On a 48-hour voyage on Oceania’s newest ship, Vista, Melissa Hoyer finds striking modern design and a wealth of tantalising foodie experiences that live up to the cruise line’s claim to the ‘Finest Cuisine at Sea’
As soon as I board the sparkling new Vista – the latest ship to enter the glam Oceania Cruises fleet, I get that distinct, fresh scent of ‘new’ – that scintillating smell of a brand new car. I have been told our short and swift journey, which is a two-day voyage taking us from LA to Ensenada in Mexico and back, is going to give us a taste of sea-faring luxe. And boy does it absolutely live up to those expectations.
Vista is the seventh ship in the Oceania fleet and is in the mid-size ship zone (the maximum guests is 1200 and there are 800 staff), so it doesn’t feel uncomfortably large in any kind of way, but there is plenty of space. It has sleek and stream-lined interiors and there is never a moment you feel hemmed in like you’re surrounded by an overbearing posse of fellow cruisers.
What strikes me as soon as I board Vista is the exquisite Grand Staircase – a unique feature of Oceania ships with a shining floor-to-ceiling curved pillar of crystal and light. It’s the kind of staircase that invites a bejewelled, ball-gowned entrance, but I’m happy to settle for a selfie this time.
The fact that Vista has so many restaurants, lots of understated bars and and so many places just to ‘be’ (without the noise, as well as a relaxing string quartet, when the mood suits) make it a ship that feels relaxed and easy to get around. In the pool area, the vibe is akin to what you’d find at a luxe resort; you won’t find hundreds of kids splashing around and disturbing the peace, making it ideal for couples and those seeking some R&R.
Our Stateroom, #10011, is in Category A3 – a Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom that allows guests an expanded lunch and dinner room service menu from The Grand Dining Room, complimentary laundry service, priority noon ship embarkation and exclusive card-only access to a private Concierge Lounge staffed by a dedicated concierge. The check-in process feels a little disorganised, but thankfully our luggage arrives in our room as soon as we enter it.
The first thing that strikes me in the stateroom is the luxurious addition of cashmere lap blankets, along with a complimentary shoeshine service (if required) and even a complimentary pressing of garments upon embarkation. Sensational! As for the Aquamar Spa Terrace, which is the private jacuzzi deck, it is heaven and I’d be happy to spend some time there every day if I take one of Oceania’s cruises in the future.
The all-veranda accommodations on the ship (so there is no chance of being stuck with an internal, windowless room) all comprise staterooms and suites and the beautifully designed and well-sized bathrooms have oversized rainforest showers, large vanities and major storage space, which I love. Oceania has also recently launched a new stateroom category dedicated to solo travellers – a first in the cruise brand’s history.
The extensive use of Italian marble, paired with the seamless integration of rich wood panels, modern art pieces and top-notch finishings, has transformed Vista into an ode to contemporary design, exuding a vibe that is both sophisticated and modern.
The contemporary feel was a directive given to Miami-based Studio Dado, the design crew behind Vista’s public areas, staterooms and suites. Vista‘s residential-style suites and staterooms are adorned in beautiful grays and neutral tones with luxurious touches like wool carpets with naturally-occurring colors, plush beds fitted with 1,000-thread count linen (that reduces temperatures by two degrees) and verandas that offer us exquisite views of the sea and our Mexican port of call. Not to mention, the Owner’s Suite has engaged the style of Ralph Lauren; needless to say it is spectacular.
Vista is a foodie heaven… and I really mean that. Oceania is so focused on and confident in its culinary offering that it has named it ‘The Finest Cuisine at Sea’. There are various impressive dining concepts on board and the brand recently debuted the fantastic Aquamar Kitchen, which offers an array of wellness-inspired dishes.
Like on all grand ships, The Grand Dining Room is exactly that, but not in an ostentatious way. It’s grand without the kitsch. Grand without the awkward. The appointment of Giada Pamela De Laurentiis – an Italian-American chef, writer, and television personality– as Vista‘s godmother is a testament to Oceania’s unwavering commitment to making their international cruises a serious culinary as well as a visual experience. The classic steakhouse, Polo Grill is a vision of rich dark wood; the Asian-inspired Red Ginger is perfect when you want your spicy fix and Toscana features excellent Tuscan favorites. And who wouldn’t like an ice-cream experience from the cutlet named ‘Humphry Slocombe’?
The introduction of an elevated ‘bar’ program aboard Vista reveals an expansive collection of immersive mixology experiences, curated cocktail menus, ultimate pairing experiences and specialty beverage carts. Vista takes its mixology very, very seriously and I love the focus on cocktail trends and techniques like flavoured mist bubbles, as well as the Bubbly Bar, the Ultimate Bloody Mary bar and lots of low and no-sugar wines and virgin cocktails, too.
The pool deck at Horizons – named because of its panoramic 180-degree views – features two hot tubs and six round daybeds at the water’s edge (which I love) and while I’m not usually a fan of sharing a hot tubs with people I‘ve never met, I must admit these are brand new, fresh, hygienic and clean. This spot on board is the perfect place to watch the sun set, and the 50 shades of blue water have us feeling like we are practically sitting in the sea.
Melissa Hoyer was a guest of Oceania Cruises