After a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mardi Gras has finally been christened in Port Canaveral, just a few months after she began carrying passengers for the first time.
Mardi Gras was delivered to Carnival Cruise Line back in 2020, but she wasn’t able to enter service until July this year, and wasn’t able to be christened until this weekend, due to the pandemic.
The “Universe of Fun” celebration was the first ship naming ceremony held in the U.S. since the cruise industry’s restart this summer, and marks Mardi Gras’ official commissioning into the Carnival fleet.
Miss Universe, Dominican Republic, Kimberly Jimenez served as the ship’s Godmother and officially named the ship and was joined by Miss Universe, Andrea Meza and Miss USA, Asya Branch who sang the national anthem.
Shaquille O’Neal, Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer, attended the festivities and cut the ribbon of his first Big Chicken restaurant at sea that debuted on Mardi Gras when she began cruise operations on July 31.
A “World of Nations” flag procession was also held to highlight the diversity of the 120 nationalities of Carnival crew members, and, of course, a Mardi Gras parade with a Second Line Band, presided over by Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line.
“Today’s naming ceremony of our flagship Mardi Gras, the first in the industry since our restart of operations, signifies excitement and optimism as we look to bring our entire fleet back into guest service by spring 2022,” she said.
“This ship has been amazing guests during her pre-inaugural season and the celebration today with our Chief Fun Officer Shaq, our Godmother Kimberly, and so many special guests, was extremely gratifying and emotional,” she added.
Following remarks by Duffy and Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival friends and partners Romero Britto, Emeril Lagasse, Kathie Lee Gifford, Vanna White and Guy Fieri provided their congratulations on the ship’s naming and helped bring the champagne bottle to the ship.
Godmother Jimenez blessed the ship in both English and her native Spanish and activated the traditional champagne bottle break, officially naming the ship.
Mardi Gras is the largest cruise ship ever built for Carnival Cruise Line and its first to be powered by LNG, which is vastly more environmentally friendly than heavy marine fuel oil.
She is one of four Excellence-class cruise ships that have been launched for Carnival Corporation cruise line brands thus far, with a further four under construction and one more planned.
She will be joined by a sister ship Carnival Celebration next year, and a third sister ship that has not yet been named, in 2023.