NORFOLK, Va. - The Mermaid City's skyline looked a little different as a morning fog lifted on Sunday.
The 1,000-foot-long Carnival Magic cruise liner docked at Half Moone Cruise Center just after 6 a.m. and marks the first cruise vacation to depart from Norfolk since 2019.
It's also the largest ship of its kind to ever sail from Virginia — with a capacity of nearly 4,000 passengers, according to Carnival Cruise Line.
"Wonderful! (We) need more ships, year-round. We would love it to be all the time," said Laura Stefanelli of Virginia Beach, one of the vacationers waiting in line to board.
Nauticus, which operates Half Moone, held a ribbon-cutting Sunday morning to welcome the first passengers. The occasion is part of what Nauticus is describing as its busiest year ever for cruises.
"There's a huge economic impact and these guests, many of them are coming from Richmond or northeastern North Carolina. Many of them, I know, we're staying in the hotels across the street last night. That's got a big impact as well," said Stephen Kirkland, Executive Director for Nauticus.
Carnival Magic is set to depart at 4:30 p.m. for a six-day cruise to the Bahamas.
"We've had a 20-year history here and it's important to us to continue that history and we're so glad to actually be expanding with this bigger ship," said Matt Lupoli, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line in town for the occasion.
Ten other Carnival voyages are planned throughout the year to destinations around the Caribbean Sea.