Loud Carnival Cruise Ship Cabin

Carnival Magic 2014Let me preface this article by saying we enjoyed our cruise – a lot – but we felt this was worthy of some discussion since it’s something that has never happened to us before.

We generally try to pick out good cabins. We google the ship maps to make sure we’re not right under the dance club, under the pool deck when they rearrange the chairs in the early morning, extremely close to the elevators, etc. We thought we had done a good job on this last cruise aboard Carnival Magic: A cove balcony cabin #2298, in the center of the ship. For the most part, it was pretty quiet except for a screaming infant next door (it happens). However, one night, on our return through the Gulf of Mexico, there was loud knocking in our room and then an even more powerful booming noise every 20-30 seconds that would shake entire aft wall of our cabin.

The noise continued until about 2:30am, keeping everyone awake despite being tired from 3 straight port days. To give you an idea of how much the wall was shaking, our camera that was on the counter eventually worked its way over the edge and fell to the floor. The camera isn’t a lightweight either – it’s just over four pounds (Nikon D800 + 24-70 lens; if you’re a camera nerd like us).

The camera cracked and Nikon repair services called it a complete loss. Insurance will help, but there’s still significant out-of-pocket cost. I expected it to be damaged when we were horseback riding in Belize or swimming with the dolphins in Roatan, but I was surprised when it survived all that and was damaged due to our cabin shaking and vibrating so much that night.

We had never experienced this nor even heard of it happening, so we thought we’d at least pass it along as a cautionary tale. I figured the only way I could accurately describe it was by recording the sound – and since I wasn’t sleeping after sadly feeling around the dark floor for the fallen camera – I was able to grab this sound clip of the noise-

Take a listen for yourself

2014 Update: Carnival Punchliner Comedy Club

Punchliner Comedy Club - Carnival Cruise Lines

In 2011 we wrote about Carnival’s new Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, saying it was a great idea with faulty execution. Having recently sailed on the Carnival Magic over the 4th of July, we’re excited to report that Carnival has improved the experience of this popular evening choice.

Instead of having one show a night, Carnival now has 4-5 shows every night. That’s not to say that they don’t fill up, but hundreds weren’t being turned away from their entertainment of choice like they were a few years ago. They typically would have 2 ‘family friendly’ comedy shows and then 2 ‘adults only’ comedy shows split between two comedians. Halfway through the cruise, two new comedians come on board to keep the talent fresh.

To avoid seat-squatters and savers from staying back to back shows, the lounge is emptied, and those wishing to attend the next show get in a line that winds through the increasingly depressing piano bar. (Side note: This has less to do with uninterested cruisers than it does the grumpy pianist)

We were able to see three of the four comedians perform and overall they were quite good – you should definitely check out the comedy shows on your next Carnival Cruise.

Comedy Review:

John Caponera (Grade: N/A) – We didn’t catch John’s act, but he does have a link to a “printable 8×10″ under his head shot on his homepage, so he must be hilarious.

James Johann (Grade: C+) We caught James’s ‘adults only’ act. If you think dropping the f-bomb is inherently funny, you’ll think James his hysterical. Many people did, in fact. We didn’t.

James Sibley (Grade: B+) We thought this James was following the path of first-half-of-the-cruise-James, but a couple minutes in his style grew on us. Stand-up comedy sittin’ down with some genuine country-boy story-telling. We liked second-half-of-the-cruise-James a lot better.

Tommy Drake (Grade: A) The only reason we didn’t give Tommy an A+ is because we wouldn’t want it to go to his head. We don’t want that, because we really liked him just the way he was. The Carnival Magic is a large ship, but while in Cozumel we were docked near the mega Royal Caribbean ship, Allure of the Seas. “I thought Magic was a big ship until we parked in the shadow of the Allure…when you see a ship like that you start to wonder about all the amazing things on board – their comedians are probably famous.”

Carnival Magic: Three Reasons it’s Unlike any other Carnival Cruise

The Carnival Magic is just getting its sea-legs and wrapping up its first few voyages. USA Today’s cruise log says it looks like Carnival Magic is a hit – and we take a look at three reasons why cruising on Magic is different from any other Carnival cruise.

1) RedFrog Pub: Carnival is billing this as the first pub in its fleet and claiming it’s the brainchild of CEO Gerry Cahill (Whether it be Caribbean Pub or Irish Pub – what took so long??). Initial reports are that the new venue is always packed and even ran out of it’s signature beer, ThirstyFrog, on the maiden voyage. Perhaps some of the blame can be assigned to the fact one can order a 101oz tube of the brew for around $25. Appetizers and deserts are also available for a few bucks. Check out the full RedFrog Pub Menu.

2) Cucina del Capitano: The “Captain’s Kitchen” is an relatively informal Italian eatery that serves family style meals. In the evening, the venue has a surcharge of $10 for adults and $5 for kids – not bad considering the Signature Steakhouse option on some Carnival ships is double that. More and more we’re seeing a move away from traditional dining room settings to more niche venues – both more formal (steakhouse) and less formal (Cucina) – depending on what suits you. It’s worth noting that during the day, Cucina del Capitano offers pasta options for no additional fee. Check out the full Cucina del Capitano Menu.

3) Carnival Sports Square Ropes Course: A first for a cruise ship. While it may not be a ‘high ropes’ course, it’s located on one of the highest points of the ship and about 150 feet above sea level. It may not be looking down that gives you a dizzy feeling on this one – it’s looking OUT! Adrenaline junkies need look elsewhere, though – Carnival has designed it to be family friendly and kid friendly which suggests you’ll have to get your fix elsewhere. That said, it should get your heart pounding a lot more than shuffleboard or mini-golf.

New Cruise Ships in 2011, 2012, and beyond

Carnival Magic

Building a cruise ship is no easy task – from design to production to having hoards of guests filling the staterooms takes years. The Disney Dream and Oceania Cruises’ Marina already debuted earlier this year, but there are four more new ships coming in 2011 and another six in 2012.

One notable trend – there are no mega-ships that compare in size to the Oasis and Allure that have max capacities of over 6,000 passengers.

Check out the details below. Continue reading New Cruise Ships in 2011, 2012, and beyond

Princess Cruises Returning to Galveston, TX in 2012

Princess Crown Princess Cruise Ship

Princess Cruises hasn’t sailed from Galveston, TX since 2007, and today they announced they will resume itineraries from the island just outside of Houston in 2012.

The 3,070-passenger Crown Princess will start a winter series of seven-night itineraries that sail to Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. Tossing in the Honduras and Belize destinations will be welcome to those looking to see something besides Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel – the most common destinations when sailing from Galveston.

“We’ve received a great deal of feedback from cruisers interested in sailing from Galveston again,” Says Princess executive VP Jan Swartz.

This move will make the Port of Galveston more crowded than ever, since Carnival is also set to debut it’s newest ship, the Carnival Magic later this year. The magic will be the largest ship to sail from the port. Carnival will also reposition the Triumph (currently in New Orleans), and move the Conquest and Ecstasy to the Big Easy.

Royal Caribbean is also changing things up in Galveston – next year the Voyager of the Seas will move out of Galveston to make room for the Mariner of the Seas – a ship with the same passenger capacity.

We’re excited to see new ships, bigger ships, and lines returning to our home port of Galveston, TX!

Entertainment on Allure of the Seas Rivaling Norwegian Epic

RoyalCaribbeanChicagoMusicalBack in June we asked if the Norwegian Epic entertainment model would go industry wide, and among the newest mega-ships, that seems to be the case. The Tony award winning musical Chicago recently made its seven-seas debut aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

The question more and more cruise execs are asking themselves is if they’d be willing to pay to see their shows if it wasn’t the only option within a couple hundred miles (…by boat). They’re looking for shows that have a history of doing well on land, and adapting them to a cruise ship stage.

I’m glad that there is high-quality adult entertainment on board the Allure – since most of the attention seems to be going to the Dreamworks deal that made Shrek and Donkey residents on the ship. This is great for families, but not everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s good to see the high-quality entertainment options rounded out.

So now that the original question has been party answered, the new question is whether the quality will trickle down to the ‘average’ ships. Carnival has stuck with their mix of musical review shows with one or two featured vocalists – but hasn’t yet pulled off a big, well-known production aside from some musical-themed cruises with big name artists. Carnival would likely say that affordability is a big part of their line’s mission, and that such shows come with costly royalties and expenses. Maybe they’ll debut something big with their newest Dream Class ship Magic? We’ll see.

In the meantime, below is a video from the opening of Chicago on board Allure during a preview cruise. Enjoy!

Carnival Sending Newest, Largest of Ships to Texas Port

Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on cruise ship ports in the last few years. Hurricane Ike demolished Galveston, TX to the tune of 3 Billion dollars in 2008, and New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina in 2005. However, Carnival Cruise Lines is sending the message that these two ports are back on the map, most notably by announcing Galveston as the new home for the Carnival Magic.

The Carnival Magic is part of the cruise line’s Dream Class of ships and is set to debut in Barcelona next May for a few seven to 12-day Mediterranean cruises before making the 16-day trans-Atlantic voyage to its home port of Galveston, Texas in October.
Carnival Magic will have seven-day itineraries to the western Caribbean (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel) and eastern Caribbean (Nassau, Freeport, and Key west).

For shorter voyages, CCL will move the Carnival Triumph to the port of Galveston as well, making it the largest ship to operate a year-round short cruise program from that port.

The two ships currently calling Galveston home, the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, will reposition to New Orleans – bringing Carnivals pre-Katrina cruise levels back to the embattled city.

This news is exciting for those of us outside of Florida, who are far more likely to take a cruise if the port is just a few hours away driving distance – and to have the ships include one of the newest and largest ships from Carnival – that’s not so bad either!