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Sailing to tranquility on Vista, Oceania’s luxury new cruise superstar

Strange as it may sound, it was a flight of steps which first made me (figuratively) fall overboard for Oceania’s newest cruise liner, Vista.

There is nothing like a sweeping staircase to set a scene of opulence and the one in the soaring atrium of this 68,000 metric ton vessel is particularly fine. Fred and Ginger would not look out of place tripping the light fantastic down its old-Hollywood cream and gold glamour while the sensuous curve of its matching floor-to-ceiling shimmering chandelier is best described as Marilyn Monroe in all her ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ glory.

As a seasoned traveler who has done my fair share of backpacking around the world, I have unashamedly reached my era of luxury. Fortunate, then, that after a few days enjoying the sights of the City of Angels, I had boarded Vista, Oceania’s seventh ship to hit the seas and the first of its new 1,200-guest Allura-class vessels, which was now headed to Ensenada on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Vista’s interior designer has done an exceptional job at combining elegant grandeur with refined coziness, so your surroundings can suit your mood. It’s clear that every detail has been meticulously crafted to create an atmosphere of unparalleled luxury without falling into the trap of cookie cutter sterility that can come with a cruise liner’s design brief.

Suite sleep in spacious splendor

Take my capacious suite, for example. No pokey cabin in which to play Tetris with your luggage here. This is akin to five-star hotel accommodation with plenty of storage space and a trademarked Tranquility Bed, which boasts you’ll have the best sleep you’ll ever have.

For once, it was a marketing promise that came true, as I did indeed enjoy the sleep of the just (and to be clear, that’s not an adjective I would normally claim for myself).

It helps that every one of Vista’s 1,200 passengers can enjoy a private veranda, which opens up the sense of space enormously while the bathrooms’ oversized rainforest showers and large vanities make getting ready a breeze.

Every one of Vista’s 1,200 passengers can enjoy a private veranda, which opens up the sense of space enormously

It’s a definite cruise liner big tick from me when the bathroom is roomy enough for two passengers to use in peaceful tandem without one of you taking the second shift involving a soggy bathmat and steamed up mirror.

The suite’s timeless decor in tranquil hues promotes a feeling of being at home or, at least, the feeling of being in the home you’d like to have, if normal life was suspended. Either way, these are the perfect surroundings in which to relax and rejuvenate after a hard day exploring, be it on land or at sea.

A few of my favorite things

All sleeping quarters adoration aside, there were five things which set Vista apart from other cruise liners for me.

The first was the library.

I’ve been on many a ship where the library extends to a few books in a less than prepossessing corner. Not so on Vista. Oceania’s masterminds understand that cruise lovers also like to take respite from exploring, eating and swimming by dipping into another world between the covers of a book. And not just any old books either.

Vista’s library is an elegant, peaceful space with comfy chairs, private nooks and shelf upon shelf of a whole range of reads from literary masterpieces to popular bestsellers and magazines. For me, the library acted as a welcome palate cleanser between activities. A sorbet of the sea, if you will.

This leads me to the second, that being the many dining adventures to be had on board. Piling on a ‘cruise kilo’ (or five) is well known among the ocean-going fraternity. It goes like this: If you want to avoid popping buttons by the end of your voyage, you need to have stepped it up at the gym before embarking on any cruise because of the sheer range and quality of the food on offer.

Vista is no exception, thanks to Oceania’s legendary Master Chef Jacques Pépin in his role of Executive Culinary Director.

Pépin’s touch is evident in each of the 11 separate dining options on board, three of which are exclusive to Vista alone. The star of this hallowed trio is undoubtedly Ember. Its inventive take on American classics reminded me that the United States lexicon of food is far, far greater than its fast food offering to the global menu might otherwise suggest.

The Grand Dining Room does what it says on the can (the a la carte breakfast is particularly good). Toscana offers authentic Italian, there’s a fine poke bowl to be had at Waves while Polo Grill has an old money, country club vibe with the best steak I’ve come across outside of Argentina.

Just make sure to round off your gastronomic tour with the Insta-worthy Founders Bar, where expert mixologists abound and the drinks are as magical as their surrounds.

Indulgence in and on the water

It’s only fitting that after all that indulgence, my third choice is the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center. Oceania’s first purpose-built, holistic wellness center has all the usual suspects; rejuvenating treatment areas, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a spacious salon but its crown jewel has to be the Aquamar Spa Terrace.

This open-air deck with comfortable loungers, plunge pools and whirlpool spas has the best ocean views to soothe the soul and nourish the spirit. You’ll feel healthier just looking at the spa terrace, let alone sampling its services.

This open-air deck with comfortable loungers, plunge pools and whirlpool spas has the best ocean views to soothe the soul and nourish the spirit.

Continuing with the watery theme is Vista’s Pool Deck. This is no tiny tub to be shared with a cast of hundreds but a generous pool overlooking the waves and an expanse of luxurious loungers and restful cabanas. It’s one of the most glorious cruise liner pool decks I’ve experienced, and I highly recommend a few hours poolside.

My last pick (and it was a tough choice with many worthy contenders) is the Vista Lounge, because what is a cruise without live entertainment? When I say that the performers are world-class, they truly are, with many coming straight off Broadway or out of London’s West End.

Catch a show if you can – it really does shine a spotlight on the unique magic of cruising. Eat, sleep and be entertained, all in the one place with an array of ports at which to disembark and explore. It’s the perfect way to unpack once and see the world.

Yes, a day in Ensenada was an experience worth waiting for, but the real star of the show was Vista, a vessel that heralds a new wave of cruising excellence. If you get the chance, get on board.

Inspiring The Business World