If you’re looking ahead for the ‘What’s Next’ in cruising at the moment, we have the ideal proposition for you, and it represents a whole new Vista in the more rarefied world of deluxe voyaging.
It’s the latest ship from the distinguished stable of Oceania Cruises, and the advent of their Vista could well mark a completely original frontier both for them as a company as well as for the wider philosophy of creative cruising.
Go back just 19 years to the inception of Oceania as the latest player in the rapidly evolving realm of five-star cruising and it is easy to see why they have not only stayed the course but developed along distinctly innovative lines.
In simple terms, Oceania was the brainchild of three industry heavyweights, Bob Binder, Joe Watters and Frank Del Rio, all three pioneers in their own way of distinctive developments beyond the mainstream.
Del Rio had been joint CEO of the visionary Renaissance Cruises before leaving to work on another project that would become Oceania. Watters had been president of Royal Viking Line and president and chief operating officer of Crystal Cruises. And Binder had held several executive positions in the industry from 1991-2002, including time with Renaissance.
They each knew they wanted to create something that eschewed the cruise convention of the time, something that would elevate the general experience beyond the mass market but without the ultra-price-point of the super-luxe category ships.
The Oceania Cruises story quickly became one of inventive, nimble nautical expansion, going from just one ship at the inauguration to three by 2005. The initial trio then became five within another seven years with the addition of two complete new-builds that dramatically enhanced the Oceania ethos, while a sixth ship joined in 2016, a sister of the original trio.
Never ones to stand still, the company announced an impressive refurbishment programme for their four older vessels, the $100million OceaniaNEXT initiative in 2018, and followed up with the biggest declaration of all a year later – a pair of novel siblings that would utilise the latest maritime technology and introduce a superior level of onboard comforts.
At 67,000 tons, they would be slightly bigger than the two Oceania-class ships of 2011/12, while being more than double the size of the original quartet, and they would pioneer the most refined version to date of the line’s philosophy of small-ship excellence.
That most recent announcement came on January 8, 2019, and, while we are still 19 months away from seeing Vista in all her glory, we now have the opportunity to review her initial season (April 2023) and, more importantly, be part of those inaugural sailings.
Entitled ‘Your World from a New Perspective,’ the newcomer’s initial sailings represent an exciting look ahead to a maritime future that positively glitters with intent and polish. With 18 original voyages and a cruising playground that stretches from the Holy Land to the British Isles, it illustrates a scintillating horizon of cruise enchantment.
Even better, we now know much more about Oceania’s latest creation, and there will be three key components to Vista’s array of onboard charms, which present a distinctly delectable sea-going selection:
New Dining Concept
This is Oceania’s most-heralded innovation aboard Vista, and it promises to be a dining experience of rare extravagance. To be sure, the three founders of the line intended their creation to be based on memorable culinary adventures at every turn, something that has stayed with them from the earliest days, but each meal now promises to be an even grander experience.
True, they have set an extraordinarily high bar for themselves by labelling this latest incarnation of ocean gastronomy ‘The Finest Cuisine at Sea’™, yet you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer ambition of what’s involved, as well as the venues being prepared to serve them.
Chief among them will be the signature addition of Ember, a lunch and dinner location of striking appearance and tantalising menu, featuring inventive American creations mixed with time-honoured classics, such as Grilled Swordfish with Asparagus, Braised Short Ribs and Cobb Salad with Smoked Chicken.
The fresh, wellness-inspired offerings of Aquamar Kitchen will add another string to the ship’s many-splendoured bow, while traditional favourites the Polo Grill, with its elegant steakhouse style, the Asian-fusion finesse of Red Ginger, and the supreme magnificence of The Grand Dining Room, with its signature Jacques Pepin dishes, will continue to offer their own foodie razzle-dazzle.
The final touch of Vista’s lavish Culinary Center, showcasing high-tech cooking classes and master-chef demonstrations, underlines the intent to make this an absolutely fundamental part of the whole experience.
This is another intriguing concept upon which Oceania is pinning a fair degree of its preliminary appeal, as well as a lot of marketing focus.
All-veranda accommodations are not unique to this sector of the cruise market, but the fact Vista will feature beautifully appointed bathrooms with oversized rainforest showers, large vanities, suites with generous living and dining space, and a first-of-the-kind Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom dedicated to solo travellers definitely grabs our attention.
Combine all that with furnishings that have the fashionable look of contemporary luxury sophistication and the line’s sumptuous Tranquility Bed – a genuinely inspired creation – and we think this will more than live up to the refined stateroom idyll they aim to establish.
Regular readers will know that our favourite feature aboard any ship is always that one public space that just resonates perfectly with our sense of ocean-going je ne sais quoi. From the perfect coffee lounge to the idyllic post-dinner drinks eyrie, it can be almost anywhere that appeals to our essential desire to feel we are truly, utterly away from it all.
On Vista, we think we may well be hugely challenged to narrow it down to just one. Already, we can see the enormous allure in the private club ambience of The Grand Lounge, with its sleek alcoves and sculptured lighting; the adventurous viewpoint of Horizons, where dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows will provide sweeping views with Afternoon Tea; and the sheer visual extravagance of the Aquamar Spa’s rear terrace, where, once sampled, the personal air of pampered indulgence may just keep us riveted to one of those loungers for the duration.
And that’s not forgetting Baristas, a glitzy triumph of a coffee bar and pastry emporium; the shimmering crystal hideaway of Martinis lounge; and the superb Pool Deck, which looks like it was designed with James Bond in mind, such is its glamorous, widescreen eye-appeal. You could easily imagine 007 and a Bond girl on one of the circular loungers fringing the pool!
In Summary – Luxury Cruising At Its Finest
All in all, it is a compendium of cruise grandeur that leaves us almost breathless in anticipation, and we suspect the reality maybe even better. There is even a video that adds to this sense of high-class expectation, and we’ve already spent an hour or more watching its collage of seductive imagery:
And, while spring 2023 may still seem a long way off, after the last 18 months, we’re pretty sure it will be here a lot sooner than you think.
Ready for a new Vista? You bet…
What most appeals to you about the forthcoming Oceania Vista? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Simon & Susan Veness are veteran travel writers of many years standing, having sailed worldwide and written for a wide range of media on the subject of ocean and river cruising. They are also our expert voices here at The Cruise Line for all things new and exciting.