That's pretty much how the ship is, too. Masks are expected inside on the ship, but, once in a bar or restaurant you can remove them. Although some venues have an attendant at the door to remind you to mask. It's kind of funny because they might be outside the Piano bar or the Comedy Club to remind to mask, you go in order a drink and unmask. (a change last night in the piano bar. The audience was asked to mask unless actively drinking, sip and mask. Much mote subdued than previous 2 nights.) After that, the piano bar was mostly empty each night.
There are mask reminders in the elevators but they are not always followed. Rebels I guess. Unlike Royal there are no capacity restrictions. (Royal limited elevator capacity to 4). I am not sure how that would work with more people on the ship. Our Allure test cruise only had 657 passengers. This cruise was 3000.
There are a lot of tables for 2 in the restaurants but there is no social distancing as many are only 4 inches apart.
The "muster" drill was very similar to Royal's. You check in and go watch a crew put on a life jacket. When we did this on Royal it was just my wife and me. Here was a group of 10 or 12.
We are "My Time" dining. At least initially, they are including 3 Specialty restaurants in My Time for free. Capitano's Cusina (Italian), Chi Bang (Chinese Mexican fusion) and Guy's Pig and Anchor (BBQ). These restaurants are usually free at lunch and pay in the evening. We usually do these at lunch and then do the deli (fresh made sandwiches), pizza or Guy's burgers in the evening.
The Carnival Hub, their app, is a necessity. It has your boarding pass, but, they wanted the "paper" at the pier. The daily schedule is on the app, restaurant times and most menus and for My Time diners, there's tabs for the restaurants for Check in to dine. When you are ready to eat, you select that tab and enter the guests names and shortly after you receive notice that your table is ready, with a table assignment. There's a hostess outside each restaurant to direct you to a waiter to escort to your table. There's a desk outside each restaurant, maybe, to accommodate people who have multiple state rooms, or, are not using the app. I love that.
Those specialty restaurants are HUGE. The nice thing about that is even at free they are not full. Imagine if Royal offered Chops or Portfino free! You couldn't get in for weeks.
We also have the Cheers package which is "free" drinks. Specialty coffees, juices, drinks, beer and milk shakes. We had a our first milk shakes at sea this week. The downside is we are limited to 15 a day. Each bar has a different drink menu. You use a QR reader to download the menu and read in adobe acrobat. So, we've tried quite a few different drinks this week.
I asked one bartender if she had to memorize the drinks and of course she had to. I then asked if she only worked the one bar and she said she had already worked 3. That could be 30 or more recipes.
My wife and I both enjoy comfort food so we are loving the food options. Really, really good pizza, fresh made sandwiches (no), Guy's Burgers, Italian, Mexican, Chinese and of course, American. We are in Heaven!
We went to our first evening show yesterday. It was Rock Revolution, 1969 and the music was memorable. When you stop to think about it 1969 was a fabulous year for music. They had songs from Hair, Woodstock, Chicago, Beatles, in general, a lot of really nice music. We haven't been to evening shows for some time because they rarely change. We haven't been on Carnival for a year and a half, so, we figured we hadn't seen it before.
Carnival started their comedy club years ago. Each new ship had a larger club than previous and the Mardi Gras actually has two comedy venues, each larger than any Royal has. They offer 4 comedians each week with two performing the beginning of the week and two others performing the end of the week. In addition to the food we like Carnival because the comedy shows are always new and different.
We spent two evenings in the Piano bar. We haven't done much of that since Tommy Treadway on the Big Red Boat!
When we first got on the ship we saw so many scooters I wondered if we were actually on Holland America. Each cruise line has some eccentrics. Here two men are decked out in souvenir pins that Carnival passes out with the ship name each sailing. I remember seeing someone on Royal who made a vest out of the key chains from trivia. And Holland America used to give canvas totes which a couple had made into matching vests.
This ship is reminiscent of the Carnival Glory. There were a lot of corridors that appeared to be dead ends but just turned a corner and continued. The Mardi Gras has a number of them. And, they turned so much space into restaurants, bars, lounges, etc, they ran out of room for aisles and corridors. Some are so narrow it is difficult to pass someone approaching.
They didn't put extra space in the state rooms. We are in a handicap accessible which reminds me of the Sovereign or Majesty. Carnival used to advertise their standard rooms were 185 sf. The Sovereign was about 131 sf. Even with handicap we are closer to that. But they had good storage, closets and drawers.
The week before we cruised I was on Cruise Critic reading about Carnival Diamonds. Someone posted an email they received about changes due to the pandemic.
They no longer distribute water, chocolates, ship pin or gifts to the stateroom. You have to pick up the pin and gift at Pixels and water at a bar. If you want the chocolate you must call room service.
Also, they only service the stateroom once a day unless you request more. We are neat so once a day is fine. We just asked for 4 bath towels.
And, importantly, each Diamond is entitled to $25 casino free play. We also learned you had to get the cashier to load your card before play. Tonight I played my wife's free play and "won" $21.75. She still has $4.75 available so, essentially we are even. Eventurally we found out you can not cash out your winnings. You play until you reach $0. On Royal you may only get $5 free play but you can cash out. We won $32.50 on Royal on free play and cashed out.
So, that was all good advice. But, it did not come to us from Carnival. Unlike Royal who provides a notice in the state rooms for D or P benefits, or, even the daily schedule there's nothing in the room. The schedule is on the app, but, nothing about the benefits.
My wife found a place where paper schedules are available, but, there are not enough for everyone. She only took one. The schedule is available on the app but none are provided in the state room.
There's a lot to be said for being familiar with a ship or it's layout because you sailed her or a sister a lot. We still don't know which way is forward and which way is aft. The maps at the elevators are very helpful because they have proper orientation. The maps on the app, not so much. Do we turn right or left?
I mentioned the specialty restaurants that are free for now and so far we've eaten at each. The meals were great, but, there are 7 other specialty restaurants with charges. So far, it appears the sushi restaurant is least popular. Maybe because the guests are older than Carnival's typical demographic. There are two main dining rooms, one seems for My Time and the other for assigned times. We were in one for Sea Day Brunch and service was terrible. That generally is a nice menu and meal but I doubt we'll be back this cruise. Tomorrow, maybe, Emeril's. That's a specialty that is $5 for breakfast.
I mentioned fresh made sandwiches previously. Carnival had the NY Deli which had fresh made to order sandwiches. Only Holland America and Celebrity did that, so, Carnival was in a special class. Now it is Plaza Panini and my wife said when she picked up a sandwich yesterday they took a ready made out of a refrigerator and tossed it in a micro wave. That's the only negative we've experienced so far. I hope this doesn't spread to other ships in the fleet.
There's also a food court near the pool with 5 other places for quick eats. One of the staff said 19 places in all. I plan to check his math.
The Lido restaurant is huge. It appears that if everyone ate there you could still find a seat. And talking about huge, the casino might be the biggest I've ever seen on a ship. They have smoking and none smoking areas in the casino and they seem separated enough that you could avoid the smoking area if you knew which entrance and exit to use.
We were walking around taking pictures today and we went to Serenity and Loft 19. Serenity is adults only and Loft 19 is adults only but requires payment. Lots of cabanas and service. They will brings drinks and food from every restaurant that is open. I'm pretty sure you still have to use the rest room yourself! There is more adults only space than on Disney.
The majority of the servers and bartenders appear to be Chinese and Filipino women. Very cute and very friendly. I can remember when the entire staff was male. But, I guess as fleets and ships increased they had to open it up.
The attendant who guided us around Loft 19 told us there are around 3000 guests this week and around 4000 guests last week. I cannot begin to imagine what boarding was like. The first cruise of the season from a new terminal and perhaps new staff and 33% more people than this week.
Earlier I mentioned Carnival did not provide notice of some benefits, I did find some mentioned on the info channel. They did not mention the casino free play. You have to listen to all the info to find the info about receiving your benefits.
Unlike Royal's free play where you can cash out winnings, on Carnival it just go to your bank so you can play longer. There's no cash payout from free play.
Most doorways are automatic. If they don't open automatically they have a button that you can push. It doesn't work with a knuckle. It needs a finger tip.
Getting into and out of rest rooms (and some doors) only requires waving your hand over a sensor.
When the restaurants are promoted on TV they talk about the upgrade of their deli to Plaza Panini. You already know my opinion of that.
Breakfast is available all over the ship including several specialty restaurants. Only Emeril's Bistro is extra cost starting around $5 and going up to around $8.
There is no library on board. I don't know if it has been repurposed or completely eliminated. On Carnival the library always had board games and playing cards, so, they are not available here.
Lots and lots of trivia. We've done pretty well but not well enough to win, yet.
The elevator control buttons are in the middle of one side. If the elevator is half full you don't know where it will stop. Something new.
I've been drinking a lot of iced tea. Not the Lipton kind. The Long Island kind. Each bar has their own version, e.g., Cuban, Caribbean, Kentucky, etc. I haven't found one bar with Long Island iced tea. We had the Cheers package!
Tonight is Elegant night. A lot of women are really dressed up. Men not so much.
The bathrooms in the state rooms have night lights similar to Celebrity's newer ships.
Getting off was way, way easier then getting on. If we wanted early departure we were supposed to report to the Comedy Club by 7:30. We left our stateroom around 6:55 and when arrived at the Comedy Club they were escorting people out already.
I love the ship but not enough to cruise again until there is sanity at the pier on embarkation.
And, that's my report!