April 2015 - Marina to South Pacific
The itinerary was wonderful and the Marina is a beautiful ship. We had a Penthouse Suite and it was very roomy and comfortable. There was more than enough storage space for our belongings. Our butler was attentive and the appetizers offered were very nice. Unfortunately, we didn't order the appetizers very often as they were served after 5PM and we wanted to enjoy Happy Hour from 5 to 6.
We arrived in Papeete by ferry from Moorea along with quite a few other passengers. The Marina was very close, but it was extremely difficult trying to get our luggage down the road from the ferry dock to the ship. The road was so rough our bags would not roll. It was also very hot. We had two in our group who have difficulty walking and it was almost impossible for them to roll their bags. It would have been nice if the ship's crew would have met the ferry with a luggage cart to assist us. It would not have taken long and it would have made the embarkation process so much better.
We did have a negative experience in the Grand Dining Room. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but the food and service in the GDR was spotty. The first time we visited, the waiter originally brought me the wrong entrée and the maître d' spent way too much time trying to assign blame. Our companion ordered the broccoli slaw and when it was served, there was no broccoli to be seen. They then brought a dish covered in broccoli and the maître d' seemed sarcastic when he said he had personally added the broccoli. Our companions ordered a fish dish that was cold when served. Our second try was much better, with excellent service and food. At our third and final visit, we found the service acceptable, but the food mediocre and fairly bland.
The service and food in Toscana was superb. Maria, the maître d', Vincent, the assistant maître d', Max our waiter, and Alexandra, the sommelier, all made us feel special and welcome. We wanted to try everything on the menu and everything we did try was wonderful both in presentation and taste.
We ate several times in the Veranda Café for dinner. Although I am not too fond of buffets, we found the atmosphere and the food superior to the GDR. It was rarely crowded and there was a large selection of food available and the food was delicious and either hot or cold as appropriate.
We ate in the other specialty dining rooms and found them to be very good. We did feel that since we had booked a penthouse suite, we should have had more opportunity to eat in the specialty dining rooms. We were given four reservations. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to eat in each restaurant twice at least.
Oceania should have been more honest about the stop at Pitcairn Island. It obviously was not a good place to go ashore and the alternative of having the islanders come on the Marina was a good one. It should have been advertised as such, not giving an excuse three weeks ahead that bad weather precluded us going ashore.
Kudos to the Captain for finding an alternative tender site on Easter Island when the swells made it too dangerous at Hanga Roa. The tender staff were excellent in making sure everyone transferred to and from the tenders safely. The tender ticket system was terrible and the Destination Services staff allowed themselves to get very frustrated as the passengers became very frustrated. Again, on other ships, if we were in a suite or above, we had a chance to get tender tickets without waiting in the lounge with the other 1200 people. At Easter Island, I was in line 45 minutes before the tickets were to be given out. By the time I got our tickets, we were in the second to last group before open tickets. Some people were getting 50+ tickets! The second day wasn't any better. When I asked the schedule for the colors so we could anticipate when our group would be called, the staff member said I didn't need to know that. I later asked another staff who disclosed the color before ours so our group of 4 knew when we could proceed to the elevator as we had 2 people who have difficulty with stairs.
The disembarkation in Lima was very difficult. It seemed like everyone wanted to get off at the same time and the shuttles could not cope with the number of people. There was a very long line and it seems like there has to be a better way to control the crowds and make the process less stressful.
Our negative comments are presented with the idea to improve service on the ship. All in all, however, it was a wonderful cruise and the crew and ship were excellent.