Carnival Cruise Lines History

Want to learn about Carnival Cruise Lines history? If so, you’re in luck. We have some of the top highlights and lowlights of this famous cruise lines career and a few facts that may surprise you! Continue reading to find out all about Carnival Cruise Lines history.

Carnival Cruise Lines has been in service for nearly four decades. Carnival Cruise Lines first ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, set out on its maiden voyage in 1972. While the ship ran aground outside the Port of Miami, that didn’t stop the resilient cruise line from moving ahead. Since then, Carnival has grown into largest and most successful cruise line in the world and it carries more passengers than just about any other cruise line. Today, Carnival Cruise Lines is also proud member of the exclusive World’s Leading Cruise Lines. The exclusive alliance also includes other top cruise lines such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises, and The Yachts of Seabourn.

After the 1972 TSS Mardi Gras incident, Carnival Cruise Lines went on to purchase the Empress of Britain in 1975, which entered service as TSS Carnivale. The rest is history.

Carnival Cruise Lines Past, Present and Future

*1978 – The Festivale, formerly the S.A. Vaal, undergoes $30 million refurbishment, begins service for Carnival as the largest and fastest vessel sailing from Miami to the Caribbean (the ship has since been retired from the fleet)

1982 – Debut of the Tropicale, the first new cruise ship the cruise industry has seen in many years; ship marks the beginning of an industry-wide multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding boom (the ship has since been retired from the fleet)

1984 – Carnival becomes first cruise line to advertise on network television with the premiere of new advertising campaign starring company spokesperson Kathie Lee Gifford (then Johnson)

1985 – Debut of 46,052-ton Holiday

1986 – Launch of 47,262-ton Jubilee (the ship has since been retired from the fleet)

1987 – The 47,262-ton Celebration enters service (ship to leave fleet in April 2008)

Carnival earns distinction as “Most Popular Cruise Line in the World,� carrying more passengers than any other

Carnival Cruise Lines undertakes its initial public offering on Wall Street, raising approximately $400 million to fuel future expansion; entity later becomes Carnival Corporation & plc, a multi-line worldwide cruise conglomerate

1990 – The 70,367-ton Carnival Fantasy – the first and namesake vessel in the highly successful “Fantasy-classâ€? — enters service as first new ship ever placed on three- and four-day Bahamas cruise program from Miami. Eventually, Carnival would construct eight “Fantasy-classâ€? vessels, the most cruise ships in a single class.

1991 – Launch of 70,367-ton Carnival Ecstasy

1993 – Carnival introduces its third 70,367-ton SuperLiner, Carnival Sensation

1994 – Debut of 70,367-ton Carnival Fascination

Carnival’s parent company renamed Carnival Corporation to distinguish between it and its flagship brand, Carnival Cruise Lines. Company is later renamed Carnival Corporation & plc following the combination with P&O Princess Cruises, creating the world’s largest cruise vacation group by far.

1995 – 70,367-ton Carnival Imagination enters service

1996 – Carnival’s launches sixth “Fantasy-class� vessel, the SuperLiner Carnival Inspiration

Carnival debuts the first passenger vessel to exceed 100,000 tons, the 101,353-ton Carnival Destiny, at the time the world’s largest cruise ship

1998 – Carnival Cruise Lines introduces seventh “Fantasy-class� vessel, the Carnival Elation, the first new cruise ship deployed on the West Coast

The eighth and last in the “Fantasy-class� series, the Carnival Paradise, enters service

1999 – Debut of the 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph, Carnival’s second “Destiny-class� vessel

2000 – A third “Destiny-class� vessel, the 102,000-ton Carnival Victory, is launched.

2001 – Carnival introduces a new class of vessel with the launch of the 88,500-ton Carnival Spirit, the first new “Fun Ship� ever positioned in the Alaska and Hawaii markets

2002 – A second “Spirit-class� vessel, the Carnival Pride, is launched

Carnival’s third “Spirit-class� ship, Carnival Legend, enters service

Debut of the 110,000-ton Carnival Conquest, at the time the largest “Fun Ship� ever constructed.

2003- Second 110,000-ton “Conquest-class� ship, the Carnival Glory, begins year-round seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., July 19.

2004 – Carnival Miracle, the fourth in Carnival’s “Spirit-class,� begins a series of 12 voyages from Jacksonville, Fla. – the first “Fun Ship� sailings from that port – Feb. 27, 2004.

A third 110,000-ton “Conquest-classâ€? ship, the Carnival Valor, begins year-round seven-day service from Miami Dec. 19, 2004, becoming the largest “Fun Ship” ever based at that port.

2005 – A fourth 110,000-ton “Conquest-classâ€? vessel, Carnival Liberty, debuts July 20, 2005, operating Carnival’s first-ever Mediterranean cruises.

2007 – Carnival Freedom, the line’s fifth 110,000-ton vessel, debuts in Europe, operating by 12-day voyages to the Mediterranean, Greek Isles, and Turkey.

2008 – The 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor is slated to debut in July 13, 2008, operating Carnival’s first Northern Europe cruise program.

2009 – Carnival Dream, a 130,000-ton vessel to be the largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – is scheduled to enter service in October 2009, beginning a new class of vessel for the line.

2011 – A second 130,000-ton SuperLiner, Carnival Magic, is slated to debut in June 2011.


*Carnival Cruise Lines Virtual Press Kit (2008). Retrieved April 16, 2008, from

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