Carnival Cruise Line’s new ship Mardi Gras was christened in Port Canaveral, Florida today during what Carnival dubbed a “Universe of Fun” celebration.
The event took place in the Mardi Gras Theater onboard, with Miss Universe Dominican Republic 2020 Kimberly Jiménez officially christening the ship as its godmother. She was joined by Miss Universe, Andrea Meza, and Miss USA, Asya Branch, who sang the national anthem. The event featured a “World of Nations” flag procession to highlight the diversity of the 120 nationalities of crew members.
Following remarks by Duffy and Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald, Carnival friends and partners Romero Britto, Emeril Lagasse, Kathie Lee Gifford, Vanna White, and Guy Fieri virtually provided their congratulations on the ship's naming and helped deliver the champagne bottle to the ship.
“Today’s naming ceremony of our flagship Mardi Gras, the first in the industry since our restart of operations, signifies excitement and optimism as we look to bring our entire fleet back into guest service by spring 2022,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “This ship has been amazing guests during her pre-inaugural season and the celebration today with our Chief Fun Officer Shaq, our Godmother Kimberly, and so many special guests, was extremely gratifying and emotional.”
Carnival's Chief Fun Officer and NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal was also on hand for the festivities to cut a ribbon for the official opening of his quick-service dining venue Big Chicken.
While Shaq does have Big Chicken locations on land, the one on Mardi Gras is the first at sea. The venue will also be available on the newly-renovated Carnival Radiance, as well as Mardi Gras' upcoming sister ship Carnival Celebration.
Mardi Gras’ long-awaited debut was delayed multiple times due to construction delays and the pandemic, and was ultimately delivered to Carnival Cruise Line in December 2020. On July 31, the vessel finally set sail on her first passenger cruise, a seven-night voyage out of Port Canaveral.
This is the largest cruise ship that Carnival has ever built, coming in at nearly 182,000 gross tons and carrying 5,282 passengers at double occupancy. The vessel has six themed zones: Grand Central, French Quarter, La Piazza, Summer Landing, Lido, and The Ultimate Playground.
Highlights of Mardi Gras include the BOLT roller coaster, the two-story RedFrog Tiki Bar, adults-only Serenity Retreat sundeck, Chibang! Chinese & Mexican restaurant, Bonsai Sushi, and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse.