The 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, which launched in May 2016 in the Mediterranean, isn’t a big departure for the “fun ship” fleet, but it is further proof that this line just keeps getting better. The food — from buffets to the dining room to poolside casual fare and specialty restaurants — increases in quality every year, and with this new build the design has become increasingly modern, without losing its high-energy, Vegas-style appeal.
Best of all, the name refers to the ship’s additional outside dining spaces. With new outdoor spaces in a variety of areas, from the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse to the Bonsai Sushi Bar, people who like a side of “sea” with their meals will find plenty of places to dine under the sun and stars.
What We Love
Havana Suites: The 61 Colonial-inspired staterooms (picture dark wood and four-poster beds) come with their own swing-chair topped verandas. Passengers also have access to a deck with a pool, hot tub, and palapa that is just for their use until 5 pm each day. The lounge, which is filled with comfy wicker furniture that’s an upgrade from what you find on the main pool deck, hosts Latin jazz bands every night. It also serves Cuban-influenced breakfast and lunch fare, as well as a “light bites” menu that, with a few mojitos, could stand in for dinner.
The Best Poolside Dining at Sea: This is a big statement, but we stand by it. From the hand-ground burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint (which are served on fresh buns with hand-cut fries) to the fried fish tacos and salsa bar at BlueIguana Cantina, Carnival has served poolside fare that’s head and shoulders above the rest for a few years now.
RedFrog Pub Is Brewing: Sure, the line has other RedFrog Pubs, but this is the first one brewing its own beers onboard. Best of all, they’re good, and the space has outdoor seating and serves à la carte Caribbean snacks, too.
Seafood Shack: This for-a-fee casual seafood “stand” serves everything from fish and chips to lobster BLT sandwiches.
Best Known For
Waterworks: Waterslides are not new for Carnival, but the Kaleid-O-Slide — which changes colors as you move down the tube — is, as is the bucket-style Power Drencher, which dumps a whopping 300 gallons of water.
New Family Cabins: The 96 family-friendly cabins come with the ability to sleep up to five passengers and a shared lounge with video games, snacks (including milk and cookies), and game and movie areas. For families sharing a small place, it feels like an additional living room to escape to when the cabin feels tight.
SkyRide: This complimentary ride is like a rickshaw hanging from a zip line. Two cars travel across an 800-foot track that hangs 150 feet above the deck, and you can pedal as fast or as slow as you like. One caveat: High winds shut it down in several ports on my sailing.
Serenity Lounge: While my May sailing only had 140 kids on board, that number swells to 10 times as many some summer weeks. That’s when this adults-only, 18-and-over sundeck, complete with hot tubs and a chopped salad bar, becomes a haven from the noise and bustle of the otherwise family-friendly ship.
A 3-D IMAX Theater: The first IMAX theater at sea, which has been built into the center of the ship, is just as loud and intense an experience as you’d have on land.
Pizzeria del Capitano: Gone are the frozen pizzas of the past. For this outdoor venue, Carnival bought a proper pizza oven in Naples to cook the made-to-order, fresh mozzarella-topped pies in a mere three minutes and 27 seconds.
Modern Design: Throughout the ship, design has been freshened up, with few exceptions — so much so that the rare misstep, neon lighting in the dining room, stands out like a sore thumb.
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Who It's Best For
Anyone Who Likes Big Ships: While those who dislike crowds and boisterous, noisy spaces should avoid all mega ships, Carnival Vista serves couples, families, and friends who like high-octane vacations equally well. Kids programs cater to children of all ages, and this is one of just two ships in the fleet that has the Dr. Seuss-themed Bookville reading room.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
This Is the Only Summer in the Med: Carnival isn’t planning to bring Vista back to the Mediterranean next summer, or have a ship there at all, so (until a new ship launches in 2018 in Europe) this is your last chance for a while to sail on one of these amazing itineraries on this laid-back line.
Nickel and Diming May Add Up: While you expect to pay for extras such as specialty restaurants, internet access, and frozen drinks, some charges may surprise you. This includes a $15 fee to catch a bus from the port into, say, the town of Marseille, and a $5 fee to watch a movie on the TV in your cabin.
There Are No Hammocks: While early renderings showed hammocks on the terraces of the new Havana Suites, in the end the line could only fit swing chairs in these spaces. Some passengers on early sailings were surprised and disappointed. Still, while you’re cruising out of, say, Barcelona, these are some of the most fun private sail-away vantage points at sea.
Sherri Eisenberg is the New York City-based editorial director of ShermansCruise.com.
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Carnival Vista at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Number of Passengers: 3954
- Ship Size: Mega
- Launch Date: 2016