We chose to do our first Oceania cruise based on the itinerary, the ship and the cuisine. We booked directly with Oceania and our Cruise Concierge, Sydney was most helpful throughout the process. We were sailing from Rome to Monte Carlo for 7 nights and chose a Concierge Veranda stateroom. We arrived at Civitavecchia by transfer with Rome Cabs, at 11.30 and with no queues, everyone was being allowed on board at they arrived.
The Riviera, one of the fleet's larger ships, with 1200 guests, it in fantastic condition throughout, our cabin was larger than those we have been in before on other lines and had excellent storage. The room stewards kept it in immaculate condition and kept the mini-bar stocked.
All the venues were beautifully decorated, the Grand Dining Room has a high ceiling with tall windows, creating a great sense of space, the Terrace Cafe is the best buffet we have seen with made to order eggs, steaks, fish and pastas. The staff pick and serve the food for you, with he portions being as generous as you want. The burger bar, Waves was another favourite, their Kobe Beef and the Maguro (tuna) burgers were stunningly good. There are four Specialty restaurants on board, all of which are included, so no additional fees. Jacques (French), Red Ginger (Oriental) and Toscana (Italian) served some of the best food we have had at sea, and each provided a memorable experience. The Polo Grill (Steak House) served great food, but somehow didn't quite deliver the occasion that the others did. The coffee shop, Baristas, was a great place to a leisurely cappuccino and biscotti. A "must do" is the Afternoon Tea in the Horizons Lounge, relaxing with a cup of your favourite tea, some finger sandwiches and a slice of cake is a great way to unwind when you come back onboard from you port visit.
We don't go to the shows, but did attend a cookery demonstration in the Riviera Lounge given by the head chef Alban and Oceania's culinary director Franck, who were most entertaining. My wife also attended one of the classes in the Culinary Centre, which she found to be both informative and fun. Corey the Cruise Director, is great fun and very approachable, his staff ran the various activities during the day, apart from the show there is also music and dancing in Horizons and our favourite place was Martini's where the piano player sang and played but did not drown out conversation. We had the basic O Life Drinks with meals package, but we upgraded to the Prestiege package once onboard, the $20 per head per day makes this a no-brainer.
Throughout the ship the staff were warm and welcoming, providing great service with a smile. This Med voyage had guests from a large age group, some in the 30s and other older, the Oceania experience is calm and relaxed, on this port intensive cruise there were always sun beds available, and I did notice that sunbed blocking was discouraged, no bad thing.
We visited Portofino (a place we can never visit enough), Olbia, which was more interesting than I expected, try a visit to the Panorama Hotel's rooftop terrace for a view over the city and a glass of vino, we had high winds on the day we were meant to tender into Bandol, so it turned into a sea day, which gave an opportunity to enjoy the ship itself. Toulon we found to be somewhat disappointing and if there again would do a tour, St Tropez, people watch in a waterfront cafe, walk up to the Citadel for the views over the bay and have an ice cream Barbarac and our final day & night in Monte Carlo provided memorable sights, the Palace, the cars and people, a drink in Cassino Square at Cafe de Paris, and return to the ship using the Bateau Bus ferry across the harbour past all the beautiful yachts.
Oceania provided a great voyage, in a lovely ship in the company of fantastic people, we will be back