Riviera Cruise Review by true45: It's Complicated
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Rome-Venice --Sorrento/Capri, Amalfi/Positano, Sicily, Zakynthos, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice -- couldn't ask for a better itinerary or better weather.
Try to be to-the-point (not my strong suit) and chronological for the most part. We are vets of RCCL, Princess, Carnival, Disney & Celebrity trying Oceania for 1st time, Oceania all the way for our big 45th Anniversary trip with Excursion Package, Air & Hotel package for 2 extra nights on each end in Rome & Venice including all transportation.
Oceania flights good except for 3-hour delay on Atlanta-Rome leg which got us into Rome late to find the Oceania rep waiting for us and lovely car for drive to Westin-Excelsior. Beautiful hotel ( plain room) Via Veneto prime location near lots of cafes. That afternoon after napping on the plane, we walked to the Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain. Next day, the only full day we had, we booked a tour through the hotel and were told we could be back by noon to take More another tour of the ruins in the afternoon. But our guide was late and we were delayed at a "staging area" before seeing the Vatican. We got back too late for the other tour. We went back to our room ready for a hot shower to find our room not made so we had no dry towels and toiletries not replaced, etc. We spoke to our Oceania rep and she said the hotel would send us some wine but that didn't arrive until she contacted them again. The rep, Vicki, is terrific and efficient -- a great breakfast was provided each morning. She gave a funny talk about Rome life on the bus ride to embarkation. Rome was wonderful.
The Riviera is a beautiful ship from outside lines to inside furnishings. Chandeliers particularly gorgeous everywhere including Terrace Grill -- all public rooms. Embarkation painless but our cabin not ready so we had a fine buffet lunch at Terrace. Our balcony cabin was spacious, nicely done with beautiful linens and marble bathroom. Bed was unbelievably sumptuous. I wish the shower was larger -- we had no use for the tub except to hang unmentionables. Good storage in closets but could have been more storage in bathroom. Would have been nice if there was a picture on wall opposite bed and if the TV could be angled to the bed -- small criticisms, we were very comfortable. Cabin steward, Angelica was best we have had in 20 cruises, personable and efficient.
Art is everywhere in public spaces -- we especially loved the display at Horizons where there is afternoon tea -- nice presentation of treats at 4-5. Lots of paintings, crystal, comfy places to sit with tables, little private spaces. Plenty of lounge chairs outside sun & shade with thick cushions. Ship seemed uncrowded most of the time.
1st night dinner at Toscana --terrific food & service. Specialty restaurants included in fare and restaurant time is reserved after final payment -- very efficient with little invites in cabins night before. Try lasagna appetizer, cheeses so tasty & fresh along with bread & olive oils -- enjoyable.
We had very early long tours planned so all but one day we had room service breakfast -- balcony entitled to only cold breakfast. Never had only a cold option on other cruiselines. Would have liked some protein. But it was prompt -- we asked for berries and it was given each day. One later tour allowed us to try Terrace -- nice selection but eggs were runny unless you braved the line for fresh-cooked eggs.
Oceania tours were much less expensive as a package so we selected from their options -- enjoyed them and the guides. Oceania should consider more bathroom breaks especially on the Amalfi bus ride - several people were uncomfortable.
Lunches in Terrace and Waves (burgers & lobster & malted) offer lots of variety - excellent.
Grand Dining Room is open seating. 1st dinner we were seated at table for 2 at window which we requested every night--food good. 2nd time we tried the GDR we were seated at a table (room not even 1/2 full) between large loud table and table on the other side up a couple of steps so we looked at their feet and they looked down at us. We could not hear each other and asked the waiter to be moved. Don't know why they seated us there. Waiter brought another man who asked, "you want to move your table?" Don't understand why we had to tell again why we wanted to move -- it was obvious and embarrassing with everyone listening. We were moved and food was OK. Terrace dinner one night was very good. Try the risotto and grilled to order options.
Polo -- very good food and service. Try perfect chocolate cake for desert
Red Ginger -- very good service and I had the best beef teriyaki ever and great tempura vegetables but the other food was not to our taste.
At Jacques, we had the most perfect meal for our anniversary and we sprung for champagne. If I knew how to bake bread like this I would put my name on it too. Had Iberia pork, the best potatoes and lovely dessert -- all desserts are terrific.
Cappuccino, cappuccino, cappuccino -- included with your fare along with other drinks, soda, bottled water. You could get served your fancy coffee but it was terrific to go to the machine any time you want & press a button yourself whether in china cups or paper to go -- loved this.
Entertainment was dull and amateurish. We stopped at the theater for a show with the showband playing before and thought they cancelled it. Only 1 couple dancing and 1 other couple not seated. Music dated and band had no energy -- they seemed bored. Did not see production shows. Rock band in Horizons OK and room almost empty. Captains reception open to all on one of the first evenings with string quartet (did not hear them play any classical music which I love, just pop or country/bluegrass) -- nice appetizers and drinks but very quiet and sedate party. Captain had nice personality but the other officers not very visible on the ship. We did meet the Concierge who said to contact him if we ever needed anything. Entertainment seemed geared towards older crowd - we are mid-60s -- we would have liked it livelier. We did see a Magician/Comedian but it was so bad we wanted to leave after a few minutes but stayed so as not to embarrass the performer. Casino was empty.
Our trip took a turn the next day. Our closet door fell off the track and onto my foot the first day and my husband put it back on track. Morning after the reception before the excursion we noticed the bathroom lock didn't work properly -- left a note for the steward to have it fixed. After the excursion, we went back to the cabin -- husband went off to do laundry (self-service on each floor) while I showered. After showering I could not get out of the room. The lock would turn but the door would not open. I banged on the wall, screamed, panicked and turned lock for an hour before I could get the door to open. It was terrifying to be locked in that hot steamy room with no air. No one heard me for 1 hour? I called Reception, she sent a carpenter who said there was nothing wrong with the lock and "can I go now?" Woman from Reception was not concerned and rather dismissive and carpenter did not fix the lock. I was still crying when my husband got back from laundry. I was a realtor for 25 years and have opened many finicky locks and I know when a lock doesn't work. My husband called again and they did fix it again. I thought I was going to die in that beautiful marble bathroom. We called the Concierge and he was very cold. No one from Oceania hotel management contacted us to see how we were doing or checked the work of the carpenter. This definitely affected our vacation. I was nervous, couldn't sleep much the first few days.
Next night at 11:40pm we were in our pjs just about to go to sleep for early tour next day & our toilet wouldn't flush. Called Reception -- they sent someone who kept flushing & flushing as the water level came just to the rim & my husband stopped him from flushing again. They sent someone else who worked outside the cabin and after a while noise stopped. But no one knocked or called to tell us the toilet worked and we could retire. We called after a while and asked reception and they said try the toilet and we did. Why did they not have the courtesy to let us know the toilet was fixed so we could go to bed. A later call to the Concierge was not returned.
We began to think about what is important to Oceania and to us as passengers. Did we need a line of a dozen fancy dressed waiters holding menus in the Grand Dining Room, very fancy furnishings or did we need a carpenter who knew and cared what he was doing, Oceania personnel who were not condescending and who were caring and professional. We don't expect everything to be perfect -- what is important is what happens when something goes wrong - does the Concierge answer your calls? So much emphasis is on the façade at Oceania, many thick paper brochures, chandeliers, that I think compassion for people isn't there. Staff and other personnel don't make eye contact and aren't friendly as on other lines. My husband was a showband musician who was encouraged to engage with passengers -- Oceania's policy must be different.
The last afternoon after our excursion about 2pm we found our suitcases (3) taken out from under the bed and placed on the bed. One of the robes was missing and the cloth not by the bedside. Was this a not subtle hint that we need to pack & get off the ship? We did not appreciate this - service slips often on the last day but this is worse than usual. We moved them so we could rest and packed after dinner as planned.
We are just not a good match with Oceania and cancelled our April 19, 2014 Regatta sailing. We had never cancelled a planned cruise before. We wrote comment cards on the ship and contacted Oceania's management weeks ago but have received no response. The only people who could be considered compassionate are our room steward and the Oceania club representative, Carol, who we told our story to in an effort to cancel the April sailing.
We were told to get out of our cabin by 8, off the ship by 9 and taken to Hilton Molino Stucky on Guidecca Island Venice only to wait an hour on line to check in. When we were done, the Oceania rep could not be found for quite a while. Hilton people were very helpful & took our hand luggage, searched the bag of the rep for our envelope with instructions and found it. They said the rep was back in the lobby and would be with us in 10 minutes. It didn't happen & after a while we saw her and asked for help. She said, "don't you see the weather (it was foggy), I'm busy and I'm just one person." After all this time, approaching 12 noon, we had missed 1/2 day -- we just wanted to see Venice and all we got was disrespect. We could have been left a note or Oceania could have checked us in since we were prepaid and they had our credit card info. There was no breakfast provided -- Hilton is a shuttle ride away across the canal and our water taxi ride to the airport was 7:45am. Continental breakfast is 20Euros per person and just a cappuccino is 6Euros. Breakfast is customary at this price range -- why not include it. Hotel was beautiful, room simple and if we looked out the window sideways we can see the canal. Luggage was handled efficiently
We would not sail Oceania again -- we paid more & got less. Less
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Still very good but irritating...
Time for a Re-fit, Noordam?