Carnival Cruise Line has christened Mardi Gras in the first naming ceremony in the US since the cruise industry’s restart this summer.
The ship was officially welcomed to the fleet at Port Canaveral, Florida, in what the line describes as a “universe of fun celebration befitting of the world’s most fun cruise ship”.
Miss Universe, Dominican Republic, Kimberly Jimenez, who will serve as the ship’s godmother, attended the event alongside Carnival chief fun officer Shaquille O’Neal, who cut the ribbon of his first Big Chicken restaurant at sea.
The event featured a World of Nations flag procession to highlight the diversity of the 120 nationalities of Carnival crew members and a Mardi Gras parade with a second line band.
Mardi Gras – which is powered by liquefied natural gas – will sail on a weekly basis from Port Canaveral on alternating eastern and eastern Caribbean cruises.
Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said: “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.
“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.”
Mardi Gras features six themed zones, with a variety of food, beverage and entertainment options on board.
In recent Carnival news, the line revealed plans for more ships to return to service for January and February 2022, as it works towards the return of its full fleet sailing from US homeports in the spring of next year.
Carnival Sunshine will restart from Charleston on 13 January and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral on 11 February.