(10 a.m. EDT) -- Beginning in 2021, Carnival Cruise Line will have a total of four ships homeported year-round in Galveston, including Carnival Radiance, which will arrive in the port in May 2021.
Carnival Radiance will join Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Vista in offering cruises to the Caribbean out of the Lone Star State, with voyages ranging in length from four to 14 days.
"Carnival is already the most popular cruise line from Galveston, attracting vacationers from all across the Southwest and beyond," Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement. "With these enhancements, we're providing our guests with more voyages, more destinations and more choices from Texas than ever before."
Carnival Radiance will be transformed from Carnival Victory in a $200-million makeover next year, adding new features and amenities for cruisers sailing out of Galveston. The 38-day refit will add Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, created by Food Network star Guy Fieri; Cucina del Capitano; Bonsai Sushi; the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub; and the first Big Chicken restaurant created by Carnival Chief Fun Officer, Shaquille O'Neal.
Sailings on Carnival Radiance
To reach Galveston, Carnival Radiance will offer a special Carnival Journeys Panama Cruise, departing Port Canaveral on May 2 and arriving in Galveston on May 14, 2021. The ship will debut a wide variety of Caribbean itineraries, including:
- Five-day cruises departing Sundays and featuring the seaside Mexican ports of Cozumel and Progreso or Costa Maya.
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- Three different nine-day options departing Fridays - one featuring Cozumel, Puerto Limon and either a partial Panama Canal transit or a visit to Colon; another featuring Key West, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau; and a third itinerary stopping at Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel.
- Two eight-port, 14-day Carnival Journeys cruises visiting destinations throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Panama Canal between October 24, 2021, and January 16, 2022.
"In sending Carnival Radiance to Galveston and starting the nine- and five-day itineraries, our goal was to expand the number of ports of call we can include form our Galveston departures," Fred Stein, Carnival's vice president of revenue planning and deployment, told CruiseCritic in an exclusive interview. "Galveston has been a story of steady growth. We started out in 2000 with one ship and added a second in 2002 and added a third in 2015. In 2021, we'll be up to four."
The decision to add longer Carnival Journeys voyages was an easy one, according to Stein. "We've been doing Journeys voyages out of Galveston ... for a while now. The unique thing about Carnival Radiance is the combination of the five-night and the nine-night itineraries. You get some really unique port content that's just impossible to put on a seven- or eight-day cruise."
Short Cruises Aboard Carnival Breeze
Carnival Breeze will become Carnival's newest and largest ship to offer short cruise itineraries when it kicks off year-round four- and-five-day voyages from Galveston on May 5, 2021. On offer are:
- Four-day "weekend cruises" departing Thursdays and featuring visits to Cozumel.
- Five-day voyages departing Mondays and Saturdays with stops at Cozumel and either Progreso or Costa Maya.
Longer Voyages aboard Carnival Dream and Carnival Vista
Carnival Dream will offer two sets of itineraries:
- Six-day cruises that visit Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize or Mahogany Bay.
- Eight-day cruises featuring Key West, Freeport, Half Moon Cay and Nassau.
Carnival Vista will continue to offer alternating weeklong Western Caribbean cruises, calling on Mahogany Bay, Belize and Cozumel; or Grand Cayman, Cozumel and either Ocho Rios or Roatan.
Carnival Freedom, which currently operates out of Galveston, will be redeployed to another homeport city that Carnival intends to reveal at a later date.
"The great thing abut Texas is the guests there love Carnival," Stein told CruiseCritic. "There is a large population base within a five-hour drive from Galveston. There are also good air connections into Houston. If you live on the West Coast, rather than going to Florida to get on a cruise you can fly to Houston and get on a cruise from Galveston. We think it's a great market for our fourth ship."
Itineraries for Carnival's Galveston-based ships are now open for sale. Carnival estimates that it will carry 900,000 passengers annually from Galveston onboard these four ships on a total of 235 different sailings per year, spread across 18 different sailings that visit 25 ports of call.
In September of 2020, Carnival will celebrate two decades of cruising from Galveston, with more than 8 million cruisers having sailed from the city.