Carnival Vista, all 1,061 feet of her, is spectacular and a wonderful addition to Carnival’s family. We had the pleasure of calling her home for 7 days. This is my assessment of the Carnival Vista.
Carnival Vista makes her home in Galveston, Texas. We came from Idaho, so we were lucky enough to fly into IAH in Houston. We were aware of the distance between the airport and Galveston, but somehow, we didn’t understand the reality until an hour $85 UBER ride at 8pm on a Friday night. I don’t understand why there isn’t a typical shuttle bus that goes between airport(s) and Galveston for a reasonable rate. Traveler beware.
We stayed at Gaido’s Seaside Inn. If you book your room directly with the hotel, and not through a booking engine, they have a shuttle that will take you to the port. The hotel is across the street from the Gulf. The room was clean, bed was comfortable, and the proximity to the ocean was perfect. It was dark when we arrived, but I got up before the sunrise to capture a “sunrise in Galveston” - and it was nothing short of spectacular. I do not recommend eating next door at Gaido’s Restaurant – it is overpriced, and not very good. (The service was spectacular)
The port is on the inside of the island – have your UBER or cab drop you off along Strand St. There are a lot of cool shops and great souvenir shopping prior to embarking and it is right across the street from the port.
The Embarkation process/Boarding times – in my opinion is a huge benefit. Leave your luggage with the porters. There will be 2 lines – one line is “ON TIME”, one line is “EARLY/LATE” - We showed up on time – we showed the first agent our boarding passes and our passports. We then moved forward to another checkpoint. They checked in all members on our boarding pass at the same time. There, they checked the passports closely, and scanned in our boarding passes. They also took photos that would be used for the sign and sail cards at this point. From there, they sent us forward to the security line. No shoes or belts need removed – but your carry ons and coats etc go on the conveyor belt and you walk through the metal detector. Then its up the escalator/elevator to the “financial” area. If you have already set up your sign and sail account, you keep moving forward. If not, you will go to an agent and set up your account here. We did not stop moving at this point. There are a couple of photo opportunities along the way.
We crossed the gangplank into the Vista. The first thing I noticed is the funnel. It changes all the time and yes, there is some kind of movement. However, the atrium does not go up all the way to the top of the ship, like the older ships. There are also NOT the glass elevators up the atrium. Sadly missed.
We grabbed an elevator up to lido – Deck 10. They were busy, but not out of control people. Finding a table that 6 could sit at was not terrible. All of the food is aft of the pool area. We ate at Guys Burger Joint more than once. The burgers are pretty good, fries aren't horrible and there is a bar with grilled onions, mushrooms, and other toppings. On the other side is the Blue Iguana Cantina. There are two lines – one line for tacos, one line for burritos and taco salads. There is also a topping bar with salsas, limes, and other items. When you see massive taco salads going by, that’s where they came from.
The buffet is much smaller, as has been mentioned before. The forward side is the “international”side - usually has a unique menu. There is also fresh gelato made between the two sides. (2 flavors daily) The aft side is the “regular” side – with a carvery. There is an amazing dessert area with the most beautiful cakes! They are a little dry, but pretty good. The deli is between the aft side buffet. Out back is the seafood shack – which is at an extra $$ - we never tried it – and the other side was the pizza – which was ALWAYS busy. No, they don’t make special pies – it is only what is on the menu. Up to deck 11, aft above the buffet, is JiJi (asian) and the Cucina (Italian) restaurants. During the day – you may eat there for no charge. But there was a substantial wait for JiJi – and unfortunately, was flavorless (Szechuan). The noodles in Cucina were cooked amazingly, but I was not fond of their tomato based sauce. Dont forget the BBQ joint off of deck 5 outside. Watch for the lines of people. Great Brisket!
After we ate our burgers, and got our first ice cream (and for me, the Drink of the Day), we received the announcement that we could go to our rooms. We were on deck 6 aft starboard, by design. The cabin (6427) was very clean – and your standard balcony Carnival cabin. We were very excited to check out the balcony. However, when we looked over the railing, all we could see was the Havana balcony below us. This was the first issue we came across. While out at sea, we love hanging out on our balcony, hearing the water right there. Not this time. What a huge disappointment. All we saw was towels, swimsuits, underwear... Whatever the cabin below left out on their deck.
Down one deck, is deck 5. There is a LOT available on deck 5. Deck 5 is one of the decks that goes all the way front to back. Location was perfect for what we needed. At 7 am, there is a small buffet of breakfast food available without having to go up to Lido. We frequently got coffee and pastries there. The coffee shop is around the corner as well, but at a $$.
Muster – the “Safety Meeting” was very disorganized. We waited longer for people that did not feel they had to participate than we did for the actual briefing. Inconsiderate people... Unbelievable. Our Muster Station was the dining room Aft. And beware – the elevators were HORRIBLE afterwards. We missed sail off because we had one of our party in a wheelchair.
As the ship goes through the channel, watch for passing vessels and fishing trawlers – you may see several dolphins!
We unpacked – lots of closet space, enough hangers and lots of drawers. Suitcases under the bed. We explored until the first night for dinner. We had late seating, table 227 and had a phenom wait staff! There are no tablecloths – which we noticed, but cant say that it was detrimental. I have menus that I will post in the comments at the bottom of my review. They are screen shots off of the Carnival Ap – I tried to number, at the top, which day it was. I thought the food was ok – nothing super special – and we always left full. We did enjoy the chocolate melting cake with a side of peanut butter.
Elegant night 1 – the food was good. Everyone was dressed to the hilt, and we did not see many that did NOT dress up. We had some fun with the photo ops as well. The second elegant night there were a lot of people dressed up as well. I was pleasantly shocked. The wait staff did sing and dance (Showtime) every night. I enjoyed it! I got up and danced along every night. The service was amazing in the dining room. Nyoman, Sujuana and Yuithing were amazing. Lots of personality, lots of attention. The assistant Dining Room manager stopped by our table every night to see how things were going. That was new!
We ate at the steak house on night 3 – In my opinion, it was all fluff, no show. They are trying to be a Michelin restaurant, but the service was bad, and the food was not worth the upcharge. The shrimp cocktail had more guacamole than shrimp and the lobster bisque had no flavor. The mac and cheese (as a side) had no flavor. The filet was very tender, but the flavor was just as good in the Main Dining Room. The lobster was ok. What we did enjoy was the “ART DESSERT” presentation. A chef comes out with a cart of sauces, cookies, and candies and makes a beautiful historic presentation on a large board. It wasn’t a typical dessert, but dragging candy or a cookie through the sauces was pretty good.
As far as the bars/pubs go, my husband liked the Alchemy Bar. If you turn into a regular, they will remember your preferences – you tell them sweet, savory, salty, and what kind of alcohol you like and they will create a concoction for you. It's really not a set menu – they are very creative. I liked the Red Frog Pub – they make great beer which they have on tap. Also, if you see people walking around the ship with great big fish bowl drinks, they came from the Red Frog Pub. They are $ 19.95 I think. It’s a lot of alcohol and it’s a great bang for your buck if you like those kind of drinks. There is a sweet 4 person table/swing outside the Red Frog, but the most important thing...that’s where karaoke is. Every day. And they are so so busy! Go figure. We stopped and got drinks and just about every bar, but it wasn’t because we didn’t have a favorite – it was just what was the closest.
We did an Western itenaray – Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. In Cozumel, we went to an AI resort up north – El Cozumeleno. Beautiful resort – Easy check in. We were there early enough to catch the breakfast buffet – outstanding. We grabbed a place on the beach, and our waiter never let our drinks go dry. He brought us nachos and ceviche later on too. It was far from crowded – there was a small sandy beach area but is was never so busy you felt crowded. There were a lot of rocks, but that made for amazing snorkeling! Parrot fish, Sargent's, Blue Tang, pencil, angels, porcupines, etc... I cannot even name the assortment of fish that were there. I thoroughly enjoyed my day in the water. Former reviews said the food was bad – I can verify it was NOT. This is a great place with no crowds. The shopping in port was way too easy, and we ended up with a couple bottles of tequila!
In Grand Cayman, we did a Stingray/Snorkeling tour with Captain Marvins. This is the second time we have hung out with this company, and I can tell you, hands down, they are the best. We have been to Cayman several times, have done Stingray City several times. Their boats are new, their crew is wonderful with the passengers, and their boats are not overbooked. They do a great job out at Stingray City, although I no.ticed there are less stingrays than I have seen in the past. The snorkeling stop was great – they just let you do your own thing for about 30 minutes, but they do keep those that ventured out a little too far in check (oh that was me – but I am a strong swimmer) The wind was horrid, and the water was rough.
One thing I will say about Grand Cayman, is the tendering management by Carnival – that is a C-. Its horrible. Dear Carnival, this DOESN’T WORK. If you have an early Non-Carnival tour, watch for the “tender number board” - not sure where it initially is but listen close to the announcements and watch your mail to your cabin. We got the tender letter the DAY of port – so it was too late. If you do not have a Carnival Excursion, you must have a “number” to get on the tender (water taxi). If you don’t get an early number, you are screwed. This method doesn’t work... so just be prepared, ok?
In Jamaica, we decided to go Boogie Boarding down the Bengal River! When the ship pulled into port, it was wonderful. Singing, dancing and a woman on a bullhorn welcoming us to Jamaica. And that was before we even docked. If you are on the Starboard side, you can watch! It was pretty awesome! We met our tour, and they drove us to Bengal River. It was about an hour drive, but the scenery was outstanding. Jamaica looked cleaner and greener than ever! And the driver was so careful, and not suicidal! It started raining about 15 minutes out of the drop off, and never really stopped. We decided to take tubes as opposed to the boogie board – and it was great! We walked about a mile up the river to the drop off point, and there were seven of us that hung on to each others tubes (bungee cords) We were a big donut floating down the river, and our guide was on the boogie board. We floated down some rapids and right into the ocean. When we got out, we had some jerk chicken and rice and beans and some Jamaica rum! It was a great day, aside from the rain. My mother in law stayed near the ship on a beach, and it never rained there... Geography, I guess.
Sea Days were relaxing – lots of sun, lots of laying around, recuperating.
The SkyRide – is a pedal bike that is suspended from a beam. It takes 5-7 minutes depending on how fast one pedals. If you are afraid of heights, this may not be for you. There is a scale that they will have you step on prior to buckling in. It is NOT a lot of work, nor is it a tough pedal – pretty easy. No open toed shoes. But it is so unique to do on a 14 deck ship.
The Ropes Course – there are two sides, one easier than the other. They will strap you in and hook you to the course. There is no turning back, so if you are afraid of heights, this isn’t for you either.
We also played mini golf, and shuffle board. There are pool tables and a twister board painted right on the deck.
I did not participate at the spa. We did head to the Serenity Deck and check it out – very peaceful, quiet. No kids. Great Salad Bar!
Debarkation was different – they had you get a ticket, just like the Grand Cayman tendering. Make sure you get a ticket if you have an early flight and pray to the traffic Gods to get you out to the Airport in time. It took us 90 minutes to get from Galveston to IAH due to construction on a Sunday. Had to be out of our cabin by 8:30am but our number wasn’t called until about 9:45. This is the first ship Ive been on that it wasn’t a rush rush to get off. Relax, take your time. Debarkation was a breeze, although very sad! After you get through US Customs, you will have to pay the state of Texas if you bought Alcohol or tobacco. Yikes! We left with more than we were planning.
General thoughts – the cruise director was fun – he wasn’t in your face, nor was he on the loud speaker the whole time. Thought he did a great job – His name is Matt. Will I remember him in two years? Probably not.
The general music on the Lido deck was HORRIBLE. Oh my heck – with all the talented musicians out there, please please don’t play that lousy stuff! It was so annoying! The temperature on Lido was frigid as well – we drank as much coffee and hot chocolate as we ate ice cream.
I attended a couple of lectures/workshops. Good information, but in the end, they are trying to sell you something.
The music was pretty good – the band Riff Rafts were the main group – very entertaining. They played rock, AND COUNTRY! There was a horn line that played independently, and with the Riff Rafts. Made for a big band sound some nights. There was an electric violin trio that was very good. They had some balance issues, and their backing tracks were not very good. That is a shame – they had so much potential. Thre was a guitar player/singer that I heard off in the distance, but never went to “watch”
The casino was a standard casino. I have never seen so many penny slots, though. I am not a gambler. One thing I will say, is the design of the ship keeps the casino smoke encompassed, and not wafting up throughout the ship.
The only time we went to Customer Service was to pick up our deck of playing cards.
A 90 minutes UBER to Houston was crazy – road construction? Ugh! And we stayed at the Comfort Inn East – DO NOT STAY THERE. It was the absolute worst hotel I have ever stayed at. But I will not get into that here – this is all about Carnival Vista.
This was my 7th Carnival cruise. I have cruised a couple of other Companies, but I definitely will be booking again with Carnival soon. Will I book Vista again? No. I did not like the balcony set up with the Havanah Deck. Will I sail out of Galveston again? Probably not – the transportation situation between the airport and the port is a little ridiculous in my opinion. But I did enjoy myself very much, and until next time, peace out. Read Less