In what has been a dark 2020 for cruise lines, including Carnival, there is a small reason to celebrate. The cruise line announced that it has taken delivery of its largest ship — the 180,000 ton Mardi Gras from the shipbuilder in Finland.
“Carnival Cruise Line today took delivery of its highly anticipated new ship, Mardi Gras, in a live virtual signing ceremony at the Meyer Turku Shipyard in Turku, Finland,” a statement said. “When Mardi Gras begins guest operations in April 2021, the 180,000-gross-ton vessel will be the most innovative ship in North America as it will be the first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), boast a suite of new technology, and BOLT, the first-ever roller coaster at sea.”
Mardi Gras points to a new direction for the cruise line’s ships that put them on par with major rivals like Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean when it comes to size and amenities. Over the past decade cruise ships have soared in the number of guests they can hold and the attractions offered on board.
Before taking delivery of Mardi Gras, the largest ship in Carnival’s fleet was the Carnival Panorama, built in 2019. Panorama ship came in at roughly 134,000 gross tons and can carry 4,008 passengers under normal capacity.
Mardi Gras — at 180,000 gross tons — is 34% larger and can carry 5,282 at normal capacity. In other words, Carnival has made the move from large ships to mega-liners that are on the scale of some of the biggest ships in the world.
It’s not just size that is changing. The offerings onboard are also new. Mardi Gras will feature six different zones, such as the French Quarter, that offer something different all around the ship. There are also new restaurants including Big Chicken (a chicken restaurant) from Shaquille O’Neal, a New Orleans-style eatery from Emeril Lagasse, and a high-end seafood restaurant from chef Rudi Sodamin.
The ship is also powered by LNG instead of traditional fuel, helping to reduce the environmental footprint.
In short, the ship is very different from anything else in the Carnival fleet.
While Mardi Gras was originally set to sail in 2020, and then in February 2021, the ship is now scheduled to begin sailing in April 2021. It will homeport in Port Canaveral, sailing on 7-day cruises to the Caribbean. Rates start at $539 per person for an interior cabin (before taxes and fees).
“We have been working tirelessly this year to get to this exciting day to take delivery of this beautiful ship, and the team at Meyer Turku has been an outstanding partner throughout this process,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “I cannot wait for our guests and crew to see and experience Mardi Gras.”
Mardi Gras already has a sister-ship being built. Celebration is scheduled to join the fleet in 2022.