Old cruise ships get extreme makeover

It’s part of the normal process of maintenance, taking a ship out of water from time to time to do things they just can’t do while in operation. That can include anything from scraping the hull, normally under water to replacing worn carpets. Recently, ships going into what is called “dry dock” are having some additional features added that reflect a changing demand by consumers.

Most recently, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun came out of a 12-day dry dock where it received a bunch of new features. A focus on enhancements to the ship’s public areas, suites and restaurants added a Brazilian steakhouse, updated décor in all 33 of the ship’s luxury suites, improvements to the kids area and yes, replacement of carpets and wall coverings in public areas.

“We have a company-wide commitment to ensuring our ships are in excellent condition. Therefore, Norwegian Sun is the first of three ships this year that will enter dry dock for enhancements, along with several that will take place in 2012,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer.

Other lines go through similar makeovers, adding features made popular by their newest ships to older models in an effort to keep them relevant. Sometimes, lines will borrow ideas from competitors too.

%Gallery-113908%Norwegian Epic’s solo studios were such a hit that Royal Caribbean is adding some to one of their older ships, Radiance of the Seas, during a makeover of sorts. Norwegian made headlines with single guest accommodations when it debuted Norwegian Epic last summer. Solo cruisers have long been an under-served market. Cruise lines base pricing on double occupancy and solo cruisers often pay double the per person rate.

Other lines have made significant investments in their existing fleets too. Carnival Cruise Line’s recent “Evolutions of Fun” program added Carnival “WaterWorks” Aqua Park and Serenity adults-only retreat, redesigned main pool area and new casual dining choices. Holland America too joined it with their $525 million Signature of Excellence upgrades, with enhancements to cabins, pool decks with their own version of the popular adults-only retreat and entertainment options featuring new on-board enrichment programs.

Celebrity Cruises is another great example of how sailing older ships does not mean you miss out on all the new features. Popular new Solstice-class ships have unique new features that have been added to older ships on their own makeovers. Some of the new updates include adding a signature venues “Tuscan Grille” steakhouse as well as the “Bistro on Five” and a popular ice-topped Martini Bar plus a new Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the “Enomatic” state-of-the-art wine serving system allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button.

“All of our new venues and attributes are designed to enhance that all-important feeling of getting away and fully enjoying every aspect of Celebrity’s upscale on-board experience.” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Abrahan.

Look for other lines to add new-ship features to their existing fleet too. As new ships sail, cruise lines are closely monitoring the performance of new features as well as comments by guests. You can bet if something is popular on the latest, greatest ship at sea, you’ll see it on an older ship sometime soon.