Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun April 03 2016

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  • Amber Nolan | April 3, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Keeping it Fresh: 6 Best Cruise Refurbishments

    Keeping it Fresh: 6 Best Cruise Refurbishments

    PHOTO: Carnival Sunshine. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

    Every few years, cruise ships undergo refurbishments to stay fresh and modern, and while some are routine maintenance, others see complete overhauls that introduce new venues and staterooms. As attention-grabbing vessels debut with outlandish new features, cruise lines are launching major campaigns to get the rest of the fleet looking just as snazzy. Here are six impressive cruise ship refurbishments.  

    Carnival Sunshine

    Carnival Destiny was originally constructed in 1996, but was reborn as Carnival Sunshine in May 2013. The renovation included nearly every area of the vessel as it underwent the “Fun Ship 2.0” makeover to the tune of a staggering $155 million — the largest refurb of the fleet.

    READ MORE: Why Fleet Maintenance is So Important for Cruise Lines

    Upgrades for the kids (and young at heart), included a massive sports venue with the first-ever ropes course at sea as well as “Waterworks” — the new park consisting of three thrilling waterslides and a massive splash bucket. For adults, there is the Red Frog Pub, Cloud 9 spa balcony staterooms, and the Serenity Lounge with a small pool and hot tub.

    Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas

    Fresh off a January 2016 dry dock, Liberty of the Seas is showing off her new look with major changes to the open decks and a new waterpark as the centerpiece. Three slides make up the spanking new Perfect Storm: a boomerang slide called Tidal Wave and two racing slides (Cyclone and Typhoon) — all located next to the surf simulator. The H20 zone has been transformed into Splashaway Bay — a kid’s play area with water cannons, buckets, and more. Giovanni’s Table (an Italian trattoria) and Sabor Mexican restaurant were added, and 26 panoramic oceanview rooms were installed with massive windows.

    Holland America’s ms Eurodam

    In preparation for the launch of ms Koningsdam, Holland America has made some changes to the ms Eurodam as part of a $300 million fleet-wide refurbishment program. Suites were enhanced with quartz countertops, furniture, carpeting, USB charging ports, LED reading lamps, sound machines and coffee makers, and a variety of free movie options on flat screen televisions.

    The Northern Lights nightclub has been replaced by Gallery Bar for sophisticated cocktails, unique artwork, and a speakeasy vibe. The venue spills out into the casino and “Billboard Onboard,” a new space that features pianists playing some all-time-favorites. Another new addition is Lincoln Center stage, which showcases talented classical musicians.

    Windstar’s Star Breeze, Star Legend

    In April and May 2015 the Star Breeze and Star Legend debuted following extensive bow-to-stern refurbishments. These included extending the Star deck an extra four feet and installing a new pool and whirlpool; adding an expanded verandah for dining al fresco; replacing the club space with the popular Compass Rose lounge, and introducing a movie screening room. New decor, enhancements and overhauls to every aspect of the vessels cost Windstar $17 million and the result is two gorgeous, all-suite yachts.

    NCL’s Pride of America

    Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Pride of America is based in Hawaii, and she just finished her $30 million refurbishment this March. The ship received a new gelateria (Dolce Gelato), East Meets West Asian restaurant, and a redesigned pool deck with new Jacuzzis and lounge chairs —complete with a “matching” look at Ocean Drive Bar. Every stateroom was refreshed with new bedding and furniture, and the Atrium and John Adams Bar now have a fresh, modern feel. The changes are part of the “Norwegian Edge,” a new program that includes $400 million of ship enhancements and other improvements.

    READ MORE: Discussing Cruise Guest Experience Technologies with UIEvolution

    Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas

    A lot has changed since Empress of the Seas first sailed for Royal Caribbean in 2004 (although the ship was built in 1990), so she has come catching up to do. The ship returns to the fleet this April and after spending more than seven years under the Pullmantur cruise brand, she’s undergoing some serious changes. Staterooms will be refreshed, a Casino Royale will be reintroduced as well as Boleros Latin Lounge, Chop’s Grill — the signature restaurant, Vitality Spa, a rock climbing wall, and an adults-only pool and solarium. There are rumors about her heading to Cuba, but as of now she is scheduled to sail from Miami to Key West and Cozumel.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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