Managing Multiple Drydock Projects For Biggest Fleet

With 27 ships, Carnival Cruise Line has the world’s largest fleet to look after, meaning an intensive drydock program, including early 2020 dates for the Sensation, Miracle and Elation before a huge nine-figure project converting the Victory into the Radiance over 58 days, according to Lisa McCabe, vice president of revitalization and hotel refurbishment.

The Ecstasy, Imagination and Splendor completed the company’s 2019 drydock schedule in a trio of locations. The Ecstasy was out of the water in Freeport, while the Imagination drydocked at VIGOR in Portland and the Splendor was in Singapore for a lengthy conversion aimed at adapting her to the Australian market.

“There were a lot of new features, including a water park we haven’t done before,” McCabe told Cruise Industry News. “It was an exciting drydock.”

The new water park includes two waterslides towering 50 meters high and a SplashZone. Four new restaurants will also debut, Masala Tiger, Fahrenheit 555, Pizzeria del Capitano and the Seafood Shack.

Following the New Year, the Sensation was scheduled to drydock in Freeport for two weeks.

The Miracle will follow, becoming the last of the company’s Spirit-class ships to get a revamped waterpark, Fun Ship 2.0 features and a large shopping update over the span of 20 days.

From left: Carnival Dream in drydock; Lisa McCabe

“Then we go to the Elation, working on phase two of what we did three years ago,” McCabe continued. “We are adding some new venues, including the Alchemy Bar, and reworking some of the layout on the ship. There is a new comedy lounge and we are adding cabins to the existing aft lounge.”

While the Elation’s work spans 24 days, it also overlaps with the two-month project that will see the Carnival Victory turned into the Radiance in Cadiz.

With an estimated budget of $200 million, the Radiance will appear as if new, with massive interior updates, new venues and more. The project is similar in scope to the Carnival Triumph’s 2019 transformation into the Carnival Sunrise, which also took place at Navantia.

New venues on the Radiance include Big Chicken, which will in-turn reposition the Seafood Shack. The spa remake is intensive too, McCabe said, and the company’s show lounge is being converted from three levels to two. The additional space created will be used to house additional staterooms.

One more drydock follows, as the Fascination is set for a routine stop in Freeport later in 2020.

2021 will also be a major refurbishment year for the cruise brand as more drydock capacity is expected to come back online in Freeport, giving Carnival more dock options for its big ships.

As Carnival adds venues, waterparks and cabins to existing vessels, weight is a key concern.

Removing tile from existing staterooms can help alleviate weight gains, McCabe said.

“We can take advantage of that and remove materials and come in with lighter-weight materials,” she said. “You have to make sure you make the ship lighter or heavier in the right spot … sometimes you might think you are helping but it needs to be communicated.”

If Carnival is adding an upper block or ducktail on its ships, it likes to drydock at a yard that can fabricate the item, saving time and money on shipping. 

Other logistical items include the sheer amount of labor required: upwards of 1,000 workers in some cases.

“In Spain its beneficial to use local labor. You don’t have to lodge them all,” McCabe said.

Lodging can be a tricky item. With staterooms being worked on, Carnival may need to find places for laborers to live and figure out how to feed them. For the Triumph-to-Sunrise conversion, accommodation vessels were brought in as hotels and dining halls.

“Logistics is very important,” McCabe said. “The infrastructure of the shipyard is very beneficial to our project.”

And with 1,000s of containers, Carnival collaborates with its suppliers, contractors and the yard, prioritizing what gets loaded and when.

“We have a priority order that is preplanned for the drydock. The contractors have deadlines to submit loading requirements. They can’t have everything the first day.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Winter 2019-2020

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