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H Bobren

Age: 72

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Oceania

Ship: Regatta

Sailing Date: NOT FOUND

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Oceania Cruises
Regatta Cruise Review
Western Mediterranean

H Bobren

This was my third cruise on this ship – the first under Oceania. The ship, Regatta, is better than ever -- clean, shining, tastefully appointed, etc. The various dining venues and their menus are bountiful. Our stateroom was most comfortable and I noticed that the balcony furniture has been upgraded. The library, lounges, gym, and other public indoor and outdoor areas were better than ever. The relatively modest number of passengers makes for easy embarking and debarking, whether by gangway or by tender.

The dining staff couldn’t have been more helpful and attentive. Availability and seating in any of the dining rooms was fast and efficient. Requests for particular tables were well handled. The wait staff was spiffy and efficient – whether helping at a buffet or in the more formal settings. The sommeliers always asked and were helpful, but never pushed. Similarly, lounge waitpersons were always available but didn’t hover.

Likewise, the hotel staff was excellent. The stateroom was kept spotless and there always was an abundance of fresh towels. Whenever we retired early, the stewards seemed genuinely disappointed at not having the opportunity of turning down the beds. There was no problem of having coffee delivered very early in the morning, nor in having ice always available.

A few items are sort of to be expected, and then ignored, i.e., the very overpriced Web and e-mail services (especially with convenient Internet Cafes in most all ports) and Pay TV adult videos or whatever.

Now for some comments on the food. I had hoped the Jacques Peppin connection, so touted in the promotional materials, had been more evident. There were three JP items on every dinner menu – the same three entrees – every evening (poached salmon, roasted chicken, and steak frites) – period. This is not to say that the non-JP items weren’t very good also, for some of the chefs were very talented – especially the bakers, pastry chefs and soups. But a lot of the items, particularly on the buffets, got to seem a little humdrum after two weeks. Further, the alternative smaller dining rooms (Polo Grill and Tuscany) never changed their menus. It also would have been nice if some of the fish had been fresh. Salmon and sea bass freeze well, but not so for perch.

My most severe criticisms are reserved for Destination Services – which heavily markets tours and supposedly provides some services to the independent passengers. The convenient but very expensive tours are just fine for the infirm or unadventurous or non-discriminating and often first time visitors who haven’t done their homework and have no particular interests to follow – and don’t mind or notice some glaring omissions or off comments by their supposed expert guides or stops at candle factories, wood carvers, etc. Destination Services provides First Class service to the customers of their tours. However, the independent passengers who do not use their services are made to feel Second Class. Theoretically someone is to be available with a minimum of port information and maps – often not so. More than once we would be dumped on a most inconvenient pier miles from town with no information on a local bus stop, etc. Excuses would be made, etc., but no improvement in service. The most glaring discrepancies in service occurred when changes in port were made because of weather conditions and the difficulty of using the tenders, i.e., Naples for Amalfi, Genoa for Portofino, etc. Somehow, even at the last minute tour buses were available dockside to take the First Class tour paying passengers by bus to Amalfi or so Portofino, etc., leaving us independent Second Class passengers to fend for ourselves dockside in unexpected ports. Thus, I not only felt a bit disappointed in not getting to a few scheduled ports, but somewhat cheated as well.

It should be noted that in many areas, easily available public transportation and tour services allow much greater flexibility and quality and at a fraction of the cost of the ship tours – information about is not exactly forthcoming from Destination Services.

For example, the port for Rome is a good 50 miles from town and the ship tours are upwards of $100.. However, the railroad station is a block or so from the entrance of the port, the commuter train runs several times an hour, and for a few dollars one gets a round trip ticket also good for all public transportation within Rome. The train stops at the Saint Peters Station, just a few blocks from the Vatican. Its final stop is the main train terminal, just outside of which is a large clearly market ticket booth (about $10) for the narrated Hop On – Hop Off open double deck bus going around the city.

Or in Livorno there is a bus stop a block or so just outside the port and a few minutes ride takes one to the train station. Again there is frequent fast inexpensive train service to Pisa, and with easy connections for Florence or Lucca. Barcelona has a wonderful Hop On – Hop Off tour service, with a stop right at the port.

My suggestion, of course, is to do a little homework. Decide what you want to see. If you are with a few friends, you (or your travel agent) can easily arrange custom and flexible tours to meet you in any port. Or get a few guidebooks so you can have some adventures on your own.

So enjoy the Regatta. Do your homework, know what to expect, and you won’t be disappointed.

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