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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

TravelPulse Onboard: Oceania Cruises' Riviera Review

All photos by Jason Leppert

The upscale cruise market is an interesting category that offers luxurious qualities at affordable prices, delineating a niche with impressive values, one that Oceania Cruises upholds nicely. Like competitor Azamara Club Cruises, it has a fleet consisting primarily of former Renaissance Cruises ships, but the beautiful Riviera is a newer vessel that marks a fine evolution from the so-called R-ships. Classic details like crystal and vine accents remain as reminders while the overall effect is chromatically lighter and more spacious.

Best of all, while there is an air of sophistication throughout, the ship still feels delightfully casual as expanded ceiling heights soar and comfortable seating invites passersby, particularly along the lovely Grand Bar corridor (pictured below). Also, favorite venues like the Horizons observation lounge thankfully never forget the destination, even though the space is rather dark and feels a tad constrained. The adjacent open-air smoking lounge is particularly unfortunate.

Nonetheless, the design of the Riviera is otherwise top notch and features one of the most elegant main dining rooms at sea (pictured below) among great spaces like the impressive library, internet cafe and coffee bar that overlook the wonderfully teak-clad pool deck with fun kinetic water fountains. With as many children that were onboard our sailing, it comes as a bit of a surprise that there are no kids facilities featured onboard, however.

Private accommodations onboard are perhaps the biggest throwback to the R-ships like the Regatta and newly introduced Sirena with darker wood covering a portion of the walls, but the larger rooms in general open up to lighter paneling and modern amenities like flat-panel televisions. Storage and ever helpful wall hooks are plentiful, and a separate mini-bar space nearer the bathrooms of veranda staterooms is a nice change of pace. Especially comfortable in the cabins are very plush beds that make sleeping in all too easy. I only wish electrical outlets were more widely spaced to better accommodate multiple charging cables.

Luxurious amenities extend to the bathrooms with a choice of always lovely Bulgari toiletries as well as bath salts. Even the towels and bathmats are more supple than usual, and the marble accents put the bathrooms closer in line with those on luxury ships. While the shower/tub combo is great and works well for reclining and standing, the separate shower stall is so small it’s not even worth having. It’s much too reminiscent of the poorly designed tiny showers of the smaller R-ships.

The Riviera is not a ship known for having a plethora of things to do onboard, the lack of kids facilities included, but what it does have for activities is impressive. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub, for example, is a great enclave of relaxation that like the smaller ships in the Oceania fleet, features a unique thalassotherapy pool outside at a welcoming forward deck space. Fair-skinned patrons may wish for it to be indoors, but at least the shaded sun beds are a place to retreat to as are the stone beds, saunas, steam rooms and treatment rooms inside. Only the layout is a bit odd as few of these features are contiguous.

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