From USA Today
A major milestone in the history of cruising occurred yesterday as industry giant Carnival Corp. took delivery of its 100th ship at sea.
The parent company of more than half a dozen lines including Carnival, Princess, Holland America and Cunard welcomed the 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic into the Carnival fleet in ceremonies at the Fincantieri shipyard near Trieste, Italy, where the ship was built.
Founded in 1972 in Miami by Ted Arison, Carnival Corp. began with just a single ship, the 27,250-ton Mardi Gras, but grew rapidly in what is considered one of the great success stories of the past half century (and the genesis of one of the world’s great fortunes).
Over the years, in addition to expanding its namesake Carnival brand, the company plowed its seemingly ever-growing profits into snapping up competitors, and its portfolio now includes Europe’s largest line (Costa Cruises), Australia’s largest line (P&O Cruises Australia) and one of the world’s highest rated luxury lines (Seabourn). Still, Carnival (the brand) remains Carnival Corp.’s largest division with 23 vessels.
Carnival Corp. now is run by Ted Arison’s son, Micky Arison, who noted today in a statement that it is fitting the company’s 100th vessel would be a Carnival branded ship.
“It is particularly meaningful that delivery of (Carnival Corp.’s) 100th ship is for the Carnival Cruise Lines brand, which provided the foundation upon which (the company) was established and, ultimately, grew into the largest cruise operator in the world,” Arison said.
Carnival is celebrating the arrival of its 100th ship on Friday with a champagne toast at dinner on every one of its vessels. The company says it estimates more than 227,000 customers will take part in the celebration in what it believes will be the largest event of its kind ever at sea.
At 130,000 tons, the new Carnival Magic is five times larger than the original Mardi Gras and will carry four times as many passengers.
Scheduled to be christened in Venice on Sunday, the Carnival Magic will sail a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises out of the city through Oct. 16 before heading across the Atlantic on a 16-day repositioning cruise to the USA. On Nov. 14, the vessel will begin year-round, seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, Texas.
The Carnival Magic will have a number of new-for-the-line features including a pub with a Caribbean theme (serving its own private label brew called ThirstyFrog Red) and an Italian family-style restaurant. The ship also will have an expansive deck-top sports complex called SportsSquare featuring the first-ever ropes course and outdoor fitness area at sea (plus the line’s first two-level miniature golf course, a lighted multi-purpose court for basketball, volleyball and soccer; and ping pong and foosball tables).
Carnival has one other ship on order, a sister to the Carnival Magic to be called the Carnival Breeze. It’s scheduled to debut in spring 2012