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23 things I loved and hated about Carnival Vista


After taking a cruise on one of Carnival Cruise Line's newest ships, Carnival Celebration, I was interested in seeing how sailing on an older vessel would compare. 

While Carnival Vista isn't the oldest ship in the fleet by any means, the almost 8-year-old ship was much different than Carnival Celebration. I'm sure my next cruise onboard Carnival Conquest will be different, too! 

From indulging in a delicious meal at the specialty sushi restaurant to slow Main Dining Room service, here are 23 things I loved and hated about Carnival Vista. 

I loved my spacious suite


When I booked my Carnival Vista cruise, I decided to book my first-ever cruise ship suite

While Carnival's suite program isn't as expansive as other cruise lines, I enjoyed the spacious cabin and added perks, including priority embarkation and disembarkation, upgraded mattress and bathroom amenities, and complimentary water. Plus, we were able to access the suite as soon as we got onboard around 11:30am, rather than having to wait until 1:30pm. 

My Junior Suite was 152 square feet larger than my interior room on Carnival Celebration, measuring a total of 310 square feet, including the larger balcony with a chaise lounge chair. Never once did my cousin and I feel cramped in this stateroom, as there was a walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom with dual sinks and a shower/tub combo. 


Read more: I paid $3,600 for a suite on Carnival Vista - Take a look inside my spacious cabin

I hated the location of my Junior Suite


My stateroom, cabin 9206, was located at the very front of the ship. Usually, I am not too bothered by the rocking of a cruise ship; however, my cousin and I constantly talked about about how unbelieve the motion was in our suite. 

It was impossible to utilize the balcony on the first sea day due to how windy it was. Plus, the room was often pretty loud, as we could hear the creaking of the furniture whenever we sailed through a large swell. 

If you're prone to seasickness, this suite is not the best option for you. 

I loved Bonsai Sushi


While on my 7-night cruise onboard Carnival Celebration, I did not try a single specialty restaurant for dinner. This was one of my biggest regrets, as I heard many passengers talking about how delicious the teppanyaki was. 

Carnival Vista doesn't have a teppanyaki restaurant; however, there was a sushi restaurant right across from the Alchemy Bar. 

The menu was a la carte, meaning that I only paid for what I ordered. Since I had a relatively large and late lunch at Guy's Burger Joint, I didn't get as much as I otherwise would have. I tried the miso soup and tempura roll for only $13! 


For the price, I thought the quality was great. The tempura roll was crispy, and I loved the Bonsai Sushi sauce that was drizzled on top. 

I hated how guest elevators were used to move luggage on embarkation day


When delivering luggage to everyone's cabins, the crew used passenger elevators to transport the bags. 

With thousands of people trying to get on the ship and navigate to the lido deck, there was a delay in elevators, as some were out of service. 

Thankfully, we got our bags delivered to our suite pretty quickly; however, it was annoying to have to wait 5+ minutes for an elevator into the early evening. 

I loved Amber Cove


(Photo taken from "Damajagua Waterfalls Adventure - Shore Excursion for Cruise Passengers" listing on Viator)

When I visited Amber Cove on Carnival Celebration, it was one of my least favorite ports. The pool was crowded, and the food was pretty expensive. This time, I opted to book an excursion through Viator to the Damajagua Waterfalls that cost around $60 per person. 

Since the tour was through a third party, my cousin and I had to walk out of the port and locate the tour operator. All in all, the walk took about fifteen minutes, and we were the first group to arrive from Carnival Vista! 

Once arriving at the base, we embarked on a forty-minute hike to the falls which consisted of over 200 stairs and steep inclines. There were some in our group who were struggling to keep up with the guide during the hike. 

After getting to the falls, we were able to jump and slide down seven of them! Unfortunately, neither my cousin nor I had brought a waterproof pouch for our phones, so we were not able to bring them with us. 

I hated parking at Port Canaveral


Usually, I take an Uber from my pre-cruise hotel to the terminal. Since my cousin lives in Daytona Beach, we swung by my hotel the morning of the cruise, and we made the hour-long drive from Orlando together. 

We arrived around 10:15am; however, we were not able to park until closer to 11am due to the traffic. Before parking in the garage, we were instructed to pull into a parking spot to have the porters take our luggage. 

It seemed that port agents weren't too sure about what was going on either, as one woman told us that there were two different lanes; however, this proved to be false, and we were stuck waiting to merge back into the single lane to get into the garage. 

I loved the casino


The casino on Carnival Celebration seemed to be too small to accommodate the large number of passengers onboard. 

Initially, I thought the same thing for the casino on Carnival Vista, but it never felt crowded, even on sea days and later at night. 

I'm not a huge gambler, but I appreciated how I was always able to find an open machine. My $20 lasted me longer than I thought, too! At one point, I had won over $100, but I decided to keep testing my luck and only ended up with $40.

I hated how there wasn't a bar in the casino


The only downside to the casino, however, was that there wasn't an actual casino bar. The bars inside the casinos were removed from Carnival Vista and Horizon in mid-2021 to combat the smoking issue. 

Since the bars were situated at the bottom of the dreamscape funnel (similar to the one in the atrium), the smoke often traveled up to Deck 5, impacting those dining at Farenheight 555 and Bonsai Sushi or grabbing a drink at the Alchemy Bar. 

While there are still bartenders roaming the casino, it makes it a little bit more difficult to grab a quick drink. You either need to bring one with you or be prepared to wait. 

I loved the ease of checking into the main dining room on the HUB app


Whenever I sail on Royal Caribbean, I usually opt for their "My Time" dining option, as I love being able to eat at a different time each night, rather than having to stick to a set dining schedule. 

On Carnival, I don't have to worry about making reservations in advance. Instead, I simply open the mobile app whenever I'm ready for dinner. On this particular sailing, the wait time for dinner never exceeded 10-20 minutes. 

There were a couple of times when the wait time wasn't accurate, but it was usually only off by about ten minutes. 

Read more: Guide to flexible dining vs traditional dining on a cruise ship

I hated the lack of privacy in my stateroom


Cabin 9206 is located next to a public observation deck that sat on top of the ship's Bridge. If anyone walked out there, they were able to peer directly on our balcony. 

While sailing away from Grand Turk, my cousin and I struck up a conversation with a couple who walked outside— they were that close!

There was another window that overlooked this deck, too. We were often startled when we saw someone walk by! 

elizabeth leaning on window outside of JS

While an awkward design feature, I did appreciate the natural light that this window let in. It was especially nice on the first sea day, as the weather wasn't ideal for sitting out on the balcony and soaking up all the ocean views. 

I loved the priority disembarkation we had in Amber Cove


The night before we docked in Amber Cove, we received a letter stating that we had priority disembarkation due to our suite. 

Since we had booked an excursion with a third party that had a start time of "thirty minutes after arrival," we didn't have to rush to line up with other guests to be one of the first parties off. 

Instead, we made our way to the Liquid Lounge on Deck 4 around 10:50am. As soon as we arrived, we were escorted off the ship via a private elevator ride down to the gangway. We were actually off the ship before the cruise director finished announcing that the gangway was open!


Unfortunately, there was no priority disembarkation in Grand Turk. We still managed to be one of the first people off, though. 

I hated the flavored straws


I treated myself to a specialty coffee from JavaBlue one afternoon and was surprised when they put a strawberry-flavored candy straw in my iced coffee! 

It wasn't exactly the flavor profile I was going for, and the straw disintegrated pretty quickly. By the time I was finished, the straw was folded at the bottom of the cup and looked gross. 

Had I gotten a frozen cocktail, like a piña colada or strawberry daiquiri, I might've liked the flavored straws more. 

I loved Grand Turk


This was my first time visiting Grand Turk, and I was surprised by how much I loved it! 

The free beach wasn't as large as I had thought, but my cousin and I were able to secure two chairs early in the morning. It, however, was full by 10:00am. 

If you weren't able to grab an oceanfront chair, there were plenty near the Margaritaville pool. There were also some located near the Beached Whale Bar & Grille. Due to the rockiness of the shore, you aren't able to swim over there, though. If you're going swimming, you should be aware that the water is pretty rocky, too. You'll want to be careful when wading in the ocean. 


We ended up eating lunch here before heading back onboard. While expensive, my coconut shrimp was delicious, and my cousin's jerk chicken was falling right off the bone!

I appreciated how there were complimentary activities for everyone, regardless of whether you were in a pool or beach mood. Amber Cove, the other port on our itinerary, only has a complimentary pool. 

There was even a beachside spa where you could pay extra to get a massage without venturing too far from the ship.


Note that there aren't any free umbrellas. If you want some shade, you'll have to rent chairs or umbrellas further down the beach. When I inquired about how much two chairs and a single umbrella would be, I was told $40; however, the guy seemed like he was open to bargaining. 

There were also some clamshell beds available for $40-$60 located closer to the pier if you don't want to walk further down the beach. 

I hated the ship's layout


This was a common sentiment I heard from cruisers new to the Carnival Vista. The ship's main hub was a three-story atrium located on decks 3, 4, and 5. As someone who is a fan of the Royal Promenade on Royal Caribbean ships, I was disappointed with the layout. 

It took me a few days to learn where everything was, especially the third floor of the main dining room, as you can only access it via the aft elevators or staircase. 

Moreover, if you were crossing from the atrium on Deck 4 to the Limelight Lounge, sports bar, or main dining room, you had to cut through the casino; there wasn't a separate hallway. 

I loved the late-night buffet


For those awake around midnight who wanted something to eat other than a slice of pizza, there was a small late-night buffet in the Lido Marketplace on Deck 10. 

This was also available on Carnival Celebration, and the options were pretty much the same. There were chips and salsa, hot dogs with chili, steak sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, and deep-dish pizza, to same a few options. 

Read more: Nostalgic cruise traditions being phased out

I hated the complimentary sea day lunch at JiJi Asian Kitchen

jiji asian kitchen pager

On the last day of the cruise, my cousin and I decided to check out JiJi Asian Kitchen (Mongolian Wok) for lunch, as we're both pretty big fans of Asian cuisine, whether it's Thai, Korean, Japanese, etc. 

We got there around 1:50pm to find a large crowd of people standing outside. It took a few minutes before we realized that they were actually in line; they had already checked in with the host and were waiting for their pagers to buzz. There was no option to check in via the HUB app. 

Our pager finally buzzed around 2:20pm, which was only ten minutes before the app said the restaurant was closing for the afternoon. 


There weren't too many options, so my cousin and I both ordered the wide noodles with steak, as it was the only dish that was supposed to have any kind of heat. 

We were a little confused when we got our food, as mine had a heap of crunchy lettuce on top and his did not. For an Asian dish, it was pretty bland. It was definitely lacking any heat. I think I would have preferred trying Cucina del Captiano's lunch instead! 

ChiBang! on Carnival Celebration was much better in my opinion. 

I loved the adults-only Serenity area


Onboard Carnival Celebration, I wasn't too impressed with the Serenity area. There was barely any shaded seating, and the pool was tiny. Because of my first impression, I didn't think to give it a second try. 

On Carnival Vista, however, I found it to be one of the most peaceful places to relax onboard. Compared to the lido deck, Serenity truly is a peaceful retreat. Calming music was playing, and I barely heard anyone speaking. 

The clamshell beds were also incredibly comfortable and shielded us from the wind. It was easy to want to nap all day there!

I hated the breakfast buffet line


On our 5-night cruise, we dined at the Lido Marketplace for breakfast twice. On other ships I've been on, the buffet has been my go-to spot for a quick breakfast before exploring different ports of call. On Carnival Vista, however, the line was so long since there were only two stations open, plus a third omelet bar. 

Before getting off in Amber Cove, my cousin and I got in line around 9:45am, and the line wrapped around into the hallway near the crew entrance to the kitchen. The line was pretty similar next next morning at 8:00am. 

I was also disappointed by the lack of variety. The options were pretty much the same on both days, with pancakes being swapped for french toast, and breakfast potatoes in lieu of crispy hash browns. 

I loved the playlist production show "Studio VIP"


One thing that was on my must-do list this cruise was watching a few playlist production shows. I heard that they were great on Carnival Celebration but didn't make it to any, as I was more interested in the different comedy shows each night. 

The first playlist production show I saw was "Studio VIP." When my cousin and I went to enter the Limelight Lounge, I was handed a VIP pass which meant that I got to be interviewed by the cruise director and sit in the front row. 

During the show, I was grabbed by the cast to dance on stage. While I would have preferred to be a regular audience member (dancing is not my strong suit), I loved how interactive the show was. 


Plus, I was invited to a VIP party on the last day of the cruise where my cousin and I got free champagne and were able to mingle the the playlist production cast!

I hated the slow service in the main dining room


The service in the main dining room was some of the slowest I've ever experienced on a cruise. While I had a similar experience during sea day brunch on Carnival Celebration, the dinner service was much faster. This time, however, I found both to be on the slow side. 

There were also some dishes that fell short of my expectations, especially after how delicious nearly everything was on Carnival Celebration. 

The strip steak, for instance, was pretty dry, and the crust on the Crème Brulee was inconsistent. The Caesar salad I had on the first night was pretty average, too. 


Of course, there were some dishes that I loved, such as the corn and poblano chowder, fried green tomatoes, beef brisket, and Szechuan shrimp. 

I loved the SkyRide


I wasn't expecting to enjoy the SkyRide as much as I did! While the ride was short, it was fun to zip around the top deck of the ship. 

I rode it while we were docked in Grand Turk, so I got some pretty amazing views of the ocean! The line was short while in port, too. 

It is a little bit of a workout, though, especially if you're racing the person on the other track!

I hated the disembarkation experience


The disembarkation experience was perhaps the worst part of the entire cruise. As suite guests, our luggage tags were delivered to our stateroom, so we didn't have to worry about carving out time on the last sea day to go grab them. 

This was the smoothest part of the process. There was only one gangway working, so the disembarkation was delayed. Rather than starting at 8:00am, priority guests weren't allowed to get off until closer to 9:00am. Plus, other guests with later group numbers, if you could even call it a line. 

Truthfully, it felt like we were a pack of animals! One woman remarked that there was "nothing priority about [the line]." 


I'm sure if the other gangway had been working, the process would've been much more streamlined. Even with the delay and chaos, we were in the car by 9:20am, and I was able to make an earlier flight out of MCO that took off at 11:50am. 

I loved Carnival Quest


After attending a few Crazy Quest shows onboard Royal Caribbean ships, I was curious to see how Carnival's version compared. It was one of the most insane shows I have ever been to. 

While the quests started off relatively sane (i.e., asking for four left shoes and two pairs of sunglasses), they progressively got more risqué. 

At one point, the cruise director was receiving lap dances from men and women! Of course, if you're someone who gets easily offended, you probably would not like Carnival Quest. 

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