Tourism & Cruises

Carnival Triumph (soon to be Carnival Sunrise) is getting a $200 million facelift

Rendering of the newly refurbished Carnival Sunrise.
Rendering of the newly refurbished Carnival Sunrise. - Carnival Cruises

Carnival Cruise Line is dropping $200 million to refit its Carnival Triumph with almost 20 new amenities including bars, restaurants, water slides, bigger suites, a comedy club and other attractions that are standard on the line’s newer ships, the Doral-based company announced Tuesday.

On April 29, 2019, the ship will begin sailing a series of five- to seven-day cruises out of Norfolk, Virginia, under a new name — Carnival Sunrise. The ship will then spend the rest of the summer in New York before coming to Fort Lauderdale in October 2019 for four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Carnival Sunrise will join the Carnival “Sunshine Class” as a sister to Carnival Sunshine, formerly Carnival Destiny, which underwent a $155 million renovation in 2013.

Sunrise’s two-month-long refurbishment will begin March 1. Carnival Triumph is 19 years old, one of the line’s older ships.

Big-ticket refurbishments like these aim to extend the lifespan of ships by decades and create a consistent experience throughout fleets, said Chris Gray Faust, managing editor of the cruise review website Cruise Critic.

“Cruise lines want a standardized fleet where when you walk on one, you’ll have the same experience regardless of the ship,“ she said. “Especially when it comes to food, people look for their favorites.”

Renovations have become increasingly common among cruise lines. Brand new ships are in such high demand that orders at some shipyards are backed up for years. Gutting and refurbishing a ship also costs a fraction of the price of building a new one. Carnival Vista, which began sailing in May of 2016, cost $780 million to build.

Celebrity Cruises announced in July that its entire fleet is going to be overhauled to the tune of $500 million. Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity’s sister company, spent $120 million renovating Mariner of the Seas.

Faust also noted that the short length of Carnival Sunrise’s Florida itineraries — four to five days — is indicative of an industry-wide strategy to bring new customers into the fold. The time and financial commitment of week-long or lengthier cruises scare off potential customers, she said, especially if they’ve never cruised before. Shorter trips are cheaper and don’t require people to take an extensive amount of time off.

The fact that Sunrise will make its first voyage out of Norfolk, which hasn’t had a Carnival cruise in 2018, reinforces that idea, she said. More locations means that potential passengers don’t have to spend money on flights, lowering the total cost even more.

“Carnival wants to attract a clientele that drives to cruises, not flies.” Faust said. “That means more working people, more families.”

New Amenities

The refurbishment will give Sunrise 12 new dining and bar options, most of them already on other Carnival ships. The RedFrog Pub features a selection of Caribbean rum and beer, including Carnival’s own brew — ThirstyFrog Red Ale. Cucina del Capitano offers home-style Italian cuisine. Chef’s Table hosts cruisers looking for a multi-course, high-end dining experience.

“These new dining spaces and features complement many of Carnival’s signature food and beverage outlets that were added during previous renovations,” Gus Antorcha, Carnival’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Other additions include SportsSquare, which offers cruisers access to a host of recreational activities, including a suspended ropes course 15 stories high, a basketball court, nine-hole miniature golf course and a jogging track. Families can enjoy the ship’s water slides — 203 and 212 feet long — and play spaces designed for kids and teens. There are also adult-only spaces such as the lounge-chair-laden Serenity Retreat.

Shops, an arcade, a theater and a comedy club will also be added onto the ship.

Expansion of passenger capacity will be modest. The 2,758-passenger ship will be adding four new suites — two 850-square-foot Captain’s Suites and two 320-square-foot Grand Ocean View Suites — and updating all of its staterooms. The spacious Captain’s Suite can fit up to five people and is twice the size of the next-largest suite on the Triumph. The room’s location next to the bridge means passengers share their view with the ship’s captain.

Starting on Oct. 28, 2019, the Sunrise will launch out of Fort Lauderdale on four-day cruises to Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Princess Cays. Five-day cruises will hit Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Grand Turk.