Hey Park Journey Readers!!
By now we're sure you've all heard about the Bolt Coaster that is debuting on the Carnival Mardi Gras in 2020. Well, our friends at The Coaster Guy have put together a group next December to not only spend 7 nights aboard the Mardi Gras cruising the Caribbean, but also to ride the all new Bolt Coaster.
We are already registered and wanted to offer you all a chance to register as well.
When you register, make sure you indicate that you heard about the cruise through Park Journey (as shown below). We'll have some special treats just for those who join through us.
Click here to register for the Coaster Cruise!!
You can see all of the information about the Cruise below.
In 2020, Carnival Cruise Line will launch Mardi Gras, the largest ship they have ever built. At 188,000 gross tons, with enough room for over 6,600 passengers, it is the very first ship in their brand new XL-class and the 5th largest cruise ship in the world.
For us coaster enthusiasts, the most exciting thing about this ship is not how big it is, or how many passengers it holds. What we are excited about is what is bolted to the top of it - a roller coaster!! The Mardi Gras will be home to Bolt: The Ultimate Sea Coaster, the first and only roller coaster at sea.
The only way to get this coaster credit is to take this cruise!
Come join us on one of the very first sailings of this magnificent ship and spend a week riding a very unique roller coaster while visiting three exotic island locations - Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Turks & Caicos.
If you have never cruised before, absolutely everything is included! For less than a typical hotel room per night, you get your stateroom, all your food, entertainment, and stops in three exotic ports of call for an entire week. Here is what is included:
Food and Drink
Onboard Activities - Day & Night
Much like a theme park, the Mardi Gras will be made up of six distinct themed zones, with each area uniquely inspired to create a different atmosphere. This allows you to create your own personalized vacation, as you roam from zone to zone, each with different dining, drinking, entertainment, recreation, and relaxation options. The six zones are:
Your cruise will start in the main atrium, which is called Grand Central. The first thing you will notice are the high ceilings, giving you a peek at the fun happening on the three decks immediately above you. There will be lots of natural light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows, providing you with amazing ocean views. It is here you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee while enjoying live music from the stage, or grabbing a handcrafted cocktail before a show.
The French Quarter
As the name implies, this zone is inspired by none other than New Orleans itself. The French Quarter is lined with bars and eateries worthy of their namesake, serving up everything from small plates to classic Hurricane cocktails straight from the bayou. There is also a hot jazz club, as well as funky little shops to explore.
This zone is considered the greatest chill spot at sea! This is where you will find Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse, with freshly smoked favorites designed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. You can wash all that smoked meat goodness down with Parched Pig beers, which are brewed right onboard with a resident brewmaster. Of course, this is all available just mere feet from a swimming pool and hot tub.
This zone is home to the 24-hour Pizzeria del Capitano, with pizzas made to order using imported Italian flour and fresh mozzarella cheese. It will also house the specialty Italian restaurant Cucina del Capitano, as well as a new Mediterranean spot specializing in seafood. Look for roaming musicians that will enhance your time spent in this zone.
If you have ever sailed on a Carnival ship before, you should be familiar with the Lido deck. This is where a lot of outdoor fun happens. Wrapped around the pool, you'll find Guy's Burger Joint, the Seafood Shack, and the BlueIguana Cantina taco spot, which also serves amazing breakfast burritos! At night, grab some soft-serve from Swirls and pull up a lounge chair to watch the evening's Dive-In Movie on the giant TV screen.
The Ultimate Playground
Last, but certainly not least, is The Ultimate Playground. This zone has something for everyone. First and foremost is Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster, the first and only roller coaster at sea. There is also the largest WaterWorks water park that Carnival has ever built, with three huge spiraling slides. SportSquare has a full mini golf course, an elevated ropes course, a full basketball court, and more. That should be enough to get your blood pumping!
Here are some additional artist renderings of what different parts of the ship will look like
Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster
The Bolt roller coaster is an industry first! Never before has anyone ever been so bold as to attach a roller coaster to the top of a cruise ship. Leave it to a Carnival Fun Ship to do what we've been dreaming about for years! This coaster is located at the highest point of the ship, giving you 360 degree ocean views as you circle the iconic red, white, and blue Carnival whale tail funnel. Unlike traditional roller coasters, this one is not powered by gravity, as there is no lift hill. Instead, it's electric powered, so you launch out of the station, and you control how fast (or slow) you go on the track. Here are some stats:
For those of you who have never cruised before, I would like to explain a few basics. First and foremost, cruising is a lot of fun!! This is not your grandfather's cruise. Think of it as a nice hotel room, situated inside a small city of entertainment, that moves from country to country as you sleep. Every day you wake up, there's something new to see and do. You will have the entire day to explore the city and/or country, having fun and creating new memories. For those days at sea, there is a ton of things to do on the ship. In fact, you will likely not even get to do or experience everything that you want just because there is so much there. Between the shows, bars, entertainers, sports, restaurants...you will never get bored. I promise!
As I mentioned above, absolutely everything you need for the week is included in your base cruise fare; room, meals, entertainment, etc. Just like a hotel, your room will be made up daily, and you'll never go hungry. However, sodas and alcoholic drinks are not included. You can either pay for them as you go, or you can buy a drink package, either soda or alcoholic. They're basically unlimited, all-you-can-drink options that make drinking onboard much easier, and a whole lot less expensive. If you think you might drink more than five drinks a day, then a drink package will save you a ton of money. Ask me for details.
Shore excursions are another cruise add-on that are very popular. Every port of call has different vendors that provide local adventures you can go on, for a fee. Depending on the location, you can ride horses on the beach, go wine tasting in the valley, sail around the island on a catamaran, go golfing, scuba diving, zip lining through the jungle, or any number of fun things in that area. Ask me for details.
The staterooms we have chosen for this group are some of the nicest cabins on the ship. They are on a high floor, for great visibility, and are mostly located mid-ship, so you are never that far from your room. They also have private balconies, so you can sit outside in total privacy and watch the world float by. While in port, you may even have a beautiful view of the island or surrounding area. If you'd like to spring for something even nicer, or perhaps bigger, we can certainly arrange that for whatever the nominal price difference is. If you'd like to try and save a little money, we can also downgrade your room for an ocean view or inside cabin. Talk to me if you think you might like something different.
The base price for this cruise that we have locked in with Carnival is $964/person, based on double occupancy, not including port fees and taxes. This means that you need to commit to two people in each cabin to get this price. If you're a solo traveler, there is a 200% supplement charge, which is a fancy way of saying that you'll basically be paying double for the privilege of having the cabin to yourself. Each cabin will either have one king size bed, or two twins, based on your preference during booking. The port fees and taxes are just that. They are fees that Carnival gets charged every time they dock in a foreign port. They take that cost and split it up amongst the passengers, so everybody pays their fair share. This amount varies on every cruise, based on the ports you call on, and how many of them there are. For this cruise, it's $127.52/person and there's no getting out of it. Therefore, when you look at the total cost for this cruise, it comes to $1,091.52/person. We only have a limited number of cabins guaranteed at this rate. Once they are gone, we can still book you into the group, but the cost will be based on whatever the prevailing rate is that day. Bottom line is - book soon to guarantee the best price.
This cruise comes out to be just under $156/person per day for the entire week. You can barely find a decent hotel room for that, not to mention all the food you care to eat, entertainment, transportation between multiple countries, all on a brand new ship. And, don't forget that you will also get a brand new coaster credit that all of your friends will be jealous of! It really is a tremendous value for a wonderful vacation!
You also do not need to pay for the entire cruise right away. Since we do not sail until December 2020, you have almost two whole years to save for it. All you need to pay now is a small deposit to lock in a cabin on the ship. For a nominal deposit of $250/person, you not only guarantee your spot on the ship, but you also get to pick out your exact cabin. The sooner you sign up, the better cabin selection there is to choose from. The rest of the money isn't due until Sep 21, 2020. You can wait and pay it all at once, or you can make smaller payments along the way. However you want to do it. You can also rest assured that everything is 100% refundable up until that same date, Sep 21, 2020. Two years is a long ways away and we never know what the future holds for us. If something comes up and you can't make the trip, you can rest assured that you can get your money back up until Sep 21, 2020. Even after that date, you can still get a refund, but there will be penalties involved. The closer to the cruise date you cancel, the more severe the penalties are. I will go over all the dates with you when you book.
One expense that people don't often warn new cruisers about is the gratuities. The cruise lines charge all guests a flat gratuity per person, per day, for the duration of the cruise. This covers the tips for all the various people that will wait on you throughout each day, such as your cabin steward, bartenders, and restaurant wait staff. For Carnival, this is currently set at $13.99/day, or $97.93/person for the entire week ($15.99/person for suites). This can either be prepaid before the cruise, or it will be added to your onboard account that must be settled before you depart. If you choose not to pre-pay it, you will have the opportunity to discuss it with Guest Services at the end of your cruise if you are dissatisfied for any reason. They will do their best to make it right with you. The gratuities are the only mandatory expense that is not included in your cruise fare. I mention it here because I never want anyone getting to the end of a cruise that I arranged and get blindsided with an unexpected expense.
This is going to be an amazing cruise! A brand new ship, a new roller coaster, three amazing islands...how could it not be? All that is missing right now is you! I will be personally escorting this group, so I really hope to see you there! Be sure to click on the Cruise Information tab above to see more specifics about the ship and where we will be going. If you already know you want to go for sure, click on the Register tab above and fill out the form. It won't collect any credit card information, but it will alert me to call you and we can walk through the details. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me (310.424.5591). -Kurt Dahlin
Grab all your coaster friends and join us on this amazing adventure!!
Hi everybody, and welcome to Part Three of our Cruise aboard the Carnival Splendor in August. Sorry it's taken so long to get to part three but, well, it was scary season.
We promise the wait is worth it, as today we're looking at our shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta which was all kinds of amazing.
And lastly we'll take one last look around the ship which is actually in dry-dock right now getting refurbished before going to it's new home in Australia. Definitely interested to see how it will look when it's done.
If you missed Part One or Part Two of our cruise, be sure to check them out!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Good Morning Puerto Vallarta!!
We sat and watched them docking, it was super cool.
Amazing music to greet us!!
And I met a friend!!
Today we are going on a snorkel adventure!!
It was nice that we could just walk from one ship to another right in the port.
Let's go have some fun!!
So at this point of the update, we switched to our 10+ year old Olympus Tough camera. It's not the best camera, but it's water proof and drop proof.
Our excursion was put on by Vallarta Adventure and they couldn't have been more amazing.
First stop was Majahuitas for a bit of snorkeling.
And of course, each update must include a video of me looking like an idiot. =)
Oooooh, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Fish
As you can see, the water was amazing.
Floating around in the ocean
Then it was off to Yelapa. This looks like a postcard. The only way to get here is by boat, which is kind of awesome.
There were two options here, the first included a hike to a waterfall and the second included extra time relaxing on the beach. We took option 2.
Is it wrong I want to buy one of those condo's and just work from here? No? Good.
We spent the next 2 hours lounging in the sun, enjoying the amazingly warm water and just enjoying our amazing vacation.
After finding our relaxation it was time to head back to the ship.
These are the faces of two totally relaxed and content people.
The crew put on a really fun show as we made our way back to port.
So long Mexico, we've got two sea days coming up!!
Dinner that night was pasta something, and it was amazing.
And bread pudding
Rockin' night at the theater. It was awesome!!
Over the next two days we spent a lot of time exploring the ship and of course relaxing A LOT. This also included our second formal night.
We've come to refer to this as our "Prom Picture".
Our last day at Sea
Had to get our St Jude shirt!!
And of course get a selfie with our amazing Cruise Director Leigh
Oh, and Bingo with the amazing Captain Cash (who's a huge Disney fan we found out)
Also, just a shout out to the amazing service team at all of the restaurants, our room steward and basically everybody. You get SO spoiled while on a cruise, nothing can prepare you for the amount of pampering.
Flatbread, it was so freaking amazing.
Our final Sunset
We're not really "party" people, but we had such a fun time the last night at the departure party.
Sadly, the next morning we woke up to find ourselves pulling into Long Beach.
Get out. We mean, Please, Get out. (a little Jungle Cruise humor)
Thank YOU Carnival!!
So that's our trip, we hope you enjoyed our adventure and we seriously can't wait until the next one. It's literally our Xmas present to each other this year.
Today we're back with part two of our cruise on the Carnival Splendor to the Mexican Riviera. For this update we're going to concentrate mostly on our days in Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan. We'll talk a bit about what we did on shore and some things we noticed that may help future vacationers.
Written by Gregg Condon
Pictures by Gregg and Kristi Condon
We'll start off this update with a video we did of the ship. It's definitely not the most comprehensive tour of this ship we've seen (that one is linked in the video) but we wanted to show off some of what we enjoyed on the ship as first timers.
In addition, I tried a few times to get a sunrise or sunset time-lapse on the GoPro but it never quite worked out. The last morning I was finally up early enough, but of course hadn't charged the GoPro.
So this video isn't exactly what we wanted, but I will admit, I liked the set-up I came up with for mounting it. I thought it worked great. If it wasn't for the technical issues on my end.
If you're celebrating something make sure the cruise knows, I got a nice little gift card for the spa and for pictures for my birthday. I didn't use the spa one (not really my thing and never really found the time) but we did use the picture one.
A little pre-Cabo fuel. =)
After being at sea for over 36 hours it was actually kind of nice to see land
The famous arch
As you can see, we were quite happy on our vacation. =)
No I'm not ignoring my wife, I'm trying to not get too much sun. Trust me, you'll only sunburn your head once. =)
Cabo was a Tender port (no, not Tinder) so we had to take a boat to shore.
The ship is an older one, but she's got a lot of personality. Will be interesting to see what she looks like after her upcoming refurb.
We did not eat here, but we of course had to get a pic.
No matter what your political affiliation is, this is funny. I forgot to pick it up on the way back to the ship.
Cabo was definitely the most "touristy" of our three ports.
I love little things like this that are kind of out of the way.
Just on the other side of the harbor area are more classic restaurants and the diamond store. =)
Not once, in any of our three ports, did we ever feel unsafe or unwelcome. The people of Mexico are amazing.
We actually took a couple of really nice pics. I'm proud of us. =)
After walking what seemed like 10 miles (it was about 2k) we arrived to the restaurant a friend recommended. Aaaand it was closed.
But right next door was a beach club, and as you'll see below, we weren't suffering at all.
We each had 4 tacos, chips and guacamole and 4 beers (each). Grand total with tip $40.
I'm sure we could have found cheaper but we didn't care. It was amazing, the service was great and this would have cost us at least double that at home. We were very happy.
After all that there was no way we were walking back (there's really not an easy path from the Cruise terminal to Medano Beach where we ate) so we took a water taxi back.
It was $5 each. Again, we probably could have negotiated more than we did, but we were happy to support the economy.
Of course, once we were on our driver asked if we wanted to see the arch. For another $20. We politely declined.
After doing a bit of shopping it was back on the ship!!
We were actually back on the ship about 3 hours before disembark, and it was so nice and quiet. We sat by the pool and relaxed a bit. And took a nap.
We don't drink a lot of soda, but can't say no to Mexican Coke.
It was 80's night that night, the show was amazing!!
We had brought 80's stuff to wear for the glow party, but it wasn't until 11:15pm. And we were tired. Next time!!
The next morning after a trip across the Gulf of California, we arrived in Mazatlan. It was absolutely gorgeous.
We had booked an excursion this day, to an all-day resort with a pool and beach.
Apparently Mazatlan is a newer cruise stop, this is your view at the shore. It gets better than this though. =)
On the way to our resort we got to see some of the city.
People waiting to pay their water bill. For real.
As seen from the bus window
After about a 30 minute drive we arrived at our resort, the El Cid Marina.
This resort actually had two options. An "all inclusive" option which included a buffet or an "open bar" option. We went with the open bar and got food on our own.
This ended up working great for us as the buffet was on the beach side, and we stayed on the pool side all day. You'll see why.
Lots of Iguana's wandering around. Be careful, they like chips.
We drank a lot of cerveza and ordered some nachos and quesadilla from the menu. Total, $20. We also gave our server a nice tip as we drank free beer for 4+ hours.
2 seconds after this shot was taken I was asked to not jump by the hotels staff. Ooops.
The pool was amazing. It had underwater caves, waterfalls and we could even sit on the edge of the pool and enjoy our drinks.
And a bonus, the bathrooms were not only immaculately clean, there was also AC in them.
Definitely recommend this excursion if you're looking for a nice day to relax in Mazatlan. We've even talked about just coming down to stay at this resort for a week sometime.
After a full day in the sun it was back on the bus and back to the ship. There is a nice little flea market outside the cruise terminal so we were able to do some more shopping.
We got a 33oz bottle of Pure Vanilla Extract for $12. Don't even want to know how much that would cost here.
Back on the ship we took a nap (again) and enjoyed another amazing dinner.
We were back to bed a bit early as the next day we had another shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta. In hindsight I think we would have preferred to not have back-to-back excursions but it's hard to argue with the two that we did.
As Puerto Vallarta was our favorite as you'll see in our next update!!
Until next time ...