We just got off the Vista on Sunday, and while this is not going to be a comprehensive, day by day review, I’ll give you my thoughts on the Vista, the issues she had, the pros we found with the ship and some of the cons…
First of all, this was our first family cruise. In addition to my hubby and me, our daughter, son in law and 10 year old grandson cruised with us- it was the first cruise for SIL and grandson, 3rd for my daughter.
We booked to standard balcony cabins on Lido deck, 10236 & 10240. It was our first time on the Lido deck and we all decided we loved the location, especially my GS who was never more than 2 mins from his next soft serve ice cream fix!
The cabins were good, not noisy (I was originally concerned that Lido noise might make it that far forward, but it was never an issue). The only problem experienced was with the door slammers- this was by far the worst cruise for people slamming doors constantly! But the good news was, for the first time since we had a balcony, we had zero issues with people smoking on their balconies.
We drove to Galveston on Friday with our grandson and stayed in a 2 bed, 2 bath suite at the TownePlace Inn & Suites on Seawall Blvd. Location was great, the suite was perfect as my daughter & son in law drove up Friday night. It includes a basic breakfast which was all we needed before boarding Saturday morning.
We had FTTF so we left the hotel about 9:15, dropped our checked luggage at 9:30 and while the rest of us waited in line with the carry-ons, DH & SIL parked at EZCruise (no shuttle option- easy 5 min walk for hubby & SIL). We received the ubiquitous email asking us to delay our arrival by an hour but we disregarded, and check in started around 10:00. We waited in the boarding lounge until around 11:45 when boarding began. Our rooms were ready and our suitcases were already delivered! We dropped our carry-ons off and went to grab some lunch.
So for the issues Vista had… for those of you who were not aware, on Jun 12 Carnival notified us that she was having propulsion issues (hmmm- where have I heard that before??) and our ports would be changing from Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel to Mahogany Bay, Costa Maya and Cozumel… 2 new ports for me, so I wasn’t really concerned!
While we were waiting for muster, about 2:45 the captain made a mysterious announcement about some changes to our itinerary, and that a letter was being delivered to all pax. If we had questions, they would be meeting everyone in the Limelight Lounge to answer them. I walked down there and got a copy of the letter, which basically said the propulsion issue was worse than they thought, so Mahogany Bay was being dropped, and we were being extended to an 8-day cruise! If people wanted to get off they could get a full refund, but if we stayed onboard for the cruise, we’d get $200 pp OBC, 50% Future Cruise Credit and the 8th day free, including wifi, Cheers and Bottomless Bubbles.
The discussion in the lounge was outrageous- all I could hear was people screaming at the Carnival staff about how they hate Carnival, Carnival did this on purpose just to spite them, Carnival owed them! One woman wanted to stay on the ship for the current cruise plus get a 100% refund for it AND a 100% future cruise credit! Entitled much?
To us it seemed like a win/win for us and that Carnival was doing their best in a bad situation so we opted to stay on for the cruise. The only concern I had was them waiting so late to make the announcement- 3 PM an hour before planned sailaway- almost everyone was onboard and many, like us, were already unpacked and ready to start our cruise! They gave everyone til 6 PM to decide if they wanted to get off.
We had muster at 5:15 and we sailed around 7:30.
Our speed the entire week was not an issue- we were able to make all our planned stops on time and the boat was as smooth as ever due to the slower speed. Another plus- Carnival worked with all the Galveston parking locations so we didn’t get charged for the extra day.
Some Pros about the cruise:
Our cabin steward, Anjana (said to call her Ana, I was the only person who knew how to pronounce her name properly!) was amazing! She managed both our cabins, with people taking naps, coming back & forth and not giving her any opportunity to establish any flow, yet she handled it like a champ! She offered us both times a day for service but went on to say, if it was a problem, she’d do whichever we wanted, if we didn’t want the intrusion. We opted for twice a day but made it clear that all we expected in the evenings was fresh ice.
FTTF- worked very well for us this trip. Early check in, early access to cabins, priority line at Guest Services were all really beneficial. The checkin process was messed up because the previous cruise went to Belize and that always causes delays with CBP and Customs on their return (hence the request to delay arrival at the port by an hour) but we didn’t find that to be an issue, until all the priority boarders were in the lounge and they started allowing the staggered check in time groups to check in- with about 1500 passengers left to disembark, the port computers went down and they had to stop disembarkation as well as check in. Those with a later check in time were stuck waiting longer outside than the earlier folks because of this. This caused about an hour’s delay in boarding.
Lido Buffet- it had some really pleasant surprises! The new cakes are in fact as delicious as everyone has claimed, HOWEVER they are only served in one spot in the buffet (the furthest aft Sweet Spot) and ONLY at lunchtime. At the other Sweet Spot closer to the front they had 2 flavors of gelato every day. OMG!!!! It was the best!
I thought several of the items from the new Deli menu were pretty good (the wraps, the buffalo chicken sandwich) but my favorite, the Reuben missed the mark just a bit- instead of pressing it as Reubens normally are, they just toasted it, like they do at Subways… I found it made the bread hard and prone to cracking, so the sandwich fell apart. But it was still tasty!
Bonsai Sushi was outstanding! I’ve been on a keto diet for 4 months so sushi has been off my list but I spoiled myself on the cruise and loved the food from this place!
Another pro, not specifically about Vista but Carnival in general, was how they handled the whole Vista propulsion issue… other than notifying us too late, they made the tough decision to modify the next 2 cruises (departing June 23 & Jul 1) to be exactly like ours- same ports, same duration (8 days) and then CANCEL the next few cruises and take the ship out of commission and get her repaired in Freeport. Too often in the past they’ve allowed the sick dog to limp along for too long before making that call. I know a lot of people were probably pretty disappointed to miss their cruise, but hey- Carnival provided a 100% refund PLUS a 100% future cruise credit to those on the cruises that were canceled! Plus they are allowing a certain amount toward changed flights etc.
Oh, another thing- often if you get an extra day that you didn’t pay for, it won’t count towards your VIFP points… not this time! They’re giving everyone credit for the full 8 days, even though we only paid for 7!
Unlike some previous cruisers, I didn’t find Vista crowded at all. Food venues, shops, getting off in ports- it didn’t seem any worse than other smaller ships I’ve cruised on- in fact, in some cases it seemed a lot better!
Now for some Cons:
Matt Mitcham was off the week of our cruise and was replaced by Cookie Adams. Some of the early reports were that people really liked him. Don’t count me in that group! He was fatuous, dismissive and completely disorganized this whole cruise, IMHO! He made a point of calling out during the 80’s party about how he was the # 1 Carnival Cruise Director… the day after Matt Mitcham was named the CD of the Mardi Gras! Really, Cookie?
Food- MDR- staff was kind of mixed- surly and inattentive, happy and very helpful. And the food, which I’m normally a big cheerleader for, was just, meh… a lot of it was cold, and had obviously been sitting quite a while. I’m normally the person who eats in the MDR every chance I get but this cruise we only ate there once for the Sea Day Brunch and three times for dinner.
Camp Ocean- for the 9-11 year olds, it was pitiful how few activities they had planned for this age group. It seemed those younger and older were given a lot more attention and things to do. Mostly video games and even they were not really age-appropriate (too young). Another frustrating thing was that none of their activities are listed in the Fun Hub activities list, which would have been really helpful.
Liquid Lounge- I have to agree with everyone’s assessment of this location- what was Carnival thinking? If you’re not one of the first folks in the lounge forget about being able to see anything half decently. We only went to one show because of this. I must say though that we really enjoyed Studio VIP and I would have liked to see some of the others that I hadn’t seen before.
Disembarkation- As I mentioned we had FTTF. They told us to be in the Liquid Lounge by 7:45 with all our luggage. We were there by 7:20 but it was pure chaos. They had people putting their luggage in the middle section, supposedly in rows and at 7:40 started calling people by rows of luggage to debark the ship. But those who showed up last just walked off the ship well before us! And it was really slow! Normally we’re off the ship and in our car before 8, but this time we didn’t leave the parking lot til after 8:30! I can only imagine how long it took the rest of the folks to get off the ship!
All in all, if I had to weigh the good with the bad, it was still a great cruise, because I didn’t have to cook, or clean and I got to spend time with my family. And nothing bad enough happened to prevent me from sailing on Vista again, just not right now!
We came home to an offer to jump right back onboard for Jul 1 with a bunch of OBC and FCCs, but we decided no, we were good for now. But the day after I got home, I did book a Premier Aft Wrap balcony on Freedom for Thanksgiving next year, using the future cruise credits they gave me!
So that’s my family cruise… it was over 18 months in coming, and it felt like it was gone before I knew it. But I still love cruising best of all!
Cabin was fine- no issues. It was portside, forward on the Lido deck. We loved the location- it was so convenient!
It was hot and humid, so we shopped at the port for an hour or so, watched the flying Mayans act in the port area then got back on the ship.
We love Cozumel. We arranged a round of golf through our golf membership at the Cozumel Country Club, then shopped for an hour before getting back onboard. We had a 12 hour day in Cozumel which was lovely!