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The bars on board Oceania Cruises new Vista carried over all of the line’s favorites expanded one, added one, and rolled out an entirely new mixology program.
We ended our review of Oceania’s dining with the afternoon tea in Horizons up on deck 14, so it makes sense to start our review of bars and lounges here at the top. Horizons is the observation lounge facing out over the bow and a spot that’s in use most of the day. It’s a very nice place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset or an after-dinner drink and some live music later in the evenings. Depending on how lively your fellow passengers are on the sailing it’s also where a late-night dance party or karaoke session can get going. It also hosts the Captain’s Welcome parties where free drinks are served once per cruise as well as the Oceania Club cocktail parties for those who have previously sailed on Oceania Cruises featuring the same free cocktails as well as a nice tradition of honoring staff anniversaries and passenger cruise milestones.
Down on Deck 6 there’s Martinis, famous for their happy hour two-for-one martini list and piano player. On the other ships that has traditionally been our favorite spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. It’s conveniently located on the same level as the Grand Dining Room and at the top of the grand stair leading down to Ember and Red Ginger.
Next to Martinis are two other bars – Founders Bar and the Grand Lounge. The Grand Lounge on the O-Class ships is a bit of an underutilized space connecting Martinis to the Grand Dining Room. That’s been remedied on board Vista where they’ve created a more comfortable and cozy area to enjoy a beverage and listen to the string quartet that performs here each night before dinner. There isn’t actually a bar in this lounge space with cocktails being served from either Founders Bar or Martinis but brought to your table.
Founders Bar is a new addition on board Vista. The handsome space has eight in-demand stools at the bar as well as a limited number of tables set up for couples. If you can, secure a seat at the bar to see your cocktail come to life as well as those of your fellow sippers. On our cruise the bartenders had also helped create the initial cocktail menu that launched with the ship. They were extremely talented and fun to talk to as well.
As the name suggests, this is the bar on deck 12 that serves the pool area as well as those dining in Waves Grill. It makes all of the delicious, blended drinks you could want along with beer and wine.
As noted in the dining review, in the afternoons and evenings there are the Italian classic spirits and drinks served in Baristas paired with Italian canapes. The insider tip here is that this is about the only place in the common areas on the ship where you can enjoy a cocktail outside after the pool bar closes for the evening. There are a handful of tables just outside Baristas and so long as the wind is in your favor this is a great place pre-dinner.
HONORABLE MENTION – THE CULINARY CENTER
The Culinary Center on board is a carry-over from the O-Class ships, but it’s much, MUCH larger with an event space adjacent. We were able to participate in the first ever Brugal – Rum and Tea cocktail class on our cruise. This is a joint effort between the Culinary Center team and the Beverage team. The class was at a cost, but included four full-sized cocktails and was an absolute blast.
Oceania does a few things around wine that I really appreciate as an enthusiastic wine connoisseur.
The first is that Oceania Cruises allows passengers to bring up to six bottles of wine per cabin for consumption in their room at no charge or to enjoy in a restaurant with a $25 corkage fee per bottle. Oceania Cruises allows those on the World Cruise to bring up to 60 bottles with them. That’s 5 cases!!! In practice we’ve never brought six bottles on board at once; but often pick up several bottles while on excursions or in port and bring them on board, no questions asked. Some come home with us while others may be enjoyed in our suite or taken to dinner to be enjoyed, subject to the same corkage policy.
The second thing that Oceania Cruises does exceptionally well is let your wine travel with you from restaurant to restaurant. If you’ve come to the end of your meal, or simply want to switch to a different wine or spirit, you can have one of the excellent Sommeliers on board cork it for you, write your cabin number on the bottle, and send it to wine purgatory. From there you can summon it back from the Sommelier team to be brought to you. We often will drink white wine with our appetizers and red with our entrees. Being able to carry these over from meal to meal makes this easy to do and greatly increases the wines available as you don’t have to pick from the already excellent wine-by-the-glass program.
The Third thing that Oceania Cruises does around wine that we enjoy is to host several wine tastings on board. These are generally scheduled on sea days and are hosted in one of the specialty dining restaurants. The costs vary depending on the program, but these are fun and informative and come with canapes. New on Vista is the addition of a seated wine luncheon in Ember serving a French inspired menu of Jacques Pepin dishes. This experience was definitely worth the charge and the team prepared excellent GF options specifically for us to enjoy.
The fourth and final thing that Oceania Cruises does is partner with Dom Perignon and Moet to offer wine-paired gourmet meals. On the O-Class ships these are served in La Reserve by Wine Spectator while on Vista I believe they will be offered in the private dining rooms in Toscana and Polo as well as in Privée; however, on our cruise these wine pairing dinners had not yet been rolled-out.
One final thought on spirits was that Oceania Cruises offered an exclusive Scotch whisky on board for sale in honor of Vista and the 20th anniversary of Oceania Cruises. Produced by Chapter 7 Whisky the 20-year-old bottling (get the connection???) was made available on the Founders Cruise just before ours and on ours. I brought a bottle back; but have yet to crack it open.
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