As Carnival Cruise Line marks half a century of sailing, Christine Duffy talks with Alex Smith about the highlights of the company’s history, how it masterminded its return to service, and the destinations on its horizon Fifty years ago, Carnival Cruise Line was founded in Miami, USA, by Ted Arison, starting out with a former transatlantic liner it had purchased from Canadian Pacific Line and renamed Mardi Gras. Since then, it’s fair to say that the past 50 years have been a success. From those first sailings, Carnival has gone on to become the world’s largest cruise line with 23 ships in its fleet in 2022, keeping fun at the heart of its cruise experience while taking millions of passengers to beautiful destinations every year.
Christine Duffy, who has led the cruise line as president since 2015, believes that this success has been founded on the hard work of crew members who create a welcoming, enjoyable atmosphere onboard. “When we ask guests why they continue to sail with us, some mention our wonderful entertainment, while others talk about our extensive dining and beverage offerings, but there’s one thing that everyone mentions: the crew,” she says. “It’s our crew that solidifies the loyalty of a Carnival guest. From remembering guests’ names to always greeting them with a smile – our shipboard team members make sure they go above and beyond to make every guest feel special and part of the Carnival family. Carnival’s team members are at the core of our success.”
Like the rest of the cruise industry, Carnival has faced some of the most challenging periods in its history, particularly over the last few years as the Covid-19 pandemic brought its sailings to a halt. However, the company’s comeback quickly gathered pace after Carnival Vista welcomed back its first guests in July 2021. Duffy counts that period as one of the most significant in her time at Carnival.