CRUISE REVIEW + 26 PHOTOS + VIDEO: With the launch of Carnival’s newest flagship, the 6,500-passenger Mardi Gras, the cruise line ups its game with thrills and chills on the outside, and elegant decor and riveting entertainment on the inside. You’re sure to be impressed with Carnival’s new Excel Class.
Mardi Gras has six themed zones of dining and entertainment – the Ultimate Playground, Lido, Summer Landing, Grand Central and the French Quarter.
Top of the wow-factor list is Mardi Gras’ roller coaster called Bolt on Deck 18. It’s a snowmobile-style machine that barrels along a 243-metre rail at about 64 km/h. The rail is 57 metres above the sea – if you have the courage to look.
The acceleration has 1.2 Gs that gives a sudden jolt. Daring downward dips create that airborne feeling and the turns have you leaning in and holding tight.
The ride is set to go about 48 km/h or you can press the Boost button to reach top speeds. The exhilarating ride is two laps and only lasts about a minute, but it’s a thrill that evokes screams of fun and an adrenaline rush your clients won’t forget.
Next to Bolt is the SkyCourse ropes course that’s well known, but this one has a new addition – a slightly curved zipline that swings out over the sea for a 10-second thrill. Many passengers take a look, cringe and bypass it.
Under Bolt is WaterWorks, the largest Carnival waterpark and has three fast waterslides that end in the sprinkler zone for a final splash. SportSquare offers basketball and mini-golf.
Also on the top deck is the well-loved Lido as seen on Carnival’s other ships. The huge main pool and hot tubs are surrounded by bars and eateries and the party atmosphere is enhanced with bands, DJs, a jumbo TV and games. The area is packed for the the Sail-Away party.
Masks don’t have to be worn outdoors but are strongly recommended indoors (or mandatory in some small venues). Check for changing protocols before booking as Carnival recently shortened the required negative COVID test to two days before boarding.
Well-known eateries in this area include the RedFrog Tiki Bar, Food Network star Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and the Seafood Shack. However a new addition is Street Eats for great kebabs. The Lido Marketplace is the buffet indoors and you can serve yourself.
The adults-only Serenity deck has a classy boutique-style pool, hot tubs and bar surrounded by padded loungers and wicker beds that’s free.
For a more upscale quite experience, Loft 19 has private cabanas for a fee. It also has a large rectangular-shaped hot tub with a glass wall so you can overlook the Serenity pool.
Summer Landing is at the aft and has an outdoor backyard theme. This pool is area much more ‘chill’ than the main pool and has loungers right in the water. Adding to the casual vibe you’ll find the new Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken nearby, Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse, the Watering Hole pool-side bar and Heroes Tribute Lounge.
The heart of Mardi Gras’ interior – and the most striking feature of the ship – is a breathtaking three-deck-high atrium called Center Stage in the Grand Central neighbourhood. The stage has floor-to-ceiling windows as a backdrop that provide stunning ocean views.
It’s a brilliant multi-use space that’s unlike any other Carnival atrium. During the day there is bingo and Family Feud Live and in the evening the windows are covered by LED screens to create a favourite entertainment venue.
Performers range from musicians, singers and dancers to high-flying acrobats swinging from the ceiling. The LED screens add exciting high-tech backdrops that enhance every show.
During the day the JavaBlue Café is popular here. For dining you’ll find Bonsai Sushi and specialty restaurant Bonsai Teppanyaki with chefs who juggle and joke while cooking.
Passengers also enjoy the fan favourite Punchliner Comedy Club, Piano Bar 88 and Limelight Lounge. These smaller venues get lineups. Las Vegas-style shows in the Mardi Gras Theater have also benefitted from a boost in high-tech special effects.
All these venues showcase that Carnival has taken their entertainment up to a level of extravagance not seen before.
The casino gets rave reviews for passengers. It has about 180 slot machines and 18 gaming tables with smoking and non-smoking areas. The floor-to-ceiling windows keep the space bright with sea views.
Inspired by New Orleans, the French Quarter is unique. Here you can enjoy celebrity chef Emeril’s Bistro and the new Brass Magnolia bar for drinks and jazz bands. The new Fortune Teller bar has magical cocktails that are photo-worthy such as the Crystal Ball martini with its big bubble. The glamourous Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse specialty restaurant is also nearby.
Food is the emphasis for La Piazza. There are usually lineups at the Pizzeria del Capitano and Piazza Panini. Bar della Rosa has authentic espresso and classic cocktails and Cucina del Capitano is a well-known family-style specialty restaurant.
There are many other great dining venues such as the new Chibang which offers Chinese and Mexican food; Rudi’s Seagrill, a specialty restaurant by master chef Rudi Sodamin; JiJi Asian Kitchen and Chef’s Table. The Carnival Kitchen offers cooking classes and some include a multi-course group meal.
Guests have the choice of 2,641 staterooms and 180 suites across 11 different categories. Accommodations are more upscale than ever with a basic balcony cabin looking good with light wood tones, pale blue décor and modern, well-lit round mirrors.
Mardi Gras is an environment-friendly ship that docks at the Port Canaveral, Florida’s new terminal that accommodates the ship’s new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fueling process. The ship operates seven-day Caribbean itineraries.
For more information click on Carnival Cruise Line’s website