New Vista: The latest member of the Oceania fleet (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
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Guest blog by Andrew Hayward
Oceania has given us a brand new Vista – a ship with great views as well as a clear vision for the line’s future.
The design has echoes of Seven Seas Splendor, the award-winning ship from sister company Regent Seven Seas – not surprising given that Miami-based Studio Dado worked on both projects.
Boarding Vista, you are struck by the light and airy décor and the beautiful Grand Staircase in the main atrium. With accents of gold, light brown and slate, the interiors are brighter than Oceania’s other ships. The dark woods of yesteryear have been relegated, perhaps never to return.
Toscana, one of the speciality venues on board (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
Public spaces flow effortlessly from one to another, creating a noticeable feeling of space. The staterooms and suites been comprehensively redesigned too, with larger bathrooms that can only be described as ‘industry leading’ in this category of the market.
Outside, the pool deck has zones of personal space screened off with wooden dividers. The al fresco seating area in the Terrace Café is another fine example of progressive design.
At 67,000 tons, Vista is almost identical in size to her predecessors Marina and Riviera (launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively). Despite this, she is very different.
Lighty and airy: The pool deck on Vista (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
Carrying just 1,200 passengers at double occupancy, Vista provides almost double the personal space per traveller compared to most mainstream cruise lines. Combined with the clever new layout, and a myriad of different zones within the ship’s communal areas, it is easy to find your own space without ever feeling that the ship is crowded.
Small enough to visit boutique ports such as Monaco, yet large enough to smooth out all but the biggest seas, Vista is perhaps the perfect size. If you do forget your sunglasses, your cabin will only be a short walk away, wherever you are.
One of Oceania’s main differentiators is its approach to customer service – relaxed and informal, yet attentive and refined. From the butlers in the Penthouse Suites and above to the incredible restaurant and bar staff, nothing is too much trouble.
Divine: A sample of the food on board (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
The line is renowned for its food, with the boast that it serves ‘the finest cuisine at sea’. Can it deliver on that promise? My answer is a resounding ‘YES’ – across all the restaurants, both formal and informal, the food was exceptional.
Vista has four speciality venues – three which feature on other ships (Red Ginger, Toscana and Polo Grill) while the new concept Ember serves time-honoured American classics with a touch of Michelin-starred flair.
Another first is the Aquamar Kitchen. The menu is designed with ‘wellness’ in mind and offers ‘an abundance of indulgence with none of the guilt’.
A feast for all the senses: The grand dining room (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
The Bakery is a new area on Deck 14. Positioned next to the Baristas coffee outlet, it serves a range of freshly baked items, from croissants and muffins in the morning to gourmet finger sandwiches and home-made biscotti in the afternoon.
Although Jacques restaurant has not found its way on to Vista, many of master chef Jacques Pepin’s finest and most celebrated dishes feature on the menu in the Grand Dining Room.
In total, Vista has no fewer than 12 culinary centres – a restaurant for every 100 guests.
Ideal setting: Horizons Bar (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
However, I had a niggle with the afternoon tea in the Horizons Bar on Deck 14. While the setting is divine, I would like to see a tiered stand delivered to each table with a far wider selection of sandwiches and cakes.
As far as evening entertainment goes, the programme is refined and sophisticated. While the theatre (called simply The Lounge) is small by big-ship standards, the small cast are clearly very talented.
Horizons transforms into a dancing venue after dark, while around the ship you will find recitals from a string quartet, or delight in the talents of the pianist in Martinis Bar.
Even the small casino, flanked by the Founders Bar, is understated and elegant.
Art of the ship: The Artist Loft (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
During the day, Oceania works very hard at what it calls ‘enrichment’, from guest lectures in the ship’s theatre and conference room, to cookery classes in the Culinary Center and painting lessons in the Artist Loft.
More active features include a 200-metre running track, croquet lawn, paddle tennis court and an area dedicated to shuffleboard. Frustrated golfers will welcome the nine-hole putting course and driving net.
The gym is superbly equipped and offers floor-to-ceiling views across the port side. The large aerobics studio can be used for a variety of instructor-led classes at different times of the day. There is also a peloton of exercise bikes, ready for all those spin-hungry guests.
Shaking it up: Martinis Bar (Picture: Andrew Hayward)
The Aquamar Spa is an oasis of calm and relaxation. Although prices are quite high, there is a range of treatments unique to Oceania.
Residents of the Concierge Level staterooms or above can access the spa terrace on Deck 15 – an uncrowded space with commanding views over the bow. There is also a large thalassotherapy pool to soothe aching muscles after a long day exploring ashore.
Another welcome addition will be the sauna, steam room and experience showers in each of the fitness area changing rooms. Every guest can access this area without charge.
Although the sauna doesn’t have an outside sea view (something I greatly appreciate), this is a beautiful space in which to unwind.
Butler service: One of the penthouse suites (Picture: Andy Hayward)
In terms of size, the guest accommodation on Vista shares many similarities with both Marina and Riviera but the main difference is the design and layout of the staterooms and suites.
The large bathroom designs are a standout feature in all cabins, irrespective of grade or location. Bath tubs are only in Oceania Suites or above. The space that has been saved is now dedicated to a rain shower.
Bathroom aside, the key feature in all Oceania cabins is the bed, which now incorporates technology to reduce body temperature by 2C for a cool and refreshing night’s sleep.
Great views: The Polo Grill (Picture: Andy Hayward)
In another change, there are more single cabins on Vista than on any other Oceania ship. Available without a supplement, these are already fully booked for many months in advance. Also, more staterooms have sofa beds and interconnecting doors to suit groups and families.
Inside cabins have gone and now every stateroom and suite now has its own balcony or opening window – a fantastic private outdoor space from which to watch the world slip gently by in the utmost luxury.
This is a Vista I could happily enjoy all day long.
Andrew Hayward sailed on Vista’s first sailing from Genoa in May 2023. He is a Non-Executive Director at the leading luxury cruise retailer Panache Cruises. Find out more at https://www.panachecruises.com