Later this afternoon, Carnival Cruise Lines’ 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, the line’s newest and largest “Fun Ship,” will depart on its inaugural cruise from Port Canaveral, Fla., kicking off its year-round Caribbean cruise schedule from that port.

Carnival Dream’s inaugural departure from Port Canaveral – a nine-day cruise to Antigua, Tortola/Virgin Gorda, St. Thomas/St. John, San Juan and Grand Turk – will be followed by the launch of year-round seven-day cruises, alternating weekly to the eastern and western Caribbean, beginning Dec. 12. On this route, eastern Caribbean cruises visit Nassau, St. Thomas/St. John, and St. Maarten while the western Caribbean itinerary features Cozumel, Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Belize and Costa Maya.

Carnival Sensation also operates three- and four-day Bahamas voyages from Port Canaveral and, combined with Carnival Dream’s new week-long departures, Carnival Cruise Lines expects to carry some 450,000 passengers annually from Port Canaveral – more than any other cruise operator.

Representing a new class for the line, Carnival Dream ushers in an exciting new era in “Fun Ship” cruising, offering a sleek, modern hull design and a host of on-board innovations and features.

These include 19,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and families, an expansive WaterWorks aqua park offering the longest water slide at sea, new entertainment choices such as a comedy club and outdoor laser shows set to high-energy rock music, a half-mile wrap around promenade and whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides, and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue.

Other features include innovative accommodation options such as deluxe ocean view staterooms with two-bathrooms, some of which feature five berths and hold particular appeal for families, as well as the Fun Hub, a comprehensive intranet portal and the cruise industry’s first shipboard social network.

A wide variety of formal and casual dining options, including a new made-to-order pasta venue, Indian tandoor, 24-hour pizzeria, sushi bar, and burrito station, along with the largest health and wellness center in the Carnival fleet, the 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, are also featured.

“Carnival has enjoyed a wonderful 20-year relationship with Port Canaveral and we can’t think of a better homeport for our newest and largest ship,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “With its many on-board facilities and features, response to Carnival Dream has been nothing short of sensational and its new schedule from Port Canaveral provides our guests with two exciting year-round Caribbean cruise vacation options,” he added.

J. Stanley “Stan” Payne, CEO, Port Canaveral, stated that the port takes obvious pride in homeporting the largest and newest ship in the Carnival fleet. “For two decades, Port Canaveral has been committed to providing Carnival with outstanding services, facilities and infrastructure to ensure that its guests experience a relaxed, enjoyable vacation from start to finish,” he said.

Carnival is currently accepting reservations on the Carnival Dream’s new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral.