Fodor’s Expert Review
Best For People Who Want
A casual experience on a medium-sized ship cruise; a port-intensive itinerary; a focus on fine cuisine; open seating dining; no additional charge alternative restaurants; a strict smoking policy.Read More
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Mainstream cruise lines with singing waiters.
Designed by veteran ship creator Gunnar Aserud of Yran & Storbraaten, Riviera has all the elements that already make Oceania so popular already – superb cuisine designed by culinary icon Jacques Pepin, alternative dining in intimate specialty restaurants with very reasonable cover charges and port-intensive itineraries to unusual destinations. But also features a more elegant and contemporary interior and additional food options such as the eponymous “Jacques” restaurant with under 100 seats.
The grand lobby on each ship will feature design accents by Lalique. La Reserve is an intimate indoor-outdoor wine tasting venue for up to 24 guests. Full-service spa facilities and fitness centers will be provided by the famous Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Canyon Ranch will also supply the spa culinary options for the main dining room onboard.
Oceania Cruises has always featured excellent cuisine, and Riviera has 10 separate dining venues, some included in the cruise fare and some requiring a service charge. One unique asset of both new ships is the Bon Appetit Culinary Center with 24 individual cooking stations so that guests participating in classes created by Bon Appetit magazine each have their own work station, with a cooktop, oven, pots, pans and utensils.
For guests not cooking their own food, the Grand Dining Room seats 566 and will has a beautifully elegant, contemporary look. These are the tallest single-story dining rooms at sea, ranging from 20 to 30 feet in height. Special acoustic insulation and floor materials minimize noise.
The Marina Lounge is the main showroom and theater on Marina. The shows include production shows with singing and dancing, as well as tribute bands (Beatles, etc).
Both ships will feature 629 staterooms, which combined will average some of the largest staterooms at sea. The top suites are up to 2,000 sq. ft., with furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home and designs by Dakota Jackson and Tocar New York. There are also 124 penthouse suites measuring 420 sq. ft. apiece. The smallest staterooms are 174 sq. ft.
With a continuing focus on comfortable staterooms, Marina’s 282 sq. ft. Veranda Cabin is one-third larger than the standard balcony cabins on the line’s existing ships, with space added between the bed and the closet. Other features include floor-to-ceiling windows; the signature Oceania “Tranquility Bed,” with 700-thread count linens; free, unlimited soft drinks and bottled water kept in a mini-refrigerator; a full-size bathtub; an LCD flat-screen TV; safe; hair dryer; cell phone service; and 110/220 volt outlets.
Guests in concierge-level veranda staterooms are provided with a laptop computer with Wi-Fi access – although regular Internet usage charges apply.
The ship has 124 Penthouse Suites measuring 420 sq. ft. These suites have a separate area for seating as well as dining, with a separate window for added light and views. Furnishings include a desk; an armoire with a built-in makeup area; and a wall-mounted flat panel TV. The bathroom has a marble floor and granite counter with a separate shower and tub. There is a large walk-in closet.
Featuring the culinary mastery of the iconic Jacques Pepin, the food onboard is above average in the main dining room and buffet areas, and often extraordinary in the alternative restaurants.
Riviera includes 10 eateries onboard including the eponymous “Jacques” which features some of Pepin’s personal favorite recipes. It has been said that no cruise line chef has ever devoted as much attention to a single restaurant as Jacques Pepin has devoted to “Jacques”. He even designed the format of the menu and has his personal artwork hanging on the walls.
Dining on Marina is as varied as it is consistently delightful. The accent is on variety, and it is highly recommended that you make as many reservations as possible in the alternative restaurants if you are not too tired after a day in port. If you are tired, a casual stroll at your leisure to Tapas on the Terrace is a great way to get fast service and great food without waiting.
The service on Oceania is top-notch, with butler service in the suites. Waiters are knowledgeable and attentive.
Since Oceania has a flexible dining program, gratuities of $11.50 per person per day (including children) are automatically added to the shipboard account for all dining room and stateroom personnel. An additional $3.50 per passenger per day is added for suites where Butler Service is provided. Tipping is at the passenger’s discretion, however, so the amount may be increased, decreased, or all gratuities can be removed, by contacting the front desk. Gratuities of 18 percent are automatically added to bar charges and spa services.
With no ties required and “country club casual” recommended at night, you’ll see women in everything from blouses with pants and skirts to much more elegant attire.
One of the best cruise ships in the world – fantastic food and lovely comfortable staterooms, a luxury-style value.
A definite step up from the original Oceania Ships which are mostly upgraded original Renaissance decor – Riviera is a remarkably beautiful ship with stunning furniture and appropriately tasteful finishings throughout.
There is an actual theater showroom on the ship, plus a larger casino and a beautiful dining room. The alternative restaurants are lavishly appointed in the themes to which they aspire. The main staircase is covered in Lalique Crystal which you might overlook if you did not know it is there. Understated elegance is the keyword for Riviera decor.
The ship also boasts an art collection that could be apprised at well over $1-million.
The Grand Epernay Dining Room, which opens at 6:30 p.m. and serves until 9:30 p.m., is commonly very lively, but the acoustics have been improved over the older ships making for easy conversation. Bowing to customer sentiment, Oceania has many tables for two. If you enjoy seafood, don’t, miss the pan-seared scallops over Parmesan risotto.
Reservations are required for the popular alternative dining spots, Jacques, Polo Grill, Red Ginger and Toscana restaurants. The clubby Polo Grill (catering to the carnivorous) offers fresh seafood in addition to the the kind of delicious red meat entrees carnivores adore. Tapas on the Terrace adds new dishes every evening.
Red Ginger is Asian fusion, which while it is not the favorite cuisine of many, it has been voted the best Asian fusion at sea by those in the know.
The very intimate Jacques is not to be missed. Decked out in a homey French Kitchen atmosphere you will find the service and the food in keeping with the ambiance. You will feel like a budding Michelin chef eating his grandmother’s best farm fresh dishes.
The Terrace Cafe, adjacent to the pool deck, is a grand place for breakfast. There are always servers ready to put the food on your tray for you, which we suggest you allow them to do. The buffet area on Marina is the most impressive we have ever seen, with chefs creating fresh food in full view. There are pasta and bread making machines rolling out ravioli and croissants while you wait for a fresh batch to cook. “Fast food” on cruise ships has never been any better than this.
Waves, the outside luncheon grill, offering burgers, chicken, salmon,and even fried calamari, plus a daily special and salads, is the place to head for a late lunch (’til 5 p.m.). Everything’s served with fries that are wonderful when hot, so-so when not, and cole slaw that will make you moan ecstatically. There’s a high tea every afternoon at four in Horizons.
Riviera has a fine onboard orchestra, a string quartet and pianist. Each evening you can enjoy shows in the Cabaret Lounge. Oceania will tell you frankly that entertainment is not high on their list of priorities as most people find a long day in port followed by haute cuisine to be more than enough for a satisfying day. But Riviera is a larger ship and so special production shows have been created and appear alternatively with guest artists in the main showroom nightly.
The most important aspect of Riviera is the Bon Appetit Culinary Center, designed in conjunction with the magazine. Here guests not only see demonstrations on cooking techniques, they actually get to try them, each pupil with a complete working workstation of his own with burner, utensils, sinks, knives, etc.
The casino is smaller than most, with tables for blackjack and roulette. Depending upon itinerary, standard shipboard activities like bingo, bridge and dance lessons are limited, since you’re in port most of the time. The incomparable cyber-cafe offers instruction, but classes fill up quickly, so don’t dawdle.
The staterooms on Riviera are roomy and very comfortable, with Ralph Lauren linens and towels. The staterooms on Riviera and Marina are larger on average than the original Oceania ships. They have large screen flat panel televisions and mini-bar refrigerators.
4 Owner’s Suites
6 Vista Suites
12 Oceania Suites
120 Penthouse Suites
440 Veranda Staterooms
20 Ocean View Staterooms
14 Inside Staterooms
All together, the square footage makes Riviera’s cabins the largest at sea on an average cabin size basis.
The fitness center has treadmills, bikes, and several weight machines and free weights. A walking/jogging track circles the top of the ship. Several aerobics classes are scheduled each day.
The spa is operated by Canyon Ranch which also offers a menu of treatments ranging from lavender deep-cleansing facials (only $59), holistic citrus facials ($99), foot and ankle massages (a bargain at $39) and aroma stone therapy massages ($159, though most massages start at $99). Fitness classes, including Pilates, are complimentary.
Canyon Ranch also designs the “spa menu” cuisine available in the main dining room.
Well heeled people who are down to earth and know smart buyers when they meet them.
The second ship built to Oceania Cruises’ specifications, Riviera debuted in 2012. A sister ship to Marina, she was conceived to appeal to lovers of fine dining and travel. Signature features are similar to those on Marina, but Riviera has the advantage in some public spaces, which were designed with higher ceilings, and in an enlarged culinary arts center.
Marina and Riviera are the first brand-new ships built for Oceania Cruises and, although they are an all-new design in a larger ship, they include the deluxe features found on the smaller fleetmates—specialty dining in intimate restaurants, country-club casual ambience, and enrichment programs. The emphasis is on destination-cruising in style and the decor is classic and comfortable. In this larger ship, designers expanded some of the elements, such as the staircase in the grand foyer, which has a landing with two sweeping sets of steps.
Attention to detail is an Oceania hallmark that can be found in Privée—the private dining room that can be reserved for dinner parties—where a custom-made one-of-a-kind Lalique-crystal table is illuminated by a white Venini-glass chandelier, and fanciful Murano-glass chandeliers glitter in the buffet restaurant. A classical string quartet plays softly in the background at afternoon tea in Horizons, the observation lounge with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows.
Oceania offers itineraries to smaller ports megaships can’t reach and a near-luxury cruise experience for fares much lower than you would expect. The line first set sail in 2003, carving a unique niche in the cruise industry by offering a sophisticated vacation best suited to inquisitive, well-traveled passengers. Its midsize ships carry fewer passengers than popular mainstream lines. Varied, destination-rich itineraries are an important characteristic of Oceania Cruises, and most sailings are in the 10- to 12-night range.
Intimate and cozy public spaces reflect the importance of socializing on Oceania ships. Indoor lounges feature numerous conversation areas, and even the pool deck is a social center. The Patio is a shaded slice of deck adjacent to the pool and hot tubs. Defined by billowing drapes and carpeting underfoot, it is furnished with plush sofas and chairs ideal for relaxation.
Thickly padded single and double loungers are arranged around the pool, but if more privacy appeals to you, private cabanas are available for rent. Each one has a double chaise longue with a view of the sea; overhead drapery can be drawn back for sunbathing, and the side panels can be left open or closed. Waiters are on standby to offer chilled towels or serve occupants with beverages or snacks. In addition, you can request a spa service in your cabana.
- 11 passenger decks
- 6 specialty restaurants, 1 dining room, buffet, café, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
- 1 pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
- 7 bars, casino, dance club, library
- dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal, Wi-Fi
- no-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
All accommodations have a vanity-desk and a seating area with sofa or chair and a table, generous closet and drawer/shelf storage, marble- and granite-clad bathrooms, hair dryer, robes for use during the cruise, safe, and refrigerator. Inside staterooms have a shower only; all other categories have a separate shower and bathtub. Oceania’s Tranquility Beds are dressed in high thread-count linens. Concierge-level stateroom occupants are greeted with a bottle of champagne on ice and have access to a private concierge lounge, a laptop to use during the cruise, complimentary shoeshine and pressing services, priority dining reservations, designer toiletries, and a tote bag.
In addition to the concierge amenities, suites have an entertainment center, a refrigerator, walk-in closet, and marble- and granite-bathrooms with a bathtub and designer toiletries. The top three suite categories have whirlpool tubs and separate showers and a guest powder room. Oceania Suites also have a media room, while Vista and Owner’s suites have private workout rooms. Butlers are on hand to coordinate reservations and serve evening canapés and dinner ordered from the ship’s restaurants.
Six staterooms are designed to be wheelchair accessible.
Food & Drink
The Grand Dining Room serves open seating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Specialty restaurants require reservations, but there’s no additional charge for Toscana, the Italian restaurant; Polo Grill, the steak house; the French cuisine served in Jacques, the first restaurant to bear Jacques Pépin’s name; or Red Ginger, featuring contemporary interpretations of Asian classics. Also requiring reservations are the exclusive Privée, which hosts private seven-course-menu degustation dinners for a single party of up to 10; and La Reserve, where wine and food pairings are featured. The casual buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, a poolside grill serves hamburgers and a variety of sandwiches and salads at lunchtime, and a pizzeria is in the buffet area. Room service is available 24 hours.
Bars and lounges have an intimate quality, from the martini bar where piano music is played, to the show lounge that offers small-scale entertainment ranging from headline acts and concerts to comedians and magicians. The observation lounge is a late-night hot spot with dance music and even karaoke on tap.
Spa & Fitness
Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a long menu of body wraps, massages with an Eastern influence, conditioning body scrubs, skin care and tanning treatments and acupuncture. Thermal suites include single-sex aromatic steam rooms. A highlight of the tranquil open-air Spa Terrace is a therapy whirlpool. All Concierge-level and suite guests have unlimited complimentary access to the private Spa Terrace; all other guests can purchase passes.