What's the best Carnival ship?

by Sherri Eisenberg

What's the best Carnival ship?

by Sherri Eisenberg

Unlike with wine, cheese, and relationships, when it comes to cruise ships, newer really is better. New ships tend to have the cruise line’s latest innovations, the best technology, fastest internet, freshest designs, and the best new cabin configurations. That’s certainly true of Carnival Cruise Line's 3,934-passenger Carnival Vista, which launched in April 2016 in the sunny Mediterranean and is now the largest ship in Carnival's fleet. If you’re looking for the energy and nightlife of Carnival and you want to try the very best the line has to offer, this is the ship.

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Aerial view of Carnival Vista / Kristen Boatright
Beer and wings at RedFrog Pub
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1. Onboard Brewery

A lot of Carnival ships have the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub, with live music, island-inspired snacks (such as conch fritters, grouper “fingers,” jerk-style wings, and coconut cake), games (including foosball tables), and house beer. Although these pubs all have a wide array of rums to choose from — as well as Caribbean beers, such as Jamaican Red Stripe and Bahamian Kalik — this is the first one to make its own beers on board. Choose from a variety of craft brews, including Java Stout, Port Hoppin’ IPA, and Caribbean Wheat.

A lot of Carnival ships have the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub, with live music, island-inspired snacks (such as conch fritters, grouper “fingers,” jerk-style wings, and coconut cake), games (including foosball tables), and house beer. Although these pubs all have a wide array of rums to choose from — as well as Caribbean beers, such as Jamaican Red Stripe and Bahamian Kalik — this is the first one to make its own beers on board. Choose from a variety of craft brews, including Java Stout, Port Hoppin’ IPA, and Caribbean Wheat.

The Havana pool
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2. Havana

The Havana area is a totally new concept for Carnival. Cabins in this part of the ship have a colonial-inspired décor (picture shutters, plenty of dark wood, and four-poster beds) and terraces with hammock chairs. These cabins share a pool that, during the day, is private. There, you’ll find palapa-style umbrellas, palm trees, cushy wicker deck chairs with floral-patterned pillows in bright pops of color, hot tubs and, in the evening, a Latin jazz band, a long list of tropical drinks — including mojitos and daiquiris — and Cuban-style snacks, such as empanadas and plantains.

The Havana area is a totally new concept for Carnival. Cabins in this part of the ship have a colonial-inspired décor (picture shutters, plenty of dark wood, and four-poster beds) and terraces with hammock chairs. These cabins share a pool that, during the day, is private. There, you’ll find palapa-style umbrellas, palm trees, cushy wicker deck chairs with floral-patterned pillows in bright pops of color, hot tubs and, in the evening, a Latin jazz band, a long list of tropical drinks — including mojitos and daiquiris — and Cuban-style snacks, such as empanadas and plantains.

Seafood Shack
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3. Seafood Shack

Located on the pool deck at the aft of the ship, this New England-style seafood “shack” serves up baskets of fried shrimp, lobster rolls, crab cakes, fried clam rolls, and the like, as well as fresh fish that was caught in port. Not only can you order it cooked to order here, you can also order the catch of the day by the pound to be sent to any restaurant on the ship and cooked any way you like it — literally. If you can dream up a style, the staff will make it for you. (Our Indian-spiced fish was the best seafood dish we ate at sea this year.)

Located on the pool deck at the aft of the ship, this New England-style seafood “shack” serves up baskets of fried shrimp, lobster rolls, crab cakes, fried clam rolls, and the like, as well as fresh fish that was caught in port. Not only can you order it cooked to order here, you can also order the catch of the day by the pound to be sent to any restaurant on the ship and cooked any way you like it — literally. If you can dream up a style, the staff will make it for you. (Our Indian-spiced fish was the best seafood dish we ate at sea this year.)

Family Harbor Cabin
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4. Family Harbor Cabins

New to Carnival, these family-friendly cabins have a fresh look, and they share a lounge that’s open 24 hours a day. Filled with snacks, TVs, and board games, it’s a great place for parents and kids to hang out together and watch family-friendly movies — or get some time apart when a shared cabin of four or five starts to feel claustrophobic.

New to Carnival, these family-friendly cabins have a fresh look, and they share a lounge that’s open 24 hours a day. Filled with snacks, TVs, and board games, it’s a great place for parents and kids to hang out together and watch family-friendly movies — or get some time apart when a shared cabin of four or five starts to feel claustrophobic.

IMAX theater
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5. IMAX Theater

The ship’s IMAX theater, which is a first at sea, shows first-run films in their entirety, comes with comfy stadium-style seating, and even includes a concession stand with candy and popcorn, making it one of the best date-night options on board. Bonus: You get to take silly selfies in the funny 3-D glasses the theater provides.

The ship’s IMAX theater, which is a first at sea, shows first-run films in their entirety, comes with comfy stadium-style seating, and even includes a concession stand with candy and popcorn, making it one of the best date-night options on board. Bonus: You get to take silly selfies in the funny 3-D glasses the theater provides.

SkyRide
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6. SkyRide

This suspended tricycle-like ride allows you to bike your way across the deck’s two-lane aerial course, midair. Sure, it’s a little funny-looking, but you get to control the speed. And the views of the ship and the port are the best on board.

This suspended tricycle-like ride allows you to bike your way across the deck’s two-lane aerial course, midair. Sure, it’s a little funny-looking, but you get to control the speed. And the views of the ship and the port are the best on board.

Serenity's salad bar
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7. Chopped Salad Bar

Yes, the Serenity deck — a 21-and-up quiet area with gorgeous turquoise-cushioned daybeds, palm trees, and inviting lounge chairs — is on all of the ships. But on this one, Serenity has a chopped salad bar (a first for the line) that allows you to stay the whole day without having to leave for lunch.

Yes, the Serenity deck — a 21-and-up quiet area with gorgeous turquoise-cushioned daybeds, palm trees, and inviting lounge chairs — is on all of the ships. But on this one, Serenity has a chopped salad bar (a first for the line) that allows you to stay the whole day without having to leave for lunch.

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