I finally have a few minutes to comment on my wonderful Dover - Barcelona cruise on Regatta, 13 - 27 September.
First of all, I had never sailed on Renaissance, so all of this was new to me. I had nothing to which to compare this experience, and I am glad, because I was WOW-ED from the minute I stepped aboard.
I understand that with modifications to the pool decking and some other areas, the basic Renaissance style in the public rooms and areas remained pretty much the same. I loved the clubby, English Manorhouse-style decor. It wasn't Victorian-style fussy, it was just right. The dropped and coved ceilings and frescoes, the crenellated soffits and ceiling mouldings... all of these were new design elements to me on a cruise ship and I just loved it. Ditto the rich fabrics, carpets and furnishings, dark woods and heavy drapes. It felt warm and appealing and I could see why Renaissance had had so many fans.
I was in a standard veranda stateroom which was smallish but lovely. The veranda deck is now teak, and although I had the ubiquitous plastic furniture, there was a nice cushion on the chairs and they are being replaced with teak chairs bit by bit. The plush comforter and mounds of down pillows added to the sense of elegance, especially when snuggled into what Oceania is calling its "Tranquility Bed." The powder-blue colorscheme is both appealing and elegant as well. I was thoroughly entranced by the attention to detail in the amenities package... soaps, shower gel, shampoo, lotion, towels were all beautifully designed and luxurious.
From what I could tell there isn't an area on the ship that isn't being examined daily by the on-board staff or the corporate office to see "how can this be better?" Many of my experiences were a direct result of feedback by passengers and quick action by Oceania: the ice-cream cart, for example, and the fact that Terrace Cafe is now open as a casual dining venue for dinner. New personnel was brought on board at the end of my cruise to help staff Waves and Terrace to avoid the bottlenecks that had occured at peak times in those venues. An on-demand movie and WebTV experiment was being tried during my voyage. The early reports of slow dining room service were not evident during my cruise.
The itinerary was incredible and the food was too perfect (diet before you go.) The staff was helpful, smiling, attentive. The new brochures (Europe and The Americas) are so beautiful they should end up in the Smithsonian and the itineraries for 2004 are exquisite.
My only criticisms, and they are minor indeed, are about the Destination Services operation (they need more information for independents, those not on Regatta's shore excursions) and the Internet charges. As for the latter, as I was leaving, an officer of their Internet supplier was on board to work at getting kinks worked out and speed up, so they are even working on that.
What I've written here doesn't even scratch the surface of the trip; Anne Campbell's review goes into more detail. (It was a real pleasure for me to be able to meet both Paul and Anne and I do wish I had had more time to visit with both of them.) I will say one thing though: Paul's photo of Tim Rubacky squinting into the sun does not do him justice; he is a very handsome fellow :-)