My review will highlight various areas, and hopefully you can pick and choose the options you wish to read, or read in its entirety! It will be lengthy, but fairly detailed.
Summary – For all the naysayers about Carnival, I hope you will read this. Carnival is the FUN ship, which is different than a PARTY ship. Carnival wants you to have FUN. They want you to let loose, enjoy, dance, sing, and participate in something you normally wouldn’t. They want you to forget your worries at home and take a week and LIVE. That is what I want in vacation too. I want to try things I normally wouldn’t, and do things that create new memories and new experiences.
Certainly they have party ships, but they are typically the shorter trips during peak seasons. So if you have thought about Carnival, but were hesitant, give them a chance with the Vista, Breeze, Dream or Magic. I don’t believe you will be disappointed. In addition, if you are unhappy, as long as you have your passport, advise within 24 hrs, and they will get you off of the ship at the next port and refund your money. So, you have a guarantee. They guarantee you will enjoy your trip, or they refund your money.
Having said all of that, overall, this was my favorite cruise to date. I loved the ship, the atmosphere, Matt the Cruise Director is phenomenal, and Cookie, his asst, is hysterical. They make everyone feel special.
The food we had was likely the best of any ships we’ve sailed. Everything from the buffet, to Guy’s Burger, to Blue Iguana, to the main dining and to the Italian specialty restaurant, everything was well prepared, hot and delicious. The entertainment was very good, and we had a fantastic time.
This cruise had a FB group, and I didn’t participate since I was with a group. I read some of the comments as we were onboard, and sometimes I wondered if I were on the same ship as others. I think some people go in expecting perfection, and you simply set yourself up for disappointment.
GOOD POINTS on the Vista –
- If you can score a Havana cabin, don’t miss out. They book up fast, and for very good reason. We booked the day the Vista sailings were released. You have your own pool, hot tubs, lounge areas, bar, etc.. It is wonderful, and you won’t need to get up early for a deck chair. For comparison, I have also been in the Haven on NCL. For the cost difference, there is simply no comparison. The only real differences are that you have a personal butler and your own private restaurant in the Haven. That was certainly a nice touch, but I don’t need a butler, and for the cost, you get far more bang for your buck on the Vista. I’m all about bang for the buck. I’m certainly glad I had the opportunity to compare both options. I would do both again at the right price.
-The Vista is amazing, it offers so many activities you can’t possibly complete them in the limited time onboard. You have the skyride, ropes course, mini golf, pools, Imax, thrill theatre, hot tubs, basketball, jogging track, bowling and various entertainment venues.
- Matt and Cookie are enthusiastic and keep you involved.
- Enjoyable and funny shows allowing audience participation
- Food was very good and well presented
- The Havana. It’s a great concept and worth the extra cost.
- TONS of seating areas, outdoor areas, and places to get away. This was a big hit in my book.
- The ship did not feel crowded. This is my biggest complaint on most ships we have sailed. I always feel like I’m in a herd of people. I did not feel that way on this ship .
DISLIKES about the Vista
Liquid Lounge set up – it is too small for the size of the ship. This needs to be fixed because there are so many that want to see the shows and it’s just difficult.
More room service items on the breakfast menu.
Deck 5 and 10 are the best decks to get around, otherwise, you do have to take stairs on several floors due to dining room locations.
The “speed bumps” that are located outside the piano bar and around the elevators are a HAZARD. Another person in our group witnessed a lady that fell and screamed in pain when she didn’t see it. PLEASE be cautious of these.
According to many, if you book during PEAK times (spring break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years), there will be TONS more people onboard because they book each room according to capacity. This can add hundreds of extra people and this will make for longer lines and less availability to use areas. This goes for any cruise line, but it seems especially true for this ship.
Anytime dining – too many lines and general disarray
There are times when service has been cut and it is noticeable when attempting to get a drink.
It seems the service personnel don’t have much of a break. I would prefer that the good service people have some time away so they don’t burn out. These people are wonderful.
We stayed at the Marriott Pulse Club in South Beach. I had never stayed in this area previously, but it was a sight to behold for people watching. In fact, the Versace family was at the restaurant the night we were there.
I would highly recommend walking around the area if you have the opportunity. There are so many little ships and venues, it was incredible.
We had breakfast at the restaurant to the right of the hotel (I do not recall the name) and it was amazing. It was expensive, but worth it. There was also a Walgreens in the nearby vicinity you could walk to.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale airport and took America Transportation to Miami. They also picked us up from the hotel and transported to the get the cruise port.
We did general boarding, and the process was smooth and the lines moved quickly. Once we made it through the line, we were ready to board, and just had to await out boarding number to be called.
I had a client who was also boarding, and she misplaced her passport at some point after getting through the airport. I am now recommending that if you have a closed loop cruise to PLEASE have a copy of your birth certificate with you, or someone who can get it to you. Otherwise, time is of the essence, and if you don’t make it, you miss your cruise. We were fortunate and it all worked out. I want to give a Special thanks to Jose at Carnival for noting my client’s account and making sure to document everything I advised. It made the process so much smoother, and my client made it onboard.
Also, get the Mobile Passport APP on your phone and download your passport. That way if something happens, you have a double backup.
Donna was our steward, and she was fabulous, always smiling and laughing with us. We truly enjoyed her. She did a great job of keeping everything tidy and providing cute towel animals we all love. One day she did mention she barely had enough time to get off the ship so she could just get some chips, so we brought her back some. She was so thankful. So, if you want to do something nice, ask your steward what they enjoy, and bring that to them.
This was the one big miss for me. This is the only ship they are currently using this process. If you are booked on this ship, I highly recommend a SET dining time. They have it set up so you wait in line to get a ticket to go to the dining room. Then you have to wait until they are ready for you. I understood because we were a group it would be slower, but I heard from others which were parties of 2-4 who were waiting 1-3 hrs / night between standing for the ticket and waiting for seating. That is not acceptable.
Everything was well prepared, hot and very tasty. I cannot complain about the food. In addition, the coffee was very good. We noticed that the NCL coffee had a bitter taste, and this was far superior. In addition, we did the LaCuccina Italian restaurant. The food was incredibly good. All restaurants were very attentive to handling my food allergy issues also.
Once you were seated in the dining areas, the service was decent. Bar service for sodas and alcohol was very slow, however, they simply don’t have enough people available to get all the orders for so many people.
CABIN - HAVANA
We had cabin 5239 in the Haven, which is the last cabin on the end. It is nice because you only have one neighbor to the side of you. We did not experience any issues with people walking around the area. I am unsure why so many mention that, but we certainly didn’t encounter any issues. That particular room is close to a room the stewards use, so you do hear the door opening and closing frequently. Not a huge issue, but one I thought I should mention.
I liked this area of the ship, and I was concerned originally because we tend to pick cabins up on a much higher level. We were very pleased.
This is a huge thumbs up in my book. Carnival got this absolutely right. I almost wish the area were a tad larger so more could experience it and it would still have plenty of room.
POOLS / SERENITY DECK
The aft pool is a great place to enjoy the views and the pool. The lido obviously can become very busy, but the Serenity deck on this ship is so incredibly large, it truly helps to provide a hiding spot away from the crowds.
YOGURT/ICE CREAM - Available 24 hrs / day, always a nice feature.
We attended the Welcome Aboard show and the Comedy show. I always love comedy, and the comedian did not disappoint.
The Blue Velvet singing group was amazing, and there was a man who frequently sang around the Red Frog Pub and in the general atrium that was very good.
I was a bit disappointed with the Piano Bar. We thoroughly enjoyed the dueling pianos on NCL, but on Carnival, the lady that was hosting seemed to talk more than sing. She must have been new to the ship, as I had heard others rave about the Piano bar.
All in all, they have something for you to enjoy!
We only went to the casino once, and we didn’t really notice the smoke as some people complain about.
We did have a couples, hot stone massage, and it was fantastic. I’ve found the spas to be hit and miss, but this one was a HIT. I was very impressed. Also, I have noticed that if we do a massage together, no one tries to sell me anything. Whereas if I go on my own, they always want to try to sell me a product. The spa was very nice, they offer the heated loungers, hot tub, steam room, Turkish bath and other options.
PORTS Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Grand Turk – We had a cabana with our group that we enjoyed. I always love staying at Margaritaville. We also visted Jack’s Shack and saw Topher and his friends. Service there is severely lacking, but it is a nice hang out for the day!
San Juan – We briefly shopped in Old San Juan and visited the Fort within walking distance
St Kitts – Rail and Sail through Carnival – HIGHLY recommend. Loved the train and the fact we could see so much of this beautiful island. One of our favorite excursions
St. Maarten – Purchased a day pass at the Westin. Due to an emergency, we had to depart early, so we only took photos and then left to get to the airport. It’s a lovely resort.
We received some bad news while onboard about our elderly dog while onboard, and decided we needed to get home. Guest services was wonderful. They assisted us to get off the ship and were so kind. In order to do so, you must first show your flight departure info, or you cannot be allowed off the ship. However, they were very nice given it was a stressful situation while attending to everything in such a short time span.
For any of you who travel, I have the Delta Amex, and I use it for my business. I had recently received a bonus mile promotion, and fortunately, all of my points paid for our return trip from St. Maarten to Indianapolis. The reservation desk was amazing, and once I told her what had transpired with regard to our dog, she found me the mileage tickets. I was willing to pay the cost given the situation, but she completely went above and beyond, and I am forever grateful. I always complain about airlines, but for once, they did the right thing, and I am so appreciative. So for those of you who travel or have a business, or use their card and pay it off, this is a GREAT card to have, and it paid off for me on this trip. It would have cost us $1357 otherwise.
BTW, our doggie seems to be better since we returned, I think he just missed us.
And on that note, thank you for reading, let me know if any questions. Read Less