Shared by: tomsgreathits
Cruising on Oceania VENICE, ITALY – What makes a good vacation? For many of us, it differs. For me, its: relaxation; and, oddly enough, exercise; intellectual stimulation; great food; great wine; and a chance to experience people from other societies or cultures. This Oceania cruise covered it all. The Path of the Phoenicians on the Regatta started in Athens and ended in Venice. It was a 10-day cruise through the Eastern Mediterranean. Some disclosure here: I host two weekly radio shows for Traverus Travel (www.traverus.net), a worldwide network of home-based travel agents. Oceania representatives have been guests on the radio show, but Oceania did not pay or issue a comp for my trip. Another factor for a good vacation is the people who travel with you. Here was our gang from Las Vegas who booked the cruise through Traverus. From left to right: me, my wife Teri, Linda Smith, Annette Carter, Charli Carter, Dave Carter, and John Wasserburger. This was taken in Mykonos, Greece. All of them are experienced cruisers where Teri and I are novices. This was our first cruise. Sure, I’ve traveled the world but never by boat or luxury cruise ship. The word from our travel partners is that Teri and I got spoiled on our maiden voyage. Linda Smith and Larry Carter, probably the most experienced travelers of the group, told me that this was one of the best, if not the best, cruises they’ve been on. I was happy to hear that since I had helped make the arrangements. But more importantly, it verified the feeling, both Teri and I had, that this was the best vacation we had taken. Charli Carter broke it down this way. She said you didn’t have to get dressed up for dinners (country club casual), there were no kids running around, and there was no one snapping your picture every ten minutes. Oceania dumped the on-board photographer that would snap shots of you and then try to get you to buy the shots at the end of the cruise. The service was superb and friendly. This cruise had about 700 guests with a crew of about 350 – a 2-to-1 ratio. So, you received plenty of service. There are too many of the crew to mention. But one of our favorites was Nicola, seen to the right with Teri. He worked as a maitre de during the day and the general manager of another restaurant at night. But he was also a great source of information on where to eat in some of the ports – especially in Venice at a restaurant where he once worked. Thanks to Nicola we had VIP treatment even off the ship. The food on board was very good. Although we enjoyed the three luxury restaurants, we opted for the gourmet buffet area for most meals. It was more convenient and it offered a wider variety of food choices. (Maybe it’s our Las Vegas backgrounds?) As you’ve read from my previous postings, the ports of call were superb – especially for anyone with a sense of history and current events. The ports were made even more enjoyable thanks to the crew and especially the ship’s cruise director David Peterson, seen here on the left with me. He was both informative and entertaining. Not only was he on-board meeting and greeting guests, but he also hosted game shows, seminars, and a daily TV show that was loaded with information on the ship and the ports as well as some funny bits. David was a former TV sports anchor, so we had plenty in common. As a result, David had me as a guest on his TV show after I interviewed him for a segment on Traverus Celebrity Travel Talk. The ship’s layout was easy to figure out. We rarely got lost. However, we tended to concentrate on the ports and dinners, so we didn’t participate in too many ship board events. One of the great conveniences of the ship was the laundry room – something I wouldn’t have thought about. Teri heard so many passengers say that a laundry room makes packing for a trip so much easier. You can take half the amount of clothes if you know you can wash them. We took advantage of this service – especially on days at sea. The one place we visited the most was the gym. We had no choice. We ate and drank plenty. But since we worked out hard every morning, we kept our girth to a dearth. The best part of the gym was the location of the elliptical cardio machines and tread mills; they overlooked whatever port we were arriving at. With an iPod shuffle in my ear, I had a couple of glorious mornings at sea listening to Debussy’s La Mer while sweating and panting with my heart rate at 160 bpm’s. This is a great cruise for couples. Don’t bring young kids on this one. It would also be a great cruise for a family of adults. You can be off on your own exploring what you want, but then you can have time to spend with those you want to be with. A younger couple might not find the active nightlife on this ship; still we met a number of younger couples, some in their 20s, who raved about the cruise. However, I think this cruise is targeted more at a middle-aged to older couple. I saw a couple of elderly couples who enjoyed dressing up for dinner each night at one of the gourmet restaurants in the old traditional way of dining. I’d recommend you check it out at www.oceaniacruises.com.