The Bolt roller coaster (or the official name: BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster) on Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most noteworthy attractions ever to hit cruising. For years cruise ships have gotten bigger with more to offer, but never before had something like a roller coaster… at sea… been introduced.
It’s a major attraction on some Carnival ships, but there are a number of ins and outs that you should know before you take a ride.
Is Bolt Free To Ride? How Much Does It Cost?
While Carnival is known for having a lot included with the cruise fare, the Bolt roller coaster is an extra cost. At the time of this writing, the price is $15 per person, per ride. So if two kids want to ride, that’s a total of $30.
Which Ships Have Bolt?
Currently only Carnival’s newest and largest ships have the Bolt roller coaster. That includes Mardi Gras, where the ride debuted, and Carnival Celebration. Another ship in the class — Carnival Jubilee — debuts in late 2023. It is expected to also have the ride, although that could change.
How Long Does The Ride Last?
While any roller coaster at sea is impressive, it is still bound by the limitations of fitting on the cruise ship. For that reason, the ride is actually fairly short. It makes two laps around the top of the ship, lasting about one minute before coming back into the starting point.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Ride?
Traveling with kids? One good thing is that there is no age limit to ride. However, there are height and weight requirements that must be met. For that reason, younger kids (those younger than 8 years old) aren’t likely to be able to ride.
Are There Weight/Height Minimums And Limits?
Yes. To ride Bolt, you must be a minimum of 4 feet, 4 inches tall (52 inches), up to a maximum of 6 feet, 5 inches tall (77 inches). Those below or above that height won’t be able to ride.
While no minimum weight is listed, the maximum is 300 pounds per rider.
There is a station at the base of the ride to check that you meet the requirements (don’t worry, if you’re a little heavy it just shows a red/green light, not your weight).
How Many People Can Ride At Once?
Bolt is a one or two-person ride. When the ride is operating, there are two different carts on the track at once, each offering two seats. You can choose to ride solo or with someone else. So the most on any car at once is two, and the most on the track at once is four.
How Do You Sign Up To Ride?
To ride Bolt, you need to sign up within the Carnival Hub app. Within the app’s menu is a section for the coaster. Click there and it will offer up the times that are available to ride.
Bolt operates in 30-minute windows for riders. So you sign up for a time — say, 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. — and you simply show up to ride anywhere within that window. Once a time is confirmed, the app will walk you through the cost and policies before confirming your ride.
When it’s time to actually ride the roller coaster, just make your way to the stairs at the base of the coaster and check-in with the staff. They will confirm your reservation and then send you up the stairs to ride.
How Fast Does Bolt Go?
This roller coaster is unique in that you have a throttle handle and a “boost” button. So you can actually control your speed somewhat. Want to go faster? Turn the throttle handle toward you and hit the boost. Want to slow down? Let the throttle turn back forward to decrease speed (you’ll still move and won’t stop on the track).
The top speed on Bolt is said to be around 40 mph. There is a speedometer on the cart, but during our ride we were too focused on taking in the view and the rush of adrenaline that we forgot to check how fast we were going at full throttle.
Is Bolt Scary?
If you love thrill rides, then you’ll love Bolt. Unlike a conventional roller coaster, there are no huge drops or inverted loops. Instead, it’s a fast start, a big horizontal loop around the back of the ship before a fast exit to some up and down parts of the track before you circle back around the funnel. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s exhilarating, but we’d be hard to call it “scary.”
Is There A Dress Code For Bolt?
Carnival is known for being casual, but there are some requirements on what to wear. First, you must wear closed-toe shoes. As well, pants or shorts are also required (no riding in a bathing suit alone). If you wear glasses, Carnival’s policies say they must be held with a head strap if they are going to be worn.
Can I Bring My Camera? Where Do I Put My Stuff?
The rules say that you have to empty your pockets before you ride. So things like keys, wallets, and phones need to be taken out. And sorry, no cameras (even GoPros) are allowed on the ride.
If you have things with you, there is a small spot with cubby holes where you can place your items while you ride. When you exit the ride, just remember to pick them up.
What’s The Cancellation Policy For Bolt?
Bolt has a fairly liberal cancellation policy. If you sign up to ride and decide not to — for whatever reason — you simply need to cancel two hours before the appointment time in order to get your money back.
So if you signed up for a 2:00-2:30 p.m. time slot, you’ll need to cancel by noon to get a refund. If Carnival has to cancel the ride due to weather or a mechanical issue, then you’ll be refunded automatically.
When Is The Best Time To Ride The Coaster?
Bolt is open on both sea days and port days. It would seem to make sense that if you are at sea, it’s a great activity to do since it can help fill the day. In port, you’re likely to be off the ship.
However, we think it is smart to sign up to ride during port days. We’ve found that during days at sea with the ship moving, the wind can be much stronger. So a ship moving 20 mph into a 15 mph breeze sees winds of 35 mph. The staff takes into account weather — especially wind — when operating the ride. So if it’s too windy, then the coaster won’t run. During one cruise we had two days at sea at the end of the trip where we planned to ride. Due to wind, the coaster didn’t run either day.
Instead, the wind is likely to be much calmer while the ship is stopped in port. Signing up for a later time on port days can give you the chance to explore earlier in the day and then ride once you get back on the ship.
What If The Time I Want To Ride Is Full?
The lines for Bolt never seem to be too long. That may be due to both the cost and the fact that Carnival limits riders per 30-minute window.
So say you want to sign up but see that there are no convenient times available. Are you out of luck?
In this case, just occasionally check back in on the app. We’ve found that sometimes time slots open up as others cancel. As well, if there is a time that’s convenient to you, it doesn’t hurt just to show up at that time and see if the staff can fit you in. At worst, they will just say no.
Is Bolt Worth The Money?
There’s no doubt that Bolt is a lot of fun and something you can’t do anywhere else. But it’s also pricey — $15 per person for a one-minute ride isn’t cheap. So is it worth it?
Having ridden the coaster and paid the price, our opinion is that at $15 per ride it’s something that’s worth doing once… but not over and over. During our cruise, it’s one of the highlights that still stands out. It’s exciting, offers some great views, and a totally unique experience. So we’re glad that we did it.
If it were free, then we’d ride it several times during a cruise as it was that much fun. But at the current price, we’re happy to experience it once but can’t justify paying that much again.
More About Sailing Carnival:
- 38 Must-Do Things on a Carnival Cruise Ship
- Carnival Celebration Cruise Guide: Photo Tour, Review, & Things to Know
- Worth It? 15+ Questions & Answers About the Carnival CHEERS! Package