Carnival’s Newest Vessel Is a Giant Blimp

Aug 30, 2018

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On Wednesday, Aug. 29, Carnival Cruise Line debuted a new ship in Memphis, Tennessee — the line’s first-ever, 128-foot-long blimp.

That’s right. Instead of an ocean liner, Carnival’s latest vessel flies the blue skies at an altitude of 1,000 feet and a leisurely clip of 35 miles per hour.

The so-called Carnival AirShip is part of the cruise company’s Homeport Advantage campaign — a 30-day tour of the southeastern US meant to drum up interest in Carnival’s repositioned ships and to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

At once amusing and benevolent, the blimp will stop in Dallas, Houston and Carnival homeports such as Galveston, Miami, Port Canaveral — 13 cities in total. Meanwhile, Carnival will shuffle some of its key vessels (not including the blimp), shifting the Carnival Breeze to Port Canaveral and the Carnival Vista to Galveston.

It will also move the Carnival Magic and the new Carnival Horizon to Miami — the latter just struck a New York City dock upon returning from an eight-night sailing. (Apparently, it’s still seaworthy enough to make the move to Florida.)

In a press video, Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said, “We’re asking everyone who sees [the blimp] to take a photo and post to your social media [and] use hashtag #ChooseFun and Carnival will be making a donation to St. Jude.” Carnival plans to donate up to $25,000 to St. Jude.

Participants who spot the drifting, cruise-ship emblazoned blimp will also be entered for the chance to win a mix of “prizes and rewards,” including a free cruise.

Carnival may be making local moves now, but as Skift points out, the cruising behemoth is set to unveil much more exciting developments in the next two years. In 2019, Carnival will debut a new ship, the Carnival Panorama, in Long Beach, California. And in 2020, a mysterious supersized XL Class vessel will launch from Florida.

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