Cruise Reviews: Dining On Carnival’s Mardi Gras

Recently, we took a eight day cruise on one of Carnival’s newest ships, the Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is 1130 feet of beauty and adventure and was launched officially in 2021. She can hold over 5000 passengers and runs on liquefied natural gas. This clean, streamlined ship houses the first roller coaster on a cruise ship, the Bolt. It has Carnival’s usual amenities as well, such as a spa, sports court, putt putt, water slides and splash pad, comedy venues, live entertainment, and plentiful dining choices. This article will go over some of the dining in more detail.

Mardi Gras sails out of Port Canaveral. You may want to consider some great things to do in nearby Cocoa Beach, Florida, or read some articles about great things to do all around the Florida, Space Coast.

Included Dining

Dining on the Mardi Gras can be mostly free, included in the cost of the cruise itself. Some of these options include the Lido Buffet and the Main Dining Room (MDR- Palm or Flamingo). These are popular dining options and are often crowded during prime dining hours, The buffet requires no reservation and serves all three meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The MDR doesn’t require reservations, but when you purchase your cruise, you select  Anytime Dining/Your Time Dining or Early/Late/Assigned Dining. Your Time requires no reservations, you simply check in and they notify you on the Hub App when your table is ready (helpful hint: avoid crowds and long waits by getting there early at the earliest time available).

Early/Late Dining is where you are assigned a specific time to dine and make your reservation for that time and get the same table each seating and often the same servers. This is sometimes advantageous if you want to catch an early or late show at a specific time. The food in the buffet started off good, but became boring to us, as they typically served the same or similar items.

The MDR was much better and we ate there a few times as they served a different menu each night. They also serve a sea day brunch, which is good. At dinner, they dance and sing and offer you sit down service. You can order anything off the menu, including specialty items such as surf ‘n’ turf, for an additional charge. You can also order multiple appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The only thing is after the second entrée, there is a $5 fee for each additional entrée. On the cruises over six days, there are two formal/elegant nights where many people enjoy dressing up. On the first sea day, you can order filet mignon at no additional cost, on the second sea day, you can order lobster at no additional charge.

555 Fahrenheit Steakhouse

We also enjoyed eating at the 555 Fahrenheit Steakhouse. There is an additional fee to eat here and reservations are required or highly recommended. Dress code is a little stiffer here as it is a little more reserved dining. Serving a multi-course dining experience, they offer many steak options, and delicious desserts. The atmosphere is elegant and pleasing as well as the ambience. Overall, we enjoyed eating here.

Blue Iguana Cantina

Although we have eaten at the Blue Iguana Cantina before, we didn’t go on this cruise. They serve breakfast and lunch. Offering burritos and tacos and other carry-and-eat Mexican fare, they also serve delicious breakfast burritos. This is a less busy option for those who don’t want to face the crowds on the Lido Buffet.

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Shaq’s Big Chicken

Shaq’s Big Chicken was a big hit, offering different chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders with several dipping sauces. Personally, I liked the buffalo sauce. At breakfast, they offer omelets, chicken biscuits, and the entire lunch menu as well. This is a very popular venue and many people reported enjoying it. Yet it never seemed overly crowded and the line moved quickly.

Seafood Shack & Street Eats

We didn’t get to eat at Seafood Shack or Street Eats this trip, absolutely no time. Seafood Shack has different seafood options such as po’boys and Street eats has three “food truck” shops offering seafood, Asian and varying options that change every day.


Chibang is a Mexican Chinese restaurant with two menus and you can order a mix from either restaurant. This is the only restaurant we were not enthusiastic about after eating here. We didn’t enjoy the food selection and personally, there weren’t many options. However, I have heard some people say they enjoyed it, so this may just be our personal viewpoint. You can eat at Chibang once free during your cruise but there is an $8 charge for any additional dinners eaten there.

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Cucina De Capitan

Cucina De Capitana is an Italian restaurant and was one of our favorites. They had several delicious Italian dishes and desserts. Also the service was excellent, making for a delightful experience. The entire atmosphere was light and enthusiastic. We were never left wanting or unattended and the food was on point.

Guy’s Burger

Guy’s Burger is by Guy Fieri and serves delicious burgers that you can add a variety of toppings to and their fries. I ordered the “Straight” up, which has Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato, and Onion. And they are always delicious. The only drawback is that the restaurant is outside and it was extremely hot. There is a video played by Guy that shows how to make the perfect burger, too. Overall, a 5 out of 5.

Bonsai Teppenyaki

Bonsai Teppenyaki is a hibachi Japanese restaurant that also requires reservations and an additional fee. They offer a multi-course appetizer, your selection of entree and a multi-course bento box for dessert. It was delicious and the service was great. The cooks put on quite an entertaining show and made for an overall great experience. They worked together often singing and laughing.

Rudi’s SeaGrill, Bonsai Sushi, and Chef’s Table

There is also Rudi’s SeaGrill, Bonsai Sushi, and Chef’s Table, which we didn’t have time to eat at. Rudi’s and Chef’s Table require reservations and are an additional charge. Bonsai Sushi is more casual and serves a limited menu of sushi, miso soup, and other traditional dishes. We didn’t eat the same menu all week and still didn’t have time for these restaurants.

Emeril’s Bistro

Lastly, we ate at Emeril’s Bistro. This cute café is located in the French Quarter part of the ship and costs additional but the prices are low. Our food selections were served in piping hot cast iron pans that were small but perfect for a lunch. I had the shrimp scampi which was delicious, but I wish it had more noodles. My son had the jambalaya and it had more in the serving and was delicious according to him. Then, we finished off by ordering the beignets, their most popular dish. They serve six large of these fried, powdered delights, with chocolate and strawberry sauces for dipping on the side. All in all it was another delicious meal.


Certain beverages were included in our meals, such as juices, water, tea, and lemonade. You are assigned a sail and sign card upon arrival that is linked to your credit card or cruise cash and you can order premium drinks with that, such as smoothies, specialty coffees, pressed juices, bottled waters, Powerades, and more. Gratuities for all meals and services can be prepaid and if you order extra, such as the speciality food selections, premium drinks or dine at the speciality restaurants, you are given a check at the end of service where you can tip additionally when warranted, if you desire.


 Overall, we mostly enjoyed the food on Carnival’s Mardi Gras. There was wonderful selection and variety and we were never bored. If you didn’t care for one type of food, there was always something else. Service was always great and the restaurants were beautiful. We didn’t have time to eat at all the restaurants and we ate something different each meal. It was always exciting to look forward to each meal. We thoroughly enjoyed the Mardi Gras, and believe that it is impossible to do everything in a shorter cruise, and are very glad we were on a longer one. In fact, we can’t wait to sail on her again. Happy vacationing!

Mardi Gras sails out of Port Canaveral. You may want to consider some great things to do in nearby Cocoa Beach, Florida, or read some articles about great things to do all around the Florida, Space Coast.

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