Vista Cruise special notes:
- pay for “faster to the fun” or get priority boarding if you hate lines
- Try the Pig and Anchor BBQ or Taste Bar on 5 Midship for no-wait lunch after boarding, since they don’t appear on most deck ... Read More
Vista Cruise special notes:
- pay for “faster to the fun” or get priority boarding if you hate lines
- Try the Pig and Anchor BBQ or Taste Bar on 5 Midship for no-wait lunch after boarding, since they don’t appear on most deck maps
- Don’t try to get in the aft Havana pool or hot tubs unless you have a Havana cabin (or it’s after 7 pm)
- Gift cards from the spa are restricted - can’t use for thermal suite
- Get tickets for Imax at a kiosk on deck 6 forward (there’s a senior discount for 55+!)
- The Dive-in theatre (free) and IMAX (Fee) show new movies - very worthwhile. Free popcorn
- Two of the speciality pay restaurants are FREE for lunch under different names:
JiJi’s->Mongolian BBQ, while
Cucina del Capitano->Pasta Bella (both are excellent!)
- The taste bar is only open during boarding and on sea days but is worth a try
- Aft cabins with the extended balcony are GREAT if you like sitting outside privately (be aware - the deck 9 aft cabins have an overhand that precludes most sunbathing)
- SkyRide and Ropes require close-toed shoes
- Ropes course is easier if you hold on to the safety harness as high up as possible
- “Anytime dining” actually means “request table at the kiosk or via the Hub App, then wait from 5 to 90 minutes”
- “Pancho’s Backyard” at Puerto Maya cruise terminal in Cozumel is a great place for a margarita and chips (and guacamole!)
- Room power outlet includes usb charging ports
- Dock pharmacy in Belize is less crowded than the one in Cozumel but prices seem comparable
- You can make specialty restaurant reservations months in advance via the carnival website cruise manager
- Pay-per-view movies in rooms are only $5 for new movies and lots of free older titles
- You can bring your own food & drinks into the Imax theatre
- SkyRide line moves very slowly; good to go at off times
- Pre-paid value plan is a good deal for internet. Some streaming is supported—e.g., YouTube
- Carnival hub app is buggy and unreliable it necessary
3/3/19 Sunday boarding
We drove to Galveston this morning. It was a bit rainy but traffic was fine. Mardi Gras is in full swing so traffic was a little bad near the cruise terminal. Shawn dropped me off at the cruise terminal and went and parked at EZ cruise park then walk back. As soon as he got back we were able to board. Boarding was extremely simple and very fast since I’m a platinum member. After checking our passports and entry documents we were ushered right through to security then up and onto the ship. Unfortunately, cabins were not ready. Shawn found a hot tub working on the Havana deck. I met him and we went to the promenade where we grabbed a snack at the Pig and Anchor - great BBQ but it’s not listed on any of the maps - find it midship on Promenade (deck 5). There was no line at all – everyone was up on Lido on 10 in lines that were long. We went to the aft section of the Havana area and tried to get in the hot tub, but were told by a crewman that only Havana cabin guess could use that hot tub. We then went to the ocean view lounge and the taste bar midship near the elevators. It was lovely and there were no lines and there were a number of different interesting foods to try. Everything was very very tasty. At 1:30, we were able to get into our cabin number 9470 aft extended balcony. It is a lovely cabin, but I should note that because of an overhang from the Lido deck it will not be good for sunning or sunbathing. One of our bags was delivered early and the other an hour later. We partially unpacked. We realized we were seated for dinner in the midship restaurant (despite our cabin being as far aft as possible) so we need to try to change that. First, we made our way to the deck 3 aft restaurant, Horizons Dining Room for the mandatory safety briefing. Then we wandered thru Lido as the Sail Away party started. Went up and checked in at the spa since I purchased a week of Thalassotherapy there. Then we went to the Vista Atrium, deck 3 forward, to get a drink and await an Electric Violin Duo. We had a Sex on the Beach - yum! Listened to the Electric Violins with Polaris trio for a bit (very good!) then went up to Deck 11 to look around. The Skyride has appeared inactive all day. Went back to the cabin and watched a free movie. We’d requested a Steakhouse reservation online prior to the cruise but were told they were sold out. Once aboard, I was able to get a 9:30 reservation- late, but .... Went by Reflections dining at midship and the maitre de was very helpful in getting us changed to “my time” dining in the aft Horizons dining room. We got to the 555 Steakhouse early and were seated immediately. Wonderful service and excellent food! They offered complimentary house wine and we had the Chardonnay. We ordered: baked onion soup, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, baked sole, filet mignon, wasabi mashed Yukon gold potatoes, and garlic rapini. They also gave us a wonderfully flakey and delicious roll with basil butter and some incredible little wagyu sliders, compliments of the chef. We said we were too full for 2 deserts and asked for a recommendation- our server replied that she’d bring us the Chocolate Sphere (hard to explain but cool and yummy) for us to share and a “to-go” cheesecake for later. So sweet! The Sphere even had “Happy Anniversary “ written in chocolate on its plate. They also gave us complimentary champagne for a postprandial toast. It was an incredible experience overall - try to get an earlier reservation as everything slows down as it gets late. Back to the cabin, tired and replete!!
3/4/19 Monday at sea
Shawn up early (5 ish) to do laps on Promenade but a complete circuit was impeded by the Havana cabins. He still did 6 laps then came back and snoozed until breakfast time at 8:30. I figured out how to get my laptop on the paid WiFi - we chose the value package before the cruise. The trick is to put your laptop on airplane mode then access the WiFi and go to Carnivalhub.com and put in your folio number.
Down to Horizons for sea-day brunch. Natalya from the Ukraine was our head waitress and was lovely. Back to the cabin to change into a swimsuit then I went to the Cloud 9 Spa to use the Thermal Suite while Shawn went to get tickets for the IMAX showing of How to Train Your Dragon. The Thalassotherapy pool and areas were wonderful. Changing rooms with lockers, towels, showers and a dry sauna were available. The main thermal area had the heated mineral jacuzzi, a steam room, aroma steam room, infrared sauna and dry sauna as well as heated zero-g lounges, all facing huge windows looking out at the passing ocean. I stayed for over an hour then got some orange flavored water and went to meet Shawn for the movie. You have to buy tickets ahead of time at a kiosk and there are no assigned seats. A senior discount (over 55) is nice! Popcorn, sodas and other traditional fare are available for purchase, and drinks from other parts of the ship can be brought in as well. Fun movie and it let out in time for us to go to Blue Iguana grill on Lido for a late lunch. I had a fajita beef taco bowl and Shawn had a grilled shrimp burrito - delicious and filling. We went back to our cabin for a brief siesta and found complimentary choc-covered strawberries (one of the perks of Platinum). We started watching a movie and when the hub app showed only a 5-10 minute wait for “My Time” dining, we requested a table (via the app) and went down to 3 Horizons. Where we waited and waited and waited. We finally got the notification that our table was available and were seated (about 30 minutes into the 5-10 minute wait). The braised kale tarts with Pork were a delicious appetizer. Back to our cabin to finish The Favourite then read and sleep.
3/5/18 Fat Tuesday at sea
Shawn went for 7 laps then we went for an early bfast on Lido. I went to the spa while Shawn checked out the ropes course and sky ride. I arrived a little early but they checked me in. A woman offered me a shoulder massage then talked me into a bamboo massage at 4:30. I locked my purse and phone in the provided locker and entered the thermal suites. I started on the heated recliner and read for a bit then went in the mineral jacuzzi and on to the aromatherapy room which worked only briefly. I notified a spa attendant when I headed to the infrared room then the dry sauna. It was almost too hot, making the seats almost burning, but the huge windows were nice. I relaxed and dried out a bit then went to the relaxation room for orange flavored water. I headed back to the cabin. Shawn had gone and observed a huge line for the sky ride and a much shorter line for the ropes. We went to Pasta Bella for lunch. Since it sits below the sports deck and ball court, the banging from the ceiling is a bit annoying- the food is great, though! Choose one of 3 pasta then pick sauce and “add ins” plus Italian bread or Cesar salad. Liberal use of good olive oil made it rich and flavorful. I went to the shops to get a carryall for excursions (forgot to bring one) while Shawn went to the cabin. Louie our steward was working in the cabin so Shawn went up to 12. When I got back to the cabin, it’d been decorated for our anniversary with magnetic dangles from the ceiling, a bottle of champagne and flutes, plus a tumbler and a towel. There were also candies from My Time dining. We went back up to 12 aft (stairs required from 11 :-( so not great for us gimps). Shawn went on both the easy and hard ropes course, back to back, because there was no line. He says the trick is to grab your safety harness rope up near the wheel for balance!! The Skyride line was only a 30 minutes wait, so we got in line but realized I had on sandals (a no-no). We went back to our cabin after watching the Skyride and ropes for a while. At 4, Shawn walked me to the spa. They directed me to the relaxation room where I drank green tea and filled out paperwork. Sheila took me back and gave me a full body bamboo and hot stone massage for about 80 minutes. Very nice although they always try to upsell stuff. Met Shawn on 15 Serenity deck and looked around then headed back to our cabin. Dinner reservations at JiJi’s Asian restaurant got there early and were seated. Food is served family style so we picked 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 sides and 2 desserts. A small “compliments of the chef” appetizer came out first. Wonderful and delicious food – definitely worth the extra charge! Back to our cabin to watch Crazy Rich Asians on pay per view.
3/6/19 Ash Wednesday at Roatan
Up early - 530 for Shawn to do 5 laps. Went to bfast on Lido at 6:30 - lots of folks. Back to cabin to sunscreen up. An announcement at 8 that debarking was allowed so headed to 0 forward. Easy getting off and found mtg spot for Tabyana Beach and Gumbalimba Park but the tour directions folks weren’t very clear and a bunch of us headed off with the wrong group. Finally, our guide, St. Christopher, gathered us and led to the bus. VERY cramped bus - larger folk barely fit down the aisle. A 35-minute ride to GumbaLimba Park. Beautiful day! Saw 2 woodpeckers near the huge fig tree. Saw iguanas and island rabbits (capybaras) before going thru the Insectarium and Coxen’s cave. Climbed lots of stairs then crossed the bamboo bridge (Puente Bambusa) to see the birds. Scarlet and green/Military macaws as well as green parrots, turkey vultures, toucan and peafowl. Onward to see the monkeys although one visited us at the birds. I was winded when we got to the monkey area so the trainer told me to sit on the swing. Macheco, the white-faced capuchin monkey almost immediately came to sit on me!! The monkeys were fun and friendly except for some infighting with a male harassing a momma and her baby. Mango monkey also sat on my head. We hiked back, said goodbye to Christopher and took the bus to Tabyana Beach. Had a drink then got into the beautiful azure water up to my neck - incredible beach!!! Had a Monkey LaLa (frozen Vodka, Baileys and coconut rum drink with chocolate swirl) while Shawn dipped his feet in the waters. Headed back to the boat for lunch. Went to Guys Burgers with no line, though by the time we left, the line was long. Back to the cabin to change and rest then I went to the spa. Very crowded so did the steam aromatherapy room until the pool was less busy then onto a heated lounge for reading and to get my ankle up. Met Shawn on 15 to watch the Carnival Magic depart. Decided to do an early dinner and movie so requested a table at 5:30 and were seated by 5:45 next to 2 elderly sisters. Nice dinner - Shawn had the “local flavor” Pescado Asado with a wonderful broccoli soup (which we didn’t know was soup until it arrived at the table). I had the tenderloin with an excellent polenta. Back to the cabin to watch Arthur- Legend of the Sword. Bed early.
3/7/19 Thursday in Belize
Same as yesterday for laps and bfast then down to the Liquid Lounge to await our excursion: Wildlife Adventure boat and zoo. BTW the Carnival Hub App has a bad tendency of locking up. Got told to go down for our Tender to shore. Two women argued about opening a window on the tender. One of them complained or yakked constantly and she ended up on our tour with her whiny kids. We were greeted and led by our guide, Anne, to a restroom and then our boat for the river tour. The boat was partially covered and had hard seats. We went to the manatee area at the mouth of the river then up river. We saw: 5 Bats, several Manatee, iguanas in trees, several Howler monkeys, 2 Morelet crocodiles, parrots, egrets, herons and two rare Jabiru storks w/nest. Stopped at The Iguana Spot for lunch: rice, beans, stewed chicken and a local Belikin beer for Shawn. On a bus for a 35-minute ride to Belize Zoo. Anne led us thru the maze-like zoo. Saw: King Vultures, black vulture, spectacled owl, cougar, margay, ocelot, howler and spider monkeys, jaguarundi, harpy eagle, tayra (bush dog), wild turkeys, jabiru storks, a keel-billed toucan, tapir, ornate hawks, alligators and crocodiles, whitetail deer, tarantula, and boas. Back on the bus for about a 50 minute ride back to Belize city. Got to the port, and the line to get on the boat was already very very long. We shopped a little then had a daiquiri before getting in line. A security guard came and saw my cane and walked us up to the front of the line after we had been in line about 15 minutes. We got on a tender and were back at the ship by about 415. We went up to 10 and crossed over and had an ice cream cone each then came to our cabin to rest and shower. Found out it was “elegant night” so decided to eat on Lido instead of the dining room - the Hakka noodles were great! Then we found a couch on deck 11 where we watched Antman and the Wasp at the Dive-In Movie. Also, the ship told everyone to set clocks ahead one hour for Cozumel and daylight savings time. Enjoyed the film although we sat too close to the starboard smoking area. Changed my watch and ended up going to bed after 11:30 PM.
3/8/19 Friday in Cozumel
It was already light at 6 AM because of the time change and Shawn got up to run laps or rather walk them. Searched the cabin but could not find the laundry bag so I had to call Louie our Steward. Went to breakfast on Lido and they announced gangways were open and last boarding extended to 4 pm because we were a little late getting into port. Filled the laundry bag for Louie and read on the balcony until 10. Went ashore and shopped a bit before going to Pancho’s Backyard restaurant at Puerta Maya dock. Shared a marg and had chips, guacamole and a quesilla con salsa verde. Listened to local musicians then strolled back to the ship. Saw parrotfish, trumpet fish and sergeant majors in the lovely Caribbean blue waters along the dock. Stopped by the cabin to try on purchases and rest before heading to Mongolian Wok for lunch. Went up to try to ride the sky ride but they were doing maintenance and weren’t sure if they’d open today. Shawn did the ropes course (both sides) then we went to the Promenade to watch people returning from Cozumel and to laugh at drunks. The last stragglers were 48 minutes late. We went over to Red Frog for pub grub ($3.33 per ordered item): coconut shrimp, rhoti and sliders. After eating, Shawn went to the cabin while I bought rum cakes and got our anniversary pictures of the ship. Back in the cabin, our clean laundry was delivered then we watched First Man. To bed about 10.
3/9/19 Saturday at sea
Up at 6 am for Shawn to walk laps (35 total this trip) and me to purchase pics. Lazed about until 8 then down to Horizons in hopes of sea day brunch opening early. They opened at 8:17 and we got a separate table. I ordered a croissant and we got a basket of 4 egg-washed butter croissants-delicious! I had eggs Benedict and a parfait. Shawn had the parfait and breakfast pasta - unfortunately, it was spaghetti in a cream sauce rather than the red sauce he wanted. The Sky Ride was scheduled to open at 9 so we hurried there after breakfast to find only a short line. I unknowingly got into the car on the inside track which turned out to have more steepness but it was great fun!! Back to the cabin to change shoes (the ride requires closed-toe shoes) and a little digestion time then we put on swimsuits and headed to the spa. Unfortunately, the $50 gift card we received was only for “spa services” and didn’t include the thermal suite so we paid $45 for Shawn to join me. Went into the jacuzzi then the steam-aromatherapy room then onto the heated lounges - Shawn fell asleep. I went for infrared and dry sauna then we cooled off in the relaxation room. Back to the cabin to change and rest and read. Down to the Ocean Plaza Taste Bar to try some incredible dishes while listening to Caribbean Sounds with Mikhail on steel drums. Back to the room to read before going to listen to violins and get our free drink. The funnel of art/images in the Vista Libby 3 forward was composing and decomposing impressionist artworks as we listened to the trio and shared a Sex on the Beach. Went to Bonsai Sushi for dinner: 2 miso soups, wagyu kakuni (beef appetizer), spicy tuna roll and Katsu chicken - all superb!! Picked up the photo I bought then went to our cabin. Saw Louie and tipped him $50 for his amazing service. Started packing. To bed early but I had trouble getting to sleep.
3/10/19 Sunday debarkation
Alarm at 5:30. Shawn did 2 laps while I finished packing. Went to bfast on Lido them back to cabin for last check and luggage. Went to 3 midship Reflections for Priority debarkation - supposed to be there by 7:45 but already a line. They had us line luggage up to ensure everyone got off the ship in the order they arrived in the priority area. Left the restaurant at about 7:25 and finished customs at 8:03. (Customs Inspector on line 5 was SSLLLOOOOWWWWW)
Shawn left me to go get car. We drove away by 8:30 am!! Read Less