Fun Ship 2.0 Review – Carnival Breeze Puts High Tech on the High Seas



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Carnival Breeze

The Carnival Breeze is one of Carnival’s newest ships and it is also one of the company’s first ships to be built from the ground up as a Fun Ship 2.0. The Carnival Breeze also just happens to be one of Carnival’s first ships to offer ALL of the new entertainment offerings that are part of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement initiative. The 130,000 ton ship has a capacity for 3,690 guests guests and 1,386 staff. Breeze launched its maiden voyage to the Mediterranean last month, and we’ll have a full review of the Breeze experience soon. But first, we’re going to focus on the technology that can be found aboard the Breeze.

Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, the Breeze is also Carnival’s first ship to offer high-tech production shows as part of their new Playlist productions. These shows consist of live performances that use a combination of LED staging and special effects. In particular, the Ovation theater aboard the Breeze is where you will find most of these new shows like “the Brits,” “Divas,” and “Motor City”. The stage at the theater has been equipped with several massive LED screens that bring a new level of dimension to the performances.

“Divas” brings together hit music from the likes of everyone from Lady Gaga to Rihanna to Celine Dion. We were especially impressed with the production values for the graphics playing on these LED displays during a showing of “Divas”. The digital imagery is as nearly as good as something you would see at a Gaga or Madonna concert, and compliment the dancers and music very well. There were some points during the show that the graphics would actually work in sync with the dancers – adding another layer of  ‘fun” to the experience. “The Brits”, is yet another show playing onboard the Breeze that also makes great creative use of the LED displays by playing an entertaining mix of live action footage and animations.



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But perhaps our favorite show on-board the Breeze is “Hasbro, The Game Show”. “Hasbro, The Game Show” recreates the popular TV show on board, and lets guests get involved as actual contestants that can even win prizes. The show consists of six larger than life Hasbro games like Sorry!, Simon Flash, Yahtzee Bowling, Operation SAM DUNK, and Connect 4 basketball. We had a great time watching kids and adults participate in the live game show. We laughed, we cried, and we watched as the rest of the audience passionately cheer for the contestants. It didn’t matter that the show wasn’t broadcasting somewhere – Hasbro, The Game Show is truly a unique and fun experience that you won’t find on a typical cruise ship.



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Hasbro, the Game Show

The Breeze is also the first Carnival cruise to have a Thrill 3D Theater onboard. But it’s important to understand that the Thrill Theater isn’t just a typical 3D movie theater, but it’s a truly immersive movie experience. During the course of a SpongeBob and then a Happy Feet short film, not only did our seats vibrate and lift off the floor, but we also had water squirted at us, bubbles float around us, air blown onto our necks, and we were even poked in our seats. Needless to say, the experience is very entertaining, much more fun than your average 3D theater experience, and really worth checking out. Admission to the Thrill Theater costs $7.95 for single admission or $14.95 for unlimited tickets throughout your stay on the Breeze. The latter option can be a good value for kids who will likely want to go to the Thrill theater more than once during the course of a cruise.

Staterooms

Most staterooms aboard the breeze sport at least two U.S. outlets, as well as a single European outlet for charging devices. This set up is worth noting when you consider that these power options are more generous than many other ship’s staterooms.

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The interactive TVs in guests’ staterooms offer access to a few TV stations, as well as a streaming forward camera view from the front of the ship, and even a Lido camera view. There is also a dedicated cruise director’s channel. In addition, you can order Pay-Per-View movies for about $10.99 a pop. But the interactive TVs in guests staterooms also have some other tricks up their sleeves. For starters, you can use the TVs to browse through and order room service, browse restaurant menus, as well as look through and and order excursions. Finally, the TV also has a special Map channel which shows the Breeze’s current speed, heading, latitude and longitude, temperature, pressure and humidity.



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Passengers watch the NBA championships via satellite

But who wants to stay in their room all day when you’re on a cruise? Fortunately, at the Seaside Theater there is always something playing on the massive outdoor LED screen. Usually a movie is playing at the theater, or a live show. As a matter of fact, during the basketball playoffs, Carnival had the Miami Heat ‘s game playing live via satellite.

Notably, the ship’s Gym equipment has full iPod connectivity and also a selection of Satellite TV Stations to watch while you’re exercising.

Staying Connected

One might argue that part of the enjoyment in cruising is being disconnected from the rest of the world. But for those of you, like myself, who need to stay connected at all times, the ship is blanketed with Wi-Fi. Internet access is powered by MTN’s satellite service, and as to be expected – it’s very pricey. Pricing begins at $0.75 a minute, with packages as large as 1000 minutes going for $300. As scary as that pricing sounds, we have been told by other cruisers that the pricing has come a long way down from what it used to be. And while you won’t be using it to stream HD movies – surfing the web and checking email is a pretty reliable experience.



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One of the many FunHubs sprinkled through out the ship

If you didn’t bring along a laptop or tablet, don’t fret. There are several FunHubs sprinkled throughout the ship. These are essentially internet stations where guests can explore the FunHub web site and also opt to pay for internet access. FunHub TO GO Netbooks are also available for rent. Speaking of FunHubs, the ship’s FunHub website is free to access for everyone. The site offers access to important ship information- including, ship news, ship maps, itineraries, restaurant menus, and activity schedules.

And when not docked at shore, those who have a world-ready cell phone will notice that their network will default to Cellular at Sea. Rates for making calls with Cellular at Sea will vary by your carrier. Just be especially wary of using the data while roaming on Cellular at Sea, which is available at Edge speeds. That will cost you around $20 a megabyte.

Cruisers can also make calls home to their friends and family in the U.S., from their stateroom phone. Rates are $1.99 per minute. Just be wary of having anyone call you in your stateroom – since that will cost $9.50 a minute for receiving calls from the U.S.

Did you forget to bring along your camera? Or perhaps you dropped yours in the Trevi Fountain during the ship’s stop in Rome. Then you can head over to the ship’s photo store to pick up an Olympus camera. Carnival has an exclusive partnership with Olympus to offer the best deals on an Olympus camera that can be found anywhere in the world.

Conclusion

Although it’s definitely not the highest tech ship that you’ll find at sea, Carnival Breeze is full of modern amenities that will make your stay aboard the ship more pleasant – and more importantly, more fun. And if you’re looking for a full review of the experience aboard Carnival Breeze, stay tuned.

Update 7/16/12: Check out our full review of Carnival Breeze