Dispatch, Carnival Breeze: Fun, branded

By Rebecca Tobin
RTBREEZE0614_200X115Travel Weekly's Rebecca Tobin got a first look at Carnival Cruise Lines' new ship, the Carnival Breeze, as it sails its first set of cruises from Barcelona. Her second dispatch follows. Click to read Rebecca’s first dispatch.

Most of my fellow 3,690-plus passengers were off touring Pisa, Florence and the Italian countryside when I sat down near the Guy's Burger stand with my Blue Iguana chicken tacos.

Later, I would pass the RedFrog Rum Bar on my way to the Serenity adults-only section of the ship.

Earlier in the morning, I had been in the Cloud 9 Spa, getting one of the best facials of my life. And later in the day, I'd cool off from the heat by walking through the Splash Zone water park.

Blue Iguana Tequila BarYes, there are plenty of places to play on the Breeze, but importantly, there are places to play with names and logos to match. According to CEO Gerry Cahill, there are 23 "branded experiences" on the Breeze.

George Lopez's Punchliner Comedy Club. RedFrog Pub. Bonzai Sushi. Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse and Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant. (Those were the ones that popped to mind before I checked the cheat sheet).

Each onboard space has its own look and personality, Cahill said.

"We have different uniforms for all the people working. We have 110 new uniforms, I think, on this ship," Cahill said. "We have people who are handpicked for specific areas, to work in those areas. The menus are different in each of those areas, the entertainment is different. It was designed to create specific environments.

"We're creating experiences. We are not selling hardware. We're selling vacation experiences."

With consumers hyper-attuned to brands — where the merits of Cosi vs. Panera sandwiches are hotly debated, let alone RedFrog Rum Pubcruise ship brands — onboard branding makes sense. I'll probably remember the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar a lot longer than "that pool-deck bar."

One of the most talked-about joints onboard was Guy's Burgers, probably because of the affiliation with Food Network chef Guy Fieri … and because the burgers made no apologies to carb counters and were delicious.

Another was the RedFrog pub, a pleasant, Caribbean-influenced bar on the Promenade deck that has booths and barstools inside the pub as well as tables in the true outdoors.

Carnival has been opening up deck space throughout, and in this case it used the roof of its lifeboat deck to house tables, lounge chairs and hot tubs. It's a smart move that seemed appreciated by passengers who were drinking ThirstyFrog Red — the house-brand beer of the RedFrog pub.
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