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Travel Trending with Kathy Witt: Carnival’s new Jubilee cruise ship is the destination

Kathy Witt, Tribune News Service on

Published in Senior Living Features

Psst. Here’s a not so carefully guarded secret about cruising: A lot of cruisers never leave the ship. Rather, the ship is their vacation destination. And one of the most fun and appealing destinations at sea is Carnival’s new Jubilee.

The third ship in Carnival’s award-winning Excel-class and sister ship to Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, the 6,500-passenger Jubilee is as big and brash as Texas, where she is one of three Carnival cruise ships home ported year-round in Galveston. The Texas star emblazoned on her bow, Jubilee is a buxom floating resort at 180,000 gross tons (a not insignificant 35% bigger than Carnival’s next-biggest ships)—one that delights and surprises with more dining venues, more lounges and bars, and more deck for endless rest and recreational options. In fact, Jubilee has more of everything.

And she is a stunner. The latest vessel in Carnival’s 26-ship fleet, Jubilee preens with gorgeous interior public spaces like the Golden Mermaid, an intimate lounge with shimmery gold statement art highlighting the bar; clever special effects animating corridors, including “Seaquest: A Fun Sub Adventure” in the immersive underwater-themed Currents zone; and irresistible decks with come-hither spaces like the adults-only Loft 19, a sanctuary for reclaiming your Zen.

The Jubilee, like Carnival ships in general, really speaks to multigenerational travelers. Parents, children and grandparents can stay and play together: There are enough activity choices to fill each day and night with time penciled in to do nothing at all. Which is why, as enticing as Jubilee’s ports are—Isla Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel—some cruisers simply prefer to remain onboard Jubilee, a ship outfitted with everything for living your best vacation life.

Stay and play

Jubilee debuts a few new spaces that are really special. Grab a table in the two-story Currents Zone and watch the ceiling change color or create a sea creature. The underwater vibe is felt throughout this zone, from the scenes filling the portholes to the wave motif rolling across Emeril’s Bistro 717 to the elegant lair that is the Golden Mermaid (don’t miss the gorgeous blue and white tile mosaics featuring a mermaid blowing kisses) to the octopus hugging the bar at Dr.Inks PH.D. Here some of the most colorful and imaginative cocktails are created, like the Snapping Pop, made with Tito’s vodka, triple sec liqueur and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and finished with Pop Rocks Green Apple Candy and Swedish Fish.

Thanks to a breathtaking arts installation of swirling fish, the underwater theme transitions to land-based fun at The Shores, a zone evoking a beachy vibe with boardwalk and paddle-trimmed Marina Bar, a boat parked in front of the Galveston Pier in silhouette, Rudi’s SeaGrill, casual dining spots Beach Buns and Coastal Slice (pizza), an indoor seating beneath a ceiling that calls a carousel to mind and al fresco dining overlooking the ocean.

While Deck 16 is home to Jubilee’s main swimming pool, Carnival Seaside Theater’s giant movie screen where dive-in movies take place under the stars and nearby casual quick-grab food stations, including BlueIguana Cantina and Street Eats, Deck18 is the Ultimate Playground. It’s nonstop fun with Carnival’s Waterpark with waterslides and splash park, a ropes course strictly for the most daring among us, a minigolf course that stays busy with multigenerational families and a basketball course. And then there is Deck 19—home of BOLT.

This rollercoaster may not have a heart-stopping initial vertical climb reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, but BOLT doesn’t need it. It sits 187 feet above the open sea at the top of the ship, its track appearing to shoot off into the clouds before spiraling, dipping and zipping around Jubilee’s smokestack for full-throttle thrills. Riders can boost their speed to up to 40 mph as the two-person electric car streaks along 800 feet of track. Twice. And on top of the ship.

When quieter moments are desired, this deck also harbors Loft 19, Carnival’s exclusive retreat for hushed relaxation, with shady cabanas available for rent, an infinity hot tub and plenty of sun loungers. Access to Loft 19 is complimentary for Excel-level suite guests, although cabana rentals are additional. Any guest can purchase a Loft 19 pass or reserve an available cabana—and some would argue that the best views are experienced from the sofa tucked into the shade of a cabana while sipping champagne, nibbling fresh fruit and having lunch delivered.

 

Included in the cruise fare is Serenity, a retreat strictly for the 21-and-over crowd. Those seeking a quiet nook for catching up, reading a book or grabbing a catnap will find it here among the sea breezes and sun loungers—some in full sun, many fully shaded. Like Loft 19, Serenity has its own bar and hot tubs. In fact, Jubilee has a total of five swimming pools and seven hot tubs throughout, plus a hydrotherapy pool inside the ship’s Cloud 9 Spa.

There is something on Jubilee for every age and interest, with fun and games happening nearly round the clock and all over the ship: Dr. Seuss Parade and Story Time and Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea parties; family-style gameshows "Family Feud Live" and "Deal Or No Deal"; and original stage productions including Carnival’s captivating symphonic rock and pop extravaganza, "Celestial Strings," and the high-stepping "Dear Future Husband," a musical adventure following a bride and groom to the altar for their cruise ship wedding.

Trivia games covering subjects from geography to Harry Potter to classic movies dominate the day along with bingo and deck-side fun, like Jubilee’s Lone Star Tailgate (if you know, you know). There is karaoke, comedy matinees and racier evening shows, tableside card tricks, Military Appreciation Day, shopping sales, casino fun and music, music, music.

Jubilee really shines with its nightly lineup of live music performances: Caribbean, country, Motown, violin, guitar, cocktail piano tunes, tributes to musicians like the Beatles and Johnny Cash, golden oldies, Latin fiesta, nightclub hits and piano bar hits in venues including the Golden Mermaid, the Havana Bar, on deck, Summer Landing, the Piano Bar 88 and Dr.Inks PH.D.

And the food? The options abound aboard Jubilee—everything from fast-grab favorites like the Big Chicken to casual dining options including Chibang!, the Chinese Mexican fusion restaurant, to the main Atlantic and Pacific dining rooms. The buffet is at Lido Marketplace, room service operates 24 hours, with continental breakfast free of charge, and a great group experience awaits at Carnival Kitchen, preparing and then eating your own dishes. There is a Seaday Brunch, Thing 1 & Thing 2 Birthday Breakfast and a VIP dining experience at the Chef’s Table. Upcharge eateries include Rudi’s SeaGrill, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki and the Seafood Shack. Again, Carnival speaks to all ages with its array of culinary offerings, including good choices for kids, with dishes that are varied and deliciously and beautifully plated.

Play your travels

Offering six “zones” of fun, including the Ultimate Playground, Carnival Jubilee sails from Galveston year-round on week-long Western Caribbean voyages. It is a beautiful ship with activities designed for all ages to have fun together.

For additional information on Carnival Cruise Line and to book a cruise vacation on Carnival, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit http://www.carnival.com.


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