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Carnival delays debut of Mardi Gras at Port Canaveral from November to February

Dave Berman
Florida Today
Winter Haven News Chief

Carnival Cruise Line is delaying the debut of its newest and largest ship, the Mardi Gras, at Port Canaveral by nearly three months because of construction delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mardi Gras will now begin service from Port Canaveral on Feb. 6. Sailings out of Port Canaveral from Nov. 14 through Jan. 30 have been canceled.

"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," Carnival President Christine Duffy said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "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."

The Mardi Gras will be the first North American-based cruise ship to be powered by natural gas. It will be the largest ship in the Carnival fleet — with a maximum passenger count of 6,630 and a length of 1,130 feet — and will feature the first roller coaster at sea.

Additionally, the planned move of the Carnival Radiance to Port Canaveral will be delayed because of delays in a planned $200 million upgrades to the ship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carnival Radiance’s dry dock at the Cadiz, Spain, shipyard was suspended this spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a nationwide lockdown. Carnival said it is now evaluating shipyard options to complete the upgrades, but the ship is likely not going to be completed until next spring.

As a result of the delayed arrival of Carnival Radiance, Carnival Breeze will be redeployed from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral, and will assume the planned itineraries for Carnival Radiance from Nov. 8 to April 24.

As a result, guests on 18 Carnival Breeze sailings from Fort Lauderdale scheduled to operate from Nov. 7  to March 7 are being notified that their cruises have been canceled.

Duffy said Carnival will "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 said Carnival remains "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."

Carnival also announced that:

The Carnival Magic’s trans-Atlantic and European itineraries from March 13 to May 3, 2021, have been canceled.Seven sailings previously scheduled for Carnival Breeze from Fort Lauderdale from March 13 to April 24, 2021 will move to Miami, and those passengers will sail on the same itinerary, but on Carnival Magic operating from PortMiami.

Carnival said it was notifying passengers and travel agents on Tuesday of schedule changes.

This story will be updated.

Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman

This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.