You would think that after eleven cruises with Oceania, we would be unimpressed and complacent about our twelfth cruise. But you would be wrong! This was our first exposure to one of the larger ships or “O” class ships, as they are often referred to, and we were blown away by the beauty and design of the Riviera. We have always loved the size and feel of the smaller “R” class ships, and had concerns that the double capacity of passengers would impact negatively on the cruise. This proved not to be the case. Actually, we felt that there were less passengers on board this ship as compared to that on the smaller “R” class ships. We attributed this to the design and abundance of open space on the ship. All in all, we had a wonderful cruise.
This cruise was a repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona with three ports of call, and nine sea days. We flew to Miami on the day of departure, something we have never done before, as we usually arrive at least one day prior to departure. But we thought that it would be safe to travel to Miami on the day departure because of the number of flights from Atlanta to Miami. We had no trouble and our plane arrived at 8:00 a.m. on that morning. We took a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel and had a lovely breakfast there, before taking a taxi to the ship terminal. Our embarkation time was 1:00 p.m., but we arrived at the terminal at 11:05 and were welcomed and processed on board immediately. We had a leisurely lunch in the Terrace Cafe, met some Cruise Critic friends, and enjoyed the sail-away.
Initially, we had some concern about crossing the Atlantic in April, but were pleasantly surprised with smooth sailing the entire time. Our cabin was located on deck 7 aft, and it was quiet for the entire voyage. We liked being in the aft portion of the ship because it was a quick staircase down to the Grand Dining Room, and five staircases up to the Terrace Café. Of course, there are elevators for those who want them, but I was trying to minimize the weight gain by climbing the stairs. As one Cruise Critic friend said, “Fun in the front of the ship, food in the back”. And was there ever food!!
We always enjoy the wonderful food on the Oceania ships, but we both agreed that the food on Riviera was beyond wonderful. I think I had the best meal I have ever had, ever in my life, at our second visit to Jacques. It was wonderful and the service was beyond reproach. We both enjoyed all the specialty restaurants (Red Ginger, Jacques, Toscana and Polo), but the food in the Grand Dining Room was wonderful, also. We loved the beauty of the Grand Dining Room and being waited upon by the staff. And the menu offered so many choices. I am embarrassed to say that we never made it to the Terrace Café for dinner because we had so many other choices of dinner locations. We were able to eat at the specialty restaurants a total of eight times. Many of our fellow cruisers couldn’t believe that we had not been to the Terrace Café for dinner, and stated that it was their favorite place to eat. It seemed like there just weren’t enough nights on the cruise to eat where we wanted.
We loved our cabin. It was compact, efficiently designed, and very attractive. We had a place for everything, and even had empty drawers. We had the extra large balcony, which was nice, but we really didn’t use the balcony that much. The granite in the bathroom was beautiful and a great improvement over the “R” class ships’ bathrooms in general. Our steward, Andrii from the Ukraine, was on top of everything and took great care of us, all the while training a new employee. There was a lot of staff training of new employees on board our cruise, I believe in preparation for the return of Insignia. But this did not impact on us or the service on board.
Generally, we do not go to the evening entertainment. However, with the addition of the Jean Ann Ryan Singers and Dancers, we enjoyed the entertainment. They presented four production shows that were very professional, well done, and most enjoyable. It was the best entertainment we have seen on an Oceania cruise and I hope they will continue to provide entertainment on all their ships.