Overall the Vista gives you lots of options to be active or not. People are great. Service very good. I just preferred Freedom a bit more for the reasons stated above. I booked this cruise specifically to cruise on Vista. Now that I have, I will not actively seek other Vista cruises...I will book more for the ports of call rather than for this ship.
5 out of 5
Embark at Port of Galveston...I must say everyone is genuinely nice and kind here...each time has been a great experience
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
I've only been on 2 cruises - Freedom in May 2018 and Vista March 2019. I don't know if it was because it was my first cruise, but for me the food was excellent on Freedom and just okay on Vista. Guys on both ships is always excellent. Pizza 24 hours also great. The main dining room food for me on Freedom last year was consistently great each time. This year on Vista, nothing was bad of course, but it just wasn't consistently great; some days just okay. Also, for me, I prefer a set dining time. On Freedom, I had a set dining time with same waitstaff. It was a lovely experience with the waiter always greeting us by name. When we ordered one dish, he would say 'I'm also going to bring you such and such, I just really think you'll like it.'. This personal touch to his service made us feel special and well taken care of. This year on Vista, we had anytime dining. As such, it was different waitstaff each time and it just felt like there was not any attempt to go above and beyond because they were not going to be seeing us every night. Of course all staff on cruise ships work really hard and I am not minimizing that...it's just there's a little less incentive to give any extra when you know you won't see the same guests throughout the week.
5 out of 5
Vista's activities are lots of fun and plentiful. It's almost overwhelming at first because there is so much available to do at any given time. Because this is a bigger ship than Freedom there are many more activities to choose from. I had read reviews before my cruise complaining that with such a large vessel there should be more than just 2 swimming pools available during the day (the tides pool an d the beach pool are available to everyone while the Havana pool is limited to guests in the Havana cabins during the day. All guests can use the Havana pool after 7 pm). For me it did not ever feel as though the pools were too crowded, even with 4800+ people on board. Also, somehow the ship never really felt crowded despite the number of guests. There was always a chair to be found or places to go to get away, so don't let the size of the ship stop you from booking. Also, note to any poker players (my husband enjoys poker)...the poker table on Vista is not in the casino as it is on Freedom. Instead the poker table on Vista is in the Sports Bar. Given that, I think there were fewer people aware of poker or maybe just fewer people wanting to go to the Sports bar to play. For that reason only, I would rate the casino on Freedom higher than the casino on Vista.
4 out of 5
The shows on Vista were fine. I wasn't expecting Broadway caliber and they are not that. But they are very high energy for sure. I actually did not attend any shows on Freedom, so I have no comparison. The musicians and DJs were good on Vista, but for me they were great on Freedom last year. I like country music fine, but I enjoy other genres more. It seems like Vista musicians played a lot more country. If you are a big country music fan, this will be a plus for you. Also, because of the different way the atrium is set up on Vista as opposed to Freedom (or many other ships I'm told), the performers in the atrium on Vista play in a separate area sort of atop the stairs and to the side. So if you are enjoying the performers in the atrium, they are actually playing above you or below you...it is not set up for you to be on the same level as the musicians. There is another area on Vista, the Ocean Plaza, where you are on the same level as the musicians. It's a small thing, but i just enjoyed the arrangement on Freedom much better than on Vista.
just me and my husband cruising
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
Service on cruise ships is always amazing from everything I've read. And seeing the ship personnel at work, it is obvious they work incredibly hard. On Vista, all of the staff was great from our room steward to the workers constantly cleaning the ship. That said, I think my first cruise on Freedom set the bar extremely high...I just didn't realize it then. For me Freedom staff consistently went over and above. I concede that may also have been the excitement of a first cruise coloring my perception somewhat, but my impression is that Vista staff was absolutely great and Freedom staff was beyond amazing. Either way you can't go wrong. And I would be remiss if, like every other Vista passenger, I did not mention the cruise director Matt...he really works hard and seems to love every minute of it.
4 out of 5
Vista cleanliness is excellent...it would have to be given the workers constantly cleaning and re-cleaning 2 minutes later (that would drive me nuts!). My overall rating in this area is based more on design and layout. The design is cool for sure...but for me, comparing to Freedom, the layout seemed to make various areas more closed-off...Freedom felt more open and spacious even though it is a smaller vessel. It has a lot to do with the atrium set up...it's smaller than what many people may be used to so that contributes a lot to an overall feeling of being more closed off
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We booked a cove balcony which is on the 2nd deck. Everyone will have a different preference, but for me this was an amazing balcony for the same reasons others have stated...the cove balcony is really close to the water level so you really feel like you are on the ocean rather than high above it. Also, it is right below the lifeboats, so you get shade from the lifeboats without anything obstructing your ocean view. It just feels really private. A very convenient location, especially if you are concerned about slow elevators. Yes, the elevators are slow, especially during busy times - embarkation and getting off at port. Being on the 2nd floor means if you are physically able, you don't have to wait on an elevator since you embark on level 3 and you get off at port on level 0...stairs are easy to use at these times.
My tip would be to consider a cabin on a lower deck to allow you to avoid the elevators during busy times.
The port here is beautiful, with wide open spaces. The wood crafts are lovely, and I intended to make another purchase after our excursion, but- oops- I spent too much money and didn't have enough left. We did the snuba excursion. The van ride to get to the location was an experience. It took quite a while, primarily because of construction, which cut off traffic in either direction...only eastbound traffic could go for a while, and then they would let traffic go on the other side...this seemed to take forever. Once we got to the location, we were ready to go. This was my first snuba experience and I was very nervous. Our guide was a charming and helpful local. The owner of the snuba business is actually a Texas native, Mark. They were all really great and helped to ease my nerves. I will say, through entirely our own fault, my husband and I ended up running out of air sooner than anticipated...probably because I was nervous and breathing more heavily than I should. - No worries, we surfaced quickly even with the weight belts around our waists. It was a cool experience being able to go down 20 feet or so and we had a story to tell after.
We did not have as much opportunity to explore the port area because we booked the snorkeling with sharks and rays excursion and that took all day. Also because this is a tender port, you must take a 20 minute boat ride from the ship to the port. One guest on the tender ended up losing his breakfast out the side right in front of me...so bad start. Then, come to find out he is on the same excursion- yikes. On this excursion you take a 20 minute boat ride to Caye Caulker or Key Caulker, a small island off of Belize City. There you stop to change and give your food order to the restaurant there. Then back on the boat to get to the reefs. You snorkel in 2 areas, one around coral reefs and another with sharks and rays. The water was a bit rough and wouldn't you know it...in between snorkel locations, another guy loses his breakfast over the side of the boat. Ugh...by the time we got back to Caye Caulker, i was in no mood to eat. All this of course has to do with my fellow cruisers...nothing to do with the people running the excursion. In fact they were incredibly knowledgeable about the island and about Belize. Best part at Caye Caulker was walking around the area. we happened upon an animal shelter with a sign that said come in and pet our animals. Found this is a no kill shelter that cares for dogs, cats, and other animals...they are not caged, but are free to run around within the gated area of the shelter. We loved spending time with the animals...it was hard not to take one or two with us.
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