|SkyRide is a creative open-air cycling experience suspended 150 feet above Carnival Vista's the top deck. // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon|
This is Part 1 of a two-part story, "First Look: Carnival Vista," which covers some of the new spaces, expanded spaces, new accommodations and itineraries. Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com this week for Part 2, covering new dining spaces/concepts, expanded onboard services and technology.
Two words -- new and expanded -- define the cruise concepts of the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, launched in Europe earlier this month. It's Carnival's first new build since Carnival Breeze in 2012.
What can agents and their clients expect? During an interview onboard, Christine Duffy, Carnival's president, herself a former travel agent, told us: “There’s so much agents will see on the Carnival Vista that’s either completely new or greatly enhanced or expanded."
The new ship definitely feels unlike any of Carnival Cruise Line’s other 24 ships. The ship is certainly large, but it’s obvious that Carnival officials worked hard to design a ship with lots of spaces to keep crowds to a minimum in any one spot -- from the bars to dining options inside and out.
|Vista Atrium // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon|
Carnival chose several outside architectural and design firms with no previous cruise ship experience and it shows. So what will your clients see and experience? Here's a snapshot look at what's onboard from our Mediterranean cruise last week.
New Spaces and Features
Certainly, a stand-out "new feature" is the Vista Atrium with its mushroom-like "Dreamscape" sculpture that rises three decks atop the circular Atrium Bar.
Yes, you'll see colorful ever-changing LED screens, but the atrium's design also seems lighter, airier and a bit more subdued than past Carnival ships. It's still fun, fanciful and informal. Yet, it's also less in-your-face, less garish, and less glitzy. We'd equate it to a bridge design-wise between the line's past and future.
Best views on the ship? Very unusual, fun and totally new is SkyRide, an open air cycling experience suspended 150 feet above the ship's top deck. Guests climb onboard hanging recumbent-like bikes to cycle their way around the 800-foot suspended track.
Along they way, they'll have panoramic views from 150 feet above the sea. Nearby is SkyCourse, a suspended ropes course.
Both are part of the expanded outdoor activity park that also includes a new indoor sports hangout, The Clubhouse at SportSquare. Think mini-bowling, ping-pong, arcade basketball, sports video gaming and more.
Carnival Vista also has the largest WaterWorks water park in the fleet. Among the most sought-after experiences for thrill seekers is the new 455-foot-long Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first-ever water tube attraction. Riders will hop on inflatable one or two-person rafts for twists, turns and kaleidoscopic visual effects.
|Carnival's extensive water park (a portion shown above) has many new features, including the line's first "raft slide." // Photo by Lynn and Cele Seldon|
Carnival Vista introduces the cruise industry's first IMAX Theatre at sea. Clients can watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content on a three-deck-high screen. We found the IMAX experience unlike any other movie experience at sea, with an amazing surround sound system, 3D offerings and enormous screen that seemed to fill the room.
Adjacent is the multi-dimensional Thrill Theater, where movie goers can feel in the midst of special effects. Both are part of the new Carnival Multiplex, which comes complete with a box office and concession stand. So clients can buy popcorn and movie snacks, just as they would at their favorite theater at home.
|Box office at the Multiplex // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon|
Carnival Vista also ups the volume of its already fun deck parties. Three new options include:
- The new Island Deck Party, celebrating the fun and spirit(s) of RedFrog and BlueIguana, the ship’s poolside watering holes;
- A Rock-N-Glow 80s Deck Party, with day-glo and other 1980s attire and music; and
- The adults-only Serenity’s South Beach-style club under the stars, with lots of special lighting and varied DJ-spun tunes.
Also, Playlist Productions added three new self-explanatory high-tech shows to the ship: "Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance," "Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures" and "America Rocks."
The ship also has added the Punchliner Comedy Club, offering some new family-friendly shows (it also offers adults-only performances), and "Hasbro: The Game Show" now has four new games.
If cruisers just want to relax, the two-cloud Cloud Nine Spa is a pampering spot. This full-service spa has a thalassotherapy pool, four steam chambers, the line's first infrared sauna and hamam and special "experience showers" that provide a soothing fragrance element. Fitness buffs will likely appreciate the new high-tech indoor cycling studio.
New Accommodations Categories
Carnival carries 700,000 children annually, so the line is increasing accommodation options for families. The new Family Harbor "dedicated family zone" is aft on Deck 2 and includes 96 specially-designed “family ergonomic” accommodations. It also gives families in these accommodations key-card access to a dedicated Family Harbor Lounge with large-screen TVs, board games, a concierge, complimentary breakfast for families and more.
Family Harbor suites for up to five family members have an L-shaped sofa that can be converted into beds and a curtain to separate sleeping areas. These suites also have a walk-in closet and two bathrooms. One bathroom has a tub and sink, the other a shower, toilet and sink.
Staterooms designated as Family Harbor accommodations include a mix of interior, ocean view and balcony accommodations; some of the latter offer a third berth above the sofa.
|Family Harbor Cove balcony staterooms have a colorful nautical theme, sleep four with a third berth and couch, and include Family Harbor Lounge access. // Photo courtesy of Cele and Lynn Seldon|
Elsewhere on the ship, families will discover a huge 4,000-square-foot supervised Camp Ocean play area for kids 2-11, including the whimsical Dr. Seuss Bookville library (previously only available on Carnival Freedom), family play area and two new outdoor playgrounds. For tweens, Circle “C” is the ultimate chill space for ages 12-14, while Club 02 is the cool club for those ages 15-17.
Another new category of accommodations? Sun worshippers will gravitate to the ship's 61 tropical-inspired Havana Cabanas, which have private outdoor lanai-like patios with a swing and lounge chair.
|Havana Cabana accommodations, new to Carnival Vista, have a private, outdoor lanai-like patio with a swing and lounge furniture. // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon.|
They're also adjacent to a semi-private, ocean-air outdoor promenade. Guests in these accommodations also have exclusive daytime access to a semi-private ocean-air lounge, relaxation area, hot tub and the Havana Pool (which, as with the ship's other pool, isn't that large, but provides a cooling dip for those wishing to bask in the sun).
This pool area has a tropical aura of colorful umbrellas, faux palm trees, thatched patio huts and comfortable seating. We'd recommend ordering a refreshing mojito.
The Havana Cabana Suites themselves have two twin beds (convertible to a king), a sofa, coffee table, desk and chair, full bathroom with rain shower, three closets, floor-to-ceiling windows and more.
What's nice is that these suites also have a laundry list of special amenities for guests, including priority check-in, upgraded bathroom facilities, reserved deck chairs in the Havana Pool area, 24-hour room services, bathrobes, mini-bars, two televisions with an A/V input plate, and more.
Important to know? All guests staying in Havana Cabana accommodations must be a minimum of 12 years old.
|Interior of a Havana Cabana Suite, a new type of accommodations with outdoor lanai-like private patio. // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon.|
|Ocean View with Balcony/Lanai, #6250 // Photo courtesy of Lynn and Cele Seldon|
As for other accommodations, Carnival Vista has 72 Suites and Grand Penthouse Suites, but by far the largest category available for booking is the Ocean View with Balcony/Lanai with 880 of these available.
Our Ocean View with Balcony/Lanai stateroom, #6250, was comfortable, spacious and Scandinavian-like in design. It had simple and subdued lines, colors, and furnishings.
Clients who book this category stateroom will find more than ample storage space and hangers, a refrigerator, plush robes, a full-sized couch and nice-sized bathroom and shower.
For those seeking more affordable accommodations, Carnival Vista also offers 293 Ocean View without Balcony staterooms and 723 interior staterooms.
Inaugural Year Itineraries
Carnival Vista will operate a summer schedule of Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Athens through October. The ship will call at ports throughout Italy, France, Spain and Croatia, as well as several new destinations for Carnival, including Crete (Heraklion) and Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; and Gibraltar.
Following an October 21 transatlantic crossing, the ship will offer a pair of 11-night voyages from New York in November. Later that month, it's on to PortMiami, where the ship will home port year-round home port for eastern, western, and southern Caribbean sailings.
More to Come
For more information on Carnival Vista from Carnival Cruise Line, go to www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-vista.aspx
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for Part 2 of this two-part series on the new Carnival Vista. We'll cover new dining spaces and features, expanded onboard concepts and technology.