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MIAMI — Carnival has had to push back the delivery date for its new Mardi Gras ship a second time, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc with the cruise industry and shipyards.
First announced in fall 2018, the 5,200-berth Mardi Gras was scheduled for delivery this year with cruises originally set to start from Port Canaveral in summer 2020. The first delay came at the end of 2019 and the first sailings were rescheduled for November 2020.
Now, says Carnival, the new Mardi Gras will enter into service from Port Canaveral on Feb. 6, 2021. Itineraries out of Port Canaveral for departures from Nov. 14, 2020 to Jan. 30, 2021 have been cancelled.
The ship is under construction at Meyer Turku shipyard. It’s the first vessel in Carnival’s newest class of ship, and the largest Carnival cruise ship ever constructed, weighing in at 180,000 tonnes.
Starting today Carnival is notifying guests and travel agents of the revisions to the schedule.
The pandemic is also impacting the dry dock for Carnival Radiance, as well as new itineraries for Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic, all part of an updated deployment plan from November 2020 to May 2021.
Carnival Radiance’s US$200 million dry dock at the Cadiz, Spain shipyard was suspended this spring in the wake of the pandemic.
Carnival said today that while it is now evaluating shipyard options to complete the transformation, Carnival Radiance is likely not going to be completed until the spring.
As a result of the delayed arrival of Carnival Radiance, Carnival Breeze will be redeployed from Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral and will assume the itineraries for Carnival Radiance from Nov. 8, 2020 to Apr. 24, 2021.
As a result, passengers on 18 Carnival Breeze sailings from Fort Lauderdale scheduled to operate from Nov. 7, 2020 to March 7, 2021 are being notified that their cruises have been cancelled.
Carnival is also letting the trade and passengers know that Carnival Magic’s transatlantic and European itineraries from March 13, 2021 to May 3, 2021 have been cancelled.
Seven sailings previously scheduled for Carnival Breeze from Fort Lauderdale from March 13 to April 24, 2021 will move to Miami and those guests will sail on the same itinerary, but on Carnival Magic operating from PortMiami.
Christine Duffy, President, Carnival Cruise Line, says: “We continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global commerce, public health and our cruise operations. 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.”
Duffy adds: “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. 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.”
Agent and client notifications will be emailed out today, July 7.
On June 22 Carnival announced it was extending its operational pause in North America through Sept. 30. All of CLIA’s ocean-going member cruise lines have halted operations until Sept. 15 while the industry waits out the CDC’s No Sail Order, currently set to expire in mid-July but almost certain to be renewed.
CARNIVAL & WTTC FORUM ON JULY 23
In other Carnival news, Carnival’s parent company Carnival Corp. has announced it will bring together leading global scientists and health experts on July 23 for a virtual public forum on the latest insights and best practices for living in a world with COVID-19, in an initiative in partnership with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The WTTC/Carnival Corporation Global Science Summit on COVID-19, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT and will share the latest scientific knowledge and evidence-based best practices related to prevention, detection, treatment and mitigation of COVID-19.
The joint summit will bring together global tourism leaders, WTTC members, government agencies, destination partners, trade and private businesses. Speakers and panelists represent a diverse range of science, research, clinical, academic, policy and business backgrounds, including members of ‘Scientists to Stop Covid-19’ who have volunteered to participate.