Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its deployment to Galveston to four ships. Starting in 2021, Carnival Radiance, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Vista will all homeport in Galveston year-round. The Carnival Freedom will be redeployed to another homeport, which will be announced shortly, Carnival said.
“One of the most interesting pieces [of the new deployment] was the ability to start offering a new itinerary that allows us to include new destinations that we haven’t been able to regularly call upon from Galveston,” Fred Stein, Carnival's vice president of revenue planning and deployment, tells Travel Agent. “Radiance will sail a five- and nine-day pattern, and that lets you get into some interesting destinations that you can’t regularly do with only a week off from work.”
The Carnival Radiance, which will undergo a $200 million renovation before homeporting in Galveston, will sail five-day cruises departing Sundays and calling at Cozumel and Progeso or Costa Maya, Mexico, and it will also offer three different nine-day options departing Fridays. One will call at Cozumel, as well as Limon, Costa Rica, before making a partial Panama Canal transit or a visit to Colon, Panama, while another will call at Key West, Grand Turk, the private island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau. A third will itinerary will call at Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay on Isla Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel. The ship will also offer two eight-port, 14-day Carnival Journeys itineraries.
The Carnival Breeze, meanwhile, will operate short four- and five-day sailings to Mexico starting May 5, 2021, while the Carnival Dream will sail six- and eight-day cruises starting May 8, 2021. The Carnival Vista, which began sailing from Galveston last year, will continue to operate its week-long cruise program with two different three-port, seven-day Caribbean options.
Carnival has been in Galveston for nearly 20 years, and while it still draws a majority of a drive market crowd, a portion of travelers do fly in, says Stein. “If you are from the Midwest or West Coast, it’s a much shorter flight than going to Florida for a Caribbean cruise,” he explains.
When asked, Stein also said that, as with most of the line’s current itineraries departing from and returning to a U.S. home port, the Galveston sailings will not require guests to have a U.S. passport. Martinique, which is not featured on these itineraries, recently began requiring passports from cruisers as part of a change in French regulations.
Looking ahead, 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of Carnival homeporting in Galveston, and Stein said that the cruise line is looking to embark its 8 millionth guest from the port that year. With this latest expansion, the line will offer a total of 18 unique itineraries with 25 ports of call from the Texas homeport.