Past guests can start booking today; otherwise, bookings open January 26.
(9:50 a.m. EST) -- After playing it safe and keeping ships close to home, is mainstream giant Carnival Cruise Lines ready to hop the pond again?
The answer is yes -- at least according to Carnival's Senior Cruise Director (and star blogger) John Heald. On his blog, Heald leaked news that the cruise line will return to Europe next year -- with its currently under-construction 130,000-ton, 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic -- for a series of Mediterranean itineraries.
Carnival started dabbling in Europe in 2005, but made the decision to cancel its 2009 Europe program after the economy went south. The fact that Carnival is once again throwing its chips into the European market -- with a new ship, no less -- could be an indication that the industry is finally on the upswing.
Heald posted a video of him reading aloud a copy of a press release he says he got early "from a spy."
Heald says, "So many of you have said to me, 'When are we going back to Europe?' The answer is 2011." According to Heald, Carnival Magic will sail three seven-day cruises; six nine-day cruises and eight 12-day cruises from Barcelona. Ports of call will include Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Messina, Palma, Marseilles, Venice and Dubrovnik. Carnival Magic is a sister ship to Carnival Dream (pictured) and is due out in 2011.
Heald also revealed that Carnival's asked him to be the cruise director onboard -- and that he's accepted.
We've contacted Carnival for additional details about Magic's deployment; we'll post more information as we receive it, so stay tuned.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor