Off Brand

Why Investors Are Still Betting on Carnival Cruise Line

What’s driving the irrational optimism for an industry least likely to survive a pandemic?

Rob Walker
Published in
8 min readJul 21, 2020


Illustration: Guillem Casasus

Carnival Cruise Line has a new ship on the way, and it’s a doozy. The Carnival Mardi Gras is a 180,000-ton, 18-deck marvel, accommodating 6,630 passengers, and boasting among other amenities what is billed as the world’s first at-sea roller coaster. Based in Florida’s Port Canaveral, it is intended to sail Caribbean itineraries, and is “packed with brand-new experiences for eating, drinking, and spectacularly getting down to fun,” the company says, including a new Emeril Lagasse restaurant, two bars, and an 800-capacity performance space to enjoy acrobats and musicians.

In all, the Mardi Gras, among the biggest and likely most expensive cruise ships in the history of the world, is truly a jaw-dropping monument to humanity’s determination to create and prize engineered leisure that brazenly defies the logic of nature. And at this moment, it’s like a vessel arriving from some parallel universe — a packed, isolated place where swarms of vacationers somehow frolic unmasked and fewer than six feet apart, carefree.

Carnival has not disclosed its cost, but reports say the most…