The Mardi Gras was Carnival's first ship, too, and she was a beauty! Unlike the monstrosities they have the nerve to call ships these days, the Mardi Gras was truly a ship. Teak paneling nearly everywhere, brass, cut glass, real wooden decks that weren't made to be something else like a golf course or a running track.
There wasn't any such thing as Wi-fi. If you wanted some entertainment while sailing (as if the incredible views and sea air weren't enough for you) then you went to the movie theater (yes, the Mardi Gras had a movie theater) to see a movie. There were usually 3 or 4 to choose from - not first-run films but it was fun anyway.
There was one casino, one disco...
|I taught morning aerobics in this room! What a hoot!|
...one piano bar that was more fun than you could imagine...
...and one dining room where the waiters and busboys would entertain by dancing with flaming trays and fancy cakes balanced on their heads (it was the one night NO ONE missed dinner!)... If you didn't like what they were serving in the one dining room, you could order a sandwich and some chips from room service for $1.
As I remember, she carried roughly 800 passengers and had a crew around 150. After a week on the Mardi Gras, you really did know people and you felt as though she was home. Again, not like these days when cruise ships carry 4000 people and after a week you come to realize there are parts of the massive ship you never even saw - this was cruising the old way, the better way.
My job was to dance and sing in stage shows in the beautiful Grand Ballroom.
I worked for basically 2 years on the Mardi Gras. I loved that ship! She was ultimately sold to another cruise company I worked for - Royal Olympic Cruises. It's funny to think about it now...
Many years later, in 1998, I was hired as a Social Hostess to work aboard the Stella Solaris (Royal Olympic Cruises) and arrived in Piraeus, Greece on Thanksgiving Day. I (and my luggage) were dropped at the pier and there was absolutely NO ONE from the cruise line there to meet me and my ship was not scheduled to arrive in port until the next day. So... there I was standing on a pier in Greece, not knowing a word of Greek, with $300 in my pocket and a load of luggage. As I was standing there on the verge of a tearful fit, a taxi pulls up. From behind me I hear, "Cindy?? Is that you?". As I turn around, I see Tom, a man I had met while working on the MS Tropicale (also a now defunct Carnival ship). He had sailed on the Trop as a craft instructor and we had struck up a friendship. Here he was standing on the pier in Piraeus, Greece!! Saints be praised! He and his partner Judy were going to be teaching dance classes on the Stella Solaris.
Luckily, he had more than $300 in his pocket! He, Judy and I loaded our luggage into a cab and found our way to a nice hotel to stay at for the evening. To say my life was saved that night is an understatement!
We found out the next day that our ship was due in the early evening so we took the opportunity to visit the Acropolis and walk around Athens for the day. When we returned to the pier, the Stella Solaris was indeed there and ready for us to board. As we were making our way along the pier we walked by a ship that was being stripped and readied for the scrap yard. As we walked by, I felt something incredibly familiar about that ship. As I peered into the darkness at the top of the gangway, I felt like I had some connection to the vessel - like if I walked up the gangway, I would be home. I put it down to feeling a bit homesick - I had, after all, left home on Thanksgiving morning and it had been a rough couple of days. It was only many days later - after we had already set sail - that I found out the ship I felt such a connection to was the Mardi Gras. I broke my heart to think of that grand ship being torn apart and sold for scrap. It still does.
I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about her - Lord knows, I have a multitude of Mardi Gras stories... memories... photos... maybe I'll scan those photos one of these days and share them here. It really was the most exciting time of my life - a real adventure - and I am ever so thankful to have had it.