Carnival Triumph getting a $200M redo and a new name

Carnival Triumph is to become the Carnival Sunrise.

Carnival Cruise Line will budget $200 million for an overhaul of the Carnival Triumph so sweeping that the ship will get a new name, the Carnival Sunrise.

It is only the second time that Carnival has renamed a ship of its own design. In 2013, it rechristened the former Carnival Destiny as the Carnival Sunshine. 

Carnival said the two ships will form the new Sunshine class. The $200 million sum is the largest ever spent by a cruise line in a ship renovation.

By the time the work begins next March, the Triumph will be 20 years old. It is perhaps best known for an engine-room fire in 2013 that left it disabled off the coast of Mexico without power for most hotel services. The ship had to be towed back to the United States, on a four-day odyssey that was memorialized as “the poop cruise” because toilets didn’t work for most of the trip.

In the two-month renovation, to be done at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, a laundry list of Fun Ship 2.0 features will be added to the ship, including seven restaurants, two bars, two lounges, three new pool deck attractions, a newly designed spa, two new children’s play areas and new retail spaces, including a candy store. 

Gus Antocha, Carnival’s chief operating officer, said the additions complement certain upgrades that had already been made to the Triumph, such as Guy’s Burger Joint.

Unique to the Sunrise will be what Antocha called “bridge wing suites,” encompassing two junior suites and two larger Captain’s Suites adjacent to the bridge, which will be redesigned with floor-to-ceiling windows. That means the ship’s capacity, listed as 2,758 passengers at double occupancy, will remain relatively unchanged.

“We’re adding a handful of different spaces,” Antocha said. When the Carnival Sunshine was created, an extra 182 cabins were added to the Carnival Destiny.

The first sailing of the Carnival Sunrise, following a renaming ceremony, will be from Norfolk, Va., where the ship will begin a series of five- to seven-day cruises on April 29, 2019. It will then move to New York for the summer for a series of four- to 14-day cruises, starting May 23. It will move to Fort Lauderdale for four- and five-day cruises in October.

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Carnival Cruise Line’s Christine Duffy Interview

Image result for carnival vista
Carnival Vista Above.

The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) inspects cruise ships that visit U.S. ports to check their sanitation and hygiene conditions and grades them on a scale of 1 to 100. Most ships get a passing grade of 86 or higher, which was why it was so surprising that four ships from Carnival Cruise Line received unsatisfactory grades in a two-month period from Nov. 11 to Jan. 4. Two of the four, the Carnival Breeze and the Vista, are Carnival’s two newest ships. The others were the Carnival Triumph and the Liberty. The three ships that were graded under 86 in 2017 represent nearly 20% of all the ships that failed in 2017, out of a total of 256 inspections. Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst spoke with cruise line president Christine Duffy about the run of failures.

Q: How do you account for it? I can’t think of a year in which four ships from a single line were graded unsatisfactory, much less four in two months.

Christine Duffy
Christine Duffy

A: Neither can we. Obviously, it was very concerning to all of us. We have a dedicated shoreside team that manages the work with USPHS and then teams onboard the ships. We’ve always been very proud of the scores that we’ve gotten.

Q: What do you say to passengers?

A: I think the most important thing to say is that the findings have really not compromised public health.

Q: Are there specific issues that produced those low scores?

A: While there’s a lot of retraining, and refocus and re-emphasise that we are taking care of, based on some of the scores, a lot of it has been administrative inconsistencies, and also issues where we have been asked to replace certain equipment. So there’s different standards and different equipment that we are replacing. But it takes some time from that point to the time when we’ll be able to get it onboard the ships. That is all in process. Some of it may be coffee pots, … salad bowls.

Q: Were all the Carnival ships inspected during November and December graded unsatisfactory?

A: Carnival Glory and Carnival Pride were also inspected during this time and got scores of 99 and 95, [respectively].

Q: How alarmed should people be about the “unsatisfactory” label?

A: I think some of this is reminding people that a passing score is 86, which is a pretty high bar. Failure doesn’t actually indicate any unsanitary or public health concern. Obviously, if there were, we wouldn’t be able to sail. There’s been no disruption to any of our guests.

As you know, we are the only industry in hospitality that is in a program where it’s voluntary. We pay for all the services that USPHS provides. I think when the program began, it was with the idea that setting the pass/fail at 86 would make sure that all the cruise lines and cruise ships would get information before there was ever a problem, to be able to address it.

Q: One problem that seemed to occur on several ships was the crew working while they were ill. What can you do to discourage sick crew members from working?

A: Some of that was actually people who were not filling out the forms before they were coming back to work. That became a deduction in points. We have reiterated to all of our crew members, to the medical team onboard, to our department managers, that if someone is sick we don’t want them working. The last thing we want is to have any issues that would create a public health concern or an outbreak. Fortunately, we have not had those, so clearly, again, I think some of this is we need to do a tighter job on the documentation when someone was writing in and signing out, and so those were part of the administrative inconsistencies that have caused these failures.

Carnival Triumph passes Reinspection

Carnival Cruise Line said the Carnival Triumph has been re-inspected by federal sanitation officials and scored a 98 out of a possible 100 on the exam.

The Triumph scored an “unsatisfactory” 78 in a November check by the U.S. Vessel Sanitation Program, a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

A re-inspection performed Jan. 8 resulted in a satisfactory score, which is anything above 85. The Triumph had never before received an unsatisfactory score in its 19-year history.

The re-inspection score has not yet been posted in the VSP inspection database.