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. 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, though Carnival has specified that her name, Mardi Gras, will not include... Read more
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. 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, though Carnival has specified that her name, Mardi Gras, will not include the "Carnival" prefix, a first since the Fantasy-class vessels originally omitted "Carnival" in their names upon their debuts.
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. The ships would be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), making the first of the two ships the first LNG-powered ship to be based in North America. 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. 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.
On 15 November 2018, Carnival held the steel-cutting ceremony for the ship at Meyer Turku. Carnival also unveiled the ship's livery, which features a predominantly blue hull with red and white accents. 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."
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. 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. After the reveal, Carnival issued a press release clarifying the ship's name as simply Mardi Gras.
In May 2019, a floating engine room unit built at Neptun Werft in Rostock headed for Turku. 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. On 24 January 2020, Mardi Gras was floated out and repositioned elsewhere in the shipyard to complete her outfitting.
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. 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. The first steel arrived at the site in late-November 2018. Official construction was scheduled to begin in January 2019 and expected to be completed by April 2020. On 9 June 2020, the facility received its certificate of occupancy, but was still under construction.
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.
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. 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. 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. She would then debut at her permanent homeport of Port Canaveral on 16 October 2020, sailing weekly itineraries to the Caribbean.
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. 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, and a second time to 24 April 2021.
On 18 December 2020 the ship was delivered in Turku.
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. 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. On her top decks, Mardi Gras hosts the "Ultimate Playground" zone, where the world's first shipboard roller coaster will be located, dubbed "Bolt". 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). "Bolt" will also be joined by an extensive water park and sports center.