You soon can ride a roller coaster at sea on Carnival Cruise Line

December 13, 2018, 9:27 AM · Are cruise ships just little theme parks on the sea? With abundant entertainment, themed food and events, and even a smattering of water rides, many ships could make a case. Starting in 2020, Carnival Cruise will make the strongest case yet by adding to one of its ships the king of all theme park attractions — a roller coaster.

Launching with the new ship Mardi Gras in 2020 out of Port Canaveral, Maurer Rides' Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster will send passengers flying above the ship's top deck for high-speed views of the ocean. Bolt will run on 800 feet of track at a maximum height of 187 feet above the sea level and a top speed of “nearly 40 mph.”

"BOLT begins with an action-packed launch where riders can achieve race car-like levels of acceleration and culminates with a high-powered hair-pin turn around Carnival’s iconic funnel," the cruise line said in a press release. Let's look:

"Riders’ speeds are posted after the race, and just like land-based roller coasters, guests have their photo taken during the ride for a memorable keepsake," the cruise line said. But here's an intriguing element to this thrill ride: "And since guests choose their own speed, each ride is unique."

Riders get to choose how fast to go? Now that adds a twist that might make this an excellent attraction for beginning coaster fans who want just a taste of speed, but maybe not too much. Beyond that, the video shows a stacked rail, with single-file seating on a track that will emphasize lateral movement. Will it be a fun ride?

We might have to do some, uh, research to answer that question. A lot of research.

The Disney Cruise Line has led the way with cruise ship thrill rides up until now, with its two AquaDuck water coasters on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. But for roller coaster fans, soon they will have a true alternative, with Bolt on Carnival's Mardi Gras.

Replies (10)

December 13, 2018 at 9:59 AM

This sounds really fun but I'm foreseeing capacity issues. The Aquaduck has huge waits most of the time, doesn't it? If you have one car on a coaster during which riders can control the speed, won't you generate extremely long waits? I can't wait to see how this turns out. And--yes--please do all the research you need. I want details!

December 13, 2018 at 11:05 AM

Reminds me of that floating Disneyland concept from the 90s (https://medium.com/@the_disney_dudebro/s-s-disney-disneys-floating-traveling-theme-park-that-never-was-ee544cad5c35). Robert, do you have anything to add to that concept that is long dead in the water (no pun intended)? And regarding this coaster, you're right, Will. Capacity and lines would be awful, so I can only hope that there is a reservation based slot assigned to those that want to ride. It's hard to get my kids to wait very long for anything!

December 13, 2018 at 11:14 AM

To each their own but my family sort of likes "easy ship" cruises without so many huge trappings as that just makes what's supposed to be a nice fun trip more chaotic.

December 13, 2018 at 11:29 AM

I recall this Mauer rides system debuted at IAAPA 2017.

Although I thought that it was a cool ride concept, I did think that ride capacity would be an issue which is probably why no theme park has bought it yet

So maybe this rides future is on the sea

December 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM

I don't "get" cruises. Literately everything you can do on a ship is better and cheaper on land. Hotel rooms, food, shows, climbing wall, water parks, ice skating, shopping, cinema's, mini golf and yes theme parks are better, bigger and less expansive on land than on these monstrosities.

December 13, 2018 at 12:13 PM

I "get" cruises, but what I don't understand is the need to weigh the ship down with so much extra-curricular stuff that guests don't want to get off. The whole point of a cruise ship is to allow guests the chance to travel to various destinations without having deal with the hassles of traveling between them. If you don't want to see the places the ship is visiting, why are you booking a cruise??? By offering so much on the actual ship, it completely defeats the purpose of docking. I can see having some entertainment and activities on board, because it's simply unfeasible for every cruise ship to be able to travel between ports of call only at night, but I've never understood the cruises that have more than 1 day at sea in their itinerary or spend less than 6 hours at a port of call (trans-oceanic and specialty cruises aside).

When I'm looking at cruises, I look for where the ship goes, and what stops it makes, not whether the boat has a roller coaster on it. I think some cruise lines are starting to recognize that bigger is not always better (much like the airline industry), and perhaps this philosophy will also eventually trickle down to the on-ship amenities. I wouldn't be surprised that this is the first and last roller coaster installed on a cruise ship.

December 13, 2018 at 12:31 PM

@Russel, I totally agree with you. Oddly, I think they're trying to find the market for people who don't typically like cruises.

December 13, 2018 at 12:58 PM

I don't necessarily think it's to market to non-cruisers, though I'm sure there's some advantage there. I think it comes down to the way cruises are sold now. My parents have been cruising for over 30 years now, and they've seen a definite change in the way they work. It used to be that cruises were extravagant all-inclusive floating hotels that took care of everything for your week's vacation with the occasional extra charge for an excursion, a top-shelf drink, and gratuities. What used to be a week's worth of binge drinking and face stuffing has turned into upcharge this, upcharge that. Every new feature added to a cruise ship is another chance for operators to cash in. It's gotten to the point that there are more upcharges on a cruise than what is included in your fare. From upcharge dining, to drink packages, to laser tag, to internet access, to even a tour of the engine room (which ALWAYS used to be complimentary if you signed up when you boarded), operators are squeezing every last penny out of cruisers they can, just like Disney does to their land-based resort guests.

Don't like the Presidente Beer, Boones Farm Wine, and below-well liquor included in your base fare, they're more than happy to charge you $200 to get Bud Light, Turning Leaf, and rail liquor, or $500 for Sam Adams, Woodbridge, and bottom-shelf liquor. Don't want meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner (or just don't want to eat at your assigned 4:30-5:45 meal time), you can pay an extra $30 per person to eat dinner at the fancy Italian restaurant with a projection mapping show on your table (yes, this is a thing). Want to have front row seats for the magic show, or want to be a "volunteer" in an act, they'll gladly sell you $100 tickets. Want to ride on the roller coaster or water slide without having to wait in line, they'll quickly sell you a $50 wrist band that gives you front of the line access throughout your cruise.

It's really getting out of control, and what used to be a nice, relaxing trip to diverse locales you couldn't easily visit without making multiple trips, has turned into having to continually ask "Is this included in my fare?" at every step of your cruise. Honestly, the whole hospitality industry has gotten drunk on upcharges, and theme parks are no exception. However, the cruise industry has really taken it to another level, which is especially frustrating, because taking a cruise used to be one of the easiest, most value-packed vacations to plan.

December 13, 2018 at 1:58 PM

Looks like an installation of Maurer's Spike Dragster, which honestly doesn't look like a particularly exciting ride. Yes, it will be neat to ride a coaster at sea, but as the ride is powered throughout it's questionable whether or not it qualifies as a true roller coaster. Plus, with capacity at only a couple hundred per hour, I could see some pretty nasty waits here. Basically, it might be a fun thing to check out should I ever wind up taking a cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras, but it's not going to inspire me to do so.

December 13, 2018 at 4:33 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if I hear of a sky coaster or a Gerslauer coaster being installed on cruise ship next

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