When we checked in at the San Francisco ship terminal for 18 nights on our first Oceania cruise, we had high expectations - and we weren't disappointed. We liked almost everything about the Marina: the furnishings, art work, fittings, attentive and friendly service, and, of course, the food. Oh, there were some small shortcomings, like the small shower and the small bathtub (we thought that combining the two into a larger shower with a place to sit down would have been better), but to us, these were very minor.
We traveled with my alumni group of 25 and enjoyed their company, but also went to the Cruise Critic M&G (thanks, Lyn) and met several new folks. In Cartagena, Colombia, we went on a fun tour of the city organized by Deb and posted on the Cruise Critic thread for our cruise (thanks, Deb).
Other thoughts on this cruise:
Excursions - We only signed up for two of the ship's excursions. In Huatulco, there's not much to see as this port is still in the early stages of development by the Mexican government. Puerto Chiapas was much more interesting as we toured the ancient Mayan/Olmec site of Izapa. This experience was enhanced for us by a marvelous Olmec exhibit we had seen at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco the night before we embarked. At Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, our Alumni Group tour director had arranged for a marvelous private party in one city and and a private tour in the other. In Cost Rica, I had booked with Okey Dokey Tours for eight of us to see a coffee plantation and other sights. Unfortunately, we encountered a blockage of the main highway to San Jose and had to take a detour to see the coffee plantation. The delay caused a cancellation of the other sights. However, Charlie Soto, owner of Okey Dokey, made it right by giving us a discount. The tour guide, Ray, was outstanding.
Food - It wasn't all perfect but it was very, very good. In the GDR, we initially had slow service a couple of nights and the food was lukewarm when it was finally served. However, after commenting on this in the mid-cruise evaluation form (and being telephoned by food service for more details on the problem), we noticed that attention to dining room service improved greatly. This was only the third cruise for Marina and the wait staff was obviously still learning. But we were impressed by the efforts to fix any problem. We had several really memorable meals, especially in Polo (steamed lobster)and Red Ginger (excellent sea bass). But, we saved the best for last. On the next to last night,a group of 17 of us went to La Reserve: seven marvelous courses, each described by the chef, and a matching wine with each course, all in a very pleasant and comfortable private dining room. The $75 pp plus tip was worth it. Highly recommended.
Other - Every member of the crew was sincerely friendly and would stop to help if we had a question.
We enjoyed the very nice Concierge lounge on Deck 9 with its comfortable chairs, Internet workstation, and mini-sandwiches available during the afternoons.
We noticed that the art in the reception area was changed every few days.
The closet and drawers in our stateroom were adequate for our belongings for the long cruise, but with no room to spare (however, we brought more clothes than we really needed). The library was a great place to relax and its collection of new books seemed very appropriate for cruisers (included many travel books).
My wife enjoyed the Intermediate Bridge lessons and we both thought the enrichment lecturer was well prepared and informative (though not dynamic). As for entertainment, we saw those performances featuring the singers, dancers, the main band, and the Grand Bar piano player, and thought they were all excellent for a ship this size. But shipmates who saw some of the other performers weren't impressed.
In Miami, we had a long wait before Immigration/Customs released the ship to begin disembarking. Not a real inconvenience for us because we had an afternoon flight. The problem was never explained.
All in all, it was our best cruise experience of the seven we have had so far. We now want to do another Oceania cruise.