Carnival Cruise Lines is putting a ship back in Europe in 2011.


The new 3,690-passenger ship Carnival Magic will sail a nine-night cruise from Venice to Barcelona on May 1. It will then remain in Barcelona until October, offering 18 seven, nine and 12-night cruises.


Cruises go on sale today and cost from £579 per person for a seven-night cruise and £749 for a 12-night voyage. Prices for the inaugural cruise from Venice to Barcelona lead in at £629 per person.


The ship is under construction at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard in Trieste, Italy.


Carnival managing director UK and Ireland Lynn Narraway said the cruise-only prices allow agents to package the cruises with flights and land-based options, but air-inclusive packages would also be available. “It’s the first time we have cruised from Barcelona and it’s easy for agents to either add time in the city, the beach, or at PortAventura theme park.”


Carnival had a ship in Dover in 2008, but cancelled its 2009 season, preferring to homeport ships in the US during the recession so Americans didn’t have the extra cost of a flight to get to their cruise.


Narraway said: “I hope the agents who supported us in 2008 will forgive us and get behind Carnival Magic. Carnival sees the UK and Europe as a growth market, whereas the US has slowed.”


Details about the cruises will be sent to agents this week.


Narraway said she would like about 10% of passengers on each sailing to be from the UK. That equates to 330 per departure and 6,000 across the summer.


She added: “We’re launching these cruises early so I think that is achievable. We’re looking for Carnival ‘rookies’ and families. Also, by 2011, Ocean Village will have gone and we believe we are a good fit for its passengers, with the added attraction of a new and bigger ship.”


At Carnival Dream’s naming ceremony in New York in November 2009, Carnival Cruise Lines president and chief executive Gerry Cahill suggested the company would be bringing a ship back to Europe in 2011. “Past guests and agent partners have provided a tremendous amount of feedback in terms of their desire for more Mediterranean cruises from Carnival.”