There’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to dining experiences on Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Vista. All of my favorite restaurants that I experienced on Carnival Sunshine are there and are even more well integrated into the new ship’s design — like a sort of deliciously enticing restaurant row. There’s sushi at Bonsai (which you can now order to-go!), Italian at Cucina del Capitano, Pan Asian at JiJi Asian Kitchen, and, of course, the elegant Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse.
For a more casual feel, there’s the poolside fish tacos at BlueIguana Cantina and Guy’s Burger Joint. There’s also a new Seafood Shack with made-to-order lobster rolls, snow crab by the pound, raw oysters, and seafood buckets. Even the Havana Bar got a bit of an upgrade with an Instagram-worthy photo wall and authentic Cuban coffees like cafecitos and cortaditos for a morning caffeine jolt to-go.
There are so many choices for food, you can try something different each day of your cruise. But of all the new dining experiences on Carnival Vista, these 7 were my favorite:
1 – Outdoor Deck Dining
One of the first things I noticed when we first boarded the new Carnival Vista is that you could eat outside! Nearly every restaurant along the Promenade Deck has outdoor seating, including Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and Bonsai Sushi. Outdoor dining with an ocean view — I love it!
Even the more casual places have outdoor dining and picnic tables. One morning, we grabbed a casual breakfast and coffee at The Taste Bar and walked outside to enjoy a quiet morning with the deck practically all to ourselves — that’s my idea of a perfect leisurely vacation morning.
2 – Custom Ice Cream
Carnival’s candy store, Cherry On Top, has expanded to include a custom mix-in ice cream bar with indoor and outdoor seating. You can pick your favorite flavor of ice cream and toppings and have them mixed together on a chilled slab to make your own flavor combination. I tried chocolate ice cream mixed with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and graham cracker crumbs to make a s’mores-themed sundae. There were so many fun combinations, we kept coming back to try new flavors!
3 – Guy’s Pig & Anchor Barbecue
Outside on the Promenade Deck is a picnic area and smokehouse for Guy’s Pig & Anchor Barbecue. It is something I noticed they only do on Sea Days, so be sure to plan lunch outside with a view and try some of the tender slow smoked pulled pork and collard greens. The collards were seriously some of the best I’ve ever had!
Pig & Anchor also offers dry-rubbed grilled chicken, smoked andouille sausage, coleslaw made from scratch, and potato salad. And you can season the barbecue just the way you like it at the sauce bar with a selection of hot sauces and Guy Fieri’s signature sauces: Kansas City, Bourbon Brown Sugar, Spicy Sriracha, and Carolina.
4 – Fresh Creations Made-To-Order Salads
I know, when you’re on vacation, it is sometimes hard to get excited about salad. But stick with me here. To balance out all the delicious indulgences (midnight pizza by the pool for a Dive-In Movie, anyone?) I was happy to see the new gourmet Fresh Creations salad bar on the Serenity Deck. It was exactly the kind of food we were craving during our day-at-sea spa day, and conveniently located close to the spa.
Not your ordinary cruise ship salad bar, Fresh Creations makes customized salads including gourmet greens with an endless variety of toppings. Build your own or choose from one of Carnival’s cleverly named creations like Romaine Calm with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mint, cilantro, toasted chickpeas, and a Moroccan Vinaigrette. I loved the combination of fresh herbs and spices! Combine that with a coconut water and I was in spa-food heaven.
5 – Beer Brewed Onboard
I was so surprised to discover that Carnival Vista has a brewery onboard! They brew their own beer right inside Red Frog Pub, including a Thirsty Frog Red, Port Hoppin’ IPA, Caribbean Wheat, and a dark Javastout.
Here’s a secret tip: there are typically 2 to 3 brewery tours on sea days, but they’re not advertised since they fill up quickly. Be sure to visit the Red Frog Pub when you first board the ship to sign up for one of the brewery tours. If you miss it, don’t sweat it as you can order a tasting flight anytime! Taste them all and pick your favorite. Mine was definitely the Port Hoppin’ IPA.
6 – Alchemy Bar
A fun new addition is the trendy Alchemy Bar. It’s like a steampunk vintage pharmacy where the bartenders create a custom craft cocktail based on your taste preferences. I told the bartender I was in the mood for something citrusy, and was pleasantly surprised with a refreshing grapefruit and smoked rosemary mix. There’s no menu, so your drink order is only limited by your imagination. They make nonalcoholic drinks too, and it is the perfect place to chill after dinner while waiting for a show.
7 – A New Chef’s Table Experience
One of the main highlights of our last cruise on Carnival Sunshine was The Chef’s Table, so I couldn’t wait to see what changes they made to the experience on the new Carnival Vista. It did not disappoint!
There’s now a designated cooking area in the galley kitchen where everyone meets to start with appetizers and champagne as the chefs entertain by making creative combinations right before our eyes, like savory frozen yogurt lollipops and cotton candy covered olives.
Following appetizers, we moved to the built-in dining room where we could watch the action from both sides as there was a glass wall with a view of the kitchen, and on the opposite wall, a plating area with a mirrored ceiling to see the artistry in action as the final touches were made to each dish.
One dining tip I’d give for the Carnival Vista is to make reservations well in advance for experiences at the Chef’s Table, JiJi’s Asian Kitchen, and Cucina del Capitano, as the seating is limited and the reservations fill up quickly. We tried to sneak in a last-minute reservation at Cucina del Capitano and it was fully booked for the whole cruise. At least we got to experience the new Chef’s Table. And with all the dining options now available, we certainly didn’t go hungry!
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