My wife and I traveled from the Boston area by train the day prior to the cruise as is our common practice. With the exception of a train, my wife has a very limited tolerance for anything moving faster than she can walk. You don't want to know the process we go through just to get to the train!
We have never cruised with a group larger than the two of us. A couple we are close to apparently got tired of looking at all the pictures we take and listening to the wonderful times we have on our cruises. They asked if we would like companions on one of our cruises.
I told them about a cruise on a brand new ship we were booking in February 2015 and two days later they booked the Carnival Vista also. We were very pleased and excited about the new cruise experience we would be having. Not to hold you in suspense, the four of us had a wonderful time cruising together and look forward to doing it again in the future.
Debarkation: A mess. After a fiasco on a Splendor debarkation in 2013with only 3000 passenger my biggest fear for this cruise with 4000 passengers was debarkation. And thank you Carnival, you have met my expectations. As suite passengers we have always had VIP Priority Boarding but this time we were mixed in with the Faster To The Fun and Disabled passengers. Gone was the VIP Lounge and boarding. As for Diamond and Platinum passengers I don't know possibly they were mixed in with us too. When I asked about VIP Lounge, I was told there was none for this sailing.
Also, the effectiveness of Staggered Check-in is questionable. As suite passengers we
had a scheduled check-in of 11-11:30 but "but as Suite Guests can check-in at your Connivance ". I would estimate 1000 to 1500 people in the terminal when we arrived at 11:10. We finally were on board at 12:25 compared to the 20 minutes it took in July on the Carnival Sunshine.
The Ship: Absolutely wonderful. As with any "New" ship it looked exactly like you would expect... NEW. It definitely has the wow factor. We normally take the time at boarding to tour the ship and take lots of pictures but this time as we were traveling with others we did the "Stupid" thing and went right to the Lido Deck. Unbelievably, we had no problem finding a table to sit and this held true throughout the cruise. We never had a problem finding chairs on deck or Serenity either. I particularly enjoyed Deck 4, Lanai.
Each venue Library, Cherry on Top, Fahrenheit 555, Red Frog, etc. have dedicated area outside to sit, eat and drink.
We found the ship easy to navigated and move around with no noticeable crowding. The one thing I did notice is the long waits for elevators. When going to the Serenity Deck we took and elevator to Deck 12 and walked up from there (2 Decks...No Deck 13).
There is only 1 elevator that goes to Deck 15 and the wait is eternal.
Stateroom: We had a Port Side Ocean View Suite. Carnival apparently decided the Suites are to big and there is no need for a dressing room. We totally disagree and are very disappointed in their decision. I heard grumblings that Inside Staterooms are also smaller. Maybe Carnival got tired of hearing how they had the biggest Staterooms.
There is a larger flat screen television 42" I think, I didn't measure it. Drawer space is at a premium which we finally were able to deal with.
Food: No real complaints about the food other that the Lido seemed to have the same thing every day. Of course the alternative options Asian and Italian venues are complimentary for lunch and there is Guy's Burger, Pizza, Deli, etc. The there's the Lobster Shack, etc. which you pay for. You get the idea...plenty of food to enjoy.
We attempted the Sea Day Brunch once and were told there was a hour wait for food, not a table, that you could get right a way but we would have to drink coffee for an hour waiting for food. I never found out what that was all about.
We only ate in the Reflections Dining 4 times of the 11 nights but when we did the food was well prepared and served. I prefer my meat cooked medium so I order medium rare because it always seems to be over cooked. One night I ordered a meal medium rare and had to send it back because they cooked it EXACTLY THE WAY I ORDERED IT. I felt so bad I asked if I could talk to the person who prepared it so he/she would know I was not complaining. I don't think the waiter understood.
I like Crème Brule'. I told my waiter this on night one and each night even when it wasn't on the menu...I had Crème Brule'.
Staff: Our room steward and assistant were wonderful as usual. These people are so much appreciated. They always make whatever we ask for possible and I'm not going to test them by upping the ante to see when they fail.
The wait staff in the ding room were also great. Again they anticipate our wants and needs and meet them. Always exceeding my expectations.
Throughout the ship we were always greeted by efficient workers with smiling faces.
Entertainment: There never is for want of things to do on this cruise. We did attend a couple of shows in the Liquid Lounge which were fine. However we tended to find smaller venues for our entertainment including, Karaoke which we always find fun to watch but never participate, Comedians, Tom who had been on the Sunshine in July had different material on this cruise but just as good. Another comedian who shall go nameless was not nearly as good but did have a couple of good ones.
The Piano Bar has "Sing Along With Ben". He really gets people involved so don't miss him for a fun time.
Ports/Excursions: We do not normally take any excursion. The one exception this cruise was a Deluxe Lobster & Champaign Cruise. It was OK with two stops at beaches to swim and have the Lobster (definitely not MAINE Lobster). I'm not sure it was worth the $119 cost though.
As for the ports: Amber Cove canceled due to rough waters and flooding. This is Carnival's new "Private Island" at the Dominican Republic to which we had been looking forward.
San Juan, P.R. Stayed on board.
St. Thomas and St. Martin: Just did some walking around, eating, drinking and shopping local to the ship. Both were neat and clean and enjoyable.
Conclusion: I'm real happy we went on this cruise. We got to sail a really new Carnival ship and to experience the biggest ship on which we have sailed. Carnival has done a wonderful job filling all the spaces with things to do, some of which are new even to Carnival. Even though we were on the ship for 11 nights I'm sure we missed some of the things the ship has to offer. I strongly recommend the Carnival Vista for one of you future cruises and look forward to meeting you on board if I can get my wife to Miami for the cruise (reference line 2 of this review. LOL).