For those of us living in southeastern states north of Florida, our “fantasy” of having a closer-to-home drive to port is about to come true. Carnival Cruise Lines will introduce the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston, S.C., with the deployment of the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy in May 2010. Carnival Fantasy will operate 5-, 6- and 7-day voyages to The Bahamas and Key West, Fla., from the Passenger Terminal in historic downtown Charleston beginning May 18, 2010.
Charleston’s centralized location within the southeastern U.S., as well as the city’s strong appeal as a tourist destination, were key factors in the decision to launch year-round service aboard the Carnival Fantasy. On Carnival Fantasy’s new Charleston-based cruises, Carnival is expected to carry more than 140,000 passengers annually from the port. Including Charleston, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate from 20 North American homeports in 2010, with 12 year-round departure points–the most in cruising.
The new year-round departures from Charleston dramatically expand upon Carnival’s decade-long relationship with the port. Previously, Carnival has operated seasonal voyages from Charleston, including two 5-day departures on the Carnival Triumph this year and two on the Carnival Glory next year.
New Year-Round Departures from Charleston: Five-day voyages will depart Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays call at Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas. Six-day voyages departing Saturdays will visit Freeport, Nassau and Key West, Fla. Seven-day voyages depart Saturdays and will feature Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau. Each of these tropical destinations has a character all its own and offers a wide range of snorkeling, fishing, and water sports opportunities, as well as beautiful beaches and a distinctive island ambiance.
Carnival Elation to Mobile: Carnival Fantasy, currently based in New Orleans, is scheduled to transfer to Mobile for a program of 4- and 5-day cruises that will operate from that port from Nov. 10, 2009 through May 10, 2010. Replacing the Carnival Fantasy in Mobile will be its sister ship, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation, which will reposition from San Diego to launch year-round service from that port May 15, 2010. In addition to 4- and 5-day cruises from Mobile, Carnival Elation will operate a series of 7-day Western Caribbean voyages in spring, summer, and fall 2010. Prior to the start-up of its new Mobile-based program, Carnival Elation will sail on a 15-day Panama Canal cruise departing from San Diego April 30. Guests will have the option of debarking the vessel in Tampa on May 14 or in Mobile on May 15. Featured ports will include Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco, Mexico; and Puntarenas, Costa Rica; followed by a Panama Canal transit; and visits to Cartagena, Colombia; and George Town, Grand Cayman.