Image via Carnival Cruise Line
In a strange announcement on a recent episode of Wheel of Fortune
, Carnival Cruise Line confirmed the name of its newest and largest ship.
We already knew a few details of the boat now known as the Carnival Mardi Gras, but the Wheel of Fortune
announcement pointed to the company’s upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration that will surround the new launch of the new ship and another from the same class.
The episode was like any other, including a Carnival cruise giveaway. But when the credits began to run, Pat and Vanna announced the name
of the new ship using the game show’s signature digital letter puzzle-board.
The odd announcement was made even stranger by the Mardi Gras name.
The name is actually a throwback to the cruise line’s first ship. That Mardi Gras ship, which debuted in 1972, is dwarfed by the massive size of the new one, the first in the XL-class of ships for Carnival.
Clocking in at 180,000 tons, the new Mardi Gras is more than six times larger than the 27,000-ton original, made famous for not only being Carnival’s first cruise ship but also because it ran aground
on its maiden voyage after hitting a sandbar just minutes after launching.
Hopefully, the new Mardi Gras doesn’t run into a similar fate.
Also, unlike the original, which was a converted trans-Atlantic ocean liner, this new ship will be custom built. Mardi Gras will also be the first North America-based ship to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). In recent years, Port Canaveral has readied for the influx of new LNG powered cruise ships by building a distribution plant that may also be used by the nearby space industry to fuel rocket ships. At least three new LNG powered ships (this one from Carnival and two new vessels by Disney) have already been set to be based out of Port Canaveral within the next few years.
Earlier this year, Carnival committed to remaining at Port Canaveral long-term with a contract that guarantees the cruise line’s presence in Central Florida for at least the next 25 years. Though renewals could extend the new contract for up two decades longer. With the company now committed to not going anywhere, Carnival is currently rebuilding Terminal 3
at Port Canaveral as it prepares to welcome the enormous new XL-class Mardi Gras ship in 2020.
The space-focused, $150 million terminal will be a two-story, 185,000-square foot facility that will usher in a new era for Port Canaveral. Along with the adjacent 1,800-space parking structure, the new terminal is the largest single construction project in the Port’s history.
Previously leaked images show the new ship with the name Reflections on it
instead of Mardi Gras, though ‘Project Reflections’ may instead be the internal name Carnival is using as it prepares for its grand 50th Anniversary celebration in 2022. The Mardi Gras will be the kick-off of this retrospective for the company that revolutionized the industry. The second XL-class ship, still unnamed and yet to begin construction, is expected in 2022. It is possible that it could be named Reflections.
The XL-class of ships are
viewed as the next evolution of cruise ships for Carnival. Each will host more than 6,500 guests and, according to industry vlogger Sal Pitera
, will have dueling entertainment venues with two separate performance casts. The ships will require around 2,000 crew members. Few other details of the massive ships are known.
Over the past fifty years, Carnival has become the world’s largest cruise company by playing it safe when it comes to new ships. Years after the company’s infamous Project Pinnacle
, the scaled down but still ambitious two XL ships look to finally be Carnival’s response to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class, which currently claims the world’s largest cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas.
The Oasis-class took many of the bold ideas that Project Pinnacle had and brought them to life, though sadly not the monorail transit system. "Our first ship Mardi Gras was a historic vessel, introducing a brand new style of cruising to the vacationing public. What better way to pay tribute to our company's nearly 50-year history of creating wonderful vacation memories than by naming this groundbreaking vessel after our original and beloved 'Fun Ship,'" said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy. "The new Mardi Gras will follow the trailblazing lead of her predecessor, introducing features and technological innovations that have never been seen before on a cruise ship while setting a new standard for seagoing vacations."
The new ship had a steel cutting ceremony last month, an early milestone in the construction of the ship. For now, the offerings on the new Mardi Gras are shrouded in mystery, but brand ambassador John Heald did confirm to Cruise Radio
that, “there will be new things” and “it’s going to be a ship that has so many jaw-dropping areas and things.”
As we wait for all these new “jaw-dropping areas and things” onboard the Mardi Gras, Carnival will be introducing another new ship. The Vista-class Carnival Panorama
will begin sailings out of Southern California in November.
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