The Big Easy city of New Orleans now has its largest home-ported cruise ship in history
The newly restyled Carnival Sunshine is sailing on its first cruise from New Orleans, a six-day western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman, this Monday afternoon.
The crew of Carnival Sunshine poses on Inaugural Day
in New Orleans
Earlier this year, Carnival Sunshine underwent one of the most expensive ship renovations in cruise industry history – remaking what was already a truly classic Carnival cruise ship (the former Carnival Destiny introduced in 1996) into an even newer and more innovative Carnival ship with many of the newest Carnival enhancements borrowed from the newest Carnival ships.
That renovation cost an amazing $155 million, as much as some cruise lines spend to build brand new vessels. It required 75-days out of service in the same shipyard where the ship was originally built, The Fincantieri yard near Venice, Italy. Once the ship left the shipyard, with a new look and a new name, it cruised in Europe for several months before its just completed Transatlantic voyage to New Orleans (with a stop in Miami first).
What Does This Ship Mean to New Orleans?
Now millions of Americans in the middle United States have easy access to one of the top Carnival ships with all the newest Carnival features developed on other ships in the last few years.
Among the new features that were added to Carnival Sunshine were Guy’s Burger Joint (created by Food Network star Guy Fieri), the BlueIguana Cantina, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and a new restaurant for Asian food called Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. The latest Carnival nightclubs are also on board: the RedFrog Pub, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, EA SPORTS Bar, Alchemy Bar and the already-classic Havana Bar.
Musical revues are provided by a new entertainment partner for Carnival; Playlist Productions. Other entertainment options come from game show network, Hasbro. Various Hasbro television games have been adapted to the stage for families to compete in a theater setting where fellow cruisers in the audience can join in on the fun.
Adult cruisers can enjoy a brand new stunning three-level Serenity adults-only retreat on the stern of the ship with a waterfall, hot tubs and swimming pools with no minors allowed. Those kids will be busy with the outdoor recreation area including a ropes course offering breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a massive water park highlighted by the longest water slide that is in the Carnival fleet; a 334-foot-long corkscrew slide.
In addition, the ship had 182 staterooms added, and all of the staterooms on board were upgraded with a new, modern color scheme and the latest technology for televisions, Internet, showers and bedding. This includes 95 new spa staterooms located adjacent to the totally renovated Cloud 9 Spa.
Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO, said “The transformation of Carnival Sunshine is unlike anything that’s ever been done before, and the results are simply extraordinary… We are delighted that Carnival Sunshine will make its inaugural U.S. sailing from the Port of New Orleans, one of our most popular homeports and a valued business partner for the past 20 years.” Monday’s voyage kicks off a winter schedule of Caribbean departures from New Orleans that will carry 330,000 guests annually on two year-round ships.
Carnival Sunshine was officially named on Sunday, November 17, by godmother Lin Arison, a noted philanthropist, author and wife of the late Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Cruise Lines. The invitation-only ceremony was attended by hundreds of travel agents, as well as local dignitaries and VIPs. During the ceremony, Carnival made a separate donations of $25,000 apiece to YoungArts and the New World Symphony, two organizations founded by Ted and Lin Arison and dedicated to supporting young artists.
Following today’s six-day voyage, the ship will operate a series of seven-day cruises to popular Caribbean destinations through April. Three different week-long itineraries will be offered from New Orleans – an exotic western Caribbean route featuring Belize; Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), and Cozumel; a Bahamas/Florida schedule to Key West, Freeport and Nassau; and western Caribbean departures to Montego Bay; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel.