Carnival teams up with celebrity chef, Guy Fieri. // © 2012 Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines’ $500 million Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements have been launched with Carnival Liberty, bringing new features to entertainment and culinary venues on board, many of them in partnership with well-known names. Fourteen of Carnival’s 22 ships will have the 2.0 enhancements within three years and, judging by the results on Liberty, they are a home run with passengers.
Long known for its over-the-top interior decor by resident architect Joseph Farcus, Carnival has recently been tempering its signature glitzy look with a more contemporary, elegant style. Several of Liberty’s original interior spaces have been toned down, although fans of vibrant public rooms are not without their share of havens, such as the Hot and Cold Nightclub, where giant arm-shaped pillars still thrust upward from the dance floor (albeit with tattoos painted on them) and the Atrium, where a massive wrought-iron chandelier pulsates in an ever-changing fiber optic spectrum of color.
Two spaces, in particular, have received both decorative and functional transformations. The camera-and-celebrity-themed Paparazzi Wine Bar has made way for the new Alchemy Bar’s granite counter tops, dark wood tones and shelves that resemble an apothecary’s cabinet. In this new Fun Ship 2.0 venue, mixologists sport pharmacist lab coats and, in lieu of typical drinks, there is a menu for What Ails You with selections of liquor (vodka, tequila, gin, rum, bourbon), fruit (red passion fruit, watermelon, mango, strawberry, cucumber, raspberry) and herbs (rosemary, mint, elderflower, basil, lavender). Drinks are ordered by checking off a prescription list and priced at $8.95 with premium liquors commanding an extra dollar.
The casino-adjacent Gloves Bar, once distinguished by boxing glove ceiling fixtures, now has deep chocolate-colored swivel chairs and brushed steel accents as the EA Sports Bar. Through Carnival’s new partnership with EA Video Games, it has been fitted with a wall of sixteen 48-inch video screens that broadcast sporting events along with free-of-charge interactive games. On the opposite wall, above a line of red leather booths, a ticker runs the latest international sports scores.
In the bustling Deck 9 pool area, there are two more newly added 2.0 watering holes. On the starboard side, the RedFrog Pub features Carnival’s exclusive on-tap ThirstyFrogRed brew that was introduced on the Carnival Magic in 2011. ThirstyFrogRed can be served by the glass or in tall, 101-ounce tubes, and the bar serves a whole menu of rum drinks and bottled beers.
Steps away from RedFrog, the complimentary Guy’s Burger Joint serves celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s handcrafted ground chuck burgers in buttery buns with fresh-cut, spicy fries. Self-serve condiment stations provide Fieri’s embellishments such as garlic aioli, sauteed mushrooms and blue cheese crumbles. This could well be the most successful of the Fun Ship 2.0 additions thus far, as more than a thousand burgers are ordered daily by enthusiastic guests.
On the port side of the pool area, RedFrog has a friendly 2.0 rival in the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. The adjacent Blue Iguana Cantina is Carnival’s take on a complimentary, sea-going Chipotle restaurant. Burritos and open-faced tacos offered with homemade tortillas are prepared to order with a selection of chicken, pork, beans, cheese, chopped vegetables and sour cream.
The recent drydocking also has given the Liberty an adults-only Serenity area with two decks’ worth of sun loungers, padded hammocks, cabanas, a dedicated bar and several Jacuzzis on forward Decks 12 and 14. Other Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements that will be rolled out later this year include George Lopez-vetted nightly comedy acts in the 425-seat Punchliner Lounge and a new line up of shows in collaboration with Playlist Productions and toymaker Hasbro in the 1,000-seat Venetian Palace showroom.
What stands out as much as the new enhancements is the high standard of the overall Carnival product, from the variety and quality of the food to the polished, friendly service and non-stop activities.