Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Some high winds on our first Fun Day at Sea aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Breeze caused the ship to move around a bit last night, and that trend continued today. But it was nothing offensive; just the slightest of shimmying motions as we carved our way through the ocean en-route to Grand Turk.
I’m of the opinion that big cruise ships like Carnival Breeze are a fitness plan in disguise. This morning after breakfast, I walked 10 laps around The Lanai Promenade on Deck 5, for a total of four miles. And although the ship has a very spacious, well-stocked gym, simply not taking any elevators and walking the stairs up ten decks a few times each day is a great way to stay in shape. I’m proud to say I haven’t set foot in an elevator once since boarding.
After my walk, I thought I’d amble up to Deck 10 to see about maybe getting a spot to sit and kick my heels up.
Let me be frank: this is a big ship with a lot of people onboard, the vast majority of whom want to bask in the warmth of the Caribbean sun. Consequently, people camped out early on Deck 10 underneath the giant Seaside Theatre screen – though the sun and the Superbowl may have played a role there.
Having said that, I haven’t had difficulty finding a deck chair or a place to sit down and eat at any time during the day – provided you’re willing to be flexible.
Case in point: for lunch, I decided to try out the BlueIguana Cantina located on Deck 10 amidships. Carnival introduced this as part of their FunShip 2.0 enhancements, and Carnival Breeze is the line’s first newbuild to come fitted with this complimentary Mexican dining venue.
I ordered a burrito, and was able to select exactly what I wanted to have in it from a wide menu of choices, right down to the wheat or jalapeno tortilla it came wrapped in. So I picked the jalapeno tortilla, which isn’t as spicy as it sounds. Then, I had them add chicken, lime rice, roasted corn and guacamole. The cook wrapped it all up for me and served it to me on a special steel plate. And it was absolutely delicious. The hard part will be convincing myself to try something different tomorrow.
But being located in the heart of the midship Beach Pool deck area, it’s almost always busy here. A quick look around confirmed what I’d suspected: there was not a seat to be had outdoors.
So, as with most mainstream cruises, I steeled myself for the inevitable hunt for a free table in the indoor Lido restaurant. The automatic doors whooshed open and the cold blast of air conditioning hit me – and I found a table five feet from the entrance.
Now, this was at the height of the lunch hour – 12:30pm. But I didn’t just happen to get lucky, either; there were numerous tables still available throughout the Lido, which runs along the port and starboard sides of Deck 10 for the better part of the aft end of the ship.
The new design of Carnival’s Dream-class ships is clearly working for them. With eight separate dining options for lunch alone – in eight separate areas of the ship – the passengers aboard Carnival Breeze are nicely spread out. What’s more, the expansive Lanai Promenade offers tons of additional deck chairs and cozy outdoor spaces. With the exception of Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic, no other Carnival ships have this feature.
Even though the Superbowl is the talk of the day, Carnival certainly isn’t slacking off on the scheduled activities.
One of the coolest areas aboard Carnival Breeze is called Ocean Plaza, and it’s located on Deck 5 amidships. It reminds me a lot of the Winter Garden area aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, if that ship had been Caribbean-themed and decorated in vibrant colours. But it’s a bright, inviting area that opens to the promenade deck on either side of the ship – and it’s the place to be if Trivia is your thing. Most cruise lines offer a handful of trivia games per day. Carnival, on the other hand, is having a veritable trivia marathon.
Trivia on-tap today in the Ocean Plaza, Deck 5:
- 10:00am: Ultimate Mind Trivia #1
- 10:30am: General Knowledge Trivia
- 11:00am: Harry Potter Trivia
- 11:30am: Super Trivia #1
- 12:15pm: TV Theme Trivia #1
- 1:15pm: Guess that Beatles Song Trivia
- 2:45pm: Outrageous Law Trivia
- 3:15pm: 70’s Name That Song Trivia
- 3:45pm: Sports Trivia #1
- 4:15pm: Decades Trivia 1990’s
So there you have it! You can literally play trivia all morning and afternoon. If you’ve never played trivia on a ship before, it’s a lot of fun. You test your knowledge against people you’ve never met before for some mediocre prize that no one would normally care about in real life, but which suddenly becomes hugely important at sea. Great fun!
One of Carnival Breeze’s most unique entertainment options is the Thrill Theater. Located on Deck 4 amidships, the Thrill Theater showcases short 10-to-20-minute films that feature moving seats, 3D effects, and special effects like blasts of air, smoke, and water to add to the realism. The film I saw this afternoon (Just the Rides) started off slowly, and just when I was thinking that all there was to the ride was rocking back and forth, a blast of water hit me in the face and a pneumatic switch pushed into my seatback as my virtual log-ride careened out of control on-screen.
You can purchase a single-show pass, or get an unlimited cruise pass for $14.95. I’d do the unlimited pass because it really is a lot of fun, and the shows change on a daily basis. It’s not just for kids! The ride isn’t quite as elaborate as, say, the “Soaring Over California” ride at Disneyland, but for a cruise ship it’s a darn good feature. I’ll definitely be going back tomorrow for another spin.
- Happy Feet & Bamboo Express: 10:00am – 1:30pm.
- Just the Rides: 3:00pm – 5:00pm.
- Spongebob & Mumble’s Wild Ride: 7:00pm – 10:00pm.
Another popular diversion on a beautiful sea day like this is the Cloud 9 Spa that takes up the forward portions of Decks 12 and 14. This has to be one of Carnival’s most attractive spa complexes ever. Treatment rooms are located on the starboard side of the vessel, while the Relaxation Room overlooks the ship’s bow.
A Thalassotherapy pool is situated on the port-side corner of the forward part of Deck 14 and features floor-to-ceiling windows and even a glass ceiling. Just aft are three separate Thermal Suite rooms with heated loungers and aromatherapy scents.
First up is the Tepidarium, lightly scented and warm. A glass door leads aft to the Laconium, which is more humid and boasts a different scent and a sea-foam blue colour scheme. This room is designed to get you to sweat to exfoliate your skin.
The third room – and strongest in the Thermal Suite area – is the Oriental Steam Bath. As its name suggests, it’s wonderfully steamy and humid, but I hear most guests can only last a few minutes in the room before retreating out to one of the cooler areas.
A week-pass to the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool area is $149 for a single guest, or $249 for a couple. This allows for unlimited access during the cruise whenever the Cloud 9 Spa is open, which is typically 8am to 10pm.
The Cloud 9 Spa even has a swanky glass-enclosed staircase and glass elevator that travel from Deck 11 up to The Serenity on Deck 15.
The Serenity is Carnival’s Adults-Only paradise situated all the way forward on Deck 15. With plus Caribbean-blue loungers and clamshells and featuring its own dedicated bar, it’s something the line could easily charge for, but instead provides complimentary to guests aged 21 and over. They’re also great about ensuring it remains minor-free, with staff who politely remind guests with children and teenagers who walk in that the area isn’t accessible to them.
Kids might do better checking out “Cherry on Top” on Deck 5. It’s the dedicated Candy Store aboard Carnival Breeze. Those who know me know that I can resist chocolate at any time. I can resist salty chips, greasy burgers, and other culinary pleasures. But I have no willpower when it comes to candy, so I went in, snapped a few photos and got out before I had a chance to fill up a bucket with sweets!
By 5pm, it was Superbowl time. Festivities kicked off at the outdoor Seaside Theatre on Deck 10, though the increasing wind drove many guests indoors to the Ovation Lounge on Decks 3, 4, and 5. The big game was also broadcast in the Casino Bar, which proved to be easily the most popular game-watching spot onboard, with a lively and energetic crowd.
But it wasn’t quite the all-out madness I had been expecting. I thought I’d be the only guy to turn up for dinner tonight in the Blush Dining Room, but nearly all of my table for 10 made it there. So did most of the other guests assigned to the dining room. But that’s the brilliance of cruising: you really can chose to do what you want and for many, game day is a not-to-be-missed event.
I finished off my evening with two adults-only comedy shows held in the Limelight Lounge, located all the way aft on Deck 5. It’s an attractive little room, and reminds me heavily of some of the secondary show lounges on Princess and Celebrity cruise ships.
If you’ve cruised, you’ve probably seen shipboard comedians before. Some of them are great; some of them not-so-much. Two Adults Only shows were offered starting at 10:30pm this evening as part of Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Club. Developed in conjunction with comedian George Lopez, Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Club offers up family-friendly comedy at earlier times during select days, and 18+ comedy late at night.
I remember years ago staying up until midnight to watch the “adults only comedy show” on another cruise line. I was all ready to enjoy 30 minutes of debauchery, but was instead treated to a routine that barely broke the PG-rating barrier. In an age where many shows are designed specifically to not offend, it was a real let-down.
Not so here; Pat Godwin let the raunchy jokes fly at 10:30pm, and Jaylyn Bishop followed suit at 11:30pm. When they say 18+, they’re not kidding. Godwin was on fire, and there was no shortage of audience participation. By the time his set ended 40 minutes later, I had tears streaming down my face and my voice was hoarse from laughing so hard. The sign of a good adult comedy act: not a single thing he said can be reprinted here.
It is worth noting, though, that between sets for the adult shows, the lounge has to be completely emptied afterwards. Guests exit through a door on the starboard forward side of the theatre, and can queue up again for the next set if they so choose to. It seems like an annoying policy, but I know they’re doing it to ensure people don’t just camp out and take the best seats in the house for the entire evening.
So as my second evening aboard Carnival Breeze draws to a close, I have to say that there’s more to do on these Fun Ships than you could ever hope to cram into a single week. But more than that, a concerted effort really seems to be made onboard to ensure that guests are enjoying themselves, no matter what their interests are.
While some guests were up in their game-day gear on the pool deck, others were down in the Library Lounge and Library Bar enjoying a good book. Some were having formal portraits taken in the glow of the setting sun over the ocean, and others still could be seen hanging off their balconies, enjoying the Caribbean breeze. The trivia mavens were satiated for hours, and people line-danced their way across the floor in the Lobby Bar on Deck 3.
As for me, I had fun doing what I like to think I do best: scurrying around, camera in-hand, trying to take it all in.
This Fun Ship is just plain fun.
|January 31, 2014||Prepping our Fun Ship Journey|
|February 1, 2014||Miami, Florida||Embark Carnival Breeze||4:00 PM|
|February 2||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 3||Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos||7:00 AM||3:00 PM|
|February 4||San Juan, Puerto Rico||11:00 AM||7:00 PM|
|February 5||Philipsburg, St. Maarten||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|February 6||St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands||7:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|February 7||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 8||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 9||Miami, Florida||8:00 AM||Disembark|