The Debut of Oceania Vista
TravelStore was honored to be invited on the inaugural voyage of Oceania’s new elegant Vista, the first of a new class of Allura ships, accommodating 1200 guests. The grand inaugural festivities were held in Valletta, Malta, with godmother Giada De Laurentiis and entertainment provided by Harry Connick Jr.
The 7-day inaugural cruise was roundtrip from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. (The port is about one hour twenty minutes from Rome city center.)
Designed by Studio Dado, the new Oceania Vista is a step up and raises the bar for Oceania, in both design and amenities. In many ways, Studio Dado “knocked it out of the park.” First impressions are always important, and upon entering the atrium one is struck by Vista’s elegant and uncluttered design. Throughout the ship the gray, white, beige and black marble tones create a rich look, accented by light and medium dark woods with thick natural wool carpeting. Contemporary art is found throughout the ship. (Oceania’s founders are contemporary art collectors and the ships have a gallery-like feel, with nooks and crannies graced by curvaceous marble sculptures.
Oceania is most noted for its onboard cuisine, and on Vista one is not disappointed. After all, there’s one chef onboard for every ten guests! Oceania regulars will enjoy the various dining venues, which are all included. There’s Toscana for exquisite Italian fare, where you choose which of several olive oils and balsamic you prefer and which now features a couple of Giada’s recipes on the lengthy menu; the Polo Grill steakhouse; Red Ginger for pan-Asian fare, where you choose your own chopsticks from an assortment; and of course, the Grand Dining Room which features some of Jacques Pepin’s recipes and is a beautifully appointed restaurant; and finally, the Terrace Café, open throughout the day, where in the evening you can relish a variety of sushi and sashimi, lobster tails, and of course, much more. At the pool deck Waves Grill continues to offer a fun variety of burgers, including the Wagyu burger, as well as bbq ribs with corn on the cob, various panini sandwiches, and daily specials like paella. A pizzeria operates only limited evening hours in Waves Grill, but otherwise pizza by the slice is available in the Terrace Café.
A new dining addition on Vista is Ember, labeled American-style fare, and is meant to be a quicker dining experience: more in the range of a one hour vs. two-hour plus dining experience. It wasn’t a standout compared to other Oceania venues, but is meant to offer less formal dining and is a welcome alternative addition. Also new is Aquamar Kitchen, a wellness cuisine option where one can enjoy raw tuna tacos, avocado toast, poke bowls, a Thai-style salad, wraps, cold-pressed juices, healthy smoothies and such. The Culinary Center, which offers hands-on cooking classes, is expanded to 24 stations and an adjacent dining area.
It’s tough to beat the cuisine onboard Oceania, which has remained the line’s focus since its beginning 20 years ago.
Baristas is the lovely Illy coffee bar, adjacent to which is the patisserie which serves up delectable pastries and treats throughout the day. There’s a nice seating area to one side, while the comfortable and well-stocked library is around the corner. In addition to Baristas, there are a few notable bars on board, from Martini’s, Horizon’s and the Founder’s Bar.
Of course, as much as so many of us consider ourselves foodies, food and drink are not the only trump card Oceania offers. By way of onboard activities, there is, of course, the fitness area and spa on Deck 14. This vitality and wellness center also includes a nice retreat area with two jacuzzi pools as well as a cold water therapy pool with water massage options. Atop on Deck 15 there’s a pickleball court, shuffleboard, an enjoyable 18-hole miniature golf course, and baggo, bocce and croquet options. Surrounding the main fresh water pool and jacuzzis on Deck 12 are cushioned deck chairs and a variety of comfortable seating areas.
When it comes to staterooms, the big “wow” on Vista are the roomy bathrooms with large walk-in rain showers and a corner unit cabinet with drawers and shelf space in addition to additional mirror, plus a large drawer storage area below the sink, and a large circular mirror above the sink with a touch sensor light surrounding it. The bathrooms are so very well designed they were the buzz onboard. The towels are thick and soft, the amenities from Bulgari, The staterooms are otherwise comfortable, with 1000-thread sheets and enhanced storage and closet space, though for longer itineraries still somewhat limited unless booking a suite, which have double closets and twin sinks. Storage was certainly adequate for a 7-day cruise.
Wavenet free unlimited WiFi is included in the cruise fare, with an optional upgrade for streaming. The onboard WiFi was fast and had few “outages.”
Large bottle of Vero water is replenished each night in the stateroom, and complimentary water flasks are provided to guests, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles onboard. There are hydration stations around the ship for guest’s convenience. While eliminating plastic water bottles is a big plus, I would still like to see the plastic Bulgari bathroom amenity bottles replaced with something more sustainable, too.
As with any new ship, there’s a number of new staff onboard who are still getting comfortable in their role. But overall, the staff are eager to please to get things right for guests.
If there is an area where I found Oceania uninspired was the evening shows. There’s more work to be done with the sound quality and balance; and the staging and production were tired. It made me recall the exciting and spectacular productions onboard Oceania’s sister brand, NCL.
Oceania Vista is a luxury ship. While guest suites on sister luxury brand Regent are larger, it’s hard to rate the dining, in my opinion, as being better one or the other. Regent remains all-inclusive, with shore excursions included, while Oceania is presently an a la carte style of cruising.