The History of Carnival Jubilee Cruise Ship

Carnival Jubilee is Carnival Cruise Line’s 3rd and final Excel-class ship (that’s been announced!) and will set sail in late 2023. But this new ship already has a storied past and lots of history before she even set sail on her maiden voyage. In this post, we share everything you need to know about Carnival Jubilee!

An Icon is Born in 1986

Long before cruise ships became the giant floating cities they are today, Carnival Cruise Line introduced us to the Holiday class of ships that had a passenger capacity of just under 1,500. While the most well-known ship in the class is the namesake, MS Holiday, the second ship in the fleet was the MS Jubilee. She was built by Kockums Varv in Malmö, Sweden along with her near-identical sister MS Celebration (the 3rd and final ship in the Holiday class).

Communist2532, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the last Carnival Cruise Line sailing for Jubilee was in 2004, the vessel continued in life and wow’ed excited cruise passengers as the Pacific Sun for P&O Cruises until 2012. Fun fact: She was the only ship of her sisters to lose her funnel during the multi-million dollar P&O makeover.

In December of 2011, P&O announced that Pacific Sun would leave the fleet and on September 13, 2012, she joined HNA cruises as Henna, making her latest maiden voyage on January 26, 2013. Sailing as Henna, she visited Vietnam and South Korea. By this point in her life, her capacity had increased to nearly 2,000 passengers.

Sadly, in 2015, when HNA shut down its failing cruise operation, Henna was laid up and listed for sale. With no buyers, Henna met the sad fate so many other ships met during the pandemic making her way to Alang, India in 2017 for scrapping. By the end of 2017, the ship originally launched as MS Jubilee was no more.

A Legend Reborn

Already back in 2016, Carnival Cruise Line and Meyer Turku announced a memorandum of agreement for two 180,000 gross ton ships that would become known as the Excel class. The name for the first ship in this newest class of ships was announced on December 5, 2018 during an episode of Wheel of Fortune where Vanna White revealed the name of the ship Carnival Mardi Gras. The name was to be an homage to the first ship in Carnival’s fleet, TSS Mardi Gras. Fun fact: After the reveal, Carnival put out a press release clarifying that the ship would simply be named Mardi Gras (as the original ships did not have the Carnival pre-fix).

On August 21, 2020, the name of the second ship in the order was announced as Carnival Celebration. She would launch during the cruise operator’s 50th birthday “Sailabration” in 2022 and was filled with Carnival history and Easter eggs. One of the new bars housed in The Gateway Zone on board paid homage to her sister MS Jubilee, The Golden Jubilee.

Carnival Cruise Lines surprised us on June 23, 2021 when they announced the transfer of a 3rd, yet unnamed, Excel-class ship that was ordered for sister brand AIDA cruises. There was lots of speculation as to whether Carnival would continue the theme paying homage to their older ships. Would we see Carnival Carnivale (that name combination didn’t seem likely), Carnival Festivale, or maybe even the Carnival Holiday?

The world got its answer on November 11, 2021 when Carnival Cruise Lines announced this 3rd ship as Carnival Jubilee. The cruise operator also shared that the newest ship would homeport year-round out of Galveston, Texas.

Carnival Jubilee rendering courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Fun fact: the original Jubilee sailed from Galveston in 2002, so the naming and placement of Carnival’s 3rd Excel-class ship is yet again another homage to the brand’s history.

Inaugural Announced and Carnival Jubilee Opens for Sale

On January 25, 2022, Carnival Cruise Lines officially began accepting reservations for the Carnival Jubilee. While only Mardi Gras of the Excel-class sisters had launched up to this point, demand and excitement was high for Carnival’s newest Galveston ship.

The inaugural sailing was set to depart on October 30, 2023 from Southampton. The 18-day transatlantic voyage would visit Port of Virgo in Spain, Las Palmas and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Funchal in Portugal, and Grand Turk before arriving to her new home of Galveston.

While we still didn’t have a lot of details about the ship, Carnival confirmed that, like her sisters, she would “have six fun-filled zones” and that two of those zones would be brand-new concepts to the ship (similar to how Carnival Celebration introduced two new zones from Mardi Gras). All Carnival said about these zones at the time was that they would be “just-for-jubilee firsts” and we were excited!

First Steel Cut

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

A major milestone for any new cruise ship is the first cut of metal by the shipbuilder. This maritime tradition is typically accompanied by a large celebration as it signifies the beginning of the construction journey.

The first steel was cut for the Carnival Jubilee on March 18, 2022 with festivities taking place in Papenberg, Germany. Carnival Cruise Line and Meyer Werft representatives attended the masked-up celebration and used the opportunity to highlight and celebrate Carnival’s 50th birthday.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

There was confetti, champagne, and a silhouette of the ship cut from the steel and signed by everyone in attendance (how cool). A special plaque was also cut from the same piece of steel in recognition of Carnival’s 50th birthday.

Fun Fact: Each new ship is assigned a unique number that it can be identified by in the ship yard. Carnival Jubilee’s shipyard number is 717. Like her sisters, this unique ship identifier is used as part of Emeril’s Bistro on board. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Why do they call it Emeril’s Bistro 717,” now you know!

Keel Laying Ceremony

Like the first cutting of steel, another maritime tradition comes in the laying of the keel. This is the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s construction as the first pieces/modules of the ship are set into place. As part of the keel laying ceremony on July 21, 2022, several members of Carnival’s leadership team, including Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, joined Meyer Werft Managing Director Bernard Meyer as two coins were placed under the 375-ton keel block.

Wearing big cowboy hats and smiling next to a cowboy cut out, Carnival brought some Texas flair to the celebration.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Fun Fact: Ship coins offer good luck and typically remain in place until the structure is built. For the Carnival Jubilee, these coins will later be placed in a special compartment near the ship’s mast as a permanent fixture. Thus, the coins bring luck during construction and through the life of the vessel.

The Official Ship Coin for the Carnival Jubilee recognizes the cruise line’s history and pays homage to the original MS Jubilee that came before her. Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Problems with Construction

It would be many months before Carnival Cruise Line provided any additional updates on the progress of Carnival Jubilee. During this time, sister Carnival Celebration launched to great fanfare and everyone was talking about the new ship.

Then, on December 9, 2022, Carnival shared some heartbreaking news: Meyer Werft had notified the cruise operator that due to supply chain logistics and “related matters,” the shipbuilder would not be able to deliver the ship on time.

As a result, the inaugural transatlantic sailing, along with five additional Caribbean sailings from Galveston, were all canceled. The shipbuilder provided a new delivery date of early December 2023. Plans for a transatlantic sailing were shelved; instead, Carnival Jubilee would make her way directly to Galveston to sail a Christmas inaugural cruise.

Christine Duffy shared, “This is disappointing news, but with the notification from the shipyard, we are advising our guests as quickly as we can. We appreciate their understanding as we work to deliver another spectacular ship that will provide a vacation experience our guests deserve and will absolutely love.”

An Rare Opportunity Presents Itself

While it would have been a dream to sail on Carnival Jubilee’s inaugural voyage, Rocky and I knew we couldn’t make an 18-day cruise fit our work schedules. But a 7-day sailing over Christmas? That was much more feasible.

And so, on January 9, 2023, we pulled the trigger and booked the new inaugural sailing. I guess those ship coins were lucky after all!

Special Delivery: MS Jubilee

To celebrate the booking, and our inaugural voyage on the Carnival Jubilee, we set out to learn everything we could about the original ship she was named after.

On February 15, 2023, I received my own copy of the commemorative book Carnival Cruise Line created in celebration of the original ship. The book opens with a letter from Micky Arison, then President of Carnival Cruise Line:

Dear Passenger:
Welcome Aboard the SuperLiner JUBILEE. As you become acquainted with the JUBILEE during this cruise and as you read this book, we hope we will be able to convey to you a sense of the innovative concepts and features that inspired Carnival Cruise Lines to build this magnificent SuperLiner as well as of the motivational forces behind the “Fun Ship” cruise experience.

There are all sorts of fun facts, wonderful photos, and full-page ads from various vendors wishing Carnival success for their newest ship. Thank you, eBay, for helping us find hours and hours of entertainment!

New Zones Announced

Getting back to the story at hand… On April 25, 2023, Carnival released additional information about the two new zones that would be unique to Carnival Jubilee. That same day, we published a video that walked through the zones and introduced the new venues. You could say we were a little excited!

The table below includes the new zones and the names of venues located in each:

CurrentsInks, Ph.D
The Golden Mermaid
Emeril’s Bistro 717
Returning: Alchemy Bar and Carnival Kitchen
The ShoresCoastal Slice
Beach Buns
Marina Bar
Returning: Rudi’s Sea Grill and Cucina del Capitano

Fun Fact: Inks, Ph.D would be pronounced Dr. Inks (or, Drinks; super clever!) Also, note Emeril’s Bistro’s unique number: 717. Now you’ll always remember the shipyard number of Carnival Jubilee!

Port of Galveston Gets Ready

On May 18, 2023, Galveston Wharves shared that they are investing $53 million dollars to expand Cruise Terminal 25 to accommodate Carnival Jubilee. According to the post, enhancements will include gangway modifications, a ramp, two elevators and an escalator, and a new roof. Some of the dollars will also go to making mandated improvements by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure safety and security at the terminal.

New VIP passenger area at Terminal 25. Image Courtesy Port of Galveston Facebook

Galveston Wharves port director and CEO, Rodger Rees, had this to say, “We’re looking forward to welcoming the beautiful new Carnival Jubilee to our improved cruise terminal. We’re proud to have Carnival Cruise Line, our long-time cruise partner, choose Galveston as the home port for its newest ship.”

Carnival Jubilee Float Out

Just over 2 years after first announcing the transfer of a third Excel-class ship to Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Jubilee floated out for the first time on July 22, 2023. She left the covered building dock where construction had been underway to make a big reveal: A Texas star displayed on the bow.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Christine Duffy shared that the Texas star on the bow signified Carnival’s commitment to the port of Galveston and that it celebrates the long history and investment Carnival has made throughout the years.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

The float out included a “tailgate-style party” with snacks and drinks from PepsiCo, Carnival’s official beverage partner. The press photos included essentially what was a giant advertisement for PepsiCo! Lol

Carnival also shared a time-lapse video of the float out on their YouTube channel to commemorate the momentous occasion:

An Icon Gets Her Wings

Like the original MS Jubilee, and every ship in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, there is one defining design feature that lets everyone around know a Fun Ship is coming through: the iconic Carnival whale funnel.

Image Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

On July 26, 2023, just a couple days after Carnival Jubilee floated out from the dock, work began on adding Carnival’s iconic funnel. In the press photos from Carnival, cranes can be seen lowering the funnel, piece by piece, in place on the ship.

Christine Duffy shared, “Seeing Carnival Jubilee sport the Carnival funnel, the quintessential symbol she’s a ship made for fun, is a gratifying milestone that builds on the excitement after just watching her float out and reveal another important symbol – the Texas star on her bow that signals her Texas pride.”

Senior Officers and Cruise Director Named

While there are many critical parts to the construction process, a ship can only operate if she has a trained and experienced crew. On August 14, 2023, Carnival Cruise Line announced the Senior Officers that would lead the launch of Carnival Jubilee.

  • Captain Andrea Catalani: Originally from Corinaldo, Italy, Catalani began working for Carnival in 1999 and brings nearly 24 years of experience to the helm of Carnival Jubilee. He has worked on 18 Carnival ships, including Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Horizon, Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, as well as leading the Carnival Vista inaugural team.
  • Chief Engineer Vittorino Perasole: Starting with Carnival as a third engineer in 1998, Perasole quickly moved his way up, leading several teams as chief engineer since 2014. He is originally from Torre del Greco, Italy, and has worked on Carnival Dream, Carnival Pride, Carnival Radiance, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Celebration.
  • Hotel Director Pierre Camilleri: Now in his 19th year with Carnival, Camilleri joined the company in 2004 as hotel director after managing a variety of hotel and resort properties in his native Malta, as well as Europe and Asia. He has served as hotel director on several Carnival ships and has been part of the inaugural teams for Carnival Breeze, Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration.

The following week, on August 23, 2023, Carnival Cruise Line announced the inaugural Cruise Director: Kyndall “Fire” Magyar. Kyndall is a Texas-native, so we kind of expected this announcement! She was part of the inaugural team for Carnival Horizon, served as cruise director for Carnival Vista when the ship returned to service in 2021, and we sailed with her this past year on Mardi Gras. We are excited to sail with her again on Carnival Jubilee!

Paid In Full

Every Carnival cruiser knows what a great feeling it is when their cruise is paid in full. But with the initial delay of the ship, we waited until 91 days out to make that final payment, just in case we saw the inaugural shift again (keep those lucky coins close!).

What’s Next

Carnival Corporation is set to release Q3 financials on Friday, September 29. We expect to hear about the operator’s successful return to service and would be surprised if the call didn’t include a Carnival Jubilee update.

We will continue to share more information as it becomes available and will, of course, share a TON of content from the inaugural sailing. Be sure to head over to our YouTube channel and click that Subscribe button to keep up-to-date on all things Carnival Jubilee!

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