Waving from the newest Fun Ship, Santa Claus swapped his sleigh for the day so he could help deliver Carnival Jubilee – the first brand new cruise ship to debut in Galveston, Tex. Carnival Cruise Line’s new flagship, which dons a Texas Star on its bow, was welcomed home with a grand water salute as she docked at Galveston Wharves’ Terminal 25 for the first time.

The official debut of the 26th Fun Ship in the Carnival fleet signals the start of a significant expansion strategy in Galveston, which has grown among Carnival’s top homeports since the company became the first cruise line to operate there year-round more than two decades ago. In addition to bringing Carnival’s most innovative and dynamic entertainment and dining offerings, the ship will now significantly expand capacity from the port. Carnival Jubilee joins Carnival Breeze and Carnival Dream at the port as part of a four-ship deployment plan that will be complete when Carnival Miracle repositions to Galveston next fall.

“The Texas star on her bow isn’t just decoration, it’s a symbol of our gratitude to our  guests sailing from Texas who’ve made us the number one cruise line in Galveston, and our commitment to the future of cruising from this great city and state,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “When we cut the ribbon to welcome our first guests on this ship this weekend, we’ll be celebrating the beginning of a new era of operations here.”

Along with bringing the first roller coaster on board a cruise ship to Texas, Carnival Jubilee will also usher in the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Galveston. Enhancements were made at the port to accommodate the use of LNG and additionally, Carnival’s decision to deploy the new ship at its Texas homeport generated a $53 million investment in terminal improvements. In a Dec. 20 column, The Galveston County Daily News described Carnival Jubilee as a significant addition to the port and said, “The fact Carnival is willing to base its newest, biggest asset in Galveston is testament to the port’s standing in the industry and further evidence that past investment in cruise facilities was, and more investment would be, prudent.”

“The terminal, which has been home to Carnival ships since 2000, has been renovated top to bottom, inside and out. From a new roof, expanded dock and exterior colors to new interior finishes and furniture, the terminal has a fresh, new look,” said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO. “We are happy the time has come for this historic event and honored to host this beautiful, state-of-the-art ship.”

Now, Carnival Jubilee’s 1,750 team members are preparing to welcome more than 6,000 guests aboard for a maiden departure on Saturday. The ship is set to sail on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise, visiting Mahogany Bay as well as Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. The ship will continue sailing week-long cruises year-round.

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