Passengers participate in supersized versions of classic games with “Hasbro, the Game Show.” // © 2016 Carnival Cruise Lines
Feature image (above): Children can enjoy “Seuss at Sea,” a Fun Ship 2.0 entertainment feature on Carnival Miracle. // © 2016 Carnival Cruise Lines
The prime motivator for applying Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades to Carnival Miracle couldn’t have been increasing market share — Carnival Cruise Lines essentially owns the market, with year-round, seven-day Mexico sailings from Los Angeles.
Fleet modernization and associated revenue metrics surely make a difference, but according to Susan Johnson of Firstworld Travel and Cruises in San Diego, something else comes into play: respect.
“The upgrades underscore the line’s longtime commitment to Southern California cruising by going above and beyond for Western travel partners to offer its clientele a fresh experience, like sailing on a brand-new, exciting ship,” Johnson said.
The Fun Ship 2.0 program, now rolled out to more than half the fleet, represents Carnival’s largest investment in fleet standardization. Along with a trio of new bars, the enhancements on Carnival Miracle include onboard entertainment in the form of “Hasbro, The Game Show,” four new musical productions, Seuss at Sea family activities and more.
The new bars and their associated themes work well. Alchemy Bar’s clever pharmacy theme influences its elixirs, and Skybox Sports Bar offers fans multiple live-viewing options and games.
But it’s RedFrog Pub, Carnival’s signature Caribbean-themed lounge, that dovetails perfectly with the line’s Fun Ship ethos.
Trina Alexander, a Carnival passenger from Los Angeles who was onboard my recent sailing, says she loved “the fabulous musicians and the Caribbean look and feel.” And, unlike the other bars and lounges onboard, she notes that RedFrog is a pub appropriate for families, with games such as foosball, shuffleboard and darts.
Aided by new LED staging and special effects in the main theater, the four unique Playlist Productions shows are high-energy musicals that associate popular songs with their respective eras. “Getaway Island,” “88 Keys,” “80s Pop to the Max” and “Heart of Soul” are fast-paced and feature a cast of singers and dancers.
Adults and kids alike enjoy the new Seuss at Sea activities, including the Green Eggs and Ham character breakfast, while “Hasbro, The Game Show” bring guests together in a realistic adaptation of a television game show using supersized versions of Hasbro’s iconic games. Additionally, Camp Ocean, which is for children between 2 and 11 years old, has replaced Camp Carnival onboard Carnival Miracle.
Bowing to the combination of itinerary fatigue and the current industry penchant for overnight port visits, Carnival Miracle alternates the now-familiar Mazatlan-Los Cabos-Puerto Vallarta route with two seven-day itineraries: an overnight in Los Cabos plus a visit to Puerto Vallarta, and a two-day Vallarta call with one day in Los Cabos. On my recent sailing, the Puerto Vallarta overnight allowed guests to experience previously unavailable activities such as “Rhythms of the Night,” a Cirque du Soleil-inspired show that infuses Mexican touches and is performed in a remote jungle setting.
Upgraded hardware and onboard programming will keep Carnival Miracle’s product fresh for agents and clients, but I was most impressed by how well the line’s Fun Ship mantra holds up year after year.
Whether guests are laughing in the packed-to-capacity Punchliner Comedy Club, playing darts in RedFrog Pub, cheering on favorites in the Gender Showdown or having breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, it’s clear that Carnival continues to thrive on providing pure, unadulterated fun.