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Hello -

 

I took a RC cruise to the western Caribbean in 2015 and an Oceania cruise to the Mediterranean in 2016.  I was wondering if anyone wanted a comparison between the two?  If everyone here is loyal to RC and won't cruise anything else, then there's really no point.  I don't want to go into a big diatribe unless people are really interested and think they might sail on Oceania.  So let me know!

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Thought I replied to this the other day, but the critical step of hitting "post" was skipped...

 

It is apples and oranges, isn't it?  I've sailed both a few times.  A comparisson is really difficult to even begin, especially as we don't have kids, so there isn't much about Oceania that we don't love.  What Oceania ship were you on in the Med?

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We sailed the Marina in the Med in 2011.  I'm really quite split between the newer ships and the R-Class ships.  The Regatta was so intimate, but man what I would do for Red Giner right now.

 

RCI certainly has a more lively atmosphere, and I know my spouse enjoys that a bit, but I'm happy sipping my drink and staring at the ocean.  

 

I'd be interested to know where your preferences are with both lines.  Certainly every line has something for everyone, it may help me wrap my mind around things a bit better.  I've also not sailed on a smaller RCI vessel...yet.

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Thought I replied to this the other day, but the critical step of hitting "post" was skipped...

 

It is apples and oranges, isn't it? I've sailed both a few times. A comparisson is really difficult to even begin, especially as we don't have kids, so there isn't much about Oceania that we don't love. What Oceania ship were you on in the Med?

I agree it's applies to oranges, but I suspect there are things where Royal is better (e.g., entertainment, variety of dining options, etc.), so I think it would be interesting to see how things stack up. For example, I took a Celebrity cruise a couple of years ago. Even though it was supposed to be a step up, I found it to be very similar overall. The main differences were in the quality of food ingredients and offerings and more expensive specialty restaurants.

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i would like to see it, I found our first cruise to be super convenient but I think that Oceania might offer more of the experience I like when traveling. I found the food and entertainment completely underwhelming RCI after trying several specialty restaurants .... so for me the comparison would be welcome....as I'm looking at other RCI ships that have more options for what interests my family group :) The lodging itself, however, was outstanding. Great beds, and our suite was huge. Two most important factors for me :) And they treated us extremely well---despite the food being overly heavy and boring----i mean the service was stellar!

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OK, for what it's worth, here's my (personal) comparison.    Everybody's preferences are different, so I tried to explain that in the discussion.  I welcome any feedback.

 

Itineraries:  It's not fair to compare the itineraries, because the difference between the western Caribbean and the Mediterranean are like night and day.  So we'll skip that. 

 

Convenience of departure:  I live in Texas so it's a lot easier (and cheaper) for me to drive to Galveston than to fly to Rome.  However, it's always fun flying in business class to Europe.  So, I'll just say this:  The Galveston port experience was chaotic, crowded, confusing and stressful.  The Rome port experience was fast and smooth as silk.  So, even though the ports themselves have something to do with that, the cruise line also gets credit for how they handle the departures.  Advantage: Oceania

 

Rooms:  We stayed in a Junior Suite on the RC Navigator.  We were thrilled at its size, large balcony, storage space and huge closet.  We stayed in a regular balcony stateroom on Oceania, which was smaller.  So maybe the comparison isn't fair (although the Oceania balcony room cost more than the RC Junior Suite).  On Oceania, you really don't have a lot of choices.  It's a regular balcony stateroom (90% of the ship) or a suite with a butler.  The butler is at your beck and call 24 hours a day, will unpack your suitcase, pour your drinks, serve all your meals in courses in your room, press your clothes, etc.  We didn't want that kind of intrusiveness - but we didn't have the option for a larger room with no butler.  Advantage: RC   (However, here's a caveat: I'm not sure the other RC ships have the roomy Junior Suites of the Navigator).

 

Food: Here you may be surprised.  We are foodies and we chose Oceania because of the reputation for food.    We did take a culinary class onboard and it was great fun.  But I was disappointed in the Oceania food overall.  1) We found the main dining room on RC to be delightful, with lots of innovative and different options.   We looked forward to every meal.  The main dining room on Oceania was horrid, because nobody ever ate there.   2) The buffet on Oceania was superior to RC.  They had specialty items, lobster and steak every night (not just pasta and hot dogs). They also had seating on the deck outside, which was wonderful.   We had to eat inside on the Navigator. 3) Oceania provides "specialty dining" at their high-end steak, sushi, French, Italian, etc. restaurants included in the (higher) cruise price.  However, those restaurants fill up fast and you have to book far in advance.  RC charges you to eat at those restaurants.   Because I live in a major metropolitan area, eating at those restaurants was not that big of a thrill to me.  Honestly, I preferred the unusual courses I had in RC's main dining room.  Of course, I realize this is a personal preference.  4) Snacking.  RC had a place where you could get a variety of nice open-faced sandwiches and finger desserts late at night.  Oceania did not.  5) Drinks.  Oceana had coffee, juices, soft drinks, bottled water, ice cream sodas and the like always available for free.  These were harder to find (or not available at all) on RC.  Advantage: Tie

 

Shore Excursions:  Again, the venue makes a difference.  We took excursions in almost every port on both cruises.  However, in terms of organization, waiting, confusion, lunch quality, etc. they were pretty much equal.  Advantage: Tie.

 

Shipboard Experience:  Gambling and bars were available on both ships.  Oceania prides itself in its classy, "low key" shipboard experience.  There's not a lot of loud activities, cheesy bands, karaoke, games or kids. Oceania doesn't have a surfboarding or rock climbing area.  They don't have places to buy counterfeit art or overpriced jewelry.  They don't have a lot of really bad entertainment at night.  Admittedly, to me, that's nice.  But it may not be to you.  At Oceania's bars, I didn't feel "obligated" to add an extra tip above the 18% already included, because they gave you the bill with no extra tip line for you to fill in.  That was really nice.  At RC, I DID feel that pressure.  A lot.  I was also pressured in the spa.  Advantage: Oceania.

 

Pools:  Oceania's one pool was very plain and exposed.  No kids, but simple and square and really boring.  RC's Navigator had a loud common pool with DJ's and slides and splashing and the like.  But they also had a very nice, quiet adult pool (in a separate area) with much nicer landscaping, tropical plants and decor. I always enjoyed hanging out there with a book and a quiet drink.  For exercise, RC's Navigator also had a better, larger and accessible jogging track.  Advantage: RC

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My last two cruises were Navigator out Southampton, and Liberty out of Galveston. So both of mine with RCCL, and perhaps helps further differentiate ship vs location factors. 

 

Convenience of departure:  I live in Texas so it's a lot easier (and cheaper) for me to drive to Galveston than to fly to Rome.  However, it's always fun flying in business class to Europe.  So, I'll just say this:  The Galveston port experience was chaotic, crowded, confusing and stressful.  The Rome port experience was fast and smooth as silk.  So, even though the ports themselves have something to do with that, the cruise line also gets credit for how they handle the departures.  

 

I live in Vancouver and could (literally) walk to a cruise, but I'd rather cruise in winter and to places other than Alaska so I end up flying wherever. I had similar issues with the Galveston port (even worse at disembarkation), but like your's, Southampton was the smoothest port I've ever experienced going both ways.

 

 

3) Oceania provides "specialty dining" at their high-end steak, sushi, French, Italian, etc. restaurants included in the (higher) cruise price.  However, those restaurants fill up fast and you have to book far in advance.  RC charges you to eat at those restaurants.   Because I live in a major metropolitan area, eating at those restaurants was not that big of a thrill to me.  Honestly, I preferred the unusual courses I had in RC's main dining room.  Of course, I realize this is a personal preference. 

 
Exactly how I feel about specialty dining and the MDR on RC (although it is slipping).
 

5) Drinks.  Oceana had coffee, juices, soft drinks, bottled water, ice cream sodas and the like always available for free.  These were harder to find (or not available at all) on RC.  

 
I take advantage of free iced tea and water in Windjammer when it's open, and free coffee from Café Promenade when WJ is closed. I also keep a bottle of water in my stateroom. Works for me. Free ice cream sodas sounds amazing though ... but could be dangerous to the waistline.  I do like the RC policy on allowing a couple of bottles of wine to be brought on board, which I gather is not common within the cruising world, or at least not without charging a corkage fee.
 
 

Shore Excursions:  Again, the venue makes a difference.  We took excursions in almost every port on both cruises.  However, in terms of organization, waiting, confusion, lunch quality, etc. they were pretty much equal.  

 

This is one area where I would definitely give the advantage to Europe (which for me was northern Spain and France). Organization, waiting, lunch quality and especially the quality of the coach buses (when part of the excursion) were all superior to their Caribbean counterparts.

 

Thanks for the review!

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