We chose this ship and company mainly on the positive reviews , recommendations, and transatlantic crossing itinerary which included stops in the Canary Islands which we had not visited before, and additional sea days which many cruises don't offer. Sadly, the Canary Island stops were cancelled due to a large Atlantic storm which had positioned itself over the area during our scheduled port call. The Captain and company decided to skip this area and continue on to San Juan. This decision was a correct one but another port call in the Carribean or a longer stay in San Juan would have been nice. Instead, we were treated to a very slow 8 day crossing from Malaga Spain to Puerto Rico. We personally did not have any shore excursions for the Canaries but heard from fellow passengers that they were only partially refunded for these planned excursions.
The ship itself is very nice, just the right size (medium) with an excellent ratio of passengers to crew. The public rooms were well appointed and very beautiful for the most part with one exception! The Riviera Lounge is just awful and needs a complete makeover. It is old looking with dark and depressing decor and does not compliment any other rooms or public spaces on the ship.
The line is very popular with seniors ( above 70 years old) and on this particular cruise about 90 percent of the passengers fell in this category. We are a bit younger and many times felt a bit isolated especially at sharing tables in the dining venues. Otherwise, we found things to do on our own as we had little in common with most of the guests. Due to the upper age range of most of the guests, the ships public elevators were crowded, noisy and sometimes not so clean, especially during peak dining times. We mostly used the stairs.
Dining was very good overall (not exceptional) and the choices of places to eat and menus were excellent. Red Ginger was by far the best with quality of food. decor and staff service 5 star all the way. The main dining room was very good too with breakfast the best, but hit and miss quality of food sometimes at dinner. Again, with sharing tables we were not always at ease with our table mates, due to large age differences or topics of discussion. Toscano specialty venue most definitely needs improving. Much better quality Italian food is available in most towns and cities across America. Terrace Cafe and Waves Grill were both excellent with good quality food and good service. The Buffet at terrace cafe was a bit chaotic at peak times with many guests running around into each other. The purchase of alcohol onboard is highly encouraged and the prices are excessive. Beware, if you are going to drink, then the alcohol package will save you some big money.
The service on Riviera is exceptional and in my opinion is what it hangs its hat on! The wait staff were all so friendly and accommodating and the room stewards gave five star service each and every day. The international make up of the crew were delightful and my wife and I were able to converse with many of the staff and form short friendly relationships with them.
The ships Captain did not seem too friendly to me and I did not see him interacting with other passengers during the cruise, other than a brief reception at the beginning where he introduced his staff and said a little about himself. Seems like he was disinterested overall and just wanted to finish the crossing. Maybe 50 years at sea will do this to you. His daily noontime report was just a boring weather report (nothing more) that anybody could rip and read off the wire. This same info was available on the ships TV channel all the time. The rest of the ship officers were available and friendly with ready smiles.
John our cruise director was excellent and the entertainment staff was better than expected. The young production team were awesome, fun and engaging. They had a somewhat difficult task of entertaining so many upper seniors, but they did it!! The comedian acts and Trumpet player were also very good.
This cruise could have been a five category but fell a little short of the mark because of the reasons explained above.
excellent cabin. large size veranda and well appointed room. storage space a bit lacking. Bathroom very good! Good plumbing. exceptional cabin stewards Joe and Clay.