|Carnival Cruise Lines' Cahill (left) with Wilkerson (middle) and Carnival Magic Captain Cutugno. // (c) Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines 2011|
At a May 1 onboard naming ceremony in Venice, Italy, and a press conference at sea the next day, Carnival Corporation introduced its 100th ship to the world—the Carnival Magic. And, after all of those celbratory events, it’s quite clear this ship comes with many fun new Carnival Cruise Lines features.
The launch celebration actually began on April 29 when all guests sailing globally onboard Carnival Corporation’s 100 ships enjoyed a complimentary champagne toast at dinner to commemorate the historic and unprecedented cruise industry milestone. More than 227,000 guests across the company’s 10 cruise brands participated in the toast — which was likely the largest celebration of its kind at sea.
Carnival Corporation’s Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said: “The delivery of a new cruise ship to one of our brands is always a proud and exciting moment. It is particularly meaningful that delivery of Carnival Corporation & plc’s 100th ship is for the Carnival Cruise Lines brand, which provided the foundation upon which Carnival Corporation & plc was established and, ultimately, grew into the largest cruise operator in the world.”
Prior to the ship’s nine-night inaugural voyage from Venice to Barcelona, the 130,000-ton vessel was named by godmother Lindsey Wilkerson. Wilkerson is a former patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis who now serves as an employee and ambassador for the organization. The choice of Wilkerson was a tribute to Carnival’s ongoing partnership with St. Jude, one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other catastrophic pediatric diseases.
|The ship was named in a ceremony held in Venice, Italy. // (c) Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines 2011|
At the naming ceremony and at a press conference held the following day, Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill emphasized the ship’s many new offerings and enhancements to last year’s sister ship, Carnival Dream.
“Our newest ship is what I believe will ultimately be our best ship,” said Cahill at the naming ceremony after he arrived on stage in a helicopter as part of a magic trick. “The Magic inaugural is perfect because Venice is the city of magic.”
Speaking to the crowd in the ship’s Showtime Theater, Cahill also outlined a host of innovations onboard the new 3,690-passenger ship. These include the RedFrog Pub, Cucina del Capitano and SportSquare, as well as enhancements to popular Carnival Dream spaces such as WaterWorks, The Lanai, Ocean Plaza and Cherry on Top (candies, flowers and more).
Adding a personal note, Cahill said, “I’ve always believed that our ships needed a pub.” Based on Sunday’s late-night crowd in the RedFrog, it appeared that Cahill knows the line’s guests and what they want.
“Carnival Magic epitomizes our company’s continued commitment to providing our guests with fun, memorable vacations at an incredible value,” Cahill told guests.
Following Cahill’s remarks, a clearly emotional Wilkerson said, “Thank you, Carnival for having hearts as big as your ships.” She then remotely — and magically — christened the ship alongside Captain Giovanni Cutugno.
|Wilkerson (left) accepted Carnival's $50,000 donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital during the naming ceremony. // (c) Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines 2011|
Wilkerson’s selection was also part of Carnival’s “Care to Play: Carnival For St. Jude Kids” program, which encompasses various fundraisers that provide guests with various interactive opportunities to raise funds and awareness. The company’s goal is to raise $3 million over a three-year period, including a $50,000 donation in Wilkerson’s honor during the naming ceremony.
Monday’s press conference gave Cahill and other Carnival Cruise Lines executives, including Lania Rittenhouse, vice president of product development, and Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations, an opportunity to expand upon the ship’s new offerings and innovations.
Deck five’s RedFrog Pub is inspired by the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Caribbean. That’s appropriate, given the fact that the Carnival Magic will sail to the Caribbean out of Galveston, Texas, after her inaugural Mediterranean season; Cahill said Texas remains a great market for Carnival. The 100-seat indoor/outdoor watering hole features a private label Thirsty Frog Red beer brewed especially for the ship’s passengers — which was especially popular Sunday night served in 100-ounce “tubes” for groups to enjoy. The pub’s décor and vibe are decidedly tropical, as is a menu of pub snacks for a small charge, including Bahamian conch salad, grouper fingers, and firecracker Jamaican wings.
|Cahill stepped onto the Magic's Showtime Theater stage for a press conference. // (c) Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines 2011|
Situated up on deck 11, above Lido Marketplace, is Cucino del Capitano (“The Captain’s Kitchen”), a new family-oriented offering that is a tribute to Carnival’s long Italian lineage. Many of the line’s captains and other senior staff are Italian. Many Carnival ships—including the Carnival Magic—were built in Italy at the Fincantieri shipyard. The restaurant features wood-beam ceilings and ornate ironwork reminiscent of an Italian home and kitchen, with archival photographs on the walls—including many from Carnival captains’ personal collections. At dinner, Cucina del Capitano features homemade pastas, risottos, and made-to-order Italian specialties, along with Italian wines and beers. At lunch, a festive made-to-order pasta bar is complimentary.
“It’s like you’re eating in the captain’s kitchen,” said Cahill at the press conference. A nominal fee is charged per person.
SportsSquare has taken Carnival’s bustling recreation areas to a new level. It boasts the industry’s first ropes course where your clients can traverse across nets suspended above deck 12. Guests can choose from a beginner and intermediate course traversing across rope bridges, swinging steps, and beams as they zig zag across elements named for notable bridges in Carnival homeports. There’s also an industry-first outdoor weightlifting area, Carnival’s first two-level miniature golf course, a Vita exercise course, a full-service bar, pingpong and foosball tables and a lighted multi-purpose court for basketball, volleyball, and soccer.
The top deck also includes an enhanced WaterWorks aqua park, including a “Twister” spiral water slide, a huge 500-gallon “dump bucket,” the new Aqua Play splash park and other wet-and-wild features.
|Carnival Magic will sail Mediterranean cruises roundtrip out of Barcelona through mid-October 2011. // (c) Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines 2011|
Emphasizing the “social” nature of most Carnival cruisers, Cahill mentioned the ship’s Fun Hub, which is available on any guest’s Internet-connected laptops or at dozens of locations around the ship. The ship itself offers bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and cell phone service. Expanding on Carnival’s hugely successful social media presence (at www.facebook.com/carnival and www.twitter.com/carnival and more), the Fun Hub is a social network and comprehensive shipboard intranet portal.
Carnival Magic also offers an array of accommodations options, including unique five-berth/two-bathroom cabins and many connecting staterooms targeted at families. There are also “cove” balconies situated closer to the water line and spa staterooms providing special Cloud 9 Spa access and benefits.
At the Monday press conference, Cahill also touched upon Carnival’s new Australia offering in 2012, to be operated by Carnival Spirit. Cahill also stressed his strong preference not to add fuel surcharges, and talked about the line’s return to Europe. He said that travel agents were finding that Carnival loyalists were especially interested in Carnival’s return to Europe with the new vessel.
The Carnival Magic will sail seven-, nine- and 12-day Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Barcelona now through mid-October.