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From palm reading to po' boys, Carnival brings French Quarter vibes to its latest cruise ship

Aug. 01, 2021
5 min read
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Carnival Cruise Line's much-anticipated Mardi Gras is on day two of its first revenue sailing after its debut was delayed by nearly a year. The ship, named after the line's original passenger vessel, circa 1972, has tons of modern touches.

Notably, the new-build boasts six neighborhoods. If you've sailed on Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class vessels, the concept might sound familiar to you, but Carnival has taken a slightly different approach by incorporating amenities like a two-deck tiki bar, a brewpub, the first roller coaster at sea and an area called the French Quarter with a New Orleans jazz-and-jambalaya ambiance.

In the French Quarter, on Deck 6, aft, four outposts tie the area together. Here, I'll walk you through each.

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Fortune Teller Bar

(Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

This mystical watering hole is shrouded in dark hues and features a menu of 17 standout drinks that are gimmicky but tasty. One of the most popular, the Crystal Ball -- a combination of Herradura Silver Tequila, Green Chartreuse, agave nectar and lime -- packs a punch, but its allure comes in the form of a giant smoke bubble that sits on top. Poke it with your finger for a surprise that will elicit a round of oohs and ahhs.

Other fun tipples include the color-changing Abracadabra (Bacardi Superior with pineapple and lime), Bayou Smoke (Remy Martin 1738 Cognac, spiced peach shrub, Bayou Satsuma Liqueur and Regans Orange bitters No. 6) and Bog Juice (Absolut Vodka, passion fruit, kiwi, pineapple, lemon and Sierra Mist). They're reasonably priced, ranging from $9.50 for a classic Hurricane to $12.50 for some of the more showy options.

You can enjoy your beverages at the bar or at nearby high-top tables or booths set in front of crushed red velvet walls that are adorned with golden mirrors. The mysterious atmosphere is rounded out with crystal ball decor and bartenders who tell ghost stories and conduct palm readings.

Emeril's Bistro 1396

(Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

In a partnership with famed chef Emeril Lagasse, Carnival brings his first-ever at-sea restaurant to Mardi Gras. Its name, Emeril's Bistro 1396, is a nod to the construction of the vessel, which was built at Finland's Meyer Turku shipyard. Before the ship was named, it was simply dubbed vessel 1396 -- the 1,396th ship the yard had created.

Passengers can walk up to the counter, place an order and have their food delivered to one of several bistro-style tables in the area.

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Menu items range from $5 small plates like fresh seafood ceviche and fried oysters to slightly larger portions of barbecue shrimp, sausage gumbo and red beans with rice. The latter range in price from $3 to $8 and can be topped off with $4 desserts that include lemon icebox pie and bananas foster, among others. There's also a children's menu with $3 portions of fried chicken tenders, pasta and Emeril's "Who Dat" Burger. Beverage options include beer, wine and coffee, as well as nonalcoholic selections.

The Brass Magnolia

(Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

The Brass Magnolia will make you feel like you're in a New Orleans jazz club, complete with cushy red velvet chairs, trumpet lights and live music that screams Big Easy.

The drink menu provides a selection of wines, as well as cocktails. Among the considerable number of specialty options are Sazerac (Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Hennessy VSOP Cognac, sugar, Peychaud's Bitters and Herbsaint), a Pimm's Cup (Pimm's No. 1 Cup, fresh lemonade, Sierra Mist and a cucumber garnish), a Praline Truffle (Absolut Vodka, Praline Liqueur, Chocolate Liqueur, cream and Kahlua) and Brandy Milk Punch (Hennessy VSOP Cognac, heavy cream, whole milk, simple syrup and vanilla extract). All cost $9.95.

This refined bar, located next to the Flamingo Restaurant main dining room, is a great place to relax and unwind with an adult beverage before or after dinner.

Carnival Kitchen

(Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Whether you're a kitchen whiz who likes to show off their skills or someone who needs a cooking lesson or two, Carnival Kitchen puts you in a real culinary setting under the supervision of an onboard chef who will teach you how to whip up some delicious dishes.

Follow along with your own set of ingredients and instructions as the chef prepares themed meals that vary by day. The cost is $30 per person, and on our sailing, options included a tailgate party with canapes on the menu and a pit grill smoke class, where barbecue was the name of the game.

When you're finished concocting your masterpiece, you can dig in to taste the fruits of your labor.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
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

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more