Ready for a jolt of adrenaline on the high seas? Look no further than Bolt, the first roller coaster at sea. Created by a roller coaster designer in Munich, Bolt: The Ultimate Sea Coaster debuted in July 2021 on Mardi Gras, the first of Carnival's Excel-class ships.
What It Is
The first roller coaster at sea doesn't look like a typical one that you'd find at a theme park. Instead of sitting down inside of a cart, you are astride a two-person car, similar to a motorcycle. Don't worry, you're still strapped in very tightly with a metal seatbelt that is checked, double checked and triple checked before you take off.
The electric track starts on the top deck, near the back of the ship and winds its way around the funnel. You can go up to 37 mph -- some of which you can control yourself by pulling back on the right handlebar or by pushing a "boost" button on the left handlebar. There's a digital speedometer that you can watch, but you're likely going to be too busy screaming or checking out the sky-high sea views as you barrel your way around the track.
Carnival Mardi Gras: Free Dining on the Lido Deck
Carnival Mardi Gras: RedFrog Tiki Bar & Summer Landing
Carnival Mardi Gras' Excel Suite and Loft 19
Live From Carnival's Mardi Gras: The French Quarter
BOLT: We Try Carnival Mardi Gras' Roller Coaster at Sea
Video Scenes From The Golden Girls Theme Cruise 2019
Martini Bar Bartender Pours 15 Martinis at Once on Celebrity Cruises
How to Make a Towel Animals Swans, Dogs and Elephants
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make Towel Swans
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Dog
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Elephant
Bolt - Top Deck Roller-Coaster at Sea on Carnival Mardi Gras
Virgin Voyages Unveils Beach Club And Entertainment
Marella Cruises Cast Members Rehearse New Show Debut
Star Wars Day At Sea On Disney Cruise Line
How To Make Carnival Cruise Line's Famous Warm Chocolate Melting Cake - Video
Inside Look 2018 Ship-Hop: A Cruise Vacation For '90s Lovers
Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial
Carnival Splendor Photo Tour
Carnival Conquest Photo Tour
Carnival Pride Photo Tour
Carnival Dream Photo Tour
5 Craziest Top-Deck Activities On Cruise Ships
Carnival Sunshine Photo Tour
Carnival Breeze Photo Tour
Photo Tour of Carnival Liberty
5 Best Restaurants for Free Eats on Carnival Sunshine
Norwegian Escape's Ropes Course - Are You Brave Enough?
Sneak Peek: "Beauty And The Beast" On Disney Dream -- Behind The Scenes Video
The Himalayan Bridge On MSC Meraviglia - Ropes Course POV Video
SkyRide On Carnival Vista: Cruise Critic Tries It
Carnival Vista Top Deck Attractions
Behind the Scenes at CSMART - Carnival's Arison Maritime Training Center
Cruise Pier Runners In Cozumel -- Carnival Liberty
Harmony Of The Seas Pool And Sports Zone
Harmony Of The Seas Boardwalk
Harmony Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Place
Perfect Storm Water Slides On Harmony Of The Seas
Greased Lightnin': Royal Caribbean Brings Another Broadway Hit
Plunging Into Adventure On The Tallest Slide At Sea: Royal Caribbean Reveals 10-Story Ultimate Abyss
Crystal Cruises' Submarine -- Cruise Critic Tries It Out On Esprit
Cruise Critic Flowrider On Royal Caribbean's Freedom Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Quick Chat With Carnival CEO Arnold Donald
Oasis Of The Seas Flowrider - Cruise Critic Goes Surfing
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade (2009)
Oasis Of The Seas Jazz On 4 Performance
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade Parade (2009)
Oasis Of The Seas Carousel In Action (2009)
Am I a thrill-seeker? Generally, yes -- but I still had a burst of apprehension when I saw the first Bolt car careening around the track.
More than that, it was the screams coming from the participants. I hadn't expected a roller coaster on a cruise ship to offer real adrenaline, but then I got into line and saw the cars take off.
Each started up with a fast jolt, provoking screams from the riders that continued as they went into the first dip. "Hmm, maybe this isn't just for kids," I thought, watching. (There's no minimum age for Bolt, but you can't be shorter than 4-foot-4, taller than 6-foot-5 and weigh more than 300 pounds.)
You're allowed to ride Bolt either by yourself or as a twosome. I went solo on my first ride, which was good because I didn't want to have to fight anyone for control over the speed. I intended to jack up the car as fast as it could go.
My resolution faltered a bit after I was strapped in; the seatbelts are intimidating, and so is the track when you're staring ahead at it. I was a bit blind, however, as I had to relinquish my prescription sunglasses before getting on the car. (There is a handy cubby hole near the operators where your purses, glasses and other items are stored).
But my sense of disorientation stopped when the operator started my car, and off I went. I yanked back on the handlebars while simultaneously pushing the boost button, going for maximum speed. I'm not sure if these two moves canceled anything out, but I was flying, fast, around the turns.
I honestly don’t remember much about that first ride, it went so quickly. The track is stable, and when you're in the driver seat, you are apt to concentrate on what's directly in front of you. There is a bit of a hairpin turn when you come around the funnel, where the cart tilts a bit. But don't worry, you'll never feel like you're going to fall off.
I got off of the ride a bit shaky and full of adrenaline (as you can see in the Bolt video we filmed). It took a while for the excitement to wear off. Real theme park thrills on a cruise ship? We're sold.
I took a second ride on Bolt later in the cruise, this time as a passenger. It wasn't quite as scary in the back seat, mainly because you have more of a chance to check out the views, as opposed to focusing on the track in front of you (or maybe it's because my friend wasn't pushing the car to 11). I recommend doing it twice to have both experiences.
A few house-keeping rules: You'll want to make sure that you're dressed appropriately for Bolt. You must wear shorts or capris -- no sundresses allowed -- and have closed-toe shoes. (We saw several people in sandals being turned away.)
Also be aware that the ship is expressly forbidding GoPros, phones or other cameras being worn when you ride. Don't try to get around it -- if something were to drop from the track, it could not only damage the roller coaster but seriously hurt another cruiser.
The staff are not allowed to take photos of you, and while the line said that they are thinking of installing a camera that snaps action shots, nothing was operational when we were there. Have a friend come and take a photo with your phone, or ask an obliging stranger. (We found people were eager to help.)
The price for Bolt is $15 for two laps around the track.
For now, Bolt will only be on Carnival Mardi Gras.