Carnival, founded in 1972 and headquartered in Miami, is the world’s largest cruise line. The line’s humble origins pigeonholed it as the cruise industry’s version of a floating fraternity party for a long, long time. But that’s yesterday, and while Carnival still commands a certain reputation for a flashy, neon-esque atmosphere, and by no means stints on elaborate lounges and discos, its ships continue to evolve. In particular, Carnival has earned kudos for enhancing cuisine (never a high point in the old days), investing in a top-notch children’s program, and expanding its itinerary offerings beyond traditional Caribbean and Bahamas trips to regions like Alaska and Atlantic Canada. It even offered its first European itineraries in 2002 (while successful, the company has not yet revealed if it will add a regular series of European voyages to future rosters). Carnival also offers a wide variety of cruise lengths. They currently range from three- to 17-day voyages.
Carnival is one of the world’s most innovative cruise lines. Among its firsts:
* It’s the only major cruise line to build and operate a completely smoke-free cruise ship: Paradise.
* It pioneered the concept of building regional “drive to” ports, expanding its embarkation centers beyond Miami to places like New Orleans, Galveston, and New York.
* It offers a vacation guarantee program that allows dissatisfied passengers the chance to disembark at the first non-U.S. port and receive a refund.
The line continues to update and upgrade its ships with an aggressive new-build program. The 18-ship fleet received three new additions in 2002: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Pride. July 2003 marks the debut of Carnival Glory, the second ship in the Conquest class. The year 2004 will be big for Carnival as two more vessels are scheduled to emerge from Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard: Carnival Miracle, part of the Spirit class, and Carnival Valor, another Conquest-class ship. The company expects a fourth Conquest-class ship to launch in 2005, which would bring the fleet total to 22.
The explosive expansion at Carnival Cruise Line extends beyond its ships. Parent company Carnival Corporation is the industry’s largest. Other cruise lines in the family fold include Costa Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Windstar Cruises. And it likely will get even bigger. In a year-long effort, Carnival Corporation is in the final phases of its plan to acquire P&O Princess. Shareholders for both companies will vote on the proposed deal in mid-March 2003.
Carnival Triumph, Carnival Legend, Carnival Victory, Carnival Pride, Carnival Miracle
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- Carnival Legend – 10/21/06
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Pictures of Carnival Cruise Line ships
New Yorkers enjoying a nice day at Hudson River Park’s Pier 45, with the cruise ship Carnival Victory leaving the port of New York. In front, the remains of Pier 42.