Carnival Mardi Gras to feature street food and Shaq chicken

NEW YORK — At its Cruise into Summer event here on Tuesday, Carnival Cruise Line revealed that the upcoming Mardi Gras will have
new dining/beverage concepts and new twists on older ones. 

Among the fresh venues to try on the Mardi Gras will be the
Watering Hole, pitched as similar to a “fun backyard gathering spot,”
with a beer bar and cocktails such as a watermelon cooler and a tequila sunset.

New flavors will come from Street Eats, an open-air venue
intended to bring the “ready-to-eat nature of street food to the
seas,” Carnival said. Dishes reflecting a variety of cuisines will come
and go at three themed kiosks where items are fried, steamed or seared on a plancha.

Empanadas, falafel, bao buns, kebabs and satay are examples of
what Street Eats will serve.

Carnival is taking a Funship 2.0 staple, the RedFrog Rum
Bar, and refashioning it as the RedFrog Tiki Bar to capitalize on the passion
for Polynesian tiki culture.  The two-level
bar will be decorated with tiki heads, floral patterns and vibrant colors.
Bartenders will mix drinks called Polynesian Punch, Red’s Rum Runner Jumper and
the Jungle Bird.

Carnival confirmed that the Mardi Gras will be home to the
second Big Chicken restaurant at sea. Big Chicken was founded by former
basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also a Carnival pitchman and the cruise
line’s “chief fun officer.” The restaurant specializes in crispy chicken sandwiches and made its debut in
Las Vegas in 2018. The Big Chicken on the Mardi Gras will be aft on the lido deck.

Big Chicken will make its Carnival debut next year, when the
Carnival Victory emerges from a $200 million redo as the Carnival Radiance.

O’Neal appeared at a Carnival event in New York on June 18
to amplify Carnival’s message and exchange a few light-hearted moments with
Carnival president Christine Duffy. 

Kiosks representing the Watering Hole, Street Eats and
RedFrog Tiki Bar were set up for travel advisors, media and other guests to try.
A Big Chicken counter served chicken sandwiches named the Shaq Attack (pepper jack
cheese, jalapeno slaw and spicy chipotle barbecue sauce), Shaq Daddy (swiss
cheese, ham and Carolina honey-mustard barbecue sauce) and the M.D.E. (signature
Shaq sauce and pickle slaw). M.D.E. is a nickname Shaq gave himself in his
playing days; it stands for Most Dominant Ever.

The food at Big Chicken and Street Eats will be included in
the cruise fare. 

The new bars and restaurants are all in two themed zones of
the 180,000-ton, 5,200-passenger Mardis Gras. The Summer Landing, which
includes the Watering Hole, is also where guests will find Guy’s Pig &
Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, the combo barbecue restaurant and brewery first
seen on the Carnival Horizon.

The expansive outdoor deck area will also have an infinity
pool, two whirlpools, an indoor/outdoor sports bar and a hangout area for
cornhole games, trivia, arts and crafts, and dance classes.

The two-deck Lido zone will be home to Guy’s Burger Joint,
the Seafood Shack, the BlueIguana Cantina and the Lido Marketplace, along with
a Beach Pool, an Aft Tides Pool and Dive-In Movies at the Carnival Seaside
Theater.

The Mardi Gras will debut in Europe on Aug. 31, 2020. It
will then sail to New York for a series of cruises before heading to Port
Canaveral, Fla., where the ship will do Caribbean cruises year-round.
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Rebecca Tobin contributed to this report.

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