Carnival Cruise Line is taking a dip into the past to name its new supersized ship of the future that will sail from Port Canaveral when it debuts in 2020.
The ship will be called the Mardi Gras, a name that Carnival also used for its first ship that entered service in 1972, News 6 partner Florida Today reported. Carnival said the original Carnival Mardi Gras "started the wave of cruise vacation popularity in the United States."
The ship name was announced at the end of Wednesday night's broadcast of the "Wheel of Fortune" game show on the show's iconic puzzle board.
Until now, Carnival and Port Canaveral referred to the new Mardi Gras as an "XL-class" ship, alluding to the ship's extra-large size.
The Mardi Gras will have a maximum capacity of 6,500 passengers and about 2,000 crew members.
Mardi Gras will be the largest Carnival ship ever constructed and the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by liquefied natural gas. At 180,000 tons, the new Mardi Gras will be more than 6½ times the size of its namesake, which was 27,000 tons.
The ship is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.
The Mardi Gras will be based at Port Canaveral's new $153 million Cruise Terminal 3 complex now under construction on the south side of the port. That terminal is scheduled for completion in mid-2020.
Itineraries for Mardi Gras out of Port Canaveral will be announced in January, with tickets going on sale later that month.
Carnival said the original 27,000-ton TSS Mardi Gras, a converted trans-Atlantic ocean liner purchased by entrepreneur and Carnival founder Ted Arison, "ushered in the modern-day cruise industry when it set sail on its inaugural voyage in 1972." According to Carnival, that helped "transform cruising from an experience once reserved for the elite into a mainstream vacation accessible and affordable to everyone."
In a statement, Carnival President Christine Duffy said: “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.’ ”
According to Port Canaveral, its original Mardi Gras sailed from Port Canaveral from 1991 to 1993.
In a Facebook post, Port Canaveral said: "Let the good times roll ..... again! We will be waiting!"
Carnival said a second, as-yet-unnamed XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s founding.
Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line currently has 26 ships in its fleet. Its next ship scheduled for delivery is the 133,500-ton Carnival Panorama, which will debut in 2019.