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Check with the Restaurant reservation desk (deck 5) in the mornings to see if there are spots available for that night, ask to be put on a list if someone should happen to cancel
It all depends on luck
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We were new to Riviera, too, and I thought I'd be by Reservations every day to try to get more time in the specialty restaurants. But as much as we enjoyed them, we equally enjoyed our dinners both in the GDR and The Terrace (which was especially perfect for us the first and last nights of the cruise.
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We are first time cruisers on the Riveria in March. We are traveling concierge class, A3. This cruise is 14 night Southern Caribbean and I have already made a dinner reservation in each of the four specialty restaurants. Given my rookie status and cabin class how easy if at all will it be to get any extra nights in the specialty restaurants?First night of the cruise is almost always available - most people don't book it.
Try all restaurants on first night, starting with your first choice and go down the line , if needed. Just go to where the reservations are being made after embarkation and ask what is available for that night.
I am 99.9% sure you'll get into one of them.
On the current cruise we had staff ask us not once but twice (during lunch in the cafe) if we wanted to dine in Polo/Toscana on the Regatta as they were wide open. These were long port days and people must have been tired and didn't want to book on those days. We never have any trouble scoring almost as many extra reservations as we want.
We really like the Terrace Cafe on the Marina/Riviera.
Now, on the "O" ships we do like Jacques very much, although we personally weren't that impressed with Red Ginger and only went once. I'm willing to give it another go, however. Perhaps we ordered wrong.
Also, with fewer choices on the "R" ships it's understandable that if you aren't passionate about Polo or Toscana then the GDR is a good option.
I'm not suggesting you go by my choices, you understand, because I know people who won't set foot in the GDR ... but we've pretty much preferred it to the specialty restaurants just because the menu changes daily in the GDR whereas it is a set menu in the specialty restaurants. It depends on what you want to eat.
But most people who want extra reservations don't have a problem getting them -- it does depend on how many people are like us and often don't use all the reservations we could, or how many will only go into the specialty restaurants.
As Lyn says, if you can be flexible with your times you have a very good chance.
Also, we have twice scored a table by showing up near opening time and checking with the host to see if there were any last minute cancellations. If not, head for the bar or the GDR. It doesn't cost anything to ask.
When we asked for a table for six they asked if we wanted to go to Jacques!
Granted, this happened on the first night of the cruise ... the restaurant wasn't very full that night, but it was extremely booked the two other times we went to Jacques on that cruise.
Oceania REGATTA - Scenic Panama Canal - Dec. 5 - Dec. 21, 2014
Uniworld RIVER AMBASSADOR - European Splendors, June, 2013
Disney DREAM - 4-Day Bahamas - January, 2013
Oceania RIVIERA - Accent on Italy - Oct. 24 - Nov. 3, 2012
MV ECLIPSE - 7 days in the Galapagos - June, 2012
HAL STATENDAM - 7 day Glacier excursion - June, 2010
Disney WONDER - 3-night Bahamas - Dec. 27-30, 2009
Oceania REGATTA - Scandinavian Splendors - Aug 8-22, 2009
Carnival FANTASY - 3-day 1990 or '91
USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) Two WestPac cruises 1969-71 Oops those weren't pleasure cruises!
There have been cruises on the "R" ships where we didn't go to Polo or Toscana even once, and our usual practice is to only eat there once.
But you just cannot predict beforehand how many people are going to be contending for those tables.
Only the Olympic Grill on Celebrity Millennium stands out in my mind. And hers. Waiters in full evening dress producing flambé dishes at your table. Wonderful.
So don't worry about being unable to make reservations in them. You won't starve and you might be pleasantly surprised if you have to "slum it" in the buffet.
A-Rosa Viva 17 June 2017. River Seine cruise.
Regent Mariner 27 October 2017. Montreal to Miami.
Queen Mary 2 10 January 2018 Southampton to Cape Town.
Queen Mary 2 19 April 2018 Dubai to Southampton.
MS Mendula 2 September 2018 Croatian Islands.
you might be pleasantly surprised if you have to "slum it" in the buffet.Wait until you see what the "buffet" is like
It is absolutely, positively NOT slumming it.
The Terrace Grill (buffet) is our first choice!!
Oceania Marina Papeete to NY. April 4 to May 7, 2015 33 days
Oceania Marina Transatlantic: Lisbon to Rio
Nov 4-20, 2014 16 Days
Oceania Marina Transatlantic: Barcelona to Rio - Nov 20 - December 8, 2013 18 Days
Oceania Marina Transatlantic: NY to London - May 26 - June 11, 2013 16 Days
Oceania Marina Transatlantic: Rome to Rio - November 22 - December 10, 2012 18 Days
Oceania Marina Transatlantic: Miami to Barcelona - March 19-April 2, 2012
(yes, we like TA's )
Norwegian Sun - 9 Night Copenhagen - June 13 - June 22 2011
Norwegian Sun - Back to Back Caribbean - December 4,2010 - December 18, 2010
Norwegian Sun - 12 Night San Francisco - Mexican Riviera 10/12/09 - 10/23/09
Holland MS Noordam New York Caribbean - 11/25/06 - 12/6/06
RCL Brilliance of the Seas Miami - Circle the Caribbean - 2/3/06 - 2/13/06
RCL Monarch of the Seas 10/17/03 - 10/20/03
NCL Skyward - Ft Lauderdale Caribbean - January 1986
plus a Carnival and another from the 90's
Wait until you see what the "buffet" is like
It is absolutely, positively NOT slumming it. The Terrace Grill (buffet) is our first choice!! Enjoy!!
I DO have to agree as far as the "O" ships are concerned. The Terrace on the new "big" ships is entirely different from the "R" ships (which has improved greatly as well based upon our August 2012 cruise on Regatta).
Lots of people prefer it to any of the restaurants ... and you can pretty much get anything you want.
Slumming, it is NOT. Usually we only had dinner in the Terrace (on the "R" ships) if we were just zonked out from an all day tour. But on Marina we often preferred to go there.
On the "O" ships we loved Jacques (based on one cruise in Oct '11), liked Red Ginger but didn't love it, and had our usual neutral reaction to Polo and Toscana.
When we return to Marina in November we'll have to see if we still feel the same.
I used to avoid "Tapas on the Terrace" on the "R" ships -- didn't object but didn't really like it. It was a fine substitute if we were tired and didn't want to change clothes for the GDR. But on Marina we really looked forward to it, just because of the additional food choices.
To each his own!
And when on the O ships, then La Reserve is a special treat if you love good food and wine...
We are people who have always appreciated the GDR, and we know that many people don't ... that puzzles us. Even on the big ships we had some lovely meals there.
Again, to each his own!
I might be wrong - my wife asserts I usually am - but I've never been too impressed with any speciality restaurant. The food they offer is just a different choice from the MDR in different surroundings.Your wife is correct and you are wrong (again)
The steaks that are offered in Polo are VERY different from those offered in the MDR; ditto for prime rib, lobster ,etc etc
When is the last time you had the duck and water melon salad followed by Miso bass in the MDR; or real foie gras terrine? The list goes on and on.
If, however, to you a steak is a steak, then you are correct.
We are first time cruisers on the Riveria in March. We are traveling concierge class, A3. This cruise is 14 night Southern Caribbean and I have already made a dinner reservation in each of the four specialty restaurants. Given my rookie status and cabin class how easy if at all will it be to get any extra nights in the specialty restaurants?My husband and I were also first time cruisers on the Riviera this winter, on the Mayan Mystique cruise in January. It was wonderful and we both just loved the ship. We also were in concierge class, and we were NOT able to get extra nights in either of the two specialty restaurants we wanted -- Red Ginger (omg it was so good...) or Jacques. We didn't try for Polo or Toscana because they weren't our favorites. If we had been willing to eat at 9:00 or 9:30 we might have been successful, but that's too late for us. I think the suggestion of trying on the first night is a good one. And I also completely agree with the people who are advising that the GDR and the buffet are both terrific!
I have another reservation question for any Oceania travellers who might know the answer: When you book the specialty restaurants online as soon as you're allowed to for your cabin class, can you add another couple to your table who are not yet eligible to book for themselves?
You CAN add on your friends but not until they are eligible to sign on for themselves.
For us this has worked out that we (in a suite) could sign up at whatever the permitted time is (90 days?) but our companions who were in a lower suite had to wait until 60 days. Then we could add them to our reservation, but not before.
Now, if you are both in the same category cabin, then you can add them to your reservation at the same time. You will need your friends' reservation number.
One thing I keep on saying ... is that ... you never know from cruise to cruise what the demand will be for the specialty restaurants. I suspect that demand is higher on Marina/Riviera than it is on the "R" ships, but there are also two more restaurants available. Not all passengers are insistent on getting into the specialty restaurants. But it does depend on the passengers who are on YOUR cruise. If everyone is vying for those limited tables, it can be more difficult.
You should hope that we will be on your cruise because we are not all that insistent on the specialty restaurants ... unless it is Jacques!
We felt the food in Red Ginger was good, but the noise in Red Ginger during the inaugural season of the Marina was too excessive to enjoy the experience.
Although I don't recall being bothered by noise, it wasn't that we thought the food was bad. It WAS good, and I appreciated the chef's "hottening up" my main course upon request. We just were disappointed because we'd expected to like it a lot more than we did.
Maybe the problem is more that we are "into" Szechuan rather than Asian fusion.