Cruise Features

Top 10 cruise ship refit and refurbishments in 2020

This year is going to be the busiest on record for cruise ship dry-dockings, not only because of the sheer number of cruise ships going into dry dock (more than 100), but also because of the complexity of the work being done on them.

Celebrity alone is refitting three cruise ships this year

RELATED: Royal Caribbean refurbished five cruise ships in 2019

RELATED: Cruise Industry: Why cruise lines cut their ships in half

Cruise ships dry-dockings have moved away from fairly simple ‘spit and polish’ jobs with new paint and soft furnishings added, to near-total overhauls and redesigns of interior spaces, creating in some cases a whole new ship (such as Carnival Sunshine, formerly Carnival Destiny) and her transformed sister-ships.

With demand for cruises growing and showing no signs of abating, cruise lines are not only ordering new cruise ships in record numbers, but also looking to get more service life out of their older tonnage, leading to some truly impressive refit and refurbishment projects.

Here are the ten we’re most excited about for 2020:

Norwegian Spirit

Norwegian Cruise Line

(January – February)

Norwegian Spirit has undergone a $100-million transformation 

Norwegian Spirit has just completed a US $100-million refit and refurbishment that saw the ship’s public spaces and staterooms transformed from early-2000s chic to modern elegance. The refurbishment has been done directly before her cruise to Dubai and South Africa.

Norwegian Spirit – Spinnaker Lounge

There are now 14 new cafes, restaurants, bars and lounges, extra staterooms (such as the all-new Suite Stateroom) and an expanded Mandara Spa onboard. Among the new restaurants will be new complimentary dining venues, including The Local Bar & Grill, The Great Outdoors, Garden Café and guest-favourite Italian restaurant La Cucina.

Norwegian Spirit will introduced a new suite category after her refit

New specialty dining venues include Onda by Scarpetta, which debuted last year aboard the new Norwegian Encore, while brand new bars and lounges include the Spinnaker Lounge, Magnum’s Champagne and Wine Bar, Bliss Ultra Lounge and the Humidor Cigar Lounge.

Norwegian Spirit refurbishment – Spice H2O Lounge

Norwegian Spirit has also been customised for adult passengers. Splash Academy, the children’s waterpark, has been replaced with the adults-only retreat Spice H2O, a daytime lounge featuring two new hot tubs and a dedicated bar, which transforms into an after-hours entertainment venue.

Norwegian Spirit – Mandara Spa

Last but not least, Mandara Spa has doubled in size to nearly 7,000 square feet and includes a relaxation area with heated loungers, a new Jacuzzi room, a sauna, steam room and water therapy experience.

For more see our story on the refit here.

Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Cruises


External changes will see Celebrity Silhouette get the line’s characteristic blue livery on her hull

New onboard features for Celebrity Silhouette will include The Retreat Lounge and Retreat Sundeck for suite class passengers, while the Lawn Club will be transformed into a new shaded lounge and relaxation area. The Lawn Club will let guests dine near a lawn of fresh-cut grass while surrounded by an endless view of the sea. At-table grilling will be available, along with a gourmet salad bar, build your own pizza, and more than 12 grill specialties, including USDA Choice Beef; poultry; seafood; and vegetables.

Craft Social is coming to Celebrity Silhouette

She’ll also feature a new Craft Social bar, where 40 craft beers will be available for guests, along with creative cocktails and gourmet comfort food.

Staterooms are also getting an upgrade

All her staterooms are also being upgraded, with new eXhale bedding featuring the luxurious cashmere mattress, and details like ingeniously optimized storage, every aspect of the staterooms is being rethought, according to Celebrity Cruises.

Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International

(January – March)

Freedom of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean ship to get the Royal Amplified treatment in 2020

Royal Caribbean is spending upwards of a billion dollars on its Royal Amplification project, which is seeing 10 of its older cruise ships under-going huge refurbishment projects to bring them up to spec with new Oasis vessels like Symphony of the Seas and the Quantum-class ships.

Giovanni’s is coming to Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas is going into dry-dock until March this year for her own refurbishment.

On The Perfect Storm, passengers race each other through three stories of twists and turns on Cyclone and Typhoon

The lead ship in the eponymous Freedom-class, she’ll receive a US $116-million upgrade that will introduce high-energy features and guest favourites such as the Perfect Storm duo of waterslides, a redesigned Caribbean lido, a redesigned Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and completely transformed kids and teens spaces.

The new waterpark for Freedom of the Seas

She’ll receive the Perfect Storm slides, a new waterpark and re-designed pool deck, along with new dining options, like Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, a fresh, new twist on a guest favourite, where passengers can have their pick from authentic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, including made-to-order pizzas hand tossed front and centre, and baked in the new, in-house pizza oven.

For more, see our story on the refit here.

Carnival Radiance (formerly Carnival Victory)

Carnival Cruise Line

(March – April)

Carnival Victory is going into dry-dock to be transformed into Carnival Radiance

Carnival Victory is set to undergo a massive refit and refurbishment this year that is so extensive, her name will be changed to reflect the fact that she is essentially, a whole new ship. The refurbishment of Carnival Victory will complete a massive US $2-billion 20-ship fleetwide enhancement program undertaken by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2011, and will affect every single space aboard.

Cucina del Capitano

Six new dining options will be added, such as Italian restaurant Cucina del Capitano, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, full-service Asian restaurant Bonsai Sushi, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse and a re-imagined poolside grill called Lido Marketplace to name a few.

RedFrog Pub

Five new bars and lounges include the Warehouse with a variety of the latest video and arcade games, RedFrog Pub featuring the Caribbean’s best rums and beers, Piano Bar 88 with themed nights, engaging new décor and spontaneous sing-along fun, and Limelight Lounge: home to the Punchliner Comedy Club.

SkyCourse ropes course

Then there’s the new suspended ropes course up top, a 203-foot-long AquaTunnel slide and Carnival’s signature 212-foot-long Twister slide along with a 75-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket in the new waterpark, a new adults area and spa, and new cabin categories like luxurious Captain’s Suites with floor to ceiling windows.

For more, see our full report on her refurbishment here.

Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International

(March – May)

Allure of the Seas is to be brought up to date with a massive refit and refurbishment

Allure of the Seas, the second ship in the Oasis-class, is undergoing a US $165-million refit and refurbishment in March to bring her up-to-date with Symphony of the Seas. Among the highlights are the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, completely redesigned Adventure Ocean kids and teens spaces, the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Quantum Class original Music Hall.

Music Hall will be introduced aboard Allure of the Seas

All her dedicated spaces for babies, kids and teens, will also be upgraded, along with the popular Royal Caribbean activities. A new laser tag arena will also be added to the ship, offering a range of adventures from Clash for the Crystal City and Royal Escape Room to Apollo 18: Lunar Landing.

The ship will also offer more restaurants, casual spots and bars such as Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Portside BBQ, Playmaker’s Sports Bar & Arcade, El Loco Fresh, Sugar Beach and the Quantum favourite, Bionic Bar.

For more, see our full report on Allure’s refurb here.

Explorer of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International

(March – April)

Explorer of the Seas is the fourth of the Voyager-class to be refurbished

Explorer of the Seas is the fourth ship in the Voyager Class to undergo a refit and refurbishment as part of Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. Her US $110-million upgrade will see the Perfect Storm racer waterslides, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, a and a standalone Starbucks outlet added.

Perfect Storm waterslides are coming to Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas will also get a redesigned, resort-style poolscape with signature poolside bar The Lime & Coconut and transformed kids and teens spaces, such as an exclusive teens hangout with a whole new look and features, including the latest in movies, gaming and music, and the addition of a private outdoor deck.

For more, see our full story on the refurbishment here.


Oceania Cruises


Oceania Nautica is having all her public rooms and cabins upgraded and redesigned

In June, Nautica, will emerge from dry-dock with 342 redesigned staterooms and suites and re-imagined public spaces that bring in the same modern chic look that debuted aboard Insignia last year.

Oceania Cruises hasn’t released renderings for the transformation of Nautica, but below are pictures of her sister ship Insignia following her refit.

Bar Istas, the ship’s social hub and coffee bar will be redesigned, along with all her public spaces with new décor. Additional cosmetic enhancements will include new wall sconces in the Spa and even more crystal chandeliers in the public spaces and stair lobbies.

Silver Wind

Silversea Cruises


In August this year, Silver Wind will go back into dry-dock to complete the extensive refurbishments done to her in December, 2018 that saw her converted into a luxury expedition cruise ship. The second dry dock period will give the ship ice-class classification and improved cruising versatility, as well as a number of improvements to the vessel’s interior. As a result, Silver Wind will unlock a broader range of deep travel experiences for guests in ultimate comfort, cruising both classic and expedition itineraries.

As well as benefitting from a strengthened ice-class hull, new state-of-the-art equipment for cruising in remote regions, a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks for on-water exploration, and an upgraded theatre, the second extensive refurbishment will enhance  the ship’s comfort and Silversea’s hallmarks of luxury: all suites will undergo another full upgrade; the Spa & Salon will each be completely refurbished; and the Reception/Atrium will be overhauled.

Additional improvements will also be made to La Dame, La Terrazza, the Main Bar, the Observation Lounge, the Panorama Lounge, the Pool Bar, public bathrooms, and the Theatre, among other spaces. Accommodating fewer guests (just 254) and retaining her characteristic sense of small-ship intimacy, Silver Wind will offer higher space ratios, a higher crew-to-guest ratio, and more upper suites, among other enhancements.

Celebrity Constellation and Infinity

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Infinity (October – November), Celebrity Constellation (April)

Sister ships Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Infinity will undergo major refit and refurbishment works in April and October respectively. The dry-dock is part of the cruise line’s US $500-million Revolution project that will see all cabins redesigned with a fresh, chic design, rivaling the world’s best boutique hotels.

Staterooms will also be fitted with Celebrity’s eXhale bedding featuring exclusive luxurious cashmere mattresses, RFID locks, pervasive Xcelerate and Bluetooth capabilities.

Staterooms will get new eXhale bedding

The dining experience on both ships will also be enhanced, with guest-favorite restaurant Qsine added, offering the brand’s virtual Le Petit Chef experience, created by the world-famous artists of Skullmapping and presented by TableMation exclusively for Celebrity.

Oceanview Cafe

Oceanview Café will be redesigned with an open, airy, marketplace-inspired design offering guests island after island of international delicacies, while the already-stunning Main Restaurants will undergo a beautiful redesign, with new textures and new finishes added throughout.

Both ships will get a new SEA Thermal Suite

During the refurbishment Celebrity Constellation and Infinity will also get an expanded SEA Thermal Suite – first introduced on Celebrity Edge, new shopping experiences featuring sought-after brands and designers, such as Shinola, John Hardy, and Hublot, plus state-of-the-art digital photo galleries.

Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line


Queen Mary 2 will undergo her 15-year refurbishment this year

The Cunard Line flagship, and the world’s last true ocean liner in trans-Atlantic service, saw significant updates to her onboard experience during her refit in 2016. The US $110-million upgrade included a redesign and refurbishment of the Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites and restaurants, as well as other minor and major changes that we covered here.

Mareel Spa to be introduced aboard Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line haven’t mentioned anything concrete yet, apart from a new spa concept being introduced. The new Mareel spa concept was introduced aboard Queen Elizabeth when she emerged from a major refurbishment in 2018. It’s been rumoured that the Britannia category bathrooms and some Grills bathrooms will also be redeveloped.

Star Breeze, Legend and Pride

Windstar Cruises

Star Breeze (Finishing February) Star Legend (February – June), Star Pride (July – November)

Star Pride and her sister ships are being cut in half and stretched

Okay, so it’s actually 11, but Windstar’s major revitalization of its three Star-class cruise ships couldn’t be left out (they’re being cut in half and lengthened after all!). Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride, representing half the Windstar fleet, will each be dry-docked, cut in half, have a mid-section inserted and then be welded back together. Simultaneously, the interiors of each ship will be updated or redesigned altogether.

Star Grill by Steven Raichlin will be introduced aboard the stretched ships

The guest capacity of each will 312, 100 more than the current double occupancy capacity, thanks to 50 new suites configured with the bed by the window or balcony. A new infinity pool is also being added, along with a reimagined Veranda restaurant with all new layout and more seating. Windstar Cruises is also partnering with grilling authority Steven Raichlen (credited with reinventing modern barbecue cuisine) to introduce a new casual outdoor restaurant on the ships called The Star Grill.

See everything we’ve written about this project here.

These stunning decors and amenities wouldn’t be possible without  brilliant naval architects, as well as interior designers. If you’d like to be part of a cruise ship design team, all you need is to learn and expand your knowledge on the field and take top-notch courses from schools like the National Design Academy.

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