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Oceania Riviera Transatlantic Review

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Client Trip Review: Anne Duyser 

Off to cross the deep blue sea.    My friend Dick, from Naples is my travel partner. This is the first ocean crossing for me and the second for Dick who once crossed over on a naval destroyer as a professor at the Naval Academy.

We boarded Oceania's beautiful ship, The Riviera, in Miami.  The first two days were at sea which gave us lots of time to get unpacked and to enjoy the amenities of the ship.  The Riviera has four specialty restaurants, Jacques, (named for Jacque Pepin), The Polo (a steak restaurant), Red Ginger (Asian) and Toscana (Italian) in addition to The Main Dining Room and Terraces, a buffet.

 
We had signed up earlier for each specialty restaurant but we were able to get into Toscana  the first night.    Hopefully we will be able to get additional nights in our favorites as the days go by.  Each guest is assured of at least one night in each special restaurant.  After that one is able to request additional nights based on availability.    The ship is almost full so we will see.

We will have 9 days at sea overall but there is lots to do on the ship.  One can be as active or as inactive as one desire.  So far our main activities have been enjoying the fabulous food and playing Trivia.    

On Day 4 of the crossing we arrived in Kings Wharf, Bermuda.  To get there we had to cross the famous or "infamous" Bermuda Triangle, also known as The Devil's Triangle.  Several ships and planes have disappeared over the years in this area.  Much study has been done regarding the disappearances but today there is still not a valid theory.  Fortunately, we made it through.

The Bermudas are a group of approximately 180 volcanic islands with the seven largest islands connected by bridges.  The land above sea level is limestone.  All of the houses are made from the limestone and painted in very pretty pastel colors which make for a very colorful island.

Following the Civil War, Bermuda was growing and exporting a lot of vegetables to the U.S.  Among the best exports were onions which were later grown and registered in the US which is where we get the Bermuda onion.   From the onions, the Bermudians started calling themselves, "Onions" and today that is used as a nickname for the people of Bermuda.

We had a tour of Hamilton and the surrounding area on the first day and on the second we saw the rest of the main island.......in the rain.  It was a five hour tour and it rained the whole time.  By the time we got back to the ship we had gale force winds.  I opened the umbrella as I came out of the door of the bus and it was immediately ripped out of my hand. It was a long windy wet walk back to the ship.

The island has some lovely pink sand beaches and very nice resort hotels.  If one is looking for a good resort with fun in the sun this would be a good choice although everything is very expensive.  Gas is about $9.00 a gallon.

Days 6-10 we are once again at sea.  What does one do for 4 days at sea??  I know it seems hard to believe but the days pass much too quickly.  One sleeps late, then heads off to the main dining room for a very leisurely lunch, may or may not catch a lecture or a presentation by the Canyon Ranch Spa  then "The Blood Sport" game of Trivia.  It is hard to believe how seriously some people take the game, all for the Big O points!!  One would think that you could get something great, but the competition is for tee shirts, logo bags etc.  which should probably be given just for advertising.  But , OH NO, the cruise directors touts Big O Points as if they are the key to riches.

After Trivia it is time to meet new friends in the Grand Bar and then off to the shower to get ready for a leisurely dinner in one of the six dining venues.   Then the show and dancing the night away in Horizons. What a life!  As my traveling companion Cecilia said once, what is not to like about a cruise?  This is the Grand bar and the chairs cost $10,000 each.

April 10 there was a County Fair on deck with lots of games and a chance to win prizes.  We earned lots of tickets but our numbers were never called.  It was a lot of fun doing things like competing for being the fastest to put a pillowcase on a pillow, or knocking down bottles with a ball on a string tied around the waist to name a few of the activities.

April 11 we are in Funchal on the island of Madeira which belongs to Portugal.  Funchal is lovely from both land and sea.  It is a volcanic island with a very high terrain. The winding roads begin at sea level and twist and turn up very steep mountains with beautiful views. Our first stop was Pico Barcelos the lowest peak, followed by a stop at a very quaint fishing village.  After a Madeira wine tasting accompanied by the special sugar cake used for special celebrations we went to Cabo Girāo that had a very special lookout area.  There was a clear plastic floor built out from the land so that we were able to look straight down to the land and the ocean.  

The island is lush with flowers and plants.  Almost every house had it's own vegetable garden and grape arbor.  Madeira is famous for the Madeira wine. The vineyards are grown in terraced gardens that climb up steep mountains.  Funchal is a lovely lush island with excellent year round weather.....a great place to visit.

The fishing village looked like a village in Portugal. So sorry we did not have time to have a meal there.  The best fish I have ever eaten was in Portugal!

A couple of wonderful relaxing days at sea and then a stop in Gibraltar, a British Over Seas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula which borders Spain and  is the entrance to the Mediterranean .  Gibraltar is 2.6 square miles and the Rock of Gibraltar its only landmark.  We all know the Prudential advertisement and from the right angle it looks exactly the same.  At the foot of the Rock is a densely populated city area with about 30,000 Gilbraltians.

Our tour took us by Cable Car to the top of the Rock where we encountered the Barbary Apes that were brought over by Churchill to entertain the troops. As you know I am into the Ape Family.  They are so cute. Gibraltar has been a strategic places during many wars, especially WWI and WWII.

I will say it was interesting to see the place that has protected the Mediterranean Sea for centuries.  Our tour was the Siege of Gibraltar and we walked through the tunnels that were so important.

Our tour took us around the island, 22 plus square miles.  One of the main roads crosses the airport runway which we did.  Only 4 planes come in a day. 

We arrived in Barcelona to find our room ready in the Palace Hotel.  It was formerly a Ritz Carlton.  It is like walking into a museum of a hotel in 1919, the year the hotel was built.  It has lovely antiques.  The sitting room resembles a drawing room of castle in England, Spain or France.

We spent the first afternoon riding two Hop On Hop Off buses to see all the sights.  The second day we had a Skip the Lines Tour of the Sagrada Família Cathedral the magnificent work of Antonio Gaudí.  It is definitely worth the extra cost to skip the very long lines.  We braved the rain to view the amazing facade.  Construction began in the late 1890's and is scheduled to be completed in 2026 for the 100th Anniversary of Gaudí death.

We had a lovely trip with great food, good times and new friends. We are booked on November 3 cruise from Lisbon to Cape Town to Rio on the Marina. Come along, a good time will be had by all.

Until the next trip, wishing you good health, good fortune, good times and much love in your life.

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