On November 4th, Adventures by Daddy was welcomed aboard the Carnival Vista for the official naming ceremony, prior to the ship’s first American voyage the following day. As I approached the pier to board the ship, I noticed that the Carnival Vista towered over some of the nearby buildings. At a neck-straining 15 decks tall and 1062 feet long, she is the largest ship in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. The Cat in the Hat welcomed me on board! He was stumping for votes: Cat in the Hat for President 2016!
Carnival had a pretty full day for us, starting with a press conference in the IMAX theater, with Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line, Carrie Underwood (yes, that Carrie Underwood), and retired Air Force Brigadier General John Pray of Operation Homefront. Carnival Cruise Line prides itself on its connection to and support of the U.S. Military, offering a military tribute on each cruise, in addition to its partnership with Operation Homefront.
Duffy shared her love and respect for Carnival Cruise Line (she became president just 18 months ago, but has already visited every ship in the fleet). The Carnival Vista is Carnival Cruise Line’s 25th ship and their first new ship since 2012. It’s different from the other ships in that it expands on the features that Carnival Cruise Line guests love and adds new features in line with their preferences. There’s a brewery on board (more on that later) and Seuss at Sea, but, most importantly of all, are the team members. Duffy called her 40,000 team members the heart and the software of the ships, working to make all guests feel welcome and delivering memorable experiences to all guests.
Underwood and Pray talked about Operation Homefront, an organization dedicated to military members and their families, during and after active service. The goal of Operation Homefront is to provide relief during crises, offer ways to regain resiliency and receive recognition, and to offer recurring support for a life of sacrifice. (This is not an exact quote from their website, but a paraphrasing to explain the heart of their mission.) Not only were there military families on board the Vista, but a military family was there in the press conference to share their experiences, as well.
After the press conference, I had a couple of hours free to eat lunch and explore the ship. At 134,000 tons, the Carnival Vista is huge! It has over 20 dining venues, a brewery, a casino, bars, an IMAX movie theater, and more. I’m a Dr. Seuss fan, so I ran up to Bookville, a Dr. Seuss-themed reading lounge for children, before I had lunch.
I overate, as seems to be required when dining on board a cruise ship. I couldn’t resist the Blue Iguana Cantina, where I had a fish taco and and a pork taco. The tortillas are made fresh when you place your order. Next, I went to the Lido Marketplace to check out the buffet options. From comfort foods to fine dining options, such as flatiron steaks and many seafood options. The dessert bar is extensive and includes a rice pudding bar!!
The line for the Sky Ride was too long or I’d have done that after lunch. If I’m going to ride a bicycle on a ship, I want it to be hanging from a track and go out over the ocean. I considered the ropes course, too, but just didn’t have time.
At 2 p.m., we were invited to a private concert that Carrie Underwood was performing for Operation Homefront. I’m not a fan of Carrie Underwood (I don’t dislike her, but I don’t listen to her music, generally), but she puts on a great show. I had a blast! Here is a gallery of short videos that I took throughout the concert, if you’d like to see how she plays to a small crowd.
The official naming ceremony was after the concert. Duffy and Pray spoke and we were treated to a mini concert by Voices of Service, a choir of service spouses. The blessing was given by Pastor Drege and, then, the Vista’s godmother spoke. Miss USA Deshauna Barber is the first active military member to be crowned Miss USA. Barber is a lieutenant in the Army Reserves. She was poised and well-spoken, offering anecdotes that were humorous and heart-warming – perfect for a godmother. She is a great role model for children, not just as a beauty queen, but as a public speaker and a military member, as well. For example, she forgot a line during the naming rite, but did not lose composure or get flustered (as I would have); she picked up her notes and carried on. I hope all of the children in the audience took note. Making a mistake is not the end of the world – it’s how you handle it that shows your strength of character. Well done, Lt. Barber!
Next up was a beer tasting at the Red Frog Pub, where we were offered a flight of four beers that are brewed on board. I’m not a beer drinker, but these beers were all pretty tasty.
On my way to my next stop, I went to the Shake Spot for a chocolate shake. Yes, not only does the Vista have a coffee bar, but you can get freshly-blended ice-cream shakes, including boozy shakes!
If you’re a regular follower of Adventures by Daddy, you know we’re big fans of Theodore Roosevelt and the National Park Service, so you won’t be surprised that my favorite off-schedule event was going to the IMAX theater to watch “National Parks Adventure.” Narrated by Robert Redford, this 45-minute documentary follows a trio of adventurers as they travel from National Park to National Park, climbing, hiking, biking, and exploring. Did you know that Yellowstone Park sits on the largest super volcano in the world and that half of the planets geysers are in Yellowstone? This is a beautiful movie and I highly recommend it to all Carnival cruisers!
My last event of the evening was dinner at Horizons. This is one of the main dining rooms that offers the included evening meal for cruisers. I had met two other media attendees at the beer tasting and we ate dinner together. It was a wonderful way to end the evening. The food was delicious (of course, I had pork belly and a pork chop, so it was bound to be good). I ordered two desserts – the Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake and the Praline, Milk, and Honey, which was my favorite of the two. In fact, it was my favorite food item all day.
Thank you to Carnival Cruise Line for including us in this incredible day of events. I was honored to be invited to the naming ceremony. I appreciate the opportunity to explore the ship and get to experience as much as I could fit into my day. Thank you for all of the Mr. Pibbs, too!
For more pictures of my day on the Carnival Vista, please visit the gallery below.