Interior view: Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras

Carnival Cruise Line’s Petu Kummala tells Elly Yates-Roberts how total freedom of design led to beautiful, exciting and functional interiors on Mardi Gras

Interior view: Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras
Onboard spaces such as the Grand Central Atrium will echo the vibrance and cultural richness of New Orleans

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras will epitomise the same extravagance and fun that the New Orleans celebrations are renowned for. The 180,000gt cruise ship will become the largest vessel in Carnival’s fleet when she enters service in November 2020.

But size isn’t the only thing the ship will be famous for; she will also feature the first-ever roller coaster at sea, Bolt. The all-electric ride consists of 800 feet of twists and turns which passengers will conquer on motorcycle-style seats 187 feet above sea level.

The ship’s impressive exteriors and onboard activities will only be matched by her luxurious interiors.

“When passengers board the ship, they will be blown away,” says Petu Kummala, senior director of interior design at Carnival Cruise Line. “The interior dynamic is very exciting and interesting – there will be a lot for the guests to take in and experience, from both the design and programming points of view. As I often say, if we can design a ship where the guests will discover something new during the last days of their cruise, we have been successful. Mardi Gras will most certainly deliver on that promise.”

Arguably the most spectacular space onboard is the Grand Central Atrium. Featuring three-deck-high windows and mobile LED screens, the space is worthy of its position at the heart of the ground-breaking vessel.

“Grand Central Atrium is the central point of the ship and probably the most exciting,” explains Kummala. “There is so much going on. Bars, lounges, retail spaces, multiple food options and entertainment opportunities all in one place. I don’t think there is a comparable space anywhere, on land or at sea. It also transforms – while it can be a nice place to sit and people watch during the quieter times, it can also be brimming with entertainment at others.”

The juxtaposition of tranquillity and lavishness was not a design coincidence. As is clear across Mardi Gras, the visuals and functions of each space were specifically chosen to evoke a certain response from passengers.

“The French Quarter will heavily reflect the atmosphere and aesthetic of New Orleans’ notoriously vibrant neighbourhood, with various venues like the Brass Magnolia Jazz Bar, Emeril’s Bistro, Alchemy and Fortune Teller Bar providing guests with entertainment and exquisite cuisine,” says Kummala.

The new ship represents the ultimate Fun Ship and so was named after Carnival’s first-ever cruise ship, Mardi Gras. However, in the process of building the onboard spaces and creating the new and improved version of the vessel, the cruise line has had to balance its own concepts of design excellence with feedback from guests.

“Mardi Gras is a completely new class of ship for us, so when we designed her, we had the freedom of starting with a completely blank canvas,” explains Kummala. “This provides a fantastic opportunity to create something totally original as the team was able to share ideas without the constrictions of a sister ship.

We worked closely with our operators from entertainment, food, beverage and youth programmes to include the latest proposals that both we and they had. We also carefully considered our guests’ feedback and then used that to improve upon any of the existing suggestions.”

However, Kummala believes that beautiful aesthetics fall short if they hinder functionality.

“The goal was to have the most exciting and beautiful ship, but none of that really matters if the spaces and layouts don’t function properly. I firmly believe that you cannot create a good design without a good plan. If you have a beautiful design that doesn’t flow or function as it should, how good is the design in reality? As such, function and form will both be in plentiful supply on Mardi Gras.”

This article was first published in the 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
28 September 2020

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