Celebrating Mardi Gras – Nassau Port Day Recap
Premier Custom Travel was one of a handful of travel agencies nationwide to be invited to sail on Carnival Cruise Line’s brand new ship Mardi Gras. All this week, PCT’s Chris Grum has been onboard this amazing new ship, sharing photos, videos, and daily updates through our new blog series “Celebrating Mardi Gras.” Today’s post is the last in his series – looking at the port day in Nassau and a recap of the cruise.
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS
Today, Mardi Gras called on Nassau in The Bahamas. There was a lot of work being done at the port, making it almost unrecognizable to those who have visited before. The port building is mostly gone, replaced by what appears to be a temporary building. There were lots of cranes and construction equipment on both sides of the ship. They appear to be adding or widening the piers, plus it looks like they will eventually be adding a new port building. Crews were hard at work during our entire time in port.
Here are some of the excursions that were available to guests earlier today in Nassau:
As you may have heard with our live breaking news broadcast last night, the government of The Bahamas has announced that beginning September 3rd through the end of October, all cruise ships calling on any Bahamian port (including the cruise lines’ private islands) may only visit if 100% of the passengers 12 and older are vaccinated. This, as you might imagine, has caused quite a stir in the cruise industry, as most lines were carrying at least a small number of unvaccinated guests. I expect that most lines will simply require all passengers to be vaccinated for those cruises and allow those who wish to do so to move their cruises to a later date.
CENTER STAGE TRANSFORMATION
One of my favorite features of Mardi Gras is the Center Stage in Grand Central. This venue is a beautiful sea view by day, and then an amazing performance space in the evening.
The video above shows the space transforming, as video screens appear from the ceiling and the floor to create any number of set-ups for shows. The audience is in a semi-circle around the stage on three different levels.
RIGHT UP MY (SHUBERT) ALLEY
After being somewhat underwhelmed by the first production show ROCK REVOLUTION, I must say that I really enjoyed the second show BROADWAY BEATS. Those that know me know that I love musicals and this had some of the biggest hits from the Great White Way. The opening number might have been a bit cliche with “On Broadway,” but the rest of the show was a variety of hits (and a few surprises) from some of the biggest shows in Broadway history. The fun part was the spins they put on the songs. Some were traditional, like the title song from IN THE HEIGHTS or the beautiful ballad from WAITRESS, “She Used to Be Mine.” But then there were songs like the typically up-tempo “You’re the One That I Want” from GREASE, done as a ballad, or Gwen Stefani’s mash-up of “If I Were A Rich
Man Girl” from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Mixed in were songs from LES MISERABLES, AIDA, RENT, FOOTLOOSE, THE WHO’S TOMMY, THE WIZ, HAMILTON, and DEAR EVAN HANSEN. The show ended with “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from HAIRSPRAY.
I’d go see this show again and I hope it’s still featured next year when I sail with our Thanksgiving group.
WHAT THE COLORS MEAN
On Carnival Cruise Line, you can tell how many cruises someone has sailed with a single glance.
Carnival color-codes their Sign & Sail cards (room keys) based on the customer’s level in the VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club, their loyalty program. Here are the color levels:
BLUE – If you’re a first-time cruiser, your card will be blue.
RED – After your first cruise, you’re issued a red card until you reach 25 nights at sea.
GOLD – Starting with your 25th night at sea and continuing through your 74th, you will be gold.
PLATINUM – On your 75th night at sea, you reach platinum status and will stay at that level through 199 nights.
DIAMOND – When you reach 200 nights at sea with Carnival, you have achieved the highest level in the loyalty program.
Each level starting with red has various perks and you get more as you climb the ladder. One thing I like about Carnival’s loyalty program is that if you set sail on a cruise that will earn you the next level, you have that status for the entire sailing. For example, if you have 23 nights at sea and leave on a 5-night cruise, you will be gold for that entire sailing.
OUR CURRENT LOCATION & SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
We set sail from Nassau around 3pm this afternoon and will dock early tomorrow morning in Mardi Gras’ home port of Port Canaveral, Florida. I have an early afternoon flight back to Houston and should be back home around 6pm or so, depending on traffic.
I leave Mardi Gras thoroughly impressed. While I enjoy Carnival’s previous class of ships, the Vista class, I found that there were a few places where the design didn’t work as well as other ships in the fleet. With this new Excel class, they have mostly remedied those issues and still managed to innovate the design. This ship is unlike anything Carnival has offered before, and there is a learning curve to be sure. But the effort is worth it, as Mardi Gras has so much to offer.
I’m excited to see how this ship evolves over time, and I’m very curious to see how similar her sister ship Celebration will be. I’ve heard rumors that the second ship will not have the French Quarter, but instead an entirely different zone in that area. They’ve also not yet revealed some of the dining options, including the spaces occupied on Mardi Gras by Rudi’s Sea Grill, ChiBang!, and others. I’m sure that they will be awesome additions to the fleet and portfolio.
Three cheers to our Captain and the entire crew. This was only their third cruise, but for the most part they shined like they’d been doing this forever. The small lags or mistakes will be corrected over time, but there was nothing from a service point of view that cannot be fixed or overlooked, especially for a new crew. It is abundantly clear that they are eager, with everyone greeting you in the hallways, smiling, and clearly happy to be back at work after the long layoff.
THANK YOU FOR READING
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to follow my journey this week. This is my final update from this cruise. I hope you’ve enjoyed the updates and information. Don’t forget that I’ve posted over 500 photos, including menus, the daily Fun Times, and much more on our Facebook page in the photos section.
I leave you with the photo above – all seven of the towel creations from my stateroom stewardess Kanokkorn.