A Carnival cruise ship that dates to the 1990s is about to be reborn.
The 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph next spring will undergo a makeover so big the line plans to rechristen the vessel with a new name: Carnival Sunrise.
Announced on Tuesday, the overhaul will take place over two months at a dry dock in Cadiz, Spain and cost $200 million — one of the priciest cruise ship makeovers on record. Completed in 1999, Triumph cost $420 million to build (about $620 million in today's dollars).
"It's really a transformation of the ship, so we feel it merits the renaming," Carnival chief operations officer Gus Antorcha told USA TODAY in advance of the announcement. "I think for her guests it'll feel like a new ship."
The makeover will include the addition of 115 cabins, the revamping of all existing cabins and the addition of a dozen food and drink outlets.
Also in the plans is the addition of a new deck-top recreation area with a suspended ropes course, basketball court and miniature golf course. The ship also will get a new water park area with two massive slides.
Carnival has undertaken a ship overhaul on this scale only once before. In 2013, the line spent $155 million on a months-long, bow-to-stern makeover of its 1996-built Carnival Destiny. The ship also was renamed and now sails as the Carnival Sunshine.
Antorcha said the positive feedback the line received after the Destiny-to-Sunshine transformation was an impetus for the overhaul for Triumph.
"Guests rave about the Carnival Sunshine," he noted.
Like Destiny before its transformation, Triumph lacks the array of deck-top fun zones and interior dining and lounge concepts found on newer Carnival ships. The makeover will "put a ship into our fleet that has as many features as newer ships, and I think guests react to that," Antorcha said.
Carnival currently operates 26 vessels with several more on order.
New eateries planned for the soon-to-be-named Sunrise include Cucina del Capitano, an Italian restaurant that already is on many Carnival ships, and Carnival's signature Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. The vessel also will get a Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse — a casual open-air eatery created in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri. It's a concept that has just begun debuting on Carnival ships.
In addition, the overhaul will bring a version of Carnival's Bonsai Express sushi outlet and a new multi-course dining experience called The Chef's Table. A new poolside "lido marketplace" with sandwiches, pizza and other quick bites also is planned, and there will be an expanded version of the line's coffee bar JavaBlue Cafe.
The transformation will include the addition of an adults-only retreat called Serenity and an expanded spa. Retail spaces will be expanded and kids areas modernized.
The dry dock work will begin March 1 at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz and end in late April. Following a renaming ceremony, the newly christened Sunrise will sail out of Norfolk, Virginia and New York City. It'll move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in October.
Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship is the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, which debuted in May 2016. At 133,500 tons, it's Carnival's biggest ship ever and the first of the line's new Vista Class of vessels. It sails to the Caribbean from Galveston, Texas and Miami. Danny Lehman
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
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