Review: Oceania Riviera cruise ship

Editors rating:
Very good

Riviera cruise ship facts

  • 1,250 guests
  • 800 crew
  • 2012 launched
  • 2022 refurbished

Riviera is a great choice for those who like a mid-sized ship. It has lots of restuarants and on board activities, as well as designer-style accommodation.

Review: Oceania Riviera cruise ship

Editors rating:
Very good
By Published On: 30 Nov 2023

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Riviera has all the benefits of a large cruise ship while being small enough to visit places the big ships can’t reach. Indeed, Riviera has itineraries stretching from the far east to remote polar regions. On board, guests are spoilt for choice with eight dining venues, as well as a wide range of refurbished staterooms and suites.

The Riviera deck plan is easy to get around and it never feels crowded. There are lots of lounges and public spaces for relaxing, and the open decks are a treat. However, there are things worth knowing; like what your cruise fare includes, which restaurants are the best and how your choice of accommodation can change the cruise experience.


  • The outstanding Red Ginger restaurant.
  • Refurbished staterooms and suites.
  • Never feels crowded


  • Service can be patchy.
  • Not as intimate as Oceania’s smaller vessels.

Riviera FAQs

Riviera is considered to be a luxury cruise ship. The food can be very good and it has up-market, resort-style amenities.

No, Riviera does not have formal nights.

Most guests range in age from 35 to 75-years old.

Soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea and juices are included. Special promotions like Simply More cruise fares also include alcoholic drinks at lunch and dinner.

No, gratuities are not included; with the exception of residents from Australia and New Zealand where gratuities are bundled into the cruise fare.

Our review ratings

Service efficiency
Problem solving
Language skills

Riviera deck plan

The Riviera deck plan is easy to get around. There are a total of 9 passenger decks, the highest of which is deck 16.

  • Reception: Deck 5
  • Accommodation: Decks 7 to 12
  • Main dining room: Deck 6
  • Theatre: Deck 5
  • Observation lounge: Deck 15

It is worth noting that there is no deck 13 on Riviera.

About Oceania’s Riviera

Riviera is an Oceania-class cruise ship built in Italy and launched in May 2012. It is larger than most other ships in the Oceania Cruises fleet. Indeed, Riviera is 239 m. / 785 ft. long with 15 passenger decks.

The Grand Staircase on Oceania's Riviera cruise ship.
Riviera’s grand staircase.

The cruise ship has room for 1,250 guests, that is the same number as Marina and the newer Vista. By contrast the smaller R-class ships like Nautica and Regatta carry just 656-guests.

Riviera was entirely refurbished in 2022. Oceania Cruises boast every surface of every suite and stateroom is entirely new. 

The Grand Dining Room on Oceania's Riviera cruise ship.
The Grand Dining Room on Oceania’s Riviera cruise ship.

On my review voyage I found that many of Riviera’s public spaces also have a fresh new look, including restuarants like The Grand Dining Room. The decor is inspired by the palette of the ocean. I think it strikes just the right balance; Riviera looks luxurious, but it never feels pretentious.

Food on Oceania’s Riviera

The food on Riviera is central to the cruise experience. Indeed, the cuisine is given a reverence rarely found on a ship this size. As if to underscore that point there are no fewer than eight dining venues to choose from.

Riviera has a main dining room, a buffet, a poolside grill and a cafe for light bites. What’s more there are also six speciality restaurants, four of which are free-of-charge. Indeed, they are among the main reasons for choosing a Riviera cruise vacation. 

Red Ginger's Miso Glazed Seabass.
The famous Miso Glazed Seabass as served in Red Ginger.

I rate the Asian-inspired Red Ginger as the best restaurant on board. Indeed, it is one of the best Asian restaurants at sea. With signature dishes like Spicy Duck & Watermelon Salad and Miso-glazed Sea Bass it is not to be missed.

Jacque Pépin's Iberian Pork Rack with Oven Roasted Red Delicious Apple.
Jacque Pépin’s Iberian Pork Rack is a popular choice in his restuarant on Riviera.

There is classic French fare in Jacques which serves an excellent Lobster Thermidor as well as succulent Carré de Porc – Iberian Pork Rack with Oven Roasted Red Delicious Apple. The Polo Grill steakhouse has a delightful Roasted Beetroot & Garlic Goats Cheese Napoleon as well as prime steaks, chops and seafood from the grill. The Italian Toscana restaurant prepares delicious al dente pasta along with northern Italian specialties.

There is also La Reserve with a food and wine pairing experience as well as private dining in Privée, both for an additional fee.

It’s worth noting that you must have a reservation to dine in one of the specialty restaurants – walk-ins are usually not admitted.

Insider’s tip: To book speciality dining whilst on board visit the restaurant reservation desk, located in the foyer on deck 5. I could often make same-day bookings any time after 3:00pm; so long as I took a late sitting.

The Grand Dining Room's Pistachio Semifreddo.
Delight in delecibile desserts like Pistachio Semifreddo in The Grand Dining Room.

The magnificent Grand Dining Room retains a classic charm, not to mention an impressive menu which changes each night. That said, on my review voyage the quality of the cuisine was, on occasion, inconsistent.

If you prefer a more casual dining experience there is a buffet in the Terrace Cafe, as well as poolside pleasers like burgers and hot dogs at Waves Grill.

Light snacks as well as tea and coffee are available at Baristas cafe. In-room dining is also available 24-hours a day.

Nightlife on Riviera

Riviera has a good selection of nightlife entertainment. The Quadrivium String Quartet play in the Grand Bar most evenings and there is a lively pianist in Martinis bar.

A cast performance on Oceania's Riviera cruise ship.
A cast performance on Oceania’s Riviera cruise ship.

You can see cast shows in the Riviera Lounge theatre. Though it’s worth noting these can have a hint of cruise ship cliche about them. On the other hand, the guest entertainers were thoroughly enjoyable. Showtime is usually 9:30pm.

There is also late-night entertainment in Horizons bar with hosted karaoke and performances by the Riviera band.

Staterooms and suites

All of Riviera’s staterooms and suites were entirely refurbished in 2022. They are bright and airy with a decor that reflects the tone and palette of the sea.

Riviera has a wide range of staterooms and suites to choose from. There are Inside Staterooms – these are the least expensive rooms on board. Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms have a lovely picture window. These can be a good choice for cold climate voyages when poor weather can make a veranda unpleasant.

A Veranda Stateroom on Oceania's Riviera.
The spacious Veranda Staterooms were refurbished in 2022.

That said, Riviera’s Veranda Staterooms are a delight. So too are the near identical Concierge Level Staterooms which come with extra perks like laundry allowances.

A Veranda Stateroom on Oceania's Riviera.
The Stateroom bathrooms are now more spacious than ever.

It’s worth noting that the bathrooms in the Veranda and Concierge Staterooms have been entirely remodelled. The bathtub has been removed making way for a large walk-in, rain-water shower.

For those who like more space there are also four large suite categories on Riviera. The Penthouse Suite is the most popular of these. It is like a junior suite in a hotel. However, the one-bedroom Oceania Suite is our preference, especially those with enviable midship positions. The extra spacious Vista Suites are even larger while the palatial Owner’s Suites are perched high at the stern and span the entire beam.

Fitness and recreation

Keeping fit and looking good on Oceania’s Riviera is easy. There is a large gym with free weights and exercise machines, as well as pilates and yoga classes. You can play shuffleboard, practice your golf swing in the driving nets or enjoy the views from the jogging track on the top deck. 

The gym onboard Oceania's Riviera cruise ship.
The Riviera gym has spectacular views.

Riviera has a large outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a glorious teak deck with lots of comfortable sun loungers. 

Also, there are wellness treatments in the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center as well as a steam room, a spa terrace and a full service salon.

Riviera’s shore excursions

There are shore excursions for people of all abilities and interests on Oceania’s Riviera. They range from panoramic bus tours to small group cultural explorations. 

A whale wachting excusrion in Iceland.
Oceania Select tours offer exceptional experiences, like whale watching in Iceland.

There are cooks tours of local markets, hiking trips and journeys to white sand beaches. On my review voyage I went whale watching in Iceland and also visited a prize-winning Norwegian garden on a small group tour. 

A private garden in Forresfhord, Norway.
A private garden visit in Forresfhord near Haugesund, Norway.

Activities on Riviera

Oceania’s Riviera has some unique on board activities like cookery classes in the Culinary Center. On my review voyage these were enormously popular. There are also painting lessons in The Artists Loft with the ship’s artist-in-residence. 

The Culinary Center on Oceania Riviera.
Learn new cooking techniques in the Culinary Center.

In addition, the usual shipboard activities are also available including lectures from guest speakers, bridge, trivia, mar jongg, table tennis and a Mensa Daily Quiz. Other activities include dance classes, Diamond Parties in the boutique, Wine Tasting (for a fee) and a free Captains Cocktail Celebration. 

Riviera also has get-togethers for friends of Dorothy, friends of Bill W and solo cruisers. 

All the activities are posted in the daily Currents newsletter.

The Library on the Riviera cruise ship.
The Library is full of good reads.

Riviera has a popular and well stocked library with cozy nooks for reading. Next to the library is a games room with chess, backgammon, Scrabble, Monopoly and more.

There are also boutiques on Riviera selling jewellery, designer clothing and travel essentials.

What’s included on Riviera

A basic Oceania Cruises fare on Riviera includes all meals, even in the specialty restaurants. Soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea and juices are also included.

Oceania Cruises Simply More brochure.
Take advantage of special offers and promotions to enhance your cruise inclusions.

At the time of writing Oceania Cruises Simply More fares also included a House Select Beverage Package as well as a shore excursion credit of between USD600 – 1,600 per stateroom or suite.

However, gratuities are no longer included for most people. Interestingly, residents from Australia and New Zealand will continue to have gratuities included in their cruise fares.

In addition, Riviera usually has a free shuttle bus service between the port and downtown.

There is also a self-service laundry, although guests staying in Concierge Level staterooms and Suites get a free laundry allowance.

Oceania Riviera dress code

The Riviera dress code is described as ‘country club casual’. In other words, smart casual wear is ideal.

During the day guests wear shorts, jeans and T-shirts. However, it is important to note that tank tops or swimsuits should not be worn in any of the restaurants.

After 6:00pm the Riviera dress code steps up a notch. Men wear slacks and a shirt (jacket optional). Women wear slacks or a skirt, and a blouse.

Riviera does not have formal nights.

Fellow guests

Riviera is a popular cruise ship. Indeed, on my review voyage many guests had sailed on Riviera before.

Guests generally range in age from 35 to 75-years old. However it’s worth noting that there can be families on board too, especially on warm weather voyages.

Most guests come from the U.S.A, but there are usually Britons, Canadians and Australians as well.

Oceania Riviera is gay-friendly.

Riviera review conclusion

Riviera is a great choice for those who like a mid-sized ship with lots of dining options and on board activities. It is also well suited to people who want unique excursions ashore.

However, Riviera’s larger size means some guests might find it a little bit impersonal. Also, on busy voyages the service can occassionaly be patchy.

That said, I think Riviera offers a very good cruise vacation experience. 

Read the accommodation section of this Oceania Riviera review by clicking the images below.

The author sailed as a guest of Oceania Cruises.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.


  1. Julian 10 Jan 2023 at 03:36 - Reply

    Thanks for the details. Are you going to review this ship again after the refurbishment last year? Photos of the updated cabins and suites would be excellent.

    • Jason Kerr 10 Jan 2023 at 12:45 - Reply

      Hi Julian

      Thanks for your note. We certinaly hope to!

      Jason Kerr
      Managing Editor

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