Riviera from Oceania – Elegant; finest cuisine

Mike Davies – 16-05-2012 – OceaniaRiviera


Riviera from Oceania - a beautiful premium elegant cruise ship. Stepping on-board Oceania’s newest cruise ship, Riviera, I was immediately struck by the elegance of the ship, and the superb courtesy of the crew. Glass of champagne in hand, a quick look at the sweeping Grand Staircase with balustrades of crystal medallions showed off very well the 4600 pounds of pure Lalique crystal. One of the Marina guests loved the staircase so much he had a replica built for his own home!!

There’s a lot of modern art around, including quite a few Picasso’s - the most expensive being discreetly sited in the Ladies restroom!

The overriding theme of the ship is casually elegant atmosphere, unique itineraries, quality hand-picked crew and beautiful culinary offerings.

The food is outstanding, and the ship builders commented that the kitchen prep areas on board were larger than those ships twice their size.

Oceania drives themselves to offer ‘the finest cuisine at sea’

There are 10 eating areas - all of which are outstanding, and include; the Grand Dining Room, where all items are prepared to order, and menus include the lighter ‘Canyon Ranch Spa’ selections. Jacques, set up as a provincial French restaurant, and the Oceania signature restaurant; Polo Grill, where 28 day aged USDA steak is a highlight. Toscana, fabulous for Italian delicacies. Red Ginger, the unexpected hit of the speciality restaurants, and receives the highest passenger rating after their cruise. A major highlight is the slow-cooked Sea Bass in Miso sauce.

Public areas are elegant, with lots of quiet areas. The Riviera lounge is the main performance venue with a capacity of 700. Horizons is the ship’s observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides. This is also the setting for the very popular ‘Afternoon Tea’. A four string quartet plays as warm scones, jam and cream are served with English tea, and a variety of sandwiches and cakes, by crew in white uniforms wearing white gloves.

A really successful development is the introduction of the Bon Appetit Culinary Centre where Oceania have teamed up with Bon Appetit magazine to feature a hands on learning experience in a set up that looks a little like Master Chef.

On Riviera, guests can now go ashore on an escorted trip with the Executive chef, and buy local ingredients in the market and return on-board to prepare and cook them.

All of this foodies delight is overseen by the Executive Culinary Director - Jacques Pepin. He was chef to French President de Gaulle, along with two other French presidents, so probably knows a thing or two about preparation!

There is also a delightful library, Artist’s Loft, Internet centre, shopping, bars and Casino. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a great range of treatments, and includes a sauna and steam room. Even the showers have three settings to bring you back to earth gently - sprinkle, rainforest and downpour!

The swimming pool is surrounded by elegant sun loungers, with the option of relaxing as a couple on one of the double-sized loungers.

The accommodation is excellent; with a variety of sizes. There are 3 Owners suites - with over 2000 sq ft completely furnished by Ralph Lauren Home

There are eight Vista suites and 12 Oceania suites all designed by Dakota Jackson and around 1000 to 1500 sq ft, and these are often the first to sell out

A very good option is the Penthouse suites - 420 sq ft with a living and dining area separate from the sleeping area, a walk in wardrobe, and a double vanity unit.

All suite guests can benefit from Champagne on arrival, 1000 thread count bedding, Bulgari and L’Occitane toiletries, butler service, and the luxury of ordering en-suite meals from any of the ship’s restaurants - served course by course for maximum freshness, taste and warmth. There are also 200 Concierge staterooms and 244 Veranda Staterooms and these are around 282 sq ft.

Oceania is a very much in demand product, although they have only been around for nine years. It’s a niche product that is becoming more and more respected.

It appeals to those guests who love understated quality, exceptional food, and amazing attention to detail.