In an allusion to Carnival Cruise Line’s rocky start, the company is naming its newest and largest ship Mardi Gras.
In 1972 the company’s first ship, also called Mardi Gras, made its sailing debut in Miami. But just 20 minutes into its maiden voyage, the ship got stuck on a sandbar in Government Cut, the channel leading from Dodge Island out to the sea. The Miami Herald described tugboat efforts to free the ship as “ants pushing a beetle.” Finally, 28 hours after it set sail, tugboats were able to drag it out stern-first into the ocean after fuel was unloaded to lighten the ship.
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Carnival Cruise Line nearly ended before it began. But the line bounced back to become the largest cruise company in the world today.
Mardi Gras 2.0 — more than six times the size of its 1970s namesake — will sail from Port Canaveral in 2020. Tickets for the 5,200 passenger ship will go on sale in January 2019.
“The new Mardi Gras will follow the trailblazing lead of her predecessor, introducing features and technological innovations that have never been seen before on a cruise ship, while setting a new standard for seagoing vacations,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
Most notably, Mardi Gras will be the first ship in North America to be powered by liquified natural gas, the company said. The ship, the first of the XL class, is currently under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland. A second Carnival XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of the line’s founding.