Ship Reviews

Ship Preview: Carnival’s Mardi Gras

The first roller coaster at sea, the first all-suite enclave on any Carnival ship and a whole host of new-to-the-line dining options will debut aboard the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras is due for delivery in November, 2020

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Carnival Mardi Gras will be the largest cruise ship ever built for Carnival Cruise Lines and will bring a whole host of new features and at-sea attractions to the cruise industry when she’s delivered in November, 2020.

The original Mardi Gras in 1979

The name of the ship pays homage to Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever ship, which entered service for the line in 1972 and retired in 1993, but everything about her will be modern and cutting edge.

Carnival’s largest ever ship, Mardi Gras

The unique concept that Mardi Gras brings to the seas is apparent from the moment you look at her. The 5,200-passenger ship will have a different exterior livery to the rest of the fleet, with a classic navy blue hull with red and white accent stripes. But it doesn’t stop there.

Deep within her hull, in the engine room, the ship will be powered by LNG instead of heavy fuel oil or diesel, another first for Carnival Cruise Line.

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Up in the passenger areas, the ship will feature six themed “zones,” including the French Quarter, Summer Landing, Grand Central and the Ultimate Playground.

It will give Mardi Gras a unique layout and onboard experience to the rest of the Carnival fleet, similar to the seven neighborhoods found aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class mega ships.

Homeporting in Port Canaveral at a brand new cruise terminal built specifically for the ship, Mardi Gras will sail roundtrip to the Caribbean on week-long itineraries, during which passengers will be able to experience BOLT, the first rollercoaster at sea, the first suites-only enclave in the Carnival fleet, the first Emeril Lagasse restaurant at sea, and countless other features.

Everything aboard the ship will be divided into the six new zones:

The French Quarter aboard Mardi Gras

The French Quarter: will be styled after the eponymous area of New Orelans with new-to-Carnival bars, restaurants and music venues, including a jazz club offering live entertainment and handcrafted cocktailsand the Emeril Lagasse restaurant.

Summer Landing aboard Mardi Gras

Summer Landing: will be a backyard barbecue-style space with a pool and Jacuzzis overlooked by an expanded Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, bars and an abundance of sun lounging space.

Grand Central aboard Mardi Gras

Grand Central: will be a central entertainment complex with three-deck-high floor-to-ceiling windows and a bar with sweeping ocean views from the middle of the ship. Expanded versions of the line’s popular eateries Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki, the Punchliner Comedy Club and a revamped Piano Bar 88 will make this the social heart of the ship.

La Piazza aboard Mardi Gras

La Piazza: this Italy-inspired zone will be home to Carnival favorite, Cucina del Capitano, as well as an all-new Mediterranean seafood restaurant and a bar selling specialty coffee (including cappuccinos) during the day and cocktails at night. Roaming musicians will provide entertainment throughout the evening.

The Lido aboard Mardi Gras

The Lido: will be similar to those found aboard other big cruise ships in the Carnival fleet, but will be even bigger, with a Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and the Seafood Shack, as well as several new-to-Carnival dining and bar concepts.

Ultimate Playground aboard Mardi Gras

Ultimate Playground: is where some of the biggest and most exciting new features of Mardi Gras can be found. The Ultimate Playground will encompass the ship’s top three decks with the largest water park in the fleet, along with an expanded SportSquare.

Ultimate Playground featuring the BOLT rollercoater aboard Mardi Gras.

Up here is where you can also board BOLT, the first-ever roller coaster at sea with nearly 800 feet of twists, turns and drops with riders reaching speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour.

BOLT will take passengers along an 800-foot roller coaster track above Mardi Gras

More about BOLT: The track, located about 187 feet above sea level, will run around the perimeter of Carnival Mardi Gras’ top deck and include a loop around the ship’s funnel. The line plans to offer the attraction to cruisers for free, but said it might need to levy a surcharge if demand is too great.

Dining aboard Mardi Gras

There will be a range of complimentary and specialty restaurants aboard Mardi Gras, with many more to be announced as the ship gets closer to its delivery date.

Free dining options

Big Chicken restaurant

On the Lido deck, Big Chicken Restaurant by Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner with items Shaq himself developed — in partnership with his mom. Big Chicken made its at-sea debut on Carnival Radiance in April 2020.

Street Eats

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Street Eats is an open-air grab-and-go eatery with three themed kiosks offering fried, steamed and plancha (skillet) options representing a variety of global cuisines. A daily rotating menu of small-plate items will be offered, such as empanadas or falafel at the fried station; bao buns or shumai at the steam station; and kebabs or satay at the plancha kiosk.

Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina

Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina aboard Mardi Gras will be the largest in the fleet. Thecomplimentary poolside Mexican eatery will offer authentic freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.

Specialty dining options

Emeril’s Bistro 1396

Emeril’s Bistro 1396 is the first restaurant to be created by Emeril Lagasse aboard a cruise ship. It will be located in the ship’s French Quarter, and will feature Cajun cuisine. The a la carte bistro will offer all-day dining starting with breakfast (shrimp and grits or a shrimp Creole omelet), lunch (muffuletta sandwiches, ceviche, poboys, roasted duck) and dinner (Andouille sausage gumbo, jambalaya and Emeril’s signature barbecue shrimp). Sides and desserts will also be available.

Rudi’s Seagrill

Rudi’s Seagrill will be helmed by Holland America Line’s master chef Rudi Sodamin, it will feature a selection of seafood items, many of which will be presented on the plate in the form of food faces, an art form that Chef Sodamin has been mastering for several years.

Seafood Shack

Seafood Shack will be open for lunch and dinner, with grab-and-go New England-inspired fried and steamed seafood options.

Bars aboard Mardi Gras

Red Frog Tiki Bar

RedFrog Tiki Bar aboard Mardi Gras will replace the RedFrog Rum Bar that’s usually found on other Carnival ships. The two-level South Pacific-themed bar offers rum-based cocktails in an island-inspired atmosphere that’s decked out with tiki heads and vibrant colours.

Drink options will include Polynesian Punch, Red’s Rum Runner Jumper and Jungle Bird, all of which will be presented in pineapples, souvenir tiki glasses or Mai Tai glasses.

The Watering Hole

The Watering Hole will be located on The Patio at Summer Landing, with a wide beer selection, including Carnival’s own canned and draft beers, as well as summer-inspired cocktails like the Watermelon Cooler and Tequila Sunset.

Guy’s Pig & Anchor

Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse will be Carnival’s third brewery at sea, serving an assortment of the line’s ParchedPig craft beers brewed on site, along with free a barbecue at lunch and an expanded extra-fee dinner menu. It will also feature a stage for live music.

Brass Magnolia

Brass Magnolia Bar will be located in the French Quarter, its brass instruments and a bold gold bar with lush greenery decor will be inspired by New Orleans’ Garden District and jazz culture. There will be live jazz played here and classic cocktails served.

Fortune Teller Bar

Fortune Teller Bar will also be in the French Quarter and will evoke the magic of New Orleans’ with hand-crafted cocktails served with a twist, whether it’s a color changing drink or one that bubbles and shimmers. The cocktail menu will feature drinks with names like the Abracadabra, the Golden Galaxy and the all-black New Moon.

The Sports Bar in Summer Landing will feature both indoor and outdoor TV screens and plenty of seating overlooking the pool area.

Accomodation aboard Mardi Gras

The majority of the staterooms aboard Mardi Gras (70%) will be ‘outside’ cabins with either an oceanview window, or a balcony. And in those cabins with a balcony, floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors will provide access between the cabin and outdoors.

Standard balcony cabins aboard Mardi Gras

The cabins will also feature sofas that flip into a twin-sized bed, an abundance of outlets and USB ports, more storage space, clear glass doors on the mini-fridges, larger wardrobes with pull-out bins and folding shelves, and bathrooms with glass shower doors.

Havana Cabana stateroom aboard Mardi Gras

Aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras there will also be familiar cabin categories that proved popular on other ships in the line, particularly the Vista-class ships. These include Ocean Suites, Havana Suites, Family Harbor Suites and Cloud 9 Spa Suites.

New suite categories aboard Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras will be the first Carnival Cruise Line ship to feature a new suite enclave called Loft 19.

Lost 19 aboard Mardi Gras

This exclusive ship within a ship space will feature a full-service bar and a private pool surrounded by lounge chairs, as well as cabanas available for renting. The cabanas will be fully stocked with beverages, robes, chilled towels, fresh fruit and lunch delivery, among other perks.

Carnival Excel Suite

The cruise line’s new Excel Suites, 32 of them, will be located within Loft 19 and will be divided between Carnival Excel Presidential Suites, Carnival Excel Aft Suites, Carnival Excel Corner Suites and Carnival Excel Suites.

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