Cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Breeze Review

Carnival’s newest and largest ship lays out an array of next-generation features, and delivers good value, too.

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival breeze docks at Grand Turk Credit:

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First going to sea in 2012, Carnival Breeze is the latest and largest from Carnival Cruise Lines. Carrying 3690 passengers, Breeze is—structurally—a sibling of both Carnival Dream (2009) and Carnival Magic (2011), with near-identical tonnage and guest capacity. But similarities with the Dream Class end there, for Breeze was the first vessel to debut with (almost) the full menu of next-generation Carnival amenities, a program marketed as “Fun Ship 2.0.”

In addition to new dining and drinking concepts, Breeze was the first Carnival ship to abandon the Joe Farcus-conceived interior designs—brash décor that could make a whole vessel look like a garish casino, circa 1970 (a style dubbed by some as Farchitecture).

What’s the “new” Carnival all about? Offering Caribbean voyages out of Miami year-round, we set sail on Breeze to find out.

Kids Programs

Located on Deck 11, just under Sports Square, Camp Carnival is a multi-tiered kids program, divided by age: 2- to 5-year-olds, 6- to 8-year-olds, and 9- to 11-year-olds. Parents need to drop off and sign out children in the two younger groups; the older kids have sign-in and -out privileges at all times.

Age-appropriate activities were offered, such as face painting, coloring contests and musical chairs for the youngest group. The age 6-8 group participated in magic shows, teddy bear crafting (additional fee required), talent shows and games. The age 9-11 group participated in scavenger hunts, karaoke, and watched G-rated movies. Babysitting services were offered from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., for $6.75 per hour, per child, plus 15-percent gratuity. On the two Elegant (dress code) nights, a party was organized for kids, from 10 p.m. to midnight. One night had a Mardi Gras theme, the other was Hawaiian, and there was a $13 charge to attend (plus gratuity).

Housed on Deck 4, between the Blush and Sapphire restaurants, Circle C was the clubhouse for 12- to 14-year-olds—they were allowed to come and go without parental supervision. There was a dance floor and video games, and scheduled activities included Wii games, scavenger hunts, charades, dance class, pizza parties, etc. Club O2 is Carnival’s program for older teens—age 15-17. It was strictly a no-adults, no-children retreat (supervised by one adult crewmember). Activities included theme dance parties, water fights, and karaoke shows. Next door was the Warehouse, the video game arcade.

Carnival Breeze has a voluminous collection of watering holes. Not counting the bars attached to dining venues, there were 11 drinking options spread throughout the ship. Bar service could also be ordered at the pool areas and inside the showroom; the Winner’s Luck Bar handled drinks inside the casino. A 15-percent service charge was added to all drink orders; the minimum age for drinking was 21.

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The standard drink list included just about any libation we could think of—frozen drinks such as margaritas and piña coladas, along with classics including the mojito, mai tai, Long Island ice tea and cosmopolitan; all were priced $8.75. Cordials and liqueurs such as Sambuca, Cointreau and Baileys Irish Cream and straight shots of Skyy vodka, Bacardi rum, Bombay Sapphire gin and other liquors ranged $4.95-$7.50. Premium liquors such as Johnnie Walker Black, Ketel One vodka and Patron silver tequila were priced $7.50-$9.95. Most of the bars had unique drinks, described below, and each of the restaurant menus had one or more signature drinks, also only available at that spot.

The wine list for the main dining rooms totaled about 90 offerings, with a good selection from California, in particular, with wineries of Italy, France, Chile, Argentina and Australia also represented; most bottles were priced under $40, and about 30 were available by the glass, ranging $6.50 to $12. Wine packages of five bottles were available at a slight discount.

The beer list included the major American brands in 16-ounce bottles for $5.75. Imports and specialty beers were $4.95 and included Bass Ale, Corona, Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Pilsner Urquell, and 16-ounce pours of Boddingtons, Grolsch and Guinness for $5.95. EA Sports had the broadest selection of beers—about 30—including Red Stripe, Presidente, and Sierra Nevada, plus four on tap that could be ordered by the pitcher. There was also Carnival’s own brew, Thirsty Frog Red, a heavily malted beer with a sweet finish, available for $5.50 a pint at several locations.

Carnival offers an “unlimited” alcohol package called the Cheers Beverage Program, priced $49.95 per day, per guest, plus 15 percent gratuity. Restrictions: All adults in the cabin must buy into the program, it must be purchased for the entire cruise on the first or second day, and there’s a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks served per 24 hours. Drinks are limited to those priced $10 and under. Those downing six or more mixed drinks daily will do better buying the program. For those drinking mostly beer or cheaper wines, or for those spending a lot of time in ports, the package might not work out to a good deal.

There’s also Bottomless Bubbles, an unlimited soda package. The price was $6 per day, or $4.50 for kids (age 17 and under). The package does not apply to room service deliveries and a 15 percent service charge was applied. Soft drinks included Coke products (including Sprite, Pibb Xtra and orange soda); these were all $1.95, as was iced tea. Powerade was $2.95 and Red Bull was $4.75. Bottled waters included assorted vitamin waters, Perrier and San Pellegrino. Non-alcoholic Buckler beer was $3.95.

There’s quite a variety of cabins on Carnival Breeze. Many of the differences are subtle, so you’ll want to evaluate the options carefully during the booking process. For instance, Interior cabins comprise more than 35 percent of the sleeping arrangements. But there are six different types of inside units, ranging from “Upper/Lower” cabins (a pair of bunk beds), to accommodations with a porthole view, to Cloud 9 Spa cabins on decks 11-12 (you can read a review of our Cloud 9 Spa Interior aboard Carnival Sunshine here).

Next up are three different types of Ocean View cabins, including “deluxe” and obstructed view. We had what was a standard Balcony cabin, which describe below, but other options include the “Cove” Balcony (close to the waterline and with some of the view obstructed by the ship’s exterior), Aft-View Extended Balcony, Cloud 9 Spa Balcony and Premium Vista Balcony cabins. There are also three types of Suites.

Unlike its competitors, Carnival doesn’t provide cabin square footage on its website. We spent 25 minutes on hold trying to obtain square footage for our cabin from two different phone agents; the square footage they eventually provided matched our measurements once on board, exactly. But we feel prospective cruisers should be able to retrieve this information easily from Carnival’s website, as is possible for the line’s competitors. And given that, overall, Carnival’s cabin sizes aren’t as skimpy as some, they shouldn’t have anything to hide.

With a broader range of dining options than any other ship in the Carnival fleet, Breeze caters to almost every palate. It’s not a gourmet experience, and Carnival doesn’t advertise it as such. But we found lots to enjoy, and it went well beyond hamburgers and tired buffet spreads.

Most diners enjoy dinner in the main dining room, which is actually two venues, Blush and Sapphire. But anyone who wanted to stray from the traditional dining plan had plenty to choose from. This was especially true at lunch, which offered the ever-popular Guy’s Burger Joint, the Mexican BlueIguana Cantina, a BBQ pit (on sea days), and an Indian buffet—in addition to the more-standard pizza station, hot dog stand, etc. Additionally, there were specialty restaurants requiring a surcharge for dinner: a very satisfying steakhouse, a sushi restaurant, a bar with pub grub, and Carnival’s traditional Cucina del Capitano Italian venue.

Breeze is also home to a seven-course Chef’s Table dinner, offered once or twice each cruise in a private dining room, for $75 including wine. We didn’t sign up for the meal on Breeze, but you can read about our Chef’s Table experience aboard Carnival Victory here.

Cloud 9 Spa, Salon, Fitness Center

The Cloud 9 Spa on Carnival Breeze is a bright and inviting facility, managed for Carnival by Steiner Leisure, a company that oversees spas for the majority of cruise lines. The spa is located on Deck 14 forward and, including the fitness center just below, the space encompasses 22,770 square feet—no small amount of real estate.

Prices for spa treatments were comparable to or somewhat higher than we find at mid-priced beach resorts. Fifty-minute facials ranged $119 to $169 and massages started at $119 for the 50-minute Swedish or Reflexology massage; 75-minute Thai herbal poultice or aroma stone therapy massages were $195; a 50-minute couple’s massage was priced $269 (these are conducted in oversized rooms with their own whirlpool tub). Port day discounts shaved about 10 percent off the pricing; there were also discounts for multiple treatments. Other procedures available included teeth whitening, acupuncture, Ionithermie, waxing and men’s grooming.

There’s also a Thermal Suite aboard Breeze, which features heated ceramic day beds in a quiet room facing the ocean, along with a tropical shower, steam and sauna grottos. We loved the Thalassotherapy pool, which has windows on one side and above allowing lots of natural light into the indoor space. Access to the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy pool was priced $129 per person for our entire six-day cruise, which seemed awfully steep to us (those staying in a spa cabin have access included in their cruise fare).

Just under the spa, on Deck 12, is the ship’s fitness center, a space that seemed somewhat smaller but brighter and more appealing than the fitness rooms on other Carnival ships. We found up-to-date LifeCycle cardio equipment—bikes, treadmills and elliptical—and waits to use the machines were rare; most of the cardio equipment faced the forward ocean view. A small room off to the side was set up for fitness classes, which included total body conditioning, and stretching sessions—at no charge—plus yoga and pilates ($12 each), spinning ($30 for three sessions) and TRX Rip Trainer sessions. Personal training or nutrition consultation was $85 for 60 minutes.

Plaza Café

Plaza Café is Breeze’s java joint. Since the ship’s standard coffee is not the greatest, we retreated here on a couple occasions for fee-added, espresso-fueled coffees, spiked coffee drinks, milkshakes and plus-sized cakes by the slice. Plaza Café was open from 6 a.m. till 12:30 a.m. daily—so it was an option for post dance-floor caffeine or dessert cravings.

The menu features espresso, cappuccino, mochachino, caffé latte, chai tea latte and hot chocolate (regular $2.95, or “fun size” $3.50). All could be made with skim or soy milk; shots of assorted syrups and liqueurs were available. Drip and iced coffee was available, and spiked coffee drinks were $5.75. Hand-scooped milkshakes and floats were $3.95, or $7.75 for spiked ice cream concoctions. Baked goods included cookies, carrot cake, apple strudel, and chocolate cake, and ranged $1.25 to $2.25. There were a half-dozen flavors of ice cream, priced $2.95 for a small serving or $3.95 for a large.

About Our Cruise

Coming in at 130,000 tons, Breeze has the largest capacity of any ship in the Carnival fleet. More than 20 cruise ships are larger; for comparison, Celebrity’s Solstice Class is slightly smaller than Breeze, Royal Caribbean’s Voyager Class is slightly larger.

The decision to launch a fleet-wide revitalization program actually happened late in the construction process for Breeze. Just eight months before inaugural cruise for Carnival Breeze, the Fun Ship 2.0 program was announced. Breeze would be the first ship to get the full cosmetic overhaul. For years, Carnival has been known for its garish décor—though, in truth, the playful glitz and whimsy still has its fans. So although Breeze looked much like her siblings outside, once inside we discovered a whole new guise for Carnival.

Embarkation wasn’t swift, but proceeded smoothly. Between lines to check in and a wait to board, the process took 40 minutes. We did not sign up for Carnival’s “Faster to the Fun” package, an add-on that allows guests to embark ahead of the crowd (priced $49.95 per cabin).

Although the new look could be faulted for being generic, all in all we liked the improved aesthetics.

Boarding straight into the nine-story atrium, the revamped décor announced itself immediately. We were welcomed by a relaxed color palette, more natural light, and a panoply of magenta, yellow and red lanterns rising through the elevator shaft. Seeking out our cabin, the hallways offered an inviting beach motif of palm fronds, sea and sand. The tropical ambience was not delivered through tacky plaster, plastic or paint, but via a continuing photographic mural using a simple crisp image—refreshing. The color scheme inside our cabin moved away from Carnival’s former dirty mauve to yellow and blue pastels. Although the new look could be faulted for being generic, more inoffensive than truly memorable, all in all we liked the improved aesthetics.

Even better, over the next few days, we discovered that Carnival Breeze has—for the moment—a greater variety of features than any other Carnival ship in the fleet.

Retail

The collection of Fun Shops surrounds the central atrium on Deck 5. Among the offerings were resort wear clothing for men and women, watches, jewelry, a modest selection of perfume and cologne, along with Carnival Breeze logo merchandize. There was also a shop with liquor and cigarettes at duty-free prices, and a candy shop called Cherry on Top, where fresh flowers were stocked in a fridge. Sundries included sun block, pain and cold medications, etc. Overall, the selection didn’t vary much from what we see on other ships (much less at our ports of call), and it was not as extensive as we’ve seen on some big vessels.

On Deck 4, flanking the atrium, was Pixels Gallery, headquarters for the ship’s crew of photographers. Portrait sessions could be scheduled and photos of guests were displayed. These were available for $11.99 in 5x7 size, $14.99 for 6x9, or $21.99 for 8x10 professional portraits. There was also a small shop selling a limited selection of camera batteries, memory cards, photo albums, as well as point-and-shoot style cameras from Olympus and Fujifilm.

Deck 4 also contained the Art Gallery, featuring mass-produced paintings. There was an art auction or similar sales event almost daily.

Our Cabin: Balcony

For this cruise we opted for balcony accommodations. Our cabin was bright and appealing, in blue and pastel yellow tones—far cry from the dingy color schemes we’ve resided in aboard older Carnival ships. The cabin measured a reasonable 185 square feet (not including the balcony), providing adequate elbowroom for two. There were kids in two nearby rooms, and a soundtrack of giggles with door slamming percussion permeated our space. Because Carnival designs its cabin doors with vents, sound leakage from hallways is not unusual (a good reason for choosing a cabin located far from elevators and stairwells).

Fortunately, our mattress—two twins that could be combined into a king—found the happy medium between firm and soft, and proved quite comfortable, inducing us to slumber easily. The duvet was plumped with hypoallergenic down. Lamps were on either side of the bed and, though not bright, the light décor allowed the illumination to shine through. There was a six-foot couch, which could be opened as a bed for a third guest. The only place to sit other than the couch was a back-less chair at the small desk.

Storage was adequate for two, most of which was in three full-length closets, each 20 inches wide. One of these had our life jackets, and there was spare bedding (presumably for the pullout sofa). There were 26 clothes hangers, which is more than we’ve usually found in Carnival cabins. Additional storage was in drawers on either side of the desk, and luggage could be pushed under the beds.

We were told our balcony would be 35 square feet; ours actually measured 41.5 square feet. With two chairs and a small table, it wasn’t big enough for sharing a meal, but it was a good space for hanging out, except for one problem: Not only did we have cigarette smoke drifting our way from neighboring cabins, but when the ship was in port smoke wafted up from the Promenade Deck immediately below. Sound from partiers at one of the noisier bars and the whirlpool tub was also audible, at times well into the evening.

Our bathroom was typically compact, but bright and clean, stocked with plush bathroom towels and Carnival’s standard-issue bowl of sample-size products—shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and moisturizer; there was also a wall-mounted dispenser of shampoo and body soap in the shower (the sample products were better). We liked having a makeup mirror, and a hair dryer was located in the desk, outside the bathroom. A pair of pool towels were also supplied.

Pools

Carnival Breeze has two pools and, frankly, it’s not enough for the number of guests on a busy sea day. The main Beach Pool on Deck 10 is of decent size, and 4 feet, 4 inches deep. There are a couple chill-out areas on each side—chairs and benches where we could dangle our feet in the shallows, but the pool was usually clogged with people. There were hundreds of loungers spread in an arc around the pool, a towel station, a couple showers, food areas were close by, and the Blue Iguana and Red Frog bars supplied liquids. One thing missing from this area was whirlpool tubs—we liked that these are located on the aft deck and down on the Lanai, minimizing the crowds, if ever-so-slightly.

DJ music filled the space throughout the afternoon, there was a Hairy Chest Competition one day and ice carving on another, and movies were played some nights on the big screen at 10:45 p.m. (though titles were strangely unannounced).

The ship’s second option is the Tides Pool, also located on Deck 10, behind the Lido Marketplace. This was a smaller pool, flanked with two whirlpool tubs, along with loungers and showers. Though less claustrophobic and maybe a bit less crowded than the Beach Pool, it was still a very busy area. The Tides Bar, Tandoor and Pizza Pirate are all adjacent.

Blush and Sapphire Restaurants

The main dining room on Carnival Breeze is actually two separate venues with identical menus. Blush, located on decks 3 and 4 aft, is dedicated to those who select assigned seating times (6 or 8:15 p.m. nightly). Sapphire is located midship on decks 3 and 4—the lower deck was also set up for assigned seating, while the upper deck was for those of us who booked Your Time Dining, which was any time between 5:45 and 9 p.m. We’d call Blush the more handsome of the two options—with a rear window facing aft, it was striking enough that we wished we’d chosen the set seating option. Our servers were great, and night after night we were greeted by name, and as courses arrived they were quick to offer a grind of fresh pepper.

Overall, we found some good food on offer, but there were a number of middling dishes and a couple that were poor. The better starters we tried included the green bean and tomato salad, and a hearty navy bean soup. A couple dishes sounded promising, such as the sake stewed beetroot carpaccio garnished with grapefruit and gorgonzola, but it seemed most of the effort went into naming the dish and slicing the beets razor thin. Less satisfying was the arugula, mint and vegetable salad, for which the arugula was wilted and the accompanying fleck of flat bread was stale. Baked stuffed mushrooms were served on an escargot plate and swamped with a cheesy sauce.

Among the entrées, we found the vegetarian spanakopita with a stuffed bell pepper lacked any spark. The panko crusted jumbo shrimp was a real loser, described as being served with artichokes, sun ripened tomatoes and kernel corn. Instead, the shrimp were more like breaded fish sticks, hardly crisp, and laying on top of a muddle of veggies, with no flavors standing out. Apparently seeing that the dish was none too special, the kitchen opted to serve it with an unadvertised tangle of room temp curly fries.

But other mains were better, including the Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp offered on the second “cruise elegant” night. The vegetarian zucchini and eggplant parmigiana served on a pomodoro sauce was fine. And the martini braised basa fillet with tomato, chili and fennel was a delicious surprise, hearty and flavorful.

For desserts, there’s always Carnival’s famed warm chocolate melting cake. The dish obviously has its fans (it’s available every night) but we think they could shake it up a bit. A cappuccino pie missed: the coffee ice cream was soft while the whipped cream on top was frozen hard—when we cut it with our fork the ice cream went splat. On the other hand the cheese assortment was a simple but satisfying alternative.

Breakfast is offered here each morning, or brunch on sea days. The menu covered the usual turf adequately—fresh fruits, cold packaged cereals, yogurt, bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese, eggs benedict, pancakes and Belgian waffles. Omelets were available with an egg substitute on request, along with sides of corned beef hash, ham, bacon, pork link sausage, chicken sausage, turkey bacon and hash browns. We tried the huevos rancheros, which could have been spicier. The next morning we had fruit and cottage cheese, and while fruit the was delicious and varied, the portion was modest, with just a couple bits of cottage cheese on side. Fortunately the waiter quickly brought another on request.

Afternoon tea was served in Blush from 3 to 4 p.m. on sea days. We found savory sandwiches as well as sweet treats that were as good or better than what was served here at dinnertime.

Cabin Amenities

The basic amenities were all available—small safe, hair dryer, stocked minibar, pool towels, phone, ice bucket, and a pair of bathrobes. The bathroom had a bowl of complimentary goodies, such as shampoo and toothpaste samples. The air conditioning system was responsive—it chilled quickly when turned down, warmed quickly as well.

Our TV was a 24-inch ViewSonic which had interactive features, including about 70 movies available on-demand, for $10.99 each. There were some more esoteric titles as well as plenty of mainstream hits from the previous year or so. Oddly, the directory of titles listed all of them as “rated G”—that is, except for the five porn titles (“This Is Why I’m Hot” parts 1 and 2, etc.), which were priced $12.99 (parental controls were available).

Other Recreation

Sports Square is the activity hub for kids of all ages, with a couple towering slides rising above this area, also known as Deck 12. There’s mini-golf, a pool table, a jogging track (7 laps for a mile), al fresco workout equipment, and a basketball court. There’s also a ropes adventure called SkyCourse, but we found this feature to be closed more than it was open during our cruise, due to (moderately) high winds. Guests are harnessed to a metal overhead track and then follow a course along ropes, tippy planks and other obstacles—it looked like fun (note that closed-toed shoes are required). Overall, Sports Square was flooded with kids through most of the day.

A couple terrific slides are the focus of WaterWorks, and we took a few spins to test them out—literally. The Twister was ostensibly the more impressive slide —tallest, fastest—but our favorite was the Drainpipe, which looped around in a big arc and emptied out into big round bowl. While many guests slid into this drain slowly, making for somewhat of a letdown, we found that by laying flat on our back and keeping our body as rigid as possible, we zoomed into the bowl and looped around a couple times—good fun. A 42-inch height requirement was in effect for the slides, but there were other, gentler water features aimed at younger kids, including the Power Drencher, a giant bucket shower that tipped over at regular intervals.

Setting Sail

Meals in the main dining room were on par with previous Carnival experiences, with generally good appetizers and entrées along with a few clunkers. The layout of the buffet venue, Lido Marketplace, has been substantially improved to provide cleaner traffic. The steakhouse, a tradition on all of Carnival’s newer ships, delivered an excellent meal, for a surcharge. In addition to venues dedicated to Indian, Mexican, sushi and burgers, there was a barbecue option available on sea days. In all, the diversity of food options was impressive, with most of the Lido Deck serving as a kind of giant food court—there was, truly, something to please almost everyone.

Other noteworthy features on Carnival Breeze included Waterworks, a top-deck water park with a couple nifty slides and a ropes course (though the latter was closed more often than not due to winds). The usual exterior promenade deck is aptly named the Lanai on Breeze, and the widened terrace was a great spot for sun and socializing, with four cantilevered Jacuzzis perched above the lifeboats. We heard some grumbling about the main theater’s revamped staged entertainment. But we felt the high-tech shows, which are just 30 minutes long and utilize giant LED screens instead of props and sets, are a good way to provide fresh entertainment to a divergent crowd.

Meanwhile, many of the aspects Carnival’s fun-loving past guests count on are well represented aboard Breeze. There’s a DJ for the main pool, with hits pumping throughout the day. The adults-only Serenity area is a well designed chill-out zone (though packed on sea days). The Punchliner Comedy Club in the Limelight Lounge delivers a solid laugh track several nights a week. Kids are well accommodated in Camp Carnival, Circle “C,” and Club O2, the areas set aside for—respectively—children, tweens and teens. And the waiters at Cucina del Capitano still do their Dean Martin best when breaking into a rendition of “That’s Amore,” to the delight of many.

This is a busy ship, and on our sea days, we found many venues to be packed or overflowing.

Our initial impression with Breeze was that Carnival hit one out of the park. But over the course of a few days some issues became apparent, most particularly regarding crowds. This is a busy ship, and on sea days we found many venues to be packed or overflowing. There were just two pool areas, neither of which was designated for adults only. There were long lines to try the Mongolian Wok station and Guy’s Burger Joint.

Ambient smoke was an issue in a couple areas of the ship—primarily the casino and dance club—but we also found our balcony plagued by cigarette smells that wafted up from the Lanai below, as well as from nearby cabins. (Currently, Carnival and Norwegian are the only major cruise lines that still allow smoking on cabin balconies.)

Breeze was also, like most Carnival cruises, a noisy ship. While the crew did a good job of sequestering the kids into designated areas through most of the day and evening, some of the critters escaped and seemed to congregate in the hallway and cabins surrounding our room. If only we had a nickel for every time we heard a neighboring cabin door slam shut. Part of this is due to the air vents in cabin doors which allow a fair amount of sound leak from the hallway.

Fortunately, the ship’s engines weren’t loud, they purred gently. Our cabin was towards the aft, and we were never awakened by thrusters or rumbling motors. In fact, our quarters were quite comfortable—not oversized, but sufficient for two, and well maintained by our steward.

Lido Marketplace

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Lido Marketplace on Deck 10 is the main buffet option aboard Breeze. Though often crowded, especially at breakfast and lunch, the traffic flow is better than on many of Carnival’s older vessels, with food stations nicely spaced. There is indoor seating close to the buffet stations, amid a canopy of lanterns and faux trees, as well as outdoor tables at midship (usually full) and aft, by the Tides Pool (often empty).

For breakfast, we found packaged cereals, oatmeal, yogurt, eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, pork or chicken sausages, bacon, baked beans, French toast and pancakes were all on offer. The fruit station offered melon, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and the pastry and bread selection was nicely varied. It’s not a huge selection for breakfast, but certainly adequate.

The range of fare at lunch was broader, and much of it changed from one day to the next. There was a deli with both cold and hot sandwiches—turkey wraps, tuna, and arugula, pepper and mozzarella on ciabatta; pastrami or corned beef on rye, grilled Rueben, roast turkey, etc. The salad bar was modest, but there was a rotating selection of prepared salads—vegetable and goat cheese, potato salad, watercress and arugula. The hot selection also changed daily, and our cruise we saw such fare as caramel crusted fish fillet, chicken parmigiana, chicken tenders, chimichanga, fried popcorn shrimp, broccoli casserole, maple glazed pork chops. There’s also a Mongolian Wok station where you choose your noodle, meat, etc. This was very popular, and the times we tried to get lunch here there was a long line. The dinner selection at Lido Marketplace was similar (minus the Mongolian Wok), and was a much less busy time for the buffet.

The dessert spread was extensive, though we found much of it looked better than it actually tasted (tip: go to afternoon tea for dessert instead). The chocolate buffet on the last full day of cruise was popular, but it didn’t quite send us.

Several drink stations offered coffee and tea around the clock, along with water and lemonade or orange “juice cocktail.” Alcoholic and other drinks were available at the Tides Bar (aft) or next to the Beach Pool at Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Red Frog Rum Bar.

Blue Iguana Tequila Bar

This Mexican-themed outpost was one of two bars flanking the Beach Pool on Deck 10. Tequila is the primary fuel, with various fruity concoctions assembled—multiple imaginings of margarita, frozen and on the rocks, along with spiked lemonade by the pitcher, beers by the bucket, and michelada cocktails. Shots of various tequilas were also available.

Service

Overall, the service we received aboard Carnival Breeze was excellent. The crew treated us like family from the moment we embarked, even referring to us by name at the main dining room (no, our cover wasn’t blown—these folks were simply on top of their game with everyone).

Red Frog Rum Bar

Located next to the Beach Pool on Deck 10 and mirroring the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, this Caribbean beach shack has a worthy list of enticing rums (Zacapa from Guatemala, Gosling’s Black Seal from Bermuda), as well as a selection of rum-based drinks, frozen and on the rocks. Spiked lemonade and margaritas were available in pitchers. Draft and Caribbean bottled beers were also offered.

Decks

There are a number of good outdoor spaces on Carnival Breeze, starting with The Lanai, a concept that originally debuted with Carnival Dream. We think it’s a great use of the exterior roof over the lifeboats, Deck 5. Completely encircling the ship, there are four oversized oblong whirlpools along the deck (two forward, two aft), loungers, chairs, umbrellas at midship, and seating areas outside Red Frog Pub. Though there’s no dedicated lap lane, we didn’t spot a sign prohibiting jogging—2.5 laps around the ship equal a mile. But joggers might find the deck too crowded for running any time other than early in the morning—it receives a fair amount of traffic throughout the day (there’s a shorter lap lane on Deck 12, but this area—Sports Square—can also be crowded during the day).

Like Carnival’s other newer ships, there’s a Serenity Adult Retreat, located on Deck 15, above the spa. Serenity is a great-looking space, a dedicated kid-free zone. There’s no up-charge to use Serenity (as is common on many of Carnival’s competitors). The downside is that it’s fairly crowded, especially on sea days. It’s also not quite as serene as the name would imply—the entrance to the slides is at one end of the space, and squealing children are the rule. But otherwise it’s a pleasing hangout, and there’s a bar so you don’t have to trek down a few flights for a drink.

For true relaxation and a modicum of privacy, we recommend the forward-facing decks above and below the bridge. Sometimes referred to as the “secret decks” by Carnival regulars, they’re accessed only from the interior hallways at the forward end of decks 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11. There are loungers available, and no loud music, scampering kids or other distractions. When we have 5 minutes to spare and breathe in the sea environment, this is where we choose to escape—they’re the quietest place Breeze offers on a sunny sea day.

Finally, Deck 11 offers lots of loungers, showers, and Ping Pong tables—it’s generally less crowded than the Lido Deck just below, and the forward part of the deck is less noisy.

Other Cabins

We did not stay in the rest of these cabins, but we have summaries here provided by Carnival Cruise Lines. Note that photos below have been provided by the cruise line and not our reviewer.

Interior
A comfortable stateroom retreat, where some rooms also feature pull-down beds—ideal for families. Stateroom amenities: Television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.

Ocean View
Large windows offer excellent views of the ocean and sneak peeks of each destination. Stateroom amenities: Television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.
 
Suite
A spacious room, that includes Priority check-in during embarkation. Stateroom amenities: Whirlpool bath; vanity dressing table; television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.

Conclusion

Carnival Breeze is the new Carnival personified. While fans of the old Joe Farcus glitz may find Breeze has less personality than they’re accustomed to, this new approach to design may lure a few converts to the brand. And the number of features Breeze offers is hard to resist—it’s a particularly good ship for families.

Our two primary complaints—crowding and noise—are mitigated somewhat by the relatively low fares Carnival charges, even for its newest ship (though Breeze is priced somewhat higher than other Carnival ships offering similar itineraries). To find a cabin on a Caribbean cruise during the winter for less than $100 per person, per day isn’t hard, but to find it on a nearly new vessel like Breeze, clean and spotless and with all its bells and whistles, makes this ship truly appealing. Given the value, we would enjoy sailing on Breeze again, and we’re eager to see Carnival’s promised enhancements delivered throughout the fleet.

Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse

A feature found on a majority of ships in the Carnival fleet, the steakhouse on Breeze offers a quality dining experience that is several cuts above what is offered in the ship’s main dining rooms. Of course, there’s a surcharge to dine here—$35—but we feel Fahrenheit 555 is worth the add-on, especially for a special occasion or romantic night out for couples. The room is sophisticated and subdued, the service deferential and engaged, and the fine meats are well prepared.

The meat selection ranges from the 9-ounce filet mignon to 18-ounce prime cowboy and rib-eye steaks; also available were grilled lamb chops, grilled fillet of fish “from the market,” Maine lobster ravioli with grilled scampi, and broiled lobster tail (surf and turf was also an option). Starters included escargots, shrimp cocktail, New England crab cake, lobster bisque, and onion soup.

Our meal started with an amuse bouche, tomato soup accented with orange and a lobster ball with shrimp in a sweet-and-sour sauce. Warm bread was served with butter and two dipping options. We tried various starters—beautifully composed portobello mushrooms marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the classic Caesar salad liberally dusted with parmesan cheese and studded with oversized croutons, and a delicious ahi tuna tartare, a stack of cubed yellow fin tuna dressed with pearls of various liquids. The only appetizer that disappointed was the hearts of iceberg salad—it arrived just as promised, with red and yellow grape tomatoes, but we think Carnival owes this steakhouse standard a fresh twist.

The entrées we chose included the broiled New York strip, a large cut that was perfectly cooked to order and handsomely presented. We also tried the broiled rosemary infused chicken, which was served in a small skillet atop a hash of potatoes and mushrooms. This was a very tasty alternative to the red meats on offer. For dessert we opted for the cheesecake—a hefty slice accented with a hazelnut biscuit—and the fresh fruits, a lovingly crafted selection of melon and berries served with cream in a martini glass.

The steakhouse has a full bar, with cocktails not offered elsewhere, along with the ship’s full menu of wines. Fahrenheit 555 is open nightly, and those who dine here on the first night of the cruise are traditionally gifted with a complimentary bottle of wine.

Ship Communications

The ship’s daily newsletter, Fun Times, landed in our cabin each evening. We find Carnival’s standard layout for the newsletter isn’t organized in a way that makes it easy to find everything going on at any given time. Some events are listed in an hour-by-hour schedule, but others—especially live music—are listed elsewhere.

However, most of the ship’s events got a push or two during the announcements by the cruise director. Bingo sessions, art auctions and spa promos (i.e. revenue events) got an even bigger push. Alas, the announcements were inescapable, booming enough in the corridors to be heard loud and clear within our cabin.

Red Frog Pub

The traditional English pub gets a reworking by Parrotheads at Red Frog Pub, located on Deck 5. Not to be confused with the poolside Red Frog Rum Bar, this is an indoor watering hole with flotsam-and-jetsam décor and Caribbean-themed bartenders who kept the mood light and sunny. It’s all a bit antiseptic for our taste (if decidedly clean and air conditioned), but we found live music here nightly—usually a crooner with a guitar, starting at 8:30 p.m.

In addition to a few specialty rums, there was a small selection of beers on tap, available by the pitcher or 101-ounce tube, as well as a sampler paddle. A small roster of Caribbean beers, including Banks (Barbados), Carib (Trinidad), Presidente (Dominican Republic) and Red Stripe (Jamaica) was available. The cocktail list includes tropical drinks—a couple colored with Blue Curacao liqueur—along with variations on the mojito. But our eyes went straight to the drinks featuring Ting, a made-in-Jamaica grapefruit soda that’s offered here with rum, vodka or gin—mmmm. There was also a light menu with food, delivered with a surcharge (see the previous page), but the bowl of tasty deep-fried pigeon peas was brought to each table gratis.

Internet Facilities

The ship’s main Internet station, the Fun Hub, was located on Deck 5, near the Plaza Café. Six PCs were provided, and an attendant was sometimes around for questions. There were at least two other Fun Hubs set up in other high-traffic areas of the ship (such as the lobby), with computers were set up for guest use.

We found the WiFi speed just average during our cruise (that is, sloowww), but pretty comparable to what we’ve had on most other ships. The basic Internet usage plan was .75 per minute, plus a one-time $3.95 activation fee; this covered computers in the Fun Hub as well as WiFi around the ship. There were various packages available that brought the per-minute price down to .64 per minute (45 minutes for $29), .49 per minute (120 minutes for $59), etc. There was a printer available, for .50 per page.

Shows & Entertainment

Live entertainment venues spread around the ship, but concentrated on Deck 5. The main showroom is the three story Ovation Theatre, a venue that utilizes proscenium-height LED screens as backdrops to most of its stage shows. Breeze was one of the first ships to receive the technology, which minimizes bulky sets and maximizes bristling visuals, the videos all carefully timed to the pre-recorded backing tracks. (The singers are—mostly—live, but the music is canned.) The massive, moveable LED screens allow for a diverse array of effects to take place behind, and sometimes interacting with, the live performers. There are good sightlines from most seats—that is, if you avoid the structural supports that rise above (and below) the front of the balcony. There are quite a few seats to the side, but the virtual effects are best appreciated when viewing the stage straight on.

We saw two of the three shows offered at Ovation Theatre, each of which ran a tidy 30 minutes. “Divas” was mostly an excuse for vocal acrobatics (mommy, hear how many notes I can hit!), featuring the music of Madonna, Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, et al. We found the show to be a little cold, without much heart and soul, but it had lots of volume (and we’re not just talking the hair). The sound was blasting for those seated in the balcony; some of these seats directly face the blaring speakers. “The Brits” was a review of our favorite tunes from across the pond. The vocal histrionics were at a minimum, allowing the music to carry us away. The third show was “Latin Nights,” a review of—well, you know. Other shows that transpired in the Ovation Theatre included a Bingo (daily), various trivia contests, and Carnival's new Hasbro game show, which kids loved.

Other diversions could be found in The Warehouse, a brick-lined video arcade where the teens hung out (it’s located next to Club O2 and Circle “C”). The games were token-operated—the daily limit that could be charged to room accounts was $75 (unless a parent set a higher or lower figure).

Nearby, the Thrill Theater is a Breeze exclusive offering motion simulator rides. The 3-D movies are pumped up with strobe lights, smoke/fog machine and a bubble machine, and 24 seats that vibrate and pitch up, down and all around. The movies are 15-minute versions of Warner Bros. hits like Happy Feet, Ice Age and Polar Express. One ride is $7.95, or an unlimited ride pass is $14.95. Another guest derided the experience as juvenile. We skipped it.

The Limelight Lounge is home to Sunshine’s comedy club, and Liquid Nightclub is the ship’s disco, both discussed on the previous page.

Cucina Del Capitano

Another dining staple throughout most of the Carnival fleet, this family oriented trattoria is located just above the Lido buffet. There’s a $12 surcharge for dinners at Cucina del Capitano, and the portions are quite hearty, suitable for sharing. (A limited lunch menu is also offered, free of charge.) Although we don’t find most of the food to be anything special, it is satisfying, and a nice change of pace of the bustling main dining rooms. The lighthearted décor is red checkered tablecloths, empty wine bottles and black-and-white framed photos of old Italian ships and their captains; at a couple points the wait staff broke out into a song and dance routine—cute.

The menu offers a little something for everyone, and portions are huge. Starters include such standards as an antipasti plate, eggplant parmigiana, fried calamari, and minestrone soup. We opted for the arancini, fried risotto balls served over tomato sauce—one of the few smaller portions on the menu. The insalata Caprese—tomato, mozzarella, basil—was a straightforward interpretation, with drizzles of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pesto. The “captain’s favorite,” an insalata di rucola, was comprised of arugula, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese, with a limoncello dressing. The bracing salad was initially refreshing, but the brisk dressing was so strong we soon tired of the flavors after a few bites. All was accompanied by a cutting board with toasted bread, ricotta cheese, roasted garlic and plump tomatoes on the side.

For our main course we chose two pastas. Piatto della Nonna was penne with a tomato and vodka cream sauce, spiked with shrimp and flecks of prosciutto. It was quite flavorful but otherwise undistinguished. The spaghetti carbonara was awash in cream, studded with bacon and shaved parmesan. We prefer carbonara with egg, not cream, but this decadent interpretation was just as the menu advertised. Both of these rich pasta dishes were way more than a typical portion—we’d recommend sharing them (both could have served as an appetizer for four). Other entrée options mostly shied away from pasta and included chicken parmigiana, Piedmont-style braised short ribs, New York sirloin, grilled shrimp and grilled salmon, along with bavette alla scoglio (pasta with seafood in a white wine sauce), or linguini with meatballs. Side dishes are available, such as zucchini and tomatoes, rosemary potatoes, and broccoli with peperonata. Desserts included tiramisu, lemon sorbet, cannoli and an apple tart, and a selection of Italian after-dinner liqueurs were available.

The lunch menu is fairly short, but there’s no add-on fee. There were three types of pasta and four sauces, though these could be supplemented with items such as grilled chicken, garlic shrimp, eggplant, etc. There was also a tasty meat lasagna available, along with very ordinary Caesar salad. If you’re in the mood for pasta at midday, it’s fine, but the dinner menu is definitely better.

Winner’s Luck Casino

Saturated in red and blacks, the Winner’s Luck Casino is touched with Vegas glitz, creating a popular space for gamers to congregate. Located midship on Deck 5, the casino had an abundance of slot machines, along with table games (roulette, craps, blackjack and various types of poker) and the facility was busy whenever we were at sea, with slot machines staying open 24 hours a day (except while in port). There were Blackjack and slot tournaments, and a couple Texas Hold’em challenges.

Gambling was allowed for guests 18 and older. Guests could charge up to $2000 to their room accounts. Smoking was permitted on the port side of the casino, but the starboard side wasn’t much less smoky—it was impossible to escape the cigarette smells here. The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the casino bar.

Dress Codes

Carnival’s dress code is fairly informal, day and night. That said, “gym or basketball shorts, flip flops, bathing suit attire, cut-off jeans and men’s sleeveless shirts” are not allowed in the restaurants (presumably, though not explicitly, this policy is not in effect for the Lido Marketplace).

One or two nights of each cruise are designated as Elegant Evenings. In addition to the above, on these nights shorts, T-shirts, jeans, sportswear and baseball hats were not allowed in the restaurants. Jackets were not required for men. Although many guests put on their Sunday best for Elegant Evenings (maybe a third of the passengers), just as many stayed casual.

Piano Bar 88

The piano bar has a dedicated following among Carnival loyalists, and Breeze’s Piano Bar 88 is the latest iteration—a clean, modern space that provides a blues club-like backdrop for piano-man sing-alongs leavened with a good dose of humor. Each table had a playlist for requests, along with lyrics for Carnival’s “top ten” piano bar songs (for those who don’t know what comes after “that’ll be the day that I die…”). The piano man hit the ivory starting at 7:30 p.m. all but one night of our cruise (a guitarist came in for the night off).

The ship’s standard bar menu was available, along with some alcohol-free specials.

Bonsai Sushi

Offered only on Breeze and a couple other Carnival ships, this is a modest improvement over the sushi stands found throughout most of the fleet. Alas, meals here involve an a la carte surcharge—you’ll want to budget about $12 to $15 for a meal, not including drinks. The surrounds are pleasant enough, in a Yokohama-meets-Denny’s kind of way, and service was swift and friendly. Our main complaint was that the venue, which is open on one side to the main hallway on Deck 5, is noisy—the karaoke acts going on in the nearby Plaza were not exactly the soundtrack we wanted for dinner.

Meanwhile, the food was straightforward and unsurprising. We were offered a “chork” to eat with—the utensil is a fork on one end and chopsticks on the other (joined at one end). While this is a friendly intro to chopsticks for newcomers, for those comfortable with chopsticks the tweezer-like appendage is awkward and clumsy. Starters (which ran $2 to $3 each) included tuna and mango tartare, wagyu beef short ribs, noodle salad and miso soup. Rolls ranged $4 to $6 each, and the short list included California, spicy tuna, and tempura roll. A bento box was available for $8, but the best value was the Ship for Two—a $15 combo platter that included a number of the above items, served in a cute little toy ship.

The weirdest part of an evening here had nothing to do with the food. Just before our sushi arrived we were handed a fish flag on a stick and waitresses taught everyone a dance routine. Next thing we knew “Turning Japanese,” a 1980 song by new wave group the Vapors, came over the sound system. Three very enthusiastic Japanese waitresses encouraged the room to wave this flags and join them in a bizarre rendition. Every one of our fellow diners had a dumbfounded look on their face.

Tandoor

Little more than a modest buffet station on the aft pool deck, this was our favorite lunch option on Breeze. Although the selection of Punjabi, Kashmiri and Goan curries and other dishes was fairly tame, dishes were well prepared, and provided easy intro to Indian cuisine for newbies. Among the rotating offerings were tandoori chicken, Goan fish curry, aloo mutter, vegetable jalfrezi, butter chicken, and beef rogan josh, while dal, naan and roti were offered daily. It was good, rich and spicy food. One odd note: the Greek salad offered as a side seemed both unimpressive and misplaced.

Other Venues

The Breeze lobby and nine-story atrium was an inviting area—so alluring, in fact, that it was usually packed with guests, with a line streaming from the front desk. In addition to the guest services and shore excursions desks, the Lobby Bar was located here. Glass elevators swooped through an airspace of suspended lanterns.

A Conference Center is located just past the lobby atrium, on Deck 5.

Liquid Nightclub

This is the dance club on Carnival Breeze. It’s a great space with a whomping sound system. The full bar menu is available, and there are nooks and crannies that allowed us to socialize. The DJ served up crowd-pleasing portions of Motown, Michael Jackson and Latin hits. The bar opened at 9:30 p.m. most evenings, and became and became 18-and-over most nights at 10:30 or 11 p.m. Our only complaint was that the entire space was one of only two indoor smoking areas on the ship—the smell was rank for non-smokers.

Laundry Facilities

Carnival Breeze has self-serve laundry rooms, available on decks 2, 7 and 10. Each load is $3 for the wash, $3 for dry, and boxes of detergent were $1 each. Ironing rooms were separate, located on decks 1, 6, 8 and 9. Valet and dry cleaning service was available, at the usual inflated hotel prices.

General Health & Safety

A muster drill was held just prior to sail-away. We were not required to bring life jackets from our cabin to the drill and roll call was not taken. Muster stations were located on deck 4.

Sea Dogs

A hot dog cart sprang up at Sports Square on sea days. There was just one kind of frank on offer, but grilled onions and sauerkraut were available as toppings.

Limelight Lounge

Home to the Punchliner Comedy Club, the Limelight Lounge actually is a multi-purpose room with a full bar menu. The bar is open only when an event is scheduled, and this included such fare as karaoke parties, the future cruise presentation, and a magic and mindreading show.

The comedy was offered on only two evenings of our six-night cruise. There were five shows on these nights, alternating between two comics. The first two shows of the evening (7:15 and 8:15 p.m.) were designated as all-ages, but we found the comedians really wanting—even the kids were hard-pressed to crack a smile. The three later shows starting at 9:15 p.m. were 180 degrees from the tone of the early shows, with raunchy, R-rated jokes—some seemingly designed to offend more than amuse (we saw a few walkouts at one show—prudes should steer clear). The venue was cleared after every show, to give as many cruisers as possible a chance at seeing the comedians, but we’d say demand slightly exceeded the amount of seats available (i.e., don’t show up at showtime and expect to find a seat).

Clinics

A medical center is located on Deck 0, a level that otherwise has no guest facilities. The medical center was open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but doctor’s hours were 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Library Bar

Located on Deck 4, the Library has its own small bar, creating an inviting and quiet space just off the main lobby. There’s just a small library of books aboard Carnival Breeze, but a decent selection of board games is available for loan. Bridge players met here each morning at 9 a.m. and Friends of Bill W were here in the afternoon.

The full bar menu isn’t available (though if you ordered something unusual they’d probably retrieve it from another location). But there’s a short list of wine, some of them supplied by enomatic wine dispensers that can be operated with a swipe of one’s key card, along with a decent selection of Scotch, whiskey, rum, cognac and cordials. We also found some cocktails unique to this space—Hemingway’s Papa Doble, a Scarlet Letter and the Black Pearl. The bar was staffed in the evening, and on sea days a bartender arrived at midday.

Pizza Pirate

Located on the aft pool deck, this pizza parlor rolls out serviceable pies 24 hours a day. Among the flavors we saw: Margherita, funghi, pepperoni, quattro formaggi, and prosciutto.

Smoking Policy

There were several exterior areas designated for smoking aboard Carnival Breeze. This included the port side of Deck 5 (the Lanai) and the port side of Deck 11. Indoors, smoking was allowed in the casino (port side) and the casino bar, and throughout the Liquid Nightclub. Smoking was also allowed on guest balconies, though not for spa cabins.

The casino and Liquid Nightclub were both generally smoky areas, and sometimes smoke from the Lanai drifted towards balconies on decks 6 and above. Non-smokers may want to request balcony cabins on the starboard side (which is non-smoking).

Guy’s Burger Joint

This is another seagoing outpost for Guy Fieri, Carnival’s vision of a celebrity chef. We can’t argue that the juicy, sloppy ground chuck offered here represents an above average cruise ship burger. They have a high fat content, but that’s what makes them delectable, right? A line forms soon after opening each day and doesn’t let up till well into the afternoon (tip: the lines were worse for the first couple days of our cruise). Guy’s disembodied wisdom grinds out on a sound system surrounding the al fresco serving station.

The burgers can be ordered straight up, with bourbon and brown sugar BBQ sauce, chili, or with Guy’s “donkey” sauce. Also on offer is the Pig Patty—a true ham-burger, made out of bacon. There’s a fixings bar, with traditional condiments along with sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, and bacon.

Tides Bar

Located on Deck 10 aft, the Tides Bar was the watering hole for the Tides Pool and was also the most convenient bar for those dining at Lido Marketplace. Like the pool, it stayed open till the wee hours. The ship’s standard cocktail list was available.

Breeze Bar

With the lobby serving as the nerve center of the ship, the Breeze Bar here was bustling at most hours of the day. Fortunately, we never had to wait long for a drink. The standard cocktail list was available, and live music was served up most evenings. There was an espresso machine as well, and the full line of coffee drinks was available. Overhead, the atrium offered a cheerful skyscape of lanterns rising through the elevator shaft

General Policies

For information on Carnival’s tipping and service charge policy, see here.

For information on Carnival’s alcohol policy, see here.

For information on Carnival’s loyalty program, see here.

Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ

Exclusive—for now—aboard Carnival Breeze, this is an outdoor barbecue stand on the Lanai Deck, operating on sea days only. A line was solidly established at opening time on all three of our sea days, but we didn’t wait more than 10 minutes to be served. The meat selection included barbecued chicken breast, pulled pork, kielbasa and Italian sausage. The was a good array of sides, including grilled vegetables (root veggies, eggplant and onion), potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, creamed corn and cornbread. For those who didn’t want to goop on extra BBQ sauce there was a tasty red bell pepper puree. We’re not BBQ snobs, but we thought the fare was pretty satisfying.

Taste Bar

This is an interesting concept, a counter for tapas-sized taste treats in the evening, located next to Ocean Plaza, a prime traffic area. The fare replicates what it served in the ship’s various other restaurants, so it was more like a preview of dining choices. At breakfast and lunch this was another buffet line, with a limited selection of the food available at the Lido Marketplace. But it was also fairly undiscovered, and easy to get in and out of.

Blue Iguana Cantina

This was the spot for take-away Mexican fare, located next to the main pool. Burritos and tacos were built to order, a la the Chipotle’s fast-food chain—chipotle-rubbed chicken, ancho roast pork, fried fish, beans, corn, grilled onions, etc. could all be loaded into tortillas for fast and tasty lunches. In addition to pumping out fresh tortillas, the cantina has a surprisingly robust salsa bar, with at least ten different fresh salsas, along with lime, cabbage, cilantro, watermelon and other Mexican essentials.

The cantina is also open for simple breakfasts. While the huevos rancheros were a little different from what we know, they’re a perky way to start the day. Breakfast burritos were packed with scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, ham and potatoes.

Red Frog Pub

Though primarily used as a bar, food could be ordered at the Red Frog Pub. The a la carte surcharge for dining here didn’t make sense to us. We tried the sliders, two to an order—the burgers were accompanied by frizzled onions, while Jamaican jerk pulled pork came with plantain chips. These were fine for a light meal, and the $3.33 charge per plate was modest but, again, this seemed nickel-and-dimey to us. Other items (also $3.33) included coconut shrimp, grouper fingers, conch salad and West Indian roti. There was one dessert: Icky Sticky Coconut Cake.

In-Room Dining

Room service is available 24 hours a day aboard Carnival Breeze, but we found there was much better offered at the various restaurants. The breakfast options were outlined on a door tag that could be hung outside our cabin before 5 a.m.; selections were limited to continental breakfast: packaged cereals, breads and pastries, smoked salmon, yogurt, and plates of citrus, melon or banana. For the rest of the day, sandwiches (hot and cold), salads and desserts were available.

We ordered breakfast by phone one morning and were told delivery would take approximately 30 minutes—it arrived 24 minutes later. We asked for a banana to go with our cereal but were told they were out; we ordered the melon and citrus plate instead. The menu said muffins were available, and we asked the phone attendant what flavors. “Bran, chocolate chip and some other flavor,” we were told. We requested bran, but what arrived was “some other,” which turned our to be lemon-poppy seed (not our favorite). The fruit plate was pretty, but the citrus was unpleasantly sour. Otherwise our order was fine—the one hot item was coffee, and it was piping hot.

We called to order lunch one day, and were told 30 minutes again—the knock on the door came in 21 minutes. We requested the mozzarella and portobello on focaccia, but what was delivered was a grilled Panini that was like a caprese salad—pesto, tomato, mozzarella and zucchini. Though this option wasn’t on the menu, it was good, so we didn’t mind the substitution. Still, if they were out of Portobello or mozzarella, couldn’t they have told us when we ordered? We also had the hot pastrami sandwich on rye—it arrived barely warm (not hot), and was just okay; the side of potato salad was pretty good, though. Mixed green salad was nice, with fresh lettuces, cucumber, tomato wedges, and shaves of radish and carrot, offered with a selection of dressings. The New York cheesecake for dessert was uninteresting, and oddly served with a dollop of sweetened butter on the side.

For both deliveries the tray was simply adorned with linen, while the silverware was wrapped in a linen napkin.

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