CARNIVAL VALOR -- Bob Dickinson, Carnival Cruise Lines CEO, has
been spending a good bit of time these days talking about Todays
Its a different
product than it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. And I think
things have changed dramatically, but not with a lot of hoopla,
The venue for
this discussion was the Paris Hot jazz club on the Carnival Valor,
designed to invoke the spirit of one of the Carnival Valors heroes,
described the room this way: A statue of Baker dancing in her
famous banana costume rests on a base that resembles a giant pearl.
Bar stools and table bases look like stacks of pearls, and the
floor is done in white granite with inlaid bananas in a contrasting
Walk out to the
Valors atrium and youll see the faces of Abraham Lincoln, George
Washington and other famous American figures covering the walls,
bathed in pink and purple lights. Eagles stand sentry over the
elevator banks, which, not surprisingly, have a red, white and gold
color scheme. The disco has a moonscape theme.
This is todays
Dickinson, and he defended the lines longstanding commitment to
entertainment architecture with his trademark candor.
Were not trying
to be some kind of elitist, stuffy, country club at sea, he
Let other lines
worry about sophisticated decor. What Carnival wants is the
sophisticated traveler who can appreciate a little (or a lot) of
whimsy in the design.
Were still the
fun ships, but its a different kind of quality, Dickinson
explained. The psychographics are the same, but the demographics
Carnival, passengers dont throw each other, beach chairs and all,
into the pool. On todays Carnival, beer-chugging isnt part of the
festivities (although they still do a hairy-chest contest). You can
dine seriously on todays Carnival.
example, a dinner in the Valors Supper Club. The reservations-only
alternative restaurant on the Valor is Scarletts -- the decor is
patterned after Tara, Scarlett OHaras home in Gone With the
People in the
room were dining seriously. Champagne and high-caliber wines
flowed, and the food -- lobster bisque with cognac, beef carpaccio,
Chilean sea bass and grilled lamb chops -- was of high quality and
served on fine china.
All this wont be
news to the Carnival enthusiast. The line has been changing its
product for years. The Valor doesnt have anything outside of the
Carnival norm, and, as its the third ship in a series (the Carnival
Conquest and the Carnival Glory are sister ships), its nearly
identical in layout and concept to the previous two.
As featured on
most ships these days, the Valor has a golf program, elaborate (and
pricey) spa treatments, low-carb meals and an enormous Camp
Carnival for the kids.
Food is good
outside of the supper clubs. Cabins, as always, are sized
adequately. Entertainment is fun, fast and flashy.
guests who havent been onboard may still be under the impression
that Carnival is partying as though its 1984.
We did a
significant amount of research, Dickinson said. There was an
enormous drop-off between the reality of people whod been on the
ships and the perception of people who hadnt.
On the Valor,
passengers still get several doses of that unmistakable brand of
Carnival fun. And if you cant enjoy the spectacle of your waiter
donning a wig and dancing on the serving station between courses --
well, youll have to lighten up considerably before you sail on
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].