It was a historic day of fun as Carnival Cruise Line welcomed visitors on Mardi Gras for the first time today, with local officials, travel advisors and media enjoying an afternoon on the line’s newest and most innovative ship.  Mardi Gras is scheduled to set sail on her maiden voyage on Saturday, July 31, which will also be the first cruise from Port Canaveral with guests since the industry-wide pause 16 months ago.

The “Sip & Sea” preview allowed guests to tour staterooms and entertainment venues, sample food and beverages and take the first rides on BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, which anchors Mardi Gras’ stunning top deck. The ship’s first guest cruise includes visits to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; and Nassau, The Bahamas.

Guests enjoyed samples from Mardi Gras’ vast array of restaurants and eateries, including first seagoing version of Big Chicken by Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal,  Emeril’s Bistro 1396, the first shipboard restaurant created famed New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse, and a new international street food venue called Street Eats, along with libations from the new Polynesian-inspired RedFrog Tiki Bar, New Orleans-themed Brass Magnolia and others.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for the new Rudi’s Seagrill developed by celebrated chef Rudi Sodamin, the Heroes Tribute Bar with representatives from the military families support organization Operation Homefront that Carnival partners with, and a colorful new floral statue inspired by a young artist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the cruise line’s longtime charitable cause.

“Today’s event was five years in the making and it was simply amazing watching everyone enjoy all that this game-changing ship has to offer – live and in-person!” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “Tomorrow is going to be even more exciting as it will be our honor to welcome our first guests on this highly anticipated ship.  Our crew is the best in the business, and they are more than ready to provide our guests with the vacation of a lifetime.”

For additional information on Carnival Cruise Line and to book a cruise vacation, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, visit, or contact your favorite travel advisor or online travel site.