My long weekend on board Carnival Cruise Line’s new ship Carnival Breeze on only its second cruise in the Med whetted my appetite for what we can expect from the world’s largest cruise line in Europe next summer.
So here goes. There will be two ships deployed in the region for he first time, with a welcome introduction of cruises from the UK and the deployment of a completely revamped ship in the Mediterranean to operate fly-cruises.
So while Carnival Breeze will have left European waters by November to be sailing to the Caribbean from its new homeport of Miami, there’s no cause for disappointment.
For in its place next summer will be Carnival Sunshine – a ship the line’s boss Gerry Cahill promises will take on board all the popular features of Carnival Breeze and possibly expand on them.
One example is the adults-only, free of charge Serenity top deck chill out zone, complete with cabanas, gently swinging giant hammocks, a bar and whirlpool baths. On Carnival Sunshine, this concept is being enlarged to include a giant water feature to help create an entirely separate section away from the frolics going on around the rest of the ship. This will be the line’s first three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, and, judging by the popularity of the offering on Breeze, it’s sure to be a huge hit.
Currently operating as the 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny, the 16 year old ship is to enter dry dock in February to undergo what the company describes as its most ambitious transformation project ever.
The objective of the £100 million overhaul is to incorporate what Carnival describes as its ‘FunShip 2.0’ elements on board, together with a change of name.
Cahill says there are 23 different branded experiences on Carnival Breeze, and it looks like these and more are to be incorporated on the new-look Carnival Sunshine.
So you can expect to find dining, bar and entertainment features similar to those so successfully operating on Carnival Breeze.
These include the pool-side Guy’s Burger Joint developed with US Food Network personality Guy Fieri, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub, RedFrog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, a newly designed spa, children’s facilities, and one-off dining and bar venues. The company is even using the 49-day refit to add 182 new cabins to the ship, thereby expanding the passenger capacity.
Emerging under the new Carnival Sunshine name, the vessel will operate a summer schedule of Mediterranean fly-cruises before repositioning to New Orleans on year-round Caribbean cruises in the autumn of 2013.
Med cruises start with a 14-day voyage from Venice to Barcelona on April 12-26, 2013. There will then be 18 nine- and 12-day sailings from either Barcelona or Venice.
Legend from Dover
At the same time, 10 year old Carnival Legend will be making its debut in Dover to run a summer-long season of no-fly cruises, including the line’s first itinerary to the Norwegian fjords.
Carnival Legend, which was named by actress Judi Dench before she became a Dame, will operate 12-day voyages to Norway/Western Europe, around the British Isles and the Baltic from Dover, as well as 12-day Mediterranean cruises departing from Venice, Barcelona and Dover.
This extended series of cruises will run between April and October 2013. This means that in total, Carnival Legend and Carnival Sunshine will operate 35 European cruises visiting 34 ports across 18 countries – the first time the world’s largest cruise company will have two ships positioned in Europe.
The plans for next summer come as the company progresses with the expansion of its $500 million Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements.
Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory are next in line to be upgraded in the autumn as part of a longer term plan to transform the majority of the company’s fleet of 24 ships by 2015.
The initiative includes partnerships with US comedian George Lopez to enhance the fleetwide Punchliner Comedy Clubs, and Food Network personality Guy Fieri, who developed the new free Guy’s Burger Joint, as well as brands such as EASPORTS Bar and Hasbro.
New food and drink outlets such as the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and BlueIguana Cantina and ‘cocktail pharmacy’ Alchemy Bar, along with entertainment choices and Playlist Productions and a partnership with celebrity song master DJ IRIE, are also included.
Talking of burgers, between 1,200 and 1,500 a day are served a day on Carnival Breeze, just one of a number of fun facts I managed to discover about the ship.
In its first year of service:
• Carnival Breeze’s photographers will snap more than 1.5 million digital images and portraits
• Passengers will get through 242,000 servings of the Chocolate Melting Cake dessert, along with 346,000 pizzas and 145,200 cappuccinos
• Approximately 26,600 meals will be served in the steakhouse
• Chefs in the vessel’s galley will use roughly 22,000 pounds of flour
• Nearly 100 metric tons of pineapples will be consumed, mostly in frothy tropical drinks
• Cabin stewards will place more than two million individual pieces of chocolate on guests’ pillows and create more than 663,000 of Carnival’s popular towel animals
• Passengers will indulge in 18,000-plus massages, nearly 9,000 facials, more than 6,000 slimming treatments, and some 2,000 personal fitness consultations in the Cloud 9 Spa
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