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

Dec 18, 2020

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Cruise Week banner for the 2020 TPG Awards

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.

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.

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Carnival's Bolt roller coaster
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.

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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 of courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

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