Search This Blog

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Carnival Cruise Line's First Cruise Ship The Mardi Gras

The first cruise ship for Carnival Cruise Line was the Mardi Gras in 1971.

When introduced, Carnival was a infant of a
company, and did not have deep pockets. The Mardi Gras was renovated while she carried paying passengers. During her first year of operation, sections of the ship were actually closed off, while upgrades were made to the entire ship - a section at a time.

There were ever reports that during her first cruise, Carnival needed to empty the slot machines of cash to pay for fuel for the return trip. The fuel supplier was unwilling to provide Carnival with a line of credit and wanted a payment in cash.


During her maiden departure from Miami in March 1971, the Mardi Gras got stuck on the sandbar outside of the port of Miami. The incident drew media attention, with headlines reading "Mardi Gras on the Rocks".

The Mardi Gras quickly settled into the seven day market attracting the party crowd with the "Fun Ship" concept. Frequently sailing at capacity on her 7 days cruises, Carnival was well poised for expansion, adding a second ship, the Carnivale (ex Queen Anna Maria, Empress of Britain) in 1975.

The Mardi Gras was small by today's standards, weighing 27,284 tons with a length of 650 ft and a beam of 86.5 ft. Her capacity with every berth filled was 1,240 passengers but double capacity was about 800 passengers.

The Mardi Gras is dwarfed when compared to the larger ships of the Carnival fleet today which are about 4 times larger.

The modified picture to the right shows the Mardi Gras compared to the new Carnival Magic (weighing 130,000 ton, carrying 3,690 passengers and 1,386 crew.)


The Mardi Gras started her career as the Empress of Canada for Canadian Pacific Lines on April 24, 1961. As the Empress of Canada she was placed on the transatlantic route between Canada and the United Kingdom during the summer and cruising from New York City to the Caribbean in the winter. In total, the Empress of Canada made 121 Atlantic crossings before being sold to Carnival Cruise Lines in 1971.

The Mardi Gras was sold in 1993 and later sailed as the Olympic for Epirotiki Lines , Star of Texas and Lucky Star for gambling cruises; and finally Apollon for Epirotiki, Royal Olympic and Direct Cruises(charter). When Royal Olympic ran into financial issues, they quickly sold the Apollon, Stella Oceanus and Stella Solaris to Alang scrappers for $5.1 Million dollars in 2003 to raise cash.

The Empress of Canad
a had a long career lasting some 42 years and proved to be the cornerstone of Carnival Cruise Line success.

21 comments:

  1. My mom and dad were on the Mardi Gras. It was the first cruise they ever took. My dad passed away in March of this year and my daughter and I are taking my mom on the Miracle for her 90th birthday. I want to make it a very special trip for her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Mardi Gras is on Everybody Loves Raymond TV show listed as the Star Princess

    ReplyDelete
  3. My husband and I sailed on the Mardi Gras back in 1985. It was a beautiful ship with real wood walls and beautiful staircases. We really enjoyed the cruise and the ship. Still a great memory so many years later.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my pageStar Clippers Cruise Ships Three magnificent fully rigged sailing ships are waiting to take you on a journey to discover so many intriguing places around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi webmaster, are you based in South Florida? I'm a reporter looking to talk to you about your website.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mardi Gras will always be a leader in terms of setting standards of cruise ships. I hope that it will be taken care off even though there are bigger ships available. Thanks for sharing! By the way, for cruise ship jobs, visit: www.nsms.ph.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My husband and I sailed on the Mardi Gras on it's final sailing as a Carnival Ship. It was our first cruise.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I cruised on the ship when she was the Empress of Canada, both at the age of 8 and again at 10. The ship seemed mammoth then! I still have a few pictures from my Kodak Instamatic! I was sad when the Empress sold to Carnival at first, but having cruised Carnival multiple times now, I'm glad she served them well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I cruised on the ship when she was the Empress of Canada, both at the age of 8 and again at 10. The ship seemed mammoth then! I still have a few pictures from my Kodak Instamatic! I was sad when the Empress sold to Carnival at first, but having cruised Carnival multiple times now, I'm glad she served them well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mother came over from Ireland on this ship in 1961. We went on a family cruise in 1981 on the mardi gras only to find out that she was back on the same ship 20 years later. Pretty rocky seas trying to get in to San Juan Puerto Rico so we had to dock at night time. A couple of days of getting bounced around in the ship. We went to Nassau Bahamas, San Juan Puerto Rico and St. Croix Virgin Islands. I want to go on another one with my parent as they are now 70 and 76.

      Delete
  10. My Dad was manager of Carnival Casino's and Mardi Grass Ship!! That was a awesome Ship!!! Have a lot of memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked in the Mardi Gras Casino beginning 1978 until the mid 80's. I worked a total of 7 years in CCL casinos. 5 of those 7 were on the MG. I more than likely worked for/with your father.

      Delete
  11. Even the most casual observer can see that cruise ships are very well staffed with highly trained and experienced kitchen and dining room supervisors and food servers, Cruise Ship Secrets Exposed

    ReplyDelete
  12. In 1974, a group of us ... about 40 college students, mostly seniors, sailed on the Mardi Gras. I proposed to my wife on that cruise. There were (mostly) 4 of us to each room. In the middle of one night, the (drunk) assistant cruise director stood outside my future wife's cabin singing "You are the Sunshine of my Life" to one of her cabin mates. Good Times.

    ReplyDelete
  13. In 1974, a group of us ... about 40 college students, mostly seniors, sailed on the Mardi Gras. I proposed to my wife on that cruise. There were (mostly) 4 of us to each room. In the middle of one night, the (drunk) assistant cruise director stood outside my future wife's cabin singing "You are the Sunshine of my Life" to one of her cabin mates. Good Times.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have put together a page dedicated to this ship. Please check it out at http://www.cp-ships.com/PAGES/MAIN/CANADA3/index.html .
    I am also looking for any unique images of the ship that can be posted.
    Thanks, and please remember to sign the guest book.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had sailed on her in 1976, it was our first cruise,we were on the main deck just down from the flamingo dining room, the second night out it was stormy and the ship rocked like a cork in a hot tub, and to take our mind of the weather we all went to the movie theater, and we're shocked to find that the feature being shown was"the posideion adventure" my mother was not amused. Every night I soved having a new appetizer that they were serving, it was served cold,or at least it was cold when the waiter dished it out, it was pasta carbonara , now it is still being served in the Italian restaurant on all of the carnival ships.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Holy cow! I sailed on the Mardi Gras as a recent college graduate; it was my first cruise and, back then, those three days seemed like the longest month of my life. Not the ship's nor the cruise line's fault, I just wasn't ready for the "cruise life". I've got pictures of the bathroom just so that I could prove to people that you had to stand over the toilet to take a shower! My former college roommate took the cruise to Nassau. We met great people on the cruise, the staff was top notch... what memories! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We cruised on the Mardi Gras for our honeymoon in 1986. We had a wonderful time. I remember the beautiful wood throughout the ship. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My wife and I sailed on the Mardi Gras the 1st week of June, 1976. It was our 1st cruise. Nassau, San Juan, and St Thomas. I remember the week because I'm a big Boston Celtics fan and I could pick up the game on WBZ Boston on the deck of the ship. I was able to hear the triple overtime game against the Phoenix Suns on June 4. Our visit to St Thomas included a catamaran to Honeymoon beach on St John. We have been going back to St John ever since (about 20 times) with so many memories. We did not take another cruise until 2013, but have now become regular cruisers on Princess and are only a few cruises away from Elite status (free laundry and dry cleaning...hip, hip, hooray).

    ReplyDelete
  19. nice blog, If you are searching best Travel Tips Packing Belize. i suggest you visit us and get best deals.

    ReplyDelete