Carnival Sunshine Makeover

| 07.22.13

Carnival is showing off the new $155-million makeover of Carnival Sunshine, nee Carnival Destiny.

The new top-deck Serenity Area on Sunshine

Carnival Cruise Lines just spent a reported $155-million to completely makeover one of the most iconic ships from its past, the former Carnival Destiny; now officially dubbed as "Carnival Sunshine." Carnival has moved walls to add a number of new public rooms, completely redecorated all of the staterooms, added new dining spots and repurposed many of the public rooms as space for added staterooms, enough for 364 additional berths.

Carnival Destiny was launched in 1996 as the first cruise ship ever to surpass 100,000-gross tons. I still recall being awed by sheer size of her when she appeared in New York Harbor. Everything about her was just bigger, wider, taller and longer - like a regular Carnival cruise ship blown up like a balloon. Now, of course, at 100,000-tons the newly named Carnival Sunshine is still one of the smaller mainstream ships, when the newest ships on order from Norwegian and Royal Caribbean these days average 160,000-tons. Even Carnival's newest ships, and Princess, are in the range of 130,000-tons.

I personally thought the old Destiny decor was very impressive as originally conceived. She took former Carnival interior designer Joe Farcus' Carnival "Funship" approach to the next level, from the "Downbeat Lounge" Jazz showroom which had barstools and tables that appeared to be made out of real jazz instruments, to the the "Club 88" piano bar that had a keyboard that completely surrounded the room at tables with microphones in the middle of each one. Both of those rooms and the large aft theater behind them have now just been replaced with additional staterooms. Just forward of these new staterooms, in an area which used to house the infamous disco with something line 1000 CRT video monitors defining its walls, is now a new "Ocean Plaza" featuring an Alchemy Bar for dancing and drinking.

Destiny was chosen as the first of its class (there are three ships) to receive this extensive makeover, although Carnival says it will be doing similar upgrades to its two sister ships; Carnival Victory and Carnival Triumph. Ironically, Triumph ended up in an extended drydock ahead of schedule when it needed emergency engine repairs after it went dead in the water last February. So, while Triumph was in drydock in Mobile, Alabama, for the engine repairs Carnival went ahead and added some of the Funship 2.0 restaurants, but they have not said when it will do the full Sunshine-treatment to Triumph or Victory.

"Sunshine is a new ship. That's the message," Carnival Cruise Line Gerry Cahill said in a report in USA Today, noting that the vessel now has all the best features of the line's one-year-old Carnival Breeze, "and even has some features we don't have on Breeze," he added. Cahill further noted he could not pinpoint which Carnival ship would be next for the "Sunshine" overhaul since the Carnival Sunshine work was more complicated than the line expected, and "the line is still is recovering from the experience," he said.

For in-depth details on which Destiny public rooms were replaced with staterooms see Carnival Sunshine Redefines Destiny. For details on the new Sunshine stateroom design, and the process of building them, see Making Carnival Sunshine.

Have you already seen Carnival Sunshine? Tell us here: Cruise Forum

Here are the Carnival-provided details on the new Carnival Sunshine public spaces:

  • Havana Bar, which by day serves as a casual gathering spot for relaxing with friends and enjoying Cuban coffee and Cuban finger foods such as pastelitos and croquetas, while at night transforms into a Cuban-inspired courtyard with a cool Latin vibe where guests can listen to live music, enjoy classic Cuban cocktails, and dance the night away Located aft within Lido Marketplace, Havana Bar's interiors pay homage to Cuba's gloried past with palm trees, elegant archways, and vibrant tile work, along with floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic ocean vistas.

  • WaterWorks, an all-new water park where the young - and the young at heart - can zip down five different slides and have a splash-tastic time with 40 different interactive water features, including a 300-gallon drenching bucket that will serve as the signature element of the SplashZone kids' water play area. Here, guests can race to the finish on Carnival's newest ride, Speedway Splash, with dual side-by-side 235-foot-long slides with racers' times displayed on a scoreboard and special lighting effects that add to the adventure. When they're not challenging each other to a race, fun-lovers can check out the enclosed 334-foot-long Twister slide - Carnival's longest - featuring a crystal clear turn that extends out over the edge of the ship, offering dramatic views with each twist and turn.

  • A stunning full-service Asian restaurant features delicious favorites from the Far East, enhanced by a serene décor of prayer rolls, wood-beamed ceilings and other design elements. The new restaurant will feature an open kitchen where guests can view highly skilled chefs artfully preparing a tantalizing menu that will offer a variety of Asian specialties, including soups, appetizers, noodle and rice dishes, as well as seafood and meat delicacies (lunch is complimentary; $12 charge for dinner).

  • Shake Spot, the ideal place to "chill" where guests can enjoy delicious hand-crafted milkshakes while taking a break from all the fun in the sun. In addition to a distinctive island-inspired décor, Shake Spot will offer classic milkshakes and floats, as well as tropical fruit shakes and "adult shakes and floats" made with Grand Marnier, Cointreau and other liqueurs, all available with a variety of fun toppings. There's even an all-inclusive "Shake Lover's Package" for those who simply can't get enough of these unique and nostalgic treats on vacation.

  • Located adjacent to Shake Spot on Promenade Deck is JavaBlue Café, the place to connect, meet up and savor sweet and frothy cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and other caffeinated favorites, as well as coffees made with liqueurs, along with decadent confections such as extra-large cinnamon buns, giant cupcakes, and huge slices of red velvet cake meant to be shared within the venue's island-infused atmosphere featuring comfortable seating and breathtaking views of the sea.

  • For those guests who crave delicious, hand-tossed, artisanal-style pizza anytime of the day or night, there's Pizzeria del Capitano, an expansion of the line's popular Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant. Here, guests can watch as chefs prepare five different kinds of authentic Italian-style, thin-crusted pies, from traditional Margherita and pepperoni to artisan-style quattro formaggio, mushroom, and prosciutto - all free of charge 24 hours a day and made in a traditional pizza oven which serves as the venue's centerpiece. Whether it's a casual lunch, a late-night snack or a delicious dinner alternative, Pizzeria del Capitano will definitely hit the spot.

Carnival added....

Carnival Sunshine will also offer all of the exciting elements that make up the line's $500 million Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program.

These include delicious dining options like Guy's Burger Joint, developed with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, and BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary Mexican eatery offering authentic burritos and tacos, along with innovative bar concepts such as the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub; the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar; EA SPORTS Bar, a partnership with the leading sports video game company; and the Alchemy Bar, featuring a vintage cocktail "pharmacy" theme. This pharmacy theme includes you writing down the ingredients you want in your drink on something that looks like a prescription pad.

Top-deck amenities will include a spectacular three-level Serenity adults-only retreat - the largest in the Carnival fleet offering a pool, waterfall, a full bar, whirlpool, and, of course, magnificent sea views - as well as SportSquare featuring a ropes course, including an exciting new zip line feature, an array of deck and table games, a basketball court, jogging track, and a two-level miniature golf course.

A variety of captivating entertainment choices - from the family-friendly Hasbro, The Game Show, featuring larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic games (Yahtzee, Operation, etc.) to high-tech Playlist Productions, a production company with four singer/dancers whose shows combine live performances with spectacular staging and special effects.

Delay in Deployment

Sunshine was originally scheduled to debut with a 14-day voyage from Venice to Barcelona April 12-16, 2013, after a 49-day dry dock at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard. But the ship was delayed, largely because the line decided to add many of the new engine safety features that became apparently needed when the Triumph went powerless in the Caribbean last February. When the ship finally sailed its first cruise, it turned out that that several staterooms were still not ready, but people were already booked into them, so they had to offer partial refunds for people sailing with out air conditioning. Travel Weekly reported that Cahill revealed onboard during a Q & A session that the reason the cabins had not been finished was apparently due to vandalism onboard just before the ship was delivered, although he did identify the perpetrators.

There were also large portions of the expanded top deck which were not ready for public consumption due to a floor lacquer that had not yet dried. "Upon further reflection, had we known about the problems we would have cancelled an additional sailing, but by the time we found out people were already on their way to the ship," Gerry Cahill told the reporters aboard the current cruise.

Carnival Sunshine has been sailing various Mediterranean cruises since June and she will sail on a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New Orleans Nov. 1-17, 2013, positioning the vessel for seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Big Easy until April when she will be deployed to Port Canaveral.

Are you planning to try Carnival Sunshine? Tell us here: Cruise Forum

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