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Review of the Carnival Vista

The Carnival Vista is a terrific ship.  Continues to build on the things Carnival does well, and improve some of the new implentations that have proven to be very popular on other ships.

Our stateroom was 7214.  As you can see from the deck plans, it was one away from being the furthest forward on the port side.  Incredibly smooth ride.  Higher is better than lower, midship is the best, forward is better than aft.  Still my recommendation.

We liked the improvements to the layout, specifically the location of the Sports Bar, Havana Bar, Punchliner Comedy Club, Club O2, Pixels Photos, and the Casino.  The enlarging of the sushi bar, the iMax Theater, the enlarging of Guy's Pig and Anchor, the Havana "section" of rooms, and the layout of the Promenades on 4 & 5 were all very well done.  The preshow line for the Punchliner was in the hallway and not snaking through the Piano Bar.

While the Red Frog Pub and the Cucina Del Capitano are still hidden treasures of the ship, pasta lunch in the Cucina Del Capitano is a pain with the basketball court right above you.  Everybody raves about Guy's Burgers, for me, the Pig and Anchor is the true gem.

My wife was in a wheelchair, so we had a lot of interaction with the elevators.  We didn't like that the forward elevators went to either deck 3 and up, as high as 11, as high as 12, or one that went to 15.  Too much thinking and the three different controls didn't interact with each other.  Too much thinking and pressing every controller just to go up or down a few floors.  No question, we miss the atrium elevators with the glass looking over the atrium.

There were revolving doors at the Ocean Plaza that were motion operated that were fantastic for someone in a wheelchair, and also for those seated close to them.  When the motion operation didn't work, though (like starting on day 3), it was the biggest pain in the world to go out there with someone in a wheelchair.  Those things were heavy.

I wasn't crazy about the "hallway of hawkers" from the forward elevators to the pool on Lido.  Spa, Art Gallery, Steakhouse, Photos, Future Cruise all had a table through there.  I just wanted to go to eat or the pool.  I didn't want to be constantly solicited.

My wife and I were split on the atrium on deck 3.  We both agreed that the traffic pattern was better.  I just didn't like the set up, she was OK with it.

The Liquid theater we both agreed was less than desirable.  There wasn't much "pitch" to the rows, very flat.  If you were in the upper bowl, unless you sat at a high top along the back, you were looking through plexiglass.  While the middle seats were all modular letting the performers take advantage of a larger floor space, there was no place for your drinks.  None.  Even the permament seats in the lower bowl had a little, itty bitty piece of wood that wasn't level and was in the most inconvenient place to set a drink even if it wouldn't slide off.  Really disappointing.

There was almost always at least a half hour wait for the Carnival SkyRide.  You must wear closed toe shoes and it has a minimum height requirement of 54 inches and a weight limit of 300 pounds.

The Waterworks was out of this world.  The Serenity Deck was much improved, although as with other ships, tough to get to and navigate if you're in a wheelchair.

We'll be excited to return to the Carnival Vista and are looking forward to the new Carnival Horizon.

Review of the New Features on Carnival Cruise Line

Just got back from a cruise aboard the Carnival Vista doing an 8 night sailing from Miami (calling on Gran Turk, La Romana, Aruba and Curacao) and thought I'd review a few of things that are new on Carnival Cruise Line.

As the Vista is considered the "flagship" of the fleet since she's the newest, these features might be just on her, or they might be implemented fleet wide.

First, we liked that our room steward not only met us on the first day, but gave us a business card with her name and direct number.  Understand why, but we weren't crazy about them offering EITHER morning or evening room cleaning.  Yes, we could (and chose) both.

We liked the Carnival Hub interactive app.  It could do a little more (like be a little more interactive with the deck plans and your current location), but if you're familiar with the Carnival product, it's a welcome addition to having to carry around the torn off page of the Carnival Capers.  The Hub is free, but must be connected to Carnival's on ship wi-fi.  (On our iPhones, don't go to full airplane mode.  Turn off cellular data, and leave on bluetooth and wi-fi.)  We didn't use it, but if you're traveling with another couple, kids who have a smart phone, the $5 one time charge to text back and forth was very popular.

We did like the prepaid internet plan.  We prepaid (and saved 15%) for the Value plan which more than satisfied our needs.  I wore it out posting pics to Instagram.  The internet is still slow (to do our business research, anyway), but 24/7 email was a big improvement for us over the old timed minutes plans.  For only $4.63 more a day, I might try the premium plan next time to see HOW much faster (they claim up to 3x) the internet connection is.

They've finally arrived at a place we feel they should have been to a few years ago with regards to pictures.  All digital.  You can view them on your cabin TV, the Carnival Hub I referenced earlier, and at the Pixels store on the ship.  Amusement parks have been doing this for years, but I'm glad CCL is catching up to the times.  It wasn't exactly seamless.  You give your room number to the photographer.  Not sure on the first couple of days everyone knew their room number because we got a LOT of pictures in our feed that wasn't us.  Apparently the system has some sort of facial recognition for those photos that get misplaced.

Not sure if it's something they're doing, but we saw the photographer on the first night at dinner, declined pictures and never saw her again.  That's fine with us.

Another GREAT feature Carnival is offering is signing up for a time and a CCL photographer takes you around the ship for photos.  Liked this idea.  No obligation to buy, but all of your pics are put in a really nice booklet.  Really beats the roll out backdrops.

Finally, the pools.  We've always whined about parents who don't discipline, or are no where to be found, their kids in the pool.  Very noticeable to us was a crew member with a white "Team Member" shirt watching at all the pools.  They weren't afraid to be seen or say something.  It was noticeable on the first day.  I could see the eyes of the kids watching to see if the team member was paying attention.  Made the pools a much calmer place for us old kids.

Pre cruise travel

We've been very fortunate full time RV'ing, owning a business with flexible hours and wintering close to an embarkation port that we've been driving to our cruises.  A lot of you do, too.

We're cruisiing in August from Miami on an 8 Day Southern Caribbean (bucket list ports, namely Aruba) and will be flying in and back.  We would always recommend flying in the night before and getting a shuttle or an Uber to the pier in the morning.  Sometimes, though, it just can’t be done.

Connie hates flying in on the day of the cruise, and in truth, there are a LOT of possible issues that can arise.  One of those happened to us yesterday when we got the dreaded “your flight has been changed” email.

Our rule of thumb is boots on the ground before noon on your day of embarkation and flights no earlier than 1p on your return.  The changed flights were within the cruise lines guidelines (which you should always consult), but gave us a little bit of nerves.

These flights were on Delta, and the airline you’re flying can have a LOT to do with your options.  One thing about airlines is they’re not really that accessible.  At least Delta has the callback feature where you don’t have to wait on hold for an hour, they’ll call you back.  Still, in all, it was at least a two hour process.

In this case, we had a lot of them (including flying in the day before), but we settled on an earlier departure and arriving in Fort Lauderdale around 11:45a.  Not ideal, but workable.

I’d still much rather drive to my cruise.

Late Flights After a Cruise

We have clients who want to self assist, earliest flights possible and rush, rush, rush to leave their cruise vacation.  That's fine and we understand it.

When we travel, however, we are the extreme opposite.  We've been told we have to leave.  We've had guys holler down the runway to the guys at the end that we were the last ones and close the door.  We've been called by the porters that our luggage hadn't been picked up yet, and we have priority embarkation.  (Me:  "um, that's because we're still eating breakfast on the ship and we haven't left yet.")  You get the picture.

So we're flying out of Fort Lauderdale next month after a cruise in Miami on the Carnival Vista, and we have a later (5:55p) flight.  Years ago, in Tampa, we had a similar situation and if you've ever cruised from Tampa, you know that the airport (like in Lauderdale) is very close to the cruise port.  We couldn't check in for our flight.  We sat there until check in could begin.  It was a horrible few hours.

So here's our plan for now, years later, with all kinds of technology at our disposal.

We'll still be the last ones off the ship in Miami.  We'll take the Carnival transfers back to FLL, which should get us there around 11:30 or noon.  Too early to check in our luggage for our flight.  We've checked, and FLL has storage.  We'll store our bags there at the airport.  We're going to take an Uber to one of the many places we've enjoyed in the past at Lauderdale or maybe find someplace new.  We'll do that research well in advance.  Then, we'll Uber back to the airport, check in and wait on our flights.

How about you?

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