Carnival Vista Cruise Review by panda242
- Sail Date: November 2016
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Having cruised on numerous cruise lines (RCL, Celebrity, NCL etc) and other Carnival ships, you can tell the Vista sells itself as a ship for entertainment rather than for exceptional service.
The ship itself is brand new and felt very clean and modern which was a great start. It was laid out well but the lack of main atrium with glass lifts etc was strange - there was no main area on board.
Carnival sells itself on its entertainment and there was a lot of choice - theatre shows, music, comedy, crafts and fitness classes to name a few. I personally go away for the peace and quiet so did not participate in any of these.
Compared to other ships, it was lacking. Staff seemed a little clueless (possibly as it was a new ship and itinerary) and service was slow.
Port & shore excursions
4 ports: Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire and St Maarten. We were lucky with the weather so went on the beach in all ports. In Grand Turk the ships docks right next to the beach so you could walk there. The others were all a short and cheap taxi ride away.
St Maarten was chaos when we arrived as there were 6 other ships in bringing 20k extra people and huge queues for trips and taxis. Tip: check to see how many are in and either plan a tour or get the water taxi from the port (you'll see signs for it, $7 for a wrist band for a day's use) to the city.
Took a taxi to the port in Manhattan and was dropped off to utter mayhem. Arrived at 11:30am when we were supposed to be there for. Long queues of people near drop off with no idea where/what to do and not enough people collecting luggage. There were still people getting off the ship from the previous cruise. Very badly organised and once we were finally inside the terminal, there were even longer queues and a long long long wait to get on. Worst embarkation we've ever experienced. Tip: be prepared to wait. No free refreshments inside so possibly bring your own. Huge queues for 'Faster to the Fun' - the paid pass to supposedly get you on the ship earlier - so think again before buying.
Standard balcony cabin, No complaints - for a seasoned cruiser it was average. Clean, well designed for the size and plenty of storage. As with other Carnival ships, no complementary toiletries apart from large pumps of shampoo and body wash in the shower so remember to bring your own.
Worst laid out buffet we've ever experienced. Used it once for lunch time and several times for breakfast. Breakfast choices were standard. Omelette station always had ridiculous queues.
Lunch time buffet I thought was pretty poor. 2 sections and a dessert area. Choices were limited - salads and cold offerings, carved meat, some hot choices and desserts. It was laid out very badly with long queues.
Plenty of other lunch offerings though: I enjoyed the Mexican, burger and pizza places - on sea days these get very, very busy so be prepared to wait. Burger place always seemed to have a huge queue no matter what time. However, the queue did move fast. A couple of free 24 hour self serve ice cream/frozen yoghurt areas were nice as well.
Serenity (adult's only) had a salad bar for lunch times: great salad with plenty of choices and all seemed fresh. However it was very popular and again, be prepared to wait. I waited 25 minutes at one point. There definitely needed more than 2 staff members on.
We went to the pasta and Mongolian restaurant once each. They offer a free lunch where you can create your own pasta or stir fry dish by filling in a slip of paper. Sea days (especially the penultimate sea day which we experienced a lot of wet weather) suffered again from long queues. Food was piping hot and made to order. Would recommend going however the service was slow, particularly in the Mongolian Wok where we ended up serving ourselves drinks and flagging down staff to give in our orders.
In order to get a table at anytime dining you had to 'check in' at a desk on a different desk, then you were given a slip of paper to take to the restaurant or a pager to wait until a table was available. Busy times were around 6:30-7pm, as expected, but we never had to wait long for a table. Very casual setting for dinner, apart from formal nights there were no table cloths on the tables. Nice idea for a casual restaurant eatery but for a cruise it didn't work and looked quite cheap and unfinished.
Service for dinner was mixed, you could tell the more experienced wait staff as service was quicker. Dinner choices were pretty standard and varied, food usually came hot and as described. Tip: don't be afraid to order extra side dishes as some main courses, especially the meat dishes which were often huge slabs of meat, didn't come with vegetables.
Dining room breakfast, lunch and brunch were a similar affair: good selection of choices and okay service. Much preferred going here than queueing for other food.
Did not use. However, I found it very strange that there was a children's club near cabins on deck 6. Teens often sat on the stairs around this deck - bad idea on Carnival's planning.
Nice selection of entertainment if that is what you wanted to experience. The shows etc were not for me but many enjoyed them.
Went to the IMAX cinema once. Very surprised that it was a full size cinema! Seemed to be 2 new releases played at several times during the cruise as well as a selection of documentaries. An extra charge but enjoyable nonetheless.
The gym was very small for such a large ship. Nice selection of equipment and lots of cross trainers and treadmills. Full array of free weights but free weight area was small.
As someone who likes to keep in touch with family and friend's I was pleased with the internet plan offerings. I purchased the Social plan for $40 for the whole cruise, which included social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp) as well as instagram and pinterest. Snapchat also worked (even though it stated it wouldn't) and I often could access Google Mail. Speed's were slow at times but overall, for the price, it was good.
It seemed that for at least the last 2 days of the cruise we were inundated with information as Carnival tried to persuade people to carry their own luggage off. Probably in anticipation after the madness at embarkation.
Expect announcements from early in the morning, I think the first one was around 6am. Getting off was smooth but finding luggage was another issue. Cannot understand why luggage wasn't grouped by the number on the luggage tags we were given. Instead luggage was divided up on luggage carousels and luggage with numbers that hadn't even been called was mixed in. Took an unnecessary amount of time to locate luggage. Customs queues were long but moved quickly and there were plenty of taxis outside.
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Expect average, but new, furnishings and a decent amount of storage.
However the walls seemed to be ridiculously thin and we were forever complaining about hearing the room next door's television.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
ArubaPort is right next to the main town so walked around in the morning. Very pretty with lots of shops and bars.View All 1,635 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
Taxi to a beautiful beach in the afternoon. $10 each way which was miles cheaper than the ship excursions. Beach had several refreshment stands and the opportunity to rent a sun lounger - we just took the ship beach towels.
View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
BonaireAnother gorgeous beach day here! Took a short taxi to Spice Beach and enjoyed an afternoon swimming and snorkelling.View All 593 Bonaire Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Bonaire Cruise Port Review
Grand TurkBeautiful.View All 2,098 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
Took a taxi to a beach as well as a tour of the island. Enjoyed the clear blue sea and the white sandy beach.
View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
St. MartinWith 6 other large cruise ships and 20k extra people on the island, finding a taxi/trip in the morning was chaos. Taxi rank is next to the port so we eventually took one to the famous beach next to the airport. The beach was very crowded with so many people in but the water was clear blue and worth a visit to watch the airplanes flying so low over the top.View All 345 St. Martin Cruise Port Reviews
Taxi to Philipsberg, the capital. Lots of shops, bars and restaurants here.
Water taxi back to the port. $7 for an all day wristband pass or $5 for a single. Leaves and returns right back where the cruise terminal is.
View Cruise Critic's St. Martin Cruise Port Review