Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 2: Our first fun day at sea on the Carnival Vista

I can already see one big difference between sleeping in an interior cabin and a balcony cabin. Interior cabins are dark, as in middle-of-a-cave-with-no-lights dark. The only light seepage is from under the door, and that is minimal. Balcony cabins, on the other hand, have both a large window and a glass door that are covered with a heavy curtain. The curtain does allow some light leakage, though, but more like our bedroom at home. This definitely makes waking up easier, and more "natural," at least according to my wife. I still set an alarm, though, so we wouldn't sleep the entire morning away. Well, that and I ordered room service for 8:30.

Our morning view

We started this "tradition" several years ago, and enjoy having coffee and pastries delivered to our cabin on sea days. On port days we are typically out of the cabin early and having a quick breakfast before going ashore. 

What would you choose?
scanned from original meu

Carnival supplies each cabin with these continental breakfast menus. Just select what you want and a time frame when you want it and hang it outside your door by 5 am. Quick and easy. We ordered coffee and some pastries and room service was right on time. Let's head out onto the balcony to enjoy the sea air and listen to the sound of the ship moving through the water. 

"First" breakfast

Yes, that caption is correct. We'll have "first breakfast" in our cabin, and "second breakfast" on Lido sometimes when the mood strikes us. I mentioned before about pacing ourselves and this is exactly what I mean. On this particular day, we were happy with just "first breakfast."

Another unique feature of the Vista is the ship's channels on the TV. We make it a point to stay as unplugged as possible during a cruise. This helps us keep our "we are on vacation" mood and not be distracted by what's happening in the "outside" world. With very few exceptions, I won't watch any network TV while cruising. I'll catch up on our DVR when we get home. I usually keep the TV on either a ship's camera view or general info channel. On the Vista, there was a map channel that was really cool! It displayed a real-time map of the ship's location and track log. It would scroll from large scale to small scale. I kept the TV on this almost exclusively. 

Is this cool, or what?

Now I don't begrudge anyone watching any channel they want. It's just my preference to avoid network television when in the cabin. Cindy will occasionally watch a movie or a sitcom while she's getting ready for dinner. By the way, did you notice the sea depth indicated on the map? Just click on the photo (or any of these photos) for a larger format version. 

After a nice, leisurely breakfast, we decided to explore the ship some more and see what was going on. Sea days are always packed with many activities and perusing our Fun Times showed us what all was planned for today. It was getting close to lunchtime, so I thought I'd give Guy's Pig & Anchor a try. Cindy was meeting our nephew at the sushi place for lunch.  I got there before the lunch rush started, so there was just a small line. Cool!

Nice selections

I totally forgot to take a photo of my plate, oops, sorry, Jen, but overall it was good. Jen, or Jennifer, by the way, is the creator of a food lovers group on Facebook that I belong to. We try to share photos of interesting food that we have, restaurant recommendations, recipes, that sort of thing. If you live in the Houston/Galveston area, check us out by clicking her name.

Anyway, the beef seemed a bit overcooked for me, but the pork, chicken, and sausage were close to perfect. A variety of sauces and some yummy sides had me considering a second plate. Sound familiar? Knowing we had dinner at 6, though, tempered my desire for more BBQ, at least for now. 

After our respective lunches, we went back to the cabin to change into our swimwear and head up to Lido. The swimming pool was just a bit too cold for us, so we settled into the hot tubs in the aft section. Both the hot tubs and pool were moderately crowded, but there was still room for us. We both love meeting new people while cruising and enjoyed the lively conversation with the others in the hot tub. I eventually took a quick dip in the pool and got back into the hot tub. Besides, it's easier (and closer) to set your drink on the edge of the hot tub rather than the pool. 

As much fun as we had just hanging out and enjoying the sea breeze and conversation, eventually we had to make our way back to the cabin so we could get cleaned up for our first formal night, or "cruise elegant" evening. This is the first cruise where I haven't brought an actual suit to wear for formal night. I did bring a new pair of slacks, and two new long sleeved dress shirts with ties, though. 

Making progress

So, what's on the menu for tonight? I'm sure I'll find some tasty offerings. I usually find something on the menu that just leaps out and says "pick me, pick me!" I even managed to not eat a bunch of snacks from the Lido buffet so I'd be hungry. Oh, yes! One of my favorite appetizers is on the menu! From previous experience, I knew I'd order two of the appetizer. 

Appetizer: "Tart with Braised Kale, Blackened Pork Tenderloin"
Citrus cream

These tarts (both plates) were every bit as yummy as I remembered from our last cruise. They are bite-sized, so even though two plates sounds like a lot, it really isn't. 

Main: "Spaghetti Carbonara"
Bacon, cheese, garlic, cream

Rich and decadent, the cream sauce was matched only by the generous amount of bacon on the plate. It was all I could do not to lick the plate. 

Dessert: "Malted Chocolate Hazelnut Cake"
Warm chocolate sauce

Yes, that's a small pitcher of warm chocolate sauce. Yes, I poured most of it over the cake. No, I didn't share. Then again, Cindy didn't ask for any, as she was quite happy with her dessert: creme brulee.

Cindy's dessert

The top was perfectly done and made that nice crunching sound when Cindy stuck her spoon through the top. She insisted that I taste it, and even a small bite made me think I picked the wrong dessert.

Keith and Barbara were feeling a little under the weather so they wouldn't be diving with us in Grand Turk tomorrow. It's a bummer they were going to miss out. We normally change clothes after dinner into something a little more comfortable. My standard "evening wear" when cruising consists of cargo shorts, a t-shirt, and Tevas. It's comfortable and perfect for Caribbean weather. And I like all the pockets in my shorts, too. 

Another tradition of cruising is turn-down service. Should you elect to have this done, your cabin steward will turn down your bed and set your room up for bedtime while you are at dinner. Your steward will make a towel animal and place that on your bed, along with the next day's Fun Times. My sister Victoria has cruised wayyyyy more than we have, and still gets excited seeing what kind of animal she'll have upon entering her cabin. I like it, too, but not quite to the extent Victoria does. 

What do we have here?

From reading our Fun Times earlier, we decided to check out comedian Rob Little's show. This was one of the adult shows, compared to the family show earlier in the evening. Carnival makes a big point out of warning people that the adult show is NOT for those who are easily offended. Even with multiple warnings, though, some people are still offended, and I've seen many shows where someone will get up and leave. 

Rob was freaking hilarious and even picked on our nephew throughout the show. I guess part of that is where you choose to sit. Obviously, if you choose to sit up close where the comedian can see you, well, guess what. I knew that when we were on the Carnival Conquest several years ago. Not only did we sit up front, but I had a bright orange t-shirt on as well. Comedian Marc Rubben picked me as one of his "victims" and we've been friends ever since.

I'm glad we went to Rob's show. He definitely owned the stage that night. We weren't quite ready to go back to our cabin, even though we'd have to get up around 7 tomorrow for Grand Turk. We went to the piano bar, but it was PACKED. Wow, Joanne, the piano bar entertainer, had the place rocking! Oh well, let's head over to the Red Frog Pub ("RFP") for a drink or two. 

All but Keith and Barbara from our group hung out at the RFP for a little while before calling it a day. We enjoyed a drink and headed up to the cabin. Cindy and I still needed to prep our dive gear for the next day. Essentially, we unpacked our suitcase of dive gear and placed what we'd need into a more portable dive bag that we could take on the boat with us. Think of a large mesh duffle bag with comfortable shoulder straps and you'd be right on. 

As promised, here's the big reveal about my last blog's "mystery." What's the other significant thing about our cabin number (7282)? I got a few good guesses, but nothing was close. I appreciated the effort, though. 

Add the numbers up and you'll get 19. Both of us are huge Stephen King fans, and 19 appears throughout many of his works, especially the Dark Tower series. If you haven't read that series yet, I encourage you to do so, especially if you like epic stories on the order of the Lord of the Rings. I know, that'll be pretty anticlimactic to most of y'all. I'm sure other Stephen King fans will agree with me, though, just how often 19 pops up in our day-to-day lives, whether or not we are actually looking for it.

Well, that was a typical sea day for us. We like the slower pace of sea days for relaxing. Want to spend the whole day in a lounge chair, alternating naps with reading? Sea days are the perfect day to do that. Would you rather spend more time doing organized activities? Carnival has you covered there as well. A little mix and match? Go for it! That's the beauty of sea days. 

Coming up next, you can follow along with us as we go diving in Grand Turk.

For your convenience, here are links to each blog in the series so far:

My Grand View of the Carnival Vista (first in a series)
Day 1: Embarkation on the Carnival Vista

Until next time....

carpe cerevisi


  1. Well Patrick, I’ve never been on a cruise, but after reading your post, I am sure it’s not my cup of tea. Not that it doesn’t sound fun - it does! But maybe if there were less people lol! Scott and I are not fond of lines and crowds. Is there a particular time of the year that’s better to take a cruise with less people? If so, I’d definitely check it out. I’m just not so sure about sharing a hot tub with strangers haha! On a separate note, yum to the food! Cindy’s creme brulee looked amazing. That’s one of my favorite desserts. Looking forward to reading about your adventure in Grand Turk!!

  2. Crowds can be an issue at times, especially on the Lido Deck at meal times. From Galveston, Carnival ships typically sail full, as I'm sure the other cruise lines do as well.

    On the last few Carnival ships we've been on, most decks, other than Lido, don't feel so crowded in general. There are exceptions, of course, but overall you can usually find a quiet spot to relax in.

    I've always enjoyed Carnival's food selection. Even as picky as I am, there's usually something I'll enjoy, especially the desserts. If you cruise with the boys, they'll be happy to know that both pizza and soft serve ice cream are available 24/7.

  3. Good to know! Thanks, Patrick!

    1. Glad to help! Y'all really should give cruising a try. I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.

    2. Also the Vista is a very large ship. So you might check into some of the smaller ship where there are less passengers. Just a thought.

    3. Also the Vista is a very large ship. So you might check into some of the smaller ship where there are less passengers. Just a thought.

  4. You are the kind of passenger who knows how to enjoy yourself. Thanks for the kind words about the entertainers. I don't know Rob Little or Joanne, but I'm sure they are great. I often miss my days with Carnival, but shifting into corporate event entertainment has been much more lucrative and was a smart career move for me. The next time I cruise may be as a passenger instead of a fly-on entertainer. :)

    1. ALWAYS glad to hear from you, Marc! I do hope you get to experience cruising from the passenger side, versus the working side. Carnival has expanded their vegetarian menus, too, just FYI.

  5. Nice Patrick! On the Balcony cabins - Dora and I usually book a balcony, BUT, she hates light in the mornings. Soooo, we back clips (Chips Clips, Clothes pins, etc) to help hold the curtains together. To keep them against the walls - magnets! We still get SOME light in, but it helps. We did book an interior once ... we damn near slept the entire cruise!! LOL

    1. Hey there, Steve! That's a GREAT idea about the magnetic clips. I'll have to add them to our packing list. Both Cindy and I are convinced that balcony cabins are the only way to go now.

      Have you booked on the Vista yet? We are reallly wanting to do the TA on the Panorama in a couple of years.