It’s Carnival LIVE in Cozumel: Jay Leno Comes to Carnival Vista

Jay Leno performs in concert aboard Carnival Vista during Carnival Live on May 4, 2017 in Cozumel, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Gary Miller/Carnival Cruise Line.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Today is a big day aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista. We came alongside this morning around 9:30 am for a 13-hour stay as part of Carnival’s Cozumel Plus sailings that feature enough time in Cozumel, Mexico for guests to take part in the line’s longer journeys to the ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza on the Mexican mainland.

Guests file into the Liquid Lounge on Decks 4 and 5 to see Jay Leno perform. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

But my six-day cruise to the Western Caribbean is also part of Carnival’s Carnival LIVE performance series. Featuring onboard performances by artists, musicians and comedians, the headliner on this sailing is none other than former talk show host, Comedian and classic car enthusiast Jay Leno. Tonight, he performed a sold-out show in the Liquid Lounge on Decks 4 and 5.

Now, tickets to these Carnival LIVE performances can be purchased online on My Carnival prior to sailing – and it’s a good idea to do so, as they always sell out. General Admission tickets can be purchased, as well as VIP tickets that come with a number of perks, like backstage access for a quick meet-and-greet and a photo opportunity. Prices vary by artist, but General Admission tickets typically start around $30 per person, and work their way up from there. VIP tickets start at $100 per person, again depending on the artist.

Reserved seating is set aside for those who purchase VIP admission tickets, which start at $100 USD per person, depending on artist. General Admission tickets typically start at $30 per person. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Doors to the Liquid Lounge opened just after 7:30 pm, and people filed in according to their ticket status. Is it worth spending the extra money on VIP tickets? Maybe if you’re a superfan and really prize the meet-and-greet opportunity; otherwise, general admission is just fine. The theatre is far more intimate than most land-based venues, so there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Building anticipation for tonight’s show…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…outside the Liquid Lounge on Decks 4 and 5. With few exceptions, not a bad seat in the house. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Leno was in good form, and performed a 90-minute show with topics that varied from current politics to more observational humour. At one point, he went to take a drink of water and noticed it had the Carnival logo on the side.

“Oh, look – Carnival water,” he joked. “Looks like Carnival makes their own water now. You know how they fill these? They just hold the bottles over the side of the boat. And the boat’s already moving.” He takes a swig. “Mmm. Salty.”

Jay Leno performing aboard Carnival Vista. Photo courtesy of Gary Miller/Carnival Cruise Line.

There’s hardly a bad seat in the house in the theatre, and the experience of seeing Jay Leno perform was a real treat. This was particularly true during sets when he was imitating his Italian father and Scottish mother; the accents and personalities he gave his parents were hysterical – and all-too easy to relate to.

Of course, all this fun and frivolity makes for a very big day. Which is why I didn’t go ashore today at all in Cozumel. Instead, I made my own Fun Day at Sea – in port – aboard Carnival Vista. What could be better than having the run of the ship to yourself?

Creating the Vista – And Why The Ship Matters

Carnival Vista arrives in Cozumel…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…on a picture-perfect morning. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

I’m very much into the design of things, and for me, Carnival Vista pushes all the right buttons. This didn’t happen accidentally, however. Carnival’s newest flagship is largely the product of Carnival’s in-house design team, and Hamburg-based Partner Ship Design.

Carnival’s in-house design team created the interior design work for the Havana Cabanas and Suites, the Havana Bar and Pool, the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and the Blue Iguana Cantina, to name a few.

Partner Ship Design, on the other hand, was responsible for much of the overall look and feel of the Carnival Vista. The German group came up with the designs for some of the ship’s most iconic spaces, including the atrium, elevator lobbies, staircases, passenger corridors, outdoor deck spaces, and the Cloud 9 Spa.

This morning, Carnival prepared its traditional towel animal display. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

They look like a happy bunch. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

But two other companies were also involved heavily in the construction of the ship. Big Time Design created both of the ship’s main restaurants, while Launch by Design created all of the kids clubs and teen spaces onboard. The work that Big Time Design did on the restaurants is nothing short of incredible; the aft Reflections Restaurant is, in my humble view, the grandest dining venue outside of the Britannia Restaurant aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.

Ordered in February 2013, the first steel for Carnival Vista was cut one year later, in February of 2014. The ship was floated out in June of 2015, and her interior design work was completed between July of that year and April of 2016, when she was officially handed over to Carnival. Her birthplace: the Fincantieri Monfalcone Shipyard in Italy.

After we’d come alongside in Cozumel…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…I stayed onboard to ride the SkyRide again (twice)…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and to generally enjoy having the whole ship to myself. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

With every ship that I sail aboard, I’m fascinated by the things that no one is supposed to take any notice of. I pay attention to the carpet patterns, and photograph swatches of carpet in each public room to document it. I know that sounds rather OCD, but it’s not. Someone chose this carpet pattern, and it was meant to complement an overall look and feel that designers envision for any new ship.

Some aspects of building Carnival Vista are more complicated than you might imagine. Take, for instance, the IMAX theatre. Its creation was made possible by the decision to create a three-story atrium rather than Carnival’s more traditional atrium design, which typically ran all the way to the top of the vessel, ending with a domed skylight.

These atriums were beautiful, but a lot of potential “real estate” space was lost. In creating this smaller atrium aboard Carnival Vista, designers gave themselves seven more decks of available real estate – and three of those decks were used for the very first IMAX theatre at sea.

Even the Casino aboard Carnival Vista is decidedly high-tech. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Most of us have been to an IMAX. With its giant screen, shows here are a fully immersive experience. I went and saw my very first IMAX movie at sea today, and it was a very cool experience that I’ll honestly miss on other ships. But installing that screen was a nightmare.

IMAX screens are incredibly fragile. They can’t be bent, folded, or misshapen in any way. Tears can’t be patched over. Because of that, the screen could not be taken apart or transported down the ship’s narrow corridors to install it. To do place the screen in its final home, a hole had to be cut in the theatre wall, the stateroom corridors, the adjacent balcony staterooms, and the adjoining balconies to allow the screen to be “threaded” gently through and into the interior of the ship.

This is like the process of changing an engine during drydock. You know how you get a two-story diesel engine out of a ship? You cut a massive hole in the side of the ship’s hull and slide it right on out.

The clearance between the ship’s hull and the IMAX screen? Two inches.

A Modern, Efficient Ship

Old Meets New. This afternoon, Carnival Fantasy joined us in Cozumel. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Built in 1990, Carnival Fantasy is the lead ship in Carnival’s Fantasy Class, and currently the oldest ship in the fleet. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The change that comes with 27 years of shipbuilding experience is remarkable. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

All of this is great fun, from the IMAX theatre to the first at-sea brewery on a North American-based ship, to the fabulously-fun SkyRide on Deck 14 that I took another spin in early this morning as Carnival Vista came into Cozumel. But this is also one of Carnival’s most technologically-advanced ships yet.

You might not know that Carnival has long been at the forefront of shipbuilding technology. Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise were among the first cruise ships in the world to use Azipod propulsion technology. Instead of fixed propellers and rudders, Azipods (or “azimuthing pods” as they are sometimes known) can rotate 360 degrees, acting as their own rudders. Instead of facing aft, the propellers on these azimuthing pods face forward, effectively “pulling” the ship through the water rather than “pushing” it.

From LED lighting…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…to better fuel efficiency, Carnival Vista is Carnival’s most advanced ship to-date. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Since then, Carnival has dabbled with Azipods. Some ships, like the Spirit-class, have them. Others, right up to and including 2012’s Carnival Breeze, have traditional screw-and-rudder propulsion. But Carnival Vista’s propulsion is all energy-efficient, increasing the ship’s maneuverability and fuel efficiency. Less fuel used translates to fewer emissions, and that helps the environment.

Lighting throughout the ship, including the staterooms, is all low-power LED. A new Indirect Cooling System that reduces the amount of refrigerant in circulation aboard the ship is being used. Non ozone-depleting air conditioning and refrigeration systems are installed throughout the ship. To top it all off, Carnival Vista is outfitted with a heat-recovery system that uses a power-generating steam turbine to recapture heat expelled from the ship’s diesel engines.

The new, all-digital photo gallery is the most obvious indication of how technology has changed the cruise experience aboard Carnival Vista. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

According to the line, 85 percent of all the technical equipment installed aboard Carnival Vista is in use for the first time in the line’s history.

To me, that focus on efficiency and environmentalism means as much as having swanky new staterooms or a digitally-innovative Photo Library.

The largest and most technologically-advanced ship ever built for Carnival, Carnival Vista is miles ahead of Carnival Fantasy, which made her debut back in 1990 and which pulled into port with us here in Cozumel today. But one thing has remained timeless: a Carnival cruise is just good fun.

What better way to end tonight…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…than with a fabulous, sudden storm while in port? Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista continues tomorrow with one last Fun Day at Sea as we set sail for Miami, Florida! Follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Carnival Vista - 6 Night Western Caribbean

Sunday, April 30, 2017MiamiEmbarkation4:30 PM
Monday, May 1At Sea
Tuesday, May 2Ocho Rios, Jamaica8:00 AM4:00 PM
Wednesday, May 3Georgetown, Grand Cayman8:00 AM4:00 PM
Thursday, May 4Cozumel, Mexico / Carnival LIVE performance with Jay Leno10:00 AM11:00 PM
Friday, May 5At Sea
Saturday, May 7, 2017Miami7:00 AMDisembark

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