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TPG Editors' Choice Award: The most innovative new cruise-ship attraction

Dec. 18, 2020
5 min read
Carnival's Bolt roller coaster
TPG Editors' Choice Award: The most innovative new cruise-ship attraction
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There has been no shortage of gee-whiz attractions popping up on cruise ships in recent years.

For starters, there are the massive go-kart tracks that have begun appearing on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Yes, go-karts tracks. Really.

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There also are the bumper car pavilions and skydiving simulators that now can be found on several Royal Caribbean ships, and the bizarre-looking, pedal-powered SkyRides on some Carnival Cruise Line vessels.

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But when it comes to the most innovative new attraction on a cruise ship, not just for this year but easily for the decade, it's hard to argue that it is anything other than the roller coaster that Carnival is building atop its next new ship: the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras.

That's right. For those of you haven't heard, a cruise line actually is planning to stick a roller coaster on top of one of its vessels — something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

The attraction is so out there for a cruise ship — readers often tell us they can't imagine it being possible — that we've decided to give it a special Editors' Choice Award this year as part of Cruise Week at our annual TPG Awards. We're calling the award The Most Innovative New Cruise-Ship Attraction.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

An artist's drawing of the BOLT roller coaster that soon will debut on Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Mardi Gras. (Image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).

Scheduled to debut in April when Mardi Gras sails with passengers for the first time, the BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster (as it'll be called) won't be the longest or fastest roller coaster in the world. Its track is just 800 feet long, and it'll reach speeds of just 40 miles per hour — give or take.

But, hey, it's a roller coaster. On a cruise ship. How can any cruise line ever beat that?

As you can see from the above rendering of the ride, the BOLT coaster will be something of a technical marvel. It will weave its way around the giant winged funnel of Mardi Gras, offering several twists, turns and drops. Its location will place it 187 feet — or nearly 19 stories — above the water. In short, it'll be THE big attraction on the ship's top deck.

Related: The 9 craziest attractions you'll find on cruise ships

Because it's on a cruise ship, it'll be an all-electric roller coaster, with two-person ride vehicles that will resemble motorcycles. They'll be launched forward at the start of the ride, allowing for race car-like levels of acceleration, while the end of the ride will bring a hairpin turn around Mardi Gras' funnel.

In a twist, riders will be able to modulate their speed. To a point.

Carnival has said its design team has worked closely with the ride's manufacturer — a German company (Mauer Rides) that is no stranger to designing roller coasters for tricky settings — to ensure BOLT will be safe and reliable on a moving cruise ship.

The new BOLT roller coaster under construction in October atop Carnival Cruise Line's soon-to-debut Mardi Gras. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

They've also revealed that BOLT won't be the only roller coaster on a Carnival ship. The line recently said a second, similar attraction will be atop another new vessel — the 5,200-passenger Celebration — that's under construction for delivery in 2022.

There's also now plans for a roller coaster on a third cruise vessel to be built for Asia-based Dream Cruises.

But for now, there's only one of these innovative attractions set to launch next year — and that's why Carnival's BOLT roller coaster is the winner of the Most Innovative New Cruise-Ship Attraction at the 2020 TPG Awards.

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Featured image by Carnival Cruise Line will debut the first roller coaster at sea in 2020 on its new ship Mardi Gras. (Image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases