Carnival will redo Destiny, stern to name

By Donna Tunney
An unexpected fate awaits the Carnival Destiny. Early next year, it will undergo a $155 million, top-to-bottom revitalization, Carnival Cruise Line's most ambitious conversion ever, so dramatically altering the vessel that even its name will have to change.

During a 49-day drydock beginning in February at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, two existing partial decks, Decks 11 and 12 forward, will be expanded, and a new partial deck, Deck 14 forward, will be added.

These spaces will enable the addition of 182 cabins, more than a dozen Fun Ship 2.0 dining and lounge areas, the adults-only Serenity retreat, the Cloud 9 Spa, the SportSquare outdoor recreation complex and other public spaces.

When all this is completed, the crowning change will be to rename the ship the Carnival Sunshine.

Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines, explained: "When we started to look at the project and plan the layout and saw how much new there was going to be, including the renovation of cabins and corridors, it's going to be a completely new experience, and we knew we should rename the ship.

"It's a rebirth for the Destiny, and as we went through all the possible names, it came down to the fact that fun and sun are the DNA of Carnival Cruise Lines. So 'Sunshine' really resonated."

Tamis said Carnival was not concerned that Royal Caribbean International's two newbuilds are operating under the working name "Project Sunshine."

"Many names are shared throughout the cruise industry," he said. "We settled on the name Sunshine quite awhile ago. I don't foresee any confusion about it."

The 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny entered service in 1996 as the world's largest cruise ship, the first to exceed 100,000 gross tons, weighing in at 101,353 gross tons. It was also the first of the Destiny class, followed by the Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Victory.

They were constructed as sister ships, but both were built with an extra deck, bringing their capacity to 2,758 passengers. When the refit is completed, the Carnival Sunshine will accommodate 3,006 passengers.

Carnival Sunshine renderingIn announcing the conversion last week, Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill stated: "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 onboard innovations not available anywhere else."

Alluding to the ambitious enhancement program that Carnival rolled out in 2011, Tamis noted, "This is all part of Fun Ship 2.0. We're taking all these great new branded spaces and not only bringing them to our newbuilds but also going back and creating them [on other vessels]."

Several Fun Ship 2.0 amenities, including new dining venues and lounges, debuted on the Carnival Magic when it entered service last April. Those additions plus other Fun Ship 2.0 elements will appear on the Carnival Breeze, which launches in June, and several were installed on the Carnival Liberty late last year.

New venues that will be added to the Carnival Destiny as it morphs into the Sunshine will include the popular Guy's Burger Joint, created by celebrity chef Guy Fieri; the family-style Italian restaurant Cucina del Capitano; and the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub.

Tamis noted that Carnival rolled out its Evolutions of Fun enhancement program for its Fantasy-class ships several years ago.

"Six of the Fantasy-class ships that predated Destiny have already gone through that" upgrade, he said. "This was where WaterWorks and the [adults-only Serenity area] started."

Guy s Burger JointHe added that elements of Fun Ship 2.0 are being added to other ships in the fleet, including the Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Victory in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

"So the Destiny was an obvious candidate for this major revitalization, as it was coming up for a drydock anyway," he said.

Carnival, he said, will introduce the Sunshine the same way it launches newbuilds: with a naming ceremony. Details of that event are not yet settled. The ship is due to emerge from drydock in April 2013.

"We will make sure that our travel partners are fully informed and equally engaged about the Carnival Sunshine as we are," Tamis said.

The addition of cabins and public spaces will "slightly add" to the ship's weight, but the line said that no changes to the ship's propulsion systems are planned.

The Carnival Destiny has a history of issues with its propulsion system. In February 2000, the ship lost power when a cycloconverter, which transfers electricity from a ship's diesel engines to its propulsion motor, failed. It drifted near the Turks and Caicos Islands for a day until engineers were able to make repairs sufficient to get the ship back to Florida. It had been operating an Eastern Caribbean cruise out of Miami.

In January 2010, the line canceled two sailings so that the ship could enter drydock to repair another propulsion problem.

The Carnival Sunshine will operate a series of Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona and Venice during summer 2013 and then be homeported year-round in New Orleans.

Its Europe season will start with a 14-day voyage from Venice April 12.

WaterWorksEighteen nine- and 12-day Med cruises will be offered, either roundtrip from Barcelona or sailing between Barcelona and Venice. Port calls will include Marseilles; Monte Carlo; Livorno; Civitavecchia, and Dubrovnik.

It will sail on a 16-day transatlantic crossing, departing Barcelona Nov. 1 and arriving in New Orleans Nov. 17.

Following a special six-day cruise from New Orleans Nov. 18, the Carnival Sunshine will launch year-round seven-day cruises from that port. Three itineraries will be offered: two Western Caribbean routes and one to Florida and the Bahamas.

The ship will replace the Carnival Conquest, which is currently based in New Orleans. Information about the Conquest's 2013 deployment will be announced later.

Through 2012, the Carnival Destiny will operate a series of four- and five-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami.

For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly. 
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