ORLANDO, Fla. — Carnival Cruise Line has announced it is delaying the fall debuts at Port Canaveral of its newest, biggest ship Mardi Gras as well as the transformed Carnival Victory, which was set to get the new name Carnival Radiance.
With the delays, the line has also decided to keep Carnival Breeze at Port Canaveral, pulling it from plans to sail out of Port Everglade.
Carnival’s Mardi Gras had already seen delays while under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland before the coronavirus pandemic, which has both halted sailings across the entire cruise industry, but also slowed construction of new vessels.
“We continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global commerce, public health and our cruise operations,” said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy in a news release. “In addition to our current pause in service, there have been many other unintended consequences, including shipyard, dry dock and ship delivery delays, and related changes to our deployment plans for our fleet.”
Now Mardi Gras’ first sailing is slated to be Feb. 6, 2021, with the cruise line canceling planned itineraries between Nov. 14, 2020, and Jan. 30, 2021.
The biggest ship ever built for Carnival, the 1,130-foot-long vessel will be 180,800 gross tons with a 5,282-passenger capacity based on double occupancy. It’s planned for year-round sailings of seven-night alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries out of Port Canaveral’s new Cruise Terminal 3.
It would also be the first ship to use liquefied natural gas to be based in North America. Port Canaveral has been gearing up for its arrival as well as planning infrastructure to handle future LNG-powered cruise ships including Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Wish beginning in 2022.
“While we had hoped to make up construction time on Mardi Gras over the summer, it’s clear we will need extra time to complete this magnificent ship,” Duffy said. “We share our guests’ disappointment and appreciate their patience as we work through this unprecedented time in our business and the lives of so many people. We remain committed to working with government, public health and industry officials to support the response to the pandemic and to return to operations when the time is right.”
The cruise line had also planned to do a massive $200 million makeover to Carnival Victory, the last of what was originally the Destiny class of ships. Work on that ship, which was to be renamed Carnival Radiance, was originally slated for March-April this year in Cadiz, Spain, but now the line has said that work most likely won’t be complete until spring 2021.
Because of the delay to Radiance, the cruise line will be assigning its itineraries to Carnival Breeze out of Port Canaveral from Nov. 8, 2020, to April 24, 2021.
Carnival Breeze was supposed to begin sailing from Port Everglades for the winter season, but the line has canceled all sailings from Nov. 7, 2020, to March 7, 2021. The line has also canceled a planned trans-Atlantic repositioning of Carnival Magic and European sailings from March 13, 2021-May 3, 2021 so it can stay at PortMiami and pick up some of Carnival Breeze’s planned South Florida duties in late spring.
Anyone who was supposed to sail out of Port Everglades on Carnival Breeze from March 13-April 24, 2021, will now sail on Carnival Magic out of PortMiami.
All cruise ships remain under a no-sail order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to coronavirus that lasts through late July, but trade group Cruise Lines International Association announced its member lines would voluntarily halt sailings until Sept. 15.
Carnival took that one step further and does not plan any sailing until at least Oct. 1.
Any return to sailing, though, won’t come until cruise lines get plans approved by the CDC that would involve potential reduction in capacity and other health precautions to deal with controlling the spread of COVID-19.
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)