A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were offered the trip of a lifetime by his work contacts at Oceania Cruises. We were invited to attend the christening of their newest ship Vista and to cruise around the Mediterranean with stops in Malta, Naples, Sardinia and Corsica. I write a travel blog…a free trip to Europe is probably the single greatest thing that could happen to me. And Oceania is no ordinary cruise line, they are known for their award-winning culinary programs and we all know I love to eat. This was something we would normally never do for ourselves (driving around Alaska in a Bronco with a rooftop tent is more our thing). After months of anticipation, it was finally time and we were not disappointed. I can’t wait to share with you some of the incredible places we visited!
I probably don’t have to say it because this is a tiny personal blog but all opinions are my own this is not sponsored (I wish) or reviewed by Oceania. Ok, let’s dive in.
Day 1: At Sea
The ship left out of Civitavecchia and we spent our first day at sea as we made our way to Malta. In the morning we attended a cooking class taught by their Executive Chef. I think we did pretty great at crafting our pineapple cocktails and limoncello cakes.
The ship has a total of 12 restaurants, bars and coffee spots, each with a different theme. This post would be miles long if I were to detail every dish we ate so just know that Oceania lived up to their reputation and every meal we had on the ship was top notch.
It was a beautiful day at sea so we spent most of it lounging on the pool deck and taking in the jaw-dropping sights as we passed Stromboli and Sicily.
Day 2: Island of Gozo (Malta) & Christening
On the morning of Day 2, we pulled into port at Valletta, Malta. We had booked an all-day tour to the island of Gozo. Malta is a pretty small island so it only took about 40 minutes by bus to reach the north shore where we hopped on a ferry boat over to the even smaller island of Gozo.
In Gozo, we went to Tempji Neolitici Tal-ggantija, an archeological site for two of the world’s oldest temples built between 3600 and 3200 BC by the “temple people” referred to as such because we aren’t actually sure who they were.
Next we drove into the town of Victoria and toured the Citadel and Cathedral of Assumption. The vantage point from up on the citadel wall gives you a 360 degree view of the entire island.
That night was the ship’s Christening Ceremony. We put on our fanciest outfits and went ashore for the program that included speeches from Oceania executives, the christening by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, musical performance by Harry Connick Jr, and a fireworks show. They seriously went all out! You can watch the full ceremony here.
Day 3: Valletta, Malta
We stayed docked in Malta on night 2 and in the morning we had some time to get off-ship and explore Valletta. It was such a beautiful city! We walked around downtown and had the best pancakes of my entire life while we watched the Maltese head into work.
We were back on the ship by mid-afternoon and received a cannon send off on our way north to Naples.
Day 4: Naples/Pompeii
It was kind of a gloomy and rainy day as we pulled into Naples on day 4. Plus, the jet lag and 7 hour time difference were brutal but we were not about to let any of that stop us from exploring and we were always one of the first ones off the ship each morning.
From the docks, it’s hard to miss the giant dark Castel Nuovo or Maschio Angioino as it’s more commonly known as. We were able to get on a tour right as they opened at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an English-speaking tour guide so we received a 50% discount and tagged along with an Italian guide. One of the extremely kind Italians took mercy on us and translated a few times which was super sweet and helpful.
From what we gathered, it’s a Medieval style castle with a very impressive great hall. I thought the most interesting parts were below ground where they had unearthed the old cemetery and exposed fossilized bodies. The dungeons were also pretty cool. Must be the crime junkie in me. All in all it was just an OK experience but it did get us out of the rain for a bit.
The tour took about an hour so we had just enough time to grab some Neapolitan style pizza before we made our way back to the ship to catch a tour bus to Pompeii.
Pompeii was buried under yards of volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It’s an entire city that’s extremely well preserved. We spent a few hours walking around with our tour guide but you could spend all day in Pompeii and still not see everything, it’s that sprawling.
Our guide said that normally you can hardly move within Pompeii because it’s so crowded so we were probably fortunate that it was a rainy day.
Day 5: Sardinia (Cancelled due to high winds)
The weather continued to be a menace on day 5. We arrived at Olbia, Sardinia but were unable to enter the narrow port due to high winds. The captain steered us towards better weather and we spent a pleasant day at sea enjoying the sun and entertaining ourselves with the activities on the ship like mini-golf, pickle ball, shuffleboard and the driving range. It was still a great day but slightly disappointing because Sardinia looks like an incredibly beautiful place to visit.
Day 6: Ajaccio, France
Our last stop of the the cruise was in Ajaccio, France on the island of Corsica and the weather finally cooperated. We spend the entire day walking, shopping and eating.
Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte so we visited his monument, his family home and the cathedral where he was baptized.
Day 7: On our own in Rome
We arrived back at Civitavecchia to another rainy day. Oceania provided free transportation back to the airport but we were spending an extra night in Rome and tried to catch a taxi at the port. Unfortunately, there was only one taxi driver and he decided he wanted to take advantage of tourists and demanded $300 in cash. But I’m no fool and we opted to catch a bus to the train station and found a train to Rome for $4 per person.
We had a few hours to kill before our scheduled tour of the Colosseum so we booked it around town to some of the major spots like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. Man-oh-man was it crowded!
There was one crazy moment while we were walking where the police had blocked off the road. We decided to stop and see what was coming and found ourselves watching Ukrainian President Zelensky’s motorcade drive through as he left his audience with the Pope. What a surreal moment.
After a few more coffees and snacks, it was finally time for our Colosseum tour. I had pre-purchased tickets through The Roman Guy, and we had an incredible tour guide. Shoutout Marco! We learned so much over the three hours as we walked through the Colosseum and nearby archeological site. I could never cover it all in a blog post but I highly recommend you take a guided tour if you ever have the chance to visit the Colosseum. We were so enthralled that we didn’t even care that we were getting rained on the whole time.
For our final meal in Italy we went to a restaurant around the corner from our hotel called Nerone. And when I say that it was TO. DIE. FOR! The service and atmosphere were excellent and the pasta ruined all dried store-bought pasta for me forever. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and were just so delighted by everything we tasted that our waiter kept bringing us shots to keep the party going. It was a magical last night in Italy.
Now I’m back in Dallas, writing this from my bed and it still feels so surreal that just a few days ago I was cruising around the Mediterranean Sea, visiting places I could normally only dream of. I’m so thankful to Oceania Cruises for inviting Glenn and I on this trip, it truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
3 thoughts on “Cruising the Mediterranean on Vista, Oceania’s Newest Ship”
I’m so glad you got to go on this trip. What an experience. So much history. The pictures are incredible.