The transformation of the Carnival Destiny into the Carnival Sunshine in a $155 million refit highlights the fact that leading cruise shipping lines are willing to spend large amounts of money to update their older tonnage to match the amenities available on their latest ships. In addition, the economic elements are also updated, so the revenue potential of these older vessels is brought into line with newer tonnage.
In most cases, a typical refit focuses more on the software side, so that restaurant concepts are updated and spa and fitness facilities receive attention. Bars and entertainment areas together with cabins are frequently upgraded as well. All this will be done on the Carnival Sunshine-to-be, but in addition to software enhancements, the ship will undergo significant structural changes.
The Carnival Destiny was built in Italy and delivered in 1996; at 101,353 gross tons, it was by far the largest cruise liner in service at the time. It was also the first post-Panamax size vessel and also the first passenger ship whose gross tonnage exceeded that of the biggest ship of the liner era – the first Queen Elizabeth at 83,673 grt.
Major structural and layout changes
The ship will spend 49 days at a Fincantieri yard in Italy before re-entering service in April 2013 on 9- and 12-night cruises in the Mediterranean. The refit will incorporate the Fun Ship 2.0 features that distinguish Carnival’s newest ships. Among the large number of changes that will take place, a large sun deck will be added forward on deck 14. The ship will receive a total of 168 additional cabins, some of which will be built forward on deck 12, where they replace an outdoor area with a Jacuzzi and mini golf.
Further cabins will be added forward on the deck below, currently occupied by the fitness center. A pool will be fitted in the outdoor area just aft of the cabins here. The cabins and suites on these two decks plus the ones forward on deck 10 will be given the new designation of Cloud 9 Spa, associated with a large fitness area and gym complex that will be fitted forward on deck 10, which is currently occupied by cabins.
Aft on deck 9, a sun deck and pool will make way for an expanded lido buffet. Cabin decks 8, 7 and 6 will be retained as they are in structural terms, although the cabins themselves will be refurbished. On deck 5 aft, a secondary lounge and two other small public rooms will be removed and replaced with cabins, some of which will have balconies overlooking the stern. Amidships on this deck, the traffic flow will be altered by replacing a passageway on the starboard side by an almost S-shaped corridor that links the atrium.
Perhaps the biggest structural change will embrace the forward section of decks 5, 4 and 3. Currently occupied by a large theatre that runs through these three decks, the area on decks 5 and 4 will be taken over by smaller entertainment areas that are just one deck in height. The area on deck 3 will be given up for additional cabins.
Effectively a new ship
The $155 million transformation of the Carnival Destiny to the Carnival Sunshine means that it will effectively be a new ship and offer a new guest experience. In addition to the structural changes and new public areas, passenger accommodations will be refurbished as well. They will adopt a crisp white-and-blue based color scheme instead of the present warm yellows and browns.
New venues onboard will include a food marketplace instead of a conventional lido buffet, a new steakhouse called Fahrenheit 555 and a casual restaurant concept dubbed The Comfort Kitchen. On the bars front, the Havana Bar in the marketplace will be in transition throughout the day—serving Cuban sandwiches at lunchtime, and then converting into a live Latin music venue after sundown, also serving late night snacks. The adults-only Serenity bar will offer a range of made-to-order shakes and salads.
Partner Ship Design, the Hamburg-based interior designers, will be in charge of the entire project. They were lead designers of the Carnival Breeze and designed many of the open deck spaces on the Carnival Magic before being chosen by Carnival for this project. The transformation of the Carnival Destiny to the Carnival Sunshine, a name that had been contemplated in-house for quite some time, is part of a $500 million program called Fun Ship 2.0, a comprehensive series of upgrades to the fleet carried out over a period of five years.
As yet there has been no announcement regarding the Carnival Victory and Carnival Triumph, which are younger sisters of the Carnival Destiny. However, they are likely to receive some kind of upgrade as well at a later date. At the same time, Evolutions of Fun, a $350-million investment program that entails eight ships of the Carnival Fantasy class, built between 1990 and 1998, has been carried out on six ships, with a further two to go.
More passengers, better guest experience
Once it emerges from the shipyard, the Carnival Sunshine will not only be a newer ship, but a better one for guests and crew alike. “That from the beginning is about protecting, no about enhancing and improving the guest experience. So even though there will be some additional passengers, we look at the ways they use the ship, its spaces. The guest capacity is increasing by 14%. When we worked on the gym space, treadmills and ellipticals, [they were] increased by 58% over the current Destiny. We went through bar seats, square footage per kid, number of decks,” said Mark Tamis, Senior Vice President of Carnival Cruise Lines.
A key element of the Fun Ship 2.0 initiative is creating greater interaction between guests and crew. “A huge part of my passion is for the guest experience, but also the crew experience—ultimately they are the ones who deliver the guest experience. We’ve seen that success on Carnival Liberty. Not only do the guests love the new experience, but also the crews love working onboard. Carnival Liberty was the first ship we did Fun 2.0: Guy’s Burger Joint, new deck parties—not just creating a space where a guest can get a drink, but a stage for them to have an emotional connection with the crew,” Tamis concluded.