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January 20, 2006

Carnival ships to get makeovers after FEMA charters

Carnival Cruise Lines' Sensation, Holiday, and Ecstasy will each undergo extensive multi-million-dollar renovations following their charter to the U.S. government for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

The Sensation and Ecstasy will be refurbished at Atlantic Marine, Mobile. (Atlantic Marine has also won a contract to refurbish Carnival's Elation which was not chartered to FEMA).

The Holiday's 20-day refurbishment will take place at Grand Bahama Shipyard, Freeport, Bahamas.

Following the FEMA charters, the vessels will resume four- and five-day service this spring, with the Sensation launching a brand new schedule from Port Canaveral, Fla., March 23, the Holiday returning to Mobile, Ala., year-round March 27, and the Ecstasy returning to Galveston, Texas, year-round April 8, 2006.

Following its new program from Port Canaveral, the Sensation will return to New Orleans to resume year-round four- and five-day cruises Oct. 26, 2006.

"Because the ships were maintained to Carnival's high standards throughout the charter period, the Holiday, Ecstasy and Sensation are all in excellent condition and these multi-million-dollar renovations will make these terrific 'Fun Ships' even better when they resume service this spring," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

Renovations to Ecstasy and Sensation

The refurbishments of the 2,052-passenger Ecstasy and Sensation, will take place at Atlantic Marine, Mobile, Ala.

Atlantic Marine will hire 35 craftsmen earning between $17 and $19 per hour for the job, the Mobile Register quotes Herschel Vinyard, vice president of Atlantic Marine Holding Co. as saying.

The rest of the work will be handled by some of Atlantic Marine's current 500 employees and about 300 private Carnival contractors, Vinyard told the newspaper.

Additions to the two ships will include new nine-hole miniature golf courses and new 1,600-square-foot Children's World play areas.

Aft lounges on both ships will be reconfigured to house new family recreation areas featuring audio/visual equipment for displaying movies and other programming.

The Ecstasy and Sensation will also house new art galleries and 1,200-square-foot conference rooms.

All of the Ecstasy's 1,026 cabins, including 54 suites, will be completely refurbished, while new lighting, flooring, wall coverings and dessert stations will be added to the Panorama Bar & Grill poolside restaurant. The ship's gift shop will be renovated, as well.

A patisserie and a new photo gallery will be installed on the Sensation's promenade, while a redesigned Internet cafe will be located adjacent to the purser's information desk on Empress Deck.

The Sensation's 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival facility will also be renovated and a poolside stage will be relocated to a covered area on Lido Deck, providing guests with more space for sunning and relaxing. Suites on the Sensation will also be refurbished to include an entirely new decor and completely remodeled bathrooms.

Holiday Refurbishment

The Holiday's refurbishment at Grand Bahama Shipyard will include a totally redesigned lobby area with new seating, and new carpeting and tile work throughout.

In addition to cosmetic enhancements throughout the vessel, a new nine-hole miniature golf course will be added to Verandah Deck.

The Four Winds and Seven Seas main dining rooms will receive new ceilings and new and updated galley equipment. The beauty salon in the Spa Carnival facility will also receive a makeover with new exercise equipment, carpeting and tile work.

New Schedules

The Sensation's new schedule from Port Canaveral will run March 23 - Oct. 19, 2006 (the Elation will take over the program Oct. 23, 2006). Four-day cruises visit Nassau and either Freeport or Half Moon Cay, while five-day cruises call at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

The Sensation will then reposition to New Orleans to resume year-round four- and five-day cruises beginning Oct. 26, 2006. Four-day cruises departing Thursdays visit Cozumel while five-day cruises departing Mondays and Saturdays feature Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen or Costa Maya.

The Holiday will return to Mobile March 27, 2006, to resume year-round four- and five-day Mexico cruises the only year-round program from that port. Four-day cruises to Cozumel depart Thursdays and five-day voyages to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen or Costa Maya depart Mondays and Saturdays.

The Ecstasy will resume its previously operated schedule from Galveston beginning April 8, 2006. On this route, four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Calica while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays and visit Progreso and Cozumel.