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


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1 hour ago, kelkel2 said:

My husband and I feel the same way. We love the mdr but we don’t want our meal strung out. Now we’re bringing our twins on their first cruise and they’ll be 4. We for sure do not want to sit there that long. 

Did you get the exemption approved yet for the twins?

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41 minutes ago, KmomChicago said:

They mean paying a premium price to be staying in the Havana rooms which have access to this private, exclusive outdoor Havana area. Away from the riff raff at the general public pools. Except this time around, it ain't much of a pool, so what really is the benefit of the higher Havana price? Not seeing any value myself here.

 

17 minutes ago, bdever said:

We ARE paying an upcharge for the Havana pool and when you have no one in said pool because it’s freezing 🥶 (watch the video) in August, in the Caribbean and on a sea day then obviously 🙄 there’s an issue with the pool’s heater that needs to be addressed! 

On a positive note, this ship is a game changer for Carnival.  There are though some major problems with some of the venues now and could be additional problems once they get to full capacity. 

The first major problem is the Havana area.  Best innovative feature in years on the Vista Class ship's.  Two large hot tubs, good size pool and two tiki huts that are shaded that you can dip your feet into the water at.  

On the MG and the Celebration this area was an afterthought.  Obviously Carnival was more concerned with the Loft19 area with the dozen cabanas for rent @2000.00 per week or 500.00 per day.  Carnival dropped the ball BIG time.

According to JJ cruise on YouTube, the Piano Bar and the Punchliner have been packed at times and the MG is currently at 70% capacity, image what it'll be like @ 100%?

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51 minutes ago, bdever said:

We ARE paying an upcharge for the Havana pool and when you have no one in said pool because it’s freezing 🥶 (watch the video) in August, in the Caribbean and on a sea day then obviously 🙄 there’s an issue with the pool’s heater that needs to be addressed! 

Uhhh...wait. What? Freezing in the Caribbean in August?? :classic_laugh:🤣 I'm not aware of ANY place in the Caribbean in August is anywhere near freezing. Where in the Caribbean does it get below 80 or 90F? And in the summer. Upwards at or over 100? Maybe I'm naïve but I don't see it. Can someone help me out, or am I over analyzing the statement?

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21 minutes ago, Joe817 said:

Uhhh...wait. What? Freezing in the Caribbean in August?? :classic_laugh:🤣 I'm not aware of ANY place in the Caribbean in August is anywhere near freezing. Where in the Caribbean does it get below 80 or 90F? And in the summer. Upwards at or over 100? Maybe I'm naïve but I don't see it. Can someone help me out, or am I over analyzing the statement?


You know she means the pool is freezing, not the Caribbean at large, and that she doesn’t mean actually freezing like zero degrees C but simply uncomfortably cold for what is supposed to be an upgraded, upcharged amenity. You’re not naive, you’re obviously poking the bear because you want to make someone else feel stupid.

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53 minutes ago, SNJCruisers said:

According to JJ cruise on YouTube, the Piano Bar and the Punchliner have been packed at times and the MG is currently at 70% capacity, image what it'll be like @ 100%?

I am not disagreeing with this statement, just a question I had when I heard that on the video. I have never been to the comedy club or piano bar so have no idea, but since there are less than 5% under age 12 on this cruise, how many of the additional 30% when at full capacity will be children or families that won’t be going to the comedy club and piano bar?  Maybe the crowd that is there now already makes up the majority of the audience for these venues? 

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, KmomChicago said:


You know she means the pool is freezing, not the Caribbean at large, and that she doesn’t mean actually freezing like zero degrees C but simply uncomfortably cold for what is supposed to be an upgraded, upcharged amenity. You’re not naive, you’re obviously poking the bear because you want to make someone else feel stupid.

I realize that silly. But the point I'm trying to get at is, that in August the temps in Caribbean waters is 84.2 F. Not exactly freezing. Maybe chilly to somebody jumping into a swimming pool, but certainly not uncomfortable. Oddly enough, September is the month of highest temperatures in the Caribbean. Here. Take a lookie:

https://www.seatemperature.org/caribbean-sea

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17 minutes ago, lennythenose said:

I am not disagreeing with this statement, just a question I had when I heard that on the video. I have never been to the comedy club or piano bar so have no idea, but since there are less than 5% under age 12 on this cruise, how many of the additional 30% when at full capacity will be children or families that won’t be going to the comedy club and piano bar?  Maybe the crowd that is there now already makes up the majority of the audience for these venues? 

The additional 30% will not be made up of only families and kids.   Kids are a non factor at the Piano Bar, but if the extra 30% was 2/3 adults,  that would increase the numbers substantially for both venues.   Plus there are PG rated comedy shows that families frequent.  If it becomes a problem, it looks like changes could be in store for Excel 3.

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25 minutes ago, Joe817 said:

I realize that silly. But the point I'm trying to get at is, that in August the temps in Caribbean waters is 84.2 F. Not exactly freezing. Maybe chilly to somebody jumping into a swimming pool, but certainly not uncomfortable. Oddly enough, September is the month of highest temperatures in the Caribbean. Here. Take a lookie:

https://www.seatemperature.org/caribbean-sea

7:39 - 7:50 in the video!

 

 

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17 minutes ago, bdever said:

7:39 - 7:50 in the video!

 

Oh no. You can't be serious! A 5 second snip and you extrapolate from that, that's it's freezing out there? Everybody is in shorts, and t-shirts. Nu, nu, no. But that's ok. His reviews are really good. 👍

 

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14 minutes ago, Joe817 said:

 

I did. And I'm sorry to say , I saw nothing that told me that the waters were anywhere close to freezing, much less cold. That was a spontaneous comment from him, only his opinion, which may be miles off reality. No. I appreciate your tenacity about his comment, it does not relate to what it really is. Even if we are talking about the temperature of a cruise ship pool. Just not possible. But thank you for your input. 

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29 minutes ago, Joe817 said:

I did. And I'm sorry to say , I saw nothing that told me that the waters were anywhere close to freezing, much less cold. That was a spontaneous comment from him, only his opinion, which may be miles off reality. No. I appreciate your tenacity about his comment, it does not relate to what it really is. Even if we are talking about the temperature of a cruise ship pool. Just not possible. But thank you for your input. 

Ok Joe, we will agree to disagree then. 
 I choose to believe the “opinion” of two people who paid a premium to book a Havana room & are on the ship now and are vlogging about their experience and the experience of the passengers also staying in Havana that they have spoken to. Apparently the pool was too cold to use yesterday. That would have been a big issue for me that I wouldn’t have been able to overlook. 

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11 hours ago, SNJCruisers said:

Did you get the exemption approved yet for the twins?

We unfortunately decided to push our cruise back to next January instead of this January. This whole exemption nonsense stresses me out and I don’t want to find out the week before our cruise that we can’t go. 

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16 minutes ago, kelkel2 said:

We unfortunately decided to push our cruise back to next January instead of this January. This whole exemption nonsense stresses me out and I don’t want to find out the week before our cruise that we can’t go. 

 

I don't blame you one bit. It's the unknown that's the most frustrating!

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1 hour ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

 

I don't blame you one bit. It's the unknown that's the most frustrating!

Exactly and I work in healthcare and I don’t get to cancel my vacation time that late in the game. I either go on another last minute vacation or spend my time sitting at home for a week. Neither which appeal to me. So it just made sense for us. I have no doubt my kids will be vaccinated by the new cruise date. 

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Hello folks!  We are home and I'll be beginning to post the review of the cruise.  There has been some comments while were gone about disappointment with certain aspects of the ship and I'll try to add some context to some of those concerns as we go along.  Before we get started, I want to first say that we had a really good time.  We approached the voyage with some tempered expectations and we certainly experienced a few glitches ourselves, but I will say that Carnival appropriately addressed every issue that we came across.  So, buckle your seatbelts.  Ok, seatbelts probably won't be required.  Let's have a little glimpse into the life of the Bell family for a week!

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We’ll begin with our arrival in Orlando, our transfer to the port and our embarkation experience.  The flight to Orlando on Southwest was uneventful and without delay.  We arrived in Orlando at nearly midnight, which made our choice to stay at the Hyatt Regency inside the airport seem brilliant once we picked up our luggage.  We walked about 50 yards to the hotel lobby and we were in our room in about 10 minutes.

 

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Packing for two elegant nights required a 4th piece of luggage for the family.

 

The room was nicely appointed and updated.  The king bed was perfectly comfortable for Shani and me, and the sofa bed saw no complaints from our 14 year old.  We tried to head straight to bed because we had an early and busy morning ahead.

 

On Saturday morning, we woke up and started to get the family ready.  The room had a single serve coffee maker and Shani made herself a cup while I was in the shower.  Here is where we found our only glitch with the Hyatt.  The coffee maker worked perfectly for Shani, but it appears that it made its last cup of coffee and kicked its mortal coil.  It was our first opportunity to turn to one of our tenets of travel...adapt, improvise and overcome.  While everyone finished getting ready, I headed downstairs to the airport food court and secured the family some breakfast and coffee.  It took all of 10 minutes.  Issue resolved.  

 

We had arranged with Cruise Control to pick us up at the hotel at 10:30.  The six of us made our way to the hotel’s car port (it has a separate drop off/pick up location from the main airport area).  Corey from Cruise Control was there waiting for us and he quickly loaded up our luggage and we were off to the port.  Corey was wonderful and we had a pleasurable conversation on our quick 45 minute drive to the port.  We will definitely use them the next time we need a port transfer from Orlando. Before we knew it, we could see the Mardi Gras in the distance, in all of her glory.

 

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The passenger drop off area at the brand new Terminal 3

 

The Mardi Gras leaves from Terminal 3 at the port, specifically built to be the home of the Mardi Gras.  Corey pulled up to a drop off spot, quickly unloaded our luggage, and a porter was there waiting for us.  We didn’t have to touch our luggage at all.  We made the brief trek across the parking lot to the terminal entrance.  Every employee was visibly excited to see cruise passengers again and there was a palpable energy that could be felt.

 

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I was able to grab one picture inside the terminal...shhhh!

 

Check in was a breeze and took a total of 15 minutes to complete our registration, have our vaccination status verified and to proceed through security. Each registration station was staffed by two employees; one to finish the registration and print our boarding passes, and one to verify our vaccination status.  They worked concurrently, so it didn’t add any additional time to the process.

After stopping for the obligatory group boarding picture, we walked directly to the ship.  It was as easy of an embarkation process as we have experienced.  

 

Next up, we’ll head on board!
 

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Up the gangway we go!  Shani even did a little dance on the way up.  You enter the ship on Deck 6, into the Grand Central Atrium.  As you have probably already read, the Mardi Gras main atrium is designed completely different from the Vista class ships.  Instead of the area being centered by the familiar LED Funnel, it opens into a three level open theater, facing the starboard side center stage.  During the day, when there isn’t a stage production, the stage is backed by a huge 3 story set of windows, creating quite the impressive view.  At night and when there is a stage production, giant LED screens descend to provide the stage with a grand multi-media backdrop.  The verdict from our party was mixed.  The 14 year old and I enjoyed the new layout, Shani and her mom prefer the Vista class layout.  That said, it doubled the ship’s stage production space which definitely will help on such a big vessel.
 

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Our first glimpse of the Mardi Gras atrium...and the top of my mother-in-law's head

 

After a few minutes of taking in the grandiose space, we decided to head straight to our cabins on Deck 9 Aft, to drop off our carry-on luggage before finding a bite to eat.  As we entered the aft elevators, we were graced by the presence of John Heald himself, accompanied by Jacinta.  John is such a jovial soul and immediately zeroed in on the 14 year old’s wine colored hair and immediately pronounced it as the best hair for the week.  

 

We made it to our cabins where we were met by our Steward for the week, Jonard.  More on him to come, but he was wonderful to us for the week.  He was always conspicuously around as we entered/exited our cabins but was completely unobtrusive.  He always greeted us by our names and it was easy to see his excitement to see guests onboard.

 

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Cabin 9504 Excel Aft Suite 

 

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The port side of our balcony.  The jetted tub would serve as both a hot tub and plunge pool during the week

 

Once free of our carry-on items, we started our hunt for the first meal of the week.  We first checked out Pig and Anchor.  We were excited to see a Maple Chili Salmon dish on the menu as Shani’s mom stays pescatarian while traveling.  Unfortunately, the salmon was only available for dinner.  Adapt, improvise and overcome.  Off to Lido we go.  

 

The Lido Marketplace experience will feel very familiar to everyone.  There was no discernable difference between pre-shutdown and the restart.  Some new additions to the Mardi Gras include a self service soda machine and dedicated space for the gelato station and for Sea Dogs.  Sea Dogs always offered all beef hot dogs and alternated between Italian Sausages and Brats when we walked by.  The layout was utilitarian while the decor provided a very calm and relaxed environment. This would be Shani and my only visit to the Lido Marketplace, save for a few afternoon stops for some gelato.  While enjoying our meal, several servers were walking about offering pre-made drinks of the day, including one in a souvenir Tiki Mug.  Shani had one of those, while I went with the one without the mug.  First drink of cruise...check!
 

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The Tiki Mug

 

After our meal, we decided to knock out the new E-Muster process.  The Hub app will frequently remind you to complete this until you’ve done it.  This is definitely a great new process.  Instead of spending 30 to 60 minutes with the traditional muster process, with a huge group, and oftentimes outside in the heat, we went directly to our station at the Palm Restaurant where we were checked in, watched a 1 minute demonstration of how to put on a life vest and we were done.  

 

Next up:  Exploring the ship, Fortune Teller and Brass Magnolia, Flamingo YTD and the Piano Bar!

 

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1 hour ago, kelkel2 said:

Are pictures not showing up for anyone else, or is it just me? 

 

1 hour ago, sunkey1 said:

Nope, I can't see them either.

 

1 hour ago, helene109 said:

Love all the details in your review! We board Saturday! I can’t see the pictures either!

 

1 hour ago, CruisinMama2003 said:

I cant see them either 😒

 

47 minutes ago, SenatorsFan said:

No pictures visible here, either. 

Make it an even half dozen.   Great verbiage though.

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2 hours ago, SNJCruisers said:

 

 

 

 

Make it an even half dozen.   Great verbiage though.

Well, that is very odd.  Have any of the pictures, even at the beginning, been visible?  I'm wondering if there is a privacy setting in my google pics that I'm missing.  

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