Carnival Cruise Line's Christine Duffy on transforming the Triumph into the Sunrise

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Carnival Cruise Line spent nearly $200 million to transform the Carnival Triumph into the Carnival Sunrise. The changes include a new design scheme throughout and more of Carnival's latest restaurants, bars and activities. The ship was renamed and relaunched in May, and managing editor Rebecca Tobin spoke with Carnival president Christine Duffy about the changes on a sailing from New York.

Q: What do you think is the biggest change to the Carnival Sunrise?

Christine Duffy
Christine Duffy

A: I just think that the overall making it more light, more contemporary. ... It really is a transformation; almost all areas have been touched. And then the different ways we've handled putting the features in so it flows together. 

Q: Refurbishments happen constantly in the industry. How is this so unusual that it prompts the name change?

A: A renovation is: You might add some new guest experiences or put in a new waterpark, which we've done, or replace soft goods and carpet and decorate. A transformation I think is really: You look at the pictures of the ship before, it's hard to map to the after. We did all of the cabins and corridors in service prior to the drydock, but a drydock at this level we believe calls for a whole new ship, new naming and this new Sunshine class that's been created from these Destiny-class ships.

Q: Given the Triumph's history, including its engine-room fire, how important was it that the name leave the fleet?

A: You know, that really wasn't a factor. I was in New Orleans for the last sailing of the Triumph, and there were guests leaving the ship who were literally teary-eyed, because this was a ship on which they had special, unique experiences or memories. ... There's something about ships, I think, that is a bit emotional and evoke a lot of memories. Even for us. When we talk about the Fantasy, which is the oldest ship in our fleet, people always talk to me about how much they love their smaller ship and the things that they did on that ship. It's partly, too, when we thought about what to name the first XL-class ship -- Mardi Gras -- which is really this evoking back to where we've [been] and how far we've come.

Q: How often do people come to you and say, 'I miss the old architecture, I miss the Joe Farcus look?'

A: They don't have to say that, because we still have it on many of our ships. I have to say, especially some of the clubs we have, it's sort of retro now. Some of what he was thinking about back then, I think, has come full circle. Especially at night. He clearly designed those ships with evening fun in mind. It's amazing how difficult and expensive it is to replace things that are from those ships. ... I think there are still some touches of Joe's hand in our ships and always will be.

Q: The Sunshine and the Sunrise are sister ships, but there are notable difference in the refurbs. Why is that?

A: I think it's the difference between a refurbishment done in 2013 and one done in 2019 and things that we have learned from the Sunshine that the team took into a account here. I also think the aesthetic and design of some things have changed over the six years. Even for this ship there's things we're seeing that we'll say, 'You know what, for Radiance [the name to be given to the Carnival Victory] we'll do it this way.' For the Radiance, we have Shaq's Big Chicken Restaurant that will be where we have Seafood Shack here.

Q: It's amazing that when this ship was built in 1999, it was so big, and now it seems so small. Do you think the ship has an intimate feel, a surprisingly intimate feel?

A: Oh, I think so, and I think that's what's really nice about these ships: We are able to get a lot of the best guest features that people want, from the waterparks to Alchemy, the specialty dining venues. But at the same time, for people who want a smaller-ship experience, I think this is a win-win.

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