Today, Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest and most successful in the world. But today’s Carnival is a very different company than it’s humble beginnings. Launched in 1972 by a man with a big dream; To make what was until then an enjoyment for the very rich, available to the common man. On the inaugural cruise of the TSS Mardi Gras, a converted ocean liner, the ship ran aground on a sandbar near the Port of Miami. But less than three years later, the second ship entered service as the TSS Carnivale, previously the Empress of Britain.
In 1984 it became the first cruise line to advertise on national television, with Kathie Lee Gifford. In 1987 the company undertook it’s IPO on Wall Street, raising about $400 Million. In 1994 it changed it’s name to Carnival Corporation and combined with P&O Princess Cruises, and becomes the world’s largest cruise line by far. In 1996 the first vessel over 100 thousand tons arrives, the Carnival Destiny. In 2002, it’s the 110,000 ton Carnival Conquest. In 2003 it starts cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida. In 2004 it’s Carnival in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2005 Carnival arrives in the Mediterranean. In 2008 the first Northern Europe cruise sets sail.
In early 2008, following a spike in oil prices, the company began charging a $9 fuel surcharge. In December, after a sharp drop in oil prices, Carnival announced that the surcharge would disappear on cruises after December 17. Passengers having already paid would receive an onboard credit. The company’s director of marketing warned that the fuel surcharge might return if fuel prices increase.
Two ships sail from the port of Tampa. The M/S Carnival Inspiration, and the M/S Carnival Legend. Both on cruises to the western Caribbean.
Miami based Carnival has 88 ships with over 169,000 lower berths. Another seventeen ships are on order for delivery in the next three years, including the Carnival Dream which, at 130,000 tons, will wow the world once again.