Carnival’s History

  • ted-arison

    Ted Arison founded Carnival Cruise Line in 1972 and revolutionized the cruise industry with a vision to make a vacation experience once reserved for the wealthy accessible to everyone.

    Maiden voyage of Carnival’s first ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, which runs aground on sandbar outside the Port of Miami

  • 1970s

    Festivale - Mardi Gras - Carnivale

    Carnival purchases Empress of Britain, enters service as the TSS Carnivale

  • 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

  • 1980s


    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

  • Kathie-Lee-Gifford

    Carnival becomes first cruise line to advertise on network T.V. 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

  • 1987

    The 47,262-ton Celebration enters service

    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.

  • 1990s


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

  • CL_EC_Balcony

    Launch of 70,367-ton Carnival Ecstasy

  • Carnival Elation Half Moon Cay 0087

    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 Corp. & plc following the combination with P&O Princess Cruises, creating the world’s largest cruise operator by far.

  • 1995

    70,367-ton Carnival Imagination enters service

  • 1996

    Carnival’s launches sixth “Fantasy-class” vessel, 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. The ship is later transformed with a $155 million makeover and renamed Carnival Sunshine, entering service in 2013.

  • 1998

    Introduction of seventh “Fantasy-class” vessel, Carnival Elation, the first new Carnival Cruise Line ship ever deployed on the West Coast.

  • Spirit-2014-012-Blue-Hull (1)

    Debut of the 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph, Carnival’s second “Destiny-class” vessel. The ship is scheduled to undergo a massive refurbishment next year and renamed Carnival Sunrise, the second in the line’s Sunshine-class.

  • 2000s


    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, beginning a new class of vessel for the line.

  • Carnival Splendor 2

    Second 110,000-ton “Conquest-class” ship, the Carnival Glory, enter service

  • 2004

    Carnival Miracle, the fourth in Carnival’s “Spirit-class,” debuts

    A third 110,000-ton “Conquest-class” ship, Carnival Valor, sets sail

  • 2005

    A fourth 110,000-ton “Conquest-class” vessel, Carnival Liberty, enters service operating Carnival’s first-ever Mediterranean cruise program.

  • 2007

    Debut of Carnival’s fifth “Conquest-class” vessel, Carnival Freedom

  • 2008

    The new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor enters service, representing a new class of ship for the line

  • 2009

    The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream – at the time, largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – is introduced in Europe.

  • 2010s


    A second 130,000-ton ship, Carnival Magic, enters service.

  • 2012

    A third 130,000-ton ship, Carnival Breeze, debuts.

  • 2013

    The totally renovated Carnival Sunshine (the former Carnival Destiny) debuts following a massive 75-day, $155 million makeover that is the largest refurbishment project in the company’s history.

  • CL_CarnivalAirshipShipsMiami07

    The largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – the 133,500-ton, 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista – is introduced offering a number of unique innovations including an onboard brewery, the SkyRide aerial attraction and the first IMAX Theatre ever offered at sea.

  • 2018

    A second Vista-class ship, Carnival Horizon, enters service.

  • 2019

    The totally renovated Carnival Sunrise (the former Carnival Triumph) debuted in May 2019 following a massive makeover. In December of 2019 Carnival Panorama, the third Vista-class ship, entered service from Long Beach, the first new Carnival Cruise Line ship on the West Coast in more than 20 years.

  • 2020s


    Mardi Gras, a new class of 180,000-ton ship and the first Carnival ship ever powered by Liquefied Natural Gas enters service from Port Canaveral.

  • 50th_Birthday_color

    Carnival Cruise Line celebrates its 50th birthday and a second 180,000-ton LNG ship, Carnival Celebration, is set to debut from PortMiami in 2022. Carnival also announced a ship from its sister brand, Costa Luminosa, will become Carnival Luminosa and begin sailing as part of the Carnival fleet in the fall. Plans to launch a new concept: “Choose Carnival, Italian Style,” were also announced with two additional ships from sister brand Costa Cruises joining the Carnival fleet, Carnival Venezia and Carnival Firenze.

  • Mardi Gras High Res 077-min

    Carnival Venezia joins the fleet and sets sail from New York. A third LNG-powered ship, Carnival Jubilee, enters service in Galveston, Tex.

  • Carnival+Firenze+arrives+in+Long+Beach

    Carnival Firenze joins the fleet and sails from Long Beach, Calif. 

  • Larger-than-life sandcastle at Celebration Key

    Construction is underway on Carnival's upcoming exclusive destination, Celebration Key, on Grand Bahama. The new destination is set to open in July 2025. 

Back to top