As he retires from the company he founded, Frank Del Rio and his eye for beauty, quality and detail are everywhere apparent in his latest masterpiece, from the lavish Italian marbles and rich wood panels to the decorated ceilings, luxe finishes and modern art.
With Del Rio's vision, Miami's Studio DADO designed Vista's public areas, staterooms and suites to feel airy, open and comfortable.
This starts with the first step aboard into the atrium with its curving grand staircase and swirling modern chandelier, and extends to the sweeping hallways and inviting restaurants and lounges.
Overall, Vista has a contemporary look. And while it is almost exactly the same size as the O-class ships, it feels even more spacious.
Del Rio's son, Oceania Cruises President Frank A. Del Rio, said Studio DADO 'took the essence of Oceania and made it more modern, more contemporary. This is the perfect evolution of the brand.'
Hosting travel partners onboard during a short pre-inaugural Italy cruise, he named his favorite Vista spots as the observation lounge Horizons and the restaurants, 'particularly Polo Grill.'
A grand hallway leads to the enlarged Horizons with its back-lit onyx bar. The dance floor is now on the side instead of in the center, so patrons can gravitate to one area for music and dancing and the other for conversation. The lounge is decked out in muted blues and grays with gold accents that suggest the setting sun. Big windows give stunning views, and Horizons is the versatile place for relaxing, taking afternoon tea or late-night partying.
The younger Del Rio's favored signature steak house Polo Grill is masculine as always, in caramels and browns, and has a Palm Beach feeling with details like dark-wood plantation shutters and potted palms. There's a new private dining area, too. The menu tempts with a 20-ounce Porterhouse, a more dainty filet mignon, whole Maine lobster, jumbo prawns and more.
The neighboring signature restaurant Toscana, featuring Tuscan specialties, has its own distinctive character. The entrance is topped by what looks like a frescoed ceiling, there are butterscotch and yellow leather chairs, champagne-colored banquettes and rich mosaics. Toscana, too, offers a private dining area.
Culinary cruise line
Oceania has always touted itself as the leading culinary cruise line, a claim it backs up with top chef talent, a 10:1 chef to passenger ratio, superb food quality and touches like Versace and Bernardaud porcelain, silver, crystal stemware and fine Italian table linens.
A new partnership with Basque butcher Imanol Jaca's Txogitxu, a proponent of mature beef — which is more flavorful, according to Oceania's VP Food & Beverage Bernhard Klotz — expands the selection from USDA Prime Beef. Jaca is currently onboard and has been creating dishes at the poolside Waves Grill.
Klotz also said the line has stocked 80 new wines. Among them is Silver Trident's 'Benevolent Dictator,' a pinot noir that winery proprietor and Oceania co-founder Bob Binder (who's also on board) said is named after Del Rio Sr. 'who has clear vision, is kind-hearted but determined.' Another Trident wine in Vista's cellar is Sympony No. 9, a sauvignon blanc.
New dining spots
The ship has an expanded dining selection. Joining Polo Grill, Toscana and the other signature spot, Red Ginger, is the new Ember. With a menu of inventive American creations blended with classics, Ember resembles a Napa or Sonoma tasting room with design details like a barrel-shaped brick ceiling.
Klotz said Ember provides a 'speeded up' experience in an elegant atmosphere, where patrons can dine well in under an hour and a half instead of making an evening of it. The selection includes dishes like lobster roll, crab cake, grilled beef tenderloin and roasted salmon.
The new, casual Aquamar Kitchen, between the Terrace Café and the pool, feels like a California beach spot with its light and airy look and light and healthy selections. These range from smoothies, homemade granolas and organic power bowls to yellowfin tacos, wraps and, the most popular, according to Klotz, avocado toast. There's also a selection of alcohol-free cocktails and wines in partnership with Lyre's.
Baristas, the spot for illy coffees brewed by real Italian baristas, has sleek two-tone leather bar stools at a dark granite bar looking down on the pool and a roomy table seating area where a new bakery offers French and Italian pastries. Treats like chocolate-almond croissants, eclaires and bombolini emerge from a new Rational oven.
Founders Bar, a fresh concept tucked beside the Casino, serves signature craft cocktails.
Culinary Center's added studio
Vista's hands-on Culinary Center has 24 cooking stations and, new, a separate studio that Chef Kathryn Kelly, Oceania's executive director of culinary enrichment, called a 'mix between a library and a dining room, like something on "Succession."' It provides a flexible configuration for events, demonstrations and private dinners — perhaps a mixology course or a food and wine pairing experience.
A new after-dinner class invites participants to prepare desserts such as crepes or lava cake to enjoy together before heading off to the evening entertainment.
The Grand Dining Room remains the grand dame of Oceania Cruises’ culinary world. On Vista, though, it has a youthful look, and a light color scheme of ivory with gold and silver touches. Archways add curves and create intimate seating groupings. The gold-accented chandeliers are elegantly contemporary.
For casual dining, the indoor-outdoor Terrace Café is, as ever, a popular spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a self-serve selection of changing dishes, international specialties, items prepared to order, dainty desserts and the best homemade ice creams and gelatos. The spacious terrace is ideal for Mediterranean cruising with a selection of wines by the glass and big sea views from morning light to sunsets.
Pools and relaxation
Nearby, Vista's main resort-style pool with its wading areas, cushioned loungers, daybeds, shaded and sunny spaces, is calm and relaxing. And with Waves Grill, the new Aquamar Kitchen and Terrace Cafe in the area, there are plenty of relaxed dining options within easy reach, too.
Higher up in the ship, another stand-out space is AquaMar Spa's ample outdoor deck and lounge area with Jacuzzis and a pergola that shades the pool.
Centrally located one deck above the atrium, Martinis has a glamorous Art Deco style, dark paneling, a high-gloss black grand piano and beveled glass bar.
The Grand Lounge, a space that links Martinis, the main restaurants and the casino, is a long, elegant stretch with paneled walls and seating grouped between displays of art objects. Intimate tables for two line the window side.
The Library is a quiet, cozy retreat with deeply cushioned chairs, leather and wood details and equestrian-themed artwork.
Studio DADO went for a residential feeling in Vista's spacious suites and staterooms.
See also: 'Inside a Vista Suite on Oceania Cruises' newly minted Vista'