First the positives:
The food, the food, and the food
As a lobster lover, my goal was to eat some form of lobster every day and I succeeded in that goal!
Despite what others have written, Toscana was our absolute favorite and we were happy we were able to get a second reservation there toward the end of our cruise. It almost seemed as if the wait staff tried extra hard to provide an excellent experience due to the mostly negative reviews they have received lately. We loved the various olive oil selections provided to accompany the bread basket and between the 4 of us dining over the course of 2 nights we tried most of the hot and cold appetizers (one particularly hungry night we each ordered a hot and cold appetizer in addition to a pasta course and an entree) My absolute favorite entree was the Lobster fra diavolo. It was perfectly prepared in a very fresh tasting sauce and was not at all messy to devour. The fish selections as well as the pasta courses were also excellent
Jacques was also a gastronomic feast. Our waiter Manuel was absolutely wonderful, so much so that we gave him a generous tip and sang his praises to the Manager. The food here was beautifully presented and perfectly cooked especially the various fish and shell fish selections. The restaurant is also very pretty.
Polo Grill was good with some room for improvement The crab cake appetizer was top notch as was the whole main lobster, but the beef and meet selections fell short of expectations The Porterhouse and NY Strip were merely ok and the Rack of Lamb curiously lacked any discernible flavor.
Red Ginger was by far our worst dining experience. The service was actually terrible and could not have been any slower. It took nearly 3 hours to complete the meal including half an hour for appetizers to arrive and and another 45 minutes before the main course appeared. We were seated near the front door and there were also several very angry people waiting for their reservations to be honored enduring waits of more than 30 minutes. Several just gave up and left and presumably went to the buffet or the grand dining room. The food here was merely okay and nowhere near as good as the myriad Asian restaurants we frequent in NYC.
Grand Dining Room service at breakfast was extremely slow the 3 mornings we were there despite the fact that the dining room was nearly empty. Breakfast selections sound better than they are and I actually preferred breakfast at the Terrace Cafe. We ate dinner here twice. Unlike the specially retaurants, the selections here change nightly. The first night we enjoyed everything we ate including the steak, fish and lobster selections. The last night we went toward the end of the cruise, the selections were disappointing.
Terrace Cafe Great place to grab a quick breakfast. Excellent selection of fresh fruits and berries Fantastic French toast as well as lox and pretty much anything you can think of to eat for breakfast. We only went here the last night on board for dinner because we got back to the ship late and had to pack and that was a mistake. The food offered that night for dinner was absolutely an excellent surprise! There were several stations where you can order dishes prepared to your liking including the grill offering lobster tails jumbo shrimp swordfish as well as chicken and steaks. The great thing about the Terrace Cafe is that despite being a buffet, guests are not permitted to touch serving spoons and help themselves--there are multiple servers at each area who serve you with gloved hands-a much more sanitary way for certain.
And last but not least, the coffee and cappuccino offered everywhere was absolutely fantastic, especially at Baristas
On the plus side
The ship is very clean, very well maintained and beautifully decorated without being garish.
The cabins are also large (we were in class B3 cabins) well appointed and designed with plenty of closet, drawer shelf and room in the bathroom for everything. Beds are also very comfortable and there are plenty of high quality towels provided as well as great robes. Curiously, we had to beg to get additional shampoo, conditioner and lotion This was never automatically replaced after it ran out and on one occasion we had to make several requests before it was replenished.
Staff at the reception desk is surly at best and not well informed. Upon embarkation,and check in we asked several questions and each was met with : That is answered in The Current (the daily newsletter) Which we found when we finally got to our cabin Either the staff is totally uninformed, or couldn't be bothered to answer our questions. Also, more than one employee in the reception area does not speak intelligible English.
Tender ports: BEWARE do not sail on Oceania if they stop at a tender port you really want to visit. We learned this the hard way The first stop was the tender port in Sorrento. Although it was a beautiful day, the captain made the decision to abort the tender operation at 8 am because he said it was unsafe to launch the tenders. Apparently, this happens quite often for Oceania at this port. There is no excuse for this since Naples is a nearby port option where ships 5 times larger (Norwegian Epic) than the Riviera dock regularly. Oceania tenders in Sorrento to save the docking fees which is inexcusable for a higher end cruise that costs twice as much as sailing on the Epic. Shame on you and on me for not realizing this before booking. We had a private tour booked for the Sorrento port and as a result had to eat the $500 cost and did not get to see Pompeii one of the sites we were most looking forward to.
Midship deck 7 made for a very smooth and quiet cabin experience only disappointment was we booked 2 cabins next to eachother and was told by Oceania call center that they could open the balcony door to creTe one large balcony and when we embarked we were told" don't do that anymore because it is a safety hazard"
Mt Etna and wine tour through Viator excellent excursion
Fantastic walled city Walk off the boat and across the street and you are there.
Tender port aborted by captain so we just sailed on by after only trying to tender for 20 minutes
Walked around town A bit or a tourist trap but very pretty. Probably the most boring (and the cheapest to dock at) port in all of Greece
Another boring port with little of interest to see. Dubrovnik or Split would have been much better to visit.
Wow cave was quite a unique experience Highly recommend using Viator for this.View All undefined undefined Reviews