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marci4tony

Carnival Vista/Galveston - just returned. A Few Tips...

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We just returned on the 11/16 sailing out of Galveston on Carnival Vista.

 

I will have a very detailed review coming in the next few days - but things that I think are very important to get out there before hand...

 

1) Transportation from IAH to Galveston.  It does not matter which method you choose - make sure and grab yourself a soda/water at the airport and go to the bathroom.  It is - and I am not even kidding - nearly an hour drive between the airport and the island.  Add construction (down to one lane coming OUT of Galveston) and other traffic...  much more.

 

2) Embarkation - the new scheduled times -  believe it or not, it works pretty good.  We entered the "on time" line, and after we got through security, did NOT STOP.  There was not waiting.  (we had 12:00-12:30)  Very impressed.  Disembarkation - you stay on the ship a little later...have to be out of the cabin by 8:30 but we didnt get off the ship until about 9:30.  It was not a rush rush morning, and I liked that much more.

 

3) Tendering in Grand Cayman - this is a joke.  They are "trying" a new method - You must pick up a "tender ticket" - aka 1 - 34 - and may NOT head down to the tender vessel until your number is called.  If you have an early non-Carnival tour, you better watch for the "tender" board and be prepared to wait in line in hopes to getting an early/lower ticket.  (We didnt even receive the letter that told us this is new procedure until the day OF the port stop.)

 

4) The sky ride is pretty cool - but you have to have closed toe shoes and NOTHING in your pockets.  It is not terribly physical as you have to pedal, like a bicycle.  If you are afraid of heights, this may not be your activity.  And yes, they do make you get on the scale before they put you in one of the cars.

 

5) The ropes course is also pretty cool - again, not for the heights challenged.  There are 2 options - an "easy" side and the "hard" side.  And you must commit to finish so if you are on the fence at all, don't do it.  You cannot turn around and be rescued mid way.  

 

6) If you don't like the smoke - stay out of the casino.  But the design of this ship really does a great job in keeping the smoke "in" that area - I did not notice it wafting up any of the other decks.

 

7) Yup - the elevator situation stinks.  Just sayin...Bigger ship, more people, less elevators.  You do the math.

 

8  The carnival app that you download on your phone is awesome.  Yes, you are able to text/chat one another if you both have the app open.   But you can pull menus, activities, and see all your photos from your phone as well.  As long as the phone is in airplane mode and then connected to the WiFi - no cell/roaming charges.  Well worth the 5$ imo

 

9) The Service was outstanding!  Outstanding

 

10) Dont forget to go to Customer Service around day 3 or 4 to get your free deck of playing cards.

 

11)  The sugar straws - nasty!  They get soggy, collapse, and do not function.

 

12)  Gellato is yummy!  In the front buffet, between the two sides.  The dessert section has got gorgeous cakes!  Little dry, but pretty tasty!

 

13)  Wouldn't do the steakhouse again....  sad.

 

14) If you like scotch, watch for the class!  I think the sign ups were in the alchemy bar on the first sea day - they fill up fast.  They actually put you in lab coats, and give you beakers of scotch to mix your own. Very educational, very different.  Eat something before hand...  just saying.

 

15) The scheduled dining room is mid ship, the YTD is aft.  The ship layout is not  "user friendly" - Just remember that deck 10, 5 and 4 are your friends.  They should take you from one end to the other.

 

16) Watch for all the dolphins in the Galveston Bay playing once you are on board.  Watch for passing vessels, or fishing trawlers.  If there are seagulls and birds everywhere near a vessel, chances are there will be dolphins too.

 

Have fun - and like I said, I am a writer - I will include a very detailed review of the ship very soon.

 

Peace out - and until next time, CHOOSE FUN!

 

 

Edited by marci4tony

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Excellent synopsis Marci! Will be looking forward for your in depth review.

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Great synopsis! 

 

Just one comment for those who are new to it, the Carnival Hub app is actually free to use, if you don't use the Chat function... I loved it on our last 2 cruises!

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1 hour ago, marci4tony said:

We just returned on the 11/16 sailing out of Galveston on Carnival Vista.

 

I will have a very detailed review coming in the next few days - but things that I think are very important to get out there before hand...

 

1) Transportation from IAH to Galveston.  It does not matter which method you choose - make sure and grab yourself a soda/water at the airport and go to the bathroom.  It is - and I am not even kidding - nearly an hour drive between the airport and the island.  Add construction (down to one lane coming OUT of Galveston) and other traffic...  much more.

 

2) Embarkation - the new scheduled times -  believe it or not, it works pretty good.  We entered the "on time" line, and after we got through security, did NOT STOP.  There was not waiting.  (we had 12:00-12:30)  Very impressed.  Disembarkation - you stay on the ship a little later...have to be out of the cabin by 8:30 but we didnt get off the ship until about 9:30.  It was not a rush rush morning, and I liked that much more.

 

3) Tendering in Grand Cayman - this is a joke.  They are "trying" a new method - You must pick up a "tender ticket" - aka 1 - 34 - and may NOT head down to the tender vessel until your number is called.  If you have an early non-Carnival tour, you better watch for the "tender" board and be prepared to wait in line in hopes to getting an early/lower ticket.  (We didnt even receive the letter that told us this is new procedure until the day OF the port stop.)

 

4) The sky ride is pretty cool - but you have to have closed toe shoes and NOTHING in your pockets.  It is not terribly physical as you have to pedal, like a bicycle.  If you are afraid of heights, this may not be your activity.  And yes, they do make you get on the scale before they put you in one of the cars.

 

5) The ropes course is also pretty cool - again, not for the heights challenged.  There are 2 options - an "easy" side and the "hard" side.  And you must commit to finish so if you are on the fence at all, don't do it.  You cannot turn around and be rescued mid way.  

 

6) If you don't like the smoke - stay out of the casino.  But the design of this ship really does a great job in keeping the smoke "in" that area - I did not notice it wafting up any of the other decks.

 

7) Yup - the elevator situation stinks.  Just sayin...Bigger ship, more people, less elevators.  You do the math.

 

8  The carnival app that you download on your phone is awesome.  Yes, you are able to text/chat one another if you both have the app open.   But you can pull menus, activities, and see all your photos from your phone as well.  As long as the phone is in airplane mode and then connected to the WiFi - no cell/roaming charges.  Well worth the 5$ imo

 

9) The Service was outstanding!  Outstanding

 

10) Dont forget to go to Customer Service around day 3 or 4 to get your free deck of playing cards.

 

11)  The sugar straws - nasty!  They get soggy, collapse, and do not function.

 

12)  Gellato is yummy!  In the front buffet, between the two sides.  The dessert section has got gorgeous cakes!  Little dry, but pretty tasty!

 

13)  Wouldn't do the steakhouse again....  sad.

 

14) If you like scotch, watch for the class!  I think the sign ups were in the alchemy bar on the first sea day - they fill up fast.  They actually put you in lab coats, and give you beakers of scotch to mix your own. Very educational, very different.  Eat something before hand...  just saying.

 

15) The scheduled dining room is mid ship, the YTD is aft.  The ship layout is not  "user friendly" - Just remember that deck 10, 5 and 4 are your friends.  They should take you from one end to the other.

 

16) Watch for all the dolphins in the Galveston Bay playing once you are on board.  Watch for passing vessels, or fishing trawlers.  If there are seagulls and birds everywhere near a vessel, chances are there will be dolphins too.

 

Have fun - and like I said, I am a writer - I will include a very detailed review of the ship very soon.

 

Peace out - and until next time, CHOOSE FUN!

 

 

Thanks! Great tips!

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Fly into Hobby (HOU) if you can.  It saves you a half hour on the drive.  It’s mostly Southwest but Delta and American have some flights.  

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Thanks for the quick "re-cap", totally agree with everything you mentioned, looking forward to your detailed review. 

 

Did you choose to fly into IAH because Hobby was more expensive? Although Hobby is closer to the port (by about 30 miles), I've always noticed how much more expensive it is to fly into/out of!

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We have sailed out of Galveston 3-4 times since they started scheduled check-in times.  It has always worked great.  From arrival to port to getting on ship has not been more than 30 minutes since then.  We did it at Long Beach once and it worked great then too.  And there was still construction going on. 

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21 hours ago, marci4tony said:

1) Transportation from IAH to Galveston.  It does not matter which method you choose - make sure and grab yourself a soda/water at the airport and go to the bathroom.  It is - and I am not even kidding - nearly an hour drive between the airport and the island.  Add construction (down to one lane coming OUT of Galveston) and other traffic...  much more.

 

A very good point, and just to take this a bit further and add a tip for newer cruises: do not, under any circumstances, fly into port the same day as your cruise.  The above info is a good reason as to why.  You should be traveling from the airport to a hotel and staying at least one night pre-cruise.  Traveling in the same day is way, way too risky due to cancellations and delays that happen every single day in the air travel industry.

Edited by bakersdozen12

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On 11/26/2019 at 10:46 AM, MzOhioLady said:

Just out of curiosity, why did you think the Steakhouse was Sad?

 

It was NOT worth the cost.  They are trying to be a Michelin Star type of restaurant - the service was mediocre, at best - and they were NOT busy when we were there.  The appetizers were very sad.  The lobster bisque was not seasoned well, and had zero flavor.  The shrimp cocktail had more guac in the dish than shrimp. The bread selection in the MDR was of better quality.  The main course - we did surf/turf - and shrimp.  Did not blow my mind.  The steak was tender, lobster was cooked pretty good (my husbands was actually a little undercooked and he took a chance eating it that way, but if we had to  wait and wait for someone to check on us, we would probably still be there) but the Filet in the MDR was just as tender.  Flavor variances?  Not much.  The shrimp were enormous, and they actually tasted like shrimp.  They were very good.  My son got the side mac and cheese - don't waste your taste buds.  We just get tired of the same old sordid baked potato.

 

Now, the dessert - we had them do the "ART" in dessert - a chef comes out to your table with a barrage of sweets and a large serving platter.  He draws in sauces, gives some history, and a little personality.  It was pretty cool, actually.  BUT... it wasn't really a dessert, per se.  Just a demonstration with sauces and chocolates.  But it was very different, and exquisite.

 

Again, our experience was not worth the cost.  Had the service been better, I may have had a different opinion.  But 3 out of 5 stars is my best offering.

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5 hours ago, marci4tony said:

 

It was NOT worth the cost.  They are trying to be a Michelin Star type of restaurant - the service was mediocre, at best - and they were NOT busy when we were there.  The appetizers were very sad.  The lobster bisque was not seasoned well, and had zero flavor.  The shrimp cocktail had more guac in the dish than shrimp. The bread selection in the MDR was of better quality.  The main course - we did surf/turf - and shrimp.  Did not blow my mind.  The steak was tender, lobster was cooked pretty good (my husbands was actually a little undercooked and he took a chance eating it that way, but if we had to  wait and wait for someone to check on us, we would probably still be there) but the Filet in the MDR was just as tender.  Flavor variances?  Not much.  The shrimp were enormous, and they actually tasted like shrimp.  They were very good.  My son got the side mac and cheese - don't waste your taste buds.  We just get tired of the same old sordid baked potato.

 

Now, the dessert - we had them do the "ART" in dessert - a chef comes out to your table with a barrage of sweets and a large serving platter.  He draws in sauces, gives some history, and a little personality.  It was pretty cool, actually.  BUT... it wasn't really a dessert, per se.  Just a demonstration with sauces and chocolates.  But it was very different, and exquisite.

 

Again, our experience was not worth the cost.  Had the service been better, I may have had a different opinion.  But 3 out of 5 stars is my best offering.

When we were on the Vista in March the service at the steak house was similar to yours and there were only two other tables when we were there! I ask for my steak to be medium, it was so well done I asked for another, it took so long to get it (and it was extremely well done, even the chef came out to see, and it  was) Ididn't want anything. They didn't charge for mine but I felt like I wasted a valuable cruise night!!!

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6 hours ago, Ellusionz said:

For the new tender ticket board, how soon do they put it out and where is it located?

I was on this sailing too. The OPs points are pretty spot on, but I actually found the tender process worked well for us (we weren't in a rush to get off as we were just going to 7 Mile Beach on our own).

The tickets are available the day before (this was the Cozumel day on our sailing), and are located just outside the RedFrog Pub on deck 5 starting at 3:30 PM. They will leave a detailed sheet of water shuttle (tender) information in your stateroom the day before (or maybe it was even two days before, I can't remember for sure).

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23 hours ago, CanTex said:

I was on this sailing too. The OPs points are pretty spot on, but I actually found the tender process worked well for us (we weren't in a rush to get off as we were just going to 7 Mile Beach on our own).

The tickets are available the day before (this was the Cozumel day on our sailing), and are located just outside the RedFrog Pub on deck 5 starting at 3:30 PM. They will leave a detailed sheet of water shuttle (tender) information in your stateroom the day before (or maybe it was even two days before, I can't remember for sure).

 

We received our "detailed" sheet the day we anchored...we did not get it in time.

We did have a later tour, but is it very stressful if you have an early tour.  Be aware.

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Regarding tender in Belize... We will be in Mahogany Bay the day before Belize.  We definitely need an early tender ticket to make a private tour to Lamanai ruins in Belize.  Do we all need to get back on ship early in Mahogany Bay to get tender tickets at 3:30 or can one person get all tickets?  Any other tips for getting early tender tickets appreciated!

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Wouldn't do the steakhouse again... sad.

 

So sorry you had a “sad” experience in the Steakhouse. 🙁

We were on the Vista in July. There were 8 of us and the service was excellent. Everyone enjoyed their food. My wagyu was the best I’ve had on any ship. The chocolate sphere is delicious if you are a chocolate fan

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On 11/25/2019 at 2:41 PM, marci4tony said:

14) If you like scotch, watch for the class!  I think the sign ups were in the alchemy bar on the first sea day - they fill up fast.  They actually put you in lab coats, and give you beakers of scotch to mix your own. Very educational, very different.  Eat something before hand...  just saying.

 

 

Kat put on a great class. I drank sips from all 4 samples but only finished the single malt dewars, or else I probably would have been out of it for the rest of the day.

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On 11/30/2019 at 8:28 PM, creekster519 said:

Regarding tender in Belize... We will be in Mahogany Bay the day before Belize.  We definitely need an early tender ticket to make a private tour to Lamanai ruins in Belize.  Do we all need to get back on ship early in Mahogany Bay to get tender tickets at 3:30 or can one person get all tickets?  Any other tips for getting early tender tickets appreciated!

if the lamanai was booked through carnival you don't need a tender ticket. I just did the Lamanai ruins tour purchased on Carnival.com and they had tickets in our room the first or second night and the tickets had instructions on where and when to meet. I didn't wait in line to get a tender ticket.

Edited by CruisingViper

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3 hours ago, CruisingViper said:

if the lamanai was booked through carnival you don't need a tender ticket. I just did the Lamanai ruins tour purchased on Carnival.com and they had tickets in our room the first or second night and the tickets had instructions on where and when to meet. I didn't wait in line to get a tender ticket.

Thank you for the information but we are taking a private tour so that is why I'm worried about getting an early tender ticket.  Our tour guide said if we don't get one of the first 3 tenders, we may not have time for the tour.  

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then you're going to want to get inline 30-40 minutes before they open at 7am. I passed by the line at 6:50 on the way to the coffee shop and it was already down to Alchemy.

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47 minutes ago, CruisingViper said:

then you're going to want to get inline 30-40 minutes before they open at 7am. I passed by the line at 6:50 on the way to the coffee shop and it was already down to Alchemy.

Tip overall tip for tender lines in Belize, is to have 2 people go as early as possible, one wait in line the other hit either the coffee bar or Lido and grab coffees and pastries, toast etc.  then bring that back and let the other person go up. As you may need to have all the party there to sign up, if more than two, when you get close have one person go rouse the others or use the app .  Once signed up, you have time for everyone to head done to the Ocean Plaza and get a full breakfast and return to meeting area before tenders start.

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4 minutes ago, crewsweeper said:

Tip overall tip for tender lines in Belize, is to have 2 people go as early as possible, one wait in line the other hit either the coffee bar or Lido and grab coffees and pastries, toast etc.  then bring that back and let the other person go up. As you may need to have all the party there to sign up, if more than two, when you get close have one person go rouse the others or use the app .  Once signed up, you have time for everyone to head done to the Ocean Plaza and get a full breakfast and return to meeting area before tenders start.

Thanks for the tip but I'm a little confused about when we can start getting tender tickets.  A previous post (#16) said 3:30 the day before.  Anyone know which is correct?  It may have changed recently.

 

On 11/30/2019 at 7:37 PM, marci4tony said:

The tickets are available the day before (this was the Cozumel day on our sailing), and are located just outside the RedFrog Pub on deck 5 starting at 3:30 PM.

 

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