I'll split this into a few subtopics and rate what I did and did not like. This is only the second cruise I've been on, so I'm by no means an expert but I'll compare it to Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas.
Embarkation/ disembarkation (Good): Very easy, painless process. No more difficult than RCI to embark and disembarkation was excellent (we arrived back early and chose to bring off our own luggage). Very good process with little waiting in line.
The Ship (Okay): The ship was impressive and had a lot of activities to take part in, some of which I thought were great and others I think are a little unnecessary and meant social areas had less space as a result. Firstly, the cinema is a nice extra and is reasonably priced, but I found it took up a lot of space meaning other areas seemed more cramped. This added to the strange layout of the ship and meant there was no real central social area. It wasn't a big problem but it did make the interior feel more enclosed compared to the Allure, which had a lot of social space. The water slides, Skyride and ropes course are great fun, but be prepared to line up for them. Sometimes the line could extended to the bottom of the steps for the slide meaning it was a 5/10 minute wait and the Skyride line often exceed an hour on sea days (note that if weather deteriorates they can close this at any point). Nonetheless, I think they are great additions to the ship and we really enjoyed them. There was a variety of bars and places to eat, but for some reason the ship just felt like it was lacking in things to do. The comedies and entertainment all took place in the same places, meaning there was little choice on what to do at any given time. On the Allure, there was lots of activities to take part in at the same time, but there didn't seem to be much choice on the Vista. The ship did also seem overcrowded at times. I don't think this is confined to this ship and we experienced the same on RCI, but there was a line for pretty much everything on the Vista. This was most prominent at breakfast, which I will go into later. It was also impossible to get a sunbed if you didn't come down early in the morning, the hot tubs were normally full and there was always long lines for food. I found the layout of the decks pretty standard and I liked the adults only area. However, the staff didn't seem to enforce the rules regarding adults only (there were clearly people there under 21) as well as the "no saving sunbeds" rule. Another criticism was the location of the outdoor smoking area (deck 10 starboard) which is next to the pool and a busy walkway. It was probably the windiest part of the ship and there always children walking past (which seemed to defeat the idea of a smoking area). I felt really uncomfortable smoking next to children and people sunbathing. This seemed to also be another rule that wasn't particularly enforced. I saw people smoking outside of the designated area regularly and none of the staff said anything. From a safety perspective, I felt its something that should really be enforced. All in all, there were aspects of the ship I really liked, but the layout could be better.
The Cabin (Good): We stayed in a cove balcony cabin and were really impressed. The room was clean, spacious and the bed was incredibly comfortable (I'm a flight attendant and better than most hotel beds I've stayed in). The balcony was lovely and worth the extra money. From the outside, it looks as though you wouldn't be able to see anything from the cove balcony as it below the lifeboats, but this completely isn't the case. It's nice being low down as you can see and hear the waves hitting the ship and its a lot more private than the standard balcony rooms. It was also a great price (we paid just £50 more each to upgrade from Ocean View). We really liked the room and the only negatives we had was that there was a shower curtain rather than enclosure and only had shower gel/ shampoo in a dispenser attached the wall, rather than miniature bottles, but this is us being pernickety. The room was cleaned to a good standard by the friendly housekeeping team and had everything we needed. Another thing we loved (that I don't think RCI have) is the launderettes on every floor. It cost 3 USD for the washer and 3 USD for the drier as well as 1.50 USD for detergent. There was also a free iron and ironing board. We really liked this idea and it was so handy if you like ironed clothes or forgot to pack a few bits.
Dining (Okay): There are 3 different dining sittings, early (18:30), late (20:30) or my time dining. We chose the my time and really liked the flexibility. We're late eaters and liked that we could go for dinner up until 21:30. With my time, you check in at deck 5 and they allocate your table and give you a wait time before heading to deck 3. We didn't wait at all for dinner on any of the days and really liked not having a set dining time. When you arrive at the restaurant, you are shown to your table by the front of house staff (Tanusree was fantastic, she would greet us by name everyday and, after having 2 bad tables at the start of the cruise, endeavored to make sure we had nice tables every night after. She was probably the friendliest of all the staff we came across and was extremely helpful). The setting isn't particularly grand but it's not unpleasant. There is no tablecloth except for formal nights and this didn't bother us at all. There is no dress code on casual nights and its common to see shorts and t shirts. Formal nights do have a dress code (no jeans/ t shirt/ short sleeved shirts) but this was never enforced. After reading reviews regarding food, I had low expectations but was actually pleasantly surprised. I don't think the food was as good as RCI, but I didn't think it was bad either. I liked the "taste of port" menu which had specialties of where you were that day and I liked the majority of the food most days. My partner had the steak a few times, it was nice most times apart from one tough cut. The thing that let the dining experience down was the service. It was pretty inconsistent, some days good and some bad with different waiters each night. At RCI, the service was excellent and our waiter knew us all by name, giving recommendations each night. We didn't get that at Carnival and I would assume this was due to my time dining. I wouldn't have minded being served by different staff each night, but the level of service by each was so different. Some would talk, some wouldn't. None gave recommendations and some wouldn't bring fresh cutlery between meals (those who did put them on the bare table). I wouldn't say the dining experience was poor, but it wasn't as good as RCI. Maybe the staff could have a little more training and this would improve?
Entertainment (poor): I felt this was where the ship was really let down. A lot of reviews praised Matt (the cruise director) but I wasn't as impressed. Matt was very funny and friendly, but some of his team seemed to have a different agenda (when I say some, I by no means mean all). It appeared that some of the team were failed stage wannabes who wanted to be the center of attention. I found it took away from the people it should be about, the guests. This is just my opinion. I also found the quality and range of activities poor. I didn't see many of the shows as none appealed to be (none were big name stage shows) but the one I did see, I wasn't particularly impressed with. Apart from the shows, all the other "entertainment" consisted of Matt standing on the bar in the atrium or on the seats around the pool (for deck parties) and doing dance routines, getting guests to join in. The music was extremely repetitive (we could predict every song that would come on) and it was pretty much the same thing every night. It was very American focused and I didn't find it entertaining. After the "entertainment" was finished, they would always say to head to the lounge (a club) but at that point, all of the staff would disappear. This was the biggest let down from Carnival and RCI was a lot better. Apart from the mainline entertainment, there was a piano bar (which I found better than the main entertainment) and a band in the Havana bar. There was also another mainline band in the lounge area and either some singers or violinists in the atrium (who were both very good). Past 11pm, most entertainment would dry up leaving you with the choice of the piano bar or the nightclub. I'd go with the piano bar as the nightclub played the same music constantly! All in all, a little disappointing on the entertainment front.
- Download the Carnival app, I thought it was great. You can book excursions, see whats going on and download professional photos.
- The salad bar at the adult only section of the ship was a simple but wonderful idea. I got bored of unhealthy good and this a nice touch. It would just be nice if it was open more often, it was only open 1-3 on sailing days.
- The bars never seemed to be too overcrowded meaning it didn't (normally) take too long to get a drink.
- The price for the cruise itself we found to be reasonable. If you want to keep costs down, you can (soft drinks package/ cove balcony rather than a standard/ reducing gratuity costs etc.).
- Everything is an added extra. Soft drinks cost more, if you buy a drinks package its limited to 15 per day and the spa is extremely expensive. As with other cruise lines, there are pay- for restaurants (which I didn't think were overpriced) but it all adds up. I think the cost of most amenities was inline with RCI with the exception of the drinks package which was overpriced and limited, unlike RCI.
- Some days there seemed to be too many announcements from Matt the cruise director. It was seemingly constant and got annoying.
- The DJ played the same music, every day both on the deck and the nightclub. It was too repetitive.
- As soft drinks were chargeable, there were no soft drinks stations like RCI. This meant that kids had to go to the bar and wasn't as pleasant for them.
- The restaurant was severely overcrowded at breakfast. You could be waiting for 20 minutes just to get to the front of the buffet. I think Carnival really need to look into this. We got around this by ordering room service.
- The restaurant had strange opening times. Breakfast ran late but there would be gaps between meals. This wasn't a problem on sea days, but on port days you could get back on board at 4pm feeling peckish and the restaurant was closed. There were other dining options but nowhere to get anything healthy.
The rumors: When I read other reviews there were a couple of things I picked up on that I thought I should clarify.
- I don't think you can feel the moment of the ship more than other vessels. i'ts a ship, it moves, of course you'll feel it. I don't think it was excessive though.
- I didn't think the Casino was overbearing with smoke. Obviously people can smoke there but I don't think it's worse than any other casino. The issue may be that its more centrally located on this ship.
- The pools did look a little green. I'm not sure why, it may be a chemical imbalance and I don't think it would be anything to be concerned about.
- The theater isn't as horrible as people make out. The main issue is that the seats aren't layered as well as the could be so it's hard to see over the person in front of you.
The bottom line: We had a great cruise and really enjoyed ourselves. The main issues are the overcrowding in public areas, the strange layout of the ship and poor organised entertainment. There's lots to do in the day for all ages, its only at night things seem to slow a little. If they improved the entertainment I think it would be a lot better. In future, my preference would be Royal Caribbean, but if the price is right (we saved around 800 USD per person going with Carnival for a like-for-like room) I would chose Carnival again.
We stayed in a cove balcony cabin and were really impressed. The room was clean, spacious and the bed was incredibly comfortable (I'm a flight attendant and better than most hotel beds I've stayed in). The balcony was lovely and worth the extra money. From the outside, it looks as though you wouldn't be able to see anything from the cove balcony as it below the lifeboats, but this completely isn't the case. It's nice being low down as you can see and hear the waves hitting the ship and its a lot more private than the standard balcony rooms. It was also a great price (we paid just £50 more each to upgrade from Ocean View). We really liked the room and the only negatives we had was that there was a shower curtain rather than enclosure and only had shower gel/ shampoo in a dispenser attached the wall, rather than miniature bottles, but this is us being pernickety. The room was cleaned to a good standard by the friendly housekeeping team and had everything we needed. Another thing we loved (that I don't think RCI have) is the launderettes on every floor. It cost 3 USD for the washer and 3 USD for the drier as well as 1.50 USD for detergent. There was also a free iron and ironing board. We really liked this idea and it was so handy if you like ironed clothes or forgot to pack a few bits.
Easy to get to the ship, not long lines and embarking was a breeze.
Nice day out but overpriced for what it was. I think the cruise lines are quashing competition to up the price.View All 80 Stingray Swim Reviews
Easy to get around & interesting place.
Interesting day out and did enjoy the ride, but apart from the mountain, don't expect to see too much. There are no cotton plantations and the beaches in view are poor.View All 303 Scenic Railway Reviews
Lots of taxi's outside but they are expensive.