I would like to start this review by thanking a great couple I met, on the NCL Jade in April 2014, who first introduced me to this great resource “Cruise Critic”. Their names are Catherine and Michael from Edinburg, Pennsylvania. My ... Read More
I would like to start this review by thanking a great couple I met, on the NCL Jade in April 2014, who first introduced me to this great resource “Cruise Critic”. Their names are Catherine and Michael from Edinburg, Pennsylvania. My best wishes to them both! She practiced nursing and he was somehow linked with the local university.
** The Riviera is a mid-sized, beautiful ship. It has 15 decks and holds 1250 passengers, it is an easy ship to get very quickly familiar with it, in general it feels uncrowded (even being full) except when passengers are back from touring (as happens in any other cruise ship) especially if you want to have lunch at the Terrace Café or the Waves Grill.
**Stateroom was of good size and in good shape with the exception of the carpet which needed a deep cleaning or replacement. Comfortable and well-appointed bathroom but with a rather small shower stall. Cabin lighting in general is not up to standard, especially when looking at yourself in any of the mirrors. The attendant, Gede and his un-named assistant were very prompt, respectful and reliable; it was also very nice not having them around your door expecting for you to leave to make up the room! - as it happens on other cruise lines. Storage was acceptable though the closet was too narrow having problems closing the doors because they got caught up on my jackets. Also the space between closet and bed was a bit tight.
** The Library (Deck #14), was exceptional. It is divided into several small rooms according topic of book and furnished each with comfortable arm-chairs and a low table at center. Very private and very peaceful indeed. Those rooms open onto big windows with great views and the location close by Baristas is perfect because there you can grab great cappuccinos, small biscotti or a piece of cake, pick up a book and enjoy the whole experience. If you like a good cup of coffee, Baristas on deck # 14 is the place and not to be missed!
** The Concierge lounge was too small considering the amount of people using it – they went in, sat down and spent a very long time there, many talking nonstop. Granted that there you can make your own preferred coffee, have some eats offered, read newspapers or use the computer but the TV is on blasting all the news during the cruise that you are trying to avoid, so the possible peacefulness of the Library doesn’t exist here. The only advantage is that if your cabin is on deck # 9, is within easy reach. Very close to the Concierge Lounge you will find the Launderette Room, with top notch washer & dryer and there is a fee for the use for both of them of $2US; there is also a steam Iron and Ironing board (free). It is a very roomy place and impeccably kept.
**The Canyon Ranch SpaClub located forward on deck 14, has all the amenities and staff to make it a must see and used place; the rooms for Pilates, stretching, etc. that are supervised by an Instructor are ample with floor to ceiling windows with great views The Gymnasium has top of the line equipment and like all of this area with great views. There you can find all the things you need to enjoy working out like bottles of water, Gatorade, juices, etc. plus large number of spongy towels. Excellent place.
**Officers, staff and crew in general were excellent, always ready to help and make things better. Of course there were a couple of exceptions which on this cruise involved the service staff of the Grand Dining Room, coincidentally both at lunch time but different days, two waitresses, though efficient, were quite rude and were doing their jobs with a total lack of good will. The strange thing is that in the Terrace Café or the Waves Grill, the workers were always extremely busy but regardless of all that, ALL OF THEM were an example of friendliness, warmth and good will! I have to say that in general the staff coming from the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia and Europe in general, behaved in the same appropriate way and it was a pleasure to have them around because you knew they were on the ready to assist you in any way.
**Unfortunately the Latin American staff, though efficient, completely lack what the mentioned nationalities have a plenty. Non-existent at all, they were cold, curt with not even a hint of a smile. Not a welcoming bunch.
**The passengers though the majority were of “certain age”, was very nice to see they were in very good shape in comparison to the many out of shape you find on other cruises. In general they kept to themselves but were nice, social and civilized anyway.
Of course there were others that for sure were the opposite and indeed ignored by us.
**Food wise, there is nothing to complain about, to the contrary! Overall quality, variety of menu and presentation of cuisine were all excellent. We experienced all of the dining venues on the ship and they were all extremely enjoyable. There were one or two misses but overall the food was superb. Very difficult to choose which one is the winner but Red Ginger gets the prize for this cruise on Riviera. It was a pleasure to have dinner at Toscana and be able to speak Italian! For the first time ever (more than 30 cruises already) I was able to speak the language of the theme restaurant. Almost the same I could say when having dinner at Jacques, though with only three of them from France (Richard from Lille was one of them - outstanding!). In general all these restaurants are well designed with good taste and environment – especially so was the stunning Grand Restaurant – service with first class china and silver but the crystal was quite plain – I was quite surprised that not one of the venues had cut glass crystal. Although each setting had a cluster of at least 4 different sizes, being of so simple design they looked like an unmatched set. On embarkation day, if you don’t like big crowds and fighting for a table do not eat in the Terrace Café or the Waves Grill instead head to the Grand Restaurant and you will be introduced to the Riviera in the way it should be, with amazement and joy.
**Room Service was impeccable, always on time and much attention to details, they even offered to set the table for us! And I am not talking about a butler here, okay? Choices are quite ample for breakfast as much it was for dinner. Concierge and Suites have the option of a hot breakfast.
**Some warnings; all the specialty restaurants can be reserved prior to boarding the ship but each category of cabin has a timetable when you can do it (find out accordingly), so if you like to have a table just for two, I recommend to do it the moment your allowed to, for this cruise they started taking reservations on line just after midnight of allotted booking day. **Regarding drinks packages; Oceania offer free three options for you to choose from, one of them the ‘House beverage package”, this includes wine, beer and soft drinks served at dinner & lunch ONLY, meaning that whenever you would like to have any of these items outside of those times, you have to pay for it and in general they are not cheap. So it might pay to get their package at the higher level that costs 59.95US per day per person (you can do this on embarkation day at the Reception Desk area) so you can have wherever you like including alcoholic beverages any time any place. Almost every night, through room service, we ordered premium brands of double scotches with ice on the side, at no cost except the occasional tip for the room service delivery. Forewarned is forearmed!
**The afternoon tea (High Tea?) in The Horizons (Deck#15) was clearly disorganized and the service did not match the fare offered. All servers were impressively dressed but do not have the appropriate manners (demeanor) to pull it all off. In a way it was a disappointment after reading so many good revues on C.C.; the highlight was the Ocean String Quartet, four beautiful young girls playing magnificently to a room full of noisy people more absorbed with the food they were eating than paying attention to their performance.
**The entertainment shows I’ve seen with the exception of one (That’s Entertainment; the Marilyn Monroe sketch was pathetic) were up to standard, namely Colleen Williamson (singer) and Roman & Svetlana (ballroom dancers) the two most outstanding acts. Both were really super stars! I already mentioned the Ocean String Quartet and how excellent they were at the High Tea service but at night the group seemed out of place in the Grand Bar and even more so on one occasion when all four wore white ghost-like gowns.
**A few comments about the embarkation process. We were first in line in the Concierge cue right beside the Suites cue which was empty and were told we were next to go to the registration desk and all of a sudden a Suites passenger came rushing up. The girl in charge stopped us and said they must go first. This happened 3 times without explanation every time and each time it was very upsetting. What Oceania should do to avoid this kind of insulting experience is to have specific desks for the Suites and Concierge class, sort of like airports do for the Business class check in. If no Business class passengers are waiting then the desk is available for general check in.
**Port lectures were very informative and useful. The shore excursions were a mixed bag. The one taken in Tortola (Virgin Gorda &The Baths) was overpriced at $99 and should have been less than $60. There was only one tour guide for about 100 people and the refreshment at the end was about 4 oz. of miserable punch with nowhere to sit down. The transport to the site was by a very long boat ride and then a cramped safari bus ride up the hill. This was followed by an extremely not only strenuous (we were warned ahead of time about that) but also very dangerous long trek downhill to the beach over slippery rocks, very high and low steps (no railings anywhere) with surfaces on angles and covered at times with slippery sand. Should anyone have lost their balance the probability of cuts and head trauma was very high. Luckily we heard of no one falling. The tour guide was a complete zero and we decided not to continue on to the other serviced beach and returned on our own well before the appointed time. Later we learnt that there was another path to the beach and that’s why we did not see anyone going up the way we came because they took the easy walk back. Had the tour Guide informed us of this and other key info we would have skipped the Devil’s Beach and gone only to the serviced beach etc.
**Oceania staff assistance finding the shuttle to downtown Barbados would have avoided us the unpleasant pestering of the numerous taxis drivers at the port – each and every one trying to get us to go with them. Furthermore, once we found the special shuttle that was it, no return trip was available (we learnt that after waiting by the department store until one of the clerks told us we better look for a taxi). All this uncertainty and hassle was not appreciated and takes away from the pleasure of discovering a new tropical city centre and is certainly not what passengers expect from the Oceania experience. This comment was corroborated by many other passengers.
**As you can see nothing is perfect and it is impossible to satisfy everyone but without a doubt Oceania Riviera is very, very close to perfection! It was a pity that St. Barts was bypassed due to a medical emergency. **The artwork throughout was like walking through a museum and the Murano Glass behind the Reception Desk a real masterpiece! Needless to say, if I have the chance, without thinking twice I will cruise with Oceania again! Thank you all for so much beauty!! Read Less