Oceania Regatta
14 Day Northern Europe -  Baltic
July 20 2005 - August 3 2005
By TerryT

DATE PORT

ARR

DEP

July 20, 2005

Dover, England

 

10 PM

July 21 - Thursday

Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium

8:00AM

6:00PM

July 22 - Friday

Amsterdam, Netherlands

8:00AM

5:00PM

July 23 - Saturday

Kiel Canal , Germany

 

 

July 24 - Sunday

Berlin (Rostock), Germany

6:00AM

10:00PM

July 25 -Monday

Copenhagen, Denmark

8:00AM

6:00PM

July 26 - Tuesday

Gdansk, Poland

12:00PM

8:00PM

July 27- Wednesday

At Sea, International Waters

 

 

July 28 - Thursday

Helsinki, Finland

8:00AM

6:00PM

July 29 - Friday

St. Petersburg, Russia

8:00AM

 

July 30 - Saturday

St. Petersburg, Russia

 

 

July 31 - Sunday

St. Petersburg, Russia

 

6:00PM

August 1 - Monday

Tallinn, Estonia

8:00AM

6:00PM

August 2 - Tuesday

Stockholm, Sweden

9:00AM

 

August 3 - Wednesday

Stockholm, Sweden

 

 

This was our fifth cruise, our first European cruise and our first Oceania cruise. We flew from Seattle on British Air to London (8 hours, 15 minutes) and spent a few days with friends before boarding the Regatta. The ship was a described in the brochure - Country Club Casual. This was one of the appealing things about the ship - no formal wear! At dinner, they request you wear what you would wear to a nice restaurant. People did look nice at dinner and though I did see a few sport jackets, I never saw a tie. This is also a non-smoking ship - something else we found appealing.  You may smoke in one spot on a deck off the rear of the ship and in one teeny part of one of the lounges - no smoking in your room or even on your own balcony. Most of the passengers were 65+ in age and most were American. With only 600 passengers and since it was a two-week cruise, we did get to know quite a few people.

Embarkation: We arrived around 2 pm to the dock in Dover. Our friend dropped us off, we walked to the check-in counter (in a tent) and were in our room in less than five minutes after arriving. Later that evening, I went down and gave them a credit card for incidentals and room charges. I have no idea why this wasn’t asked for when we checked-in.

The ship: We loved the ship. The Regatta is beautiful, spotlessly clean, comfortable and easy to find your way around. We have sailed on a few of the mega-ships, and sometimes one could get lost!


The Regatta in port in Copenhagen


Pool

 
Grand Dining Room Bar and Grand Dining Room

Our stateroom was nice. We had ample closet and drawer space for a two week cruise. The bathroom was pretty cozy – only one person can be in there at once, but again – plenty of shelf space for your toiletries. The ship has nice towels, deluxe shampoos, etc. and our bathroom had two hairdryers, a shower with good water pressure and no problem with hot water. Our stateroom had two bathrobes with slippers, a mini-fridge, ice bucket, safe, desk/vanity, love seat and small coffee table. On the patio we had two nice chairs and a small table. The television had the ships web-cam, tour info and the usual in-house information. Other stations were CNN and BBC World and for some reason they showed a Lifetime movie 24 hours a day, US sit-com reruns and they showed first-run movies (most we hadn’t even seen yet). There are also hundreds of movies to borrow (free) to play on your in-room DVD player. Our cabin stewards were great – seeming to somehow get into our room and fluff our pillows and fold the toilet paper end into a triangle every time we left.

 
Stateroom 7084 – with balcony

Dining: We give the Regatta very high marks for food. It was some of the best cuisine we have experience on a cruise ship. We give the Regatta very bad marks for their reservation system, however. The ship has two specialty restaurants which you can dine in if you make a reservation. Unless you are staying in a suite and your butler can make your reservations, you must queue after boarding to reserve.  I stood in line for 90 minutes.  I think that is ridiculous. There must be a better way. Oceania needs to work on this. Otherwise, it is free-style dining in the Grand Dining Room or casual buffet in the Terrace/Tapas Café. The two restaurants where you may reserve a table are the Polo Grill Steakhouse and an Italian restaurant called Toscana.

We usually dined in the Grand Dining Room and found the service and food very good.  There were usually four of more choices in the soup, salad and appetizer categories and six or more entrees each evening – different menus nightly, of course.  Always available were three dishes by Jacques Pepin – a steak, a roast chicken dish and salmon. Over the two weeks, we tried them all and decided the roast chicken was our favorite. We usually asked for a table to share and met many nice people (usually couples from Florida!). If you ask for a table for two, it is the same as sharing as the tables-for-two are just a few inches apart from one another – and we usually end in conversation anyway!  Toscana was also nice and the most popular restaurant on the ship. We ate here twice and had very traditional Italian meals which we enjoyed very much. Highly recommended.  We only dined in the Polo Grill once – and I had an absolutely perfectly cooked New York steak. Again, the service was flawless. The Regatta has a very good wine list, but expect to pay about 20% over what you would pay at a restaurant at home.  A cocktail (gin & tonic) is nearly $7. If you do not finish your bottle of wine, you can take it back to your room or they will hold it for you until you want it again. Oceania allows you to bring your own alcohol on board, but kindly request that you drink your own stuff in your room, not in the public areas.  Fair enough. However, if you bring a bottle of your own wine to the dining room, they charge an outrageous $20 corkage. For a quick coffee or breakfast before leaving the ship in the morning, the Terrace Café was fine. The usual selection of breakfast items – eggs, breakfast meats, omelets – and an omelet chef – breads, rolls and fabulous pastries, fresh and poached fruits, juice and cereals. Coffee and juice is served to your table and passengers choose their own foods from the buffet – but the food is served from the buffet line, no self-service. Incredible ice creams and espresso drinks are also served at the Terrace Cafe.

In the evening the Terrace Café transforms itself into Tapas. We only dined here once – after coming back very late, very tired and very hungry from a day in Berlin – and found the same system as they use for breakfast – but with dinner foods.  Each evening Tapas has a theme – Italian, Spanish, Asian, Fish, whatever. In Tapas, it is possible to dine out of doors on a huge deck overlooking the back of the ship. Between 4 and 5 pm, a proper English tea is served in the Horizon Lounge. Don’t miss it. Other dining options are a small hamburger grill and 24-hour room service.  You won’t starve.

Lounges: There is a large lounge overlooking the front of the ship, the Horizon Lounge and Martini Bar on the dining and entertainment deck.  Outside the Grand Dining Room there is a nice lounge to have a drink before dinner.  The ship claims to have a bar in the Polo Grill and Toscana, but two bar stools in front of the service bar does not a bar make. The Regatta Lounge is the show room/theater.  Drinks are served around show times. There is a bar at the pool, but the only day I ever saw it open was our day at sea, which happily coincided with the only day we had decent weather!

Entertainment: Miserable. We tried to go to the shows, but they were so-so performers singing Broadway show tunes and popular songs. We did not care for the singers and especially did not enjoy their boring banter. The piano player, Tonee Valentine was quite enjoyable and we liked to listen to him in the Martini Bar. Dr. Stewart Nelson, enrichment lecturer and man-about-town, was on-board. His talks were very entertaining and he accompanied us on several of our tours and we found him to be very funny, intelligent, well-traveled and an all-around likable guy.  There were all sorts of games (trivia, bingo) and card games – not to mention a very lively casino – but we did not partake. The library on the ship is quite large and I noticed many of latest best-sellers and recent magazines on the shelves.

Internet: Oceania@Sea sucks. Absolutely over-the-top expensive and most unreliable!  We paid a $25 surcharge to have internet access in our room (wanted to use my computer to update my website, etc.) and we bought a 200 minute package for and additional $140. After you logged on, there was no way to know if you had internet access until you tried to get your email or load a webpage. This would use 4 or 5 minutes of your time – for nothing. They claim 56k service, but I never experienced speeds this fast. In the end, I used my cell phone as a modem – double the speed for 99 cents per minute as opposed to their turtle-speed at 70 cents per minute – and vow to get my money back from Oceania for this useless venture. There were few times when I did not have cell service on this cruise. (NOTE: you must contact your service provider to arrange for overseas cellular service and you must have a tri- or quad-band phone.)  There are about 20 computers in the computer labs and there always seemed to be a vacant spot. Be aware that when in port, local authorities often restrict the Regatta from using their internet service – and at other times, it just doesn’t work! To me, this was very frustrating – but I know most people don’t even want to think about email/work while they are on vacation.

Itinerary: Fabulous.  One day does not really give you enough time to explore most cities (except Tallinn) but the three days in St. Petersburg were the highlight of our trip. Also, transiting the Kiel Canal was an incredible experience.  If we were far from a port, we would take a ship-organized tour - but often we just went into town on our own.  I speak German, so this helped quite a bit on this itinerary.  Our guides were good and we feel we received a good value for most of our tours. WARNING: in Gdansk, 7 cruisers were pick-pocketed in town.

Most of the countries accepted Euros, which were easy to obtain via ATM.  The ship did not always provide a very good exchange rate, but you could take addressed postcards to the reception desk and they would post them - no matter to where - for $1 each.  I found this service to be quite nice.

Disembarkation:  Again, painless.  We were "on our own". We were flying from Stockholm to Helsinki for the 2005 World Track & Field Championships (another review altogether!). Our bags were waiting outside on the dock, there was a line of taxi's and we were on our way to the airport 10 minutes after leaving our stateroom. Very organized.  Most flights to the US leave extremely early in the morning - but the ship seemed prepared with extra-early hours in the Terrace Cafe and plenty of buses to the airport on disembarkation day.

Overall we felt Oceania to be a very good line and are interested in sailing with them again. Great itinerary, great ship and great food.  If you have any questions, please email me

Terry50