1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Carnival Vista
After a few days in Barcelona post-cruise I can now reflect on our 10 days spend on the Carnival VISTA and comment on many aspects of the ship itself, as opposed to the ports of call. It was not possible in such a port intensive cruise to try out every feature on the Vista - and on that basis I can obviously only comment on the features that we DID use. It will be a fair summary - nothing sugar coated but no unfair criticism either. First of all, embarkation: We embarked at Athens after a short flight from Heathrow Airport. The transfer from airport to port was seamless thankfully and port authorities were on hand to take your luggage in lieu of some of the scare stories that had been quoted in the press. The tent set out to check in for your sign and sail card etc. was busy; very busy and also very poorly air conditioned. There was an issue regarding immigration at the port and we were delayed some 1hr 45 minutes between arriving at the Port and having access to the ship. This, I must hasten to add; was not the fault of Carnival but rather a port issue. Out with this, the embarkation process was relatively seamless/ organised chaos however at peak time and with several thousand people looking to embark on the ship in this period of time it was as quick and easy as it could inevitably be in the circumstances. Once on the ship - the elevators were naturally very busy therefore I opted for the stairs to deck 10....my one any only attempt at such. There are plenty of elevators on this Ship in general however at times the wait could be quite long. The main reason that I found for this were the people whom insisted on taking the elevator up or down 1 or 2 flights of stairs – it got quite frustrating to see someone wait 5 minutes for an elevator to take them up and down a single floor when they had no obvious mobility issues. Our Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on Lido deck, 10290. The room was spacious and well positioned for access to all of the amenities on the Lido deck. The balconies are not huge - manageable for 2 persons, but no more; and certainly not big enough to sprawl out on. They are private though- and overlook deck 5, so not immediately into the sea/ocean. This was a good thing. The door is swing open rather than slide so you cannot leave the door open at any given time without using a pillow or something to wedge it open however as the balcony door appears to operate the air conditioning this was not in any way a problem. The bathroom in the cabin was of ample size - not huge, but comfortable and with good shower pressure and ventilation. No complaints at all regarding this and was reasonably impressed with what was on offer The bedroom itself is also of a good size. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that this was my first cruise as an adult-however my party consisted of far more experienced cruisers and I will touch more on that later. As a virgin cruiser, the balcony stateroom was surprisingly spacious to me with a sofa-bed, table and reasonable space to hang and store your clothes. The beds are also comfortable, of a pretty good size and with an empty space underneath to store suitcases and maximise floor space. As a first time cruiser I was reasonably impressed with the space given the fact we were on a ship where space is obviously more limited than on dry land. I am not one to spend any time in a room other than sleeping therefore I did not use the TV features other than for checking my bill, or a quick gander at the ship map position once in the sea-day. The room decor is bright and fresh which you would expect from a new build so early in its lifespan. As I touched on earlier, my party consisted of other experienced cruisers that have used many different companies to cruise many areas of the world. Their comparison at this stage was that the bedrooms were above average, however not as good as Princess balcony cabins. Food and Food Service: The food on the ship was excellent - I think it is important to open with that statement as I did not have a bad meal in any dining room over the course of the cruise. Guys Burgers: This place was non-stop busy from 12-6 every day (opening hours). I had 2 over the 10 days and must say they are good burgers. The staff keeps the lines going quick and even although exceptionally busy the queue time was never more than 5 minutes. I am not crazy on burgers - the world has gone mad on gourmet burgers in the last few years and I have been dragged by friends to every new boutique or chain burger joint to try the 'sensational' burgers on offer where I am subsequently left disappointed because it is 'just another burger'. The burger at guys is again 'just another burger' as a burger can only ever get so good, however it was certainly at the top end of the scale and I can understand why it was always so busy. A strong 8/10 scoring for me with no negatives. Lido Buffet: The quality of the food in the Lido buffet was as good as any buffet I have eaten at. The choice however was pretty abysmal. I can (and will) try to eat anything therefore finding something to eat or snack on wasn't too difficult for me personally, but I did try to find meals for my niece and nephew and the selection for children was dire. Indeed, the catering choices for younger children overall was fairly poor in my opinion with some speciality restaurants not providing a kids option at all - not ideal, especially for young children. In saying that, salad selection was always decent if not repetitive however you come to expect that in a buffet anywhere. What I must stress though is the quality of the food that WAS on offer was very good – but some more diversity would go a long way even if that means a boring selection of chicken nuggets, French fries, basic pastas and more basic soups as many of the soups and pasta catered to a more educated palate than that of a 3 year old. Clam Chowder as the soup of the day may appeal to me, but it is not a universal favourite and on that basis things could be very hit or miss. Again though, probably scores a steady 8/10 in terms of quality, but 5/10 for selection overall. Deli: Another popular choice and often the place to go to feed young lids with a toasted sandwich in lieu of other buffet choices. The selection was good and the quality of the pastrami and corned beef was excellent. I really do not have any complaints about this place as I have paid $20 in NYC for a Ruben that wasn't anywhere near as good as the one available here. 9/10 for the Deli Seafood Shack: Excellent. Truly excellent; and with excellent service too. The Oysters were well prepared, shrimp well treated and the crab sliders wonderful. I ate here 3 times during my stay on the Vista and never had any complaints. The fries here are similar to the ones available at guys but with a spicy coating. An extra cost was attributed to the items on this menu and the quality shone through - this would become a very common trend on the vista with the quality between included restaurants and supplement restaurants very much noticeable. 10/10 for Seafood Shack in terms of quality, selection, service and value. Pizza Parlor: Again, exceptionally busy at all times of day. 10am - busy, 2pm - busy, 4am - very busy. The quality of the pizza was pretty good: thin, crispy and fresh. The advantage of it being so busy was that the pizza was never sitting for any length of time. No complaints. 8/10 for the Pizza Burrito Bar: Used this place for breakfast and it was excellent. Wheat or Jalapeño wraps, scrambled egg, ham, chicken sausage and hash brown on option. Salad bar consisted of a selection of sauces, salsas etc. to add as you wish. Lunchtime this was similarly busy with beef, chicken and pork options and tacos available too. If anything - this place could have done with better/longer opening hours. Open for breakfast and then between 12-2.30pm for lunch - it could have done with longer opening hours because it was a good dining option. Indeed, after a long port day I would have been glad to sit down with a Mexican burrito, some fries and a nice selection of watermelon and bean salsa watching the Ship leave port than having to head inside for a buffet or more formal meal. I think Carnival are missing a trick on this one. Quality was good. No complaints. 8/10 for the Burrito Bar Horizons Restaurants: The quality of the food that I had in this restaurant was pretty decent. Nothing to write home about but ... decent. I would say it was as good as I could expect it to be considering the sheer volume of people dining here at the one time. The service however, was absolutely abysmal bordering on a calamity of errors with no visible leadership or direction from senior staff. I worked in some high end hotels and restaurants for over a Decade whilst at University et al and I understand it very well but I just found myself cringing and shaking my head at this place. On the first night we asked for a table for 6- not a huge table by any manner or means and the wait time was 20 minutes on your time dinging. So far, so good – 20 minutes wait time is very good in my opinion. Once we were allocated our table, it was a further 20 minutes before our drink order was taken. Not so impressive. Quickly after our drinks order was taken, our food order was also taken unfortunately, it was approximately around the end of our finishing the main meal that the said drinks arrived ( and after chasing several time)s. Not a good start- but hey, these things happen as I say with over a decade experience in this industry I understand that these things can happen on a one off. Food wise I think I had a kebab starter followed by the Flat Iron Steak….nothing memorable, but reasonably cooked and tasty food. No problems with the food. Nevertheless, after failing to be impressed on the first night we tried again on the second night. After a small wait we were allocated our table – good start. Our server brought us to the allocated table and ... it was occupied by another family enjoying their meal. Embarrassing for us, the server and the family currently enjoying their meal. Our server then attempted to take us to another table which was also occupied, it was starting to become shambolic at this stage and I was on the brink of voicing my displeasure rather than following on with the false but polite smile. Finally, after a full tour of the Horizons Restaurant (which is nicely decorated may I add and an impressive Restaurant space to look at) we arrived at our third (and thankfully unoccupied) table in the same section as the evening before. Again, the service was terrible and drinks did not come to the table until main course. When the drinks did arrive, they were wrong/short and the entire process had to be repeated - it was pathetic actually. Food service was also horrendously slow, and in the end we rejected dessert menus and went off to enjoy other parts of the ship after wasting 2 hours of our evening. We vowed never to return to the Horizons Restaurant for the duration of our stay – which is a shame. However, as luck would have it (and due to a breakdown in communication between our party) we ended up dining in Horizons on the final night of our cruise. This time we were allocated a table in another section and things got off to a promising start when our new head waited came to explain the menu, poured our water for us and provided both bread AND butter (which I should have added earlier was always missing on element or another on the other two evenings). Unfortunately, this is where the good start began to unfurl. I would hasten to add that the food service on this final evening was significantly better than the other two nights the bar service managed to somehow get worse. After ordering 6 drinks for the table – my drink sporadically arrived after only 1 or 2 minutes. Sadly, the rest of the table did not get their drink until after the starter course. The food was again fairly tasty, although the Bouillabaisse was nothing more than a fish broth with two rubber bullets masquerading as scallops. The broth was tasty however it was as far removed from a Bouillabaisse as I have ever seen in my life. Again, I decided to ditch dessert and head elsewhere whilst biting my tongue so as not to offend anyone nearby. This dining room lacks leadership. It is vast in size, and really requires section managers to be on top of things constantly but instead it appeared to lack any leadership whatsoever. The communication between restaurant and Bar service was horrendous and the bar staff looked to be hugely understaffed. This was very off putting for me and my family and became a bit of a running joke. We can understand one bad night – but three? That is not coincidence, that is shambolic service. A big fat F got the Horizons I am afraid – must do better. 6/10 for Food, 4/10 for Food Service and 0/10 for Bar Service Salad Bar (Serenity): Only open on sea day – which was only one day out of the 10. Looks like an impressive place and certainly one that I would have eaten at – indeed, I often stated that I would have enjoyed a nice salad for lunch with some grilled chicken or tuna. Not to be sadly – with virtually no opening hours it seemed like a waste of time having it at all. I am sure it was built for when the ship moves across the Atlantic but it seems quite unfortunate to deny it to those paying for the Med Cruise. Steak-House: This is clearly the crème de la crème of the Vista dining options. We went as a party of 4 adults to this restaurant however a kids menu is available should this be required The food was excellent, the service was 1st Class and the general atmosphere and professionalism was on par with some of the better restaurants in a big city let alone a cruise ship. The staff was knowledgeable about the food that they were service and also at pairing a suitable wine for your choice of food. We opted for the Cowboy Steak, Fillet Steak and Lobster Ravioli between our party and everyone was impressed with the quality of the food. There were intermediate courses of chef’s special offerings and those were also superb quality and tasted excellent. Overall – no complaints about this place it was clearly designed to be the pinnacle food place of the Ship and it delivered as such, 10/10 Italian Restaurant: I did not manage to dine here for lunch however others in our party ate here in the pasta bar and said it was delightful. We ate here for dinner as a full party and really enjoyed it. The food was good quality, the service was excellent and efficient and again we had no complaints. The intermediate offering by the Chef of Arancini balls was tremendous and indeed the meal as a whole flowed very well and was a very relaxed, informal and family affair. Top marks for this place and well worth the extra nominal supplement for the vast improvement in service and food quality. 9/10 Ji Ji Asian Kitchen: A poor start in this place as they do not provide a kids menu and the menu does not really appeal to younger children at all. We booked this place specifying children and even a high chair but it was not communicated back that no children’s offerings would be in place. I judge this to be poor communication given the complexity of the menu on hand. Nevertheless, judging the place on the quality of the food it provided and the service it was another excellent dining option. The food was really wonderful, plentiful and presented to such an incredibly high standard. I would recommend visiting this restaurant as couples/groups of 4 maximum. I feel it would work much better in a smaller group. The service was again first class and drinks were plentiful and served quickly. Every dish is a stand out dish on the menu and for the nominal fee it was well worth the visit. Again, 9/10 Bonsai Sushi: I do not have enough superlatives to adequately sum this place up. Food = Excellent. Service = Excellent Everything about this place was top drawer. It was fairly busy when we arrived for our evening meal and we opted to sit at the bar and eat there. I am glad that we did as we then had the opportunity to watch the Chefs at work and it was impressive to watch the attention to detail, skill and ability that these guys had to offer. The fish tasted tremendously fresh, the amount of food provided for the supplement was tremendous and the service was quick, easy and attentive. When, as it turned out, we had ordered too much to finish the staff quickly provided us with a take-away box complete with side pot of Soy sauce and wasabi and fresh chopsticks to eat in our cabin. Incredibly impressed with this place and devastated that time only allowed for one visit. 10/10 Cuban-Snacks: This turned out to be a hidden gem on the vista. After gorging ourselves on a pizza in Naples we did not wish for a full on dining experience that evening so instead opted to select a few snacks from the Cuban Menu in the Havana Bar about 8pm We were the only two people in the entire bar when we arrived, and selected 3 items from the menu between us which turned out to be more than adequate. The food was incredibly tasty and again – we wish we had more time to eat here. I would definitely give it a try as it is fairly cheap and the food really is tasty as it comes on the Vista. 10/10 Red Frog: Firecracker wings were amazing. I did not get a chance to sample much else in here but the food looked good and for the gimmick price of $3.33 per dish well worth the money. Room Service: I would never normally order room service however we were virtually forced into it one day as upon returning from our tour in the morning we were faced with what seemed to be a ton of extra bodies on the ship – reportedly visiting guests who were there to visit the crew. This resulted in rather incredible queues at the buffet and guys etc. and severely hampered the lunch options. In light of this, we retired to the room to order room service and were impressed. There was a waiting time of approximately 30 minutes for the food to arrive however when it did it was fresh, warm and of good quality. The wings were tasty, Philly Cheesesteak better than I imagined and quesadillas top notch. 7/10 – which is impressive for room service. Overall: The food on the ship was excellent overall – but it seems fairly obvious that Carnival aim to make you spend as much money as possible to enjoy yourself on board. That is not a criticism but the gulf in quality between what is included in your cruise price to what you pay for is night and day – the service reflects this also. The ship does fail to cater well for children, I stand by that statement and it seems somewhat reluctant to be inventive where children are involved. I must add the options offered to kids in the kids club were different to those offered in general and that seems strange to me. The ship is obviously designed with kids in mind – Carnival WANT you to bring your kids with you this is not an adults only cruise and therefore more effort should be made to cater for children food wise. A ‘Kiddies Corner’, so to speak. The service was similarly night and day. If you were prepared to pay that little extra on the Vista then your money would go a long way and the service on offer would be ten-fold that available in the general establishments. Bars and Drinks: There is such a wide and diverse amount of bars on this ship that there really is somewhere for everyone. The Havana Bar: I expected this to be THE PLACE TO BE when we boarded the Vista and it was anything but. Indeed, it was often empty and subdued and I really felt for the performers who were lively and energetic and faced with 10 drab faces all tired out from their lengthy excursion. On the other hand, I fully expect this place to come into its own when the ship moves to the Caribbean and there is more of a party atmosphere on board. I would like to witness that and I really think it will be something special. I cannot rate the Havana as a bar because it would be a false economy – the décor and the set-up is first class and innovative and there is certainly more to come from that space as more relaxing itineraries become the norm. Red Frog: The place to be for our party. The staff were good fun, the beer was good and the entertainment in the shape of Edd Carr on the Guitar every night was also very good. I can understand that this is not for everyone, but it is what appeals to me and in lieu of the Havana Bar being more lively this is where I chose to drink and relax every night and where I had most of my conversations with fellow travellers from around the world. An Excellent hub both night and day. Alchemy Bar: Small bar and an ideal central meeting place. The quality of the cocktails here is second to none and although not the sort of place that I would choose to spend the entire evening it certainly had a lot of appeal to me. Excellent. Piano Bar: Not my thing personally and therefore I did not go to drink here but a very lively hub every night with piano requests until late in the evening. This bar was always busy and therefore I would have to suggest a strong favourite among travellers. Casino Bar: After reading some reviews before I started by trip I had expected this place to be a smelly, smoky hell. It is not. Yes, you can tell people smoke however the ventilation is good in my opinion and there is only a faint smell of stale smoke and nothing that would really overpower you or put you off. Again, this bar seemed to attract a rather eclectic crowd as it was showing football, was an indoor smoking hive and had good service. The Casino bar is a bit of a star all in and the latest bar to stay open at night (shock horror). Sports Bar: Fairly small but it does as it says on the tin. It shows sports and have some memorabilia, games stations and most importantly big screens to watch the match on. This place can get busy fast so if you want a seat for a big game while on board then I would advise you arrive an hour early. Library Bar: Did not use, however it looked to be busier than I had expected. Atrium Bar: This place never seemed to be the centre of attention. It was always subdued and appeared to be full of transient guests on route to somewhere else on the ship. I expected this place to really be the centre of attention but with minimal entertainment it was almost designed as a quiet zone and it lost a bit of its grandeur due to this. It reminded me of one of those quiet hotel lobby bars that hardly anyone ever drinks in. Rum and Margarita Bar on Lido: The Rum bar was a real star and had some fantastic cocktails on offer. It was popular and busy from morning until night as people enjoyed a cocktail by the pool, during the film on the big screen or during a deck party. In comparison, the Margarita bar was often very quiet. The margaritas on board were lovely may I add however this bar appeared to have rather unorthodox opening hours and in turn everyone went to the Rum bar. They could do a lot more with the Margarita bar in my opinion but when it was open – the cocktails were good. Tides/Serenity bar: As you would expect – pool bars with no steady clientele as such just a place to refresh at. Nothing memorable but then they were never supposed to be. Liquid Lounge: An over 18/21 nightclub late at night with DJ playing club hits. If someone put you here you would think you were in any generic nightclub the world over and this appeared to attract the crowd most up for a late night good time. We only visited once but glad that we did – it was good fun and never too busy as to get rowdy. General Amenities: Pools: The Swimming pools on board had a tendency to get very busy and crowded and I think on a bunch of sea days with everyone on board it may be that the ship lacks some pool space for all on board. There is also a rather silly rule regarding children in swimming nappies – take the nappy off and pretend your child is toilet trained and in they go, wear one and they must stay out. That, for me; is a recipe for disaster. First of all, there is not a swimming pool in the world that does not contain urine. None. It is also very difficult to police what children are in the pool and not and in my opinion a swim nappy is 100 times more hygienic than a blanket ban and effectively forcing parents to allow their non toilet trained children into the water where an accident is more likely to occur. Similarly, I am not naive enough to believe that those adults in the pool for 3 or 4 hours drinking cocktails have large bladders….. Also, you cannot have such a large kiddies water area and then demand that young kids stay out. How do you expect to tell a 2 year old child that no, they cannot go into the water area? Silly rule that results in more issues than it solves as I seen plenty young children in the pool free and easy and unless an absolute miracle of creation had occurred they were all far from toilet trained. Large Screen: I could not believe how underutilised the large screen was. Out-with the movies which were good they were nothing more than a giant blank canvas everyday with the odd interjection of the Bee Gees Live – as random as it could be frustrating. Carnival are missing an advertising trick on those screens and also an opportunity to show some more low key daytime entertainment that is not intrusive to those quietly sunbathing but not a boring blank screen either. Live Shows: Live shows are not for me, personally – I don’t go to watch them in the West End when I am in London, nor do I go to watch them on Broadway; therefore I was always unlikely to watch them on a Cruise Ship. However, others in my party did go to see the shows and said that they were absolutely brilliant and indeed tried to coerce me various occasions to watch one. Part of me wishes that I had, but alas…maybe next time. Overall: As a big fan of the all-inclusive Caribbean holiday a Cruise was never on my list of priorities until a family trip dictated that I would have to try one. Am I converted? Yes…probably. My overall experience on the Carnival Vista was a very good one and I thoroughly enjoyed by trip for 10 nights and could easily have spent another week on board without running out of things to do. This ship has so many good points, and it also has such a huge amount of deck space that the ship did not ever feel crowded or busy even on the sea day. That, for me – was a massive positive and something that I had been weary of pre-trip. I would be keen to try this ship in the Caribbean in the future. Would I cruise again? Yes, but not in the Med – I have seen it all before living in Europe and done it all now. My next cruise would be in the Caribbean. Would I cruise again with Carnival? Yes, although maybe not immediately. As I stated earlier, the rest of my party are experience worldwide cruise fans and have a vast experience on other ships. The Overall feeling between them was that as highly as the Vista and Carnival rated they were quite some way below Princess and on that basis I would be tempted to make my next cruise Princess one in order to compare and contrast for myself. In saying that, if the right deal came up when looking for a Caribbean cruise then I would not hesitate to go with Carnival either – especially on the Vista.

10 Day Review of the Vista

Carnival Vista Cruise Review by gm0131

26 people found this helpful
Trip Details
After a few days in Barcelona post-cruise I can now reflect on our 10 days spend on the Carnival VISTA and comment on many aspects of the ship itself, as opposed to the ports of call.

It was not possible in such a port intensive cruise to try out every feature on the Vista - and on that basis I can obviously only comment on the features that we DID use. It will be a fair summary - nothing sugar coated but no unfair criticism either.

First of all, embarkation:

We embarked at Athens after a short flight from Heathrow Airport. The transfer from airport to port was seamless thankfully and port authorities were on hand to take your luggage in lieu of some of the scare stories that had been quoted in the press.

The tent set out to check in for your sign and sail card etc. was busy; very busy and also very poorly air conditioned. There was an issue regarding immigration at the port and we were delayed some 1hr 45 minutes between arriving at the Port and having access to the ship. This, I must hasten to add; was not the fault of Carnival but rather a port issue.

Out with this, the embarkation process was relatively seamless/ organised chaos however at peak time and with several thousand people looking to embark on the ship in this period of time it was as quick and easy as it could inevitably be in the circumstances.

Once on the ship - the elevators were naturally very busy therefore I opted for the stairs to deck 10....my one any only attempt at such. There are plenty of elevators on this Ship in general however at times the wait could be quite long. The main reason that I found for this were the people whom insisted on taking the elevator up or down 1 or 2 flights of stairs – it got quite frustrating to see someone wait 5 minutes for an elevator to take them up and down a single floor when they had no obvious mobility issues.

Our Cabin:

We had a balcony cabin on Lido deck, 10290. The room was spacious and well positioned for access to all of the amenities on the Lido deck.

The balconies are not huge - manageable for 2 persons, but no more; and certainly not big enough to sprawl out on. They are private though- and overlook deck 5, so not immediately into the sea/ocean. This was a good thing. The door is swing open rather than slide so you cannot leave the door open at any given time without using a pillow or something to wedge it open however as the balcony door appears to operate the air conditioning this was not in any way a problem.

The bathroom in the cabin was of ample size - not huge, but comfortable and with good shower pressure and ventilation. No complaints at all regarding this and was reasonably impressed with what was on offer

The bedroom itself is also of a good size. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that this was my first cruise as an adult-however my party consisted of far more experienced cruisers and I will touch more on that later. As a virgin cruiser, the balcony stateroom was surprisingly spacious to me with a sofa-bed, table and reasonable space to hang and store your clothes.

The beds are also comfortable, of a pretty good size and with an empty space underneath to store suitcases and maximise floor space. As a first time cruiser I was reasonably impressed with the space given the fact we were on a ship where space is obviously more limited than on dry land. I am not one to spend any time in a room other than sleeping therefore I did not use the TV features other than for checking my bill, or a quick gander at the ship map position once in the sea-day.

The room decor is bright and fresh which you would expect from a new build so early in its lifespan.

As I touched on earlier, my party consisted of other experienced cruisers that have used many different companies to cruise many areas of the world. Their comparison at this stage was that the bedrooms were above average, however not as good as Princess balcony cabins.

Food and Food Service:

The food on the ship was excellent - I think it is important to open with that statement as I did not have a bad meal in any dining room over the course of the cruise.

Guys Burgers:

This place was non-stop busy from 12-6 every day (opening hours). I had 2 over the 10 days and must say they are good burgers. The staff keeps the lines going quick and even although exceptionally busy the queue time was never more than 5 minutes.

I am not crazy on burgers - the world has gone mad on gourmet burgers in the last few years and I have been dragged by friends to every new boutique or chain burger joint to try the 'sensational' burgers on offer where I am subsequently left disappointed because it is 'just another burger'. The burger at guys is again 'just another burger' as a burger can only ever get so good, however it was certainly at the top end of the scale and I can understand why it was always so busy. A strong 8/10 scoring for me with no negatives.

Lido Buffet:

The quality of the food in the Lido buffet was as good as any buffet I have eaten at. The choice however was pretty abysmal.

I can (and will) try to eat anything therefore finding something to eat or snack on wasn't too difficult for me personally, but I did try to find meals for my niece and nephew and the selection for children was dire.

Indeed, the catering choices for younger children overall was fairly poor in my opinion with some speciality restaurants not providing a kids option at all - not ideal, especially for young children.

In saying that, salad selection was always decent if not repetitive however you come to expect that in a buffet anywhere.

What I must stress though is the quality of the food that WAS on offer was very good – but some more diversity would go a long way even if that means a boring selection of chicken nuggets, French fries, basic pastas and more basic soups as many of the soups and pasta catered to a more educated palate than that of a 3 year old. Clam Chowder as the soup of the day may appeal to me, but it is not a universal favourite and on that basis things could be very hit or miss.

Again though, probably scores a steady 8/10 in terms of quality, but 5/10 for selection overall.

Deli:

Another popular choice and often the place to go to feed young lids with a toasted sandwich in lieu of other buffet choices. The selection was good and the quality of the pastrami and corned beef was excellent. I really do not have any complaints about this place as I have paid $20 in NYC for a Ruben that wasn't anywhere near as good as the one available here.

9/10 for the Deli

Seafood Shack:

Excellent.

Truly excellent; and with excellent service too.

The Oysters were well prepared, shrimp well treated and the crab sliders wonderful. I ate here 3 times during my stay on the Vista and never had any complaints. The fries here are similar to the ones available at guys but with a spicy coating.

An extra cost was attributed to the items on this menu and the quality shone through - this would become a very common trend on the vista with the quality between included restaurants and supplement restaurants very much noticeable.

10/10 for Seafood Shack in terms of quality, selection, service and value.

Pizza Parlor:

Again, exceptionally busy at all times of day.

10am - busy,

2pm - busy,

4am - very busy.

The quality of the pizza was pretty good: thin, crispy and fresh.

The advantage of it being so busy was that the pizza was never sitting for any length of time. No complaints.

8/10 for the Pizza

Burrito Bar:

Used this place for breakfast and it was excellent. Wheat or Jalapeño wraps, scrambled egg, ham, chicken sausage and hash brown on option.

Salad bar consisted of a selection of sauces, salsas etc. to add as you wish.

Lunchtime this was similarly busy with beef, chicken and pork options and tacos available too. If anything - this place could have done with better/longer opening hours. Open for breakfast and then between 12-2.30pm for lunch - it could have done with longer opening hours because it was a good dining option. Indeed, after a long port day I would have been glad to sit down with a Mexican burrito, some fries and a nice selection of watermelon and bean salsa watching the Ship leave port than having to head inside for a buffet or more formal meal. I think Carnival are missing a trick on this one.

Quality was good. No complaints.

8/10 for the Burrito Bar

Horizons Restaurants:

The quality of the food that I had in this restaurant was pretty decent. Nothing to write home about but ... decent. I would say it was as good as I could expect it to be considering the sheer volume of people dining here at the one time.

The service however, was absolutely abysmal bordering on a calamity of errors with no visible leadership or direction from senior staff. I worked in some high end hotels and restaurants for over a Decade whilst at University et al and I understand it very well but I just found myself cringing and shaking my head at this place.

On the first night we asked for a table for 6- not a huge table by any manner or means and the wait time was 20 minutes on your time dinging. So far, so good – 20 minutes wait time is very good in my opinion.

Once we were allocated our table, it was a further 20 minutes before our drink order was taken. Not so impressive.

Quickly after our drinks order was taken, our food order was also taken unfortunately, it was approximately around the end of our finishing the main meal that the said drinks arrived ( and after chasing several time)s. Not a good start- but hey, these things happen as I say with over a decade experience in this industry I understand that these things can happen on a one off.

Food wise I think I had a kebab starter followed by the Flat Iron Steak….nothing memorable, but reasonably cooked and tasty food. No problems with the food.

Nevertheless, after failing to be impressed on the first night we tried again on the second night.

After a small wait we were allocated our table – good start.

Our server brought us to the allocated table and ... it was occupied by another family enjoying their meal. Embarrassing for us, the server and the family currently enjoying their meal.

Our server then attempted to take us to another table which was also occupied, it was starting to become shambolic at this stage and I was on the brink of voicing my displeasure rather than following on with the false but polite smile.

Finally, after a full tour of the Horizons Restaurant (which is nicely decorated may I add and an impressive Restaurant space to look at) we arrived at our third (and thankfully unoccupied) table in the same section as the evening before.

Again, the service was terrible and drinks did not come to the table until main course. When the drinks did arrive, they were wrong/short and the entire process had to be repeated - it was pathetic actually.

Food service was also horrendously slow, and in the end we rejected dessert menus and went off to enjoy other parts of the ship after wasting 2 hours of our evening.

We vowed never to return to the Horizons Restaurant for the duration of our stay – which is a shame.

However, as luck would have it (and due to a breakdown in communication between our party) we ended up dining in Horizons on the final night of our cruise. This time we were allocated a table in another section and things got off to a promising start when our new head waited came to explain the menu, poured our water for us and provided both bread AND butter (which I should have added earlier was always missing on element or another on the other two evenings).

Unfortunately, this is where the good start began to unfurl.

I would hasten to add that the food service on this final evening was significantly better than the other two nights the bar service managed to somehow get worse.

After ordering 6 drinks for the table – my drink sporadically arrived after only 1 or 2 minutes. Sadly, the rest of the table did not get their drink until after the starter course.

The food was again fairly tasty, although the Bouillabaisse was nothing more than a fish broth with two rubber bullets masquerading as scallops. The broth was tasty however it was as far removed from a Bouillabaisse as I have ever seen in my life.

Again, I decided to ditch dessert and head elsewhere whilst biting my tongue so as not to offend anyone nearby.

This dining room lacks leadership. It is vast in size, and really requires section managers to be on top of things constantly but instead it appeared to lack any leadership whatsoever. The communication between restaurant and Bar service was horrendous and the bar staff looked to be hugely understaffed.

This was very off putting for me and my family and became a bit of a running joke. We can understand one bad night – but three? That is not coincidence, that is shambolic service.

A big fat F got the Horizons I am afraid – must do better.

6/10 for Food, 4/10 for Food Service and 0/10 for Bar Service

Salad Bar (Serenity):

Only open on sea day – which was only one day out of the 10. Looks like an impressive place and certainly one that I would have eaten at – indeed, I often stated that I would have enjoyed a nice salad for lunch with some grilled chicken or tuna.

Not to be sadly – with virtually no opening hours it seemed like a waste of time having it at all. I am sure it was built for when the ship moves across the Atlantic but it seems quite unfortunate to deny it to those paying for the Med Cruise.

Steak-House:

This is clearly the crème de la crème of the Vista dining options.

We went as a party of 4 adults to this restaurant however a kids menu is available should this be required

The food was excellent, the service was 1st Class and the general atmosphere and professionalism was on par with some of the better restaurants in a big city let alone a cruise ship.

The staff was knowledgeable about the food that they were service and also at pairing a suitable wine for your choice of food.

We opted for the Cowboy Steak, Fillet Steak and Lobster Ravioli between our party and everyone was impressed with the quality of the food.

There were intermediate courses of chef’s special offerings and those were also superb quality and tasted excellent.

Overall – no complaints about this place it was clearly designed to be the pinnacle food place of the Ship and it delivered as such,

10/10

Italian Restaurant:

I did not manage to dine here for lunch however others in our party ate here in the pasta bar and said it was delightful.

We ate here for dinner as a full party and really enjoyed it.

The food was good quality, the service was excellent and efficient and again we had no complaints. The intermediate offering by the Chef of Arancini balls was tremendous and indeed the meal as a whole flowed very well and was a very relaxed, informal and family affair.

Top marks for this place and well worth the extra nominal supplement for the vast improvement in service and food quality.

9/10

Ji Ji Asian Kitchen:

A poor start in this place as they do not provide a kids menu and the menu does not really appeal to younger children at all. We booked this place specifying children and even a high chair but it was not communicated back that no children’s offerings would be in place. I judge this to be poor communication given the complexity of the menu on hand.

Nevertheless, judging the place on the quality of the food it provided and the service it was another excellent dining option. The food was really wonderful, plentiful and presented to such an incredibly high standard.

I would recommend visiting this restaurant as couples/groups of 4 maximum. I feel it would work much better in a smaller group.

The service was again first class and drinks were plentiful and served quickly. Every dish is a stand out dish on the menu and for the nominal fee it was well worth the visit.

Again, 9/10

Bonsai Sushi:

I do not have enough superlatives to adequately sum this place up.

Food = Excellent.

Service = Excellent

Everything about this place was top drawer. It was fairly busy when we arrived for our evening meal and we opted to sit at the bar and eat there. I am glad that we did as we then had the opportunity to watch the Chefs at work and it was impressive to watch the attention to detail, skill and ability that these guys had to offer.

The fish tasted tremendously fresh, the amount of food provided for the supplement was tremendous and the service was quick, easy and attentive.

When, as it turned out, we had ordered too much to finish the staff quickly provided us with a take-away box complete with side pot of Soy sauce and wasabi and fresh chopsticks to eat in our cabin.

Incredibly impressed with this place and devastated that time only allowed for one visit.

10/10

Cuban-Snacks:

This turned out to be a hidden gem on the vista.

After gorging ourselves on a pizza in Naples we did not wish for a full on dining experience that evening so instead opted to select a few snacks from the Cuban Menu in the Havana Bar about 8pm

We were the only two people in the entire bar when we arrived, and selected 3 items from the menu between us which turned out to be more than adequate.

The food was incredibly tasty and again – we wish we had more time to eat here.

I would definitely give it a try as it is fairly cheap and the food really is tasty as it comes on the Vista.

10/10

Red Frog:

Firecracker wings were amazing. I did not get a chance to sample much else in here but the food looked good and for the gimmick price of $3.33 per dish well worth the money.

Room Service:

I would never normally order room service however we were virtually forced into it one day as upon returning from our tour in the morning we were faced with what seemed to be a ton of extra bodies on the ship – reportedly visiting guests who were there to visit the crew. This resulted in rather incredible queues at the buffet and guys etc. and severely hampered the lunch options.

In light of this, we retired to the room to order room service and were impressed.

There was a waiting time of approximately 30 minutes for the food to arrive however when it did it was fresh, warm and of good quality. The wings were tasty, Philly Cheesesteak better than I imagined and quesadillas top notch.

7/10 – which is impressive for room service.

Overall:

The food on the ship was excellent overall – but it seems fairly obvious that Carnival aim to make you spend as much money as possible to enjoy yourself on board. That is not a criticism but the gulf in quality between what is included in your cruise price to what you pay for is night and day – the service reflects this also.

The ship does fail to cater well for children, I stand by that statement and it seems somewhat reluctant to be inventive where children are involved. I must add the options offered to kids in the kids club were different to those offered in general and that seems strange to me.

The ship is obviously designed with kids in mind – Carnival WANT you to bring your kids with you this is not an adults only cruise and therefore more effort should be made to cater for children food wise. A ‘Kiddies Corner’, so to speak.

The service was similarly night and day. If you were prepared to pay that little extra on the Vista then your money would go a long way and the service on offer would be ten-fold that available in the general establishments.

Bars and Drinks:

There is such a wide and diverse amount of bars on this ship that there really is somewhere for everyone.

The Havana Bar:

I expected this to be THE PLACE TO BE when we boarded the Vista and it was anything but. Indeed, it was often empty and subdued and I really felt for the performers who were lively and energetic and faced with 10 drab faces all tired out from their lengthy excursion.

On the other hand, I fully expect this place to come into its own when the ship moves to the Caribbean and there is more of a party atmosphere on board. I would like to witness that and I really think it will be something special.

I cannot rate the Havana as a bar because it would be a false economy – the décor and the set-up is first class and innovative and there is certainly more to come from that space as more relaxing itineraries become the norm.

Red Frog:

The place to be for our party.

The staff were good fun, the beer was good and the entertainment in the shape of Edd Carr on the Guitar every night was also very good.

I can understand that this is not for everyone, but it is what appeals to me and in lieu of the Havana Bar being more lively this is where I chose to drink and relax every night and where I had most of my conversations with fellow travellers from around the world.

An Excellent hub both night and day.

Alchemy Bar:

Small bar and an ideal central meeting place.

The quality of the cocktails here is second to none and although not the sort of place that I would choose to spend the entire evening it certainly had a lot of appeal to me.

Excellent.

Piano Bar:

Not my thing personally and therefore I did not go to drink here but a very lively hub every night with piano requests until late in the evening.

This bar was always busy and therefore I would have to suggest a strong favourite among travellers.

Casino Bar:

After reading some reviews before I started by trip I had expected this place to be a smelly, smoky hell.

It is not.

Yes, you can tell people smoke however the ventilation is good in my opinion and there is only a faint smell of stale smoke and nothing that would really overpower you or put you off. Again, this bar seemed to attract a rather eclectic crowd as it was showing football, was an indoor smoking hive and had good service.

The Casino bar is a bit of a star all in and the latest bar to stay open at night (shock horror).

Sports Bar:

Fairly small but it does as it says on the tin. It shows sports and have some memorabilia, games stations and most importantly big screens to watch the match on.

This place can get busy fast so if you want a seat for a big game while on board then I would advise you arrive an hour early.

Library Bar:

Did not use, however it looked to be busier than I had expected.

Atrium Bar:

This place never seemed to be the centre of attention. It was always subdued and appeared to be full of transient guests on route to somewhere else on the ship.

I expected this place to really be the centre of attention but with minimal entertainment it was almost designed as a quiet zone and it lost a bit of its grandeur due to this.

It reminded me of one of those quiet hotel lobby bars that hardly anyone ever drinks in.

Rum and Margarita Bar on Lido:

The Rum bar was a real star and had some fantastic cocktails on offer. It was popular and busy from morning until night as people enjoyed a cocktail by the pool, during the film on the big screen or during a deck party.

In comparison, the Margarita bar was often very quiet. The margaritas on board were lovely may I add however this bar appeared to have rather unorthodox opening hours and in turn everyone went to the Rum bar. They could do a lot more with the Margarita bar in my opinion but when it was open – the cocktails were good.

Tides/Serenity bar:

As you would expect – pool bars with no steady clientele as such just a place to refresh at. Nothing memorable but then they were never supposed to be.

Liquid Lounge:

An over 18/21 nightclub late at night with DJ playing club hits.

If someone put you here you would think you were in any generic nightclub the world over and this appeared to attract the crowd most up for a late night good time. We only visited once but glad that we did – it was good fun and never too busy as to get rowdy.

General Amenities:

Pools:

The Swimming pools on board had a tendency to get very busy and crowded and I think on a bunch of sea days with everyone on board it may be that the ship lacks some pool space for all on board.

There is also a rather silly rule regarding children in swimming nappies – take the nappy off and pretend your child is toilet trained and in they go, wear one and they must stay out.

That, for me; is a recipe for disaster.

First of all, there is not a swimming pool in the world that does not contain urine. None.

It is also very difficult to police what children are in the pool and not and in my opinion a swim nappy is 100 times more hygienic than a blanket ban and effectively forcing parents to allow their non toilet trained children into the water where an accident is more likely to occur.

Similarly, I am not naive enough to believe that those adults in the pool for 3 or 4 hours drinking cocktails have large bladders…..

Also, you cannot have such a large kiddies water area and then demand that young kids stay out. How do you expect to tell a 2 year old child that no, they cannot go into the water area?

Silly rule that results in more issues than it solves as I seen plenty young children in the pool free and easy and unless an absolute miracle of creation had occurred they were all far from toilet trained.

Large Screen:

I could not believe how underutilised the large screen was. Out-with the movies which were good they were nothing more than a giant blank canvas everyday with the odd interjection of the Bee Gees Live – as random as it could be frustrating.

Carnival are missing an advertising trick on those screens and also an opportunity to show some more low key daytime entertainment that is not intrusive to those quietly sunbathing but not a boring blank screen either.

Live Shows:

Live shows are not for me, personally – I don’t go to watch them in the West End when I am in London, nor do I go to watch them on Broadway; therefore I was always unlikely to watch them on a Cruise Ship.

However, others in my party did go to see the shows and said that they were absolutely brilliant and indeed tried to coerce me various occasions to watch one. Part of me wishes that I had, but alas…maybe next time.

Overall:

As a big fan of the all-inclusive Caribbean holiday a Cruise was never on my list of priorities until a family trip dictated that I would have to try one.

Am I converted? Yes…probably.

My overall experience on the Carnival Vista was a very good one and I thoroughly enjoyed by trip for 10 nights and could easily have spent another week on board without running out of things to do.

This ship has so many good points, and it also has such a huge amount of deck space that the ship did not ever feel crowded or busy even on the sea day. That, for me – was a massive positive and something that I had been weary of pre-trip.

I would be keen to try this ship in the Caribbean in the future.

Would I cruise again?

Yes, but not in the Med – I have seen it all before living in Europe and done it all now. My next cruise would be in the Caribbean.

Would I cruise again with Carnival?

Yes, although maybe not immediately.

As I stated earlier, the rest of my party are experience worldwide cruise fans and have a vast experience on other ships. The Overall feeling between them was that as highly as the Vista and Carnival rated they were quite some way below Princess and on that basis I would be tempted to make my next cruise Princess one in order to compare and contrast for myself. In saying that, if the right deal came up when looking for a Caribbean cruise then I would not hesitate to go with Carnival either – especially on the Vista.
gm0131’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Carnival Vista price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.