Top 5 Things to Do After You Board the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I was provided free cruise fare for myself and my husband from Carnival, however all opinions are my own, and these are my unbiased best embarkation day tips for boarding the Carnival Vista!

I have cruised several times, and have learned a few tricks about how to make the most out of the day we get on board (Embarkation day). However, my tips vary depending on which cruise and cruise line I am on, so check out my best tips for Embarkation day on the Carnival Vista below:

1.) Eat: It’s typically lunchtime when you get on board the ship, and since rooms aren’t ready yet, we may as well eat! It’s a great way to get in the vacation and relaxation mindset. There are a few places to choose from to eat on the Vista, which is great in helping to spread people out.

Pro tip: We opted for Pig and Anchor BBQ, because the majority of people will head to the buffet, AND, this place is only open on certain days! 

2.) Sky Ride: The sky ride is so, so popular, and as you can see from the photo below, only two people can ride at a time. It is the least crowded on embarkation day and on port days when people get off the ship. My tip is to try and go as soon as you get on board, as the line will get longer as the day goes on. How cool is this?!?

Pro tip: Either wear closed toed shoes or pack some in your carry on, as they are required for the Sky Ride.

3.) Dining Reservations: Sometimes you may not have the opportunity to get dining reservations at one of the three specialty locations on the Vista, but you can make them in person at the restaurants when you get on board the ship. We did this and were easily able to get reservations at the two spots we wanted to dine in. Perfect!

Pro Tip: Do this as soon as you get onboard (ok maybe after you grab some grub) for the best selection of times and dates!

4.) Swim: Eat a little lunch, then go for a swim or sunbathe right? That screams VACATION to me! As you can see from the pictures below, the pools were virtually empty on embarkation day (and no it wasn’t cold outside! It was Miami in November!) This is a wonderful time to grab a chair and a towel and soak it all in, or hop in the hot tub and enjoy the afternoon.



Pro Tip: pack your swimsuit in your carry on, you won’t have access to your luggage until later in the afternoon. 

5.) Relax: You have eaten, done the sky ride, gotten your dining reservations and gone for a swim, now its time to think about nothing else because you are on vacation on this gorgeous ship! Enjoy the ship and all the entertainment, dining, and fun she has to offer. There truly is something for everyone when you board the Carnival Vista.

board the carnival vista

Occidental Grand Cozumel All Inclusive

Disclosure: We were given a discount on our day passes to Occidental Grand through Resort For A Day, however all opinions are my own.

Bobby and I have been to Cozumel numerous times while on cruise ships, and we wanted to go somewhere we had never gone before. I started doing some research on as we love a good all inclusive, and I stumbled on Occidental Grand, which is a resort, but the offer day passes for cruise ship passengers. It looked like the perfect place to spend the day. We purchased our passes quickly and easily on the website, brought our print out conformation with us on the ship, and waited for our day in Cozumel.

The resort is very private. We took a taxi there and it was about a ten minute ride. There is a guard at the gate, as well as lush tropical landscaping. The open air lobby was beautiful, (I wish we had more time to just wander around), and we checked in and were given directions to the beach and pools.

You have a to walk a little ways to get to the beach, but the walk is gorgeous and totally worth it. We passed different buildings that house guests, as well as sculptures, plants, and fountains.

We met several new friends along the way. I have no idea what these guys are but there were adorable and not skiddish.

We followed the Caribbean music and made it to a gorgeous pool and beach area where there were towels, clean bathrooms, plenty of chairs, and an open bar.

You could also get a beach cabana massage for an additional fee.

These cabana beds were first come first serve. They were up off the beach but we ended up in one in the afternoon where we snoozed for a few minutes before heading back to the ship.

Included in our day pass along with the open bar was a buffet lunch. It wasn’t spectacular food, but it was decent quality and there was plenty to go around with lots of variety, as well as soft serve ice cream which was a great way to end the meal.

The views at lunch did not suck.

occidental grand

We spent most of our day reading and lounging steps from the beautiful clear water, only getting up to go back to the bar!

While children are allowed at this resort, I only saw about four of them. They did have a staff member at the pool playing games with them which I thought was nice, but if coming for the day keep in mind it was mainly adults and there were no big water inflatable toys like at some of the other all inclusive beaches. We had the opportunity to speak to a couple of people who were staying at the resort and found out it was their fourth time they love the resort so much!

occidental grand

Hearing this made us want to come back and stay, as the grounds are beautiful and we found the beach area very quiet and serene. They also had an adults only pool but it is not on the beach. (below). The property was very well maintained and the staff was friendly. The only negative was the drinks were not super strong unless you specifically asked the bar tender to make it that way. My first drink was very bland and watered down, but the next one was good.

Check out this info from the Resort for a Day website:

The All Inclusive Experience: 
Your Cozumel Resort For a Day Pass includes lunch and snacks! Enjoy lunch from 12 pm – 4:30 at the Beach Club, which offers an international thematic buffet with a spectacular ocean views. Getting thirsty? Cool down with your drink of choice; unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included in this Cozumel shore excursion. Bars open at 10am. Resort For a Day cruise guests are welcome to arrive as early as 9:00am and stay up till 5:00pm. (These times are always local Cozumel times).
Getting There:
Transfers are not included, taxi service is readily available both at the cruise pier and at the resort for your return. We recommend heading back to the cruise ship 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure. Here are easy transfer tips based on your arrival pier:

  • Punta Langosta: 20 min tax ride, about US $18 for 1-4 guests.
  • International Pier: 8-10 min tax ride, about US $8 for 1-4 guests.
  • Puerta Maya: 8-10 min tax ride, about US $8 for 1-4 guests.

We would go back again on an adults only trip, I really enjoyed our day at the Occidental Grand!

Fahrenheit 555 on the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I sailed on the Carnival Vista as a guest of Carnival, and ate a complimentary meal at Fahrenheit 555. However, all opinions are my own. 

The Carnival Vista has so many things to do and so many delicious places to eat. Bobby and I wanted to be sure to discover as many of them as possible, so we were really excited to have the opportunity to eat at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse the first night of our cruise. (Side note: if you dine there the first night, you get a free bottle of house wine or 50% off any bottle! And they have a very extensive wine list.)

Fahrenheit 555 on the Carnival Vista is a Steahouse with a small fee. It's a gorgeous place to dine for dinner with amazing food, steak, and seafood! Try it on your next cruise.

The decor inside the restaurant is elegant but also not too over the top. We found the atmosphere to be very relaxing and modern.

We were seated right away (reservations highly encouraged) and were introduced to our friendly server. We ordered our bottle of wine and had the menu explained to us. We couldn’t wait to eat!

We enjoyed just hanging out and talking while waiting for our food. There are lots of tables for two for couples which I really liked, and you don’t see that much on cruise ships.

It took awhile to figure out what I wanted to order because it all looked so delicious! Everyone can order an appetizer, entree, and dessert, so make sure you save room.

For appetizers we ended up getting salads, and then I had the baked onion soup while Bobby had the ahi tuna tartare. The soup hit the spot but didn’t fill me up too much (hello, I wanted to be able to enjoy my steak!) and Bobby loved the presentation of his appetizer. As the food was brought out, it was all explained to use which was a nice touch.

For our entrees, I had the filet mignon, and Bobby had the surf and turf. Both were delicious and tender, I would definitely get mine again. It was a generous size, and I couldn’t even finish it.

For dessert I got chocolate (who is surprised) and it was rich but amazing, and Bobby got what I remember as an apple pie in a cute little skillet. We may or may not have licked the plates clean!

I really liked that they didn’t rush us through our meal, and our dinner was nice and leisurely. The steakhouse was an amazing way to start off our cruise, and totally worth it for the small up charge you pay to eat here. Fahrenheit 555 gets an A+ in my book and I can’t wait to go back!

To see the full menu, click here.

*Please note there is a $35 per person charge to dine in their restaurant, but it is well worth it! To check out my post where I talk about the regular dining room option, click here.

Sandals Ochi Beach

Disclosure: We were provided with two free day passes to the resort, however all opinions on Sandals Ochi Beach are my own.

Back in November when I sailed on the Carnival Vista, one of our stops was to Jamaica. I knew they had a Sandals resort there, and so I was really excited to spend the day exploring, in hopes of coming back for longer one day. The weather was dreary, but we still had a great time and I learned a lot about Sandals Ochi Beach resort!

This place has a beach club, 11 bars, and 16(!!) restaurants. You can take the shuttle to the other side of the road for more fun. Tranquil, lush gardens and quiet relaxing places to read or just enjoy your surroundings. This place has something for everyone!

Of course when you stay at Sandals Ochi you get top notch service such as free wifi, free airport transfers, unlimited land and water sports, unlimited wines and premium spirits, unlimited fine dining, golf, and access to the beach club where there are so many activities going on all day and into the night.

We were given a tour when we arrived, and this place is HUGE. I don’t think if I stayed for a month I could do all the things there are to do. So for those worried about getting bored at an all inclusive, that’s definitely not an issue here!

I loved the laid back atmosphere of the resort. No one was in a hurry, everyone was happy and relaxed, and it was so peaceful. The first thing we did was enjoy a breakfast buffet overlooking the ocean. I was handed a mimosa, and thought “I can get used to this!”

We enjoyed out food and the excellent customer service from the staff before heading to the pool to relax and enjoy some drinks. We ended up at the Beach Club area and at the swim up pool bar (so nice) where they will make you pretty much anything you want. I had a great time trying different drinks I normally wouldn’t order, and listening to the music as we looked out at the water.

Everyone was so friendly and we enjoyed chatting with other couples from all over the place. Some have been back several times which speaks very highly of Sandals Ochi Beach. Before we knew it, it was lunch time, so we headed back to the buffet area (there were other options as well) and enjoyed another meal overlooking the water, and I tried the drink of the day which was delicious.

After lunch I spent some time exploring the grounds and taking photos. I still didn’t have time to even take photos of everything!

I was jealous of everyone who got to stay there overnight when we had to go back to the ship.

I definitely would love to come back here, or try out another Sandals property, and actually be an overnight guest and experience more the resorts have to offer. I would also love a sunny day (haha).

If you are considering an all inclusive, I highly recommend Sandals Ochi Beach. There is something for everyone, and there are even direct flights from many airports. They have accommodations for all budgets, and activities and experiences you won’t soon forget. I know I was just there for a few hours, but I know I won’t forget the fun we had in Jamaica.

sandals ochi beach

Pppssst: If you are sailing here on a cruise ship, they offer a limited amount of day passes, which is what we had, so you can go check out the resort for yourself!

Sandals ochi beach


Health and Fitness on the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I was provided with a free cruise from Carnival, however all opinions about fitness on the Carnival Vista are my own.

As people who work out on the regular, it is important to us to have active and healthy things to do, even while on vacation. I was so pumped to see that the Carnival Vista has plenty of options for health and fitness lovers, and we took advantage whenever we could, which meant more dessert for us!

fitness on the carnival vista

Up on the open decks, the Vista has a great sports and activities area. There was a huge caged in basketball court, and even though we never had the chance, we saw where they play volleyball up there, too!

There is also a really fun obstacle course, mini golf, ping pong, and other games you can play with your family.

Fitness on the carnival vista

Don’t forget about the one of a kind sky ride where you pedal all the way around the boat, up in the sky! Talk about a workout with a view. A walking/jogging track also goes around this area if you just want to take in the view or chat with a family member while walking and burning some calories.

Our favorite however, was the fitness center which is located int he Cloud 9 Spa.

They had tons of treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, weight machines, dumbbells, bosu balls, medicine balls, and even a foam roller. There was definitely not a shortage of workouts to do here! They also had health and fitness seminars you could attend, personal training, and Pilates.

The treadmills have the best view in the house, looking directly out the front of the ship. it was gorgeous!

Fitness on the carnival vista

After you are done with your sweat session, you could pay a little extra to have access to the thermal suite (we got it free with our spa stateroom.) Here you can go into the sauna, hot tub, steam room, or several different cool showers.

I spent some time on the heated tile loungers to relax my sore muscles, which was just what I needed.

We worked out three of the five days we were on the ship, which I think is a great balance for a vacation. There is no need to ruin your routine or hard work just because you go on vacation. I love knowing that Carnival gives me great options and cares about my health, and hope you too will enjoy fitness on the Carnival Vista!

My 7 Favorite Things About the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I sailed for free on the Carnival Vista, however all opinions are my own.

I have been on several cruises, and really enjoy being out on the water, and having the ability to visit several destinations in one trip. Another things I really enjoy about cruises is exploring what basically amounts to a floating city.

As soon as I heard about Carnival’s newest ship, the Vista, I couldn’t wait to get on her and explore. After spending six nights on this beauty, I came up with seven of my favorite (there were many more though!) things about the ship to share with you.

1.) Anytime Dining: There are some days when you are out in a port, having a blast, and you just aren’t ready to go back to the ship to make your early dining time. Never fear, anytime dining is here! Just show up at the podium on the ship when you are ready to eat, and you are given a ticket and sent down to the dining room when your table is ready. We always ate between 6:00-7:00, and never had to wait. We could take our time getting dressed, no rushing around, and no stress. It was a great way to enjoy dinner and we loved the option! You could even request a certain server or section if you wanted to do so.

2.) Fahrenheit 55 Steakhouse: I have heard people rave about this restaurant, so I was pumped to try it out on our first night. (Bonus: if you dine there the first night you get a FREE bottle of house wine, or 50% off any bottle of wine!) It’s beautifully decorated, the staff was amazing, the food is plentiful, and it’s a very peaceful relaxed place. It was a top notch experience I recommend to everyone who sails. If you are looking for a fun “date night” or a little extra pampering with delicious food, don’t miss this one.

3.) Friendly Staff: With anything in life, dealing with staff anywhere you go can be hit or miss. It can be especially frustrating when you are going to be dealing with the same people over and over again, like on a cruise. I was SO pleasantly surprised with the staff, and in particular our stateroom hostess. She showed up the day we got on the ship and introduced herself to us, asked if we needed anything (I asked for an extra blanket which was delivered immediately) and she also noticed that we had a cord running across the floor for my husbands fan. She didn’t want us to trip so she brought an extension cord and taped it down to the floor for us. Seriously above and beyond, she could have just not done anything. We always had ice in our room, and I loved coming back at night to the turn down service and a fun towel animal. She always spoke to us when we saw her int he hallway, and was just generally a sweet pleasant person (as were all the staff we encountered!)

 4.) Cloud 9 Spa: We were fortunate to be in a spa stateroom on the ship, so our room was literally a hope skip and a jump from the Cloud 9 spa. We really enjoyed using the thermal suite, the heated tile lounge chairs, and we also visited the gym numerous times and found it to be spacious with lots of equipment. While we did not get any spa services while on board, there was a huge menu to choose from and always something going on.

Carnival Vista

5.) Serenity Adults Only Area: Aaahhh. Now you are speaking my language. Our room happened to also be super close to the adults only area which has two hot tubs, a bar, salad bar, and lots of comfy lounge chairs and what amounts to some private clam shell bed complete with throw pillows. This was a great, quiet escape form the hustle and bustle of the main parts of the ship, and we spent part of a port day and literally all day of our last sea day on this deck. If you want to nap or read a good book, this is definitely the place to do it. A couple of things to note though: The salad bar is only open on sea days, and the “clam shell beds” I mentioned (pictured below) get scooped up VERY quickly on sea days. I went out at 7:45 am to snag one and it was the last one, but totally worth it!

Carnival Vista

6.) Ship Water: I know this sounds bizarre, but I CAN’T be the only person who has thought about this, so I had to add it in to my favorites. Confession, I’m really weird about water. Like, really weird. I do not like lukewarm water or water the has a taste. I have been on other cruise lines and at restaurants where the tap water tastes awful, and so I was super nervous about being dehydrated during the cruise. So much in fact, that we ordered THREE cases of water to be delivered to our room so we wouldn’t die of thirst (dramatic, I know.) It ended up being a totally unfounded fear because the water on the ship tasted delicious and we only ended up using one case of water (for port days).

7.) Hand Washing: My husband and I are a bit of germaphobes (hey, we have a very germ-y three year old so it’s a necessity). I have heard awful stories of sickness sweeping through cruise ships and I for one did not want to be sick on my vacation. We boarded armed with hand sanitizer and Lysol spray. I found one of my favorite ship things in buffet. Not only do they have hand sanitizing stations everywhere, but they had hand washing stations. You just put your hands in the holes, not touching anything, and water and soap sprays out and washes your hands for you. It takes about 15 seconds, but it’s pretty cool and made me feel super clean. Kudos to Carnival for having different options and for keeping everyone safe from the spread of germs!

Carnival Vista

The Carnival Vista has so many great things about it that it was hard to narrow down to just seven, so be sure to check it out for yourself and find your favorites!

#OpenFun With the New Carnival Horizon

If you haven’t heard, the all new Carnival Horizon, the sister ship to the Vista (which we just sailed on) will be ready for you to step foot on her in 2018. In anticipation of the new ship, Carnival wanted to get everyone excited in these dreary winter months by sharing scents from the ports the Horizon will be visiting. They created adorable soda cans fulled with scents from around the Caribbean, and trust me, they really DO smell like the tropical paradises from which they came, and will make you want to take a cruise asap!


Did you know that scent is very much tied to your memories, specifically vacation memories? That’s why Carnival is having a fun event in NYC where you can get a whiff of the Caribbean in a can today and tomorrow in Greely Square Park!

Don’t live in NYC but want to join in the excitement of the new Carnival Horizon? Carnival is hosting a sweepstakes on it’s social channels from December 12-16 where you could WIN A FREE CRUISE on board the Horizon! 

All you have to do is share what scent inspires you to vacation with the hashtag #OpenFun. The Horizon may still be under construction at a shipyard in Italy, but the fun starts now!

Did you know that the Horizon will offer the first ever Dr. Seuss-themed water park? It will also be home to the new Smokehouse Brewhouse with BBQ favorites from Guy Fieri, and the line’s first teppanyaki restaurant.

The Horizon will begin in Europe, then make her way over to the USA for a summer tour including stops in Bermuda and eight day cruises our of NYC before moving down to Miami in September of 2018. Start the fun now by searching the #OpenFun hashtag and share you favorite vacation scents!

Carnival Cloud 9 Spa Stateroom Tour

Disclosure: I sailed on this cruise as a guest of Carnival, however all opinions are my own.

Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to sail on the beautiful Carnival Vista for six nights as we visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Our trip was amazing and exciting, and we were even more pumped to find out we were staying in a Cloud 9 Spa stateroom. Immediately I did some research to see what this would entail.

Cloud 9 spa

First of all, the overall color scheme of the room is different than the other staterooms. It may be cliche, but it was very “spa like” with calming greens and blues. The room was so bright but also cozy, it was hard to leave some days!

Another perk of these rooms are some upgraded amenities such as spa toiletries, and the use of bathrobes and slippers in our room. The toiletries were replenished as much as we needed during the cruise which was a nice touch.

The proximity too the spa itself was definitely a bonus, as we were literally just steps away from the relaxing hallway leading to the treatment rooms, thermal suite, fitness room, and more. We were also very close to the adults only Serenity deck which is where we hung out often. It was nice not having to go far!

Guests staying in these staterooms are also given a special spa discount. When you purchase three treatments, you will get a discount on each, 20%, 30%, and 40% respectively. Not to mention, we had access to the thermal suite which included the amazing heated tile lounger, whirlpool, saunas, and more. We also got our own body scrub and sponge to use there!

We wouldn’t hesitate to book one of these special Carnival Cloud 9 spa rooms again, we were definitely spoiled! Be sure to check out my video tour of our stateroom below. (Room 14217).

5 Things Friday XXIX

Happy Friday friends! It’s been awhile since I did a 5 things Friday, and I thought it would be a fun way to “catch up” with you all.

1.) A cruise redo: Remember when my husband and I were supposed to go on a cruise with Carnival in September and it got cancelled due to a little thing called hurricane Irma? Well we were finally able to reschedule! It’s a 6 night western instead of an 8 night eastern, but still on the gorgeous Carnival Vista and we are pumped to leave in just over two weeks! You can follow along with me on social media (@heatherslg) and the hashtag #CruisingCarnival.

(I just bought these towel clips so our towels won’t blow away on the ship, I have meant to do it for years!)

2.) Finally fall? Y’all, we had to put our heat on last night! It dropped down to 50 and this girl was cold, but I’m not complaining! We have had record breaking heat this October (90’s!) so I was thankful to get to wear pants and a cozy sweater today. I’m busting out my boots tomorrow! Unfortunately it’s not staying this way, but maybe now we won’t be reaching the 90’s anymore until May? One can hope!

3.) Wine and Dine: I announced on Instagram stories a couple weeks ago that due to the generosity of a sweet friend I will be running the two course challenge! Yes I’m under trained and I have no costume (help?) but I am running both races and am PUMPED! I haven’t run this once since 2013 so it’s time.

4.) Giveaway: Head on over to Instagram because I am hosting a giveaway, a gift certificate, and if you like athletic apparel you need to check it out. It closes in a couple days so hurry.


5.) Webinar and pre sale: In case you aren’t on my email list or follow me on social, you may not know my pre sale for my e-course: Social Side Hustle, 21 days to becoming a social media manager, started yesterday. Not only can you get my course at the lowest price now, but you can sign up for a FREE webinar all about getting social media clients. Also if you would like to get on my email list here is the link for that.

I know I just gave you a ton of links and information, but y’all are sharp, I know you got this. I hope everyone has a fabulous fall weekend, has great weather, attends at least two pumpkin patches and three trunk or treats (no seriously we have a really busy weekend!)

QOTD: What are you or your kids dressing up as for Halloween? 

September 2017 Goals

August really got away from me y’all. Honestly, I’m not complaining that it’s gone because it was SO HOT. It’s too hot to even go to the pool because the water isn’t even cool. September is still stifling, but brings the hope of some temperatures in the 80’s at least (I hope!) Before we look at my goals for this month, let’s see how I did in August:

1.) Research and get ready for the cruise: A+ Yes! I spent some time doing research and have a plan for each day. HOWEVER, with hurricane Irma, I’m not sure what is going to happen to our cruise or ports. Sad times.

2.) Workout 5+ days a week: C- Yall. This ecourse is sucking the life out of me. I’m SO excited to share it with you, but it is so draining and taking up so much time. I worked out 3-4 days a week this month but not five. I’m working on it.

3.) Set a date for my course launch: C- I’m close guys. I’m about 85% done. I WILL go out on a limb and say by the end of September, but I don’t have an exact date yet. I wwiisshhh I did. I just want it to be perfect.

September Goals:

1.) Launch my course: Self explanatory, no?

2.) Organize and de-clutter: I realized after living here close to a year (woah) that I have WAY too much stuff and really need to get rid of things. If I haven’t used it since we moved in, I probably don’t need it.

3.) Workout 5 times a week: Giving this one another go. I can tell a difference in the way I look and feel that I need to workout more.

As always, I feel you have a better shot at reaching goals when you can print them out and see them all month. Be sure to snag your free goal and fitness tracking printables here.

Happy September everyone!

QOTD: What are your September goals?