(9:15 a.m. EST) -- By 2020, Carnival cruisers will be able to cruise to Cuba from New York and Norfolk, Virginia, for the first time ever.
Carnival Cruise Line will expand its Cuba offerings when Carnival Victory and Carnival Triumph emerge from dry dock to become Carnival Radiance and Carnival Sunrise, respectively. Carnival Sunrise will undergo its major refurbishment in March 2019, while Carnival Radiance completes its $200 million transformation in late April 2020.
Beginning May 21, 2020, Carnival Sunrise will sail the line's first voyages to Cuba from New York City, spanning nine nights and including an overnight call in Havana with stops in Half Moon Cay and Nassau. Carnival Radiance also will offer nine-night Cuba cruises from New York in June 2020. A weeklong Cuba cruise will be offered from Norfolk on Carnival Radiance, in late October 2020.
"We want to offer Cuba from more homeports," Carnival's COO Gus Antorcha told Cruise Critic. "There is demand for those itineraries … It also opens up different types of ports and itineraries for past guests."
In addition to Cuba, Carnival Sunrise will sail a series of eight-night Caribbean and Bahamas cruises from New York, which will culminate in a 12-night partial Panama Canal transit to Fort Lauderdale departing on October 19, 2020 as part of the line's Carnival Journeys series. It also will offer eight "long weekend" four-night cruises to Bermuda (Thursday to Monday) in 2020, which include a full day on the island of Bermuda.
From Norfolk, Sunrise will sail two five-night Bahamas cruises, along with a six-night voyage featuring Half Moon Cay in addition to Nassau and Freeport.
Norfolk officially welcomes Carnival back with a season of sailings in 2019, but does so after no ships sailed from the port in 2018. Antorcha told Cruise Critic that Norfolk is a great option as Carnival moves ships up and down the East Coast, adding: "As seasonal New York deployment grows, Norfolk is going to benefit.
"Part of our strategy is to put ships closer to guests, so people can drive. We're family-focused, so if you're going with cousins, grandma and grandpa -- you'll need lots of [plane] tickets. If we can make it easier for a family vacation, we're going to do that."
Carnival Radiance (nee Victory) will sail an inaugural summer season in New York beginning June 24, 2020, after the ship sails a handful of nine- to 12-night Mediterranean departures from Barcelona in the spring.
Along with its nine-night Cuba cruise from New York, the ship will sail a series of four- and six-night Bermuda cruises; eight-night Eastern Caribbean sailings; and a number of Canada/New England cruises in the fall to ports like Boston, Portland, Saint John and Halifax; a four-night cruise to Saint John, New Brunswick will be offered in the summer.
From Norfolk, Radiance will sail two Bahamas cruises (five- and six-night) in addition to the weeklong Cuba cruise.
Carnival Radiance will then reposition to Port Canaveral, where it will offer a winter season of six- to eight-night Caribbean and Cuba cruises beginning November 8, 2020. These sailings include six-night Cuba cruises with overnights in Havana; six-night sailings that include Grand Cayman and Amber Cove; and seven- and eight-night Southern and Eastern Caribbean cruises to Aruba, Curacao, St. Kitts and Grand Turk.
When they re-launch, Sunrise and Radiance will feature a host of exciting onboard amenities -- from refreshed cabins to waterslides and ropes courses; Carnival Radiance also will debut the all-new Big Chicken restaurant helmed by Carnival's own Chief Fun Officer, Shaquille O'Neal.
--By Brittany Chrusciel, Editor