I’m in Miami for the biggest cruise shindig of the year – Cruise Shipping Miami.
It’s a four-day event of meetings, conferences, networking, more meetings and – perhaps most interestingly – ship visits.
So I took the opportunity to check out Carnival’s newest ship, Breeze, to see what it’s like. I’ve got to say, I was really impressed.
I haven’t been on other Carnival ships to make a comparison, but my colleague Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic’s Editor-in-Chief who I am with, has and pointed out the key differences.
Gone are the garish colours and in-your-face décor, to make way for more neutral palettes and a distinct lack of décor, certainly in the main dining rooms.
Having said that. There’s no doubt this is a Carnival ship – the moment you walk in there’s a DJ and a dancefloor and a lot of people tucking into their first cocktails of the day.
It’s the second week of spring break here in the US, but what did strike me was the sheer number of kids and young adults onboard. We’re getting there, slowly in the UK, but cruising in the US simply defies any demographic or particular age group.
And the emphasis – as you would expect – really is on having a good time. It’s not to everyone’s taste, of course; pounding music wherever you turn can be a bit exhausting after a while. But it made me think we Brits really do need to loosen up.
I’ve recently returned from a half-term cruise on P&O’s Oceana with my two kids, aged two and five, and the contrast could not have been more stark. We literally had to cower in a tiny, dark, covered kids splash pool, pleading with our little ones not to make too much noise, while the rest of the people on board glared at them.
Meanwhile, on the top deck, Carnival has this huge water park and ropes course, where kids – and adults – of all ages were having a wonderful time – making as much noise and splashes as they wanted.
Carnival has made a few tweaks to a very successful product. They’ve installed a small library bar (pictured) on Deck 4, where you can get away from the mayhem, sit and read and enjoy a selection of wines from a tasting station. It’s for fee, but it’s a lovely touch. There’s also a huge spa and adults-only serenity area. And a very pleasant surprise – an Indian food station. I thought it was just us Brits, but apparently the Americans love their curries too!
I almost forgot – the Red Frog pub, a fantastic addition, and one in which I’d expect I’d spend far too much time in were I onboard.
– Adam Coulter
Find out all about Carnival Sunshine – Carnival’s ‘new’ ship.