From palm reading to po’ boys, Carnival brings French Quarter vibes to its latest cruise ship
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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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.
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