The newly refurbished pool deck of Carnival Fantasy
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has just completed the first phase of a $40 million refurbishment project; upgrades have been completed on two ships, with a third to receive those in spring 2010. In a different segment, Carnival Cruise Lines is refurbishing eight Fantasy-class ships in a $250 million “Evolutions of Fun” project.
On Seven Seas Mariner, soft goods were replaced throughout the luxury ship’s public areas. Latitudes, the ship’s Pan Asian restaurant, is now Prime Seven, a contemporary steakhouse. Coffee Connection was updated; an ice cream bar and pizza oven were added; and Horizons has new upholstery and a new entertainment concept.
We liked the Seven Seas Mariner’s large residential-style rattan furniture on the covered portion of the pool deck.
One big change to Carnival Fantasy is that the pool deck is now a resort-style tropical enclave with faux palm trees and gold beach umbrellas. A Mongolian wok and rotisserie were both added to the pool grill area. Main dining rooms, the buffet restaurant, 54 suites and some adjoining cabins were refurbished.
Kids will love the new massive Carnival WaterWorks area, an aqua park with a 300-foot-long spiral water slide and two 82-foot-long racing slides. Plus, a new Circle C facility caters to kids ages 12-14. Adults will like the Serenity area.
But do updated ships really help agents sell?
“Projects like our Evolutions of Fun are very important for agents because of the marketing benefits they provide,” says Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of marketing planning. Visually, he says that “new features like Serenity and WaterWorks are really great opportunities for agents to use in their marketing and should assist in creating interest and bookings for these ships.”
“We rarely get asked, ‘Has the ship recently been refurbished?’” acknowledges agent Bob Wall of Vacations at Sea. He says “unless an upgrade means adding a new feature…the general public regards the upgrades as necessary maintenance.”
When a ship is newly updated, however, agents have a great reason for soliciting feedback from returning guests, and thus a good entrée to sell the next cruise, says Thornton, adding, “The follow-up should also include a request for referrals, which should be very qualified leads.”