Mardi Gras

From the Readers: Family Vacation? Mardi Gras!

Porthole Cruise and Travel Reader Mark Hollingsworth and family set sail with Carnival Cruise Line onboard Mardi Gras and he shared his experience with us! Have you cruised on Mardi Gras? Let us know what you thought in the comments! 

No, not that Mardi Gras. That’s only once a year in New Orleans. Our family of four found a Mardi Gras that’s open year-round and appealing to all ages. It’s Carnival’s newest, biggest, and most innovative ship in its fleet. We experienced not only The Big Easy, but also Sin City, summer in October, a little bit of Italy, and even some roller coaster fun all on board the Mardi Gras!

COVID-19 is in our rear-view mirror, but our kids are three years older. They won’t be with us forever, and we want to make the most of our time with them before they spread their wings and fly away. What we really want is to give them family memories that will last forever.

But cruising? Nah. Not for me.

That’s what I thought a few short years ago, until my wife convinced me to give a three- day Carnival cruise a try (we couldn’t do a seven-day cruise right out of the gate; what if I was miserable? I didn’t want to be stuck on a boat for a whole week).

But I was a believer in no time.

Cruising with Carnival quickly became our favorite indulgence together, and soon we were bringing our two sons along for the fun. Many we talked to said, “Carnival? Isn’t that just a party ship?” Yes, that’s exactly what is—a party for all ages! We’ve banked quite a few years of permanent family memories thanks to this excellent cruise line.

But the Mardi Gras takes family fun to a whole new level!


Carnival’s main theaters are second to none (Family Feud anyone?), and the Mardi Gras’ atrium has been transformed into an open-air show venue. Thrilling, first-class entertainment for the whole family take place each night on Grand Central’s Center Stage, viewable from three separate deck levels. The activities schedule is full from morning until late at night, with so many options our two teenage boys were soon setting their own schedules and loving every minute of it. Mom and Dad have to go to bed early (yes, we’re old), but our teenagers get to explore and play and come back to our stateroom when they want to. Would we be so willing to let them roam the neighborhood at home after we go to bed? Not a chance. But on a Carnival ship, kids enjoy a safe freedom.

Accommodations / Amenities

Staterooms are clean and modern. You won’t miss any home conveniences: closet space, full bathrooms, climate control, comfy bedding, even big, flat-screen TVs—they’re all features of Carnival’s standard accommodations. But that stateroom is only for sleeping, isn’t it? Who can resist the exciting and beautiful ports of call, the slides and pools that rival any water park, and—wait for it—a roller coaster that swings out over the ocean? It’s true, and if you’re not feeling that adventurous, there’s plenty of deck and lounge chair space next to some of the bluest water you’ll ever see. For a special treat that’s money well spent, indulge in a private cabana, for

a day or for the week, at Loft 19, on Mardi Gras’ top deck, away from the normal. It’s just one more in Carnival’s long line of cruising innovations.


We can’t imagine how they do it, but every bite of food seems to be the freshest and most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted, whether a petite ice cream cone or your most elegant five- course meal. Options await the cruiser in the form of sixteen (by our count) restaurants and quite a few bars and lounges, many of which are found only on the Mardi Gras. Room service? No problem. It’s your vacation—and every crew member wants to make it your best ever!

Exceptional Service

It truly is the people that make a Carnival cruise so special. You’re not just a number—in this case, one of about six thousand. Prepare to be treated like royalty by crew members from over sixty countries: your cabin steward, your dining hostess and wait staff, lounge chair attendants, even Guest Services team members—they all know your name, and they want to make sure you’re happy.

What a wonderful way to explore the world (or at least another part of it that you might otherwise never see) with the whole family! Families want a vacation they’ll talk about for years. Parents want to give their children memories that will last forever. There may be no better way than with a Carnival cruise on the Mardi Gras.

-Mark Hollingsworth

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!