|Owner’s Suites measure more than 2,000 square feet and feature rich furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home.|
In May, we sailed on a preview cruise of Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, Riviera, which sailed the Mediterranean en route from Monte-Carlo to Barcelona, where it was christened by celebrity television chef, Cat Cora.
The ship drew rave reviews from invited guests, including more than 230 travel advisors, who praised its beautiful physical attributes, its service by a dedicated crew and its excellent cuisine.
For those in the know, Riviera is quite similar to its sister, Marina, which launched in January 2011. Each carries 1,250 guests and is much larger than Oceania’s other siblings, the 684-guest Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.
As we reported last year, after sailing on Marina’s preview cruise, the ships are stylish new vessels, with an intense attention to detail that gives them the feel of an extremely high-end residence, rather than a flashy party ship.
Indeed, on the Riviera and Marina combined, it’s said there is an estimated $10 million in original artwork by well-known artists, including Picasso.
On our cruise, many argued that while the ship positions itself as an “ultra premium” line, they found it to be luxury all the way.
|Owner’s Suites come with a dramatic entry foyer and music room overlooking the sea.|
The Bon Appétit Culinary Center provides cooking classes while at The Studio, arts and crafts, watercolor and needlepoint classes are given every day. The Canyon Ranch Spa is a great facility at sea, supplying massages and facials and other treatments. The fitness center nearby was in use throughout the cruise by those keeping up their daily regimens and perhaps by others hoping to work off some well-earned calories from classy meals served in the Grand Dining Room, Toscana (for Italian, request a table for two at the bow of the ship for a romantic setting), Red Ginger (serves unique Asian cuisine; one passenger told us this is his favorite restaurant ever, on land and on sea) and at Polo Grill, where steaks of all kinds and delicately prepared fish are served on an extensive menu. Note: Oceania does not charge an additional fee for its specialty restaurants, nor for other amenities such as bottled water and other soft drinks.
Jacques, a French bistro launched on Marina by French Chef Jacques Pépin, serves wonderful cuisine in a restaurant that could easily be in the heart of France’s countryside.
We enjoyed a concierge-level verandah stateroom on the ninth floor (No. 9053), which provided plenty of space for the two of us and a neat balcony where we could soak up the sun when we could grab a moment from Riviera’s great selection of port stops, which included Marseille, Valencia and Barcelona. We found the shower stall to be a bit cozy but were thrilled to find that Riviera has added shower heads to its sumptuous tubs, providing the option of two shower venues in each stateroom.
|An Oceania Suite living room has floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to a private teak veranda.|
Concierge-level staterooms include the use of a lounge and a private concierge to assist in planning dining reservations and land excursions. There are also computers here to e-mail photos home, as well as cold drinks and magazines.
We stopped dead in our tracks with delight when we realized that Riviera had mimicked the very popular purple bar on Marina; it sits between two sections of the ship’s casino. Here, the wines are well-chosen from all over the world and the martinis are pretty swell, too.
Steve Orens, president of Plaza Travel, loved his preview cruise on the Riviera.
“The food and service was great throughout the ship. You can really tell that the staff is proud of their ‘home’ and they want to make sure everything is perfect. During my time wandering the ship there were so many special places to sit and read, to enjoy the sun or have a drink. The buzz and energy of all the guests was great!
“I do want to add that during my wine-paired dinner in La Reserve I was more than impressed with our wine sommelier. Her name was Daniella and each time [seven times during the meal] she came to the table to present the wine, her knowledge, the way she spoke and the information she gave us made you forget about any conversation you were just having, she captivated you. And the wine was great with perfect pairings. I can’t wait to go back.”
Because Oceania’s targeted demographic is the PDA-touting baby boomer between 55 and 65 years old, the cruise line ensures that there are plenty of ways to connect to the Internet. In fact, those with concierge-level accommodations have laptops in their rooms and may soon be given the choice of having an iPad. High points of both Riviera and Marina include a computer center, filled with Internet-enabled desktops that are available all day and night. Nice Touch: The computer centers lead into each ship’s wood-paneled, book-filled libraries, where refreshments are supplied from a coffee bar.