I recently had the privilege and joy of participating in a ship inspection of the Carnival Vista at the Port of Galveston. I have cruised on several Carnival ships in the past however I am not scheduled to actually cruise on the Vista until later for a family cruise.
The Carnival Vista is currently the only one in the Vista Class, she is registered to Panama, and she had her inaugural cruise in May 2016. Her itineraries range from 6 - 9 days out of Galveston into the Caribbean. If you haven’t cruised out of Galveston before, the Vista is a great way to check out the available itineraries.
Crew capacity of 1,450;
Guest capacity of 3,934;
8 Grand Suites;
66 Ocean Suites;
854 Balcony Staterooms;
23 Oceanview Staterooms with patio or lanai;
264 Oceanview Staterooms;
732 Interior Staterooms;
20 Oceanview and Interior Upper/lower Staterooms
Of the 1967 rooms, 25 are accessible rooms modified for wheelchair users. Our oldest daughter travels in a wheelchair so this is very important to us and to many of the families for whom I book travel.
Currently the Vista has two itineraries out of the Port of Galveston. First there is the Cozumel - Jamaica - Grand Cayman itinerary. A nice itinerary with either Ocho Rios or Montego Bay in Jamaica, you will have the opportunity to check out beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters ideal for snorkeling.
The second itinerary includes Mahogany Bay in Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. I have been on this itinerary on Royal Caribbean and it is my favorite out of Galveston. This itinerary is great for snorkeling but also for cultural/historical experiences such as visiting Mayan ruins.
Let me throw out a disclaimer before I get started: I am not a huge fan of buffets. That doesn’t mean I don’t do buffets at all. I just prefer the menu variety and service of the dining room without having to wait in line behind everyone else. I will do the buffet for lunch after boarding and maybe once or twice for the duration of the cruise however vacation is when I treat and pamper myself so I prefer to sit down, enjoy the view, and have food brought to me.
Let me add on suggestion about the dining room here: try something new! This is the perfect time and place to try something you normally wouldn’t if you were out to dinner in your hometown. Why? Because, if you don’t like it, you can just order something else. This is how I discovered I really like escargot. Don’t get stuck on eating the same thing again and again!
Guy’s Burger Joint is my favorite outside of the dining room. There may be some of you reading this thinking “a burger is a burger is a burger” and perhaps that is true in some circumstances. But Guy’s Burger Joint is worth checking out despite having only a handful of options. Anything with Rojo Rings gets my vote but if you prefer a burger with a little less pizazz, the Plain Jane is a sure bet. If you are craving beef and are hungry in a hurry, Guy’s Burger Joint is for you!
While meals at most restaurants are included in your cruise fare, they are some additional options for a fee. The Steakhouse offers entrees and cuts of steak not available in the dining room and you will not be disappointed. The appetizers and desserts are absolutely beautiful…..too beautiful to eat and I something I would never be able to do…..and I have never been disappointed by the quality or flavor of the food.
When we last went to the Steakhouse, the fee was $35 per person however I hear it has since gone up to $38 per person ($12 for children 11 years old and younger). My suggestion is to skip lunch on the day you plan to go to the Steakhouse because there is so much food! You will not walk out hungry!
Above you will see an example of the menu (be sure to scroll through all four pages). If you are a seafood lover, the Maine Lobster Bisque and Surf & Turf are EXCELLENT. Otherwise the pork belly, lamb chops and rib eye are all great!
Room service is something I typically do only in the mornings because I love having coffee on my balcony. The kids, on the other hand, love room service at any time of the day. If you are new to cruising on Carnival, please note that some items are free of charge while others carry a nominal fee.
For the rest of your food options (some free and some for a fee):
Cucina del Capitano
Jiji Asian Kitchen
Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que
Pizzeria del Capitano
Captain’s Pasta Bar
RedFrog Pub & Brewery
Accessibility is something that matters to me because 1) we have a kiddo that travels in a wheelchair, and 2) because I occasionally have travel clients with mobility issues. The document I have included below shows the accessible pathways with the blue dotted lines. Other accessible areas (i.e. bathrooms, public areas, elevators, etc) are also in blue.
Carnival is great about helping guests with special needs. The Guest Access department can be reached by phone or email however I recommend utilizing their online form for requesting assistance. I recommend planing your next cruise at least 12 months ahead if you need an accessible rooms because they tend to sell out quickly.
Ambulatory Accessible Cabins are staterooms designed for guests with mobility limitations but who do not require the regular use of a wheelchair, scooter, or other devices. Ambulatory Accessible Cabins are perfect for cruisers who only use an assistive device (like a cane or a walker) for long distances or who may benefit from amenities like grab bars.
Fully Accessible Cabins - Single Side Approach are staterooms designed for guests with highly limited mobility, who require the regular use of a wheelchair, scooter or other devices. Fully Accessible Cabins have clear floor space on only one side of the bed and they have an accessible bathroom with grab bars and shower seats.
Fully Accessible Cabins are staterooms designed for guests with highly limited mobility, who require the regular use of a wheelchair, scooter or other devices. Fully Accessible Cabins have accessibility including turning space, accessible routes throughout the stateroom and bathroom. The bathrooms have grab bars and shower seats.
When we cruise, one of my requests is having an ASL sign language interpreter for my daughter. I have done with this Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian and all of our experiences have been fabulous. I advise you to submit requests at least 90 days out so that there is adequate time to find someone. The best part? It is at no additional cost to the cruiser!
Dietary needs, service animals, blind/low vision issues, oxygen, dialysis……..these are some of the things that can be addressed if you call the Guest Access department. You can reach them at 1-800-438-6744 ext.70025 or email email@example.com. They are fabulous at helping guests have the best experience possible!
Staterooms can be such a controversial topic. Some people see staterooms as just a place to lay your head down, while others see staterooms as an extension of the experience. My family and I lean more toward the experience so we usually pay to have a bigger room and more amenities.
Interior rooms typically don’t offer a window however some may have a window out to a walkway. I have friends that prefer interior rooms with no window because they sleep better when it is totally dark. Interior rooms, as all staterooms do, have their own private bathroom with room occupancy being between two and four people. If you are not claustrophobic, interior rooms will work out just fine for you. I personally do not recommend interior rooms for more than two people because of limited space.
Ocean View rooms have a larger window that allows you to look out upon the ocean or out onto a walkway. If you are nervous about having small children and a balcony, the ocean view room is a good compromise. I personally do not recommend an ocean view room for more two people because of limited space.
Balcony rooms are my starting point because I love having a balcony. I love enjoying the sound of the ocean before I go to bed, and again in the morning watching the sun rise with a cup of coffee. If suites are cost prohibitive on certain itineraries, I will book a balcony room. If you plan to have more than two people, a balcony is good option simply because of the extra space of the balcony. It seems that we are almost always out on our balcony when we are in our room.
Suites are my favorite for a couple of reasons: first, there is more space in a suite. We have three children, all grown, however one has special needs. My husband and I keep her with us so we typically get a suite to give us a little more space (the other two children usually share a balcony of their own). Second, I like having the suite perks and amenities. Suite perks and amenities vary with each cruise line so please don’t assume they are all the same. For Carnival, having a suite gives you VIP check in, embarkation, and debarkation. You get priority dinner reservations and main dining room time assignment. You also get dressing area outside of your bathroom and two bottled water (not a big deal for some but still worth mentioning).
The Carnival Vista has a category of rooms called Family Harbor. One of the things I like about the Family Harbor staterooms is having access to the Family Harbor Lounge. The lounge offers a nice space for family activities, and it has a smaller room off to the side that could be used for a quiet space if your kiddo gets a little overstimulated. I mention this space to my special needs families in case they aren’t in their stateroom but they need a space to deal with behaviors.
Entertainment is such a subject topic to discuss because personal preference has everything to do with what we seek out. I have had a few clients express concern over having enough to do while at sea and let me tell you…….that should not be a problem at all for most people! Even if you just want some quiet time on the serenity deck with a book and an adult beverage, there is pretty much something for everyone. That being said, below you will find a list of the many things you can do while relaxing at sea (some are free, some for a fee):
Lip Sync Battle
Hasbro, the Game Show
SportsSquare including volleyball and basketball
Clue, the Murder Mystery
The Punchliner Comedy Club
Cloud 9 Spa
Mega Deck Party
Mixologist competitions and cooking demonstrations
Art exhibitions and seminars
Live Music and karaoke
Various bars and the nightclub
Alchemy Martini Tasting
Arts & Crafts
SkyFitness including fitness classes
Pools and Waterworks
FUN FOR KIDS
When you go on vacation, wouldn’t it be great if the parents could get a break from the kids and the kids could get a break from the parents? For many cruise lines, that is a thing!
Carnival has age appropriate activities for children age 2 - 11 (Camp Ocean) , 12 - 14 (Circle C), and 15 - 17 (ClubO2). Games, movies, karaoke, video games, and arts & crafts. Parents can get a break, kids have fun, and everyone wins! And yes, this is included in your cruise fare.
Night Owls is a program (for a fee) in which child care is provided after hours—until 1 am— for children age 6 months - 11 years. Music, activities, and games are provided in a group setting so that kids are entertained and supervised while parents enjoy some “us time.” Perfect for having date night on your cruise!
Our oldest daughter enjoys some of the Camp Ocean activities even though she is well over 11 years of age. Developmentally she is about 10 years of age and Carnival staff have always been great about allowing us to take her for various art classes during our cruise. If you have a loved one with special needs, and you see classes he/she may enjoy, talk to Carnival staff about it.
So, if you couldn’t tell, I really like the Vista. Everything was absolutely beautiful and the dining room served us a fabulous lunch. I really like the Serenity Deck, the SportsSquare with volleyball and basketball courts, the Family Harbor Lounge, and the SkyCourse so I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time in those areas.
My recommendation to Carnival would be to have more accessible rooms since 25 out of 1967 is hardly anything and also because they sell out so fast.
If you have any questions about accessibility or if you need any information regarding Austism on the Seas, please email me or contact your travel agent. I am always happy to help!
Check back later for my review of the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas!
Make this beautiful day count!