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Carnival 'ups its game' in Port Canaveral with more short cruises, newer ships

Carnival Magic - ropes course is part of SportSquare outdoor recreation area
Carnival Cruise Line will expand its Port Canaveral capacity on three- and four-day Bahamas cruises by 34% and deploy its newest class of ship on seven-day Caribbean voyages in 2016. The news follows Royal Caribbean's plan to position Oasis of the Seas in Canaveral from late 2016.

Carnival will enhance its short Bahamas cruise program with Carnival Victory replacing Carnival Sensation on this route in February next year. Besides adding capacity the larger, newer ship offers more features and amenities and more than 500 balcony staterooms.

Additionally, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to operate two different seven-day itineraries. The 2011-built Carnival Magic is part of the line’s newest class of ship and offers a WaterWorks aqua park, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and SportSquare outdoor recreation area.

In turn, Carnival Sensation, whose features include WaterWorks and a Serenity adults-only retreat, will shift to Miami in February 2016 to operate year-round four- and five-day cruises.

'We are significantly "upping our game" in Port Canaveral with the addition of these great new ships to the important and growing Central Florida market,' said Carnival president Christine Duffy.

Carnival Victory and Carnival Magic join Carnival Sunshine for an array of cruise options.

Currently based in Miami, Carnival Victory will reposition to Port Canaveral Feb. 25 next year, dramatically expanding the line’s short-cruise capacity on this program. Three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau, while four-day cruises sail Sundays and call at Nassau and Freeport.

Carnival Victory sports a 14,500-square-foot spa, four swimming pools—one with a 214-foot-long water slide—and 18 lounges and bars.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor—currently based at Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive drydock in March 2016 that will add Fun Ship 2.0 innovations—will take over Carnival Victory’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida on a year-round basis. Carnival Valor will be the only ship operating three- and four-day cruises to have the Fun Ship 2.0 features.

Carnival Victory subsequently will move to another homeport.

Carnival Magic will kick off its Port Canaveral program with a special eight-day cruise on Dec. 9, 2016, calling St. Thomas, San Juan, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk. The ship will then launch year-round seven-day cruises Dec. 17. A western Caribbean route features Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Roatán) and Costa Maya. An eastern itinerary includes St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Carnival Magic features many Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including a massive WaterWorks with a 312-foot Twister water slide, the DrainPipe funnel-style water slide and a 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket. Its large SportSquare outdoor recreation area has a suspended ropes course. The ship's RedFrog Pub is Caribbean-inspired.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Sunshine which offers seasonal five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral and is the only Carnival ship to offer all of the Fun Ship 2.0 features, along with extras like the Speedway Splash water attraction, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and the Latin-infused Havana Bar.

Carnival Magic will reposition to Central Florida via a 12-day 'Carnival Journeys' cruise departing Galveston Nov. 27 that visits Cozumel; Limón, Costa Rica; Colón, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba and Grand Turk. 

For its part, Carnival Sensation will reposition to Miami to offer year-round four- and five-day cruises beginning Feb. 25, 2016. Four-day cruises depart Thursdays to Key West and Cozumel or Half Moon Cay and Nassau, while five-day cruises sail Mondays and Saturdays to ports including Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Amber Cove, Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.