This was our second cruise on the Oceania Riviera and we LOVE this ship! We boarded August 6 in Athens and the cruise ended in Istanbul. In 2012 we also cruised the Mediterranean on this beautiful ship for 10 days.
My wife and I are in our young 40's and our kids were 16 and 13. All four of us have cruised extensively (over 60 cruises for me) and have sampled many lines from Carnival to Holland America to Regent Seven Seas to Azamara etc. Anyway, we have many lines by which to measure against.
The Riviera stands out in my mind as what cruising used to be (or how I remember) when I first cruised in 1982 on a 18-night Los Angeles to San Juan cruise on the original Love Boat's sister Island Princess.
The ship is gorgeous and service outstanding. Fellow passengers are well traveled and most not from the United States on our sailing (as we are). Food in every venue but the main dining room was excellent with the main dining room being fair to good. The Verandah Cafe on the back of the ship is a favorite spot for dinner on warm Summer nights where you can enjoy excellent variety and quality including fresh fish, steak, lobster and nightly specials.
Our Penthouse Suite was very well appointed and clearly ergonimically amongst the best staterooms at sea. Our kids had a Concierge balcony next to our stateroom that was also well appointed. Bed sheets are the best I have experienced in a hotel or on a ship.
The atmosphere on board is relaxed and casual, yet most passengers dress extremely elegant (especially at night) without having to wear tuxedos, ties, or cocktail gowns. What person wants to put a tie on in 90 degree Mediterranean weather? I suppose if you are trying to reenact the Titanic? We are from Los Angeles and were impressed at how Miami or L.A. chic most of the passengers were. The on board environment is friendly and quiet. No photographers, no pushing drinks in "souvenir" glasses. None of the cheesy and tastless tactics to generate revenue found on mass market lines were noticed while on board. Sure there are some add ons that people can choose, but they are not pushed hard.
Most of the passengers enjoyed the laundry facilities. Many people (no matter how wealthy) still like doing their own laundry. Many passengers arrived at Riviera after touring for a week or so before and were thrilled to be able to throw in laundry loads.
Shopping on board for a mid-sized ship was very impressive.
The only area we found to be poor was the Purser's Desk where employees seemed annoyed to assist guests and some were quite rude.
The Executive Lounge (for suites) and Concierge Lounge (for Concierge cabins) were nice, but rarely used.
My family appreciated that there was not loud obnoxious music or cruise director broadcasting by the pool. It kept the pool relaxing.
We never went to the big evening shows. However, the pre-dinner strings and pianist were absolutely amazing!
Oceania reminds me of my early cruising days as a kid and is really a class act on every level. The cabin service was fantastic. Both our stewardess and butler worked tirelessly.
We like doing our own thing ashore and arranged many private tours in advance for a fraction of what the cruise line charges. We also don't care to be on large busses in groups. I would advise doing research and your own shore excursions customized to your liking.
In summary, my family (yes - my kids included) loves Oceania and we look forward to sailing with this line again soon.