Travel Weekly's Rebecca Tobin is getting a first look at Carnival Cruise Lines' new ship, the Carnival Breeze, as it sails its first set of cruises from Barcelona. Her first dispatch follows.
Carnival Cruise Lines, simplified design?
The Carnival Breeze, which is on its first run of cruises in the Mediterranean, has the distinction of not featuring interior designs by Carnival's longtime designer, Joe Farcus.
Farcus' unique brand of "entertainment architecture" — which has helped set Carnival apart over the years — is evident in two areas of the Breeze: the Winners Luck Casino and Ovation Theater.
But the other areas of the ship were handled by Partnership Design of Hamburg, Germany. From the atrium, a pale yellow with a blue-skies mural and brightly colored pendants, to the cool, blue Cloud 9 spa, the Carnival Breeze is, well, practically mellow.
CEO Gerry Cahill talked up the Breeze's tropical-colored vibe during a press conference onboard the ship. He called the look "more contemporary."
"This is the Breeze, and you've probably noticed it's a little bit different," he said. The ship, he said, has "a little different look and feel."
"We had something we were trying to accomplish," Cahill said. "We wanted it to be more contemporary, a little more tropical. Judge for yourself, but I think we've accomplished that."
Contemporary seemed to be the perfect word to describe the "not-Carnival's-traditional-entertainment-architecture" look. From neon to frescoes to themes and motifs, there was always something to look at on a Farcus-designed Carnival ship. But on the Breeze, the simplicity itself was worth a second look.
Is this a "new" Carnival? Perhaps not completely: In the Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant, the staff broke into song and dance twice during dinner, including a rendition of "That's Amore."
Longtime cruise director John Heald is holding court onboard, and he still can't resist the occasional off-color joke. The ship's design may be contemporary, but it's not minimalist.
"We are fun," Cahill said. "We don't want to get away from fun. That is who we are. We are fun, memorable vacations."
Fun, Carnival's catchphrase, still is the word on the Breeze. A Latin-music-themed production in the Farcus-designed show lounge ended up as a gigantic dance party in the atrium.
The after-hours, R-rated Punchliner comedy shows at the Limelight Lounge were packed to the doors. Throughout the ship, passengers were lined up to buy drinks, buy shore excursions, buy spa treatments.
DJs are spinning in the lobby, but the tunes are approachable. "We wanted it to be high-energy," Cahill said. Cabin colors are muted in blue and yellow, but the couch-and-beds layout remains.
"We wanted them to be a little lighter color, a little airier," Cahill said.
So things seem the same. Just different.