Carnival's Mardi Gras arrives at Port Canaveral ahead of Saturday departure

Carnival’s newest cruise ship, the Mardi Gras, docked at Port Canaveral early Friday and is set to become the first cruise ship to sail from the port with paying passengers since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The last cruise ship left Port Canaveral in March 2020. The Mardi Gras arrived at Port Canaveral at 4 a.m. Friday. On Saturday, it will begin year-round 7-day Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral. It is expected to depart at 6 p.m.

Its departure marks the restart of the cruise industry at the port, which saw its last ship set sail 16 months ago. Several cruise lines have run test cruises out of Port Canaveral, in anticipation of resuming sailing.

"Over the next two to three weeks, you're going to see a lot of activity of active sailings out of Port Canaveral. And that's what's got us excited right now," said Canaveral Port Authority CEO Captain John Murray. 

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The news comes as the state of Florida and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue a lawsuit over the CDC’s return-to-sail order.

Port Authority and Carnival will host ribbon-cutting ceremonies Friday for Cruise Terminal 3, which was built specifically for the Mardi Gras, and BOLT, the first roller-coaster at sea.

The vessel also features 19 decks and 20 dining options, including restaurants by Chef Emeril Lagasse and Shaquille O’Neal. The Mardi Gras can hold more than 5,000 passengers and is the first ship in North America to run on eco-friendly liquefied natural gas.

FOX 35 will live stream the Mardi Gras’ departure Saturday at 6 p.m. online at and in the FOX 35 News App.

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