Review of cruise Cape Town to Singapore - Insignia Feb 9, 2016
Three years ago we were on an Oceania cruise from Istanbul to Cape Town. That was, by far, the longest cruise we'd taken, thirty days. I worried at the time that I would get cabin fever, stuck on a boat that long. The itinerary was across the Mediterranean and down the west coast of Africa, with stops in Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Namibia. We loved it, and were sad t o leave the ship in Cape Town since it was next headed for Singapore. When last year's round-the-world cruise was advertised, we signed up fore the Cape Town to Singapore leg right away. When that leg was cancelled due to mechanical difficulties, we signed up for this year.
The itinerary was very attractive, around the Cape of Good Hope and up the East coast of Africa to Mombasa, then across to India, then Burma (a new addition), then Maylaysia and Singapore. Cochin, India was the only place I'd been before between Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur, and Burma was transitioning to an elected government. Burma was the highlight, but Zanzibar, Madagascar, the Seychelles and the Maldives were also new and interesting. There were a few ports I didn't understand. Richards Bay, South Africa, our fourth stop in South Africa, was a wasted day, with a free shuttle bus to a mall that could have been in New Jersey. Mangalore, India was not a major attraction - compared to Mumbai, Goa, or Cochin. We went around Sri Lanka without stopping. Burma was a country just opening up to major tourism growth, with fascinating culture and stupendous sites. The people were excited about the transition and filled with hope.
We used mostly Oceania arranged excursions, booking enough to qualify for the 25% discount, which made them comparable to the privately booked tours, without the option of customizing. Some were excellent, others were duds. Comparing our introduction to Zulu culture in Durban with the introduction we got to Masai culture in the Serengeti, was a major disappointment. Bored dancers, confined crocodiles, and an extensive gift shop, with the major message that brides cost nineteen cattle.
Onboard activity included a variety of guest lectures, some very specific to the next port, some totally off base. There were several one or two night entertainers, backed up by the onboard band, with mixed results. Only a couple worth the second show. We had two sets of three days at sea between stops, which are very relaxing. Major reading opportunities, and the Oceania library did not disappoint. My wife took the art classes offered on sea days and loved it. Our friends played bridge. There was an active Ma Jong group. This was a leg of the 181 day round-the-world cruise, and 200 of the passengers were RTW. They had already been on board for sixty days when we arrived, but we're very friendly and welcoming. We had long conversations with several, but I'm still not enamored with the itinerary as a unit.
Food, as expected, was a highlight. The Grand Dining Room has an ever changing menu with everything from a hamburger and fries to a six course dinner, and the two specialty restaurants have fixed menus with reliable old favorites. We are experienced cruisers and fans of Oceania, especially their food and service. Our last cruise was on the Riviera. We especially enjoyed the two new speciality restaurants, and were promised there would be items from the menus in the main dining room. They kept the promise, but I didn't read the fine print. They had three of the specialties,from Jaques, rotated every three days. Similarly with Red Ginger. It was a disappointment. Service was extraordinary, with several waiters learning our names and preference for Diet Coke.
Cabins were as expected, having sailed on sister ships. Storage was adequate, bathroom was cramped, and the bed was no longer the most comfortable ever. The balcony was ideal for sea days as a place to read.
Arrival and departure were seamless.