Setting Sail aboard Carnival Vista for the Western Caribbean
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Sandwiched between Carnival Splendor and Norwegian Getaway at the Port of Miami, there she was: Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship, Carnival Vista. Over the next six days, she’ll take me to Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. While we’re docked in Cozumel, another treat: a CarnivalLIVE performance featuring comedian Jay Leno. And it all starts right here, in Miami.
Our full itinerary:
Carnival Vista – 6 Night Western Caribbean
|Sunday, April 30, 2017||Miami||Embarkation||4:30 PM|
|Monday, May 1||At Sea|
|Tuesday, May 2||Ocho Rios, Jamaica||8:00 AM||4:00 PM|
|Wednesday, May 3||Georgetown, Grand Cayman||8:00 AM||4:00 PM|
|Thursday, May 4||Cozumel, Mexico||10:00 AM||11:00 PM|
|Friday, May 5||At Sea|
|Saturday, May 7, 2017||Miami||7:00 AM||Disembark|
Launched just last year, Carnival Vista is the largest and most innovative ship in Carnival’s 25-vessel fleet and, as I discovered after spending just a few hours onboard, she’s poised to be one of the most influential Fun Ships since Carnival Fantasy debuted back in 1990.
At 133,500 gross tons, the 3,934-guest Carnival Vista is slightly larger than Carnival’s Dream Class ships, which include Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze. Although similar in exterior appearance, the 1,055-foot long Carnival Vista includes a substantial number of distinctions; so many so that she is the lead vessel in Carnival’s newest class of ship: the Vista Class.
While Carnival Breeze ushered in a new décor scheme for Carnival and did away with the zany creations of longtime interior designer Joe Farcus, Carnival Vista permanently erases the wacky interior design of old. She also features a completely rethought General Arrangement plan, which has changed the size, style and location of the ship’s public rooms substantially over the Dream Class. However, because of that, even experienced Carnival cruisers are going to have to spend a day or so familiarizing themselves with the new locations of all their favourite venues.
A Whole New Carnival
When I stepped aboard just after 1:00pm, I stepped from the tide-sensing gangway directly into Carnival Vista’s technologically-impressive atrium. Spanning three decks in height, this more intimate space is dominated by the Dreamscape: a digital LED sculpture rising from the Atrium Bar to the ceiling that replicates an aquarium (without all that troublesome real water). Ambient lighting helps add to the “undersea” vibe.
But look closely: this is the first Carnival ship in 27 years to lack a soaring atrium topped with a skylight and flanked by banks of glass elevators. And that’s totally okay. It feels more modern and classy, with its sweeping glass staircases and white-panelled walls, than past ships have. Soaring atriums, once all the rage in the 1990’s and the early part of the 2000’s, are slowly being replaced with more intimate areas on many ships. From a design perspective, this makes perfect sense: a 10-story atrium eats up a lot of real estate space that could be used better for cabins, public areas, or in the case of Carnival Vista: the first-ever IMAX theatre at sea, situated two decks above the Atrium on Deck 7.
A walk up the forward stair tower reveals more welcome changes: new stairwell art featuring extruded, backlit photographs of famous locations around the world; better signage; and well-designed cabin corridors that play on the tropical, Island-theme developed for the Carnival Breeze, complete with island photographs and faux slatted wood panelling on stateroom doors.
That’s not to say other Carnival ships aren’t worthwhile: they are. But Carnival Vista offers so many subtle tweaks and enhancements that you’re bound to find something new to love on this ship. And if you’ve never done a Carnival cruise before, this is the perfect ship to try first.
At Home on the High Seas
My home for the next six days a Category 8E Balcony stateroom on Deck 9. Carnival has always had generously-sized staterooms, and this one is no exception. The room itself measures 185-square feet, with a 35-square foot exterior balcony, for a total size of 220 square feet.
The stateroom is nearly identical in décor to those found aboard Carnival Breeze, with blue-and-yellow patterned carpeting and a desk and vanity area situated next to three closets. But there are some important new enhancements for Carnival Vista.
To start with, gone is the desk-mounted flat-panel TV; the new flat-panel interactive TV is substantially larger and is mounted to the cabin wall. The desk-mounted safe is also gone, and now sits more conveniently in the first closet nearest the desk. This gives the desk a much more open, airy feel than previous ships.
There’s also more power outlets available: two 120V (North American) outlets, one 230V (two-prong European), and two USB plugs, all of which are situated near the desk. Bonus points too for the three storage shelves near the desk, which feature small but effective lips on them to ensure nothing slides off in inclement weather.
The bathroom is Classic Carnival, save for a better sink fixture and walls that, I swear, are less yellow in tone than they used to be. These modular bathrooms have a toilet, sink, six shelves, and a shower with pump-style dispensers for shampoo and body wash affixed to the wall. The classic shower curtain is there, though this one is heavier and doesn’t seem to want to cling like the old curtains of days gone by. The shower is also spacious enough that you don’t feel crushed into it. Comedians are going to have to get some new ship joke