Christmas day at sea: Festive inside, but blustery outside

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY 4 — Today is Christmas — our first time to celebrate this special occasion at sea. Santa has already made a surprise visit to the atrium on Deck 5, and actually stopped by our room as well.

There was a wrapped package on our bed, compliments of Oceania. Inside was a colorful glass ball and stand commemorating our cruise and marked with the date. Thank you Santa, and thank you Oceania!

Later in the morning, a chorus of volunteer passengers, led by Emmanuelle, the ship’s social hostess, offered up a selection of favorite Christmas carols. Afternoon Tea also had a Christmas theme, and the movie of the day was “Love Actually.”

The library offers a quiet respite to read (or sleep)

While the mood inside was festive, high winds continue unabated on the decks outside, forcing the closure of the sports deck as we rock and roll our way toward Antigua. As long as there’s plenty of food and drink (and there is), we’re okay.

One of the mundane tasks of a long cruise is doing the wash. Time to visit the launderettes that are located on each of the stateroom floors. Somewhat surprisingly, a $2 token is required to wash as well as dry. With so many amenities included, like sodas and water, I figured that was as well (although we did get complimentary laundering of up to four items).

With the weather playing havoc on the pool deck, we decided to check out The Library, located on Deck 14. Passengers looking for something to read can take their choice from over 2,000 books, all neatly organized by subject in elegant glass and wood cabinets. There are also comfy leather chairs available as well where you read, or in some cases, sleep. Why not? A vacation is supposed to be restful.

Pam works on her mask in the Artist Loft

Before the afternoon gets away, we have to make a stop at the Artist Loft. Pam has been working on her mask for the New Year’s Eve party, and I have to get in gear and create one myself. The artist in residence, W. Andre Allen, is busy cleaning up from previous classes and mask-making, but graciously stops to help me pick out glitter with instructions on how to use it. I think I have more glitter and glue on me than the mask, but it’s coming along.

Tonight we have reservations at Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant on Dec. 14. Elegantly-appointed, we have a table for two by the windows. The view is no doubt spectacular, but it’s night-time and there’s nothing to view. Maybe there ought to be some consideration to open up for lunch, or at least brunch. Where’s that suggestion box?

The food itself — just as we have experienced in every restaurant onboard — is wonderful, starting with the special pasta of the day, a mushroom-stuffed ravioli, and going with the Dover Sole in lemon-butter sauce for the entree. The fish is prepared table-side and we watch as our waiter expertly extracted the bones. Bravo!

Our waiter prepares Dover Sole tableside in Toscana

Dessert was Italian sponge cake, and the presentation was delightful, as was the cake. So rich we couldn’t quite get all the way through it.

Trumpeter and vocalist Nicole Sasser was the featured performer in the Riviera Lounge. So far we haven’t found the shows to be the strong suit of Riviera; it’s really about the food, the service and the ambiance of the ship, which all set the bar high.

We have an early call tomorrow morning for a tour of Antigua, so we skipped the Christmas Karaoke party in Horizons. Given our singing skills, the other guests who did attend owe us a debt of gratitude.

December 25, 2016

Photos by Gerry Barker

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