Carnival’s newest ship, the Vista, set sail on her maiden voyage in Europe on May 1, 2016 and crossed the Atlantic at the end of October after spending the summer doing European cruises. The Vista has some new features not seen before on any of Carnival’s ships, and in some cases on any ship at all. Its IMAX theater, brewery, and skyride are all the first at sea.
Carnival’s Red Frog Pub is a popular hangout on all their ships that have it. They all serve Carnival’s Thirsty Frog beer, but the Vista is the only one that brews it on board. They served several varieties which on our cruise included coffee stout, pale ale, IPA and a pumpkin beer as well as the standard thirsty frog red. They also served low-priced Pub Grub made to order and for a small fee passengers could take brewery tours at scheduled times.
The skyride is a pedal it yourself gondola on a track above the top of the ship. It’s free to ride, but can build up quite a line during busy times so it’s best to go either when returning early on a port day, about the time it first opens for the day, or at unpopular times when most people are elsewhere.
Vista has both the best and worst theaters I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. The IMAX has comfortable seats set on a 3-deck slope and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. There’s enough of a rise from one row to the next that every seat has a great view even from behind one occupied by someone tall. It shows both regular and IMAX movies, but there is a fee to watch them.
In contrast their main showroom, the Liquid Lounge, hardly has a good seat anywhere. It doubles as a nightclub so nearly all the seats on the main floor are movable and there is no slope to the floor. When set out for shows the seats are cramped together and very few offer a full view of the stage. The balcony isn’t much better since the first row looks through blue windows and the majority of the rest have their view blocked by the seats in front of them. It’s also very small for the size of the ship.
Some other new features of the Vista include a tube slide, more games in Sports Square including a clubhouse with bowling and soccer pool, beer dispensers and homemade ice cream on the Lido, digital pictures, and the atrium and casino with central poles that flare out at the top showing digital displays that change from day to day. The atrium is just 3 decks high due to needing space for the IMAX. The ship has some awkward spaces like guest services and the shore excursions desk on deck 3 which have access from just one of the ship’s 3 main stairways/elevator bays rather than all three.
Instead of printing out all the photos taken by the ship’s photographers, they are displayed digitally so there are no unpurchased photos to throw away at the end of the cruise. Passengers can view their photos either on their own smart phone if they downloaded the free HUB app, or by tapping the video display at Pixels (the photo area.)
Cabins on the Vista each have individual heat and cooling not tied into a central system so it’s easier to keep the room at each person’s preferred temperature. The closets lost the top shelf to make space for this and some of the smaller rooms lost an entire closet, so storage got bit tight in the trade-off of comfort for storage space. The life jackets are in a container under the bed, but there’s still room for a suitcase under there, though if the room has an unused bunk the ladder which is also under the bed may mean a bit of rearranging to fit everything in. There are also less drawers and shelves than on some of the older ships so try not to bring more than you need.
Cabins have flat screen TV’s with quite large screens compared to most ships. When it comes to convenient and useful features of the cabin TV, the Vista did seem to have taken a step backwards from Carnival’s last ship the Breeze though. On the Breeze you can see the menus for the whole voyage on the cabin TV as well as purchasing shore excursions there while the Vista does neither. On the plus side the cabins have two outlets instead of one plus two USB ports so there’s a few more options for plugging things in even if you forgot to bring a power bar.
The Vista has two new classes of cabins, Family Harbor and Havana. Hallways and cabins in these areas each have their own unique décor. The rest of the cabin hallways as well as the Lido buffet all have the same Caribbean casual look as the Breeze. Other areas of the ship have more of a minimalist modern appearance. Stairway art is a sort of mosaic style making up a large picture. Each stairway has its own theme with seascapes on the aft stairs, cityscapes on the central stairs, and landscapes on the forward stairs, which helps in finding your way around the ship.
Vista has lots of the favorites people enjoy on other Carnival ships. It has the thrill theater like the Breeze with motion ride seats. They did not have the all-cruise thrill theater pass though so if trying just one ride the one called Just The Rides has the best action coordinated with the seat movement, especially the roller coaster part. The ship also has dive in movies, waterslides and splash park, and all the favorite bars and eateries like the Piano Bar, Alchemy Bar, Guy’s, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and Blue Iguana.
The Promenade deck has outdoor seating for everything from Cherry on Top (which serves ice cream as well as selling candy) to the steakhouse. As well as the outdoor seating, Red Frog Pub has bean bag toss games in the walkway by their outdoor space. The BBQ (Pig & Anchor) is also outside on Promenade deck. Even the library bar has outside space. There are also some lounge areas not associated with inside spaces and the bow has stairways up to the open bow areas on the two decks above.
There are a couple downsides of the promenade deck’s outdoor space. You can smell the smoking area near the front of the starboard side from a long way off as the smoke travels back with the motion of the ship. The whole back is blocked off for the Havana rooms so nobody can walk or jog all the way around the Promenade deck, which is a very popular thing to do on ships where it is accessible to everyone all the way around. Each of the Havana Cabanas has a gate onto the Promenade deck, which is gated off just for them in the section along those cabins.
Free food on the Vista includes two main dining rooms, the Lido buffet, Lido deli, Blue Iguana Cantina, Guy’s Burgers, The Taste Bar, 24-hour pizza and ice cream, and at lunchtime a pasta bar at Cucina del Capitano and Mongolian Wok at Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. For sea day lunches there’s also Fresh Creations salads on the Serenity Deck and BBQ on the promenade deck.
The outdoor deck 5 barbeque is called Guy’s Pig & Anchor instead of Fat Jimmy’s C-Side. The menu is about the same, but on our cruise the lines were a lot shorter. Lines in general were shorter on the Vista. They had two gangways when docked in ports and they kept the photo people off the actual gangway which helped the lines to get off the ship move much faster. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise took longer than usual, but that was the ship’s first time in the USA so it should speed up once the ship gets settled on a regular routine.
There’s a lot of options for pay-extra eateries from the very inexpensive Pub Grub at the Red Frog Pub to their premium restaurant, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. Other options include Bonsai Sushi, Cuban Bites at the Havana Bar, Cucina del Capitano, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Cherry On Top Ice Cream, and the Seafood Shack on the Lido. Of course all the bars cost extra as well, including JavaBlue Cafe which serves specialty coffee and tea as well as milkshakes. Room service has both free and pay extra options.
Like all of Carnival’s ships, the Vista has self-serve passenger laundries.
Carnival Vista is 1062 feet in length and can carry up to 3936 passengers and 1450 crew. It will homeport in Miami.