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What Carnival’s cruise ship roller coaster is like

by Staff

As I hurtled toward the Caribbean Sea, I felt a pang of regret: maybe riding a roller coaster on a cruise ship wasn’t the best idea for someone with a fear of heights.

I clutched the handles on my motorcycle-like car tight, questioning why I had committed to not just one but two laps around the course on Carnival Cruise Line’s BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster. But a few seconds in, something changed.

Surrounded by open blue water at the top of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Jubilee, I was taken with the view – so much so that the knot in my stomach I developed while waiting in line all but dissolved. The ride was fast but mostly smooth (though on one uphill section of the track, I felt myself lift off the seat a bit, but my seat belt did its job). BOLT reaches up to 40 mph, but guests can control their speed.

Zipping around the ship’s funnel, I forced myself to keep my eyes open the whole time (the opposite of my usual roller coaster coping strategy). Even the best theme parks I’ve visited haven’t had settings quite like that, and I didn’t want to miss it.

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Who can ride BOLT?

Passengers must meet height and weight requirements (they have to be between 4 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 5 inches tall, for instance). Children under 12 have to ride with someone 15 or older. Cars can accommodate two riders.

Guests with “structural body damage” cannot ride, according to a sign posted at BOLT’s entrance. “The sign pertains to physical impairments impeding guests’ safety,” a Carnival spokesperson said in an email. “For instance, a guest who cannot hold on to the handlebars would not be able to ride BOLT.”

The roller coaster is also not recommended for guests with other medical conditions or limitations, including high blood pressure; neck, back, or joint problems; or those who are pregnant.

How much does BOLT cost?

The roller coaster costs $15 per person. Carnival also offers a family pack, offering three rides for the price of two. Each ride includes two laps around the track.

What other activities does Carnival Jubilee have?

BOLT debuted Carnival’s Mardi Gras ship, in 2021 and was billed as the first roller coaster at sea, but the ride is only one of many activities onboard Jubilee:

Lone Star Tailgate: Jubilee, which sails out of Galveston, leans into its Texas roots (there’s even a Texas star on its bow). So, it’s only fitting that the ship hosts a Lone Star Tailgate on every voyage.The deck party is divided into four quarters (a la football), with a cattle roping competition – using steer horns attached to hay bales – a race on stick horses, live music highlighting Texas artists and more.

Carnival Kitchen: Food is a major draw for many cruise passengers, and Carnival Kitchen allows them to try on a chef’s apron – literally.The venue features a range of culinary arts classes taught by the line’s staff, from pasta making to sushi 101. While the classes are available on other ships, the line debuted a new option featuring recipes from the line’s Chief Culinary Officer, Emeril Lagasse, on Jubilee.During my sailing, we made dishes like Shrimp and Okra Gumbo with Filé and New Orleans Pasta. Even for me, whose greatest culinary achievement is making scrambled eggs for breakfast, the steps were easy to follow. Plus, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor at the end.Prices range from $45-$65 per person, depending on the class.

Kids programming: Jubilee, like many other Carnival ships, also has plenty of kid-centric programming and amenities, from the Dr. Seuss-themed library, Dr. Seuss Bookville to Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea and The Ultimate Playground where BOLT is located (think mini-golf, a ropes course and more).Jubilee’s new Currents zone features Seaquest: A Fun Sub Adventure. The video display utilizes the space’s wave-like LED ceiling and LED portals to show viewers to places like the underwater Carnival Seacation resort and the kingdom of The Golden Mermaid (also the name of a new lounge on board). At other times, passengers can change the scenes displayed via a touch screen – such as arctic waters with orcas and penguins and a shark cave – and create their own fish, which will swim into view on the portals.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

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