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Caribbean Hideaways
10 Days of Cruising & Culinary Delight Aboard The Oceania Riviera
Kristin Woodall
Toll Free: (800) 627-3753 x 149
Direct: (281) 269-2649
Fax: (281) 269-2690
Email: kristin@affordabletours.com

Over the last 8 years, I have enjoyed working with clients in creating signature experiences aboard the dream ships of the world’s best cruise lines. I’ve learned that those experiences are realized when there is a confluence of passions. Customers bring their own passions for food, entertainment, luxury and travel; cruise lines that help create those signature experiences also bring a passion for excellence that creates long term relationships with repeat customers. I share that passion both as a purveyor of travel and as a prospective passenger aboard the dream ships. That passion was re-ignited when I stepped aboard Oceania’s Riviera for the 10-day Caribbean Hideaways sailing. When speaking with clients, I had often highlighted Oceania’s connoisseur experience and premium amenities. So I was thrilled when the opportunity came to create my own signature experience in upscale cruising with Oceania. I was delighted that I even received quite a few tips from clients about making the most of my time aboard Riviera, itself an ultimate destination.

Stepping into the guest lobby of Oceania’s facility at the port of Miami, I realized that the long line check-in experience was a world away from the serene space into we’d entered. Immediately on arrival, we were ushered to a personal check-in and with very little fanfare or fuss, had ship cards in hand. Check-in formalities completed, we were given access to the gangway and proceeded to step aboard one of most beautiful ships I have ever seen. The Riviera has an intimate feel even with 1250 privileged guests aboard. This is one of five ships in Oceania’s fleet. The Riviera and her sister ship, Marina, are the largest ships in their fleet. These sisters are joined by the Nautica, Insignia and Regatta, each offering an even more indulgent guest complement of only 684 each. When stepping aboard any of these luxurious ships you will immediately recognize the Oceania signature touches- beautiful artwork, hand-blown glass sculptures and rich furnishings. Best of all, this level of luxury is not presented in a stuffy atmosphere but rather in the comfortable “country club casual” ambience that has become a hallmark of the Oceania experience.

As I always do after being introduced to a new ship, I set off to explore Riviera and begin learning about her secret treasures. I easily and immediately found many of the places I would enjoy over the next 10 days. For me, a favorite first visit is always the spa. On Riviera, it was found at the highly rated and relaxing Canyon Ranch SpaClub. I booked a couple’s massage which included a day pass to access more of the Canyon Ranch amenities including the sauna, thalassotherapy pool and whirlpool tubs on the private Spa Terrace. After our relaxation was set for the week we continued our tour of the ship which included a visit to Horizons, where afternoon tea is served daily. We also passed the sports plaza on Deck 16 with its putting green (with a real grass lawn) and paddle tennis. Exhilarated, but ready to relax, we rounded the stairs to the pool deck where we could relax with a cocktail. Tropical drink in hand, we took a poolside chaise and settled in, passions ready to be satisfied, as Riviera pulled out of port.

After saying goodbye to Miami, we wanted to see the renowned Oceania staterooms. We were booked in a B3 Veranda Stateroom cabin 7045. The location was perfect. Each stateroom is stocked with complimentary soft drinks and sparkling or flat bottled water, all of which are replenished daily. 24-hour room service is offered as well. There is a selection of cabin amenities, such as spirits, wines, gourmet foods, etc., which may be prepurchased and made available in staterooms prior to boarding. Riviera’s staterooms are decorated with plush comfort for every guest. This comfort extends to Oceania’s Prestige Tranquility Bed, dressed beautifully and fitted with luxury linens. The beds have proven to be such a hit with guests that Oceania provides information on how to purchase the bed while aboard the ship. The room also included a large en-suite bath with separate shower. Tour complete and the ocean calling, we ordered Filet Mignon and Kobe Beef Burgers from room service. Appetites satisfied, the lullaby of the sea soon found us drifting off to sleep.

Over the next 10 days there were many highlights to make our cruise special: exceptional treatments at Canyon Ranch Spa; learning to play cards in the Riviera’s Casino; meeting people at cocktail tastings around the ship; being entertained by a string quartet during afternoon tea and, of course, the ports of call we visited in the Caribbean were all entertaining and enjoyable. However, the highlight of this cruise is definitely the culinary experience. Oceania has a solid reputation as a home for the discriminating epicure. Their restaurant offerings are designed and inspired by renowned Master Chef Jacques Pepin. Making the culinary experience even more immersive, Oceania offers onboard classes and food or wine-themed excursions. Sampling the restaurant selections was made easy by Oceania’s Open dining policy. Each day was an exciting opportunity to indulge a passion for food. For casual dining, guests can sample the grilled lobster or other alfresco items in Terrace Café or stop at Waves, the poolside grill, and try one of their many gourmet burgers. Dinner brought even more options. We visited the Grand Dining Room, resplendent in crisp white linen and sparkling Reidel crystal, and dined on Caviar and Sea Bass. We tasted Prime Rib and Caramelized New York Cheesecake in Polo Grill. Toscana greeted us with flavored dipping oils for our Italian baked breads followed by Pasta and Risotto, Toscana style. Tiger Prawns and Steamed Ginger Cake were delectable in Red Ginger. A favorite of min was Jacques, named after the chef himself, offering traditional French cuisine such as Escargots a la Bourguignonne, Sole Grenobloise and Lavender Crème Brulee. We topped off our gourmand’s cruise with an evening at La Reserve by Wine Spectator. For a nominal surcharge, guests are offered a tasting menu with appropriate wine pairings – an experience that was the perfect high note on which to end our cruise. From tasting a martini fashioned from Black vodka, to trying Sea Urchin for the first time, relaxing on my balcony under the stars, or learning to cook amongst friends, this cruising tour not only ignited my passions, it brought them to life for 10 idyllic days. Until I can sail again, a heartfelt thank you to the outstanding staff and crew of Oceania’s Riviera.

Caribbean Hideaways
10 Days of Cruising & Culinary Delight Aboard The Oceania Riviera
Kristin Woodall
Toll Free: (800) 627-3753 x 149
Direct: (281) 269-2649
Fax: (281) 269-2690
Email: kristin@affordabletours.com

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