Port Canaveral, FL

Port Canaveral Set to Host Carnival's Newest (and Largest) Cruise Ship

Melinda Crow

Mardi Gras sea trials.Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruises

PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA-- The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place for the restart of Carnival's cruise season from the U.S. On Friday, the line announced that the CDC had accepted its Phase 2A Port Agreements for Port Canaveral, Port Miami, and Port of Galveston.

Under the CDC guidelines, a cruise line must have agreements with its homeports that they are prepared to support the cruise operator with additional public health and operational resources prior to the implementation of simulated cruise and/or full guest operations.

Lars Ljoen, executive vice president and chief maritime officer for Carnival Cruise Line had this to say:

“These agreements move us one step closer to sailing with our loyal guests. We appreciate the support from not just these three homeport partners, but all of our homeports, that are eager to have us back as soon as possible.”

The new ship with an old name

Among the ships slated to sail from Port Canaveral during 2021, is the line's newest ship, Mardi Gras. The ship is currently en route to Florida. As of today, it was passing to the south of Bermuda, scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral by June 4, where it will begin training crew on new equipment, technology, and procedures.

Mardi Gras en route to Cape Canaveral.Map from Cruisemapper.com.

Mardi Gras has been the most highly anticipated new ship in the cruise industry for more than a year, with her arrival and inaugural impacted by the extended pause in cruise operations from U.S. ports. But with more and more hopeful signs of a return to guest operations and constructive discussions between the industry and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Carnival is moving the ship to Port Canaveral to get her ready for sailing.

Carnival's first-ever ship was also named Mardi Gras, sailing for the line from 1972 to 1993. It was originally an ocean liner known as Empress of Canada. After it was sold by Carnival, the original was renamed Olympic, Star of Texas, Lucky Star, Apollo, and Apollon before being scrapped in 2003.

The new Mardi Gras will be the line's largest, carrying 6,465 guests at full capacity along with 1,745 officers and crew. The ship has a total of 2,641 guest staterooms on 17 decks. The ship is 1,130 feet in length or more than 3 football fields. It will be the first ship to operate in North America under Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) propulsion.

Prior to its inaugural trans-Atlantic crossing between Barcelona and Port Canaveral, the ship was reflagged to Bahamian registry. Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, thanked the Panama Maritime Authority for their support during the ship’s construction and registration process but said that the move to the Bahamas Maritime Authority made business sense for a number of reasons.

“The Bahamas will be a frequent destination for Mardi Gras, and we are pleased to bring this new level of environmental sustainability to the many ports in the Bahamas and the Caribbean that the ship and our guests and crew will be visiting,”

Cruises are open for booking

Mardi Gras cruises available for booking from Port Canaveral include six, seven, and eight-day sailing throughout the Caribbean. Prices begin around $500 per person.

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