My husband and I had a GREAT time on Carnival Vista. We set sail the first week in January, after New Years. I had heard quite a few things about Carnival being dirty or being the ships that get people sick; I'll address these further below.
TIP - Our overnight stay at the Harbour House in Galveston was lovely. The location allowed me to watch the Vista come in to port that morning! I'm a very excited cruiser, so I was tracking it all morning and LEAPT out of bed to watch it pass. It passes VERY CLOSE to the hotel and what an epic view! Highly recommend Harbour House!
Embarkation was very smooth. LOVELY people working at the Galveston Terminal. We were 20 minutes early for our 1-1:30 boarding time, so we got in that line and didn't wait on anything except for a few minutes to get our carry on bags scanned by security. We were on the ship in no time!
You enter into the atrium and yes, it is underwhelming. It's just very closed in and that thing in the middle with the videos playing on it is a little lame. Our rooms were ready right away, so we went to 7459 - a Havana aft wrap balcony. GREAT room. Several large windows, plenty of space, good closet size and your average bathroom. My only complaints are that it is difficult for two people to get into the closet area at one time and there are no outlets near the bed on either side. From the balcony we could see our exclusive access hot tubs and pools. This is WORTH every penny of the upcharge. About my earlier dirty comment, the only dirty thing I saw on the ship were the panels in the guard rails along the Havana hot tubs and pools. I had dreamt of lounging in the pool and looking out into the gulf, but these see through (plexi-glass, glass?) panels were quite filthy and tinted which obstructed the potentially epic view.
Service in the Havana is fantastic, the drinks are great, there are Havana towels in your room AND at the pool. Plenty of seating but the best lounge chairs did fill up early. The pool was never quite warm enough, but thats what I get for leaving from Galveston in January.
My husband and I took this trip for both of our birthdays which are the same week. On our first full sea day, my birthday, we did EVERYTHING. There is so much to do on this ship that we couldn't believe it was only the first day and that we'd have more to do the rest of the week! Our last cruise was on the Norwegian Bliss and while it was very beautiful and relaxing, compared to the Vista it was boring and absolutely lacking a cruise director presence. Schwartz is the best! Fun, relatable, hilarious and EVERYWHERE. Works so hard and loves what he's doing.
Overall, food was quite good. I LOVED Blue Iguana, Guys Burgers and the steakhouse. Just OK was the pizza and main dining room but both better than I'd expected. The buffet on the other hand was awful. We tried to eat there twice and gave up after just a few bites. This brings me to the sickness point. People, wash your hands before you touch tongs and serve-ware that other people coming behind you are going to touch. I watched the majority of passengers just walk right by hand sanitizer and the hand washing station. On Norwegian, this area was monitored by a very friendly person who sang you a song about the importance of washing on a cruise ship, and I'd say 95% would wash. On the Vista, washing is an afterthought as evidenced by the very few actual washing stations vs hand sanitizing stations.
My husband and I played quite a few table games and entered tournaments in the casino, both winning invitations to the next round on a future cruise! We had a great time at the tables with Nikita, Richmond and Lucas especially. In the Red Frog Pub, Shakira was excellent. Our room steward, Ron, was a delight and quick. Service overall was pretty good.
Shore excursions... eh. We found our own way in Mahogany Bay to a monkey sanctuary. There we got to play with a few monkeys, see other monkeys, birds and butterflies and... HOLD A SLOTH. The sloth was adorable and so huggable. Other than that, MB is a lackluster port. In Belize we went to see the ruins - great experience. Getting to the ruins is a haul (over an hour bus ride, 30 minute boat ride) and the tour guides were slightly annoying in the way they explained what we were seeing, asking rhetorical questions often and slowing down getting to the point. The ruins themselves were spectacular. In Cozumel we had another ruins tour scheduled but after doing it the previous day and not wanting to spend a huge amount of time on a bus again, we switched tours for a catamaran sail and snorkel plus beach party. GREAT EXCURSION. The crew on this catamaran were top notch. Beer and margaritas were free on the boat and at the beach. On the boat, the crew were constantly making sure your cup was full. It was a very party atmosphere with drinks, music and dancing. The snorkeling was very refreshing and the water and fish were beautiful. The beach party was relaxing and fun with many water obstacles to slide down and jump off of, and more drinks. Food was extra, but we did not partake having had lunch at the port earlier. Cozumel was by far the most fun, party vibe port.
Debarkation was a bit of a cluster but mainly due to people not understanding or paying attention to the system and announcements. We weren't in a rush so we waited on deck 10 with a pizza and soft serve!
I would absolutely cruise Carnival again in the Havana AND with Schwartz!
Great. Will always book Havana rooms on Carnival from now on!