The news from Carnival Cruise Line extending its suspension in the U.S. has been disappointing in many ways. Not only has the cruise line been forced to postpone cruises even further, but it also means that Mardi Gras‘ debut sailing date is setback again.
The further suspension means Mardi Gras has now been postponed six times. In many ways, Carnival can be commended for being steadfast in its decision not to sail from foreign homeports, but then again, it would be nice to see Mardi Gras sail with guests onboard!
We look at the various reasons why Mardi Gras has been delayed so many times so far and when we could see her sail in real life. For now, she is still based in Barcelona, where she has been for more than three months now.
Carnival Has Not Been Lucky So Far
We make our luck, but Carnival Cruise Line indeed has not been blessed with much luck when it comes to Mardi Gras. As sister ships at P&O Cruises, Costa, and AIDA have all sailed with guests already or will do so very soon, Carnival’s newest vessel has not even been near her homeport yet.
When planning started for Mardi Gras five years ago, this was not something that would have been in any of Carnival’s contingency plans. Mardi Gras has had a reasonably smooth construction process despite some delays, though.
In November 2018, the first steel was cut for the vessel, two years after the first announcement from Carnival Corporation on the new LNG vessel. After that, the build went quite fast, with the traditional coin ceremony taking place in June 2019. On January 24, 2020, the vessel floated out of the Meyer Turku yard and saw water for the first time.
The cruise ship was delivered on December 18, 2020. But the good news ends there. Mardi Gras has suffered interruptions, cancellations, and postponements since it first appeared on the drawing boards 4.5 years ago.
Mardi Gras’ Debut Delayed
Carnival Cruise Line had it all planned out, Mardi Gras would sail for the first time from Copenhagen on August 31, 2020, but these cruises were canceled late in 2019 due to shipyard-related issues.
Carnival was forced to cancel the first eight planned sailings, which included voyages around Europe, a transatlantic voyage, and cruises from New York City and Port Canaveral. The maiden voyage would now take place on November 14, 2020.
This also never happened. Delays in the shipyard again forced Carnival to postpone cruises onboard Mardi Gras, and so, in July 2020, Carnival announced Mardi Gras‘ maiden voyage on February 6, 2021.
Only two weeks before Carnival officially took delivery of the cruise ship, it announced a second delay. The dates of the cruises were pushed back until April 24, 2021.
In January 2021, Carnival announced another delay, this time into May. And then with the cruise line extending its hold through June 30, it now means the new and first Excel-class ship in the fleet won’t debut out of the new Terminal 3 at Port Canaveral until July 3, 2021.
Vaccines But No Sailings, for Now
Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy has made it clear recently while she considers Carnival to be America’s Cruise Line, it could well be that the line will be forced to start sailing from foreign homeports.
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While not everyone will support that move, the original maiden voyage of Mardi Gras was planned to sail from Copenhagen, Denmark, so Carnival will not be doing much different if they do decide to sail from the Bahamas or a port in the Caribbean.
We are now in a situation where the majority of the cruise industry will be sailing soon. Carnival Cruise Line cannot stay behind, certainly not by having a billion-dollar vessel sitting idle in a port in the Mediterranean.
The message from a CDC spokesperson just days ago that they hope to have cruises sailing from US ports in mid-summer this year is encouraging. The fact Christine Duffy has finally put the heat on the CDC is even more encouraging.
However, until Mardi Gras finally sets sail across the Atlantic and sails into her new home in Port Canaveral, there are only signs and no hard facts.
About Mardi Gras
The new mega-ship is fully powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and is over 180,000 gross tons. She has a guest capacity of 5,282 at double occupancy, along with 1,735 international crew members. Mardi Gras is among the largest cruise ships in the world.
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Her first scheduled voyage is now a seven-day voyage from Port Canaveral in Florida on July 3, 2021. Before stopping in San Juan, Amber Cove, Grand Turk, the vessel will sail two days at sea before sailing another day at sea and returning to Port Canaveral.
Mardi Gras is one of the most anticipated vessels to sail the world’s oceans in years. Her delay has been unfortunate and has built up the anticipation more and more each day. It will indeed be a great day when she does finally set sail!