Did you miss part one? Definitely go read that first as this post will make much more sense if absorbed in chronological order. Indeed, this trip was so epic it had to be split into parts, with some delightfully fun French toast in the middle.
The port schedule was jam packed with amazing cities and sights and not that much distance between them, so day 6 was our one and only sea day on this voyage. Since we spent the whole day creating our own adventures aboard the ship, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a bit more about the Vista and all the amazing things it has to offer. With an itinerary like ours, 9 ports over 11 days and 10 nights, the ship takes a back seat to the cities themselves, with their ancient ruins and amazing views and bustling markets. I wanted to be sure this amazing ship (because it really is something to behold) got some time on the field too.
This was the Vista’s second ever voyage, and we were lucky enough to be invited along with a group of media and bloggers from around the world. It wasn’t a food-focused cruise like our last one aboard the Sunshine, but we still had the opportunity to visit all of the ship’s specialty restaurants during our 10-night itinerary with the exception of the Chef’s Table. Overall, my experience was much like our last Carnival cruise: the food is so impressive you’ll forget you’re even on a ship.
Sea day for for me included a leisurely brunch (of Fruit Loop French toast, obviously) followed by some reading and relaxing and giving my feet a well needed break. Taylor, on the other hand, hit the water slides and hit them hard. Despite the fact that the weather was on the chilly side for the first half of the voyage, he managed to hit the water slides almost every day. Did I mention he’s really a 12-year-old at heart?
What I love most about Carnival’s updated dining program is the freedom. No longer are you forced to eat at a specific time at a specific table from a lackluster menu. I mean, you can if you want (minus the lackluster part) since I know there are many who love traditional cruise dining, and Carnival still offers that option for those folks. But it is only an option. For the rest of us, you can pretty much eat anytime, anywhere. Be it in the dining room, where the menu changes daily, or in one of the ship’s many specialty restaurants. Some are included in the cost of your cruise (such as Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina) while others (like the Fahrenheit 555 , JiJi’s, and the Seafood Shack) carry a nominal extra fee to dine there. The selections and cuisine on the Vista is very similar to what is offered aboard other Carnival ships, with a few notable additions, but you’ll see a lot of familiar menu items if you’ve cruised with them before.
Some culinary highlights:
Alchemy Bar: Like the Sunshine, the Alchemy bar quickly became our evening haunt. The cool prohibition-style vibe and pharmacy-inspired menu rivals any hip cocktail joint here in Nashville. And if you don’t see something that cures what ails you, the bartenders are brilliant and will mix you up something custom tailored to your tastes (including mocktails, like the ginger lychee one Ioana prepared for me one night… yes, the same Ioana from our last cruise aboard the Sunshine).
Bonsai Sushi: Bonsai is one of the premium restaurants on the ship, but the a la carte pricing is really quite affordable, especially compared to fancy sushi restaurants on land. The sushi rolls are unique and beautifully presented, but the expanded menu offers other Japanese-style dishes such as bento boxes and ramen noodle bowls. The fact that we ate there multiple times on our 10-day voyage is proof that it’s probably our favorite specialty restaurant aboard the ship.
Fahrenheit 555: Someone asked me on Instagram if making a reservation here (and yes, you definitely need reservations) was worth the effort and cost. And I’d say it is most definitely $35 well spent. Where else can you enjoy a multi-course steakhouse feast for $35? And whether you go for surf or turf (or both, because you can do that too), definitely don’t miss the chocolate dessert sampler, it’s to die for.
Seafood Shack: I had a lobster roll once back in high school and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. And this lobster roll did not disappoint… neither did the fries for that matter. The Vista is the first Carnival ship to sport the seafood shack, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing it on future vessels as well.
I’ll also let you in on a little secret: The Seafood Shack sources fresh local seafood from the various ports along the way, and you can purchase it right there and have them cook it, or have them send it to any of the ship’s dining options and the chefs will cook it up fresh just for you.
Cucina del Capitano: Oddly enough the dinner we had here was better than the lunch we had in Rome, not that this should have surprised me considering how much I enjoyed it the last time. The eggplant parmesan was so good it inspired my own version, and the tiramisu is simply divine.
During lunch the Cucina transforms into a create-your-own pasta bar for no additional cost, something I wish I had had time to check out.
Red Frog Pub & Brewery: The Vista is also the first and only North American-based ship to sport an on-board brewery. Yes, you heard that correctly, this ship brews its own beer, three varieties to be exact, all served on tap at the Red Frog Pub. Taylor’s favorite was the Thirsty Frog Port Hoppin’ IPA, but they also brew a Caribbean Wheat and a Java Stout.
The Red Frog Pub also serves some tasty Caribbean-themed appetizers like conch fritters, coconut shrimp, and plantain chips for only $3.33 a dish.
JiJi’s Asian Kitchen: Probably my second favorite dinner of the trip, Jiji’s menu is a journey across Asia. For $15/person it’s a delicious deal if I ever saw one. Don’t miss the pork belly or the hakka noodles or the shrimp dumplings or the chili shrimp or the coconut tapioca wontons for dessert (a dish I liked so much last time it inspired my own recreation… of the tapioca part at least). On second thought, you’d best go with a big group and just order one of everything.
The drinks aren’t half bad, either.
Vacation fact #415: cocktails are more fun with little umbrellas. Bonus fun points if you get one behind your ear too.
Now that we’ve shown the ship is just as big an attraction as the ports themselves… I can contently move on to the rest of our journey. From Naples, we made our way over 600 nautical miles through the smooth Mediterranean waters to the island of Crete, Greece, and its capitol city of Heraklion.