Carnival's Newest Ship, MSC Cruise Line Set Sail Out of Florida in Latest Rebound of Cruise Industry

Carnival's Mardi Gras ship sailed out of Port Canaveral and the MSC Meraviglia sailed out of Miami.

Carnival Cruise Line debuted a new ship while MSC Cruises set sail from the state for the first time in over a year, marking the latest signs of recovery in an industry that was halted due to the pandemic.

Carnival's Mardi Gras ship set sail on its maiden voyage on Saturday, heading out for a weeklong cruise and stopping in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; and Nassau, Bahamas, according to the company. The cruise was the first Carnival cruise to leave Port Canaveral since the cruise line paused operations 16 months ago.

"Mardi Gras has been five years in the making so to finally welcome guests on board to experience this one-of-a-kind ship is something that we've been looking forward to for a very long time," Carnival's President Christine Duffy said in a statement. "Not only is Mardi Gras providing a truly unique vacation experience to our guests, it's so gratifying to be able to play a role helping the local community by providing much-needed jobs and a boost to the economy."

Carnival Cruise Mardi Gras
Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

The ship, which features the first-ever roller coaster at sea, is one of Carnival's vaccinated cruises in which guests must have received the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before embarkation. Any guests who are granted an exception must undergo testing and, for passengers 12 and older on cruises leaving out of Florida and Texas, obtain travel insurance.

On Monday night, the MSC Meraviglia set sail from Miami, the first MSC cruise to depart from the United States in nearly 18 months, the company shared with Travel + Leisure. The ship, which features a two-story Mediterranean-style promenade, will sail 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas with a stop at the cruise line's private island, Ocean Cay. In September, MSC will add 7-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises.

MSC Meraviglia at Port Miami
Courtesy of MSC Cruises

"As of today, we once again have the pleasure of showcasing our word-class experiences to U.S. guests, offering them the cruise experience they know and love… It has been a long road, and we are delighted to see demand continue to increase as cruisers grow eager to get back to sea," Rubén Rodríguez, the president of MSC Cruises USA, said in a statement provided to T+L. "We are confident that they will find the rich onboard experience that we're known for, while feeling reassured that their health and safety is our highest priority."

Passengers on MSC Cruises leaving from the U.S. are not required to be vaccinated, but unvaccinated guests must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of embarkation and, for those 12 and older, obtain travel insurance. All guests, regardless of vaccination status, must take a rapid antigen test at the pier before boarding.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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