Worth Sailing Once

Mardi Gras Cruise Review

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 4
Helpful Votes: 46

Overall rating:

3.6 out of 5
Mardi Gras

7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)

Sail date: August 14, 2021

Ship: Mardi Gras

Cabin type: Oceanview

Cabin number: 4433

Traveled as: Singles/Friends

Reviewed: 3 months ago

Review summary

The price was right to sail on this brand new ship. As with most cruises there were pros and cons but we still had a great time!

Embarkation

3 out of 5
I was not impressed with the new terminal, it was rather plain and boring. The majority of the line was outside (shaded) on long ramps. It took us almost an hour and clearly the arrival time that you signed up for didn't matter, it wasn't checked. Instead of the traditional counter they have moved to a more relaxed and open check-in process where the workers are standing at small high top tables. Really considering the latest Covid protocols they should have had people checking vaccination status/test results right away before even letting people into the terminal that may be turned away.. This is what they did on a recent Celebrity Cruise and I much preferred it. That being said there really wasn't any place in this new Carnival terminal where they could do that; everything was done together. Once you're through they have like 8 of the same Mardi Gras backdrops, as Carnival is known for bombarding you with photographers!

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
Carnival wins with the variety of food options, especially for lunch. I love having Guys Burgers, his barbecue joint and also my favorite, the new Shaq chicken place! I much prefer these options to having hot food from the buffet. In general the buffet had a small selection of offerings and nothing that exciting. For breakfast it was always the same items. Definitely do the sea-day brunch in the main dining room one day! That is where you can get the best eggs benedict. The main dining room had some stand out items, but it was definitely more of your traditional cruise food. The portions, while nice for a change, were small.. especially the sides. Had I not gotten appetizers and dessert I feel like I wouldn't have been satisfied. Bread service and dessert selection was lacking! The sushi place was worth it; really tasty and cheap (alacart menu). The ever-popular pizza window was open 24 hours and had 5 offerings.. but I've had better on cruise ships. **The most important tip** If you're sailing Mardi Gras within the inaugural year, definitely sign up for my time dining. We totally lucked out because after we booked our cruise they came out with news that 3 of the specialty restaurants were going to be included at no additional charge for this 1st year. This meant that we could go to the Italian restaurant, Chibang the Chinese/Mexican restaurant and Guy's Pig and Anchor bbq for dinner for free! There were no reservations, you just had to use the app to check-in whenever you were ready to dine. Then they would notify you when your table was ready, usually within just 10 minutes. You can still do the MDR (there is a smaller restaurant for my time dining people) but definitely book my time dining so you get the variety. Apparently those that booked traditional dining were also able to enjoy these other restaurants, but they were not able to go until after 8:00pm!

Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse / Brewhouse

4 out of 5

The food is pretty good, they have a small breakfast buffet in the mornings. In the afternoons everyone can enjoy Guy's barbecue via a walk-up window outside and in the evenings it's actually barbecue table service. Essentially it's the same menu but they do have a different daily special so check out the menu as soon as you board. Normally you would have to pay to eat dinner here but right now Carnival is including it for free during the Mardi Gras inaugural season! The best thing about it is really the space itself, it's a huge restaurant where they hold activities throughout the day, such as trivia and a fun backyard/country type party. They have a small stage in the corner so they have bands perform every night. While you can get the beer elsewhere on the ship, this is where they brew it.. there are 4 varieties under the Parched Pig brand. If you plan on drinking a lot of beer definitely purchase the souvenir 32 oz. mason jar at the beginning of your cruise. It really works out to be a great deal because you can get huge refills for cheaper, of all the beers they have on tap and even cocktails. The only negative is that the glass isn't very well made.. It has a medal disk with the logo that was glued to the front and mine came off.

Piano Bar 88

4 out of 5

You've got to go to the piano bar at least once on a cruise! We ended up going multiple nights because this was a lot more fun to us than the nightclub or gambling. The current piano player on board Patrick was really great with the crowd, fun and talented. We did hear some repeat songs but that is to be expected. After 10:00 p.m. it gets dirty! Adults only so be prepared. Due to current Covid guidelines they have a worker out front to monitor when the venue is full. They do a great job though of finding open seats, we never waited but a few minutes.

Big Chicken by Shaq

5 out of 5

Loved it! The chicken tenders were perfect, better than most restaurants; juicy, not too much breading. Liked the dipping sauces but I want more! (They had bbq ranch, bbq, shaq sauce which was kind of like a burger sauce, and a very thin hot buffalo sauce). They had a few chicken sandwiches with various toppings but I preferred the tenders. Their fries were interesting like nothing I had ever seen before… they were like steak fries but thin and were kind of in between crispy and soft, if that makes sense. They were still good. Their homemade pickles were great. Breakfast here was an added bonus and it was served until 3pm! Bacon or sausage egg and cheese on a biscuit! The egg, while some pre-formed product, was thick and wasn't dry. They didn't skimp on the bacon. The biscuit was not as fluffy and crumbly as real biscuits, but this actually works better for a breakfast sandwich. It had a bit of sweetness to it. You could also get a chicken biscuit with a sweet chili glaze or a 3 cheese omelet.

Redfrog Tiki Bar

3 out of 5

The Red Frog is just not as good on this ship, because its different. I appreciate what they're trying to do.. it's a 2 story tiki bar just off the main pool. Because of the location it's often very crowded and it's not a comfortable space to hang out in. Moreso just walk up to get your drinks. That being said, the 2nd level is quiet first thing in the morning. There a few small 2 top tables on the rail (overlooking the pool) if you can snag one for a meal. You can get the Carnival beers at other places on the ship, but the lower level of the tiki bar is the only place where they have their own hard seltzer on tap. The menu advertised 4 flavors, I was disappointed that that meant just addng syrup to it when ordered. It was too sweet and not as bubbly!

Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse

4 out of 5

I can't speak to the restaurant because I won't pay the upcharge to visit the steakhouse, but I will give a tip that there's a very nice bar right out front that's open to everyone. It was a nice quiet spot in the evenings that wasn't as crowded as some of the other places!

Alchemy Bar

3 out of 5

I believe they have an Alchemy Bar on every carnival ship. They definitely have some cool items and it's a good place to go for a very unique and specialty cocktail, but on the Mardi Gras we ended up frequenting other bars. This one was often very full.

Bonsai Sushi

5 out of 5

I don't normally go to the sushi place while on cruises so this was a real treat. It's nice for something different one night and I was kind of surprised by the prices, so cheap! The spicy tuna roll was really tasty, 8 pieces for $5?! They had a few other dishes, got the chicken katsu just for variety.. enough to split. The only negative is its a rather limited menu.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Giving the onboard activities a middle of the road score of 3 because like most cruise ships I've been on it's hit-or-miss. Some things are fun but after a few days at sea you get bored. Too much trivia and bingo for me. The backyard party they hosted one afternoon in the Pig and Anchor was probably my favorite thing because it was something new and different. Plus it happened at like 3pm which allows you to not miss pool time or lunch. Of course the Bolt rollercoaster is the big thing on this ship. Do it once but I wouldn't pay for it again.. it goes too quick! Beware that it's not able to operate in high winds so it was down often. You have to pay in the app and reserve a 30 min time slot. The whole cruise didn't fill up right away (of course we were at limited capacity) but you'll definitely want to get a time at least the day before. Closed toe shoes required!

Atrium

4 out of 5

This is definitely a cool space and unique to the ship. You will spend a lot of time here.. this is the main venue for the Centerstage Band who I think performed every nite. They also presented other things here such as the guest variety acts, Deal or No Deal, etc.The bars for the area, on the 1st and 2nd level are rather small, but there's a lot of seating; small cocktail type tables and lounge seating on the 1st level and even some rows of bench seating up above. The giant video screens that create the backdrop are awesome. They can do a lot with them and it's very clear and bright. I do think, considering we were on only the 3rd sailing, we missed out on some of that.. I've seen videos of them testing even more capabilities with the video screens tilting but we never saw that. During the day they were able to raise the video screens so you have like a 3 story view of the ocean. That's genius

Entertainment

2 out of 5
Surprisingly the entertainment was the thing that was most lacking on this ship! I guess perhaps it was because we were on the 3rd ever sailing but still… I expected everything to be up and running and I feel like we got jipped. I really love the main stage shows, its something we always make sure to see. On the first night they did a preview of said shows with the Playlist Performers on the atrium stage and they advertised four shows.. Before long we realized that we weren't going to get all four. They did 2 shows in the main theater during our 7 day cruise and repeated each of these shows on 2 nights.. I'm not sure why they did that. Also, for one of the advertised shows they did a 15 minute set just sitting on stools and singing the music in the atrium area one night. I can't imagine how they have been unable to get these shows rehearsed and ready during the last few weeks! ..But like if you're not able to present all four don't take the time to do a preview show at the beginning of the week that essentially promises four and then you only do two and a 1/2. Furthermore the shows they did have were boring, a complete musical review. I was so surprised; I've never been on a cruise ship without dancers. I guess they have chosen to feature 6 or 7 singers that basically just move around into different formations on the stage. No costume or set changes, just a video wall with changing scenes/images as the backdrop. I think perhaps the performers could have done some choreography, like they're clearly more singers than dancers they did some moves but they really weren't given that much. Disappointing. Perhaps because of the lack of main stage shows they brought on a lot of variety act performers and none of them were really that good. I think there were two jugglers, a ventriloquist and a singer (who was the best one). Other entertainment that was actually enjoyable was Patrick in the piano bar, he was great. And their main center stage band with rhythm section, horn players and 2 singers. I think they performed every night.. My only gripe there is they repeated songs. There was another jazz combo, 2 guitar players and a trio of electric violins. You could definitely bounce around in the evenings and listen to whatever you liked. I also appreciated the guy that sang and played the steel drums at the pool. Carnival makes comedians a priority and we had 6 onboard!

Punchliner Comedy Club

4 out of 5

I really appreciate the comedy club onboard Carnival ships. They actually brought on a total of 6 different comedians during our 7 day cruise! I think we saw about half of them.. Despite the amount of people, I feel like there wasn't that many opportunities to see each of them perform.. They essentially all did 2 days. Some of them did shows in the earlier evening, which are typically more family oriented and also conflicts with dinner and other entertainment. I would have preferred more adults only late night shows. Definitely get there early … the comedy club is rather small and it can actually fill up quick, there was often a line of people waiting to get in.

Service and Staff

4 out of 5

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Definitely a big ship! I liked that there was essentially 2 main areas where we would spend time; the upper pool decks with buffet, Red Frog Tiki Bar, etc. And Decks 6-8 where there were the shops, dining, casino, Guys Pig and Anchor, etc. The atrium/lobby where there was always entertainment spanned 3 decks so. There are definitely negatives in the design and I'm not the only person to say so. For such a big ship restrooms were surprisingly sparse and very hidden. They were tucked away, not right next to dining and places where you would expect. They were also very small with only maybe 3-4 stalls. Our ship wasn't even at full capacity and there were often lines. That's just a dumb design, restrooms are necessary. There also were too many dead ends. You could walk down along the side of much of the decks, past outdoor seating areas for some of the restaurants, the coffee bar, etc. but then you couldn't go any further. I was very impressed with the room, we had an Oceanview on Deck 4. It was a really great size and there was tons of storage. Even the window was big and it wasn't just flat, it was cut in if you will so you could actually sit in the window or put items there. The bathroom was tiny.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Really impressed with the size of this ocean view room. There was a ton of storage, some drawers and also 2 full closets with collapsible shelves if u wanted. There was a long counter plus 2 shelves, plenty of room for water and wine and your everyday items. A large mirror for getting ready (plus a full length in the closet) and a roll away seat that also was essentially a cube that had storage inside. Small couch, large TV across from the beds. Even the window was a good size, it wasn't just a circle. And it was kind of cut in so that you could actually sit in the window or put items there. The beds were small but that is to be expected. The bathroom was also tiny.

Ports of call

Nassau, Bahamas

2 out of 5

Amber Cove (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic

5 out of 5

San Juan, Puerto Rico

4 out of 5

Disembarkation

4 out of 5
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