Cruise Review: Oceania Marina British Isles Medley - July 21, 2015
My husband Lance and I recently returned from our first cruise with Oceania, on the Oceania Marina. We chose the British Isles Medley, which took us around the UK for 12 nights, with stops in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Here is my review of the experience.
Itinerary & Excursions
One of the reasons I love Oceania is that their itineraries are port-intensive. Our cruise only had two sea days, every other day we were able to explore an interesting port. We participated in a few excursions, but generally found that we could do the same types of tours independently or through local tour companies, as long as we were willing to do a little of our own research. The Oceania excursions were usually more expensive than what we arranged on our own, although it was easy to just let them handle all the arrangements. If you don't mind doing a bit of research and venturing out on your own, you can easily explore many ports on your own.
In most ports, there was a shuttle service to the city center or a Hop-On-Hop-Off type bus tour that you could take to reach all of the major sights of interest. Tourism officials from the local cities were typically available on board or in the disembarkation area to assist with transportation and sightseeing ideas, so it was pretty easy to explore on our own.
We sailed in Cabin 7035, a veranda stateroom on deck 7. I found the cabin to be comfortable for two with ample closet space and a luxurious marble bath that had both a tub and shower. Our cabin steward was attentive to our needs and habits, and after a few days began to anticipate our needs. The bed was super comfortable, and our mini-fridge was supplied with ice and soft drinks. I loved having enough room for a desk and a love seat, compared to other cruise cabins we've saild in with just a bed. Because we had chilly weather most days, we didn't use the veranda much, but it was nice to have the option of stepping out to take photographs or just get some fresh air and enjoy the views.
The dining experiences exceeded my expectations. Food was excellent in both the specialty restaurants and in the Grand Dining Room. It felt like going to a fine dining restaurant every single night. Service was prompt and attentive. We dined at all of the specialty restaurants, and my favorite was the Polo Grill for it's lobster and atmosphere. But the others were excellent as well. If you sail on Oceania, don't miss out on the specialty dining experiences. There is no charge to dine at them, but you do need reservations, and it is best to reserve these ahead of time.
We also participated in one of the cooking classes at the Bon Appetit Culinary Center, and that was one of the highlights of the cruise! This is another activity that sells out quickly, so if you're interested you should reserve this in advance.
Wine selections on board were good. There were a lot of wines to choose from, and each of the specialty restaurants had its own list of wines to match their cuisine. You can read more about the wine experiences on the Oceania Marina here.
We typically skip the entertainment on cruises, opting to eat a late and retire to our cabin after. But the entertainment we did experience was okay. It's not on the level of what you see on larger ships, such as the Queen Mary.
My Overall Impression
I understand why Oceania gets so many repeat cruisers. The combination of fine dining and great service in an elegant and casual ambiance just works. It makes for a relaxing holiday and feels elegant and luxurious without being stuffy. I would definitely sail with them again!
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