Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras made her U.S. debut June 4, docking for the first time at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 3, built specifically for this vessel which is the first cruise ship in the Americas to be powered by LNG.
Port Canaveral-based Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty joined Mardi Gras as she made her way down the cruise channel, creating a memorable entrance witnessed by more than 1,500 fans who lined Jetty Park, located adjacent to the terminal, to welcome Mardi Gras to the Space Coast.
Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation COO Josh Weinstein, and Canaveral Port Authority CEO Captain John Murray, along with 300 travel advisors, partners, dignitaries and guests, participated in a welcome reception.
“Mardi Gras has been five years in the making and today’s arrival is a historic milestone for our company not to mention a truly emotional moment for everyone here at Carnival Cruise Line,” said Duffy. “This ship offers so many innovations and ways for our guests to choose fun that we are certain that she will quickly become a guest favorite. And as we look forward to our restart in guest operations, Mardi Gras’ arrival is symbolic of the excitement and anticipation we have about the future at Carnival Cruise Line.”
“For nearly four years we have been working hard to prepare for Mardi Gras,” said Capt. Murray. “As we welcome home this magnificent ship to Port Canaveral, we are filled with pride to see her at berth at our beautiful Cruise Terminal 3.”
The company will now begin the process of ramping up Mardi Gras’ crew to a full contingent of 1,750.
In addition to being LNG fueled, Mardi Gras is packed with culinary, bar and entertainment experiences throughout 19 decks and six distinct themed zones, as well as a wide range of outdoor attractions, including the longest ropes course and largest water park in the fleet. Topping them all off is Bolt, the first roller coaster at sea. The ship also boasts a stunning new livery that’s so impressive that Carnival has decided to roll it out fleet wide, over time, starting with Carnival Magic.
Mardi Gras will sail year-round from Port Canaveral, offering seven-day itineraries to the eastern and western Caribbean.
CARNIVAL CONFIRMS PLANS FOR FIRST U.S. CRUISES
No word yet on when cruises on Mardi Gras will start but, Carnival Cruise Line yesterday confirmed its plans to return to guest operations from Port of Galveston on July 3 with Carnival Vista, followed by the return of operations on Carnival Breeze on July 15.
These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination, in accordance with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us. As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests,” said Christine Duffy.
The other ship and port identified for a July restart is Carnival Horizon from PortMiami. Carnival continues to work with both the State of Florida and the CDC for Carnival Horizon sailings and plans to provide an update by Friday concerning protocols specific to these sailings to all booked guests.
Duffy also acknowledged the strong support of both Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as well as other state officials, in making vaccinations available to cruise line personnel, which has expedited the restart process. She also said the support of local officials, especially Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Galveston Mayor Craig Brown, and PortMiami and Port of Galveston leaders, has been instrumental in the restart efforts.
Carnival also said it will be advising guests and travel advisors about its plans for August sailings over the coming days.