Carnival's Biggest Fun Ship Ready for Her Maiden Voyage
Listen to the Gigi in the 561 podcast about Mardi Gras
By GERRY BARKER
North Palm Beach Life
PORT CANAVERAL_The sheer joy of the moment couldn't be overstated. Not only was Carnival about to debut the largest cruise ship in its fleet, but also this port was about to see its first ship depart in 16 long months. Not to mention Pam and I were about to set foot on our first cruise ship in about the same amount of time.
Happiness was evident all around, and nowhere moreso than on the face of Carnival President Christine Duffy, who welcomed a select group of guests, travel agents and media onboard to preview Mardi Gras, Carnival's latest and greatest, one day before her maiden voyage on July 31.
We spent a full day touring this new megaship, the first in America powered by eco-friendly LGN (liquified natural gas). Weighing in at 180,000 GT, she can accommodate up to 6,500 passengers, with a crew of 1,800. And did I mention she's also the first ship to feature a roller coaster? The first of three planned, Excel-class ships, her long-delayed launch is a big deal for Carnival, in every sense of the word.
READ MORE AT ALL THINGS CRUISE
Gross tonnage: 180,000
Length: 1,130 feet
Full guest occupancy: 6,465
Normal occupancy: 5,282
(based on 2 per cabin)
Total officers and crew: 1,745
Passenger decks: 17
First ship in North America to be powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)
Bolt: First roller coaster at sea
You board Mardi Gras at Port Canaveral's New Terminal 3 ...
We were welcomed aboard by a cheering crew...
Our first stop was at Bolt, the first roller coaster at sea...
Strap yourself in and jet around the track twice in the new Bolt roller coaster. Tickets are $15, and rides typically last less than 60 seconds. But what a thrill!
Now it was time to check out the ship's dining options ...
Emeril's Bistro 1396 will be a popular destination in the ship's French Quarter. Exclusive to Mardi Gras, it's like a trip to New Orleans. We sampled Emeril's signature Jambalaya (left below), his Natchitoches meat pie, center, and roasted duck and andouille sausage gumbo. All we need now
is an order of beignets!
We also got a look inside some of the staterooms ...
Of course, seeing the pool area and the spa is a must ...
Here are more places of interest ...
Later in the day, we got a demo of the atrium transformation...
Too soon, it was time to leave ...
We said goodbye to Mardi Gras at the Brass Magnolia Bar, where we enjoyed a perfectly prepared French 75. An added bonus was the band playing there -- the Beelays, from Ontario, Canada. They'll be on the ship for the next five months. Be sure and catch their act -- they're great -- and tell them hello from us.