In the first ship naming ceremony staged in the United States since the cruise industry reopened this summer, Carnival Cruise Line christened Mardi Gras in Port Canaveral, Fla., with a “Universe of Fun” extravaganza befitting the world’s most fun cruise ship.

Shaquille O’Neal, Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer, was on hand to witness the celebrations and cut the ribbon on his first Big Chicken restaurant at sea, which opened on Mardi Gras when the ship first set sail on July 31.

Shaq unveils Big Chicken on Mardi Gras

Kimberly Jimenez, Miss Universe, Dominican Republic, acted as the ship’s Godmother and formally christened the ship, and she was accompanied by Miss Universe, Andrea Meza, and Miss USA, Asya Branch, who performed the national song. A “World of Nations” flag procession was held to honor the 120 nations represented by Carnival crew members, as well as a Mardi Gras parade featuring a Second Line Band.

Kimberly Jimenez, Miss Universe, Dominican Republic, acted as the ship's Godmother
Mardi Gras’ God Mother, Miss Universe Kimberly Jimenez

“Today’s naming ceremony of our flagship Mardi Gras, the first in the industry since our restart of operations, signifies excitement and optimism as we look to bring our entire fleet back into guest service by spring 2022. This ship has been amazing guests during her pre-inaugural season and the celebration today with our Chief Fun Officer Shaq, our Godmother Kimberly, and so many special guests, was extremely gratifying and emotional.”

– Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line

Following statements by Duffy and Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald, friends and partners Romero Britto, Emeril Lagasse, Kathie Lee Gifford, Vanna White, and Guy Fieri congratulated the ship on its name and assisted in the delivery of the champagne bottle to the ship.

In both English and her native Spanish, Godmother Jimenez blessed the ship and initiated the traditional champagne bottle break, formally christening the ship. A unique Mardi Gras procession, led by Duffy, Donald, and O’Neal, rounded up the celebrations in honor of the ship’s name.

I hope I’m able to review Carnival’s newest ship this coming year. Stay tuned!