We recently returned from three back to back cruises on Oceania's Riviera. We have sailed on their smaller ships before, so this was our first sailing on one of their larger ships. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We have already booked the Riviera for our next cruise for 2014. Our prior cruise with another company went from good, to bad to worse when the crew was reduced by 25% midway through the cruise. It was great to be back with Oceania and to experience the Riviera.
We took the ship's transportation from the airport to the ship in Istanbul. Embarkation was very quick and easy. We went straight to our cabin and our luggage was already outside our cabin door. We brought them inside and then went up to the Terrace Café for lunch. Note: If you are on a back to back cruise, continuing guests are invited to a special lunch in the Grand Dining Room, away from the newly boarding guests in the Terrace Café.
Our cabin, #7131, had an extended veranda with a 6 foot overhang above it. This provided us a choice of shade as well as sunshine. We have suggested that a chaise lounge be provided on these verandas. The cabin size was sufficient for this long of a cruise, and we enjoyed the larger bathroom than those on their smaller ships. The closets were a bit smaller, but they did have lights inside to better see your clothes. Another plus was the night light in the bathroom. Oceania listened to its customers when designing the Marina and Riviera. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and they kept our cabin spotless! We always had fresh towels.
The Red Ginger was one of our favorite restaurants and we were pleasantly surprised at their tea menu. There was quite a selection of tea. The pear and ginger tea was my favorite. Our second favorite restaurant was Jacques, French restaurant. For a special dinner try the Privee. We were fortunate to find a listing on Cruise Critic's roll call from a guest offering other guests to join her and her husband, who reserved this table for 10 guests in advance of the cruise. We all received an invitation giving us the date, time and where to meet and then we were escorted to the Privee. Each couple reimbursed the couple who had paid in advance. This was one of the restaurants for which Oceania has a separate charge ($50.00 per couple), and the other is the .
The Grand Dining Room is tastefully done, and there are many tables just for couples. All of the meals were served beautifully and timely, with one exception where the meal ticket got lost and there was a delay between courses. The very observant maître d quickly resolved the situation.
The Waves Grill offers great sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers for a quick lunch And, it is next to the ice cream bar. There is a selection of ice cream and sorbets which changes daily. Try the milkshakes and smoothies, or create your own sundaes.
The Terrace Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet dining. The tables at the dinner buffet are transformed with gleaming white linen table cloths and a different colorful china place settings. One can also dine al fresco on the outside veranda. The Terrace Café also offers special buffets such as Asian, Spanish, Italian, etc. buffets throughout the cruise.
For early morning risers, there is a coffee corner in the Horizons beginning at 6:30 am. Fresh coffee, cappuccino, espresso, tea, chocolate, juice, rolls, cereals and fruit is always available. A friendly waiter is there to assist. The Barista on Deck 14 for cappuccino or coffee frappe is a nice hide-away for a quick cup of coffee and a biscotti from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm. The Horizon's afternoon high tea is wonderful, with special desserts, cookies and finger sandwiches. There are specialty drinks of the day at special prices and each day there were "happy hour" prices for drinks in all of the ship's bars for beverages listed in the Martinis Bar menu.
The entertainment was very good. Our only complaint was that because we had three back to back cruises, a few of the entertainers repeated their acts three and four times. The "Broadway" type of shows, although repeated, were so well rehearsed that each show appeared new and fresh. The Jean Ann Ryan Company's salute to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber," Now and Forever", was exceptional. Although they now have a true theater, the stage could have been a little higher as well as the ceiling height. When they hoisted the dancers, their shoes came close to the lights.
Oceania provides shuttle service in most ports, some free and some for a modest cost. Their shuttle in Barcelona was less expensive than the pier's private shuttle. Unfortunately, the shuttle ran only the first day of our overnight. Although the shuttles were listed in the daily news, I would recommend that a notice of the shuttles also be posted at the gangway.
Oceania is for vacationers, and we enjoy the country club casual dress. Thankfully, gone are the formal dress nights. I did not even pack a tie. Also they do not have ship photographers to interrupt your dinner, or stall everyone on the gangway at every port to pose you with a crew member dressed as a... (add your own character)...
The shore excursions like most ships are pricey, and always include "shopping". Personally, we cruise to see the cultural things. If we want to shop we stay home. If you don't want to schedule your own private tours, then take the ship's tour. The ship will always wait for you if your tour bus is late. With a private tour, they will not wait.
We were very pleased with the Riviera. We enjoy the mid-size ship and the wonderful décor. Four specialty restaurants are an enhancement to dining.