Ship Review – Oceania Cruises New Vista

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Oceania Cruises new Vista debuted in May of this year, marking the first new ship for the line since it delivered Riviera in 2012.  Vista is the new flagship and the first of two new Allura class ships. It carries 1,200 passengers at double-occupancy in cabins and suites, all of which have either balcony or a French veranda.

Weighing-in at 67,000-tons, it’s downright petite compared to the modern megaships which weigh in at more than 200,000-tons. Despite it’s size, it punches above it’s weight-class with an impressive eight restaurants, plus a bakery and three private dining rooms. Oceania Cruises caters to foodies, and Vista has taken this culinary obsession to the next level with the Culinary Center providing cooking classes and demos, Founders, a new craft cocktail bar, and a new, albeit controversial restaurant – Ember.

Vista’s fares cover all dining, including specialty restaurants, fitness classes, nonalcoholic beverages including excellent espresso drinks from Barista’s and in-port shuttles. The new  simplyMORE fares add in roundtrip airfare, airport transfers, some excursions, house alcoholic beverages at lunch and dinner, and free Wi-Fi.

For those that have sailed on Oceania’s Marina and Riviera, Vista will feel extremely familiar, but with a few quirks or enhancements depending on your perspective.

Vista, was designed under the watchful eye of outgoing NCL CEO and founder of Oceania Cruises Frank Del Rio. Mr. Del Rio is an avid fan of the visual arts and the collections on board all of the Oceania Cruises ships are impressive in both scale and variety.  There’s something for everyone’s taste on board.  In fact, on Marina and Riviera there are self-guided art tours; I’m certain one will be forthcoming for Vista, though it wasn’t available on our sailing.

a green grass on a wall
One of our favorite paintings aboard Vista

The new cocktail program launching on Vista is a major step up from the already solid beverage program on board the fleet. We fell in love with the cocktails and the wonderful team at Founders Bar and might have made our way through the entire list during our 12-night cruise, but who’s counting.  We found many like-minded and adventurous passengers in Founders for pre and post dinner cocktails, some of the less adventurous returned to fleet classics – Martinis and Horizons.  For those looking for nonalcoholic “spirits” and cocktails, Vista now carries a line of zero-proof cocktails that taste like the real deal, as well as nonalcoholic beer in certain venues.  These come at a charge, while on previous cruises passengers who requested mocktails would be served complimentary off-menu concoctions, but those were without the use of the new zero-proof “spirits.”  That generally seems fair.

two glasses of drinks on a bar
Founders Bar cocktails available only on Oceania Vista and the upcoming Allura

Onboard entertainment has never been the highlight of an Oceania cruise as the priorities are on long days in port, sumptuous meals paired with excellent beverages, and soft music playing throughout the ship.  That’s not to say that the Vista Lounge didn’t have a show every evening, typically alternating between performance shows by the in-house troop of singers and dancers and one-man/woman shows featuring comedians, magicians, or soloists.  To be honest, we typically only make it to one or two shows on a typical cruise as we’re often the first ones off the ship and among the last back on in port as we’re anxious to see all that we can of our destinations.

There’s also a casino on Vista that has an assortment of slots and table games that prove popular with many cruisers.  The assortment of slots appeared to be more varied and modern than on other ships.  We typically play once or twice on a cruise, but to be honest, if they took out the casino it would have no bearing our on choice of Oceania cruises.

Vista has eight types of cabins and suites, with sub-grades depending on location and view.  I’ll cover all of the options as well as our experience in a Penthouse in a future post.

ONBOARD ACTIVITIES

Beyond the basics nearly all ships have, including pools, a spa, workout room, theater with live performances, a casino with tournaments, trivia, Bingo, quizzes, etc.  Oceania Cruises has two offerings on their three largest ships, including the new Vista, that are both unique and exceptional in their execution – the Culinary Center and the Artist Loft.  Oceania Cruises has also carried over the excellent libraries on board the R-Class ships, vastly expanded on the O-Class, and now taken to the next level with Vista and the new A-Class.

CULINARY CENTER

a table with food on it
Display of the ingredients and finished dishes from our class

The Culinary Center is a cooking school at sea with a demonstration area and work-stations for passengers to participate.  These launched with the first O-Class ships more than a decade ago and have proven incredibly popular with passengers, typically selling out even before embarkation.  These come at a cost (starting at $79) and are typically themed based on where the ships are sailings.  Unlike some of their competitors, these classes are taught by a dedicated educational team and not members from the ships culinary team.

Each class is run by a chef who is assisted by two to three additional dedicated culinary staff.  These are unbelievably fun for anyone with even the slightest interest in cooking, not least because they all come with at least one adult beverage coinciding with the theme.  We make it a point to participate in at least one class on every cruise with a Culinary Center. Honestly, in our opinion it’s one of the biggest downsides of sailing on the smaller R-Class ships that they do not have the Culinary Center facility or programming.

ARTIST LOFT

a room with art easels and tables
Oceania Vista Artists Loft

Now I know a lot of ships offer a space for arts and crafts and some of them have artists on board, but Oceania Cruises really prioritizes the program bringing on really talented artists, including some that have provided art on one or more of the ships.  Like the Culinary Center offerings, you need not be an experienced artist to participate.  We’ve been fortunate to sail with the same artists more than once and always enjoy their classes.  The new “loft” on board Vista is larger and better laid out than on Marina and Riviera and is enhanced by the artist loft aesthetic.

TIP – You cannot book these ahead of time but the artists have an open-house on embarkation day when you can sign up for the class as space is limited.

LIBRARY

a room with a bookcase and chairs
Oceania Vista Library with furnishings from Ralph Lauren

So what, they have a library.  Don’t all ships have them?  Well Oceania really prioritizes them stocking them with an excellent selection of travel guides, non-fiction, and the latest novels unlike some ships that seem to be stocked with paperbacks left in cabins by prior cruisers.  The space is incredibly handsome with Ralph Lauren furnishings throughout and a great place to spend some time, particularly if the weather isn’t cooperating.

OUTDOOR FACILITIES

a deck of a cruise ship with a pool and people on it
Oceania Vista Top Deck and Pool Area

Oceania Vista’s pool deck is next level compared to those on her sister ships, but do not expect a resort pool or a waterpark like you’ll find on mega-ships.  In addition to a good sized pool which is surprisingly deep in the middle there is a shallow area around the perimeter perfect for cooling off your feet.  Surrounding the pool are padded loungers, day beds, and some really cool Balinese style covered pods.  Additionally there are a couple hot tubs.

Up on the top deck you’ll find the outdoor running track, shuffleboard, croquet/bocce pit, a pickleball court that proved extremely popular, an improved mini-golf with some serious topography and a golf-driving cage.

AQUAMAR SPA

a group of treadmills in a gym
Oceania Vista Fitness Center part of the larger Aquamar Spa

Located on Deck 15 it offers a barber shop (a new addition with Vista), salon, fitness center with separated aerobics studio along with saunas and steam rooms divided for men and women.  The locker rooms are also larger and more luxurious than on previous ships.

As mentioned previously, those in Concierge Level cabins and all Suites have unlimited access to the Aquamar Spa Terrace at the front of the ship, with two hot tubs, a thalassotherapy pool, and the nicest loungers on board complete with small canopies for easier reading in the sun or simply to shade your face in case you doze off.

THE FINE PRINT

GRATUITIES

Oceania Cruises gratuities are amongst the highest in the industry, it’s a fact.  My perspective on this is that they have excellent crew many of whom have sailed with Oceania for years and years, some since the very beginning, and could easily go to the ultra-luxury lines including sister line Regent Seven Seas where gratuities are included in the fares and thus not seen by the passengers.  In order to retain such talented and seasoned crew the line and its guests pay-up.  I’ve never heard a passenger on board complain about the gratuities.  With that out of the way…

Crew gratuities are added to your onboard bill prior to disembarkation and at present are $18 per person, per day in Concierge-class rooms and below.  For those in Suites, and with butlers, they are currently $23 per person, per day. Gratuities can also be prepaid for those looking to avoid the big balance at the end of the cruise.  For more color on how tips are dealt with by the crew check out this post from That Guy (on board).

For “included” tours that you selected either through O-Life or the new simplyMORE please note that tips for guides and drivers are NOT included. At the end of all tours please consider tipping in cash at the end of a tour based on local customs.

For onboard bar and spa charges a 20% gratuity is added.

WI-FI

Vista is the first Oceania cruise ship to use Starlink high-speed internet. It’s excellently reliable and fast.  Each cabin comes with one free Wi-Fi login (for one device at a time), or you can upgrade to add additional devices or for faster service that promises the ability to stream video.  We found the internet fast and easier to log-into than on previous ships and had no need for an upgrade or to add a second log-in.

SMOKING POLICY

As Rene’s noted previously, smoking on board a ship presents a real risk to your personal safety as well as for the entire ship.  Please only smoke in designated areas.

Vista’s designated smoking areas are located on Deck 12 near the pool in the front starboard corner and in a dedicated smoking lounge on Deck 14 adjacent to Horizons. The latter is a well appointed gorgeous space with a dedicated “scrubber” to reduce smoke.  For those that enjoy a cigar, they would not feel like they were being punished in this handsome space.  You’ll often find officers using this facility.

LAUNDRY FACILITIES

Vista, like her sister ships, offers complimentary self-service launderettes on Decks 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Each launderette is equipped with washers and dryers, an ironing board and iron, as well as complimentary soap dispenser.

TIP – These prove popular on longer cruises and are very busy on sea days.  Plan accordingly!

For those in suites you are provided three bags of complimentary laundry during your cruise for a typical Oceania Cruises length voyage (10-14 days).  It’s great to make use of this with work-out clothes, swim suits, and items that you aren’t too worried about shrinking or getting wrinkled as it’s simply a wash and fold service.  If you want dry-cleaning or pressing those services are available at additional charges.

CABIN POWER OUTLETS

Vista’s cabins and suites offer an abundance of electrical outlets and USB ports on both sides of the bed and by the desk. You’ll find both U.S. 110V and European 220V outlets.  TIP – To make the best use of all of the outlets remember to bring adapters.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you appreciate the in-depth Oceania Vista review.  Given all that is new about Oceania Vista I’ll also be providing upcoming in depth reviews of the Dining, Bars/Lounges/Mixology, and Cabins including our Penthouse Suite (PH-2 with extended balcony). – Michael

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6 COMMENTS

    • @dee – 100% agree with you, I love the size and conviviality of the R-Class ships, but it’s disappointing that they do not have the Culinary Center like their bigger siblings. I’ve never sailed on Nautica, but hope to one day. It’s traditionally sailed in the Asian/Pacific regions, but I believe that’s changed a bit starting this year. We’ve sailed on Insignia and have a cruise booked on Sirena this winter.

  1. Based on my experience and observations, with Oceania, I would never sail with them again. My opinion is their medical personnel and protocols are less than great.

  2. Great review! I was on board in August 2023 and can provide a couple of updates: 1) While there’s no art tour, there was an art “scavenger hunt” created by the cruise director. A completed sheet of 60 artwork earns you 20 Big “O” points. 2) the landaulette on Deck 11 is the least busy.

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