Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Breeze Review
Carnival’s newest and largest ship lays out an array of next-generation features, and delivers good value, too.
Carnival Breeze has a voluminous collection of watering holes. Not counting the bars attached to dining venues, there were 11 drinking options spread throughout the ship. Bar service could also be ordered at the pool areas and inside the showroom; the Winner’s Luck Bar handled drinks inside the casino. A 15-percent service charge was added to all drink orders; the minimum age for drinking was 21.
The standard drink list included just about any libation we could think of—frozen drinks such as margaritas and piña coladas, along with classics including the mojito, mai tai, Long Island ice tea and cosmopolitan; all were priced $8.75. Cordials and liqueurs such as Sambuca, Cointreau and Baileys Irish Cream and straight shots of Skyy vodka, Bacardi rum, Bombay Sapphire gin and other liquors ranged $4.95-$7.50. Premium liquors such as Johnnie Walker Black, Ketel One vodka and Patron silver tequila were priced $7.50-$9.95. Most of the bars had unique drinks, described below, and each of the restaurant menus had one or more signature drinks, also only available at that spot.
The wine list for the main dining rooms totaled about 90 offerings, with a good selection from California, in particular, with wineries of Italy, France, Chile, Argentina and Australia also represented; most bottles were priced under $40, and about 30 were available by the glass, ranging $6.50 to $12. Wine packages of five bottles were available at a slight discount.
The beer list included the major American brands in 16-ounce bottles for $5.75. Imports and specialty beers were $4.95 and included Bass Ale, Corona, Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Pilsner Urquell, and 16-ounce pours of Boddingtons, Grolsch and Guinness for $5.95. EA Sports had the broadest selection of beers—about 30—including Red Stripe, Presidente, and Sierra Nevada, plus four on tap that could be ordered by the pitcher. There was also Carnival’s own brew, Thirsty Frog Red, a heavily malted beer with a sweet finish, available for $5.50 a pint at several locations.
Carnival offers an “unlimited” alcohol package called the Cheers Beverage Program, priced $49.95 per day, per guest, plus 15 percent gratuity. Restrictions: All adults in the cabin must buy into the program, it must be purchased for the entire cruise on the first or second day, and there’s a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks served per 24 hours. Drinks are limited to those priced $10 and under. Those downing six or more mixed drinks daily will do better buying the program. For those drinking mostly beer or cheaper wines, or for those spending a lot of time in ports, the package might not work out to a good deal.
There’s also Bottomless Bubbles, an unlimited soda package. The price was $6 per day, or $4.50 for kids (age 17 and under). The package does not apply to room service deliveries and a 15 percent service charge was applied. Soft drinks included Coke products (including Sprite, Pibb Xtra and orange soda); these were all $1.95, as was iced tea. Powerade was $2.95 and Red Bull was $4.75. Bottled waters included assorted vitamin waters, Perrier and San Pellegrino. Non-alcoholic Buckler beer was $3.95.
Plaza Café is Breeze’s java joint. Since the ship’s standard coffee is not the greatest, we retreated here on a couple occasions for fee-added, espresso-fueled coffees, spiked coffee drinks, milkshakes and plus-sized cakes by the slice. Plaza Café was open from 6 a.m. till 12:30 a.m. daily—so it was an option for post dance-floor caffeine or dessert cravings.
The menu features espresso, cappuccino, mochachino, caffé latte, chai tea latte and hot chocolate (regular $2.95, or “fun size” $3.50). All could be made with skim or soy milk; shots of assorted syrups and liqueurs were available. Drip and iced coffee was available, and spiked coffee drinks were $5.75. Hand-scooped milkshakes and floats were $3.95, or $7.75 for spiked ice cream concoctions. Baked goods included cookies, carrot cake, apple strudel, and chocolate cake, and ranged $1.25 to $2.25. There were a half-dozen flavors of ice cream, priced $2.95 for a small serving or $3.95 for a large.
Blue Iguana Tequila Bar
This Mexican-themed outpost was one of two bars flanking the Beach Pool on Deck 10. Tequila is the primary fuel, with various fruity concoctions assembled—multiple imaginings of margarita, frozen and on the rocks, along with spiked lemonade by the pitcher, beers by the bucket, and michelada cocktails. Shots of various tequilas were also available.
Red Frog Rum Bar
Located next to the Beach Pool on Deck 10 and mirroring the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, this Caribbean beach shack has a worthy list of enticing rums (Zacapa from Guatemala, Gosling’s Black Seal from Bermuda), as well as a selection of rum-based drinks, frozen and on the rocks. Spiked lemonade and margaritas were available in pitchers. Draft and Caribbean bottled beers were also offered.
Red Frog Pub
The traditional English pub gets a reworking by Parrotheads at Red Frog Pub, located on Deck 5. Not to be confused with the poolside Red Frog Rum Bar, this is an indoor watering hole with flotsam-and-jetsam décor and Caribbean-themed bartenders who kept the mood light and sunny. It’s all a bit antiseptic for our taste (if decidedly clean and air conditioned), but we found live music here nightly—usually a crooner with a guitar, starting at 8:30 p.m.
In addition to a few specialty rums, there was a small selection of beers on tap, available by the pitcher or 101-ounce tube, as well as a sampler paddle. A small roster of Caribbean beers, including Banks (Barbados), Carib (Trinidad), Presidente (Dominican Republic) and Red Stripe (Jamaica) was available. The cocktail list includes tropical drinks—a couple colored with Blue Curacao liqueur—along with variations on the mojito. But our eyes went straight to the drinks featuring Ting, a made-in-Jamaica grapefruit soda that’s offered here with rum, vodka or gin—mmmm. There was also a light menu with food, delivered with a surcharge (see the previous page), but the bowl of tasty deep-fried pigeon peas was brought to each table gratis.
Piano Bar 88
The piano bar has a dedicated following among Carnival loyalists, and Breeze’s Piano Bar 88 is the latest iteration—a clean, modern space that provides a blues club-like backdrop for piano-man sing-alongs leavened with a good dose of humor. Each table had a playlist for requests, along with lyrics for Carnival’s “top ten” piano bar songs (for those who don’t know what comes after “that’ll be the day that I die…”). The piano man hit the ivory starting at 7:30 p.m. all but one night of our cruise (a guitarist came in for the night off).
The ship’s standard bar menu was available, along with some alcohol-free specials.
This is the dance club on Carnival Breeze. It’s a great space with a whomping sound system. The full bar menu is available, and there are nooks and crannies that allowed us to socialize. The DJ served up crowd-pleasing portions of Motown, Michael Jackson and Latin hits. The bar opened at 9:30 p.m. most evenings, and became and became 18-and-over most nights at 10:30 or 11 p.m. Our only complaint was that the entire space was one of only two indoor smoking areas on the ship—the smell was rank for non-smokers.
Home to the Punchliner Comedy Club, the Limelight Lounge actually is a multi-purpose room with a full bar menu. The bar is open only when an event is scheduled, and this included such fare as karaoke parties, the future cruise presentation, and a magic and mindreading show.
The comedy was offered on only two evenings of our six-night cruise. There were five shows on these nights, alternating between two comics. The first two shows of the evening (7:15 and 8:15 p.m.) were designated as all-ages, but we found the comedians really wanting—even the kids were hard-pressed to crack a smile. The three later shows starting at 9:15 p.m. were 180 degrees from the tone of the early shows, with raunchy, R-rated jokes—some seemingly designed to offend more than amuse (we saw a few walkouts at one show—prudes should steer clear). The venue was cleared after every show, to give as many cruisers as possible a chance at seeing the comedians, but we’d say demand slightly exceeded the amount of seats available (i.e., don’t show up at showtime and expect to find a seat).
Located on Deck 4, the Library has its own small bar, creating an inviting and quiet space just off the main lobby. There’s just a small library of books aboard Carnival Breeze, but a decent selection of board games is available for loan. Bridge players met here each morning at 9 a.m. and Friends of Bill W were here in the afternoon.
The full bar menu isn’t available (though if you ordered something unusual they’d probably retrieve it from another location). But there’s a short list of wine, some of them supplied by enomatic wine dispensers that can be operated with a swipe of one’s key card, along with a decent selection of Scotch, whiskey, rum, cognac and cordials. We also found some cocktails unique to this space—Hemingway’s Papa Doble, a Scarlet Letter and the Black Pearl. The bar was staffed in the evening, and on sea days a bartender arrived at midday.
Located on Deck 10 aft, the Tides Bar was the watering hole for the Tides Pool and was also the most convenient bar for those dining at Lido Marketplace. Like the pool, it stayed open till the wee hours. The ship’s standard cocktail list was available.
With the lobby serving as the nerve center of the ship, the Breeze Bar here was bustling at most hours of the day. Fortunately, we never had to wait long for a drink. The standard cocktail list was available, and live music was served up most evenings. There was an espresso machine as well, and the full line of coffee drinks was available. Overhead, the atrium offered a cheerful skyscape of lanterns rising through the elevator shaft
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