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If you want to know where Carnival Cruise Lines is heading, take a good look at the new $740 million Carnival Breeze. Usually the third ship in a class is simply a polished version of the first two, but the Breeze is a culmination of the Fun Ship concept and a signpost to Carnival’s new look.
Breeze’s decor is more tropical-casual than the Vegas fantasy look on previous vessels, especially in the public rooms, and president and CEO Gerald Cahill said other ships in the fleet will reflect the same taste over time.
Staterooms have ample drawer and closet space, filled wtih amenities such as robes and slippers. The Cloud 9 Spa balcony staterooms provide private access, special amenities and priority reservations for the 23,750-square-foot spa, which offers everything from several varieties of massage to the newest approved Botox alternative. The fitness center is well equipped and the outdoor SportSquare fitness areas is popular with guests who want to work on their tan while working out.
Food ranges from good to outstanding and runs the gamut from a Tandoori stand and the Mongolian Wok to the Lower East Side deli bar. There’s a full sushi restaurant, as well as fresh pizza custom made to fit any dietary need. North American favorites and adventurous dishes are mixed very effectively in the dining rooms and Carnival classics, such as Cucina del Capitano continue on Breeze.
Both with dining and entertainment, Carnival has brought onboard well known names such as Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, Fat Jimmy’s BBQ and DJ Irie.
“We have 23 branded experiences that we’ve introduced in the last 13 months,” Cahill said. “We are not selling hardware — we are selling vacation experiences.”
On the entertainment side, the Punchliner Comedy Club, a result of Carnival’s partnership with George Lopez, has a new wrinkle on Breeze: the Punchliner Comedy Brunch, held on sea days in the main dining room, with short comedy performances coupled with brunch classics and Mexican specialties. There’s no charge except for the Bloody Mary bar, but it’s a good idea to make reservations. The comedy club itself has six shows a day, with two comedians alternating. Earlier shows are designated for families and the last two are adults only.
The 5-D movies in the Thrill Theater are really fun, with 3-D glasses and special effects bringing audiences into the action and using recognized figures such as SpongeBob SquarePants and characters from the “Happy Feet” movies in the story lines. The price is $7.95 for a one-time show or $14.95 for unlimited visits to all, which is a no-brainer, given that adults as well as kids love it.
Some of the music onboard is simply fabulous — tell your clients to look for Regan, who belts out Janis Joplin and many other classics, backed by an exceptional band that performs in several different venues during the cruise, including the atrium and Ocean Plaza, an indoor/outdoor space with a bar, and the adjoining Plaza Cafe.
Guests drop in for the entertainment that fits their mood: Sam’s sing-along piano bar is close to the Caliente Dance Club and to the relaxed live music in the Caribbean RedFrog Pub with Carnival’s own beer on tap; Playlist Productions’ 30-minute shows blend video, photography, animation and special effects with live actors, singers and dancers, with themes ranging from “Divas” and “Latin Nights” to “Motor City” and “The Brits!,” and popular films are shown on the giant pool screen at night.
Carnival’s Fun Hub saw a lot of use during our cruise. The area features groups of computer stations used for within-ship social networking which was effective in getting the word out on everything from bridge games to water polo.
The ship caters to younger cruisers with the Warehouse video arcade and the teen discos, Circle C and Club 02. Breeze’s WaterWorks Aqua Park, with its 303-foot-long, corkscrew waterslide is a huge draw for families, many of whom took advantage of Carnival’s five-passenger staterooms and the self-service laundry machines onboard.
During breakfast, happy passengers complained that they did not have time to do all of the things that they would have liked to do, partly because there were so many things they wanted to repeat.
Carnival Breeze is sailing 12-night Mediterranean cruises out of Barcelona through Oct. 25. After a 15-night transatlantic cruise Nov. 6-21, the ship will offer year-round, alternating six- and eight-night Caribbean itineraries out of Miami.