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Carnival Cruise Lines brought the Sunshine to Port Canaveral on Thursday, along with a prediction for port officials: It won't be long before Port Canaveral becomes the world's busiest cruise port.

Carnival officials were at Port Canaveral for a ceremony marking the move of the Carnival Sunshine here from New Orleans. The Sunshine, which underwent a $155 million, 75-day upgrade last year, will offer five- to eight-day sailings from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Carlos Torres de Navarra, vice president of commercial port operations at Carnival Cruise Lines, said Port Canaveral is "a world-class facility and a world-class destination," adding that he expects Port Canaveral to surpass the Port of Miami as the world's busiest cruise port, based on passenger counts.

With the addition of the Sunshine on Thursday and the Liberty on May 4 to the Port Canaveral lineup, Carnival will have three ships based there. The third is the Sensation. The Sunshine and the Liberty replace two other Carnival ships — the Ecstasy, which stopped sailing from Port Canaveral in January, and the Dream, which left Port Canaveral this month. The shifts increase Carnival's overall capacity at Port Canaveral.

Combined, the three Carnival ships at Port Canaveral will carry about 600,000 passengers a year on about 200 cruises.

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Walsh said he liked Torres de Navarra's prediction about the port's growth.

"Miami is a very special place, but the Space Coast is even more of a special place," Walsh said. "We look forward to the partnership growing" between Port Canaveral and Carnival.

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