The totally transformed 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine – the largest Carnival Cruise Lines ship ever to be homeported in New Orleans — will sail this afternoon on its inaugural voyage from the Big Easy, embarking on a six-day cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman.
Earlier this year, Carnival Sunshine underwent a $155 million, 75-day makeover that added a variety of innovations that are part of Carnival’s groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement initiative, along with several features unique to this vessel and 182 new staterooms.
Today’s voyage kicks off a winter schedule of Caribbean departures from New Orleans that will further bolster the line’s position as the port’s number one cruise operator, carrying 330,000 guests annually on two year-round ships.
“The transformation of Carnival Sunshine is unlike anything that’s ever been done before and the results are simply extraordinary, with a variety of truly fabulous features and unique innovations for our guests to enjoy,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. “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.”
Added Gary LaGrange, Port of New Orleans’ president and CEO, “Cruising is big business at the Port of New Orleans and Carnival’s commitment of this fabulously transformed ship is evidence of that. Carnival is a wonderful partner of the Port, the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana and has been for more than two decades. Carnival has consistently increased its presence here and we will continue to work closely with them to expand in the future.”
According to a study commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association, Carnival and other cruise lines operating in the state of Louisiana account for $399 million in direct spending, generating 7,548 jobs and $294 million in income for the state’s workers.
Carnival Sunshine will provide consumers sailing from New Orleans with an unprecedented array of on-board features, including a stunning three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, an outdoor recreation area with a ropes course offering breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a massive water park highlighted by a 334-foot-long corkscrew water slide that is the longest in the Carnival fleet.
Dining choices include the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, a new full-service Asian restaurant called Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican-themed eatery, and Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network personality Guy Fieri. Exciting new bar concepts were also added such as the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the EA Sports Bar, the largest RedFrog Pub in the fleet, Latin-infused Havana Bar, and two new poolside watering holes, RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar. One-hundred-and-eighty-two cabins, including 95 new spa staterooms located adjacent to the totally renovated Cloud 9 Spa, were incorporated, as well.
Carnival Sunshine was officially named yesterday by godmother Lin Arison, a noted philanthropist and 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 donation of $25,000 each to YoungArts and the New World Symphony, both of which are 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.