‘It was fantastic:’ Carnival’s Mardi Gras returns after 1st revenue sailing from Port Canaveral

Additional cruises with paying passengers scheduled this weekend

Carnival's Mardi Gras returns as activity begins to pick up at Port Canaveral

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – Carnival’s Mardi Gras returned one week after the first cruise ship with paying passengers on board departed from Port Canaveral.

Thousands of passengers debarked the ship Saturday morning, including John and Lorraine Beekley.

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“It was fantastic!” John Beekley said.

They returned after a weeklong cruise on board Carnival’s Mardi Gras. This marked the first revenue sailing from Port Canaveral since the pandemic shuttered the cruise line industry in March 2020.

“We’ve missed five cruises that we had scheduled before and then finally the Mardi Gras came open for the July 31st cruise, and I booked that on short notice and got on there,” John Beekley said.

The Beekley family traveled from Georgia to sail on the maiden voyage.

They said Carnival took extra safety precautions while on board, including additional cleanings, at times requiring guests to wear masks, and separating unvaccinated guests from others.

“They had separate rooms for people that weren’t vaccinated, and they had separate seats for people that weren’t vaccinated, so they did keep people apart,” Lorraine Beekley said.

John and Amy Smaltz traveled from South Carolina for the cruise. They said they felt safe while on board the ship.

“They’re adjusting and changing every day, anything to make it better,” Amy Smaltz said.

The Mardi Gras is paving the way for future revenue sailings.

Carnival’s Magic sets sail on Saturday. Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas arrived in port Saturday morning and leaves on Sunday for the first time with paying passengers. The Disney Dream’s first revenue cruise leaves on Monday.

The Beekleys hope this is a sign of good things to come.

“I sure hope so, as long as they maintain the protocols. I hope the delta variant doesn’t affect it and they shut it down again,” John Beekley said.

As the passengers head back home, many said they are already thinking about their next cruise.

“Already started planning for the next one!” John Smaltz said.

About the Author:

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!