HeatherInFlorida Posted December 11, 2014 #1 Share Posted December 11, 2014 I've posted this review to CC so we'll see if it gets published, but wanted also to share my thoughts here. This was our 3rd Oceania cruise, the first 2 on the Riviera. We chose a 7-night itinerary to see how we liked Regatta before our 12-night next April. Spoiler Alert! We're definitely back on Regatta in April :). These are my personal impressions and not a representation of others who cruised the same dates. Seems whenever I write a review someone pops up and says "could we have been on the same cruise?". Yes we could ... We all know that nothing is perfect for everyone, but Oceania, at least for now, still holds me in the palm of its hand:). Forethoughts: A country girl at my core, I grew up without a lot of pampering. Much later in my life I was wined and dined and began to experience ‘the finer things’. But still I’ve always said I neither need nor want what I laughingly call ‘froo froo extras’. Still, a girl can sure can get used to a little pampering. No review makes a lot of sense without knowing the author a bit. We began cruising in the early ‘80’s when a tiny cabin with narrow beds and 2 portholes was pure luxury for us. On our honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean in 1985 we had 2 windows and we oooo’d and ahhhh’d over that. It was another 15 years or so before we decided to splurge our hard earned dollars on a balcony. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The ultimate splurge came when I decided to blow the budget completely and book a Penthouse category suite on the Oceania Riviera for my husband’s 75th birthday. I wrote a review about that cruise so nothing needs to be said other than to warn that there really is no going back and while my husband doesn’t care about the size of the cabin, he sure has come to enjoy the Butler. I used to say ‘Butler schmutler’, but now? We get onboard and I can’t wait to meet my new best friend in the world. So our cruise on the Oceania Regatta came as no surprise, but it sure did support my continued awe of this cruise line. I can only hope with all my heart that it will not change under the watchful eye of NCL. Fingers crossed (toes, too). And Regatta’s size takes me back to days gone by when all the ships were small and it was a little like “Cheers” where nearly everyone knows your name. Less is more, smaller is better, and I do like the warmth and ambiance of the smaller ships. Embarkation in Miami – Terminal J: Like water off a duck’s back. Regatta holds a max of just under 700 passengers. We were told we could board at 11:00. As usual we parked our car across the street (love Terminal J), walked through the doors, presented our passports, etc., and were onboard within 30 minutes. I was disappointed that though we were told we could, we were unable to go to our cabin immediately upon boarding. Because of a huge inspection that morning there was a delay and we didn’t get into our cabin until after 1:30. Stuff happens. No biggie! Who Was Onboard: Captain: John McNeill General Manager: Giuseppe Bagnato Cruise Director: Dottie Kulasa Executive Chef: Farid Oudir Our Butler: Iljcho Our Attendant: Merlin Itinerary: Costa Maya, Belize City, Roatan, Key West Costa Maya … While shops, pool, swim-up bar, etc., were added since our last visit, the port is completely forgettable and we were ashore no longer than 10 minutes. I am put off bitterly by vendors begging me to enter their shops. It was a drizzly day (as it was on our last visit), but their idea of a “beach” is different than mine. While there were beach chairs and everything you associate with sitting on a beach, there was no beach, no sand once you reached the water … just a rocky ledge. Even on a nice day, not very inviting. Belize City … a dreary day we did not take the 25 minute tender ashore so can’t comment. Roatan (Mahogany Bay) … again, not a very nice day so we just went ashore for a few minutes and returned to the ship. Looked like it would be fun to take the chair lift over to the beach on a nicer day. Key West … be still my heart. What a wonderful port and one of the reasons I chose this itinerary. A perfect last day with temps in the 70’s and a crystal clear blue sky overhead. I swear you can ship me out of Miami on any Oceania ship, take me down to Key West, sail out into the ocean for a day at sea, sail back to Key West and so on until we return to Miami. I would pay a bundle for that. I just love Key West for more reasons than I can count. Stateroom: Our suite was 8054 (PH3). I can only compare this suite with the considerably larger PH3 on Riviera. Except for the closet and the bathroom, I hardly noticed the size difference. I prefer this cabin. The windows sweep the entire stateroom. I also prefer having the dining table separate from the bed with larger, more comfy chairs. And the couch is longer which is ideal. But there is less counter and drawer space than the Riviera. On the minus side, I don’t like the placement of the TV on the wall next to the bed; very bad angle. The closet is way smaller than the Riviera (not a walk-in closet) and I missed that. But there is still plenty of space. Love the little entry area. The worst is the bathroom that is very small compared to Riviera. And I hated the pedestal sink that is set quite high. It was very awkward and water splashed everywhere, all over the counter and the mirror. Very little counter space. And there is no outlet at all so a nightlight is out of the question. When we return I’m bringing a battery operated flameless candle for the bathroom. But I do wish Oceania would take a page from Celebrity Solstice class ships … a dim light turns on when you open the bathroom door … perfect in the dark of night. However, the worst part of the bathroom is a design flaw that could only have been created by a man. No woman in her right mind would inflict this pain on her sisters. The toilet, as usual, is on an angle and it is placed opposite a mirror that covers the entire wall above the bathtub! Suffice to say a ¾ view of self is not something many of us want to see. I almost killed myself during this cruise is all I’ll say here for public consumption. If you’re looking for negativity in this review, that was pretty much it. Dining: The Regatta offers only Polo and Toscana with hints of Red Ginger and Jacques on the menu in the Grand Dining Room. Our favorite remains the Polo Grill where the food is, quite simply, superb. Our Butler was able to get us an extra reservation there that we weren’t able to take advantage of and I hope we’re as lucky next time. My husband loves Toscana as so many do; it’s not my favorite. I had sea bass that was just okay. Next time I’m having pasta; maybe that’s a better choice there. Dinner, always shared with others, in the Grand Dining Room was beautifully served and perfectly paced. There was only one blemish for me, the steamed lobster, which I did not mention until the end of the meal because I’d been eating more than my share and was better off without. But when asked how everything had been, I expressed my disappointment and he was so upset with me for not speaking sooner. In the end I was so embarrassed when the Executive Chef arrived at our table and I promised him there was no harm done; that it was simply written in the stars that I should stop eating. But they so wanted to make it right and I appreciated that even more than a perfect lobster. Staff/Service: There really are not enough words in the dictionary to describe Oceania’s flawless service and impeccable staff. They just can’t seem to do enough for you and they bend over backwards to make a perfect voyage for everyone ... always with a smile and a greeting. Special mention has to go to Merlin, our Attendant, who from day one seemed to know exactly when we would leave and return to the room and along with her assistant had our suite ‘shipshape’ in no time. And just as amazing was our wonderful Butler, Iljcho. He was so friendly, so accommodating, and so in sync with our moods and needs. It seemed whenever I needed him he magically appeared. I just loved him and on our last morning as I thanked him for bringing our coffee I asked him if he could please do it again the next day. If I could know where he would be and when, I swear I would schedule our cruises to coincide with whatever ship he is on. The cruise was all too short and he and I both felt that just as we got to know each other and formed a bond, we had to disembark. It’s one reason Iljcho likes longer itineraries where he gets the time to really know his passengers. All who work on Regatta work so hard and are always so warm and friendly. It has to be difficult for them when not everyone is a perfect passenger. In Waves, the Terrace, Polo and Toscana, along with the Grand Dining Room, Reception and Destination Services, the service was just amazing. Captain McNeill. I liked him from the first day when someone asked where the restrooms were and he practically escorted him to the door, so accommodating. We were invited to meet him on the Bridge, an unexpected and very special treat. Then midweek we were invited to have dinner with him, General Manager Bagnato and two other couples in the Grand Dining Room. That was so special. Sitting to his right I was entertained by his charm and good humor. He is both delightful and down to earth. As each course arrived we found we had ordered the same thing and he teased that I copied him; I had to remind him that I ordered first but suggested perhaps it was our shared Scottish heritage that led to our choices. It was an extraordinary pleasure that neither my husband nor I will soon forget. Entertainment: Tom Drake (Comedian) and Chris Rayman (Mentalist, Mind Reader & Chiromancer), Gary Musick Productions (newly onboard), Frances Bordlee (Vocalist), her last week as the featured Entertainer onboard. Tom Drake is just so funny; loved him and we made sure to never miss his shows. I told Chris Rayman that what stood out for me about him wasn’t just that he’s so entertaining, but he seemed to engage so well with his audience and truly loved what he was doing. His act was fantastic and I learned something interesting from him in a casual lecture that took place spontaneously one rainy afternoon. He defined what he sees as the difference between “fear” and “worry”. He said that fear is something we experience when we are threatened; when we believe our lives are in danger. All the rest of it, all our concerns about pushing our limits, doing something new and outside our area of comfort, is simply worry. It resonated with me because I always thought I was a scaredy cat when I guess I’m just a worry wart! The Passengers: This was mostly an older crowd with a few younger people mixed in. But we were old more in years than in spirit. I’ve been on cruises when even people much younger than we are seemed somehow old in their hearts … not so on our cruise. There were a couple of children here or there, but I didn’t see them more than once. There were a large percentage of passengers from Canada and other countries, many of whom had been onboard the 21-day Amazon River cruise. And some were continuing on through the Panama Canal for 16 days. As is usually the case, we met a lot of people we really enjoyed and I just wished we had more time. My husband, a pipe smoker, was in heaven in his little corner on the pool deck! I think he’s missed them all since we’ve been home. Disembarkation: We were the first group off the ship at about 8:15, I was treated to a quick kiss from the Captain as they swiped my card for the last time and I was standing at the curb with our luggage at 8:25 waiting for my husband to bring the car around. We were back in our house at 10:00 a.m. It doesn’t get any better than that. Final Thoughts: The poor weather in 3 of our ports didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits, least of all mine. The ship, the sea, and the pampering are really my destination on a Caribbean cruise. I cruise mostly because I love to be on the ocean with nothing but water and sky all around me. Leaving Key West on our last night, the full moon on the water, the bell buoy’s chime mixing only with the sound of the ship cutting through the water …. There is nothing on this earth more blissful for me than that. I love Oceania. We return to Regatta in April to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Our Journey Through the Islands of the Caribbean will be our 4th Oceania cruise, but it most certainly will not be our last. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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