Cruise Ships

Carnival Adding 5th Excel-Class Ship in 2028

Carnival Cruise Line announced that they’ll be adding a fifth Excel-class ship to their fleet in 2028. This ship will be a follow-up to the popular Mardi Gras, Celebration, and Jubilee ships. A yet-to-be-named fourth ship was announced in February and will debut in 2027. This addition will bring Carnival’s fleet up to 29 ships in 2028. 

Still a lot of unknowns about Carnival’s fifth Excel-class ship

We don’t know much about this new ship. We know that it will be delivered by Meyer Werft shipyard in 2028. Carnival has also confirmed that the new vessel will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will carry over 6,400 guests and 1,800 crew. 

Carnival Excel-class ships
Carnival’s Excel-class will grow to 5 ships in 2028. (Image courtesy of Carnival)

Like its sister ships, this ship will likely carry the name of one of the older Carnival ships. Options include the Carnivale, Festivale, Tropicale, and Holiday (although the Carnival Carnivale might not be the most suitable name). 

the gateway on carnival celebration
The Gateway is a unique themed zone on the Celebration.

The ship will likely have two unique zones featuring restaurants and bars not found on any of its sister ships. For example, the French Quarter is on Mardi Gras and has the Fortune Teller Bar; on the Celebration, it’s The Gateway Zone and has the travel-themed Latitudes Bar. 

Excel-class ships have proven very popular

Currently, Carnival Corporation has nine Excel-class ships sailing; three are with Carnival Cruise Line, and the rest are with Costa, P&O, and AIDA. According to Carnival, these ships have proven extremely popular, not only in terms of guest satisfaction but also operational efficiencies. Utilizing the same Excel-class platform for these cruise lines provides cost savings to the company, while customizations make the ships quite different for each brand. 

Carnival Mardi Gras Rear
Excel-class ships feature tons of outside seating areas, both on the top deck and an exterior promenade.

No replacement for the older ships in the fleet

While this new ship will add capacity to the fleet, it won’t replace Carnival’s oldest ships. Carnival’s two remaining Fantasy-class ships, Elation and Paradise, are 26 years old, and Carnival’s Spirit-class ships are over 20 years old. Typically, that’d place them close to retirement age, but these ships service ports that aren’t capable of handling larger vessels. 

Because of the size of the Excel-class ships, this ship won’t be able to replace those smaller ships in ports like Jacksonville or Baltimore, meaning Carnival might need to develop a new class of smaller ships in the future. It might come in the future; in their press release, Carnival Corporation said they will add one to two ships a year beginning in 2027 (although that’s across all Carnival brands). 

What’s a cruise on an Excel-class ship like?

You can follow along on our 7-day sailing on the Carnival Celebration here.

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.