Introducing Oceania’s Riviera
By Rosalind Smith, Business Development Manager, The Cruise Web, Inc.
Beginnings of things are always special and full of joy, so when I was invited to sail on the christening voyage of Oceania’s latest ship, Riviera, I didn’t hesitate. Keep reading to get my highlights of the experience.
The reason I really wanted to go on this journey was to experience the christening ceremony. It is a true honor to witness a piece of history, and Oceania did a fabulous job conveying the meaning of the christening to the passengers. They shared traditions dating back to the early Greek and Egyptian civilizations. Nowadays the godmother blesses the ship and all its passengers and crew. This is followed by the smashing of champagne on the ship’s hull, but champagne wasn’t always the beverage of choice. Occasionally water or brandy have been used, and the Vikings used to mark their maiden voyages with a human sacrifice.
Here you can watch the moment when the champagne bottle hits the ship:
Oceania chose Cat Cora, Iron Chef and host of “Around the World in 80 Plates,” as the ships’ godmother because of her culinary background and her philanthropic efforts. Oceania prides itself as having the best food at sea, with menus and dishes that have been overseen by famed French chef Jacques Pepin.
The highly anticipated christening took place dockside in Barcelona complete with local flamenco dancers and local music to cap off the celebration. The experience definitely lived up to my expectations. After the ceremony there was a lively “sail-away” cocktail party before the ship headed to Venice.
I have to say, for a ship that only has room for 1,250 passengers, you can really stretch out. My first impression as we approached the ship for embarkation was, “that’s a lot of ship!” The design team did a fantastic job because all the public spaces seemed very open and roomy. I never felt as if there were more than 1,000 people sharing in this experience.
One of my favorite events of the whole cruise was the gala tea time. This was a decadent high tea that featured some of the most interesting culinary delights afloat. The food and beverage team managed to make a cucumber sandwich seem innovative and new, and everything was presented impeccably.
A surprising delight was the Terrace Cafe. One night I decided to try it out as an informal alternative to the Grand Dining Room and I was taken aback. The restaurant is at the back (aft) of the ship and has so many options, including pasta, seafood, steak and sushi and an extensive salad bar – truly something to please anyone. The real treat was the most stunning sunset over the Mediterranean Sea as the perfect backdrop to a delightful meal and the beginning of another beautiful evening.
There is so much more to talk about, like the culinary center, the comfortable staterooms, beautifully designed public areas, and of course the excursions I took in France, Spain and Italy, but I’ll save them for another post.
Have you ever witnessed a ship’s christening?