A new ship will soon sail for cruise giant Carnival — the 25th in its fleet. But it’s a new ship with an asterisk.
Dubbed Carnival Venezia, the 4,090-passenger vessel, which departs late Monday on its first sailing for the brand, has sailed before for another cruise line.
The 14-deck-high, 1,061-foot-long ship originally was built for Italy-based Costa Cruises, a sister brand to Carnival.
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Originally called Costa Venezia, the vessel sailed its maiden voyage for Costa in 2019, making it three years old.
Carnival Venezia is just one of several Costa vessels that Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Costa and Carnival, has transferred from Costa to Carnival since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic and its aftermath hurt the Costa brand much more than the Carnival brand, in part because the Costa brand had big operations in China, where cruising shut down during the pandemic for far longer than it did in North America.
Carnival operates most of its ships out of U.S. ports and draws a lot of the customers for these ships from the states nearby these ports — a segment of “close-to-home cruising” that has been booming since cruising began resuming in 2021.
The result has been stronger demand for Carnival ships than Costa ships.
Carnival Venezia’s first sailing for Carnival will be a 15-night transatlantic cruise departing Monday from Barcelona to New York. The ship then will be based in New York through December 2024, when it will reposition to Port Canaveral, Florida.
Carnival cruising with an Italian Twist
Carnival Venezia will be something of an outlier in the Carnival fleet, as the three-year-old vessel was transferred to Carnival without across-the-board alterations to its Costa-aligned, Italian-themed design.
Many of the interior venues on the ship remain relatively unchanged from when the vessel sailed for Costa. The ship also retains its original, distinctive gold-and-blue funnel that is a trademark of Costa vessels.
That said, Carnival Venezia won’t be devoid of Carnival’s signature shipboard venues. In recent months, the ship has undergone a significant overhaul in a dry dock in Spain that included the re-theming of some interior eateries and bars as well as decktop attractions to make them more consistent with the Carnival brand.
The ship will have a Carnival Waterworks waterplay area, for instance, and a steakhouse called Fahrenheit 555 — a signature Carnival venue.
Other venues now on the ship that will be familiar to Carnival fans include a Guy Fieri-inspired Guy’s Burger Joint, Bonsai Sushi eatery, Chef’s Table, Lido Marketplace, Seafood Shack, Pizzeria del Capitano pizza outlet, Piano Bar 88 and Heroes Tribute Lounge.
The ship also will have a new crew made up of Carnival staffers.
In short, Carnival Venezia will combine elements of both Costa and Carnival ships.
Carnival originally planned to call the ship a “Costa by Carnival” product, to differentiate it from the rest of the Carnival fleet. But it eventually switched to marketing Carnival Venezia as a vessel that offers “Carnival Fun Italian Style.”
Carnival Venezia, notably, was originally purpose-built to sail out of China with Chinese travelers, but with Italian theming that played up Costa’s Italian roots. Its theming is specifically tied to Venice, Italy — Venezia is what Italians call Venice.
The Carnival and Costa brands have long had similarities that make a transfer of ships between the two lines less complex than one might think. Ships for both Costa and Carnival often are built on the same platforms — that is, they share the same basic structural design and rough interior spaces. In such cases, the main differences being between ships of the two brands is the theming of specific spaces.
New Carnival itineraries from New York
At 135,225 tons, Carnival Venezia will be a newer and larger ship that Carnival has recently based in New York. It also will offer an unusually wide array of itineraries for a Carnival ship, with 22 different routings from New York that range from four to 15 nights.
Destinations for the sailings from New York will include the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New England and Canada.
As of this week, fares start at $394 for a four-night Canada and New England sailing from New York.
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