Iberian Immersion Cruise on the Oceania Riviera
11/4/21 to 11/20/21

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Page 1 – Pre-cruise in Nice, France; Embarkation, Ship (Part 1)
Page 2 – Ship (Part 2); Ports of Call:  Marseille, France; Toulon, France
   
Page 3 - Ports of Call: 
Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Cartagena, Spain; Melilla, Spain; Alicante, Spain
Page 4 -
Ports of Call: Ibiza, Spain;  Catania, Sicily; Naples, Italy
Page 5 - Rome, Italy: 
Day 1 & Day 2 (Part 1)
Page 6 -
Rome, Italy:  Day 2 (Part 2) & Day 3

 

Ship (Continued)

Pool Area – I really liked the pool area on the Riviera.  It feels like one that you would find in a fancy hotel.  The pool itself is very pretty with the large shallow area surrounding it.  The two hot tubs are also nice.

   

   

There was plenty of seating and it was very comfortable with the plush towels on the lounge chairs and beds. 

   

At night the colored lighting made for a nice photo. 

 

Sanctuary – In the front part of the sun deck area on the port side is a very nice, shaded area called the Sanctuary.  It contains quite a few padded lounge chairs and beds.

   

 

Patio - In the front part of the sun deck area on the starboard side, just across from the Sanctuary, is another shaded area called the Patio.  It contains several padded couches and chairs.

   

 

Sun Deck – The main part of the sun deck on deck 14 above the pool is for those that didn’t want any shading while sunning themselves. 

   

 

Fitness Track - There was a small walking/jogging track that went around the smokestack on deck 15.  It was short for a jogging track; but it was an area that didn’t have a lot of traffic to get in the way of those that used it.

   

Also on deck 15 was a croquet/bocce court and a shuffleboard area.

     

   

 

Casino - It is a small casino, but it is also a smaller ship. With the lower passengere count, it never looked busy.

   

   

 

Culinary Center – A very popular activity on the Riviera was the cooking classes in the Culinary Center.  During the cruise there were seven different classes.  There is a cost for each class. Reservations needed to be booked as soon as possible, since the classes filled up quickly.  The room is set up very nicely so that each person has their own cooking area.

   

   

 

Artist Loft – This is the area where various classes and presentations are held to teach you how to paint. They also had to be booked as soon as possible.

   

   

 

Golf Putting Green – At the top of the ship on deck 16, which could not be accessed by elevator, was a very nice putting green.  A small driving cage adjoined it.

   

   

 

Paddle Tennis – Next to putting green was a pickleball court.  It looked like a lot of fun; plus, it takes up a lot less room than a full-sized tennis court.

 

Boutiques – The shops on the Riviera are all located in one area on deck 5.  They had a nice selection of items, and the shops had an attractive upscale appearance.  I wish that there had been more Oceania logo items available for sale.

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

 

Atrium – As in the smaller Oceania ships, the grand staircase is the focal point.  It is such a lovely area to see as you enter the ship for the first time. 

   

The area around the staircase has cozy seating areas on each side of the atrium.  Additionally, the concierge desk is located there also.

   

   

The Lalique signature Cactus Table was certainly a focal point in the center of the staircase.

 

Reception – On one side of the atrium was the reception desk.  I was most impressed with the friendly attitude and efficient handling of any questions or issues.

 

Destination Services – This is where ship excursions are booked.  It is staffed with very helpful people to help you pick out the best tour for you.

 

Promenade – There is no promenade deck on the Riviera.  But that brings up the question of how one would get to the lifeboats if needed.  There actually is a very narrow deck just outside deck 6 that provides access to the lifeboats. 

 

Board Room – I thought it was clever to call the card room the Board Room; although when I saw the name on the deck plan, I thought it was a meeting room rather than for gaming.  The room was closed on this cruise for Covid social distancing reasons.  People had to play their games at other places around the ship.

 

Oceania@Sea – The Riviera has a very nice sized internet area with lots of terminals.  It was very easy to set up our iPhones and iPads within the comfort of our cabin, without any assistance from their help desk.   

   

Our cruise included free internet for one guest or device in a cabin at a time.  Oceania should be embarrassed at the terrible internet speed.  It is the worst I have experienced on any cruise and we were only at 61% capacity.They need to upgrade their  networkto reflect the quality of the Oceania brand.

 

Library – Between the internet café and Baristas is a curved hallway.  Along that hallway is the library broken down into separate cozy rooms.  With the large bookshelves, fireplaces, paintings and comfortable chairs, each room had the feel of a library in a stately manor.

   

   

 

Concierge – The concierge desk is located in the atrium.  We had no need for this services on the cruise. 

 

Oceania Club Ambassador – This small office on deck 6 is primarily used as the future cruise booking center.  A knowledgeable and very helpful staff member was available during part of the day.  It was quite popular and had people waiting to get information and/or book every time I went by.  We wanted to do a future booking but were most frustrated when we couldn’t leave a message on a voice mail for an appointment.  We had to call the reception desk and ask them to have the agent call us to make an appointment.  With the limited office hours and our tour schedule, I kept missing calls.  I finally saw her one day with no one in her office and was able to make the booking.  I didn't get a photo, since it wasn't open when I was taking photos.

 

Canyon Ranch Spa Club – This is a very lovely area of the ship that is dedicated to pampering the passengers.  It has a definite upscale feel to it.

   

   

   

   

There is also a salon in the spa thata provides various services.

   

 

Spa Terrace – Just outside the spa is a terrace that is provided for the Concierge Class and suite guests.  Others can pay $25 per day per person to use the area.  The price per day decreases if you purchase a multi-day package.  We had hoped to use the terrace, but we were too busy or the weather wasn’t warm enough to go out there for an extended time.  With us living in south Florida, laying in the sun isn’t a big deal; but I did want to try out large hot tub.

   

   

   

 

Fitness Center – The fitness center located next to the spa is available to all.  It is well appointed with lots of well-maintained equipment.

   

   

   

 

Laundry Rooms - There are laundry rooms decks 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.  They are stacked washers and dryers that are free to use.  A liquid soap is also available at no cost.  Quite a nice benefit.  A refrigerator with cold water, a very comfortable couch and a TV are provided if you need them while waiting for a load to finish.

   

 

Cabin
We loved our cabin on the Riviera.  A week before we left for France, we received and offer to upgrade to suite we couldn’t pass up.  We were in cabin 11036, a very nice mid-ship PH1 suite.  At 420 sq. ft. it was so roomy.  The cabins feature a king-size Prestige Tranquility Bed, with 1,000-thread-count linens.  Oceania does have the most comfortable cruise ship beds that we have ever slept on.

   

   

   

There were lots of drawers and a large walk-in closet.  We have never had so much storage room on a cruise before.

   

   

We really enjoyed the comfortable hide-a-bed couch next to a small window in a corner of the room.  It just had a nice cozy feeling to it.

I enjoyed having a desk that was separate from the make-up area. We could each leave our stuff where it was without needing to put it up after each use.

The bathroom was quite large with a nice size walk in shower and separate full-size tub.  All the marble and granite made for a very elegant look.

   

I did like that there were two shower heads, with one being the rain shower type that doesn't show in the below photo.   The bathtum also had a removable shower head.

   

The veranda was very comfortable with two padded chairs and a table.  I did like that instead of a glass wall, it had narrow horizontal bars along the outside.  It was easy to see through, unlike the glass ones on some ships that can get quite dirty.

   

   

Since we were on deck 11, the veranda was totally covered but we had good views both fore and aft.  The lifeboats did partially obstruct the downward view; but it was not a problem at all.

   

We had two awesome cabin attendants, but I only formally met the main one, Rizza; since the assistant was always cleaning the rooms.  She couldn’t help us enough and was very prompt in making up our room when we left it.  I don’t know how they were able to maintain such happy and positive attitudes when they seemed to be working so hard all day long.

Being in a suite, we also had a butler, Lincoln.  We didn’t have much of a need for a butler.  We didn’t need him to put up our clothes or bring us dinner from one of the restaurants.  We also never used room service.  But the one thing that he did do and one of the major benefits of a suite, is that he could get us additional specialty restaurant reservations.  He was also able to move one of our original four reservations from 8:00 PM to 6:30 PM, which we most appreciated.

Dining (Link to Menus)
 I have included copies of the menus for the restaurant venues along with photos of some of the food items at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.

Oceania is known for their highly rated food quality.  For some people it is the main reason they cruise with Oceania.  We found that the food was always very good.  Some items might be prepared differently from what we are used to, but the quality of the food, preparation and presentation was always first class.

Grand Dining Room - With a ten-day cruise, we were allowed to pre-book one reservation for each of the four specialty restaurants.  Because we were in a suite and we had friends in a suite, we were able eat at the specialty restaurants four additional times.  But that meant that we were only able to eat in the Grand Dining Room for one  dinner, since we also had dinner one night at the buffet.  We thoroughly enjoyed it the one time we were there.  We also enjoyed the open seating, so we could go to dinner whenever we wanted to.  We found the service to be quite good; and they did not try to rush the meal.  With the only evening show not starting until 9:30 PM, there was no rush and meals in all the dining rooms took around 1.5 – 2.0 hours.

We did eat breakfast in the Grand Dining Room once.  I particularly enjoyed being able to order the small lamb chops for breakfast.  I found it to be a nice change from bacon or sausage. We only ate lunch in the dining room one time.  They had most of the same items that were being served in the buffet; but it was just easier and faster to go to the buffet.  The dining room is designed for a more relaxed pace, but we just preferred the choices at the buffet on this cruise

Specialty Restaurants – Each specialty restaurant has its own area of expertise.  All of them had steaks for those that didn’t want any of the Asian, French or Italian foods that were offered.  It was nice to be able to eat in venues with different décor and ambiance each night.  For the most part, I found the food to be very good in all four specialty restaurants.  We ate in the Polo Grill once, Jaques three time, Red Ginger twice and Toscana two times. 

Terrace Café – This restaurant is a big step above the normal cruise ship buffet.  The food is basically the same as is served in the Grand Dining Room; but with a larger selection.  The food served for all meals in the buffet was always top notch.  The biggest problem with the buffet was that we couldn’t eat everything that looked good.  There were just too many appealing choices.  Cathy really enjoyed the salad selections.  It was her go to thing at most lunches there.

We ate at the buffet one night; based on comments from our friends Bill and Mary, as well as recommendations for it I heard on previous Oceania cruises. Some people prefer it to the main dining room.  That could be because freshly grilled steaks, chops and lobster were available every night in the buffet.

The service in the buffet was also exceptional.  There were plenty of servers in each section to quickly serve your food.  You weren’t allowed to serve your own food, which was a good health practice.  As soon as you finished filling a plate, an attendant would take your plate away from you and take it to your table if you wanted them to.

 

Entertainment

Our Cruise Director was Dottie Kulasa.  She has been the CD now on 4 of my 6 Oceania cruises.  This is a good thing, since she is an excellent CD, very likeable and is very available to the guests.  I also like that she doesn’t waste a lot of time before the shows with an extended monologue.  She always has a short joke after telling us about the show, activities for the night, and important info for the next day. 

   

Musicians -

Ship Band - This was a very good band that kept quite busy.  They performed at most of the evening shows as well as having performances in evening at Horizons Lounge and at some sailaway events on the pool deck.  We really enjoyed them.

   

Sync Session - This group had a great female vocalist.  We tried to listen to them whenever they were performing.

   

Bellissimo String Quartet -  They would play each evening in the Grand Bar after dinner and had a pretty good following. 

Tony Grisillo - He was the pianist that played in Martinin's from 6:00 PM till late in the evening.  He had a nice mix of music and we enjoyed listening to him.

Performers –

Five O’Clock Somewhere – This musical duo was such a treat. Tabitha from Denmark and Adam from Ireland are very talented musicians and singers.  Their show has them playing different instruments and making the performance quite funny at times.  They also use a looper, a device that captures sounds and repeats them to create what appears to be a much larger group of musicians.  We just loved them, as did the rest of the audience.  We were so glad that they did a second show.

       


   

Tom Drake – Tom is a stand-up comedian and Dottie’s husband. He has been on each of my cruises where Dottie was the CD.  He is described as An Attitude with a Tie.  His humor picks on different subjects that he has observed. He also shares many of his personal bad experiences that are funny when he talks about them.  He did two shows. He kept the audience laughing.

   

Production Shows –

Oceania is normally not known for very good production shows.  I have been disappointed in many of them.  But I must say that on this cruise they were outstanding.  Granted that the stage is smaller and there are less performers than the larger ships, this group put on shows that compared favorably to most of them.  The sets and costumes aren’t as spectacular, but most of the singers had very good voices.  The dancers and choreography were first class in every way.  The four shows were:
Lights, Cameras, Music
Broadway in Concert
What the World Needs Now
World Beat

Below are some photos of the performers from a couple of the shows.

   

       

   

       

   

 

       

   

 

Activities

Oceania isn’t known for having a lot of activities, but with this cruise only having one sea day, they had even less.  Below are activities I attended.

Enrichment Speakers

Peter Croyle -  He discussed the history of the areas we were visiting.  He is very knowledgeable and provided a lot of information during the one talk I attended.  I enjoy hearing interesting stories in history or about the area rather than a bunch of dates when things happened and names of people that I will never hear again.  Peter was a good speaker but leaned more to the details than the stories for me.  It really didn’t matter since his other talks happened when we were already committed to something else.

 

Stephanie Hersh – The title of this talk from the culinary center chef instructor was She Called Me Dearie – My Time with Julia Child. Stephanie had been Julia Child’s executive assistant.  Her presentation was such a treat!  She told us so many wonderful and funny stories, from how she got her job and the things she did.  I wish that I had recorded it to see it again.

   

 

Cruise Critic Meet and Greet (www.cruisecritic.com) –

This really wasn’t an official Cruise Critic Meet and Greet, since Oceania doesn’t support the program.  But since we had a Cruise Critic roll call with quite a few participants on it, we had one.  One of the members of the roll call contacted Oceania before the cruise to set up a meeting for the group on the first day of the cruise.  This type meeting is normally done on the first sea day, but since we didn’t have one until later in the cruise, this would be the best time for it.  The meeting was held at 5:30 PM in Horizons and we had a good turnout.  I was very surprised with the turnout, since having it on embarkation day would discourage a lot of people, but it didn’t.   It is always so much fun to meet the people you have been communicating with on the roll call forum before the cruise.

 

Ports of Call

Toulon, France

With Toulon only being about 30 miles from Marseilles, it was a short trip there overnight.  The cruise into port was kind of interesting with lots to look at including fish farms and stone structures.

   

As we were docking, the sun had covered the port area making the marina area so pretty.

For this cruise, I would be taking mostly ship tours, which is not my preference.  But with some of the issues with Covid and the attractive OLife pricing that Oceania offers when booking, it made sense this time.  We would be taking a tour to the lovely 11th century city of Bournes-les-Mimosas.  Our guide for the tour was Martina.  She was a pleasure to be with and she was very knowledgeable about the history of the area.  She provided an excellent tour for us.

Bournes-les-Mimosas was a very quaint town on up on a mountain.  The bus parked as high up as it was allowed to go.  After the hour drive to the town, we had a short restroom break, which gave me a chance to take a quick look around town.  Much of the town was perched along the mountainside. 

I liked the design on the outdoor garbage receptacles.

Martina told us that we would be climbing to the top of the mountain to see the sights up there.  We walked through the narrow roads of the medieval town and stopped in front of the Eglise St-Trophyme where she told us more about the town and what we would be seeing.  It allowed us time to recover from the first part of the climb.  The bougainvillea was climbing up on the front of the church and all through the town. 

   

I took a quick look at the church's interior and quickly rejoined the group. 

   

We continued our trek enjoying the beauty of the town.

   

We finally reached our destination at the top of the mountain, Le Chateau Notre Dame De Constance.  The chateau itself wasn’t much to look at, but the views from there were quite lovely.

   

   

There was an unusual statue next to the chateau.

   

The walk back down the mountain was just so beautiful.  There was a home inside what looked like a tower was still being lived in.

I am putting a lot of photos in here, since most people will never get to see this lovely medieval city. 

   

   

   

   

   

When I was back down on the level where our bus was, I had to take some more photos from that level too. 

   

   

I am so glad that we picked this tour.  It was a great way to begin enjoying the cruise ports.

 

 

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