Carnival Cruise Line christened the Mardi Gras at its Florida homeport of Port Canaveral on Oct. 23, nearly three months after the ship made its debut.
Carnival spokesman and “chief fun officer” Shaquille O’Neal attended the festivities and cut the ribbon on his first Big Chicken restaurant at sea.
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Model Kimberly Jimenez served as the ship’s godmother and officially named the ship. Jimenez was crowned Miss Dominican Republic 2020, representing the country at Miss Universe 2020, where she placed fourth runner-up. Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch sang the national anthem.
The event featured a “World of Nations” flag procession to highlight the diversity of the 120 nationalities of Carnival crew members and a Mardi Gras parade with a Second Line Band.
Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald and O’Neal led the Mardi Gras parade.
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Other guests of note were Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza, Brazilian artist Romero Britto, former Carnival spokeswoman Kathie Lee Gifford, TV personality Vanna White (godmother of the Carnival Panorama) and celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, both of whom have restaurants on the Mardi Gras.
Carnival’s first Excel-class ship, Mardi Gras is the line’s largest to date with capacity for 5,282 passengers at double occupancy. The ship runs on liquefied natural gas.
The Mardi Gras is sailing alternating weeklong eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral.
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