One of the world’s biggest cruise ships has been delayed by the coronavirus — again

Dec 3, 2020

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You’ll have to wait until April to ride a roller coaster on a cruise ship.

Citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Carnival Cruise Line on Thursday pushed back the debut of its much-anticipated, 180,000-ton Mardi Gras — a ship so big it’ll famously have room for a roller coaster on its top deck — to April 24.

Currently being built at a shipyard in Turku, Finland, the 15-deck-high vessel originally was scheduled to debut in August of this year. But its arrival already had been delayed twice, and it was most recently scheduled to debut on Feb. 6, 2021.

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“We apologize to our guests, but we must continue to take a thoughtful, deliberate and measured approach as we map out our return to operations in 2021,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement accompanying Thursday’s announcement. “Our commitment to the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is at the forefront of our decisions and operations.”

A dozen departures of Mardi Gras that had been scheduled from Feb. 6 to April 17 have been canceled.

Despite the delay, Carnival said it would go ahead with plans to take delivery of Mardi Gras from the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, later this month. The ship is nearing completion.

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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)

Mardi Gras is the first of a new series of bigger Carnival ships designed to take the line’s “fun ship” shtick to a new level. In addition to a roller coaster — a cruise industry first — it’ll also have a far broader array of suites than earlier Carnival vessels 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 line designed to operate on liquid natural gas. The fuel is touted as being cleaner than traditional ship fuel.

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At around 180,000 tons, Mardi Gras will be nearly 35% bigger than Carnival’s recently unveiled Carnival Panorama and one of the biggest ships from any line. Depending on its final measurements, it’ll either rank seventh, eighth or ninth among the biggest cruise ships ever built.

Mardi Gras is designed to hold up to 6,630 passengers per sailing with every berth filled.

Carnival on Thursday also announced that it had canceled all remaining sailings on its schedule through the end of February. The line in November canceled most of its sailings through the end of February but kept a few voyages out of Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston, Texas, on its schedule.

Carnival now has no voyages scheduled until March.

When it debuts in April, Mardi Gras will sail out of Port Canaveral, as planned.

Carnival is just the latest line to push back the arrival of a new ship due to coronavirus pandemic-related delays at shipyards. Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean also have significantly delayed the arrival of new vessels in recent months.

Carnival hasn’t said how many customers are affected by its new cruise cancellations, but the number could be in the tens of thousands or more.

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Featured image of courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

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