COME CRUISE WITH ME
In my last post I told you about celebrating my son’s 30th birthday at The Arizona Biltmore Hotel. As it happens, this is a really big year for big birthdays in our family. In addition to Nathan turning 30, in March my youngest offspring will turn 18, and in May I will be celebrating a BIG birthday too. We have a tradition in our family that whenever anyone celebrates a special birthday we take a cruise. For example, when my middle son Taylor turned 16 we went on a Viking Riverboat cruise on the Seine River from Normandy to Paris, France.
When our 2 oldest sons turned 18 we took a Mediterranean Cruise. And when my husband turned 50 we took a Northern European Cruise in the Baltic Sea, visiting Scandinavia and Russia. We like to cruise.
So, in honor of my upcoming birthday we have been in the throes of planning our next voyage, and after much study, we have finally settled on another Riverboat Cruise, this time down the Rhine River from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland. We will be traveling with Uniworld on the S.S. Antoinette.
Ship Images Via Uniworld.com
And we will be staying in this lovely suite.
I’m getting excited, and soon will give you lots more details on that trip. However, in the meantime I realized that when we took our last cruise, (for no particular reason, as there were no BIG birthdays to celebrate), I was not yet blogging at the time, so I have not shared the trip with you. It was an EPIC adventure and an Iberian Odyssey to 7 countries on the maiden voyage of Oceania’s beautiful, brand new ship, the Riviera.
Since cruising is top-of-the-mind for me these days, I thought I’d take you on a sentimental journey. So, come cruise with me. Over the course of several blog posts I’ll be taking you to 7 European and African countries, and I promise you, it will be an amazing voyage.
But before we sail I want to show you around the ship. So, welcome aboard the Riviera.
Come on up the gangplank and I’ll show you around. Because we were staying in a suite we had priority ship embarkation with priority luggage delivery which was very convenient. The Riviera is a mid-size ship catering to 1,250 guests. We found that we really liked the benefits of a smaller ship, which allows it to visit boutique ports and seaside villages that large ships can’t access. We also found that there was never a crowd, there was never any waiting in lines, and the service was beyond compare. With 1 crew member to every 1.5 passengers, we felt very much pampered. The cabin staff even greeted us with water and cold towels as we boarded the ship.
This is the grand foyer with a staircase embellished with medallions and other ornamentation made of Lalique crystal.
But before I show you the public spaces I wanted to invite you into our stateroom: Penthouse Suite #11008.
The elegant, spacious and sumptuously appointed Penthouse Suites onboard Riviera rival any world-class, five-star hotel for comfort and beauty. Their design is ingenious, fully maximizing the generous 420 square feet of space.
The special Prestige Tranquility Beds with plump, goose-down pillows and amazing 1,000-thread-count linens was ultra comfortable.
At the foot of the bed was a table and 2 comfortable chairs to enjoy in-room dining and the complimentary gourmet evening canapés that were brought to our suite each evening by our Butler. The table was even decorated with a live orchid plant, a nice touch I thought.
From time to time at various ports of call, we would return to our suite in the evening to find a lovely gift layed out on the bed. One night we received these beautiful Oceania luggage tags. And every night we enjoyed Oceania’s Signature Belgian chocolates on our pillow with the nightly turndown service.
Our suite had a separate seating area with a window that overlooked the large veranda.
Our wonderful travel agent, Laurel Leidner of Connection to Cruise had sent a beautiful flower arrangement and champagne.
85% of the staterooms on Riviera have verandas. Ours had two really comfortable reclining chairs that we made very good use of. It’s not seen in this photo but they even provide cashmere lap blankets, perfect for relaxing on the veranda, which we did a lot of. In fact, in upcoming posts you won’t believe the incredible photos I’m going to share with you, taken from this very location.
Our veranda also gave us a bird’s eye view of the bridge of the ship, where we could watch the officers navigating the ship.
Stepping back inside there was a writing desk that came complete with personalized stationery and a laptop computer with wireless internet access for our use during the voyage. They even provide iPads upon request. And it contained a direct-dial satellite phone and we even had cellular service.
Next to that was a vanity area with a handheld hair dryer and mirror. There was a large flatscreen TV with an entertainment system and live satellite news. There was also a refrigerated mini-bar inside that cabinet with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water that was replenished daily.
Our huge walk-in closet contained a complimentary Oceania Cruises logo tote bag that became a handy shopping bag during shore excursions. Not exactly designer chic but it was practical. There were also thick cotton robes, slippers, an umbrella and a safe. Our 24 hour butler service included complimentary shoeshine service, packing and unpacking upon request, and complimentary pressing of garments upon embarkation. There was a self service laundry just down the hall which also came in very handy throughout the voyage.
The lavish bathroom came complete with a full-size bathtub/shower combination and another separate shower with a rain shower head…
and lots of plush cotton towels.
The vanity had a wide variety of Bulgari amenities that included bath salts to enjoy in the tub.
As guests in a suite we enjoyed exclusive access to the private Executive Lounge that was just down the hall and offered the services of a dedicated concierge.
You could make yourself a coffee or tea, enjoy a fresh baked pastry or grab a yogurt, piece of fruit, juice or soft drink from the fridge 24 hours a day.
Now let me show you around the ship. Riviera features a Culinary Center which I believe is the only hands-on cooking school at sea.
In the Artist Loft, a sweet couple who were the ship’s “artists-in-residence” offered step-by-step instruction in everything from photography, to painting, to printmaking. I wish I had made time for that, but regrettably, didn’t. If you’re not busy with those activities you can take a walk on the upper deck, use the putting green, or take a dip in the pool or jacuzzi.
Our suite category of travel gave us unlimited access to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® and private Spa Terrace.
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub with its signature treatments also had a state-of-the-art fitness center with yoga, Pilates (which I love and do at home), indoor cycling, aerobics, private and group fitness classes and personal training. We took full advantage of the private Spa Terrace featuring a thalassotherapy pool and whirlpool tubs. Just inside was a sauna and steam room and a relaxation room with heated ceramic lounge chairs. There is also a fitness track and a beauty salon. And for those watching their waistlines (who does that on a cruise?) they even serve Canyon Ranch cuisine in the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café.
Riviera offers guests multiple dining venues, of which six are open-seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. As you come along with me on this cruise I’ll take you to the various restaurants, all of which were outstanding.
Plus, Riviera offers complimentary 24-hour room service with an extensive menu. And if you are in a suite, your Butler is happy to serve you a course-by-course, in-suite dining service from any of the restaurants.
This voyage was nearly perfect in every way and was the trip of a lifetime. I’m having so much fun reviewing all the photos I took and look forward to sharing with you. Our cruise started in Lisbon, Portugal so stay tuned and in my next post we will visit Portugal.
So there you have it: COME CRUISE WITH ME
Wishing you smooth sailing…
By the way, this was not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with Oceania Cruise Lines. I just sincerely had a wonderful time cruising with them and wanted to share my experience with you.
Thanks for dropping in! Do please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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