Carnival Cruises shakes up fleet
Carnival Cruise Line is shaking up its fleet roster, relocating some ships and pulling others offline to make room for bigger new vessels with tantalizing features, including the first-ever pair of roller coasters at sea.
The Miami-based cruise behemoth this month announced plans to launch a sister ship to its debut “Excel-class” vessel, Mardi Gras, which was set to sail in November.
Carnival now plans for the liquified-natural-gas-powered Mardi Gras, which shares its name with the cruise line’s first vessel, which sailed from Miami in 1972, to now sail from Port Canaveral Feb. 6.
Its unnamed 180,000-ton, 6,600-passenger twin will cruise from homeport PortMiami in November 2022, Carnival said, as part of the company’s 50th birthday.
“The sister ship to Mardi Gras will showcase many of her features, including BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea,” Carnival said.
Per the company’s website, BOLT will offer motorcycle-style seating for two riders per vehicle, but with a twist.
“Forget other coasters because this all-electric thrill ride puts you in the driver’s seat,” company staff wrote. “That means you actually get to control how fast you go, so hit the gas and try for the fastest time [or], for the folks who choose to chill, go light on the pedal, and this might just be the coaster for you.”
Carnival is relocating its 2,634-passenger Carnival Sensation ship from Miami to Mobile, AL, where it will assume itineraries previously handled by its Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination vessels.
Carnival said July 23 that it sold both the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration and moved its Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination vessels into long-term storage “with no specific timeline identified for a return to operation.”
To help fill the gap, the company will move its Carnival Sunrise vessel to PortMiami to handle Carnival Sensation’s prior itineraries. The Sunrise, a 101,509-ton, 2,984-passenger ship, previously homeported in Port Everglades.
Guests already booked for four- and five-day itineraries on the vessel from Port Everglades will automatically move to sailing from PortMiami.
The switchover, Carnival said, will provide “a larger, upgraded ship for short itineraries with the many new features installed during Carnival Sunrise’s $200 million transformation, completed in 2019.”
Carnival said it is telling guests and travel agents about impacted sailings, guest re-accommodations and cancellations. With its fleet plan and related issues resolved, Carnival President Christine Duffy said, the company is focusing on ensuring it’s ready to resume operations once the pandemic passes and it’s given the go-ahead by authorities.
“We have used this pause in operations to think carefully about our fleet and to build a plan that gives our guests new choices and upgrades to current ship offerings,” she said in a prepared statement.
In similar statements, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez and Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, chairwoman of the county Tourism and Ports Committee, expressed support for Carnival’s recent moves.
“We are grateful to our partners at Carnival Cruise Line for growing their business at the Cruise Capital of the World,” the mayor said. “We’re looking forward to a bright future.”
Ms. Sosa said, “With these new plans, the line reinforces its commitment to our facilities. Thank you, Carnival, for your trust in Miami-Dade County.”