I am on the new Carnival Breeze in Europe for the next seven days. Cruising on the 3,690-passenger vessel (4,724 when all beds are filled) contrasts sharply with the small ship sailing I’m accustomed to, but I have to say I am impressed so far with Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest “Fun Ship.”
My stateroom is spacious, smartly functional and attractive. The crew is exceptionally friendly, and they seem to be happy working on this new ship. Every encounter is met with some sort of greeting, and though I am sure company policy mandates that staff greet each guest, the good mornings and hellos appear to be genuine. It has the feeling of one big, happy family.
Carnival is perhaps the cruise industry’s best example of a company that never deviates from its brand promise, which is essentially to deliver a fun and memorable vacation at a good value.
I’ll discuss value as the week progresses, but to give you some context, nine-day cruises in Europe start at $779 per person. That’s $87 per day for an interior stateroom. You’ll pay more for an ocean view or balcony.
— Avid Cruiser (@avidcruiser) June 16, 2012
And Carnival Breeze is nowhere near an all-inclusive cruise. Get used to handing over your Sail & Sign card. A large Cafe Latté will cost you $4.03 with the included 15 percent gratuity. Soft drinks, alcohol — even the shuttle to and from Marseille today for 12 euros — all cost extra. There’s a lot that is offered for free — entertainment, the fitness facilities and more — but Carnival and other big ship cruise lines make up for their low cost of entry by operating as, say, a hotel would, except hotels typically don’t include meals.
Speaking of meals, dinner last night in the Blush Restaurant was delicious and enjoyable. Our servers were excellent, both professional and fun.
I had a wonderful gazpacho, appropriate as we were departing from Barcelona, followed by something I have never seen offered on a ship, Tofu Steak, which was spicy and delicious. When I ordered lime sherbet for dessert, the affable Bulgarian headwaiter Lyubomir said: “My favorite also. I’ll get you three scoops.”
I visited the spa, a good-looking facility, and the gym, which has been configured on Carnival Breeze to make for better use of the space (when compared to Breeze’s sisters). The fitness equipment was state-of-the-art. I’ll cover the gym in a future post.
There are a lot of people on Carnival Breeze, but they are dispersed in a way that makes the ship feel less crowded than it might feel otherwise. The company’s president and CEO, Gerry Cahill, told me last night that Carnival continues to make greater strides with each vessel at spreading out passengers during all times of the day.
Now, about the staterooms. Carnival Breeze features a total of 1,845 staterooms in a variety of categories. I am a Category 8C, stateroom 7405, situated aft and on the starboard side on, you guessed it, deck 7. The stateroom measures 185 square feet with a balcony measuring 35 square feet.
The stateroom’s color scheme suited my taste, and the design appears well thought out for extended cruises, with three closets, plenty of drawer space, and furniture placement. The stateroom has no feeling of being too tight.
I’ll be exploring more of the new Carnival Breeze over the next seven days, so be sure to check back — or subscribe to Avid Cruiser’s twice-weekly newsletter to have the articles delivered to your inbox on Wednesdays and Sundays. Meantime, I am happy to answer any questions you may have about Carnival Breeze. Please leave your comments at the bottom of this post or on Avid Cruiser’s Facebook page.