Oceania Sirena Cruise: Ship boasts many repeat passengers

ABOARD THE OCEANIA SIRENA – If Goldilocks were to board the Oceania Sirena, I think she would find the ship is not too big. It is not too small. It is just right.

Even though our cruise is booked close to capacity, it does not feel crowded on the ship. Debuting in April 2016, Sirena can carry a maximum of 684 passengers. Our cruise has 613 passengers and 400 crewmembers, executive concierge Matteo Ribecco told me.

Of the passengers, 140 are repeat cruisers. That means Oceania must be doing something right to have travelers sign up to travel again with the cruise company. In fact, one couple on our cruise – Ken and Judy from Vancouver –  have sailed with Oceania for a total of 257 days.

Sirena is an English-speaking ship. Most of the passengers have come from America and most of the crew is international with excellent English. Matteo said that 404 passengers are Americans, 66 are from Canada and 13 from Germany. The rest are from other international countries including Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand. Passengers are generally well traveled and in the 60-plus demographic.

The ship library has sofas and chairs for passengers to sit and read.

Many passengers have combined this cruise with other Sirena ones which really makes sense. It is a long tiring trip to fly to Tahiti so some passengers boarded Sirena in Los Angeles for a leisurely cruise to Tahiti. Some passengers are continuing on to Sydney and Auckland. One couple is even staying on board until Sirena returns to Papeete from its journeys to Australia and New Zealand.

“Some guests have been on since Christmas and will stay on until March,” Matteo said. Lucky them!

Neal and wife Frankie from Vancouver have been cruising since January and plan to continue until March. Most of their days are spent by the pool or on the beach. Evenings are for dancing and the tall elegant couple is great at it. “When we go home in March, winter will be about over at home,” Neal said.

I know these are a lot of facts and numbers but I always find it fascinating to see where fellow passengers are from, whether they are frequent cruisers and what they like about a ship. It’s fun to get a peek into the lives of others.

One of the special benefits of Sirena, cruisers have been telling me, is that there are so many “private” places to sit and read, to talk quietly with someone or to just enjoy the peaceful beauty. That is true. Even though Sirena is not a large ship, there are many comfy cubbies for some alone time. With nine guest decks, Sirena has only two main staircases plus elevators that seem to arrive quickly.

                                                Sirena library is outstanding

The ship library is one of those serene places. It is one of the largest libraries I have ever seen on a ship of any size. Most ships might have a small section or a room set aside for books to borrow. One ship even had a part-time librarian who would be in the library room to check out books from the locked bookcases. Of course, you had to make sure to visit that library when the part-time librarian was there or you were out of luck.

Quiet private spots are located around the ship.

Sirena has unlocked bookcase after bookcase in a large room with books on the honor system and it is open around the clock. Check out a book, read it and return it. Books are organized for easy browsing – fiction, travel, visual arts, practical advice, reference, biography, sports and leisure, science and natural history, large print and more. There is even a section for a paperback exchange. That is a wonderful idea and I have seen it on many large and small ships.

Many travelers want to carry a book to read on an airplane or aboard a ship. But, once read, they don’t want to carry a bulky book back home. The Sirena book exchange is very well stocked.

Although our cruise has just started, Patricia of San Diego said she has already begun one book and has her eye on several others. She also tucked two paperback books into the exchange area.

A music room has windows for natural light and ocean views.

“I don’t like to read from a Kindle. I’ve tried it but I prefer an actual book,” she said. “It’s part of my pleasure in traveling to be able to get caught up on my reading. I could easily get lost in here for hours.”

Sirena’s décor is elegant and subdued. Dark woods, large overhead murals, faux fireplaces with artificial flames, plush furnishings, colorful art, teak decks and designer tapestry fabrics create a classic splendor.

Sirena is a restful ship. Some ships seem geared to hoopla – bright splashy colors, constant musical pings and pongs, generous silver and gold sparkle, large outdoor movie screens, crowded pools and activities galore. Sirena sparkles but demurely, like a distinguished beauty who knows she is special so she doesn’t have to go overboard to prove it.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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