Well-designed, Large Ship Doesn't Feel Crowded

Mardi Gras Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 17

Overall rating:

4.6 out of 5
Mardi Gras

7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 20, 2021

Ship: Mardi Gras

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 12452

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 months ago

Review summary

A beautiful, big, new ship with intelligently designed buffet and public spaces. For a ship with such a large guest capacity, it never felt crowded. Staterooms have an updated, modern feel as do the various restaurants and bars. There are some new features that are unique to this ship - one being the Summer Landing area that feels a lot like a large neighborhood bar and includes Guy's Pig & Anchor BBQ as well as the onboard brewery. A great laid-back place to listen to music or watch a game on one of the big screen TVs.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Mardi Gras uses the new Terminal 3 building for embarkation/disembarkation. Unlike some of the other terminals, there's a document pre-check area at the end of the queue made up of a few permanent-looking counters as well as a number of informal tables to help speed passengers through. Once documents have been checked, then it's off to the normal counters where processing is finished. Queue wait time was about 15 minutes..

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The buffet design/layout is very different from other ships, and a vast improvement. Instead of a single, large buffet line, there are multiple smaller stations for entrees, deserts, salads and specialty items such as hot dogs& brats, deli sandwiches, etc. Even though the ship was near capacity, the buffet never felt crowded due to multiple entree stations. The buffet seating area is also an upgrade compared to previous ships, with multiple partitioned seating areas. 5 stars for the buffet. The main dining room (for your time dining) was huge, but had a more crowded feel. The Hub app must be used to check in for dinner, but the wait time indicated on the app was more often than not a bit longer. One nice perk was that the Cucina and Chibang specialty restaurants were included at no extra charge (possibly to take some of the strain off of the main dining rooms?). Chibang had a problem with their table booking system on the night we ate there, resulting in a lot of unhappy people waiting a long time for a table. In any event, Chibang is a very large restaurant. The kitchen can be viewed from part of the restaurant, and service was very good however the noise level was fairly high. It was a nice experience eating in 2 of the specialty restaurants, but to be honest I don't think I'd pay a surcharge for either. 4 stars for the dining room, Chibang and Cucina. The sandwiches at Carnival Deli seemed to be a cut above those on other Carnival ships. The menu is very similar, sandwiches are pre-made and toasted/baked to order just like the other ships, but these tasted better! 5 stars for the Deli. One pleasant surprise was Emeril's Bistro, with some very reasonably priced menu items. (Emeril Lagasse was onboard this trip).

Street Eats

5 out of 5

There are 2 Street Eats stalls, one for various styles of french fries, and another with East and Southeast Asian street food. (Think pad thai, pork buns and satay). They actually do a pretty good job with pad thai (having lived in Thailand for several years). There's only one item each day and it changes every day. The hours of operation seem to vary - so it's best to ask when they'll be open each day.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
We typically don't partake in the organized activities, preferring to hang out in the Serenity area or in the upper deck areas around the pool. I will say that the Cruise Director (Mike Pack) was truly exceptional. So much energy and enthusiasm!

Entertainment

5 out of 5
The "Summer of 69" show in the main showroom seemed a little flat compared to the shows on other Carnival ships. I feel terrible saying that because I know how hard the entertainers work, but it had more to do with the show design than the performance. That's the only show we saw in the main showroom, because after that, we discovered the shows in the Grand Central/Center Stage area. Seating in this area is a bit limited, on 2 decks. This venue turned out to be very popular, and ended up being SRO for every event we saw there. The stage has the same type of LED backdrop as the main showroom, and is equipped with overhead rigging to support some of the aerial acts that take place over the audience's head. The shows and entertainers here were first-rate. The "Celestial Strings" show was truly outstanding.

Children's Programs

No Kids!

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
As always, staff are very friendly and always willing to stop and have a short chat with guests.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The Mardi Gras is clearly an upgrade compared to other ships. Most of our 8 previous Carnival cruises have been on Conquest-class ships, or similar. Our most recent before the Mardi Gras was on the Carnival Magic two months prior, and we thought that was a big step up. The Mardi Gras is at a whole different level in terms of design of the public spaces. The buffet has a very intelligent design, as do all of the public areas, giving a sense of spaciousness when moving about the ship through the various "zones". Being a new ship, everything was spotless.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
The design of the cabin is similar to other ships, but with a few upgrades. The layout and furnishings are excellent. Like all ships, three closets, a sofa, a desk area with drawers and a mini-refrigerator. There are also a couple of shelves on the wall over the desk, and special lighting at the bed with several USB ports throughout the cabin for charging phones. The TV is a big upgrade - I didn't measure it, but seemed like it was about 48" or more. Overhead lighting has been upgraded and the balcony cabin has a full-width sliding glass door.

Ship tip

Get to the Grand Central/Center Stage area early to see one of the shows to ensure you get a seat at one of the tables, or in the limited amount of theatre-style bench seats.

Ports of call

Port Canaveral, Florida Did not visit port

We're local.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

5 out of 5
Old San Juan is one of our favorite ports for self-guided touring. The El Morro fort and Castillo de San Cristobal are both within walking distance of the port, as are the beautiful streets of Old San Juan.

Amber Cove (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic

3 out of 5
There are no beaches here, however there's a large pool and zipline that would appeal to families with kids.

Nassau, Bahamas Did not visit port

We've been to Nassau many times before, most recently about 6 weeks earlier on another cruise. We enjoyed our time spend on the ship instead of going ashore.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Disembarkion was quick and easy! We carried our own luggage off, and because the ship was cleared early we were able to stay in our room until disembarking. The use of facial recognition kiosks streamlines the process in the terminal, with no need to go through customs.
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