Cruising today on the high seas is more popular than ever for several reasons, including ease of trip planning, high value even at the top end, and an industry that has paid attention to consumer demands, especially those of the discerning traveler. So while there are many choices from which to select, a fantastic option is Oceania Cruises brand new Vista, the first of its Allura class, holding a maximum of 1,200 guests.
On its inaugural voyage in the Mediterranean last month for seven days, that made stops in Naples, Corsica, and two glorious days in Malta, one thing became clear. Regardless of whether you are traveling solo, with a group of friends, or with family, are a Boomer, Gen Xer, or Millennial, there is plenty to enjoy aboard Oceania Cruises new Vista.
1. All-balcony Staterooms
Guests will certainly not want for space on Vista as all staterooms in all categories are spacious. The entry level French Veranda stateroom is a very generous 240-square feet. As many passengers are opting to travel solo, Vista also has a new category, Concierge Solo Veranda, measuring 270-square feet and boasting an enormous balcony. Even larger suites range from 440-square feet to 2,400-square feet with massive marble bathrooms.
Staying in a Concierge Veranda stateroom, I was happy as a clam. Decorated in calming color palettes, the stateroom had a double seating area, marble coffee table, and 60-inch flat screen television. There was also a desk, plenty of USB ports and outlets and a replenished daily minibar. Bedding and linens are some of the industry’s finest and made for supremely sweet dreams.
The enormous Carrera-style gray-and-white marble bathroom had double the cabinet space than I’ve encountered at sea. The double-sized walk-in shower was a delight with both rain and standard shower heads. A touch light-up mirror, Bulgari amenities, and luscious, thick towels made this my happy place.
2. Contemporary Public Spaces
The Vista has a comfortable, contemporary feel designed by Florida-Based Studio Dado that is modern – but never stark – and invitingly warm. The aim of 'being at home, only better' was certainly met. The Atrium’s massive Czech crystal light fixture resembling a two-story flowing waterfall is breathtaking. Public areas are all spacious and chic with comfortable seating wherever you turn. There are elegant clean lines, light woods, and thoughtful details throughout the ship.
Geometric diamond patterns and fleur-de-lis style design carpets in shades of gray, blue, and white in hallways mimic the high seas. While there are several excellent Picasso’s onboard, many other enormously talented, but lesser-known contemporary artists such as Cubans Miguel Florido and Raphael Soriano, and Basque artist Beñat Olaberria are represented adding to a sense of international artistic flair. Several landings also have swirling, white marble sculptures that make any kind of speed on the stairs futile resulting in my consistent lateness to wherever I was headed.
3. Guest to Crew Ratio
Vista has an impressive guest-to-crew ratio of 3:2. With a maximum capacity of 1,200 passengers, there were 800-crew from over 50 nations providing consistently excellent service whether in restaurants, lounges, reception, or housekeeping. Ordering room service one morning, it was delivered 15-minutes earlier than expected. That was a first!
Even though the ship was sailing at full capacity the week I was on, it felt half empty namely because the public areas, lounges, and exterior spaces are plentiful, expansive, and comfortable.
4. Dining for Food Fanatics
If food floats your boat, then Vista is for you as it has one chef for every 10 passengers, an industry first. To keep serving, ‘The finest cuisine at sea,’ Chef Bernhard Klotz, Vista’s Vice-President of operations explained, “Must start with great ingredients.” Beef and veal are Galician sourced, traditionally aging its meat about a decade longer than others making it far more flavorful. Fresh fish and seafood are locally sourced as much as possible and frozen items are sourced from Boston’s Steve Connelly Seafood Company. While the butter naturally is French.
Oceania’s signature restaurants: the Italian Toscana, Pan-Asian Red Ginger, and Polo Grill classic steakhouse, are joined by its staple favorites: the Grand Dining Room, Terrace Café, and Waves Grill. If that were not enough, three brand new dining options have joined the dining extravaganza.
For healthy eaters, vegetarians, and vegans, the innovative Aquamar Kitchen is a concept restaurant in a light and airy environment serving the freshest salads, poke bowls, avocado toast varieties, soups, smoothies, wraps, and sandwiches. I fell in love with Aquamar dining there several times during the week.
Also brand new, Ember is a cutting edge, creative, farm-to-table contemporary American restaurant that resembles Napa Valley’s finest. It has an open kitchen and also offers Cellar Masters’ wine-paired, multi-course, mouth-watering menus. Barista’s Coffee Bar now has a large bakery filled with fresh French patisserie and quiches. Afternoon tea at Horizon allows royal aspirations to flourish.
5. Onboard Learning
At the Artists Loft, an inspiring, bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows, talented artists-in-residence can help channel one’s creativity. The current artist-in-residence is Willard Andre Allen whose work graces the walls of several of Oceania’s ships. (Allen will be onboard Vista for the next three months.)
At the LYNC Digital Center several courses in DSLR camera comprehension, landscape and travel photography, and social media photo basics are offered by uber smart techies. These courses are helpful for debutants and social media mavens. Vista’s library is an impeccably designed multi-room affair. It’s the ultimate place to learn about your onward journey or curl up with a great book.
Vista has expanded its popular onboard Culinary Enrichment Program. It’s now housed an airy, light-filled cooking studio with 24 stations. Here Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly and her delightful team teach informative, easy-to-learn courses. As Oceania is so food-focused, it also hosts immersive, food forward, chef-led excursions with trips to local food markets, restaurants, and destination-focused food, wine, and spirits tastings in select destinations.
6. Fitness and Wellness
Vista boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows, Technogym equipment, weigh machines, and free weights. There’s a separate studio with indoor Technogym bikes and spinning classes. Also on offer: Pilates, yoga, stretching, HITT, abs, and guided meditation. A personal trainer can also be reserved.
Vista’s Aquamar Spa & Vitality Center has 11 treatment rooms with Rolls-Royce-style starlight headliner, an unusual quartz stone massage bed as well as a couple’s treatment room. The most difficult decision of one’s day at Aquamar Spa will be deciding which of the full menu of spa treatments and body therapies to partake.
For those seeking to return home looking younger than when they left, a medical spa offers physician-administered Thermage skin tightening treatments, and Restylane and Dysport facial fillers. Traditional Chinese acupuncture by a licensed practitioner is also available. A light-filled beauty and nail salon and barber station rounds out this tranquil venue.
Whether you are traveling solo in one of Vista’s solo staterooms, are traveling with friends, or on a multi-generational sojourn, one thing is certain, on Vista there is something for everyone. And for the foodies among us, the word bliss quickly comes to mind. Happy sailing!
IF YOU GO – Oceania Cruises has seven to 90-day cruises in various parts of the world, depending on the season. As some cruises start in one location and end in another, it may be best to have Oceania book air as part of a package.
Julie L. Kessler is a journalist, attorney, and the author of the award-winning memoir: “Fifty-Fifty, The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com.
Written by Julie L. Kessler
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