The biggest Carnival cruise ship ever built is starting sea trials

Sep 29, 2020

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It’s testing time for one of the biggest cruise ships ever built.

Carnival Cruise Line‘s soon-to-debut Mardi Gras, which will hold up to 6,630 passengers with every berth filed, began 10 days of sea trials Monday in the Baltic Sea.

The 15-deck-high 1,130-foot-long ship has been under construction at a shipyard in Turku, Finland, for more than a year, and the start of its sea trials is a sign it’s nearing completion.

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At 180,000 tons, Mardi Gras will be, by far, the biggest ship ever built for Carnival and the seventh-largest cruise ship ever built for any line.

Scheduled to debut on 6 February 2021, in Port Canaveral, Florida, Mardi Gras will be nearly 35% bigger than the biggest Carnival ship currently afloat, the just-unveiled Carnival Panorama.

Carnival Mardi Gras
The soon-to-debut Carnival Cruise Line ship Mardi Gras departs Turku, Finland, on Sept. 28, 2020, for sea trials in the Baltic Sea. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Undertaken in the final months of a cruise ship’s construction, sea trials are designed to test a ship’s navigation systems, engines, manoeuvrability, steering, speed and safety systems. Tests during sea trials also measure cabin acoustics.

Cruise ships can’t go into service until they pass sea trials.

Mardi Gras has been under construction since 2019 at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland. It’s one of the few shipyards in the world capable of building a cruise vessel as big as Mardi Gras.

The Meyer Turku shipyard also is known for building the first two ships in Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking Oasis Class series: Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

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Upon completion of the sea trials, Mardi Gras will return to the shipyard for final finishing work.

The development of Mardi Gras is a big deal for Carnival. The line until now has resisted the trend among major brands to build ever-bigger vessels. Carnival’s new Carnival Panorama doesn’t even crack the top 40 list of biggest ships.

But Carnival is entering the Big Ship Wars with a splash, adorning Mardi Gras with the first roller coaster at sea (no, this is not a joke). The ship also will have Carnival’s largest waterpark ever, a far broader array of suites than earlier Carnival ships and new dining venues such as the first Emeril Lagasse restaurant at sea.

Mardi Gras also will be notable as the first ship from a North America-based cruise line designed to operate on liquid natural gas. The fuel is touted as being cleaner than traditional ship fuel.

Mardi Gras is named after Carnival’s first ship, which sailed for the line from 1972 to 1993. It originally was scheduled to debut in August of this year, but its unveiling date has been pushed back twice.

The vessel is scheduled to sail six- to eight-day voyages to the Bahamas and Caribbean out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Fares start at $539 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Like many cruise lines, Carnival currently is not operating any cruises due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has cancelled all sailings in North America through the end of September.

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Featured image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

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