We first reviewed Carnival’s 3,954-passenger ship, Carnival Vista, last fall. In November 2016, the ship — dubbed best of the year by the editors of online publication Cruise Critic — arrived in South Florida for its winter season, sailing from Miami. Here are six things that differentiate it from other ships.
▪ SkyRide: Set your own speed as you pedal above the deck on the 800-foot-long SkyRide track in your open-air cycling “vehicle.” From your perch 150 feet above sea, you’ll have great views. But because it stays above the deck, SkyRide’s thrills come without the woozy factor of being over the open sea.
▪ Brewery: Yes, the brewmaster really does create the RedFrog pub’s IPA, stout and ale in the shipboard brewery next door. (Tip: Order the sampler, with hearty “tastes” of four brews, before you start with the growlers.)
▪ Multiplex: IMAX devotees get their first theater at sea. For film buffs who crave a more immersive experience, the Thrill Theater offers 3-D plus the odd burst of “wind” and “splash” of mist.
▪ Havana at sea: No Caribbean-sailing ship these days is complete without mojitos. Carnival has taken the Cuban Club concept further with a Havana Pool (complete with thatched hut) and Havana Cabanas, cabins with ultra spacious patios that open onto the outdoor promenade. (Cabana guests have exclusive use of the Havana Pool during the day.)
▪ Seafood Shack: Ships may sail upon the sea, but getting local fresh catch on board is often a challenge. Carnival Vista will serve it any style, cooked up in the Seafood Shack. Or you can go for classics like fried clam strips, snow crab and a surprisingly authentic lobster roll. (Prices vary.)
▪ Family deck: At last, a cruise line has created the space you’ve always wished for: A family zone that features generous staterooms (yes, featuring two bathrooms!) grouped around a family lounge (with games, large-screen TVs and complimentary snacks). It even comes with a family concierge desk. (Now, if someone would just create a families-only zone on planes!)
Cruise line: Carnival Cruise Line
Passengers: 3,934, double occupancy
Passenger decks: 15
Class: First in the new Vista class
Length: 1,055 feet
Beam: 122 feet
Cruising speed: 18 knots
Christened: May 2016
Godmother: Deshauna Barber, Miss USA and a member of the U.S. military
Itinerary: Sailings from PortMiami to the Bahamas and Caribbean, from four to eight days.
Pricing: According to the cruise line’s website, a four-night sailing departing Feb. 17 starts at $289 per person, double.
Information: carnival.com; 800-764-7419.