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Virginia will get its largest cruise ship ever as Carnival expands

Feb. 21, 2020
5 min read
Virginia will get its largest cruise ship ever as Carnival expands
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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)

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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Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

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.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

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 by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees