Ship History: Carnival Sensation

As the Carnival Sensation is retired from service, Cruise Industry News looks at the history of this popular Fantasy-Class vessel.

1990: The Fantasy entered service as the lead ship of an eight-vessel class that also includes the Sensation – a 2,040-guest vessel built by the Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland, at a cost of $300 million.  

1993: The Sensation is christened in November, with four Carnival vice presidents serving as godmothers: Vicki L. Freed, Roberta Jacoby, Cherie Weinstein and Geri Donnelly. The vessel then sets sail on its inaugural voyage, launching a year-round program of weekly Caribbean cruises from Miami.  

1998: After undergoing its first mandatory drydock, the Sensation is repositioned, debuting in Tampa. In December, the vessel launches a series of week-long cruises to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans from its new Florida homeport.

2000: The Sensation is reflagged, with its registry port changing from Monrovia, Liberia, to Nassau, Bahamas.

2002: As Carnival shifts its fleet around Florida and the Gulf Ports, the Sensation is transferred to the short cruise market. Still sailing from Tampa, the vessel takes over the 1986-built Jubilee’s schedule in August, offering four- and five-night cruises to Western Caribbean.

2004: With the new Carnival Miracle debuting in Tampa, the Sensation is once again repositioned. This time, the vessel debuts in New Orleans, launching a series of four- and five-night cruises to Mexico in October.  

2005: As the Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana in September, the Sensation is diverted to Galveston with two of its scheduled cruises now departing from the Texas port.

2005: Soon after, the vessel is chartered to FEMA as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans. During a six-month period, the Sensation remained docked in the Gulf region while serving as a temporary house for people affected by the natural disaster.

2006: After its first significant renovation, the Sensation resumed service in March. With new features that included a nine-hole mini-golf course, larger kid facilities and a reconfigured aft lounge, the vessel kicked off a series of short cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral.  

2007: In line with other ships of the fleet, the Sensation received the Carnival prefix to its name, becoming the Carnival Sensation.

2009: As part of the Evolutions of Fun, a $250-million fleet update program, the Carnival Sensation saw a major refit in 2009. At the 35-day drydock, the vessel also received 98 balconies, which were retrofitted to existing cabins.

2016: As part of a deployment shuffle, the ship is replaced in Port Canaveral by the Carnival Victory and returns to Miami. Starting in February, the Carnival Sensation debuts a program of five- and four-night cruises from its new homeport, with itineraries visiting the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas.  

2017: In February, the vessel emerges from another extensive renovation, sporting a selection of new food and beverage concepts, as well as a new children’s play area and more.

2019: During the first months of the year, the Carnival Sensation offered cruises to Havana, Cuba. The Miami-based program was halted in June, as the U.S. Administration banned recreational travel to the country

2020: On March 9, the vessel departed on what ended up being its last revenue cruise. Leaving from Miami, the five-night voyage included visits to Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. Soon after the voyage, the vessel entered a lay-up status, along with the entire Carnival fleet.

2020: In October, while out of revenue service near Florida, the Sensation answered to a distress call and rescues 24 individuals from a sinking boat.

2022: As part of reviews to its fleet and homeport strategies, Carnival announced the retirement of the Carnival Sensation in February. A few weeks later, in late March, the vessel sailed from Miami to Aliaga, where it is set to be scrapped over the next months.

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