A Modern Masterpiece Cruises into Miami.
– review of the Carnival Cruise Lines newest ship in South Florida.Cruisers have many options to fit a variety of budgets these days. Though the many entertainment options, emerging technologies and dining choices have created stiffer competition among the various brands, Carnival Vista stands out as a progressive giant in the crowded sea.
One of the first noticeable things is how organized Carnival is at receiving new passengers. Their employees at the Miami terminal are helpful and always ready to provide a friendly answer to common questions such as “Where I am supposed to go?” or “Where can I find such and such?” Signage is also quite good at showing where the pick-up and drop off points are located. My first recommendation to you, the cruiser, is to choose an early boarding time since you will be competing with a few thousand people who, like you, want to board the ship in a timely manner to begin to take advantage of the numerous food and entertainment offerings onboard. For best results, it is prudent to select the “Faster to the Fun” boarding option if it is available; it will enable you to board the ship in a much quicker fashion and provide other benefits to you such as having your room ready upon arrival, having your luggage receive priority delivery, having priority tendering and having an early or late debarkation choice.
Carnival Vista has a rotund lobby, which features guest services, the shore excursion desk, a bar and some computers from which you can use an internet plan if you have purchased one. From the lobby you can decide whether or not to take the stairs or one of the many elevators. On embarkation day, there were many employees placed throughout the ship so as to answer any questions and to assist passengers in becoming oriented with the ship. At this point, most people are interested in finding where their rooms are located.
Carnival Vista has four main categories of staterooms: inside, ocean-view, balcony and suite. However, there are also sub-types of rooms, such as spa rooms, family harbor rooms—these include a family lounge area and different room decorations—and Havana rooms—these rooms are styled and inspired by Cuba’s rich heritage and contain an exclusive pool and patio area that are accessible only to those Havana room guests during the daytime hours. I chose to stay in a Cloud 9 spa interior stateroom. My room contained two 120v outlets (U.S.-spec) as well as two USB ports for charging devices. It also contained one 240v (Euro-spec) outlet. The restroom contained one outlet that accepted both U.S. and Euro-spec plugs. The Cloud 9 spa rooms include their own set of perks: upgraded Elemis toiletries, spa-branded robes and slippers, complimentary access to the thermal suites, free fitness classes, discounts on treatments when the ship is in port and priority reservations at the spa. The thermal suites feature heated, ceramic loungers, a Thalassotherapy whirlpool, an infrared sauna, a traditional sauna, two other heated rooms and a few rainfall showers which have three different water programs that are available at the push of a button. All Carnival inside staterooms are 185 sq. ft.; like other rooms onboard, they feature available twenty-four hour room service. Carnival can boast at having the largest space for an interior room in the industry. My room never felt cramped.
After becoming acquainted with the ship’s cabins, many people enjoy seeing the endless dining options available to them on this great ship. Carnival Vista has a multitude of dining spots; your palette will certainly be satisfied with its many dining options. The Lido Restaurant is a buffet, which is open early in the morning until late in the evening. There you could enjoy the typical buffet fare from starters to desserts. The Carnival Deli also located in the Lido Restaurant gives passengers the option to order different sandwiches from lunchtime until the late-night hours.
For guests preferring a more traditional dinner experience, Horizons provides this. Guests may decide to choose “Your Time Dining,” which provides great flexibility if you are the type to want more freedom or you could simply show up to at a queue station when you are ready to dine and the helpful staff will check you in when space is available. You may also opt for the more traditional fixed-time choices such as early or late (6 p.m. or 8 p.m.) I chose the early fixed dining time. The dinner menu was different every night, but there were always mainstays like pork chops, flat iron steak and chicken should a passenger not want to eat the varied offerings of the day. Dinner meals at Horizons consisted of a soup or salad or some other starter/appetizer, an entrée, a side and dessert. The overall quality of my meals was excellent. The wait staff was very knowledgeable about the menu, made good recommendations and served me and other passengers in a cheerful manner. They even remembered my soft-drink preference. I asked for a caffeine-free Coca-Cola one night and after a short while, it was brought to me. The next night, my waiters/waitresses had that beverage in a drawer close to my table. Regarding breakfast in the dining room, the menu was very similar on a daily basis except on sea days where some extra special treats were prepared! Other included dining options are the Blue Iguana Cantina which makes fresh, mouthwatering tacos and burritos per your specifications as well as Guy’s Burger Joint where you can have your burger prepared to your preferences and enjoy hand-cut fries. Pizzeria del Capitano serves up deliciously thin, crispy pizza which is available twenty-four hours should a late night or early morning craving strike.
On two separate nights, I decided to pay an upcharge and dine at Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse and Cucina del Capitano. Both choices are very good and provide a nice value for what you will spend. There is a $35 charge to eat at Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, but you will receive a five-course meal. You have some options regarding the type of steak you want (as well as other meats). Your meal will include a starter, salad, entrée, sides and dessert. You can’t find that value on land. In contrast, Cucina del Capitano serves Italian food, family style. The upcharge is a modest $15 and provides guests with a four-course meal: an appetizer, entrée, side and dessert. I enjoyed both of my meals at these places and would definitely eat there again. After eating, it’s time to get to the fun activities!
Passengers can decide to enjoy both passive and active entertainment options on the Carnival Vista. In addition to traditional games of pool, foosball and ping-pong at the Sports Square area, Vista offers mini-golf, a basketball court and a jogging track. If you are feeling a bit more daring, you could opt to try SkyRide. With SkyRide, you pedal around part of the ship while being suspended high above the deck and ocean. It’s a great view, and it’s a great ride! If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at a ropes course suspended high in the air—and conveniently located next to SkyRide—you should dedicate some of your time to SkyCourse. You will have some obstacles to overcome, but you will be kept safe with a harness of course. After all of that physical activity, it is so nice that Carnival Vista offers the WaterWorks area. Two fun water slides as well as some water hijinks comprise the area. It will provide a welcome cool-down for those hot Caribbean days. After drying off, the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat is a few feet away, and it offers a tranquil place to relax for those who are twenty-one and up. Besides the hot tubs and the comfortable furniture, complimentary salads can be ordered.
On sea days, you will have more time to explore other entertainment possibilities. I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of the newest movies on the ship’s IMAX screen. Large, crystal clear images and mind blowing sound are on tap for you. Vista is the first ship to have an IMAX movie theater. Next door to the IMAX theater is another venue called the “Thrill Theater.” It is a completely immersive 4-D experience. It provided me with a more convincing ride experience than I had received at some major amusement parks. I won’t spoil all of the details for you…suffice it to say you must try it!! For those who enjoy movies al fresco, Carnival show movies sometimes during the day or night with their impressively bright movie screen located above the main pool on deck 10.
On Vista, karaoke and the Punchliner Comedy Club are hosted in the Limelight Lounge. Guests can enjoy karaoke as it is open to anyone interested. For a professional treat, make sure you check out the Punchliner Comedy Club. Carnival books some hilarious comedians. You will definitely laugh at their routines and jokes. Just don’t show up late or you’ll be the object of their attention.
For those that enjoy live music, Carnival has some small, live bands which play a variety of styles like classical, jazz, Latino and pop. They also hire popular DJs like Miami’s DJ Xtreme who was on my particular sailing and always kept the beats coming.
All in all, I had a great cruise. On my particular sailing, the ship did a Western Caribbean tour. I visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. Carnival chose a great route with this ship. It offered dozens upon dozens of shore excursions from which to choose at each of these ports. Most impressively, everyone seemed genuinely helpful and kind. You are truly a VIP on Carnival. The cruise is about accommodating you, ensuring you have the time of your life. My room steward was awesome. He was always available to assist me or answer my questions. He took great care of my room as if it were his own. As mentioned previously, the wait staff was outstanding. Meals were excellent. Guest services was amazing too. Guest service personnel were always accessible, always helpful, and always ready to provide a peerless experience. Even people who were cleaning the hallways or performing another task unrelated to direct customer service were helpful when asked the location of places or food options. This is a great ship with great management and a great supporting staff, all working as a team in the truest sense of the word, to make the memorable, special, personal and impressive happen in a peerless way. I chose Carnival Vista, and based on this experience, I will choose Carnival again. It stands out in the crowded sea as a progressive giant, and a leader in the cruise industry.