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Restaurant Review: Carnival’s JiJi Asian Kitchen



Many cruisers will wind up passing on specialty restaurants, using the logic that they can get plenty of great food for free in the various dining venues around the ship. And while that’s true, passengers bypassing JiJi Asian Kitchen – currently available aboard Carnival Vista and Carnival Sunshine – are missing out on not only one of the best meals at sea, but also one of the best values.

What Makes It Unique

Jiji’s Asian Kitchen

While JiJi offers a limited, complimentary lunch each day, it is the for-fee dinner at which this restaurant truly shows off its unique style. Upon entering the dining area, guests are immediately immersed in the rich culture whose tasty delights they are about to experience. The colors are warm and somehow manage to be both bright and muted at the same time. This is not a loud, boisterous restaurant, but rather one which seems to encourage good conversations over a leisurely meal. And about that meal…

What’s On The Menu?

JiJi is not a restaurant with an extensive menu, but what it does have, it does exceedingly well. Once seated, diners are presented with a slate-like menu and a special pen with which to make their selections. Servers are happy to help those who might be wary of spicy selections, of which there are several. Each guest selects an appetizer, entrée and side – which is presented family style and perfect for sharing – as well as their individual dessert.

As previously mentioned, the menu is not extensive, with only seven appetizers and six entrees listed. But good luck deciding between them after reading the descriptions of each. During a recent visit, after much hemming and hawing (and a little guidance from our incredibly personable server), we made our selections while munching on the complimentary shrimp chips that are served with a selection of four sauces with varying degrees of spiciness.

Appetizer-wise, we went with the slow-braised pork belly coated with a caramel chili sauce that was more than big enough for two and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For our second starter, we selected Najing-style duck – which is first slow-cooked and then flash-fried in a wok – served with mango fritters and a spicy green chili sauce.

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Entrée-wise, we went somewhat traditional, with a perfectly-prepared Kung Pao chicken and the peppered beef, pairing them with sides of Himalayan basmati fried rice with baby shrimp (a version with chicken was also available) and Hakka style rice noodles. Each was served family style, and it’s safe to say we barely had room for dessert.

Dessert wise, there are three selections available. We went with the rose crème Brulee and the fried wontons in tapioca pearls and coconut milk. While the former was both classically and perfectly prepared, the fried wontons were a bit tough and chewy (although the liquid in which they floated was so tasty, we found ourselves wanting to pour it into a glass and slurp it down!).

Of course, no meal in an Asian restaurant would be complete without fortune cookies, but these came with an additional treat: mango and berry flavored fruit rolls that made for a great palate cleanser.

Is JiJi Worth The Cost?

Honestly, if you are asking that question at this point, you may not have read our review closely enough. But at only $15 per guest, we’d have to rank JiJi Asian Kitchen as one of the best specialty restaurants we’ve ever encountered.

Have you ever been to JiJi’s Asian Kitchen – what are your thoughts?

Featured photo: Andy Newman/Carnival

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Raises Faster to the Fun Price



The good news: When sailing on most Carnival Cruise Line ships, you can still purchase the Faster To The Fun package. The bad news? On many of those ships, taking the happiness highway’s express lane is gonna cost you a little extra.

How Much Faster To The Fun Went Up

Carnival quietly boosted the price earlier this week, although news of the change spread quickly across social media. Some proclaimed that they didn’t mind paying the extra fee for the program — which offers numerous benefits, including priority embarkation — while others thought there were better ways in which they could spend the money.

So how much did the price go up? Previously, the cost — which is per cabin, not per person — ran between $49,95 to $79.95, depending on the ship and the length of the sailing. The price has now gone up to between $69.95 and $99.95.

The Breakdown


Screenshot via Carnival.


  • The program will cost $69.95 on 5-day sailings, except on the Sensation, where the price is $59.95.
  • For 4-day cruises on Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor and Carnival Vista is $69.95.
  • For 6- and 7-day sailings, Faster To The Fun will cost $89.95.
  • On sailings lasting 8 days or longer, the package will now cost $99.95.

When Carnival first rolled Faster to the Fun out in 2012, it was $49.95 per stateroom across the fleet. In 2016, the line switched to the tiered pricing system which remains in effect to this day.

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What does Faster to the Fun include? 

A limited number of Faster To The Fun passes are sold, which is one of the reasons many believe it to be worth the price, as it allows for faster boarding thanks to separate security screening lanes and an express boarding lane upon embarkation. Those who purchase FTTF also have immediate access to their staterooms, which generally are not available immediately upon boarding. The perk also includes priority luggage handling, access to priority tendering in ports where applicable, a choice of disembarkation times and priority dinner-time assignments.

Do you generally purchase Faster To The Fun? Will the change in price impact your decision to do so in the future? 

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Queen Latifah Named Carnival Horizon’s Godmother



The newest ship to join the Carnival Cruise Line fleet also just became the coolest with the news that Queen Latifah has been named the Carnival Horizon’s godmother.

When The Queen Will Reign

Carnival Ho

Photo: Carnival

Beloved by millions, the actress/singer/author/businesswoman said it was “an honor” to be selected, especially given the line’s longtime association with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, “a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.”

Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line, said that “with her fun-loving spirit and positive, can-do attitude, Queen Latifah embodies our brand and knows how to Choose Fun in everything she does. Knowing that she is a long-time supporter of St. Jude and has performed on and won Lip Sync Battle made her the ideal candidate to serve as godmother on our newest ship.”

READ MORE: Sneak Peek At The Carnival Horizon [Photos]

Latifah will officially assume her duties at the naming ceremony, which is set to take place during an invitation-only overnight gala being held on the Carnival Horizon in New York City on Wednesday, May 23. During the ceremony, St. Jude will be presented with a check representing funds raised at various Carnival events, both on ships and on shore. The atrium-grounding Dreamescape funnel will also feature artwork created by dozens of St. Jude patients.

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The gala will also see Latifah taking part in a special event titled Lip Sync Battle: Horizon which will showcase the ship’s authentic reproduction of the hit TV series.

Over the past few years, Latifah has… well, pretty much done it all. She’s won awards from groups as diverse as the Teen Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild, not to mention a Grammy, an Oscar nomination and two NAACP Image Awards. She was also the first hip-hop artist to be honored with a star on the world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, and now runs a production company — Flavor Unit Entertainment — which produces a wide variety of programming.

After The Gala

Following the naming ceremony and Gala on May 23, the Carnival Horizon will spend the summer sailing out of New York City before relocating in September to Miami, where she’ll sail year-round cruises to the Caribbean.

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Carnival to Offer New Cuba Cruises in 2019



Carnival Cruise Line will be offering 17 new sailings to Cuba aboard Carnival Sensation in 2019. The five-day voyages will be the line’s first to operate round-trip from Miami and feature a day-long call in Havana as well as stops in other popular ports.

The voyages complement a series of sailings to Cuba departing from Tampa aboard Carnival Paradise taking place in 2018 and 2019. Sensation‘s Cuba schedule includes:

  • four 5-day sailings to Havana and Grand Turk departing May 20, Sept. 9, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16, 2019
  • five 5-day voyages featuring Havana, Nassau and Half Moon Cay departing June 17, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 23, and Nov. 4, 2019
  • a 5-day cruise to Havana, Nassau and Princess Cays departing April 22, 2019
  • seven 5-day cruises to Havana and Grand Cayman departing May 6, June 3, July 1 and 29, Aug. 26, Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, 2019

A Cuban taxi driver, piloting a vintage car, pulls up to the El Morro Castle while the Carnival Paradise cruise ship is docked in Havana, Cuba. (Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

The 2,052-guest Carnival Sensation underwent a massive dry dock last year and a variety of venues were added, including Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, Alchemy Bar, and Cherry on Top. Already onboard was a Serenity adults-only area, 24-hour pizza, the WaterWorks aqua park, and the Seuss at Sea program.

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Guests sailing on Carnival’s cruises to Cuba can choose from almost 20 shore excursions that showcase the island’s culture, beauty, and architectural landmarks. There will also be Cuba-themed parties, games, and activities onboard. To learn more, visit

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