ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY TWO –– Today we are docked at our first stop: Nassau. A Disney ship is on one side of us, soon to be joined by Carnival Liberty and Norwegian Escape. It’s going to be a busy day at the port.
If you are a late riser, as we often are, Riviera offers a very nice continental-style breakfast in the Horizons lounge. Tucked away in one corner is a selection of bakery items, cold cereal, juice, toast and coffee. We noticed it’s a favorite of the crew as well. Service is available until 11 am.
Having been to Nassau on numerous occasions, we opt to stay onboard and discover more of what Riviera has to offer. Just as well. Several passengers were grumbling later about all the congestion they encountered.
One sidenote: Unlike other cruise ships, we noticed Riviera keeps the intercom announcements to a minimum — something we appreciate.
Lunchtime, and we head for the Grand Dining Room to try it out. First, it is indeed “grand,” with a grand view and grand furnishings,including the massive Lalique chandelier. Our table is front and center, with a panoramic view of the multi-blue waters of the Bahamas. The menu selections today include “Taste of the World: England,” a sampler of British food. While Britain isn’t known for its food, we must say “Good show!” to the Riviera chefs.
Actually, we need to go easy on the food. Tonight we have reservations at La Reserve, a seven-course dinner with wine pairings. Got to save plenty of room for that.
With many of our fellow passengers off the ship in Nassau, it’s a good day to grab a spot by the pool with a cold beverage. The Waves Grill at poolside serves up food, drink and ice cream, and business there is booming. Time to settle back on a lounger in one of the plush Oceania white towels and r-e-l-a-x.
Before long, it’s time to get ready for another British tradition we love: Afternoon Tea. It’s staged in Horizons on Deck 15 with all the trappings: White-glove-and-jacketed attendants, a four-piece string quartet and a selection of finger sandwiches, elegant pastries and of course, scones with jam and clotted cream. It was all quite lovely, with one exception: Several passengers attended in cutoffs, flip-flops and swimsuits with covers. We know the dress code is casual, but how about a little respect for your fellow passengers?
It’s 5:45 — where did the day go? — and time to depart Nassau. A duo is performing on the pool deck for the sailaway, but everyone is mostly somewhere else. Still, a nice entre to the evening’s activities.
Speaking of which, there’s an open house going on at the Artist Loft, a working art studio where guests can learn from the resident artists and then create their own masterpiece. Two of the projects going on this week are painting glass plates and design your own mask for the upcoming New Year’s Eve party. Fun! Sign us up for the masks.
Tonight’s main event is dinner at La Reserve, the aforementioned wine pairings and seven-course dining experience, in partnership with Wine Spectator. Seating is limited, and we are joined by several other couples. The cost is $95 a person.
There are six in our group, and we get acquainted over a glass of champagne before moving into the main dining room. It’s worth noting most of the passengers we’ve met have been on Oceania multiple times, and many tell us Riviera is their favorite ship in the fleet.
The executive chef sets the stage by introducing the “Discovery Menu,” each course paired with a special wine that compliments that selection. Cooking and preparation is done adjacent to the tables. We start with a “Lobster and Mascarpone Pancake with Baby Carrot Emulsion and Rock Chive Cress,” paired with a Pommery Brut Rose Champagne.
The dishes are divine, and so is the wine. They even made a special accommodation for us since we don’t eat beef, and substituted sea bass in one of the selections. Yes, we know — we are problem children.
If you plan on going, allow 3-4 hours. Anyone who enjoys fine food and wine will find this worthy of consideration.
To cap off the evening, we ventured back to Horizons to check out the dance party. The DJ was cranking, more couples showed up, but not much dancing. We’ll keep trying.
Tomorrow and Sunday are sea days as we head for our next stop, St. John’s, Antigua. The winds have picked up and the ship in definitely rocking more in the 3-meter waves. We also heard the rumor Santa may be paying a visit. For the 50 children onboard, that would be exciting.