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There’s no doubt that the cruise lines are in a major “arms race” with each other to build ships that are newer, bigger, nicer, and have more amenities. We’ve seen it with Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships (the largest in the world), Norwegian’s Joy, Bliss, and Encore — which have go-kart tracks at sea — and now we’re seeing it with Carnival.
Carnival’s always been the biggest player in cruising in the U.S., with the largest fleet and carrying the most passengers. And while the cruise line has built large new ships in recent years (such as the Carnival Horizon and Panorama), it hasn’t kept pace with some of the largest cruise ships in the world.
That’s about the change with Carnival’s Mardi Gras…
Carnival’s Largest Ship to Date
So what’s so special about the Mardi Gras? First and foremost, the ship looks completely different from any other Carnival ship in the fleet. From the large blue “wave” paint job that flows from bow to stern to the deck after deck of balcony staterooms, it’s obvious that the ship is way different from anything else on the water.
All told, Mardi Gras is expected to come in at 180,000 tons (its next largest ship, Carnival Horizon is “only” 135,000 tons) measure 1,130 feet, and carry 6,500 passengers. That’s considerably larger than anything else in the Carnival fleet and much closer to the largest ships from rivals Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
It’s not just that the Mardi Gras is large. It’s also redesigned for passengers and different from anything else in the fleet. The ship will have six “zones” (such as the French Quarter) that will have different atmosphere than the rest of the ship. There are new eateries planned, completely redesigned staterooms, and did we mention that Mardi Gras will feature a roller coaster at sea?
To say that Mardi Gras is a different cruise ship would be an understatement. To say that cruise passengers are excited about the new ship would also be putting it lightly.
So how much will you spend if you want to get on the ship?
The Cheapest Cruise We Found
While the biggest and newest cruise ships are great to sail (who doesn’t love that new ship smell?!), there’s one big problem. Cruise lines normally charge a premium to sail on their newest ships. After all, new ships normally see higher demand and offer a lot more than older, smaller liners.
That means you can normally expect to pay out a premium to sail on a new ship. It’s not uncommon to find trips running $1,000 or more for a weeklong cruise in an interior cabin with most lines.
The good news? We’re seeing some extremely affordable rates on the Mardi Gras.
The ship begins sailing in August 2020. Right now reservations are open from August 2020 through April 2021. Mardi Gras will begin its life with a European cruise from Copenhagen to Southampton at the end of August. From there, it will sail across the Atlantic on a 14-day cruise to New York, followed by a 15-day cruise from New York to the Mardi Gras’ homeport of Port Canaveral.
Starting in October 2020, Mardi Gras will start regular 7 and 8-day cruises from Port Canaveral. It’s these trips that offer some surprisingly affordable rates for passengers to get on the new ship.
The cheapest sailing we found? Departing on November 14, 2020 (as well as November 28) is a 7-day cruise aboard Mardi Gras for only $629 per person for an interior cabin. Want to sail in a balcony room? The price rises to a still affordable $909 per person.
This trip takes you from Florida to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roatan, Honduras — along with days at sea — before you return to Port Canaveral. That will give plenty of time on the beach but also plenty of time to enjoy all the things to do on the new ship, including get a ride on the only roller coaster at sea.
Bottom line: Any weeklong cruise for $629 is a decent deal. To pay that little to get on the newest and largest ship in Carnival’s fleet is flat out amazing.
The best news is if this trip doesn’t meet your schedule, Carnival has a number of other trips in the same price range. You can learn more about this cruise here and see other available dates.
You can also learn more about the Mardi Gras on Carnival’s website.