June 26, 2018

That Time I Explored Carnival's Vista-Class...



In addition to several things you should know about cruising with Carnival, here's what you'll want to know about that is exclusive (for now) to the Vista-Class ships which currently includes the Vista and Horizon, and will include the Panorama in 2019....

  1. Havana Cabins. The newest ships have Havana staterooms that grant you access to an exclusive area of the ship that has a sun deck, bar, pool and two hot tubs. Most (if not all) Carnival ships already have the Havana Bar area; and on the Vista-class, this area is found on the other side of the bar and you have to be in a Havana stateroom to access it until 7pm (public after 7). The up-charge for these rooms is pretty steep, but worth considering. There are interior, balcony, and suite options in the Havana category. Children must be 12+ to be booked into a Havana stateroom.
  2. Craft Beer. Vista-class ships have craft breweries ON BOARD that brew beer ON BOARD. I don't drink beer, but Boyfriend says it's pretty good and a pint was around $6. On the Vista they brew Thirsty Frog varieties in the Red Frog Pub & Brewery, and on the Horizon they brew Parched Pig varieties in the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse. You can get Thirsty Frog Red on Horizon as well as the Vista, but that one is actually brewed in Miami.
  3. Beer Growlers. The ships with on-board breweries will sell you a growler that you can fill and take away with you. This is basically a pitcher that keeps your beer cold and won't spill. They're not cheap (~$50), but if you're drinking the craft brews exclusively (or primarily), you'll save money by the end of the cruise.
    *The growler on the Horizon is branded for the Pig & Anchor Brewery.
  4. Teppanyaki. Only on the Carnival Horizon (so far), there is a (better known as hibachi) teppanyaki restaurant with seating for up to 16 people max. If you are familiar with Benihana/hibachi/Japanese steakhouse/etc. restaurants, that is essentially the experience you will get.
    There are just two 8-person tables so if you have less than 8 people in your party, you will be seated with strangers. There is a hibachi grill top in the middle of the table where the chef will prepare your dinner for you before your eyes. While this is new, reservations are required (because they will be full), and the cost is either $25 or $30 (includes gratuity) depending on the entree you choose. I do think it's worth the money, but would only go again for a special occasion. I would maybe choose it over the steakhouse, but it would be a tough choice due to the free wine there.
    The meal also comes with three small appetizers, and a bento-box dessert that has 6 small dessert items.
  5. Sky Ride. The Sky Ride is a bicycle that is suspended from a track that goes around the 1/2 of the top of the ship. It gives you unique views over the sides of the ship and of the lido deck and sports square. Its enjoyable enough that I will try to get a ride in once a cruise, but not so much that I would wain in line behind more that a few people. Only two people can ride at a time and it's relatively long. If you're in line and it starts raining, they won't let you ride, but they will take down your info so you can cut in line when you return once it's sunny again.
  6. IMAX. Also on the Vista and Horizon* is an actual IMAX theater showing first-run releases. It may seem silly to spend 2 hours of your precious cruise-time in a movie theater, but if there's a movie playing that you wanted to see, and you have some time to kill, the prices are actually reasonable, relative to a land-based IMAX theater.
    In addition to two feature films to choose from, they have a handful of nature documentaries you can see.
    Pricing is $12.95 and $5.50 respectively and you can go to the box office to buy tickets in advance or shortly before the movie starts, assuming there will be seats available.
    Something to note even if you have zero interest in seeing any of the IMAX movies is that the speakers are LOUD and loud sound tends to travel... i.e. to the nearby staterooms. So refer to the deck plan if you don't want to hear the theater: it is on decks 7, 8, and 9, so you dont want to be next-to, above, or below the theater. It's not labeled on deck 9 on the deck plan, but that's what that empty space is.
    *Carnival has decided not to put one on the Panorama.
  7. Thrill Theater. I have not done the Thrill Theater, but I've heard it's cool. The gimmick is that it's "4D". Which they accomplish by taking 3D video, and adding smells, and feels (the platform that your seat is on moves around like the Back to the Future Simpsons ride at Universal Studios). The Movie offerings are ~10 minute segments of popular movies in sets of three, and there are different levels of "thrill" (aka scariness). The cost is currently $5.50 per showing and may not be advisable for people who get motion sickness.

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