Specialty restaurant on Carnival Vista (Lunch – no charge)
First, I want to make it clear that the following was our experience at lunch time on October 19th, at approximately 1:00 pm. Your mileage might differ drastically on a different day, or for the evening meal. In fact, I heard a couple of rave reviews from fellow cruisers who ate there at night.
Both Ji Ji’s and Cucina, the Italian restaurant on Vista (and other Dream class ships) are for-pay in the evening and free for the mid-day meal. Both use the create-your-own checkbox format for their lunch menus. And both – based on my experience and the reports of others – are much better in terms of both food and service in the evening. The old adage that you get what you pay for seems to be the underlying principle here.
We were at first glad to see that there was no line waiting to get in. It turned out that the wait occurs after you sit down (which I guess is preferable to standing and waiting for a table). We were told to go on in and sit wherever we liked. There are tables for six along the window wall and very small tables for two that are only a few inches apart in the middle, which is where we sat.
The hostess gave us the menu order forms and we selected our proteins, noodles, veggies and sauces, and waited for someone to come collect them. And waited. And waited. Meanwhile, no one had brought us water or asked if we wanted drinks, either. Finally I got up and went to the station where the cups and water pitchers were and poured us both glasses. I’m still not sure whether that was what you’re supposed to do or not, since the hostess who brought the menus said nothing about it. Other customers were getting up and doing the same thing, though.
A waitress passed through several times but never came close to our table or glanced our way. There was also a male waiter who zoomed through occasionally but never slowed down. After approximately 20 minutes, I finally flagged down the waitress and asked whether we were supposed to take the order forms somewhere. Then she said “Oh, I take them,” and took them.
We waited some more. More people came in and sat down, and were obviously as confused as we were regarding what to do about water and whether someone was going to come pick up their orders. I told them that they might need to flag someone down, and after they’d waited for quite a while, I caught the attention of the waiter and pointed him to their table.
Somewhere in there, our food was finally delivered, almost 40 minutes after we’d come in. I could understand this if the place were crowded, but it wasn’t. The food itself actually was fairly good, in my opinion. My daughter’s evaluation was “meh.”
I had lo mein noodles, chicken, onions, mushrooms, peas and a mild sauce. The portion size was generous.
We heard two different couples complaining about the service while we were eating, and as we were leaving, one couple walked out without eating, saying they had been waiting for almost an hour and others who came in later were getting food before them.
I understand when a restaurant is short handed, and since there had been illness among both passengers and crew, I know that might have been the case here. However, it really makes a difference when the staff is apologetic for long waits. The waitress who served us was not at all friendly even when we said nothing about the problems and tried to make polite conversation with her. Near the end of the meal, a different waitress did start serving some tables and this one was very friendly and smiling.
I’m not going to make a summary judgment about Ji Ji’s based on that one experience, but I would have to say it was a bit of a disappointment. Our lunch at Cucina on Vista was a much better experience.