After Months of Delays, the Newest Carnival Cruise Ship Finally Begins Operations

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It has been four years and ten months since Carnival Cruise Line first announced building a new class of ships. Today at 6:00 PM, Mardi Gras is departing from Terminal 3 at her homeport of Port Canaveral on her first voyage.

It has been a memorable couple of days for Carnival Cruise Line, and of course, for the thousands of guests who have the honor of being onboard right now. Yesterday hundreds of travel agents and media had the chance to visit Mardi Gras with appearances from all the main players. Today was the day that Mardi Gras opened its doors to those who have been waiting for many months, the guests.

Mardi Gras Begins Seven-Day Itineraries from Port Canaveral

Mardi Gras’ cruise today is the first of a series of seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral. Mardi Gras will be at sea for two full days, giving guests all the time in the world to explore the 180,000 gross ton vessel.

Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Marc Mayntz

The first port of call will be San Juan in Puerto Rico, followed by a day at Carnival’s Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, where she will be from 9 AM to 6 PM. After another day at sea, the vessel will call at Nassau in the Bahamas. The next day the vessel will return to Port Canaveral.

“Mardi Gras has been five years in the making so to finally welcome guests on board to experience this one-of-a-kind ship is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time,” Carnival President Christine Duffy said. “Not only is Mardi Gras providing a truly unique vacation experience to our guests, it’s so gratifying to be able to play a role helping the local community by providing much-needed jobs and a boost to the economy.”  

Carnival Mardi Gras
Photo Credit: Marc Mayntz

The first cruise is not the official maiden voyage for Mardi Gras. Due to the ongoing issues the pandemic is throwing at Carnival Cruise Line, the company decided to postpone the official christening by Miss Dominican Republic Kimberly Jiménez. The ‘official’ maiden voyage will be set on a later date. The cruise line calls Mardi Gras’ voyages to the Eastern and Western Caribbean pre-inaugural cruises.

“We are very excited to finally welcome guests on Mardi Gras,said Duffy, earlier this year.  “With our desire to preserve summer vacations for our Mardi Gras guests, we are going to find a later date to formally christen her so that we can operate these pre-inaugural sailings just as soon as we can.”

The other itineraries for Mardi Gras include Western-Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral to Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, and Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras. Other Eastern-Caribbean cruises see Nassau being replaced by Grand Turk.

The First-Ever Embarkation Day

The first-ever embarkation day for Carnival’s Mardi Gras started in Terminal 3 today as Carnival welcomed the first guests inside around 1:00 PM. It follows a “Back to Fun” ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome guests on board. All guests had been required to arrive at a specific timeslot for arrival to ensure the terminal would not be too crowded. The new ship is setting sail at 6:00 PM.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Mardi Gras Captain Giuseppe Giusa added, “Today was a truly emotional moment for our entire Mardi Gras team. Having the distinction as the flagship of Carnival Cruise Line is a great honor and our entire team is ready to provide our guests with the vacation they have been so patiently waiting for. We are ready to get back to fun!”

Guests Welcomed On Board Mardi Gras
Guests Welcomed On Board Mardi Gras (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival’s protocols on board have been designed to keep everyone safe but ensure all guests have an experience that is the same as they have had onboard Carnival’s ship before the pandemic. The ship has a minimum of 95% of the guests vaccinated, while that number is significantly higher for crew members onboard.

Also Read: Which Carnival Cruise Ships Have Resumed Operations?

Guests do not need to worry about social distancing, and neither is wearing a mask on board required for the 95% of guests with a vaccinated status. And, as we’ve seen this week, there is more than enough to do onboard.

Mardi Gras features the first-ever roller coaster on board, a range of familiar and new restaurant concepts, including Shaq’s Big Chicken and a seafood restaurant by Rudi Sodamin. Carnival has also introduced a new premier suite class called the Excel suites, a new premium retreat called Loft 19, and a whole range of new and exciting bars and entertainment venues.

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