Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Enter, Carnival Sunshine

Carnival Cruises will undertake its most ambitious ship refit when the Carnival Destiny goes in for an extensive dry-dock in February 2013 - and re-emerges in April as the new-look Carnival Sunshine. The $155million makeover will incorporate all of the line’s “Fun Ship 2.0” enhancements to dining, bar and entertainment features, as well as a variety of exciting innovations unique to this vessel.  

The refit will also include a reconfigured layout, the addition of a partial deck and the expansion of two other decks within the forward section of the ship, providing the opportunity to incorporate a number of new on-board spaces, along with 182 new cabins. Carnival say the redesign is so extensive and wide-ranging, the ship will need a new name, hence Carnival Sunshine (and not, perhaps, to clash with Royal Caribbean's new Sunshine-class ships for 2014 and 15?).

Following the dry dock, the ship will embark on a schedule of nine and 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona and Venice from Apr-Oct 2013, then launch year-round seven-day Caribbean departures from New Orleans in November.

“This is our most ambitious ship conversion project to date and it will radically transform the Carnival Destiny into essentially an entirely new ship, offering a variety of exciting dining and beverage choices, spectacular outdoor spaces and entertainment options, and on-board innovations not available anywhere else,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.  

Here’s a look at the truly dazzling array of new features:

Wide-Ranging On-Board Dining Choices 

  • Guy’s Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries in an atmosphere that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture
  • Blue Iguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas that can be personalised with a variety of salsas and toppings
  • Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and gourmet appetisers, entrees and desserts, all enhanced by understated ambiance and impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet)
  • Cucina del Capitano – or “The Captain’s Kitchen” – with Italian favorites and new Carnival classics served family-style in a fun and engaging atmosphere reminiscent of a cozy Italian home (during the day, the venue will serve as a free casual lunch-time pasta bar, with a nominal charge for dinner)
  • A new full-service Asian restaurant inspired by the line’s popular Mongolian wok casual eateries featuring an extensive menu of favourites from the Far East, along with a striking Asian-themed décor (no charge for lunch with a nominal fee for dinner)
  • An expansive casual poolside eatery, Lido Marketplace, offering delectable favourites from around the world, from paninis and pizza to a deli and just about everything in between
  • A new casual dining option,The Comfort Kitchen,” located within the Lido Marketplace and offering a tempting array of American-style “comfort food” entrees and side dishes
  • Completely renovated main dining rooms that will offer extensive menus and wine lists, with a tantalising selection of salads, appetisers, entrees and desserts nightly, including Carnival’s legendary chocolate melting cake 
  • A newly designed coffee bar, serving a wide range of sweet and frothy concoctions such as cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and other caffeinated favorites, along with delicious pastries

Innovative Bar and Beverage Concepts

  • RedFrog Pub where guests can enjoy the Caribbean’s best rums and beers – along with Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red private lable draft brew – and island-inspired pub fare while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance
  • RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside adaptation of the RedFrog Pub offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red
  • Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, a fun and festive outdoor watering hole offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool
  • EA SPORTS Bar, a sports and video game lovers’ paradise where guests can catch live sporting events, check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker, and play the latest EA SPORTS games on a 16-screen video wall
  • Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” that’s the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests’ own custom-created cocktails
  • The Library Bar, a warm and cozy venue offering full bar service for those seeking a more intimate spot for before- or after-dinner drinks
  • An exciting new lounge, Havana Bar, a tropical-inspired nightspot located aft within Lido Marketplace featuring a panoramic ocean view from its floor to ceiling windows and offering a unique and memorable venue for cocktails, live Latin music and dancing
  • The new Sunshine Bar, an elegant lounge with sun-splashed interiors located at the lobby level of the ship’s towering atrium where guests can enjoy a cocktail, dance and listen to live music
  • A new cigar bar concept, with plush, comfortable surroundings, along with fine cigars and a variety of brandies, cognacs and liqueurs, ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation

Outdoor Fun and Relaxation

  • Carnival’s first three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, an oasis of tranquility offering plush chaise lounges and chairs, a whirlpool, a cascading waterfall, teak-planked decks, a pool, a complimentary dining area with freshly made salads that can be customised by guests, and, of course, magnificent sea views 
  • SportSquare, Carnival Sunshine’s new open-air recreation complex that includes such attractions as a ropes course, mini-golf, a lighted half court for basketball and volleyball, jogging track, table tennis, pool and foosball tables, and bar with a large flat-screen for those who want to check out the action on TV 
  • WaterWorks, a “splash-tastic” top-deck attraction that’s sure to be a hit with guests of all ages with wet ‘n wild thrills such as the line’s iconic “Twister” water slide, a Splash Zone kids water play area, an all-new thrill slide  and other fun features
  • Carnival’s Seaside Theatre, a poolside 270-square-foot high-tech LED screen offering nightly “Dive In Movies,” along with a variety of concerts, sporting events and other programming, all of which are enjoyed in the fresh sea air

That’s Entertainment!

  • Playlist Productions, which builds upon Carnival’s reputation for high quality entertainment by combining captivating live performances and spectacular staging and special effects to create enthralling music revues produced by the top directors and choreographers in the industry
  • Hasbro, The Game Show, where guests are part of the show through a series of larger-than-life productions and entertainment activities based on the company’s iconic and popular games and presented in the ship’s remodeled main show lounge
  • Piano Bar 88, a new twist on Carnival’s popular piano bar concept that will amp up the excitement with themed nights, engaging new décor and opportunities for spontaneous sing-along fun
  • The Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez, featuring a hilarious line-up of both established and up-and-coming talent evaluated and vetted by the popular TV personality who serves as Carnival’s “curator of comedy”
  • The Punchliner Comedy Brunch, for those who want a little merriment in the morning, serving up laughter along with delicious cuisine

Staterooms, Shopping and More

  • All staterooms will be fully revamped and feature a new tropical décor that pays homage to the ship’s Caribbean itineraries with a combination of bright colours and soothing pastels, with 182 new staterooms to be added across a broad range of accommodations from interior to balconies, including 96 new spa staterooms
  • Newly designed play areas catering to kids in three age groups, part of the line’s top-rated children’s programs – Camp Carnival (2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), with enthusiastic counsellors and fun supervised activities for each group, along with popular elements of Carnival’s new partnership with Hasbro  
  • The FunHub, featuring dozens of flat-panel stations for keeping up with the latest Carnival Sunshine happenings, surfing the Web, and staying in touch with friends and family back home
  • Cloud 9 Spa – Designed as the ultimate refuge for rest and relaxation, this newly constructed facility will set a new standard in ocean-going wellness with a sophisticated menu of exotic therapies, an elaborate thermal suite with varying degrees of soothing warmth, private treatment rooms, and the latest exercise equipment
  • Cherry On Top, which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more
  • Ocean Plaza, a stunning café and entertainment venue where guests can meet new friends, listen to music, enjoy drinks and light snacks, participate in a wide range of activities and people watch

European and Caribbean Itineraries

Sunshine will launch a series of Med cruises beginning with a 14-day voyage departing from Venice on April 12, 2013. The ship will then operate 18 nine and 12-day cruises either round-trip from Barcelona or sailing between Barcelona and Venice. These departures will visit a wide variety of ports, including Marseilles, Monte Carlo, Livorno (for Pisa/Florence), Civitavecchia (for Rome) and Dubrovnik. The ship will then sail a 16-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona on November 1, arriving in New Orleans on November 17, positioning the vessel for its year-round deployment from the Big Easy. 

Three different week-long itineraries will be offered – an exotic western Caribbean route to Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan and Cozumel, Mexico; a Bahamas/Florida schedule to Key West, Freeport and Nassau; and western Caribbean departures to Montego Bay, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. Sunshine will replace Carnival Conquest, which is currently based in New Orleans.  Additional details on the Conquest's deployment will be announced in the near future.

For booking details, be sure to check this link with the UK's leading cruise specialist agents, The Cruise Line Ltd.