Monday, February 12, 2018

Heading Home and Final Thoughts on the Carnival Vista

No breakfast on the balcony this morning. In fact, we had to hustle to get ready to disembark. During yesterday's debarkation presentation we received a time window of 8:30 for leaving the ship. We didn't want to have to hurry, so we set our alarm for 6:45, figuring we'd take our time waking up, getting dressed and heading up to Lido for breakfast. As we dressed, around 7:15, we heard on the ship's PA that our zone was ready for debarkation. 


The CD stressed the importance of debarking when our zone was called, as there was limited space on the baggage conveyor for all the bags. Well, crap! I guess breakfast is out. Cindy and I hurriedly finished getting dressed, zipped up our carryon bags, and bid farewell to our cabin. As is typical of these days, the elevators were packed and would continue to be packed for most of the morning. We took the stairs down to Deck 3 (Lobby) and joined the line to exit.

And just like that, we were off the ship and heading to baggage claim a mere thirty minutes from that first startling announcement. A porter helped us with our bags through customs and we quickly made our way to the pickup point for our van to the Ft. Lauderdale airport (FLL). As predicted, there was a crispness in the air and when the wind blew I could feel a bit of chill. 

Our van took about 45 minutes to get to the airport from the cruise terminal. Our flight wasn't until late afternoon, so we had plenty of time. The day was bright and sunny with blue skies so we just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the passing scenery.

Inside the FLL terminal

Once we dropped off our checked luggage, we finally had the chance to seek out that most important elixir in My fondness for a good cup of coffee is well known among my friends and family, and you can even read a blog I wrote about it here

Ahhh, much better! Steaming cup of goodness in hand, I logged into the airport's free wi-fi and started getting caught up on e-mail, Facebook and all other manner of social media I had been absent from for the past week. After being unplugged for so long, I was glad to see my long anticipated message from a Nigerian prince offering me millions of dollars was still sitting securely in my spam folder. Maybe this one is legitimate, and I should give the sender my account info. And maybe I'll sprout antlers.

Keith and Barbara drove to the terminal, so they were already on their way home. Brian, Denise and B-Man had a flight almost as late as ours, so all of us hung out in the terminal together, recounting the fun we just had. 

I like these decorations!

Around noon we decided to see what we could find for lunch. Even after such a huge meal last night, all of us were starting to get hungry and thought a nice lunch together would be nice. Maybe something "local," instead of a national chain....

Hey, that's it! We spotted La Familia Tacos & Tequila. Perfect! Well, except for the tequila part. Even better, there was only a moderate sized crowd so we were able to get a table for five with just a very short wait. As I studied the menu, I spotted a familiar friend, Mr. Pork Belly. Oh, yes, pork belly tacos!

Pork belly tacos

Served on flour tortillas, these tender strips of pork belly had a mildly spicy seasoning that was also a bit smoky and just a touch sweet. The pico de gallo and creamy jalapeno dressing finished these tacos nicely. I so have to find a local grocery store that sells pork belly!

A side of rice and beans

My tacos had a side of rice and black beans accompanying it. Cindy's lunch also had rice and beans as a side, so the server brought them out together. I added a little salsa to the rice and beans and mixed everything together for an enjoyable side.

We still had another three hours to go after lunch, so we all just settled into seats that had an outlet nearby and either surfed on our phones or read from our Kindles, or both. This helped the time to pass a little quicker, especially with a good novel I was reading on my Kindle. 

The sun was starting to creep towards the western horizon as our flight was called. Our ride home would be on N8629A, another 800 series aircraft (8H4, to be exact)...yay! 

photo by Jeremy D. Dando (used with permission)

As we got settled into our seats and buckled in, we figured we'd soon be on our way. Not so fast, though, as the flight attendants kept calling for specific people to please raise their hands or use the call button. Apparently, there was some confusion with the passenger manifest, and this caused about a half-hour delay. Adding to this, the captain said we'd be fighting a strong headwind the whole way back, and it would be doubtful that we could make up any time. No worries, I still had the next day (Monday) off as well. I do that whenever I can when we travel....take that extra day off. 

Once the passenger manifest was resolved, we pushed back from the gate and taxied out to our departure runway, 28R. The captain was right about fighting a headwind all the way to HOU. While not excessively turbulent, it was a bit choppy off and on throughout the flight. 

Almost home

Our landing was smooth, though, as we landed on RWY 4. As we taxied to the gate, I wondered when and where our next cruise would be. We collected our bags and soon our next door neighbor arrived to take us home. And that, dear readers, is that. Shortly after 9 pm, we walked through the door and were home.

Final Thoughts:

Cabin: This was our first balcony cabin and we loved it! I can see why they are so popular and we will probably book balcony cabins from now on. Because this was a first for us, our cruise experience was much different than what we were accustomed to. We spent very little time on Lido, instead opting to hang out on our balcony. We did enjoy the pools and hot tubs, though.

The air conditioner worked very well in our cabin. In fact, we had to even bump it up a little on the second day as the room was a bit cold. 

Located just forward of midships, on the port side, we were ideally located for good, unobstructed views. We didn't hear any noise from any public spaces, either. When we book the Vista again, we'll try for the same cabin.

As I frequently mentioned throughout this series, I loved the map channel on the cabin TV! I hope Carnival converts all of their ships to this system.

Food: Just about every meal we had was enjoyable. Twice, though, once on this cruise and once on the previous cruise on the Breeze, my flat iron steaks were overdone and tough. This could be coincidence, but I think I'll avoid these in the future. No, this didn't diminish my cruise experience, nor did it "ruin" my dinner. It's just something that needs a little work. 

Both Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana Cantina continue to be my "go to" places to eat on Lido. The Pig & Anchor BBQ is good, too, and is another venue I'd be happy to eat lunch at. 

This is the first time in several cruises that we haven't eaten dinner at Cucina del Capitano. The only reason we didn't was to try out JiJi Asian Kitchen. Both are phenomenal dining venues, and we'll seriously consider eating at both on our next cruise. We'll absolutely have dinner at JiJi, though. The next time, however, we'll make reservations as soon as we board the ship to get a good day and time. Both are entirely worth the $15 per person upcharge. 

Public spaces: Overall, the Vista is much like the Dream class ships. One change that stands out is the addition of beer taps at the tables in the Red Frog Pub and a "beer station" on Lido. This is a great idea in my opinion and something I'd like to see on other ships.

Individual table taps in the RFP

Beer station on Lido

How many times have I regretted waiting until the last minute to do something? It never fails, does it? Wait until the last minute and chances are you won't get to do it, won't have time or some other thing will come up. Throughout this whole cruise, both Cindy and I would watch the sky ride cars as people pedaled them around the track. Both of us wanted to do this at some point, but always put it off in favor of something else. "Let's make sure to do the sky ride tomorrow." Yeah, right! Everyone else must've had the same idea, and the line for the sky ride was longer than we cared to wait. Lesson learned.

Another venue we never got around to visiting was the Havana Bar on Deck 5, aft. Some live Cuban music would've been fun to listen to had we just made the time to do it. The same holds true with the Vista's brewery. Interested in a tour? No problem, just sign up for it, but space is limited. And don't wait until the last sea day, in the afternoon, to try to book a tour. Yep, it was full. Imagine that.

With so much to offer, the Carnival Vista will keep you as busy as you want. Or you can be as idle as you want, or anything in between. 

I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog series as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

For your convenience, here are the links to the previous blogs in the series:

My Grand View of the Carnival Vista (first in a series)

Day 1: Embarkation on the Carnival Vista

Day 2: Our First Fun Day at Sea on the Carnival Vista

Day 3: Grand Turk on the Carnival Vista

Day 4: La Romana on the Carnival Vista

Day 5: Curacao on the Carnival Vista

Day 6: Aruba on the Carnival Vista

Day 7: Our Second Fun Day at Sea on the Carnival Vista

Day 8: Our Final Fun Day at Sea on the Carnival Vista

If you enjoyed this series, I also wrote a blog series on our Carnival Breeze cruise in 2016. You can find the first one here.

Coming up in the next few blogs, I'll write about some of the new board games we've played, as well as a few other topics I'm developing. 

Is there anything you'd like to read? Please let me know in the comments section below and I'll see what I can come up with. 

Until next time.....

carpe cerevisi

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