Oceania Riviera Cruise 2022

Here’s the summary of Day 2 of our Oceania Riviera Cruise. This was April 5, 2022. We were supposed to dock at Alicante, Spain for the day. Unfortunately, rough weather made it impossible to safely navigate in to the port area. So instead we had a sea day. As you might imagine, the sea day was a bit rolly. I don’t mind a choppy ride – I’ve been on a cruise ship during a hurricane in Hawaii where we were snapping lines left and right, and we lost power so the ship was wildly tossing. So anything mild like this I am fine with.

This gives me a chance to talk about the Oceania Riviera in general.

As I mentioned we were only maybe 40% full due to COVID and last-minute regulation changes and so on. So when we went up to the dining area for lunch, it was really very quiet. It’s a very odd sensation for people who are used to cruising and used to a bustling venue.

Yes. This is the actual lunch crowd.

It’s fair to say of course that with the non-smooth weather maybe people were curled up in their beds having crackers. I don’t personally think it was THAT bad, but again, we all have different levels of comfort. I will note that the vast majority of people who came on the boat are repeat Oceania cruisers – i.e. there were hardly any first-timers. I imagine this is in part because of the pandemic, that newbies are holding off right now while regular cruisers are chomping at the bit to get back out there again. So most of these repeat people are undoubtedly more comfortable with ‘cruise weather issues’ – at least probably more than a newbie would be. Still, there were very empty venues.

I took photos of every single dish at every single meal but I won’t deluge you with those. Food is a very individual thing. Some people might find this food “super special” while others find it “fairly ordinary”. I belong to the Chaine des Rotisseurs which is a food/wine group, so I’m comfortable with high-end dining. I’m also fine eating at Olive Gardens and such. I found the food overall on the Riviera good but not “mind-blowingly good” which their brochures seem to make it seem like. Sometimes the presentation was trying too hard to be pretty which then made it really hard to eat. Sometimes things like lobster bisque had no lobster at all in them. I’m from Massachusetts so I sort of expect lobster bisque to have actual lobster in it. The sushi didn’t seem high quality. I imagine they freeze it and store it a while. Again, things which you sort of just have to accept on a cruise ship, but when I think of this as being a “high end Boston restaurant” it doesn’t really hold up to that. We’ll say “nice enough most of the time”.

I will note that I was annoyed at their meal scheduling. Every day from around 2pm to 4pm there was a gap of only the limited-menu grill food. This made it really nasty for people who arrived after a long flight, or came back after a long tour, and all the main lunch places were closed – but the tea time hadn’t started yet. Sure you could order room service – and wait an hour for it to arrive. After that grill shut down at 4, you were now stuck until dinner, if you didn’t want to eat tiny tea sandwiches. They should have had SOMETHING more substantial reliably open all day long, period. Especially given the people coming in from tours etc. who were starving. There were several times we got back at a tour at 1:50 and were racing top speed to get to the buffet before they shut down. That is just silly.

My sister and I were in cabin 7021. It was perfectly suitable for us. There was plenty of space for our clothing and gear. It had both a shower and also a separate bathtub with showerhead in it. The balcony was lovely. NEITHER of us used their supplied soap / shampoo / etc. because we are sensitive to fragrances. We both brought our own supplies.

They have both US and European plugs in the room, so you can bring either type of device. My sister tried to bring a massive multi-plug power supply unit and it was confiscated. Also, they need you to unplug EVERY item when the room is empty, to avoid fire hazards.

We did not watch any of the entertainment, except the tea-time classical music group, which we went to every day at 4. That was quite lovely. Again not mind-blowingly great, but nice and relaxing. Tea, small sandwiches, and small desserts were served. I’ll note the only 2 herbal teas they had were chamomile and mint. I ended up asking for some of the delicious teas at the Red Ginger Asian restaurant when we were there, so I could then have them during the tea time.

The art on the ship is quite expensive art, in general. It’s like a floating museum. That being said, the person who selected the art (I think it’s the Oceania owner) has very eclectic tastes. A number of the pieces I find questionable to be out right next to a venue main entrance:

Plus there were paintings of men chasing down women, lots of bare-breasted women, and one seeming to show a man having carnal knowledge of a horse. Very very odd. And I love art in general. There were just a lot of pieces that made you look at them and go “Ummmm ….”

One of the highlights of the cruise for me was that it featured Noel Suarez as the art instructor. He’s a quite talented cubist painter originally from Cuba. His sessions were not Bob-Ross-Style “Come and paint a flower”. Instead, people signed up for the entire series of 11 sessions which went through various learning workshops building knowledge on shading, composition, the human form, and so on. They built on each other. It wasn’t clear from the material that the series was arranged like that, so there were a few people who tried to show up for session #9 for example to “draw a face” and were playing catch-up. So I do think they need to explain that better. Still, it was an amazing amount of information, about 22 hours or more in total, from a world-class artist who was supportive and encouraging. If you have any interest in art I highly recommend this.

Today was the first class. It was 2 hours. It was on “drawing the calla lily” but really it was all about composition, how to use graphite, how to shade, techniques, and much more. I did end up with a calla lily, and I learned quite a lot about technique along the way.

The Wifi was ATROCIOUS. Let me explain how it worked (or didn’t work). By default, every cabin comes with one single-device non-streaming account. The account actively blocks any streaming like YouTube, Zoom, etc. My sister and I both have busy jobs so I needed to get a second account. I also needed to upgrade it to streaming so I could run my teen writing classes on Outschool (Zoom). This did NOT make it any faster. It just meant Zoom wasn’t blocked. My sister went all over the ship trying to find where the best wifi signal was. It seemed to be in Baristas, the coffee shop near the internet cafe. So that’s where I set up for my teen classes. Even so, one class ended early because the wifi suddenly shut down without warning. There were other times that the wifi just completely vanished. It was REALLY REALLY slow. They absolutely should be doing better on their wifi access.

For our sailing, masks were required unless you were in your cabins or were actively eating / drinking. That meant many people hung out at the hallway tables by the casino with a drink in front of them just chatting away with random strangers for hours. No mask. If you think this was unwise, you might be prescient to what I’ll report in a few days.

All in all, I was quite happy that Day 2 was a ‘quiet day’. Given how wildly busy Day 1 was for me, I was glad to sleep in and take it easy. We had lunch, we explored a bit, we had tea with the classical musicians, I went up to my art lesson, we had dinner, and by then I was exhausted and ready to sleep.

The next day was Day 3 –

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