The March 3, 2004 sailing of the Regatta started with the easiest check-in/boarding process we have ever experienced.....we have sailed on Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and several others and this was the best ever....we left our luggage at the curb, walked up the stairs to check-in (which took less than 5 minutes) and were ushered to our cabin.
The cabin was above average....my wife and I generally prefer an inside cabin (so we can nap) and this cabin was perfectly located. Everything on the ship was easily accessable. Cabin service was outstanding...a simple call on the phone brought service within minutes. The bed was all that was claimed...fine linens, a nice cover, and perfect firmness in the mattress. Even the linens were great.
The four open seating restaurants were all supurb...The Grand Dining Room provided typical menus....but served with great style. Appetizers were particularily good with Escargot and pate's available at most every meal...The Toscana Restaurant (supposedly Italian, but more continental) served terriffic lamb and great pasta. The Polo restaurant was more the surf and turf variety....the lobster and filet were always perfect. Breakfast and Lunch in the buffet offered a wide choice....custom omlets to simple continental fare. Service in all of the restaurants was flawless.
A word about the crew.....49 countries were represented and everyone we came in contact was very courteous and friendly....the best crew we have encountered in more than 20 sailings. Most crew members were Eastern European and all seemed genuinely interested in making sure the passengers enjoyed their trip.
The ship itself was beautiful. It gave you the feeling of an old English residence or tavern. Entertainment in the showroom was good, but the piano player in the Martini's Bar was supurb...My wife and I spent most evenings listening to him..The small casino seemed adequate, since no one had to wait to play the slots or any of the tables.
Shore excursions were adequate, although a couple were cancelled for lack of interest...others were substituted. Prices were reasonable, although my wife and I often hire a local cab or van for our own excursion. Islands visited included Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St. Barths, Antigua, Dominica, La Romana (Dominican Republic), St. Kitts and Nevis. The only small flaw was the dual stop in St. Kitts and Nevis....there really wasn't enough time in either island.
Simply put...this was the best cruise we've taken, the best food, the best service, and a great value...we will sail with Oceana again, and often.