Skip to content

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
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's new cruise newsletter

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

Sign up for our daily newsletter
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.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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).

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees