We spent 8 days on Carnival's newest ship - the Vista - cruising from Miami.
Inside Cabin 7309
As usual, we booked an interior on Carnival. The major difference in the new ship layout is one few closet side and a few less drawers. We still had plenty of space for our stuff - we typically don't take much more than we need. No real issues with the cabin and location other than a very slow response time with the TV and flipping through options.
We ate in the steakhouse on the first night (Fahrenheit 555), which has been moved from one of the highest decks to Deck 5. The layout of the restaurant was a little different than most other Carnival steakhouses, but it was still fine. The food, as usual, was amazing and worth the upcharge. A+
|9oz filet from the steakhouse|
This was our first experience with the American Table concept in the main dining rooms, and I wasn't disappointed at all! In general, all of the food we had at dinner was amazing! Sea Day brunches are also fantastic - love the steak and eggs (filet mignon) and the mac n cheese with bacon.
The buffet was fine, and I really enjoyed the new addition of the homestyle soft serve ice cream made each day - two different flavors each day. This station is in addition to the usual frozen yogurt and soft serve machines.
The deli on this ship has a different feel to it than the other ships, and the sandwich options were great. Loved the different grilled cheese options, and I also enjoyed the falafel wrap one day.
We didn't eat at Bonsai Sushi, JiJi, or the Seafood Shack.
Overall, we ate way too much:)
We decided against buying the Cheers drink package because 1) it is required for both people in a cabin to purchase and 2) we were SCUBA diving in two ports and had to watch our consumption the day before each dive. Instead, we bought the deluxe Cruising the Vineyards wine package (middle tier) for $153 including gratuities. This package had a fair list of wine of which we could choose 5. It was not restricted to the main dining room.
We also purchased several different drinks over the course of the cruise at Alchemy. Besides my dirty martinis (made with muddled green olives), we never ordered from the menu. The bartenders there will create whatever you want.
Entertainment (and venues)
This is where things were fell apart for me. I'll start with the good first because I think that's only fair.
- The Dive-in Movies (outside on Lido) were great as usual. Changed up the movies with mostly new releases each night (from 2-3 different movies each night).
- The live musicians, especially the violin trio, were amazing!
- The changing LED displays in the atrium and the casinos - so fun!
- Lots of seating around the ship to just relax
- The cruise director is amazing! If you get a chance to sail with Matt Mitcham, you will understand why he's viewed as one of the best throughout the whole fleet.
- The gym seemed a bit bigger than some of the older ships.
- There is an IMAX movie theater with current release movies that costs right around what you'd pay on land - $13 for adults. Why? Just why? After having enjoyed the current release movies on the Disney ships, for FREE, I guess I'm just spoiled. I do wonder how much Carnival is actually making by having this theater on board because I never saw anyone buying tickets. We didn't appreciate the upcharge, so we didn't go. Whatever. What really irks me, though, is that the IMAX took up a fair amount of space that could have been used for something better. Which leads me to...
- The main theater set-up. It's the smallest one I have seen (haven't been on Sunshine), and the rows of chairs are a disaster. There are poles you can't see around from the back, and you better get there EARLY because it fills up FAST! Again, lack of seating. Yay, you can move chairs to fit the needs of the shows. Bully for you, Carnival (dripping with sarcasm if you hadn't caught that yet...). So let's talk about those chairs for a sec. There are literally rows of seating that are on the same level as the row in front of them, no downward slope. Sorry, short people, you're out of luck if you get stuck in those seats. And if you're in the middle of the row, you literally have to crawl over people to get out.
- The comedy and disco rooms are one in the same. Small and cramped with big fat poles. Yada yada yada. This means no late night comedy. Also, the DJ on our cruise sucked.
- Finally, the lead Playlist singers on this ship were terrible. Like polar opposite of the awesome cast that we experienced a couple months ago on Celebrity. There was one good guy out of the four leads. Two of the other leads threw their voices (or whispered) in such strange ways that I'm hoping that they are just doing whatever the director (or vocal coaches) are telling them to do because I could hardly sit and listen to them without cringing. We made it to two shows and just couldn't stomach any more. It was the worst cast of singers we've encountered on a ship. Maybe that makes me lucky that we haven't come across this sooner?
Fantastic crew members, wonderful food, solid live musicians, and pretty decor. We wouldn't readily choose this ship again unless the itinerary and price were REALLY good. I missed the Breeze, or any other Carnival ship for that matter.
Ports of Call
Grand Turk - Oasis Divers
I booked our 2-tank boat dive through the ship because I would have probably booked Oasis Divers on my own anyway. They picked us by boat close to the pier and then took us to the dive shop behind Jack's Shack to be fitted with our equipment.
Our group of 17 cruise divers was (thankfully) divided between two boats. We ended up in the group of 6 - whew! We dove two different sites along the infamous Grand Turk wall. Let me tell, 7000' ft down just fades right to black beneath you. We saw a spotted ray, sea turtle, a VERY playful Nassau Grouper that must have had a crush on our dive master because she followed us for quite a long time and just wanted to cuddle into his hand. She didn't like me much when I tried to touch her, though. Oh well, she was slimy anyway.
Overall, very good diving and SCUBA operation. Just prepare for a larger group if you decide to book with them.
Dominican Republic - Catalina Island Carnival Excursion
This was booked through the ship and was a group excursion with 30 of our cruising friends. There are no food options on the island so plan accordingly. You will be bused from port to the marina where you will board a shuttle boat. The boat ride to Catalina Island is about 30 minutes. The beach is beautiful, and there are free lounge chairs and a cash bar. It was OK, but not sure I'd want to book unless a fun group of friends goes, too.
Aruba was a relaxed day for us. We walked across the street to the bus terminal and hopped on one of the #10 buses for $2.60 pp each way. We were dropped off at DePalm Pier (beside RIU Palace and the Hilton) and walked to Bugaloe, a fun little beach bar and grill sitting right on the water. Very easy day.
|Sunset in Aruba - beach next to Bugaloe|
This was, hands-down, one of the best excursions we have ever done! I did a fair amount of research for diving Curacao as this was on my bucket list since I was certified years ago. I considered both the Dive Bus (shore diving is done across on their "house" reef) and Bas Harts. Ultimately I chose the one that included transportation to and from the port. Best decision I could have made.
We were picked up promptly at the meeting time by Nick. He was actually there a little early but we didn't realize it was our truck. Oops. I asked him if anyone else was joining us, and he replied that no, we had booked a private tour, so it was just the two of us. Sweet! We threw our gear into the bed of the double-cab, 4-wheel drive truck and off we went to our first beach destination. To say that we were out in the middle of nowhere is understatement. Without a 4-wheel drive truck or jeep, there's no way we could have made it to "no name" beach. We were the only ones there!
Nick, our guide and dive master, locked up our few valuables in the safe and pointed out the security cameras installed in the truck. This dive company looks out for their guests, and I really appreciated that. We did our quick safety briefing and intro to the dive site, and then Nick assembled and helped us into our gear. We had never shore dived before, and it was awesome! So much sealife and healthy coral! After 40 minutes in the water, we came back to shore, loaded up our gear, had a quick snack and water, and drove to the next drive site, Playa Largu, a coral beach. Again, we were pretty much the only people there. This stop was more incredible than the last, and we saw SO much sealife! I can't describe with words how beautiful it was!
Nick took very good care of us and was very safety conscious. We had a wonderful day, got see parts of the island that I never imagined, and saw so many cool sea creatures - spotted ray, different eels, juvenile and adult lionfish, juvenile and adult spotted drums, ets.
I would 100% book through Bas Harts again, and below you will see one of the photos that Nick took of the sites and us along the way.