Review of Carnival Mardi Gras deck 8 (Cabins-Promenade-Havana)
Chibang! is a new (introduced on the Mardi Gras ship) restaurant for signature Chinese and Mexican dishes. The menus are a la carte-priced, including two separate food menus plus a beverage menu (listing also specialty cocktails, like Chibang! Margarit, Smokey Mezcal Negroni, Green Tea Martini). Chibang restaurant's decor is marked by floor-ceiling windows (wall-to-wall), heavy red and green, with gold accents, a colorful dragon (at the entrance). Dishes include favorites like Kung Pao Chicken, Singapore Chili Shrimp/Prawn, Slow-Braised Pork Belly, Egg Drop Soup, Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos, Steak Ranchero, Mole de Pollo Mexicano, Pork Lomito, Pescado Frito Crujiente, Camarones a la Diabla (shrimp).
Havana Bar is an authentic Cuban cafe (cocktail/coffee bar) with live Latin music in the evenings. After midnight, the bar transforms into Latin disco club. Havana Bar serves daily breakfast and lunch (8 am - 5 pm /light Cuban fare- sandwiches, empanadas, flan, fresh-made pastries) and nightly handcrafted Cuban cocktails and snacks. Food (incl snacks) is complimentary, beverages cost extra. Drink menu includes Cuban coffee (Cafecito, Cortadito, Cafe con leche), Italiano coffee (Espresso, Cappuccino, Caffe Latte, Mochaccino, fresh-squeezed orange juice), cocktails (Mojito, Papa Double, Cuban Ice Tea, La Buena Vida, Jupina Amor, Daiquiri Clasico, Cuba Libre Doble Especial), international beers, soft drinks (Cuban sodas - Jupina, Coco Solo, Quinabeer, Cawy Watermelon, Materva Verba Mate), non-alcoholic beverages (Ponche Havana, Virgin Daiquiri), milkshakes.
Havana Outside is the Havana complex's pool area (1 swimming pool /Havana Pool, live palm trees).
Dreams Studio (level 2), Pixels Gallery (level 2)
Pixels Photo Gallery & Shop (professional photo-video services, duty-free equipment, and accessories, photos on display available for purchasing)
The Fun Shops is named the ship's duty-free shopping complex of stores (upper level 3 of 3, open between 8 am - 12 midnight) selling Carnival Cruise Lines logo merchandise (ship models, fun wear-apparel), Special Occasions (gifts, souvenirs, packages), name-brand boutique merchandise (luxury jewelry-watches, designer bags-hats-shoes-fashion-accessories-sunglasses, perfumes-cosmetics-beauty products), also liquor-tobaccos and conveniences.
Bonsai Sushi restaurant (including Bonsai Teppanyaki) serves Japanese cuisine specialties and drinks (a la carte priced menu). The sushi bar is open for Dinner (between 5 pm - 12 midnight) and also for Lunch (12 noon - 2:30 pm /on sea days only). The menu has appetizers ($4 each /wagyu short ribs, salmon, tuna), soup/salads ($2 each /miso, mixed greens, noodle), sushi sashimi ($1,50 per piece /shrimp, tuna, salmon, amberjack), sushi rolls ($5 per roll /tuna, California-crab), sushi rolls ($7 per roll /freshwater eel, fried shrimp), bento box ($10 combo), sushi ship ($17 combo). The menu also offers Japanese drinks (Kirin beer, Nigori sake, Tyku Junmai Ginjo sake, Carafe sake /served hot), wine by the glass and desserts ($2 each /Yuzu Custard, Green Tea Cupcake). Complimentary sushi is offered in the evenings at the buffet restaurant.
Bonsai Teppanyaki (within Bonsai Sushi Restaurant) is a food bar for authentic Far East dishes and a live cooking show performance (by the chefs) at custom-built cooking stations positioned at the center of an 8-seat dining table. Due to the room's limited seating, reservations are required. Each meal at Bonsai Teppanyaki starts with a sampling of 5 appetizers (Miso Soup, Pork Belly Yakitori, Spicy Tuna on Rocks). Combo dinners are also offered. Each meal ends with the specialty desserts "Chocolate Bento Box" and "Green Tea Ice Cream". The restaurant is open for lunch (seadays only) and for dinner (every night of the voyage). Cover charge/price is per person and covers the entire meal.
La Piazza (midship) is an Italy-themed zone housing Pizzeria del Capitano (24-hour complimentary pizzeria restaurant/fleet's largest, offers 5 artisanal pizzas - whole or by the slice), Cucina del Capitano (seafood restaurant), Bar della Rosa (cafe/patisserie/Lavazza-coffee bar, cocktails) and Piazza Panini (hand-pressed sandwiches/Deli food bar). Classic Italian cocktails and live music nightly are offered at the Lounge Bar della Rosa. Fleet's first venues (both introduced on the Mardi Gras ship) are Bar della Rosa (Italian-style cafe serving classic cocktails, Italian wines, beers, Lavazza espresso and cappuccinos) and Piazza Panini (sandwich bar, Deli favorites, desserts) with feature offers like Salumeria (prosciutto, salami, capicola, roasted peppers, provolone cheese) and Peppe (mortadella sausage, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, tomatoes, spicy olives).
La Piazza is designed like an Italian courtyard, with an interior marked by red brick walls, street lights, murals, ornate iron and tile works, an original Vespa scooter (Piaggio-made) and an original Fiat 126 (rear-engined car, 1972-made/the year when Carnival's TSS Mardi Gras liner debuted). All La Piazza dining venues have both indoor and outdoor (alfresco/on the Lanai) seating areas.
Rudi's Seagrill (located between Summer Landing and La Piazza) is a seafood restaurant by Rudi Sodamin (Holland America Line's Master Chef). Rudi's Seagrill is a specialty restaurant (at surcharge / reservation fee) with indoor (80 seats) and outdoor seating (al fresco dining on The Lanai). Rudi's Seagrill offers appetizers, entrees and desserts, with all menu items presented as food faces. Signature dishes include Bigeye Tuna, Lemon-Stuffed Grilled Branzino, Seared Scallops, Salt-Roasted Prawns, Broiled Lobster Tails, Crab Cake, Caramel Apple Cheesecake, Chocolate Truffle Cake. Non-seafood options are also on offer.
Aft-starboard are located Carnival Adventures (Shore Excursions Desk/information, booking) and Guest Services (Reception Desk/24-hour assistance, luggage, purser, reservations).
Emeril’s Bistro 1396 (fka Flamingo) is the first-at-sea restaurant by chef Emeril Lagasse. The specialty restaurant (at surcharge pp) was named after the cruise ship's hull/Turku shipyard number (1396). Signature dishes at Emeril’s Bistro 1396 include chef's favorites Slow-Cooked Cochon de Lait Po'Boy (Boston butt pork roast), BBQ-Grilled Shrimp (large shrimp/peeled-deveined, tails attached), Emeril's Classic Seafood Gumbo (shrimp, fish, oysters), Cajun Jambalaya (boneless-skinless chicken thighs).
The aft-located "Summer Landing" houses Guy's Pig and Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse (menu/Carnival's complimentary smoked-on-board BBQ food by Guy Fieri), The Watering Hole (outdoor bar with wide selections of cocktails and beers), ParchedPig (onboard-brewed craft beers), Heroes Tribute Lounge. Also in this neighborhood are located a lunch counter (for the Smokehouse-Brewhouse), an expansive outdoor deck area with two whirlpools and an infinity pool, a stage for live music, a sports bar featuring indoor and outdoor TV screens, hang-out space with trivia, dance classes, arts and crafts. Four new/Carnival-exclusive brews (developed by brewmaster Colin Presby) are offered at Guy's Smokehouse/Brewhouse,
- "ParchedPig Farmhouse Ale" is a lightly hopped dry finish beer.
- "ParchedPig Smoked Porter" is brewed with in-house smoked malt, hickory smoke, and molasses.
- "ParchedPig Toasted Amber Ale" has rich amber color and notes of toasted caramel and biscuit.
- "ParchedPig West Coast IPA" is a traditional West Coast India Pale Ale loaded with bitterness and a distinctive aroma of pine and citrus.
Heroes Tribute is a bar lounge (age limit 21+ yo) via partnership with Operation Homefront (USA-based nonprofit organization that provides services and supports military families and veterans). Each souvenir glass purchase at Heroes Tribute Lounge donates US$ 1 to Operation Homefront. The venue offers comfortable seating (leather armchairs with low tables) and large TVs (for live sporting events).
The Watering Hole (located within The Patio at Summer Landing) is a backyard-like designed outdoor bar with wide selections of cocktails and beers (including Carnival's own brands / canned and draft brews).
Forward on Promenade Deck are located passenger staterooms/cruise cabins from 8201 to 8305, which are in categories Havana Interior (HA), Havana Cabana (HE), Havana Forward-View Extended Balcony (HG), Havana Cabana Suites (HS) and Havana Vista Suites (HU).
Grand Central Atrium
Grand Central (top-level 3 of 3) is a large open-floor-designed Atrium space (midship on decks 6-7-8) that combines an entertainment complex with a bar lounge overlooking the ship's starboard side) with 3-decks high floor-ceiling windows.
Grand Central features 3000-ft2 (280-m2) glass panels (built into the vessel's superstructure) to provide passengers with unobstructed views as they relax in comfortable seating. From the Atrium are accessible 3 dining venues (Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki, Punchliner Comedy Club) as well as Piano Bar 88 (themed venue for sing-a-longs), Mardi Gras Casino (gaming lounge), The Fun Shops (retail shops).
During the day, Grand Central Atrium serves as a relaxing space for enjoying beverages, light food, live music performances or participate in trivia contests and leisurely pursuits. At night, the Atrium transforms into an intimate venue with live performances (stand-up comedy acts, dancing, acrobatics) and quality media as guests can interact with 16 individually controlled LED screens (sized 6x14 ft / 1,8x4,3 m each) displaying video and special effects, along with aerial feats and lasers.
On Atrium's top-level (deck 8) is the Grand View Bar which offers floor-ceiling views and custom-made cocktails amidst new design features - such as a virtual waterfall displayed on translucent panels. The Atrium's mid-level (deck 7) is served by the Center Stage Bar. Both Atrium bar lounges offer specialty cocktails inspired by the evening's themed entertainment.
On Atrium's low-level (deck 6) are JavaBlue Cafe (a coffee bar serving lattes, coffees, cappuccinos, fresh bakery items, salads and light food throughout the day) and Cherry on Top (sweets shop).