We spent 10 fabulous days aboard Riviera. The ship is decorated and furnished both beautifully and tastefully. The artwork is impressive. My wife and I were celebrating my 50th birthday. We are very active and love to cook and eat and socialize. Because there was only one Riviera review prior to sailing due to being a new ship, we only had the Marina reviews to go on and were hopeful that we had the same positive experience. Boy did we! Everything good you read about the ship is true. The ship, the staff, the FOOD! We were in our cabin (PH2) before 1 PM and immediately went to Waves for lunch. I had the Kobe beef burger and my wife had the surf and turf sandwich (made with filet mignon and whole pieces of lobster). We had enjoyed the Riviera experience for about an hour and knew we had made an excellent choice. Every single dining venue is fantastic. Every single thing I ate day and night was delicious. We ate numerous times in all restaurants except Red Ginger and GDR. Only once in GDR because we ran out of time and only once in Red Ginger because we preferred Jacques, Toscana, and Polo Grill. Even the buffet was excellent; I gorged myself on lobster two nights. We enjoyed the caviar brunch one day in GDR and chatted for quite some time with Oceania's President Mr. Kamlani about the ship and staff overall, and the food specifically. In a nutshell I told him that I felt Oceania has set a new standard in cruising. We previously preferred Azamara, which we enjoyed, but now prefer Oceania at a slightly higher price-point. I also purchased the drinks package for $50 per day. It was well worth it. Oceania charges hotel prices for drinks so you're at breakeven at 5 drinks.
Our cabin was a PH2. We booked the cruise in Oceanview but were offered an upgrade immediately prior to the trip. Our butler Ismail was exceptional. He immediately realized our preferences and had our favorite canapes in our room at 6PM each day without asking. Our ice bucket was filled as well. He responded quickly to every request and even escorted my wife to dinner most nights. The granite bathroom had a separate shower and tub. I've read complaints about the shower but I'm 6ft 200lbs and didn't have any issues. With that said I'm not so sure a teletubby would have the same experience. You can shower in the tub as well. Our cabin had a walk-in closet that was perfectly sized and included additional drawers and a safe. The bed and linens were outstanding. Everyone raves about the beds and it's all true. The cabin was very spacious as one would expect in this cabin category. The furnishings were very nice and comfortable.
The ships staff was outstanding. Every single one of them, including the window washers and painters, were all smiles all the time. They couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. I read some Marina reviews that said the staff wasn't helpful. Don't believe them. There will always be someone who will be unhappy about something. The Riviera staff never gave us a reason to be unhappy. All they did was make a fabulous cruise even better.
The ship had various activities on-board including lectures, painting, cooking classes, bridge, and sporting activities such as mini golf, platform tennis, croquet and driving range. We enjoyed the sporting activities. My wife enjoyed the gym; I don't gym. The spa is really nice and really expensive and has a private deck and pool area, which we enjoyed. We booked a cooking class before the cruise but didn't attend. They're normally scheduled for 4PM which complicates shore excursions (and early diners). We had also heard it's a beginner's class. They even pre cut all the ingredients for you.
We visited Gibraltar Casablanca Motril/Granada Valencia (the Formula One race was in town right next to the ship) Barcelona Marseilles Monte Carlo (overnight until 11 PM, wow) Livorno/Pisa/Florence and finally Rome. We enjoyed every port we visited (except Morocco) and mostly booked private tours or the local HOHO bus. We spent over a year using the Internet to make the most of the trip. We didn't book any excursions through the ship. Although more convenient, they typically cost double or triple what it costs to make your own arrangements. We actually arranged numerous excursions through the CC Roll Call, which is just a fantastic message board. I would encourage everyone to join and use this CC feature. We booked both of our transfers with private companies and saved about $300.
The entertainment was actually good. We didn't see all of the shows but enjoyed DJ Johnny in Horizons every night. We even toured Monte Carlo together one day.
I read some posts about the Internet on-board. Although my cabin had a laptop, we didn't use it. I got my emails on my phone when we got to port. I can tell you that Mauricio, who works for Oceania's computer subcontractor, was on our cruise working every day to improve the system. Sharon, who we booked another cruise with while on-board, also said a major upgrade is being implemented soon. I know Oceania is working hard to improve this issue. They also need to work on the speed of their website.
We absolutely loved Riviera and can't wait for our next Riviera cruise August 2013.