Vista - March 2017 Review

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99 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
We recently returned from a cruise on board the Carnival Vista. This is the second review I have done on Cruise Critic and hopefully someone will find it helpful as I have been able to pick up a lot of knowledge from these boards.

About Us: We are in our late forties and usually travel with our two children (aged 17 and 19). On this cruise my oldest was not able to join us. We have previously cruised on Carnival (Dream, Sunshine and Breeze x 2), Norwegian (Breakaway & Epic), Celebrity(Summit) and Royal Caribbean (Voyager of the Seas). I have enjoyed all the cruises I have been on and all have had their own pros and cons.

Pre-Cruise: We flew in and out of Fort Lauderdale. Upon arrival, we took SAS transportation from the airport to the Hampton Inn Miami Downtown Brickell ($15p/p). Once we collected our bags we called for the transportation and it was there immediately. The van was clean, large and the driver was very pleasant.

Our room was not ready when we arrived around noon. They seemed to be struggling to get the rooms done after having a full house the night before. Although we were able to check in around 2:45 there seemed to be many people still waiting for their room(guaranteed check in time was 3:00 p.m.). They stored our bags for us while we went out to grab a bite to eat at the Gastro Pub below the hotel. The food was good and we are able to relax and enjoy the patio seat in the beautiful sunshine.

The hotel room was more than adequate – clean and comfortable. The 6th floor pool and hot tub were nice and the bar area was quite busy in the early evening (they had given out free drink coupons to everyone checking in). There is a Publix just down the road for any last minute items you might need. We were very tired so our original plans of finding a nice spot for dinner changed to grabbing takeout from the corner Mexican Restaurant (I believe it was called Coyo). It was very good.

In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel (included) and then we took an Uber to the port (with a discount code we had it cost $12). We asked the driver what it would cost to return to FLL Airport by Uber and he indicated it would be $72 but if we called him directly he would charge us$60.

Embarkation: We had a 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. check in time. I was warning my family that we would not likely be allowed in when we arrived at port just past 11:00 a.m., but they just waved us through after looking at our boarding passes. I don’t know if this is typical or if we were just lucky. There were lines to move through security but they moved quickly. They checked our passes and documentation and advised that the room keys would be in mailbox next to our room. We were given a zone 12 boarding card and we were called on board just around noon. Our luggage was delivered to our room just after sail-away around 4:15 p.m.

Room: We chose a cove balcony for this cruise (room 2329). We usually choose a regular balcony and have the kids in an inside across the hall. This time the three of us were in the one room. The storage on the carnival ships is excellent (particularly the multiple shelves in the bathroom) so there was no problem in finding space for everything. I did bring some extra hangers which worked well. There were two robes in our closet - and they were much softer then I remember them being in the past.

I loved the cove balcony! I loved the privacy of it and it is a few extra feet bigger than the regular balcony. The view of the water was great. It was definitely wetter then a regular balcony but only on the floor. The chairs did not feel wet or salty and we had one night of quite windy/rainy weather. I believe we were below the guest services area and there were no issues with sound in the evening.

I also loved the room for it’s location to other things. We are not lay out by the pool people so we found we were only going up to the lido deck to grab lunch or perhaps to go to the water slides. Overall, I would say we probably only used the elevators 3 or 4 times all vacation which I was pleased about because they are quite slow.

I would definitely choose a cove again – although having seen the Havana area I think I have my eye on that for next time.
Our room steward was excellent, he seemed to really know our schedule and our room would be cleaned quickly and efficiently when we stepped out. We did not ask for any ice but he mentioned on day one that he would be happy to get it for us if we needed it. We were not asked anything about how often we wanted cleaning and our room was cleaned every morning and turned down every night.

Ship Appearance/Public Areas: We like the décor of the Vista (which is very similar to the Breeze). It did not bother us that the atrium is less impressive (mainly because it is not an area that tend to hang out). The Red Frog Pub and Ocean Plaza are great spaces and the amount of seating around the deck 5 promenade is impressive. We did not use the serenity area but it looked to be a good size. I am not sure how busy it got. The lido deck was always busy when we walked through but we only stopped to use the pools twice on days when we were returning from port and it was a little quieter.

The only thing I found odd was that they seem to have drastically reduced the size of the public restrooms. I think some reduction was needed because I have been on ships where they are huge and often empty,however this may have gone a bit too far. The women’s restrooms often had a lineup (particularly the one outside of the Horizons restaurant for ATD).

The casino seemed a bit smaller to me then I remember on the other ships but it also seemed far less smoky.

I do understand the complaints about the main lounge seating as I think it is a great concept to have the movable chairs but it doesn’t quite work. They are often moved in such a way that that it further reduces the number of people who can sit. And I did find that when I had a seat in the middle I missed the little table to put a drink down.

Spa: I pre-purchased a couples spa pass for my husband and myself and I do regret doing that. The price was good but the spa is a bit less impressive than other ships we have been on and there was often no chairs available to relax in. I had purchased it mainly because I thought it would be helpful to have access to the bigger shower with 3 of us in a cabin(and one a teenage girl). I did take advantage of that but unlike other ships there is no hair dryers in the change rooms. Once we figured out our own personal routine with the 3 of us in our room it was a non-issue. If I could do it all again this is the one thing I would change – I would not have bought the pass.

Crew: Very friendly – I find that Carnival is a step above in this category(or at least we have been very lucky). The crew from stewards, waiters, bar staff, to entertainment staff all seem to be very engaged and take a moment to remember those they have interacted with. There were a handful of staff who we have sailed with before and they seemed to genuinely remember us(or else they were darn good at pretending they did!). After 3 cruises away from Carnival it kind of made it feel like ‘coming home’.

Entertainment: We did not attend any of the main theatre shows although people who did seemed to enjoy them. We did attend 4 comedy shows(2 PG and 2 18+), they ranged from good to very good. We really like the comedy club concept on Carnival. We found if we got to the show 20 minutes before hand we had no problems getting a good seat.

We participated in the CLUE game. Again, I think it is a good concept that needs a little refinement. The kick off of it is enjoyable, but the clue reveals throughout the week are a little bit more tied in to getting people to attend the Bingo games.

We played a lot of trivia and the Fun Squad staff on the Vista was excellent. We really enjoy participating with them on this ship and they certainly have more than enough trivia throughout the day to keep everyone happy. They get busier and busier as the week goes on.

We very much enjoyed the live entertainment in the Red Frog Pub.

Food (dinners): We had ATD in the Horizon Restaurant (3rd floor). All of our meals were good and some were very good. The first and last night were both very slow with dining taking over 2 hours. The other nights ran much smoother. We had some very nice wait staff and you could tell they were popular because it was difficult to back in their sections.

Food (lunches): We generally don’t eat at the buffet but we very much enjoyed our lunches at Guy’s,Blue Iguana, Pasta Bar, and Pig and Anchor BBQ. I think the lunch options on Carnival are better than any other cruiseline we have been on.

Food (Specialty): We had one dinner at JiJi’s and it was excellent. We reserved before the cruise and I would definitely recommend doing this. We tried to get a reservation at Cucina’s during the cruise but were unable to get in.

Cheers Package: This was our firstexperience with Cheers and we enjoyed the ease of having it. We took advantage of being able to get the specialty coffees and waters but even with that we probably still came out about even. I booked it because I liked the idea of taking care of the bill before the cruise and the option to try something new and not worry about wasting money if I didn’t like it. If I bought it again it would be on a less port heavy cruise.

Pools/Sports Square: We used the pools and water slides on port days when things were a bit quieter. My husband and daughter rode the sky ride and liked it; when I went to do it later in the cruise the line was too long to wait. We did not use the ropes course but we did play mini golf a few times.

Ports/Excursions: In Grand Turk we rented a golf cart and drove around the Island. I would highly recommend doing this as it is very easy to navigate and not very big. We drove to the lighthouse, around the town, spent time at Governer’s Beach and Jack’s Shack.

In Domincan Republic we took a tour to Sanoa Island and spent the day swimming and having a great lunch, and the return trip included a stop on a sand bar to see the Starfish.

In Bonaire we took a Carnival excursion on a glass bottom boat tour and walked around the town.

In Aruba we took a Carnival Segway and Beach tour. This tour was a little delayed due to rain that had occurred earlier in the day but once we are on it, it was so much fun. The Segways are easy to ride once you get used to it and such a fun way to get around.

Disembarkation/Post Cruise: We did self assist disembark and could have been off the ship just before 7:00 a.m. if we wanted to. We got off at 7:45 and called SAS for transportation back to FLL Airport. We stored our bags at the ‘Bags to Go’ baggage storage because we had a late flight.

We took the free Sun Trolley Airport Link into downtown Fort Lauderdale. It leaves you at the Visitor’s Centre. From there we walked along the river to St. Olas and visited the boutiques and went to lunch at Louie Bossi’s restaurant(very busy and loud but good food). We then picked up the free Water Trolley and rode back and forth a couple of times on the river - this is different then the paid Water Taxi or Water Shuttle; it only goes a short distance and has about 4 or 6 stops in the area between St.Olas and the historical part of Fort Lauderdale where the Visitor’s Centre is. Once we were done exploring we caught the Sun Trolley back to the airport (it leaves hourly).

So, I think that covers all of the general categories. We had an awesome cruise and met a lot of very nice people. The ship did not feel overly crowded to us until the last couple of sea days when it felt a bit busier because the weather wasn’t as nice outside. Overall, I would say the Vista matches the Breeze for us as our top two favourite ships. As mentioned earlier I would love to try a Havana cabin on my next visit. If you have any questions, I would be happy to try and answer them.
656 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Thank you for your review!
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Carnival Vista, April 2017, Western Caribbean
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329 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Thanks so much for your review! So glad that you had a great time! I will be aboard the Vista in 2 weeks!
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256 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Thank you for your review. Myself along with 26 family members and friends will be cruising on Vista in October 2017
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5,060 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Thanks for the review!!
Maybe someday, but right now, the Vista is not on the radar.
Not a fan of the atrium or the main theater.
It's the little things........
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250 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Thanks for writing this! Glad you had a good time. And thank you for refreshing my memory about the Clue game! Someone asked a question about Clue and I was so excited to hear that they have this...but now I remember that I did play it once. And stopped midway through once I figured out that I had to go to Bingo to get the next clue lol!

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55 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Thank you for the informative review. We sail on Vista in January '18 and plan on doing the same strategy as you did, flying to FLL and staying in Miami. Looks like it all went well!

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99 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by krismas_tina
Thanks for writing this! Glad you had a good time. And thank you for refreshing my memory about the Clue game! Someone asked a question about Clue and I was so excited to hear that they have this...but now I remember that I did play it once. And stopped midway through once I figured out that I had to go to Bingo to get the next clue lol!

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I guess in one sense it works for them - we don't normally play bingo but we ended up playing twice!
99 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by PhotoMike
Thank you for the informative review. We sail on Vista in January '18 and plan on doing the same strategy as you did, flying to FLL and staying in Miami. Looks like it all went well!

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It was very smooth, it was quite a bit cheaper for us to fly into Fort Lauderdale so this worked well.
23,493 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Thanks for the review. Like the organization of how you did it also.
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6,299 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
Thank you so much for your review! Sailing Vista in February and cannot wait!
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99 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Thank you for the positive comments on my review. For those of you going on the Vista soon I think you will love it! For those of you where it isn't on your radar yet, I get that too; we all value different things on a vacation.

I have also learned from doing this review that these boards don't like a cut and paste from Word. Sorry about the missing spaces in many sentences!
3,822 Posts
Joined May 2006
Thanks Janie001 -- really enjoyed your review. Nice layout and to the point.

We are on a B2B on the Vista next January and are in an even numbered Cove on the opposite side of the ship from your cabin. Glad to hear it was quiet at night. From looking at the deck plans, it loos like both cabins are under the Reflections Restaurant.

We too like being close to the water and the view. We've had 2 coves so far and have caught sight of flying fish both times.