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Carnival Triumph
Carnival Triumph

Which Cruise Ships Are Getting a Facelift in 2019 and Why You Should Care

In 2019, four cruise lines are taking their older ships from ho-hum to wow through a series of refurbishments, adding everything from cushier beds to thrilling water parks. A fifth cruise line is putting one of its newest ships under the knife to get it ready for a prime time debut in the U.S. after sailing in Asia.

Here are the ships getting significant refurbishments in 2019, and why you'll want to know all about them.

Updated February 27, 2019

Celebrity Millennium/Celebrity Summit/Celebrity Equinox

Celebrity Millennium
The Revolution has begun at Celebrity Cruises, with the first of several multimillion dollar refurbs, collectively known as the Celebrity Revolution program, already done. Celebrity Millennium returned to service after a 35-day dry dock that saw all the staterooms and suites completely upgraded with a new look and new furniture. Other improvements included a redesign of the Oceanview Cafe buffet, and upgrades to the Sunset Bar, Rendezvous Lounge, the Persian Garden thermal suite, the spa and fitness center and casino.

Celebrity Summit will be the next ship to undergo the knife, in March, followed by Celebrity Equinox in June (though that refurb will be slightly less extensive).

Why You'll Care: Fans of Celebrity Cruises are going to love the Revolutionized ships, especially the fully refurbished rooms with extra-cushy bedding. Suite cruisers will especially be pleased as all three ships will have the all-new, exclusive The Retreat lounge and sundeck; Equinox, specifically, will also get new suites added including one of the line's extra luxe Reflection Suites.

Also look for an all new Gastrobar and the line's superfast Xcelerate Wi-Fi service with Bluetooth support.


Carnival Triumph

Carnival Sunrise (Photo: Carnival)
The vessel known as Carnival Triumph goes into dry dock on March 1, 2019, where it will undergo a $200-million facelift that will see almost the entire ship reimagined. In fact, the changes will be so extreme, it will, for all intents and purposes, be an entirely new ship when it emerges. To mark that change, Carnival will rename the ship Carnival Sunrise.

Why You'll Care: When it emerges from dry dock, the ship, which as Carnival Triumph had only five dining venues and no real top deck wow factor, will boast 14 free and extra-fee restaurants, as well as adrenaline-pumping outdoor features including a ropes course and a Waterworks park with two 200-foot-plus-long water slides. The ship will also get the fun and funky RedFrog Pub, and all cabins will be completely refitted with new beds and furniture.


Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Joy
The first ship at sea to ever boast a go-kart race track, Norwegian Joy launched in 2017 and has been sailing in Asia ever since. This year, Norwegian Cruise Line is pulling the ship from its Eastern base and bringing it to the United States. Before it starts its scheduled Alaska sailings, the ship will undergo a massive multimillion-dollar refurbishment that will see nearly 15 new spaces added and the go-kart track expanded.

Why You'll Care: When Norwegian Joy debuts in Seattle in late spring it will feel shiny and new with several just-for-the-Chinese spaces (tea rooms, noodle bars) swapped out for more Western-oriented eateries and bars including Q Texas Smokehouse, Maltings Whiskey Bar, Starbucks, The Local Bar and Grill, District Brew House and the Cavern Club, with its in-house The Beatles tribute band.

Active cruisers will love the Aqua Park with its two multistory water slides, the two-level go-kart race track, a top-deck open-air laser tag course and the Galaxy Pavilion, which is packed with virtual reality and arcade games, a 4D cinema and hovercraft bumper cars.


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Caribbean Princess

Caribbean Princess
Caribbean Princess is one of the line's most up-to-date ships already, having undergone a multimillion dollar refurb in the summer of 2017. Nevertheless, the ship goes back into dry dock this June and will receive the line's first family-focused outdoor space: the Reef Family Splash Zone.

Why You'll Care: With the new splash zone, Caribbean Princess becomes the most family-focused cruise ship in the Princess fleet. Those with little ones in tow will love the new kiddie pool and interactive water playground. Teens will particularly enjoy the backyard-style game zone (packed with cornhole, Jenga and other similar games) with sofa sectionals for just hanging out and a kid-friendly bar serving mocktails.


Navigator of the Seas
Royal Caribbean embarked on a four-year, $900 million, 10-ship refurbishment journey last year when it put Independence and Mariner of the Seas under the knife. In 2019, three more ships will get massive facelifts with Navigator of the Seas the first up, followed by Voyager and Oasis of the Seas later in the year.

Updates will include a lineup of firsts for Royal Caribbean, as well as the continued rollout of water slides and a range of fun nightlife and dining options.

Why You'll Care: Royal Caribbean has only released details of its Navigator of the Seas refurb, and it's a doozy. The $115 million modernization will include a new pool design, two thrilling water slides, a dedicated escape room, a blow dry bar and new lounges, bars and restaurants.

Thrillseekers will want to sail just for the water slides, the first of which -- the Blaster -- is an aqua coaster that uses a two-person raft to propel riders through more than 800 feet of hills, drops and straightaways. The second slide, Riptide, will plunge riders headfirst down the industry's only mat racer.

We can only assume the Voyager and Oasis refurbs will be equally exciting.

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