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Oceania v Seabourn


jcbdigger
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Our last few cruises have been on Seabourn (Quest and Sojourn) but we are toying with that idea of a cruise on the Marina mid 2020.  We are aware that Oceania is not fully inclusive and the differences that gives rise to, but we would really appreciate some additional information to help us make a decision.

 

Particular things we would like to know are;

1)      Cost of shore excursions – what kind of price points are these sold for (disregarding the optional O-life included ones)?

2)      Cost of wine/spirits/beer – The beverage packages look (to us) mighty expensive especially given that we are not big booze consumers, but how much roughly are individual drinks?

3)      Gratuities – Without wishing to open the perennial ‘should or shouldn’t gratuities be automatically added’ debate, we were taken aback at the daily amounts that will get added to the bill. On the suite grade and length cruise we are on we are looking at gratuities are going to add over USD$1000 to the on-board bill, which looks a bit over the top. Can you request that the daily gratuities fee be removed as you can on some other cruise lines, or are they totally obligatory?

 

Any more general comments contrasting the on-board experience of Oceania v Seabourn would also be welcomed.

 

Thanks in anticipation.

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1. If you go to the Oceania website and choose any near term cruise to the destination you are interested in you will see all the tours available for that particular port under "Ports and Excursions". The prices are in AUD on Oceania's Australian website. They are anywhere from AUD150 to AUD500+ depending on whether you are on a bus with 40 other people or an exclusive small group tour. We don't take them - much prefer doing our own thing.

 

2. I seem to recall that wine by the glass starts at about 11usd + gratuity but I am sure someone else can give you more detail. We always take the On Board Credit O'life option because it more than covers our 2 wines each a day habit and leaves funds left over for other stuff. There are also 2 for 1 happy hours and you can also bring your own on board for drinking in your cabin or on your balcony.

 

3. I am pretty sure all the AUD pricing of Oceania cruises on the Australian website is inclusive of gratuities. We have taken one cruise and have two booked (one in 2 weeks!) and our agent has always advised us that the listed price is inclusive of gratuities (and I don't think it is because he is covering them or he would have told us!). I think Oceania have included gratuities in the Australian pricing so they don't have to answer the question like the one you have posed. Makes sense in my opinion.

 

Haven't been on Seabourn, so cant compare, but we like Oceania - it's the right fit for us

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We had our first Seabourn cruise last September and will be on our first Oceania cruise in December - looking forward to comparing myself! We'll be on Riviera and I'm a little concerned - haven't been on a ship with that many people in a decade. But traveling with in-laws (who both adore Oceania and do not like the R class ships) Ah well 🙂

 

[we're in the US and our TA is covering the gratuities for the cruise we booked] We've also booked the beverage package but got so spoiled on Seabourn with bartenders getting our favorites ready as we approach the bar....I have seen reviews (esp video reviews) with menus showing some pricing for drinks....

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Don't worry about line item issues, look at the total price. Chances are you're paying that on Seabourne, it's just all rolled in. You think they're really giving anything away? 

 

FWIW, the drinks package is cheaper than Celebrity's. 

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Just remember that in order to get an equivalent amount of space in your cabin you have to book a penthouse on Oceania. That's where the cost is the same or more than Seabourn once you factor in tips and alcohol.

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For me the big difference between Seabourn and Oceania is the ambience on board. Seabourn has an active social scene in the lounges, the wonderful Seabourn Square, and the bars pretty well all the time.  Oceania does many things well, but the interactions and friendships being formed on board is at a much lower level.  As always, your mileage may vary.

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1 hour ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

For me the big difference between Seabourn and Oceania is the ambience on board. Seabourn has an active social scene in the lounges, the wonderful Seabourn Square, and the bars pretty well all the time.  Oceania does many things well, but the interactions and friendships being formed on board is at a much lower level.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Perhaps that's a two way street. I've made many good friendships onboard Oceania. I find for the most part a lack of pretention on O, with a few exceptions of those that come from luxury lines. 

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2 hours ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

For me the big difference between Seabourn and Oceania is the ambience on board. Seabourn has an active social scene in the lounges, the wonderful Seabourn Square, and the bars pretty well all the time.  Oceania does many things well, but the interactions and friendships being formed on board is at a much lower level.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Depends on where you tend to make friends and where one “hangs out”.

We make friends at trivia, shore excursions and other social activities.

Like ORV, we have made MANY (quite a few lasting) friends on Oceania and none on Regent, Seabourn or Crystal.

Disclaimer - we have many more cruises on Oceania than those other lines but for us meeting people was always easier on Oceania than the other lines.

As always, YMMV.

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We have made friends on many cruises.it is interesting exchanging ideas with lots of different people.  We have really close friends that we met on trips that we continue to travel with them. I have met people who come across as being snobby and rude. Those are not people that I want as friends

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2 hours ago, ORV said:

Perhaps that's a two way street. I've made many good friendships onboard Oceania. I find for the most part a lack of pretention on O, with a few exceptions of those that come from luxury lines. 

There is lack of pretension on Seabourn ...it actually feels like you are part of a family

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1 hour ago, Paulchili said:

Depends on where you tend to make friends and where one “hangs out”.

We make friends at trivia, shore excursions and other social activities.

Like ORV, we have made MANY (quite a few lasting) friends on Oceania and none on Regent, Seabourn or Crystal.

Disclaimer - we have many more cruises on Oceania than those other lines but for us meeting people was always easier on Oceania than the other lines.

As always, YMMV.

Having been on HAL, Oceania, Celebrity, Regent and Seabourn a few times, it was definitely on Seabourn where there was more ambience and a feeling of camaraderie...more of a family. 

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26 minutes ago, seacruiser123 said:

Having been on HAL, Oceania, Celebrity, Regent and Seabourn a few times, it was definitely on Seabourn where there was more ambience and a feeling of camaraderie...more of a family. 

Everyone has different experiences

 I felt at home on Oceania   that said we have not been on Seabourn  so maybe if we tried it  we would feel at home there also

 

people should do what works for them

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Thanks for the info everybody, especially the hard information I was seeking. The relative merits on 'ambiance/friendliness' is an interesting discussion, but an area where opinion is going to be highly subjective.

 

Notwithstanding Beagle 5's comments about gratuities, it would still be interesting to hear from (I guess non Australian) Oceania cruisers about if the daily debited gratuities can be removed?

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1 hour ago, jcbdigger said:

 

 

Notwithstanding Beagle 5's comments about gratuities, it would still be interesting to hear from (I guess non Australian) Oceania cruisers about if the daily debited gratuities can be removed?

 

I guess the gratuities can be removed. Never heard of anyone doing that on our 10+ Oceania cruises. I think it’ll be very unfair to the wonderful Oceania staff members.

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Why would you even consider removing the gratuities ? These are spread among the entire crew - even those that you do not see - who add to your total enjoyment.  In addition to the aforementioned gratuities many guests honor some exceptional crew members with additional monies.

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17 hours ago, ORV said:

Don't worry about line item issues, look at the total price. Chances are you're paying that on Seabourne, it's just all rolled in. You think they're really giving anything away? 

 

I always look at my per diem cost, and then what is included in the price. We only ended up on Seabourn last year because the fare was just a tiny bit more expensive than Oceania for a very similar itinerary. And that small amount easily covered the alcohol I would have had to pay for on Oceania. So I agree - absolutely do an equal comparison as much as possible. I always use spreadsheets ;-) I'm just that type of planner. [we're drinkers, so that $ matters to us - if you're not a drinker, all-inclusive lines can include sunk costs; it's all about knowing your travel priorities....]

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8 hours ago, jcbdigger said:

Notwithstanding Beagle 5's comments about gratuities, it would still be interesting to hear from (I guess non Australian) Oceania cruisers about if the daily debited gratuities can be removed?

Generally speaking - yes. However, that may not be the case for Australians as the gratuities are included in your fare -AFAIK.

In such a case, removing the gratuities would essentially be getting a reduction in your fare “after the fact” (not to mention how unfair it would be to the wonderful staff on Oceania who count on this additional income). I am not certain about this point - only speculating.

In Australia the basic income by law is such that gratuities are not needed to supplement the income of service staff. That is not the case universally.

When in Rome, .......

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33 minutes ago, Paulchili said:

Generally speaking - yes. However, that may not be the case for Australians as the gratuities are included in your fare -AFAIK.

In such a case, removing the gratuities would essentially be getting a reduction in your fare “after the fact” (not to mention how unfair it would be to the wonderful staff on Oceania who count on this additional income). I am not certain about this point - only speculating.

In Australia the basic income by law is such that gratuities are not needed to supplement the income of service staff. That is not the case universally.

When in Rome, .......

Absolutely correct, Paul.  I can go into a nice lounge and/or restaurant most anywhere in the U.S. (with perhaps the exception of NYC), pay the total bill, add a 20% "tip" on top, and still walk away having spent less money (adjusted for exchange rates) than the equivalent meal/drinks would have cost me in Perth, Brisbane, or Sydney. 

 

If one has to "worry or fret" about the cost of a gratuity charge or port fees & taxes (whether it is added on as a separate line item or factored into an "included cost") perhaps the whole "cruising thing" is not the right activity to engage in. "Hoyaheel" has the right approach for comparing total costs among various cruise/itinerary choices.  Add all final costs/expenses in for the trip (air fares, drinks, specialty dining surcharges, taxes/gratuities - if listed separately, excursions, pre/post hotels, etc.) to come up with a final/total trip cost.  Divide that number by the number of days for the trip, and arrive at a standardized per diem rate.  That will give you a number that you can be validly used to compare various cruise choices.  But the items included in the comparisons have to all be the same.  Looking for various "costs" that you can "subtract out or avoid" for one venue, but not for another, does not provide a "true cost comparison".

 

And of course, there are additional subjective and intangible attributes (i.e., which cruise ship is "friendlier", or has the most "active night life") that are impossible (mathematically) to compare against each other, but which also may be important factors, in making the final choice. Regards.

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18 hours ago, pingpong1 said:

...Add all final costs/expenses in for the trip (air fares, drinks, specialty dining surcharges, taxes/gratuities - if listed separately, excursions, pre/post hotels, etc.) to come up with a final/total trip cost.  Divide that number by the number of days for the trip, and arrive at a standardized per diem rate.  That will give you a number that you can be validly used to compare various cruise choices. ...

Excellent advice.  There is at least one other comparison which is also not subjective: the space available per passenger. It is easy to find the gross tonnage (GT) of a ship with Google, and dividing that by the number of passengers gives a reasonably valid metric for comparison.  Of course, different ships divvy up the space in different ways: some have larger cabins and others larger public spaces.  Nonetheless, a ship with, say, 65 GT / passenger will be a lot different than one with 30 GT / passenger

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We have 15 cruises on O and 4 on Seabourn.

 

I love Seabourn Square -- best coffee at sea and a lovely place to hang out and meet fellow cruisers.

I love all the free caviar.

We usually book a large suite on O but we just book a verandah on Seabourn -- large enough and because they have no butlers an upgrade worth nothing IMO

Food -- I find Seabourn's food ALWAYS very complicated.  Menu is limited.  I am not a big fan of the main dining room.  Room service menu very limited.

Service is excellent on Seabourn.

Trivia is fabulous on Seabourn.

 

Oceania now bores us and after Crystal we find it mediocre with respect to food, service and activities.  We have two future cruises booked on O because we are sailing with good friends and that trumps cruise line.  

 

We now prefer Crystal by leaps and bounds.  I could sail either Oceania or Seabourn based on itinerary or to joins friends.

 

BTW -- the Antarctica cruise on Seabourn is bucket list.  Highly recommend

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9 hours ago, bitob said:

BTW -- the Antarctica cruise on Seabourn is bucket list.  Highly recommend

I assume you know that if the ship has more than (is it?) 500 pax then they can't disembark any.  We sailed on Hurtgruten and went ashore four times and out on zodiaks multiple times.

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The ship has 450 passengers.

We had had more than enough zodiac rides and landings to suit us plus the luxury of Seabourn.  We found it the perfect way to see Antarctica.  There are many options out there.

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