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Regatta Review 3/29 W. Med

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I attempted writing a review about a couple of weeks ago. Lost in cyberspace. So I will try again.

This was my fifth cruise, first one for Oceania. Many of the passengers had taken previous Renaissnance cruises.

Flights had been arranged by Oceania. Times were not too bad. We did arrive in Lisbon very tired. Expect to lose an entire day traveling and the following day of embarkation. As they stated we were met at the airport and taken to the port. The embarkation staff did not seem prepared for our slightly early arrival. I was one of the first on line so it was somewhat painless for me. Once on board, seems it was about 1:00PM we went to the Terrace Cafe, the buffet. We were told our cabins would be ready at 3:00 so we went wandering around. Unlike what I was told at the reservation desk, we were able to make our 2 reservations for each of the restaurants (the Polo and the Toscana). We were really tired by now so I decided to see if my cabin was ready. It was and I went to sleep. Got up for dinner, had it the first evening in the Toscana. We didn't really order alot, not encouraged by the waiter to try anything, and left there hungry and went back to the buffet.

Overall, the Grand Dining room was my favorite place. I had one of the two meals allotted to me in the Polo. Another woman and myself ordered fish there. We couldn't cut into it, called the waiter over and he was insisting that was the way it was supposed to be. The Maitre D said otherwise, and the fish was taken back to the kitchen.
According to some of the passengers who had embarked in Miami, there was a big shift in staff in Lisbon.
This was also my first experience with open seating. Some of the wait staff were excellent while others just very average. It seemed in the Terrace Cafe, the Maitre D, did need to do alot of supervision. Again, some were very good and others just stood there staring into space.

I had never been to any of these ports before. I had been reading these boards and still didn't get a feel of what I could do independently. Right before leaving my house to go to the airport, I called Oceania and booked the Explorer Collection for shore excursions. It says in the brochure you can not book the package on board. They did allow booking for the package excursions on board. By doing it in advance I was not allowed to use any ship board credit towards the payment. I had a very small credit by the travel agent. As for the excursions, I got quantity but not quality. This is where I really think Oceania needs help. While the cruise might have been reasonably priced here is where Oceania must be making it back. One of the other reasons I did this was I am geographically challenged. I didn't want to waste time getting lost and finding my way back. I did waste time. Lots of it trying to stand in a group of 40 plus people trying to hear a tour guide that struggled with the English language. After Cadiz and Seville, a few of the people I met actually canceled the rest of the package excursions. I kept thinking maybe they would improve but they didn't. Oceania will tell you they use reputable companies, which means the bus is clean. It is, but in Europe those bus seats are as close together as econony seats on the airlines. There is no leg room and if the person in front of you reclines the seat, their head will be on your lap.

Other things about Destination Services: I felt Peter, (from Austria) was frightening people into taking the ships excursions. (After the Madrid train bombing). Many passengers who knew what they were doing took the train safely and for a fraction of the price. One other thing that happened, we did not dock at Portofino due to weather. Instead we backtracked to Genoa. Not having any idea of what shore excursion would be offered, Peter instantly stated no refunds would be available. There will be another excusion of "superior" quaility. They had no clue what it was but it was superior and you weren't getting your money back. It was yet another but trip with a tour guide struggling with English. She even at one point apologized to one of the other passengers for her English.

And one of my favorite stories as told to me at dinner. In Livorno, 2 passengers received a map from the desk for the port. They were going to take the train to Florence. They were looking and looking for the train station. (They were using the map). Turns out the ship gave them the map of Civitavecchia the Port for Rome. (It happened to the people at my table so I heard it first hand).

If I can answer any questions about the ports please post a question. I know for a fact they were receiving many complaints about the shore excursions, so maybe there will be some changes. Peter will use adjectives like exciting, scenic, and so on about the excursions, they are anything but. I feel Peter should be made to pay all that money and take them himself with a large group of people. The one excursion I did like was one not offered on the package. In Palma de Mallorca, I did see the Caves of Drach. It was off season, not as crowded as everything I read. The only thing is I could have used more than 30 minutes in the Pearl factory.

Dress code: I was probably the person who didn't dress for dinner. I was tired. The shore excursions started early and most of them were a full day.

Make no mistake, I had a very nice time on the cruise, mostly because of the wonderful other passengers I met. I view the shore excursions as something to do. Would not recommend them. You would do just as well finding those hop on and off buses.

Cabin Steward was very good. We like those tranquility beds. Be careful if you are allergic to "goose down".

This was the smallest ship I was ever on. It was very rocky (? due to weather), so if you are prone to sea sickness I suggest you get something for it. My daughter got queezy a couple of times.

As I stated earlier, we did have a good time, it just isn't quite the upscale experience Oceania is advertising and going for.

We did have an eventful trip home. Had another place to visit. My plane in Amesterdam never took off. Spent the night in Haag.
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Hi, thanks for taking the time to write a review....what are the other cruise ships you've been on? thanks, Martha

Mike & Martha 1992 RCI Nordic Empress 1997 Dawn Princess 1998 RCI Vision of the Seas 1999 Carnival Celebration 2000 Grand Princess 2001 HAL Veendam 2001 RCI Radiance of the Seas 2002 RCI Grandeur of the Seas 2003 Celebrity Mercury 2004 Oceania Regatta
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