Carnival Cruise Line ends famous bellyflop and hairy chest contests

Aug 3, 2022

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It seems the pandemic shutdown has prompted Carnival Cruise Line to retire more than just a collection of Fantasy-class ships.

Two iconic poolside pastimes have also gone the way of the dodo in the US-based cruise line’s bid to make its lido deck entertainment more family-friendly. With that, Carnival has officially retired both its hairy chest and bellyflop competitions on all vessels.

The death of this kitschy entertainment was both quiet and unceremonious. A spokesperson from the line told The Points Guy that the bellyflop displays were curtailed prior to the onset of COVID-19 due to safety concerns.

The poolside hairy chest competitions, which were often accompanied by sexual innuendo, have remained absent from daily onboard schedules since the industry’s restart in 2021.

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Both were consistently among the tackiest forms of entertainment at sea, drawing crowds of onlookers who would either cheer or shake their heads as grown men battled it out to see who was the worst at manscaping and the best at making a splash.

“We did want to provide a more family-friendly pool atmosphere,” the line’s spokesperson said. “Our cruise directors and Fun Squads have new and existing lido activities to offer.”

New options include:

Red’s Challenge

(Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Red’s Challenge is a RedFrog Bar-themed poolside event, in which four teams compete in three different challenges: Freeze Frog (teams act out silly scenarios, such as shopping for a pair of socks on Black Friday), Outwit the Frog (trivia involving pool noodles and punching bags) and Singing Frog (players sing a random song one at a time with no repeats or wrong lyrics).

Guess That Groove

Guess that Groove is a team competition game that combines music from all genres and decades into an interactive party. Guests are split into teams and play a series of four games: Guess That Song (guess the title based on a short clip), Reverse Mic Drop (guess the title of songs played backward), Audience Mash Up (acting out dance moves of famous artists) and Sing That Groove (finishing lyrics after a song is paused).

Groove for St. Jude

Groove for St. Jude is an afternoon deck party that raises money for Carnival’s long-term charitable partner St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. T-shirts are sold during the event, and the cruise director encourages all passengers to dance on the pool deck. Line dances and competitions are commonly held.

S-pool-ing Bee

Guests line up and must spell difficult words together by only saying one letter at a time. If the guest hesitates or gives the wrong letter a cup of water is poured on their head, and they are disqualified.

Dolphin Race

One at a time, two teams will relay race by getting in the pool and pushing a golf ball or dodgeball with their noses to the pool edge and then back to their team. The first team to have all players complete the task wins.

A large waterpark complex called WaterWorks sits atop Carnival Cruise’s Panorama ship (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)


Alphabet Soup

Teams must spell words using foam alphabet letters floating in the pool. The host will give a category and how many letters the word must be (for example, a five-letter fruit or three-letter vehicle).

Synchronised Swimming

Guests are split into two teams and have 10 minutes to create a synchronised swimming routine. The audience will vote to choose the winning team.

Perfect Partners

Similar to any Mr & Mrs game, partners (parent/child, best friends, siblings, couples, etc.) are given dry-erase boards and asked questions (such as “What is player 1’s favourite colour?”). When the boards are revealed, if player 1’s partner has answered correctly, they stay in the game. If the answer is incorrect, the team is issued a strike. Three strikes, and they’re eliminated.

What else does Carnival Cruise Line have up its sleeve?

There are plenty of changes afoot at Carnival. This week the operator ushered in a new CEO Josh Weinstein, which it hopes will help steer the company away from the choppy waters of financial trouble (as of the end of May, Carnival Corporation’s debt stood at £28.7bn) and into a brighter future.

Forget the stock market though. In an exclusive interview with TPG’s Gene Sloan, Weinstein said his immediate priority was to excel at customer service, revealing he just wants to make people happy.

“What do I think about the company and where do I see it going? I think that we do have a purpose, and our purpose is to create happiness,” he said. “And the way we do it is by delivering unforgettable and much-needed vacations.”

While surviving the pandemic relatively intact, Carnival went from possessing a fleet of 105 vessels to 92. Weinstein, however, doesn’t believe cracking a few metaphorical bottles of champagne from the harbour is the way to go.

“New builds are awesome, but it’s the whole fleet that drives the business, the profitability,” he said, letting slip that the highest ratings Carnival Corporation brands get from customers is from sailing on older ships.

Read the whole interview here. And if you’re looking at planning a cruise antyime soon, allow us to point you in the direction of the stories below.

Featured photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

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