Vista, Oceania Cruises’ First New Ocean Liner In A Decade

At last spring’s christening of the 241-metre Vista, the latest cruise liner from Oceania Cruises, an assembly of guests comprising industry titans and VIP passengers gathered at the cruise port of Valletta in Malta. There, under a glittering canopy pitched beside the stunning baroque city of Valletta, guests witnessed the ship’s godmother—Italian-American chef, author, and television personality Giada de Laurentiis—hit the switch to release a 15-litre Veuve Clicquot Nebuchadnezzar, breaking it against the vessel’s hull as a custom to signify good luck to both the ship and her crew.

Giada de Laurentiis, Italian-American chef, author, and television personality.

Following the christening ceremony, American singer and pianist Harry Connick Jr. took to the stage, dazzling the crowd with his smooth showmanship and personalising the lyrics of the song My Way for Franck Del Rio, outgoing president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), the parent company of both Oceania Cruises (which he co-founded) as well as lead ultra-luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Harry Connick Jr., American singer and pianist.

Vista, one of two new ships under Oceania, and the seventh in the line, was constructed in Genoa by Italian shipyard Ficantieri and completed in 2023. It houses up to 1,200 guests with 800 members of crew drawn from 47 nationalities. With a ratio of two crew members to three passengers, service, as you might imagine, is always available, and impeccable—team members remember your turndown preferences and ensure your favourite wine arrives at the table during meals. Most importantly, the inaugural sailing of Vista answers the question of what’s next for Oceania Cruises, which has grown from a single 684-guest ship in 2002 to become a dominant player in the upscale cruise market with eight ships. The eighth, Allura, will debut in 2025 for her inaugural season.

Back at Vista and across its 11 passenger decks, you’ll find a plethora of facilities and attractions that will occupy your time with a host of restaurants and bars, the Aquamar Spa and Vitality Centre, a fitness centre, Ralph Lauren home-furnished library, pool deck and Jacuzzis, pickleball, 18-hole mini golf, and more. Each day, the daily newsletter Currents offers a lineup of programming composed of live music, culinary demonstrations, hands-on art classes with the artist in residence, and the grandest musical and stage productions on board that show at the Vista Lounge.

All of this almost makes you forget that perhaps the best experience onboard Vista is to simply relax on one of the pool deck’s many loungers, feel the caress of the breeze, and gaze into the calm blue Mediterranean, with the wonderful anticipation of all the discoveries yet to come. “People are again excited to travel,” says Harry Sommer, the current president and CEO of NCLH. “I travel a lot and I’ve found that a cruise represents the best travel value out there, from the views and service to the décor and amenities. We believe that we deliver the best product within our spaces with our team of people who are committed to our guests,” he says. “You have to have the best deal.”

Greg Walton, founding partner of Studio Dado, who was commissioned to work on a timeless design, says the idea behind Vista was to create spaces that resonate with a residential feeling, guided by the design mantra to make it ‘better than home’. Hence, Vista employs wood and timber to impart the warmth of feeling, eschewing hard angles and rectilinear white steel for elegant curves.

Frank del Rio and Marcia del Rio.

“Frank Del Rio insisted that storage is important, so we did that, adding drawers, bigger rainforest showers and ensuring that you never have to move a nightstand out of the way,” Walton says. The overall effect resulted in the most spacious standard staterooms at sea, all-veranda and measuring 291 square metres—a re-creation of a resort atmosphere at sea. Rooms include a lounge, a mini-bar and a private balcony, while the Concierge Level also boasts a free laundry service, access to the lounge for all-day refreshment and, of course, a complimentary bottle of champagne. Tapping on the Starlink network, Vista’s internet connectivity allows for live sports telecasts, FaceTime, Zoom and streaming, all while out at sea.

At Founder’s Bar, you can discover cocktails like the imaginative Sicilian Godfather served with a side of caramelised popcorn.

Upon embarkation, the arrival atrium quickly sets the tone with its art pieces, high-volume ceilings and a sinuous pillar of lighted crystals rising high above. A few floors up and you find yourself at Waves grill, where you can enjoy a delicious Alaskan crab burger prepared a la minute while you peruse a beverage list comprising more than 20 beers, cocktails, champagnes and all manner of wines.

In conceiving the 11 onboard dining venues, the work began in the restaurants of Napa, San Francisco and Miami, from where the culinary team worked to replicate the same great flavours. Italian table linen, silverware, show plates and service add extra brio to meal times. The concerted vision and exhaustive preparation in consolidating Oceania Cruises’ reputation for great cuisine on board is apparent from breakfast itself, with a wide selection of cheeses, while the wellness-focused Aquamar Kitchen serves up smoothies, delicious avocado toasts, quiches and beautiful mueslis. For Vista, the focus on its culinary experience and effectiveness extends to even the ship’s original design, which models its galleys according to the restaurant concept.

On its maiden voyage, Vista would sail out of Rome’s Civitavecchia port at dusk, with diners able to view the ship leaving port from the choicest dining table at Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant. Settling in, diners are offered a treasure trove of olive oils and a chef’s special off-menu pasta. It is also here where the ship’s godmother De Laurentiis has created two signature dishes for the menu: a Capri-inspired lemon spaghetti with jumbo shrimp, mascarpone and fried capers; and a Branzino pomegranate of fennel-potato puree, with pomegranate gastrique and vinaigrette.

Toscana also plays host to pairing experiences with its private dining room. The pairing experience and private dining room option are likewise on offer at Polo Grill steakhouse. At Ember, the signature American dining room—and a new culinary addition to Oceania Cruises’ lineup—lunches of blackened crab cakes and porcini-dusted ribeye steaks include wine-paired options, while a group of eight could ostensibly enjoy one of the dining highlights of the year with a Dom Perignon Experience, a six-course private dinner matched to three vintages from the august champagne house.

In much the same way that meals are curated, so too are its drinks programme across eight bars, lounges and entertainment venues. Among them is the partnership with award-winning whisky Chapter 7, with an exclusive bottling of 20-year-old small-batch whisky to celebrate Vista and the brand’s 20th anniversary. Onboard Vista, Founder’s Bar is yet another new concept introduced to the Oceania Cruises line. Here, Negronis come ready-made from a wooden barrel, while cocktails carry a tinge of the unexpected. Aged bourbon, spicy rye bases and the drama of your cocktail come to life before your very eyes.

With Vista, Oceania Cruises is also making a concerted effort to engage a younger set of cruise passengers. Its Lync digital centre offers enrichment programmes such as photo editing for social media as well as landscape and travel photography. For the experiential-based travellers, the small batch tour programmes, culinary centre and artist’s loft are Oceania Cruises’ view of the future, as are its wide-ranging shore excursion options that take you to seaside villages where you learn how to fish in the traditional method and dine on the daily catch, as well as appreciating the local food and wine or getting on artisan trails and discovering local culture.

More photos of Oceania Cruises’ Vista

For the upcoming 2024 summer season, which begins on 21 April, Vista will sail a series of itineraries in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic seas, while visiting iconic cities and smaller boutique ports throughout Italy and Greece.

Oceania Cruises

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