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Our family of five sailed on Carnival Vista on the repositioning cruise from New York to Miami 11/16. We were myself (46), DH 49, DD 14, DS 11, and my MIL (75+). This was our third Carnival cruise as a family together, but DH and I had each cruised Carnival and other lines as well previously. After polling all members of the family, we can say that this was without a doubt our favorite cruise ever. We stayed in a Family Harbor Cove Balcony (2412) and MIL was across the ship in 2403 (another cove balcony). We loved the cove balcony for how close it was to the water (this was our first time in one). We didn’t love the noise in this particular cabin, however, nor did my MIL in 2403. According to the deck plans we were under the restaurant, but there was horrible noise at night (like metal on metal and banging). Not sure what it was, but it was unpleasant. The room was lovely otherwise. The family harbor décor and extras are lovely. There are special robes and slippers in the rooms, along with the other Family Harbor amenities such as the wonderful Family harbor lounge, which is just across the hall from 2412. This lounge had coffee/tea/hot chocolate and ice cream always available, along with breakfast, lunch, teatime, and evening cookies. This was unbelievably handy for us – to be able to just step into the lounge and have a spot to grab a quick bite or snack, without having to go up to the Lido with the kids when they needed to eat. There were also yogurts and milks available, and for younger kids this would even be more handy I’d imagine. Unfortunately, it did appear that lots of parents were allowing some really poor behavior with their unsupervised kids, and we did call guest service/security on one occasion. Picture food smashed on the floor and the couch, cushions thrown on the floor, jumping on couches. A couple times we spoke to directly to the kids as well. Most of the time though, the lounge was as it should be – a lovely spot for families to have a peaceful gathering place and grab some food. While there were board games and video games, we were usually busy, so never took advantage of these. The ship is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t miss the ‘grand atrium’ one bit. I asked the others in my family if they missed the glass elevators or the bigger atrium, and no one did. The glass funnel things were really very cool (there are two – one in the main atrium, and the other one beginning in the casino). The designs changed, and were always pretty to look at. They made for some interesting photo backgrounds as well. The additional outside areas really are nice: the one outside ocean plaza on deck 5 was one of our favorites, and we found ourselves wandering there pretty often. The colors and décor were peaceful and pretty. Service was amazing all over the ship. I know the new ships often have top crew (or so I’ve heard), but all our crew was great. From the cabin steward Jose from India, to the bartenders, to the waitstaff (John from Peru, Andriyanto and Jerald from the Phillipines), photographers and Guest services – everyone was super friendly and good at what they were doing. We had anytime dining and it worked out perfectly for us. The very first night, we had a great wait staff team and table, and requested them every night thereafter. We never had a wait, and were able to have the same wait team each night but one, and the exact table each night but two. The food was very, very good. The only thing we didn’t love was the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (it wasn’t traditional pumpkin pie, but a twist, combining gingerbread cake and pumpkin pie. It was a nope for all of us). We ate breakfast and brunch in the MDR a couple times and found it very good as well. Definitely best on a sea day when you’re not in a rush, but otherwise so relaxing and you can’t beat the eggs benedict. We ate in the Lido for many breakfasts and lunches (we ate quite a bit in the family harbor lounge, though) and generally, found the food and selection very good. Rarely were lines much of a problem (I think the most I waited was 3 or 4 people back for food), although there was always a line for the new handmade ice cream available at lunch on the Lido buffet. Definitely worth the wait for this amazing ice cream – and the line moves pretty quickly. There were lots of roving staff with drinks, which I don’t remember from prior cruises on Carnival, and it was really nice. Saved a trip back for coffee or juice. We always found a table easily, although we sometimes had to walk a bit farther to find one by the window. Guy’s and The Blue Iguana burrito bar almost always had a line, but as usual it moved quickly and was worth the wait. My husband tried the new seafood shack one day (got the fish and chips, and thought they were good), and my son and I ate at Bonsai Sushi one day for lunch and thought it was delicious and well worth the small charge. We also got the ice cream from Cherry on Top (the kids and MIL, that is) – and loved it. DH and I did the Chef’s Table and IT WAS AMAZING. The way they do it on Vista is so much better, with a dedicated galley and seating area right in the kitchen. The food was simply stunning, and we felt the experience was worth every penny. We did not do the Steakhouse, JiJi, or Cucina – mostly because we found the MDR to be so good. We would check the menu ahead of time, thinking we might do specialty dining one night if we didn’t like what the MDR had – but we always saw plenty on the menu for us. Again, we were not in the least disappointed in the food this cruise. The kids didn’t do much with the kids’ club this time, mostly because we did so much together as a family. They each went a couple times, though, and had a good time. The space seems to be beautiful and as usual the staff and activities were great. One of the perks of the family harbor stateroom is one free night of babysitting and a free meal from the kid’s menu in a specialty dining restaurant. We ended up not taking advantage of either, though, because we were always doing family stuff together, and ate in the MDR each night. The entertainment was very good. The live music all around the ship was the best I’ve ever seen, from the steel drums on the Lido to the classical Trio in the Atrium, there seemed to be live music everywhere. We went to the Welcome Aboard show and one other main production show – Flick – and found the singing and dancing to be quite good. We also went to a couple of the variety shows – a hypnotist and a mind-reading comedian- and enjoyed them as well. As others have stated in their reviews, the Liquid Lounge has some serious flaws in demand and seating. First of all, it’s not big enough. Second, there are horrible sight lines, and the balcony seats are ridiculous. At the Marriage show hosted by John Heald he commented that they knew the seating was bad and that they’d work on it. For now, go early, and sit on the lower level. We also saw a comedian (funny, as usual – even in the family friendly show) and a magician (Zee) which was fun. I feel this was the best quality and variety of entertainment I’ve seen on any cruise yet. The SkyRide is fun, and offers beautiful views. I’m afraid of heights, and still really enjoyed it. We were lucky to have lots of sea days on or cruise, so there were often little to no lines. My husband left it until the last sea day, and then there was a really long line. Definitely worth doing – just maybe not worth waiting in line for 30-plus minutes. I think our pre-cruise, embarkation and disembarkation experiences are pretty unique since it was a repositioning cruise, so won’t go into them here. But I’m happy to answer any questions people have. We rented a car in Aruba and went to Baby Beach, otherwise did ship-based tours in Bonaire, Grand Turk and Bonaire, and recommend each of those. Let me know if you have questions!

Our New Favorite Cruise Ever

Carnival Vista Cruise Review by sjb.illinois

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2016
  • Destination: Southern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Family Harbor Cove Balcony
Our family of five sailed on Carnival Vista on the repositioning cruise from New York to Miami 11/16.

We were myself (46), DH 49, DD 14, DS 11, and my MIL (75+). This was our third Carnival cruise as a family together, but DH and I had each cruised Carnival and other lines as well previously. After polling all members of the family, we can say that this was without a doubt our favorite cruise ever.

We stayed in a Family Harbor Cove Balcony (2412) and MIL was across the ship in 2403 (another cove balcony). We loved the cove balcony for how close it was to the water (this was our first time in one). We didn’t love the noise in this particular cabin, however, nor did my MIL in 2403. According to the deck plans we were under the restaurant, but there was horrible noise at night (like metal on metal and banging). Not sure what it was, but it was unpleasant. The room was lovely otherwise. The family harbor décor and extras are lovely. There are special robes and slippers in the rooms, along with the other Family Harbor amenities such as the wonderful Family harbor lounge, which is just across the hall from 2412. This lounge had coffee/tea/hot chocolate and ice cream always available, along with breakfast, lunch, teatime, and evening cookies. This was unbelievably handy for us – to be able to just step into the lounge and have a spot to grab a quick bite or snack, without having to go up to the Lido with the kids when they needed to eat. There were also yogurts and milks available, and for younger kids this would even be more handy I’d imagine.

Unfortunately, it did appear that lots of parents were allowing some really poor behavior with their unsupervised kids, and we did call guest service/security on one occasion. Picture food smashed on the floor and the couch, cushions thrown on the floor, jumping on couches. A couple times we spoke to directly to the kids as well. Most of the time though, the lounge was as it should be – a lovely spot for families to have a peaceful gathering place and grab some food. While there were board games and video games, we were usually busy, so never took advantage of these.

The ship is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t miss the ‘grand atrium’ one bit. I asked the others in my family if they missed the glass elevators or the bigger atrium, and no one did. The glass funnel things were really very cool (there are two – one in the main atrium, and the other one beginning in the casino). The designs changed, and were always pretty to look at. They made for some interesting photo backgrounds as well. The additional outside areas really are nice: the one outside ocean plaza on deck 5 was one of our favorites, and we found ourselves wandering there pretty often. The colors and décor were peaceful and pretty.

Service was amazing all over the ship. I know the new ships often have top crew (or so I’ve heard), but all our crew was great. From the cabin steward Jose from India, to the bartenders, to the waitstaff (John from Peru, Andriyanto and Jerald from the Phillipines), photographers and Guest services – everyone was super friendly and good at what they were doing.

We had anytime dining and it worked out perfectly for us. The very first night, we had a great wait staff team and table, and requested them every night thereafter. We never had a wait, and were able to have the same wait team each night but one, and the exact table each night but two. The food was very, very good. The only thing we didn’t love was the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (it wasn’t traditional pumpkin pie, but a twist, combining gingerbread cake and pumpkin pie. It was a nope for all of us). We ate breakfast and brunch in the MDR a couple times and found it very good as well. Definitely best on a sea day when you’re not in a rush, but otherwise so relaxing and you can’t beat the eggs benedict. We ate in the Lido for many breakfasts and lunches (we ate quite a bit in the family harbor lounge, though) and generally, found the food and selection very good. Rarely were lines much of a problem (I think the most I waited was 3 or 4 people back for food), although there was always a line for the new handmade ice cream available at lunch on the Lido buffet. Definitely worth the wait for this amazing ice cream – and the line moves pretty quickly. There were lots of roving staff with drinks, which I don’t remember from prior cruises on Carnival, and it was really nice. Saved a trip back for coffee or juice. We always found a table easily, although we sometimes had to walk a bit farther to find one by the window. Guy’s and The Blue Iguana burrito bar almost always had a line, but as usual it moved quickly and was worth the wait.

My husband tried the new seafood shack one day (got the fish and chips, and thought they were good), and my son and I ate at Bonsai Sushi one day for lunch and thought it was delicious and well worth the small charge. We also got the ice cream from Cherry on Top (the kids and MIL, that is) – and loved it. DH and I did the Chef’s Table and IT WAS AMAZING. The way they do it on Vista is so much better, with a dedicated galley and seating area right in the kitchen. The food was simply stunning, and we felt the experience was worth every penny. We did not do the Steakhouse, JiJi, or Cucina – mostly because we found the MDR to be so good. We would check the menu ahead of time, thinking we might do specialty dining one night if we didn’t like what the MDR had – but we always saw plenty on the menu for us. Again, we were not in the least disappointed in the food this cruise.

The kids didn’t do much with the kids’ club this time, mostly because we did so much together as a family. They each went a couple times, though, and had a good time. The space seems to be beautiful and as usual the staff and activities were great. One of the perks of the family harbor stateroom is one free night of babysitting and a free meal from the kid’s menu in a specialty dining restaurant. We ended up not taking advantage of either, though, because we were always doing family stuff together, and ate in the MDR each night.

The entertainment was very good. The live music all around the ship was the best I’ve ever seen, from the steel drums on the Lido to the classical Trio in the Atrium, there seemed to be live music everywhere. We went to the Welcome Aboard show and one other main production show – Flick – and found the singing and dancing to be quite good. We also went to a couple of the variety shows – a hypnotist and a mind-reading comedian- and enjoyed them as well. As others have stated in their reviews, the Liquid Lounge has some serious flaws in demand and seating. First of all, it’s not big enough. Second, there are horrible sight lines, and the balcony seats are ridiculous. At the Marriage show hosted by John Heald he commented that they knew the seating was bad and that they’d work on it. For now, go early, and sit on the lower level. We also saw a comedian (funny, as usual – even in the family friendly show) and a magician (Zee) which was fun. I feel this was the best quality and variety of entertainment I’ve seen on any cruise yet.

The SkyRide is fun, and offers beautiful views. I’m afraid of heights, and still really enjoyed it. We were lucky to have lots of sea days on or cruise, so there were often little to no lines. My husband left it until the last sea day, and then there was a really long line. Definitely worth doing – just maybe not worth waiting in line for 30-plus minutes.

I think our pre-cruise, embarkation and disembarkation experiences are pretty unique since it was a repositioning cruise, so won’t go into them here. But I’m happy to answer any questions people have. We rented a car in Aruba and went to Baby Beach, otherwise did ship-based tours in Bonaire, Grand Turk and Bonaire, and recommend each of those. Let me know if you have questions!
sjb.illinois’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Family Harbor Cove Balcony
Cabin FM 2412
We stayed in a Family Harbor Cove Balcony (2412) and MIL was across the ship in 2403 (another cove balcony). We loved the cove balcony for how close it was to the water (this was our first time in one). We didn’t love the noise in this particular cabin, however, nor did my MIL in 2403. According to the deck plans we were under the restaurant, but there was horrible noise at night (like metal on metal and banging). Not sure what it was, but it was unpleasant. The room was lovely otherwise. The family harbor décor and extras are lovely. There are special robes and slippers in the rooms, along with the other Family Harbor amenities such as the wonderful Family harbor lounge, which is just across the hall from 2412. This lounge had coffee/tea/hot chocolate and ice cream always available, along with breakfast, lunch, teatime, and evening cookies. This was unbelievably handy for us – to be able to just step into the lounge and have a spot to grab a quick bite or snack, without having to go up to the Lido with the kids when they needed to eat. There were also yogurts and milks available, and for younger kids this would even be more handy I’d imagine. Unfortunately, it did appear that lots of parents were allowing some really poor behavior with their unsupervised kids, and we did call guest service/security on one occasion. Picture food smashed on the floor and the couch, cushions thrown on the floor, jumping on couches. A couple times we spoke to directly to the kids as well. Most of the time though, the lounge was as it should be – a lovely spot for families to have a peaceful gathering place and grab some food. While there were board games and video games, we were usually busy, so never took advantage of these.
We were crowded, as we were four people in this room for 11 days. But it was manageable, especially if you don't overpack as I did. I used an over-door shoe hanger on the outside of the bathroom door which was helpful.
Deck 2 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Aruba
    We had pre-booked a rental car through Hertz, and I walked down and picked it up at the Rennaissance Hotel. This process seemed like it took forever, but in truth it probably wasn't more than 45 minutes. The others in my group came down and met me and we drove down to Baby Beach. It's not a scenic drive, but we always felt safe driving, and it was easy to get there. Baby Beach was about 45 minutes south, and a free beach with lovely sand and very calm surf. The water was beautiful and warm, and we spent all day floating and snorkeling. There were some services there (restaurant/bar/restrooms) but we didn't use them, so I can't speak to them. There were several palapas for shade, and as we were there early we were able to grab one. I would go back to this beach in a heartbeat! I'd also rent a car again, as it was nice to have that freedom. But traffic back to the ship was a zoo, so be sure to allow plenty of time.
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  • Snorkeling
    We did the SeaCow 2-stop snorkeling tour, and it was amazing. We booked the afternoon tour as the morning one was sold out, and the crew kept apologizing for the 'poor visibility' due to it being later in the day. I just kept thinking if this aquarium like visibility is poor, I can't imagine what it was like this morning! It was truly astonishingly beautiful. We saw a ray, a sea turtle, all kinds of fish and coral. The crew were phenomenal (Gea and Henk) - and were super patient with my freaked out son. He was scared, and they just went really slowly with him, and he ended up having a successful snorkel that I'm sure will be a memory of a lifetime. Wonderful excursion - highly recommend!
    View All 146 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    We did the Gibbs Cay Reef and Rays Tour, and it was a great time. This was our first time doing this excursion, and we all really enjoyed it. The crew were great with the less enthusiastic members of our group (my 11 year old son and 75year old MIL both came back onboard after a bit of snorkeling), and were very patient and helpful. The snorkeling was beautiful, and the stingray experience was just amazing. Everyone had a chance to hold and touch the rays. There was then a bit of time on the beach, which was just stunning. The boat ride is fun too. Highly recommend!
    View All 188 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Stingray Swim
    We did the Gibbs Cay Reef and Rays Tour, and it was a great time. This was our first time doing this excursion, and we all really enjoyed it. The crew were great with the less enthusiastic members of our group (my 11 year old son and 75year old MIL both came back onboard after a bit of snorkeling), and were very patient and helpful. The snorkeling was beautiful, and the stingray experience was just amazing. Everyone had a chance to hold and touch the rays. There was then a bit of time on the beach, which was just stunning. The boat ride is fun too. Highly recommend!
    View All 72 Stingray Swim Reviews
  • New York (Manhattan)
    Unfortunately we did not have extra time for New York, so we flew in the night before. We flew into Newark, and stayed at the Hampton Inn EWR Airport. The hotel was lovely and had a great breakfast, great room etc. The shuttle at EWR to go from terminal to baggage claim etc. was miserable and overcrowded - this may go down as my new least favorite airport. The hotel shuttle was just fine. We used Dial7 for our transport to the port the next morning, and it was perfect. Worth every penny to navigate the crazy traffic. Great communication with the driver.
    Embarkation was crowded and a bit of a zoo, but for us not necessarily any worse than I've seen in Miami or San Juan. We were able to find places to sit (five of us) and were onboard eating by 1230 or 1. Given the astonishing number of people and luggage I'd say boarding went quite well.
    Having never sailed from NYC before, the views were absolutely spectacular, and sailaway was picture perfect.
    View All 1,012 New York (Manhattan) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • America's Cup Regatta
    My husband was the only one from our group who did this excursion, and loved every minute of it. He has experience sailing, and said it maybe wasn't quite as rigorous as he'd expected, but was still a wonderful experience. His boat 'lost' but he said it didn't matter because it was still fun.
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  • Snorkeling
    We had originally planned to rent a car here, but due to there being 6 ships in port we booked an excursion instead. We did the snorkel and airplane watching tour, where we snorkeled and watched the planes from the water. It was fun, and this is definitely a good way to watch the planes, we were just there at a time when there weren't very many to watch. We ended up seeing 5 or 6 planes - of which only 1 was even a jet (and a little one at that). Still fun though.
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