Yesterday’s announcement from Carnival Cruise Line that Mardi Gras had been delayed, again, marked the 4th time the cruise line has had to postpone the launch of the most anticipated ship in years.
Although it’s nice to get views of the ship as we had in Rotterdam just a few weeks ago, the question is now, when will we see Mardi Gras’ arrival?
Planning Goes Back to 2016
It has been no less than 4.5 years since Carnival Cruise Line announced it would be building two new LNG-powered ships. The ships would become a part of a program rolled out by parent company Carnival Corporation that would involve, so far, nine ships under the new LNG class umbrella.
It wasn’t until November 2018 that the first steel was cut for the vessel more than two years after the first news came out. After that, the building went fast, with the traditional coin ceremony taking place in June 2019, and the vessel floated out of the yard for outfitting at Meyer Turku, Finland on January 24, 2020. That means tomorrow will be one year from the day Mardi Gras saw water for the first time.
The vessel was finally delivered last month, December 18. But that’s where the good news ends. Since its conception 4.5 years ago, Mardi Gras has been marred by delays, cancellations, and postponements.
Murphy’s law states that ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’ And it seems that Mardi Gras is the poster girl for the saying. Originally scheduled to sail for the first time from Copenhagen on August 31, 2020, Carnival Cruise Line canceled these cruises just before the holidays in December 2019.
Citing shipyard-related delays, the postponement of Mardi Gras’ launch meant that the first eight sailings that were scheduled would be canceled. These included itineraries in Europe, a transatlantic voyage, New York-based cruises, and Port Canaveral cruises. The maiden would now take place on November 14, 2020.
November came, and November went, as Carnival announced already in July 2020 that Mardi Gras would now enter into service from Port Canaveral on February 6, 2021.
Delays due to the pandemic caused the shipyard to fall further behind than planned, according to President Christine Duffy:
“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.”
Another delay for Mardi Gras came in early December 2020, just two weeks before the line finally took delivery of the vessel. This time cruises were pushed back to April 24, 2021. And then yesterday, another announcement came; Mardi Gras delayed until May 29.
Lockdowns and The CDC
The update from Carnival on January 22, 2021, and comments made by Arnold Donald last week were clear. The reason this time? The CDC not yet providing significant details on how to resume service, while lockdowns in Europe have delayed Mardi Gras‘ departure from Barcelona according to Christine Duffy:
“We are certainly committed to welcoming them (guests ed.) back as quickly as possible, but unfortunately, we have determined it’s going to take a while longer, and the situation in Europe will also impact Mardi Gras’ departure to the US”
So here we are still waiting, one year after the ship floated out of the yard in Finland, for the most exciting ship to be launched by Carnival Cruise Line in its 49-year history. Will May 29 be the day that Mardi Gras sails?
If she does, then we know one thing for sure; the end of the pandemic has come one step closer, and with that, we are one step closer to a return to a cruise vacation that millions are waiting for.