Getting your sea legs has never been more fun – Carnival Cruise Line's new Mardi Gras will feature a cruise industry first: a roller coaster on board. Debuting in 2020, this ship's ride should be quite a thrill in the open sea air.
The panoramic 360-degree view alone will be a worthy experience, but Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster promises to deliver more than just an expansive view of the sea. It's a Spike Coaster designed by Maurer Rides in Munich, and has almost 800- feet of track that twists, drops, turns, and can ultimately reach speeds of close to 40-miles per hour.
The coaster is all electric, which should mean a smooth ride. It seats two riders in a vehicle that resembles a motorcycle. Adding to the ride's appeal and originality: riders can enjoy the option of choosing their own speed with a gas pedal in the vehicle. That should be a plus to both the most devoted thrill seekers, and those after a tamer experience. The cycle racer will be positioned 187-feet above sea level, making the cruise ship experience of riding the waves into something entirely different.
The Spike Coaster design was selected to mitigate any potential effects of pitch and roll from those ocean waves; the wave motion could cause the roller coaster track to change its tilt, impacting travel on a roller coaster that's gravity-powered. There should be no such problem here with an electric coaster.
Bolt follows an adrenaline pumping course. It begins with a fast launch that allows riders to reach what are essentially race car acceleration levels. The ride concludes with a high-powered and sharp hair-pin turn that takes riders around Carnival's well-known funnel shape. Adding to the fun: riders can have their photos taken during the ride as a keepsake, just like at theme parks on land.
Riders' speeds will be posted after each race, meaning multiple rides with different speed experiences can be created, allowing riders to best their personal speed score. The variable speeds also mean that each ride will be unique, which should make repeat rides a sought-after experience.
Allowing riders to choose how fast they can go is a real twist to the coaster concept. It also makes the ride more accessible to those who might avoid roller coaster action at theme parks, as they can achieve a reasonable but not excessive amount of speed if they want to stay with a more controlled experience. This may be especially appealing to older or young riders, which are certainly among conventional cruise ship riders; however, the inclusion of the coaster itself is undoubtedly meant as a draw for guests who do seek a thrill.
A promotional video for the ride reveals that seating will be single-file, rather than side by side, and that the ride will feature lateral movement.
According to the president of Carnival Cruise Line, Christine Duffy, the Mardi Gras itself will be an innovative ship themed to be a fun playground for all ages, and packed with a variety of attractions. The boat will be the first XL-class launch for Carnival, and will be based in Port Canaveral, Fla. Bolt will be the highlight of what is being positioned as the boat's fun-friendly reputation. Duffy notes “Bolt will continue the tradition of Carnival providing exciting new ways for our guests to ‘Choose Fun.' We are so thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind, game-changing, exhilarating attraction…”
While Bolt is the first true coaster at sea, all major ship companies are looking at amusement park-like attractions to draw passengers. The Disney Cruise Line has two AquaDuck water coasters on board, positioned on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas is known for its 10-story-high water slide, while the Norwegian line's Bliss has a two-level go-kart track. Carnival itself offers shipboard attractions such as SkyRide, a bike-like experience high above deck and sea in a pedal-powered mobile car that allows an easy but fun racing experience. Some ships also feature a concept called SportSquare that gives ship passengers the chance to participate in competitive mini-golf, basketball and a SkyCourse track: a strapped-in ropes course experience suspended above deck. Available on six different ships is Waterworks, an onboard waterpark. The attraction features the Twister Waterslide that offers hundreds of feet of spiral thrills, Speedway Splash that offers watery racing action, and other waterpark standards such as a PowerDrencher bucket dump and a swirling, fast-moving DrainPipe attraction. And, mini-golf courses are now present on all Carnival cruise lines.
Still, Bolt should be a stand out for Carnival, circling the Mardi Gras' top deck with its rider-controlled speed and smooth track with hairpin turns.
Maurer Rides is known as a manufacturer that creates innovative ride technology, as well as their focus on consulting and service for customers regardless of the setting. Their customer-centered approach should serve Carnival in good stead, with spare parts management, operations training, service assignments and equipment repairing and modification offered by the company at six production sites worldwide.
The company took over Co. BHS / Anton Schwarzkopf in 1992, and in 2003, founded their subsidiary company, Maurer Rides GmbH, specializing in rail-mounted transport systems. In addition to roller coaster trains and other related rides, they also produce passenger transportation and people movers. This background should also help to make them right at home with offering the ultimate amusement thrill of a sea coaster on board the massive Mardi Gras XL ship.
The coaster's promo video comes with a caveat that should probably be well-heeded by riders, especially given its position on board the high seas – if you're subject to motion sickness, perhaps the ride is best enjoyed by watching it from the deck instead of strapping into that motorcycle on the track. That aside, Bolt promises an ever-variable coaster experience that should add a whole new dimension to shipboard excitement.