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Riviera Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
691 Reviews

A very pleasant cruise on a delightful ship

Riviera Cruise Review by Liat

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: the Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite

Oceania Riviera Cruise – Caribbean Feb. 4 – Feb. 14, 2020

Why this cruise?

Out of our 41 ocean cruises, we had done 8 on Oceania vessels, and greatly enjoyed their small size, excellent food and general high quality of service; as well as good itineraries. Riviera is the same size as Oceana Marina, with 1250 passengers, and about twice the size of the four other ships in their fleet. But we felt like spoiling ourselves with a Penthouse Suite on this ship for a relaxing 10 days in the Caribbean, sailing to some ports we had not visited, and others we had not seen in some time. It was a worthwhile and very pleasant trip.

The Ship

With a gross tonnage of over 66,000 and a passenger complement of 1250, the space ratio per passenger was a very generous 52.86 cubic feet; far more than the normal cruise ship range of 30 to 45. The crew numbered 800, giving the ship a ratio of 1.56 passengers per crew member, again one of the best afloat, far ahead of the normal cruise ship, and bested by only a few of the super luxury lines. Riviera was built in 2013 and redone in 2019. It’s décor is very pleasant, leaning to striking modern art and low key walls, floors and public areas. The furniture is varied and comfortable.

Our cabin was 405 square feet. This is plenty of room. There are two small chairs and a table at the foot of the bed, opposite some drawers, the refrigerator, dressing table and TV. The “suite” area has a full sized couch, table and arm chair and a large desk with ample drawer space. The verandah has two wicker arm chairs and a table. The closet is a walk-in, with plenty of space, plenty of clothes hangers, several drawers and shelves and the usual safe. The bathroom has a large sink, a shower bath and a separate shower. There is more than enough space for all one’s toiletries. The lighting system is excellent, with both the bed and the couch having separate gooseneck reading lamps in addition to normal lamps. The thermostat worked and we were able to maintain a good temperature level. We had this same cabin on Marina for its first Transatlantic crossing In November 2011, and knew these quarters to be a fine place to spend a cruise.

As noted above, the ship is of a decent size, and laid out pretty well. Deck 15 has the delightful Horizon Room forward. Deck 14 features Toscana and the Polo Grill, the library, computer station, Barista coffee bar aft and the spa and fitness center forward. Deck 12 has the Terrace Buffet and Waves grill aft, the pool midships and some luxury cabins forward. Decks 11 through 7 are all cabins. Deck 6 has the Grand Dining Room aft, the Great Bar, Casino and Martinis Lounge midships. Deck 5 contains Red Ginger and Jacques midships, and the shops, Reception and the theater forward. Deck 4 has the Medical Center and tender debarkation. There are two elevator locations, one with two and the other with four units. There was seldom any delay on them except outside the theater after the shows, which can’t be helped.

Dining

Oceania is surpassed only by Crystal in the quality of its food. Riviera has its Grand Dining Room and Terraces buffet, and four specialty restaurants that have no extra charge; Red Ginger for Oriental food, Jacques for French Dining, Toscana for Italian and the Polo Grill for steak and beef lovers. The food in all of these venues (we did not try the Polo Grill) is excellent and the service beyond reproach. We had two dinners in the buffet, which was well set up with table cloths and fine table ware, as well as having an excellent selection. While all the restaurants were busy, none were noisy, and all moved smoothly. The selections were quite varied, and the desserts marvelous.

Entertainment

There were five production shows, including one on the pool deck which we did not attend. This is far more than on any ten day cruise we have taken. The production team consisted of six males and six females, and they were quite talented in comparison with most cruise line offerings. Once again, Crystal sets the mark. The theater is on the small size, although it was never completely full. It does not allow for any spectacular routines, but we did appreciate the fact that the sound was kept to a reasonable level. We did not see any of the other entertainment offerings, with one exception. This was the Ocean String Quartet – four young ladies from Poland who played every day in the large Horizon Room for 4:00 P.M. tea, and three other daily sessions in the Great Bar area outside the main dining room. We greatly enjoyed their music. There were other shows in the Theater, but we do not enjoy comedians, and were not moved to attend any other acts. All the evening shows started at 9:30 P.M.; which seems a little late given that most people dined starting at 6:30.

There was an Enrichment Lecturer, Dr. Greg Wheeler, an archeologist who spoke on all sea days and was reasonably entertaining. On board announcements were not made into the cabins, with the exception of the Muster Drill and the word from the Captain that we could not tender into Punta Cana, DR due to rough seas.

Ports

Nassau was our first stop, but with five other cruise ships in the harbor, we were docked at the farthest pier, and did not feel up to walking to the cruise terminal. The next day was a sea day (which we love) followed by Punta Cana, where, as noted, the sea was too rough to tender ashore. Our next port was Marigot on St. Maarten where we did a ship’s tour which was quite nice. Sunday saw St. John’s, Antigua, but it was raining, and while my wife strolled around town, not much was open. The next port was St. Lucia, where we had a private tour that was also very nice, and we enjoyed this island. The last stop was St. Barts. This is a French island, with mostly French inhabitants, unlike the other stops. It also caters to the wealthy, with several multi million dollar yachts in the harbor, extremely expensive hotels, homes selling for several million euros, and very expensive restaurants. We limited ourselves to strolling around the port area. After that, it was two sea days and then Miami.

The Crew

With 800 crew members we were well taken care of. Oceania manages to keep an experienced group. Our cabin stewardess had been with them 13 years, almost as long as the company has been in business. Our butler was very pleasant, and although we did not use him much, he was always readily available, and checked on us every day. The Executive Lounge concierge was very helpful when I ran into an airline reservation snag. The medical staff was very efficient, and the reception staff always pleasant and able to come up with an answer. As noted above, the dining staff was first rate. We noted that the Executive Chef often visited and observed the buffet and main dining room service during times when food was being served; often accompanied by the General Manager and/or the Executive Concierge. That is a sign of an excellent management attitude.

Miscellaneous

The cabin TV had some excellent features such as a number of movies, and a clear passenger account record, but the news was somewhat limited, with only European sports and a very poor navigation reporting system. This seems odd in view of the fact that all intercontinental airlines have excellent navigation systems at every seat. Other cruise lines also do a much better job In this area. The daily on board activities were typical, and the enrichment speaker was able to fill in with a lecture when we did not stop at Punta Cana.

Conclusion

This was a very nice, if not spectacular cruise. We had booked it for a fairly quiet trip, and that was what we got. We looked forward to a delightful cabin, excellent service and great food, and we received what we expected. What more can one ask for.

Bon Voyage


Liat's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Penthouse Suite

Our cabin was 405 square feet. This is plenty of room. There are two small chairs and a table at the foot of the bed, opposite some drawers, the refrigerator, dressing table and TV. The “suite” area has a full sized couch, table and arm chair and a large desk with ample drawer space. The verandah has two wicker arm chairs and a table. The closet is a walk-in, with plenty of space, plenty of clothes hangers, several drawers and shelves and the usual safe. The bathroom has a large sink, a shower bath and a separate shower. There is more than enough space for all one’s toiletries. The lighting system is excellent, with both the bed and the couch having separate gooseneck reading lamps in addition to normal lamps. The thermostat worked and we were able to maintain a good temperature level. We had this same cabin on Marina for its first Transatlantic crossing In November 2011, and knew these quarters to be a fine place to spend a cruise.


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Liat
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