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Semi-Live Review of Oceania Riviera November 9-19, 2023 from a New Oceania Guest


Sthrngary
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I recently have been told that my post are to long and wordy.  "Word Salad" was the term used.  In addition some comments were made that CruiseCritic.com should not be used as a "personal blog".  I have heard these comments clearly and appreciate them. Yet I have been encouraged to do a "Semi-Live Review/Blog" of my upcoming experience with Oceania Cruises.  I will give a bullet point overview below of some facts for perspective below.  I will attempt to be brief vs. detailed in my responses.  I am posting this a week earlier then we cruise so whomever has a question can give me a heads up and I will try to answer it as it happens in real time.  I will post when I have some time with the emphasis being having a great vacation.

 

Here are some fact to take into consideration:

 

  • Group Cruising: We are a group of two couples from 64 to 76 years old.  My wife and I have cruised for 44 years, our guest are on their first cruise ever. Everyone is relatively healthy with minor mobility issues. 
  • Airfare: We booked our own with Delta Airlines. Because of the unique nature of this cruise, we are all now flying Business Class Delta One. We are also all flying together. We are coming in one day early and having an extra day in Barcelona at the end of the vacation. 
  • Ground Transportation/Transfers: I have pre-booked and paid online, all ground transportation for a Mercedes-Sprinter Van that can hold four (4) people and all their luggage. I rarely use Cruise Brand Transfers.
  • Pre/Post Hotels: The hotels were for Athens, Greece and Barcelona, Spain.  We booked them directly with the hotel rather then using Oceania's hotel option. Both hotels use the Marriott Frequent Guest programs so my status provided perks.
  • Cruise: This is a 10-Day Mediterranean Cruise on the Oceania Riviera. We have two (2) cabins.  A "Vista Suite" and a "Penthouse" (PH2).  Both staterooms started as Guarantees. We choose Oceania for the Itinerary and to enhance our cruising experience. My wife and I would usually cruise on NCL in the Haven or Celebrity in the Retreat. 
  • Excursions: We are doing all our own excursions and not using any of Oceania's offerings.  
  • Drink Package: Three (3) of us have the "Prestige Drink Package" and one of us does not drink alcohol. 
  • Cooking Class: My wife and I are doing a cooking class onboard during the only sea day.  The focus is Mediterranean Cuisine.

 

If you have question, feel free to ask them.  I will look at the list and answer when time permits.  I will summarize my days on being new to Oceania and comparing to what I have been used to on other cruise lines, staterooms and level of accommodation.  

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment.

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Gary- I appreciate your views and although I don’t post much, I do read quite a bit.  I’m very interested in your take on Oceania. As a NCL Haven loyalist looking to branch out, I appreciate the details of your posts and hope you continue that detail with this review. Here’s hoping you have a fantastic vacation. Excited to read about it. Kim 

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I have been following your process for the last few months! Now all of your research and hard work are coming to fruition and I look forward to hearing all the details and seeing all the sights both on and off the ship. I have visited many of your ports, but always eager to learn about new places to check out on my next Med cruise. 
Safe travels to you and your group! Enjoy!

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Part of cruising is not always the cruise.  All parts make up the experience. So far so good. 

 

Pre-Flight Air: One week prior to flight, Delta Airlines in Delta One send you a pre-flight menu and information package.  You can choose your meal way ahead of time with options not available on the flight.  We choose Beef Short Ribs. The information tells you how to approach the flight for best results.  Nice Touch Delta. 

 

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11 hours ago, littlelulu01 said:

Gary- I appreciate your views and although I don’t post much, I do read quite a bit.  I’m very interested in your take on Oceania. As a NCL Haven loyalist looking to branch out, I appreciate the details of your posts and hope you continue that detail with this review. Here’s hoping you have a fantastic vacation. Excited to read about it. Kim 

I'm also a NCL Haven loyalist and took my first Oceania cruise last month in a penthouse suite. I enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading Gary's review.

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4 minutes ago, BSR said:

I'm also a NCL Haven loyalist and took my first Oceania cruise last month in a penthouse suite. I enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading Gary's review.

@BSR Oceania seems to be getting a lot of new guests from NCL/Haven and Celebrity/Retreat. Both you and I included.  I promise to make comparisons because as with trying any new brand, you only know what you get, after you got it. So far, the pre-cruise communication for me is a lot better on Oceania. I got a call, a booklet with information and luggage takes. All very professional. More to come. 

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I love your posts! please don't change a thing in the way you write. I say to those who think they are too long or a "word salad", don't read them then. When I log on, you are the first person I look for to see what is new.My favorite has been the "you tube" you made for your wife and friends. I laughed so hard tears ran down. Keep 'em coming.

My husband and I will be on the Marina 12/24 as newbies to Oceania so I'm looking forward to your review of your first.

Have a wonderful trip

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2 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

@BSR Oceania seems to be getting a lot of new guests from NCL/Haven and Celebrity/Retreat. Both you and I included.  I promise to make comparisons because as with trying any new brand, you only know what you get, after you got it. So far, the pre-cruise communication for me is a lot better on Oceania. I got a call, a booklet with information and luggage takes. All very professional. More to come. 

That's certainly correct about the new guests.   Hence my amusement at the "Do you know how much revenue Oceania is missing because I'll never sail them again?  Those posters probably wouldn't be happy when they realize the answer is zero dollars.  

 

I too have moved from NCL Haven voyages to Oceania. 

 

Enjoy the trip 

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1 hour ago, Yesimapirate said:

That's certainly correct about the new guests.   Hence my amusement at the "Do you know how much revenue Oceania is missing because I'll never sail them again?  Those posters probably wouldn't be happy when they realize the answer is zero dollars.  

 

That's the thing, people have a bad experience and are afraid to get burnt again.  Oceania bills itself as the best cuisine at sea and that was certainly true on my first Oceania trip on Riviera.  It was fantastic despite being under covid rules in 2021. I was really excited to be traveling on Nautica last month. 

What a disappointment - poor customer service, some of the worst meals I have ever eaten anywhere. I complained, the head chef did chat with me at the next dinner and he had only feeble excuses ("I can't be everywhere supervising every dish". No but you can ensure quality ingredients and train your staff!)

I am in contact with Oceania Guest Relations and am in the midst of composing my email reply to them.  But to what end?  What can they do to reassure me that a next cruise will be closer to my first experience than my second? 

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6 minutes ago, GeorginaSpica said:

That's the thing, people have a bad experience and are afraid to get burnt again.  Oceania bills itself as the best cuisine at sea and that was certainly true on my first Oceania trip on Riviera.  It was fantastic despite being under covid rules in 2021. I was really excited to be traveling on Nautica last month. 

What a disappointment - poor customer service, some of the worst meals I have ever eaten anywhere. I complained, the head chef did chat with me at the next dinner and he had only feeble excuses ("I can't be everywhere supervising every dish". No but you can ensure quality ingredients and train your staff!)

I am in contact with Oceania Guest Relations and am in the midst of composing my email reply to them.  But to what end?  What can they do to reassure me that a next cruise will be closer to my first experience than my second? 

@GeorginaSpica Sorry this happen to you, anyone would be disappointed.  You rated your second Oceania Cruise on your first.  I did the same thing with NCL and Celebrity.  I as a bit disappointed as well.  Hence my change in brand for this cruise.  

 

The difference is I and others have NO expectations with Oceania, just the experience I had else where.  For me and others, the bar is very low.  If I had stellar dining on my first trip followed by below par on my second, that would be enough to have me looking elsewhere. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment.

 

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27 minutes ago, Sthrngary said:

@GeorginaSpica Sorry this happen to you, anyone would be disappointed.  You rated your second Oceania Cruise on your first.  I did the same thing with NCL and Celebrity.  I as a bit disappointed as well.  Hence my change in brand for this cruise.  

 

The difference is I and others have NO expectations with Oceania, just the experience I had else where.  For me and others, the bar is very low.  If I had stellar dining on my first trip followed by below par on my second, that would be enough to have me looking elsewhere. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment.

 

Well I based my second not just on my first Oceania but my experiences on other cruise lines. Just this past xmas I was on Norwegian to Mexico.  I have also, over the years, been on Carnival, Princess & Royal Caribbean.  

The food was bad enough that I started asking other cruisers about their experience.  Not one said the food was good.  Many said the food on the excursions was better.  Some of those were first timers on Oceania.

The food on the Norwegian cruise in December was better than last month's cruise.  With the premium price for the Oceania cruise, this should not have been the case at all!

I have my fingers crossed for you that your Riviera cruise will be as good as mine was on that ship two years ago.  

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2 minutes ago, GeorginaSpica said:

I have my fingers crossed for you that your Riviera cruise will be as good as mine was on that ship two years ago.  

Thank you for being so nice.  I hope so too. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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9 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

@BSR Oceania seems to be getting a lot of new guests from NCL/Haven and Celebrity/Retreat. Both you and I included.  I promise to make comparisons because as with trying any new brand, you only know what you get, after you got it. So far, the pre-cruise communication for me is a lot better on Oceania. I got a call, a booklet with information and luggage takes. All very professional. More to come. 

I feel the opposite.  NCL pre communication is much better than O.  Everything I requested has always been met.  Received luggage tags , calls confirming my requests were taken care of before the sail date.  Currently sailing on NCL.

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24 minutes ago, BSR said:

I feel the opposite.  NCL pre communication is much better than O.  Everything I requested has always been met.  Received luggage tags , calls confirming my requests were taken care of before the sail date.  Currently sailing on NCL.

@BSR Full disclosure.  I got a call from Oceania 6 months before my cruise.  I posted this and every reply was that this did not happen for them.  Then I remembered, I sent Oceania a very nice email letting them know this was my first Oceania Cruise and some history.  This might have stimulated that call.  I am a Haven NCL Lover also.  I am not saying the communication was bad with NCL.  Just this specific cruise, which is my first time with Oceania was really good.  Love the little portfolio they sent though.  Nice touch. Hope that makes sense. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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Having cruised on Oceania, quite a number of times, and Seabourn, both pre and post 2020, I just have to say that comparing what ‘was’ with what ‘is’, is a complete waste of time.

Firstly food is a very subjective area. Secondly all lines have cut back since 2020. Nothing stays the same.

Today it is what it is, don’t look back just look forward to happy cruising…. it is what it is!

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2 hours ago, Vallesan said:

I just have to say that comparing what ‘was’ with what ‘is’, is a complete waste of time.

You are so right.  Things are oh changing.  Times force change.  Yet human nature want status quo.  So some folks get upset at the brand for changing.  They often times leave for greener grass or just to see if other brands are a better value or experience for their dollars.  Some come home, others find a new home. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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2 hours ago, Vallesan said:

Having cruised on Oceania, quite a number of times, and Seabourn, both pre and post 2020, I just have to say that comparing what ‘was’ with what ‘is’, is a complete waste of time.

 

I totally understand your comment but for me, I was comparing 4 post 2020 cruises (2 Oceania '21 & '23, 1 Royal Caribbean '22, 1 Norwegian '22 @ xmas).

That first Oceania was totally worth the premium cost. The food and service was amazing.  I returned telling others that it was worth the extra cost. The second more recent trip, was not any better than the other two mass market cruises.  In some ways worse.  I expect to have lackluster food on mass market cruises, and I am partially okay with that because then I don't eat all the food. lol

And while food can certainly be subjective, I never expected to have the worst eggs benny ever on an Oceania cruise. That was part of my feedback to which the head chef basically said it wasn't his fault, that he can't be everywhere.  If you can't serve a decent eggs benny, please take it off the menu.  

And so I started asking others to see if it was just me being picky. A few of those people were on their first Oceania cruise and very disappointed.  Some had brought others on their first Oceania cruise and said they kept apologizing that this trip was not their past experience on Oceania.

But I hope it was just that cruise!  And that @Sthrngary has a much better experience and comes back with a review that reassures me that last month's trip was a one off.

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5 minutes ago, GeorginaSpica said:

And that @Sthrngary has a much better experience and comes back with a review that reassures me that last month's trip was a one off.

@GeorginaSpica It is clear that consistency was not there for your second cruise. Your comments are very important. Some might think you were being picky or unrealistic.  I think your honest feelings allow other new folks like me, to have a much more Realistic Expectations. For that we thank you. 

I personally did not choose Oceania for the extra premium or benefits I would get for those paid premiums.  Instead, compared to the other brand and kind of cruising I was doing, Oceania was much less of a premium.  Kind of surprised me.  I knew if I was willing to really step out there financially with some Ultra-Luxury Brands, it would defiantly be better.  Our groups budget could not handle that so we all knew their would be trade offs.  After my cruise, I will review if those trade offs and if it was worth it.

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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1 hour ago, GeorginaSpica said:

I totally understand your comment but for me, I was comparing 4 post 2020 cruises (2 Oceania '21 & '23, 1 Royal Caribbean '22, 1 Norwegian '22 @ xmas).

That first Oceania was totally worth the premium cost. The food and service was amazing.  I returned telling others that it was worth the extra cost. The second more recent trip, was not any better than the other two mass market cruises.  In some ways worse.  I expect to have lackluster food on mass market cruises, and I am partially okay with that because then I don't eat all the food. lol

And while food can certainly be subjective, I never expected to have the worst eggs benny ever on an Oceania cruise. That was part of my feedback to which the head chef basically said it wasn't his fault, that he can't be everywhere.  If you can't serve a decent eggs benny, please take it off the menu.  

And so I started asking others to see if it was just me being picky. A few of those people were on their first Oceania cruise and very disappointed.  Some had brought others on their first Oceania cruise and said they kept apologizing that this trip was not their past experience on Oceania.

But I hope it was just that cruise!  And that @Sthrngary has a much better experience and comes back with a review that reassures me that last month's trip was a one off.


Georgina was it just the eggs benny??  I agree if they can’t cook a dish to a decent standard they shouldn’t serve it!

 

I’ve never been on a ‘mass market’ ship so have nothing other than Oceania, Seabourn and Silversea as comparisons. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I’m rich, entitled or anything else, I’m not, but I do have mobility problems so need a small ship. Physically the Riviera size ships are about as big as I can manage.

 

I always think it’s dangerous to take others on your favourite cruise lines. Firstly, everyone has different tastes. Secondly, we always ‘rave’ about our holidays to others and maybe when they decide to join us we become more critical, just in case they don’t see what we saw. Finally, I have found that food varies according to the area you’re sailing in mainly because the passengers differ so much and have different expectations. 

 

And maybe that’s the crux of the whole matter …. expectations vary!

I can never understand why Mac & cheese is served in a decent steak restaurant on a ship…. but then I’m from the UK and would never eat such a dish at anytime! Some people eat pizza for dinner! We all have different tastes and expectations. 

 

We all need to keep our expectations ‘real’ and then we won’t be disappointed, and of course food is only one aspect of a ‘cruise’!

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1 hour ago, Sthrngary said:

@GeorginaSpica 

I personally did not choose Oceania for the extra premium or benefits I would get for those paid premiums.  Instead, compared to the other brand and kind of cruising I was doing, Oceania was much less of a premium.  Kind of surprised me.  I knew if I was willing to really step out there financially with some Ultra-Luxury Brands, it would defiantly be better.  Our groups budget could not handle that so we all knew their would be trade offs.  


Sthrngary please don’t  assume the Ultra Luxury would definitely be better.

 

Having been fortunate enough this year to sail Oceania, Caribbean, Silversea, Norwegian Fjords and Seabourn Eastern Med including Israel, I can say that all three were great cruises all in different ways. 
 

Food was great to indifferent on all three lines. Service on all three was excellent but maybe Seabourn went above and beyond, but on second thoughts that could have been Ssea! 
 

Weather also plays such an important part. Who wants to sit under heaters with a blanket outside on cold weather cruise? Warm weather cruising lends itself so much better to outside activities. 
 

I suppose I’m getting boring now repeating myself again … we all have different expectations some of which are unrealistic no matter how much you pay!

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