It has been four years and ten months since Christine Duffy announced Carnival Cruise Line would be building two 180,000 gross ton cruise ships. The new ships would bring Carnival Cruise Line firmly in place to not only compete with the mega-ships from the competition but build something that would change cruising as we know it.
Tomorrow is the day that we finally see Mardi Gras set sail with a few thousand fortunate and most likely delighted guests on her maiden voyage. This whole week we looked forward to what we can expect from Mardi Gras once the ropes come off the pier in Port Canaveral. Today, we look back at how we came to this point.
September 6, 2016: Carnival Announces Two LNG New-Builds
“Two New 180,000 Gross Ton Ships For Carnival Cruise Line Will Be Largest Ever Built For The Company And First In North America To Be Powered By Liquefied Natural Gas”
On September 6, 2016, Carnival announced they would be building two 180,000 gross-ton new cruise ships. Not only would the ships be the largest to ever sail under Carnival Cruise Line, but these ships would also be part of a move to Liquified Natural Gas, a much cleaner-burning fuel.
Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president back in 2016: “This new ship order signifies an extraordinarily exciting future for Carnival Cruise Line and the opportunities that lie ahead to introduce a variety of magnificent new features and innovations to further enhance our outstanding guest experience,”
Besides the LNG announcement and where the ships would be built, Meyer Turku in Finland, not much else was known about what would become Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. One thing that was clear: Carnival would be changing cruising as we know it.
December 5, 2018: Honoring The Old on Wheel Of Fortune
“Mardi Gras Selected As Name For Largest Carnival Cruise Line Ship Ever Constructed”
Carnival honored the first ship to ever sail for the cruise line on December 5, 2018, as it named its first mega-ship after its first cruise ship: Mardi Gras. The announcement was likely one of the most-watched ship name reveals in modern history as Carnival Cruise Line made the announcement during the popular tv-game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line: “Our first ship Mardi Gras was a historic vessel, introducing a brand new style of cruising to the vacationing public. What better way to pay tribute to our company’s nearly 50-year history of creating wonderful vacation memories than by naming this groundbreaking vessel after our original and beloved ‘Fun Ship,”
November 15, 2018: Construction Begins
Keel-Laying Ceremony Held for Mardi Gras Set to Debut in Europe in August 2020
November 15, 2018, was the day that steel was first cut for Mardi Gras. During the ceremony, the cruise line also revealed a new livery, one that Carnival Cruise Line will eventually roll out fleet-wide. A dramatic new red, white and blue hull design that celebrates Carnival’s legacy as America’s Cruise Line and pays homage to maritime tradition.
June 18, 2019, saw the official start of building for Mardi Gras. A keel-laying ceremony was held at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, marking the traditional official start of building.
During a time when COVID-19 did not exist yet, spirits were up for Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Newbuilds Ben Clement as well as Mardi Gras Captain Giuseppe Giusa, Chief Engineer Ferdinando Ruocco, and Hotel Director Pierre Camilleri, who joined Meyer Turku CEO Jan Meyer at the festivities. The belief at the time was that the construction phase would take just over a year, and Mardi Gras would be able to sail in August of next year.
“This is a historic day for Carnival – the official start of construction of the spectacular Mardi Gras which will usher in an exciting new chapter for our company and introduce so many guest-pleasing innovations,” said Clement.
As we know, the wait would be significantly longer, delays at the shipyard and COVID-19 playing havoc with the timeline for launch. Finally, by December of last year, Mardi Gras was handed over to Carnival Cruise Line. However, the wait was not over yet.
December 18, 2020: Delivery
More than four years after the first announcement, the Finnish shipyard Meyer Turku handed over Mardi Gras to Carnival Cruise Line on December 18, 2020.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line: “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. I cannot wait for our guests and crew to see and experience Mardi Gras. Notwithstanding the delays related to the pandemic, there is tremendous enthusiasm and pent-up demand for this ship. Next we will work on the development of her sister ship, Carnival Celebration, which arrives in 2022 and has sold very well since inventory opened in October.”
Mardi Gras would be sailing from Finland to Rotterdam for refueling and subsequently Barcelona before she would sail to Port Canaveral. But that would not be in April as planned. It wouldn’t be until June 4, 2021, until Mardi Gras was welcomed by thousands of fans in the United States.
At this time, Carnival announced Mardi Gras would be sailing her first voyage already on July 31, 2021. A date that was earlier than expected due to the CDC’s many rules and regulations.
July 31 is almost there, and the wait is almost over. Mardi Gras will sail from Port Canaveral on an itinerary that will let guests enjoy the ship on several sea days and port days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
It would be easy to mistake Mardi Gras as just another cruise ship, but just as her namesake, the TSS Mardi Gras, that made cruising less stuffy, the newest sister will be a game-changer that will change cruising as we know it.
As we’ve explored this week, whether it’s her green technology, her restaurants and bars, the beautiful suites and secret areas, or just because there is a roller coaster on board, there are many reasons she is special.