Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review:
Carnival Cruise Lines took delivery of their newest and largest ship the 130,000 gross ton, 3,690 passenger (double occupancy) CARNIVAL BREEZE on May 30th. Like most Carnival products, the ship was built at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard which itself celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.
Having completed the three-ship “Dream Class” Carnival placed an order for an even larger 135,000 gross ton vessel to be delivered in 2016 and carrying upwards of 4,000 passengers. Carnival Cruise Lines earned perfect scores in February on four of their ships during U.S. Public Health inspections. Some of the oldest and newest members of the fleet were recognized as the cleanest of the clean with the CARNIVAL SENSATION (ex SENSATION), CARNIVAL PRIDE, CARNIVAL FREEDOM and CARNIVAL DREAM all receiving scores of 100 percent. CARNIVAL IMAGINATION (ex IMAGINATION) joined the elite club later in the year.
Carnival plans to expand their presence on the U.S. West coast by early 2014 when the CARNIVAL IMAGINATION joins her 2,052 passenger sister CARNIVAL INSPIRATION (ex INSPIRATION) on three and four day cruises to Mexico from the port of Long Beach. CARNIVAL SPLENDOR which will abandon Long Beach in February, 2013 will be replaced by the 88,500 gross ton CARNIVAL MIRACLE seasonally beginning in October. Sister vessel, CARNIVAL SPIRIT has taken up a permanent year-round position in Australia and onboard services and facilities have been adapted to suit Aussie tastes. This includes better coffee, more and different beer and no tipping.
On the other hand, if you love paying extra fees on airlines, then one of two programs in the testing phase from Carnival might be just the thing to get your cruise off to an expensive start. “Faster To The Fun” offers guests a charge of $49.95 per stateroom for early boarding, priority in making dinner reservations, and choice of tender times and disembarkation. If passenger response is sufficient, ancillary fees will be rolled out throughout the fleet and no doubt across the entire cruise industry. A second test program should prove more popular as it addresses the growing problem of passengers reserving deck chairs while they do other things, sometimes for hours on end. Much like a parking meter, a sticker is placed on a deck chair and after forty minutes of non-use, passenger’s belongings will be removed and held at the towel station to be reclaimed. With ships so large and too many passengers aboard, finding a lounge chair near the pool can become a frustrating, rather than relaxing experience. The first cruise ship of over 100,000 gross tons, CARNIVAL DESTINY has sailed its last year under that name.
Carnival has announced plans to heavily transform the 1996-built, 101,353 gross ton ship, into the CARNIVAL SUNSHINE in a refit scheduled to finish in April, 2013. Passenger capacity will be increased by 364 guests to a lower berth total of 3,006. Carnival is calling it “our most ambitious ship conversion project to date…” The CARNIVAL DESTINY was the final ship that company founder Ted Arison saw completed during his lifetime and the historic status of the vessel in breaking, what up until then was the 100,000 gross ton size barrier, will remain even if the original structural integrity of the ship, does not.
Carnival Japan, Inc. was formed in March and officially opened their Tokyo office on June 27th. The new division will oversee the largest deployment ever by a global cruise line in the Japanese market with the launch of Princess Cruises homeport sailings, specially developed for Japanese travelers. The inaugural season begins aboard the SUN PRINCESS in April 2013. The office will handle sales and logistics for not only Princess Cruises but all Carnival brands in Japan. If successful, it may develop in the same way Carnival Australia has, utilizing the company’s older tonnage. This division is a small part of Carnival’s greater expansion in Asia.
Shawn Dake is a freelance photo-journalist and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters.com. For more than a decade he has written his annual “Cruise Ships, The Year In Review” which has now grown to a nearly 15,000 word essay recalling all of the events that have taken place within the cruise industry the previous year.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.