This was our 1st Oceania cruise aboard the Riviera, but approximately our 15th cruise, having cruised Celebrity, NCL, RCCL, Holland America and Celebrity (along with a small river cruise in Asia). Overall great impressions with some ... Read More
This was our 1st Oceania cruise aboard the Riviera, but approximately our 15th cruise, having cruised Celebrity, NCL, RCCL, Holland America and Celebrity (along with a small river cruise in Asia). Overall great impressions with some "comments" that I'll note below.
We choose Oceania Riviera because of a great special we found via TravelZoo - received discounted cruise fare (basically 2-1), included airfare (more on that later), free unlimited WiFi on board (one device at a time only), and a choice of house beverage package, shore excursions or ship board credit. We usually do not spend this much on a cruise, but since the airfare to Europe was included and Oceania has a great policy of having many "extras" included that other cruise lines nickle and dime you for, plus we were looking for a more "upscale" experience, we thought we would give it a try. We did opt to upgrade to the prestige beverage package (on board at Reception) and it was worth it for us. Gave you more flexibility. I would have liked some more variance in the wine by the glass options at different bars, but still decent selection. Pretty good selection of beers but no craft style beers (that would be nice addition). Nice choose of sparkling wines and Champagne. Oceania does it right to include bottled waters (still/sparking), juice, smoothies, coffee, sodas, etc in your cruise price. Mini fridge in room with small selection of items and 2 large still bottled waters in cabin per day. Robes and slippers were provided for use during trip. Many people seemed to like to wear these to the pool - which I found somewhat odd.
Ship: beautiful. About 4 years old I believe. The ship holds about 1250 passengers and we were told there were about 1200 on board. So while almost full, it never felt really crowded (other than the few days we tried breakfast in the Terrace Cafe - buffet). It is so easy to get around the ship. We are used to bigger cruise ships and while it did lack some of the extra activities and more bars/things to do - it felt very serene and relaxing. Good atmosphere. Ship seemed very clean and staff was very friendly (with exception of a horribly rude piano player, Bobby, in Martinis Bar). Everyone else was super accommodating (I don't think they know the word "No"!) and very helpful - for example even in Terrace Cafe they will take your plate of food for you and bring it to your table. Lots of interesting art work around the ship. Casino - just OK - 4 tables - 2 with black jack, one with poker and the other I never saw open. roulette and I think craps. Slots machines - OK - but none of the newer type which I prefer. CAsinon bar in middle of the casino was great with good serve and drinks. The lobby area, while beautiful, it a bit of a let down from the large mega cruise ships. Spa/Fitness Center is very nice. The Fitness center is pretty large for this sized ship and had nice equipment (though limited number) and a nice sized room for stretching, exercises, yoga, etc. The machines were very nice and most of them offered you a nice view out the large windows. Towels and selection of water, gatorade, etc was included.
Cabins: We had 8032 a regular Verandah cabin - I think about 282 sq feet. Nice size and larger than the other ships we have been on. Did get lots of offers to upgrade for a fee (upsells), but decided to stick with this cabin. Storage space was adequate. Room was pretty roomy and comfortable. Bed was awesome!!!! Room was quiet. Bathroom - larger than other ships, but felt that the separate bath/shower was a waste of room for us and would have loved a larger walk in shower. The walk in shower was a bit tight but had 2 shower heads and plenty of hot water. Bathroom was attractive looking. Had flat screen TV with DVD player (not Blu Ray). TV stations a bit limited, but had several news stations and music stations and the daily lectures on ports from our cruise director were informative. They do give you Bvlgari amenities that included lotion, shampoo-bath gel and conditioner. They were fine, but nothing I'd rave about. Nice that we did not have to worry about packing these items. While our room was kept clean and comfortable, the floor carpeting could have used a good cleaning.
Dining: This is where Oceania excels. The specialty dining restaurants were awesome and my only disappointment was that we were unable to secure more than the guaranteed 4 nights (one in each specialty). It is so great they are included in your cruise price. Can't say enough about how yummy the food was (especially Jacques & Red Ginger). All were fabulous though. Book your reservations early when they open up. Be open to sharing your table as we had some fun dinners with other couples. The main dining room (Grand Dining Room) was good - though I sometimes felt the menu was just so-so on choices. The food was good however and serve was great. We usually ate our breakfast in the Grand dining room and it was good. Prefered that to Terrace Cafe. Waves Grill is a good alternative for a quick lunch or later breakfast, though the menu is limited and didn't seem to change, so after the 1st couple of times there we avoided it for the lack of variety. The coffee bar (Barristas) offers pastries in the morning and small sandwiches at lunch time and little baked goods throughout the rest of the time. This was the only place on the ship where I could find smaller sized pastries which I love. I don't like to waste a whole large pastries that seemed to be everywhere else. The food overall was good or sometimes better than other cruise lines - definitely a selling point for O. Complaints: without a Concierge or above level cabin, your room service breakfast was only cold choices. Though the rest of the time 24 hour room - nice! Good selections and good food (turkey burger was fab and cheese plate a great late night snack). Also we boarded quite late due to the flight plans and there was nothing to eat until 6pm dinner and we were starved! Oh you must do the afternoon 2 - I only had a chance to do it 2 times - but it was great! There are happy hours (2x per day) on the ship were you can get deals on drinks if you don't have the Prestige drink package. Dress code was country club casual and people seemed to adhere - it was nice not to worry about having to dress too formally.
Embarkation in Rome - you are a long taxi/ride from the airport (FCO) - take that into consideration - probably took us 45 minutes and there was traffic. Opted to take a shared taxi with 2 other friends - total cost was $130 Euros (the ship charges much much more than that). Getting a taxi was quick and easy as they are all over a FCO and easy to find the taxi line. Getting processed and on the ship was easy (see above complaint re lack of food availability - we got on just after 4pm when dining room (Terrace) had closed.
Entertainment: Only saw 2 shows - they all seemed to be at 9:30/9:45 - the singing and dancing were pretty decent, but not up to other cruise line standards. Cruise director Nolan was great and we enjoyed the daily rounds of trivia including name that tune. Shuffleboard and croquet on Deck 15 were fun - but since we were port intensive not a lot of free time except for morning on ship sailing to Zadar. The pool is nice - salt water, but deep (6 feet) with no swallow end. 2 hot tubs - a bit hot for me - but relaxing. Nice lounges and towels and one day they brought out blankets - very nice. Deck area seemed large enough for our cruise, but this was early November so a bit off season. The Culinary Center was a highlight for me. Take one of the cooking classes if you can - it was great!! Did not use the Artists Loft at all. The string orchestra was amazing! They played several times throughout the day at various locations. Just wonderful. Also Emmanuel was a wonderful singer and she gave a great show about Edith Piaf that was quite moving. Don't miss if you can see it. Music several nights in the Horizons lounge that was fun. We did some dancing. Due to port intensive we did not have a lot of late nights, but I heard from some people there was disco dancing until 2pm (which for the older skew of the ship seemed odd - but heard there were like 5 people - lol). Glad to see O accommodated them.
Service: outstanding! Better than some other lines we have been on for sure. Though found it odd that we did not meet our cabin steward until day 3. I loved the absence of "upsells" announcements on O (i.e. jewelry selling announcements, watches, no push for photos - well no photos that I saw). Made for it being peaceful and relaxing on board.
Ports & Excursions: I would not recommend using O's shore excursions. 1st I found them outrageously expensive than other options and I heard many complaints from others who did go with them - from being overcrowded (buses of 50 people), problems understanding the Guides, etc. It was easy for us to get off the ship wherever we docked (unlike other cruise lines where you have 3000 plus people all trying to get off). Loved the bottled waters given as you departed for shore each day. Nice touch. Would have liked a small bag to carry to port each day that we have received on other cruise lines - I suspect that if you are a repeat customer on O or an upper level cabin you get one. They do provide umbrellas but they are the large kind and we choose to bring our small compact ones from home. We enjoyed most of the ports with the exception of Zadar - just not that impressive or that much to do there that interested us. Kotor Monte Negro was canceled due to weather so we were bummed, but the alternative was Dubrovnik and it was fabulous! Walk the walled old town if you can (lots of steps so not friendly to all). We thought the Greek port (Argostoli) was a bit odd of a choice when so many other nicer Greek ports available - but had a fabulous taxi ride from Christopher and we saw some beautiful beaches and scenery in the area, had a great local lunch. The light house - not a real must see - fyi. Venice was easy to get off the ship and grab a taxi ($45 euros) to Marco Polo airport. No need to book the transfer from O. People that did paid about $165 pp and complained about it as they need to be standing outside for a long time and it was cold.
Airfare: ok here's my complaint, but partly my fault for not complaining to O before too late. We had 2 changes of planes before we reached Rome and on our way home from Venice. I heard from others that if I had complained they would have given us a better flight option. Plus we had such close connections in Munich and in Toronto (flew out of San Diego) that we were stressed that we or our luggage would not make the ship. On the way home - too long of a layover at SFO (almost 4 hours). After traveling for almost 24 hours, that really wasn't ideal. I have since heard that you can possibly opt out of the included air and they will give you compensation to do so - no idea how much - but wouldn't hurt to ask. Tip: it was SO worth it to upgrade to Premium Economy for $99.
Age group - definitely older group. Only saw 3 kids (which was fine by me). We are late 40's and probably more of the younger group on the ship, though we did see some couples in their 30's.
Suggestion: add a bar or add TVs to a bar so sports can be viewed during NFL, etc.
Would I sail Oceania Riviera again? If the price was right I would. Read Less