Oceania Cruises’ Riviera combines a civilized atmosphere, unique itineraries, and incomparable cuisine worthy of many prestigious shore-side restaurants.
Oceania Cruises launched Riviera in a rousing ceremony in Barcelona in 2012. This 1,258-passenger ship is a benchmark in design for this dynamic company that is at the forefront of upper premium cruising. To achieve this bellwether of luxurious living Oceania Cruises sought out top designers to create interiors that exude flair and vitality.
The Grand Staircase is an icon on-board all Oceania Cruises’ ships. To create Riviera’s magnificent focal point the company looked to Lalique. Crafted in stunning Murano glass, the chandelier that adorns the Grand Dining Room sets the tone in this lavish room.
Where to eat
Ever since the company’s inception in 2002 cuisine has played a pivotal role in the success of this cruise line that is increasingly on the radar of those seeking culinary excellence. With its stunning Murano glass chandelier, Versace charger plates and Riedel crystal, the Grand Dining Room is as glamorous as it is decadent. So comprehensive is the menu that multi-course dinners are more often than not the highlight of every day, while the Sunday brunches are a sight to behold.
Oceania Cruises are a foodie maven’s delight, and the choice of speciality restaurants on-board Riviera is nothing short of outstanding. The classic American steakhouse, Polo Grill, is a haven of conviviality enhanced with burgundy leather chairs and curtains in hues of crimson, claret, gold and sage green. Evoking tranquil Tuscan scenes with unimpeded views out to sea, the cool style of Toscana belies the cornucopia of Italian delicacies that make this a gastro treasure trove.
Red Ginger makes a dramatic statement with its decorative centrepiece of three brightly lit Buddha heads. With a nod to feng shui, the tranquil décor radiates with ebony woods, bronze and hand-blown glass light fixtures and eclectic, modern Asian artwork. To complement the interior, the dedicated chefs in Red Ginger’s galley create contemporary interpretations of Pan-Asian gourmet classics that represent the cuisines of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan.
Jacques unpretentiously draws inspiration from the fabled bistros of France and showcases mellowed wood which was reclaimed from a barn near Lyon. An art collection comprised of some of Chef Jacques Pépin’s favourite pieces adds a warm, personal touch; while custom-made signature china and Lalique glassware adorn the tables.
Infused with natural sunlight, the Terrace Café is a perfect oasis for relaxed dining at any time of day. Sumptuous breakfasts are cooked à la minute, while at lunch appetising salads and an expansive menu of international dishes is complemented by flavoursome rotisserie meats. In the evening there is a chilled ambience with on-trend Mediterranean-themed menus.
Where to sleep
Without doubt amongst the most spacious at sea, the 625 custom-crafted suites and staterooms are unashamedly luxurious. The Owner’s Suites; Vista Suites; Oceania and Penthouse Suites boast artistic grace and refined glamour. The use of exotic woods takes restrained yet luscious taste to another level; less Art Deco, more smart deco.
Stateroom categories include 282 sq ft Veranda Staterooms; 242 sq ft Ocean View Staterooms; and 174 sq ft Inside Staterooms. Prestige Tranquillity Beds, with a two-inch thick ‘pillow top’ cushion feature throughout the accommodation on-board Riviera. Passengers also love the voluminous marble and granite bathrooms with a separate shower and full-size bath-tub.
What to do
For a cruise line that puts so much emphasis on epicurean delights it is little wonder Oceania’s Bon Appétit Culinary Centre on Riviera has proved so popular. With 24 fully-equipped work stations and induction cook tops as well as convection ovens, passengers in the beginners classes can learn basic knife skills, techniques for cooking fish and preparing French sauces; advanced classes concentrate on sous-vide and pressure cooking methods. Under the tutelage of Oceania Cruises’ Culinary Enrichment Director, Kathryn Kelly, there are one and two-hour classes.
Guests can also sign up for Riviera’s ‘Culinary Discovery Tours’ which are led by expert chefs and make stops at local food markets, vineyards, and artisan delicatessens. The visits ashore are rounded off with an on-board cooking class inspired by produce bought ashore. There are also dedicated ‘Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festival’ sailings led by renowned culinary and wine experts, featuring cooking classes, market tours, and wine tastings.
Production shows include ‘World Beat’ – fusing percussive rhythms of Irish tap dancing to the tempos of New York City streets; ‘That’s Entertainment’ – inspired by showbiz icons such as Sinatra and Monroe, Elvis and Madonna’; and ‘Lights, Camera, Music!’ – a tribute to Hollywood musicals, from the glamorous 1940’s to the high-kicking can-can of the Moulin Rouge. Alternatively there is a string quartet; live piano music in Martinis; while the beat goes up a tad in Horizons as nights draw to a close.
Pushing the boundaries of shipboard spas well beyond the traditional, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a multitude of indulgent therapies. On deck there is a large heated pool and three whirlpools plus putting greens, shuffleboard, paddle tennis, croquet and bocce courts and a fitness track.
Oceania Cruises is not a familiar name in British cruising circles, which is a pity as Riviera is akin to the filament in the light bulb whose hot, bright ideas have lit up the cruise industry.
What I loved
The beautifully appointed Canyon Ranch SpaClub Spa Terrace comes with a large, heated thalassotherapy pool as well as wicker loungers, many with personal clamshell shades. Sadly this hidden gem is only accessible to Concierge Level and Suite guests.
The poolside sun loungers in the shade are always in high demand. If you want to soak up some sun then head one deck higher (Deck 14) where there are equally comfortable chairs to relax in and the views are impressive.