We have recently returned from the 2nd cruise out for Carnival Vista as a party of 6 family members. I will try to cover all aspects whether we thought good or not from the start.
We stayed 3 nights in Barcelona before embarking the ship and was really excited about getting onto a brand new ship after travelling on other lines over the last 11 years. This was our first experience of Carnival and was really looking forward to it. If I am honest, we may have over rated our expectations, as this ship was VERY American, more so than the other American ships we have travelled on before.
The ship definitely had the WOW factor from the moment we stepped on board. We were really impressed with the SkyRide, the Go Ape style climbing area, Slides, Water works, Golf, Bowling alley, Serenity area and the other parts of the open decks of the ship. The Havana deck was lovely, and although could not be used during the day unless you were in a Havana suite could be used by all guests after 5 pm.
For information: the SkyRide and the GoApe climbing area needs "proper" shoes to be able to use them. You could stand in a queue for a long time only to be told that you cannot use the facilities without the correct footwear as there are no notices to inform guests that this is the case.
All the bars and restaurants had outside seating areas with rattan furniture, umbrellas and day beds. This is a really nice feature and would have been really fantastic if the weather had been better than it actually was.
The Dive in Movies at the Lido deck was an outside screen where the ship played a movie every night, offering every one blankets and free popcorn which we loved and although we are aware of other ships offering this facility was a great feature for an evening under the stars!
The iMax theatre was great and a really nice feature, although was an additional charge was not expensive at $12.50 per person and we went to see the new Jungle Book moving in 3D.
We had 3 different cabins, 2 on deck 9 and one on deck 10. Our cabin (9201) was right at the front of the ship and although was classed as an interior class (with restricted view) was more an outside cabin and actually had a walk way in front of the cabin which was like having your own outside deck area which we used for leaving ports a lot. The cabin was fairly large and had all the necessary items including a flat screen tv although there did not seem to be enough wardrobe and cupboard space for the size of the cabin with a lot of walls that could have had more. Our cabin steward, Michael was lovely, attentive and helpful.
The itinerary was really packed into the 10 days cruise with only 1 day at sea which was actually very fast paced and tiring but that was our choice to do the running around. We visited 5 countries and 10 destinations in the 10 night cruise/3 night stay. We had a day in Marseilles, Rome, Florence and Pisa, Naples, Rhodes, Corfu, Kusadasi, and 2 days in Athens + 3 nights (at out choice) in Barcelona.
We purchased 2 Shore Excursions with the ship but mostly did our own thing. We booked the trip to Florence/Pisa as this was a long trip and we would never have been able to do the 2 places on our own, the guide was really good and the trip was worth the money, although the shore excursion team were not great at organising the trips leaving the ship and this was a bit of a shambles.
The 2nd trip we booked was a complete waste of money, had we have known, we would really not have booked this. We have always wanted to see Pompeii and this was our opportunity to do so but it was our unfortunate mistake booking with Carnival. The trip was $49.99 per person and we thought included the tickets to get into the site. We found that the transfer was only 30 minutes each way and on arrival at Pompeii was told by the guide that this did not include the tickets to get in, leaving us to wait in a queue for 50 minutes to get access, this gave us just over 1 hour to see a site that actually would take all day. The guide was more interested in how she looked, than the trip, and making sure her guests were OK.
We did try to discuss this with the team on the shore excursion desk but there never seemed to be anyone in attendance leaving passengers having to queue in an already long line at the guest relations desk to discuss their shore excursion requirements or problems.
The food in the buffet was mediocre and really repetitive. Every time chips were on the menu, they were smothered with southern fried topping and you had to ask for it not to be, if you wanted plain. The only thing good about the Buffet restaurant was that it never felt full, we have never been on a ship that even on disembarkation day could find a table at breakfast time, this shocked us and did take a few days to realise why this was. This ship has so many places and choices to eat at, that the buffet was easy to find seating etc although the food definitely let this experience down. The ship had a burger counter, burritos counter, 24 hour pizza counter, seafood counter and this was just around the buffet restaurant. There was also a steakhouse, sushi bar, pasta, and so much more. There just did not seem to be enough staff who knew what they were doing to be attentive when clearing tables etc.
This was also the same in the Main dining restaurant, the food was again not as good as we have had on other lines and although some of the staff clearly knew what they were doing. Apparently there was a 60/40 new staff to existing which noticed, however, I would say, give them time and this will improve.
The sanitising of hands was also lapse around the ship, we have been on other lines that are really hot on the sanitising, however Carnival seemed to allow guests to make a decision whether they would like to sanitise or not and most did not but then went on to mauled and touch the food that others would be eating! They even had hand washing sinks that were more of a fun item than an actual use because they were only being used with people finding them a novelty!
The ship seems to be moving more towards fun and although has formal nights onboard and does have rules about what you can wear into dining rooms etc did not implement this rule and we found people being allowed to wear jeans, short sleeved t-shirts and shorts into the dining room, when we had made the effort to be formal even buying new suits etc which we were a little annoyed about because, had we have known, would not have bothered with the additional expense.
The ship was not finished when it was handed over and there were noticeable things on board that were being done whilst on there, although we found this quite quirky, for instance on arrival the shower gel and shampoo did not have labels on and we took pot luck to whether we was using the correct ones, a few days later the labels appeared and it seemed that we were - we found these unfinished things quite funny, nothing stopped passengers getting about or doing things on the ship and we actually thought that Carnival handled the problems very well.
The Carnival HUB app was a really good addition to the experience being able to get photos, onboard account and for $5 per person for the whole cruise the ability to chat with others in our group from the app and although there were sometimes problems with this was a really good thing to have.
Within our party, we had a birthday onboard and decided to book a photo shoot with one of the professional photographers on board. This was a great experience although a little uncomfortable (for us!), the photographer was great, she was really professional and put us at ease and took some amazing photographs, spending over 1 hour taking us around the ship to get some amazing photos. They actually brought a lump to my throat when we sat through the viewing. We did end up buying the photos on a USB photographic slideshow although they were very expensive and had we have know how expensive, probably would not have actually arranged it in the first place but we are very happy with what we have.
The ship itself had the real feel of space and did not feel that there was nearly 4000 passengers on board, even when disembarking or entering the ship this was not a problem.
The pubs and public areas were well thought out and spacious and never seemed full. The on-board brewery in the Red Frog pub was an interesting feature.
The lifts were odd, there was a block of lifts on every floor however they were difficult to call as each button needed to be pressed for each individual lift and we tended to use the stairs most of the time.
Entertainment: The cruise director, Matt was really good and gave good information over the tannoy but also knew how to keep everyone dancing and having fun. The shows were well delivered although we did not go to all the shows, there did seem to be a lot of arranged comedy shows which did not appeal to us. The dance shows in the Liquid lounge were good, although the lounge was more a lounge than a theatre, and did not see to be well laid out. Seats in the downstairs area were moveable and not fixed and as they were on the same level as the next was a little bit hard to see all of what went on all the time.
Disembarkation day: The ship started disembarking at 5 am, we were actually off the ship by 8.30 am - last passengers off by 9.15 am. We have NEVER been on a ship that we have disembarked this early before and unfortunately for us, our flight (which we booked ourself) was not until 9 pm - had we have been able to get a flight earlier we would have definitely done so, or, we would have forfeited our last night onboard (as there was an overnight in Athens) and actually flown out a day earlier to prevent this.
Would we sail with Carnival again, we would not say never, however it would not be our first choice of cruise lines, this would be purely because the food was not the standard we have experienced on Royal Caribbean, NCL or P&O.
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