Mardi Gras Becomes First Cruise Ship With Guests to Visit Puerto Rico in 17 Months

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After two days at sea where guests have had the opportunity to explore every corner of Carnival Cruise Line’s newest cruise ship, the ship has now made her first port of call in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also restarting the cruise industry for the Caribbean island.

Now that all that fun has been had, it is now time for guests to step on land for the first time on their voyage. Although some unvaccinated guests will be disappointed they will not be allowed off the vessel, for the rest of the guests, the city is more than ready.

Puerto Rico is in the process of steadily improving the country’s tourism industry, and the new Carnival cruise ship plays a major role in that.

Worth Reading: Which Carnival Cruise Ships Have Resumed Operations?

San Juan Remains Important Cruise Port

After many months of absence, the arrival of Mardi Gras on August 3 signifies an important turning point for San Juan. Carnival Cruise Line chose to have its most anticipated cruise ship since it started operating almost 50 years ago, Mardi Gras, to make the first port of call here.

Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) Executive Director Carlos Mercado Santiago: “The arrival of the Carnival Mardi Gras on August 3rd reaffirms Puerto Rico’s place as one of the most attractive and important ports in a region as competitive as the Caribbean. After more than a year of pause in the cruise industry, and months of waiting to confirm the final itinerary for the maiden voyage of one of the most anticipated cruise ships in the industry, the port of San Juan will be the first stop for Mardi Gras on its first 7-day itinerary in the Eastern Caribbean.”

Mardi Gras in San Juan
Mardi Gras in San Juan (Photo Credit: Puerto Rico Tourism Company)

Mardi Gras is the biggest and newest ship in Carnival’s fleet. Weighing 180,000 gross, with space for 6,500 guests, and with its own roller coaster onboard, Mardi Gras is seen by many in the cruise industry as a game-changer. A family cruise ship that incorporates everything from entertainment to waterparks, games, and family fun in one ship.

“We are beyond delighted to begin our Mardi Gras sailings and to have Puerto Rico be our first port of call on our maiden voyage. It is an honor to offer our guests the opportunity to experience all of the beauty that Puerto Rico has to offer while providing a much-needed boost to the local economy,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The restart of cruising in Puerto Rico has such a dramatic, wide-reaching impact and on behalf of Carnival I would like to personally thank Governor Pierluisi, Mayor Romero and all of the local officials for their hospitality in welcoming our guests.”

It is also the company’s first cruise ship to use liquid natural gas, or LNG, as fuel. This reduces emissions from the ship to much lower levels than the traditional fuels used in the cruise industry such as Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), and Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (LSFO). Mardi Gras’ homeport will be in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Restrictions Still in Place in Puerto Rico and onboard Mardi Gras

For those who question the safety measures in place onboard Mardi Gras and in Puerto Rico, they can have peace of mind. At least 95% of the guests onboard have been vaccinated, while the 5% that have not been vaccinated has had to show at least on negative PCR-RT tests, and undergone an antigen test before boarding.

Those guests that have not been vaccinated are also not allowed to go ashore in Puerto Rico, as Cruise Hive reported last week. Mardi Gras is sailing with approximately 70% of its total guest capacity, to ensure guests have space to socially distance if they wish to do so.

Cruises From San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: refrina /

A safe port of call for Mardi Gras is not only important for the vessel and Carnival Cruise Line, it is also very important to Puerto Rico’s tourism industry:

Carlos Mercado Santiago: “At the Tourism Company we are very proud to have the confidence of the cruise industry and we continue to work with our partners to achieve the regular inclusion of all the ports of the Island in the itineraries of their cruises in the Caribbean, the increase of stops and the use of San Juan as a home port and the search for alternatives to offer passengers an unforgettable visit, thus increasing the economic impact of the sector on our economy,”

In the 2017/2018 cruise season the total expenditure, or economic impact, in relation to cruises in Puerto Rico amounted to more than $150 million. More than 1.1 million cruise ship passengers set foot on the island in that one cruise season.

Mardi Gras will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 3 from 7 AM to 4 PM. After this call Carnival’s newest mega-ship will sail to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and, after a day at sea, Nassau in the Bahamas.

Mardi Gras is expected back in her homeport of Port Canaveral on August 7 to prepare for her next voyage, which will see her sail to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras.

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