Travel Market Report recently spent seven days aboard Oceania Marina on a 10-day Baltic cruise. The intensive port sailing also featured a press conference by Oceania executives, a preview of new food and beverage offerings coming to Vista next year, and a chance to sit down and chat with two of the advisors. in Oceania’s best-selling trips.
For advisors who have never sailed with Oceania Cruises, here’s what you need to know before recommending the line to your clients.
1. The service is attentive (with a capital “A”)
Without a doubt, the service on board Oceania Cruises is a highlight. Beyond friendliness, which is the case, we have rarely experienced such attentive service as the crew aboard Oceania.
Dirty plates are swept away in an instant, water glasses are refilled before they are empty, curtains are drawn almost before you squint from the glare of a restaurant.
Compared to other premium cruise lines, we have been among the best in Oceania for service.
We weren’t the only ones to find that was the case.
“I’m a service person,” Richard Sacco, independent travel consultant at Travel Edge, told TMR during an afternoon chat in the Martinis Lounge. “The quality of service I experienced on this cruise goes beyond service.”
An example of this service, Sacco said, was a sommelier who sought him out in another venue, two days after tasting a Malbec he didn’t like, to get him to try one she thought he would enjoy. would appreciate more.
“Wow, where did that come from?!” he said, adding that this level of service and knowing that his customers will be well taken care of is one of the main reasons he recommends Oceania to his customers.
That said, what keeps the service solidly in the premium cruise category and not the luxury level is the lack of “achievement”. For example, we were told this was not possible when we requested gluten-free pasta at Toscana without notice. And a request to our butler about the possibility of getting a body pillow was ignored. But these cases were rare and do not detract from the excellent service we received.
2. Food East a climax
There’s a reason Oceania claims the best cuisine at sea. It’s not just delicious. It’s high quality, it’s consistent, there’s a lot of variety, and it’s (almost) everything included.
Depending on the ship your customers are sailing, they can have up to four specialty restaurants included, plus the main dining room and outdoor buffet/grill – not to mention an extensive room service menu and dining experiences in a small group at an additional cost. Reserve and Private. There’s also a delicious and positively distinguished afternoon tea that can, if you indulge, leave you with very little room for dinner.
And, where some cruise lines sacrifice the quality of main catering for the benefit of specialist venues, this is certainly not the case in Oceania.
“The consistency of the product hasn’t let me down yet,” Sacco said. “No matter where we got inside on this ship, the food quality is there.”
Sacco has highlighted Maine lobster on several menus as an example of the quality of food served by Oceania. Most cruise lines serve lobster (also called spiny lobster or Caribbean lobster), which is cheaper, has no claws, and, according to some lobster lovers, isn’t as tasty.
Details like that, Sacco said, are something foodie customers appreciate.
They also love the Culinary Center, where they can take hands-on cooking lessons. There are even a number of culinary-inspired shore excursions for those who want a taste of the destinations they visit.
Sacco’s wife and business partner, Helen Capra, was equally enamored with the food on board, even going so far as to tell TMR that she planned to return home and sell Oceania’s newest ship, Vista. , based solely on a dessert she had the chance to try during a special Vista tasting lunch. (Dessert? A triple chocolate brownie with salted caramel and vanilla sauce.)
“Dessert is enough for me to call my customers and say, ‘You have to sail the Vista because of this dessert. Forget the itinerary, forget everything else, you have to go get that dessert.”
3. High value for the dollar
The inclusion of most specialty restaurants, the high level of service, and several included amenities such as unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees, as well as fitness classes and coin-operated laundry facilities. do it yourself, give Oceania a higher value. for money than many other premium cruise lines.
In fact, Capra said she thinks these inclusions push Oceania above the premium.
“Oceania is a premium cruise line, but it’s not. It’s a step above premium because you get so many amenities that you don’t get on other cruise lines. upscale cruises The array of specialty restaurants you don’t have to pay for is amazing.
On most other high-end cruise lines, with the exception of Viking, specialty restaurants aren’t free and they aren’t cheap either.
“I personally think for every dollar you spend on this cruise line, you get $1.25 back,” Sacco added.
4. Contemporary but not modern or trendy
Contrary to the trend that sees many cruise lines embracing a more modern, hotel-style feel, Oceania is staying true to its traditional roots, though it plans to add a touch of the contemporary – “not modern” the VP stressed. Senior Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro – during the upcoming renovations.
“We wanted to be more contemporary, not modern,” he said during a press briefing aboard Marina. “The colors are crisp, fresh.”
Contemporary trends are also making their way onto menus, from the addition of more bourbons in bars to plant-based and Keto dishes in restaurants.
It’s important to stay on top of these trends, Capra said, with Sacco adding that while he doesn’t follow the Keto diet, he appreciates his inclusion on behalf of his clients.
But following trends is not the same as being fashionable, Oceania executives pointed out.
“We’re not the type of cruise line that’s going to do molecular cuisine and stuff like that,” said Alexis Quaretti, director of culinary programs and development.
Oceania cruisers like traditional ones. When the cruise line attempted to alter some of its signature dishes (lasagna and tiramisu, among them), the backlash was quick and vocal.
5. Families should look elsewhere
Families looking for an upscale cruise experience should probably look elsewhere. Although kids are welcome aboard the Oceania, there’s no kids’ club, and there’s not much to do outside of the pool. The few daytime activities there are are limited to things like bridge, golf putting, shuffleboard, ping pong, quizzes, and enrichment lectures.
“Would I recommend this for a kid? Because there’s no kids program, probably not,” Capra told TMR. But she added, for families who form a “cohesive unit”, who just want to be together and don’t need someone else to entertain their children, she might consider it.
6. Mediocre Entertainment
If Oceania has a weak link, it’s in-flight entertainment. Our navigation included two performances by a ventriloquist comedian, two by a jazz pianist and singer, two by a West End soprano, and three revue-style performances by the in-house singers and dancers.
Although tastes vary and the often much older audience seem to enjoy it the most, it was, overall, mediocre. At least one or two people walked out in the first 10 minutes at every performance we attended, with the exception of the soprano.
Asked about entertainment, Sacco, himself a baby boomer, said: “I’m not going there. I’ve got five more days, maybe things will change.”