Carnival Corporation is launching four of the largest cruise ships of the year in 2020, with new mega-ships nearing completion for P&O Cruises (Iona), Princess Cruises (Enchanted Princess), Costa Cruises (Costa Firenze) and Carnival Cruise Line (Mardi Gras).
Iona is the first new cruise ship for P&O Cruises since the introduction of Britannia in 2015, while Enchanted Princess is designed from the ground up as a Princess Medallion-Class ship.
Costa Firenze is Costa Cruises’ second ship designed and built specifically for the China market and Mardi Gras is named as a tribute to TSS Mardi Gras, Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever ship, which was a pioneer in forging the relatively low-cost, mainstream cruise experience that has made the industry as fast-growing and dynamic as it is now.
Here’s what we know so far about each, along with their expected launch dates.
Iona – P&O Cruises –
Iona will join the P&O Cruises fleet in May. At more than 183,000-gross tons and carrying 5,200 passengers, she will be the British cruise line’s first LNG-powered ship, the largest ship in the fleet and the biggest cruise ship ever designed specifically for the British market.
Among the many features aboard Iona will be the Grand Atrium, a new concept for the cruise line with uninterrupted panoramic views of the sea, framed by glazed walls stretching three decks high. The Grand Atrium will be located amidships and will be a lively social hub and nightlife entertainment spot, with each level offering natural light and breath-taking views during the day.
Up at the very top of the ship will be the SkyDome, a new entertainment venue on the top two levels capped by a glass-domed roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as London’s Embassy Gardens Sky Pool and Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.
SkyDome’s unique space offers an ideal place for relaxation and informal dining during the day, transitioning into vibrant evening fun, including spectacular aerial performances, immersive shows and rowdy deck parties.
Iona will also offer 30 different bar and restaurant venues, the widest ever selection of places to eat and drink on a ship built exclusively for the British cruise market. Innovative and flexible dining options include a “foodie” market offering cuisine from around the world, a new gastropub concept and a laid-back cocktail lounge.
P&O will also be debuting a new approach to dining aboard Iona, with Freedom Dining in all of her main restaurants, for the first time on any P&O ship. Freedom Dining is the cruise line’s take on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Cruising (which revolutionized the industry back in the 2000s). It gives guests more flexibility for dining, letting them eat when they want, where they want.
As with other ships in the P&O Cruises fleet, Iona will have the for-a-fee Retreat, a private, open-air deck area where cold flannels, chilled drinks, snacks and al fresco spa treatments are offered in the privacy of shaded cabanas. Iona’s Retreat will also have two infinity whirlpools.
Another new offering is the spa’s variety of destination-themed treatments with locally inspired therapies incorporated into the experience. Passengers will be able to choose from rejuvenating options such as the Nordic Cleanse or the Baltic & Ice Massage, inspired by the Nordic heritage of hot and cold therapies.
Upon launch in May 2020, Iona will sail from Southampton in the UK to the Norwegian Fjords during the inaugural season with departures throughout spring and summer 2020, followed by winter sun holidays to the Canaries, Spain and Portugal.
Enchanted Princess – Princess Cruises –
Debuting in Civitavecchia (the gateway port for Rome) in June, 2020, the 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess shares all of the spectacular style and luxury of its sister ships – Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Majestic Princess and the recently launched Sky Princess.
While based on the same design platform as her sister, Enchanted Princess will offer one-of-a-kind dining experiences, more pools and whirlpool hot tubs and new, world-class entertainment venues hosting dazzling performances.
Like Sky Princess, however, she will also feature the Sky Suites, offering expansive views from the largest balconies in the Princess fleet. This cabin category originally debuted on Sky Princess in October, 2019 and proved hugely popular.
Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the furnished balconies provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining.
The two suites will also offer 270-degree panorama views and have sleeping capacity for five guests, and more room for gathering – making them ideal for families.
But it’s not just the views and space that make these suites popular. Before Sky Suite guests board the ship, they can take advantage of a pre-cruise, shoreside concierge. Once onboard, guests also enjoy Sanctuary services on their balcony, a private suite experience manager, complimentary access to the Lotus Spa’s Enclave, enhanced ultimate balcony dining and even a deluxe telescope for Discovery Stargazing at Sea.
Enchanted Princess will offer new entertainment experiences recently introduced on Sky Princess, including Phantom Bridge, an immersive escape room that combines digital and physical elements; Take Five, the only jazz theater at sea, celebrating the iconic sounds, culture and history of jazz; and new one-of-a-kind production shows like Rock Opera created exclusively for Princess Cruises.
Enchanted Princess is the second cruise ship purpose-built with the MedallionClass tech on-board (other ships in the Princess fleet have had it retrofitted during refits). Featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion wearable device, MedallionClass vacations deliver an entirely new level of service and create a vacation that is more seamless, effortless and personalized – although there has been some issues with the reliability of the wearable tech.
Debuting in the Mediterranean in June, 2020, Enchanted Princess will also be named in Southampton, UK, (like Iona), but will depart on a 10-day maiden voyage July 1 to Rome, where she will begin a series of Mediterranean cruises for the summer and fall before repositioning to Fort Lauderdale in November, 2020 for sailings to the Caribbean for the winter season.
Mardi Gras – Carnival Cruise Line –
Mardi Gras is without doubt the most ambitions and innovative cruise ship ever ordered for Carnival Cruise Line, which makes her name all the more fitting. The largest, most modern and most over-the-top cruise ship ever built for one of the world’s most over-the-top cruise lines pays homage to its humble beginnings.
When Carnival Cruise Line first launched as a one-ship budget line in 1972, it’s first ship, an old former ocean liner, was called Mardi Gras. She laid the foundations for the modern cruise industry, opening it up to more than just the rich and old.
In addition to boasting the world’s first roller coaster at sea, six separate Royal Caribbean-style ‘zones’ (like the Oasis-class ships with their seven neighbourhoods) and the largest WaterWorks aqua park in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, Mardi Gras will also be America’s first LNG-powered cruise ship.
The roller coaster, BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster, lets passengers enjoy 360-degree views while they race 187 feet above the sea with drops, dips and hairpin turns reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. You can choose your own speed on the all-electric coaster though, so no two rides will ever be the same.
BOLT will take center stage in the Ultimate Playground, spanning Decks 18-20 and home to the huge WaterWorks aqua park, featuring three unique thrill-seeker slides designed for all-ages, an exciting zone designed specifically for kids with a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket and numerous water toys.
Mardi Gras will also introduce a number of new dining concepts, such as Emeril’s Bistro 1396, the first seagoing restaurant by famed New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse that will be housed in the ship’s French Quarter, one of six themed zones on board offering a variety of food, beverage and entertainment choices.
Entertainment will be at the heart of Mardi Gras’ onboard experience with never-before-seen offerings including a first-in-fleet partnership with Family Feud, new high-tech Playlist Productions shows, a dedicated Punchliner Comedy Club, and new live music and entertainment options.
Mardi Gras is set to debut in November, 2020, cruising year-round seven-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral.
Costa Firenze – Costa Cruises –
Costa Firenze is the second ship for Costa Cruises built specifically for the China market, where the Italian company was the first international cruise line to start operating in 2006. Because she’s bound for China, she will cruise from Dubai this year, like her sister ship Costa Venezia did in 2018.
Inspired by the city of Florence and representing centuries of Italian culture and history, Costa Firenze will offer guests the chance to fully immerse themselves in Italian beauty and aesthetics, which will take shape in various aspects of life on board from interior design to dining and entertainment to hospitality.
Like its sister ship Costa Venezia, Costa Firenze will offer a series of innovations designed specifically for the Chinese market, including a wide choice of Chinese food, Chinese-style karaoke and parties such as the “Golden Party” with surprises and gifts awarded every 10 minutes.
Categories: Ship Reviews