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Big doings at Carnival

Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

On July 1, Carnival Cruise Lines announced that it had become the first cruise line to attract 1 million fans to its Facebook page. Almost 300,000 fans apparently decided to like Carnival during May and June alone, emphasizing the growing power of social media.

Facebook also played a significant role in the May 1 Venice, Italy, inaugural of the new Carnival Magic as a daylong social media event employed a series of 11 videos to review the ship’s launch and naming and provide viewers with full coverage of the day’s festivities. The 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic is now employed in a series of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean sailings from Barcelona, calling at other ports in Spain and in France, Monaco, Italy, and Croatia.

This fall, the ship will be repositioned to Galveston, Texas, to assume a schedule of seven-day cruises on Nov. 14 to Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; and Montego Bay, Jamaica, with occasional alternate programs featuring such ports as Key West, Fla.; Nassau and Freeport, the Bahamas;, Belize; and Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras. Not only will Carnival Magic be the largest ship ever to have its home port in Galveston, but group leaders in Midwestern and south-central states will now have an opportunity to plan cruises aboard a brand-new, state-of the-art vessel without the need for a trip to Florida or the East Coast.

Year-round from New York City

In related news, sister ship Carnival Miracle will begin a year-round series of eight-day cruises from New York City in April. Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas sailings will alternate from April through November, and a Bahamas-Florida itinerary will be featured from November through April. Those will constitute the line’s first year-round program from the “Big Apple.”

Carnival’s next addition to its fleet, the 130,000-ton Carnival Breeze, is scheduled to enter service in June 2012. After a summer of 12-day Mediterranean voyages, similar to those now offered by Carnival Magic, the vessel will head for Miami and a series of year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean departures.

Those who have cruised on Carnival previously will be familiar with the whimsical “towel animals” that greet guests as they return to their staterooms each evening. The line has now published its fourth edition of “Towel Creations,” filled with step-by-step instructions for making 40 different towel animals at home, everything from frogs, swans and elephants to monkeys, scorpions and rabbits.

One dollar from the sale of each $14.95 book will be donated to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through Carnival’s Care to Play program, which has a goal of raising $3 million over a three-year period.

And finally, effective Dec. 1, smoking will be banned in all Carnival cruise line cabins. Guests with a tobacco habit will still be able to light up on most balconies and in designated public areas.