NORFOLK, VA. (WAVY) — After a year away, Carnival Cruises is back in Norfolk — and it’s bringing one of its best ships.
There’s been a lot of talk about cruising in and out of Norfolk, since Carnival announced they’re bringing a one-of-a-kind ship this way. On Tuesday, WAVY.com found out what you can expect when the Carnival Sunshine arrives.
“They love Norfolk,” said Stephen Kirkland with the National Maritime Center. “They’re committed to Norfolk, and I think this just affirms that.”
The 103,000-ton ship will begin setting sail to and from the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk in June of 2016. It brings with it a unique series of options for travelers.
“There’s a Bermuda cruise. There’s a Bahamas cruise, but we also have the very popular cruises to nowhere, which are terrific for us. It’s got the Guy Fieri burger bar, George Lopez Comedy Club, a great space,” Kirkland said.
The announcement is also music to nearby business owners ears.
“You can’t underestimate when 3,000 passengers get on a ship, and by the way, come back a week later and get off the ship, what kind of activity that has for this area. It’s just phenomenal,” Kirkland said.
Right now, it’s construction that’s inundating the streets of downtown Norfolk. It gives high hopes for what’s to come, but in the meantime, definitely takes a toll on everyone around. It might be a case of perfect timing, though. The Main, slated to be the new heart of downtown, is expected to be finished right around the same time the Sunshine begins pulling in, bringing people and thus more dollars to go around.
“The Carnival Cruises, when they do come in, if they’ve got 3,000 people, we’ll get 10 percent,” said Phillip Decker at D’Egg. “So, 300 people are coming in, and they really kind of inundate Main Street. We’ve had to compromise hours a bit, shut down Mondays and Tuesdays. Right now we’re open Wednesday through Sunday, until The Main is done next door.”
You may remember Carnival’s decision two years ago not to deploy the Carnival Glory or any other Carnival ship from Norfolk in 2014. They said operating costs including the price of fuel were factors. 10 On Your Side asked Kirkland how much that hurt local business. He said that’s just one piece of their overall approach at the Half Moone. They revved up port of call traffic, events and exhibits there until Carnival came back.