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First Look: Oceania Cruises Newest Belle of the Ball

Some things in life take time to get just right. Indeed, it has been ten years since Oceania Cruises sailed out a brand new vessel. Patience is often a virtue and in the case of Oceania’s shiny new Vista, the first ship of the brand’s all new Allura class, patience paid off.

Completed this year, this 791-foot, 67,000 gross-registered ton, all-veranda ship has a 1,200-guest capacity and spans 16 decks. Vista departed Rome May 6th on its inaugural voyage and was officially christened May 8th in Valletta, Malta, by Archbishop Jude Scicluna, and “bristened” by Rabbi Marc Labowitz. Food personality and cookbook author Giada DeLaurentiis was named as Vista’s Godmother and pulled the ceremonial lever smashing the champagne bottle against the hull, while the legendary Grammy and Emmy award-winning musician Harry Connick, Jr. serenaded passengers and visiting dignitaries in a dazzling, pier side ceremony under an elegant tent. Passengers were then treated to a July 4th-worthy, harbor side fireworks display.

On this seven day voyage – which also marked Oceania’s 20th anniversary of operations – the ship was fully occupied, however due to Vista’s generous layout, it seemed like a ship with 700-passengers. That delightful sensation was supported by uniformly excellent service from a veritable United Nations crew of 800 from 54 nations. This reflected Vista’s stellar guest-to-crew ratio of 3:2.

Plenty of Public Space

The Vista has a comfortable, contemporary feel designed by Studio Dado that is modern – but never stark – and invitingly warm. 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 at every turn. Passengers are surrounded by clean lines, light woods, and a prevailing sense of panache.

Gray, blue, and white carpeted hallways are designed with geometric diamond patterns and fleur-de-lis style imprints to seemingly mimic life on the high seas. There are several excellent Picasso’s onboard, but also many other enormously talented, lesser known contemporary artists such as Cuban Miguel Florido, adding to a sense of vogue. Several landings have swirling, mesmerizing white marble sculptures making any kind of speedy stairway ascent or descent virtually impossible.

Sumptuous Staterooms

Vista’s all-balcony staterooms are generously sized, starting 240-square feet for the entry level French Veranda stateroom. The new category Concierge Solo Veranda stateroom – a response to consumer demand – measures a large 270-square feet with twin bedding. The Veranda and Concierge Veranda staterooms measure 291-square feet and the Penthouse Suites are 440-square feet. Oceania Suites contain 1,000-1,200-square feet, Vista Suites boast 1,450-1,850-square feet, and Owner’s Suites have a whopping 2,200 to 2,400-square feet.

Hanging my hat in a Concierge Veranda stateroom, I was happy as a clam. Decorated in a gray, taupe, and white color scheme with a 60-inch flatscreen television, it had a double seating area and marble coffee table. Also a small desk, plenty of strategically placed USB ports and electrical outlets, and stocked minibar. In room carpets are natural, un-dyed wool and thus hypoallergenic and fragrance free. The 7th generation Tranquility mattresses are divine and linens are woven with intoxicating 1000-count sheets.

The enormous gray and white Carrera-style marble bathroom had more than double the cabinet and storage space than in similar suite categories on this size of ship. The double-sized walk-in shower possessed intuitively controlled rain and standard shower heads, Bulgari amenities, and incredibly soft, single-twist, cotton-ribbed towels. Suites also have the most user-friendly climate control mechanism I’ve encountered anywhere at sea.

Delicious Dining

An industry first, Vista has one chef for every 10 passengers, and choices abound. In addition to Oceania’s signature restaurants, Italian Toscana, Pan-Asian Red Ginger, and Polo Grill classic steakhouse, the staple favorites of the Grand Dining Room, the Terrace Café, and Waves Grill, are now joined by three new stellar dining options.

The innovative Aquamar Kitchen is a healthy concept eatery with fantastic salads, poke bowls, avocado toast varieties, soups, wraps, healthy sandwiches, and burgers. The new Ember Restaurant is a cutting edge, creative, farm-to-table contemporary American restaurant reminiscent of Napa Valley’s finest. It has a gleaming open kitchen and also offers Cellar Masters wine-paired, multi-course, mouth-watering menus. Happily, a large bakery serving all manner of French patisserie and delectable quiches has been added to its excellent Baristas Coffee Bar, and of course, afternoon tea at Horizon’s is not to be missed.

Learning Experiences

Vista’s expanded Culinary Enrichment Program on Deck 14 is in an airy, light filled cooking studio with 24-stations where Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly and her delightful team teach informative, easy-to-learn courses and also host immersive, food forward, chef-led excursions in select destinations. During my enjoyable class, we learned to make Limoncello cake, feta-stuffed, prosciutto wrapped figs and naturally, a Limoncello cocktail.

At the Artists Loft on Deck 14, in another inspiring, bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows, talented artists-in-residence can help channel one’s inner Chagall. The current artist-in-residence – who will be onboard for the next four months – is Willard Andre Allen. If his name sounds familiar, this charming gent’s work graces the walls of several of Oceania’s ships.

If you are feeling at all cyber challenged, the LYNC Digital Center on Deck 14 offers several courses in social media photo basics, landscape and travel photography, and DSLR camera comprehension. Perhaps even more important, the Vista is equipped with Starlink, and during this entire voyage in the Mediterranean, my internet access never skipped a beat.

Vista’s well-stocked library, also on Deck 14, is a gorgeous, four-section area, and is a perfect place to learn about your onward journey or curl up with a good book. Comfortable club chairs make it hard to leave. In such an atmosphere, guests may disembark smarter than on arrival.

If you can tear yourself away from the Vista, since Oceania is destination-focused, at each port-of-call, there are plenty of excursion choices to meet guests’ gamut of interests, including food, wines, culture, art, and history tours, and are led by talented local expert guides.

Say Ahhh to the Spa

Vista’s Aquamar Spa & Vitality Center on Deck 15 is an oasis of calm with 11 treatment rooms, including a couple’s room and another with an unusual quartz stone-filled massage bed. The hardest part will be deciding what to select from a lengthy menu of available spa treatments. There’s also a medical spa offering physician-administered Thermage skin tightening treatments, Restylane and Dysport fillers as well as traditional Chinese acupuncture. A light filled beauty and nail salon and barber station with a complete service roster is another haven. The adjacent Spa Terrace has two outdoor Jacuzzis, a Thalassotherapy, jetted mineral water pool and luscious loungers. The main pool area on Deck 12 has the same comfortable loungers, plenty of shade, and two more jacuzzis.

Executive Chef Frederic Camonin and his team are very talented so guests may wish to visit Vista’s enormous fitness center on Deck 15. Fortunately, it’s so appealing passengers may actually want to exercise. It’s open 24-hours, has floor-to-ceiling windows, state-of-the-art Technogym equipment and weight machines, free weights, and a separate spinning room with Technogym bikes. There are several fitness classes daily including spinning, Pilates, yoga, stretching, and for those needing an extra push, a personal trainer can be reserved.

If you prefer paddle tennis, pickle ball, or wish to work on your golf game, there are putting greens on Deck 16. Whatever you decide to do while aboard Vista, or not do, you will be spoiled with good service, food, and destinations. Happy cruising!

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 [email protected]. This cruise line hosted the writer, however content was not reviewed by it prior to publication and is solely the writer’s opinion.

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