The cruise lines have been building new ships in recent years at a pretty good pace. For the most part the ships being built today are larger and offer more features than older models. However, in the process of building a ship that can hold more passengers, sometimes things are lost in the design.
One of the biggest casualties to the large ship sizes is the promenade deck. The promenade deck may not mean much to 90% of those on board, but to those who are familiar with cruising in years past, the promenade deck adds a romantic feel to those relaxing days at sea. Strolling along a wide promenade deck and seeing the sea roll by and talking to your loved one fills all your senses with what sea cruising is all about. The promenade decks of the past usually offered a nice place to relax and to talk and visit with others. The best design are those that allow you to walk all the way around the ship. On a day at sea, the port side of the ship can give a much different experience than the starboard side. It has to do with the way the wind blows, the sun shines, the height of the waves and how fast the ship is moving.
With the larger design the promenade deck is replaced by lifeboats that need to be ready at a moment's notice to load 4,000 passengers into them. In the case of an emergency, every second is vital. Ship designers felt they had to choose between the lifeboats being ready and a promenade deck.
Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and now the Carnival Breeze brought the promenade to life again in their designs. Not only do these ships offer a wrap around promenade, but they added some very clever features. One feature called the Lanai is a part of the ship that is both inside and outside. It offers seating that is covered by the deck above and also extends out into the deck. Cruisers will love relaxing here in the sun or rain.
Another feature these ships offer is outdoor eating areas right on the promenade deck. The RedFrog Pub on the Carnival Breeze has both covered and open outdoor seating and will make the experience of eating or drinking there that much more enjoyable.
And to top it all off, Carnival added four hot tubs with more lounge chairs to the promenade deck. Instead of 15 stories up, you are only 5 stories above the sea and able to relax in a hot tub. The views are excellent (see photo above).
(Keep in mind though, if you book a cabin above the promenade deck you will want to note where these features are, to avoid the lack of privacy and/or noise that may come from them.)
Norwegians Cruise Line's newest ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, will also offer a promenade deck with outdoor eating.
The Carnival Breeze has other innovative features, such as Cove Balcony cabins. These cabins are balconies on deck 2 of the ship and for those who want to be close to the water there is no better way to travel. They offer plenty of protection from the elements, but at the same time you will feel so much closer to the ocean.
The Carnival Breeze also offers a huge ropes course (Norwegian Breakaway will also have similar), and has outside exercise machines. Add to that a large outdoor water park and it will be very hard to get bored on this ship.
But what Carnival doesn't do right is what all the mainstream cruise lines don't seem to be doing right. In the process of filling every space on these massive ships, with paying customers, the Cruise Lines don't plan enough space for the extra people. Therefore you will find some areas of these new ships very crowded on sea days - especially the pools and buffets. Even though the Carnival Breeze has two main pools and a wonderful water park, it is just not enough space for the 4600 passengers that will likely sail each week, dropping the space ratio down significantly (see crowded pool photo to right). Only Oceania, Disney and Seabourn seem to resist loading their new ships to the max with passengers and offer a much better space ratio per passenger. In fact, the Disney Dream is about the same size as the Carnival Breeze but it has 600 less staterooms. That can make a big difference as you walk around the ship.
Regardless, even with the extra passengers, cruisers will really enjoy the new Carnival Breeze. Photos below show the view from a Cove Balcony, the Lanai, Carnival's Water Works, and the adult serenity area on top of the ship.
Steve Millay, ACC
Cove Balcony View
The Water Park
The Adult Serenity Area
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