As Hotel Director of Carnival Vista, Pierre B. Camilleri has responsibility for nearly everything that makes up the guests' cruise experience including the accommodations, the dining operations, the bars, the entertainment and activities, the shore excursions, the casino, the spa and guest services. As part of the team that brought Carnival Vista into service, Mr. Camilleri is intimately familiar with the ship. In addition, Mr. Camilleri was hotel director on Carnival Breeze - - a ship that Mr. Camilleri also brought into service. (See interview). As such, he is well placed to contrast Vista against the ship that immediately preceded Vista into service.
“This is the first of her class. I'm sure that Carnival Corporation will build more ships like this one. I have no doubt because first and foremost, technically, she is holding up very well. You can see that she is a good ship. Then, the guest feedback, not only in Europe but now also the first month in the U.S. We can see that our North American guests love the ship, love the spaces, love the flow of guests specifically on decks 3, 4, 5, and 10 Lido deck.”
One of the first things guests who have cruised before with Carnival notice about Vista is the difference in the décor and atmosphere versus earlier Carnival ships. Vista employs lighter colors such as beige and pale blue. She is more like a contemporary hotel.
“I love the colors of the ship The ship feels much bigger than Breeze but she is actually not much bigger than Breeze. It is only 5,000 gross tons. But the colors, the way we placed the furniture and the size of the furniture, [make Vista seem bigger]. Some spaces were deliberately left open like the Atrium. I love her colors.”
“The two closest ships we have to this one are the Breeze and [Carnival] Sunshine. However, here, we had a mix of architects whereas before it was just one big architect. Most of my public areas were [designed by] Partner Ship Design but then I had a different architect for the aft dining room etc.. So it was not one architect doing the entire project but spaces assigned to different architects. Carnival appointed one of our senior architects to over see the entire project.”
“I like this size because the relationship between size, space and the number of guests aboard, I find just the right formula. So far, when it comes to business, revenue and costs, she has proven to incredible.”
“This ship can offer a lot. Look at the amount of space Look at the amount of specialty dining rooms we have. The number of bars we have. The size and the number of gift shops that we have. The spa and the number of treatment rooms that we have. The internet facilities, the entertainment, the bingos - - there is a lot to offer. If one wants to have fun, one cannot get bored here.”
A new feature offered on Carnival Vista is the Havana Staterooms and Suites. These cabins are designed to be like personal island resorts. During the day, they have exclusive access to the Havana Bar and Pool area. They also have larger outdoor lounging areas including for the suites their own exclusive portion of Vista's lanai promenade.
“The Havana cabins are a first for the industry, first for Carnival Cruise Line. They are selling faster than the suites and the spa cabins. They are premium priced. So these seem to be the right business model so far.”
When Carnival Vista was in Malta during her European season, Mr. Camilleri, who was born in Malat, arranged for a cannon fire salute as the ship left the harbor. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).
Speaking of the lanai, Carnival has re-thought this outdoor promenade. “The lanai on Deck 5 is an evolution of Breeze. On the Breeze, we have a lanai but it is a very simple lanai. It is not covered and it has blue sunbeds on it and a few tables and chairs. Here, half the lanai is covered. Instead of sunbeds, we went with very nice rattan, comfy, cushioned sofas. They are under the covered area so if it is raining you can still enjoy reading a book. You also have these round beds, which I call covered beds for two. Very popular. You don't have to be two to be on it. I have people there spending the entire day.”
In addition, there are now outdoor seating areas on the lanai for two of the ship's specialty restaurants. “It can be a steakhouse meal, it can be a Bonsai Sushi meal. You have tables with chairs. What an experience - - fresh air, people still passing by, the lights are just right, the sound of the ocean, a little bit of music as a background, comfortable chairs.”
“Since we arrived here in the US, we have seen much more traffic going through the lanai. That is exactly what we wanted - - we wanted to reduce traffic on the inside and increase it on the outside. In the evening walking through the lanai with the lights turned down, you hear the ocean - - the most beautiful thing you can have aboard.”
Deck 5 has also been redesigned inside. Guests may notice that the Ocean Plaza, the crossroads of the ship, is further aft than on Carnival Breeze.
“We had to move the Ocean Plaza because we created a new area. We moved the casino from Breeze Deck 5 to Vista Deck 4. The casino is now one deck down. The advantage is that if you are a non-smoker and you want to cross the ship from forward to aft or aft to forward, you don't have to go through Deck 4, you can go to Deck 5. That is a big advantage. Two. If you are a parent and you don't want your kid to pass through the casino, not only because of the smoke but because of the gambling and the people there, you just have to avoid Deck 4 and you go to 5. Another advantage is although the size of the casino is very similar to what we have on Breeze, it is more secluded. We created a different world to entertain you there.”
In place of the casino, the new area includes the steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and the Alchemy Bar. “The steakhouse, which is one of our most popular eateries, it is now more central. In front of it, you have the Alchemy Bar where you can have a drink before your dinner or you can have an after dinner drink after the steakhouse. That created a very nice area there. It also gave me the space to have the largest Bonsai Sushi restaurant in the fleet.”
Another innovation on Carnival Vista is the first seagoing IMAX Theater. “It is a good space. I am very happy that the noise does not exit the theater. The price is fair – it is very similar to what you would pay on land and we do have the latest movies, new releases.”
Carnival is a family friendly cruise line and so attention has also been paid to enhancing the cruise experience for families with children. “We have beautiful clubs for our kids. Camp Ocean is one of our nicest. Before we used to call them Camp Carnival, now we call them Camp Ocean. I have seen kids multiple times crying their eyes out because they don't want to leave and go with their parents for dinner. They just love it. I have a beautiful team of young high-energy youth counselors, fully-trained, know how to take care of the kids, know how to speak to the kids and they are doing an amazing job. It is not easy to work 10 hours a day with kids.”
In addition, Vista has a series of cabins for families traveling together. “Family harbor is on Deck 2. The theme of the cabins is a nautical theme. There are nautical colors and nautical signage. The cabins sleep, two, three, four or five. The cabins that sleep five, have two bathrooms. One bathroom with a bathtub and one bathroom with a shower. So they are family cabins. If you are two parents with three kids, you book one room and you can all live together. There is a curtain that divides the privacy of the parents from the kids. Then there is a lounge in the area that is open 24/7. We offer limited breakfast in this area. There are plenty of sofas for what I call 'family events' - - playing card games or any sort of games. It is more of a private area. It demands a little more of a heavier price but not as much as our Havana cabins or suites.”
Cruise ship interview - - Carnival Cruise Lines - - Carnival Vista - - Hotel Director