Upon her debut next summer, Carnival’s new XL-class ship Mardi Gras will introduce a layout that will feel both familiar and completely different. From the industry’s first roller coaster at sea to brand-new hull art, Mardi Gras will represent a new direction for “America’s Cruise Line” when she joins the seas in 2020.
The New “Zones” of Mardi Gras
With Mardi Gras comes a new class of ships—the biggest ships ever built for the Carnival Cruise Line fleet at 180,000 gross tons. The new zone concept is completely new to Carnival, but the deck plans are redesigned to maximize the space for maximum fun.
“Grand Central” will likely be the first zone or ‘neighborhood’ cruisers see as they walk onto the ship; this is the atrium area on Deck 6, which will also include the Fun Shops, Cherry On Top, and a café. Moving aft from the atrium, you’ll enter the brand-new “French Quarter,” another one of the six zones that will have its own jazz bar as well as something called the Flamingo Restaurant—perhaps a new dining venue?
Heading up to Deck 8 is “La Piazza,” where you’ll find the Italian-themed eateries Cucina del Capitano and Pizzareia Del Capitano. Toward the aft on Deck 8 is “Summer Landing,” which will feature an expanded Guys Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse, an abundance of outdoor seating, and a pool with stunning aft wake views.
Skipping up to Deck 16 (Decks 9-15 are all staterooms), you’ll find the “Lido Zone.” This will include the familiar lido pool, buffet, as well as the second pool at the aft of the ship. However, there’s no poolside Guy’s Burger Joint. You’ll have to trek one deck up to Deck 17 for those. (I guess that helps burn off the impending calories, right?)
Last but not least is the “Ultimate Playground” on Deck 18. As its name suggests, here you’ll find the SportsSquare, Carnival Waterworks, mini golf, and stairs to the Deck 19 entrance to the much-anticipated roller coaster.
What’s Familiar on Mardi Gras
As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There’s a lot about Mardi Gras that will feel familiar, even with such a new layout. The Palm Restaurant will be located on the lower deck and aft, where cruisers are accustomed to finding the main dining room. Cove balconies will still be located on the second-lowest stateroom deck, which will be Deck 5.
Like most ships, the theater will be located on Deck 6 and 7 (the lower decks on Mardi Gras) at the front of the ship, while the Limelight Lounge will sit opposite of the theater at the back of the ship on Deck 7. In between these spaces on Deck 7 is a rather large casino; we’re just hoping smoke pollution won’t be an issue on this ship.
Out under the sun, Serenity Deck will be in a familiar location for most, being at the front and forward of the ship. While there will be a pool and a few hot tubs, not much else is known right now. We’re sure they’ll include a bar somewhere, but we have to wonder whether they’ll keep the Fresh Creations salad bar found on some newer ships.
What’s Old is New Again… Sort Of
Mardi Gras’ layout also incorporates some interesting design choices that change the location of popular venues from where you usually find them on Carnival ships. For example, the Cloud 9 Spa, which is usually at the top and forward of most ships, will be located on Deck 5 of Mardi Gras along with its accompanying spa staterooms. Piano Bar 88 and the Punchliner Comedy Club will have their own dedicated spaces—but on Deck 5, a lower deck that what cruisers are used to being the promenade. Also, the fitness center, usually on the upper decks near the spa, will be on Deck 6 between the atrium and the theater (a rather odd placement).
In a move that makes a lot of sense, Camp Ocean and Dr. Seuss’ Bookville will relocate to Deck 4 where the Family Harbor staterooms and lounge will be, making it easier for kids and families to stay and play together.
Another departure from the norm relates to the Havana Retreat and staterooms, which were introduced on the Vista-class ships. Though this secluded area is usually found at the back of the ship with stunning wake views, private hot tubs and a pool, and what aft balconies, the Havana Retreat will relocate to the front of the ship on Deck 8. Depending on why you might book a Havana stateroom, this might upset some cruisers who will now be missing out on those aft views. And although there will still be a pool,
Also, based on the released renderings, it looks as if one of our favorite watering holes, Alchemy Bar, is getting a bit of an aesthetic makeover. We can only wonder whether that will be met with a new or updated menu as well…