Carnival’s First Cruise Live Blog: Day 4, First Port of Call Post Pandemic

Note: We are live-blogging each day aboard Carnival Vista on the first Carnival cruise to return to sailing since March 2020. You can read other days here:

After two days at sea, Carnival Vista has made the trek from Galveston to Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras. While the time on the ship is fun, it’s always nice to get back to dry land at least for a few hours. It also marks the first port of call for the first Carnival cruise to return after the pandemic.

Carnival Vista in port at Roatan
Mahogany Bay in Roatan marked the first port of call back.

If you’ve followed previous days, then you know that due to having our son on the ship — who is ineligible for the vaccine — that means we are limited to a small amount of excursions. Across three ports of call, we have only four different choices. Being able to just go to the beach on your own is a no-go.

For Roatan, the only option was an excursion to Turquoise Bay Resort. The trip lasts about three hours and the description makes it sound like it’s essentially a day at a beach. For $80 per adult and $75 for a child, it’s a steep price to pay for a few hours of sand and water. Instead, we opted to stay onboard, but I did take the chance to go explore Mahogany Bay on my own while my wife stayed on Vista with the kid.

While so much of life on the ship is back to how it was before the pandemic, it’s not exactly the same in port. Multiple times during the morning there were announcements that everyone is required to wear masks and to distance both indoors and outdoors while on the island. The only exception was while eating/drinking or in the water.

mask wearing in cruise port
Masks were required indoor and outdoors in Roatan, except when swimming and eating.

Heading off the ship I did hear some passengers grumble about the rule, but the vast majority of people followed the protocol and were masked up around the port.

This was my first time visiting Mahogany Bay, but not my first trip to Roatan. If you aren’t familiar, Mahogany Bay is an area that caters to Carnival ships. Having sailed to the island before on Royal Caribbean, that ship docked elsewhere on the island. At Mahogany Bay, there are a lot of features you’d find on private islands (specifically, beaches that are easily accessible), and the spot seems largely an extension of the ship.

On a beautiful — but blazing hot — morning, I took advantage to spend some time simply exploring the port for the first time.

There are essentially two main areas. One side features lots of shopping options, selling everything from diamonds to hand-carved souvenirs. It’s also the jumping off point for excursions around the island and there are taxis available to get you around. One thing I did notice is that hand-washing stations are dotted all around the port and each shop has a sign posting its occupancy. It’s a sign of the new normal. 

Stay here forever sign in cruise port
A classic sign that everyone would agree with.

The other side of Mahogany Bay features the beach, which is obviously the big attraction. Even by mid-morning it had drawn a large crowd. There are lots of water activities available — kayaks, floats, paddle boats, and snorkeling — for a charge. One popular item seemed to be the clamshell shades ($26 to rent for the day) that number in the hundreds on the sunniest section of the beach (more on that in a moment).

There are multiple ways to get to the beach from the ship. You can simply walk the path, which takes about 5-10 minutes, you can ride a chair-lift that will give you a bit of a bird’s-eye view ($14 for adults), or there is a nature trail.

I opted to head to the beach down the nature trail to literally go off the beaten path. There was nobody on it. It simply takes you back into a wooded area a bit more, which is nice and shady. There are also several spots that reach clearings and give you a great spot to get a picture in front of the ship.

Exiting the nature trail and entering the beach area, a security guard checked keycards to make sure everyone was with the ship. Then you reach the sand. The beach here is a protected alcove with lines keeping people from getting too far out in the water.

The sand is beautiful powder white, and the water is a gorgeous turquoise. And with the positioning of the ship, it makes for a fantastic photo opportunity as it dominates the skyline from where you are.

clamshell loungers in Roatan
Clamshell loungers were extremely popular, but cost $26. Shady spots with chairs were available farther down the beach.

As I said, most people were diligent about masks around the island, but they were non-existent at the beach (so no funny tan lines!). Here, it was largely back to normal. The beach was busy, but not overcrowded. It seemed like most people opted for a clamshell, but I was able to find a stretch of beach down just a bit where trees offered shade without having to spend nearly $30 for a canopy.

There, I set down my stuff and went for a dip to cool off. Simply walking around the port and the beach had me drenched from the heat.

The water in Mahogany Bay is excellent. Even at five feet deep you could see the bottom, and the water temperature during the mid-morning was refreshingly cool. It was nice to take a moment to notice how the electric blue water, white sand, green foliage and the bright white of the ship all come together to paint a beautiful picture.

Alas, with the rest of my family still on the ship, I didn’t spend terribly long in port — just about two hours exploring. Around lunchtime I headed back, where I found the rest of the family taking advantage of fewer people on the ship to get some pool time. On sea days the pools have been packed, so we’ve headed elsewhere. Now, we practically had the place to ourselves.

Beach area viewed from ship
The beach at Mahogany Bay, as viewed from the ship.

Then it was off to grab a quick bite at BlueIguana Cantina, before relaxing in the early afternoon given the heat. When we returned to the cabin for a mid-day siesta, there was a small present left by the cabin steward for our son.

The kid’s areas are closed this trip (teen areas are available), but he got a Camp Ocean care package that included a coloring book, some clay to play with, an inflatable guitar, some sunglasses, and a stuffed animal. For a five-year-old, it was like hitting the lottery.

Camp Ocean trinkets
The care package from Camp Ocean for our son.

The rest of the afternoon we’ve spent hanging out in the shade around the ship and in the cool cabin. A trip to the arcade did uncover a small surprise. Attached to one of the machines was a hidden “duck” from the Narvaez family from Texas. If you read this, we found it!

This evening is the Love & Marriage game show, which is always one of our favorites. I’m not entirely sure how we’ll attend with the kid and nowhere to drop him off, but it’s something we always look forward to seeing.

Continue Reading: Day 5, Belize and the Biggest Drink on the Ship

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