24-day cruise to be longest in Carnival history

Image result for carnival splendor
Carnival Splendor.

Carnival Cruise Line said it plans to offer a 2019 cruise of 24 days, the longest in its 46-year history.

The transpacific cruise is scheduled to depart Long Beach on Oct. 5 and arrive in Singapore on Oct. 30.

The voyage aboard the Carnival Splendor will feature extended port calls in Maui and Honolulu. It will then visit Guam; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — the first time the line has visited these destinations on a ship departing from North America.

Carnival also announced two other longer cruises for 2019 aboard the Carnival Miracle — a 13-day Panama Canal transit from Tampa to Long Beach and a 14-day Hawaii cruise roundtrip from Long Beach.

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Why Carnival Panorama’s New Homeport Matters

Carnival Cruise Line commemorates the expansion of the Long Beach terminalPHOTO: Carnival Cruise Line commemorates the expansion of the Long Beach terminal. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
In a surprise move, Carnival Cruise Line just unveiled that it would be homeporting its upcoming new vessel—the 2019 Carnival Panorama—on the U.S. west coast year-round from Long Beach, California.

This is major news because such a deployment hardly ever happens, though it certainly should.

To give a clear sense of how infrequently Southern California is the base for a brand new cruise ship, it’s the first time Carnival has opted for it in two decades. I was on site at the newly expanded Long Beach terminal over the weekend to hear the news from Carnival President Christine Duffy firsthand, and I was both astonished and delighted.

Norwegian Cruise Line got the ball rolling in part when it announced it would be introducing its upcoming Norwegian Bliss in Alaska. However, it is only going to be there for a few months per year, alternating to the Caribbean in the off-season. In between, it too will be making several stops in Los Angeles for Mexican Riviera roundtrips from the port of San Pedro.

Helping, of course, is a resurgence of interest in Mexico itself. Carnival has always remained committed to the region: Even during the downturn, the brand was sending its Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration on short getaway cruises to Ensenada and its Carnival Miracle farther south on weeklong voyages.

Now that the company has expanded its Long Beach terminal, it has replaced the Miracle with the larger Carnival Splendor for 2018 and will again swap out for the even bigger Carnival Panorama in 2019.

Previously, the east coast was predominantly earmarked for new vessels with hand-me-downs eventually making their way west. The recent Carnival Vista will move to Galveston as this year’s new Carnival Horizon comes to Miami. So if anything, it was expected that California might be next to get the Vista the year after with the Horizon shifting to Texas if the Panorama had gone to Florida.

Instead, the Panorama is going to Los Angeles. I’ve always believed that passengers interested in the latest ships would follow wherever they go—not just to the world’s cruise capital of Miami—and it would seem Carnival agrees.

Best of all, it might only be the start of a trend.

Carnival is also working on an Ensenada development project set for completion in 2020. Very few details have been revealed thus far, but it is said to be a unique dining, retail and attraction complex too, “make Ensenada one of the West Coast’s premier destinations,” according to Carlos Torres de Navarra, Carnival’s vice president, strategic and commercial port development.

Knowing how much vacant space exists pier-side in the Mexican port, that could potentially foreshadow a Grand Turk- or Amber Cove-type environment complete with the likes of a Margaritaville, swimming pool and waterslides immediately off the ship. (If nothing else, one can at least dream.)

It’s also not just Carnival that could follow suit. Plus, only Long Beach and San Pedro as homeports and Mexico and Alaska as destinations have thus been discussed off the west coast. Within the broader Carnival Corporation, Holland America Line is dedicated to departures from my hometown San Diego, with the brand leaving for Hawaii as well. Additional corporate cousin Princess Cruises also features the Cali coast from San Pedro.

These and other companies that call on California (like the Disney Cruise Line) could surely expand west with ever new ships as their fleets continue to grow. Already looking good for the future, cabin categories are selling out on Norwegian Bliss’ L.A. departures.

Should such demand sustain, I predict more fresh ships will follow and start a trend accordingly.

Carnival LIVE Concert Series Welcomes Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae JepsenPHOTO: Carly Rae Jepsen takes her music aboard a Carnival cruise ship this February. (photo via Flickr/Julio Enriquez)Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum, singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen—who has sold more than 20 million singles worldwide—will perform a free concert aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2018 as part of the Carnival LIVE Concert Series.The concert marks the first time the cruise line is collaborating with Universal Music Group and Brands (UMGB), the brand strategy and partnership division of Universal Music Group.

While the concert is a departure from previous Carnival LIVE performances—in that it is free and open to all guests sailing on Carnival Splendor’s February 17, 2018, seven-day voyage—it continues the line’s mission of bringing the best in live entertainment to the seas and providing guests an opportunity to enjoy captivating performances by top artists in a memorable setting.

The concert will take place on Carnival Splendor’s Lido Deck February 18 while the ship is at sea during a week-long Mexican Riviera cruise that operates round-trip from Long Beach, California. The voyage features a day-long call at Puerto Vallarta and two days at Cabo San Lucas.

Jepsen broke onto the music scene in 2012 with her major label debut Kiss that included the smash hit “Call Me Maybe.” This song climbed to #1 on the iTunes Singles charts in more than 47 countries and earned her Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year.

After earning rave reviews starring in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, she released her next album, E·MO·TION, which received critical acclaim and featured the Billboard Top 40 hit “I Really Like You.”

Jepsen also starred as the iconic Pink Lady, “Frenchy,” in FOX’s four-time Emmy award-winning musical GREASE: LIVE. Most recently, she voiced the character of Odette in the animated movie “LEAP!” “LEAP!” featured Jepsen’s song “Cut To The Feeling,” which has been hailed by critics as a top song of 2017 and showing up on year-end lists for Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, Noisey and more.

Jepsen joins an impressive lineup of Carnival LIVE artists who run the gamut of musical genres, from rock, country, R&B and pop, as well as some of the biggest names in comedy. Previous Carnival LIVE artists include music superstars Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood and comedians Jim Gaffigan and Chris Tucker.

“While I’ve performed all over the world and on Broadway, I’ve never performed on a cruise ship before, and I’m really looking forward to a night with my fans in what promises to be a unique venue for an incredible night,” Jepsen said.

“We’re delighted to have Carly bring her signature brand of pop music to guests sailing aboard Carnival Splendor,” said Sarah Beth Reno, Carnival’s vice president of entertainment. “A free open-air concert on Lido Deck is an exciting new twist for Carnival LIVE, and we can’t wait for our guests to experience this one-of-a-kind entertainment concept in an entirely new setting,” she added.