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Thousands setting sail on the Carnival Magic

The ship docked in Norfolk on Sunday. It's the biggest cruise ship to ever sail out of Virginia.

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk’s skyline looked little bit different on May 15. Carnival Magic, the largest cruise ship to ever sail out of Virginia, was docked at Nauticus. 

Sunday morning, Carnival Cruise Line officials and Nauticus leaders welcomed the first passengers into the terminal with a welcome party and ceremonial ribbon cutting.

This massive ship can carry nearly 4,000 passengers, and families came from all over to get on-board.

The return of Carnival Cruise lines to Norfolk is a big deal for the city, according to Nauticus Executive Director Stephen Kirkland.

The cruise industry halted in 2020 after the CDC issued a no-sail order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Kirkland said the industry is rebounding. 

Although a few ships have already stopped by Norfolk to visit, Carnival Magic is the first cruise to sail from the city in two years.

“This is so exciting. The last cruise ship to sell out of this terminal was October 20th, 2019. And here we are after two years of COVID and we are back and we cannot wait," Kirkland said. 

"It's a big deal. It's a big deal. We have guests in this terminal right now from North Carolina, from Richmond, from Northern Virginia. This has a major tourism impact on this community."

In total, 11 Carnival voyages will leave from Nauticus this year. 

"We've got another ship coming in tomorrow, by the way, so it is a busy season," Kirkland said. "This building has sat empty for 2 years, and here we are with our busiest season ever."

The cruise was scheduled to depart for the Bahamas later Sunday afternoon. 

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