TIME TO CHILL
One of the most popular daytime activities on any ship is hanging around the pool. That’s especially true on sea days, when the pool becomes the center of activity on all three ships — and when there were the most gripes about guests reserving lounge chairs with towels and books while they were off doing other things. Live music, especially during lunch hour or the afternoon, helps to keep the areas lively.
Carnival Breeze: The Breeze’s pool deck is the biggest and has the most activities. It’s a beehive of activity, ranging from pool games including belly-flop competitions to dance classes. The ship has slides and dunking buckets for kids of all ages, rope-walking courses, a really nice miniature golf course, large always-on movie screen with music or comedy shows, outdoor work-out areas, table tennis, a large sports court and more. There are several outdoor restaurants and bars in addition to the large casual buffet. To add to the entertainment, Carnival ginned up a “competition” between the tequila bar and the rum bar with dueling musicians.
Celebrity Solstice: The pool area is gorgeous, with billowing canvas dividers subdividing the sitting areas, making it quite attractive. The Solstice has two pools, both of which had lots of kids in them during this Med cruise. The deck is moderately active with pool volleyball, dance classes, lively music at times, but considerably less active than on a Carnival ship. One afternoon, the ship’s officers played volleyball against guests. The sitting areas have a variety of double-loungers and semi-secluded places to relax, and staff circulates with iced towels. For adults, there’s the Solarium, an indoor, glass-covered pool/whirlpool/waterfall/quiet music zone with really comfy lounge chairs.
Oceania Riviera: Riviera’s pool is the smallest and its pool deck was the quietest. The lounge chairs, especially the double-wide ones, make it very comfy. The architecture of the pool area is lovely, with dividers separating various sections. Without kids on board, it has the most relaxed vibe. A deck above the pool, a semi-private area called The Sanctuary, is filled with couches and loungers that absolutely encourage reading and napping. There’s a nice view of the whole pool area from a deck above in the coffee bar.
IT’S SUPPER TIME
All three ships have multiple places for guests to eat dinner, a far cry from the “olden” days of cruising when there was little other than the main dining room. But still, even with the addition of alternatives eateries (some with fees, some without), the main dining room remains the primary place for dinner. Menu selections in all dining rooms are quite varied and hard to label. It’s easier to call it eclectic/international/cosmopolitan/Americana. Service and menu items are more upscale on Celebrity Solstice and Oceania Riviera than on Carnival Breeze, meaning each member of the wait staff is responsible for fewer people, cuts of beef are better, water glasses are refilled more quickly.
Oceania Riviera: Riviera’s main dining room, simply called The Grand Dining Room, is absolutely lovely, with a high ceiling, beautiful chandelier and a tiered entryway that makes just walking into the room enjoyable. But most importantly, it has excellent food and outstanding service. It’s all open seating, and there never was a problem getting a table for two at any hour. For groups of six or eight, there might be short waits but the staff is very efficient and there’s plenty of room since so many guests are off to the alternative restaurants, which carry no extra fee (but reservations can be hard to get).