Mardi Gras, the largest cruise ship ever built for Carnival Cruise Line, has made her US debut in Port Canaveral.
The 180,000-gross ton Excellence-class cruise ship, the first for Carnival Cruise Line, but the fourth for parent company Carnival Corporation, sailed into Port Canaveral Friday morning.
Mardi Gras was delivered last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so has not yet been able to enter revenue service. That will change in the coming weeks however as Carnival Cruise Line ramps up plans to resume cruising from US ports.
Mardi Gras spent Thursday evening offshore and then approached the East Coast of the US early Friday morning, she stood off Port Canaveral at 6am and as the sun began to rise, sailed into the port, accompanied by Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty.
The mammoth cruise ship, the first in the world to feature a roller coaster, and the first in the Carnival fleet to be divided into distinct ‘zones’, was escorted up the channel by tugs presenting a traditional water cannon salute.
Thousands of onlookers had gathered before dawn to watch the ship’s arrival from Jetty Park before making its way to its new terminal home, the US $155 million new cruise terminal that’s been ready and waiting for Mardi Gras’ arrival since last summer.
Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation COO Josh Weinstein, and Canaveral Port Authority CEO Captain John Murray, along with 300 travel advisors, partners, dignitaries and guests, participated in a welcome reception.
“Mardi Gras has been five years in the making and today’s arrival is a historic milestone for our company not to mention a truly emotional moment for everyone here at Carnival Cruise Line,” said Duffy.
“This ship offers so many innovations and ways for our guests to choose fun that we are certain that she will quickly become a guest favourite,” she added.
The company will now begin the process of ramping up Mardi Gras’ crew to a full contingent of 1,750 ahead of Mardi Gras’ anticipated maiden passenger voyages later this year (a date has not yet been set for her first US cruises).