Riviera Cruise Review by Holmesie
- Sail Date: March 2019
- Destination: Cuba
- Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite
I would note that we are Oceania loyalists based on the cuisine, quality of the ships and their excellent crews, as well as the vast assortment of 7-12 day cruises on offer work for our busy lifestyle (in our early 40s and both working full-time). We're always being asked about being the youngest passengers on the ship (we are both fit and look like we're in our 30s), and our response is always "what's not to like, great vacations with interesting fellow passengers".
One more disclosure - I'm Gluten Free (GF) and LOVE the way that Oceania tends to my dietary restrictions. Taking the stress out of eating all over the world is a game changer for me knowing that I can always have a safe breakfast and dinner in every port.
This was our second time on Riviera and we really love this ship. The size works for us with the additional restaurants, cooking school, larger Baristas with great views, and larger cabins across all categories. We've previously sailed on Insignia and enjoyed the intimacy of the smaller ship but the PH cabins on these R-class ships are the size of standard veranda cabins on Riviera/Marina. The PH cabins on Riviera are as nice as our PH on a previous Regent SS Voyager cruise.
On this cruise we took a cooking class "If it Swims" and really loved the class and the instructor - Stephanie Hersh. Stephanie was the long-time assistant of Julia Child and had great stories and a depth of knowledge that was greatly appreciated by everyone on the ship who interacted with her.
We enjoyed the "La Cuisine Bourgeois" in La Reserve with wine pairings. We love the La Reserve team and the effort they put into these dinners. We also stopped in for a wine flight and they had excellent nibbles to go with that made it worth the supplement.
The one thing we would do differently on the next Riviera/Marina cruise would be to go back to a PH on Deck 11. Being one of only 4 PHs on Deck 7 (all aft with huge balconies which is why we chose our cabin for this warm weather cruise) we felt a bit neglected as we rarely saw our butler. We also note that while it's not a written policy, passengers in suites tend to be seated at better tables in the restaurants. We noticed that unlike our previous cruises we found ourselves with less prime tables when giving a cabin number starting with '7' than '11' at the host stands.
When I read Oceania reviews it seems like a lot of folks complain about NCL's ownership economizing on-board. I would note that it does seem like there's a bit less staffing in the MDR and around the pool, but we haven't noticed any other negative changes. We haven't noticed any cost-cutting in the food or prices for the wines by the bottle which are the key for us. I do wonder if Oceania will feel the need to match the included beer/wine with meals offered by Azamara and Viking as these main competitors have Oceania beat in this category.
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The cabin is showing some signs of wear with stained carpets (challenging with the light blue/green carpet), less than springy sofa, and some scratches on the woodwork.
If you're a light sleeper this cabin isn't for you as there are noises from the propulsion systems as well as noise from the service deck on Deck 5.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Harvest CayeWe took HAR-001 the "Mayan Ruins & Spice Farm" excursion. If you enjoy a bit of culture and food this is the tour for you. It was our favorite and a much more culturally rewarding excursion than sitting on NCL's well manicured private island all day.View All 1,079 Harvest Caye Cruise Port Reviews
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Rum MuseumWe took HAV-004OE the Cuban Rum, Cigars, and Art excursion. The OE indicated that our group was capped at 10 passengers. This was a fascinating excursion that left us plenty of time to spend the afternoon walking around Havana after this excellent overview.View All 9 Rum Museum Reviews
Island TourWe took ROA-008 the "Island Highlights" tour. Our bus was TINY and every seat was filled. Our trip to an Iguana sanctuary was creepy but memorable, the animal sanctuary was fun (if you're not afraid of monkeys), and our guide was very strange and complained the entire time.View All 220 Island Tour Reviews
Santo Tomas de CastillaWe took STC-004 the "Countryside & Rio Dulce by Land" tour. We loved Jose our guide, had a great bus ride out to Rio Dulce looking at all of the Banana, Rubber Tree, and Avocado plantations along the way. The boat trip to the Fort was great. Highly recommend this excursion.View All 65 Santo Tomas de Castilla Cruise Port Reviews
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