The biggest cruise line in the world, Carnival, just debuted its first new ship in four years, the Carnival Vista, and it’s the company’s largest vessel yet. We sailed on one of its very first cruises this week. Here are our five favorite things to do on board:
1. Race a Recumbent Bike Suspended 150 Feet Above the Sea
A unique attraction on Carnival Vista is SkyRide, a brand-new fun-ride-meets-fitness-machine experience. Dreamed up by Scott Olson, the inventor of Rollerblades, this ride lets passengers harness themselves into open-sided capsules suspended from parallel tracks high above the ship and then pedal, recumbent style, around an 800-foot loop. Go with a friend and race around the track, or just pedal slowly and enjoy the spine-tingling views. SkyRide is only one of several new outdoor recreational features, including Kaleid-O-Slide, a raft-riding tube slide with kaleidoscopic visual effects.
2. Catch a Blockbuster at the First Seagoing IMAX Theater
Carnival Vista’s IMAX screen stretches three decks high (nearly 44 feet). Sightlines are excellent from anywhere in the room, and the sound is awesome. The theater airs first-run Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, and cartoons. There’s also a smaller Thrill Theater next door, where the movies are 3D, the seats move, and viewers get sprayed with water and bubbles. (For the scariest fun, make sure to get there for a screening of the horror flick Thrillogy: Dare to Be Scared.)
3. Tour a Sailing Microbrewery
The Vista is also home to Carnival’s first on-board brewery. Built into the popular RedFrog Pub, it turns out three craft beers: ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA, ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat, and FriskyFrog Java Stout. You can take part in an hour-long tour and tasting with brewmaster Colin Presby or just enjoy the beers with bar snacks like coconut shrimp. Other dining enhancements on the ship include an outdoor Seafood Shack (lobster BLTs, raw oysters, fresh fish) and a pizzeria that bakes five kinds of Neapolitan-style pies, free and made to order 24/7.
4. Stretch Out on Your Personal Patio
For a unique stay, book one of the new tropics-inspired Havana Cabanas staterooms built beside the Havana Bar, which has its own lush outdoor lounge area with a pool. Each stateroom has a private gated patio with a swing chair and a sun bed. Or, if you’re traveling with kids, you can enjoy the new Family Harbor staterooms that sleep up to five people. They’re located near a keycard-access family lounge offering breakfast, snacks, board games, big-screen TVs, and a concierge to assist with family activities onboard and ashore. (You can even get a night of free babysitting in the large children’s club.)
5. Relax in an Infrared Sauna
The spacious, two-story Cloud 9 Spa has a thalassotherapy pool, four steam chambers, a hammam, and Carnival’s first infrared sauna, which uses infrared light said to have a host of health benefits—from improved circulation to better skin tone. There are also “Experience Showers,” which waft scents like lemongrass, eucalyptus, and peppermint. Another place to get away from it all is the adults-only Serenity retreat, a secluded deck area with beautiful views, clamshell beds, a pair of whirlpools, and two massage huts.
Anne Kalosh doesn’t count the cruises she’s taken, although there have been hundreds—including five years as a shipboard newspaper editor, sailing the world. She loves the experiences sea travel offers. Her byline has appeared in many major publications, and she’s on top of the latest cruise developments as the long-time U.S. editor for Seatrade-Cruise.com and Seatrade Cruise Review.