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About scdreamer

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
  • Interests
    Hiking, biking, reading, gardening, travel, family
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Eastern Med

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  1. Well, we are home now. Enjoyed many aspects of the cruise, but, yes, there were a few glitches. Nothing terrible enough to spoil our fun, though. I think after the first couple days, the new staff started functioning as a team and the service vastly improved. Most of the reception staff were never friendly - it always seemed that we were bothering them if we had a question. Often they would sit gazing at their computer screens, pointedly ignoring people waiting to speak to them, not even acknowledging that anyone was there, seeming to hope we would leave if they ignored us long enough. It was off-putting, to say the least. Our cabin steward and her assistant were both great. Cabin was spotlessly clean at all times, and they always kept fresh ice in the bucket. Really, that's about all we need to be quite happy. The cabin issue I had is that the thermostat, located directly over the side of the bed, emits a very very very bright flashing green light at night. It shines directly onto the pillow of that side of the bed - flashing right onto the head of whomever is sleeping there. We ended up covering it every night with a black sport bra - the only thing we could wedge into the back enough to make it hang over the light source and stay put. Only a black item was strong enough to keep out the light - the light shone through any fabric lighter than that. Who designed that? Food in the GDR has somewhat declined in quality, in my opinion. Hit or miss, unless you order from the items that are always available. Their roasted chicken and the sirloin steak are consistently good. Soups were sometimes very good, sometimes very bad. Same with salads. Waitstaff was very good after the first day or so. We ate in Toscana once and Polo twice. Both were wonderful - both the food and the service. As far as tours - with the information we received from Oceania prior to the cruise, we accepted three free ship tours, wondering if we were going to have to stay on the ship the entire rest of the time. Nope - everyone was free to disembark and go wherever they wanted. Fortunately we had booked a couple tours in Santiago with "Out-of--the-Box" tours, a Cuban run company that is owned by a Canadian entity. We had wonderful private tours - tailored to what we wanted to see and do, at a much lower rate than any ship tours, and I would highly recommend this company. Our tour guide, Alejandro, was a college teacher who spoke excellent English, and had a very good knowledge of Cuban history, as well as world history. We had a driver, and were in a vintage air conditioned car both days. The tour company can be found through google. We skipped the free ship tours in favor of going out on our own. In Cienfuegos, we hired a gorgeous blue '52 Chevy and driver off the street who took us to Trinidad and waited for us and then brought us back to the ship. No English, but I speak fairly decent Spanish, so was able to get a lot of information on the one and a half hour drive there. He told us the car had first belonged to his grandfather, then his father, now him, and someday it will be his son's car. On the way back he took us into a small village where he knew a local fruit vendor, and we shared a fresh coconut, and then had a free fruit tasting that was just amazing. In Havana, we just wandered around on our own for the most part - met some interesting Cuban people and heard lots of great street music. We even got invited to a birthday party - lol. I think it would have been nice to have had an extra day in Havana, but we did see quite a bit. All in all, we enjoyed the cruise. If you're booked for this, or another cruise on Insignia, I don't think you will be disappointed.
  2. OP here ... we were on an Amazon and Caribbean cruise two years ago with Sandy as our lecturer, and, yes, she was phenomenal. The lecturer on this cruise is so far out of his depth it is unbelievable. He appears to have had no interest or background in any of the ports we are visiting. His main idea of Cuba is the old cars. He likes to waste a lot of time on talking about foods from other countries we are NOT visiting. Update on the service on the ship: Appears to be getting much better. It seems that the cruise started with a whole new crew who had not worked as a team before, and there was a lot of confusion. Most of the wait staff and cabin crew were clearly trying their best under the new and undeveloped supervision of higher ups. Things are going more smoothly now. I think what was frustrating for passengers was the the lack of concern by the reception staff. When we reported our phone not working for the third time, or the washing machine not functioning properly, there was an attitude of “so what.” Same when we observed others reporting lack of air conditioning in their cabins. Our phone is now working. It would have been a nice gesture had they offered us a single free laundry service to make up for the hour and a half we spent with our clothing locked in the washer with no detergent option coupled with having to dry the unwashed items. Instead they just pretty much said sorry, too bad, nothing we can do. A little thing, but it’s those little things that add up - good or bad. Any public relations professional knows this. On a better note, we had an absolutely fabulous dinner at Toscana last night. Staff was amazing, and the food was delicious. Beds are luxuriously comfortable, cabin staff is great, ships new decor is lovely.
  3. Agree about the lecturer ... he seems to know very little about Cuba other than the old cars in Havana. He spent a lot of time talking about some special hot sauce he found in Costa Rica and brought home. No information at all about the first two ports of call. Very lame. Dinner in the GDR was a “fail” again tonight. Ordered the fish soup and it was so bad I asked for lemon wedges to try to improve it, but in the end had to refuse it. Smelled and tasted like old rotten fish. That is a first for me. Long waits between courses. Service is hit or miss, staff seems very disorganized and overwhelmed. I feel sorry for them. They are trying their best, but it’s not great. Many apologies from waitstaff. We went to the Martini bar before dinner; the overhead lights were so bright it felt like an interrogation room at a police station, and the wall sconces were actually pulsing. It was pretty awful. The waitress told us there are electrical issues they can’t seem to resolve. They can’t seem to figure out how to dim the lights to a reasonable level. The other thing thing that I thought was my imagination until I talked with other passengers today - the green light that flashes from the cabin wall thermostat directly and beams on to the pillow of the bed. It’s real! How did they miss that when they installed it? We’ve wrapped a black tank-top around it to block the pulsating flash.
  4. Insignia just came out of dry dock and the ship is beautiful. Our veranda cabin is decorated in muted shades of gray and white, and the storage configuration is quite efficient. The public areas of the ship are also quite lovely. We are four-time Oceania passengers, and have had good experiences in the past. We are definitely not high maintenance people, and can normally let slide a few shortcomings without any concern. We are on our second full day on board, and there are more than a few glitches. The telephone in our cabin has not been operational, despite three times letting the reception staff know. (In fact, it seems we have had to go down to the reception desk too many times already for just two days on the ship.) No phone means no room service, no way to reach our steward, and probably most important - no way to contact anyone if there should be an emergency in the middle of the night. We are, however, grateful that we are not one of the other passengers on board who apparently have no A/C in their cabins. Guess the phone not working is not as bad as trying to sleep in the humid hot weather we are experiencing. We decided to do a load of laundry today, bought the tokens, and the machine soap dispenser is broken, so we were locked into a half hour of washing clothes in the latched machine with no detergent. Reported it to reception, it could not be fixed, and they seem to have no interest in even putting a sign on the machine to let others know. Decided not to start over, so we are now waiting for our wet but not cleaned clothes to go through the dryer, an hour and a half in totally wasted. I understand that “stuff” happens, but there doesn’t seem to be any response from the ship’s staff, and that’s what is bothersome. Dining - first night in the GDR was a disaster. Our waitress told us she felt sick and dizzy - just what we want to hear as she is handing our food to us. The new bland seasonings we had heard about were in evidence - I had lobster bisque, and had I not seen the word “lobster” in the description on the menu, I would never have guessed that it was anything more than canned tomato soup. I also ordered the suckling pig, and oh my gosh, I think they included rubber bands. I actually had to spit part of it out into my napkin, a first for me. Second night dinner in GDR was much better - we stuck to the tried and true regular side of the menu. But I hate to have to do that every night. We’ll see. Service in Horizons for happy hour was non existent. We left after a half hour because no waiters came around to our table, and we saw a line of at least ten people waiting at the bar to order. Enjoyed a glass of our own wine in our cabin ... I appreciate that we can do that, but it would have been nice to sit in the bar. That is Oceania’s loss. I will I’ll continue this report as our cruise days go by. I hope to have better things to say!
  5. That sounds great - I would love to hear about any tours that would end at POM, thanks!
  6. Our flight from the west coast will arrive in Ft Lauderdale at 7 p.m. the night before our 10-day cruise out of Miami. Better to stay overnight in FLL or MIA? We can likely board our ship in the early afternoon. Any suggestions for pre-cruise hotels? Thanks!
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