Some of the Most Dramatic Cruise Ship Conversions

Cruise lines are no strangers to huge drydock projects which often include vessel conversions or significant changes.

With sometimes hundreds of millions dollars invested in drydocks, cruise ships are sometimes transformed beyond recognition.

From former cruise ferries and ocean liners to modern cruise ships, here are some of the biggest refits in cruise history:

Sally Albatross – Celestyal Crystal

Celestyal Crystal - Sally Albatross

Originally built as a cruise ferry, the Celestyal Crystal was transformed in the early 1990s. After suffering a major fire, she was rebuilt into a true cruise ship with an entirely new superstructure and a lengthened hull.

The vessel’s tonnage was increased from the original 14,330 GT to 25,076 GT, while the passenger capacity went from 1,016 to 1,452 at double occupancy. Before joining Celestyal’s fleet, the ship had also spent time sailing for Norwegian Cruise Line, Star Cruises, Silja Line, and other cruise lines.

Costa neoRomantica – Celestyal ExperienceCelestyal Experience Costa neoRomantica


Celestyal Experience Costa neoRomantica

Now named Celestyal Experience, the Costa Romantica was subject to a major refit in 2011. The 1993-built vessel was entirely rebuilt in Genoa, with the addition of new public areas and the transformation of others.

The area previously occupied by the theater, for example, was turned into a 4,200-square-meter spa and wellness center, while the casino was turned into a show-lounge.

The 95-million euro job also included the addition of 111 new cabins and the creation of balconies in 160 of the existing cabins.

Most of the new staterooms were added on two new half-decks, installed on the forward section of the ship. After the refit, the vessel sailed as Costa neoRomantica until 2020. It was then bought by Celestyal Cruises.

Stockholm – Astoria

Astoria Stockholm

One of the oldest cruise ships in the world, the Astoria is a rebuilt ocean liner from the late 1940s. The vessel was reconstructed in 1993, receiving new engines, a new superstructure, and a new stern design.

All public areas and cabins were upgraded, and the guest capacity was increased to 556 at double occupancy. A new pool deck was also created at the stern.

Carnival Destiny – Carnival Sunshine

Carnival Sunshine Carnival Destiny

Carnival Sunshine Carnival Destiny

Launched in 1996, the Carnival Destiny underwent a $155 million refit in 2013. During the 49-day drydock, the vessel was completely redesigned and enlarged with the addition of a new partial deck and the extension of two other decks.

In total, the Destiny received 182 new cabins while all staterooms received a new tropical look and feel inspired by the Caribbean. All public rooms were redesigned, too, incorporating a more contemporary look. New features added included a new pool deck, new lounges, and dining venues.

To reflect the extent of the refurb, Carnival decided to rename the ship, which currently sails as Carnival Sunshine.

Norwegian Spirit

Norwegian Spirit

Upon completing her 20 years in service, the Norwegian Spirit was subject to a $100 million revitalization. Last January, the 1999-built vessel entered a drydock in France to be completely redesigned and modernized.

After 40 days, the Spirit reemerged with 14 new venues, additional staterooms, and an expanded spa. The ship also got new hull art and an adults-only retreat called Spice H2O. 

France – Norway  

France conversion into the Norway

In 1979, the SS France began its transformation into Norway. Bought by Norwegian Cruise Line, the former transatlantic liner was converted into a cruise ship during a multimillion-dollar refit in Germany.

At a shipyard in Bremerhaven, the 1960-built vessel was essentially reconstructed, with the addition of new pool decks, public areas, cabins and open decks. It also received a new propulsion plant and a complete set of bow and stern thrusters.

After the work, the Norway was the biggest passenger ship in the world.

Star Breeze   

The Star Breeze was the first ship to be included in Windstar’s Star Plus Initiative, a $250 million fleet modernization project.

In October 2019, the vessel was cut in half at Fincantieri to receive a new 25-meter-long section. With the addition, the ship received 50 new suites, two new restaurants and new bathrooms in all cabins and public areas.

The ship also received four new engines, two new tenders and refurbished public areas.

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