Day 2: Here on Oceania…it is all about the food

Cooking demo with vegan guest chef Cristopher Berg (left) and Oceania fleet corporate chef Franck Garanger
Cooking demo with vegan guest chef Cristopher Berg (left) and Oceania fleet corporate chef Franck Garanger

ONBOARD THE OCEANIA RIVIERA – Yesterday was a full day at sea and everyone seemed to be spending the time settling in.

There was a full array of onboard activities. In the morning we attended a lecture about the history of the Turks & Caicos islands and then a vegan cooking demonstration. Later I attended a port shopping talk and then we participated in team trivia later in the afternoon.

Cooking is a theme that runs throughout Oceania cruises. As cruise director Ray Michaels stated when introducing yesterday’s cooking demo, “Here at Oceania…It’s all about the food.” And so far we have found that to be the case.

Our first night we had an outstanding meal at Red Ginger, the Asian-themed specialty restaurant. Chet — not a great fan of this cuisine – opted for the rack of lamb that he declared “Excellent!” I enjoyed the crispy duck and watermelon salad followed by sole tempura. We were off to a great start!

Breakfast yesterday was in the Terrace Grill, aka The Lido, and we got there about 8:30 a.m. It was not busy so Chet ordered a freshly-made omelet while I enjoyed the special of the day, huevos rancheros. So, far so good. Everything hot and yummy.

For lunch, we chose the main dining room…a really, really elegant and bright room with great window views all around. The meal matched. Each day they have a themed sampler plate so I opted for the Mexican offering that had six items on a lazy-susan type platter. Chet went for a crisp Caesar salad with chicken. We both splurged on desserts (we definitely can’t keep that up). Service was excellent and the food matched.

It is refreshing for a cruise line to live up to its culinary reputation. Last night found us in the main dining room again and he went for prime rib while I had duck. Again, both very, very good as were all of the side dishes.

Each day at lunch they feature a different international cuisine
Each day at lunch they feature a different international cuisine

So we know that our meals are going to be very, very special throughout the cruise.

There are many other culinary offerings on board. First, there are the live cooking demonstrations that on this cruise are being put on by Oceania’s fleet corporate chef Franck Garanger and raw vegan guest chef Cristopher Berg. These two play off each other and put on a very entertaining and educational show.

Then there is The Culinary Center which offers hands-on cooking classes with master chefs. Originally, there were eight classes offered during this cruise however, the first ones were cancelled because The Culinary Center is closed for a few days during the CDC cleanup. I am scheduled for the “At Home in Sicily” class several days from now. The two-hour classes cost $69 and you can sign up in advance of the cruise.

This was the Mexican lunch sampler served yesterday
This was the Mexican lunch sampler served yesterday

Oceania also offers Culinary Discovery tours as part of their shore excursions. This cruise there is one such tour – “Biodynamics Farm and Island Food Tasting” on the island of Tortola. This 4-1/2 hour tour includes visiting an organic farm and lunch for $199 per person.

The Riviera has four specialty restaurants on board and there is no upcharge for dining in these. Most staterooms are guaranteed a reservation in each one during the cruise, while the suites get additional slots as part of their amenity package.

I am told that the ship is near capacity this week (1,250 guests/800 crew) but it certainly does not seem that way. The dining venues are not crowded. Oceania definitely is a cruise line for “foodies.”

December 4, 2016

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