By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
November 8, 2011
Carnival Cruise Lines began sailing a third ship out of Port Canaveral with the arrival of the Carnival Ecstasy, offering new four- and five-day itineraries to the Orlando-area market.
The Ecstasy, which had been sailing out of Galveston, joins the Carnival Dream and Carnival Sensation at Port Canaveral, which also is the home port for two Disney and two Royal Caribbean ships. The Norwegian Sun had been sailing out of the port as recently as April.
"The growth of Port Canaveral as a cruise departure point is truly extraordinary and millions of consumers have discovered the benefits of sailing from this convenient and centrally located homeport," said Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill.
The Ecstasy will offer 78 four- and five-day sailings a year with stops among Nassau, Freeport, Carnival's private island Half Moon Cay and Key West.
Nonrefundable "Early Saver" rates start at $329 per person for four-day voyages and $349 per person for five-day departures based on double occupancy.
The 855-foot-long Ecstasy was refurbished in 2009, adding features such as the WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide, a tropical-themed resort-style main pool area, and a Serenity adults-only retreat. The 2,675-passenger ship was built in 1991 (and christened by Kathie Lee Gifford).
Carnival began sailing out of Port Canaveral in 1990 with one ship ferrying around 100,000 passengers annually. With three ships now offering 3, 4, 5 and 7-day sailing options to a variety of Caribbean destinations, the line expects in the coming year to surpass 600,000 passengers out of the port.
Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne said "The Carnival Ecstasy's arrival comes only a few days after we shattered our record for cruise passengers at Port Canaveral. Our success in providing customers, guests and our cruise partners with world-class service and facilities has resulted in momentum that will be richly enhanced by the Carnival Ecstasy."