Carnival Cruise Line has reflagged Mardi Gras from Panama to the Bahamas and will soon reposition her from Barcelona to Port Canaveral ahead of an anticipated reopening of the US cruise sector this summer.
Mardi Gras will depart Barcelona on Friday, sailing a trans-Atlantic cruise to Florida without any passengers. Ahead of her repositioning from Europe, her flag registry was changed from Panama to Nassau, bringing her in line with the rest of the Carnival fleet.
It’s common for cruise lines to register new ships under a flag of convenience during their construction phase, before reflagging the vessels before they enter revenue service for the cruise line.
“The Bahamas will be a frequent destination for Mardi Gras, and we are pleased to bring this new level of environmental sustainability to the many ports in the Bahamas and the Caribbean that the ship and our guests and crew will be visiting,” said Christine Duffy, President, Carnival Cruise Line.
Duffy was referring to the LNG-fueled nature of Mardi Gras, which means she produces exponentially fewer emissions than a similarly-sized diesel or heavy fuel powered cruise ship would.
Mardi Gras will dock in Port Canaveral at a new purpose built Carnival Cruise Terminal, Terminal 3, and is anticipated to be able to commence her maiden cruise season to the Caribbean from the city this summer.
The cruise line’s first Excel-class cruise ship has in warm lay-up in Europe since she was delivered at the end of 2020.
While she is the first Excel-class cruise ship for Carnival Cruise Line, she is the fourth overall for parent company Carnival Corporation, joining AIDA Cruises’ AIDAnova (home-porting in Dubai this year), Costa Cruises’ Costa Smeralda and P&O Cruises’ Iona.
Mardi Gras is over 180,000 gross tons, can accomodate more than 5,000 passengers and will feature the first roller coaster at sea, along with Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever ‘zoning’ concept, similar to Royal Caribbean’s neighbourhoods aboard the Oasis class.
When Mardi Gras arrived in Florida, she will take on additional crew for training ahead of her first cruises with paying passengers.
Port Canaveral, meanwhile, says it is ready for cruises to resume in July and the LNG bunkering barge has already arrived ready to refuel Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras’ godmother was also announced this week, during the Miss Universe competition. Miss Dominican Republic, Kimberly Jiménez, will name Mardi Gras later this year and be among the first to cruise on the ship.