Yet another major new cruise ship has taken up residence in New York City — this time, a Carnival Cruise Line vessel.
The 4,090-passenger Carnival Venezia, which joined the Carnival fleet in May, will kick off an 18-month series of sailings from the Big Apple late Thursday with a four-night voyage to Bermuda.
Carnival Venezia’s arrival in New York comes just two months after rival MSC Cruises began year-round sailings from the city for the first time; MSC is operating the sailings on one of its newest and biggest ships, the 4,448-passenger MSC Meraviglia.
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Cruise giants Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have also deployed some of their top ships to the market as the battle for cruisers in the New York area heats up. New York is one of the biggest U.S. cruise ports outside of Florida.
Carnival Venezia is a new ship for Carnival, but a new ship with an asterisk. The 14-deck-high, 1,061-foot-long vessel was originally built for Italy-based Costa Cruises, a sister brand to Carnival. Previously called Costa Venezia, it sailed its maiden voyage for Costa in 2019.
Carnival Venezia is just one of several vessels that Carnival Corporation has transferred from its Costa brand to its Carnival brand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The pandemic and its aftermath hurt the Costa brand much more than the Carnival brand. This was in part because the Costa brand had big operations in China, where cruising shut down during the pandemic for far longer than it did in North America.
Carnival cruising, Italian style
Because of its origins as a Costa vessel, Carnival Venezia is a bit of an outlier in the Carnival fleet, which now numbers 25 ships. As TPG saw during a sneak peek at the vessel in late May, it retains much of the Italian theme that was a hallmark of its time at Costa. The ship also still has its original, distinctive yellow-and-blue funnel that is a trademark of Costa vessels. (There’s no signature, red-white-and-blue Carnival “whale tail” funnel.)
That said, Carnival Venezia underwent a major overhaul at a Spanish dry dock earlier this year before joining the Carnival fleet that brought it many of Carnival’s signature shipboard venues, including a Carnival Waterworks waterplay area and a Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse.
Other venues now on the ship that will be familiar to Carnival fans include a Guy Fieri-inspired Guy’s Burger Joint, Pizzeria del Capitano pizza outlet, Bonsai Sushi eatery, Chef’s Table, Lido Marketplace, Seafood Shack, Piano Bar 88 and Heroes Tribute Lounge.
The ship also has a new crew made up of Carnival staffers.
In short, Carnival Venezia combines both Costa and Carnival design elements.
Because of that, Carnival originally planned to call the ship a “Costa by Carnival” product to differentiate it from the rest of the Carnival fleet. However, Carnival eventually switched to marketing Carnival Venezia as a vessel that offers “Carnival Fun Italian Style.”
Carnival Venezia was originally purpose-built to sail out of China with Chinese travelers, but with Italian theming that played up Costa’s Italian roots. Its theming is specifically tied to Venice, Italy (Venezia is what Italians call Venice).
Carnival’s new cruises from New York
Carnival Venezia was welcomed to New York on Wednesday at a celebratory event presided over by Jay Leno. Carnival has named the late night talk show host and comedian the “godfather” of the ship — the first time the brand has named a godfather for a vessel. The line noted that Carnival Venezia already had a godmother dating to its debut as a Costa vessel. It’s a longtime tradition that all cruise ships have godmothers.
Carnival Venezia will be based in New York through December 2024. It will then reposition to Port Canaveral, Florida, for sailings to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
At 135,225 tons, Carnival Venezia is the third-largest ship in the Carnival fleet (only the recently unveiled Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras are bigger). It’s a newer and larger ship than Carnival has based in New York in the past. Notably, it offers an unusually wide array of itineraries from New York City for a single ship, with 22 different routings that range from four to 15 nights.
In addition to Bermuda, destinations for the sailings from New York include the Bahamas, the Caribbean, New England and Canada. The ship sails from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on the Hudson River in the Midtown area.
As of this week, fares for Carnival Venezia cruises start at $429 for a four-night Canada and New England sailing from New York. The ship’s future sailings from Port Canaveral start at $309 for a four-night voyage to the Bahamas.
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