• by Capt. Bob Cerullo

Mardi Gras

There are probably not enough superlatives in my vocabulary to adequately describe the new Carnival Cruise Line ship now under construction. The fact she will carry 6,630 passengers and an Italian crew of 1,745 indicate that everything about this 1,130 foot floating resort is extraordinary. With a maiden voyage scheduled for fall of 2020, Mardi Gras will be Carnival’s newest and largest-ever ship. Sharing a name with Carnival’s first vessel launched back in 1972 The Mardi Gras is under construction at the Turku Shipyard, in Turku, Finland. The massive state of the art cruise ship will cost an estimated 530 million dollars to build. She is scheduled to take her first cruise in late 2020. There are 2, 641 staterooms on seventeen decks on this 137-foot-wide vessel. She draws 28 feet of eater and has a gross tonnage of 180,600 tons. The Carnival Mardi Gras will be the first ship powered by liquefied natural gas to home port in North America As if that alone were not enough to give even the most seasoned cruise ship traveler pause, there are two ultra-deluxe suites. Twelve deluxe suites, twelve Captain’s suites, eight premium balcony suites, and a total of 2,641 staterooms. Incredibly, this massive ship also houses its own roller coast. This thrill ride is in the open air and hurls the riders on rails above the busy pool deck. The ship has what Carnival calls fun zones. The first is called the French Quarter with its New Orleans theme. This will be the first seagoing restaurant for Emeril Lagasse. The celebrity chef is partnering with Carnival Cruise Line to deliver a signature restaurant onboard the new ship Mardi Gras when it debuts in 2020. The bistro is named Emeril’s Bistro 1396. It will serve New Orleans Cajun cuisine, the hallmark of the popular chef. Lagasse said; “I've developed restaurants all over the country, but to create my first restaurant at sea - on a ship named Mardi Gras with its own French Quarter, no less - was an opportunity I simply could not pass up.” The Ultimate Playground zone provides passengers with the first roller coaster ever on a cruise ship. The 800-foot-long electric-powered roller coaster will reach speeds of nearly 40 mph as it circles the outdoor activity deck. Sitting below the roller coaster will be a full-size mini-golf course. A full-court basketball area, a ropes course and the largest Carnival Waterworks water park ever will all be found in this zone. There will be three main waterslides in the Water Works areas. There will be a kid’s water play area and near the Ultimate Playground will be another pool-anchored zone. The Lido zone will feature a Guy Fieri restaurant called Guy’s Burger Joint. There will be in addition, a New-England seafood restaurant, a Mexican eatery and a 24-hour all-inclusive soft-serve ice cream spot round out this pool deck, where "dive-in" movies plus other entertainments. Another pool zone, Summer Landing, is home to Fieri’s restaurant, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse. This famous eatery will have its own in-house brewery with proprietary craft microbrews. A pool, whirlpool and numerous lounging options make this the perfect place for sunbathing and sampling the restaurant's beers. The La Piazza is an Italian-themed zone is home to a 24-hour pizzeria, the family-style Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant, and a brand-new Mediterranean seafood concept. A bar will serve as a coffee house and a cocktail lounge for a classic Italian cocktail. Roaming musicians will be found throughout the zone. The Mardi Gras theme in the French Quarter zone will be the ship’s nightclub district. Multiple bars, dining venues, and entertainment will fill this district that will feature a two-deck-high promenade. Carnival hasn’t revealed many details on this area, but they have confirmed that it will be home to a jazz club where classic New Orleans drinks will be served. There will be a special “celebrity partnership” linked to the French Quarter zone. Finally, the last of the six zones will be the Grand Central zone featuring a massive atrium area that will serve as both a grand entrance hall and a spot for entertainment. Large windows stretch multiple stories and provide an impressive ocean view. Carnival has placed its popular Bonsai Sushi and Bonsai Teppanyaki restaurants here. These will be familiar to cruise passengers who have sailed on other Carnival ships. There will also be a comedy club that will offer nightly shows and the Piano Bar 88. There will be large windows on one side of the three-deck atrium that will serve as the backdrop for nightly entertainment on the stage just in front of them. Carnival favorites like the adults-only Serenity retreat area, the Alchemy Bar, and the upscale Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse also are in place on the Mardi Gras. Innovative entertainment will be the theme of the new ship. An onboard version of the hit TV show Family Feud Live on Mardi Gras will be hosted by the ship’s cruise director. Several variations of the show will be played and designed to be both family-friendly and adult-oriented. Family Feud Live will be just one of the many all-ages entertainment offerings presented in Mardi Gras’ Grand Central zone and other new venues. The launch will be on Nov 12, 2020. It is expected to be underway Nov. 14, 2020, two and a half months later than scheduled. Carnival did not provide a reason for the delay. Carnival canceled the ship’s first eight scheduled sailings from Europe, New York and Port Canaveral. Mardi Gras will be based in Miami Florida. A planned inaugural season will start with a nine-night Baltic voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark to Southampton, England. The itinerary — an unusual one for Carnival — will feature calls at Kiel, Germany; Gothenburg, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Zeebrugge, Belgium; and Le Havre, France. At this point, the schedule is fluid until the ship is actually launched and passes its sea trials. Tentatively Mardi Gras is scheduled to operate a 14-night transatlantic journey from Southampton, England to New York City. The ship will stop at Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands; and Funchal and Ponta Delgada in Portugal’s Azores. While based in New York City, Mardi Gras will operate a single, six-night voyage to New England and Canada before turning south for a longer Caribbean sailing. Eventually Mardi Gras will leave the New York City again for a 15-night, one-way voyage to Port Canaveral with calls in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk. The Mardi Gras promises to be the biggest, grandest, floating resort, theme parks, gourmet restaurant row, floating carnival ever built. It is a fun filled floating city. As mentioned earlier, it is hard to find enough superlatives to describe what might be described as one of the wonders of the world.

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