Carnival Cruise Line Expanding Cruises from Norfolk, Virginia

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Carnival Cruise Line is opening the first in a series of year-round cruises from Norfolk, Virginia, with new sailings aboard Carnival Sunshine now available from February through April 2025

This is just the first phase of what will be the cruise line’s biggest-ever operational schedule from Virginia, with more itineraries to be released in the near future.

Carnival Sunshine to Sail From Norfolk

Carnival Cruise Line announced on Thursday, December 15, 2022, that they will be expanding operations from Norfolk with Carnival Sunshine to be homeported from the Old Dominion state beginning in mid-February, 2025. While only two months of sailings in 2025 are currently planned, the cruise line continues to work on scheduling for the future.

“Carnival Sunshine is the perfect ship to usher in this next step for service expansion from Norfolk’s Half Moone Cruise Terminal,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Sunshine in Charleston
Photo Credit: Daniel Wright98 / Shutterstock

“As we work closely with city and port officials on our plans to increase from seasonal to year-round operations, we’re delighted to open these sailings for sale, so guests from all over the southeastern U.S. can start doing some planning of their own for 2025.”

Carnival Sunshine will offer a variety of 6-8 night sailings with two different itineraries of each length. Depending on departure date, the 6-night cruises will visit either Bimini or Half Moon Cay, and both itinerary options will stop in Nassau.

The 8-night sailings will both go to Amber Cove and Grand Turk, and depending on departure date, will also visit either Princess Cays or Half Moon Cay. Currently, Carnival Sunshine is homeported from Charleston, South Carolina, through the end of 2024.

Comparing Norfolk Ships

Carnival Cruise Line has a 20-year history with Norfolk and offering cruises from Virginia. “We’ve been sailing from Norfolk since 2002, and we’re pleased to expand our offerings from this historic, charming community while strengthening our support of the local economy,” said Duffy.

During the summer of 2022, Carnival Magic was based from Norfolk as the largest Carnival Cruise Line ship ever to homeport from the city. The ship sailed a series of 11 cruises from Virginia, including voyages to The Bahamas as well as Bermuda. The ship returned to Norfolk in October for another brief series of sailings.

Carnival Magic is a Dream-class vessel, with a gross tonnage of 128,000 and a guest capacity of 3,609 passengers at double occupancy.

Carnival Sunshine, however, is a somewhat smaller Sunshine-class vessel with a gross tonnage of 102,850 and a guest capacity of 3,002 at double occupancy. In 2025, the ship is expected to bring approximately 100,000 guests to Norfolk.

Carnival Magic Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock

While the ship is smaller, Carnival Sunshine does represent a significant commitment to Norfolk with year-round ships. With Carnival Cruise Line hinting at “its biggest-ever operational schedule from Virginia,” however, it stands to reason that additional vessels may be deployed to homeport from Norfolk in the future.

Before Carnival Sunshine sets sail from Virginia, however, other Carnival cruise ships are scheduled for the homeport. In 2023, Carnival Magic will return to the city, and it is likely that deployment plans are continuing to be refined for late 2023 and 2024.

In early 2020, Carnival Cruise Line signed a deal with the City of Norfolk to commit to five years of sailings. That deal was agreed upon before the industry-wide pandemic shutdown, but the cruise line remains committed to Norfolk with this new deployment of Carnival Sunshine.

In addition to Carnival Cruise Line, ships from Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, TUI Cruises, Swan Hellenic Line, and American Cruise Lines all visit Norfolk.

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