Cruises are definitely a smart vacation solution for the traveler with wanderlust and a big appetite. Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ship, Vista, aims to offer both astounding travel excursions and an extensive variety of dining options to suit all tastes. The Daily Meal recently joined Carnival aboard the Vista for 7 days of eating and drinking through the Western Caribbean.
Carnival’s Vista launched in 2016 as the first of three vessels in the company's Vista-class series, and this vessel offers some unique features, including an IMAX theater, the SkyRide in-air attraction, and exclusive food collaborations Pig & Anchor and Guy’s Burger Joint (both from none other than Guy Fieri himself). Departing from the Port of Miami, this voyage included stops in Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
Serving nearly 4,000 passengers over seven days, the Vista boasts a selection of 17 onboard restaurants, ranging from upscale to casual, ethnic to all-American, and all-inclusive to paid. Deciding where to start and what to try can be a bit overwhelming. We narrowed it down to the top five.
- Guy’s Burger Joint: This poolside burger shack from food personality Guy Fieri does not disappoint. Besides the stellar burgers and hand-cut fries, the main highlight of this spot is the toppings bar, including bacon bits, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and of course Guy’s famous Donkey Sauce. Any fan of the “build your own burger” concept will love this as casual lunch option.
- Pizzeria del Capitano: For a late-night snack, skip the room service and head to the Pizzeria del Capitano, which is open 24 hours. Hand-tossed dough is made from imported Italian flour, and fresh mozzarella forms a solid base. From there, you choose the toppings to make your pie your own.
- JiJi Asian Kitchen: JiJi Asian Kitchen is a full dining experience. A roll of lucky dice at the start of the meal decides who in your party is in charge of the selecting the dishes. The expansive menu covers several countries. The highlight was the Nanjing-Style Duck, flash wok-fried with mango fritters, shallots, hoisin with lily dust, and green chili sauce. They also make a killer green tea martini.
- Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que: The ship’s best alfresco dining is yet another Guy Fieri restaurant. The menu selection meets the mark for an adequate barbecue joint, but the stand-out item here is the Blue Ribbon Chicken. Dry rubbed and grilled, tender and well-seasoned, it is a definite must-try. Guy’s signature line of barbecue sauce is also available to try at a separate sauce station.
- The Chef’s Table: The pinnacle of the Vista’s culinary offerings is an exclusive dining experience located inside the galley of the kitchen. The VIP experience starts with a tour of the galley and an introduction to the ship’s executive chef. Other activities include a cooking demo of the signature warm chocolate melting cake with the head pastry chef and a private magic show. The experience is offered to only a few people, so advance reservations are a must. The $99 prix fixe menu offered is as sumptuous as it is visually stunning and displays extraordinary attention to detail.
Plan ahead and make reservations, especially for a seat at The Chefs Table and JiJi Asian Kitchen. Although neither are a part of Carnival’s all-inclusive dining option, the surcharge is well worth the experience.