Saturday, April 23, 2022

Carnival Vista Cruise Review - April 23, 2022


                                                               Carnival Vista Cruise Review

Just the Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Vista, first of Vista Class ships - 133,500 gross tons - 3900 passenger capacity
Sailing:  April 23rd to April 30th, 2022
Captain: Rosario Arena - Cruise Director: Kyndall Fire
Ports: Galveston - Mahogany Bay, Roatan Island, Honduras - Belize, Central America  -  Cozumel, Mexico - Galveston

This is my 5th time to cruise on the Carnival Vista, my 98th Carnival cruise, and my 179th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo guest.

Day One -- Saturday --  April 23rd, 2022 -- Port of Galveston  Embarkation 
The day began at Twisted Oak Ranch. I was up early but have a later boarding time so left the Ranch at about 6:45 am for the drive to Galveston. I have to say I am spoiled by driving and sailing from Florida. Not only is Galveston a long drive, but It was also especially difficult today with traffic backed up due to an equipment convoy and I-45 completely shutdown around Dickinson, TX. I didn’t arrive at EZ Cruise Parking until noon. It was busy at EZ with two ships and late arrivals so I walked to the cruise terminal…it is very easy to do. It went fairly well at the terminal check-in, the VeriFly app helped and I was dropping off my roll-on duffle at the cabin at about 12:45 PM. The cabin was not ready so I went up to JiJi’s for two bowls of wonderful Mongolian stir-fry with both Chicken & Beef with my favorite Vegetables. It was really good as were the Won-Tons and Asian Spring Salad.  All the cabins opened to guests at 1:30 pm so I returned and set up my cabin for the week. I then went to my Muster Station, located in the Casino for a very easy safety briefing although one crew member from the Casino Dept. was the rudest crew member I have ever encountered, she needs some help with guests relations. I went by the Red Frog Pub, but no embarkation Happy Hour…disappointing. I did go to the Lido Marketplace for a piece of Peanut Butter S’mores Cake, it was interestingly good. Sail away was delayed, I suspect it was because so many guests had trouble getting on the island due to the I-45 road closures. Since Muster Drill announcements had ceased by 4:30 pm it was a good time for a nap as I have no plans this evening other than a visit to the Alchemy Bar. My interior cabin on deck 11 is great for napping…so good that I didn’t wake until 1:15 am. Well, I needed the rest and amazingly I fell back asleep until 7:15 am. I had 14+ hours of peaceful rest. I had just a few days earlier driven 18 hours from Florida to Texas and also jumped into some projects on the Ranch so this cruise will be R&R for me. It was an interesting then restful embarkation day.
Day Two -- Sunday --  April 24th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Rolling seas overnight contributed to my restful sleep. I was ready to eat when I woke so went to the Sea Day Brunch at about 8:30 am. I ordered Steak & Eggs, French Toast, Danish, Hash Browns, Bacon, Hot Milk, and a Bloody Mary. It was very good. I did a walkabout the ship picking up my Diamond gifts at Pixels then to the Casino to get my $25 free play. This is a special Casino cruise so it was already busy, I placed my bet on Red at Roulette and got Black...oh well it was free play. On the elevator, a Diamond mentioned something to me about the Diamond Luncheon and I assumed he meant tomorrow as we have two sea days before our first port. I did call Guest Services and made a query, she put me on hold and then said the Diamond Luncheon started 15 minutes ago. I asked why I didn't get my invitation and she said I had a do not disturb sign on my cabin. Well, I was asleep, but I did not put out any signs...and the Vista has mailboxes outside the cabin doors. It could have been placed in the mailbox, under the door, or delivered today. I'm not pleased...unlike the Casino guests who have several perks (and back-doored into Diamond), I'm a full fare paying loyal guest who has missed out on my primary perk. Not sure why I didn't get it but I will be asking for an explanation. I spent some time on deck 10 aft and had my dinner from the Lido Marketplace out there as well. I really enjoy watching the sunset from a cruise ship. Perhaps my favorite thing about sailing. I did something I rarely do, I watched a movie at the Seaside Theater. I’m on deck 11 so it’s convenient to watch from there. Tonight it was American Hero, a movie about Kurt Warner the football player. I retired to the cabin to update this blog and read about the Oklahoma Sooners Spring football scrimmage, impressed with the 76,360 attendance, I think there is something special with this team. It was a good first sea day on the Carnival Vista.
Day Three -- Monday --  April 25th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea
Rolling seas overnight as we enter the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful weather so guests are staking out their locations on the outer decks. About 10:00 am I went down to the Blue Iguana for breakfast. I had Arepas, Huevos Rancheros with two fried eggs, Watermelon, and various salsas. It was good and it was busy, with more guests eating at Blue Iguana on Texas-based cruises than on Florida-based cruises. I did visit Guest Services about my Diamond invitation snafu. I just don’t want it happening to my clients or other Diamond guests…if you don’t make contact at least leave the invitation in the mailbox, don’t take it back to Housekeeping or Guest Services. I relaxed on deck or in the cabin most of the day. I did have a Guy’s Burger and fries at about 2:00 pm and enjoyed the sea air on the Lido deck. I made my first trip to the Alchemy Bar this evening, I knew the two Alchemists Caterina and Dajana from previous Vista and Mardi Gras cruises. I enjoyed two cocktails and visited with guests until time for dinner. Tonight I’m eating in Cucina de Capitano on deck 11. I ordered my favorite Cucina items: Arancini, Nona’s Meatballs, a Salad, the wonderful Grande Braciola Di Maiale (Tomahawk Pork Chop) entree, with spaghetti and Gnocchi sides. It was excellent and the Chop was Grande. After dinner, I walked outside on deck 11 and retired to the cabin. I did watch a TCM movie before sleeping. It was another very restful day on the Carnival Vista.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  April 26th, 2022 -- Roatan Island Honduras - Mahogany Bay
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. This interior cruise cabin is great for sleeping…it stays very cool throughout the night…in fact cold, no fans are needed here. I slept late so wanted a light breakfast, I had Bacon and assorted fruit in the Lido. I stayed on the outer deck until the Mongolian Grill opened at noon. I had an excellent Mongolian Stir-fry lunch. Healthier too. I spent the afternoon on deck 15 at the Serenity Deck. It’s a large space forward that has a lot of clam-shell Loungers, two Hot tubs, a Bar, and more, only the Mardi Gras has a larger Serenity. We sail away at 6:00 but no need to rush back aboard as Guy’s Burgers is open until 10:00 pm. I like that option. I went to the Alchemy Bar for Cocktails and Dajana prepared another nice absinthe cocktail, A young man sat next to me and asked for a cocktail from a menu he had, it turned out to be an absinthe drink, Phoenix Down. Others began ordering it and also Quick Fixes from the menu...very unusual, but quite interesting. I had a very late dinner in the MDR, the Your Time is open until 9:30 pm and I was there about 8:45, not busy at all. I'm no longer keen on the MDR, but it was what I call Linguine night and it is a menu I like. I ordered the Iceberg lettuce Salad, the Baked Meatballs and Linguine combined, and the Tenderloin entree with Bitter & Blanc for dessert. It was very good tonight, especially the Tenderloin and dessert. I retire soon afterward. It was an enjoyable evening on the Carnival Vista.
Day Five -- Wednesday -- April 27th, 2022 -- Belize, CA 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. It’s an overcast morning in Belize, but guests are going ashore on the water taxi. I went to breakfast at Blue Iguana and had my usual Huevos, Eggs, Arepas, & Watermelon, yes a line again this morning, a popular choice. I stayed out on deck the rest of the morning, my plan was to go ashore and have lunch on Bird Island as I did on my previous visit, but it began raining so not doing it. I ended up having a nice BLT sandwich and french fries from the Deli in the Marketplace. I alternated between outside on deck 11 and cabin time during the afternoon rains. I went to the Alchemy Bar at about 6:45 pm and then to watch the Jazz Set by the 
Vista Rock Band in the Ocean Plaza at 7:15…they were good. I then had dinner again in the Horizons Main Dining Room. Tonight I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, two Shrimp Cocktails, Four Season Salad, Filet Mignon entree, and Key Lime Mousse for dessert. It was very good with very good service, the same team I had the previous night. I then had time for the late feature production show: Amore Cubano in the Limelight Lounge (see photo). I had a great seat and enjoyed the colorful Latin show. A short walkabout the ship before retiring. It was a restful rainy day on the Carnival Vista.
Day Six -- Thursday --  April 28th, 2022 -- Cozumel Island, Mexico
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. The Vista arrived earlier than our 8:00 am schedule and were disembarking by 8:05 am. I went to the Marketplace for breakfast but took it to Blue Iguana to get proper salsa. I did book an all-inclusive day at Del Mar Latino so left the ship just before 9:00 am and walked the 15+ minutes to the resort. It was a really fantastic day. I arrive about 9:20 and found a nice lounger near the pool and bar. They had plenty of staff to take orders…I started with diet Coke, but soon changed to mojitos. The Pool was nice as was the steps into the Caribbean Sea. I had some Guacamole, Chips, Pico de gallo, and Cheese Quesodillos. I changed to a table mid-day as the sun changed. Very good WiFi so I was able to do some work. I did try their signature item: Coconut Shrimp, it was very good. I also had the Coconut ice-creme as a final dish. All the food is in small quantities, but I guess you can order more…the drinks were in 12 oz cups so adequate…the service was great. I did the walk back to Puerto Maya and I could see that the lines were very long as with a 3:30 pm back on board time, everyone came late. I waited at 3-Amigos timing my arrival back so no lines…so close to 4:00 pm. After an evening snack I decided to have Cabin / Movie time the rest of the evening. It was a FUN day in Cozumel.
Day Seven -- Friday --  April 29th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth sailing again overnight and I slept well. I had breakfast at the Blue Iguana: Huevos with fresh fried eggs, Arepas, Salsa, & Watermelon. I spent the morning on deck 11 with a nice view of the Gulf. Very nice weather today too. I went for lunch at Cucina de Capitano: Bread, Cesar Salad, Linguini Bowl with Meat Sauce, and a Penne Pasta Bowl with Tomato Sauce. It was all great. I enjoyed it very much. I then did an afternoon walkabout on the outer decks, the weather is perfect so a lot of guests were in the pools and hot tubs, but did not seem overly crowded. I went up to the Serenity Deck, it’s large enough, but no pool. The Bar is nice, larger than on the Mardi Gras. Only one elevator to deck 15 forward so a bit hard to get to that deck. Cabin time the rest of the day. At about 3:30 pm the Captain announced that due to mechanical issues we are sailing at a reduced speed and will not arrive in Galveston until 11:00 am tomorrow…it happens on occasion. I went to the Platinum/Diamond party at 5:00 pm. It was the old-style party with plenty of bar servers and the Beer/Tito’s station. I sat as close as I could get to the Titos and Lemonade. Kyndall, the CD, did a great job of keeping things rolling and there was entertainment. I wish they would announce the top 5 cruisers as some CDs do, I wasn’t high but curious as to where I stood among the 160 total Diamonds. I did a walkabout the ship, stopped by Alchemy, it was busy, then went to the Marketplace for dinner. I had a Salad and a bowl of Breaded Shrimp, it was nice. I retired early even though we can sleep late tomorrow. It was a nice final day on the Carnival Vista.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review - April 4, 2022

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review

Just the Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Paradise,  Last of Fantasy Class, Launched Nov. 1998 @ 70,000 tons.
Sailing:  April 4-9, 2022 - 5 day cruise - Sailing out of Port of Tampa, Florida
Captain:          Cruise Director: Leilani Ross
Ports: Tampa, FL - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - Isla de Cozumel, Mexico - Tampa, FL

I am sailing as a solo guest. This is my 3rd cruise on the Carnival Paradise, my 97th Carnival cruise, and my 178th total cruise overall.

Day One -- Monday --  April 4th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa  — Embarkation  
This is another very easy embarkation day sailing from my new homeport of Tampa. I left the Villa in Meadow Oaks at 9:20 am and I was sitting in the terminal by 10:30 am. About a 50-minute drive, I parked directly across the street, rolled my one single bag to the ship, used VeriFly at check-in, and sitting in the terminal waiting for boarding by 11:00 am. Easy Peasy. I dropped my bag at the cabin and went up to the Lido Marketplace for lunch. I had a Reuben sandwich and a very nice salad from the self-serve Salad Bar (see photo). IMHO the Salad Bar was better than on the Mardi Gras. I returned to the cabin, an Upper/Lower on deck six. It’s big for one person with a lot of storage and I’m very glad I did not upgrade the cabin. I was greeted with a message on the mirror and a large towel animal alligator eating a small duck…interesting. I went to my Muster Station and checked in then did a tour of the ship. A walkabout doesn’t take as long on a Fantasy Class ship. I ended up at the Lobby Bar and enjoyed a Pilsner Urquell beer. Not sure the number of guests onboard as yet, but so much more comfortable than the recent over-full Mardi Gras cruises. Soon we sailed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I have sailed under it more times (5) than I have driven over it (2). At 6:00 pm I went to the MDR for dinner. I was assigned a 10-top table and there were 9 at dinner, but there are few dining choices on this ship. Tonight I ordered both hot soups, the Roasted Tomato & Poblano Pepper, two Shrimp Cocktails, The fried Shrimp entree, and Tiramisu for dessert. I did a walkabout the ship picking up my Diamond gifts at Pixels and my bottled water from the Lobby Bar. I then retired to the cabin to watch a movie and follow the NCAA basketball finals. I needed rest from working on my garage conversion project the past few days.  It was an easy embark day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Two -- Tuesday --  April 5th, 2022 -- Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well in my interior cabin. I updated this blog and did some online business before going up to the lido deck for an omelet. It was very good as was the bacon and watermelon. The outdoor grill area is one large space with Guy’s Burgers on one end and the Blue Iguana on the other…Omelet Station in between. Very convenient as I had salsa for my omelet. A quick visit to Guest Services for some small $ change and no line at all, I like the fewer number of guests on this sailing for the ease of movement, especially the elevators. I went to the casino for my $25 free play and was given $25 in cash…Sweet! and thank you Carnival. The Diamond event was held at 10:00 am in the Rotterdam Bar and reminded me of earlier years as there were only a dozen Diamonds and a few guests. The staff mingled and the bar service was very good. I had my fair share of Bloody Marys, bottled water, and some Pepsi’s for the cabin. The Hotel Director, Martin Fowler, as host, welcomed all and was informative. The Paradise was the last Carnival ship back in service since the shutdown and this is only their fifth cruise. They are also limiting guests to approximately 1200 or about 60% capacity. I enjoyed the little Diamond gathering very much. After a short walkabout it was back to the cabin for a very restful nap…almost a new record at 4+ hours…super! Tonight is elegant night, but I did Guy’s Burgers before they closed at 6:00 pm. Then a small dessert and watermelon on the aft deck. It’s a beautiful evening and a good time to be out and about as most guests are at dinner. I enjoyed a nice cocktail at the Rotterdam Bar then went to the 
’80’s Pop to the Max show in the theater. I had forgotten how large the theater and stage are on this ship. The set was just six stools on the stage and two feature singers and four others singing to a soundtrack. Hopefully, they will present the full show with a set and dancers soon. Entertaining, but not memorable. A nice walkabout the ship before retiring...There was Music in several locations as well as Comedy.  It was a fun and restful sea day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Three -- Wednesday -- April 6th, 2022 -- Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I was up very early, but not planning on going ashore today. We were already anchored off of Grand Cayman by dawn and they began tendering by 7:30 am. The Carnival Vista and Sunrise are anchored as well. A smart guest would have an early excursion booked in order to get an early tender space although with fewer guests it should be fairly easy today. A beautiful day today so guests will be happy. I again had a very nice omelet with salsa and watermelon from Blue Iguana. About 10:30 am I took a tender to shore just to walk for exercise, I walked an hour + then returned to the ship. Grand Cayman did not fare well from the decision to close to cruise ships. for so long. The majority of shops and storefronts are closed. Thankfully they still have the Seven-mile beach, the String Rays, and Turtle Farm as a basis for Tourism to recover. I had Pumpkin Soup and a Salad for a light lunch. I enjoyed sitting out on deck taking in the view (see photo) with some fresh fruit for dessert. Cabin time for some business work online then a short nap. I did a walkabout during sundown hours then listened to still drum music in the Lobby. I went to the Windjammer for dinner, I had two small Sirloin Strip Steaks and a unique Beet Root Salad with pearl onions. I am enjoying the ship very much as it’s refreshing not having 5600+ guests as I’ve been experiencing on my recent Mardi Gras cruises. It was an enjoyable day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Four -- Thursday --  April 7th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept fair. We have a late arrival into Cozumel so no rushing this morning…I went up to the Blue Iguana for a Huevos Rancheros with fried eggs, Arepas, Salsa, & Watermelon. The Arepas were the best I have had…a slight crispness on the outside…very nice. I called home once we were docked just after 10:00 am. DW has the Garage remodel under control, they finished the floors this morning. The internet is so helpful when on a cruise...I paid the flooring contractor and also arranged for immediate pickup of the old washer/dryer. I use the Carnival value WiFi when onboard - $51 for this 5-day cruise. We are docked with the Vista and Dream, two Texas ships, and they were sailing full, the taxi line was the longest I have ever seen at Puerto Maya. I used my experience to share a taxi from outside the port and was dropped downtown by 11:30 am ships time or 12:30 local time. Strait to Woody's Bar & Grill my usual Cozumel hangout. I used the fastest internet on the island to get a lot of Travel work completed. I enjoyed a few Bohemia beers and Guacamole & Pico de Gallo as well. (photo above) Texas friends from the Dream stopped by so I had a large frozen margarita with them too…good times. I was back on the ship at 5:30 pm. Tonight I had dinner on lido and they had Sirloin at the carving station so I had a nice cut then had it grilled at the Deli. I had a selection of desserts and ate them out on deck as we had a late sail away. The weather cooled and it was very enjoyable sitting outside this evening. I watched a movie then retired.  It was a FUN and productive port day in Cozumel.

Day Five -- Friday --  April 8th, 2022 —Fun Day at Sea 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept better.  I went to the Seaday Brunch in the Elation Dining Room and had a very nice brunch. at a window table.  I ordered the Steak & Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, French Toast, Hot Milk, Tomato Juice, and a Bloody Mary.  I did a walkabout picking up a photo at Pixels and sampling some Key Lime Pie in the Marketplace.  The weather is great and guests are enjoying the outer decks today.
Rolling seas overnight and I slept better.  I went to the Seaday Brunch in the Elation Dining Room and had a very nice brunch. at a window table.  I ordered the Steak & Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, French Toast, Hot Milk, Tomato Juice, and a Bloody Mary.  I did a walkabout picking up a photo at Pixels and sampling some Key Lime Pie in the Marketplace.  The weather is great and guests are enjoying the outer decks today.  I watched two movies on TCM this afternoon, one of the few good TV channels available on Carnival ships.  The ship was really rocking and rolling this afternoon it made walking on deck interesting.  I attended the Platinum/Diamond Gathering in the Queen Mary Lounge, I sat at the Bar and certainly had my share of Cosmopolitans.  I was the high cruiser (most sea days of all guests), the first time I had the most on a cruise out of Florida.  I had a light dinner and retired early as I will be up early for debark.

Debarkation — Saturday --  April 9th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa
Rolling seas overnight, but slept well. I was packing about 6:05 am. Debark meet was scheduled for 7:15 am but I went down about 7:05 and was able to roll right out to the gangway. Walked to the parking garage and hit the road and at the Villa in Pasco County by 8:10 am in time to walk the dog.  Amazingly easy debark.

Personal HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruise
The ratio of Guests to Crew
The Diamond Gathering
Cozumel Port Day