By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
10:40 AM PDT, April 30, 2012
The world of high-end cruises is about to get its newest member. Oceania Cruises took delivery of its newest ship, the Oceania Riviera, and prepares for its christening and inaugural sailing.
The 1,250-guest Riviera has been under construction at the Fincantieri shipyards near Genoa, Italy for more than two years and now joins sister ship Oceania Marina, which debuted in January 2011.
"The handover of Riviera represents a milestone achievement thanks to the loyalty of our guests, our strong partnership with the travel agent community and the dedication of every member of the Oceania Cruises family," said cruise line president Kunal S. Kamlani.
The Riviera is geared toward fans of cuisine, so much so that the vessel will be christened by godmother Cat Cora, the first and only female Iron Chef and current co-host of Bravo's "Around the World in 80 Plates." That ceremony will take place in Barcelona on May 11 before departing on a 10-day maiden voyage from Venice to Athens on May 16.
The Riviera features 10 dining venues, six of which are gourmet restaurants, and also features a Bon Appétit Culinary Center for the inner chef in its guests plus La Reserve by Wine Spectator for wine tastings and pairing dinners. The line will also begin offering Culinary Discovery Tours at more than 25 ports worldwide allowing passengers to experience local food markets in small groups accompanied by an expert chef.
The Riviera will spend the summer and fall in the Mediterranean before repositioning to the Port of Miami for winter Panama Canal and Caribbean cruises.
The line now has four ships, with the Marina and Riviera the largest of the fleet. The Oceania Insignia recently was chartered to Hapag-Lloyd, but could return to Oceania in 2014.