Carnival’s Mardi Gras sets sail in Port Canaveral
BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – After nearly a year and a half hiatus due to the pandemic, the cruise industry is experiencing a resurgence along the Space Coast.
What you need to know
- Carnival Mardi Gras sets sail at 6 p.m.
- First paid cruise from Port Canaveral takes place amid COVID-19 cases
- Carnival, Port Canaveral, says they are confident about pandemic precautions
Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras took off on its maiden voyage at 6 p.m. on Saturday – a big step forward for the industry.
“Look at all the people. You really enjoy yourself. It makes me jealous, makes me want to book one. And I’ve never been on a cruise so I definitely plan to do that, ”said Tina Blackburn of Sebastian, one of the dozen of people who gathered to wave goodbye to passengers and crew.
Betty Shipa was there too – happy to see the cruise industry is back on its feet.
“I was sad because it’s money for the cruise line to lose money … and the islands are losing money. The economic part of it is drastic, ”she said.
This is the FIRST ship with passengers on board to depart from Port Canaveral in 16 months. It was also the maiden voyage for Carnival’s newest ship, the “Mardi Gras”. The occasion drew quite an excited audience. @ MyNews13 some even sang “Mardi Gras!” pic.twitter.com/uaJYJOnnfx
– Emily Braun (@EmilyBraunTV) July 31, 2021
Carnival President Christine Duffy and Mardi Gras Captain Giuseppe Giusa held a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration on Saturday to officially welcome guests on board.
“It’s been a tough road for Port Canaveral because of our reliance on the cruise business. But we’re back and running, “said Captain John Murray.
One day before plans to set sail, Carnival welcomed its guests for a tour of the Mardi Gras, the newest ship in their fleet.
The preview, known as “Sip & Sea”, allowed guests to view cabins and various entertainment venues and ride the BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea. Everyone who attended on Friday was required to provide proof of vaccination and fill out health forms.
Carnival President Christine Duffy helped kick off the celebrations, noting that the biggest changes for paying guests boarding in the near future will center around whether or not someone is vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We need to know if you are vaccinated or not, because vaccinated people have different protocols and procedures than unvaccinated people on the ship,” said Duffy.
She noted that Carnival has extensive pandemic precautions and protocols in place, including testing for those who fail to provide evidence of vaccination or choose not to provide evidence of vaccination.
At check-in, passengers who are not vaccinated must present a negative PCR-COVID-19 test performed between 72 and 24 hours prior to the departure date.
Tests must also be taken upon embarkation and within 24 hours of disembarkation on cruises longer than 4 days.
“We really ask our guests to read all of the information we send them and to fill out all the correct forms. There is a health declaration that must be completed within 72 hours of boarding which makes boarding easy, ”said Duffy.
“It’s about protecting the health and safety of everyone on board so they can enjoy their cruise.”
Carnival is the first shipping company to welcome paying customers back onto one of their ships. It comes because Brevard County, along with the rest of Florida, is seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19.
According to data released on Friday, 3,516 cases of the virus were reported between July 23 and July 29. That’s 2,166 that were reported in the previous week. The positivity rate also increased from 20.3 percent to 23.9 percent during this period.
Duffy said she was confident that Carnival’s logs would be sufficient, even if the Delta variant is pushing cases up.
“We’ll never get to zero, just like zero anywhere else. I think you’re actually safer on a cruise ship because of all of the protocols we already have and all of the public health standards that cruise ships have always followed, ”Duffy said.
The return to paid cruises is very welcome for Port Canaveral. Port Director Captain John Murray noted that 43% of the port workforce has been laid off since last July and they are slowly bringing back workers.
“We have many employees in Port Canaveral who we unfortunately had to lay off last year and who are coming back. These people are just excited to get back to work, ”said Murray.
“When cruise ships go up, they go up slowly so they don’t all come back at the same time.”
The return of cruise also allows Port Canaveral to finally take advantage of $ 155 million cruise terminal 3, the latest addition to be launched before the pandemic stalled the cruise.
On Saturday, it welcomes guests to Mardi Gras, the first liquefied natural gas cruise ship to depart from a US port.