Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Carnival update of Destiny well worth it

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Carnival Sunshine adult serenity area.

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Carnival Sunshine adult serenity area.

One day a few weeks ago, somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea, I overheard a woman by the pool say Carnival had done a great job refurbishing the Sunshine.

Lady, this is not a refurbish -- this is a rebuild.

Carnival spent $155 million US on its 17-year-old ship Destiny, and made it unrecognizable -- thus the name change to Sunshine. In the annals of modern cruising, this is one of the most ambitious overhauls on record and it could start a trend with other cruise lines.

A new ship of this size costs $600 to $700 million, so the Sunshine represents a massive saving. Besides, with the new look and feel, Carnival managed to add most of the Fun Ship 2.0 features found on its latest ship, the Breeze.

The change to a 3,000-passenger capacity from a 2,600 limit is is what makes it such an ambitious overhaul in this day and age.

Would Carnival consider doing this with more ships?

"Too early to tell," came word from the cruise line's media relations people. "We still need the summer of evaluating all that we added to this ship."

This is a family ship. That's clear by looking at the ship's schedule once it leaves the Mediterranean for North America in November. After one winter in New Orleans, it's moving to Port Canaveral (Orlando) -- the heart of Disney country -- in the spring of 2014.

While the kids are being entertained in age camps on the Sunshine, adults can enjoy their own space, nicknamed Serenity, which boasts a new look and a lot more space on three decks near the front of the ship. Towards the stern on the top decks, massive waterslides, the Sports Square and other related competitive areas have also been greatly enhanced.

Carnival's designers changed their thinking about what a showroom should be; Destiny had room for 1,500 seats, but Sunshine has 800 removable floor seats so the showroom can turn into a giant nightclub in late evening. To compensate for the downsizing, Carnival added more shows each day.

Every cruiser's burning question is: What about the buffet?

Here is where Carnival gets creative. Market Place now includes more pop-up food stations, thereby reducing the never-ending lineups. Asian and Italian restaurants back on to the Market Place, so there's more seating and more cooks.

Ji Ji, the Asian restaurant, and the Italian restaurant, Cucina del Capitano, both have a dinner charge of $12. But during lunch you can pretty much dig into the same food at no charge. The Havana Bar splits these specialty restaurants down the middle, making for a lively evening spot on Deck 9.

The pride of Carnival's specialty restaurants has always been the steak house, Fahrenheit 555. That tradition continues and so does the price, which is $35.

There are 168 more cabins. As the ship has the same space as Destiny, you would expect overcrowding in public areas.

Additional deck space near the bow, downsizing of the theatre and a smaller Market Place gives this new ship more of openness.

-- Postmedia News

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil Reimer may be contacted directly through portsandbows.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 E2

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