DO NOT SAIL WITH OCEANIA CRUISE LINES AND THE REGATTA!
Written: May 4, 2004 (Updated May 17, 2004)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Beautiful ship, clean, nice cabins
Cons:HORRIBLE service! The absolute worst!
The Bottom Line: Oceania cruises has beautiful ships, but do not believe anything in the brochure about service. It is bad, and basically just isn't there. AVOID
Update: After speaking with the cruise lines about our trip, being told that we would receive a return phone call, letters, etc. We were told that Oceania is going to do NOTHING to keep us as a customer. I would highly recommend that you do not sail on this line, as you will be terribly disappointed.
After 17 cruises, and finding it to be one of the most pleasant ways to travel, we always look forward to our next trip. Originally we were going to go back to South America, but a new cruise line had started which was offering some very good perks and everything we had read was very encouraging. Luxury, small ship, open seating, smoking allowed in only two places, this sounded like heaven. We spoke with a travel agent, and decided this cruise on the Regatta, the first ship of Oceania Cruise Lines would be just perfect for us.
Oceania Cruise Lines is kind of a rebirth of Renaissance Cruises that had gone bankrupt about three years ago. Although we later found out that many of the leaders of this new company had been with Renaissance, the CEO had been with Crystal Cruise lines, so it had to be wonderful. This ship had been one of the R-ships from Renaissance, and a considerable amount of money had been spent on updating.
The ship was built in 1998 and refurbished in 2003. It is smaller at 30,200 tons, but perfect for 684 passengers. The guest to staff ration is 1.7 to 1 which is excellent, and no doubt would guarantee us an outstanding trip.
For at least a month I looked at the brochure every evening. It was so lovely, and the service was going to make this two week transatlantic cruise, from Miami to Lisbon, even more special. We had opted for a penthouse suite, cabin 8019. With over 300 sq ft, and a balcony, plus a butler, what more could we ask for.
I am going to break this review down in different areas that concern all passengers:
BEFORE THE CRUISE
We received our documents in good time, the air arrangements were very poor to say the least, and we were traveling for over 24 hours before we got back to Minneapolis, To go from Lisbon to Frankfurt to Chicago and finally to Minneapolis is not a terribly direct route. We were exhausted.
Our stateroom, penthouse suite 8019 was well maintained, kept clean by our attendant, and the bedding was fine. I cannot say that it was as spectacular as the company advertises, but it was acceptable. Our penthouse suite was a nice size, however, could have been furnished better. On Celebrity we had a bar in our suite with wine and other types of glasses always there. On this ship there was no such animal, and we had to ask every day for glasses. The butler did nothing out of the ordinary, and you had to ask for everything. According to the brochure, he would unpack your suitcase (which I did not want done) shine shoes, etc. I had lunch with a travel agent on the ship who had ask the same butler as ours to unpack her suitcase, and he refused. He said that was in the brochure just to make it look good.
There are three main places to eat. The larger dining room has open seating. However it will not hold everyone, so if you get there late, plan on waiting 45 minutes for a table. The room itself is lovely, and the food( from the menu appearance) is excellent. However, they cannot get it to you even warm, and we constantly had to ask for coffee at breakfast.
The other two restaurants are the Polo Grill, and Toscana, the first being steak and the other Italian. You did have to make reservations there, but the food and the service was usually quite good.
I like to play the slot machines a little bit, and I am referring to less than $50 for the cruise. Of course my money was a donation! However, one man was doing very well on the $1 machines, and had won twice in one evening. I believe it was $2500 total. Well, he went to cash some travelers checks, and the casino staff refused to cash them, saying it was not his signature. Obviously they did not want him to win anymore money!
The shipped offered computer classes, for a fee, and the internet was 95 cents per minute. This is the highest I have ever paid. Even with a package purchase on minutes, the lowest you could get the price per minute was to 80 cents.
GYM and SPA
This was quite nice but even the aerobics class charged a fee. There was no way you could get around with someone always having their hand out.
OVERALL ATTITUDE OF THE STAFF
This was the worst staff I have ever dealt with. Frankly, they acted like they were doing us a favor, not the other way around. They were not friendly, and could do nothing on their own. From the front desk to the dining room, the staff was pathetic. We even met with the Hotel Manager (General Manager) after four days of total frustration. He had sent a letter in response to our comments that had been submitted just a few days into the cruise. We called to confirm that we wanted to meet with him, as well as some friends of ours. He agreed. When we went to the area( the main lobby) to meet him, he refused to meet in private. He wanted to have us sit in the lobby and discuss these issues with us. We told him no, and he finally agreed to meet in his office, which is where you have private meetings in the first place.
We listed our complaints, dining room service, cold food, and a multitude of others. He became defensive, and never once offered the simple question "what can I do to make it right". It was just a pathetic example of how the lack of leadership does come from the top. No wonder the staff was so horrible. The hotel manager could not even set a good example.
STAFF PERFORMANCE AND SERVICE
I would say the officers were poor based on your meeting with the hotel manager. The butler was a joke. He didn't even show up for two days "because he did not want to disturb us", never offered to do anything, and we always had to ask. I had the tips removed from our bill, and I assure you he received nothing from us. His name was Manuel, from Portugal, and basically did the absolute least he had to do. We ask him twice to make reservations for us at the two of the other restaurants, and never once did he even get back to us.
The bar staff leaves a lot of be desired. One evening the waitress accidently put two glasses of wine on our friends tab, as only one should have been his and one mine. She did not know and it was not her fault. When she brought the bill back we explained it was on two separate checks. The next thing we know some woman bar manager comes marching in the dining room with this poor girl and made her apologize in front of us and just about everyone in the dining room. Not to mention the scene it made. We were embarrassed. Then they both come back with two glasses of wine and give them to us. Again, another scene.
DESTINATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT
This was a joke. We took three tours and the only one that was acceptable was in the Azores. The one in Funchal, Maderia the gal read the script for three hours, and the worst was the one in Jerez, Spain. There was a man in a wheelchair with his wife, and myself with an injured leg with 25 stitches in it. Neither of us could walk. The bus dropped us in town, and this was a walking tour. My husband spent all of his time trying to help the man in the wheelchair as his wife could not do it by herself. It was very difficult for me to get around on these streets, and we were never informed that the bus would not be available to us.
When we returned we went to the DESTINATION SERVICES desk, and ask for a refund. The lady with her husband in a wheelchair did also. We were required to fill out a form as to why we felt we should have our money back. Then when the completed form was taken back, the DESTINATION SERVICES manager said he would have to take it to the hotel manager for approval. That evening we received a voice mail during dinner that we would not receive a refund, and we would need to contact the Miami office. We paid $120 total. I saw the lady with the handicapped husband, and they told her the same thing.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
There really was not much to do. I enjoyed the art auctions and other than that, crafts, etc (everything had an extra charge) were of no interest. My husband attended the "Enrichment Lectures" given my some retired 3 star admiral who spent 20 years of his career in the pentagon ( not quite out with the troops) and his talks were all political. Very pro Geroge Bush, and not at all what should have been on a cruise ship. My husband is a retired Air Force office, and was shocked that this would be going on during his vacation. They actually held a straw poll to see who would win Bush or Kerry on the ship. This was totally not appropriate.
This is the worst of 17 cruises that we have ever been on. Oceania just does not get the message about what luxury is actually about. They have a pretty ship, but no class, no helpful attitude. They are just a bunch of Renaissance people trying to start something new. They do not even own the ships, as they are leased from the bank of France.
I will not recommend this company to anyone. So many experienced cruisers were totally appaled at the service, and general attitude. You can have a beautiful ship, but if your staff stinks, so does your product.
I wrote to the company a month ago, and have not heard a word back from them. We spent $5600 plus expenses while on the ship. You would have thought they would care enough to be concerned about ours and many others unpleasant trip.
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