Carnival Cruise Line and the city of Norfolk made a major announcement this month, expanding the city’s cruise terminal significantly.
Beginning in 2025, the Carnival Sunshine will offer weekly cruises from the city’s Half Moone cruise terminal at Nauticus. These will be the first ever regularly scheduled weekly cruises from Norfolk.
The announcement means that Nauticus will become a major cruise destination, with thousands of passengers traveling to Norfolk to get on board. Norfolk mayor Dr. Kenneth Cooper Alexander said in a statement, “This positions Norfolk as a major destination for visitors from across the country. It will have a tremendous economic impact on this region.”
Regular cruises all year long will bring many more visitors to Norfolk’s hotels and restaurants. Nauticus Executive Director Stephen Kirkland said this is a game changer for tourism dollars.
“We will see visitors flying in and out of town for these sailings, further expanding the economic benefits these cruises provide to Norfolk and the greater Hampton Roads region,” he said. It is estimated that the cruises will bring 100,000 visitors to Norfolk in the first year.
The cruises will begin on February 18, 2025. There will be two options. Travelers can visit the Bahamas for six days, or can see more of the eastern Caribbean on an eight-day venture. In the Bahamas, the ship will visit Nassau, Freeport, Bimini and Half Moon Cay. The longer cruises will also visit the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Dominican Republic.
The Carnival Sunshine is almost 900 feet long. It can carry just over 3,000 passengers, who are taken care of by a dedicated crew of 1,040. Passengers can book an economical room or a luxurious suite with private balcony. Entertainment covers everything as well. There is music, a spa, a water park, mini golf, and even a comedy club. There are areas set aside for adults only. You can get a burger from Guy Fieri’s burger joint.
The Carnival Sunshine currently sails out of Charleston, South Carolina.
Carnival owns a fleet of ships that sail under the Carnival name. Carnival also operates Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line. They carry millions of guests each year. Carnival will continue to offer cruises from Norfolk in 2023, but will pause sailing from Norfolk in 2024 so improvements can be made to the Half Moone terminal. And, Carnival is planning even more cruises from Norfolk that have not yet been announced.
If you are interested in cruising from Norfolk, you can find a schedule at nauticus.org/explore/cruise-virginia/cruise-schedules.