NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It might be getting ready to snow in our area, but some in Norfolk have their sights set on tropical locales after Thursday’s announcement at the Decker Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center.
A new 5-year agreement between the city of Norfolk and Carnival Cruise Line will bring the Carnival Magic, the largest cruise ship to ever sail from Norfolk, in 2021. The Magic will have 12 different routes starting in the mermaid city.
“This commitment strengthens that partnership and solidifies Norfolk’s position as a true mid-Atlantic cruise port,” Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said.
The city says the agreement will also bring enhancements to Half Moone, which opened next to Nauticus in 2007 at a cost of $36 million. In fall 2019, Norfolk said it was studying improvements needed for its current cruise pier, including upgrades to accommodate larger ships.
On Thursday, Alexander said the city would invest in building a new boarding bridge.
“This is a true partnership,” said Alexander. “Norfolk is committed to Carnival, to roll out the red carpet for these guests from the mid-Atlantic as the largest ship to ever sail from our city arrives in 2021. Our community will be prepared to welcome its staff, it’s crew, and also to exceed the expectations of its passengers.”
The agreement is a big deal for both parties.
“This is a very unusual commitment that we would make of this type,” explained Terry Thornton, a senior vice president of Carnival Corp. “So we want to express that in how confident we are in developing our business here in the City of Norfolk.
Thornton explained Norfolk is important to Carnival because it has a unique ability to bolster Carnival’s number one marketing challenge: getting people in the region to try cruises for the first time. The mermaid’s city’s locations makes cruises easily accessible for people in the mid-Atlantic.
The plan rolled out Thursday, with the new ship and increased sailings, will bring about 100,000 more cruise ship passengers to Norfolk in 2021. Industry experts say that translates to $12.5 million in overall economic impact.
The largest cruise ship currently berthed at Half Moone is the Carnival Sunrise, which can carry 3,000 passengers. The 1,004-foot-long Magic can hold as many as as 3,690 passengers and 1,367 crew members.
The Magic cruises to several locations, including Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe and Canada/New England.
A fun fact: The Magic features two different restaurants from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, a burger and a barbecue restaurant. Fieri also has a Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse at Waterside next to Half Moone. Talk about a Norfolk Triple D!