After recently experiencing my 3rd Cruise with Oceania, sailing on Oceania’s “Vista” ship above for a week, I would say a resounding… Absolutely!!
As you know, there isn’t a more seamless way to see the world than on a beautiful Cruise Ship… you unpack once, you wake up with a brand new city to explore each morning, all your yummy meals are prepared for you, you come back to the comforts of your freshly prepared Stateroom or Suite, you’re entertained each evening, etc. and you do all of this without lifting a finger!
But of course, keep in mind, not all Cruiselines & Ships are created equal!!
Some will leave you frustrated while others will make you feel sad to have to disembark.
Below is a recap of my time onboard my multiple Oceania sailings (an “Upper Premium” Cruiseline) so you can get a good sense of what life is like onboard this class of Cruiseline and then determine for yourself if it’s YOUR kind of Cruise or not.
But before I get into my experience onboard Oceania, I thought it would be a good idea to give you an overview about the different types of Cruises for perspective.
When It Comes to Ocean Cruises, There are 3 Types of Options:
1. Mainstream: These are big ship/mass-market lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity) which is the way most people get introduced to Cruising… overall, a cheap way/the most economical way to enjoy cruising due to sailing onboard with 1,000s & 1,000s of others
2. Luxury: Small ship/all-inclusive lines. (Regent, Seabourn, Silversea) These are Fantastic experiences but, at a starting price of $800-$1,000 per person per day on average, they’re not affordable for many people
3. Upper Premium: (Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises. Azamara also falls into this category but these days I’m VERY hesitant to recommend Azamara so make sure we talk first if you’re considering them!) These are Great Value Cruiselines as they’re an affordable way to have a small ship experience!
Oceania in my opinion is in the “sweet spot” so to speak as they provide great value without compromise!
You get multiple restaurants and entertainment options like the big ships offer but with fewer people onboard— so there are no crowds which means that line ups are non-existent!
Compared to Luxury lines, your cost per day is lower on Oceania but you still get a Super high-quality Cruise with great service & with the VERY BEST award-winning food at sea—no exaggeration!
With Oceania all restaurants, entertainment & non-alcoholic drinks (unlimited soft drinks, water, specialty coffees, teas and juices) are included. There are no extra fees for specialty dining or for their 24 hour room service like the big ships who typically charge $45-$75 per person for these types of restaurants and $20 for a steak from room service/many even charge for items in the “Main” dining room now–I’ve seen this many times! And Oceania also includes an Internet account for each room!
Once onboard you will pay for alcoholic drinks & for excursions and for gratuities. (With that said, Oceania offers free perks on most of their Cruises such as some free excursions or a free beverage package, etc. & on top of that I can get you free gratuities or free onboard credit to help sweeten the value even more!) The Luxury lines include pretty much all of these items in their upfront price, but of course, your cost per day goes up quite a bit.
So that’s the “breakdown” on the general types of Cruises.
Which leads to the next question…
Who is Oceania Cruises For?
If your budget would be “overstretched/uncomfortable” sailing on Luxury lines like Regent/Seabourn/Silversea and/or you are tired of the large ship herding, belly flop contests, hairy leg contests, constant “nickel & diming”, etc. and are ready for a better, more superior Cruise experience, then Oceania may be for you…
…but let’s see.
Keep reading!! 🙂
One of the first things people talk about when describing Oceania is the FOOD!! So naturally I have to start here and tell you about my taste bud’s experience while…
…Dining Onboard Oceania:
Without a doubt, this is Oceania’s signature distinction from all the other cruise lines and NOBODY does dining quite like them!!
The food is impeccably delicious and the menu choices are impressive!
Let’s just say that you will NOT need to consider eating off the ship when in port as the restaurants onboard rival any five-star restaurant on land, no kidding!
As mentioned, there are no dining surcharges at any of their restaurants and all guests are guaranteed 1 night in each of the specialty restaurants so you can truly taste your way around the world.
TIP: The restaurants sometimes have cancellations so you can check back the morning of to see if you can go back to your favorite choice a second or third time and they will book you a table if it is available.
Ok, let me tell you a little about each…
“Specialty” Restaurants on select Oceania ships:
The “Marina” & “Riviera”, Oceania’s 2 newer ships before their most recent “Vista” ship, have a fantastic French restaurant onboard… which is:
This restaurant is one of my favorites as it is inspired by Master Chef, Jacques Pepin.
The problem with this restaurant is that “every single dish” served is so scrumptious that it’s truly hard to choose just one. Luckily for us guests, we can order as much as we want! 🙂
Red Ginger- Available on Oceania “Marina”, “Riviera” & “Vista”
This is an Asian-inspired restaurant where you get to pick out your very own chopsticks made of precious woods and stones, choose from a variety of quality teas & choose from a great selection of “flavourful” dishes.
- You do not need to eat sushi/raw fish to enjoy this restaurant. There is something for everyone here.
- I also HIGHLY recommend both the Lobster Pad Thai & the Miso Glazed Sea Bass… they’re both melt-in-your-mouth yummy!! 🙂
Ember- Currently only Available on Oceania “Vista”
This restaurant features Classic “American Dishes” but is influenced by some great Chefs like Jacques Pepin… as you can see below, it all leads to a Very yummy evening!! 🙂
Now, let’s check out the other 2 “Gastronomic Wizardry” Specialty Restaurants onboard ALL of Oceania’s ships.
This specialty restaurant is a steakhouse essentially but it does have a variety of dishes on the menu to choose from.
During my multiple meals there I’ve ordered things like pork belly, Whole Maine Lobster, Filet Mignon, etc.
Have a look at a few of these flavorful dishes that I would “most definitely” recommend. (oh, and the Crab Cake and Clam Chowder are delicious too!)
Toscana is an Italian restaurant that does not disappoint. Actually, it is finger-licking good!!! So appetizing that I decided to go back a second evening on one of my sailings! 😉
Tip: The Osso Bucca is fall-off-the-bone tender- don’t miss it!! The lamb is really good too!!
Ever tried Balsamic Reduction dipped in gourmet cheese bread? How about having your choice of Oil/Vinegar from a menu/cart…
…you don’t know what you are missing & have to try it if you have never!! 🙂
The Grand Dining Room
FYI, this is equivalent to a “Main Dining Room” on the big ships.
I have to admit that I did not dine here often during my 3 Oceania sailings due to all the other amazing options onboard but the menu that changes in here each evening always delights guests!
Between the Terrace Cafe & going to the specialty restaurants, room service for a quiet evening in after a long day of touring, honestly, not much time for eating in here! 🙂
And FYI, this is not a bad complaint!! Normally on “big ships” you run out of “included” quality dining options quickly so you mostly eat in the “Main” Dining room but you don’t have to worry about that on Oceania. 🙂
That said, “The Grand Dining Room” is stunning on all of Oceania’s ships & no doubt you will enjoy it during the nights you eat in there!
This is casual Buffet style dining where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch & dinner. But it is no ordinary boring buffet… not even close!
There are so many choices to please your palate.
For example, at dinner you can order grilled steaks/lamb chops and fresh seafood like lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, swordfish, tuna, salmon, etc.
That is on top of the absolutely yummy sushi (It’s not often someone who lives in Vancouver like me enjoys Sushi outside of the City but I always do on Oceania as it’s super fresh & tasty!) they feature each night AND all the other dishes they serve fresh each evening.
Have a look at some of these delicious dishes I’ve enjoyed….
Le Reserve- Available on Oceania “Marina” & “Riviera”
This venue adds a little class above the rest. (if that’s possible)
You pay extra to dine here… you’re actually paying more for the high-end wines served here/not for the food… but if you are a wine lover you can attend a special dinner that features sumptuous foods paired with fine wines.
It is popular but I cannot tell you about my personal experience as I did not try it but you can sign up for it online in advance or onboard if it sounds like your thing.
Here is a picture of the restaurant…
Aquamar Kitchen- Currently only Available on Oceania “Vista”
Onboard Oceania’s “Vista” ship they replaced the above “Le Reserve” nighttime dining venue with their healthy “Aquamar Kitchen” which is open for breakfast & lunch… if I was onboard for more than a week I would have for sure eaten here often but as this was my first Cruise in 4 months I couldn’t help but indulge daily at the burger grill, buffet, etc. 😉 but the food looked great there & everyone I talked to who ate at “Aquamar Kitchen” said the food was excellent!
Another food venue that I always enjoy on Oceania’s ships is their “Waves Grill”… between their yummy “Wagyu” burgers, Lobster & Filet sandwiches, the fact that it turns into a “Pizzeria” at night (featuring an indulgent “Nutella Pizza” for dessert) this is NOT your normal “pool grill” that you find on Cruise ships!!
On their newest “Oceania Vista” Ship, Oceania introduced one more new food venue onboard & it’s a hidden gem… it’s their “Bakery” at the top of the ship tucked away in the corner of their “Baristas” coffee shop.
If like me you don’t drink tea or coffee don’t make the mistake of not heading up there as you don’t want to miss their daily selection of freshly baked French and Italian pastries which I definitely enjoyed sampling during a few days of my Cruise! 😉
Fingers crossed as Oceania brings out new ships they’ll keep this venue as a place to enjoy some “treats” at!! 🙂
Okay, enough talk about food… I’m pretty confident what I’ve shown you above helps you see you’re going to eat AMAZINGLY onboard your first, or next, Oceania Cruise!!!!! 🙂
Now, let’s take a look at some of Oceania’s Beautiful ships!
Oceania currently has a fleet of 7 ships with # 8 due to join them in 2025.
4 of their ships fit 670 guests onboard, 2 of them fit 1,248 guests onboard & the 7th an even 1,200 guests.
And when it comes to crew, depending on the ship, they have 1 crew member onboard for every 1.5-1.6 guests.
So, no matter the Oceania ship you’re on, You’ll get the feeling of exclusivity onboard Oceania… you WON’T feel herded like on the big ships with 1,000s & 1,000s & 1,000s onboard!!
Personally, I love the “feel” when I sail on Oceania… overall it’s similar to staying in a deluxe private home… Oceania themselves call their ships “Residential-Style Luxury” and I have to agree… they’re very warm & very welcoming!!
What you won’t experience on Oceania like on the big ships is line-ups at buffets, line-ups getting on/off the ships, trouble finding a lounge chair at the pool deck, cheap towels at the pool & plastic lounge chairs, long waits at dining venues, etc.
And instead of a waiter trying to sell you drinks every 10 minutes to meet their quota, on Oceania you will hear soft background music to lull you to sleep under the sun or in the shade as you read a book and staff will only approach when you are ready to order something.
BIG DIFFERENCE from the “Big” Ships!!!
Below are a few pictures from some of Oceania’s ships to give you a feel for what their “style” is all about:
During my few sailings with Oceania, I noticed some unique things that I liked that Oceania did for their guests that you don’t experience on big ships… such as:
1. In port, if the city center was a little further, they provided a FREE shuttle for guests in both directions where mass market lines would have a charge for this service.
2. You pay for alcoholic drinks onboard Oceania but non-alcoholic drinks are included. What I liked is that they provide cold drinks like water and pop in multiple areas throughout the ship, making it easy for guests to consume… even in the card room, on the walking deck & sports court in coolers of ice, nice touch. 🙂
(Some larger mainstream lines prevent guests from bringing water onboard so you are at the mercy of ridiculously overpriced water onboard… we’re talking $3-$4/bottle, $48+ for a case!)
3. While we were docked I noticed the large ships leaving early in the day. We didn’t leave till much later in the evening, some nights at midnight. The large ships do this on purpose because they want you back onboard to keep spending and they will also incorporate “sea days” for the same purpose.
4. Oceania’s itineraries on the other hand are port intensive (I had 1 sea day during my last 7 night Cruise with Oceania & 0 sea days during my 10-night sailing with them a few years ago) with longer stays so you can enjoy the experiences of the regions you are visiting without feeling rushed and having the stress of getting back to the ship on time.
“These Subtle Differences In Service “Style” of Cruise Make All The Difference!!”
What Can You Do Onboard an Oceania Cruise when you do enjoy the occasional “Sea Day” with them?
Let’s just say, You will NOT be bored!! 🙂
FYI, I showed a picture of a gym onboard above… at the gym typically you pay to attend classes on big/mainstream ships (and it’s not cheap!) but you can attend a stretching, Abs or Sole Energizer class for FREE on Oceania! And the Yoga and Pilates classes are included too!
TIP: Speaking of health, if you enjoy making smoothies at home for breakfast, feel free to bring your protein powder, flax, chia seeds, etc that you put in it each day. They will be happy to add it in.
If all this talk of healthy eating and working out is making you sleepy, no worries, Oceania has you covered there too!
In-room there is a big selection of movies on the TV (and, unlike on the big ships where these can be $10-$20+ per movie they’re 100% Free!) if you would like to catch up on some relaxation time!
Around the ship you can indulge in coziness by going to…
- The Aquamar Spa
- Tea Time in Horizons daily (no fee here but you will pay on some big-ship lines)
- The Pool Deck
- Coffee Shop (with specialty coffees for $0 — compared to $5+ each on mass market ships)
- & there’s always a Library onboard
Tea Time is at 4pm each day (but not on embarkation day) and it is SO NICE to sit next to the floor-to-ceiling ocean-view windows…
…be served by staff in white gloves (don’t worry, you can go casual) a variety of Teas, scones with clotted cream, sweets & petite sandwiches while a four-piece orchestra softly plays enjoyable music in the background.
What a treat…
…and guess what? You don’t have to pay a fee to receive this lovely treatment like you would on some big ships. It’s all included. 🙂
The Spa Relaxation Area Onboard Oceania:
This is beautifully set up to fully immerse yourself in relaxation which I did several times on my Oceaniaa sailings and enjoyed it immensely.
It is included if you are in a Suite or a Concierge Veranda Stateroom or it costs $30 per day/per guest- a small price for this indulgence.
It has a private indoor relaxation area that has heated loungers, unisex saunas, steam rooms, etc.— perfect for relaxing after a day of touring…
It also has a private outdoor area with hot tubs & sun loungers. (Keep in mind on Oceania’s smaller Regatta/Insignia/Nautica/Sirena ships this area is much smaller/isn’t as Grandiose) As you can see below, no doubt you’ll get a “Touch of Paradise” when relaxing in this area!! 🙂
Once you are all done chilling out, you can take…
Art and Culinary Classes
Oceania offers some unique things like art classes and culinary classes for a fee.
I’m not much into cooking myself but on a previous sailing my travel partner attended a fish culinary class where they showed her some knife skills and cooking techniques using fish.
In all honesty, we thought the cooking class price was a bit steep but in the end were pleasantly surprised that the value was certainly there and well worth it.
The chef who taught the class works with Jacques Pepin personally so the fact that he was “the real deal” alone was worth the time & money…
It was a total of 2 hours in the class, they gave them a couple glasses of wine (with refills) that paired with the dishes and then they got to eat what they prepared after great instruction.
And Oceania offers “Culinary Excursions” too!!
Alright, I’m just about done with my “Oceania Cruises” blog post but I have to tell you about one more thing…
…just when you thought an Oceania Cruise couldn’t get ANY better, you CAN make it even more special by doing what I did on one of my sailings with them and booked a…
There are four categories of Suites on the Vista & Marina & Riviera ships (three on Oceania’s 4 older ships) to choose from but I decided to go with the Penthouse Suite that you see above—which is the entry suite but still a nice size at 420 square feet.
On top of that, I strategically picked our room in a G-R-E-A-T location (super important to avoid potential noises and easy to do if you know what to look out for)—I know all the tricks to doing this which I’d be more than happy to do for you too whether you choose a suite or not! 😉
Now keep in mind, the higher the category of Suite you choose, the more is included as well…
…the obvious is that you get roomier suites with larger patios & luxury furnishings like a hot tub on deck.
The not-so-obvious special services included with Suites are:
- Priority Embarkation (come to the ship FIRST and have lunch onboard)
- Priority Specialty Restaurant Bookings (this is a BIGGIE-those tables are sought-after) AND
- Order dinner in-suite from any of the specialty restaurants. Below we ordered a simple lunch but you get the idea…
Plus ALL SUITES will receive these no matter the type of Suite you choose…
- Priority room entry at 1pm
- Complimentary pressing of Garments upon embarkation (2 garments per person)
- Delivery of Afternoon Canapés & Treats
- Delivery of Full Breakfast in-suite or on your veranda
- In-Suite Afternoon Tea Service
- Assistance with Reservations to Specialty Restaurants
- Course by course in-suite Dining
- Packing and unpacking service
- Complimentary Shoe-Shine (they do a really good job!)
- Complimentary access to the Spa Relaxation area
- Complimentary access to the Executive Lounge (for suites only)
My Penthouse Suite:
My Penthouse Suite was 420 square feet, had a separate bathtub, larger shower, TWO sitting areas, desk space and lounge chairs on the patio— not just a simple chair with a pinch of leg room like you see on big ships… no, no, no! 🙂
Or, visit here to see some of the new Suite designs on Oceania’s newest ship, “Vista”.
Have a look at more pictures of my Penthouse Suite onboard “Marina”…
On top of all the above perks I mentioned, we had a friendly butler whose name was Sam and TWO room attendants to take care of all our needs. Yes, it MIGHT sound “a little over the top” to have a Butler—but that’s the whole point, you are on vacation!!! 🙂
Many people say, “I don’t need a butler and I’m uncomfortable with the idea of one” but once you have a Butler- I promise you won’t want to go back 🙂
Sam would bring coffee each morning to our Suite while my partner… I’m not a tea or coffee drinker myself, weird, right! ;-)… would sit on the patio enjoying it and gently wake up.
Wouldn’t you prefer to stay in your robe and enjoy a fresh cup on the beautiful balcony you paid for before facing the world? 🙂
To top it all off, onboard, Oceania offers suite guests…
An Executive Lounge:
For Suite guests only (and they have a private lounge for concierge class too!) this private comfy lounge has non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks, books & a concierge for answering any questions you may have throughout the voyage, to solve problems should they arise and they can even print your airline boarding passes!
Another thing the lounge has is the menus for each restaurant including the updated one for the main dining room each night. I love this as you don’t have to run around the ship to make up your mind where you want to eat that evening.
TIP: On disembarkation morning, you can head here for a tea or coffee, watch the news and relax till the ship is near empty & THEN make your way off
Now, you may be wondering…
What should I wear onboard?
You can check out the pictures below to get an idea of what people wear in the evenings onboard an Oceania Cruise. (Daytime pretty much anything works… shorts, tracksuits, jeans, swimwear/cover up when heading inside though, etc.)
Like in your home town in a nice restaurant, you’ll see people in nice jeans/a collared shirt or maybe some will have on a full suit if it’s a special occasion or just a sport coat to “dress” things up a touch.
The bottom line is, after sailing on Oceania 3 times, I can tell you their atmosphere is “Country Club Casual” wear for evenings and country club casual sportswear for the daytime. This line’s feel is not stuffy or pretentious but they do request no shorts or ripped jeans in the evenings unless of course you are simply going to the Buffet… but the great part is, no tuxes or gowns on here so no need to get over the top dressed up!
Ok. There You Have It- All the Juicy Details About My Experiences Onboard Oceania Cruises…
For even MORE information, including the port stops I saw on my Oceania sailings, check out my 3 galleries below and make sure to read the captions under each picture/video as I do my best to write great tips and info there as well!!
- 7 Night “Oceania Vista” Mediterranean Sailing- May, 2023: https://gallery.shawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/Oceania-Vista-Mediterranean-Cruise/
2. 10 Night “Oceania Marina” Mediterranean Sailing- May, 2017: https://gallery.shawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/Oceania-Marina-Mediterranean-Cruise/
3. 12 Night “Oceania Marina” Caribbean Sailing- Dec, 2011/Jan, 2012: https://gallery.shawnpower.com/CruiseVacations/Oceania-Marina-South-Caribbean/
So, after reading & “seeing” all the above, do you now have the urge to take an Oceania Cruise too? I can’t blame you if you do!! 😉
If so, when you are ready, you can Contact me here and I’ll gladly help you find that next great “Cruise Vacation of a Lifetime”!!
Until next time…
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