It's one of the most dramatic refurbishments in contemporary cruising: Carnival Destiny underwent a $155 million transformation culminating with a name change. After its release from a 50-plus-day dry-dock, from February to May 2013, Destiny became Carnival Sunshine.
The 101,353-ton, 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny entered service in 1996. When it launched, it was the largest passenger ship ever built.
The changes, many of which reflect the line's $500 million "Fun Ship 2.0" initiative, encompass nearly every nook and cranny of the vessel. There's a reconfigured layout, the addition of a partial deck and the expansion of two other decks within the ship's forward section. These made room for three categories of additions: venues that have been popular on the line's newer vessels, venues that are new to Carnival altogether and 182 new cabins. The upgrades include:
Food. Restaurant additions range from ultra-casual to more upscale. Guy's Burger Joint, a surcharge-free poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, serves burgers and fries. BlueIguana Cantina is a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery serving burritos and tacos on ship-made tortillas that can be personalized with a variety of salsas and toppings. The fee-extra Fahrenheit 555 is a classic American steakhouse in the same vein as the signature "carnivoriums" found on many other Carnival ships.
Shake Spot serves milkshakes and floats as well as tropical fruit shakes and "adult" shakes made with Grand Marnier, Cointreau and other liqueurs. All are available with a variety of fun toppings. There's even an all-inclusive "Shake Lover's Package."
Other new-to-Sunshine eateries include the Italian Cucina del Capitano, which debuted on Carnival Magic (during the day, the venue serves as a free casual lunchtime pasta bar with a nominal charge for dinner); the 24-hour Pizzeria del Capitano, an expansion of Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant that serves five different thin-crust pies (fee-free); a full-service Asian restaurant (no charge for lunch, $12 per person for dinner) in the style of Carnival's Mongolian Wok, a more casual venue found in many of its buffets; and a new approach to the Lido Marketplace, with the addition of the fee-free Comfort Kitchen station for American comfort food. Also new: a newly designed and vastly expanded coffee bar.
The main dining rooms also got an extensive overhaul from menu to decor, but don't worry: The decadent chocolate lava cake, Carnival's signature dessert, is still on the menu.
Cabins. All cabins were redecorated with a tropical decor that reflects Carnival Sunshine's Caribbean itineraries. The line also added 182 new cabins in a range of styles, from spa cabins to interiors to balconies. The new accommodations increase the ship's double occupancy to 3,006.
Sun deck. On the pool deck, the marquee revamp is the addition of Carnival's first three-deck Serenity space, an adults-only retreat. The space, pictured left, features a cascading waterfall. Other highlights include SportSquare, a top-deck recreation complex that debuted on Magic; it offers a ropes course, mini-golf, a lighted half court for basketball and volleyball, jogging track, and table tennis, pool and foosball tables. WaterWorks -- dubbed a "splash-tastic" attraction by Carnival -- features the line's iconic "Twister" water slides, a 300-gallon "drenching bucket," a Splash Zone kids' water play area and a new thrill slide.
Bars. A huge hit when it debuted on Carnival Magic, the RedFrog Pub (which serves Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red private label draught brew) appears on Carnival Sunshine, as does the RedFrog Rum Bar, located poolside. The BlueIguana Tequila Bar, which debuted on Carnival Liberty, the first ship to earn a Fun Ship 2.0 overhaul, is here as well; expect tequila-based cocktails and beers. Then there's also the EA SPORTS Bar for video games and live sports events (including a real-time 24/7 sports ticker and a 16-screen video wall); the Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed cocktail lounge; and the Cuban-inspired Havana Bar, a dual-purpose spot that serves Cuban coffee and Cuban finger foods such as pastelitos and croquetas during the day, and cocktails and Latin music by night.
Kids stuff. Camp Carnival features newly designed play areas catering to kids in three age groups, part of the line's top-rated children's programs -½ Camp Carnival (ages 2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17).
Itineraries. When Carnival Sunshine emerged from its dry-dock at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, it began sailing a series of nine- and 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona and Venice. After an Atlantic crossing in October 2013, the ship, will head to its new homeport in New Orleans. This means that Carnival Conquest, which is based in the Big Easy, will sail from Miami. Sunshine's ex-Nola cruises begin in November 2013.
Interestingly, the ship offers three different seven-nighters from its New Orleans homeport. Offerings are an exotic western Caribbean route to Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, and Cozumel, Mexico; a Bahamas/Florida schedule to Key West, Fla., and Freeport and Nassau, the Bahamas; and western Caribbean departures to Montego Bay, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel.
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