One Last Day at Sea: Reflecting on Carnival Vista

Wrapping up my journey aboard Carnival Vista with one last Fun Day at Sea! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Friday, May 5, 2017

Today is my last day aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, after a six-day sailing that has taken us from Miami to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, along with featuring a special Carnival LIVE performance by comedian Jay Leno last night.

Our full voyage:

Carnival Vista - 6 Night Western Caribbean

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
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

So with nothing ahead of us but the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea, it only seems appropriate to look back on this voyage, and the trendsetting Carnival Vista.

Four Carnival Voyages On, What Carnival Means to Me

Enjoying a bowl of ramen…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…at Bonsai Sushi, Deck 5. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

I have an embarrassing admission: despite cruising since 1998, I’d avoided Carnival until 2014, when I sailed aboard Carnival Breeze to the Eastern Caribbean. My reasons for avoiding the line were simple: I’m an introverted bookworm; someone more likely to be found swirling a glass of scotch in a quiet shipboard lounge than participating in the Hairy Chest Contest by the pool. I pick my cruises very carefully: I don’t want to have a bad experience. Carnival, I thought, had the potential to be a bad experience.

The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there are people who come on a Carnival cruise to eat and drink a lot – but show me the mainstream cruise line where that doesn’t happen.

Listening to the abundant live music across Carnival Vista became one of my favourite nightly activities. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Today’s Carnival, however, is more suitable for families, couples and singles from all walks of life than ever before. I have never once felt uncomfortable on a Carnival cruise ship. I’ve even been shocked to find that Carnival has become one of my most favorite lines to cruise on, period. A Carnival cruise is just good, plain fun. And while some of the line’s alcohol-fueled past has certainly followed it, the all-out-frat-parties are a thing of the past. The vast majority of my fellow guests on Carnival Vista were families taking that rare cruise vacation together and wanting to have a good time. Some may have never left the United States before, while others are experienced world travellers. That’s what’s special about Carnival, and what Carnival Vista is great at: offering up something for everyone, from every walk of life.

There’s something for everyone on Carnival, from full-blown deck parties…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…to quiet places to relax. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

One of the things I try to impress upon people – and what I’ve found once again here aboard Carnival Vista – is that Carnival gives you more than you expect. I don’t mean that as a pejorative, rather as a quantifier: would you expect a very reasonably-priced cruise like Carnival to offer up three different craft beers brewed right onboard, or a high-end cocktail bar with bartenders so talented they’ve developed their own unique concoctions that won’t appear on any menu?

The fact is that this affordable cruise line gives you a tremendous amount of entertainment and shipboard opportunities. Carnival Vista takes that experience to a new level. The cuisine in Ji Ji’s Asian Kitchen, for example, is quite possibly the best Asian cuisine I’ve had on any mainstream ship. Fahrenheit 555 gives people the chance to have a steakhouse meal that would cost hundreds of dollars on land, for $35 per person. Guests can dine on Italian, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Mexican or American cuisines. They can enjoy free gourmet hamburgers, and free Mexican dishes at the BlueIguana Cantina. Carnival Vista even adds an authentic smokehouse on the Promenade Deck (Deck 5) that’s open only on sea days. And – you guessed it – it’s free, too.

Guy’s Burger Joint is something Carnival could have charged for – but it doesn’t. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Carnival’s kids programs are also second-to-none, and the line’s expanding partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises only adds to the value I see in that. The line encourages kids to read through their unique onboard offerings, from Cat in the Hat Storytime to the whimsical Green Eggs and Ham Sea Day Brunch.

Sure, there are plenty of opportunities to buy things onboard, and it’s important to budget for your onboard expenses so that you’re not watching the bottom line on your vacation – but again, this is true of any mainstream cruise.

Carnival Vista: The Perfect Ship for First Timers

This is, without a doubt, Carnival’s most attractive ship to-date. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Over the past six days, I’ve thought about how Carnival Vista – the newest and largest ship ever constructed for Carnival – compares to my past cruises aboard Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Pride.

If I’m pressed, the Spirit Class (Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride and Carnival Spirit) is still my reigning favourite among the Carnival fleet. They’re smaller, hold fewer guests, and are generally less crowded – but no less fun.

However, they’re also older vessels that reflect the “old Carnival”, with the ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ interior design that the line was known for in the past. Wacky paintings, heavy doses of neon and brass, and gaudy fixtures reign supreme.

Carnival Vista also offers up some great new entertainment options, like the fantastic…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…Lip Sync Battle! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

But after six days here aboard Carnival Vista, I’d recommend this ship to families and first-time cruisers without hesitation. Past Carnival guests will find a lot to like here, but those who are new to cruising – and those who are just new to cruising Carnival – will find that Carnival Vista provides one pretty amazing cruise.

My Verdict

Choose Carnival Vista If:

  • You love the idea of sailing on a big ship with lots of daily activities. With an IMAX theatre, the new SkyRide, the Thrill Theatre, high-quality comedy performances and a daily program packed with activities, boredom is not an option here.
  • You’re travelling as a multi-generational family. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better ship for families from all walks of life looking to cruise together in an easygoing atmosphere that’s unpretentious and welcoming.
  • You like high-quality food and beverages. From the craft beers at the RedFrog Pub to the diverse dining options with dishes from other cultures worldwide, there’s something on this ship for everyone.

Give Carnival Vista a Pass If:

  • You prefer Carnival’s older, smaller ships. Being the newest ship in the fleet, Carnival Vista is big, busy and typically filled to her third-and-fourth berth capacity.
  • You’re looking for a quiet, adult-oriented cruise vacation. Carnival carries nearly 800,000 kids annually – and is rightly proud of it.
  • You have mobility issues. This is a huge ship, and getting around could be a challenge compared to one of the line’s smaller vessels.

Next year, Carnival Vista will get a sister-ship in the form of the still-under-construction Carnival Horizon. She’s expected to offer up some enhancements over Carnival Vista, including the first-ever Dr. Seuss-themed waterpark in the world, and a reportedly all-new dining concept.

Toasting the last day of the cruise with a martini in Carnival’s Atrium Bar. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

It’s my job to cruise all over the world, sailing on different ships and determining who would like what. But I also like to put my money where my mouth is. Friends of mine are arranging a group cruise for next year. Our total group will number about 12, and will include singles, couples, families and friends. When asked what cruise line we should be taking down to Mexico, my answer was an easy one: Carnival.

No question about it.

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista has sadly come to a close, but stay tuned for our future voyage reports, beginning next week with a transatlantic crossing aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2! Follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Carnival Vista - 6 Night Western Caribbean

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
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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