The Riviera is Oceania Cruise Line's newest ship. Carrying 1,250 passengers, the mid-sized ship has several delectable dining options, all of which will delight the cruising public. And, all but two (La Reserve and Privee) are available at no extra cost to the Riviera guests. The ship has a nice selection of wines available for purchase, but none are included with the basic cruise fare.
The diversity of the restaurants is impressive, as is the quality and originality of the dishes. Many travelers love to cruise because they love to eat, and we doubt if anyone will be disappointed with the dining options on the Riviera.
Although the cruise ship has many delightful dining venues, guests can also sample the cuisine and specialty drinks in venues like Barista's coffee bar and the gala afternoon tea in the Horizon Lounge. And, those who take one of the cooking classes in the Bon Appetit Culinary Center get to taste their own creations!
Let's delve into the details about each of the dining options on the Oceania Cruises' Riviera:
- Grand Dining Room
- Polo Grill
- Red Ginger
- Terrace Cafe
- Waves Grill
- La Reserve
Grand Dining Room
The Grand Dining Room on the Riviera of Oceania Cruises is the ship's largest dining venue, seating over 650 guests. Located aft on deck 6, a huge chandelier dominates the room, which features views of the sea from its many windows. The Grand Dining Room is available for three elegant meals daily, all with open seating.
Like most cruise ship main dining rooms, the number of possible courses is daunting, and the choices are varied. The main dinner menu features four or five appetizers, two kinds of soup, two or three salads, and a nice selection of half-dozen main courses that always include meat, chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. Although most of the courses in the Grand Dining Room would be considered Continental cuisine, a "lite" menu with Canyon Ranch spa selections is also available. We found the always-available side orders good, especially the mashed potatoes, which were loaded with butter and cream (no wonder they were so good). The dessert menu was also very tempting.
Toscana is the Italian specialty restaurant port-side aft on deck 14 of the Riviera. It's open for dinner, and although there is no surcharge, reservations are required. Given the name, it's not surprising that the cuisine of Toscana comes from the Tuscany region of Italy. The memorable dinners at Toscana include a choice of hot and cold antipasti, soup, pasta, salad, risotto, and main courses that include some Italian favorites like veal, osso buco, lobster, and fish. Of course, the meal is topped off with dessert. It's really a delightful meal!
Toscana is perfect for a romantic dinner for two, or for a special celebration. Tables for two line the windows, and the smallish (only about 125 guests) restaurant is relatively quiet, with gorgeous Versace china.
The Polo Grill is the Riviera's classic steakhouse. It's located on deck 14 aft on the starboard side. The decor of the Polo Grill reminds me of many luxury steakhouses at home--it's filled with dark furniture and heavy leather chairs. Much of the artwork features horses or horse racing themes. Like nearby Toscana, the Polo Grill has many different sizes of tables, including several tables for two along the windows. Like its neighbor Toscana, the Polo Grill does not have a surcharge, but reservations are required.
The Polo Grill on the Riviera has appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. The shrimp cocktail featured some of the largest shrimp we've ever seen, and it was as tasty as it looked. The surf and turf (Florida lobster tail and filet mignon) combination is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes. The prime cuts of beef range in size from a small (7 oz.) filet mignon to a giant 20 oz. porterhouse. And, the variety of sauces available will suit anyone's taste. (Personally, I like my beef "naked"). Those looking for something different might enjoy the Kobe beef burger. After all that food, we were surprised we were able to down dessert, but the key lime pie was delicious.
Jacques looks like a typical French bistro. This eclectic restaurant is named for famous chef Jacques Pepin, and some of his own personal art collection hangs in the comfortable dining venue. The menu features many classic French dishes such as foie gras, frog legs, escargot, lobster, and duck. There's also a rotisserie with prime rib, pork, veal, and chicken. The menu is certainly extensive! Jacques is found midship on deck 5 of the Riviera and is open for dinner. Reservations are required but there is no surcharge.
Red Ginger is my favorite restaurant on the Riviera. Located on deck 5 near Jacques, it's an Asian restaurant with many fascinating dishes. Like Toscana, the Polo Grill, and Jacques, Red Ginger does not have a surcharge, but reservations are required. Before your meal is delivered, the server will show you a selection of chopsticks and ask you to choose a tea to drink with your meal. The tea menu is extensive and unique, with varieties like orchid vanilla, ginger lemongrass, or China gunpowder.
Dinner at Red Ginger starts with an amuse bouche of hot salted edamame. The appetizers include such intriguing items as caramelized tiger prawns; spring and summer rolls; beef carpaccio with roasted peanuts, coriander, shallots, and chili oil; or Tuna Tataki--a seared tuna filet with shiso, sesame crust, and wasabi cream. One of my favorite Red Ginger salads is the spicy duck with watermelon and cashews, although the avocado and lobster salad was also tasty.
The miso glazed sea bass wrapped in a hoba leaf seemed to be everyone's (including me) favorite fish dish. However, we also enjoyed the lobster Pad Thai. Red Ginger also has several meat dishes, including lamb, chicken curry, beef teriyaki, and stir-fried rice.
Be sure to save room for dessert at Red Ginger. The Bounty Cake with coconut, chocolate chips, and vanilla bean is as yummy as it sounds, but the ice creams and sorbets were particularly good. We loved the trio of fruit sherbets and the Yuzi citrus sorbet, and the green tea ice cream and salt ice cream were different and interesting.
Be sure to get a reservation early at Red Ginger. The small restaurant fills up quickly.
The Terrace Cafe on the Riviera is open most of the day and evening and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Since the restaurant is located aft on deck 12, dining outdoors is an excellent choice even on sea days since there's not much wind. This casual restaurant serves buffet meals, and they are some of the best we've had at sea.
Surrounded by windows and featuring the outdoor deck for dining, the Terrace Cafe is perfect for breakfast, which includes all the usual favorites, and the grill serves up made-to-order omelets and pancakes.
Lunch features both hot dishes, a carvery, and a great selection of salads. Although many international favorites are included, there's also a sandwich and pasta of the day, along with a nice selection of grilled meats, fish, and chicken.
Those who like grilled shrimp or lobster will enjoy dining at the Terrace Cafe in the evening. Those are just two of the many items featured for dinner. Like lunch, the cuisine features many international flavors. You can even sit outside if it's not too chilly.
The Waves Grill is the Riviera's casual poolside restaurant. It's located outdoors on deck 12, right outside the Terrace Cafe. The Waves Grill is perfect if you are looking for a quick lunch or light breakfast. The grilled dishes are very good, with burgers, hot dogs, salmon, and paninis all cooked to order. You can even order at Waves Grill and have your sandwich delivered to you outdoors on the aft deck of the Terrace Cafe if you like to eat outside as much as we do.
La Reserve is the Riviera's wine pairing dining venue. Oceania Cruises has partnered with Wine Spectator magazine to deliver special meals at this wine-tasting center. During the day, the sommeliers offer wine tastings, and at night intimate wine-pairing dinners are held. Only 24 guests can participate in the seven-course dinners, where every course is paired with a premium wine. This is a cool cruise experience.
The wine tastings and wine pairing dinners at La Reserve both have an additional cover charge.
Sometimes a group traveling together for a special event or friends who have connected on a cruise wish to have a private meal together in a special place. On the Riviera, cruise travelers can reserve Privee, a private dining room located aft on deck 14 in the space between Toscana and the Polo Grill.
Privee is a spectacular room, and it definitely has the "wow" factor. The furniture and walls are white, and the carpet is red. A Venini glass chandelier hangs over the large oval table, which is surrounded by ten white baby crocodile throne chairs. The aft view of the ship's wake from the windows tops off the room. It's very impressive!
The guests can choose menu items from Polo Grill, Toscana, or a mixture of both. And, each guest can have their own selections.