|Carnival Breeze differs from previous Carnival ships in decor and sports a new contemporary look exemplified by its splashy atrium.|
Faced with high airfare costs, many cruisers who desire to travel to Europe this summer are seeking extreme value. One new option that fills the bill is Carnival Cruise Lines’ 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze, which operates 12-night, roundtrip Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Spain.
Price-wise, cruise fares at presstime started at just $949 to $1,149 per person double for an inside cabin. That equates to about $80 to $100 a day for accommodations and food, an excellent value in Europe.
The ship definitely fulfills the desire to see the many so-called “marquee” ports. On our cruise, the ship sailed to Marseille, France; Livorno (for Florence), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Salerno (for Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento or Capri), Venice, and Messina, Sicily, all in Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Palma de Majorca, Spain, with several sea days.
Carnival Breeze, a Dream-class vessel, appeals to those who seek affordability, wish to see many ports, want to spend longer than a week in Europe, and desire great value with accommodations, dining, children’s programs and entertainment included within the cruise fare.
This ship also sports a new contemporary look for Carnival. From the moment guests enter, they’ll perceive this ship is different. Colors and hues in the atrium, elevator lobbies, staterooms and many other venues are softer. Lines are cleaner. The multilevel atrium has a backdrop wall of light blue sky and cloth “lobes” that hang from the ceiling in tasteful splashes of red, yellow and tangerine colors.
|RedFrog Pub serves guests various drinks and $3.33 appetizers.|
But the neon, glitz and over-the-top decor that characterized past Carnival ships are now reserved for such venues as the Ovation Theater, Liquid Nightclub, Club O2 teen club and casino. Guest corridors reflect a tropical flair with serene water scenes, rather than artistic drawings on panels as on past Carnival ships.
Our standard balcony stateroom, #7275, was nearly the same as on other Carnival ships, except for the decor. We loved the light blue and green wispy painting opposite the bed, giving a dreamy feel. Cabinetry is lighter in coloring; carpeting is a pleasing blue and gold; the curtains are light blue, gold and cream; and the bedding has a blue-and-gold bed runner, soft blue pillows and pure white linens. Most welcome is the light blue look of the bathroom, rather than the contrasting colors of past ship bathrooms.
While Carnival has changed the ship’s interior look, Carnival Breeze definitely still retains “the Fun” concept. In fact, it has plenty of new venues and branded experiences, many free or affordable.
Carnival has a new complimentary “sea day” eatery, Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ, with pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausages, corn on the cob and other grilled favorites. Fat Jimmy’s is essentially a buffet line on the Ocean Plaza’s non-smoking deck area. It’s popular. Expect to wait.
Carnival Breeze also debuts Bonsai Sushi, the line’s first full-service sushi restaurant with sushi, sashimi and rolls. Japanese servers circulate amid high top tables and a soothing Asian decor. Yes, Carnival still gives two types of free sushi rolls in the Lido Marketplace restaurant, but the sushi cart is gone on this ship.
The new dining venue has affordable, individual sushi pieces for $1-$3, rolls $4-$6. A “sushi ship” for two is $15 and includes miso soup, a side salad, several rolls and six pieces of sushi. Want dessert? A green tea cupcake is $2.
|SportSquare is an open-air recreation complex onboard Carnival Breeze that is free to guests.|
The new Taste Bar at Ocean Plaza serves appetizers in the evening free of charge; they differ each night and reflect a specific restaurant onboard. Another creative new, complimentary feature on Carnival Breeze is The Punchliner Comedy Club brunch on sea days in the main dining room.
Brunch dishes include mac-and-cheese with bacon, Eggs Benedict and two entrées inspired by famous comedian and actor George Lopez’s Mexican heritage—huevos rancheros and a hearty burrito. We recommend the chocolate pancakes. Portions are huge. The bill—without alcoholic drinks—is zero. And a comic vetted by Lopez entertains for about 10 minutes, usually once during an hour.
At Guy Fieri’s signature Guy’s Burger Joint, guests can order one of several burger choices and then go to the fixins’ bar for veggies, yummy grilled mushrooms, bacon bits and caramelized onions. Across the deck is BlueIguana Cantina, another complimentary eatery specializing in soft tacos and made-to-order burritos.
Of course, guests may dine nightly in either the Blush or Sapphire main dining rooms, depending on their assigned venue. The casual Lido buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; stations include an Indian Tandoori, Mongolian Grill, New York Deli, a 24-hour Pirate Pizza, a “Swirls” ice cream station, and new Comfort Food Station, among others. Dining in these venues is part of the cruise fare.
One fee-based new venue is the RedFrog Pub on Promenade Deck 5. While guests pay for drinks, large appetizers here are only $3.33 each. Popular favorites are coconut shrimp with a pina colada dipping sauce and firecracker Jamaican wings tossed in a secret rum barbecue sauce.
Carnival Breeze also offers free, limited 24-hour room service. In many European hotels, your clients would likely pay for a room-service breakfast. We ordered salmon with tomatoes; fresh fruit including watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe; croissants and a cinnamon roll; orange juice; and coffee for breakfast on one of the days.
The Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse with prime cuts of steak and seafood delicacies is excellent, but carries a $35 per person charge. If clients are on a slimmer budget, Cucina del Capitano has Italian family-style cooking at $12 for adults, $5 for kids. Recommended are the crispy yet delicate calamari and melt-in-your-mouth Italian meatballs.
While booze is pricey onboard any contemporary ship, clients may snag a glass of free champagne at the Captain’s Night Celebration, the “by invitation only” party in the Ovation Main Show Lounge if they’re a past guest, or the Champagne Art Auction. Promotional packages for soft drinks and wine are available. While not free, new wine dispensing machines in the new Library Bar offer sample vintages in two-, four- and six-ounce sizes.
Carnival has a number of free seminars in the Cloud 9 Spa, such as “Walking in Comfort” or “Secrets to a Flatter Stomach.” Use of the spa’s weight room and fitness machines is complimentary. Combination spa packages with sizable savings are usually offered several days into the cruise.
Clients seeking a soothing oasis should head to Serenity, the complimentary adults-only hideaway high atop the ship forward. Loungers, lounge beds with cocoon-like covers, hammocks and two whirlpools await guests. No one under 21 is allowed. We visited on a sea day and everyone was asleep, reading, or just relaxing in the sun, with the ocean breeze wafting through the quiet enclave.
If clients have children, Carnival has a robust lineup of free-of-cost supervised children’s and teen programs; teens have their own Club O2. For kids and adults alike, the ship’s WaterWorks on the top deck attracts with a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, a DrainPipe slide, a humongous tipping bucket and a water play area.
Another new complimentary venue is SportSquare, an open-air recreation complex with a suspended ropes course, mini-golf course with a hole in the form of a huge Carnival red and blue funnel as an obstacle, a boxing area, jogging track, ping-pong and foosball tables, and a basketball course.
Poolside, the Seaside Theatre is a 270-square-foot LED screen. It’s the spot for “Dive In Movies” along with video presentations of concerts and sporting events.
The interior Ovation Theater highlights three new Playlist Entertainment performances. These are free and last just 30 minutes, allowing for more frequent showings and giving guests more time options. New are The Brits, with Beatles and Rolling Stones songs; Motor City for Motown hits; and Divas for the songs of Celine Deion, Madonna, Whitney Houston and others. Also presented here is the new Hasbro, The Game Show, as well as Latin Nights, another new Playlist Production.
The Punchliner Comedy Club by George Lopez brings out the laughter with complimentary, full comedy shows in the Limelight Lounge; reservations are required. Separate shows entertain families and those 18 and over.
The new Thrill Theater has just a few dozen seats but packs a lot of 4-D action into a small space. Guests wear special glasses, their seats move sharply up and down and side to side, and presentations are typically of about 30 minutes. We went; it was a hoot. While one Thrill Theater show costs $7.95, the $14.95 for unlimited use is a very good value.
Overall, the Carnival Breeze product was a solid hit with nearly every guest we spoke with on our full 12-day voyage. They liked the decor, the new venues and the value for a European vacation. More than 3,000 Americans and Canadians were onboard our cruise, but 1,200 guests from 58 other nations, including 196 from Russia, also sailed. It seems value in cruising knows no borders.