Saturday, May 7, 2011

On new Carnival Magic, a pub is the hub for cruisers

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comments  3

By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL MAGIC -- The first pub ever on a Carnival ship opened up this week, and to say it's been a hit would be an understatement.

The Caribbean-themed Red Frog, here on the new Carnival Magic, has been so jammed that its waiters haven't been able to keep up with the orders, and it's already run out of its signature, private-label draught beer, Thirsty Frog Red.

"It was unbelievably popular," marvels Carnival senior vice president for guest commerce Gus Antorcha, of the $5.50-a-glass brew. "It goes to how popular (the pub) is."

Antorcha, whose job it is to keep an eye on on-board spending, is one of a number of top Carnival executives on this inaugural sailing. Chatting at a table near the Red Frog's faux palm tree-covered entrance, he says the line is trying to get more Thirsty Frog airlifted to the ship in the coming days. The vessel, which debuted Sunday in Venice, hadn't been scheduled to take on more until May 10, when it reaches Barcelona.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, while the ship was docked in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Cruise Log ran into Antorcha as he was searching the town for a local Croatian beer to bring on board in its place.

RELATED: Tour the new Carnival Magic
RELATED: Carnival takes the wraps off first new ship in two years

Pubs on cruise ships are nothing new, of course. Indeed, they've become somewhat of a staple on several lines, including Cunard and Royal Caribbean. But Caribbean-focused Carnival has brought its own twist to the concept with the Red Frog, which is infused with a laid-back Caribbean vibe.

In addition to its own private label beer, the pub serves a wide selection of Caribbean brews such as Presidente and Kalik in bottles ($4.95 a piece) as well as Caribbean rums. It also offers extra-charge food items that are decidedly Caribbean in flavor, from Bahamian conch salad and grouper fingers to firecracker Jamaican chicken wings. Orders are $3.33 a piece.

"It's really a melding of what you would consider a traditional Irish pub with a Caribbean beach bar," another Carnival executive, Mark Tamis, tells USA TODAY. The line was aiming for something tied to where the ship will be based, he notes.

After an initial season in Europe that ends in October, the 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic is heading to Galveston, Texas, where it will operate year-round voyages to the Caribbean.

Tamis says the pub is an example of a new focus at 23-ship Carnival to create spaces on its vessels that offer a destination experience. It's about more than just grabbing a beer and a bite, he says.

"It's about creating an emotional engagement and emotional attachment with our guests," Tamis says, noting that bartenders at the Red Frog take pictures of customers that then are flashed up on screens behind the bar, turning the customers themselves into part of the show.

The Red Frog also is home to live music daily, with two full time guitarists, as well as a video jukebox, a foosball table and other typical pub amusements.

On Tuesday, Carnival announced another Red Frog would debut in 2012 on its next ship, the 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze, and Carnival executives this week already are hinting that the concept could be retrofitted onto even more Carnival ships.

"We certainly want to see how (the Red Frog and other new venues) do on this ship," Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill told cruise writers this week in an on-board press conference. But Red Frog has been "even more popular than we expected."

Cruise Loggers, do you have a favorite shipboard pub? Share your thoughts below.

Posted May 4 2011 12:29PM

Powered By | Full Text RSS Feed | Amazon Plugin | Hud Settlement Statement

View the original article here


Post a Comment