Cruise Line:  Oceania
Ship: Riviera
Cabin:  #7119 with spacious balcony

Trip:  8 Day “Adriatic Interlude” from Rome (Civitavecchia to Venice), June 20 – 28, 2016

SUMMARY:  First-rate cruise experience; we loved the elegant artwork throughout the ship, sumptuous food, our spacious & attractive cabin; with less than 1250 passengers and 800 crew, the ship never felt crowded, while the level of service was impeccable. We were sad to leave. We look forward to our next Oceania cruise!

Ship specifications:

  • Year Built: 2012
  • Guest Capacity: 1,250 (Double Occupancy)
  • Staff Size: 800
  • Guest to Staff Ratio: 1.567 to 1
  • Siz: 785 feet long x 106 feet long
  • Stabilizers: Yes
  • Cruising Speed: 20 knots
  • Guest Decks: 11 (Total Decks: 16)

NOTES:

Embarkation from Rome:  Since we were already in Italy, we stayed overnight in the port town, Civitavecchia, and leisurely walked to the ship in the morning. However, if you fly into Rome, you can take a private car or taxi for around $150 for the one hour drive, or a train for less than $10 (don’t be afraid to try Italian trains, we rode several of them and they were clean, comfortable and on time).

Room: Our room felt spacious, both inside and outside on the balcony, with a very nice bathroom. We appreciated getting 2 bottles of water in our room daily, but the nicest touch was the bottle of water handed out each time we left the ship. Bvlgari amenities provided, including lotion, shampoo/bath gel and conditioner. Flat screen TV with DVD player.

Dining:  Oceania’s food and elegant restaurants sets this cruise apart from others. The specialty restaurants were outstanding. There are multiple dining venues, of which six are open-seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. Having only 4 guaranteed nights (one in each specialty) means you should book your reservations early when they are open. The Terrace Café’s extensive buffet offerings pleased us consistently; each day the food theme changed—outstanding option for any meal, especially when dressed casually or in a hurry. Waves Grill provided a good alternative for a late breakfast or quick lunch. A coffee bar, Barristas, served  espresso, coffee and pastries made daily, and small sandwiches at lunch. Afternoon tea was wonderful.  The Grand Dining Room, the main dining venue, had good food though the menu’s offerings were not as enticing as elsewhere.  

Special attractions:  The Culinary Center offers the only hands-on cooking school at sea, consisting of a wide range of cooking classes by master chefs.  In the Artist Loft, highly experienced artists  offer step-by-step instruction in a wide range of subjects, including photography, painting and printmaking.  The Fitness Center was surprisingly large, with a full complement of aerobic and weight equipment next to windows with panoramic ocean views. A room next door provided space for yoga, fitness, and other exercise classes. The adjacent Spa provided the usual massage, facial, and other pampering in a luxurious setting.

Entertainment:  We’re not big gamblers, but the Casino looked okay with four tables—blackjack, poker, roulette and craps, along with the usual variety of slot machines. Each day there was plenty of karaoke singing, live music in the lounges, assorted performances in the main theater, and dancing later in the evening.

We liked almost everything, but here’s what we didn’t like:

WiFi:  Didn’t work well on our cruise, but apparently the system was due to be upgraded.

Pool: The saltwater  pool’s lukewarm, shallow water was a turnoff on a hot summer day, while in evening, the small Jacuzzis offered sadly tepid water and more than 4 people made it feel crowded.

Our excursion recommendations:

Sorrento:  Pretty harbor and town on top of the cliffs; we stayed below the town and arranged for a tour of the Amalfi Coast which was easy to do (ticket windows are right next to the pier), not very expensive, and it was a MUST SEE excursion, more photogenic and memorable  than the famed Cinqueterra. Many people use choose to take a tour to the nearby upscale island of Capri. Having seen both, I would not miss the Amalfi Coast.

Catania:  This port didn’t draw our interest, so we fortunately opted for a tour to the mountain-top town of Taormina. The views from the ancient Roman ampitheater of the turquoise waters below, and the looming hulk of Mt Etna, along with the town’s narrow, picturesque buildings and alleys, made Taormina a very special place to see.

Argostoli:  My wife went to a local beach that she enjoyed very much, while I took a tour of the island called Kefalonia.  I loved it! During our stop at the Melissani Caves, our rowboat glided over the most breathtakingly beautiful, brilliant blue water I’ve ever seen. The bus continued over the top of the island where the Adriatic Sea stretched out for maybe 100 miles and we cruised past boulder-strewn hillsides and cute small towns. Our final stop was at an utterly charming town, Fiskardo, whose outdoor cafes lining the sailboat-filled harbor and clear turquoise waters drew visitors (mainly by tourboat) by the hundreds. Suffice it to say, I loved this island and would like to return someday.

Kotor, Montenegro:    The approach to Kotor was another one of the highlights of our stops: our ship passed through mountain-lined fjords for quite awhile before docking at Kotor. Ancient fortress walls surround the small, old city and if you are fit and willing, you can tackle the 1350 steps to the hilltop castle. We were there in summer, and it was hot, so I made it halfway before deciding it wasn’t worth dying for. However, even from halfway, the view of the mountains, harbor, cruise ship and town was worth it.  There wasn’t that much to see and do in Kotor, however, so we chose an excursion to Budva, another ancient, fortified town on the coast. It was hot, crowded, and very touristy, but also picturesque. We did a brief tour through the old part of Budva, but unimpressed with what we saw, we scooted over a walkway to the nearby beach for a swim.

Zadar , Crotia:  Sorry to say, we didn’t feel much attraction to Zadar, so my wife and I took  a taxi to a nearby beach and just chilled by the sea with the locals. There used to be an ancient city here, but within remnants of old fortress walls, there is now a collection of fairly new, nondescript buildings.

Koper, Slovenia:  Again, we didn’t see a lot that drew us to Koper, though it looked moderately interesting, so we took the tour to the coastal town of Piran. This historic and picturesque town was small, but worth a visit.

Venice:  We had a full day and two nights on the ship, and fortunately the weather was sunny during our one full day of Venice sightseeing. The next day it rained like crazy. In summer, Venice combines the majesty of a compelling place to see, and a crowd-filled nightmare. We enjoyed our day there, but it wasn’t optimal to be there in the high season.

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