Mardi Gras (2020 ship)

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Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras ship 22-12-2020 front view.jpg
Mardi Gras in Rotterdam, 2020
Name: Mardi Gras
Namesake: TSS Mardi Gras
Owner: Carnival Corporation house flag.svg Carnival Corporation & plc
Operator: Carnival Cruise Line
Port of registry:  Panama
Ordered: 6 September 2016[1]
Builder: Meyer Turku
Cost: US$1 billion[2]
Yard number: NB 1396[3]
Laid down: 18 June 2019[4]
Launched: 24 January 2020[5]
Acquired: 18 December 2020[6]
Maiden voyage: 24 April 2021[7]
General characteristics
Class and type: Excellence-class cruise ship
Tonnage: 181,808 GT[6]
Length: 1,130 ft (340 m)
Beam: 42 m (138 ft)[6]
Depth: 11.8 m (39 ft)[6]
Decks: 19
Propulsion: 2 × 37MW Azimuth Electric Propulsion Drive[6]
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) (projected)
  • 5,282 passengers (double occupancy)
  • 6,500 passengers (maximum capacity)
Crew: 2,000

Mardi Gras is an Excellence-class cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Line. She is Carnival's lead vessel of the fleet's Excel-class, a subclass of the Excellence class, with a sister ship scheduled to be delivered in 2022.[1] At 181,808 GT, she is the largest ship in Carnival's fleet. The ship has often been incorrectly referred to as Carnival Mardi Gras,[8] though Carnival has specified that her name, Mardi Gras, will not include the "Carnival" prefix,[9] a first since the Fantasy-class vessels originally omitted "Carnival" in their names upon their debuts. The name of the ship (Mardi Gras) is a throwback to Carnival's first cruise ship the company owned, the 27000 ton Mardi Gras I (previously RMS Empress of Canada).


Planning and construction[edit]

On 6 September 2016, Finnish shipbuilder Meyer Turku announced it had signed a memorandum of agreement with Carnival Corporation & plc to build two 180,000 GT ships for Carnival Cruise Line, with deliveries expected in 2020 and 2022, respectively.[1] The ships would be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG),[1] making the first of the two ships the first LNG-powered ship to be based in North America.[10] Tom Strang, Carnival Corporation's senior vice president of maritime affairs, explained that the company's pivot towards LNG was due in part to the demands voiced by environmental groups and the European Union to reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions.[11] In order to fulfill the order, Meyer Turku postponed the delivery of sister brand Costa Cruises' second Excellence-class vessel by one year to 2021.[1]

On 15 November 2018, Carnival held the steel-cutting ceremony for the ship at Meyer Turku.[10] Carnival also unveiled the ship's livery, which features a predominantly blue hull with red and white accents.[10] The new style marks a departure from the fleet's mostly white hulls and was commissioned by Carnival in an effort to market the brand as "America's Cruise Line."[10]

On the 5 December 2018 episode of American game show Wheel of Fortune, hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White initially revealed the name of the ship as Carnival Mardi Gras, after Carnival's first ship, TSS Mardi Gras, which operated for Carnival from 1972 to 1993.[8][12] Prior to the reveal, leaked renderings of a ship bearing the name Carnival Reflection fueled speculation that Carnival's next ship would be named as such.[12] After the reveal, Carnival issued a press release clarifying the ship's name as simply Mardi Gras.[9]

In May 2019, a floating engine room unit built at Neptun Werft in Rostock headed for Turku.[13] On 18 June 2019, the ship's keel was laid at Meyer Turku with the traditional coin ceremony, in which a coin was set atop the ship's keel blocks.[4] On 24 January 2020, Mardi Gras was floated out and repositioned elsewhere in the shipyard to complete her outfitting.[5]

Port Canaveral operations[edit]

In order to accommodate the ship as her permanent homeport, Port Canaveral in Florida began constructing Terminal 3, a new two-story, 188,000-square-foot cruise terminal that cost $163 million to build, becoming the largest project in the port's history.[14] Work began with the approval of the contract to demolish the existing Terminal 3 on 28 March 2018, with the demolition beginning on 27 April 2018.[15] The first steel arrived at the site in late-November 2018.[16] Official construction was scheduled to begin in January 2019 and expected to be completed by April 2020.[16] On 9 June 2020, the facility received its certificate of occupancy, but was still under construction.[17]

To bunker Mardi Gras, Port Canaveral will contract with Royal Dutch Shell and use barges from Elba Island in Georgia, as the port will not store LNG in land-based tanks.[11]

Delivery & Debut[edit]

Mardi Gras' debut has been significantly impacted by construction delays that were further magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carnival joins sister brands AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises in experiencing continued delays that have affected their Excellence-class ships' progress towards an on-time completion after these delays similarly impacted the deliveries of AIDAnova and Costa Smeralda.[18] The delays have all been credited to the complexities associated with building and installing the ships' new technologies and also organizing the logistics of the ships' construction.[18] Because of these delays, Mardi Gras' inaugural season has experienced several postponements.

Mardi Gras had been originally scheduled to begin operating on 31 August 2020 on a nine-day Northern Europe sailing between Copenhagen and Southampton before sailing a transatlantic crossing to New York for a short fall season of cruises to the Maritimes.[14] She would then debut at her permanent homeport of Port Canaveral on 16 October 2020, sailing weekly itineraries to the Caribbean.[14]

However, on 20 December 2019, Carnival announced that Mardi Gras would be delivered in October 2020, with the ship's maiden voyage postponed to 14 November 2020 from Port Canaveral, after construction delays forced the cancellation of all European and New York sailings.[19] Later, on 7 July 2020, Carnival announced a second delay for Mardi Gras; due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the ship's construction and Carnival's operations, the ship's debut and maiden voyage from Port Canaveral was first postponed to 6 February 2021,[20] and a second time to 24 April 2021.[21]

On 18 December 2020 the ship was delivered in Turku. [22]

Design and specifications[edit]

Mardi Gras is planned to measure 180,000 GT and have a maximum passenger capacity of 6,500 passengers or 5,282 passengers at double occupancy, with approximately 2,000 crew members.[14][20] Mardi Gras will be divided by six zones incorporating themed elements and spaces that will host activities and events and also house various dining and shopping outlets.[23] On her top decks, Mardi Gras hosts the "Ultimate Playground" zone, where the world's first shipboard roller coaster will be located, dubbed "Bolt".[24] Designed by Maurer AG, the ride will consist of self-propelled cars that ride on an 800-foot track and can travel up to 40 mph (64 km/h).[25][24] "Bolt" will also be joined by an extensive water park and sports center.[23]


During construction of the ship in April 2020, a fire broke out on board. It was quickly extinguished, and the ship suffered minimal damage.[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Carnival Corporation orders two new ships from Meyer Turku". Meyer Turku. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  2. ^ Davies, Phil (7 July 2020). "Carnival Cruise Line's 2021 European deployment delayed". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  3. ^ Larino, Jennifer (22 July 2019). "Emeril Lagasse opening a restaurant on Carnival's new Mardi Gras cruise ship". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Keel Laid for Carnival Mardi Gras". Cruise Industry News. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b Jainchill, Johanna (24 January 2020). "Carnival floats out the Mardi Gras". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Carnival Mardi Gras (9837444)". Leonardo Info. Registro Italiano Navale. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  7. ^ Simms, Richard (3 December 2020). "Carnival Cancels Through February 2021, Mardi Gras Cruise Delayed". Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  8. ^ a b Storey, Ken. "Carnival just announced details on its groundbreaking new ship in the most unlikely of ways". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Mardi Gras Selected As Name For Largest Carnival Cruise Line Ship Ever Constructed – Carnival Cruise Line News". Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d Kalosh, Anne (15 November 2018). "New Carnival livery revealed as Meyer Turku cuts steel for LNG-powered 'XL' cruise ship". Seatrade Cruise News. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  11. ^ a b Brinkmann, Paul (4 February 2020). "Cruise ships switching fuel to cleaner liquefied natural gas". United Press International. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Carnival Cruise Lines Names First Excellence-class Ship Mardi Gras". CruiseInd. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Maschinenraum-Modul für die Mardi Gras hat die Neptun Werft verlassen" (in German). 23 May 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d Berman, Dave (31 January 2019). "Carnival Cruise Line reveals details of giant Mardi Gras cruise ship, itinerary". USA Today. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Port Canaveral Begins Demolition Of Cruise Terminal 3". Travel Agent Central. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  16. ^ a b "First steel for Cruise Terminal 3 waterside construction arrives at Port Canaveral". American Journal of Transportation. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  17. ^ Tribou, Richard (17 June 2020). "Port Canaveral's new cruise terminal nearly complete ahead of Carnival's Mardi Gras arrival". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 30 June 2020.
  18. ^ a b Stieghorst, Tom (5 January 2020). "Mardi Gras delays not surprising but still costly for Carnival". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  19. ^ Stieghorst, Tom (20 December 2019). "Carnival's Mardi Gras won't arrive on schedule". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  20. ^ a b Limone, Jerry (7 July 2020). "Another delay for Carnival's Mardi Gras ship". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Carnival cancels remaining cruises through February 2021". Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b Stieghorst, Tom (25 January 2019). "Carnival details layout of Mardi Gras". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  24. ^ a b Stieghorst, Tom (13 December 2018). "Carnival ship to have roller coaster". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  25. ^ Rizzo, Cailey (13 May 2019). "This Is What the First Roller Coaster on a Cruise Ship Will Look Like". Travel + Leisure. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Fire Extinguished After Breaking Out Onboard Carnival's Mardi Gras". Cruise Hive. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Mardis Gras fire on board". Cruise Critic.