ONBOARD THE OCEANIA RIVIERA – With just five – soon to be six – small ships, Oceania is considered a boutique cruise line.
Of course, it’s new parent company, Norwegian Cruise Lines Corporation Ltd., is the third largest cruise company in the world (behind Carnival and Royal Cruise Lines). The parent also owns Norwegian Cruise Lines and ultra-luxury Regent Cruise Lines.
So what makes Oceania distinctive? Here are some haves and have-nots that will help you decide if Oceania is right for you.
- Oceania does not have roving photographers snapping shots of you here, there and everywhere and trying to sell them to you at pretty ridiculous prices. (However, they are now selling DVD’s of the trip.)
- Oceania does provide a mini-bar in every room stocked with sodas and bottled water, complimentary. They is no charge for these anywhere on the ship.
- Oceania’s stateroom attendants do not fold towels into the shapes of elephants, monkeys and snakes and leave them on your bed in the evening.
- Oceania does not run art auctions. Bless them. (At least not on this cruise, although I am told by some other passengers that they do offer them occasionally.)
- Oceania does offer four specialty restaurants with excellent food and service at no extra charge and all passengers are guaranteed reservations in each of them at least once, if they so desire.
- Oceania’s does have boutiques, but they are very high-end. Why are they featuring Ralph Lauren sportswear, which you can probably buy cheaper in the States? You won’t be buying many souvenirs on the ship.
- Oceania does have a huge DVD movie library. Passengers may check out movies at no charge.
- Likewise, Oceania does have a great library of real books and some quiet reading areas. (I have actually abandoned my Kindle and am reading a hardback Jeffrey Deaver thriller.)
- Oceania does serve gourmet Illy coffee drinks in many areas, including its Baristas coffee bar, at no extra charge.
- Oceania does have do-it-yourself launderettes on every stateroom floor – a big plus when you are sailing longer itineraries and to very hot and steamy parts of the world. (However, they are closed on this cruise due to the norovirus cleanup.)
- Oceania does offer trivia twice daily with the worst and hardest questions we have ever
- Oceania does offer a superb afternoon tea, complete with white-glove service and scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam and other assorted sandwiches and desserts! Accompanied by classical music, of course.
- Oceania does offer superb entertainment, very high-quality shows for a ship of this size. The song/dance troupe is quite good and will put on three different shows during this cruise.
- Oceania does play favorites. Of course, all cruise lines do this – extending lots of extra amenities to its best customers – but on a small ship it is more obvious. For example, yesterday we discovered that on decks 7 and 8 we are only offered a continental cold breakfast by room service while it appears that those in the concierge levels and above are offered a full breakfast with egg dishes. And at the bar last night lots of past passengers were turning in cards good for free drinks, obviously not an amenity extended to first-timers like us.
- Oceania can be costly. Your two major expenses on Oceania are likely to be shore excursions and alcoholic drinks, both of which are definitely on the pricey side. Most shore excursions are over $100 (the cheapest are $69) and most drinks ring up with 18% tip at about $13.50.
CDC Update: The captain announced last night that one new person has come down with gastrointestinal illness, although it is not norovirus. But the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols call for the ship to remain at “Level 2” for another 72 hours…which now takes us to the morning of December 11. So the precautions will continue: Laundrettes and the Culinary Center remain closed, and everything on ship continues to be sanitized. They did provide two hours of free cocktails last night as a thank-you to passengers for the inconvenience.
December 9, 2015