Mardi Gras – It has been five years since Carnival Cruise Line first revealed its plans for its mega-ship, one that would not just be big, but one that would break the rules of cruising as we know it. Mardi Gras arrived in all her splendor in her new homeport of Port Canaveral only weeks ago, and already we could all see she would be something special.
Mardi Gras will sail for her much-anticipated inaugural voyage on July 31, 2021. Each day this week we will take a look at a different aspect of Mardi Gras and what makes her unique, what makes everyone excited to see her sail for the first time, and why this vessel, in particular, received such a warm welcome when she first sailed into a U.S. port. Today, we look at the first-ever rollercoaster at sea, BOLT.
800-Feet at 40 Miles an Hour
Mardi Gras is 1.5 times bigger than any other ship in the Carnival fleet, and to make this size work and be fun for everyone, Carnival Cruise Line had to come up with something special, something different. And boy, did it deliver, introducing the first-ever rollercoaster at sea. Spanning 800 feet and 187 feet above sea level, riders will experience dips, twists, and hairpin turns over the Ultimate Playground on the upper decks of Carnival’s newest vessel.
BOLT’s innovative design can be customized for each user, going a little slower for kids; a boost button lets the older thrillseekers push the cart up to 40 miles an hour while the ship is moving. Users can expect a maximum acceleration of 1.2g.
Although it is certainly not the biggest or the fastest rollercoaster in the world, it is the only one at sea, and that brought its design challenges, as Ben Clement, Carnival Cruise Line’s vice president of newbuilds, said to Bloomberg:
“Instead of working with chains and rigs, it uses an electrical motor on a track. It was much more silent than anything else we had seen, and had a lot of great acceleration—and it was safe and lightweight enough to put on top of the ship.”
Putting a traditional rollercoaster on a ship would have presented the builders with what can realistically be called the two things that guests experience as a nuisance more than anything: noise and vibration.
“At New York, New York in Las Vegas, by the pool, you can hear the noise and vibration of the [Big Apple] roller coaster. We didn’t want that on a ship.”
Maurer Rides, a German company that makes unique self-propelled systems to make rollercoasters practically inaudible, built BOLT in Germany. Here the rollercoaster underwent rigorous testing before being assembled again at the shipyard in Finland.
Technicians at the shipyard, and Santa Claus, tested the rollercoaster again. Meanwhile, ten companies worked on safety, vibrations, backups, and certifications, while things like rolling, pitching, and corrosion caused by saline air all had to be examined.
Christine Duffy, Carnival’s President:
“Whether guests want to get an adrenaline rush or take it slow and enjoy the breathtaking views, BOLT will have it all. Combining the most talented designers, technicians and attractions professionals in the industry, we’ve taken FUN to a whole new level with this amazing onboard experience that is also a true game changer in our industry.”
The Ultimate Playground
BOLT will be part of the Ultimate Playground, an exciting adventure for young and old spanning no less than three decks. Besides the epic rollercoaster BOLT, the Ultimate Playground will also feature the largest Carnival Waterworks ever with three spiral waterslides. Also present is the SportSquare, which features an entire mini-golf course, a full-size basketball court, and a ropes course.
The first guests will embark and experience the fun BOLT will bring on July 31 when Mardi Gras sails for her first voyage to San Juan in Puerto Rico, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Watch out for more on our Mardi Gras series of articles and learn what makes Mardi Gras special. In tomorrow’s edition, we will look at what it will be like to stay on board as we cover the suites and Loft 19, Carnival Mardi Gras’ retreat-style experience.