(12:25 p.m. EDT) – Carnival Cruise Lines has announced some sweeping changes to its fall and winter 2020 cruise schedule to compensate for the delay to its eagerly-anticipated Mardi Gras and the conversion of Carnival Victory to Carnival Radiance, projects that have both been delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes affect itineraries for Mardi Gras and Carnival Radiance along with Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic, which are being redeployed to provide coverage for these previously-scheduled itineraries. Voyages affected run from November 2020 to May 2021and include the cancellation of Carnival Magic's previously-announced sailings to Europe next spring.
While these changes may, at first, look like a negative, there is positive news for cruisers. First, Carnival has committed to a delivery date for Mardi Gras that is much more realistic given the current global conditions as a result of the pandemic. Second, it reaffirms the company's commitment to completing the Victory-Radiance transformation; A project that, in its current half-finished state, made Cruise Critic board members wonder if the ship was destined to be sold for scrap.
Mardi Gras to Debut in February
The most hotly-anticipated cruise ship to debut from Carnival in years will now enter service on February 6, 2021 from Port Canaveral (Orlando). Mardi Gras, the first Carnival vessel to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku yards in Finland. Originally due to launch on August 31, 2020, the ship had previously faced construction setbacks late last year, when its entry-into-service was moved to November 2020.
Itineraries out of Port Canaveral for departures from Nov. 14, 2020 to Jan. 30, 2021 have been cancelled.
Carnival Radiance Delayed to Spring 2021
Carnival Victory had just sailed across the Atlantic to the shipyard in Cadiz when the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off in earnest, resulting in the suspension of cruising and nearly all shipyard work, including the vessel's transformation into Carnival Radiance.
Ships headed to drydock are routinely stripped by contractors on the delivery journey (which occurred with no passengers onboard), something that likely left the ship's interiors in a half-finished state. Carnival states it is now looking for a shipyard to continue work on the Victory-to-Radiance transformation. Originally due to enter service this May, the vessel isn't expected to be completed until spring 2021.
Carnival Breeze Moves from Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral
To make up for the loss of Carnival Radiance, Carnival Breeze will reposition from Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral to assume Carnival Radiance's previously-scheduled itineraries. These will run from November 8, 2020 to April 24, 2021.
As a result, passengers booked on the 18 Carnival Breeze voyages scheduled to operate from November 7, 2020 to March 7, 2021 are being notified today that their cruises have been cancelled.
Carnival Magic is No Longer Europe-Bound
Next year was to have seen one of Carnival's largest-ever deployments in Europe. That came to an end with an announcement that Carnival Magic's transatlantic and European sailings scheduled from March 13, 2021 to May 3, 2021 have been cancelled.
Instead, Carnival Magic will assume seven sailings that were previously scheduled to operate aboard sister ship Carnival Breeze. While Carnival Magic will sail the same itineraries scheduled for Carnival Breeze, these new voyages -- running from March 13 to April 24, 2021 -- will take place out of Port Miami instead of Fort Lauderdale as previously scheduled.
Fleet Flexibility Necessary
Passengers booked on affected voyages will be notified beginning today, Carnival said in a statement to media. The changes were necessitated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic's knock-on effect on shipbuilders around the world, in addition to a number of unintended consequences, including drydock and shipyard delays.
"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," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
"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. We remain 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."