PHOTO: Carnival Cruise Line sister-ships show off their signature smokestacks. (photo by Jason Leppert)
Carnival Cruise Line has a renowned brand, and it’s largely thanks to perfectly targeted original properties and exclusive partnerships on its accurately dubbed “Fun Ship” fleet.
Programming is consistent, whether onboard the line’s oldest Carnival Fantasy or its newest Carnival Vista. By virtue of its smaller size, the Fantasy cannot have all the bells and whistles of the larger Vista, sure, but the Carnival brand is applied as extensively as possible on every ship.
Even activities as seemingly trivial as trivia are made more enjoyable with a playful entertainment staff and signature “ship on a stick” trophies (plastic ship model pedestal prizes).
More substantially, sub-brands like The Punchliner Comedy Club and the Alchemy Bar stand out. The former is Carnival’s lineup of hilarious stand-up performers, of which there are two that alternate sets on each vessel. The latter is a sort of molecular bar themed to an apothecary where bartenders “prescribe” custom cocktails with loads of personality.
These are simply ace experiences, and both are the type worth the cost of the cruise.
It just so happens that they are only a handful of many that are available on Carnival. Also on the watering hole side of things are the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, plus its cantina counterpart complete with complimentary burritos and tacos.
Such in-house branding is smart because it establishes additional name recognition and positive association with Carnival’s overall reputation. Ensuring more integration are collaborations without outside brands, including Guy’s Burger Joint, Seuss at Sea and Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Like the the BlueIguana Cantina fare, the gourmet grill items of Guy’s Burger Joint from celebrity chef Guy Fieri are also remarkably free. That is no small task when other cruise lines offer such specialties at a surcharge, making Carnival a fantastic value.
Make no mistake, these burgers and french fries are seriously tasty.
Seuss at Sea and Build-A-Bear Workshop are loved by little ones and uniquely combined to allow kids the chance to stuff their own Cat in the Hat plush toy as well as teddy bears.
Having just sailed on the Carnival Inspiration—one of the fleet’s older and smaller Fantasy-class ships—it was impressive to see that all the aforementioned experiences were featured. Of course, as guests embark on bigger ships, there are more extensions of the Carnival brand to be discovered.
The newest Carnival Vista, for instance, literally raised the bar when it introduced the SkyRide self-propelled cycling coaster high above its upper decks. Continuing to follow the adage of “go big or go home” is the ship’s showcase of the first IMAX theater at sea. Fellow audiophiles and videophiles can’t help but be enamored by such a feature for screening first-run films in the best quality format.
In other words, Carnival has a well-rounded collection of memorable experiences onboard even its smallest ships that only improve on its latest and greatest ones.
In fact, for the upcoming Carnival Horizon, it was just announced according to Cruise Critic that the line’s Bonsai Sushi restaurant will newly evolve into Bonsai Teppanyaki. It will be the line’s first such interactive Asian grill experience comprised of a pair of eight-person tables surrounding the action stations where chefs will cook and entertain with flair.
Sign me up for a teppanyaki dinner and an IMAX movie!
This post first appeared on TravelPulse.