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Oceania Cruises: Regatta

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May 6, 2016

Mayan Mystic on the regatta

If you go plan on doing the excursions. there were only a few islands with a nice beach. The food and service were excellent. The entertainment team was small but the shows were good and the team spent a lot of time with the passengers. We got the best beverage package and it was well worth it considering how much time we actually spent on the ship. Crew that I especially liked were Ivan the bartender, Emily and Stephany from the entertainment team,

the maitre'd at the Polo restaurant. Average passenger age was about 75 so don't plan on doing anything after 11:00pm. The bar on the top deck for dancing was dead every night. Overall I will do another cruise with Oceania.

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Dec 21, 2012

Amazon

While we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery along the 930 nautical miles (1,700 km) up to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon, we were very disappointed with the quality of the speakers. One was an oceanographer who readily admitted that he knew nothing about rivers and consequently knew nothing about the Amazon (not a good start). The second speaker had no specific knowledge of the Amazon either. One of her lecture was entirely devoted to the slave traffic.

We probably saw a million trees of different shapes and forms. Some with while bark, some with dark red bark. No one had a clue about the varieties of the Amazon trees. In fact, no one had any knowledge of the varieties of birds, fish, etc. While Brazil economy is vibrant (Brazil is one of the BRIC's countries (Brazil, India, China, etc) no one even addressed this phenomenon. While the main theme was the "Enchanted Amazon", the "disenchanting" part was in fact that no one had a true first hand knowledge of the main topic: The Amazon. We believe Oceania should have made the effort to embark a Brazilian expert or even a professor to share his first hand knowledge of the Amazon and be able at least to answer some of the basic questions. We have to assume that Oceania did not want to face the trouble to find such a knowledgeable person or did not have the budget for it. Talking about "budget". We have cruised many different cruise lines and we enjoy playing "Trivia". On most cruise line, the winning team is given, everyday, either a free drink, a mug or a pen, etc. Here on Oceania Regatta, the winning team gets 3 points, the second team 2 points and the third team 1 point. The first redeemable item takes 10 points and guess what it is.....a bookmark (with Oceania Logo). That says it all!!!.

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Nov 3, 2011

San Francisco - New York

I was on the same cruise as the other commentator. The cruise was excellent. One port was cancelled because of criminal activity in Mexico, the other because the port, at the last minute, booked a cargo ship into the space that Oceania had booked. In neither case were these problems the fault of Oceania. I agree that the timing of the port call in Georgetown was less than optimal, but she knew that when she booked the cruise. Overall, it

was an excellent cruise, blessed by extremely good weather. She doesn't like trivia? It is a big thing on most cruises and has a large, enthusiastic group of participants. We have a lot of fun with it. Excellent. Very good. So-so. Trivia was a lot of fun and the lectures were quite good. There were the usual activities: shuffleboard, table tennis, various putting contests. I didn't take any of the excursions. Overall, it was excellent. Everyone who likes cruises should make a point of doing a Panama Canal cruise; this was my fifth one, and it is always interesting, but the first time is always the most impressive. Put a Panama Canal transit on your bucket list!

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Oct 26, 2011

Panama Canal

This cruise was a public relations disaster for the cruise line. Two of the ports offered were missed. The first port of call was missed because of 'scheduled maintenance' on an engine and the second was missed because of double booking of the berth. Our main complaint was that the cruise line chose to engage in scheduled maintenance during the cruise which resulted in one missed port and short stays at several others. Despite many complaints

the only recompense passengers were offered was a credit off the next cruise. As far as we were concerned that was a totally useless offer as our problem was with this cruise not the next! They had offered an equivalent amount as a cabin credit they would have kept most of it. As it was, it spoilt the cruise for us and all the majority of the passengers could talk about was how poorly the cruise line had engaged with their customers. This was a cruise for older wealthier people. At 60 we were in the younger set! This was only our 2nd cruise so we couldn't compare the quality but a lot of regular cruisers said that the Regatta was looking 'tired' We thought the food was excellent - fresh and plentiful. The service was excellent. Loved the Toscana - speciality Italian restaurant. The stateroom was excellent as was the room service Apart from the shows, the activities were pretty boring. Napkin folding, bridge, trivial persuits - not our cup of tea Don't miss zip lining in Puerto Vallarta. The journey through the Panama Canal was exceptional. We went for the stops. We missed two and several others were cut short. Whats the point in arriving at George Town in the Caribean at 2pm on a Saturday when everything is starting to close and leaving at 8pm. This was a disappointment at many destinations - we need to embark in the morning not half way through the afternoon.

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Jun 20, 2009

Barcelona to Venice

Having sailed with Oceania, on the Regatta, to be exact, before, we knew what to expect, and expect indeed. With so many cruises on all sorts of ships and cruise lines over 40 years, we are very picky and demanding. Heavenly. Just what we expect when we dine out and of the standards we enjoy at home. Adequate, not the largest, not the smallest, either. Showers are TINY, shower pressure can not pulse in the Groehe massager shower head (never

found it to do so on any ship, either). Not interested in them. Bored with bingo and casinos on cruise ships. No poll games, no "not so newly wed" game (thankfully). Oceania is NOT for families, at least with children. As of this cruise, probably not to change, the policy on these ships is adults, three to a state room, max, and there is no children's pricing nor activities of any sort. Flew to Barcelona. Flight to JFK had no operable bath room. We were over on our baggage weight, as usual. Arrived far too early for ship boarding, passengers were still on board., We were treated to a half day sight seeing tour of Barcelona, all by car, no getting out, and enjoyed the time to sleep. Finally boarded. No crew to greet us as we boarded, ship was still being readied. We felt so at home from the first minute we boarded the Regatta, as the ship was welcoming enough for us. We book Concierge Level, which allows 4 visits (in place of two) in the reservations only restaurants. There is no fee for any passenger in these venues. A welcome bottle of champagne, fridge/mini bar en suite, DVD player with free rental of movies, cashmere lap blankets, a top quality tote bag (one per), and up graded bath items, and privileges, such as, priority luggage delivery (see more), shoe shine and pressing service (restrictions apply). Well, our priority luggage service arrived alright. I looked on every deck to find our bags, four hours after we sailed. I found them, and I dragged them to our suite. Not impressive. We had trouble on board with the ships TV reception, what with a presidential election looming. FOX was often the only choice, and not acceptable. Finally, CNN and HL News were beamed into the cabins. Passengers were happy then, as were we. We booked our shore excursions long before the cruise, on line, with Oceania, and also booked some massages. The excursion tickets were in the stateroom awaiting us. The massage was a disaster. We prefer a masseur, to administer our massages. The ship did not have one. We canceled the massages, complained to the Purser, Concierge desk, and manager of the spa. On a recent Holland America cruise the same thing happened, and HAL flew a massseur to Cabo so that we could have our massages. Not so, Oceania. They lost $1,000's in revenue from us by not having a masseur on board. We also bought spa products. Our ports were mostly ports we have been to before. Palma de Majorca was a quicky bus tour, and we saw a lot, in a short time. Provence France was heaven on earth, with a call in the fishing port of Cassis, just a wonderful place, excellent tour, wishing we had much more time there. We always love Monte Carlo, and visited there on the Wsterdam in 2007. One real pleasure port, a first for us, Positano, Italy. We did this on our own, and did a lot of shopping here - nothing expensive, just fun touristy items, and things for our grandson. Rome was, and always will be special to us. We took Rome on your own, an excursion with bus only, and we also took on your own in Florence. Dubrovnik was a stroll around, sort of waste of a day, with a few minor items purchased while there. Corfu was not much fun, not on a Sunday. Prices for junk-souvenirs were very high, and the excursions available not worth the price ,we felt. And Venice, an over night on the ship, how divine was that! We had a wonderful lunch in Venice, as well a lunch ashore in Naples, and Monte Carlo. Restaurants in Monte Carlo and Rome we have dined in on past cruises. In fact, in Rome, we've been dining at Quirino for over 30 years! We had a Murano chandelier made for us, and it took three months before it arrived at our house in Virginia, in tact, and beautiful, gracing our dining room. Dining on the Regatta is grand, and it has not changed in the least since our first of several cruises over the past four years on this lovely ship. One thing not so great, the ships pizza, was awful Then, who goes on any ship to enjoy the pizza? If you do, good luck to you. Lobster and high grade meats are the norm on Oceania, Maine lobster and perfect Blacj Angus beef, as well as top veal, chicken and produce items. The eggs had bright orange yolks, even the yogurt was a quality item. Service, exceptional. I complained about the lack of massages, and the pizza. The only other complaint I can voice, is with the price of a drink. Compared to Cunard Line, cocktails on Oceania are very high in price. We enjoyed this 14 day cruise, a lot, with memories to last a long time. Where are we headed? We have two cruises booked on Cunard Lines Queen Victoria, one on the Queen Mary 2; one on Regent Seven Seas Navigator,and one on Oceanias Insignia. We await the next Cunarder, the Queen Elizabeth, and of course, the state of the art Oceania MARINA!

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Mar 11, 2007

NOT FOUND

Oceania Cruises Oceania Regatta Cruise Review Pearls of the Caribbean Kenneth Eden Our flight from Newport News/Williamsburg Airport was smooth and uneventful. AirTran did a great job. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and picked up our car rental and drove to Miami. I-95 was a mess, as usual, allow extra time if you are meeting your ship. We stayed at the Habana Libra, a boutique hotel, on Collins and 30th, in South Beach. The hotel

was OK, nothing more. The first night we ate at Don Shulas, a copy of Morton's, over rated, in my opinion. Ah, but the second night we dined royally at Yucca, pronounced, juke-ah, on Lincoln Rd. Dining is in, or al fresco, and what a treat. Cuban haute cuisine, with the finest service. We were attended to by Alberto, as well as others, for a great night out, a must, and not a tourist trap. Both mornings we had breakfast at Jerry's, former Pimpernels, part of the Wolfe Cohen deli family. Excellent, and open 24/7. A month prior to this cruise I was invited to a luncheon reception on the Regatta, for the day of our sailing. It was hosted by Tom Cassidy and Jillian Mc Bride, of the Ocean and Cruise Liner Society, of which I have been a member for some years. The reception was indeed festive, and after the luncheon, we checked in as passengers! Upon arrival into our stateroom, Concierge Level, a bottle of Perrier Joet, gift from Oceania, and Mums, gift from Mark our travel agent, were being iced. Our mini bar was well stocked with beer, wines, hard liquor, sodas, Evian and Perrier waters, and sodas. Our stateroom and the view were wonderful, and we knew we were going to have a great 12 days on board Regatta. The bath products are upgraded for Concierge Level staterooms, Caswell-Massey products are supplied. Other Concierge Level amenities are: four reservations in Toscana and Polo Grill, tote bag, cashmere lap blankets, DVD player with free rental of DVD's, priority boarding and disembarkation, and free shoe shines. The first night we dined at Toscana. It has been many a moon since I have had a real Maine lobster on a cruise, the WHOLE lobster, about a pound and a half. The last time was on Royal Viking Line off of Australia. We enjoyed several during this cruise. We were sailing without our best friends, Joe and Theresa, from Vermont, as they go every other year. This past year we sailed Maasdam twice, Regatta, Queen Mary 2 (which I reviewed here, and have not seen posted), and again, back on Regatta. We ran into many crew members that we enjoyed being with on the Regatta last year. We also noticed how gorgeous the ship truly is, and how amazingly clean it was, everywhere you looked. We raced up to the Mandara Spa to make our massage reservations, three 90 minute ones each. By the way, they were excellent massages. It is a pity I can not recommend the masseurs, since they were leaving the ship. Oceania is very lo-key when it comes to entertainment. There is an 8 piece orchestra, "that sounds like 80", and it is a wonderful group of musicians, a stringed quartet, cruise staff of four who sing and dance, several comedians, and a juggler, and piano bar. There is a small band that plays pool side, as well as the piano bar. Team trivia was a biggy on our cruise. Drinks of the day, there were four each day, were priced at $4.25 each, champagne and wines, by the glass, $5.50 each. Real drinks, not watered down. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the Grand Dining Room, as well as at the Terrace Cafe. One area we did not take advantage of was Tappas on the Terrace, which is a buffet at night. Buffet when pressed for time for lunch or breakfast is OK, but for us, never at dinner. We learned the Regatta is entering dry for 10 days in April. I can not imagine what they need to change or replace. The soothing colors, and refined textures of the fabrics all seemed in perfect order. It poured in St. Barts and Virgin Gorda. We made a quick shore visit at Virgin Gorda, and returned to the ship. We did not dock in Rousseau, Dominica, which we have always done in the past. The ms Prinsendam had preferred docking downtown, while the Regatta docked way out of town, and we took a $2.00 shuttle in to town. The back streets of Rousseau we akin to the slums of Haiti. La Samna, Dominican Republic, was heaven on an island. We took a shore excursion, to a wonderful private beach resort, with chaise and a very nice BBQ lunch provided, as part of the trip. Tortilla was awesome, one of our favorite islands, we again took a ships excursion the a beach in Antigua, and made it back to the ship for a late lunch at Waves. St. Lucia was a shopping port, mostly souvenir things. We met some charming passengers from P&O's Oceana. Lastly, a port we have not been to before, yes, in 67 cruises a few still exist, was Grand Turk. I will probably not go ashore here in the future. Built by Carnival, it is $45 million of tee shirt type shops, no major outlets, such as Diamonds International, there is a Little Switzerland, now owned by Tiffanys, and not nearly as good as it used to be. There is a Margarita Ville/Cheeseburger in Paradise, with a large outdoor pool. It reminded me of Costa Maya, without the Mexican feel. I like Costa Maya. Imagine passengers from the Regatta and Regent Seven Seas Mariner, walking around, buying nothing, and after 15 minutes, returning to their ships! Speaking of ships. The Captains reception for Oceania Club members, the repeaters, saw 298 repeat passengers on this cruise, out of 684 on board. We sailed full. Captain Jan Rayes, whom we have sailed with before, on Regatta and Royal Viking Line, and Sagafjord, told us over 85,000 passengers have sailed on Oceania Cruises in less then 4 years - very impressive, since Oceania has only been in business under 4 years. I read at Oceanias web site the other day, and WOCLS that Oceania has contracted with Fincantieri Ship Yard, in Italy, to build two brand new cruise liners. At 65,000 tons, 885 feet long, 1260 passengers, incorporating all that is wonderful on Regatta, Nautica and Insignia, these ships are due in 2010 and 2011, with the option for a third ship. Can I wait? Yes, but I will just have to keep sailing Oceania until the new ships are out.  

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Feb 26, 2006

n/a

Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review Oceania Cruises MS Regatta Cruise Review 10 day Heart of the Caribbean Kenneth Eden Firstly, I must credit US Air for a splendid job getting us to Miami. To make a long and miserable day in transit work, US Air waitlisted us, gave us priority, and got us from Newport News/Williamsburg Airport to Miami for something that was OUR fault, not the airlines. We read our itinerary wrong, and

got to the airport after our flight had left. So, we got to Miami, took possesion of our rental car, a Taurus, and after having it for a couple of days, we wonder why anyone would want a car like that, it was a horrid thing. On to our hotel, in pouring tropical rains. We booked the car, hotel and cruise from our travel agent. South Beach prices were out of the question, so we stayed at the Best Western, Biscayne Bay. The hotel was okay, nothing to write home about. The next day our best friends, Joe and Theresa, from Vermont, had a grueling day flirting with snow in Burlington. Flights were canceled. They were wiatlisted, rerouted and made it to Miami for midnight cocktails in our room. US Air did a great job again. While driving around Miami we were shocked and in states of disbelief with the numbers of homeless people. They lined streets, filled courtyards, slept under overpasses, holed up in old motels that were in states of ruin. It is hard to believe that in our many Caribbean cruises, some 40 or so, that we have only sailed from Miami once before. There is nothing sailing from Miami we would ever sail on, and here we were, booked a gem of a ship sailing from Miami. Soooooooo.....we drove past the monster ships, to terminal J, where the Regatta lay waiting, isolated from the mass market ships. After processing at the pier, we proceeded to board. Cabin stewardesses , in black French maid dress, with white aprons, greeted us, secured our carry ons, and escorted us to our stateroom. In what brief glimpses we could see of the Regatta as we made our way, the ship looked glorious. We booked an outside stateroom with verandah on Deck 6, our friends had a Deck 3 outside, without Verandah. The staterooms were identical. Most ships built during the past decade share the same ammenities, basically. Closets, desk, color tv, modular bath et cetera. Oceania stateroom decor is what sets them apart from other contemporary cruise ships. Dark wood veneers, rich damask draperies, plush carpeting, wall prints that are attractive, all made the smallish space inviting. The bath, is small, the shower quite tight. The soaps and bath ammenites were of a high quality, towels very luxurious. The Tranquility Bedding so highly touted, is not so special. It is not the coccoon of of comfort found on Maasdam. Our verandah was indeed teak, with two chairs and a small table of resort quality, solid and not taking up a lot of space. One real plus, the phone was on the wall with readable, easy to use directions. Other niceties: terry slippers, spa robes, sewing kit, shoe horn, shoe shine cloth, ample electrical outlets, good lighting and a really powerful hair dryer. This is a small ship, by todays standards. 30,000 gros registered tons is a far cry from 100,000 and more. Once a ship the size of the Regatta was large, consider 25,000 for Sagafjord, Vistafjord and the Royal Viking Line trio, even the ss Oceanic was HUGE in the 1970's at 39,000. Luckily these ships are still sailing under new owners and names. It is a size that we have not sailed in a long while, and found the Regatta to fill a void in our cruising pleasure. We rushed to the Terrace Cafe for lunch. I will only review the Terrace Cafe for lunch this once, as to review it every day would be redundant. The salads, carved roasts, sandwiches, pasta station, pizza and wok stations, are much like other ships offerings, except, there are no trays available, so, no passenger is bumping or shoving a tray into somebodys back, and you are served, you do not "help yourself". The passenger returns to the buffet for each course, and returns to a cleaned table, reset with utensils, on white linen place mats. Oceania ships sail with 670 passengers, crew of 400. Service is paramount, excellent, exacting. Twice during our cruise a featured buffet was held at the Terrace Cafe, one exceptional seafood buffet, the other, a nice Italian buffet. The passengers are served iced tea. coffee amd lemon ade by stewards, not elbowing in a wet, sloppy line for a drink. The Terrace Cafe also served breakfast daily. Early risers may start the day in the Horizons, with Continental breakfast, before the Terrace is open. The smoked salmon presentation in the Terrace Cafe, there is one port, one starboard side, is truly grand, with the highest quality of salmon. Eggs Benedict, made fresh, with a very decent Hollandaise sauce, were available each day. Rounding out Terrace cafes breakfast, omelets and eggs cooked to order, sausage and bacon well drained, not sitting in inches of grease, hot and cold cereals, fresh orange juice and melons, and wonderful fruits and yogurts. The decor here, soothing, the atmosphere refined. I will also note the absence of smelly garbage from bussed and scraped dishes. Compaint? No real maple syrup. Waves is the BBQ spot. Really decent, large, juicy burgers, cooked the way one orders it, beef hot dogs, chilly if you want, quality rolls and buns, cripsy fries, a fish of the day, and nice salads are offered each day. This is a more help your self place, wet bathing suits are ok, the place is laid back. The ice cream cart features complimentary ice creams and sorbets made fresh on board each day . Ice tea and so forth are served to the passengers. Real china, hotel silver and linen placemats. The more formal dining venues are to be enjoyed to the fullest. Not only are they elegant to see, the food matches the grandeur of these lovely spaces. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available in the Grand Dining Room, Deck 5, aft. A word on the interior decor: plush. Heavy floral brocade draperies, with under sheers, line the walls, bas relief domed celing accents, mirrors, wall sconces, and tables with cafe lamps hint at intimacy in the large space. Here, as in all restaurants aboard Reagtta and Oceania ships, no reserved tables. You may request to be seated with friends, alone, or be surprised in meeting new aquaintentses. Not having an assigned waiter daunted us, since we have always sailed with traditional dining. Not to worry here! The highest level of true European service is provided. We often requested a table and waiter each night. Be it breakfast (we ate most of them at the Terrace, however), or lunch, we had one in the Grand Dining Room, everything orderd was served at the perfectly just cooked termperatures expected. Most cruise ship menus offer a steak, chicken and salmon "as availble each day" on the dinner menu. On Oceania, they are noted as Jaques Peppin Signature items. JP entrees are also featured as specials entrees thoughout the cruise and are quite elegant. Jaques Peppin is a top-world chef, and he oversees all menu and recipe selections on Oceania. Jaques Peppin cruises are a highlight during the cruise year, with several offered. The Chef de Cuisine on the Regatta, Wolfgang Meier, was in evidence throughout our cruise, and always available for conversation. Mr. Meier is one very capable, fine chef, and he runs an excellent kitchen. Before I review the Polo and Toscana Grills, there is one feature on this cruise line that is just wonderful. High Tea. High Tea is offered in the Horizons Lounge each afternoon. The Regatta String Quartet plays, lovely china and linens grace each table, while a tea trolley is brought to the passengers piled high with cakes, scones, eclairs, and other assorted pastires, as well as serveral tea sandwiches. Coffee, tea and espresso, and full bar service is offered. Booking Owners, Vista or Pent House Suites, or Concierge Level Vernada staterooms, ensures priority reservations in Polo and Toscana Grills, twice during a cruise. Other staterooms, no priority status, and dining limited to once in each grill. We four were non-priority, and we dined once in each grill. The two grills, lavish and regal, are included in your cruise fare, are not charged extra, with tip included! Polo Grill is a softly lit fairly masculine room. Bold checks and plaids, with dark paneling beckon. The walls are plain, with studio stills, publicity photos, of the great lengends of Hollywood. Single Malt scotch is the hallmark at the Polo Bar, featuring 26 of them, priced from $6.00 to $50.00. The finest aged beef and chops, prepared to absolute perfection, with service to match, are Polo Grills trademarks. Filet Mignon, anyone? Reserved the same way as Polo, is Toscana Grill, with the longest, most interesting Italian menu I have ever seen at sea. Nothing has been omitted. Again, the service is exceptional, the Toscana Grill is not additional, and I felt as though I was in Roma or Fiorenza. One dining spot we checked the menu out serveral time was Tapas on the Terrace. It left us cold. We never dined there. It was boasted as the "casual" place for dinner. Which brings me to the ships dress code. No shorts, jeans or the like are allowed in the Grand Dining Room, Polo or Toscana Grills after 5pm.. The dress code is spelled out clearly on board. What is a nice refreshing change, to suits, ties or tuxedos for men, gowns for women is the casual chicness on board, the country club look. There were two captains nights, where most men wore a dark blazer, and khaki trousers, myself included. NO TIE! Two things that have become irritating for us on our cruises are the pushy photographers, and the endless stream of junk-printed matter stuffed under the cabin door. Not once did a photographer invade anyones space during this cruise, and the endless auction pushing, spa pushing, 50% off sales flyers - or any of the usual junk get stuffed under the door. Daily specials were available, and mentioned briefly in the daily paper, Oceania Currents. Other irritants that were missing included announcements absent from the stateroom, and no blarring musak in the elevators, halls and on deck, nor piped into any public spaces. The entertainment on board was low key, compared to most cruise ships today. An 8 peice orchestra, and the String Quartet, became the Regatta Orchestra each night, playing show tunes and Big Band music. There were four very talented staff members: cruise director, his assistant, and a host and hostess, that became the Cast of the Regatta. A fine violinist, Hanna Starosta, Sheilds (anyone remember Sheilds and Yarnell?), a pianist in the popular Martinis (home to 30 different Martinis) Bar, and two young men that did Vegas acts rounded out the entertainment. The shows presented were ALL live, no canned music, no insulting click-track, and no all-the-same Salute to Broadway, that seems to be the same on every ship I have sailed for the past 15 years! The Regatta Lounge is a well appointed room, large, with absolutely comfotable chairs from which to view the entertainment, not those butt aching, back constricting excuses for seating found in most "grand lounges". However, the vast room, void of pillars, is low ceilinged, don't expect to see anyone thrown into the air and then sung to on this ship. Two places of note on board, is what is assuredly the most handsome ships library at sea, capped with a staingleass rotunda, and, the ships Grand Stairway, which serves as a mini-atria, and is a focal point for pictures. There is also the [email protected], the computer center, and the oak paneled card room. I ca not under play the overall interior fittings of this ship. One word describes the decor: delicious. Before I mention the ports, we had the honor of sailing with Captain Jahn Rye, a sturdy Norseman, and a Captain we have sailed with before, on the ms Sagafjord and mv Vistafjord, of Cunard/NAC fame. He recently commanded Crystal Cruise ships before joining Oceania Cruises. Meeting and sailing with him once again was wonderful. I also met passengers on board that I sailed with on Maasdam, QE2, Princess and Royal Viking Line. One area that has always put us off is the ships spa. The staff is too eager, too loud and on the surface lacking the sophistication we want to entrust with our bodies and money, for a massage. The Mandara Spa, and yes, it is operated by Steiner, who seems to run every spa at sea, is understated, and highly sophisticated. The three massages we each had on board were absolutely exceptional. One area we did not bother with is the casino. We have not dropped money in a casino in years. One area we enjoyed were the ships shops, and one area we spent and enjoyed ourselves with were the ships auctions, buying several items and enjoying the company of passengers that appreciated what was being auctioned. Our first post was La Romana, Dominican Republic. We were due to dock at 9am, and we docked at 7am. From our veranda the place looked clean. This was a first for us. We have stayed in the Dominican Republic, this being our first cruise call. We struck our price, $55.00 for four, roundtrip, to Bayahibe, a little town, were we were left at Casa Del Mar. A chaise was $5.00, umbrella, $5.00, all beers $2.00 us. The beach was heavenly. We paid the driver upon return to the ship. Virgin Gorda was very nice, we had been there before, only, we had had a shore excursion that brought us to the "baths", this time, it was 500 yard walk to be beach and the baths. The thing here is, granite boulders that create grotto like caves to swim in, and prowl around in. Slippery ladders and roped walkways, that you crawl into, under and around, take you through some beautiful natural spaces. The first grotto, which is the largest, is enough, and to my mind, is the most awesome of these grottos, and involves no real effort to get to, and you can photo, wade and relax without pushing through the wholelong park. It may be done without booking a shore excursion. We took no excursions on this cruise. NOTES ON SAFETY - there are signs warning of jelly fish here, we saw non. There are warnings of severe undertow - and they mean it. In the water at the beach. A passenger from our ship fell victim to undertow, was rushed by EMT boat to a hospital, and was returned to Regatta. St. Kitts is still sleepy, and is still unspoiled. New duty free shops are being built, so, its laid back Caribbean charm will soon be gone forever. We have been here several time, most recently on Dawn Princess. We struck our price with a van/taxi, to Turtle Beach. The 30 minute ride, for four, cost $52.00 roundtrip. Use of the beach and chaises was free. We enjoyed a nice lunch here, with excellent conch chowder. "Mens Journal" magazine awarded the Turtle Beach Bar, one of the Caribbeans best in 2003. The beach was grand, the large smooth rocks in the water were not. It was, however, a beautiful, unspoiled beach. Antigua is one of favorite islands. It offers a lot, shopping, 365 beaches, good food and drink, and warm, friendly people. Joe and Theresa were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary during the cruise, and they were bought their celebratory three diamond ring for her and a watch for him. The crowning touch on this cruise was Gustavia, St. Barts. This island, by most peoples standards, is EXPENSIVE. Seeing by ship takes the price bite away, until you shop, or dine here. Years ago we had lunch at La Plage, which is still on the beach where we always go to, and $35.00 burgers come to mind. We Paid $20.00 for four, each way, for a 3 minute ride, to Eden Rock Beach, paid $37.00 US for chaise use, and ate nor drank anything. A Bud was $7.00US...!! The beach was just spectacular. That rounds out most of my first experience with Regatta, and with Oceania Cruises. Needless to say, we will not only be back, we have booked another Caribbean cruise, for March 2007, and are looking into other cruise areas for this year. This product is not for everyone. It is not glitzy, smoked glass and mirrored walled public rooms. There are no sing for you supper dinner themes, and no not so newly wed or other games offered. Everything about the Oceania is to experience a quiet, relaxed cruise, with fellow passengers that demand it, and a crew that is very carefully picked to please even the most grouchy passenger. A well heeled and well traveled crowd will frequent this product, and will pay the price that is charged, and not complain. Oceania sails to the lesser visited Caribbean ports, the sophisticated cities of Europe, the ancient civilizations of South America, and the exciting cities of Asia.

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Jan 29, 2006

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Oceania Cruises Oceania Regatta Cruise Review Panama Canal Celebration (Los Angeles to Miami) Julian Bernard My wife and I sailed on board Regatta on a 16 day cruise, described as the “Panama Canal Celebration”, leaving Los Angeles late in the evening of January 29th and arriving in Miami early in the morning of February 14th. Despite weather which was unsettled in both the early and late stages, it was a very enjoyable and

satisfying experience. We had booked early enough to have an all inclusive package which included Air Canada flights from and to Toronto. Oceania's arrangements with Air Canada allowed us to collect our Aeroplan points in the usual way. Despite booking fairly early, our initial cabin assignment was on Deck 4. Four days before departure, our travel agent was able to offer us a last minute upgrade to a midship cabin on Deck 7 provided we accepted immediately and, of course, we did. Arrival in Los Angeles was about 4.30 pm and, as U.S. Customs and Immigration procedures had been completed in Toronto, we headed straight for the baggage claim area and met the Oceania representatives who were waiting nearby. When all 14 passengers from our flight had been accounted for, we were escorted to the bus platforms where there was a brief wait for the bus. About a dozen more people were picked up at another terminal and we were soon on our way to the ocean terminal (San Pedro). Baggage was unloaded and we were asked only to ensure that it was all there. The usual processing procedures were astonishingly swift and painless and we were in our cabin only a bit over two hours after our flight landed. We headed off in search of dinner and our baggage was in our cabin, on the beds on a protective baggage blanket, when we returned. Our cabin, 216 sq. ft., had all of the usual amenities including a television with CD player carrying a few regular channels including CNN, and several on-ship channels including three devoted to the ship (ship’s bow webcam, a map showing our progress and a chart of current statistics) as well as two channels devoted to onboard programming. The wonderfully comfortable Tranquility Beds can be set up as two singles or as one queen size. Bedside lights, dressing table/desk, glass topped coffee table, alarm clock, glassware, a minibar, safe and a two seater sofa completed the fittings and furnishings. There was sufficient clearance under the bed for our luggage and adequate drawer and hanging space in the cupboards. The bathroom was compact but well laid out with ample space for toiletries and a walk-in shower which did not flood the floor. Bathrobes and slippers were provided - the slippers could be taken home. The balcony was big enough to accommodate two comfortable, curved frame chairs with a mesh fabric which allowed rainwater or splashed seawater to pass through, and a small table. A pseudo-wood deck drained quickly and ensured that there was never any standing water. The cabin was cleaned or tidied up as appropriate and towels changed three times daily. Several things had attracted us to Oceania at the outset and in none of them were we disappointed. On previous cruises we, and especially me, have been put off by the 'formal' nights which often require an extra suitcase. Oceania's unostentatious dress code of “country club casual" suited us perfectly. The relaxed, unstuffy atmosphere throughout the ship was also a welcome change which so permeated all on board, whether guests or crew, that it was a truly relaxing experience. Even Captain Sanguineti would pause for a chat. Despite their long hours, crew members were always efficient and friendly. The ability to eat when and, with few limitations, where we felt like it were for us real bonuses. And if cleanliness is a virtue, Oceania’s crews are virtuous indeed. Wherever one went someone was vacuuming, sweeping, polishing, scrubbing or even hosing down the exterior where obvious efforts were being made to lessen the ravages of salt water. Hand cleaner dispensers were placed at the entrance to the dining areas. We were unaware of anyone being ill or suffering from any digestive or food-generated problems. There were a few cases of seasickness after Cozumel. Regatta has five dining areas: the Grand Dining Room on Deck 5 and the Terrace Café on Deck 9, both open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Waves Grill on Deck 9 which is open for a long lunch (11 am to 4 pm), and the Toscana and Polo Grill, both on Deck 10 and both open only for dinner. We patronized all of them except for Waves Grill where the largely fast food menu did not particularly appeal. The concept of, and need for, “fast food” seems somewhat out of place on a cruise. The Grand Dining Room is a large area with tables accommodating anywhere from two up to ten or so. A circular area in the centre was raised a step or two and seemed to be slightly noisier than the surrounding area. For any meal, guests can turn up whenever it suits them and are asked only if they would like to eat alone or at a shared table. Unless ‘talked out’, we usually chose to share and this way met many interesting fellow travellers including two people who had been on the waiting list and who were offered at the last minute our original Deck 4 cabin. The passenger complement was big enough that we rarely met the same people twice. The menu covered the full range of starters, soups, appetizers, meat, chicken and seafood, some more appealing than others depending on one’s personal tastes but all top rated or very close to it. Seafoods were especially well prepared. Only a chronic grumbler could find anything to complain about. An interesting feature was that a bottle of wine, if not finished, could be marked with the room number and retrieved at a later date in any of the restaurants. The Terrace Café on Deck 9 transforms itself in the evening into Tapas on the Terrace but, aside from more elaborate offerings appropriate to the time of day, there is little discernible difference - it is still a buffet and a very good one at that but it is not a tapas bar in the usual Spanish sense. The menu even allowed me to indulge in my fondness for smoked salmon three times in one day in addition to enjoying it twice on many other days. My sole criticism was that breakfast scrambled eggs do not take kindly to resting on a steam table for any length of time; however, omelettes cooked to order were available at the window which dispenses pizzas at other times. The fresh-baked croissants were superb. The breakfast choices were sufficiently broad to satisfy both (European) continental and American tastes. In addition to its indoor seating, there is an outdoor area at the stern accessible through two sets of automatic sliding doors. On warm days it could be difficult to find a seat outside. There also seemed to be a peak period of about half an hour during each meal when crowding in the buffet area could be a bit of a problem, easily resolved by arriving a bit earlier or later. Polo Grill and Toscana, the latter with an Italian flair, on Deck 10 are somewhat more exclusive in that dining is by reservation only. We dined twice at each of them, once as part of a group of six, and had no difficulty getting reservations which are offered at 6.30, 7.30 and 8.30 with the last one being the most popular and again with the choice of sitting alone or at a shared table. Even on the evening when we arrived at 6.30 there was no rush to get out of the way though the 7.30 guests were arriving long before we were finished which suggests that lingering time is built into the reservation system. The rooms are located on either side of a common galley; both are quite small, seating fewer than 100 in each at tables of varying capacities. Elbow room and table separation seemed to be more generous. At the risk of upsetting the kitchen management, I cannot recall any really significant menu differences between the two smaller restaurants and the Grand Dining Room except that, in Toscana and the Polo Grill, the courses had a tendency to keep on coming unless one ordered with caution. Both restaurants did, however, create the feeling of a special “night out”. There was no extra charge to dine in either. For those who did not want a formal meal or who had slept in, coffee, tea and baked items were available in the Horizons Lounge, a large, bright and comfortable area forward on Deck 10, until 11 am every day. Horizons was also the setting for afternoon tea with sandwiches, cake and cookies served every day from 4 to 5 pm. On the occasions when we asked for Room Service, our orders were delivered cheerfully and on time. Bar areas included Martinis where a pianist frequently entertained, the Grand Dining Room Bar, Waves Bar on the pool deck and the Horizons and Regatta Lounges. There was never any sense that drinks were being “pushed”. There were no restrictions on consuming one’s own drinks on board as long as they were not carried into the public areas. Ice buckets in the rooms were filled daily and refills were readily available. Entertainment was certainly low key, and most of it was offered in the Regatta Lounge, forward on Deck 5 - in the evening a magician, comedian, a string quartet and an eight piece orchestra which sometimes expanded to include the quartet members, and musical presentations by the cruise director and his staff. During the day movies were occasionally offered along with shuffleboard, dancing and dance lessons, a singles get together, sing-a-longs, bingo, a needlework group, bridge and bridge lessons, chess and backgammon. An art sale or auction seemed to take place every day but, as we paid little attention to it, can only comment that, to us, it seemed to be superfluous but others make think differently. Much more to the point were the excellent presentations by the two Guest Enrichment Lecturers, Dr. Stewart Nelson, who spoke about the oceans and the Panama Canal, and Jerry Kindall, a former major leaguer, who spoke about baseball and the people who made it their game. All of their talks were videotaped so that they could be seen again on the cabin TVs. In the Deck 9 pool area there always seemed to be enough lounge chairs for everyone. The pool water was just the right temperature but the hot tubs were overly warm and not used much. It was a delightful area to enjoy some fresh air. The Deck 10 walking track, 13 circuits to a mile, was well patronized. [email protected] was open 24 hours a day. Staff members were available from 8 am to 7 pm when at sea and for reduced hours when in port. Internet access was expensive, especially when compared with shore based Internet cafés, but each passenger was given, well before leaving home, a shipboard email address so there was no reason to be out of touch with family and friends at home. Recipients of messages were notified at intervals throughout the day by lists which were hung just inside the computer room; the most recent list was also displayed on a monitor in the corridor with recipients names in ascending cabin number order so they were easy to spot. There was a fee of $2.00 for each incoming or outgoing message. Classes on many of the days at sea were somewhat inconvenient for those who wanted only to check their email but the fact that the room was never locked and the usual availability of two additional computers in the library compensated adequately for any inconvenience. Other facilities included the Mandara Spa and beauty salon, a well equipped fitness center, medical office, two boutiques, photo gallery, casino and a self serve laundromat. Forward on Deck 10 is a veritable oasis, an attractive and well stocked library with lots of comfortable seating. It never closes and books can be borrowed on the honour system. There are four public elevators, two forward and two aft. “Oceania Currents”, distributed every evening, kept everyone informed about shipboard events. Regatta’s itinerary was, for us, one of the attractions as it offered us the chance to see places we might never visit otherwise. Because of the common origins of many of the people in the places we visited, there was inevitably some sameness to some of them but that need not detract from the experience. Stops were in Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco (Mexico), Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala), Puntarenas (Costa Rica) and San Andres Island (Columbia). Stops were also scheduled in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel (Mexico) but heavy seas meant that a safe transfer to a tender could not be assured and, after trying for an hour, both stops were cancelled. The fact that the wind seemed to be picking up rather than abating was a factor in the decision. Cozumel’s pier, badly damaged in the hurricane last fall, is not yet repaired. This was disappointing for all who had booked shore excursions, particularly those hoping to visit Tulum or Chichen Itza; full credits to our shipboard accounts were quickly processed, without having to ask for them. There is always a feeling among passengers on any ship that shore excursions are overly expensive and that is true of those offered by Oceania though they are almost certainly no worse than any others. I can comment only on those in which we participated. At Cabo San Lucas the “Deluxe Whale Watching and Coastal Cruise” required only a short walk from the spot where the ship’s tender had deposited us. The tour boat was a fairly large, two decked catamaran. We had an excellent view of Los Arcos (the arches), a rocky promontory at the end of Baja California. But, as is so often the case, the whales kept their distance though we did see them but the dolphins found us quite amusing and closely accompanied the ship. After the excursion there was time to wander around town or return to the ship. Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala has a small but attractive cruise terminal featuring local architecture, many stores offering hand crafts, and a few other retail outlets. If all you want to do is shop, there is no need to go further. We chose the 9 hour trip, including 2 1/2 hours on the bus each way, to Lake Atitlan and Panajachel but allowance had not been made for the damage in a storm last year to the main street of San Lucas Toliman which necessitated walking almost a mile over cobblestones and broken pavement from the bus to the boat; tuk-tuks were made available for the return journey but should have been on hand at the outset. On the boat there were a couple of high steps and at Panajachel short flights of high riser stone stairs without railings or handholds which created hazards for the largely older crowd taking part. Presumably this excursion was also offered on the outward Panama Canal journey so word of the extent of the problem should have found its way back to the Destination Services staff. To be fair, the condition of the San Lucas Toliman road was mentioned on board but the impression conveyed was that it was a minor issue which might well have been corrected by the time we got there. The hotel, garden and lunch at Panajachel were excellent but the time used walking left insufficient time to explore the interesting local market and most passengers left only with the memory of the persistency and doggedness of the local hawkers. >From Puntarenas the “Tropical Forest Aerial Tram” included a one hour tour in cable supported open gondolas, each containing four pairs of seats. Moving slowly and gently through treetops sometimes close enough to touch, each gondola rose from a coastal plain, through a dry forest area and into a tropical rain forest where, fortunately, it did not rain. The circuit to the top and back again took about one hour. Visitors were shown beforehand a video explaining the construction of the system and the care taken to avoid disturbance of the forest floor by lowering the supporting pylons from helicopters. A walk through the forest on a ground level boardwalk completed the tour. Participants were each given a long staff to help themselves up the more steeply graded stretches. The bus ride, about 90 minutes each way, afforded views of the countryside and the sight of alligators basking on riverbanks. Despite some fears, there were no mosquitoes - in fact, insects were not a problem anywhere. San Andres Island is a part of Columbia and is located almost 500 miles from the Columbian mainland. A group of four of us chose to hire a minivan for an island tour which lasted just under three hours and which took us to most of the local sights. The truth is that there is not a great deal to see or do on the island but fine sea views are everywhere. We have thought on occasion about a relaxing vacation on San Andres and, with this in mind, did have a look at the three most popular hotels. For us, the highlight of the cruise was the 11 hour passage through the Panama Canal. We had tried to absorb just about everything Dr. Nelson had told us about the ill-fated French attempts to construct a sea level channel, a project which eventually foundered when faced with the problems of terrain, climate, tropical diseases, enormous death toll and lack of money. Early in the 20th century the project was revived by American interests which recognized that success could be achieved only if malaria and yellow fever could first be brought under control and if the sea level idea was abandoned in favour of a canal with locks. With those decisions made, work progressed and the canal opened in 1914. From the vantage points of the Horizons Lounge, the open air part of the Terrace Café and our own balcony we were able to watch and understand the entire process. We felt privileged to have been there. Having reported all of the good things, I should mention our few minor quibbles. The outer row of tables on the open air portion of the Terrace Café were equipped with heavy umbrellas set in the usual manner through an opening in the centre of the table. At night, or when it was too windy, the umbrellas were closed but their bulk meant that guests on opposite sides of the table could not see each other. One evening all of the umbrellas had been removed; on another, the guests at one table asked that their umbrella be removed but it was obvious from the struggle by two of the staff to comply that this was not an easy task. A solution should be found. The majority of the passengers are probably not avid tea drinkers and are unlikely to be converted by the unimaginative selection available. At the top of the list should be a minimum of Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast Tea, certainly not decaffeinated as was offered, Assam and green teas with designer teas completing the selection. Water must be boiling or as close to it as is possible - just hot isn't good enough. Even better would be a separate thermos of boiling water for each guest which dedicated tea drinkers would know how to use. These comments apply in all of the restaurants, to room service and to the afternoon tea offered in Horizons. The ice buckets in the cabins were attractive but inadequately insulated which meant that ice cubes didn’t last long. Having been invited to one of the Deck 8 suites, my wife, an Occupational Therapist, noted a potentially dangerous problem in the bathroom which is equipped with a tub/shower combination. The non-slip surface is close to the taps and shower head. The grab bar on the wall is too short and not located correctly and, as a result, getting in and out of the tub whether for showering or bathing could be risky, especially for older people. At the very least a suction cup bath mat should be provided. Guests occupying those rooms might be well advised to bring one anyway, just in case. U.S.A. Times, a satellite newspaper was delivered daily. Heavily oriented towards sports and stock market reports, it contained little news. Much better shipboard news letters are available and Oceania should consider giving passengers some choice as to which one they would like to receive. A few days before the end of the cruise we were given a questionnaire asking us to record homeward flight times or whatever other arrangements had been made for onward travel after the cruise. We were given baggage tags which, by colour and number, indicated our disembarkation time. Baggage had to be outside the cabin by 10.30 pm the night before but this proved not to be a problem. The Terrace Café was open at 6 am for breakfast. Cabins had to be vacated by 8 am. Guests were invited to sit in any public area except the Regatta Lounge which was being used by the Customs and Immigration people and for crew members who were being paid off. Because our homeward flight was not until 3 pm, we were last on the list and so settled in Horizons until our number was called, about 9.45 am. Our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal. Loading the buses took a while and we were on our way to the airport where a leisurely lunch, ample seating and a book helped to fill in the time. The whole process was as well handled as disembarkation procedures, always fraught with tensions, can be. Many passengers with earlier disembarkation times chose to jam themselves together on the stairways but their impatience gained them nothing but their own discomfort. Potential passengers looking for a structured environment, fixed dinner seatings with the same table companions, who like to dress formally and who enjoy elaborate stage shows will probably not be happy with Oceania. Freer spirits who do not enjoy being locked into a rigid routine and for whom the surroundings, the sea, the ports and the camaraderie are important will enjoy the Oceania experience. While the latter description might be thought to apply to a younger clientele, the fact was that most of the passengers on this trip were retirees having a great time. Quite possibly, on shorter trips the age mixture could be quite different. As we compared notes on our experience, we heard only positive comments. Most of us agreed that, after 16 days, we were 'cruised out' but we would certainly cruise again and quite likely with Oceania. Oceania has found a niche and is filling it admirably. We hope it stays focussed and wish it well.

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Nov 27, 2005

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review South America Repositioning Peggie Brown Oceania is not a five star cruise line. There are many nice things about the Regatta but its age is showing and its ready for an update in furnishings. Food: absolutely great. We didn't have a bad meal in 25 days. The specialty restaurants are both wonderful and certainly rate 5 stars. Crew: For the most part, Regatta has an inexperienced, but good

crew. They work hard and aim to please. There is an English language barrier with some of the crewmembers; a few do not understand English all that well. Rooms: Bedding is very nice but the room furnishings are a bit thread bare for a cruise line that advertises 5 star treatment. Even the Penthouse decks are very small. Policies: Many passengers on our ship complained they first got notification about the need for Visas and Yellow Fever vaccinations only 30 days before cruising. At least 25 passengers also were first informed of Oceania's very limited smoking policy (including no smoking in rooms or on balconies) only 30 days prior to embarkation. People Management (embarkation, tenders, debarkation, dealing with people, etc) - Oceania does the poorest job I have ever seen in people management. Excursions: Extremely pricey even for a cruise ship. Most of our tours (we took 5 or 6) were okay but Oceania refused a partial refund for the one where we were left standing in the pouring rain for 2.5 hours because the catamaran didn't have sufficient shelter for passengers. Other passengers complained that Oceania allowed elderly and disabled passengers on tours which were inappropriate for them, thereby lowering everyone's experience. I would never sail with Oceania again.

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Nov 30, -0001

Transatlantic

My wife an I have been on 22 cruises in the last 10 years, most with Celebrity and a few on Crystal, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. We like the smaller ahips the best, preferablly Crystal and the Princendam, Holland Amnerica's small ship. We were lookinfg forward to the cruise on Regetta and booked a small suite - actually a larger cabin with veranda. The ship is beautiful. The food, which is so highly touted as "gourmet" was disappointing,

even in the 2 fancy restaurants. One night in the fancy steakhouse 3 of 6 entrees were not edible. The repsonse was to offer to replace the meals - but by then, who cared. Most annoying was the Maitre D', whose response to each of the 3 passnegers was " but, was the service good". At that point, what did it matter if 3 different meals were unettable. The main dining room was hit or miss. As a result, we ate about 5 dinners at the tapas buffet, which we found to be very good . The entertainment was poor. The "singers" also worked as part of the entertainment staff. Enough said.

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By Lori_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

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Windjammer, Royal Caribbean, etc.  would first like to say this was an incredible experience on a beautiful ship. Oceania offers a great product for the price compared to other high end cruise lines. Our beginning experience with Oceania got off to a very bumpy start due to uneducated and inexperienced staff in their Florida office. Our travel agent was given fragmented and inaccurate info regarding meet and greet at the airport

and embarkation. We managed our own flight to London and spent the night in the city. The next day we went back to the arrival terminal at the airport and were greeted by Oceania Staff. We had purchased Oceania's bus transfer to Dover. The 2 hour bus ride to Dover was relaxing and comfortable. Embarkation was seamless with no lines. We were on board in no time and escorted to our Penthouse Suite #8000. This is a beautiful stateroom at the end of the hall. It is very quiet. The room was awesome. Plenty of storage space, lot's of extra hangers. Mini bar, fridge, 300TC sheets and duvet, feather down pillow, fresh flowers, a chilling bottle of champagne, canapes every afternoon, a large teak deck and a butler. The penthouse suites are worth every dime because of your butler and the space. Our butler was Edward. The first day I did not know what to ask of him, but quickly got over that one. He made our cruise so enjoyable. He made it seem like we were the only people he needed to tend to. The only draw back for us in the suite was the height of the shower. My husband is 6'4", 210# (before the cruise) and it was a little short and tight for him. The bath amenities are so so. They rave about them but they are nothing special. We unpacked ourselves, although Edward could have done so and ran off to see the ship. This is a gorgeous ship. Extremely clean and well cared for. I never saw a turkish towel out of place in the public baths the entire 2 weeks. Every single public room is devine. Service: 90% of the entire staff were incredible: helpful and friendly. They couldn't do enough for us, but in a very professional manner. The destinations staff, the concierge and the front desk staff were down right rude and arrogant. We tried to deal with them as little as possible. Food: I would rate the food overall between 88-90% on quality, freshness, presentation and flavors. They have an extensive wine selection and the sommeliers were very knowledgable. Restaurants: The best one on board was the grand dining room. At the beginning of the cruise there were long lines for Polo and Toscana reservations. Initially we ate at each one 2 different times for a total of 4 in all. I was really disappointed all 4 times. Toscana's food would come out cold, or they would forget one of our orders. Polo grill was better but rather bland, and I love good quality beef. The rest of the cruise we ate lunch and dinner in the grand dining room. The chef was from Belgium and the food was incredible. We would eat lunch up on deck at the waves grill for days in port. They always had fresh grilled fish and salads. Night Life: The shows were boring and geared toward an older group, but they seemed bored as well. The casino was always very busy and a fun lively place to meet people. Our favorite bar was the Martini bar, yummy drinks, great piano player and a fun atmosphere. Spa and Salon: Both are beautiful. The spa is very small and the massage tables were too short for my husband. He signed up for a deep tissue massage with a male masseuse and got a female who stated she didn't give deep tissue massages.......hmmmmmmmmmmmm. The gym and machines were top of the line, and were always in use. The best part about the spa is the large jacuzzi tub on it's back deck. It hardly ever saw much use, so you know where we were after a long day of walking. Ports: This is an incredible adventure as far as the variety of ports go. The main reason we took the cruise was for the 3 days in St. Petersburg. We obtained our own Russian visas and hit the city. We walked a great deal. We also hired a taxi driver that was waiting outside the ship for 2 days, so that we could see Katherine's palace and Peterhoff. Some couples on board set up personal guides via the internet before they arrived. For $30 per day, they had a personal escort. This comes in very handy since you can't read the signs or speak the language. The Best: The ship, the crew, the food, our stateroom. The Worst: Oceania's high pressured sale tactics for their tours. Destinations staff told out and out lies about taxi availability at ports and public transportation. They warned everyone that the only way to see St. Petersburg or any other port was with them, otherwise we'd probably not see anything or fall victim to crime. Of course you have to be careful in any city and I think we saw more than most on board. I would absolutely sail with Oceania again.

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Nov 30, -0001

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review Panama Canal Giovanna Goldfarb We took the Regatta through the Caribbean and “The Panama Canal” to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica on January 2, 2004 from Miami. Notice I put “The Panama Canal” in quotes. More on that later. We were greeted at the airport by a rather disorganized Oceania representative who didn’t seem to care that most of us were dragging three weeks worth of

luggage for the upcoming trip. She walked briskly (all she had to carry was her clipboard, and she didn’t seem very versed in English) while the rest of us tried to hurry after. For some obscure reason, the only place we could board the bus (even though there were buses outside at regular stops) was at the very end of the baggage terminal. We emerged, sweat dripping, into the hot and humid Miami air to be greeted by—no bus. We had to wait 20 minutes for one to rush from the dock to the airport. They didn’t know we were coming? After that, things started to go more smoothly. The check-in process was lengthy and complicated, but hey, I don’t mind security these days. And the staff was complete, thorough, friendly and efficient. Upon boarding, we were met by the service attendant for our cabin, Marie, who guided us to our room. When we entered our beautiful suite, we were greeted with champagne on ice, a fruit plate, and our Brazilian butler, Carlos, bearing a tray of canapés. With that, we set out for the Islands. The land tours were a disappointment. They were poorly organized and we definitely didn’t get value for our money. There were a few circumstances where weather intervened, most notably at the first stop (Tortola, where the inland excursions were rained out). As an alternative, I took a 20-minute helicopter ride over Montserrat and saw a lot of nothing. It cost me $300. I was not a happy camper. By contrast, the ship was gorgeous and well-kept; the service personal, accommodating, and superlative in quality; and the food wonderful and excellently prepared. The entertainment and on-board lectures were nicely planned, complete, informative and marvelously performed. The ship’s facilities (such as the library and medical center) were large, comfortable, well-staffed and well-equipped. The computer lab was a major disappointment. Frequent classes prohibited its use except at very odd hours for short periods of time. The 56K modem made work on the terminals slow and tedious, and the charges for use were usurious (.95 a minute; packages lowered it to .85 and .70). It didn’t matter if you brought your own laptop, there were no internet connections in the rooms. Phone calls were $6.95 a minute. We got to Aruba on a Sunday. All promised shopping was off because everything was closed. We had a nice horse ride through the cacti and on the beach instead. The lesson was, don’t go to a Catholic shopping island on Sunday. Like I said, the land excursions weren’t well thought-out. Then we hit the San Blas Islands. Swells were too high to get the tenders in, and I can understand not risking it. Instead of staying anchored, we took off for Crystobal, where we docked (a fee for the company). Land excursions were quickly arranged (an income for the company, to make up for the docking fees). Then we sort of sat around in port for the rest of the day and the next morning and early afternoon. At 5:00 pm, much later than scheduled (and we still don’t know why), we left for what many passengers considered the highlight of the trip, The Panama Canal. Well, we got there as the sun was setting. The company composed a disgusting letter about how none of this was their fault (a letter which they later regretted writing; see below) and distributed it to the passengers. We got through the first lock just as the sun went down, and proceeded through the rest of the Canal in pitch darkness. That is, if you were willing not to get any sleep. Gatun Lake, the jungle, the animal life and the rest of the views were lost. Heavily advertised by the company, they were not delivered. We later discovered that traversing the Canal at night is cheaper for the vessels making the trip (more revenue for the company). We finally docked in Costa Rica, where we de-boarded, and took the only well-planned and interesting excursion of the trip, to a coffee plantation and restaurant. Very nice. Then, when all of us were happily exhausted, we were driven to San Jose Airport and dropped off with our baggage. Besides the uncontrollable fact that getting through the airport is bad enough, what with antiquated security systems and understaffed passport and check-in counters, everyone who had paid Oceania for an upgrade to first class on the charter flight into LA was denied. United had no record of the upgrades because Oceania hadn’t provided them with the information. Getting seats, period, was a mess. After one group of passengers complained vociferously, a representative from Oceania finally showed up and corrected the situation—for the people who were yelling. We ourselves ended up in coach and had to call Oceania and demand a refund for the first-class upgrades we had paid for once we returned home. We still have not received reimbursement. Guess what came in the mail a week later? A missive from Oceania trying (inadequately) to explain why they couldn’t go through the Canal during the day, apologizing for the “poorly-worded letter” we received on board, and a $500 gift certificate good for further travel on Oceania. (“Dear Hormel: I found a long black hair in a can of your chili.” “Gee, we’re sorry. Here’s six more cans of chili.”) All in all, we don’t think we’ll be doing any Oceania cruises in the future. No wonder they’re not doing well financially. They would probably think that a first-class hotel in the middle of the Sahara Desert was a brilliant idea, too.

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review The Baltic Susie Learey I enjoyed your review. My husband and I were on the Regatta the two weeks before you. I completely agree with all the praise you heaped upon them. We have previously been on Seabourn, Renaissance and Norwegian. This was definitely up there near Seabourn. We had a couple of interesting things happen to demonstrate their

customer service. We celebrated our anniversary on September 7 and reserved a special table for six at the back of Polo so we would have a good view of the sail-a-way from Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the table was taken when we arrived. My husband said he would take a table by the window on the port side, but the hostess said that it was reserved for Mr. Del Rio's party. My husband said he was sure Mr. Del Rio would be more interested in making a customer happy than to dine at that table. She said she was sure that was true and gave us the table. When we disembarked at 9:30 in Dover and asked which was the bus to Gatwick, we were told that those buses had left at 7:10 and that we did not have a reservation. (We had paid months ago for the transfer.) She told us we would have to take a cab and that the cost would be around $300. My husband had to open his suitcase there on the dock and retrieve his receipt, which showed we had indeed paid for the transfer. He explained that under the circumstances, Oceania would be paying for the cab. Of course she agreed. About five minutes later, they directed us to a chauffeur-driven van that was parked near the buses. He said he would drive us to Gatwick. Why was he waiting there? It was for Mr. Del Rio (complete with newspapers, magazines and apples in the back seat). He apparently was not ready to head for London yet, so we took his car and he ordered another. We mentioned to the driver that we were told by Oceania that we could not possibly make a noon flight from Gatwick, so we had a hotel reservation that night and were flying out the next day. He said he thought he could get us there in time if we wanted to try it. He used his cell phone to call ahead to see if there were seats on the plane. Continental was not sure, but said they would let us know when we arrived at Gatwick. We made it with minutes to spare. Even had time for a Bloody Mary in the President's Club, where the attendant cancelled the hotel for us. It was heavenly to get home a day early! The above is what I call "complete customer satisfaction." However, we're afraid Mr. D will have our names taken off their mailing list. Susie Learey Indianapolis

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review Western Europe Tom Ogg The Setup Joanie and I were the group escorts for a small group of select agents aboard Oceania Cruise's Regatta on a 14-day Western Europe/Western Mediterranean cruise. There was also a media group on board that I had been invited to join. Joanie was going to board the ship in Bordeaux, France, while

I started with the group in Dover, England. I flew from San Diego to London’s Gatwick airport, spent the night in London at the Thistle Victoria Hotel right at London’s Victoria Station. (HINT: This is the best hotel to stay at if you are going to take the train to Dover. You can take the Gatwick Express directly from London’s Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station. The hotel entrance is right there. The train to Dover leaves just a couple hundred yards from the entrance to the hotel in the train station and the hotel is well located for a visit of London’s major attractions.) I was up early and made the first train to Dover that departed at 8:30 AM and arrived in Dover promptly at 11 AM. I grabbed a cab to the ship (5 pounds), checked my luggage and then hailed a taxi to take me to the Dover Castle. After exploring the castle, wandering around Dover and having a traditional fish and chip luncheon, I made my way back to the ship to board. Check in was a breeze and I was in my cabin and unpacked in less than 30 minutes. The Changes; Oceania and Renaissance The Regatta is one of the Renaissance ships (formerly the R-2) that has been completely refurbished (not that it needed it) and reintroduced to the marketplace under the Oceania Cruises brand. The CEO of Oceania cruises, Mr. Frank Del Rio was the ex co-CEO of Renaissance Cruises and the Chairman, Joe Waters, was the President Crystal Cruises and before that, the President of Royal Viking Line. I know the first question is going to be “What is the difference between Oceania and Renaissance? So here is the answer. Understand that I loved the Renaissance Cruise product and overall concept and was looking forward to this cruise to see what had evolved. Here are the major differences. Food: The food on the Regatta is probably the most impressive improvement. It is gourmet and served in a professional and sophisticated environment that reminds me of years gone by in the cruise industry. The menus are creative and the preparation magnificent. The quality of the ingredients making up the meals was the highest I have seen on cruise ships in years (including luxury lines) Even the buffets went the extra mile offering an almost, if not, luxury experience. As an example, every morning saw the usual melons and pineapple cut fruit, but the Regatta also offered papaya, mango, star fruit and kiwi fruit. The service on the tables at the buffet reminded me of Silversea and was more like a blend of full table service with self-serving areas. Bedding: Joanie and I have been spoiled having been on lots of cruises. We have spent a bundle finding the best bedding in the world to enjoy in our home. The bedding (all aspects) on the Regatta is better than ours at home, and certainly better than any I have ever experienced on any cruise ship. It is absolutely perfect. We took the name and website of the company that made the pillows and intend to buy some for our home. The Pool Area: All of the Renaissance ships had installed rubber matting around the entire pool area and also used rubberized paint on the pool surface. Even though the ships were still new when Renaissance went bankrupt, the pool area was showing wear and was simply not the same quality as the rest of the ship. Oceania has corrected the problem by completely reconstructing the pool area. Now the pool decks are teak, the fittings all stainless steel and the surface of the pool is tile. The pool area is now one of the most attractive parts of the ship. Dinnerware and Glassware: Oh boy! Oceania has tossed all of the Renaissance china, crystal and silverware and replaced it with high quality pieces designed especially for the cruise line. Sitting down to dinner in any of the restaurants is simply a wonderful experience. Drinking wine from the wine glasses is a real treat. The Service: Most notable is the increase in passenger service Regatta offers its passengers. Many of the crew came from Silversea, Crystal and other luxury lines and bring a level of passenger service that Renaissance simply did not have. The staff is motivated and capable and offers an exceptional environment for passenger comfort and satisfaction. Summary in Advance: At a time when almost all of the cruise lines are cutting back on the overall quality of their products and service as a result of the low yields generated by aggressive pricing actions to keep their ships full, along comes Oceania with a winning concept that combines good old fashioned superb dining, excellent service and engaging itineraries at reasonable prices. Look, if you are a luxury cruiser, or have been cruising the premium lines (or even top category cabins on the mass market lines) you owe it to yourself to try Oceania Cruises. It is what premium/luxury cruising should be like. The Oceania Regatta The smaller ship at 30,000 tons and only accommodates a total of 684 guests at one time. She offers a crew of 400, which promises excellent personal service to her guests. With a space ratio of 44, she is comfortable and never crowded. Since I like smaller ships, I find this size ship perfect, as it is large enough to offer diverse dining and entertainment opportunities, yet small enough to get into interesting ports and to promote a feeling of intimacy amongst its passengers. She handles well in rougher seas, yet can get up the various rivers to call on inland ports most large ships cannot get to. The Cabin: We were located in cabin 6067, an ocean view cabin with a balcony. The cabin was of nice size (however, smaller than one would expect on a luxury line) and the balcony quite functional. The biggest improvement in the cabin was in the bedding itself. High quality (thread count) sheets, a wonderful duvet and to-die-for down pillows make for one of the most comfortable sleeping experiences at sea. There is a large desk with 2 110-volt outlets and lots of storage in the sitting area as well as a small table and sofa. Each cabin offers a safe that can be programmed for the passenger’s use and a television with several channels going 24 hours per day. Oceania was installing a more sophisticated television service that would allow for pay-for-view current features in addition to the programming done on the ship. We enjoyed terrycloth bathrobes in our cabin and I understand that later this year they will be available for passengers to use in every cabin on the ship. Cabin with Balcony The bathroom is smaller than those on luxury lines but still quite comfortable. Full bathroom amenities are offered such as shampoo, conditioner, bath and shower gel and body lotion. There is a hair dryer in every bathroom but it is not the highest quality. I would suggest bringing your own hair dryer if you use one extensively. Hot and cold water controls are excellent and there is ample storage for all toiletries and cosmetics between storage in the bathroom and at the desk in the sitting area. Closet space is ample for two people on a longer cruise and most luggage will fit under the bed making for additional storage if it is needed. All in all, the cabins are very enjoyable. The Restaurants: The Regatta offers several dining venues that really set it apart from other cruise lines. I would rate the dining experiences as lower luxury rather than upper premium. If a sophisticated menu, excellent presentation and wonderful service are important to you, then you should definitely explore Oceania’s itineraries and pricing. Here is a breakdown of the various dining venues. Grand Restaurant Bar and Entrance The Grand Dining Room: This is the main dining room on the Regatta that does not require any reservations. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers fine dining from a complete menu for all meals. We ate dinner in the Grand Dining Room on several occasions and consistently had fabulous meals. There is always a quartet playing soft dinner music in the restaurant giving one a feeling of relaxation and sophistication. One could take a Regatta cruise, never dine at any of the other restaurants and come home completely satisfied with their dining experience. I believe a copy of a menu is worth a thousand words, so here is a sample menu we enjoyed in the Grand Dining room. While the menus speak for themselves, rest assured that the presentation, service and overall dining experience matched the menus. Toscana Restaurant Toscana: Toscana always exceeded our expectations. We dined in Toscana a number of times and thoroughly enjoyed each meal. Again, Toscana’s menu speaks for itself, so here is a copy of it. There were always two additional “nightly specials” that were offered in addition to the menu items that were excellent. The filet mignon basically melted in your mouth and could be cut with a butter knife and all of the meat and fish entrees were of the highest quality. Toscana required a reservation, but there was no service charge of any kind associated with dining in Toscana. Polo Grill Polo Grill: Joanie and I felt the Polo Grill was our favorite restaurant on the Regatta. Dining commitments were such that we could only enjoy it once; otherwise we would have gone no further than the Polo Grill. Take a look at the Polo Grill’s menu and I believe you will see why. Again, at least two “nightly specials” were offered in addition to the menu items, but there would be no reason to go beyond the main menu for anyone. Only the highest quality meats, fish and poultry were used and the presentation, service and ambiance were superb (Joanie and I even had the worse table in the restaurant and loved it). Reservations are required for the Polo Grill, but no service charge was in effect. Table Setting in Toscana and Polo Grill Tapas Restaurant: Here was another one of our favorites. We only got to dine at the Tapas Restaurant once, but would have come back often. The evening brings a complete transformation to the Terrace Café with china, silverware, exotic glassware and linen table coverings creating a wonderful upscale restaurant on the terrace (and in the Terrace Restaurant as well). The chairs are adorned with specially fitted covers that convert them from nice outdoor seating into lavish dining chairs. Tapas, of course are bite sized treats normally served in Spanish tapas bars throughout Spain. While this may have been the original idea behind the restaurant, you will find culinary treats here that will bring you back time and time again. On our cruise, the Tapas Restaurant gained in popularity every night to the point where staff on the ship had to be converted from other restaurants to maintain the excellent service. Since there was no published menu, you will find seafood (such as shrimp, fish, clams, mussels, lobster, scallops, possibly a seafood paella and more) salads, meats, vegetarian dishes, vegetables, it just goes on and on. There is a huge dessert section that was very well attended. The Tapas Restaurant is set up buffet style, no reservations are required and there is no service charge. The Terraces Restaurant: This is the ship’s buffet for breakfast and lunch and was very popular with everyone. Breakfast saw a great assortment of fruit, hot foods (eggs, pre cooked omelets, bacon, sausage, ham and such) cold cuts, cheeses, various bread choices (to-die-for croissants) and a cooked-to-order egg and omelet station. There was always fresh juice available and coffee/tea was served at your table. Lunch saw another buffet with excellent choices and quality. There was also a pizza station open for lunch as well. One of the nicest features of the Terraces Restaurant was the use of fine china, silverware and excellent glassware on the linen tablemats. There were no trays and there were plenty of waiters if you needed help with your dishes finding a table. We dined every morning outside on the terrace and loved it, as did everyone else that did so. Waves Grill The Waves Grill (at the pool): This came to replace lunch on the terrace for Joanie and I, as it went one step beyond even the luxury lines menu. I tried to get a copy of the menu to publish with this review, but was unable to. Suffice it to say that the poolside grill offered the usual hamburgers and hot dogs with fries, but it set itself in a whole new category with its great salad bar and offerings of healthier choices such as grilled panini, halibut and mahi mahi and other superb offerings. One day Joanie had a sandwich that was a grilled and pressed panini with ham, turkey, several cheeses and a unique sauce that she fell in love with. One could sit at tables located by the grill and enjoy the same china, silverware, glassware and linen as the rest of the ship, or you could be served in your lounge by the pool if you chose. The absence of trays, paper products and napkins just made dining at the Waves Grill a wonderful experience. Regatta Pool The Pool Area: I found the new pool area to be a major improvement over Renaissance. First, the sun lounges are extremely comfortable and are long enough for a larger person to relax without being penalized for their size. The towels are also large and of high quality. The pool service was always available but never intrusive. I think I was only solicited to purchase a drink once during the entire cruise, but every time I wanted to order something there was someone nearby to help me. The teak wood and improvements to the pool has added a new quality that Renaissance simply did not have. The Bars and Lounges: Once again, Oceania has done an excellent job in structuring their cocktail and wine prices vs. selection. The wine list is extensive, but not overpriced with numerous bottles available at prices below the mass-market lines. Cocktail prices are comparable to mass-market lines, but the quality is far superior. As an example, most mass-market cruise lines offer an inexpensive chardonnay for around $5 to $6 a glass, but the glass is small and the wine yucky (is that a wine connoisseur’s term?) Oceania offers a large glass of quality chardonnay for around $8 per glass. It sounds like more money, but in truth, the serving is much larger and the wine is far superior. Here are the lounges in the order that we enjoyed them. Martinis: Joanie and I loved this bar. Set living room style, it is where our group met almost every evening for pre dinner cocktails. Will Ham, the pianist that played in the Martinis bar every evening, served just the right combination of music for easy listening and yet still enjoying conversation with others. The bartenders were outstanding. Known for its numerous offerings of martinis, they poured excellent drinks and were efficient and friendly and got to know us almost immediately. It was kind of like going to your neighborhood bar “where everyone knows your name”. The Grand Bar: Located right outside the Grand Restaurant, the Grand Bar offers a comfortable environment for meeting dinner mates prior to dinner in the Grand Restaurant. While it didn’t measure up to Martinis on any level, it was still an enjoyable place to meet and converse. The Horizons Bar: I never really got to experience this venue when it was performing. We met here on a couple of evenings during cocktail hour as a group get-together, but found the music from the Glenn Jacobi Orchestra was simply to loud for conversation and also to loud to really enjoy. I would have preferred more soothing music at a level where folks could either relax and enjoy it or converse if they chose. After dinner and the evening’s entertainment, this was the place to go. Joanie and I made it on a couple of occasions and were surprised at how many folks were enjoying them selves. The orchestra seemed more in their element in this environment. Waves Bar The Polo Bar, the Toscana Bar, the Regatta Lounge Bar and the Waves Bar: While these bars existed, we didn’t really avail ourselves of them, so I couldn’t comment on their level of competence. Since all of the bars worked from the same drink menu (with the exception of Martinis) I suspect the overall satisfaction level was quite high. The Regatta Lounge The Entrance to the Regatta Lounge The Regatta Lounge: The Regatta Lounge was the place for all the events on the ship. The evening's entertainment took place here, as did the Captains Welcome and farewell parties. It is an intimate venue and those sitting near the front almost feel a part of the show. There are great sightlines in the lounge and excellent acoustics as well. There was never a need to go early to reserve a seat as there was always plenty of tables and chairs to go around. The Entertainment: Oceania has made quite a statement regarding the kind of entertainment they wanted to provide their passengers. The daily newsletter, Oceania Currents does an excellent job of keeping everyone abreast of the evening's entertainment and activities. Feeling that the production shows have “been there, done that” for the type of clients that would enjoy Oceania Cruises cruise experience, there are no stage shows or productions whatsoever. I really liked the entertainment that was offered. Here were the highlights for me in the order I liked them. Waldemar Maliki: Waldemar is a pianist/comedian. His commentary is hilarious, but when he starts playing, the audience is mesmerized. If you get a chance to see him perform, do not miss it. Ms. Shani Reay: Shani is the hostess on the Regatta, but she could headline anywhere. Her sultry voice and classic presentation reminded me of what entertainment used to be like when stars performed for small groups decades ago. She melted the men and made all of the women feel sexy. She is a top performer and Regatta is lucky to have her. Shani is just as down-to-Earth as she is talented and you will enjoy her presence on the ship just as much as you will enjoy her show. Mr. Leslie Jon: Leslie is the Regatta’s Cruise Director and I thought his show was fantastic. Leslie has been entertaining sine he was 5 years old and he loves to perform. You will enjoy Leslie’s performance and Leslie personally as you get to know him during the cruise. Ms. Arel Wente: Ms. Wente (of Wente Vineyards) gave several lectures on wine during the cruise and was generally available for everyone to get to know. Her lectures were aimed at wine novices and were very good. While she was not an entertainer, I enjoyed watching her speak when her lectures were featured onn the ship's television channel. Other Entertainment: Our dinners tended to last a long time simply because we were usually deep in conversations. Because of this we missed a good number of shows that were offered. Magicians, local entertainment, illusionists and other acts were well received by the passengers. Mr. Leslie Jon, the Cruise Director: I had the good fortune to dine with Leslie Jon one evening before Joanie arrived at the ship. What a great guy! I noticed that Leslie was always available to all passengers and made it a point to be available to dance with the passengers when dancing was offered in Horizons. Many times on most cruise ships, one sees the CD dancing with the best looking women leaving others that may want to dance sitting on the sidelines. Leslie made an obvious attempt to make sure everyone had a great time and asked every woman that wanted to dance. When Joanie arrived on the Regatta, she immediately recognized Leslie from Silversea’s Silver Cloud (she had a group of agents on the Silver Cloud last year) and shared that he did an excellent job on that ship as well. Congratulations Regatta! [email protected] Internet Cafe Oceania @ Sea, The Internet Café This was really the only negative I experienced on the Regatta. First, access was expensive compared with other cruise lines. I am a heavy Internet user (surprised?) Yet, I was penalized financially if I signed up for in-cabin access, so I purchased the maximum package offered, which was a 500 minutes for $300 and $.60 per minute over my contracted amount of time (the normal rate was $.95 per minute). I felt that this was expensive to begin with, as most cruise lines offer programs in the $.25 to $.40 per minute range for bulk purchases. After I signed up for the package, I learned that the Internet Café was only open limited hours and worse, offered general computer classes when it was open. Worse yet, when I finally did get a chance to go online, the room was noisy and interruptive. I am sure that Oceania will have corrected the situation by the time you take your cruise, as this is the only real negative on the ship that I have experienced and I would give it a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. Since, I have found a negative, I will take the responsibility to offer how I would correct the situation if it were my ship. There are two computers in the library where one can log on 24/7. The issue in using them is availability. Once Joanie waited over 30 minutes to get on one of them, as the Internet Café was full of folks learning how to use a photo-editing program. There was a young lady using one for solitaire and someone looking at their digital photographs was using the other. Why not make the computers in the library for Internet use only and then add 6 more at the same time? This would allow Internet users the opportunity to go online in an environment of tranquility where one could read and write e-mail without interruption. When giving classes in the Internet Café, why not leave 4 computers free for users that just want to play around in the back row closest to the door? I think these changes would go a long way to resolving the only negative I could find on the ship. Firness Center The Fitness Center: Unfortunately, I had broken a couple of my toes shortly before boarding the Regatta and was only able to do limited workouts. The fitness center is well equipped with just the right equipment and promises everyone an excellent workout. Adjoining the Fitness Center is the Spa and their is a door from the Fitness Center into the men's and women's locker rooms where one can find a steam room and shower complex. The showers offer several different types of shower heads that will massage your sore muscles. There is no charge to access this area and it is a great way to end a work out. The Library: Simply the most beautiful library on any ship anywhere! This is where two 24/7 computers that one an access the Internet from are located, there needs to be more. As this is a non-revenue productive area of the ship, why not add terminals and create some meaningful revenue? Regatta's Casino The Casino: While Joanie and I are not gamblers, we did witness several people that seemed to be winning in the casino on the tables. The slots have been replaced from those on Renaissance and they are not as interactive as the old ones. I did hear a few comments from former Renaissance passengers that they missed the old slots. The Cruise: (Please Note: Detailed information about the ports of call visited on this cruise can be found at www.PortReviews.com) Saturday, September 13th, 2003; Dover, England The ship started boarding at 3 PM and I was one of the first ones to check in. and board the ship. My first impressions were one of boarding a Renaissance ship. Those that sailed on Renaissance will know what I mean. The ship is absolutely beautiful and welcoming, much like a small and intimate luxury boutique hotel one would find in London or Paris. I was escorted to cabin 6067 and was surprised to find my luggage already in the hallway. It was brought into my cabin and I was unpacked and settled by 3:30 PM. There was also a media group onboard that I had been invited to join and there was an arrival cocktail party in the Horizon a Bar shortly after the lifeboat drill and sail away party, so I got ready for the evening’s events and then proceeded to the party. After an hour of socializing and seeing some old friends and making some new, three of us made our way to dinner in the Grand Dining Room. This was the first of many meals on Regatta and I must say that all of us were impressed. The menu featured 3 cold appetizers, 2 hot appetizers, 2 salads, 2 soups, a pasta dish and 5 different entrees, as well as a diverse selection of cheeses and desserts. The level of service and overall preparation of the meal reminded me of meals that I have had on luxury ships. Professional and friendly waiters served the creative presentations with great attention to detail. This was a huge improvement over Renaissance’s quality of dining experience. Raoul Fiebig was one of the gentlemen at dinner and the three of us sat and talked almost until the restaurant closed deciding that it would be better to collapse from exhaustion in our respective cabins rather than at the dinner table, we called it a night and turned in. Sunday, September 14th, 2003; Guernsey, Channel Islands, U.K. I was up early from a great night’s sleep and made my way up to the fitness center for a work out before going to breakfast. The fitness center had the same equipment that was on Renaissance and was everything needed for a great upper body workout. I had remembered how much I enjoyed the steam room and showers, so after my work out enjoyed them once again. I then chose to have a small breakfast in the Terrace Café. Once again, Oceania has done it to the next level. The buffet was equivalent to one you would expect to find on a luxury line. Better than the food is the experience of selecting and being served (while it is a buffet, there are still waiters behind the various areas serving your selections.) The experience is enhanced by the use of china with no trays. Once you have made your selections and find a table, you are treated to linen tablemats, linen napkins and a full set of silverware. I chose to eat outside on the terrace and the experience reminded me of dining at the buffet on Silversea’s Silver Shadow. About the only difference was that Silversea offered a selection of fresh berries while Oceania’s offers more tropical fruit. The breakfast was that great! We were anchored outside of St. Peter Port, Guernsey, and the tender ride was a short ten minutes to the quay in the harbor. Since it was Sunday, just about all of the stores were closed for the day, but Guernsey was a very quaint village to explore. Its main shopping street offered shops and boutiques of every description and there seemed to be an old church on every block. The economy of Guernsey was obviously doing quite well, as there were luxury sedans and sports cars everywhere. I walked and walked several miles and enjoyed the village wishing that we had visited on another day to see it in full bloom. Back on the ship, I enjoyed my first lunch choosing the buffet as my dining venue. The selection of salads, appetizers, side dishes and entrees was wonderful. While I do not participate in desserts, the dessert table was strictly gourmet. The china and silverware on linen were also a treat at lunch bringing with it a feeling of luxury, making the meal that much more enjoyable. I dined on the fantail of the ship and it again reminded me of lunches I have enjoyed on Silversea’s dining deck behind her buffet. I had been invited to dine with the Cruise Director, Mr. Leslie Jon, and made my way to the Grand Bar at our appointed meeting time. Dinner was a wonderful experience of excellent wine, food and conversation. Mr. Jon’s history and commitment to Oceania’s success was very evident during the meal and Oceania is lucky to have developed this wonderful gentleman as their first Cruise Director. Following dinner, Clive, the other guest to share our table and I went to the evening’s show to watch our dinner’s host in action and to enjoy the entertainment for the evening. Mr. Wildemar Malicki, a pianist absolutely dazzled everyone in the audience (including me!) His command of the piano was amazing as he could play anything from classical to modern without hesitation or error. Understand that Joanie plays by ear and I am used to hearing wonderful piano music. Mr. Malicki was world class! He received a standing ovation from most of the audience. Monday, September 15th, 2003; Day at Sea We lost an hour during the night, so I slept in quite late. I rose for a breakfast and was treated to the same level of dining experience as the first day, lunch treated me to the same encounter with excellence and I now was understanding the changes Oceania had implemented to define itself in the market place. The day was warm, but not warm enough to enjoy the lounge chairs by the pool. The Regatta offers 24-hour room service and I was keen to try it, as some of the best meals I have ever had on luxury lines were served in my cabin. I had arranged to meet with our group for cocktails in the Grand Bar following the Captain’s Welcome Reception in the Regatta Lounge. One of the things I was most impressed with regarding the Captain’s Welcome Reception was the absence of the introduction of the Oceania corporate executives that were on board. This had to reaffirm the rolls of the staff on the ship, as I am sure they all knew that folks from corporate headquarters were on the ship. We met in the bar for a quick drink and then everyone went in his or her own direction leaving me with the opportunity to experience the Regatta’s cabin service. After working for a bit, I called room service and found that I was actually paging my cabin stewardess, Blaise Alexander, (one of the most capable and pleasant room stewardesses I have ever had.) Within 20 minutes she appeared at my door with shrimp cocktail, salad and freshly cooked salmon. Just to put room service through their paces, I ordered a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (I didn’t even know if they offered it) and Blaire had found a bottle, had it opened, signed for it and brought it with my dinner. In 30 minutes or so, Blaise called back to come and collect the tray and various plates…she did so with a smile. I purposely didn’t tip her just to see if the next experience was as wonderful. Tuesday, September 16th, 2003; Bordeaux, France Joanie was flying into Bordeaux to join the ship so after docking and clearing immigration, I disembarked and walked into Bordeaux to find a taxi to take me to the Bordeaux airport to meet her. I walked Bordeaux’s many shopping streets looking for a taxi stand and finally found one near the Cathedrale St. Andre and negotiated a ride. While Joanie made her tight connection from Delta Airlines to Air France, her luggage didn’t, so we were treated to lunch on Air France while we waited the three hours for the next flight. We were given a voucher and after finding the right restaurant, were treated to a wonderful lunch and a bottle of wine making the imposition insignificant. We finally arrived at the ship around 4 PM, boarded, checked Joanie in and then went to relax in our cabin. We selected a casual dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. Wow! What a great experience. The quality and selection of food on the Regatta resembles culinary experiences you would expect to find on luxury lines. The dining experiences are quickly defining Regatta’s unique roll as an upper premium, if not luxury experience. Joanie and I were tired from the day and watched the evening’s show for about 30 minutes before calling it a night. Wednesday, September 17th, 2003; Bordeaux, France I had signed up for an optional tour to Saint Emilion and was up for an early breakfast and then off to meet the small group taking the tour. The motor coach crossed over the La Garonne on the Pont de Pierre Bridge and quickly made its way into the countryside. Winding its way through vineyards and cornfields the motor coach eventually entered the area of Saint-Emilion. We stopped at the Pomerol Vineyards of St. Emilion where we inspected the process of wine production from picking to tasting. The wine was excellent, however a tad pricey. From the winery we continued into the town of St. Emilion and to the underground living quarters of St. Emilion himself. A visit to the chapel where he presided as well as the underground catacombs and the massive underground church (the largest in the world) completed the tour part of Saint Emilion and we were free to explore the small village that was quaint and engaging. St. Emilion offers a maze of twisting pedestrian streets lined with shops, boutiques wine outlets for the various chateaus in the St. Emilion region and many stores selling items of interest to tourists. After a wonderful time shopping, we boarded the motor coach for the 45-minute trip back to the ship. I returned to find Joanie up and about and so after a quick lunch we took off to explore Bordeaux’s fabulous shopping. We entered Bordeaux and made our way into the shopping area where we walked and walked enjoying the various stores that lined the pedestrian streets. After quite a while, we stopped to enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux wine and settled into one of the sidewalk cafes for a wonderful afternoon of just quiet conversation and people watching. It was truly one of the most enjoyable afternoons we had had in quite a while. Back on the ship, we had been invited to join the media group for dinner. We got ready and then made our way to the Tuscany Restaurant for a wonderful dining experience with table conversation going well into the evening. We ended up being the last table to vacate the restaurant and Joanie and I simply turned in for the evening after a full day’s events. Thursday, September 18th, 2003; Day at Sea We slept in quite late and barely made it in time to enjoy another wonderful breakfast on the Terrace. The day was quite warm and promised to be a stellar pool day. We spent the day by the pool relaxing and enjoying the subtle breezes as they cooled us from the burning sun. I admit to logging a few hours in the Jacuzzis as well. We had invited the members of the NACTA group to our cabin to try some of the Bordeaux wines that I had purchased in St. Emilion and they arrived right on time. We socialized for about an hour and then made our way down to the Grand Dining Room requesting a table for ten. We were accommodated after a short wait and were treated to another excellent dinner. I must say here that the dining experience is what defines Oceania. The majority of agents in our group felt that the food, service, presentation and overall experience rivals that of Silversea, Crystal, Radisson and Seabourn. It is so far beyond Celebrity and Holland America (especially since 9/11) that one would always choose Oceania with its current pricing positioning in the premium market. Oceania is priced far below the luxury market and would be a great choice for anyone wanting to either experience what a luxury cruise would be like, or that would like to upgrade their cruise experience from the premium market without paying a premium. Our table was located right next to the quartet that played in the Grand Dining Room and our dinner experience could not have been more enjoyable. Following dinner we chose to attend the evening’s entertainment, the same pianist that played earlier in the cruise. Once again, he was fabulous and received a standing ovation from the majority of the audience at the end of his performance. A few of us continued to the Horizon Bar and it was 50s and 60s night. The band wore 50s and 60s garb and were playing rock and roll songs that had many people up dancing. We stayed a while and turned in exhausted from the day’s full events. Friday, September 19th, 2003; Oporto, Portugal We arrived right on time in Oporto (however, Joanie and I could not testify to that fact as we had slept in quite late) and by the time Joanie and I were ready to get off the ship to go exploring; it was just after 11 AM. The actual town of Oporto was some miles away as ships can only go so far up the Douro River before docking next to a draw bridge that I do not believe is wide enough to allow cruise ships through. Joanie and I debarked the ship and at the advice of the port authority guard that was guarding the main gate to the port, we boarded a local bus (#44) for the ride to Oporto. The bus took us through many industrial areas, by car dealerships, small strip centers and hospitals before depositing us in the downtown bus station in Oporto. Now for those that do not know, Oporto is quite a large city and the bus station is nowhere near the old town area that tourists like for shopping and general visiting. We did have a map though, but it was in Portuguese. I guess that is when we started laughing. We had the time of our lives wondering around the residential and local shopping areas of Oporto where tourist probably haven’t been for decades. We walked and walked and kept getting more and more lost as we followed the twisting and turning streets that climbed up and down the various hills that made up Oporto. Each little community store reminded us of movies we had seen and the character of the people we experienced was truly unique. It was so much fun. Later in the day we found a community wine store, so we thought that we should buy some wine and see if we could figure out where we were, to start making plans to head back to the ship. While neither Joanie nor I speak Portuguese, I do speak some Spanish and Portuguese people take great pride in the fact that they can speak Spanish, while very few Spaniards can speak Portuguese. It is kind of a source for regional pride. I asked about the tourist area and the lady looked at me like I was crazy, took me outside and pointed across the bridge to the many motor coaches parked there. Somehow, Joanie and I had stumbled onto it. Of course, I told Joanie that I knew where I was at all times and it was just fun to pretend to be lost, and of course, she didn’t believe me. After looking at the general area, we decided we might as well take the local bus back to the ship, this time boarding bus number 76. It took about an hour, but this bus went through all of the residential districts on its way back to the ship. We made it back with almost 30 minutes to spare before the ship left, but a memory that will last a lifetime. HINT: If you really want to see the tourist part of Oporto, take a taxi! It only cost about 12 euro (the bus was 2 euro) but you will get there with plenty of time to explore this fascinating city. Joanie and I had decided to enjoy a dinner with just the two of us, so after getting ready, we went to the Grand Dining Room Bar for a cocktail and then into the dining room at a table for two. Oceania had added a good number of tables for two in the Grand Dining Room and obtaining one was quite easy. We enjoyed another fabulous dinner and then decided to turn in for the night, exhausted after traipsing miles throughout Oporto’s back streets and residential areas. Saturday, September 20th, 2003; Lisbon, Portugal We arrived right on schedule into Lisbon and we were up early, enjoyed our breakfast on the Terrace and were ready to explore Lisbon (Lisboa). This was Joanie’s first visit to Lisbon and I was anxious to show her the wonderful shopping district in Lisbon’s old town. The port provides a shuttle to Arco Triunfal de rue Augusta; the gated entrance to the old section of Lisbon. Walking under the massive monument leads you to a wonderful pedestrian shopping street right in the heart of Lisbon. Lisbon is a large city and the historic district is quite large itself. There are numerous shopping streets and side streets throughout the historic district and wonderful little restaurants, sidewalk cafes and bars to choose from. Just south of the historic district and visible from many points in downtown, is a castle (Castelo de Sau Jorge) that resides on top of the mountain. Lisbon’s many European squares feature buildings from different periods in Lisbon’s past and are wonderful to explore. We took the trolley to the top of the steep hill on the north side of the old section to walk among the narrow residential streets that date back centuries. We found a unique wine store that had a cellar with wines for sale dating back as far as 1830 and spent well over an hour inspecting the various offerings finally purchasing a few bottles of local wine to bring home with us. After hours of exploring Lisbon, we grabbed a taxi to return us to the ship in plenty of time for the Regatta’s departure. Sailing from Lisbon is a treat not to be missed. As progress is made down the inlet the ship passes under a bridge that rivals the Golden Gate, which frames the entire city as you move further out of the inlet. The ship then passes the impressive Navigators’ monument constructed to celebrate Portuguese explorers from Portugal’s famed period of world exploration. Finally, the castle that marks the entrance to the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean makes an incredible departure statement about Lisbon’s past and her diverse community. We had made dinner reservations in the Toscana Restaurant, so after attending a cocktail party for our group, we spent some time playing chess in the Martinis Lounge before heading up to Toscana and our table for two. Dinner was simply fantastic and was the best of the cruise so far. After dinner we attended the evening’s entertainment, Ms. Shani Reay, who also the Regatta’s social hostess. Shani’s performance was excellent, as her sultry voice is well suited to the cabaret style in which she performs. If you get a chance to see Shani on one of the Oceania cruises, don’t miss her performance. Sunday, September 21st, 2003; Cadiz (Seville), Spain We attended a short meeting in the morning and then prepared for arrival in Cadiz. Cadiz is often overlooked in favor of Seville some 60 miles inland from Cadiz, but Cadiz is a world-class destination in itself and shouldn’t be missed. As it was Sunday, most of the shops were closed in town so Joanie and I walked along the ocean front boardwalk that encircles the peninsula that Cadiz resides upon. About half way around the peninsula, we entered Cadiz’s pedestrian streets enjoying the fabulous architecture. Cobbled streets with three and four story whitewashed stucco buildings with wonderful wrought iron balconies displaying a dizzying array of colorful flowers. One could easily spend the entire two-day port call in Cadiz and have a wonderful time. We met our group for cocktails and enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the Grand Dining Room and ended up closing the restaurant. Monday, September 22nd, 2003; Cadiz (Seville), Spain Joanie and I had opted to take the ship’s transfer to Seville to explore Seville’s beauty. We departed the ship at 8:45, made our way out of Cadiz, across the huge bay and into the countryside. Seville is about an hour and one half’s drive from the ship and is quite a scenic drove through vineyards, cotton fields and fruit orchards. Upon arrival in Seville we drive past various plazas and make our first stop at the Plaza de America, a huge plaza with its twin towers and vast stonework. Boarding the motor coach again, the next stop was the entrance to the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a medieval residential area consisting of a labyrinth of twisting and turning pedestrian lanes wandering throughout the entire barrio. There are quaint shops, restaurants and boutiques throughout the area, which is very much fun to explore. Directly outside of the barrio is the Seville’s Cathedral. It is indeed a wonderful and interesting cathedral and certainly worth visiting. Seville offers just about everything one could want in a city to visit. Fabulous architecture, superb shopping, culture everywhere and a sophisticated population that is wonderful to be immersed in. Seville is easily navigated on foot from the central tourist area and there is an on-and-off again double-decker bus that offers an excellent overview of Seville so that one can take the tour and then decide where they would love to spend the balance of the time they have in Seville. We chose to enjoy a long lunch with a bottle of wine and some shopping in Seville’s designer district. Back on the ship we enjoyed an excellent dinner in the Po

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review TransAtlantic Merriem BEFORE THE CRUISE: We received our documents in good time, the air arrangements were poor to say the least, and we were traveling for over 24 hours before we got back to Minneapolis, not to mention the drive home to Iowa. ACCOMMODATIONS Our stateroom, penthouse suite 8019 was well maintained, kept clean by our attendant, and the bedding was fine. I

cannot say that it was as spectacular as the company advertises, but it was acceptable. Our penthouse suite was a nice size, however, could have been furnished better. On Celebrity we had a bar in our suite with wine and other types of glasses always there. On this ship there was no such animal, and we had to ask every day for glasses. OVERALL ATTITUDE OF THE STAFF This was the worst staff I have ever dealt with. Frankly, they acted like they were doing us a favor, not the other way around. They were not friendly, and could do nothing on their own. From the front desk to the dining room, the staff was pathetic. We even met with the Hotel Manager (General Manager) after four days of total frustration. He had sent a letter in response to our comments that had been submitted just a few days into the cruise. We called to confirm that we wanted to meet with him, as well as some friends of ours. He agreed. When we went to the area( the main lobby) to meet him, he refused to meet in private. He wanted to have us sit in the lobby and discuss these issues with us. We told him no, and he finally agreed to meet in his office, which was were you have private meetings in the first place. We listed our complaints, dining room service, cold food, and a multitude of others. He became defensive, and never once offered the simple question "what can I do to make it right". It was just a pathetic example of how the lack of leadership does come from the top. No wonder the staff was so horrible. The hotel manager could not even set a good example. STAFF PERFORMANCE AND SERVICE I would say the officers were poor based on your meeting with the hotel manager. The butler was a joke. He didn't even show up for two days ("because he did not want to disturb us",) never offered to do anything, and we always had to ask. I had the tips removed from our bill, and I assure you he received nothing from us. His name was Manuel, from Portugal, and basically did the absolute least he had to do. We ask him twice to make reservations for us at the two specialty restaurants, and never once did he even get back to us. The bar staff leaves a lot of be desired. One evening the waitress accidentally put two glasses of wine on our friends tab, as only one should have been his and one mine. She did not know and it was not her fault. When she brought the bill back we explained it was on two separate checks. The next thing we know some woman bar manager comes marching in the dining room with this poor girl and made her apologize in front of us and just about everyone in the dining room. Not to mention the scene it made. We were embarrassed. Then they both come back with two glass of wine and give them to us. Again, another scene. DESTINATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT This was a joke. We took three tours and the only one that was acceptable was in the Azores. The one in Funchal the gal read the script for three hours, and the worst was the one in Jerez, Spain. There was a man in a wheelchair with his wife, and myself with an injured leg with 25 stitches in it. Neither of us could walk. The bus dropped us in town, and this was a walking tour. My husband spend all of his time trying to help the man in the wheelchair as his wife could not do it by herself. It was very difficult for me to get around on these streets, and we were never informed that the bus would not be available to us. When we returned we went to the DESTINATION SERVICES desk, and ask for a refund. The lady with her husband in a wheelchair did also. We were required to fill out a form as to why we felt we should have our money back. Then when the completed form was taken back, the DESTINATION SERVICES manager said he would have to take it to the hotel manager for approval. That evening we received a voice mail during dinner that we would not receive a refund, and we would need to contact the Miami office. We paid $120 total. I saw the lady with the handicapped husband, and they told her the same thing. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES There really was not much to do. I enjoyed the art auctions and other than that, crafts, etc (everything had an extra charge) were of no interest. My husband attended the "Enrichment Lectures" given my some retired 3 star admiral who spent 20 years of his career in the pentagon ( not quite out with the troops) and his talks were all political. Very pro George Bush, and not at all what should have been on a cruise ship.

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review Western Mediterranean John M. Lane My wife and I have just returned from a cruise of the Western Mediterranean on the Regatta. I had read the cruise reviews for this ship before we sailed. I found these reviews to be accurate regarding the excellent service, food and condition of the ship. What was not explained are the restrictions on the use of the specialty restaurants. Oceania

Cruises advertises that “our open seating policy allows you the freedom to decide when, where and with whom you wish to dine”. This statement is inaccurate because there are restrictions on reservations in the specialty restaurants. Passengers are informed as soon as they board the ship that they can book one night in Toscana and one night in the Polo Grill. One additional night in each restaurant might be possible after everyone has taken advantage of these dining facilities. In addition to this restriction, a table for two presents new problems. There are two tables for two in each specialty restaurant. I think that anyone contemplating a romantic cruise involving a table for two each night in either the Toscana or the Polo Grill should be aware that it isn’t going to happen. Those restaurants are definitely more desirable because of the level of noise in the Grand Dining Room and the fact that people do dress up a little more there. The “country club casual” dress code does seem to work and tuxedos and ties are not necessary. A great many of the male passengers seemed to interpret that dress code as the country club’s first tee rather than the club’s dining facilities. One final note from our cruise. The Maitr’d, Enzo Mazzali does an outstanding job. We have been on many, many cruises and Enzo is the very best there is.

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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review TransAtlantic Tobie TRANSPORTATION to the SHIP: We had packed, measured, and weighed our bags according to Lufthansa's published limits before leaving home. We were told at check-in that the carry-on couldn't weigh more than 8.5 KG, and we needed to transfer about half of the stuff to a checked bag. Barb and I finally boarded our Oceania arranged Lufthansa flight from Vancouver,

BC to Frankfurt on the afternoon of 2 November. The attendants took Barb's electric scooter and promised that it would be delivered right to the plane for us in Frankfurt (this has been done numerous times for us on flights within Canada and the USA). On arrival at Frankfurt about 12 hours later, we waited on the plane for her scooter to arrive until the plane was cleared, still no scooter. I went up to the gate reception people and was told that someone had told them that Barb could walk and that it would be delivered to the gate. After explaining that she could NOT walk to the reception area, they finally found a manual wheelchair that was too small for her and managed to get her up to the gate. The scooter finally arrived about a half hour later and we were able to get to our next gate in time to go through the same routine again for our flight to Lisbon. At the new gate they told her that they had to have her scooter immediately in order to get it on the plane, so they stuffed her in another small manual wheelchair and left her sitting there, right beside her scooter, for about an hour and a half before they took it away to be loaded into the plane which had been delayed arriving from Vienna. They also told us that we couldn't take our carry-on bag (considerably lightened in Vancouver) on the plane because it was "TOO BIG". Finally we were taken to the plane and again told that the scooter would be delivered to the plane on arrival at Lisbon. When other passengers started boarding, most of them had carry-ons much larger than ours, which was checked through. We had to take Barb's meds out and carry them separately in a brown bag that another sympathetic passenger gave us. Lisbon, about 3 1/2 hours later, again no scooter. Again they finally got a manual wheelchair and even after I tried to explain that the scooter was to be delivered to the plane, they insisted that we had to go to the luggage carousel first. "I understand" was all the lady said, than started pushing us, and another wheelchair passenger, the long way to the luggage carousel. Our luggage, and everyone else's arrived, still no scooter. Pretty much everyone had cleared the luggage area when, finally someone arrived with the scooter. I can't prove it, but I'm willing to bet that the scooter sat about an hour at the Arrival gate, while Barb was crammed into a small wheelchair at the luggage area. Oceania's greeter met us at the airport and saved a front seat in the bus for Barb while I helped the driver get the scooter into the luggage bin of the bus. It was a holiday in Lisbon the day we arrived and the streets were crowded. The twenty minute ride to the ship only took about 1 1/4 hours. Check-in was fairly swift and we got on the ship around 7:00 PM for a sailing scheduled for 6:00. We were told we had missed the safety drill and would have to do a make-up drill in the morning. We went to the Terrace Cafe (the buffet) for dinner. Our bags were in the cabin when we returned from dinner but Barb was too tired to unpack so she went to bed and I went to the Welcome Aboard show in the Regatta Lounge, then off to bed for me too. A long day and a half getting there, but it was great to be "Home Again" on a ship. We learned in the morning that they had waited to sail till the last passengers arrived at 11:55, and sailed at midnight. There was a total of about 285 passengers aboard a ship designed to carry over 600. EMBARKATION: The transition from the pier to the ship went smoothly. Our passports were retained by the ship for the duration of the cruise, our credit card information taken, official ID photos taken, and we got our cruise cards. The gangway had low steps and Barb had to walk up (with great difficulty) while several crew members carried the scooter up the gangway. There was no "Welcome Aboard" photos taken, I suspect because most of the people were already aboard. We were escorted to our stateroom and met our steward, Enery, from Roatan. He informed us that we could park the scooter in the hallway, just outside our door, which was less convenient than most of our recent cruises where we have had handicap access rooms, but it did leave more room inside. He also provided us with a long extension cord for recharging the scooter. STATE ROOM: We had a Port side stateroom (#7056), the sunny side of the ship traveling east-west. We had ample closet and cupboard space and there was lots of room for suitcases under the beds. Deep fluffy mattresses and down comforters were as good, if not better, than those on the Statendam this past summer. The room also had a pull-out couch for a possible third passenger. A fridge for Barb's insulin and a shower chair, as requested by our TA, were in the room when we arrived. The bathroom was small, but adequate, the shower was "cozy". Our balcony was small, but large enough for a table and two chairs. We noticed that you could see into the adjoining balconies through the spaces if you had a mind to do that, but who cares. We just made sure we had the provided robes, or clothes on when we were out there. It was nice to be able to watch the waves go by, and hear the sound of the ocean at night. The robes and slippers were available to take home for a price we thought was exorbitant, in our opinion (the ones on the Statendam were nicer). SHIP'S DECOR: The Regatta is probably the best decorated, and maintained ship we have sailed on in about 32 cruises. It is fashioned to look like an English country inn. There were many vases around the ship with real flowers. Wood paneling, cove moldings, etc. were abundant in most of the public areas. We did not see any worn carpets or stains, and no areas were being repaired, as we have noticed on many ships. Chairs in all public areas and dining venues were sturdy and of ample size to accommodate people of any size. There were teak deck chairs and lounges in the pool area and some even designed for two people to cozy up in. They were also on the teak promenade deck which, unfortunately, was not a wraparound. PUBLIC ROOMS: All public rooms, staterooms, and balconies are designated non-smoking, except a tiny area in the Horizons Lounge on Deck 10 and a small area on one side outside the buffet in the open pool deck (Deck 9). The library was the largest we have seen at sea (over 2000 books) and was open 24 hours a day. It was run on the honor system with a request to please return books before leaving the ship. Very classy. Several well placed bars and lounges where you could spend a quiet time with a book, or listen to Maciek on the piano. The Casino was fairly small, and non-smoking. We did not spend a dime in here, but some claimed to come out ahead. Regatta has a well equipped gym and fitness center, beauty shop and spa. We didn't use any of these services but some of our "trivia mates" did and found them quite enjoyable. SHOWS and SHOWROOM: Being a smaller ship, the showroom "Regatta Lounge" is all on one level with very good sightlines from all seats. It is located forward on Deck 5. Since the ship was less than half full we never had any trouble finding a seat for any event. It was used for the regular evening show as well as daily lectures, Bingo, movies, etc. They had sessions of Snowball Bingo every day which we didn't attend, so can't say how much it cost or what the jackpot got to when it was finally won. Entertainment at the evening show was varied, the most interesting to us was several comedy routines done by Lenny Windsor, a former writer for the "Benny Hill Show". He, and his young wife put on quite a show, including some amazing magic, and pick-pocketing demonstrations. The pianist "Maciek Flont" put on quite a show one evening, about an hour of non-stop, popular music from "Around the World". There was a violinist and an accordionist billed as the "Contemporary Duo" who played at various times around the ship, including teatime. The violinist was the headliner one evening in the Regatta Lounge, and he was excellent. There was also a juggler that put on several shows. I felt he was mediocre and don't remember his name. They also had several production shows but with only 4 singers and dancers in the troop, and limited stage props, they were not up to the standards of shows on NCL, Princess, RCCL etc. They also had two lecturers aboard, one an astronomer who did several lectures on what can be seen by the naked eye. He also had several early morning sky watch sessions where we went out on the top deck and they turned the lights out for better viewing. The other lecturer, a Dr. Stewart Nelson, spoke about varying topics such as Pirates, the Titanic, the Bermuda Triangle, the Hindenburg, etc. DINING, FOOD ETC.: Most days we went up to the Horizon's Lounge where they had "Coffee Corner" starting at 6:30 AM. They had coffee, juice, and a selection of pastries. Some mornings we went to the buffet early for their pecan sticky buns (only available there), they were great. About 8:00 we usually went to the Grand Dining Room for proper breakfast. There they had regular, as well as chocolate croissants and the regular breakfast menu including Eggs Benedict, omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak, lamb chops etc. You could also get fresh fruit of your choice; my usual choice was Papaya (love that stuff). We mostly had lunch in the dining room because it was easier for Barb than the buffet. Some days we ate in the buffet. They had a good selection of salads, carving station, pastas, etc every day. They also had Pizza available at lunch which I thought was not as good as Princess, or Carnival, but OK. Dinnertime we ate mostly in the Grand Dining Room and the fare was always excellent, hot, and promptly served. It might have had something to do with the half empty ship, but I don't think so. The DR was open seating every day and we usually elected to join other people, but after about three days we asked for a table with our favorite waiter "Alena" from Croatia. We told her that we'd like to take her home with us. She was one of the best waiters we have had EVER! She made the best cappuccino, which Barb and I had almost every night with dessert. I am a regular coffee with cream drinker, but the coffee on the ship was very inconsistent (sometimes quite good, sometimes bad). Alena's cappuccino was always "top drawer", not what I'd say about several I had that were made by someone else. We decided to try the Specialty Restaurants onboard (no extra charge, but reservation needed). We booked the Toscana (Italian restaurant) on Tuesday, 9 Nov, and the Polo Grill (steak house) on Wednesday. Toscana was very nice, we had a waitress we had had in the dining room at lunch previously. The service, and food was comparable to a mid-upscale Italian restaurant. On Wednesday we went to the Polo Grill, and fell in love with it. Everything was the best we have ever had on land, or sea. I had shrimp cocktail to die for, clam chowder, filet mignon (done perfectly) with a lobster tail, and crème brule for dessert. When we were leaving, we made another reservation for Friday. When it came near dinnertime on Thursday, Barb and I looked at the Grand DR menu and decided we'd rather go to the Polo again, if we could get in. They found a space for us, so we ended up eating there three nights in a row. I'm sure that would not have been possible if the ship was full, but it was GREAT. My waistline suffered a little, but it was worth every inch. Just as a matter of interest to some, there was no late-night buffet on this ship. Only room service was available late. This might be different on different itineraries, we really didn't miss it. There was coffee available most times at the buffet area. PASSENGERS: Passengers on this sailing were mostly of the "retired" ilk. We almost felt like the babies of the cruise. We were probably in the lower 10% income wise, and there were ZERO children aboard. There were several honeymoon couples, but I believe they were on their "second, or third" time around honeymoons. They were in their forties or fifties. That's OK though, we like older people, we're rapidly becoming them. At the Captain's cocktail party they asked who had sailed with Oceania, or Renaissance before and about 25% put up their hands. When they asked who had cruised any line before, almost everyone had. When they asked who was on their first cruise there was about four hands up. CRUISE DIRECTOR AND STAFF: The cruise director David Shermet was about 40 years old. He had been Cruise director on several other lines previously, left cruising for a life ashore for several years, but found he missed it so much he came back. He did a talk every morning at coffee corner, usually with guests from the entertainment staff. He did announcements on the PA every morning at 9:00 regarding happenings around the ship during the day (not at all hours of the day like some lines). The Captain did his "Report from the Bridge" just after noon every day, informing us of ships position, distance traveled, sea and weather conditions,etc. Other than that the only announcements heard over the PA were crew safety drills,etc. The Cruise director had team trivia every day, which we attended daily. "Our" team varied some day-to-day, but mainly had the same core 5 players. We did well with 6 times in first place in 9 days. We won prize tickets to be cashed in on the last full day at sea. They also had activities such as ping pong, shuffleboard, etc. that you could get tickets for. I did well in shuffleboard with my partner "Monique" a nice young lady from Montreal PQ. Barb and I got a T-shirt, a ballcap, and a neck wallet. The Photo people were very unobtrusive, never in the dining room, and the only time they took our pictures, that I remember, was at the Captain's party reception line. WEATHER: Being November already, we expected, and got, some rain and heavy seas. When it rained, we made use of the inside facilities of the ship. Although a moving ship doesn't bother me in the least, Barb felt somewhat uneasy for several days. The swells were measuring up to 14 ft. at times, and it sometimes felt we were going to be dumped out of bed at night. Many people missed dinner several nights and ominous bags showed up at the elevators, but we never saw anyone using them. We once sailed from New York to Bermuda in November on NCL's Dreamward which was much worse. I believe we had swells to 40 ft. and had to skip one of the ports in Bermuda because the harbor entrance was too narrow and they don't chance it in high seas. We DID see bags being used on that one, and a few green faces. ACCESSIBILITY: Almost everywhere on the ship was quite accessible for Barb with her scooter. The sports deck was the only deck only accessible by stairs. There were several other passengers with wheelchairs but Barb's was the only scooter and sometimes it seemed like a competition in the dining room as to who was going to do "Valet" service (drive the scooter to the "parking lot" outside the DR. Other people with physical handicaps should be aware that there are no fully accessible outside cabins on this ship. If you need things like hand rails, and roll-in showers, etc. they are only available in inside cabins. Barb decided she could make due with a regular cabin as long as we could park the scooter outside the door. the price we got for a balcony cabin was the same as they were offering for an inside Handicap. DEBARKATION AND RETURN HOME: We had breakfast and cleared immigration in Miami on Saturday morning by about 8:00. We had been assigned Black #1 luggage tags. I'll never know how they decide who gets off first. They called several other numbers, including Black #3 before us, but we were off the ship, and on the bus for our transfer to MIA about 10:30 AM for our American Airlines 1:30 PM flight to Dallas, and onwards to Vancouver. Our luggage, and scooter, all arrived in good order. I called my niece to bring our car and we were on our way to the ferry back to our "Island in the Pacific", arriving home around midnight. FINAL COMMENTS: We were pleasantly surprised at the over-all quality of this cruise. It should not be assumed (because of the less-than-half-full sailing) that this company is in any financial difficulty, or that the "older" demographic of this cruise is the normal situation. This was a 10 day, all sea days, cruise and, as such attracts an older crowd that can take longer cruises on short notice. I understand that the more port intensive cruises (i.e.. Caribbean sailings) are selling out, and they are also not as good a price (per dium) as we got on this cruise. I think Oceania really fills a niche that has been lacking lately. They have smaller than average ships, with better than average quality accommodations, along with superb service. Would we sail again with Oceania? You bet we would, but next time perhaps in the other direction in the spring, (Florida to Europe) with a European extension. Hoping to meet many of you (again) on the MOAGC, GGC2005

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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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Oceania Cruises Regatta Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Joanie Ogg CTC MCC Finding the pier that Oceania uses in Miami is easy and it is located in a great location. As one heads to the Miami Pier over the causeway, simply exit where you see the Royal Caribbean International offices and follow the simple signs to Pier 12. If you are driving a car, you can pull up

right in front of pier and leave your luggage to be checked and park less than 200 feet away at a covered lot with plenty of parking. The cost was $12.00 a day and must be prepaid. They accept cash, MasterCard or Visa, but no American Express. I made my way to check-in and the time was about 1:00 pm. There were no lines, and it was a very pleasant process overall. I made my way to the ship, to my lovely cabin and began to explore the Regatta. I had been on the ship with Tom about 7 months before in Europe, so I was familiar with the lay of the land, but it is always fun to explore once again and see what changes there may have been made. I went to the gym to check it out, as I knew I would be spending a great deal of time there during the 12-day itinerary. I was pleased that they had added some new and updated cardio equipment and even TV screens to view movies and the news while walking, biking or using the treadmill. I had some things to prepare for the group, so I headed back to my cabin and found my luggage had already arrived. This was a real treat, as it had only been about 40 minutes since I had checked it curbside. The remainder of the afternoon was spent setting up the programs for our meetings. There has already been a very thorough review of the Regatta done with lots of pictures of the ship, so I will forego that aspect of the review and share my travelogue of the cruise. To read the review of the Regatta itself click here. About my cabin: Beautiful and spacious describe it well. It is approximately 322 square feet and has a great deal of drawer and closet space, which for me is always an issue since I tend to over pack. The Penthouse Suites have a small mini-bar and a safe, as well as robes and slippers for your personal use. The linens on the beds are to die for and the cabin had a huge balcony with two reclining chairs and a table. The cabin features a large couch and a table with two chairs as well. A full-length mirror and several other mirrors located strategically throughout the cabin. There is a nice size bathtub shower and a good size sink with two large vanities. There is even a magnifying mirror in the room, which is unusual, and a nice compliment for the ladies to have use of. I arrived to a bottle of chilled champagne and welcome letters from our hosts at Oceania. The Penthouse accommodation that I was so fortunate to enjoy boasts butler service and a great deal of additional amenities. I would highly recommend the Penthouse cabins as the size of the room along with all of the extra amenities really does make the experience very special. My butler Eduard came by to introduce him and to share with me what is included in his service. The information is as follows: Complimentary Pressing of Two Garments Per Person Upon Arrival Delivery of Afternoon Canapés and Cookies Delivery of Full, Hot Breakfast In-Suite or On Your Veranda In-Suite High Tea Service Assistance with Reservations for Toscana and Polo Grill Course by Course In-Suite Dining Assistance with Destination Services and Shore Excursions Assistance with Reservations for Mandara Spa Packing and Unpacking Service Assistance with Laundry and Dry Cleaning Private Ship Tour Complimentary Shoeshine Service Oceania Hosted Cocktail Reception for NACTA Members At 7:00pm Jeff Drew, James Rodriquez and Bob Bender hosted us to a lovely cocktail reception in the Horizons Lounge. We had an opportunity to mingle and discussed some of the plans for the week’s seminars as we enjoyed cruising out of the Port of Miami. I had dinner that evening with Jeff and James in the Grand Dining Room where we enjoyed a delicious dinner that was prepared beautifully. The presentation of the meals is really lovely. Day 2, Friday, December 10th 2004; Day at Sea I started the day with an early workout and run in the gym prior to our first Meeting and Presentation by the gentlemen with Oceania. The meeting took place in the Polo Grill, which of course is empty in the daytime. Coffee, tea, juice and pastries were awaiting the group and the presentation was done by Bob Binder and followed by Jeff Drew. They shared all the new and updated offerings for Oceania and really put us in the know to better assist our clients. The meeting ended at 11:00 am and most of the agents headed off to enjoy various activities taking place on the ship during the sea day. Such activities included, Pilates and yoga classes, bridge lessons, art auctions, trivia games, poolside music and many more great ways to spend the afternoon. A number of folks took advantage of the classes being taught in the Internet Café known as [email protected] They offer classes on Photo Shop, Word, Excel and many other great options. The instructors are a lovely couple that are very experienced and well versed in their fields. Many told me they look forward to attending more classes throughout the week. Tonight was the Captains Welcome Reception in the Regatta Lounge which was a nice event and the Captain Dimitrios Flokos is a very friendly and gregarious gentleman who shared some very interesting information with us about the upcoming cruise as well as some great jokes. Some of us decided to try out the Tapas on the Terrace for a more casual dinner venue. There were about nine of us and we had a table outside which was lovely. The Tapas option is a great one and personally one of my favorite eating venues on this ship. One can enjoy a delightful Caesar Salad personally prepared to your liking as well as many other options, which change nightly. Delicious food and very friendly waiters made this a great evening. Our group highly recommends the Sangria that is made fresh in the Tapas on the Terrace. The show, which took place in the Regatta Lounge, featured Mark Friedman, who is a pianist playing a variety of music types, which was enjoyed by all. Day 3, Saturday, December 11th 2004; Day at Sea This morning I met a number of our members in the gym for our early morning ritual, after which we enjoyed another great seminar presentation in the Polo Grill with our hosts from Oceania. Today we had a presentation by James Rodriquez on their new portal for agents and their special area designed just for agents who work from home. This was spectacular and everyone was anxious to start using these features when they return home. The second part of our seminar featured three department heads from the Regatta who shared the inner workings and responsibilities of their various teams. We were able to meet the General Manager Nicola Volpe and a representative from the Mandara Spa, the Shore Excursions department as well as the Chief Purser. It is so important to be able to better understand how these departments work and work so well to satisfy the guests. They are a great team and the result is simply a tremendous experience on Regatta. I applaud their efforts and their success at achieving such a great result with Oceania. The rest of the day was again an enjoyable and leisurely day at sea where everyone was able to just enjoy the spa treatments, some sunbathing or simply napping on the great beds here on the Regatta. This evening we met for a group picture in the Horizon’s Lounge and the photographers had quite a challenge with a group our size. They did a tremendous job as you can see below. The NACTA Regatta Group The picture was followed by dinner in both the Toscana and the Polo Grill hosted by Oceania. Half our group enjoyed Toscana and half enjoyed the Polo Grill. Toscana features a wide array and selection of delicious Italian offerings. It is difficult to decide so as you sit deciding you simply decide to come again and try what you may have missed. The Polo Grill is somewhat like a steak/seafood house with beautiful menus framed in leather and the restaurant offers a great atmosphere. Our hosts treated us to some wine, which we all loved and found later were from the Captains Special Reserve! We all appreciated this special attention. Dinner went well in to the night and some left for the show, which featured a comedian, and others just sat and enjoyed great conversation and good friends. Day 4, Sunday, December 13th 2004; Dominican Republic Today was our first Port of Call where we visited La Romana in the Dominican Republic. The island was discovered by Columbus in 1492 and was originally called Espanola. Columbus’ brother founded the first European city n the New World here and called it Santo Domingo. Today it is the capital of the Dominican Republic. The tender service began at about 8:30am and there were no lines or delays getting one’s ticket to tender and depart the ship for the day. The tender ride took about 10 minutes to arrive at the dock. The dock was actually a yacht harbor and part of the Casa de Campo area of La Dominica. It was a lovely dock with a nice array of beautiful shops and some lovely restaurants. A group of us decided to get a cab and head out to visit a few sites. Our drive took us though some of the residential areas of Casa de Campo where our driver Enoc (who spoke perfect English) shared with us that houses cost from about 2 million to perhaps 5 or more in the area. The homes were huge and the area was beautifully manicured and obviously very special. Our first stop was Altos de Chavon, which is a living replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village. It is so quaint and beautiful that honestly you did feel as if you were on a completely different continent when you walked the stone streets and viewed the sites. It overlooks the Chavon River and offers a variety of galleries, shops, restaurants and a museum all in the true décor of the setting. We were told that this area has been the site of many movie sets and as we peered at the river below Enoc told us that the river area had been a movie set for Rambo, Apocalypse Now, and several other action films. In the center of the village sits a beautiful chapel, which was not open to visit unfortunately. We did however learn that the well known Michael Jackson married Priscilla Presley there and that soon Sammy Sosa of baseball fame would be married at that site. Apparently Sammy Sosa was born very nearby at the neighboring city, San Pedro de Macoris. We headed back to the yacht harbor to drop some of the group who wanted to head back to the ship and three of us asked Enoc to take us to a great beach. He certainly did that as we drove about 30 minutes and arrived at a gorgeous white sand beach known as Dominiceus. It was an optional attire beach with a number of topless and yes totally nude bathers so just be aware. We had great fun and enjoyed a delicious lunch of sodas and Pringles while basking in the sun. Yes, there were restaurants beach side but we were just having a snack attack. The water was a perfect temperature and it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. The beach seemed to be frequented by both tourists and locals with hotels on either side of us. Enoc waited for us for two hours and then we headed back to the ship for the remainder of the afternoon. We paid $3.00 each roundtrip for the trip to Altos de Chavon and the trip to the beach with two hours of sunning was $45 for all three of us. We found this to be very reasonable and Enoc was a great guide. I had planned a surprise party for one of our great hosts Jeff Drew, as his birthday was the following day. Birthday Boy Jeff Drew He and the other Oceana sales and marketing team where disembarking to return to Miami on the 14th so we wanted to surprise him before he left. Surprise Birthday Party Group What a great group we have as everyone showed and we hid as best we could in the Horizon Lounge awaiting his arrival. My partner in crime James Rodriguez with Oceania told Jeff I needed to speak with him about a problem we had with one of the staff on the ship. Of course this was totally bogus and I think he was pretty nervous when he arrived. I met him at the door and headed around to the back of the lounge. I gave the string quartet the “Thumbs Up” and as he saw the group they played Happy Birthday for him. He was shocked and pleasantly so. Celebrating a Birthday Toast We gave him a gift of an Oceania shot glass with a shot of Whiskey and an Oceania shirt. The entire group had signed a card for him and we also gave him a copy of our group shot from the previous day. It was great fun and our way of thanking him for hosting the NACTA group with such style. The group headed off to dinner in various directions and all and all a great day on the Regatta and in La Romana. Day 5, Monday, December 13th 2004; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands This morning I had scheduled an optional seminar for the group in the Polo Grill. More than 30 early risers joined me to have a roundtable discussion about the cruise thus far as well as other industry trends that were taking place. All and all, it was a great exchange of information and enjoyed by all. We arrived in Virgin Gorda at 12:00pm where we anchored just outside of the harbor. I lucked out and was on the first tender with some other agents and we headed straight for the famed Baths. We hopped on an open-air shuttle and for $3.00 was taken to The Baths, which is only about 15, minutes away. It started to pour down rain as we arrived so we looked for shelter in the small shops that are at the top of the trail leading to The Baths. The rain was brief as is typical but it was certainly a strong downpour. We were pretty drenched but laughed and enjoyed the experience. The fee to go down the trail to the beach and The Baths is $3.00 as it is a National Reserve and the fee is used to keep the area beautiful and it certainly is that. We headed down the path, which was beautiful, but a bit challenging depending on one’s physical condition. I would recommend one wear tennis shoes to go down the path as one must walk on and through the rocks and stones to get to the beach. Once at the beach there is a refreshment and souvenir stand right on the beach. You can simply enjoy the beach which is truly spectacular or you might join the Survivor Club we dubbed ourselves and head into The Baths and the caves that lead to one of the prettiest coves and beaches I have seen in the Caribbean. Three ladies finding our way through the caves was truly great fun and we laughed at our antics and lack of coordination as we made our way through the maze. There are beautiful pools in the rocks and caves where several folks stopped to enjoy a swim. We were on a mission so we made our way to the end of the trail and happened on the beautiful beach there. I had left my snorkel at home so I just sat on the beach and enjoyed the ambiance. The ladies with me went snorkeling and said it was truly some of the finest snorkeling they had yet to experience in the Caribbean. It looked like rain was imminent so we decided to head back. Instead of taking the cave route we made a right at the fork in the path that said Car Park. Of course we had no idea where that might take us but as the rain started to pour down we figured it was worth a shot. Bad idea…. While it was a beautiful trail and without the strong downpour would have probably been a lovely walk, we were unable to look up to see it, as the rain was so strong. We again had some great times and will never forget our bad timing or wrong turn. Ultimately we did end up at the same place where the transfer had let us off which really gave us a chuckle. However, it took about 20 minutes longer than going through the caves. Lesson learned but we had great fun. I enjoyed the shops at the top of The Baths and then took the ride back to the harbor. There are several shops and quaint restaurants right at the dock to explore. There is a great dive shop where I indulged in a Virgin Gorda tee shirt since I felt like such a Survivor! Back to the ship and a lovely dinner with some agents in the Tapas on Deck 10. Day 6, Tuesday, December 14th 2004; Basseterre, St. Kitts Another beautiful day awaited us in St. Kitts. Coming in to the dock was really a beautiful site to behold. We docked at about 8:00am and after working in my cabin I ventured off the ship, as I wanted to try to get to Nevis, the sister island to St. Kitts as I had not yet been there. It was a Tuesday and I found that the ferry service to St. Kitts is limited on certain days so I had just missed the first ferry. So I made an executive decision to check out one of the beaches in order to do an in-depth beach review. I grabbed a cab for $10 with tip. It was only $8.00 each way but the driver was so informative that I wanted to thank him with a generous tip. It was a beautiful drive by some of the many sugar cane fields that run throughout the island. I opted for the closest beach as I had work to do back on the ship later in the day. There are several other beach choices such as Turtle Bay Beach, Cockleshell and Major’s Bay but I opted for South Frigate Bay. The beach was beautiful and my early arrival at about 10:00am made for some great pictures of a relatively vacant beach. There are several small bars, restaurants as well as various vendors who make their personal beach area and beach lounges available for a fee. I picked one of the most comfortable looking lounge chair areas and for $6.00 had a chair right on the water and an umbrella to boot. I spent about 3 hours there and simply reveled in the beauty and the tranquility of the islands ambiance. Several beach vendors are anxious to give you Aloe Vera Massages and to sell local crafts but I opted to read my book and simply enjoy the day. The beach became quite busy later in the day as the P & O Lines Oceana was in port with thousands of cruisers primarily from the U.K. I grabbed a taxi back to the town and did some picture taking and made some phone calls. I also found an Internet café in town, which was very reasonable. For 30 minutes it cost me about $3.00 US. It is easy to find and anyone from the ship’s staff can share directions with you as can the helpful tourist information booths right off the ship. This evening several of us enjoyed a delicious meal in Toscana. It is truly a tremendous restaurant with so many choices on the menu as well as daily specials that are available. We shared a great evening of food and wine and I headed off to my cabin for another long sleep on the great beds on Oceania! Day 7, Wednesday, December 15th 2004; Roseau, Dominica Dominica is well known for being the Nature Island of the Caribbean and it has truly earned that title. It is one of the most untouched islands I have visited in the Caribbean and was really a great experience. We docked at about 8:00am and some of us met at about 10:00am to make our way to discover some of the island pleasures and some beach/snorkel time. For $15.00 each we hired a driver and his guide to take us to some of the key sites on the island. Sherry was our guide and we all just loved her. As she stated, she knows everything there is to know about her island and I believe she does. At 24 she is well versed in the flora, culture and distinctive areas that her island showcases. Her pride and love of her island made everyone enjoy the day all that much more. We headed to the Botanical Gardens to see some of the very unique and beautiful flora and trees of Dominica. Then up the hill to the Trafalgar area to visit the rainforest and the famed waterfalls. There are 365 waterfalls in Dominica, which means one per day to enjoy! We left our van and paid a $2.00 fee to enter the rainforest. The walk was a beautiful experience and Sherry pointed out various creatures and plants along the way. There is a point where you get a tremendous view of the two waterfalls known as the “Mama” and the “Papa”. One is hot water and the other cold. The fall into pools that we made our way down to. One is, as you would suspect much like a warm hot tub and the other a cold pool. Definitely worth the trek down but not for all physical types so be aware. I also recommend tennis shoes for this day’s events. After we made our way back we visited some of the local ladies at the parking area as they sold their wares. There were also two stands to purchase cold drinks, beer or rum if one wished to do so. We were ready for the beach now so Sherry and the driver took us what is known as Champagne Beach for our next adventure. There was a $3.00 fee to enter and that included a guide named Thomas who escorted us down the hill and across about ½ mile of very stony terrain to arrive at the best snorkel spot. Again, we had some great laughs as none of us was quite prepared for the long walk on the very challenging stones. The motto of the day was “Don’t step on the wrong rock” meaning of course that several will move under your feet and leave you on your backside. We huffed and puffed from our big walk and enjoyed some great snorkeling and swimming in clear blue water that was a perfect temperature. We headed back to the ship and thanked Sherry with a nice tip for her great tour of “Her Island”. I made my way out later in the day and took pictures, made phone calls and then returned to the ship for a great workout in the gym and a wonderful dinner and great conversation in the Polo Grill with some NACTA Members. Day 8, Thursday, December 16th, 2004; Castries, St. Lucia We arrived in St. Lucia to a rather rainy morning with the benefit of the rain being a spectacular rainbow over the water from one side of St. Lucia to the other. It was a great way to start the day. Today was a not full of activities other than work as I had a great deal of emails and other work to catch up on. Seemed a rather rainy day would be a good one to make use of. It did clear and get quite warm off and on all day and I made my way off the ship to find an Internet café in town. One can walk in Castries but it is quite a jaunt and the off and on rain talked me out of that option. I took the yellow and white ferry that goes from Point Seraphine where we docked to Castries. The fare is $2.00 USD roundtrip and runs every 15 minutes. A great buy and a fun ride which takes you right to dock that is located directly in front of the duty free shops and the downtown area of Castries. I found a great internet café where the cost was about $2.00 for 30 minutes called Clickcom. I spent a few hours there catching up on my emails and work. The access was very fast and it was air-conditioned and a very comfortable café. I headed out to walk the downtown area and visited the Castries Market and the Vendors Arcade. There are open-air stalls in the Vendor’s Arcade and the Castries Market where they sell straw crafts, local produce and food, costume jewelry, T-shirts, hot sauces, honey and marmalade. I had hoped to get out to a beach but the rain and lack of time left in the day made that something I will have to do the next time I visit the beautiful island of St. Lucia. At about 4:00pm the Regatta featured a local Steel Drum Band poolside that was enjoyed by all. Just another great feature that Oceania offers to make the on board experience unique and special. We departed St. Lucia at about 6:00pm and the trip out of the harbor was a beautiful site to see. The lights from Castries made for a magical site to behold. This evening a new and very special show was featured in the Regatta Lounge entitled “Bookmarks, a musical journey in our time.” It stared Shani Raney, JR Lustig, Amanda Cason and Daniel Stone. It was a great show with an absolutely full house of guests enjoying the musical stroll down memory lane performed by very talented singers and dancers. Do not miss this show if you have the chance to see it. It is a must! Day 9, Friday, December 17th, 2004; St. Johns, Antigua We awoke to yet another beautiful and sunny day as we entered St. Johns, Antigua known as the island with 365 beaches. I think a year on this island visiting one beach a day would be great fun! Antigua is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean. It is the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands at about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide. The Nevis Pier where we docked is a charming area with a great variety of shops featuring local goods as well as some lovely clothes and other unique items. One could spend hours just roaming through the shops in this area. There are small restaurants and bars speckled through the shops as well. After leaving the ship I was able to find a great Internet Café right off the ship upstairs in one of the shopping complexes. I spent a few hours there at a whopping $2.00 US. Several other ships were docked at the same area and therefore the tourist population today was rather high. I had asked a representative from the Island where one might find a quiet beach with services such as food and facilities but close by. She recommends her favorite, Runaway Bay so that was my next destination. Runway Bay is about a 15-minute drive from St. Johns and was one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches I have seen in the Caribbean. I was there rather early so I had the beach almost to myself as the pictures show. The cab fare was $10 USD each way. Of course with more folks in the cab it would have been considerably less per person. I was traveling solo today. Bikini’s Bar and Restaurant is where the cab drops you. They have restroom facilities, showers and lounge chairs to use. The cost for a lounge chair with a palm umbrella and table was only $5.00USD. It was a very quiet and relaxing beach and one I highly recommend. Lunch was great and the service tremendous. My cab driver in the morning said he would come back to get me about 2:00PM and sure enough he was there right on time. He took me back to the Internet Café for more email time and then I returned to the ship. Tonight was dinner in the Toscana with some agents and again the food in this restaurant is consistently wonderful and the service terrific. Day 10, Saturday, December 18, 2004; St. Barths Upon arriving in St. Barths located in the French West Indies we tendered just outside of Gustavia Harbor. Looking out over St. Barths and the surrounding hills and the beautiful yachts in the harbor reminded me of Monte Carlo. There is no doubt that St. Barths is a popular stop for private yachts making their way through the Caribbean. The size and obvious expense of the yachts and what looked like “mini-cruise ships” was unbelievable. I am very fond of France and all other destinations that share the French culture and flavor. I loved St. Barths. The town of Gustavia right on the waters edge is not only charming but a great shopping venue as well. While items are relatively pricey and of course seemingly more so due to the Euro versus the dollar these days, the shopping was still a delight. Shops featured beautiful designer clothes and unique items and artists’ work making a stroll through the sunny streets of Gustavia a real joy. I made my way through town to Shell Beach, which is within easy walking distance of the tender drop. I stopped along the way to window shop and even then it only took about 20 minutes. Shell Beach, more appropriately named Petite Anse de Galet is just a gorgeous bay with clear blue water and an incredible abundance of shells. Optional sunbathing attire is the norm as it is at most beaches frequented by Europeans. The beach offers a nice restaurant and bar and all an all a must beach on my favorite beaches list. Just south of Shell Beach is Anse du Governeur and Anse de Grande Saline often proclaimed to be the most perfect beaches in the world. Sadly we had only a short day in St. Barths as we had to be back on the ship by 3:00pm. I found a wonderful market in town and purchased some great French wine and cheese for our group cocktail reception in my cabin tonight. I can only say that St. Barths is on my personal “Have to go back to” spots in the world. I loved it and hope to go spend a week there sometime. Once I found out it has surf that Andy and Tom would enjoy I knew selling this as a must go back to spot would not be difficult. My butler Eduard kindly prepared my penthouse cabin for our group Open House and Cocktail party which began at 5pm. Everyone enjoyed drinks and watching an absolutely breathtaking sunset from the suite. The group was invited to the cocktail reception hosted by Nicola Volpe the General Manager of the M/S Regatta for Oceania Club Members. It was a lovely event and folks went to dinner to the various venues after the cocktail hour. I decided to return the cabin and catch up on some work. The food on the Regatta is just spectacular and I have been overindulging. I felt one night without dinner would not kill me…. Sure did miss it though! Day 11, Sunday, December 19, 2004; Day at Sea It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on the Regatta! Last night while we all slept the crew decorated the ship with all of the trimmings. It looks beautiful and I have taken pictures of every tree I could find and there are so many. It truly put everyone in the Christmas spirit and it makes the ship look even more beautiful with all of the grand décor. Today we are headed back to Miami and are looking forward to two glorious sea days on this spectacular ship. Some of today’s activities on board included a presentation by Nicola Volpe the GM of the Regatta on their upcoming journeys and plans for itineraries and ships for Oceania. The Mandara Spa offered a variety of treatments and classes and the always popular Jackpot Bingo and Art Auction were big hits for the day. There were also classes offered on various topics in the Internet Café. These classes have been a real hit and many of our agents have enjoyed the instructors and their tremendous experience and knowledge. The sun shined all day with a perfect blend of fluffy clouds to cool down the sunbathers. It was a great day and a very relaxing one of all. I met with some folks in the Martini’s Lounge for pre-dinner discussion and to listen to the music of Maciek the pianist who so skillfully played for us all week. He is from Gadansk in Poland and is truly a master at his art. Some of us dined in the Polo Grill and enjoyed yet another sumptuous meal with the most terrific service performed by our personal favorites…. Waiter Luarentio Roncea, and Daniel Biacu his master assistant waiter. The majority of the group dubbed these two young and might I add very handsome men our favorites. Their tremendous sense of humor and expert style made our dining in Polo the best of experiences. I promised them a picture on this review so here they are…. If you travel on the Regatta you must ask for their table and say hi from the NACTA agents for us. After dinner we enjoyed a great performance in the Regatta Lounge staring Shani Raey, JR Lustig, Amanda Cason and Daniel Stone and featuring the Regatta Orchestra. The music was wonderful as was the dancing. These four performers are so talented that each time they are on the stage the room is full to overflowing. This evening’s performance ended with very special and heartfelt thoughts. They performed a series of songs for those in our military now serving and those in the room who had served. Each song they sang had the ladies and gentlemen who gave their service standing proudly. After which they brought on what looked to be the entire crew of the ship all the way to the great folks who work in the galley. They sang for us “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” which brought tears to many eyes and warm feelings to our hearts. This crew and its officers are really not to be compared with any other that I have experienced on a ship. They are like a family and treat you as if you too are part of their family. Day 11, Monday, December 20, 2004; Day at Sea Today is our last day on board the Regatta and it while most of us are anxious to get home for Christmas, we are not anxious to leave this new home we have moved into. We had a seminar this morning and then everyone went their ways to enjoy the ships services for the day. As with yesterday’s schedule there were a variety of classes, games, seminars offered throughout the day. Some great sale prices were also available on items in the gift store. Many enjoyed the Grand Finale Art Show and Auction as well. Many passengers have shared with me that these auctions are some of the best they have ever attended on ships. Tonight there will be a pre-dinner show entitled” 50’s & 60’s Stroll Down Memory Lane” followed by other evening cocktail and music enjoyment throughout the ship. Bags must be out by11:00pm and we will disembark the ship starting at 8:00am on December 21st.

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