Tag Archives: How-to-book-a-cruise

The Grand Staircase onboard Oceania Marina

An Introduction To Oceania Marina

Oceania Marina Specifications

  • Year Built: 2011 / Year Refurbished: 2016
  • Guest Capacity: 1,250 (Double Occupancy)
  • Crew: 800
  • Guest to Staff Ratio: 1.567 to 1
  • Guest Decks: 11 / Total Decks: 16
  • Electric Power or Voltage: 110, 220 AC
  • Cruising Speed: 20 knots
  • Stabilizers: Yes
  • Gross Tonnage: 66,084 / Length: 784.95 feet / Beam: 105.646 feet / Maximum Draught: 24 feet
  • Deck Plan

Oceania Marina is an ultra-luxury boutique cruise ship, which makes this a great ship to experience the destinations in more detail.  Besides you can enjoy the six-star experience onboard.

The magnificent interior. Staircases, mirrors and chandeliers are adorned with Lalique Crystal.

The artwork onboard consists of a four million dollar collection and includes six Picasso sketches.

One of the Picasso Sketches onboard Oceania Marina

Oceania Marina Accommodation

Every stateroom onboard Oceania Marina has a luxurious Prestige Tranquility Bed, dressed with 1,000-thread-count linens. The Owner’s Suites, Vista Suites and Oceania Suites have a King-size bed.  The other suites and staterooms have a queen-size bed, which can be converted into twin beds if required.
Other stateroom features include:
  • Refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water replenished daily
  • Bulgari amenities
  • Twice-daily maid service
  • Full-size bathtub in all staterooms except interior
  • Belgian chocolates with nightly turndown service
  • Complimentary and extensive 24-hour room service menu
  • A flat-screen television with DVD player and extensive media library
  • Wireless Internet access and cellular service
  • Writing desk and stationary
  • Plush cotton towels, robes and slippers
  • Handheld hairdryer
  • Security safe

A full-size bathtub, plush cotton towels and Bulgari amenities

The Oceania and Vista suites were designed by New York designer Dakota Jackson. Three luxurious Owners’ Suites span the entire beam of the ship and are located at the aft of decks 8, 9 and 10. Here you can enjoy stunning wake views, with furnishing from the Ralph Lauren Home Collection.

Owners Suite with Ralph Lauren Home Furnishings

Owners Suite with Ralph Lauren Home Furnishings

Oceania Marina Dining

Oceania Cruises are known as the ‘foodies’ cruise line, which is why twenty-five per cent of its ships’ staff work in the Galley. There is plenty of variety, with 14 dining options. The Main Dining room offers a six-course gourmet experience, in an opulent setting. Polo Grill serves a delicious assortment of steak, along with chops and range of seafood dishes. Toscana offers gourmet, Italian food. Guests can enjoy French country restaurant cuisine in Jaques, or bold, contemporary Asian flavours in Red Ginger. For a special occasion and something more intimate, Privée can host a private party of up to 10 people.
Dining options onboard Oceania Marina;
  • The Grand Dining Room
  • Polo Grill
  • Toscana
  • Jacques
  • Red Ginger
  • Tuscan Steak
  • Waves Grill
  • Terrace Cafe
  • La Reserve
  • Privée
  • Baristas
  • Afternoon Tea
  • Room Service

Jaques Restaurant onboard Oceania Marina. Menu by Master Chef Jaques Pépin

Red Ginger serves contemporary Asian Cuisine

Privée hosts a private party of up to 10 people

In partnership with Wine Spectator, La Reserve offers seminars, tasting and gourmet pairings

This introduction is to give you a brief overview of what you can enjoy onboard Oceania Marina. There are many other features on board too. These include a luxury spa, a culinary centre, and bars and lounges offering incredible sea views. In the meantime, more information on life onboard Oceania Marina can be found here Oceania Marina – Life Onboard

Recommended Reading

A Day Onboard The Elegant Oceania Nautica

Essential WAVE Season Survival Guide

What Is Wave Season?

It’s the time of year that the cruise industry goes into overdrive.  January and February (fondly referred to as ‘Wave’ Season, are the biggest booking months of the year. Many cruise lines and cruise agencies impose a holiday embargo on their staff during this period as they want all hands on deck. Why? Because what happens in these two months, will have a huge impact on the sales strategy for the rest of the year.

How Does Wave Season Work?

It’s no surprise that the objective of any cruise line is to sell every cabin on every sailing at full price right? So, that is the aim of Wave Season. Here are the 4 key steps to ensuring its success.

1. Cruise lines create a sales strategy otherwise known as a Wave Campaign. This consists of booking incentives for customers and sales incentives for travel agents.

2. Travel Agents are bombarded with information daily if not hourly, about the offers and deals from cruise lines and seduced by irresistible booking incentives. These are very generous and vary greatly from cruise line to cruise line. Some offer between £20-£100 per booking on a pre-paid MasterCard (in addition to the usual commission). Others will tempt agents with the opportunity to win free cruises, or gain access to special events. Or they might be in with a chance of getting the latest Apple device, concert tickets, shop vouchers and more.

3. Direct and electronic mail is sent out by cruise lines and travel agencies, to coincide with tv, radio, newspaper and social media adverts. With a multi-channel approach, they inevitably generate enquiries from potential customers.

4. The result is, the customer is prompted to call a travel agent or cruise line as they have seen an offer that they like, the agent is looking to get that incentive so does everything in their power to turn that enquiry into a booking with them. The customer gets a great deal on their cruise, the travel agent gets the incentive and the cruise line has one less cabin to sell. Win, win, win. Or is it?

Is It Best To Book In Wave Season?

When is the best time to book a cruise? This has to be the most frequently asked question other than Should I prepay gratuities? I can only give you my opinion on this, based on my 10 years experience as a cruise agent.

The answer is YES if;

There is only one particular cruise you want to go on.

You are travelling in peak seasons such as school holidays or Christmas.

You MUST have a particular cabin type; i.e non obstructed, accessible, midship. (See Can My Cruise Cabin or Flight Change Without My Knowledge?)

You want to guarantee the flight cost and know the cruise line will look after you if there are any issues with the flights.

You want to have as much included in the price as possible, such as drinks, parking etc.

Your party wants to dine at a specific time.

The answer is NO if;

You want the cheapest cruise fare no matter what.

You are happy to book a guarantee cabin. (See What Is A Guarantee Cabin)

You don’t mind what time you dine in the main dining room.

You can go last minute.

If you don’t drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day (on a cruise that is).

What Happens After Wave?

The honest answer to this question is that no-one really knows. I imagine a handful of top executives have plans in place depending on the outcome of Wave, but the travel agent (see Who Should I Book My Cruise With) that you speak to has no idea what is coming until the day it arrives. The top cruise agencies and cruise line staff may be told one or two days in advance about an offer at best, but the truth of it is, the next offer will depend on how many cabins have already been filled.

Here Is My Advice To Booking A Cruise

I believe there are two things to think about before you make your final decision to book your cruise. Firstly, if you can’t make your mind up between Cruise A or Cruise B, I always suggest imagining that both cruises are free. Then you can find out which one you REALLY want. I believe it is worth paying a little bit extra for the cruise that you want, rather than comprising your total satisfaction for the sake of saving money.

Secondly, you may have decided on which cruise you would like, but think it will be better to hold off to see what happens with the prices. Before you decide to put yourself through months of checking prices, the stress of waiting to see if it will go down in price, and hoping there will still be availability, think about the fact that you could get the booking done and then relax in the knowledge that you are going on a cruise.

My Advice to Cruise Agents

If you give your best to your customers, the rest will follow. Don’t be distracted with the carrot of a freebie or the temptation to feed your ego and be at the top of the sales chart. Think about your relationship with your customers. If you can gain a trusting relationship with one customer, they will be yours for life. Not only that but they will tell their friends about you. In the long run, you will have a solid business which you can take with you anywhere. This will give you value as an employee and longevity in the business, as well as respect within the industry and amongst your customers. Reputation is key.

Cruise People – Family Cruising – The Bruce-Low’s

Family Cruising – Happy Kids Means Happy Parents

Iain Bruce-Low and his partner Anne-Marie own an award-winning hair salon in the scenic Scottish seaside town of Oban. With their three lovely children, they find family cruising is the perfect solution to meet their needs.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

It was a Western Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Royal Caribbean onboard Adventure of the Seas.

What made you decide to book your first cruise?

Having 3 children all different ages 15, 12 and 3, we wanted to find a holiday that had something to keep everyone happy.

The Bruce-Low Family

What did you like about your first cruise?

The quality, the service and the number of things to do for everyone.

What is the best cruise you have been on, and why?

We cruised on Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and the ship is incredible!  It is so modern and new, with a lot more dining options, much more our style. There were an incredible amount of things for the kids to do, they were never bored!

The Bruce-Low’s prefer the larger cruise ships

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

I love the freedom and choices, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. It is by far the most you can ever do on holiday as well as being the most relaxing holiday you’ll ever have.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

For me, it’s about the ship. It has to be a good enough size, we have learnt the bigger the better. Smaller ships tend to get more overcrowded where bigger ships people spread out more. Having plenty for the kids means they are happy – meaning we are even happier.

So much to do for families. Anthem of the Sea’s North Star takes you high above the ocean waves.

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

We go to the Champagne Bar to pick up a drink, then go off exploring.

What was your last cruise? What did you like/dislike about it?

It was a Venice and Greek Isle cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas. As it was out of season, we found it was more family cruising for adults and their parents, rather than small children. Also, the ship was probably too small for our liking. However, the smaller ship did allow us to explore a new area of the world, which we loved.

What would be your dream cruise if you could create your own? 

For me, it would be from Greenock/Glasgow and all around the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and on to Dubai and Asia.  At least a couple of months, please?

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

I would always recommend staying the night before the cruise, in a hotel nearby. It takes out the stress of arriving at the same time as everyone else. Also, you can tip the members of staff directly when you are onboard, then you don’t have to prepay gratuities.

Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

Eat drink as much as you want and remember there is a gym, although I’ve still not seen it.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

I’ve heard it all before and best thing I could say is book it because you’ll never know until you try it.

For more information on Bruce-Low-Hair Boutique visit their website brucelowhair.co.uk

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Recommended Reading Independence of the Seas – The Best Cruise Of My Life

Cruise People – Ladies Who Lunch

Donna Stoneman Shares Personal Cruise Experiences and Valuable Tips

Although the Surrey mum of three, Donna Stoneman does not confess to be one of the Ladies Who Lunch, ironically the day I asked for her consent to use the title, she had just been to lunch with some friends! As someone who has cruised many times with different cruise lines to all sorts of destinations, Donna gives great insight to anyone who wants to book a cruise but doesn’t know where to begin.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

It was an Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Christmas 2008 on the Independence of the Seas.

Onboard Independence of the Seas for New Years Eve

What made you book your first cruise?

It was something we’d wanted to try after a friend told us what a great time they’d had. We went with my three children and mother and father in law. We left on Boxing Day and flew to Miami. It was lovely to have some winter sun and we had a fantastic New Years Eve onboard.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

With three generations holidaying together, trying to keep everybody happy can be quite tricky. However, the ship gave us all independent space to do what we wanted and we weren’t in each other’s pockets. The children were really happy with all the activities organised by Royal Caribbean, and the grandparents were happy to have us all together at dinner. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about our first cruise, the Independence of the Seas was a new ship at the time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.

What is was your favourite cruise so far, and why?

Sailing from Venice around the Adriatic on Oceania Riviera in 2012. The ship was beautiful, we met lots of lovely people and the itinerary was fab. It was very port intensive but the ship was slightly smaller so we were able to dock in some lovely ports. The Adriatic coast is stunning and sailing into Montenegro is breathtaking.

Donna plays shuffleboard as they sailaway from Santorini on Oceania Riviera

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
I’ve taken a lot of cruises as a single mum with kids. I always felt safe onboard on my own and, as you know, keeping kids entertained on your own is hard work – especially when you have such a wide age gap like mine. The kids were always happy and safe, which allowed me to have a relaxing time. 
One of the great things about cruising with Royal Caribbean is that their loyalty scheme recognises the credits for cruises the children have taken as youngsters. That stays with them for life.

I love the fact that you see several places without having to constantly pack, check in/out and the travelling is done when you’re asleep. We like to hire motorbikes which allows us to get around quickly. It’s lovely to come back to the air conditioned comfort of your cabin after exploring. Also, it’s great to dress up and have a fab evening, while someone else is taking the strain of getting you to your next destination.

Sailing away from the Hubbard Glacier onboard Celebrity Infinity.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

As life progresses, what we look for in a cruise changes. When the children were young it was about keeping them happy with bigger ships and full on entertainment. Now we prefer a bit more luxury and are highly influenced by the itinerary. We’ve done the Med so many times it’s not appealing anymore. We’ve tried several cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Oceania Cruises and they all offer something different. We still haven’t found our perfect line so will just have to keep trying.

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

I’d like to do a South American Cruise and a Polynesian cruise

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

Head to the bar! Explore the ship.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?

In July, We repeated our cruise from Venice down the Adriatic ending in Athens. Whilst the food was exceptional, we thought that the Riviera had lost a bit of its sparkle for us. There was also a lack of entertainment which spoilt it somewhat. It was full of Americans who are very keen to tour and the itinerary was port intensive so people went to bed early . This was quite an expensive cruise for us and we didn’t think it was value for money. We’d like to find a line which affords us some luxury with good food but also entertainment at night.

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

We are going on Norwegian Getaway in November and will be sailing to Mexico and Honduras which we’ve not been to before. Entertainment is fab on NCL and we love Howl at the Moon.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

I’ve been on some big ships but never felt crowded or herded.

Donna and Gary on a Mediterranean cruise onboard Norwegian Getaway in the Haven.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

Upgrades – We don’t always spend a lot upgrading cabins. Sometimes its worth the price difference but I wouldn’t spend a lot upgrading if the only benefit is a larger cabin. Check which benefits are included with any upgrade and only pay extra if those benefits are worth it to you.

Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line is quite expensive but our cabin was no bigger. The main benefit was a butler we never saw, a seperate restaurant that we didn’t actually eat in and access to posh beach club, which we discovered we could have bought passes for without the need to upgrade to Haven.

I have been in a Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean. Benefits include access to the Concierge Lounge (which was a windowless room on Independence of the Seas that you didn’t want to spend much time in), but the best benefit for me was the separate sun bathing deck which negated the need to reserve a sun lounger at dawn.

We took Concierge the first time we sailed on Oceania but there was no main benefit to the extra price. So this time we had a basic cabin, but it had a huge balcony which to us was more important than a concierge we didn’t actually see.

On Celebrity we had an Aqua Class room but didn’t use the spa facilities so that wasn’t worth it. We ate in Blu once, which is the clean eating restaurant dedicated for Aqua Class guests, but next time we will use the price difference to buy a dining package.

Research – I use the internet to help me choose my cabin. I try to workout which side of the ship will get more sun in the first instance. I also dont want to be under an overhang from the deck above which are on some ships. We sailed on Regal Princess and discovered that two mini suites had balconies which extended over half of the bridge below and could have held a party of 50. It was fabulous. My bug bare is to be opposite a service door. Unfortunately deck plans don’t show their locations but to be on the safe side I only choose cabins with interiors opposite.

Loyalty – Some loyalty schemes are better than others. I’m now Diamond Plus with Royal Caribbean, and this affords me lots of benefits. I think they are one of the better loyalty schemes.

Fly/Cruise – If organising our own flights I feel safer to fly the day before – just to make sure I’m there in plenty of time. I took the children on a two week cruise on the Explorer in Christmas 2010 which sailed from New York. I thought it was silly to fly to New York City and not see any of it,  so we stayed for three nights before the cruise. When we eventually embarked it appeared that half the ship had missed flights because Heathrow was closed due to snow. The next dock they could embark was Barbados which was 5 days into the cruise.

Golden Gate Bridge – Donna enjoying her balcony onboard Celebrity Century.

It is a good idea to combine the flights and cruise with the same travel company and then it is their responsibility to get you on the ship. Sometimes, though, this can be expensive. I took the whole family (6 of us) on a Baltic cruise and the transfer from Copenhagen airport to the ship was £300 and it was only a 20/25 min journey. Not taking the transfer however would have broken the continuity and put the responsibility on us to getting to the ship in time. As we were flying in that morning I felt I had the choice of either pay the transfer or fly in the night before and put us all up in a hotel.

Gratuities/Tips – When we sailed on Seabourn I liked the fact that tips were not required or expected. With free style dining now you don’t have the same relationships with waiting staff that you used to when it was traditional dining.

Drinking Age – If you are travelling with 18 – 20 year olds, check drinking ages for each cruise line in advance as each one is different. I took two 20 year olds on a Baltic cruise with Princess and they weren’t allowed to drink. If we had sailed Royal Caribbean they could have done as their criteria is the drinking age of the country of departure ( which means its 21 if sailing form the states but 18 if Europe)

What would you say to someone who is considering booking their first cruise?

Try it – you’ll never look back!

After a day of rib riding in Oslo, Donna enjoys a sailaway drink on her mini suite balcony onboard Royal Princess.

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