It has the world’s first roller-coaster at sea, a micro-brewery, restaurants from celebrity chefs and sports figures, and, in a sign of the times, a massive medical facility.
The Mardi Gras — Carnival’s newest and most extravagant ship — also features a water park, a suspended rope course and an atrium built into the side of the ship with moveable panels that open to ocean views, according to BBC.
There are also two theaters and a vintage Fiat car strategically positioned in a “Piazza” for selfies.
The cruise liner is expected to start week-long cruises from Florida to the Caribbean and the Bahamas in late April. Of course, that assumes things go as planned.
The launch of the Mardi Gras is a billion dollar bet that the cruise ship industry will rebound after its most bruising year ever. With ships languishing in port and their customers unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, cruise companies have been bleeding cash.
So will new gimmicks be enough to woo a public still nervous about the risk of catching COVID while they’re on holiday? Carnival, for one, is optimistic that many of the nearly 30 million cruise-lovers who boarded a ship in 2019 will be willing to sail again this year.
“Our internal data suggests, on average, a repeat cruise guest returns every two-plus years, so we have a backlog of past guests ready and waiting to cruise again as we look to begin a phased-in resumption of service in 2021,” Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen told the BBC.
The success of new ships like the Mardi Gras will depend on the willingness of passengers to go on cruises again. Cruise lines will have to win over customers after a year when cruises drew attention for all the wrong reasons.
For example, the Diamond Princess, which docked in Japan with COVID-19 cases in February, was at one point the world’s biggest cluster outside China. And the Ruby Princess was linked to the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, after 2,650 passengers were allowed to disembark when the ship docked in Sydney in March.