After recording its biggest booking week in the line’s 50-year history this spring, the last quarterly Carnival Corp. business update projected the Carnival brand’s ships to reach nearly 110% occupancy this summer. That expectation is being realized.

Up from 2m in May

Carnival saw its total passenger count hit 2m mark in May and that has now risen to 3m in fewer than 75 days — an average of 95,000 guests per week.

Carnival’s five busiest homeports, PortMiami, Port Canaveral, Galveston, Long Beach and New Orleans, were among the first to resume operations and account for 77% of all Carnival embarkations and passenger total of 2,324,823.

Port Canaveral is also home to Mardi Gras, the first cruise ship in the Americas powered by LNG. Mardi Gras is reaching a milestone of its own; it has carried 250,000 passengers since its inaugural cruise.

In terms of the number of sailings, PortMiami leads with more than 215 voyages to date.

Homeports in Tampa, Charleston, Baltimore, Mobile, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Seattle, San Francisco and New York — many of which resumed operations this year — have also helped Carnival reach the 3m total.

Setting the pace

‘Carnival set the pace for the industry as the first major cruise line to return to full guest operations in the US,’ President Christine Duffy said, adding that the economic benefit to homeports and destinations is ‘also significant and we are looking forward to restarting cruise operations in Australia this October.’

In addition to sailing from all 14 of its year-round and seasonal US homeports, Carnival’s three-ship deployment to the Pacific Northwest set in motion its largest Alaska season ever, with approximately 100,000 passengers expected to embark from Seattle and San Francisco. The Port of San Francisco is also Carnival’s newest seasonal homeport, strengthening its position as the line embarking more cruisers than any other operator from California.

Carnival Pride is spending the summer in Europe, offering itineraries calling at 40 ports across 17 countries, and embarkations from Barcelona and Dover. The head to Tampa and resume operations there on Nov. 12.

Mexico the leading destination

In all, Carnival ships have made more than 3,000 transit calls at 92 ports in 36 countries. Carnival ships have called on Mexico the most with about 800 visits, half to Cozumel, making it the cruise line’s most popular port.

After Cozumel (385 calls), the other destinations included in the top five are Nassau (320 calls) and Half Moon Cay (155 calls) in the Bahamas, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic (159 calls), and Mahogany Bay, Roatán (123 calls). Several of the top spots are destinations developed specifically for cruisers, and Carnival recently broke ground on a new $200m port in Freeport, Grand Bahama, which officials anticipate will breathe new tourism life into the economy of the Bahamas’ second largest city.

Cozumel catamaran tour is tops

Passengers are taking shore excursions in all these destinations and have gone on 2m since the restart. In Cozumel, the most popular excursion includes catamaran sailing and snorkeling at Paradise Reef, chosen by 30,000 cruisers. An excursion featuring a day at Blue Lagoon Island is the most popular in Nassau, frequented by more than 25,000 passengers. In Mahogany Bay, 13,000 have chosen to ‘Discover Roatán’ by observing the island’s wildlife and natural beauty on a guided tour.

Five ships to join in next two years

The rapid return of Carnival’s customer base helps fuel the growth that was previously announced, with five ships to join the fleet over the next two years. This November, Costa Luminosa will become Carnival Luminosa and begin sailing seasonally from Brisbane, Australia. Carnival Celebration, sister of Mardi Gras, is to begin service from PortMiami in November. A third Excel-class ship, Carnival Jubilee, is to debut next year from Galveston.

Carnival also plans to launch ‘Choose Fun with Carnival, Italian Style,’ which will bring two additional ships from Costa into the Carnival fleet in 2023 and 2024.