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SonoranDevil's Mardi Gras Pre-Inaugural Sailing Full Review with Pictures! -7/31/21


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Greetings fellow cruisers!  Welcome to the introductory post for our full review of the brand new Carnival Mardi Gras, sailing on 7/31/21!  My family and I are eager to sail on the newest Carnival ship, sailing on her first, pre-inaugural voyage.  With a brand new ship, I'm sure people are going to want a glimpse into the fun this beauty has to offer.  We are just under 3 weeks out from embarking on this long overdue adventure.  Like many of you, we've had multiple cruises over the past 16 months that have either been scrapped all together or rescheduled.  We are excited to get the train back on the tracks!

 

A Little Bit About Us

 

We are a family of three from Phoenix, Arizona.  My wife, Shani, will undoubtedly chime in here at some point and introduce herself.  We also have a 14 year old child that does their best to keep us on our toes.  We'll be joined on this cruise by Shani's 74 year old mother and two of Shani's cousins.  We'll be occupying three different cabins on Deck 9 Aft.  Shani's mother is a frequent travel companion of ours and I'm fortunate to have an excellent relationship with my mother-in-law.  I'm lucky in so many ways.  

 

While we've enjoyed a few cruises in the past, I wouldn't call us cruise experts.  We're not married to any particular cruise line, having sailed with Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival in the past.  Our cruising experiences have varied greatly, from Oceanview cabins on the former Carnival Imagination to a Penthouse Suite on Norwegian's Pride of America.  You can check out my review of the Carnival Imagination from 2018 (link at bottom of this post).  This will also help you get to know us a little bit better.  You can also check out my travel blog at www.havewifewilltravel.wordpress.com.

 

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Rob and Shani on the Disney Wonder in 2014

 

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Shani and the kiddo at Disney World 2020

 

Planning 

 

We had originally planned on traveling to Seattle the week of 7/31, to take our kiddo to a concert.  The concert ended up being rescheduled a few weeks ago, leaving us scrambling to figure out somewhere else to travel, before our child has to head back to school.  Shani jokingly mentioned that the Mardi Gras was scheduled for its first sailing during the same window and asked if I wanted to go.  What started as joking curiosity soon transformed into giddy excitement.  Within 48 hours, we had decided to jump in head first.  Not only would we sail, but we would book a brand new Aft Excel Suite.  If anyone is curious what the determining factor was in the decision to splurge on the suite, it was the hot tub on the wrap around balcony.  After 4 cancelled/rescheduled cruises, we decided we were going to go all out!  

 

What started as an intimate family trip for three, soon grew into doubling the size of our travel party.  Shani's cousins (mother and daughter) soon booked an Ocean Suite near ours on Deck 9.  Soon after that, we decided to bring Shani's mother along with us as well, grabbing a Balcony right between our two suites. A multigenerational cruise it is!

 

What to Expect

 

 What will the review include?  This won't be completely comprehensive.  I'm a traveler first, a writer second.  While you'll see a pretty complete account of our experiences, I'm certain that we will not experience everything the ship has to offer on a 7 day cruise.  While I'll do my best to capture menus and other details I know everyone is eager to read about, our first priority is to enjoy our vacation.  We will be offering our unique perspective as to what we experience.  With the focus on enjoying ourselves, it will not be a live review.  You wouldn't want me writing posts after hours and hours of maximizing the Cheers package anyway.  Well, maybe some of you would.  Regardless, the vast majority of the details will be updated AFTER we come back home to Phoenix.  But I promise, I'll make it as entertaining and valuable as I can.  

 

So stay tuned.  In the weeks leading up to our sailing, I'll be popping in to share details of our planning and preparations.  If any of you are joining us on this adventure, make sure to say hello and introduce yourselves.  You can also stop by the Roll Call for our sailing!  We are excited to leave the world behind, even for only a week, and enjoying several thousand people coming together and celebrating life with each other!

 

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2 minutes ago, jperry2011 said:

Keep the mustache so I can find you and get a picture with a master cruiser😂

Enjoy the cruise.. I know we will be deck 9 front of the ship!

 

Oh, it's still there.  A little less red and a little more gray 6 years later!  

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Hi everyone 🙂  I'm the aforementioned wife and vacation planner.  I will leave the major writing to my spouse as he's better at it and has more patience for it as well as a much better memory than I have.  I'll interject here and there to clarify, answer any questions I think I can and tell him (and you) how things really went down when his better memory has failed 😉

 

Kidding of course, Rob has a flair for writing that I lack and is much better at providing details of our travels.  I'm excited to step foot on a brand new ship and breathe in that new ship smell.  Between the six of us and our varied ages I'm sure we'll cover a good amount of ground although I suspect much of my time will be spent on that balcony.  

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Posted (edited)

Me again 🙂  From a logistics standpoint, we are flying into MCO the night before.  I'm a little nervous as our flight arrives late (11:45 pm) and there is little room for error should our flight be delayed or cancelled.  We will be staying at the Hyatt Regency at the airport.  I haven't booked our port transfer yet as I'm waiting until I know what all of us have for check in times.  Between the six of us we have three cabins booked.  Our suite and my cousins' Ocean Suite are eligble for check in on the 15th.  My mother's balcony room isn't eligible for check in until the 17th.  Once I know what the check in situation looks like I'll book our transfer.  Since we are a group it makes sense to book a private transfer vs shared shuttle but we'll see.

 

I also haven't booked any excursions, specialty dining or spa appointments which is highly unusual for me.  This is partly due to a lack of a particular interest in the specific ports combined with a general hesitance to prebook anything right now and having to worry about refunds should things not go as planned thanks to our friend Covid.  I am also dealing with some back issues that are limiting my abilities so a lot of what we do will depend on what my back allows on any given day.  Since I am the resident Uber Planner and keeper of The Spreadsheet this is an unusual approach to vacation planning for me.  I usually have most days planned out well in advance and am not one who generally wings it.  I'm not terribly concerned as we will have access to Concierge services who can likely get us reservations that we want without too much difficulty.

 

I am looking forward to a week long trip on a new ship with fewer port days and more sea days.  The only other cruises I've been on have been either short or port heavy (Alaska and Hawaii).  Having this much down time could be one heck of a blessing or a major curse.   

Edited by ShaniBell
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1 minute ago, Wanna_Cruize said:

Following. I imagine you never made it on your Panorama trips, because of Covid? 

 

We did not.  The December 2020 cruise has been postponed to March 2022 at this point.  We did do the three day inaugural but that was it and I realize now that we didn't ever do a review of that ship.  Shame on us!.  This is the first cruise since that short trip.  We had a total of three cruises cancelled thanks to Covid.

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Yes!!!!  I can’t wait to live vicariously through you. We have a ways to go. We’re not on the MG until 1/2023 but we have a lido deck ocean suite and I’m so excited! 

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10 minutes ago, ShaniBell said:

Since I am the resident Uber Planner and keeper of The Spreadsheet this is an unusual approach to vacation planning for me. 

"The Spreadsheet" is appropriately capitalized in this sentence.  It is another member of the journey. I'm surprised we don't have to pay for its airfare. There are few things that will undoubtedly raise my blood pressure as much as an Excel spreadsheet will.  As is my ability to open jars and dispatch assorted insects and arachnids is a large part of my relationship contributions, planning our adventures is hers!  As mentioned before, I'm a lucky man in many ways.

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1 hour ago, ShaniBell said:

 

We did not.  The December 2020 cruise has been postponed to March 2022 at this point.  We did do the three day inaugural but that was it and I realize now that we didn't ever do a review of that ship.  Shame on us!.  This is the first cruise since that short trip.  We had a total of three cruises cancelled thanks to Covid.

 

We're on the Panorama on the first cruise out of California 8/21, so any hints you can give me, I'd appreciate. We're trying out Havana just to see what it's like, but DH doesn't know that I upgraded to a Havana Cabana instead of the Havana Interior I had told him.

 

I'm also following this thread to hear what you think about the Aft Excel suite, it looks amazing. I'm sure your spreadsheet will be very happy in the excel suite....

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1 hour ago, Wanna_Cruize said:

 

We're on the Panorama on the first cruise out of California 8/21, so any hints you can give me, I'd appreciate. We're trying out Havana just to see what it's like, but DH doesn't know that I upgraded to a Havana Cabana instead of the Havana Interior I had told him.

 

I'm also following this thread to hear what you think about the Aft Excel suite, it looks amazing. I'm sure your spreadsheet will be very happy in the excel suite....

 

I wish I had more to share.  The trip was short and ship is huge compared to anything we'd been on.  We were looking forward to a more thorough exploration of the trip back in December which never happened.  In the short amount of time we were onboard we touched on a fraction of what was available.

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I also am looking forward to reading about your trip as it develops. 
In regards to your uncertainty about it being a little less port intensive than you’re used to, if you’re nursing a bad back that might be a good thing. More reason to just enjoy the ship, your cabin and the motion of the ocean ( which has a whole different meaning than it did in our younger days lol).

Let me be the first of quite a few to ask a favor.

My daughter and her boyfriend will be on the August14th cruise. They (like her mom and I) have the $600 obc. 
They also have the Cheers package (the ever elusive RU1 code) for free.

So using the obc for booze and specialty drinks is not needed.

She has two excursions prepaid but is thinking of canceling them and use the obc instead.

If you could let us know if the Carnival Hub app. will let you book the excursions through your phone instead of having to stand in a

long, long line at the desk I would appreciate it.

 

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Posted (edited)

We are sailing Mardi Gras in April 2022 and really looking forward to your review.  Have a wonderful cruise! 🙂

Edited by mjrcruiser
wanted to refer to sailing Mardi Gras
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Really looking forward to your review as we have had several cancelled Mardi Gras cruises and will now be on her in Oct along with a Aft Excel Suite.  Waiting with excitement for your take on her and the pics

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12 hours ago, amcankid said:

 

She has two excursions prepaid but is thinking of canceling them and use the obc instead.

If you could let us know if the Carnival Hub app. will let you book the excursions through your phone instead of having to stand in a

long, long line at the desk I would appreciate it.

 

Hi amcankid!   We will surely check, though gauging from early reports of Vista and Horizon cruisers, it doesn't appear the Hub app will have that capability.

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5 hours ago, 2Shoes2Go said:

Nice! Following along too. We’re also onboard. Hump balcony on deck 9, I think . 😊❤️

Another fellow Deck 9er!  You'll have to make sure to stop by and provide your perspective too!

 

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