Oceania SirenaQ – We have friends who are interested in having us join them on the Oceania Sirena on a cruise from Rome to Istanbul on May 22nd. The only other cruise we have ever done was a Costa about five years ago and our friends are thinking this will be much nicer. Is this a ship you can recommend without reservation?  What about the itinerary? Wondering what you think about Oceania’s two-for-one pricing deal? We’re in our mid sixties, both retired, and we have significant savings. But we don’t like phony deals and you don’t seem hesitant to point them out. Is this a phony deal?

A – You’ve crammed a lot in there but we’ll attempt to respond with the caveat that we highly recommend that you try to establish a relationship with a trustworthy travel professional to assist with your pre-trip planning and questions. Oceania is not Costa and you need to be fully aware of the differences. Here are our brief responses to your several questions.

  • We recommend the Sirena without reservations but you will need to make reservations quickly if you intend to sail her this coming May.
  • The Sirena has been a ship Oceania has long wanted and they recently purchased her from Princess. She has undergone a $40 million renovation and is a true sister ship tot he line’s Insignia and Regatta. All three ships were nearly identical and previously sailed under the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises flag. At 640 guests, she is country-club casual and passenger satisfactions cores are high.
  • Oceania is 2015 Winner in The Best at Sea Awards in the Category “Best Overall Value in Non-Inclusive Category.”
  • As often happens with Oceania, we find the itinerary to be superior to that offered by many competitors. This cruise occurs during one of our most recommended cruising periods, late May, and during 13 days of superior ports in Italy, Greece, and Turkey, only one day is spent at sea. Six of the days on this itinerary are spent in 5-star rated ports. We love the fact that you will have full days in both Sorrento and Amalfi as well as stops in Sicily and Sardinia.
  • Two-for-one pricing is rather meaningless and is designed to appeal to the majority of  cruisers who make decisions devoid of information that is untainted and truthful. If you and I ran a cruise line, we could set any price we want as a “brochure price” and then cut it in half to be able to advertise two-for-one” deals. The only thing that matters is the price you pay on a cruise-only basis for the least expensive outside cabin with an unobstructed balcony. You them take that price and divide by the number of on-board cruise nights and you will arrive at an accurate per diem cost of your cruise. That is how the pros do it. You can then evaluate air costs, gratuities, and shore excursions separately.