(10:30 a.m. EST) -- Carnival has had to cancel the first eight sailings of its highly anticipated new cruise ship, Carnival Mardi Gras, due to shipyard delays. The line is now scheduled to take delivery in late October, with its first sailing leaving Port Canaveral on November 14.The first eight sailings, which were scheduled to start August 31, included European, transatlantic and New York-based itineraries and four Port Canaveral itineraries.Carnival said it is offering affected passengers a full refund and 25 percent credit on a future cruise. If they rebook a cruise by February 18, they will also receive an additional $100 onboard credit per person.The cruise line says delays were announced by the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, where the 180,000-gross-ton ship is under construction."We have been working closely with Meyer Turku executives to keep the Mardi Gras delivery on schedule, and while we deeply regret disappointing our guests, this change in the delivery date is required to make sure all of the ship's systems, features and technology will be fully operational, so that we can give our guests the vacation they expect," said Ben Clement, Carnival Cruise Line's senior vice president of newbuild, in a statement. "Our commitment is to deliver a great and innovative ship, and Mardi Gras will definitely be that when it arrives in North America."Posters on Cruise Critic's message boards were disappointed by the news."This stinks," wrote DaisyGirl55. "I was so excited to celebrate my retirement with a repositioning cruise out of New York … Yes, I can book another cruise, but it will not be anywhere near the experience I was so looking forward to."Writing on his Facebook page, Carnival brand ambassador John Heald said: "All of us are so, so sorry to disappoint those guests who have had their sailings cancelled … I realize that many of you booked the ship based on what I have posted about her and to cruise with me on that first cruise and her trans-Atlantic. So, I want to offer my personal apologies as well. Thanks for your understanding."When it debuts, the 5,200-passenger ship will be the largest vessel in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. It will boast the first roller coaster and first Emeril Lagasse restaurant at sea, and feature six themed "zones," including the French Quarter, Summer Landing, Grand Central and the Ultimate Playground.
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