This article has been updated for April 2013.
Through the course of a year we spend a lot of time at sea.Some of our favorite voyages are those we embark upon aboard brand new cruise ships. These beauties may not quite waft that “new car” smell, but newer vessels usually have the latest bells and whistles and best address the industry’s current trends in dining, activities and entertainment, along with featuring the latest in design and safety.
Conversely, we don’t like boarding an older ship and finding dated décor, ragged furnishings or malodorous accommodations. If we find out during a cruise that our ship is headed for a refurbishment a few weeks or months later, we can’t help being a bit disappointed.
Cruise lines work to keep their product fresh and appealing and, accordingly, most ships go in for a two-week dry dock overhaul every three years or four years. The ship is taken out of the water for a thorough cleaning of the hull (hence the name dry dock),while engine room maintenance, interior and topside upgrades are also addressed.
While some dry dock refurbishments may involve little more than a deep cleaning and replacement of carpet and paint as needed, others can be more extensive, adding additional cabins and decks, or in some cases even extending the ship by adding a new midsection.
Into that latter category falls Carnival Destiny, a 101,000-tonvessel that first went to sea in 1996 as the largest ship afloat. Destiny entered an extended dry dock in February, 2013 for a reconfiguration that promises to be substantial, involving 182 new cabins, new restaurants, new bars, and the addition of the popular adults-only Serenity Adult Retreat, an overhaul that will add up to a $155 million price tag, according to Carnival (not including additional work to improve the ship’s redundancy systems added to the schedule following the Carnival Triumph incident). While the final result won’t exactly be a news hip, the work is so extensive that, when Destiny emerges from the surgery onMay 5, 2013, she’ll carry a new name, Carnival Sunshine.
These days, we’re hearing a lot about cruise line facelifts.Why? From design to construction to delivery, it takes upwards of three years to build a new cruise ship, and today there are fewer new ships on order than at any time in recent history. For instance, although Carnival Breeze debuted in June 2012, it will be four years before a new Carnival ship comes on line, the longest stretch between new ships for the company in more than three decades. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam came on line in 2010, but the next new-build won’t arrive till 2015. Celebrity Cruises put Reflection to sea in 2012, but no new ships are on order; the line’s oldest vessel, Celebrity Century, is headed fora renovation in 2014—an overhaul we predict will be fairly substantial.
The lengthy world recession encouraged cruise line honchos to keep their pocketbooks in check. As a result, we’re seeing the major lines investing more of their resources in renovations than in replacing ships,extending the life of older vessels by a few years.
This is likely a cyclical blip, but who wants to be on atired vessel past its prime? Instead, before booking a cruise vacation check our charts listing planned dry docks for the major cruise lines. Keep in mind:Renovations schedules change regularly. Before committing a nonrefundable deposit on a yet-to-be remodeled ship, verify recent renovations with your travel agent or with the cruise line directly.
We can’t promise that new car smell when these ships emerge from refurbishment. But after a certain age, we think a little nip and tuck provides a welcome sense of rejuvenation.
|Line/class||Name||Entered service||Last dry dock||Next dry dock|
|Dream class||Breeze |
|Conquest class||Freedom |
|Spirit class||Miracle |
|Feb 2012 |
|Triumph class||Victory |
|Destiny class||Destiny++||1996||Feb 2013|
|Fantasy class||Paradise |
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