) except for Syracusa, which was skipped because of inclement weather…we ended up having 2 consecutive sea days instead of just one.  We pretty much enjoyed all of the ports of call.  We did the ship’s excursions on all of the stops except for Civitavecchia, where we hired a local driver. Some tours were better than others, obviously.

 

The dining experience on the ship was a bit of a disappointment.  This was partly our fault to have a slightly elevated level of expectations, partly influenced by all of the marketing tagline “The Finest Cuisine at Sea!!!”  We were a bit skeptical of this claim also, but since our TA, who has booked a lot of Crystal cruises, had good things to say about the Oceania dining experience, we had an unreasonably high expectations.

 

In our opinion, the whole dining experience onboard was only slightly worse than what we have experienced on our previous cruises with Celebrity, HAL, and Princess.  The quality of the food was just slightly better than that on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, but the dining service was, in our opinion, abysmally inconsistent.  We routinely waited 20-30 min between courses, and we frequently saw the waitstaff just standing around looking lost.  The food in Polo Grill, Jacques, and Toscana was better (comparable to the main dining room on Crystal ocean ships), but the service in specialty restaurants was equally inconsistent.  We did not go to Red Ginger, Privee, or La Reserve.  (We only went to the Terrace (buffet) restaurant once and regretted it.  It was a total zoo.) The problem with our food not arriving in a reasonable timeframe was further exacerbated by poorly trained/empowered waitstaff who looked plain toxic, struggling to meet our expectations.  Since the breakfast service in the main dining room was abysmal, we frequently took advantage of room service breakfast, which was fine.

 

Entertainment onboard Riviera was typical of any mid-range cruise ship.  Nothing extraordinary.  The lounge piano player/singer was not the best.  We are afraid to say he probably takes the cake for the worst performer onboard as well as the worst lounger pianist/singer we have had the pleasure of listening to.

 

I had fun doing the acrylic painting on glass plates in the Artists Loft.  I also attended the cooking class at the Culinary Center.  They were both done well.

 

The bar service at Horizons and Martini’s were excellent.

 

The fitness center onboard was reasonably equipped but was not well-maintained as we expected.  The rowing machine was in a poor shape.  Some of the locker doors were missing a hinge or two.  There were few other parts of the fitness/spa complex that definitely needed some attention including the door to the bathroom in the men’s changing room.

 

Onboard concierge and destination services staff were not sufficiently knowledgeable of the ports of call.  They were pleasant, friendly, and hard-working, but they really lacked the experience we often rely on for local tourism advice.

 

Front desk/reception staff were, as in the case with other mid-range lines, neither well trained or felt empowered to do their best job.  We never made any unreasonable requests, but every request was met with strange facial expressions.

 

Disembarkation in Istanbul was smooth and orderly.  It helped that the new Galataport is seriously well-designed to serve its purpose.  However, some of the mobility-challenged fellow passenger may have found the Galataport to require too much walking.

 

In summary, we did enjoy the cruise (since we consider cruises to be all about the ports of call).  The cabin and the cabin attendants were consistent with a luxury cruise line.  The entertainment onboard, the quality of food, as well as the upkeep of the ship was was more in line with a mid-range line.  The dining service was a bit of a disappointment, even for a mid-range line.  In our opinion, we would place Oceania squarely in the mid-range category, based on this cruise experience.

 

Would we book another Oceania cruise?  We think the answer is dependent on a few things.  If we can find a port-intensive (that’s our preference) itinerary that meets our interest, we would consider booking another one, if the price is right.  We would not consider paying a “luxury cruise line” price for any Oceania cruise at this time.

 

What we liked:

-our cabin/cabin attendants (A+)

-food in Toscana/Jacques (but not their inconsistent service) (A)

-art/cooking classes (A)

-ports of call (A+)

 

We we did not like:

-inconsistent dining room service (F)

-inexperienced concierge/destination service staff (C)

-lack of proper upkeep of some parts of the ship (C)

-Terrace Cafe experience (D)

 

We were neutral about:

-entertainment (B)

 

-

 

 

 

Extremely well done and balanced.  I also enjoyed some of the brand you have taken in the past.  Although some of my experience were a different then yours (we got off when you got on), much of it had to do with the friends that joined us.

 

Thank you for your honest and fairness.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oceania is not perfect, but comparing it to Celebrity/HAL/Princess is like comparing Four Seasons to Holiday Inn (unless you are in a suite on Celebrity/HAL/Princess). But of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. Food and service is in a different league most of the time (of course there are always exceptions).

Edited by ak1004
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/30/2023 at 4:57 PM, ak1004 said:

Oceania is not perfect, but comparing it to Celebrity/HAL/Princess is like comparing Four Seasons to Holiday Inn (unless you are in a suite on Celebrity/HAL/Princess). But of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. Food and service is in a different league most of the time (of course there are always exceptions).

We were hoping that Oceania was going to perform substantially better than what we would expect from Celebrity/HAL/Princess.   In this particular cruise, it did not, especially in the areas of service in the dining rooms as well as in concierge/destination services/reception.  But as I mentioned earlier, we paid for this cruise what we would have paid for a similar itinerary on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, so we didn’t feel short-changed in any way.

 

I don’t think Oceania is a “Four Seasons” type of a cruise line.   It’s a solidly mid-range line with some premium features, like a standard Hilton.  I consider Celebrity/HAL/Princess to be almost in the same league with Oceania, at least based on this experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

40 minutes ago, Psoque said:

We were hoping that Oceania was going to perform substantially better than what we would expect from Celebrity/HAL/Princess.   In this particular cruise, it did not, especially in the areas of service in the dining rooms as well as in concierge/destination services/reception.  But as I mentioned earlier, we paid for this cruise what we would have paid for a similar itinerary on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, so we didn’t feel short-changed in any way.

 

I don’t think Oceania is a “Four Seasons” type of a cruise line.   It’s a solidly mid-range line with some premium features, like a standard Hilton.  I consider Celebrity/HAL/Princess to be almost in the same league with Oceania, at least based on this experience.

@Psoque It is so important to attempt to find a way to enhance our cruising experience.  So we try new things.  New brands, new ships, new itineraries and new experiences.  Not all work out.  The bottom line is it takes risk to get gains. Risks also can create disappointment.  I loved HAL back in the day but did not like Celebrity.  That is why there are so many options for all of us.  What we can all agree too, we love cruising.  What else really matters. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Psoque said:

We were hoping that Oceania was going to perform substantially better than what we would expect from Celebrity/HAL/Princess.   In this particular cruise, it did not, especially in the areas of service in the dining rooms as well as in concierge/destination services/reception.  But as I mentioned earlier, we paid for this cruise what we would have paid for a similar itinerary on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, so we didn’t feel short-changed in any way.

 

I don’t think Oceania is a “Four Seasons” type of a cruise line.   It’s a solidly mid-range line with some premium features, like a standard Hilton.  I consider Celebrity/HAL/Princess to be almost in the same league with Oceania, at least based on this experience.


We sailed on Celebrity, HAL, Princess, Oceania, Silversea and 12 other lines. I consider Oceania to be much closer to the luxury lines like Silversea, and in a different league from Celebrity. Definitely not mid range.

 

How long do you have to wait in line just to reach reception or destination services on Celebrity compared to Oceania? How about the pool or the theatre?

 

But of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Edited by ak1004
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Psoque said:

 

I don’t think Oceania is a “Four Seasons” type of a cruise line.   It’s a solidly mid-range line with some premium features, like a standard Hilton.  I consider Celebrity/HAL/Princess to be almost in the same league with Oceania, at least based on this experience.

If you like crowds, a lot of noise and breakfasts cafeteria style then I can understand why you don’t give Oceania advantages over mass market big ships cruising. Otherwise, we wouldn’t put Oceania in the same league as the cruise lines that you mentioned. Onboard experience on Oceania is completely different and much more to our liking after the years we’ve cruised with them. But it’s good to have all options to satisfy all different tastes.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Psoque said:

But as I mentioned earlier, we paid for this cruise what we would have paid for a similar itinerary on Celebrity/HAL/Princess, so we didn’t feel short-changed in any way.

 

 

…and I think it might be two specific reasons for that. First, any cruise in Mediterranean in November would be significantly cheaper than the similar cruise during the prime season. Second, possibly you booked this cruise when it was on one of the Oceania’s sales that also would be an indicator that the cruise wasn’t the most popular. Therefore, the price was lower than normal. So it’s not a fair comparison to the average mass market cruise price wise. Fortunately, there are many other cruise lines to choose from if you wouldn’t want to pay regular Oceania prices.

 

I completely understand that there were some positives but also a lot of misses on your cruise. It’s interesting that another poster who was on your cruise enjoyed it and didn’t have any problems, but you didn’t like your experience that much. Not everything is always perfect for everyone on any cruise and obviously this Oceania cruise didn’t meet your expectations. As you mentioned, you would have a choice to try Oceania another time or look elsewhere.

Edited by osandomir
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe the greatest problem is that people book Oceania with outsized expectations that can’t, or won’t, be met.

 

The marketing machine far outpaces the operating side of the company. 

 

Personally see no cure for this dilemma. People still go on blind dates expecting to meet Miss America. Nature of the Beast.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, pinotlover said:

I believe the greatest problem is that people book Oceania with outsized expectations that can’t, or won’t, be met.

 

The marketing machine far outpaces the operating side of the company. 

 

Personally see no cure for this dilemma. People still go on blind dates expecting to meet Miss America. Nature of the Beast.


Well said!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, pinotlover said:

I believe the greatest problem is that people book Oceania with outsized expectations that can’t, or won’t, be met.

 

The marketing machine far outpaces the operating side of the company. 

 

Personally see no cure for this dilemma. People still go on blind dates expecting to meet Miss America. Nature of the Beast.

 

And this is true for most if not all cruise lines. And the higher the cruise fare, the higher the expectations. Just look at SS reviews.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based on our experience, we saw very little difference between Oceania and Celebrity/HAL/Princess, other than maybe the nicer cabins on Oceania Riviera.  We consider all cruise lines that can easily booked by a normal person, like ourselves, to be mass market line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I guess I need to make it clear what we typically expect in a “luxury” cruise line, even though I think any cruise line is mass market, unless you are chartering your own private yacht with a hand-picked staff.

 

-Was the buffet/lido dining area a constant zoo with a lot of noise and chaos?  If so, it is not a luxury cruise line.

-Are the dining facilities failing to provide a consistently excellent service?  If so, it’s not a luxury cruise line.

-Are the members of the staff  more comfortable to say “no” to every request, even before making that request?  If so, it’s not a luxury cruise line.

 

Is Oceania a luxury cruise line based on our criteria?  We certainly do not think so.

 

Is Oceania better than Celebrity/HAL/Princess in every aspect of its operations?  We didn’t find that to be the case.  There are some limited aspects of Oceania that we find it more premium than Celebrity/HAL/Princess.  In our opinion, the cabins are nicer, and the cabin attendants appear to be less overworked.  But everything else is just the same as Celebrity/HAL/Princess.  And the dining service was abysmally inconsistent onboard Riviera.  Based on that, we are not willing to pay the additional premium of a “typical” Oceania cruise.  That does not mean we don’t appreciate a luxury cruising experience.  We just don’t want to pay for the experience and not getting much of that experience onboard.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Psoque You are correct; O is a premium line not a luxury line. While O uses the word "luxury" in marketing materials it is usually an adjective (e.g., luxury bedding, luxury experience). On the website (https://www.oceaniacruises.com/value) they compare themselves to premium, not luxury, lines:
image.thumb.png.68fe6537a14f0bbc73ca97d8d99536be.png

I have long suspected that the "bargain fare" (i.e., less popular) itineraries are used as a high staff turn-over and training opportunity. That would explain some of your unsatisfactory staff encounters.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the size of the ships alone puts Oceania/Azamara/Viking in a separate league. Plus more inclusions, no dime and nickel, better passenger/crew ratios etc. Can you really compare a ship with 1.6 guests per crew member with a ship with 2.5 guests per crew member?

 

Last year we took our first cruise on Silversea. Cabins are much nicer, there is a butler in each cabin and it's all inclusive, but overall we found the service and food comparable to Oceania. We made many special requests on Oceania, they rarely said "no". Never considered a buffet on Oceania a zoo (it is on Celebrity), and food is definitely in a different league.

 

Our last cruise on O we travelled with a couple who traveled exclusively on Celebrity for the last 30 years. They agreed there is no comparison, and booked 2 more cruises while on board.

 

O is usually more expensive than Celebrity/HAL/Princess, I'm pretty sure people would not be paying those prices if the lies were comparable. But of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe if people are satisfied with Celebrity/HAL/Princess cruising experience there’s no need for them to look for call it premium or luxury features on the upscale cruise lines. They will always compare them to what they are used to and perfectly fine with and won’t see too much value for them. It’s understandable that they won’t be willing to pay more for that experience.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often wonder when I see these comparisons why people tend only to compare service, food and price.

 

Firstly, it’s very difficult to make food/service comparisons as they are so subjective.

 

Secondly, the price of an inclusive cruise is difficult to compare with a cruise where most items are paid for individually. And of course ‘price’ often sets the level of ‘expectation’ which is very difficult to quantify.


Finally, I very rarely see anyone comparing ‘size’ which for me is the very fundamental difference between the various lines. I personally, prefer the small ship experience and would never travel on a ‘monster’ for many reasons. So I wouldn’t  compare huge ships with their much smaller sisters. A far better comparison would maybe be between ships with under 1300 passengers ?

Just my thoughts!

 

 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...