Carnival Cruise Lines launched year-round service from New York today aboard the Miracle. Carnival also used the opportunity to present the brand and its new offerings, including the continuing rollout of Fun Ships 2.0, the rebuilding of the Destiny into the Sunshine, and the Carnival Breeze.

According to Lania Rittenhouse, vice president of product development, Carnival, which is celebrating 40 years, expects to carry 4.4 million passengers, including 710,000 children in 2012, more than any other cruise line.

“Our guests are spirited, they want to have fun and share that fun with family and friends,” Rittenhouse said.

Carnival sails from 20 North American homeports, including 12 year-round ports, from which more than half of the U.S. population is within a half day’s driving distance to a port, offering cruises from three to 18 days.

Next year, Carnival is expanding with two ships in Europe and the Splendor will sail in South America during the 2013 winter season, while the Spirit moves to Australia this fall.

The Miracle will be sailing eight-day cruises on three different itineraries from New York. Among the new features aboard is the Taste Bar, a new complimentary appetizer program, paired with specialty drinks at $5 each. The Taste Bar will be rolled out fleetwide by summer 2013.

Already, the Miracle features the Comedy Brunch by George Lopez, and on this occasion guests were treated to live comedy. Brunch will be served from 9 to 1 pm, according to the cruise director.

Other features are part of Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 program and includes the BlueIguana Caninta, a casual poolside Mexican-themed eatery, Guys’ Burger Joint, the RedFrog Pub and Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and the EAsports bar with a 16 screen video wall and 24/7 ticker tape with sports results.

To be rolled out, as part of the Fun Ship program, are also the Alchemy Bar, offering so-called handcrafted martinis, and the Library Bar, an intimate cocktail lounge featuring bar service and automatic wine dispensers for guests seeking a more relaxed and quite venue.

New entertainment options are also being introduced ranging from Hasbro game shows to Playlist Productions, featuring 30-minute high-energy performances.

The Fun Ship 2.0 will be rolled out to 18 ships by 2015.

The new Breeze, which launches Mediterranean service in May, before transferring to the Caribbean in the fall, will feature a Thrill (5D) Theater, the Fun Hub Internet Café and Camp Carnival for children and teens, as well as an inside/outside Promenaded with the Red Frog Pub and Fat Jimmy’s Barbeque. The night club, Liquid, will also have inside and outside floor space and seating. A new Piano Bar 88 will be introduced along with the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, and a new Lido Marketplace. Interestingly, Fahrenheit will also serve dinners at the bar.

The top deck of the Breeze will have a Sports Square, offering a basketball court, mini golf and a new zip line-like ride, where guests strap themselves into a harness, called the Skycourse.  The Breeze will also have Carnival’s waterslides. In addition, the Sports Square will have an outdoor workout area with gym equipment.

A specialty food outlet in the sports area will be Sea Dogs serving hot dogs.

Carnival ships feature the Serenity, as well, deck area dedicated to adults only, and the rebuilt Sunshine (Destiny) will have a three-level Serenity area when she is completed.

In 2013, the larger Carnival Splendor will take over the Miracle’s year-round program from New York, boosting capacity by 40 percent according to Rittenhouse. The Carnival Glory will continue to sail seasonally from New York.