Carnival’s newest ship, the Vista has some features never before seen on the sea. Vista is the first of a new class of ships for Carnival, the Vista class. The Vista is full of things new to Carnival as well as things new to cruising. Of course it has plenty of the things people enjoy on Carnival’s other ships as well.
Vista looks different from Carnival’s other ships the moment passengers first set foot inside on boarding day. While their other ships have an atrium open many decks high, the atrium on the Vista goes up just 3 decks highlighted by a center pole that flares out at the top. This pole could look like anything. Its video display changes from under the sea scenes to fancy designs. Some scenes are stationary, others have moving features like jellyfish swimming up the pole. There’s a similar pole as the centerpiece of the casino.
Vista has several firsts at sea. The Red Frog Pub has a microbrewery. They brew new beer flavors not available on other ships to serve on board. Vista also has an IMAX theater, again the first at sea. The IMAX is the main reason Vista’s atrium is not open to the top of the ship – they needed that otherwise open space as a place to put the theater. Seats in the Imax are on a steep slope so every seat is a good seat with a great view of the screen even if someone sits in the one in front of you. The theater area also has the Thrill Theater same as the Breeze, which incorporates motion and special effects with short features onscreen. There is a charge for both theaters and they did not have the full cruise pass for the Thrill Theater that Breeze used to have.
Another Vista first circles around a good portion of the open deck on top the ship in the form of a peddle it yourself SkyRide. The ride’s cars hang from two parallel tracks. The one that starts out on the inside ends up on the outside because they cross at the stern of the ship. There is no charge for the SkyRide, but sometimes there’s a pretty long line. I tried it once at around opening time before the line built up. The view is good and it was fun, but tiring for anyone not accustomed to riding a bike.
Vista has an all new display in their photo department. Instead of developing the photos they take of passengers and placing them out on racks in hopes people buy them, everything is digital. The photo area has digital screens which show random photos in an ever-changing display until someone comes along and taps the screen to see their own. It’s becoming ever more a digital world, and these photos are sold digitally. No more mountains of unpurchased photos to dispose of at the end of the cruise.
All Carnival’s ships have waterslides, but Vista has a new one called the Kaleid-O-Slide for its light and color effects. The stripes aren’t what makes this slide stand out as different though, it’s the inner tubes. Yup, this one is a tube slide. I liked it better than their regular slides, but my husband preferred the twister, which is the same as the twister slides on some of their other ships.
Also new outside on the upper decks is the addition of a salad bar on the adults only Serenity deck. Open for lunch on sea days, they serve free giant premium salads with lots of choices of things to put in them not found elsewhere on the ship. Other new food options include homemade ice cream served on the Lido deck at lunchtime and an ice cream sundae bar at the Cherry On Top candy store. The Lido ice cream is free, but at Cherry On Top it costs extra.
In addition to the new public areas, Vista has two new categories of rooms. The Family Harbor area has kid-friendly nautical decor and a private lounge accessible only to people staying in those rooms. Breakfast is served there, and it has other amenities like computers and board games. While some of their other ships have 5-person rooms in their normal deluxe oceanview category, on the Vista you have to pay extra to be in the Family Harbor area to get a five-person room.
Their other new cabin category is the Cuban-themed Havana area. Besides their own decor, Havana cabins come with private daytime access to a pool and hot tub area at the stern of the ship. The Havana Bar is open to all passengers. In the evening the pool area opens up as well. Havana Cabana cabins have outside space on the Promenade deck. While passengers not staying in Havana cabins are not allowed on the part of the promenade deck that passes by those cabins, they can see a good portion of the cabana areas from balconies and public decks above.
One of the things we always liked about Carnival was that all public spaces were for all passengers whether you had the cheapest inside cabin or the most expensive suite, where a lot of other lines have exclusive areas for certain passengers. With the family harbor and Havana cabins, Vista started something new for Carnival joining the ranks of ships that have public spaces not open to everyone.
Much of the rest of the covered part of the outside area of the promenade deck that isn’t taken up by the Havana area has outdoor seating to whatever is on the inside of the promenade deck next to that space. All of the deck 5 bars and restaurants have outdoor seating – even the library bar. There are also some areas with deck lounger chairs and a smoking section at the forward of the Starboard side. The area by the Red Frog Pub gets the most use since they hold the bean bag toss competitions there.
Not all of Vista’s new features are popular with passengers. The Liquid Lounge main theater which doubles as a nightclub debuted on the Sunshine, and is no more popular on the Vista than it was there – and for good reason. Unlike the IMAX, where there isn’t a bad seat in the house, when going to a show at the Liquid Lounge it’s tough to find a good seat anywhere if you’re not in the front row of the main floor. Even the front row of the balcony doesn’t have a clear view since you are looking through a blue barrier there. There’s a few rows near the back of one side of the balcony that raise high enough above the row ahead to see over the top of people, but lights from the ceiling hang down within view there. Most everywhere else in the theater you pretty much just see the backs of other people’s heads. The lower floor has no slope to it since it doubles as a nightclub, and the movable chairs are often too close to the row ahead as well as packed in tight. There’s a better view of the stage standing in the aisle at the entryway of the lower level than there is from the majority of the seats.
The main dining room on the Vista had nice décor and a large bar at the entrance. Unlike Carnival’s other ships, the dining room had no pedestals for the waiters to perform their dinnertime dances on.
There’s always things that are better or worse on any given ship than what’s found on other ships. Some ships are definitely nicer than others, but variety is one of the things that makes cruising fun. It’s always nice to have new things to explore on a ship.