Day 4: Riviera

We’ve been on three cruise lines to this point: Royal Caribbean (many times), Norwegian (once), and now Oceania. We hadn’t even heard of Oceania until Courtney received an email from her alumnae association for this trip. This was much less surprising when we found out that the cruise line had only been in business since 2003.

Oceania is advertised as the “food and wine” cruise, and for good reason. Jacques Pepin, of PBS fame, is the executive director of all culinary activities on the ships for the whole line, and it shows. From the standard buffet lunches to the specialty restaurants on board, everything is absolutely decadent. I went to get a steak at the buffet on the first day, and they cooked it right there in front of me! Not only that, but the ship itself is much more refined than many other ships we have been on. It’s more the little things that we noticed, such as being greeted by name at our dinner this evening depsite never having met the waiter at any other point in our voyage. (He must have looked up our boarding photos based on our reservation.) It’s these tiny attentions to details that have pushed Oceania to the top of our cruise line list (that, and the amazing food and wine).

After waking up today, we went to the Terrace Cafe for breakfast, which is what would be your standard buffet meal on other cruise ships. I chose a traditional American breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns, while Courtney had a more varied start to her day with a sticky bun with pecans, a hard boiled egg, assorted fruit, and a yogurt parfait.

After breakfast, we scoped out some chairs in the shade on the pool deck to read for a while. At 11 we had a free cocktail reception for our tour group where we enjoyed some mimosas, bloody marys, and assorted canapes as we talked with the other Sweet Briar alumnae about the various goings on with the “reboot” of the college.

Once we were done conversing, we grabbed a quick lunch back at the Terrace Cafe and then went to the gym to burn off some calories in preparation for our wine pairing dinner in the evening. One of the great amentities on this cruise line that others didn’t have is that you can get free vitamin water or gatorade in the gym to help replenish some fluids after a hard workout. We took advantage of this after our runs on the treadmills, had an after-workout stretch, and then went back to our room to shower and get ready for team trivia!

In our previous cruises, we have won team trivia twice, and this time we came pretty close, coming in third when we teamed up with the other alumnae from Sweet Briar. We all won one “O Point” for our efforts, which we might be able to redeem for a shirt or hat or something at the end of the cruise, provided that we earn a few more points throughout our voyage.

Once we had secured our prize in team trivia, we went back to the room to get ready for the captain’s reception and our wine pairing dinner. The reception was similar to the receptions we’d been to on other cruises with free drinks and the captain introducing the senior members of the staff, but they also had some free appetizers that were delicious. On the other cruise lines, these are normally reserved for the upper tiers of the cruise line’s loyalty program members.

When the reception was over, we made our way to La Reserve, the top tier dining establishment on the Riviera. It was here that we enjoyed a seven course meal, each paired with a glass of wine that complemented the dish magnificently. We saved the menu just in case we are able to find these wines once we return home. We shared a table with some great fellow cruisers who were fellow wine enthusiasts that we discovered might be sharing some of our vineyard tours later in the week. It turned out that they were here on a tour with a California winery called O’Brien, and they invited us to a wine tasting with their group tomorrow. We are going to show up and either get some free wine or get kicked out. Stay tuned to find out what happens! Will the Silverthorns be forced to walk the plank, or will they get free booze? (Or will they just go back to their room and drink their free bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon?)

Tomorrow is our first stop in Italy at Taormina, Sicily, where we will be visiting Mt. Etna as well as San Michele’s vineyard! We are excited to visit our first winery in Italy and get a taste of some old world vintages. We’ll let you know what happens tomorrow!

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