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Carnival Cruise Line's First LNG-Fueled Ship Departs on Maiden Voyage

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Image courtesy Carnival

Published Aug 2, 2021 8:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, Carnival Cruise Line's newest megaship departed Port Canaveral, Florida, marking the seaport's return to cruise ship revenue voyages after a long COVID-19 hiatus.

Carnival President Christine Duffy was on hand for a “Back to Fun”-themed ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome guests on board the brand new vessel. "Mardi Gras has been five years in the making so to finally welcome guests on board to experience this one-of-a-kind ship is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time," Duffy said. "It’s so gratifying to be able to play a role helping the local community by providing much-needed jobs and a boost to the economy."

Mardi Gras is a 5,200-passenger giant, and it is fitted out with all the amenities of a family-friendly Carnival ship, including a waterpark and the world's first rollercoaster at sea (above). As indicated by its name, its New Orleans theme extends to its attractions, including a bistro designed by well-known Louisiana chef Emeril Lagasse and a bar inspired by the city's Garden District. 

The vessel is the Carnival Cruise Line brand's first LNG-fueled ship, and it shares basic design elements with seven other Carnival Corporation LNG vessels, including AIDAnova and Costa Smeralda. Another of these sister ships, Carnival Celebration, will be homeported out of PortMiami after its delivery next year.

For Mardi Gras' first voyage, vaccination was effectively required for all crewmembers and passengers (though non-vaccinated customers could apply for qualification, with additional costs and restrictions). Photos posted to social media suggest that all crewmembers wore masks, along with some passengers. The CDC currently recommends masking in public indoor spaces for all individuals in high-transmission counties, based on new evidence that vaccinated people can spread the Delta variant of the virus if infected. COVID transmission rates in the U.S. Southeast are high, according to the agency, including the rates in all but one county in Florida.

Mardi Gras is the fifth Carnival Cruise Line ship to resume service, and additional vessels are set to restart operations soon.  By October, 15 Carnival ships will be sailing – more than half the line's fleet.