Cruising in Texas continues to grow, and it now looks to get even bigger… literally. Today, Carnival Cruise Line announced that its third Excel-class ship, Carnival Jubilee, will homeport in Galveston when it is delivered in 2023.
The upcoming mega-ship will join sister ships Mardi Gras and Celebration in the Excel class as Carnival looks to increase the size and amenities of its fleet. Mardi Gras debuted earlier this year, sailing from Port Canaveral. Celebration is set to sail from Miami beginning in 2022. Now, it’s Galveston’s turn to be home to the cruise line’s newest ship.
“Carnival was the first cruise line to offer year-round cruising from Galveston in 2000, and we have continued to grow our presence and support of the Port of Galveston’s expansion, so we are thrilled to bring our brand-new Carnival Jubilee to Texas and the greater southwest region,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “This beautiful, innovative ship will bring an entirely new cruise experience to our guests, and we’ve got some great surprises to fun it up in ways we know they are going to love.”
The Excel-class of ships represent a sharp departure from the rest of the Carnival fleet. Jubilee will be 182,000 gross tons, according to the cruise line. It will carry more than 5,400 guests and 1,700 crew. For comparison, Carnival Vista –the largest Carnival ship currently sailing from Galveston — is roughly 145,000 gross tons and carries around 4,000 passengers at double occupancy.
Like its sisters, Jubilee will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). It will also feature more dining, new designs for staterooms, and even BOLT — a roller coaster that circles the top of the ship. Carnival also says that more details on her construction will be released in the coming months.
Jubilee Returns to Galveston
If the Jubilee name sounds familiar, that’s because Carnival had a previous ship with the same name. In fact, it homeported in Galveston in 2002. Now roughly two decades later, a new version of the ship — four times larger — will once again call the island home.
Positioning its newest ship in Galveston is another feather in the cap for the Texas port. Already a $125 million third terminal is under construction on the island, which will be home to the largest Oasis-class ships from Royal Caribbean. In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line has plans to homeport its upcoming newest ship, Norwegian Prima, from Galveston during the winter 2023-24 season.
And when Carnival returned to sailing earlier this year, its first cruise was not from Miami or Port Canaveral, but from Galveston aboard the Carnival Vista.
What started as a relatively sleepy port has quickly grown over two decades to become the biggest player in cruising outside of Florida.
One reason for that popularity is the port’s location. Just a few hours drive for tens of millions of people, Galveston gives the ability for those all over Texas and the southwest to drive to a port to board. In addition, instead of having to fly to the East Coast, the more central location offers another choice for passengers looking to fly in for a cruise.
“We love Texas, and Texas loves Carnival. Galveston is one of our most popular homeports, and we draw guests to Texas from across the Midwest, southwest and western U.S. Bringing a brand-new ship to a market is a big commitment, and it’s one we gladly make for the greater Galveston community and entire region,” said Duffy.