cruises

Oceania Cruises Riviera Cruise Review

Oceania’s Riviera is the newest upscale cruise ship in the market. It’s a splurge—does it deliver the goods?

December 23, 2013

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Riviera had five bars covering most areas of the ship. There was another bar for the Riviera Lounge (open when shows were held), plus an excellent little coffee bar that was one of our favorite hangouts on the ship. Unlike most of the mainstream lines, bottled water, soft drinks, cappuccino, espresso, coffee, iced tea, dispensed juices and milk were all included in the cruise fare. However, unlike most of the luxury cruise lines, alcoholic drinks involved a surcharge.

Wines by the glass started at $8 for a chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon from La Terre; other options for a dollar or two more included Nobilo sauvignon blanc, Danzante pinot grigio, Estancia pinot noir reserve and Spellbound petite sirah; the Champagne available by the glass was Perrier-Jouet grand brut, for $18. The list was stronger for wines by the bottle and included such offerings as La Crema chardonnay ($52), Domaine Huet la Haut-Lieu vouvrey sec ($78), Greg Norman shiraz ($39), and Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($132). The very limited selection of beers included the usual American name brands for $5 to $6—Samuel Adams was the most exotic label we spotted.

Each day, a trio of drinks were listed in the Currents newsletter; the cocktails of the day could be had for $5. Happy hour (two-for-one) was offered each evening from 5 to 6 p.m. at most of the bars.

Baristas

This was a great spot on Riviera, a coffee bar on Deck 14 with seats overlooking the pool and out to the sea. With real Italian baristas preparing proper espresso-based drinks (using Trieste’s best, illy coffee), we almost felt transported to a seaside café in Italy. We came here often. The coffees may be spiked with various liquors for an add-on. There are small bites available from a deli case—pastries, croissants, cookies and biscotti—and juices in the morning. Don’t miss the delicious caramelized French pound cake, known as canelé (and you are forewarned: they are highly addictive).

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Martinis

Riviera’s piano bar percolated with conversation and soothing music each evening—it was the busiest bar leading up to mealtime. During the day this spot was largely empty except when various activities transpired on sea days, announced in the ship’s newsletter. This included martini and vodka tastings (with a $15 add-on), presentations from the spa (culminating in a product pitch), social gatherings and, most entertainingly, lively Spanish lessons.

Grand Bar

This wasn’t a bar, per se, but an art-filled corridor that served as another preprandial gathering spot, with potted palms interspersed between chic couches and chairs. The ship’s string quartet played here for much of the evening. The full bar menu was available (drinks were prepared at the adjacent Casino Bar), and waiters were staffed in the evening. On one of the two evenings we stopped by for a drink, between sitting down and receiving our drink we waited almost 25 minutes. The server seemed unable to multi-task.

Casino Bar

Located next to the casino, this was Riviera’s most garish venue, awash in bright light that flooded the room from behind plexi wall coverings. The color of the lighting was adjustable, but usually the volume was set to full-on lavender. We wouldn’t call it ugly, but it was pretty brash compared to the rest of the ship. A half-dozen framed Picasso drawings were showcased here—wonder what he would have thought?

Waves Bar

This was Riviera’s one al fresco bar option, serving the pool area and those dining at the Waves Grill. Servers effectively canvassed the area for orders.

Horizons

Located on Deck 15, this was the bar with a view, a 270-degree panorama from Riviera’s highest indoor venue. The full bar menu was available here, and the bar was also used for various presentations on sea days, including Bingo, a needlepoint gathering, etc. In the evening there was live music and dancing, though this is not a ship that parties late.

Each day at 4 p.m., Horizons was the setting for afternoon tea. This was a pretty great spread, with assorted finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, and a station for caramelized fruit. We only tried it once during our cruise—wish we’d stopped by earlier.

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Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Dining
  4. Drinks
  5. Recreation & Entertainment
  6. Kids, Services & Other Details

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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