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Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Al Davis

Age: 16


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Oceania

Ship: Insignia

Sailing Date: 2008-09-25

Itinerary: Venice to Barcelona

I never thought that I would have so much fun on a boat. I wasn't really sure what to expect as this was my first ever cruise on a ship. However, I can safely say that I will be going on another cruise with Oceania. For me, what stuck out most was the comfort that you had on the ship, no matter where you were. Staff were extremely approachable and very helpful, and made my time on board that much better. The main thing with this particular cruise from Venice to Barcelona is the amount of places that you can go and see. Only 1 day when the ship isn't docked at a port, allowing people to see lots of places in a short amount of time. I can't wait to go back.
The food was a highlight for me. There are four main restaurants: the Grand Dining Room, Toscana, Polo Grill and Terrace Cafe, which turns into Tapas on the Terrace at night. There is also another restaurant called Waves which only operated at lunchtime. Starting off with Tapas. I was surprised as how high the quality of food was, as it is a buffet. However, the food is fresh and if the food hasn't been taken from the buffet tables, they bring out a new batch for you. I remember having breakfast and asking for 1 eggs Benedict when there were two of them left on the buffet table. The chef asked me to wait one minute and he presented me with a freshly made one, as the others had been left for too long. The range of food is also impressive, different foods each dinner. The Grand Dining Room. I didn't eat in the Grand Dining Room for breakfast but from what I heard on the ship, it was much like Tapas except it was full table service. I had brunch there, and I was amazed as to how much food there was on offer. The quality was also exceptional. Didn't eat there for lunch. Dinner at the Grand Dining Room is an experience that you must do if you go on the ship. You can have private tables or you can share a table with other guests on board the ship. The menu changes every day, although the main gist of the menu is the same, consisting of lobster, steak, sea bass, soups hot and cold starters etc. I thought that the ambiance was lacking in the room, but I think that is largely due to me being so young in comparison to everyone else being a lot older, the majority well into their 60s. Quality of food, again superb. Toscana. Went their twice, have to book to get in. It is an Italian themed restaurant providing well prepared meals including spinach and ricotta raviolini in a butter sauce put on your plate table side directly out of the pan, and fresh lobster. Very elegant and personal dining. As I love Italian food, this was a restaurant where I had very difficulty choosing what to eat, because no matter what I would have chosen, I would have gotten an A+ meal. Polo Grill. My favorite restaurant. Very intimate and cosy steakhouse themed restaurant. I highly recommend the chowder and the King's Cut prime rib. Probably the best steak I've ever had. As for the chowder, I've had chowder in top restaurants in San Francisco, and this chowder was as good, if not better than those in Frisco. You need to book for this restaurant, and I suggest that you try to get in more than once, as you are unlikely to see steaks served up so much to one's liking. Waves bar. Very basic food, pretty much a quick meal for lunch. Burgers made to order, comes with coleslaw and fries. Good for a light meal before leaving the ship to check out the port where the ship has docked for the day.
I stayed on deck 6, in a veranda stateroom. In a nutshell, it was small. Mind you, I wasn't in the room for long every day, pretty much only to sleep and shower. Bathrooms are small but adequate. Comes with a TV with lots of channels, pretty much all American, so if you're not into that, go and get a DVD from reception and watch a movie. The room was always clean and refreshing when I entered it every day. The cleaners were extremely friendly, keeping up the theme of a friendly atmosphere on the ship.
I wasn't on the ship much, and when I was, I didn't take part in many of the on board activities. The activities are catered to 60+ year olds, such as shuffleboard, bridge and bingo. When I was on the ship, I stayed on the pool deck the majority of the time when I was on the ship, spending time with another passenger, the ONLY other passenger who was around my age. I would have found it quite boring during the day if she wasn't on deck with me, as all I had was fresh air and an iPod. However, what I have outlined is purely the "entertainment" that is provided during the day time. Occasionally the jazz band would play on the pool deck which always drew crowds. They played a wide range of charts and had some great players. When I mean great, I really mean great. I am heavily involved in jazz and have heard many great jazz players play, and some of these players were up there. I particularly liked the tenor sax player from the Mark Show Band, his sound was bright yet full and could really project a long way. Make sure you listen to them if you get on this ship. There are shows at night presented in a theater-esque lounge. Pre-show drinks can be purchased from the bar and taken to your seat. Shows included an amazing juggler, yes, sounds boring, and I thought it would be but I was amazed and he got the crowd involved. There is also a wide range of musicians performing genres from country to Broadway. My favorite show was the show "Salute" which is a thank you from all of the crew on board. All crew come on stage to thank you for coming on board. That show had everything, dancing, singing, music of all kinds. If you only go to one show, make sure it's "Salute" Overall, entertainment is good if you're an oldie, otherwise, make sure you find someone who you can relate to on the ship.
Prices are expensive, went on 5 excursions. Probably would only do Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast tours again. Everything else I could have done and gotten to easily just with the family. However, if you like that comfort of not having to worry how to get to places, interested in just seeing the sites, go on some tours and see what you think. They can be booked at a destination services (I think) which is next to reception.
I had a great time when on shore, and not so much on the boat. It was only when I met someone who was close to my own age that I really was able to experience the ship and its benefits, that's when I began to enjoy it. Being with the parents all the time was a pain, until I met her, and the whole trip changed for me. At the same time the staff couldn't have done any more to make me and my family welcome. I must mention in particular Imade, who is a waiter in the Grand Dining Room, and Pat, the sous-chef at Tapas. Both were friendly and were both people who I could personally relate to, which was something I found a little difficult to do at first, given the age barrier between me, the crew, and guests. I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, I don't think I've had such as holiday where I have seen so many different styles of culture in such a short space of time. I would have no problem doing this cruise again, as I would be able to change one thing, one thing I regret. That thing is that I didn't meet someone my age sooner.

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