Oceania Riviera Christening — Venice

The sail-in to this city is one of the most beautiful in the world. You get a very different perspective of this city built on canals from high on Riviera’s top deck. It was eerily quiet early in the morning, as we sailed past the Grand Canal and the Doge’s Palace to our dock. BuranoOur excursion took us to the islands of Murano and Burano. Irene and I had not been back here since 1966 and were looking forward to it. After a leisurely half hour boat ride to Murano, we were given the opportunity to see a true glass artist and master craftsman in action at a glass factory. It was very worthwhile including the tour of the showrooms and We toured the showrooms and marveled at the items on display, especially the exquisite Venetian chandeliers. Then it was off to the island of Burano, a fishing island where all the houses are painted in different bright colors. The island is also famous for its lace and we were able to visit an artist at work. A short boat ride let us off in the heart of Venice, where we walked to St. Mark’s square. The square was mobbed. We walked around the square and took in the atmosphere of the competing orchestras in the 2 cafes and marveled at the Byzantine St Mark’s Cathedral. After an action packed day, it was time to return to the ship to pack our bags and enjoy final scrumptious dinner.
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Oceania Riviera Christening – the Celebration

christening celebrationMay 11 was the gala naming and christening ceremony of the Riviera.The godmother is Cat Cora, the only female Iron Chef on the Food Network. The ceremony was very festive with flamenco dancers, acrobats, a speech by the mayor of Barcelona and numerous other dignitaries. The bottle of champagne smashed on Riviera’s hull on cue and we were off to the next port, one of my favorite cities, Venice. But before Venice, we had two delightfully leisurely days at sea with lots of sunshine and time by the pool. Irene took advantage of was Riviera’s interactive, hands-on culinary center. She made tapas, specifically white bean dip and falafel.
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Oceania Riviera Christening Cruise — Barcelona

Gaudi ChurchWhile we have been to Barcelona many times, we thoroughly enjoyed both days here. Again Oceania provided us with a complimentary excursion to explore the highlights including the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. a motor coach ride past several of Antonio Gaudi’s Art Nouveau buildings, and a stop at Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Begun in 1884, this peculiar and incredibly original church is slowly being completed through donations. Before returning to the ship for lunch, we went to the Montjuic Gardens and Mirimar for a panoramic view of the city. We went on another excursion in the afternoon to the city’s outskirts, examining a very interesting Gaudi church, also unfinished, and ended up at a wonderful cava winery.
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Oceania Riviera Christening Cruise — Valencia

ValenciaWe had never been to this port before and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a clean, beautiful city and, again, Oceania treated us to an excursion, which took in the highlights of this third largest city in Spain. The central market was very interesting, so was the cathedral. The highlight of the tour was a stop at the City of Arts and Science, the newest landmark in Valencia and the largest cultural-educational complex in Europe.
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Oceania Riviera Christening Cruise – Day at Sea

Day at Sea- and a chance to get to know the Riviera. The morning was devoted to a presentation by senior executives of Oceania Cruises, followed by a Q & A. All very informative. We took a tour of the ship’s public rooms and suites. Dinner for us this evening was in Privee with Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania Cruises and Chairman and CEO of the parent company, Prestige Holdings. Privee is an exclusive dining room behind the Polo Grill that seats 10. Exquisite! The Riviera is such a comfortable ship. I think the size is just perfect. The staterooms are large. The food in the specialty restaurants is beyond fabulous — Jacques, the French bistro; Red Ginger, Asian; Polo Grill, for steaks; and Toscana, Italian. But the big surprise to us was was the consistency, great choices and excellent quality of the meals in Main Dining Room. Our biggest kudos go to the outstanding crew, professional and friendly in every way.
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