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Insignia Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
194 Reviews

Pleasant escape from Winter, along Pacific coast of Central & South America

Insignia Cruise Review by Overthewaves

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

Oceania cruises are great for couples (nothing interesting for children or singles)

This cruise was from San Franciso to Santiago Chile, i.e. a 22-day section of a world cruise. In addition to embarkation and debarkation, we visited these ports: Santa Barbara and San Diego in USA; Cabo, Ixtapa, Acapulco and Puerto Chapas in Mexico; Puerto Quetzel in Gautemala, Acajutla in El Salvador; Manta in Ecuador; Salavery, Lima and Pisco in Peru; and Coquimbo in Chile. The excursions were well managed, although frequently the standard of English was poor and in El Salvador, incomprehensible (We nevertheless appreciated the tour for what we saw and visited). The excursions must be bought in advance, from a group of 5 or more outings ranging from $100 up. However, recently, the ships also take good care of passengers setting out on their own (free shuttle bus into town, briefings, information sheets etc).

The food is a main selling point of Oceania, with excellent , free, French/continental cuisine in the main dining room and two or more (depends on ship) specialty restaurants (on Insignia, Steak house and Italian). The informal buffet (Terrace Café) is also excellent at noon, but in the evening it serves exotic foreign dishes which you may wish to avoid depending on your tastes. There is also a good "fast food" outlet (Waves Grill) close to the pool, open till 4PM, and useful when arriving back from an excursion without having had lunch. On days at sea, There are excellent lectures (geopolitics, history, geography of the region), and bridge, ladies activities (petit-point etc). In the evening there is dancing to a good jazz band (on Insignia) and Chamber music quartet to accompany drinks before evening dinner. There are evening shows as well, to entertain those who don't want to watch a film or the news on the ships's TV, in their cabin. The Internet, with onboard WIFI has greatly improved over the years. And, reading on the balcony, or beside the pool, at sea, is wonderful!. There are no crowds or line-ups, particularly on the small ships (600pax).

On the negative side, the main issue is the incongruant "ambiance" on board what is supposed to be an almost-luxury cruise. Oceania ships and staff are most elegant (even the room stewards change into black uniforms to fix up your bed in the evening) and the cuisine is at the top of a 'Luxury" category. But this refined ambiance is destroyed by the lack of a serious dress code for passengers, which Oceania advertises as "country club casual" but means "anything goes". Oceania habitués will wear a jacket for evening dinner or a cocktail with the Captain, but up to half the diners, mostly newbys, will be in shirt sleeves, no jacket, and a signifiicant number of men will be wearing a baseball cap. It makes one question why you are paying a substantial price for an elegant decor, upscale service, gastronomic restaurants and sophisticated enrichment activities when you are rubbing shoulders with a crowd that is dressed for beer call at a sports bar. For this, I rate "poor" value for money!

The movies in cabins on Oceania ships, formerly multi-lingual DVDs, are now replaced by TV screens that don't accept DVDs. One is left with a limited, unchanging selection of English-only children's cartoons, horor films,etc. Nevertheless you can get NBC, Fox, BBC, and Sky for your news.

Many of the passengers had mobility handicaps, requiring walkers, motorized wheel chairs etc. The staff, and many passengers, went out of their way to accomodate their problems. But they frequently caused delay during activites on board, and particulalry on excursions. This is not fair to others and oceania should be more vigilant in accepting them for activities they are unable to adequately pursue.

Overthewaves's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom

Insignia is recently renovated, but in a cold, chrome, Norwegian nordic style. The classic former look of cabins has been lost. The mattress maintains Oceania's tradition of comfort. The bathroom now has glass doors on the shower that makes one wonder how obese passengers close them. The movable furniture iin the cabin and on the balcony is more solid than formerly which is good in a heavy sea. The TV is a step backwards (no DVD, or USB). The electronic outlets, even for American plugs, are inadequate. Passengers should bring gadgets to multiply their access to electricity. Otherwise, it was liveable, with a nice, relatively private, balcony.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

San Francisco

A great place to go sight seeing in town. But this was our port of embarkation and arrived just in time to make the gangway.

Santa Barbara

No excursion. A wonderful, beautiful town. We visited, on foot, including the museum and the presidio, the Spanish colonial fort. The town in clean and we enjoyed it.

San Diego

We know this city, so our comments are probably irrelevant. The naval history and actual presence is significant and worth seeing.


We walked along beach and then into town. The only point of interest was the museum which describes the history of successive centuries of Indian presence.


Walked into town, visited museum at the fort which had historical interest, went to Sunday mass at the Cathedral (an experience for A Catholic from North America to experience Mexican catholicism), and took a glance at the crowded beach.

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Note that Port Chiapas in Mexico is skipped by your form

In Puerto Quetzal we took excursion QUZ -004 a visit advertised as seeing coffee, beef and sugar cane production. We visited one coffee producer with poor view of the actual process. The other commodities consisted by driving by on the road, without even an explanation from the guide.


We took ACJ-8 tour. This was a long bus ride to take pictures from afar of an active volcano. (no fire or smoke), then an equally long trip back to the port. The guide had great difficulty in English . In retrospect it was a poor choice we made.

Cabo San Lucas

On a previous cruise we took the ATV tour which was a very exciting fast drive in your own ATV (for 2 people) through the desert

Harbor Cruise

A short Cartaraman visit of the famous rocks in the harbour to takr photos. then a bus ride to surrounding towns. Very average, oversold in the publicity. The "drinks" consisted of a beer (with no glass)on the top floor of a closed restaurant. Glass factory visit. visit to a town. No information or presentation of the town by the guide.

View All 22 Harbor Cruise Reviews

Visited two ruins of Indian mud towns and religious Pyramids which we were able to climb. Excellent, clear explanations. An education on the pre-colonial history of Peru.

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