Carnival Vista Cruise Review by acthorson
- Sail Date: July 2018
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Family Harbor Interior
We were dumb and went to the buffet on the first day right when we got onto the ship. On RCL, we've done that too, and it's been busy, but not like this. It freaked me out, to be honest, and after waiting in a line that took forever, I was super nervous because the selection of food was few and far between. But I didn't realize they did things differently than RCCL, where RCCL has ALL of the food in the buffet, where Carnival spreads it outside of the actual buffet, literally right outside its four doors with four specific cuisine spots you could get food: Guy's Burger Joint (seriously the best burgers I've ever had), Seafood Shack, Pizza place (forgot the full name), and the Blue Cantina Mexican joint. Once we figured that out, and didn't have to deal with first-day-buffet crowds, we enjoyed the Lido Marketplace (buffet name) much better.
I know this is nit-picky, but if you got the soda package, it was all from a can, and fountain pop is much better, IMHO. But I did realize something a few days in; you can ask the bartenders for the can and they'll give you the whole thing rather than filling up a cup of ice and pouring half a can and having to go back. It's much nicer on RCCL when they give you your own cup and have the machines to fill up on your own all over the ship. Advice for pop drinkers like me: if you sail Carnival, bring a Yeti to and just refill it with the cans they give you (although you can't get a new one until 5 minutes after getting the last one).
No curfew/supervision of teens:
I only experienced this once or twice, but I heard stories from others. There were teens around acting rudely and running around without supervision. One time my DH walked by the Family Habour lounge (we stayed in this area) at about 1 am, and there was a group of about a dozen of them and they had destroyed the place. It's just rude.
We were able to get the Faster to the Fun pass, and it was worth every penny! We bypassed probably 400 people getting through security. Then, when we were in the terminal, we didn't have to be put into a zone and wait to be called upon, we could just board the ship! It was great! Plus, we had a special line at guest services and got an early zone number (2) sent to our rooms for debarkation. If you get a chance to purchase this under shore excursions online, do it! Totally worth it!
We've been on multiple cruises, and this is the first time I actually remember and know I'll continue to remember our cruise director, Chris Williams, or the Flying Scotsman. He was phenomenal! I feel like on DCL and RCCL, I couldn't tell you who our CD was to save my life, but Chris made the cruise amazing! He was hilarious and personable. Loved it guy! If you ever have a chance to cruise with him, do it! He's the best!
We had an interior stateroom in the Family Harbor area. The room was small, but did its job. We'd rather spend money on excursions and shopping than the room where we sleep and shower. Plus, we loved staying the Family Harbor area. Having that lounge access was awesome, especially in the morning when they had a full service buffet where we didn't need to go upstairs to the main buffet. We tried to get a Havana room, but they were sold out. I would love to get one of those sometime because they have access to their own pool, but it seems like you have to book almost two years out to get one.
It was a pretty ship, but there was some areas that were a bit worn already. I think the only thing that bothered me was something that I think Carnival does as a positive that can turn to a negative. They have it so the guests never have to clean up after themselves, but that also means there's no place to really throw anything away or put empty glasses/plates. Because of that, a lot of times there's random garbage/cups lying around. Other than that, it's a great ship. I love how much there is to do! The outdoor sports square and the sports course were our favorites besides the pools, which surprisingly were never that crowded. The chairs filled up quick, but we could always snag at least two.
The food was excellent. The breakfast was really good, but our favorite was probably lunch and dinner. At lunch every day my DD10 and I got the burgers at Guy's Burger Joint because they were to die for. My DH always ate at Blue Cantina, and my DD7 always ate at the Lido Marketplace. For dinner, every night we ate at Horizons main dining room and loved it. The food was so good, and when they did "sssssssshowtime!" we loved it! It was so fun! The wait staff was great, with Roberto, the man we had on the last night, being our favorite. Also, another man, with a long name that went by Daas did magic tricks for us one night, it was great! I got the Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake. Every. Single. Night. Worth the price of the cruise alone.
Entertainment and Activities:
When it comes to the production value of the shows at night, RCCL beats out Carnival, but that doesn't mean Carnival was bad, it's just you can tell there's a bit more money put into the shows on RCCL (like the water show on the back of the Oasis class and paying for Broadway rights). Flick was awesome, and my DD7 won the Hasbro game show, which was so cool! The magician was great, and the comedians were amazing! I will say, and I don't mean to sound cliche, but Carnival is definitely more FUN when it comes to entertainment while RCCL seems to be a bit more uppity. For instance, when they were having auditions for the Lip Sync Battle on the top deck early in the cruise, it was just laid back and with a "let your hair down" style of entertainment, while we didn't see much of that on RCCL. Anything with Chris the Flying Scotsman in it was super entertaining.
Service was awesome; everyone was so kind and friendly and remembered our names! That was really neat to see everyone so personable. Compared to RCCL, which had good service too, the Carnival crew seemed more familial than RCCL, which seemed more friendly, if that makes sense.
Ports and Shore Excursions:
We went to Grand Turk, La Romana, Curacao, and ARUBA!!!!!!!!! I'll write about each, and put the number next to which port we liked best (1) to worst (4) (gee, I wonder which one I like best...).
Grand Turk (3):
We decided to stay at the cruise center. We first went down to the beach, but the chairs were either being sold by locals, or the free chairs were too far back and crowded. I did not like the beach here at all, so we went to the Margaritaville pool, which was spectacular. We laid out and had some drinks while the girls swam. It rained, so we went shopping in the cruise center shops, which were great too.
La Romana (4):
Although the shore excursion we did was unbelievable (zip lining), this was my least favorite port. It was very shady and the people tended to make you feel guilty and try to make you give them more money. I didn't like that; I am not saying I didn't already feel terrible for their situation, because I absolutely do, but it was very pushy. That being said, we booked the zip lining through Carnival, and it was unreal! It went through 12 courses and it was super fun!
This was our first time here, and my first time booking an excursion on my own not through the cruise line. I've always been too nervous to do that considering if you don't get back in time, the ship will leave without you and the company might be shady. However, this ATV and Buggy Tours company got the most amazing reviews on TripAdv. so I booked it. We had a great time...until the police seized all of the ATVs/UTVs at the second stop on our tour and we had to end it 3 hours early. They apparently didn't have their vehicles registered and used bogus licenses for them. Luckily, we got vans to pick us up and return us to the shop to get our money back and then to the port. It was interesting! I still give Curacao the second place island because that was fun (what we did get to do) and we went shopping in Willemstad, which was the most beautiful port I've ever shopped at. Loved it!
No island in the world beats Aruba, period. It's not just my favorite on this cruise, but my favorite place ever! My DH and I honeymooned here, so it's nostalgic for us. And we've cruised and traveled all throughout the Caribbean and been to over a dozen places there and still, nothing compares to Aruba. We took a catamaran ride to snorkel and then to a beach. Just beautiful; seriously, I don't have words.
I really liked Carnival. I was nervous at first because I heard it was a party ship and some were run down, but it was beautiful and so much fun. I'd go back in a heartbeat!
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Catamaran TourThe only thing I would've changed is longer time at the beach; we only got to be there for 15 minutes. I would've liked at least an hour there.View All 48 Catamaran Tour Reviews
Buggy TourIt was good until we got our tour stopped because all of our ATV's and Buggy's got confiscated by the police. We did get our money back and ride back to the port, though, so that was good.View All 14 Buggy Tour Reviews
Grand TurkIt was ok; we just went to the cruise center. The pool was awesome, the beach was way too crowded; I'd avoid that.View All 2,147 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
Zip-LiningIt was amazing! The bus ride took a while, but it was worth it! An unbelievable experience!View All 14 Zip-Lining Reviews