Virginia will get its largest cruise ship ever as Carnival expands

Feb 21, 2020

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There’s big news for cruising fans in Virginia. Carnival Cruise Line revealed on Thursday plans to give the state its biggest cruise ship ever.

The world’s largest cruise line by number of vessels announced it would base its 130,000-ton Carnival Magic in the city for several months in 2021. The 3,690-passenger ship will operate a series of 12 voyages to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Carnival Magic will become the biggest ship ever to sail out of Norfolk, the line said.

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Carnival Magic is taking the place of two smaller Carnival vessels that are sailing seasonally out of Norfolk this year: The 101,509-ton Carnival Sunrise and 101,509-ton Carnival Radiance. Together, the two smaller ships are operating seven voyages out of Norfolk in 2020.

Carnival has offered seasonal sailings out of Norfolk for nearly two decades, with a varying array of vessels.

Thursday’s announcement came as Carnival signed a new agreement with the City of Norfolk that commits it to operating cruises out of the city for at least another five years.

The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic. (Photo courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic. (Photo courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)


As part of the agreement, the city will make upgrades to its Half Moone Cruise Center that include the addition of a new boarding bridge.

“Norfolk has been a valued partner for nearly 20 years, and we’re delighted to expand upon this relationship with this five-year contract that will bring exciting new choices from the Half Moone Cruise Center,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement. “Our cruises from Norfolk have been very well received by our guests, and this new agreement speaks volumes about our confidence in growing this market.”

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Carnival sailings out of Norfolk are primarily aimed at the local Virginia market and travelers from nearby states who drive to the city for the trips.

The leader in low-cost cruises out of U.S. ports, Carnival purposely deploys its vessels to a wider variety of U.S. “home ports” than other lines to make traveling to them easier and less pricey. In addition to Norfolk, Carnival bases ships at least part of the year in the New York City-area; Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans; and Galveston, Texas, as well as all the major Florida cruise hubs.

The idea is that a large percentage of the U.S. population can reach a Carnival ship by car, saving the cost of flights.

Unveiled in 2011, Carnival Magic is one of Carnival’s bigger ships, but nowhere near as big as the line’s soon-to-debut Mardi Gras. At 180,000 tons, Mardi Gras will be more than 35% bigger than Carnival Magic. Mardi Gras also will be significantly bigger than Carnival’s current flagship, the just-unveiled, Los Angeles-based Carnival Panorama.

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Like several of Carnival’s newer ships, Carnival Magic is home to an outdoor SportSquare area with a suspended-in-the-sky ropes course; a WaterWorks waterpark with two large waterslides; and an adults-only deck-top retreat. Its interior is full of signature dining venues, bars and showrooms.

The ship’s 12 sailings out of Norfolk in 2021 will include five- and six-night cruises to the Bahamas and four- to six-night voyages to Bermuda. The schedule also includes a single seven-night cruise that pairs a stop in Grand Turk with two stops in the Bahamas. A single eight-night Caribbean sailing will feature stops at Grand Turk; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas.

The trips will take place in May, June, September and October of 2021. Fares start at $529 per person for a five-night Bahamas cruise, not including taxes and fees.

Carnival Magic will also spend part of 2021 sailing in the Mediterranean, in addition to operating cruises out of Port Canaveral, Florida; Miami; and New York City.

Planning a cruise for 2020? Our planning guide starts here:

Featured image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line  

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