Captain Rosario Arena has sailed on or commanded almost all of the Carnival ships. (See profile of Captain Arena). Thus, he is well-placed to explain how his latest command, Carnival Sunshine, fits into the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet.
Carnival Sunshine was once the Carnival Destiny - - a landmark ship, both in maritime history and in the story of Carnival. Cruise Lines. “She was the first big ship in the world - - 1996. Of course, everything starts from this one.” The subsequent large Carnival ships were an “evolution” from Carnival Destiny.
Nonetheless, as this decade began, Carnival began to think about changing the Destiny. “Everything changes. The demands of the guests change. We cannot remain like the Mardi Gras [Carnival's first ship]. The requirements are completely different.”
This was not a project that could be undertaken without extensive planning. “They checked every single thing onboard to see if they could do it. Everyone was involved, not just Carnival [but also shipbuilder Fincantieri and outside design firms], everyone. Three months of dry dock, intensive.”
In 2013, Carnival Destiny exited the dry dock as Carnival Sunshine. “It's a huge difference. From the guests' point of view, it is a new ship. If you [look at] all the operations, it is completely different than before. We have many more facilities for guests to enjoy their stay aboard. They put other decks on top. Even the shape of the ship is different than on Destiny. So Sunshine is a different ship.”
The revitalization included both the cabins and the public areas. In addition changes were made behind the scenes. “They did a lot of jobs on the technical side. The engine room, the control room, the bridge - - we put in new equipment, the new electronic charts. Even on the nautical side, they spent the money and it has been upgraded too.”
Whereas most cruise ships refits seek to spruce up or augment what was there before, the Carnival Sunshine project sought to radically change the cruise experience offered by the ship bringing it in line with the cruise experience offered on Carnival's latest ships.
“It is what I call a new generation ship because it is a small Carnival Breeze. [Sunshine has features offered] only in the Dream class but not on the rest [of the Carnival fleet].”
“When I came [to Carnival Sunshine] I went around and you realize that it is something different. Other [Carnival] ships are nice but still they are like old style. This one is like the new generation. Something different - - the colors, the settings. It is so relaxed, a nice relaxed ship, a beautiful ship.”
In addition, Carnival Sunshine offers guests more options in dining, entertainment and outdoor facilities. “You have so many areas where you can spend your time. When I go around, I see there is so much life, everywhere. The guests really enjoy staying here.”
“It is now one of the top [Carnival ships]. Everyone who comes aboard really likes the ship. They come here and say, 'Captain, you have a beautiful ship."
Of course, having beautiful facilities only gets you half way. You also need good people to operate them. “We always think about the crew. So we did extra cabins for crew. We did the new crew lounge. We did a new smoking area for crew. The crew members like to come back here. They like Sunshine.”
In the summer 2016, Carnival Sunshine began sailing from New York City. “New York is one of the best cities in the States. It is like a symbol. When I [brought the ship out of the harbor], I was a bit proud. Its not like normal ports, something special. You also have history, New York the old Italian Line ships, Michelangelo, Raphaelo, so on [sailed here]. Even the piers are still the same. So its really emotional.”
Cruise ship inside interviews - Carnival Cruise Lines - Carnival Sunshine - Captain Rosario Arena