Established over 36 years ago, Carnival is the world's largest and most successful cruise line. It was launched by entrepreneur Ted Arison, whose ambition was to make cruising accessible to all people rather than just the very rich.
From humble beginnings it has grown into the world's leading cruise provider and is a name synonymous with fun and innovation.
Today Carnival's fleet comprises 22 ships and its core cruising areas include the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, Bermuda and South America.
Blast from the past
Carnival Cruise Lines was established in 1972 by Ted Arison, a pioneer of modern-day cruising and someone who was keen to make cruising accessible to the average holidaymaker and not just the affluent.
The cruise line launched with a converted transatlantic liner - the TSS Mardi Gars - which got off to a rather unfortunate start by running aground on a sandbar during her maiden voyage.
Despite getting off to a shaky start, three years later the cruise line purchased the Empress of Britain, which entered service as the TSS Carnivale and marked the first phase of expansion.
In 1978, the Festivale entered service, becoming the largest and fastest vessel to sail from Miami to the Caribbean.
The cruise line continued to grow in popularity, with Carnival successfully pioneering the idea of shorter and more affordable cruises than the ones offered by traditional lines. Seven years later it made history with the launch of the Tropicale, which was the first brand new cruise ship the industry had seen for many years. The Tropicale marked the beginning of a multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding boom and riding high, Carnival continued to expand through the eighties at a rapid rate.
In 1984, the ever-innovative cruise line became the first to advertise on television; reaching wider audiences than ever before, with a sleek campaign starring company spokesperson Kathie Lee Gifford.
The late 80s saw the launch of the Holiday, the Jubilee and the 47,262-tonne Celebration, with Carnival ending the decade as the world's most popular cruise line, carrying more passengers than any of its rivals.
As the 80s gave way to the 90s, Carnival became part of the multi-line conglomerate Carnival Corporation, which today is the world's largest cruise operator.
Carnival gained a reputation as a fun, exciting and family friendly cruise line and in 1990 launched its first 'Fantasy-class' ship. The 70,367-tonne Carnival Fantasy entered service with a series of three and four-day Bahamas cruises, becoming the first of eight 'Fantasy-class' vessels.
The 90s saw the launch of several more impressive vessels, including the Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Imagination, with the eighth 'Fantasy-class' ship, the Carnival Paradise, entering service in 1998.
Following the success of the 'Fantasy-class' series, Carnival introduced its 'Destiny-class', with vessels including the Carnival Destiny, which was the first cruise ship in the world to exceed 100,000 tonnes.
Over the last ten years the cruise line has continued to evolve, with the addition of larger and more innovative vessels to its fleet, such as Carnival Miracle, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor, which made its debut earlier this year and marked the launch of Carnival's first Northern Europe cruise programme.
Cruising into the future
With the 130,000-tonne Carnival Dream scheduled to launch in October and the Carnival Magic superliner set to make its debut in 2011, Carnival Cruise Lines is showing no signs of slowing down.
Today it transports around 3.7 million passengers annually, including 600,000 children and, judging by the results of Porthole Cruise Magazine's Annual Reader's Choice Awards 2008, Carnival is still managing to delight its passengers.
The cruise line swept the boards at the awards, winning in nine different categories, including best value-for-money cruise line, best main dining room cuisine, best shore excursions and best megaship for the Carnival Freedom.
With its fun ships and fun attitude towards cruising, Carnival is attracting a new generation of people to holidays at sea and will no doubt continue to expand as demand for cruises inevitably increases.