BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Carnival Cruise Line plans to resume sailing from Port Canaveral on July 31, with its new ship, the Mardi Gras, beginning seven-night cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean.
A week later, on Aug. 7, the Carnival Magic will begin sailing from Port Canaveral, the cruise line announced late Thursday, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
Carnival and other major cruise lines have not sailed from Port Canaveral since March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are very excited to finally welcome guests on Mardi Gras,” Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy said in a statement. “With our desire to preserve summer vacations for our Mardi Gras guests, we are going to find a later date to formally christen her, so that we can operate these ‘pre-inaugural sailings’ just as soon as we can.”
In commenting on Carnival’s announcement, Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said: “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there for a return to cruising, and a lot of excitement for the magnificent Carnival Mardi Gras. We were proud to welcome her home last week, and ready to welcome back cruise guests to our port.”
The Mardi Gras is the largest ship in the Carnival fleet. It is 1,130 feet long, weighs 180,800 tons and has 19 decks. It has a passenger capacity of 5,282, based on double-occupancy of its cabins, and a full capacity of 6,465 passengers, plus a crew of 1,745.
It also is the first Carnival ship powered by liquefied natural gas, and the first LNG-powered ship of any brand based in the Americas.
The ship arrived for the first time at Port Canaveral on June 4, greeted by about 1,500 spectators, and underwent its first LNG fueling at a U.S. port on Tuesday.
In addition, Carnival Cruise Line announced that the Carnival Magic will return from its dry-dock upgrades — and with a new hull design — and home-port from Port Canaveral.
The Magic will pick up four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean that previously were scheduled for Carnival Elation, effective Aug. 7 through Oct. 7.
Passengers already booked on Carnival Elation will be rebooked on Carnival Magic. Because the Magic is a larger ship, additional stateroom inventory is being made available for bookings.
Carnival Magic also will operate three new six-day cruises and one new eight-day cruise from Port Canaveral between Oct. 11 and Oct. 31.
Carnival said it plans to operate its August sailings with passengers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, as it previously announced for its July sailings from Florida, Texas and Washington.
That could put the cruise line in conflict with Florida’s ban on so-called “vaccine passports.”
In other ship deployment announcements on Thursday, Carnival said:
- Carnival Sunrise will enter service from Miami, effective Aug. 14, sailing four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean.
- Carnival Panorama will enter service from Long Beach, California, on Aug. 21, sailing seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises.
- Carnival Vista and Breeze (from Galveston, Texas), Carnival Horizon (from Miami) and Carnival Miracle (from Seattle to Alaska) will continue with their cruises through August that are part of the line’s previously announced restart plans in July.
- Carnival said it “has extended its pause” for other ships through Aug. 31 as follows: Carnival Pride (Baltimore), Carnival Sunshine (Charleston, South Carolina), Carnival Dream (Galveston), Carnival Ecstasy (Jacksonville), Carnival Conquest (Miami), Carnival Sensation (Mobile, Alabama), Carnival Glory (New Orleans) and Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral).
Carnival said passengers and travel agents are being advised of the August schedule plans, and Carnival will be providing more details directly to them next week on guidelines and protocols.
Duffy noted in her announcement that Carnival is expanding its initial restart from Florida, Texas and Washington to California, with the return of Carnival Panorama to Long Beach.
“We are excited to resume our West Coast operations and intend to sail Carnival Panorama with vaccinated guests starting Aug. 21,” Duffy said. “We are working with state and local officials to finalize the necessary plans.”
Carnival said it will continue to deploy more ships and home-ports in September and beyond.
It said it is bringing hundreds of crew on board each week to be vaccinated; completing mandated quarantine mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and then beginning work to prepare for passengers and the return to passenger operations.
“Our focus remains on the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve and visit,” Duffy said. “We are taking a deliberate approach, so we can execute with excellence and deliver a fun experience to our guests, who have been tremendously patient and supportive throughout this pause.”