Carnival ‘Fun Ships’ return to New Orleans
Ship Review written by Michael Coleman, November 2006.
The Big Easy received a big boost this month when the world’s most popular cruise line returned to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
Carnival has begun a series of four-and five-day Mexican itineraries aboard the 2,056-passenger Fantasy. Look for four-day cruises departing Thursdays with a call at Cozumel while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays to Cozumel and Costa Maya.
The line’s return, however, is more than just a symbolic gesture. Seven-day Caribbean cruises from New Orleans aboard the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph will begin in September of 2007, making Carnival the only major cruise line to operate two ships from the city year-round.
“Carnival is delighted to resume ‘Fun Ship’ cruising from New Orleans, which, in addition to being one of America’s great cities, has historically been one of our most popular and fastest growing homeports,” said Carnival president and CEO Bob Dickinson. “Not only does basing these ships in New Orleans offer consumers two exciting vacation choices, it is also indicative of the continued economic recovery of this vitally important cruising region.”
Fantasy and Triumph are expected to carry some 320,000 guests annually and that’s good news for a city that is recovering from last year’s devastation.
Look for a variety of pre-and post-cruise travel packages to complement the Carnival experience featuring a host of refurbished hotels and opportunities to enjoy the city’s legendary cuisine, entertainment and nightlife. Its famed French Quarter, spared the brunt of Katrina’s wrath, is open for business.
“The great news of recovery in New Orleans continues and it’s an exciting time to be here,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Soul of New Orleans is thriving… led by the resilience and determination of the city’s residents.”
At 70,000 tons, Fantasy features a six-story atrium (Grand Spectrum), two-level show lounge, 10 passenger decks and a variety of on-board amenities and facilities, including 12 bars and lounges, three swimming pools, waterslide, 12,000-square-foot health and fitness center, golf program, jogging track, cell phone service, Camp Carnival and Club O2 for children and teens.
Via Marina, Fantasy’s ship-long promenade of themed bars and lounges attracts passengers morning, noon and night to its boutique, bistro, Internet cafe, disco and casino.
The ship also features 1,028 staterooms with the new Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system, including plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality pillows and linens.
Onboard dining options include two formal restaurants (Jubilee and Celebration), a 700-seat Windows on the Sea bar/grill featuring carving stations, deli, 24-hour pizza and self-serve ice cream, and poolside grill. Dining venues feature the new, fleet-wide signature menu selections – including wine – created by world-renowned master chef Georges Blanc. Look for lobster to be served on each sailing.
When the 13-passenger deck, 102,000-ton Triumph debuts in New Orleans next fall, passengers will enjoy much of the same, including a variety of spacious accommodations including penthouse suites and a wide selection of cabins with private balconies.
As both ships bring passengers to Mexico, look for Carnival to offer a variety of shore excursion opportunities from scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and snorkeling to golf, kayaking and Mayan ruins tours.
Carnival first began courting New Orleans as a year-round homeport in 1994. The city was one of its fastest growing departure points, especially pleasing to those who sought to combine both a land and cruise vacation experience. Carnival enjoyed a 10-fold increase in passenger counts in just over a decade until Katrina reared its ugly head, slamming into the city on Aug. 29, 2005.
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