Upscale Oceania Cruises is positioning its upcoming Riviera cruise ship – set to launch in April 2012 – as a model for culinary excellence at sea. Already at the forefront of the haute cuisine-at-sea phenomenon, the new ship follows in the heels of our selection of the line's Marina (sister ship to the Riviera) as the best culinary cruise ship of 2011. The Riviera is being built expressly for a cruise base of epicurean-minded travelers – the 1,250-passenger ship will offer 10 palate-pleasing dining venues, which will strive to compete with the best of those found on shore; plus, there will be a hands-on onboard culinary center so guests can learn some of the fancy kitchen-work firsthand. Best of all: There won’t be any additional charge to sample the multitude of alternative dining venues aboard the ship (though note that extra fees will apply for the culinary center classes).
Guests can expect six open-seating gourmet restaurants to choose between. The Grand Dining Room will dish out three Continental and American meals daily (as well as spa cuisine from Canyon Ranch), with a six-course dinner menu served up by a tuxedo-clad waitstaff. Or, opt for Italian nosh at Toscana, a dinner-only eatery featuring exclusive Italian recipes, many of which were provided by Oceania Cruises’ staff and crew. The Polo Grill (dinner only) specializes in beef, chops, and seafood in a classic steakhouse setting, while Jacques (dinner only) doles out French bistro fare in antique-bedecked environs (pictured above); it’s one of only two restaurants by acclaimed chef Jacques Pépin. Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese dishes reign supreme at the Far East-inspired Red Ginger (dinner only), while the alfresco Terrace Café offers up three meals daily, with carved meats and regional specialties highlighted for lunch and dinner.
The Riviera also offers two exclusive private-dining options: La Reserve by Wine Spectator pairs fine wines, selected by Wine Spectator editors, with seven-course dinners (a per-guest wine premium does apply); while Privée, an elegant private dining room, can accommodate up to 10 guests for private events, with selections from the Polo Grill and Toscana (note that a room charge applies).
Two casual eateries round out the offerings, including Waves, an open-air brasserie featuring burgers, grilled items, and salads, along with the Baristas coffee bar, boasting gourmet coffees and homemade desserts.
Oceania Cruises’ Riviera will also feature the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, where hands-on cooking classes will be on offer to guests, accompanied by programs like chef-accompanied port calls to local markets (additional fees apply).
The Riviera will cruise the Mediterranean through fall and move to the Caribbean for a series of winter sailings; rates start at $1,999. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com or call 800-531-5658 to book.
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