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Alfresco Carnival Vista packs in aerial ride, IMAX Theatre, brew pub, cabana and family rooms

Carnival Cruise Line/Ray Stubblebine
Carnival's Mark Tamis tests the pedal-powered aerial attraction, SkyRide
More open to the sea than any other Fun Ship, the new Carnival Vista sports lots of ocean views, indoor-outdoor dining and alfresco attractions.

For its next newbuild Carnival Cruise Line hasn't reinvented but improved upon—especially when it comes to connecting cruisers with the sea. Why it's called Carnival Vista became clear Thursday when the first features were revealed. Many of them focus on views.

The biggest novelties are SkyRide, a suspended, open-air cycling experience on an 800-foot track above the top deck; a three-story IMAX Theater, the first at sea, that's part of the Carnival Multiplex; and an expanded water park showcasing the colorful Kaleid-O-Slide, the line’s first raft-riding water tube slide. Havana-inspired cabanas, or lanai staterooms, are fun, too.

SkyRide is a pedal-powered aerial attraction 150 feet above the sea. Riders climb into hanging, recumbent bikes to cycle their way around. Nearby is the ropes course. Both are part of an expanded outdoor activity park that includes a new indoor hangout, The Clubhouse at SportSquare, housing mini-bowling, ping-pong, arcade basketball and sports video gaming.

In the largest WaterWorks park in the fleet, riders will float on inflatable single or two-person rafts for a twisting, turning adventure on Kaleid-O-Slide, with kaleidoscopic visual effects.

Many of Carnival Vista's dining venues have indoor-outdoor seating, and there's a new spot, Seafood Shack, near the Lido Marketplace that serves snacks like lobster rolls, crab cakes and fried clams. For the first time, Carnival will have a brewery, in the enlarged indoor-outdoor RedFrog Pub. And Cherry on Top, the bulk candy, novelties and gift shop, adds a 'mixed to order ice cream' bar.

The new Havana Cabanas are staterooms with special decor and their own patios on what, during daytime, is a private stretch of the lanai and adjacent to the indoor-outdoor Havana Bar.

Deck 2 has a new dedicated family area, the Family Harbor. Accommodations offer an array of deluxe ocean-view, balcony and interior staterooms that sleep up to five people in each. The exclusive Family Harbor Lounge has a concierge, large-screen televisions, games and complimentary breakfast and snacks.

On Thursday evening Carnival chose the stunning setting of Lincoln Center Jazz's Ertegun and Appel rooms, with their vistas of Columbus Circle, Broadway and the Manhattan skyline, to unveil what it's calling its most innovative ship.

Carnival Vista builds on the success of Carnival Breeze and the Fun Ship 2.0 product initiative, according to Carnival's Mark Tamis, svp guest operations. Many of the Fun Ship 2.0 features and partnerships, such as Guy Fieri's Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Alchemy Bar, will continue. But there are new twists.

'We are taking experiences that have resonated with guests to the next level,' said Gus Antorcha, svp guest commerce.

Wildly popular on existing ships, RedFrog Pub on Carnival Vista adds a brewery and will produce three kinds of beer. Antorcha said the search is on for a recognized brand  partner for the brewery. Supplementing a musician in the evenings, there will be more daytime programming such as dominoes tournaments and games, and the sports content will be upgraded. (These activities have already begun on the existing fleet.)

At Cherry on Top, also with outdoor seating, patrons can choose the candies they want to go into their ice cream and watch it be mixed on a chilled slab, said Carnival's William Butler, vp retail service. Scores of choices range from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to Gummy Bears.

Bonsai Sushi will be enlarged, offer lanai seating and have a larger menu, adding hot items.

The Vista Atrium will sprout a giant, multi-deck-high centerpiece of LED screens with changing visuals to create 'the right atmosphere.'

The main dining rooms, Reflections and Horizons, have modern interiors by BigTime Design Studios in Miami Beach, and a bar will be at the center of Horizons.

The two-level Cloud 9 Spa will offer Carnival's first infrared sauna and hamam, and 'experience showers' that provide a fragrance element, along with a high-tech indoor cycling studio. The adults-only Serenity retreat will have Carnival's first outdoor massage huts.

Nearly 200 media, including reporters who came from as far as the UK, were on hand for Carnival Vista's unveiling in New York. A travel agent day follows on Friday, then a public event Saturday that is hoped will draw 2,000 to 3,000 people, said Jim Berra, svp and chief marketing officer. The event has been promoted on radio with a free cruise give-away every hour.

 Saturday night about 150 VIFPs (Very Important Fun Person)—Carnival's most loyal customers—in the New York area are invited.