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Cruise Review: Oceania Riviera – Part 2

Tuesday 7th May 2013 – Koper, Slovenia

Today was one of those idyllic beautiful pretty sail ins that was totally ruined when the Captain turned the ship and we backed in opposite a container ship! Pretty while it lasted though. I was awake long before lizy but that was soon interrupted by the HiDiHi campers wake up call from the Cruise director. Its the only thing that surprises me about this cruise line. Maybe we are unfortunate that we have a speaker outside our stateroom, cabin, room? I don’t know I will have to check. But yes, its very in your face wakey wakey, we have arrived in Koper, get out of bed type thing! I would have expected a more gentle approach, and maybe its just down to the particular announcer at the time.

We decided to take breakfast out on the aft of Terrace Cafe and it was rather lovely sat out by the rails overlooking Koper. The choice in the buffet includes everything you could want for breakfast and more. All beautifully set out, all served by the cheeriest of crew, and even carried back to the table if you really feel you cant make the effort on your own. Ice water, tea, coffee, choice of juices all served to the table by the many waiters that are drifting around wishing all good morning. And a very good morning it is!

KoperWe had a nice early stroll into Koper this morning and it was extremely pleasant. Very pretty, quaint old town which merged into the modern. Prices in the shops seemed very cheap, but Mr C will be impressed to learn that we didn’t make any purchases. It had a lot of Venetian influence but was also quite medieval. Just quaint and lovely. We hovered at the port are for a while as it was free wifi but the sun was shining and calling to us. In no time at all we were onboard, change of clothes and by the pool. Oh the sun loungers, they are just bliss! Lush thick soft swishy mattresses with a soft terry towelling cover that you just sink into, believe me I have experienced some sun loungers in my cruising life, but these are in a different league. Lizy had her kindle and I had my shades for full blown people watching, which just happens to be my favourite pastime! The sun was fighting the clouds all day, but jeeze when the sun won it was hot and glorious. We had lunch at Waves Grill. I had the Cajun chicken which was pretty dam delish washed down with a cocktail of the day, Fizzy Fuzzy Navel at $5. Back out in the sunshine for a while, but just as lizy attempted to get in the pool a clap of thunder shook the deck and that was it! Lightening was striking above and the crew rushed to clear all the sun loungers of mattresses and towels.

oceania spaWe opted for the sanctuary of the hot beds in the spa area which was oh so lush. The rain hammered against the forward windows and we felt quite snug. As it cleared we ventured out to the hydro pool which I admit I fell asleep in. I awoke to see lizy doing an impression of a panda thanks to her non waterproof mascara. Then we checked out the sauna and the steam room and lizy went one step further and had a full blown rain shower experience and washed and conditioned her hair at the same time! the shower and changing room facilities are pretty amazing. Shampoo and conditioner in all the showers. Full blown grooming kits at the wash basins including razors, combs, cotton buds, mouthwash etc. You need it? its there!

Back at the stateroom, cabin, room … I had work to do – well it is Tuesday! Meanwhile lizy went to the craft class and made postcards and cards. She was the star pupil by all accounts. She came rushing back to the cabin proudly showing me what she had made at school today, just as she would have done 20 years ago.

LizyCaptainsCaptains Welcome reception this evening and I believe he was introducing his officers at 5.45pm but that was rather early so we were booted and suited for 6.30pm. We did venture upto the Horizon lounge to see if any officers were in attendance but it was rammed! So we circumnavigated and ended up in our favoured bar Marini. Drinks were compliments of the Captain from 5.45pm to 8.00pm and I was impressed to learn that meant any drink I wanted! Well it seemed rude not to have my premium martini, so I did, and a few more! I thought I was squiffy by the end of it but not half as squiffy as the lady next t me, who had clearly been present since the beginning of complimentary drinks. I thought it was very hospitable of el Capitain to entertain us in such fashion. I like him despite having never seen the fellow! Lizy went into full blown hostess with the mostest mode, while I just sat back and sipped on the constant flow of Martinis that seemed to come my way without even asking. We ambled into dinner not long after 8.00pm and the maitre de was on full form. Of course I can’t possibly be Lizys mother! I requested a nice table for two and that’s exactly what we got . Perfect P1010275table over looking the wake right at the back of the restaurant. That chandelier is still mesmerising me and I’m trying to capture it in a photo but it’s not working. Tonight I had strawberries in liquor as a starter! French onion soup followed by rib of beef. The other night the beef was life velvet, tonight it was like soufflé!! How do they do it? Best beef I have ever had. Oh but you should have seen my desert. Cappuccino cup! The work that must have gone into creating it, it was just amazing and tasted divine. I rounded it off with a real cappuccino and the petit fors. If you like fine dining and good food, excellent service, extensive wine list you really do need to come on an Oceania cruise!

As we left the restaurant we had a browse of the shops, then dropped by reception to request some less Oceania nightposh pillows for Lizy. Turns out hypo allergic is what she needs and by the time she gets back to the stateroom someone will be there to greet her. Turns out they weren’t wrong and she was very pleased with her two new pillows. Turns out nothing is too much trouble onboard Oceania! We dropped by the Movies under the stars which was showing Mama Mia but the big princess and the pea beds were calling. Time to call it a night. By the time we were ready for bed the hot chocolate had been delivered and it was sleep time. I can hear the sea for the first time this cruise. It’s swishing so I need to go out on the balcony and take a look. I remarked to Lizy earlier that the ship seems silent at sea, but to be fair we had only done 93 miles overnight from Venice so I need to see what she is really like at sea.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you about my laundrette experience late afternoon. I needed to press my dress for this evening (as you do) and discovered that there was a laundrette fwd on most decks so I went in search. A steward directed me to the port side of our deck but it took a while to find. It has to be the poshest laundrette I have ever been in! 6 very trendy washer dryers, a cabinet of drawers and cupboards and a fridge full of soft drinks! Not only that but a sofa, TV and coffee table!!! I was pretty amazed to be honest! I struggled to find an ironing board. I couldn’t believe it had a sofa and coffee table but not an ironing board? Turns out it was hidden away in a cabinet. I unhooked the ironing board and as it unfolded a spot light above and the iron was located on a hook above! Why did I I not take my camera with me? Well you just wouldn’t would you!

Wednesday 8th May 2013 – Dubrovnik

RainbowI awoke to glorious sunshine coming through the viol drapes at the balcony window. I had to get out of bed and take a look! The sky was blue, the sea was deep blue rippling glass and there was a most amazing rainbow to the aft of the ship. Why? I know not, but it was extremely pretty against the clear blue sky. I left lizy to sleep and a little after 8.00pm I was on my sun lounger on deck 12. I so love the early morning sunshine and fresh air. The sun loungers are more like day beds with their deep foam mattresses and soft terry towelling covers. I was asked if I would like a blanket. Was he kidding?! This was summer to me! But I was the only crazy fool laid out there. Most seemed intent on donning their running shoes and either jogging round the running track two decks above or taking a brisk walk around the deck above me. I must admit that I did feel slightly guilty that I didn’t have their energy, but this is my holiday so I will do it may way. I was spell bound watching a Japanese lady in the corner above me doing what I presume was Tia Chi. Very elegant and she looked pretty zoned in while she was doing it. I did smile a bit when she suddenly went into a full blown cha cha chaa which I Oceania loungerspresume might be a bit of a ‘get back into the real zone’ type thing? The bar was open at 8.30am and many of you will be shocked to learn that I had a coffee and an iced mineral water from the bar! About 30 mins later a drinks trolley came around and the bar tender asked if he could mix me a Bloody Mary! Maybe they think everyone overdid it a little at the Captains Drinks reception and needed a bit of a hangover cure. I declined his kind offer. Lizy finally got herself out on deck at about 11.00am but she informs me she had been watching a film from the vast selection available.

We arrived at Dubrovnik at 12 noon and the sail in was just stunning! It was lovely watching the green hills glide past the deck. We were entertained on deck by the Jazz band which was excellent and at 11.57am we were given clearance to go ashore. But what was the rush? We just lay for a while longer and took in the rays. We did have a couple of $5 cocktails of the day too which were rather nice! We gave the Terrace Cafe time to clear of all those a little more keen to go ashore than ourselves and we found ourselves a nice table at the aft under the big parasols and enjoyed a nice chilled out lunch. I had chicken and apple skewers drizzled with maple syrup, and a portion of egg fried rice. It was very good. For desert I had raspberry sorbet and coconut macaroon ice cream. Oh wow, you have to book and Oceania cruise just to sample the food on here. Nothing disappoints!

BuzaI do love Dubrovnik but neither of us really has a lot of energy today. In the end we decided to take the complimentary shuttle bus into town and I would take lizy to the bar with the best views in Dubrovnik as she had never been there. All was going well, I managed to find my way back there without problem, but then Lizy spotted a little lizard thing on the rocks below us and I was more than on edge after that. The views are stunning though and the bar seemed to have grown in size since the last time I was there with slightly better bar facilities and more terraces below. Lizy agreed it was a good find and the views were appreciated by both. She also knew I was on edge for fear of lizards attacking! We paid the bill and lizy did offer to climb the stairs in front of me to clear the path of lizards. But what if she scared them and they headed my way? Anyway I was just on a full blown mission to get as far away from lizards as possible. I was doing well, I was half way up when I scared a lizard nearly as much as he scared me and he fell off the wall beside me and took a while to find his feet. I felt myself turn to utter jelly, but a push from lizy behind and I emerged through the gate at the top of the steps a tear filled mess. People waiting to go in could see I was terrified, but as my daughter emerged unable to control her laughter long enough to ask if I was alright they realised there were no real sea monsters behind the wall. By this time lizy was 5 minutes behind me and I was heading for downtown Dubrovnik at a fast pace of knots. I may never return to Buza Bar which is sad as its amazing! We walked through the town out to the waters edge. Stopped to talk to a cat, as you do in Dubrovnik, and were back on the shuttle bus to the ship. Its not that I don’t like Dubrovnik, its one of my favourite ports, but I was keen to get back to my ship.

afternoon teaAt 4.00pm we decided to go for afternoon tea. Now, I have done white gloved afternoon tea on all of the Cunard ships, both in the Queens Room and in the Grills. I have also had afternoon tea on Silversea, all lovely. But white gloved afternoon tea Oceania cruises style was on another level. It was served in the Horizon lounge which is the panoramic lounge at the top of the ship. The string quartet were providing the music. We had a lovely table in the window overlooking the harbour. The table setting looked beautiful with the delicate blue and white patterned tea service. What kind of tea would we like? Next the sandwich tray arrived, delicate sandwiches and open sandwiches of various varieties. Jam and peanut butter made me smile, but I didn’t partake. Then the sweet trolley arrived. Oh the orange cake was to die for, and the little berry tartlet was just yummy. He tried to convince me to take a slice of apple and cinnamon but I couldn’t, doesn’t he understand that dresses are already under strain? There were warm scones and jam and cream to but I had to decline. We also had a glass of kir royal each ($5) how very decedent of us! It was all very relaxing and we stayed an hour.

Oceania Art classAt 5.00pm lizy had her art and crafts class so I went along to see what was what but couldn’t stay as I had to go and do some work. I freshened up in the shower and used both the power shower and the rain shower head at the same times, for no other reason than I could! Being the good mummy that I am I ran lizy a bath for when she returned from art and craft class. Lizy returned proudly displaying her newly made ‘memories keeper’ it reminds me when she was in infant school and would come back with a painting. Look mum look mum, look what I made today.

We were very late getting out of the cabin this evening, so late that the cabin steward came twice to make up the room, but to be fair we have been leaving an hour or two earlier every other night, so he may have presumed we were already out and about. We eventually made it to Martini and my martini of choice tonight was Appletini. Just delish!

We were dining in Polo Grill tonight and it must have been fate that we could only get a 9.00pm slot as we would never have been ready earlier. Our waiter was the same one that served us breakfast on the first morning in the Grande Dining room. He remembered us long before I would have remembered him, but then who could forget us. The Polo Grill menu was huge both literally and metaphorically! I waded my way through it and made my selection. We are both having fillet mignon 28 day aged! Our wine order was taken and I advised her that there must be a small amount in a bottle from last night. I don’t know how they do it but it was there within a couple of minutes and being poured into our glasses. We actually had a glass each left in it, and a fresh bottle was placed in the ice bucket. Lizys starter polo grilllooked more like a desert than a starter. The effort that goes into the presentation of the food just defys words. Oh the meat was just amazing. I can’t describe and the only way you will know what it was like would be to book an Oceania cruise for yourself and try it! Oceania really is a foodies dream cruise line. If you like fine dining and good food you need to try an Oceania cruise! We were still berthed in Dubrovnik so the scenery outside was stunning. I was just utterly stuffed but I had to try a desert. I couldn’t leave without at least attempting one, in fact I had the quintet of deserts which allowed me to sample all of them, and I did only sample each one. No way could I finish them! We were one of the last to waddle out of there. Heck it was an effort. We tried to walk it off with a walk around the top deck but we found we couldn’t go very fast. The jazz band were playing on the open deck below and it all made for a very pleasant ambience. We stopped and had a chat to David the cruise director, before waddling round the deck one last time and lizy was elated when I confirmed next stop was to be bed!

We were late tonight 11.35pm, oh my goodness! A pot of hot chocolate was soon on order and I sat on the balcony watching the comings and goings on the dockside. We were obviously only waiting for a Dubrovnik nightparty of 4 passengers because as soon as they arrived by taxi, the gangway went up and we let go our lines a little ahead of time. Lizy was asleep by now and I thought she would be woken by the bow thrusters, but I have to say this ship does everything quietly. We just pushed away from the side effortlessly and moved out to sea. We only went the length of the bridge and the pilot disembarked. He has an easy job! And so it was time for my bed.

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