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.
Cloud 9 Spa, Salon, Fitness Center
The Cloud 9 Spa on Carnival Breeze is a bright and inviting facility, managed for Carnival by Steiner Leisure, a company that oversees spas for the majority of cruise lines. The spa is located on Deck 14 forward and, including the fitness center just below, the space encompasses 22,770 square feet—no small amount of real estate.
Prices for spa treatments were comparable to or somewhat higher than we find at mid-priced beach resorts. Fifty-minute facials ranged $119 to $169 and massages started at $119 for the 50-minute Swedish or Reflexology massage; 75-minute Thai herbal poultice or aroma stone therapy massages were $195; a 50-minute couple’s massage was priced $269 (these are conducted in oversized rooms with their own whirlpool tub). Port day discounts shaved about 10 percent off the pricing; there were also discounts for multiple treatments. Other procedures available included teeth whitening, acupuncture, Ionithermie, waxing and men’s grooming.
There’s also a Thermal Suite aboard Breeze, which features heated ceramic day beds in a quiet room facing the ocean, along with a tropical shower, steam and sauna grottos. We loved the Thalassotherapy pool, which has windows on one side and above allowing lots of natural light into the indoor space. Access to the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy pool was priced $129 per person for our entire six-day cruise, which seemed awfully steep to us (those staying in a spa cabin have access included in their cruise fare).
Just under the spa, on Deck 12, is the ship’s fitness center, a space that seemed somewhat smaller but brighter and more appealing than the fitness rooms on other Carnival ships. We found up-to-date LifeCycle cardio equipment—bikes, treadmills and elliptical—and waits to use the machines were rare; most of the cardio equipment faced the forward ocean view. A small room off to the side was set up for fitness classes, which included total body conditioning, and stretching sessions—at no charge—plus yoga and pilates ($12 each), spinning ($30 for three sessions) and TRX Rip Trainer sessions. Personal training or nutrition consultation was $85 for 60 minutes.
Carnival Breeze has two pools and, frankly, it’s not enough for the number of guests on a busy sea day. The main Beach Pool on Deck 10 is of decent size, and 4 feet, 4 inches deep. There are a couple chill-out areas on each side—chairs and benches where we could dangle our feet in the shallows, but the pool was usually clogged with people. There were hundreds of loungers spread in an arc around the pool, a towel station, a couple showers, food areas were close by, and the Blue Iguana and Red Frog bars supplied liquids. One thing missing from this area was whirlpool tubs—we liked that these are located on the aft deck and down on the Lanai, minimizing the crowds, if ever-so-slightly.
DJ music filled the space throughout the afternoon, there was a Hairy Chest Competition one day and ice carving on another, and movies were played some nights on the big screen at 10:45 p.m. (though titles were strangely unannounced).
The ship’s second option is the Tides Pool, also located on Deck 10, behind the Lido Marketplace. This was a smaller pool, flanked with two whirlpool tubs, along with loungers and showers. Though less claustrophobic and maybe a bit less crowded than the Beach Pool, it was still a very busy area. The Tides Bar, Tandoor and Pizza Pirate are all adjacent.
Sports Square is the activity hub for kids of all ages, with a couple towering slides rising above this area, also known as Deck 12. There’s mini-golf, a pool table, a jogging track (7 laps for a mile), al fresco workout equipment, and a basketball court. There’s also a ropes adventure called SkyCourse, but we found this feature to be closed more than it was open during our cruise, due to (moderately) high winds. Guests are harnessed to a metal overhead track and then follow a course along ropes, tippy planks and other obstacles—it looked like fun (note that closed-toed shoes are required). Overall, Sports Square was flooded with kids through most of the day.
A couple terrific slides are the focus of WaterWorks, and we took a few spins to test them out—literally. The Twister was ostensibly the more impressive slide —tallest, fastest—but our favorite was the Drainpipe, which looped around in a big arc and emptied out into big round bowl. While many guests slid into this drain slowly, making for somewhat of a letdown, we found that by laying flat on our back and keeping our body as rigid as possible, we zoomed into the bowl and looped around a couple times—good fun. A 42-inch height requirement was in effect for the slides, but there were other, gentler water features aimed at younger kids, including the Power Drencher, a giant bucket shower that tipped over at regular intervals.
There are a number of good outdoor spaces on Carnival Breeze, starting with The Lanai, a concept that originally debuted with Carnival Dream. We think it’s a great use of the exterior roof over the lifeboats, Deck 5. Completely encircling the ship, there are four oversized oblong whirlpools along the deck (two forward, two aft), loungers, chairs, umbrellas at midship, and seating areas outside Red Frog Pub. Though there’s no dedicated lap lane, we didn’t spot a sign prohibiting jogging—2.5 laps around the ship equal a mile. But joggers might find the deck too crowded for running any time other than early in the morning—it receives a fair amount of traffic throughout the day (there’s a shorter lap lane on Deck 12, but this area—Sports Square—can also be crowded during the day).
Like Carnival’s other newer ships, there’s a Serenity Adult Retreat, located on Deck 15, above the spa. Serenity is a great-looking space, a dedicated kid-free zone. There’s no up-charge to use Serenity (as is common on many of Carnival’s competitors). The downside is that it’s fairly crowded, especially on sea days. It’s also not quite as serene as the name would imply—the entrance to the slides is at one end of the space, and squealing children are the rule. But otherwise it’s a pleasing hangout, and there’s a bar so you don’t have to trek down a few flights for a drink.
For true relaxation and a modicum of privacy, we recommend the forward-facing decks above and below the bridge. Sometimes referred to as the “secret decks” by Carnival regulars, they’re accessed only from the interior hallways at the forward end of decks 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11. There are loungers available, and no loud music, scampering kids or other distractions. When we have 5 minutes to spare and breathe in the sea environment, this is where we choose to escape—they’re the quietest place Breeze offers on a sunny sea day.
Finally, Deck 11 offers lots of loungers, showers, and Ping Pong tables—it’s generally less crowded than the Lido Deck just below, and the forward part of the deck is less noisy.
Shows & Entertainment
Live entertainment venues spread around the ship, but concentrated on Deck 5. The main showroom is the three story Ovation Theatre, a venue that utilizes proscenium-height LED screens as backdrops to most of its stage shows. Breeze was one of the first ships to receive the technology, which minimizes bulky sets and maximizes bristling visuals, the videos all carefully timed to the pre-recorded backing tracks. (The singers are—mostly—live, but the music is canned.) The massive, moveable LED screens allow for a diverse array of effects to take place behind, and sometimes interacting with, the live performers. There are good sightlines from most seats—that is, if you avoid the structural supports that rise above (and below) the front of the balcony. There are quite a few seats to the side, but the virtual effects are best appreciated when viewing the stage straight on.
We saw two of the three shows offered at Ovation Theatre, each of which ran a tidy 30 minutes. “Divas” was mostly an excuse for vocal acrobatics (mommy, hear how many notes I can hit!), featuring the music of Madonna, Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, et al. We found the show to be a little cold, without much heart and soul, but it had lots of volume (and we’re not just talking the hair). The sound was blasting for those seated in the balcony; some of these seats directly face the blaring speakers. “The Brits” was a review of our favorite tunes from across the pond. The vocal histrionics were at a minimum, allowing the music to carry us away. The third show was “Latin Nights,” a review of—well, you know. Other shows that transpired in the Ovation Theatre included a Bingo (daily), various trivia contests, and Carnival's new Hasbro game show, which kids loved.
Other diversions could be found in The Warehouse, a brick-lined video arcade where the teens hung out (it’s located next to Club O2 and Circle “C”). The games were token-operated—the daily limit that could be charged to room accounts was $75 (unless a parent set a higher or lower figure).
Nearby, the Thrill Theater is a Breeze exclusive offering motion simulator rides. The 3-D movies are pumped up with strobe lights, smoke/fog machine and a bubble machine, and 24 seats that vibrate and pitch up, down and all around. The movies are 15-minute versions of Warner Bros. hits like Happy Feet, Ice Age and Polar Express. One ride is $7.95, or an unlimited ride pass is $14.95. Another guest derided the experience as juvenile. We skipped it.
The Limelight Lounge is home to Sunshine’s comedy club, and Liquid Nightclub is the ship’s disco, both discussed on the previous page.
Winner’s Luck Casino
Saturated in red and blacks, the Winner’s Luck Casino is touched with Vegas glitz, creating a popular space for gamers to congregate. Located midship on Deck 5, the casino had an abundance of slot machines, along with table games (roulette, craps, blackjack and various types of poker) and the facility was busy whenever we were at sea, with slot machines staying open 24 hours a day (except while in port). There were Blackjack and slot tournaments, and a couple Texas Hold’em challenges.
Gambling was allowed for guests 18 and older. Guests could charge up to $2000 to their room accounts. Smoking was permitted on the port side of the casino, but the starboard side wasn’t much less smoky—it was impossible to escape the cigarette smells here. The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the casino bar.
The Breeze lobby and nine-story atrium was an inviting area—so alluring, in fact, that it was usually packed with guests, with a line streaming from the front desk. In addition to the guest services and shore excursions desks, the Lobby Bar was located here. Glass elevators swooped through an airspace of suspended lanterns.
A Conference Center is located just past the lobby atrium, on Deck 5.
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