We have sailed with Oceania on the Nautica three times before, and two of those times were for a month each. It is without doubt our favourite cruise line.
As we approach the ship it feels like coming home. We are late boarding after our day in Barcelona , and there are no lines. We are greeted by Sudaya, a lovely young woman for Thailand, who flings her arms around us and kisses us on both cheeks. It has been over two years since we sailed on the ship but she remembers us well and tells us she is thrilled to have us back.
Now THAT’S sort of fabulous!
The ship looks wonderful, and our cabin is spotless with not a scratch or scuff mark to be seen.(We later learn that we are the first people on board following a one week refurbishment). The bed is full size and extraordinarily comfortable, the sofa has arms and can seat two, the balcony has a teak floor and there is a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us in the cabin. Our cabin attendant introduces herself and fusses around us making sure we are comfortable. Celebrity went out of their way to give us a good time – but this is how we like to sail.
Before I continue I should point out some of the other differences between Oceania and Celebrity, always remembering that Oceania is a different price bracket from Celebrity, which I think makes it remarkable that in some respects Celebrity wins out
1.Celebrity welcomed us on board with a glass of champagne. Oceania did not
2.Celebrity leaves wine glasses in our stateroom for our use, Oceania does not
3.Celebrity brings a small tray of hors d’oeuvres to our stateroom before dinner. Oceania does not.
4.Celebrity keeps a bowl of fresh fruit in our room. Oceania does not
On the other hand
5.Celebrity charges for all soft drinks, Oceania does not
6.Celebrity charges for specialty coffee drinks (capuccinos etc ) Oceania does not
7.Celebrity Charges $35 per person to dine at their Specialty Restaurant. Oceania does not.
8.Oceania supplies soft drinks and water in the mini bar at no charge. Celebrity does not…..
9.Oceania presents you with a bottle of cold water every time you leave the ship. Celebrity has them for sale.
10.Oceania has a bigger and more comfortable stateroom
11.BUT Celebrity has a larger bathroom, better shower and more storage than Oceania.
12.Celebrity has 1800 passengers, Oceania 684
13.Consequently Celebrity can offer much better entertainment. Oceania’s shows are poor.
14.Oceania has 400 staff to look after the 684 passengers, and it shows. There is a huge difference in how we are looked after on Oceania. The staff is better trained and more friendly on Oceania.
15.But the main difference is in the quality of the food. Oceania is streaks ahead in their restaurants, the quality of their food and the presentation . Dinners are served on outrageous Versace China.
NOW THAT IS FABULOUS!!!!!!
OK, dear readers, let’s get back to fabulous! The first evening we are booked into one of Oceania’a Specialty restaurants. The Sommelier remembers us from two years ago, although we don’t remember him. The meal is wonderful but we are seated next to two couples from Boca Raton, who are a little frightening. They immediately try to draw us into their conversation while summing up whether we are worth knowing. Our eyes are drawn to one of the wives, a little as they might be to a road accident. The skin on her face is so tight it is translucent and a ghostly white colour, with the bones shining through. Any dramatic facial expression would completely rip her skin asunder. By contrast, her body is slim and tanned from the sun, and does not appear to belong to the face. To make it even more unnatural there is a perfectly straight line underneath her chin where the color goes from brown to white. Her hair is dyed an striking dark brown, which accentuates the white face. It is cut in a Louise Brooks style, which dates her, me and all of you who recognize the look. Her nails are painted shocking pink which clashes terribly with her deep red dress. As my mother would say, “breeding will out”. All the money spent on the expensive clothes, the endless surgeries, the glittering jewelery , the on-board suite, the daily visits to the spa, all that is undone by one simple gesture, when she picks up the lamb chop in her fingers and gnaws on the bone. They may be deciding whether we are worth knowing, but we made our decision instantly.
Her husband is as expensively groomed as she is. A small man in stature, but much larger in presence. He is wearing an impeccably tailored jacket over an open necked pale blue shirt with initials embroidered on the pocket. A flash of cuffs reveals gold cufflinks in the shape of the same initials. Very useful on those embarrassing occasions when you can’t remember your name. He speaks in a soft raspy voice that makes him sound like Don Corleone, and causes the listener to lean in close to hear what he is saying. Whether it is practiced or real, it gives him a menacing air, despite his charming smile.
The other wife is small but with puffed out cheeks like a chipmunk, which comes in useful for storing food, and indeed she seems to chew the cud for hours, without actually putting much in her mouth. She has large round sunglasses with the Chanel logo on the arm that mimic the shape of her cheek. Her hair is tucked under a small jaunty cap that makes her look a little like a jockey. The horse that she is intent on riding to the finish line is a large florid man, with a mass of unruly grey hair. He hardly says a word all evening because he is too busy eating. The only break in the intake of food is caused by bouts of coughing seemingly caused by an excess of phlegm. It is extremely unpleasant to listen to, but no doubt the wife puts up with it because it signals the finish line might not be too far away.
The two women order lobster and the two men have filet mignon. All four complain loudly about their food. Every time they have a new complaint the women just snap their fingers at the Maitre D’,t otally ignoring the waiter as if he is beneath their consideration. Don Corleone then voices the complaint, forcing the Maitre D’ to bend down so that his ear is near to Don Corleone’s mouth. I was concerned for the safety of the Maitre D’, as it seems that he is now in danger of having his ear bitten off, or his neck strangled.
We know there are going to be fun people on board. We just hope we find them before we are forced to spend more time with the Boca Raton Mafia.
Our fellow passengers are indeed a very different lot from Celebrity. We are clearly surrounded by more money though, as we have just experienced, this doesn’t necessarily mean more fabulous. But it certainly means more glitter, more jewelry and more makeup. It seems as if most of the passengers on this particular cruise are from Florida. What is it about Florida?. The retired population of that state are often scary to look at, ferociously social, and permanently dissatisfied with everything around them except themselves. They are demanding and loud.
To highlight the point, we came across the two lovely ladies pictured below at our first breakfast where, just like the Boca Raton Mafia, they demanded in a very loud voice to be looked after by the Maitre D. The charming waiters in their little white jackets were just not good enough for them.