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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ports chief: Withdrawal of Mardi Gras cruise is cost-saver for Carnival

By The Star Staff

Ports Authority Director Joel Pizá Batiz said this week that Carnival Cruise Line’s decision to change the itineraries for its cruise ship Mardi Gras is a cost-saving initiative and not caused by the privatization of the San Juan port or any other reason.

Since the cruise ship company said Mardi Gras will not make stops in Puerto Rico but instead will go to the Bahamas, there has been much speculation as to why the change.

Pizá Batiz said the changes have been made as a cost-saving exercise. Instead of sailing to San Juan, Carnival has opted for ports nearer to the cruise ship’s homeport, Port Canaveral, such as Nassau in the Bahamas, he said.

Guests that had booked a cruise onboard Mardi Gras between the end of this December and April 2024 received a letter stating that Carnival Cruise Line had removed San Juan from the Mardi Gras cruise ship itinerary.

Itinerary changes are not uncommon, but removing one port for as many as 21 cruises is unusual. The cruise line did not give any reason for the changes, saying only that: “As we continue to refine our operational plans for your cruise, we have replaced our call to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a visit to Nassau, The Bahamas. Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you aboard for a FUN and memorable cruise.”

Pizá Batiz said Wednesday that the Mardi Gras cruise ship itinerary changes from the Port of San Juan are not due to the recent formalization of a public-private partnership to operate the ports.

The government recently signed a contract with Global Ports Holding to operate some of the piers in Old San Juan. The company will be the port’s exclusive service provider and will also build a new dock.

“In essence, the reason expressed by Carnival is of a financial nature, related to the cost of fuel, and others that they have been explaining to their shareholders, clients, and suppliers,” Pizá Batiz said.

The Ports chief said Carnival had made their plans clear a few days earlier during the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association annual convention. Carnival’s management stated that saving fuel and preserving their profit margins are the main reasoning behind the move, he said.

Pizá Batiz also stated that Carnival management had told him Mardi Gras would stop sailing seven-day itineraries and replace them with shorter three-to-four-day voyages nearer to Port Canaveral.

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