3 Oceania Riviera Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Europe - Black Sea

Our cruising days started in 1999, sailing with P & O and Princess. In the last three years we have hanged our allegiance to the luxury lines (Seabourn, Regent and Oceania to date), and are enjoying the difference!! We returned from ... Read More
Our cruising days started in 1999, sailing with P & O and Princess. In the last three years we have hanged our allegiance to the luxury lines (Seabourn, Regent and Oceania to date), and are enjoying the difference!! We returned from our first Oceania cruise a couple of weeks ago. We went to the Black Sea starting from Istanbul, Turkey and ending in Athens,Greece. 22nd September to 2nd October. Unfortunately, due to the Troubles in Crimea and Ukraine the company had to cancel the ports of Yalta, Sabastopol and Odessa, ports we have visited before. We had booked this cruise after the changes were made, so no complaints there. A couple of the replacement ports were however, not the best so we stayed on board. CHECK IN… We stayed overnight in Istanbul and had a taxi to the port, arriving at about 1.00pm. We had to show our passports and tickets to a port officer, outside the port gate and it was a bit of a scrum but after depositing our luggage and going to the ship’s check in desks in the (sort of) terminal, the procedure was quick and hassle free although we did have our our passports looked at, three separate times!! THE SHIP.. Riviera is beautiful The art work throughout the ship is interesting and eclectic. The furnishings and carpets are presented in delightfully soft colours. There is plenty of space. in the public areas. She is not small, but carries only 1200 passengers. (Compared with P & Os Aurora, which is the same size, and carries 1800 passengers.) so Riviera is never crowded. We could always find a sun lounger in the right place. Never a problem getting a drink at the bars, or in Baristas coffee lounge. THE CABIN.. Ours was a balcony cabin on deck Seven Aft. Rather smaller than either Seabourn's or Regent’s equivalent cabin level, but as a bonus we had a double depth balcony. More of that later. The drawers and cupboards were plentiful but not all at a convenient height for a little short person like me! The wardrobe doors were not very easy to access. The bathroom? Small, only room for one person at a time! but well appointed and had bath with shower over, shower cabinet with glass door, one basin, good lighting, marble and mirror fittings. Super thick towels and nice toiletries. The good exceeded the not so good. DINING…. The best cuisine at sea? Probably. The Grand Dining Room is very Grand indeed decorated in gold and cream with a magnificent large crystal chandelier in the ceiling. There is no fixed time dining. The service was perfect for us, certainly not slow, but at proper dining speed. All the staff were attentive, they were well trained and charming. The restaurant Managers were on hand all the time and made sure everything ran smoothly. We are not wine connoisseurs and so had no complaints about the wine offered on the package. We were always able to have a table for two if we chose to. There is no extra charge for dining in the alternative restaurants but you must book in advance. We ate in all four having made reservations on line prior to the cruise. Toscana was my favourite, and the Polo Grill surprised me,(I thought the portions would be to big for my small appetite) Jacques was a great pleasure. We dined with lovely people at each venue. I enjoyed Red Pepper food the least, but my husband thought it was the best! The internet connection was the best we have ever had on a ship. EXTRA NOTE.. A little anecdote to illustrate the care Oceania takes …… As mentioned before, our balcony was double depth. On the Interim Questionnaire, I wrote that the balcony furniture was rather small and the chairs did not recline. I suggested that on such a large balcony, a sun lounger might be nice. The next morning, on opening the curtains, we found a sun lounger on the balcony, which must have been delivered while we were having our dinner the evening before. That’s attention to detail, and proof that the questionnaire was not only read but acted upon without delay! Thank you. The only criticism we have of Oceania Cruises, (apart from the mean balcony furniture), is the cost of the Tours. Very, very expensive. We only took one tour ( a boat trip along the Danube Delta) and it was only OK and not value for money. Even so we had an enjoyable time with our fun fellow passengers!! Did we have a good cruise? Yes. Would be go with Oceania again? Definitely.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Personal Background Information: I've been on the S. S. France in 1969 with roomates from University, crossing the Atlantic from New York to LeHavre; and subsequently the Norwegian Prince in the middle 1970's in the Caribbean ... Read More
Personal Background Information: I've been on the S. S. France in 1969 with roomates from University, crossing the Atlantic from New York to LeHavre; and subsequently the Norwegian Prince in the middle 1970's in the Caribbean with a group of 12 on a pre-wedding trip- Bermuda and Puerto Rico; and on the Crystal Symphony as a solo traveler in 2009 in Norwegian Arctic waters. The Riviera is the most modern ship for me. This was my second solo trip. Travel to Port of Embarkation: I flew on my own on Turkish Airlines from Naples, italy to Istanbul, Turkey which is only a 2 hour flight. I spent about a week in Italy prior to flying to Istanbul to embark the ship. Hotel Info: The Ritz Carlton in Istanbul was hospitable and helpful with a swimming pool with a view and easy taxi access to the port of embarkation. Embarkation: When arranging for my transportation from the hotel to the port of embarkation, the transportation company needed to know which port in Istanbul. The cruise line provided the information about which port in Istanbul only a few days prior to sailing which I thought was odd. The embarkation itself was uneventful. The Vista Suite is allowed to board at 11:00 a.m. which allowed me to explore the ship before a large number of passengers are on board. It is a bit eery though having the ship quite empty. Stateroom: The Vista Suite is located at the bow of the ship directly underneath the Bridge where the Captain and crew are located while navigating the ship. There was no noise from them. The suite has one-half the front of the ship. It is great for taking photos when entering ports. The view of the Bosphorus at night leaving Istanbul was memorable. I booked an early dinner to be able to return to my suite to watch this great display of Turkey. Ship Info: The Riviera is a modern ship and is well designed for inland waters in terms of stabilizers and engines. It is not an ocean liner, though. Dining: I preferred having room service in my suite because of the beautiful view. I only booked two evenings in the restaurants. I have to avoid certain foods such as Asian (uses soy heavily) and where wine is used heavily in cooking. In booking the suite, I was allowed to order room service from any of the restaurants and was not restricted to just the main dining room menu. My butler served the meal at the full size dining table in my suite. Activities: I brought e books to read out on the terrace of my suite and found that delightful. I have no information for the readers about children's clubs. Staff & Service: Sometimes the staff was a bit disorganized which as the reader will see further on in my narrative might be a reflection of upper management in the cruise line. However, I do believe that they were doing their very best. Entertainment: I did not book the cruise with the intention of seeking out entertainment. I was interested in being healthy and having a good time with shore excursions. Since the Riviera did not have stellar reviews from members about its entertainment, I did not seek it out. Shore Excursions: Unfortunately, the Riviera had four changes of itinerary before leaving port. When I received an Oceania brochure in the U.S. mail describing the itinerary, the cruise line had already changed the itinerary three times but failed to reveal that fact until after I booked the cruise and paid in full for the cruise. My advice to cruisers is, prior to booking to receive a written statement from the cruise line that lists any prior changes of itinerary. It is very important in these unsettled days to look carefully at the political climate in the area and not assume that it will improve. In my case, the fourth change came after my booking and full payment. The cruise line made me wait until I boarded the vessel to find out specifically how my shore excursions would be affected by the change. Ephesus is a major world heritage site in Turkey and very important to see. Even cruises that are only 2-3 days long and start in Athens, Greece make port to see Ephesus. We were originally due to make port very close to Ephesus. Instead we were several hours away in Izmir. Since this was the last port before disembarkation from the cruise, the entire treatment of it was a disappointing and marred the end of my trip memories. Also, prior to leaving on the trip the cruise line generated a final bill that did not correctly show my ground transportation in Istanbul and Athens. When I wanted it corrected, the cruise line again insisted that I had to wait until I boarded the Riviera to get the change made. Those are the facts. The reader can judge for herself whether or not you want to book with this cruise line. Disembarkaton: I never really knew if the transportation situation in Athens was solved until we arrived in Athens. I had to hunt around for my private sedan and driver. I also wasn't told until onboard the ship which day of my stay in Athens would be the tour. Summary: Disorganization marred the trip.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We were two couples from Northern England seasoned cruises i must add, and chose this cruise because we had not been to the Black Sea before.Unfortunately some of the usual places they visit were changed on the itinerary because of the ... Read More
We were two couples from Northern England seasoned cruises i must add, and chose this cruise because we had not been to the Black Sea before.Unfortunately some of the usual places they visit were changed on the itinerary because of the troubles in that area.Nevertheless we still enjoyed the cruise. Embarkation went smoothly although we did have to walk the full length of one ship before boarding Riviera. Stateroom: We both had Penthouse suites on Deck 11 midship on starboard side.They were spacious and comfortable and with a butler, everything was catered for. All the public rooms lounges etc.were decorated to a high standard and were all in a pristine condition as was throughout the ship. We chose to dine for dinner in the main dining room with a good variety of menus.Service here was good although on one occasion they were under pressure one night, as everybody came at the same time due to the Captains welcome party.Also dined at 3 of the 4 speciality restaurants.Great cuisine in each of them,except Jacques the French restaurant.Two of our guests chose a lamb main course which was lamb wrapped in pistachio filling then encased in a pastry encrute.When it was sliced open the piece of lamb inside was no bigger than a postage stamp!! Come on Oceania more lamb please.We were offered another course which was declined. Entertainment of the 4 shows by the Jean Ann Ryan company were excellent.Standard of the other entertainment was good also. No tours were taken as everybody knows Oceania are rather expensive.When will they get the message! Brief description of ports visited; Nessebar,Quaint town with narrow streets/walkways with souvenir shops,restaurants and bars. Constanta,Not as bad as some blogs suggest.Have to go with open mind.Old part does have derelict buildings but there is a new pedestrian walkway through the area with cafes and bars. Betumi,Nice esplanade to walk along then head inland to come to the town with buildings of a Russian influence. Trazbon,Typical Turkish city with shops and a fortress to visit. Sinop,Nice port area and esplanade to walk along and head inland also to the town. Kusadasi,This is the port for Ephesus to visit although the town of Kusadasi is worth a visit to the shops to buy genuine fake goods and haggle for a good price. Disembarkation was a smooth transiton to Athens airport, transfers by Oceania. As we all have done Oceania cruises before, the conclusion was would we travel with them again and the answer would be a resounding yes.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Riviera Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.5 3.2
Public Rooms 4.5 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 2.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.2
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

Find a Riviera Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click