Carnival Breeze debuts next month with a 12-night sailing that begins in Venice on June 3rd and ends in Barcelona on June 15. That’s when we get on for a similar sailing on the new ship, round-trip Barcelona. To get ready, we’re studying up on ports to be visited, checking information on international travel and keeping a close eye on the features of Carnival Breeze, sister-ship to Carnival Magic that we sailed on last year. Today, we begin a series of posts detailing all of that and will be answering reader questions along the way.
Before we get too far down the road, let’s start with a look at the stats on Carnival Breeze, the ship.
Carnival Breeze is the third and last Dream-class ship, with sisters ships Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic. Built at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard in Italy, the Dream class vessels are the largest passenger ships ever built there.
Carnival Breeze has the same design as her sisters and features a half-mile exterior promenade, cantilevered whirlpools, a WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot (91 m)-long corkscrew water slide, the Ocean Plaza, an indoor/outdoor café with live entertainment venue, and a range of staterooms including deluxe ocean views with two bathrooms.
Many of the new features debuted on Carnival Magic and have been so popular that they are being included in Carnival’s FunShip 2.0 initiative, a $500 million upgrade to existing ships in the fleet. That’s all part of a branding focus that bumps up the onboard experience with 25 unique branded experiences, most all of which are included in the cruise fare.
We’ve been keeping track of these 25 unique experiences and started a list that is not yet complete. Several of the 25 concepts have not been released yet but here is what we have so far.
- RedFrog Pub
- RedFrog Rum Bar
- BlueIguana Tequila Bar
- Guy’s Burger Joint
- Alchemy Bar
- EA Sports Bar
- Hasbro, the Game Show
- Punchliner Comedy Club
- Punchliner Comedy Brunch
- Piano Bar 88
- Farenheit 555
- Library Bar
- Cherry on Top
- Playlist Productions
- Seaside Theatre
- Cucina del Capitano
Between now and our sailing, we’ll detail each one of these as well as the ports we will be visiting during our sailing on June 15. It’s all part of getting ready to cruise, a habit we adopted years ago that has served us well.
Knowing your way around a ship before boarding is always a good idea. Cruise travelers commonly memorize deck plans, just to keep from bumping into walls and getting lost the first day or so. We suggest taking that a step further. Try to gather knowledge about each of the ship’s features, before boarding. That really gives travelers a head start on getting the most out of a cruise vacation.
Another area to study up on is the ports. This is especially important when North American travelers sail in European waters. As opposed to the close-by Caribbean, European sailings have a tendency to be more “cruise of a lifetime” experiences so being able to hit the ground running is a must. On this voyage of Carnival Breeze we will visit:
- Barcelona, Spain
- Marseilles, France
- Livorno (Florence/Pisa) Italy
- Rome (Civatavecchia), Italy
- Salerno (Naples), Italy
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Venice, Italy
- Messina (Sicily), Italy
- Palma De Mallorca, Spain
So stay tuned for updates every day between now and our sailing. We did a similar itinerary last year on Carnival Magic which, of course, makes us “old pros” at a Mediterranean sailing so send in those questions and we will throw those in when your topic comes up.
Actually, let’s start with this one today from Norma Jean in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Norma Jean writes:
We want to do the Mediterranean in 2015, what should we be doing now to prepare for it? My husband is retired but I work and while I have a lot of time off saved up I don’t want to waste it. Is flying over there early a good idea like we should do that or a good idea like a nice to do thing if you have the time? Do you recommend one cruise line over another, like is one better-suited for the Mediterranean than another line?
Good questions all Norma Jean, let’s dive right in.
It sounds like you have made the decision to do it and that’s great. Often, travelers comfortable with Caribbean cruising from North America are hesitant to take the jump to international travel and all that entails.
First, you probably already know that it is too early to book but that should not keep you from scouring the cruise line websites for information, getting in touch with a travel agent if you don’t already have one and making plans. As noted here, we will be on an itinerary for our Carnival Breeze sailing that is similar to what we experienced last year on Carnival Magic. Odds are that, regardless of the cruise line, they will be offering similar itineraries in 2015 too. Now is not too early to start seeing what ports are offered and making a “must have” list of ports you for sure want to see. Later, when 2015 itineraries are released, you will already have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to see.
On flying across the pond early, many people do. No matter how you do it, that flight from the Tulsa to any embarkation port in Europe can be a killer if you’re not prepared. Even if you are prepared a buffer day of time between when you leave home and when the sailing begins is a good idea. If for no other reason, the peace of mind you will have knowing that if a flight problem comes up in-transit, you have time to make it work, is good enough reason to come a day early. Another, and probably more common, reason for flying over a day early is to recharge from the long flight and crossing multiple time zones that will throw your body clock off. Still, coming in early really is more of a “nice to do” than a “need to do” thing, most often controlled by the budget in the end. Remember, you’ll need a hotel room for the night, transfers to it and then to the ship the next day and meals along the way. Flying in the same day you skip all that.
On which cruise line to recommend I say without hesitation: One that you are familiar with.
We are quite familiar with Carnival so going through the Mediterranean where things are different, we still had our familiar ship and onboard experience to come “home” to every night. That, to us, is reason enough to sail with a line you know well, perhaps one that you have attained a high level of past-guest benefits on might be another deciding factor. I would not recommend going with a line you have never heard of. There are a lot of them over there that are very good but the unfamiliarity factor is a big one and I can’t stress that enough. I’d like to see you focus your attention to unfamiliar (and wonderful) things off the ship that you may never be back to see ever again OR make a list of places you might want to come back to some day for a land trip. A lot of people do that too.
Let’s take a look at the latest on Carnival Breeze, the completion of sea trials, described by our Whitney Owen who brought out Disney Fantasy earlier as “the ship is doing donuts in the ocean”.
Photo Credit: Blake Patterson via Compfight