Cruising on Carnival Mardi Gras: Ship, Itinerary, Food, Drinks & More!
About a year ago, I was presented with an opportunity to cruise on Carnival's new ship, Mardi Gras! To say I was excited about this trip is an absolute understatement! I love Carnival and I love cruising. I also love having unlimited food which... let's face it... can make even the most resistant traveler (*cough, cough* my husband *cough*) glad they came. Anywho... I won't beat around the bush. Let's get straight to it.
This particular cruise was in November. We embarked and disembarked at Port Canaveral and the boarding process was very smooth. I had rented a car at the airport since I had arrived the day prior. There is a rental car area at the port so I just dropped off my car before my boarding appointment and they provided a shuttle to the ship.
Once I got the the ship I was met by the luggage stewards who kindly took my suitcase to the ship for me. I always bring a few dollars to tip these guys because it is such a nice service that they provide. When I got to my stateroom a while later, my suitcase was there waiting for me!
For the boarding appointment I just had to show my identification/ proof of citizenship, boarding pass, covid vaccine card, and covid screening results from the test that I took 2 days prior to the cruise. Once I got through the appointment process I found myself in a very comfortable, large waiting area. This is where you will wait for your zone to be called to board. Once your zone is called, just get in line and it is smooth sailing from there.
Something important to note... Once on board, you need to log into the HUB app (available in the app store and google play) and mark that you are onboard. This will switch the app to its onboard mode which will be tailored to your specific sailing. You will also need to find your assigned Muster Station and go there as soon as possible to complete your safety briefing. Make sure you check in with the Carnival employee who is there doing the briefings. You can not sail if you have not done this.
**I went to the Muster Station and did the briefing. A while later my app still showed that I had not completed the briefing. It turned out that I had not checked in with the girl at the Muster Station and so I had to return and do it correctly* This is a different process than some of you might be familiar with, it is no longer the overcrowded mass briefing by the lifeboats like it used to be.
I boarded somewhere in the middle of the various appointment times, and so the ship was relatively empty (or so it appears at least) and I enjoyed exploring while waiting for my room to be ready. Check out some of my favorite shots from my walkabout!
I planned on spending approximately zero non-sleeping time in my stateroom so I opted for an interior stateroom on deck 2. Looking back, I wish I would have gotten an oceanview room at the very least. Oh well, live and learn. The room was really comfortable despite being itty bitty. There was plenty of closet space for me and my room mate and the beds were comfy. Here are some pics I snapped when we first got into our room:
I spent a lot of time that first day just getting to know the ship and memorizing the route to get to my stateroom. This ship is gigantic, but once you have walked it a bit it becomes easier to navigate. If you get lost (which I did...) there are signs posted around that tell you where to go, what floor certain things are on, etc.
The Sail Away Party
The Sail Away Party on Embarkation Day is a great "kick off " event that includes music, dancing, and fun! Times for the party might vary, so check the HUB app for the exact start time. A lot of the passengers gather around the main pool area for this and it's a good way to really get pumped for the rest of the cruise!
Even I, "She Who Should Not Dance Ever In Public Spaces" shook my booty. No regrets.
Activities and Things to do Onboard
Quite frankly I don't remember the order in which I did things onboard, or even which day I did them. And also I feel like laying it out like that would make you bored out of your gourd. So in true Crissandra fashion I'm just gonna mostly wing this part.
Military Appreciation Event
For those of you who don't know, I am an Air Force veteran (Ammo... IYAAYAS). I love the military and have so much respect for those who served/ are serving/ will serve and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I love that Carnival has a military appreciation gathering on every sailing as a way to honor our military. Check the HUB app to see when it will be held on each sailing. They give you a special pin, which I thought was cool.
There is also a special lounge area dedicated to veterans which is located right by Guy's Pig and Anchor restaurant. You can even buy a special commemorative coin for $5 (you can get this from the bar right by the lounge).
There is a lot to cover here. There is so much to do on Mardi Gras (or a Carnival Cruise in general) and I didn't get to do it all. I'm just not going to really write about the stuff I didn't do on this cruise. I will just mention the kids clubs because this is free for most of the day so parents can get a little break. It wasn't available in November, nor was the Dr. Seuss Breakfast. But just know that they will likely be on your future cruise.
The live shows each night were PHENOMENAL. I mean it. I mean, I am not hard to please but I do like it when the singing and dancing is on-point and the jokes are funny. So I went to most of the live shows because they are such good quality and the performers are so neat to watch. There are a lot of different shows, too so you have options. Most of these were in the theater but some were not. Check out some of my favorite pics of the shows:
Comedy Club- The Punchliner
The Punchliner was just about my favorite hangout spot in the evenings. The comedians vary by sailing but they all do a family friendly show and also an adults only show. I really enjoyed both kinds of shows although I have to admit the adults only shows were more my style of comedy. Just sayin'. I didn't get many pictures in these shows but there are a few I snapped between cackles. Only one came out kind of decent. I will not subject you to the blurriness of the others.
Dive In Movies
Full disclosure: I did not hang around to watch the Dive In Movie, I was just passing through on my way to get food. But I wanted to show you how cool this is. On this particular night it was raining but that didn't matter. People still gathered in the more covered areas around the pool and Red Frog (bar) and in the hot tubs to watch the movie and hang out. The movies change constantly but they are always family friendly and are usually pretty new. I'm looking forward to doing this with my kids on our upcoming Alaska cruise on the Carnival Splendor (be sure to follow this blog and the Facebook page (click here) so you see and hear how that goes).
Groove For Saint Jude
Carnival Cruise Line is a major fundraiser for St. Jude's! There is a Groove for St. Jude party on every sailing! During this party there is music, an auction, and there are special t-shirts, wristbands and teddy bears available to buy and the proceeds go to St. Jude. I enjoyed this event and it is for a good cause. The shirts were $10 each and I believe the bears were around $10 also (don't quote me, I didn't buy a bear!).
The auction of the teddy bear signed by Carnival's CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Shaquille O'Neal raised $800 by itself!
Hiding and/ or Hunting for Ducks
If you've never cruised before, you might not know how big of a thing that duck hiding and hunting really is. It's a huge phenomenon. HUGE. Many cruisers bring rubber duckies to hide around the ship (there are rules as to where you can and can't hide them) and how many people make hunting for ducks a family affair. I actually give my cruise clients rubber duckies to take because I think it is so cool! Don't care how nerdy that makes me. I stand by it. Check out Carnival Cruising Ducks Facebook Group (click here). It's a rubber duckie cult, I swear! I love it.
I took 2 duckies to hide on this cruise, but wish I would have taken more. We are each taking a few to Alaska next week. Check out my hiding spots!
On the Mardi Gras 7 day sailings there are going to be 2 "Elegant Nights". These are special nights where you have the option of getting all gussied up and fancy shmancy. There will be a lot of different photo stations set up where you can take some really nice photos either by yourself or with your family or friends (whoever you are with). Again, this is not a mandatory thing. It's funny to see a group that's dressed to the nines seated next to a group in something I would wear to the beach. Is this something you would be amused by?
For our upcoming Alaska cruise, I am planning on being--- as the kids say--- "super duper extra". I have a beautiful emerald colored sparkly gown complete with a sheer emerald cape. Yes. I said cape. Cape, cape, cape.
Anyway, the photos that the Mardi Gras photographers take are not free. You have to buy them or get the photo package (which, I'll be honest... I feel like it's NOT worth the price). So you get the privilege of seeing my selfies. Enjoy.
And Now What you Came Here For...
The Food and Drinks On The Mardi Gras
Listen. I really think the pictures and videos below will speak for themselves. All of the food (except the sushi) is included in the cruise fare. The alcohol can be purchased as part of a package but it is an additional cost no mater what. The nice thing about the Mardi Gras is that right now the specialty restaurants like ChiBang are no charge, either. There is so. much. food. on. this. freaking. barge.
JUST LOOK AT IT... GLORIOUS!!!
As if you don't already have enough to do on this ship, you also have ports to visit! Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who don't actually care about the ports. They seriously don't even get off the ship the entire week. The ship is the destination. I can see why. There is never a dull moment. (There is a library incase you need some peace and quite though!)
Then you have people that get off the ship and just do their own thing and that's cool too. I have never done that but I can see the attraction.
I LOVE excursions. I love seeing the fishies and other ocean life, historical/ archaeological sites, popular attractions, etc... and then after the excursion I will explore if there is time. The only thing I don't like about the excursions is that if you travel with others the cost really adds up. On this particular trip I was mainly by myself (except my new friend Suzanne went snorkeling and to San Gervasio with me) so the cost was not massive.
To read about some of the super awesome excursions and recommendations/ tips I compiled on this trip >>Click Here To Go To My Excursions Post!<<
This is also a subject for another post. There are various ways that you can opt to get off the ship so I want to devote the attention they all warrant.