It has been 15 years since I first cruised aboard Crystal Cruises and I love it. It has been nearly ten years since I’ve been on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and I loved that even more. Last month I sailed with seven family members aboard Oceania Cruises Insignia and I think I’m in love all over again! Our itinerary was “Yacht Haven” and it featured the French and Italian Rivera’s. This itinerary is very port intensive, visiting ten ports in ten days – but very well worth it.
We began our journey in Rome with a two night hotel stay (very highly recommended when travelling so far) where my family feels most at home. We unfortunately lost a day due to airlines cancellations, thankfully we had the two nights – the day we did spend in Rome was wonderful. Our hotel was tucked away in the Via Veneto neighborhood which proved to be a perfect location. Close to the center of the city, quiet and filled with cafes, shops and restaurants. Cruise Specialists can book pre- and post-cruise hotels for you with fabulous extra amenities!
WELCOME TO OCEANIA
Since we boarded the Insignia early in Civitavecchia (port city for Rome) we were able to enjoy a snack onboard before our rooms were ready around 3pm. I stayed in the 300 sq. ft Penthouse Suite, perfect for two people. The bathrooms were a bit on the small side, but very manageable and well appointed. As we began to unpack and settle in with our complimentary bottle of Champagne, we heard a knock at the door. It was our butler, Ivan from Croatia. Ivan was superb, the best part of the cruise -he was soft spoken, very attentive and it didn’t take long for him to learn our routine.
The passengers onboard overall were really fun. The average age was between 55 and 60 and there were several families with kids. I believe a few couples in their 30’s and anyone over 70 had just as much energy as I did. Very refreshing!
I was travelling with a group of eight people; which could cause a problem when dining. However aboard Oceania our group ate together every night in the Polo Grill, Toscana, or the main dining room without any issues. The ambiance was certainly different in all three but the service never wavered no matter where you were. In every restaurant the food was excellent – I can’t say that we ever had a bad meal. We ate in the Terrace café each morning and the waiters were always happy and wanted to engage in conversation. You never carried your own tray from the buffet and the lines were very short and ran smoothly. We rarely ate lunch onboard, only a few times and each time we ate at the Waves Grill. This is a really small area between the Terrace café and the Lido deck, the food was very good but getting it was a bit of an issue if it was busy.
The fitness center was very nice and large for a small ship, with plenty of equipment. The spa was a little small, but efficient.
I found the computer center to be very effective. There were plenty of computer stations and it was never crowded. There was always a computer available no matter what time I went in.
We only enjoyed one evening of entertainment because our group enjoyed late meals, but what we saw was very enjoyable. There was no onboard photographer – which I loved. I’m sure no one in our group even missed it!
Another fabulous thing about Oceania Cruises – even though we tendered in six out of ten ports, no lines, no waiting… heaven!
We took two shore excursions through Oceania’s Shore Excursion desk, both in France and both wine related. The first tour was from the port of St. Tropez. Our tour visited a village named Gassin, reachable by just a short bus ride from the pier. Gassin is perched high upon a hillside lined with vineyards, it was a beautiful scene indeed. Although I recommend this tour, there was a lot of walking up and down the hills in this village, which happened to not be stated very clearly in the shore excursion description. Some of the guests were having a bit of trouble with all the walking.
Our next tour was in Sanary-Sur-Mer, and absolutely fabulous port. This was a new stop for Oceania and from the way the passengers were buzzing onboard that evening I hope they will be adding this back into their itineraries soon (Sanary-Sur-Mer is reachable from the port of Marseille). This afternoon we went on an excursion to a family winery. My only complaint – four hours was just not enough! There were 45 people on our tour and the ship had to wait for us to get back to leave.
Oceania really does deliver a wonderful product which in my expeience is very comparable to Crystal and Regent. I would recommend it to anyone who does not like the hassle of lines and everyone who wants that country-club casual feel!
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