Carnival Cruise Line is making waves with their newest ship, the Carnival Vista. The 2,900-passenger vessel boasts a new design and features that are geared towards millennials. This modern cruise line seeks to attract young adults who have grown up on digital technology.
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The cruise industry had a busy month in July, with numerous cruise lines returning to service all around the world. Carnival Cruise Line’s new mega-ship Mardi Gras debuted on July 31, making it a very significant month for the company.
During a special Carnival party on Friday, we got a sneak look at all she had to offer, but the few hours we’d spent on board had been a frenzy of ribbon cuts, food sampling, and peeks at the map to see where we were.
Over the years, I’ve been on virtually every ship in the Carnival line and am familiar enough with them that I could almost navigate them blindfolded. Mardi Gras, on the other hand, is a different story.
You’ve probably heard me and others say that this is a “game-changer” for Carnival, and I’m not exaggerating. Everything on this ship is unique, even the things that are identical.
For example, you already know how much I like Guy’s Burger Joint. It’s typically one of the first locations I visit after boarding, and I know that if I go to the Lido Deck, it’ll be right close to the pool.
On Mardi Gras, no way! It’s been moved one level up from the main pool to make space for the new trio of Street Eats “windows.” But we’ll get to it later this week…
READ MORE: Carnival’s VIP Mardi Gras Party Photos
The idea is that this ship shakes up everything you know. It’s similar to the tradition of brides and their attendants wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” before a wedding.
Guy’s, the BlueIguana, and the Alchemy Bar are among the old favorites. Everything from Rudi’s Seagrill’s roller coaster (where I’ll be dining tonight) is new. The six “zones,” which are identical to the “neighborhood” idea on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, fall under the “borrowed” category.
The something blue is the ocean on which we’ll be traveling, as well as the stunning new livery, which, if we’re being honest, is a huge upgrade over the previous white hulls, which were boring and revealed a ship’s age much too readily.
The fact that you’re still aboard a Fun Ship hasn’t altered… and that was particularly true today. We were going up the gangway and aboard the ship after an extremely smooth embarkation procedure that included just one stop to present our papers. Masks were removed as soon as we boarded, music was playing, and drinks were pouring.
Yes, all members of the team must wear masks at all times. While some on message boards have expressed dissatisfaction with this, it’s clear that the staff is overjoyed to be receiving visitors once again.
We had till 6:30 p.m. to tour before the ship set sail, so we had the whole day to do so. What will be our first stop? For a Fun Ship Special, visit the new RedFrog Tiki Bar on the Lido Deck.
We must have boarded the ship early since there isn’t a single chair hog (or the things they always leave behind to preserve their seat) in sight. We also took a walk over to another of Summer Landing’s pools.
We were going to head to the Fortune Teller’s Bar (in the French Quarter zone) next, but realized that before doing that, we needed to complete the muster drill. Carnival’s new policy (which is kinda brilliant) is to cut off your Sail & Sign card (including your access to booze and shopping) after two drinks until after you’ve completed the safety drills.
After watching the necessary films, all I had to do was report to my station for what amounted to a personal demonstration of how to utilize a life jacket in an emergency. We were on our way to our next destination in under two minutes.
I was fascinated from the minute Eddie Allen, Vice President of Beverage Operations, informed me about the Fortune Teller’s Bar. You can’t have a French Quarter-themed part of your ship without some strong drinks and a dash of magic, which combine in wildly unexpected ways here.
It was at this moment that I forgot we had a week to sample all the ship has to offer, including the numerous (many, many) speciality drinks created especially for Mardi Gras. I was approaching this as if it were a sprint rather than a marathon.
But, as the saying goes, “in for a penny, in for a pound!” So, after making sure to fuel the machine by stopping by Big Chicken (the Shaquile O’Neal grab-and-go restaurant on board with some really excellent sandwiches that will give Guy’s Burger Joint a run for its money, particularly since both are free),
… and we were all set for the next trip.
The Alchemy Bar, like the Fortune Teller’s Bar, is a place to go when you want something different from what you’ll find at the other bars on board. They don’t offer wine, beer, or soda, and you shouldn’t even consider about asking for one. The mixologists here don’t just serve drinks; they create them.
Around this time, I realized we still had a few hours before sailing away, which meant there was plenty of time for a sleep. Which reminds me that I haven’t showed you my stateroom yet. So, when I booked this cruise, I chose an inside cabin since it was the most cost-effective option.
Regular readers know that I don’t spend a lot of time in the cabin, so this worked out well for me. And, I must say, the ship’s interior cabins are stunning.
Blue has always struck me as the ideal accent color for cruise ship cabins. After all, the most of us are there because we enjoy the ocean on some level, right?
Everything gives you that lovely, serene blue, from the runner on the bed to the artwork. I particularly enjoy how the light encircles the mirror. It’s a little element, but it demonstrates how much care went into the minutiae and how the final result was a general elevation.
I particularly like the fact that, rather than plastic curtains, even inner cabins have real shower walls and doors. Shower curtains have never been a favorite of mine.
Overall, this is perhaps the best interior cabin I’ve ever been in, with many USB outlets and a neat tiny reading light near the bed, among other pleasant things.
Although, to be honest, I shouldn’t claim that I “stayed in” this accommodation since Carnival offered to upgrade me to an ocean suite because the ship was sailing at a lower capacity.
It was time to sail away at this point, so I went to a peaceful place towards the front of the ship. Despite the fact that this is my fourth cruise in the last five weeks, I am nevertheless acutely conscious of the significance of this trip.
It’s not just the inaugural sailing of a new ship, which is always exciting, but it’s also the first ship to leave Port Canaveral with paying passengers.
Given that Carnival had almost no income during the closure, this is obviously a significant achievement. This ship — and all the ships that will follow — sailing out of Port Canaveral will have a tremendous effect on the local economy of not just this port, but all the ports we’ll visit.
It wasn’t long until it was time to go down to Brass Magnolia, another of the French Quarter’s new bars, where a fantastic small jazz trio was performing. I didn’t get their name or a photo of them, which is another more incentive to remain attentive throughout the week.
After that, a bunch of us went to Rudi’s Seagrill for supper. Chef Rudi Sodamin has worked in restaurants on Carnival Corporation ships (particularly, Holland America), but this is his first time on a Carnival Cruise Line ship. It’s only fitting that, because this is a Fun Ship, the first thing you see when you sit down at the table are these lovely plates that give you a clue of what to anticipate.
The name should have given it away, yet this is a seafood restaurant. Seafood isn’t the only thing on the menu; meat aficionados can order a pork chop or a steak, for example, but seafood is the main attraction. The fee is $38 per person, and based on my experience, it is definitely worth it. I chose the muscles and a delicious stuffed lobster.
Despite the fact that I did not order the lobster mac and cheese, you must see how it is presented. It’s served in this nice serving plate…
…which you must first open before jumping in. I’m curious whether they are available at the gift store. While carrying them home in your baggage without breaking the legs would be difficult (particularly if you were buying enough for a family), I’m sure they’d fly off the shelves.
We were running a bit late, and I wanted to see the Playlist Production, Evolution of Rock, so I skipped dessert (which you know is not like me!). (And frequent readers know that this isn’t typical of me, since I’m not much of a show person.) Evolution of Rock was exactly what you’d expect from a program like this.
There was some singing, dancing, and spectacular effects. I have to give it credit for holding my attention long enough for me to make it to the halfway mark. If you’ve ever seen a program with me and noticed how I start to twitch about 15 minutes in, you’ll know this is a glowing recommendation.
After that, we headed on to the atrium to see Chris Williams (aka the Flying Scotsman) present the Welcome Aboard Performance, which is also used as a show venue at night.
To be honest, since this was a late version of the usual first-night presentation, not a lot of people showed there. That didn’t stop Chris and the rest of the crew from delivering the same level of enthusiasm as if the room were filled to the rafters.
I was very tired by this time and ready to call it a night. Even as I was returning to my cabin, I realized how much of the ship I had yet to see… As I type this, I realize just how much of stuff I haven’t showed you!
We haven’t even begun our journey!
Thankfully, tomorrow is a sea day, so we’ll have plenty of time to explore.
So, in the meanwhile…
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Carnivals newest ship for 2021?
The Carnival Splendor is the newest ship for 2021.
What is Carnivals newest ship?
The newest ship is the Carnival Horizon.
What was Carnivals first ship?
The Carnival was the first ship to be built by Henry Ford.
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