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Carnival is to become the second cruise company using Hell’s Kitchen as a year-round destination — and departure point — starting next year, in a vote of confidence in the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on Piers 88 and 90.

Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Venezia, will begin sailing year-round from Manhattan Cruise Terminal starting June 15, 2023. Photo: Carnival Cruises

The company will use a new ship, the Carnival Venezia, to make New York a year-round port from next June. Carnival joins Norwegian Cruise Line in a permanent year-round schedule from Hell’s Kitchen. The move reflects growing cruise traffic to Manhattan Cruise Terminal, partly because of a post-Covid boom and partly continuing pre-pandemic expansion in the piers’ use.

The Carnival Venezia will make its maiden arrival to New York on June 14, steaming through the Verrazano Narrows and past Liberty at the end of a 15-day sailing from Barcelona. Then it will make New York its permanent home port, with its first departure on June 15, starting a summer itinerary of four-, five- six- and eight-day sailings to the Caribbean, Bermuda and ports in Canada and New England, including Halifax and Saint John. Other lines which use the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on W48th Street include Celebrity, MCS, Disney Cruises, Seabourn and Oceania.

The 4,072-passenger Carnival Venezia will replace the smaller Carnival Magic (pictured). Photo: Phil O’Brien

The 4,072-passenger cruise ship was launched in 2019 as the Costa Venezia, sailing the Mediterranean for Carnival’s sister company Costa Cruises. Its transfer to the other side of the Atlantic means it will take the place of the smaller Carnival Magic, which currently sails from New York through summer and fall. Carnival say it will retain an Italian theme, with the main atrium named Piazza San Marco, an Italian restaurant called Marco Polo and offering staterooms called Terrazza.

The Magic embarks fewer passengers at 3,690, with the larger-capacity, year-round Venezia showing the growing scale of New York as a cruise destination and terminal. As well as the Manhattan terminal, Brooklyn’s is regularly used by Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, and New Jersey has the Bayonne Cruise Terminal.

The industry has come through a troubled time in the pandemic, with mass cancelations and more than one false start. In September of last year, Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady became the first cruise ship to visit Manhattan since before COVID – docking for several days as a ‘party boat’ and creating a level of pollution that alarmed locals. “These cruise ships docking at Piers 88 and 90spew out diesel emissions equivalent to 34,000 idling tractor-trailers PER DAY. It is one of the greatest contributors to the area’s greenhouse gas emissions and we can’t condone it any longer,” said Hell’s Kitchen activist Leslie Boghosian Murphy in an Op-Ed for W42ST.

The first departure from Manhattan Cruise Terminal resulted in six passengers testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to the Bahamas and 22 electing to quarantine. And in January, the Crystal Symphony cruise ship left New York for Miami, only to take a detour to the Bahamas to avoid arrest on unpaid fuel charges. 

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady became the first cruise ship to visit Manhattan since before COVID in September 2021. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The Carnival Magic hit its own rough waters back in June, when — returning from an eight-day cruise to the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and a private island in the Bahamas — two passengers got into an altercation on the ship’s dance floor. Soon, as many as 60 passengers were involved in the incident, leading cruise officials to summon a Coast Guard ship from Staten Island to escort the liner back to the Hell’s Kitchen pier. Upon its arrival at just before 6am, the NYPD and EMS were waiting.

Last month Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, was revealed by the New York Times to have held talks with the Norwegian Cruise Company about the possibility of housing asylum seekers on one of their vessels. Carone was said to have researched the facilities by staying on a Norwegian cruise ship in Normandy, France in August. The mayor told reporters that the trip was not funded with taxpayer money. 

New York’s status as a cruise ship hub is underlined by these two liners passing by each other on their way to and from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Mayor Adams also met Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive, Frank Del Rio earlier this summer, furthering a long line of friendly exchanges between the cruise line and the city that began in 2011 when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a partnership making the Manhattan Cruise Terminal one of Norwegian’s home ports. Plans to use the ships to deal with the increased number of asylum-seekers being sent from Texas by its Republican governor, Greg Abbott, do not seem to have advanced.

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