I have had sort of a Love/Hate relationship with Oceania Cruises. I love the itineraries (some of the best around), the newer ships, the culinary focus, the overall quality of the cruise, and the country club casual approach.
In fact, one thing that has always baffled me is how, once the cruise starts, Oceania (NCLH’s premium brand) seems to outperform Regent Seven Seas (NCLH’s luxury brand) on itineraries, cuisine, and overall satisfaction as expressed by my clients and many others.
What I have struggled with are the “Let’s Make a Deal” offers to downgrade or move off of a cruise my clients booked, the inability to simply have a near all-inclusive experience, and the lack of customer service at a level that I believe a premium cruise line should be providing.
As Goldring Travel has significantly increased the breadth of our expertise…and sales!…in the luxury and upper premium markets (as well as expeditions), a mutual desire to expand our relationship with Oceania Cruises has arisen. And with that, those words I hear frequently were said: “We have to get you on our ships!“
Oceania’s desire is that I sail on either the new Vista or the newly refurbished (2022) Riviera. Between the sailings with the best of those wonderful itineraries being highly booked, my desire to avoid a short Caribbean cruise at all costs, and my already busy schedule, we finally settled on a fascinating Riviera sailing on March 20, 2024, Roundtrip Yokohama, sort of circumnavigating Japan. (As I mentioned, Oceania’s strongest itineraries sell out, and that is the case with this cruise…and it is a year away!)
This cruise affords me a few important features that matter:
Oceania’s Riviera is a mid-sized, upper-premium, ship, carrying 1,238 guests with a 1.56 guest-to-crew ratio. She is 785 feet long and 66,084 gross tons (a measure of volume, not weight). By way of comparison, the new luxury Explora Journey’s Explora I is about the same volume at 63,900 gross tons, carrying 900 guests (about 30% less) with a 1:1.25 crew-to-guest ratio. Oceania’s sister cruise line, Regent Seven Seas Grandeur, launching later this year, is slightly smaller at 735 feet and 55,5498 gross tons carrying 750 guests.
Clearly, how Oceania delivers service and cuisine will be at the forefront of my thoughts, acknowledging that Oceania attends to a variety of guests, and is not an “all-inclusive” product, though packages and add-ons can get you pretty close, as discussed below. (One thing I hear from some luxury lines is that their guests are “like-minded”. While I don’t buy into that theory, where – as with Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, etc. – the ship has everything from inside staterooms to large suites, there will be some commonality, but definitely not like-mindedness.)
Riveria staterooms are a mix of inside 174 sq ft), oceanview (240 sq ft), and veranda staterooms (291 sq ft), penthouses (440 sq ft), and premium suites (Oceania, Vista, and Owner’s).
I will be sailing in a B3 Veranda Stateroom, which has a Tranquility bed, marble/granite bathroom with a single sink and large walk-in shower (Bulgari amenities), a small desk area, a single closet with hanging space and drawers, as well as mini-fridge stocked with complimentary soft drinks. The veranda has two comfortable chairs and an occasional table.
Internet is included on Oceania, but you can upgrade to Streaming for $9.99 per day, add a second login for $24.99 per day, or $34.98 with streaming. If you need to attend Zoom meetings or make VOIP calls, the streaming upgrade can be a real plus. I will see how it works…at least while in Japan.
There are four Bars and one larger Lounge onboard. While soft drinks are included, Spirits and Wines are offered in three different ways, including two Beverage Packages:
If you purchase one of the packages you receive a 20% discount on the La Reserve wine pairing dinners. (More on that below.)
Adding the Prestige Select package to my cruise costs $839.40, which considering the average price of a glass of wine or cocktail on Oceania, around $12, would seem to be the way to go for most. Honestly, I don’t understand the value of the House Select package unless you are a significant drinker at lunch and dinner…and only then.
I will be taking more Shore Excursions than normal for a couple of reasons. First, I want to experience the quality of Oceania’s tours and, being that it is Japan and I know from my prior travels that English is not spoken by many and logistics can be challenging, so it is the most judicious way to travel. I am sure I will find a few private guides and do some wandering as well!
Interestingly, Oceania offers tours in three different ways on this sailing:
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