I've just finished the text of this review and wanted to post this here before adding photos. If you want to to see complete review check my blog in next few days.
Carnival Sunshine Transatlantic
November 1-16, 2013
Just The Facts:
Ship: Carnival Sunshine 1-16 November, 2013
Captain: Giusseppe Giusa
Cruise Director: Jamie Dee
Ports: Plama De Mallorca, Malaga, Las Palmas, Grand Turk
Weather: Very good
This is my 37th Carnival cruise, 4th transatlantic, and 82nd overall cruise. I am traveling solo, but know many people on board.
I began my trip leaving the ranch at 4:30 am on Thursday (Oct 31) by driving to Waco for a 6:00 am flight to DFW airport. I then took a morning flight to New York JFK airport to catch an afternoon transatlantic Delta flight arriving at 8:35 am (Nov1) in Barcelona Spain. After clearing customs and retrieving my checked bag I took a 10:15 am Carnival shuttle to the cruise pier. Check in was fairly smooth and I was on board and in my cabin at 11:35 am. Nineteen hours of travel from home to ship cabin is a lot for my old bones, but it will be an easier return.
I have one of the newly installed cabins located on the Promenade deck aft an interesting new location for passenger cabins. This area is where the aft showroom is located on all other Carnival ships and used to be located on this ship and it is very convenient to the new Red Frog Pub, Alchemy Bar and Ocean Plaza. After dropping my bags I went upstairs to get a stir-fry in JiJi’s Asian grill (similar to the Mongolian Grill on other Carnival ships) from the new concept all enclosed Lido deck aft. Located there is the Cucina de Capitano, JiJi’s Asian Kitchen, and the Havana Bar. In addition to my wonderful bowl of made-to-order stir-fry I also sampled the Cuban sandwich from the Havana Bar. All very good. After the long travel experience I retired for a much needed sleep until near dinner time. I appreciate that they do two Welcome Aboard Shows as I would not have made a late one, but the 7:00 pm show time was perfect. Jamie Dee the cruise director is a very good host and I believe will become one of the top CD’s at Carnival. I have late seating at 8:00 pm in the Sunset Dining Room one of two main dining rooms (MDR). I’m used to set dining being in the aft MDR, but the Sunrise Dining Room is now reserved for Your-Time dining. I do have a nice table with a very good group of people and the best Maitre‘D in the fleet with Ken Byrne so that makes up for the secondary dining room location. Tonight for dinner I ordered: the Creme of Sun-ripened Tomato Soup, Fresh Green Salad, the Chicken a la Grecque entree, and two desserts: the Creme Brulee & the Black Forest Gateau Cake. After dinner it was cabin time for much needed rest.
Day Two--Saturday--Palma De Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Smooth seas overnight and I was up early for an excursion today. At 6:45 am there are very few in the Havana Bar and I got a great made-to-order omelette from the omelette station. I then met a group in the EA Sports Bar after 7:00 am for a private excursion. Soon we were off the ship and boarded a nice coach for a Panoramic tour of Palma on our way to the Caves of Drach. After driving and viewing the countryside we stopped in Manacor to see a display and history of Mallorcan Pearls, it was interesting and worth the visit. We were soon off to our 10:45 tour of the Caves of Drach
located on the eastern shore of the island. The caves are very interesting with a large lake at the bottom. Once you reach the lower chamber by pathway you take a seat and enjoy a concert performed by musicians in a boat on the lake. Your then ferried in a row boat across the lake and after some new views along the path exit the cavern. It was enjoyable. After a quick San Miguel cerveza we boarded the bus for a drive through the very picturesque village and harbor of Porto Cristo and then the return to the city of Palma. We had a nice guided tour of the outer castle walls, Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma
, and old town area before some free time. The narrow streets and shoppes of the Arab section and the Cathedral doors were most interesting. I found a great gelato shop and remembered the flavor Crema Catalona
from previous trips to Barcelona...excellant. We arrived back at the ship about 3:00 pm for a 4:00 pm sail away. I tried my first Guy’s Burger upon return and was actually disappointed. It was a very good Hamburger, but it was not a proper Guy’s. It was not smashed out thin and cooked with a light crust, but a thicker meat patty. Still better than what they used to have, but not a Guy’s. I went to see Lance Montalto’s family comedy show at 6:00, he was very funny followed by a wonderful Alchemy Bar
apéritif. For dinner tonight I ordered: the Hot & Sour Soup, baked Pene Pasta with Sausage, Roast Beef of Tenderloin, and the Passion Fruit Creme Brulee for dessert. Another good dinner. The feature entertainer was juggler Neil Duinker, but I went to the Alchemy Bar for cocktails and then to the Comedy Club for the 11:00 show with Lance Montalto
. The comedy show was fantastic. Following comedy I helped close the Piano Bar. Seth the piano player is young and talented and people had a fun time. About 1:30 am I went up for pizza and they were actually busy at this late time, but the pizza was very good. After a very long day I retired to the cabin.
Day Three--Sunday—at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and it was refreshing to sleep late this morning. I didn’t get out until after 11:00 am and had a late breakfast in the Lido Marketplace. As this was the first sea day I took a walk around the decks and explored new areas on the ship. The Serenity Deck area is very large and was very busy. The Waterworks looked like great fun, but it was not busy at all and it was a very nice and warm day. I want to do the water slides but the staircases up to them look more challenging than the slide itself. We’ll see. At 1:00 pm I went to a nice private cocktail party for Facebook friends in the piano bar. It was the usual deal, unlimited drinks for an hour, and the servers were very good, enough for the 60+ in attendance. After a nice buzz and enjoying good conversation it was back to the cabin about 2:30 pm and ordered BLT’s from room service as cabin time was the plan for the afternoon. I made notes for the blog and enjoyed the BLT sandwiches, they really need to be ordered each cruise as the Carnival room service version is very good. The feature show in the Liquid Lounge is Motor City
a Playlist Production with the eight feature performers and great LCD stage backgrounds. This is also Elegant/Captains night and passengers have the opportunity to meet and have photos taken with the Captain & Staff before dinner. For dinner tonight I ordered: the White Mushrooms, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Spaghetti Carbonara, Prime Rib, & Cherries Jubilee for dessert. The mushrooms were not the large ones as usual, but very small portions, but everything else was very good. Other options of course included the Broiled Maine Lobster or Seared Redfish. I retired after dinner as Monday is another early day.
Day Four--Monday—Malaga, Spain
Again smooth seas overnight. I ordered a light room service breakfast as a wake up and it was delivered at the scheduled time. Carnival room service is usually very consistent with service. I met our private excursion group at 7:30 am and soon we were off the ship and on our motor coach and away at 8:00 am on the way to Mijas for the day. The guide pointed out several points of interest in Malaga and on our way along the Costa del Sol. We drove briefly along the beach before heading up the mountain to the old Mijas Pueblo
. Our bus parked at the visitors center and the guide gave us a tour of the quaint Virgin de la Pena chapel built in cave then a walking tour of the old town. All the houses and shoppes are white washed and built along the hill side in this town. It’s a lovely town and the views of the Mediterranean Sea and coast are spectacular from here. After our tour a small group of us spent our hour of free time at a restaurant with a panoramic view drinking some good San Miguel cervezas and using their Wifi. It was then time to meet the rest of the excursion group for a Tapas lunch. Family style we were served sangria wine, meatballs, cheese, shrimp, mushrooms, ham, potatoes, peas, and fresh bread. It was an excellent meal. A unique feature in this town is that the taxi’s are burros, a good choice considering the hilly nature of the streets. We boarded tour bus and returned to the ship by 2:30 for our 3:00 pm departure. I had a nice snooze upon return. Afyer my nap I had my first Thirsty Frog Red before dinner in the Red Frog Pub, it’s a very good beer. Dinner was interesting tonight for a couple of reasons: 1) Half out table was eating in the steakhouse so we were joined by both comedians Lance Montalto & Joel Lindley & the Punchliner host Wally and 2) it was a completely new & unique menu. I ordered: Chilled Borscht, Gravlaks, Farfalle Pasta with Artichokes & Arugula, and Roast Striploin with Popovers. Other menu items included: Truffled Duck Livers, Green Asparagus & Mussels, Spring Chicken in Crawfish, Glazed Veal, and Roasted Fennel & Braised Leeks. Interesting menu. Comedy Magic with Thom Peterson was the feature entertainment in the theater this evening, but the real entertainment was the 10:00 pm Playlist Performers Feature
in the Ocean Lounge. The eight performers did numbers of their own choosing with the band. They were all good and I was able to hear it from a good seat in the Alchemy Bar. We turn back our clocks for the first time tonight, an extra hour of sleep.
Day Five--Tuesday—at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I was up around 8:00ish so I went to the MDR for a nice full breakfast with friends I ran into at the deck five elevator. (I’m really liking the deck 5 cabin location...everyone uses the promenade to traverse the length of the ship so you do see a lot of people) After breakfast I made some notes then I actually took a nap, why not? For an early lunch I had a salad from the Salad Bar on Promenade Deck, very nice. It was now time for the Cocktail Seminar
at The Alchemy Bar. Daniel the bartender did a nice basic presentation and we sampled three small Alchemy cocktails in addition to receiving a coupon for a full cocktail later. It was a two hour presentation and good fun. Click here to see the Alchemy Bar menu
. New friend Lance Moltanato
did a Beatles show this afternoon and it was a full house as was the previous one he did on Sunday. I went to Guy’s for a burger and it was much better than previous, these burgers were flattened better, but still needs more fire. I got an ice creme for dessert and as I went through the Ocean Plaza saw some friends and Lance M and joined them for a while. I really enjoyed getting to know Lance this cruise as I had several lunches and dinners with him as it happened to turn out. He was always a favorite, more so now, and he is genuinely a nice and funny guy. It was cabin time for the rest of the day to make some notes and have a Cabin Cocktail (Cuba Libre light). Dinner was again interesting with some old and new items on the menu. I ordered an Iced Pineapple Salad with Watermelon, Spanakopita, Cannelloni Piemontese pasta, and Roast Prime Rib. All very good. After dinner you couldn’t get in to see the 9:45 comedy show as it was packed so only early dining guests would get a chance to attend. I had a cocktail in the Alchemy Bar then ended up with friends coming so stayed for a few hours. The Alchemy is kind of my neighborhood bar on ship since my cabin is just around the corner. They had called for all passengers to turn in their passports before arriving in Las Palmas tomorrow. Since it was now 1:00 am I went to Guest Services and avoided the long lines from earlier in day. A Fun Day at sea.
Day Six--Wednesday--Las Palmas, Canary Islands
A bit of higher seas overnight. We are not scheduled to arrive in Las Palmas until 11:00 am and that is very unusual as the Magic arrived early and we are doing the same itinerary. I went up to JiJi’s on Lido for a wonderful omelette with a side of Canadian Bacon and readied to meet for another private excursion. Our group of about 28 debarked just before noon and it was very busy as the ship was half hour late arriving so everyone was debarking at once, but we got to the bus just after noon and head out of Las Palmas. First stop was Arucas where we stopped at the very large Cathedral of Arucas and then the Arehucas Distillery and tasting room. After driving through the mountains, the next stop was Teror one of the oldest towns in Gran Canaria with interesting houses, buildings, and streets. I did have time for a local cerveza with friends in Pino Square before leaving. Final stop was the Caldera de Bandama the site of an old volcano caldera and scenic overview of Las Palmas. We returned to the ship by 4:00 to long lines of passengers waiting to board. Once on ship I went straight to Guy’s for a burger then took some ice to the cabin for cabin time until dinner. Dinner was perhaps the best of the cruise so far. I ordered the Escargot, and two entrees: the Osobucco, and the Carnival Filet Mignon. The osobucco and steak were great. I had a very nice Apple Crum and a Pineapple dish for dessert. The feature entertainment this evening was Hasbro, the Game Show and we have new Comedy Show entertainers onboard: Tom Pepper and Gary Thompson.