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graphicguy

NCL(er) sailing the Vista Havana 2/22/20

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Call this....”opportunity crossed paths with desire”.  

 

It’s snowing right now as I look out my window.  Trying to find something that will dispatch the post holiday “blahs”!   Hmmmmm.....CRUISE, anyone!  I search cruises.....A LOT....always looking for a value cabin.  I search even more so when it’s snowing.  Although, I’ve been sailing NCL mostly in the recent past, I’m open for just about any cruise line if the value is right.  I’ve sailed in solo cabins on NCL and RCCL (with the teeny-tiny solo balcony that came with it).  I’ve sailed in the NCL Haven and MSC Yacht Club.  And, probably everything in between....from Aft balcony cabins to the cheapest inside cabin I could find.  I’m not afraid to spend money if the value is there.  Because of scheduling with work, it’s difficult for me to plan too far ahead.  That flies opposite of what most can do.  But, for me, I see an opening and I go for it.

 

Sailing last full week of Feb is the target.

 

Surfing NCL, RCCL and Celebrity last night, on a whim, I looked at Carnival.  I usually call my TA and have her do the looking for me, but it was late and her agency was closed.  I actually could have found some really good deals if I could sail next week, but I can’t.  

 

It’s been a long while since I’ve sailed CCL.  Many years ago is probably the best way to describe how longs it’s been.

 

I’ve been mildly interested in Carnival’s new ships, as the pics I’ve seen look a lot better than what I remember the Conquest to be.  The Vista is the one I remember most people talking about (and putting up reviews on YouTube).  When I got to the part on line where you pick a cabin, I just gave a gander at the Havana area.  I really do like the pics of the Havana Cabin “patios” and the idea of having a private pool, jacuzzi and bar area.  Right up my alley.

 

They had ONE Havana Cabin that looked like a great price...well under $2K.  NCL, RCCL, Celebrity...none of them, could touch that price for a similar cabin.  Yes, if I paid more with NCL to move from a GTY balcony to a balcony that got all the perks was available.  But, it cost hundreds more, and it wasn’t the Havana type of area.  It was a plain ole balcony.  RCCL was higher still....a lot higher.  And, I keep hearing of deals people get on Celebrity.  But, apparently I’m no lucky or good enough to score a deal.  

 

I put a hold on it, and called my agent the next day (today).  She said she couldn’t touch my fare....which was quite unusual. Matter of fact, her fare in the same category was several hundred more.  She’ll tell me if I’m better off looking elsewhere, and she urged me to book it through the WEB site.

 

So now, I’m booked on the 2/22 sailing out of Galveston (a first for me) for a 7 day cruise on the Vista in a Havana cabin.

 

I need your help.  It’s been so long since I’ve sailed CCL, I got questions for you knowledgeable Carnival Sailors.

 

I’m Platinum on NCL, so they give me perks...perks I won’t get on Carnival.  Plus, you never have to dress up on NCL (which I like, a lot).

 

-Does CCL have a dress code for the MDRs?  If so, what is it?

-How much does the drink package cost on Carnival?  Is it better to book it in advance, or wait until after I board?

-Any specialty restaurants worth seeking out?  If so, which ones?

 

Again, appreciate the help.

 

 

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All questions can be answered on Carnival site.

 

Dress code for MDR is "cruise elegant" on Elegant nights.  Means no shorts or jeans or Tees or flips.  Rest of time dress nice but no bathingsuits any time.  Try the specialty restaurants. JiJis Cucina, Steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, BBQ, and their imitation of Benihanas (sorry forgot name).  JiJis is best value.  Do Bonsai sushi at lunch.  We like the steakhouse but some folks complain. Cucina at night is a whole heck of a lot of Italian food.  Standard dishes you see in any Mom n Pop Italian restaurant in your town. 

Drink packages are  $57-$60 per person per day depending on length of cruise.  All passengers above 21 in a cabin must buy.

 

IMO Havana deck is a great value.  Enjoy your cruise.

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There is a 10% discount on the drink package (Cheers), if you purchase in advance. 😎

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Look for a Vista live review thread from @Saint Greg on the Carnival board and/or check out his blog. He'll tell you everything you want to know. 

We were in a Havana aft balcony in October and loved the area, so much so we've booked again for next year. Steakhouse is great, sushi, burgers, dining is quite solid, although I don't think we made it to the MDR for dinner.

CCL is very laid back, so don't worry about dressing any kind of way. Hope you have a great trip - and I'm jealous!!

(Oh ... Galveston debarkation can be a real pain. Get a porter as soon as you can and get the heck out of there)

Edited by pamici

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1 hour ago, pamici said:

Look for a Vista live review thread from @Saint Greg on the Carnival board and/or check out his blog. He'll tell you everything you want to know. 

We were in a Havana aft balcony in October and loved the area, so much so we've booked again for next year. Steakhouse is great, sushi, burgers, dining is quite solid, although I don't think we made it to the MDR for dinner.

CCL is very laid back, so don't worry about dressing any kind of way. Hope you have a great trip - and I'm jealous!!

(Oh ... Galveston debarkation can be a real pain. Get a porter as soon as you can and get the heck out of there)

Thanks.  That's the info I was hoping for.  I haven't packed long pants for my last couple of cruises (NCL).  Good advice about the porter, too.  I find the same sailing from NYC.

 

Booking transport from IAH to Galveston is becoming a pain, for certain.  Still working on that part.  Did decide to stay the night before in Galveston, however.

 

Again, thanks!

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1 hour ago, Jamman54 said:

There is a 10% discount on the drink package (Cheers), if you purchase in advance. 😎

Great.  Thanks!  Good info!

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2 hours ago, crewsweeper said:

All questions can be answered on Carnival site.

 

Dress code for MDR is "cruise elegant" on Elegant nights.  Means no shorts or jeans or Tees or flips.  Rest of time dress nice but no bathingsuits any time.  Try the specialty restaurants. JiJis Cucina, Steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, BBQ, and their imitation of Benihanas (sorry forgot name).  JiJis is best value.  Do Bonsai sushi at lunch.  We like the steakhouse but some folks complain. Cucina at night is a whole heck of a lot of Italian food.  Standard dishes you see in any Mom n Pop Italian restaurant in your town. 

Drink packages are  $57-$60 per person per day depending on length of cruise.  All passengers above 21 in a cabin must buy.

 

IMO Havana deck is a great value.  Enjoy your cruise.

Thanks!  I'll try to post a live review here if their internet is working well enough to do so.

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1 hour ago, pamici said:

Look for a Vista live review thread from @Saint Greg on the Carnival board and/or check out his blog. He'll tell you everything you want to know. 

We were in a Havana aft balcony in October and loved the area, so much so we've booked again for next year. Steakhouse is great, sushi, burgers, dining is quite solid, although I don't think we made it to the MDR for dinner.

CCL is very laid back, so don't worry about dressing any kind of way. Hope you have a great trip - and I'm jealous!!

(Oh ... Galveston debarkation can be a real pain. Get a porter as soon as you can and get the heck out of there)

 

All my Vista entries will be here:

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/category/cruise-blog/vista/

 

or here's the 1,000+ post live version.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Saint Greg

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18 hours ago, Saint Greg said:

 

All my Vista entries will be here:

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/category/cruise-blog/vista/

 

or here's the 1,000+ post live version.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, I’ll check it out.

 

For the record, I’m sailing in the Havana cabin 5207.  Not a suite, but a very nice “patio” instead of a teeny balcony.

 

After going through all the choices for drinks, internet, etcI realized that whenever I cruise on a line different than NCL, these choices are a la carte. I always sail with “All Free (except tips)” on NCL.  Plus, being Platinum, I kinda like getting my laundry done for free.

 

That said, the price for a balcony cabin cost more on NCL, too.  Plus, I don’t get the nice patio and semi-private bar, pool and hot tubs.  

 

Not sure if this is a Galveston “thing” or not, since this will be my first time sailing from the port, but is there a reason drinks aren’t included in the first day of the cruise?  I can get a drink, but have to pay for it?

 

If that’s the case, why charge for 7 days of the drink package?  Shouldn’t it be 6?  Actually, it should be 5 days since you don’t get a full day on the last day of the cruise, either.

 

 

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Encouraged by @sid_9169 adventure as a solo on Carnival, I’m going solo, too.  Been doing that a lot lately, and have enjoyed myself.

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20 minutes ago, Theosprey247 said:

Texas State Law

OK...that explains it.  Should I ask for a 1 day refund for the drink package I ordered?

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2 hours ago, graphicguy said:

OK...that explains it.  Should I ask for a 1 day refund for the drink package I ordered?

 

Might be better (cheaper?) to purchase the package on day 2 once you are on the ship so that way you are only charged for 6 days as opposed to 7. We sailed Vista 4 months ago and loved it (regular balcony). If you like comedy shows, make sure to line up 20-30 mins before the show as those are pretty popular. We have never had any issues sailing from the Galveston port (sail from there for 99% of our cruises), lots of porters available, lines move quickly.

 

Enjoy your cruise! Can't wait for the (hopefully LIVE) review 😀

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FYI: best restaurant on the ship is Jiji Asian... Most definitely go there at least once for dinner... They also have a "free" menu for lunch (including embarkation day) but the real dinner menu can't be beat for the price... In addition: if you're a lover of craft cocktails, then you'll want to be spending some time at the Alchemy Bar... Pro tip: don't even open or even look at the menu, just let them know the types and flavors that you like, and they'll work their magic... 

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I have sailed in a Havana cabin on the Vista twice.  Last time was only month ago at Christmas.  I love the Havana area.  We lived there our first cruise on the Vista.  There were times I had it to myself. Felt like being on a yacht.  

 

Drink package is 54.95 plus 18 percent grat.  But you only pay for 6 days as you can't get it the first day. You can carry a bottle of wine or champagne on board. I don't know if it was because it was Christmas or if they ran out of alcohol or what, but the drinks were terribly weak a month ago. Even in alchemy.  It would make me shy away from the drink package or stick to wine.  It was not like that when I sailed her in '18. They also have a shake spot with alcoholic milkshakes and coffee just outside the Havana area near the Ocean Plaza.  I also like the Red Frog Pub.  Their Fishbowl is good and they have happy hour on port days.

 

I loved the Vista's Chef Table.  I got sick at the pasta bar at the Italian restaurant, but it was from lunch and not dinner.

 

If you want an amazing pre cruise dinner (but $$$) try Rudy and Paco's in Galveston.

 

Never had any problem embarking or debarking. 

 

I think you just can't wear cut off shorts or bathing suit in mdr. They have a couple of formal nights, but you can get away with khakis and a polo. Or just skip it and go to the buffet or Guy's Burger. Guy's Burger is amazing, btw.  

 

 

Edited by Eli_6

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I thought I read somewhere that Carnival now allows nice shorts in MDR for dinner now? Am I mistaken? 

 

I did my first NCL cruise two years ago and LOVED it! Done many Carnival and Royal cruises. Tired of Royal. Still enjoy Carnival. Doing Panorama in April. We have approx 20 cruises under out belt (also Princess and X).

 

You'll enjoy Carnival, but you might miss some of the NCL perks and the casualness of it. We definately want to do NCL again!

Edited by klfhngr

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2 minutes ago, klfhngr said:

I thought I read somewhere that Carnival now allows nice shorts in MDR for dinner now? Am I mistaken? 

 

I did my first NCL cruise two years ago and LOVED it! Done many Carnival and Royal cruises. Tired of Royal. Still enjoy Carnival. Doing Panorama in April. We have approx 20 cruises under out belt (also Princess and X).

 

You'll enjoy Carnival, but you might miss some of the NCL perks and the casualness of it. We definately want to do NCL again!

Honestly, I highly doubt anyone is going to say anything regardless of what you wear.  

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You guys have all been so helpful.  Thank you.

 

I sent a message to my TA about being charged for the drink package on 7 days instead of 6.  She’s looking into it for me.  If she can’t get it worked out, I like the idea of buying the package on the 2nd day.  Not sure if they’ll let me take that off package as I pre-paid!

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On 1/31/2020 at 1:00 PM, graphicguy said:

Thanks.  That's the info I was hoping for.  I haven't packed long pants for my last couple of cruises (NCL).  Good advice about the porter, too.  I find the same sailing from NYC.

 

Booking transport from IAH to Galveston is becoming a pain, for certain.  Still working on that part.  Did decide to stay the night before in Galveston, however.

 

Again, thanks!

I will have a hard time cruising anywhere without the Havana area.  It was awesome. Very quiet and peaceful. Pool and hot tub never crowded for us.  Carnival does not offer transport to and from IAH.  They didn't at the time so we used Galveston Limo.  Very reasonable and reliable.  We used the shuttle service.  

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On 1/31/2020 at 12:27 PM, graphicguy said:

Any specialty restaurants worth seeking out?  If so, which ones?


I think all of the specialty restaurants are well worth the money, but if you only do one I suggest Jiji’s Asian Kitchen. It’s absolutely delicious! My second choice would be the Steakhouse. But again, I love them all. 

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On 2/1/2020 at 3:09 PM, Eli_6 said:

I have sailed in a Havana cabin on the Vista twice.  Last time was only month ago at Christmas.  I love the Havana area.  We lived there our first cruise on the Vista.  There were times I had it to myself. Felt like being on a yacht.  

 

Drink package is 54.95 plus 18 percent grat.  But you only pay for 6 days as you can't get it the first day. You can carry a bottle of wine or champagne on board. I don't know if it was because it was Christmas or if they ran out of alcohol or what, but the drinks were terribly weak a month ago. Even in alchemy.  It would make me shy away from the drink package or stick to wine.  It was not like that when I sailed her in '18. They also have a shake spot with alcoholic milkshakes and coffee just outside the Havana area near the Ocean Plaza.  I also like the Red Frog Pub.  Their Fishbowl is good and they have happy hour on port days.

 

I loved the Vista's Chef Table.  I got sick at the pasta bar at the Italian restaurant, but it was from lunch and not dinner.

 

If you want an amazing pre cruise dinner (but $$$) try Rudy and Paco's in Galveston.

 

Never had any problem embarking or debarking. 

 

I think you just can't wear cut off shorts or bathing suit in mdr. They have a couple of formal nights, but you can get away with khakis and a polo. Or just skip it and go to the buffet or Guy's Burger. Guy's Burger is amazing, btw.  

 

 

Thanks....good to hear....not planning on packing long pants.

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Galveston Limo is mentioned a lot. Uber for parties greater than 2 people.

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8 hours ago, bahacca said:

Galveston Limo is mentioned a lot. Uber for parties greater than 2 people.

Found Galveston Express.  Not sure if they’re the same, but transport from IAH to my hotel in Galveston, from my hotel to the port, and from the port back to IAH (after the cruise) was quite a bit less expensive than even UBER/LYFT.  But, I’m traveling by myself, also.

 

Thanks for the suggestion.

Edited by graphicguy

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