Carnival Breeze has a light and lively Caribbean feel, with friendly and accommodating crew members. In fact, service is one of the ship's strongest points.
As befits a mega, self-titled "Fun Ship" catering to thousands, you'll find a nearly nonstop range of activities (from beanbag tossing to the notorious hairy chest competition), entertainment (30-minute song-and-dance shows, live music throughout the ship) and lots of chow-down options, from 24-hour handmade pizza to a Michelin-quality chef's table. You'll be lucky to get a seat at a $6 blackjack table in the smoky casino, which buzzes on sea nights. During the day, kids make a beeline for two scream-inducing water slides, mini-golf and an elevated ropes course.
The 3,690-passenger Breeze, which can pack in 4,724 when every bed is occupied, attracts everyone from young partiers to wedding groups, families and gay and hetero couples both young and old, and it often sails at capacity. This ship's passenger list is as diverse as the United States (90 percent of cruisers are from North America), but you probably won't rub shoulders with the country club set.
There's not much formality either: Passengers tend to be unpretentious, friendly and social. Infants crawl in the halls and cabin doors are decorated like school lockers. The dress code is one of the more lax at sea, though you can dress up if you like.
As you might have guessed, Carnival Breeze is not for those seeking serenity at sea. Prepare to stand in line at popular eateries, such as the Guy Fieri barbecue and burger joints. You'll hear babies crying, groups calling to each other and the late-night stumble of an overimbiber trying to find his stateroom.
Those who do need a break from the crowds can find it on the lesser-populated Lanai Deck or in some secluded front-of-ship deck space. Then again, why sign up for a Fun Ship if you're seeking tranquillity? Better get back to the Lido Deck now 'cause they're doing the electric slide.
Daytime: Dress is casual, mainly shorts and jeans and T-shirts.
Evening: On most nights, evening attire is casual -- a slightly dressier version of daywear with nice jeans and dress shorts acceptable. One or two nights are "elegant" nights in the dining room and steakhouse. Women will be fine packing dressy tops and pants or short dresses; men should bring collared shirts and slacks. Daytime dress is always acceptable in the buffet at dinner.
Not permitted: Cutoff jeans, tank tops (for men), athletic shorts, flip-flops, baseball hats and swimwear are not permitted in the main dining room and steakhouse. (However, we've seen people break the rules and get away with it.)
Day & Night
Fun is Carnival's mantra. On sea days, expect events ranging from trivia and scavenger hunts to shopping talks, cooking and towel animal-making demos, bingo for cash prizes, Dr. Seuss Story Time, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, art auctions, poolside dancing and the hilarious "Very Hairy Chest Contest."
A two-dozen seater Thrill Theater ($7.95 a show) shows 4D mini-movies that have your chairs rocking and water spraying while you watch. There's also a video arcade for spending money on sea days.
Evening entertainment includes nightly 30-minute Playlist Productions performances by the ship's singers and dancers, raucous audience-participation game shows (a la "The Newlywed Game"-style "Love & Marriage Show"), comedy shows (PG-rated earlier in the evening, moving toward X later), dancing in the Liquid Nightclub, deck parties and popular karaoke nights.
Outdoor movies on the Lido Deck, complete with popcorn, are screened twice nightly, with earlier showings geared toward kids.
Drinking is a day and night pastime for many adult passengers, and sweet tropical concoctions and beer are popular. Watch for $3 "make any drink a double" days.
Atrium Bar (Deck 3): This bar revs up at night when string trios play, Latin singers entertain, a DJ spins and theatre performers mingle (and dance) with fans. Mojitos are popular.
The Library Bar (Deck 4): A small, quiet space with books, the Library Bar has two self-service wine dispensers that pour a changing variety of vino in 2-, 4- and 6-ounce quantities.
RedFrog Pub (Deck 5): This replica of a British pub (with a Caribbean flair) -- serving up Carnival's exclusive ThirstyFrog Red and extra-fee bar snacks after 6 p.m. -- is a favourite gathering spot. There's a jukebox, patio-style seating and acoustic guitar music at night.
Piano Bar 88 (Deck 5): This bar is elbow-to-elbow when the pianist is taking requests and performing, or when a sing-along breaks out. Martinis are popular.
Liquid Nightclub (Deck 5): Styled like a mini-Vegas club, Liquid doesn't get going till after 11 p.m.
The Limelight Lounge (Deck 5): This lounge, with a stage and a bar, heats up on nights when there's karaoke or a Punchliner Comedy Club show.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10): The always-jumping poolside BlueIguana does a brisk business in tequila drinks, though you can find a few other options as well.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10): Another poolside staple, the RedFrog Rum Bar dispenses tropical creations, frozen drinks and ThirstyFrog Red beer.
SportsSquare Bar (Deck 12): In addition to adult beverages, this outpost by the basketball court does a brisk business in smoothies for the kids playing mini-golf. Unlike most other bars, it closes early, usually around 6 p.m.
Carnival Breeze has two pools, two water slides with kiddie splashing areas and a half-dozen hot tubs. Serious swimmers beware; no pool is big enough for real swimming or doing laps. There's no lifeguard at any of the pools, and infants in diapers and kids who are not toilet-trained are prohibited from entering the water.
The Beach Pool is the hub of daily activity that includes group dancing and concerts broadcast on the big screen. On sea days, it's hard to find an empty lounger. The aft Tides Pool is quieter, though its two hot tubs are popular.
Adults can escape to the free-to-use Serenity Deck, where you'll find cushioned loungers, basket-weave clamshell-shaped "cabanas" for two, two hot tubs and a lone hammock. However, the locale isn't exactly serene when riders are screaming on the nearby water slides.
Deck 5 is a good place to hide from the crowds, save for the smokers in the area outside the Ocean Plaza Bar on the left side of the ship. The deck offers loungers galore, two giant chessboards and four elevated hot tubs overlooking the sea.
The WaterWorks area features two curving water slides, the PowerDrencher (which dumps water on visitors) and shallow splash pools for little ones. For drier fun, the upper decks offer a suspended ropes course, Ping-Pong, a miniature golf course, basketball court and outdoor area with punching bags and exercise machines.
Carnival Breeze's Cloud 9 Spa is a nearly 23,000-square-foot sanctuary with 20 treatment rooms, including three for couples. The variety of treatments (about 100) is staggering, from reflexology to hot-stone massage, to scrubs, men's shaves, oxygen facials and more. Teeth whitening, acupuncture, anti-aging facials, cellulite busters and wrinkle erasers are also on offer. Kids can spa here, too, with treatments like a father/son chill-out massage and the "Acne Attack" facial.
While the variety of services is excellent, we felt the rates were too high for this cruise line ($125 for the least expensive facial, $149 for the lowest-cost 50-minute deep-tissue massage).
The spa's centrepiece is the coed thalassotherapy pool and next-door thermal suite with steam rooms, sauna and heated mosaic-tiled chaise lounges. The venue is 18+, and if you're not in a spa cabin, you must pay a daily fee or buy a cruise-long pass to use this area. However, saunas in the locker rooms are free to use.
The fitness centre is located in the spa complex. It's a spacious area with floor-to-ceiling windows and packed with rows of Life Fitness equipment (treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines, weight benches and more). A few exercise classes are free, such as sunrise and evening stretch classes and "fab abs." You'll have to pay to take cycling, "Body Sculpt Boot Camp" and Pilates classes. Personal training is also available for a fee.
Outdoor exercise equipment (including stationary bicycles; machines to work hips, arms and abs; and punching bags), a basketball court and jogging track (a mile is eight laps) are located in the SportsSquare on Deck 12.
The core Breeze clientele tilts toward meat and potatoes and fried chicken, all of which are popular at the buffet and in the two main dining rooms. But foodies and vegetarians are considered, as well. The universally praised eats on the ship are found in the for-fee steakhouse and the free hamburger and pizza stands on the Lido Deck.
Blush and Sapphire Main Dining Rooms (Decks 3 and 4)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)
Carnival Breeze's main dining areas offer 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. assigned dinner seatings. Sapphire also hosts flexible dining where cruisers can arrive at any time starting at 5:45 p.m. Sapphire offers open-seating breakfast on port days, and on sea days, Blush serves lavish brunches with a bloody mary bar.
Most nights feature the multicourse and surprisingly international "American Table" menu, with dishes like smoked chicken quesadillas, Vietnamese spring rolls, flat iron steak and Carnival's signature gooey warm chocolate melting cake. Quality varies -- ask your waiter for recommendations. These nights have a casual vibe (no tablecloths, for example); Carnival ups the formality on "American Table" evenings.
The menu also offers "Rare Finds" (daring dishes like braised rabbit) and "Port of Call" choices to reflect regional cuisine. Order all the food you care to eat. Heart-healthy and vegetarian options are marked. A $20 surcharge is tacked onto filet mignon and lobster tail orders; there is just one free lobster night per cruise.
Wine is not overpriced, and the list includes California vintages from former Carnival spokeswoman Kathie Lee Gifford.
Dining room waiters are generally good at remembering names and preferences and often hop on counters (en masse) to sing and dance to upbeat pop songs.
The Lido Marketplace (Deck 10)
Meals: B, L, D
The Lido Marketplace is the casual buffet restaurant, open from morning to night, with an afternoon break for most stations (often to the chagrin of late-returning tour participants). Breakfast offers typical hot and cold morning options, including made-to-order omelettes. Sandwiches, salad bar, a dessert bar and a changing menu of entrees are available at lunch and dinner. Themed areas include the Comfort Kitchen (mac 'n' cheese, chicken tenders), the Deli (great sandwiches and gluten-free options), French Chef and Mongolian Wok (choose veggies and meat for a custom stir-fry). There's also 24-hour soft-serve ice cream and frozen yoghurt machines.
On days at sea, the buffet complex feels like a big high school cafeteria at lunch hour, with long waits. At night, it's the place to go to avoid the dress code.
BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 10)
Meals: B, L
At Carnival's version of Chipotle, you can build your own burrito or taco with meats, cheeses, peppers and beans. A salsa bar provides ample toppings. At breakfast, BlueIguana Cantina offers scrambled eggs, sausages and more wrapped into a burrito.
Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 10):
Food Network star Guy Fieri's burger counter is very popular; it's open daily from noon to 6 p.m., but you'll wait if you come at peak hours. Order from the menu (including options made with bacon patties) or get a regular hamburger or cheeseburger and dress it up at the self-serve toppings bar. Don't miss the hand-cut fries. You can special order less well done or vegetarian patties.
Pizza Pirate (Deck 10)
This 24-hour stand bakes pies to order, so be prepared to wait for warm, thin-crusted pizzas that are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse (Deck 5)
Another Guy Fieri creation, Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is the place to go for decadent barbecue and indulgent sides like mac 'n' cheese, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad.
SeaDogs (Deck 12)
This old-school hot dog cart appeals to the kid in all of us but is only open sporadically on the sports deck by the mini-golf course.
Continental breakfast, basic sandwiches and desserts are complimentary. You'll pay extra for items like sushi, crispy chicken tenders and "authentic Philly cheesesteak," though all are $6 or less. Personal pan pizzas (not as good as the pies baked on deck) are $5. Delivery times vary.
Pricing was accurate at time of review, but may have changed since.
The Chef's Table (Deck 3); $75
The "it" place onboard for foodies, the Chef's Table features a set seven-course tasting menu in Breeze's giant galley. Here, the executive chef shows off cuisine you might expect at the world's costliest restaurants to an intimate group of 12. Cost includes wines. Reservations far in advance are essential, as The Chef's Table usually sells out.
Dr. Seuss Breakfast in the Sapphire Restaurant (Deck 3); $6
Ready for green eggs and ham? Or a colourful stack of hotcakes? Oh, yes, I am. The whimsical meal with costumed Seuss characters, including The Cat in the Hat, takes place at least once per cruise on a sea day.
Plaza Cafe (Deck 5); a la carte
Open from 7 a.m. to midnight daily, this is the ship's Starbucks. Grab a latte and a giant hunk of Black Forest cake (extra fees apply). Ice cream and spiked coffee drinks also are sold.
Bonsai Sushi (Deck 5); $2 to $22
This contemporary Japanese eatery serves up sushi and sashimi, as well as miso soup, bento boxes and sake. No reservations required. Bonsai Sushi is open 5 p.m. to midnight.
Fahrenheit 555 (Deck 5); $38
Book early for the most popular speciality dining venue on Carnival Breeze. This steakhouse is the place for meat- and seafood lovers, and those looking for date night in an intimate, dimly lit setting. Quality is better than similar items you'd find in the main dining rooms.
RedFrog Pub (Deck 5); a la carte, $3 to $4
In addition to its liquid libations, you'll find small-plate Caribbean-inspired pub grub after 6 p.m. at RedFrog Pub.
Cucina del Capitano (Deck 11); $15 for adults and $5 for kids
Meals: L, D
This homey trattoria with red-checked tablecloths serves Italian favourites. During dinner at Cucina del Capitano, expect to be serenaded by singing, dancing servers. Reservations are suggested. At lunch, there's a free pasta bar.
Some might call Breeze's 1,845 cabins merely functional, though with contemporary touches. We found them well designed, comfortable and cozy, though sound did carry from the room next door. Storage space was generous but gets tight if you're packing four or five in a room. Suites offer more space, but are not as over-the-top and glamorous and come with fewer perks than you'd find on other lines.
Furnishings include twin beds that covert to a queen (a few inside rooms have bunk beds only), bedside tables with drawers, coffee table, desk/vanity, sofas (many of which convert to extra beds) and ample closets. Beds aren't hard or saggy and are dressed with cloud-soft white duvets. All cabins are outfitted with flat-screen TVs that swivel, hair dryer, safe, mini-bar, robes and slippers, and beach towels. Outlets fit U.S. plugs, with three-pronged options for laptops; none are located by the bed.
Most bathrooms have showers, glass shelves, makeup mirror and an easily missed razor outlet. The shower has soap and shampoo dispensers, as well as bar soap, though passengers in premium cabins and spa rooms get extra goodies. Some cabins have tubs and two bathrooms. Cabin tap water is OK to drink.
The 35 wheelchair-accessible staterooms come with roll-in showers, roll-up sinks and wider doorways.
Interior: Carnival Breeze's 719 interior cabins typically feature 185 square feet of space. Configurations vary. Some have bunk beds or a curtained window overlooking a walkway.
Oceanview: The size of the 221 ocean-view cabins ranges from 220 to 230 square feet. The more spacious ones have two baths: one tub/shower combo and one with shower.
Balcony: The 851 balcony cabins offer 45-square-foot balconies and 185 square feet inside. Most balconies have two mesh, metal-armed chairs and a small table.
"Cove" balcony cabins on Deck 2 (just 28 feet above the waterline) are the same size but have cutout holes under railings rather than glass. "Vista" balcony options are 245 to 260 square feet and are located in aft corners. They boast large 85- to 90-square-foot wraparound balconies with chairs and two chaises.
Spa Cabins: Seventy-eight spa cabins have the same furnishings as ocean view, balcony and Ocean Suite rooms but feature a different colour scheme. Extras include higher-quality towels, Elemis toiletries, priority access to spa appointments and free entry to Breeze's steam rooms, thalassotherapy mineral pool and exercise classes.
Suites: Carnival Breeze has 54 suites. Those who book suites get priority embarkation and debarkation.
Junior Suites: These 275-square-foot suites with 35-square-foot balconies have walk-in closets, 32-inch flat-screen TVs and a jetted tub and double sinks in the bathroom.
Ocean Suites: Ocean Suites are identical to Junior Suites but have a larger 65-square-foot balcony. Ocean Suite 7270 is wheelchair accessible and much larger.
Grand Suites: These 10 suites offer 345 square feet of space and 85-square-foot balconies. They're laid out similarly to Ocean Suites, but with a larger couch, bathroom and closet, and a TV stand dividing the sleeping and sitting areas.