Dec 25th, 2017
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Oceania Sirena now trip report
12/10/2018 02:50 PM
12/10/2018 02:50 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
Joined: Nov 2003
On 11/5/18 we flew to Miami to board the Oceania Sirena. We were traveling with our friends, Bill and Susan. We boarded at about 11AM and had lunch. We received our luggage shortly after. We explored the ship, as we had never been on the Sirena before. We have been on the Riviera before, however that is a larger ship.
We booked a Penthouse 1 Suite. It’s sort of a large Veranda Suite. For a 25 day cruise we wanted a little more room. The PH1 is smaller than its namesake on the Riviera, however still comfortable. I have to say that the Sirena shows some signs of wear. The cabinets within our cabin had sagging hinges that prevented the doors from being closed easily. The sliding door to the cabin’s deck was rusted and the door was difficult to close or open. Dented elevator doors, stained woodworking and public restroom stalls that couldn’t lock, were noticeable. We were advised that the Sirena was going into a $25,000,000 dry dock in May of 2019 and that all would be addressed. This being our 4th. Oceania cruise, we are used to better ship conditions. I should also mention that there was an automatic sliding door that opened into the Terrace dining area from the rear outdoor terrace that was opening and closing at will. That was a dangerous condition and also contributed to the ineffective air conditioning within the interior dining area.
For those that are repulsed by these mentioned flaws, please remember, we are Oceania fans that are returning customers, for a reason. We wanted to have a similar experience to those that we experienced on the Riviera. Please continue to read, as most of our shipboard experiences were positive.
After exploring the ship and having dinner, we had the obligatory adult beverage, and then went early to bed, due to a 3:45 awakening.
Day 2 & 3
These were days at sea. We spent time at the Canyon Ranch Spa deck, and each received a massage. The spa deck has a hot tub and several lounges. There are also separate Locker rooms with steam rooms and showers. There were 10 “Sea days” on this cruise and most were spent in the same manner, gym, breakfast, reading, lunch, more reading or bingo or line dancing (not me), then nap, clean-up followed by cocktail hour with dinner and show to follow. Due to the redundancy of the sea days I will just report “sea day” unless there is something remarkable that needs to be stated.
St Barths We went ashore via tender to do some shopping. However, we arrived at about 12:30 PM and everything was closed until 3:00 PM. So we had lunch at a restaurant named Le Repaire. After salads and wine, I noticed a gent at the next table was having an espresso and a shot of something. I asked him what it was. After translations from the waiter, I learned it was a vanilla rum. I tried the ginger version with my espresso. It was good and I expressed so, through our waiter.
We called the Tuscan Grill upon boarding the ship to see if they had an opening for that evening. They did and the meal was great. After dinner we went to the show which was a singing and dancing thing.
St Lucia. We had scheduled a “Viatour” ATV tour of the island. When we arrived, we were to meet our Guide at the cruise terminal. No one was there, and we were told that we had to get to the ATV tour by another means. We hired a driver who took us to the ATV location. It was a gravel parking lot, atop a hill. It was raining and there was no one there. I asked the driver to take us back to the cruise terminal. when we arrived, there was a driver there to pick us up, over an hour late. I took a pass on the “re-scheduled” tour, as it would have left us close to our scheduled departure time. We are still working of a solution, to this incident but I’m not holding my breath. I think the Viatour company is good, however some of their contractors are not.
Grenada. We had booked a culinary walking tour for Grenada. We were met at the Esplanade Mall, at dockside, by Addie, our guide. She took us to a local restaurant that I probably would never have gone into. We had a brief explanation of what they call “provisions “, which I can best describe as starch. We had a two plate lunch with stewed chicken, braised pork, rice with black eyed peas, coleslaw, and some sort of dumplings. I found this very interesting.
We then went to a spice market, where Nan bought things that she will likely not declare. Next was an elderly woman who wielded a machete and produced a coconut with a straw. Then on to the smoothie lady. There we sampled two different tropical smoothies until I had brain freeze. We then did the historical trip to Fort George, which was inconveniently positioned atop a very steep hill. Next was a very nice restaurant on the harbor. We were served a lunch of chicken within a wrap with a green sauce. A local un-labeled hot sauce was included. The last stop was a chocolate factory. We were given an education on the productions of chocolate and then a chocolate cheesecake.
That concluded our three hour tour. Addie, our guide was lovely and gracious. As we walked through the streets of St George, she was frequently being “hit-on” by young men along our path. Did I say that she was lovely? She added a humanistic element to the time we spent in Grenada and she showed her pride in being a Grenadian.
Port of Spain, Trinidad. This was a “bus ride” around town. There are a lot of these in the included “Oceania included trips” on a cruise. This was a navigation of the city streets and a narrative of the various governmental buildings, sporting fields and historical residences. It was very well presented and included some anecdotal information enhanced the experience.
Day 8 & 9
Days at sea
I don’t understand this, however Brazil required our ship to report to the port of Macapa, to “clear” entry to the country. I don’t have a problem with National sovereignty. I do have a problem with a Country that imposes a 25% tax to any cruising tourist purchases made within the Country of Brazil. I would think that they would welcome tourist monies, not repel them. There was no tourist contact at Macapa, just the obligatory checking in.
Santarem, Brazil. We anchored off shore and then tendered into the port. This port, as we found out is a floating dock, like all on the Amazon. We docked and walked up a steep ramp to the stationary dock, where our busses waited. I was disappointed that the busses had open windows and no AC. The tour guide took us to a church where we were told about the church while sitting in the bus. Then we went to the river side prominade where the guide’s friend had a trinket shop. After that, we went to a “City Museum “ had photos of past city leaders. Then it was back to the bus. We travelled for about 45 minutes. Our destination was an out door bar where there were 4 tour busses. There we got a beer, were encouraged to sample some local fruit on toothpicks, watched as a group processed some sort of vegetable into a cooked grain and lastly a lecture about the rubber industry. Then we boarded our busses for the trip back to Santarem and our ship. I learned two things that day. First, it’s really hot in Santarem and secondly, apparently no one washes their hands after using the bathroom. In three bathrooms, there there were no towels or dispensers for them and one had no water in the sink. While traveling through Santarem, I was struck by how much disrepair there was in everything and the amount of trash everywhere.
Boca Da Valeria, Brazil. There was no excursion at this location. We were tendered to the floating dock and greeted by hoards of begging children. The “Village” was a collection of shacks strewn with garbage. They had little girls dressed in grass outfits and wanted $1.00 to take a photo of them. Their parents were encouraging the children to beg.
We returned back to the boat. After all of the ships passengers had returned to the boat, I looked back at the Village. It was deserted. It appears that they set up shop for our arrival and then went to where they really live.
That night at dinner, our friend Bill was really hurting. It seemed that his back was acting up and he was in allot of pain. The ships doctor wanted to put him into the hospital at our next stop in Manaus.
Manaus, Brazil. Manaus has the most elaborate floating dock system imaginable. We were actually docked at it. The dock appears to be about 20 feet thick and long enough to accommodate two cruise ships at once. Beneath the dock, there are cylinders, each about 20 feet in diameter and the width of the dock which is about 150 feet. This structure is connected to the land by a huge ramp. This allows the dock to rise and fall as the river does, which appeared to be over 40 feet. We were told that the Amazon has two seasons. The dry season and the wet season. The temperature is about the same year round. We were there at the end of the dry season.
I won’t go into the shore excursion other to say that the busses were very nice and had air conditioning. The last stop was to the Manaus Oprah House. It was beautiful and well maintained. Also, there was some sort of marching High School band competition being conducted in a park adjacent to the Oprah House. It was great to see these kids having a great time and cheering for their team.
At about 10:00 our friends Bill and Susan left the ship en-route home. His condition had worsened and the ships doctor wanted to put him into a Brazilian hospital. The ship had made arrangements for transport to the Manaus Airport and helped arrange for a flight to Miami. We were at the gangplank as they wheeled him off the ship.
Manaus, Brazil. Our second day in Manaus was actually out side of the city. We boarded a two tier River boat and went down river. After a half hour we arrived a floating dock which was very small compared to Manaus. This was actually an old small barge. It was about 75 feet by 30 feet. There was a trinket market there and another ramp to the land mass. This was three boards wide (30”) and had tree branches fastened together as a hand rail. The whole think shook as we traversed it but it held together.
On land we entered the tropical forrest. The trees showed high water marks from the wet season that were about 20 feet above our heads. there was a host of native vegetation that were remarkable, including giant water lily pads (3’). This portion of the day was interesting and very photographic.
We next went down river to where the waters meet. This is where the Negro River meets the Amazon and the waters are different colors and do not co mingle. The brown and the black waters, we were told are separated by 20 degrees and remain separate.
Parintins, Brazil. Here we were scheduled to see a native show and it was great. We were greeted by Boy and Girl Scouts at the dock. They were the cleanest people I had seen in Brazil. The performers were beautiful costumes and were very talented. There were great floats and displays and the dancers/gymnasts performed for over an hour. One of our better stops.
Alter do Chao, Brazil. This location is a narrow strip of sand and serves as a beach retreat for the population of Santarem. From the boat we could see the entire beach and the muddy water. We took a pass and stayed onboard. Most who went ashore were back within an hour.
Day 17 & 18
These were basically days at sea. Except for Brazilian authorities boarding us at Macapa, Brazil, clear us for leaving Barzil. We waved.
Devil’s Island. This is actually a collection of three small islands, off the coast of French Guiana. They are Ile Royale, Ile Saint-Joseph and Lie de Diable. The main island of Ile Royale actually held most of the administration of the prison. There was a functioning resort on the island as well as many structures from the prison. There was an open museum where we saw a mock up of the former prison. It was interesting and the hottest day of our cruise.
Day at sea
Barbados. We have been to Barbados several times and like the island. We took a tour that circumnavigated the island. We had some great photo moments and saw some things that we hadn’t seen before. among them were the giant rocks on the Atlantic side of Barbados. The centuries of water hitting the base of the rocks has eroded the bottoms, leaving a small pedestal to support each rock.
St John’s, Antigua. We were only in port for a short time so we went to a “Taste of Antigua” This was a short ride to an open air bar where we sampled a Rum punch, two straight Rums and a dish containing an array of local dishes. While there we were given a history of Antigua and information on local customs. It was an enjoyable time.
San Juan, Puerto Rico. We have been to Puerto Rico several times so we opted for the Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour. It was informative and entertaining. Our guide then took us to the fort in the old city and we returned to the ship. It was good to see that San Juan seems to be back from the hurricane damage of last year.
Day 24 & 25
Days at sea.
On day 26 we arrived at Miami to disembark. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise. The biggest plus was the crew on the Sirena. They seem to be a bag happy family and our experience was better because of it.
Un update on Bill. He seems to be doing better but is still on the mend.
Last edited by Carol_Hill; 12/10/2018 02:59 PM.