TravelPulse Onboard: Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Breeze Review
Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.
All other photos by Jason Leppert.
Carnival Cruise Line
At a Glance
By the Numbers
Take a Bow (What to Like)
Pain in the Aft (What to Dislike)
Before Carnival Cruise Line launched its Carnival Vista as a completely independent manifestation of the brand's design future, the Carnival Breeze was the third Dream-class ship structurally, but first to exhibit a much more refined decor. Gone onboard are the garish Joe Farcus interiors of all previous ships, save for the renewed Carnival Sunshine, and in their place are more subdued beachy pastels.
Even one of the few areas onboard still assigned to Farcus, the Ovation Theater (pictured below), is considerably toned down compared to previous incarnations. The only thing that carries over is his well-known repetition of light fixtures. Otherwise, the ship feels more like a modern resort than a dated themed restaurant, and the updated approach is refreshing on this and future ships.
Also like a popular land resort, the ship can in certain areas, particularly the pool deck, feel very busy, but in a way it lends itself well to the playful social atmosphere of the ship, and at least there is a great selection of activities and other deck spaces throughout the ship to help spread crowds around more evenly. Of course, Carnival's distinctively angular exterior architecture and signature "whale tail" smokestack remain in place to dutifully stand out from competitors.
Just like elsewhere on the ship, the once questionable colors and design cues have been toned down in private staterooms and suites as well. The old salmon hues are now replaced with earthy beiges and maple woods, and abstract wall art is more modern as well. Furnishings remain mostly unchanged from the past with a stiffer couch and cozy bedding, plus storage is better configured with more cubbies around the television.
The only unfortunate change in the living area, of balcony cabins at least, is a narrower footprint compared to other Dream-class ships, now making for less room at the foot of the bed along the wall. Bathroom colors are perhaps a little too vibrant but still better than before, and the mostly square-shaped shower is easier to navigate than others. At this point, though, a rigid shower enclosure would be preferred over the flimsy shower curtain.
What makes Carnival's Fun ships, well, so fun are the breadth of engaging activities available onboard. The WaterWorks and SportSquare (pictured below) are, of course, the hub for the most extreme varieties, but the sublime relaxation of the Cloud 9 Spa and unique promenade deck whirlpools are enjoyable in their own right. Even trivia is more fun on Carnival thanks to so many different subjects and progressive versions, as well as the "ship on a stick" trophies that are awarded to winning teams.
The Carnival Breeze also introduced the cool Thrill Theater that presents motion-based movies and rides for a small surcharge that is fun for most ages. And for kids exclusively, Camp Ocean and Seuss at Sea are great facilities, as is the Serenity Adult Only Retreat for big kids to get a bit of R&R. The Serenity deck remains the best of its kind at sea for being entirely free of charge. In short, Carnival is doing everything right in regards to activities onboard.
While it's true that one shouldn't expect the most gourmet cuisine onboard, the food is still quite good, and the Carnival Breeze was one of the first to begin rolling out the dining venues that have since become synonymous with the larger brand: Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and RedFrog Pub. For being offered without additional charge, the first two can simply not be beat, especially since the burgers, burritos and tacos are excellent. Even Carnival's main dining rooms have been elevated thanks to the more elegant American Table menus and always wonderful seaday brunches (pictured below).
Other culinary highlights among the impressive list of premium options on the Breeze are Bonsai Sushi, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and Cucina del Capitano for Italian (pictured below). For free, however, you can never go wrong with Pizza Pirate, SeaDogs, Mongolian Wok and Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ. The Carnival Breeze has comfort food down pat.
Carnival Cruise Line entertainment is some of the best in the industry, and while the Breeze may not have Broadway revivals like on other lines, it does have excellent revue-style originals that are far more kinetic and fun than those of your grandfather's cruising days. Singing and dance performance are absolutely on point, setting a high bar for pop music shows through the decades.
While I would like to see Carnival eventually try its hand at full-fledged Broadway musicals, what it does instead, it does very well. One hallmark is the ever hilarious Punchliner Comedy Club, which often exhibits standing room only as a show of its popularity. Adult and kid-friendly shows can be enjoyed, and both are almost always exceptionally funny.
Like Carnival dining, service on the Breeze is very good but understandably not as attentive as on upper-tier cruise lines. Where the staff excels is in friendliness and playfulness, making even trivia more enjoyable than on other lines. Cruise director Matt Mitcham (pictured as emcee below), for example, who has since gone on to lead the Carnival Vista, was a highlight of our cruise for his witty banter and expert hosting.
More by Jason Leppert
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