Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review
January 19, 2014
Just The Facts
Ship: Carnival Sunshine
Ship Captain: Carmelo Marino
Cruise Director: Jaime Dee
Ports: New Orleans, LA, Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico
Weather: Good all week
This is my 38th Carnival cruise, 2nd time on the Carnival Sunshine, and 84th cruise overall. I am cruising as a solo.
I left the ranch about 9:20 am and headed south using some wonderful Texas backroads along the way. The weather was good and I arrived in Gonzales, Louisiana about 5:30 pm. to stay overnight at the new LaQuinta. I visited the new Cabela’s store just up the street...it’s a huge store with museum, aquarium, and more...a very interesting sporting goods operation.
Carnival Sunshine's beautiful Serenity Deck I left Gonzales about 8:45 am for the easy one hour drive to NOLA and the cruise terminal arriving before 10:00 am. I parked at the official port of NOLA Julia Street Terminal. It is pricey @ $16.00 a day, but it has a baggage drop, covered parking, and it’s just an elevator ride down to cruise check-in area. They have a very nice VIP area for check-in area and I was processed and waiting by 10:30 and hoping for an 11:00 am boarding. Just as I hoped by 11:00 they began announcements and soon began boarding suites, platinum & diamond guests. There were a lot in these categories, but it went well, followed by the FTTF guests. I went strait to my cabin and it was ready and waiting for me. I unloaded my carry on bag and was on my way to the JiJi’s grill (Mongolian on other Carnival ships) for lunch. Even though I did not rush I was the first through the line, the Grill is a bit harder to find on the Sunshine being located in the Havana Bar area, so early guests had not discovered it. It was very good as expected. I then did a desert sampler plate from the Lido buffet area and returned to my table in the Havana Bar and enjoy my very filling lunch. After lunch I returned to my cabin and very soon my bag arrived...in the parking garage I asked the porter to attach the extra VIP labels that I knew they have as the printed Priority Tags are sometimes overlooked. I was very pleased to have had a wonderful lunch, my baggage, and unpacked in my cabin by 1:00 pm. A perfect embarkation. I then took advantage of my wifi hotspot to catch up on mail and internet. I discovered that I had some extra OBC that I had not expected and decided to purchase the ‘Cheers’ drink card, especially since I am sailing solo and would only have to pay for one package. I was off to the lobby to get it then had a Funship special in the Lobby bar and people watch. I was back at the cabin before the scheduled afternoon safety drill and I was able to watch the cabin TV for the NFL playoff games. We sailed away after 5:00 and I went to the Alchemy Bar for some early cocktails. Comedian Lance Montalto
came by before his ‘family show’ to say hello. I readied for dinner and made Lance’s first Adult comedy show at 7:45 then strait to dinner at 8:15 in the Sunrise dining room. Matre’D Ken arranged an excellent table in the center of the dining room and the table mates seem nice although two were an hour late. It is traditional Carnival menu items tonight and I had the Creme of Sun-ripened Tomato Soup, Linguine as a starter, the Fried Shrimp with Plum Sauce, and two desserts: the Creme Brulee & the Black Forest Gateau Cake. The shops don’t open until we are out of the Mississippi River, but the casino and bars are doing a brisk business. There were two Welcome Aboard Show
s, but having previously attended I walked the deck then retired soon after to get some last minute internet time and rest.
Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Steak and Eggs
Very calm in the Gulf of Mexico and I had a very good nights sleep. Nice and sunny today and quickly warming. I went down to the MDR for the Sea Day Brunch, this has replaced the Punchliner’s Brunch and is an improvement: they open earlier, kept the better brunch menu, and eliminated the comedians. I ordered a Bloody Mary, a very nice fruit plate, and the Steak & Eggs. All very good. Although familiar with the ship I had a nice walk about. I did notice that they have moved some trivia out of the Ocean Plaza and into the Red Frog Pub, I think this is a smart move. There are many more guests on deck enjoying the outdoors than there were on the Sunshine transatlantic. It is an overall younger crowd. I enjoyed a cocktail in the lobby bar and swapped some stories with Lance then had a late lunch at the Taste Bar on deck five. I had a nice salad that they prepare and Egg Drop soup. I noticed in the afternoon they had also had Karaoke in the Red Frog, it was packed and guests were having fun. I never saw that many in there during the transatlantic, a better use of space and I’m sure they are selling more drinks. I had a visit with entertainer Will Marion, I did not expect him to be on board so that was a pleasant surprise. There was a beautiful sunset this evening easily viewable from my starboard side balcony a nice bonus while dressing for this evenings elegant night. I went up to the Alchemy Bar for a few cocktails then to the Liquid Lounge to see the production show Latin Nights
. They had a technical glitch about half way through the show and since I’ve seen the show I bailed and went to the Red Frog Pub to see Will Marion
. I was glad I did as Will has progressed so much as a performer...he is a real asset for Carnival. Tonight was Captain’s night menu and as usual great selections from the menu. I ordered the White Stuffed Mushroom, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, the Spaghetti Carbonara, the Prime Rib, and Cherries Jubilee. Of course Lobster was on the menu and a popular item. Dinner was very good and enjoyable, Ken sang a song as well as the waiters. After dinner I took a walk around deck and the ship was hopping. Adam Coe was in the Red Frog, The Rock & Roll Time Machine was in the Ocean Plaza, Gary was in the Piano Bar, and Tony Esposito was in the comedy club with late shows. All great performers, it really is amazing the talent on the ship. I was very worried about the small venues on Sunshine, but the guests were evenly split among the venues so it worked very well. A great day on the Carnival Sunshine.
Day Three--Tuesday—at Sea
Diamond Guest Brunch Another good nights sleep and very smooth seas as we are entering the Caribbean. I have a brunch invitation at 11:30 so I went up to Lido Buffet for a light breakfast. I notice that the Canadian bacon is no more, but they do now have ham, interesting, more American I suppose. This morning I am working on a project I need to complete for the Texas Scottish Festival
. I took a break when they came to clean the cabin and had a Bloody Mary at the Lobby Bar. We have one of the new ‘Morning Glory’ cocktail parties on the Sunshine in a few weeks so I’m trying all the bars and bartenders to see who makes the best. Someone has to do it! At 11:30 am I met the seven other Diamond guests and we had Brunch with Captain Marino
and Caroline the Guest Services Director in the Sunrise Dining Room. I had the Tomato Soup starter and the Steak & Eggs breakfast again followed by the Banana Creme Pie. It was gracious for Carnival to have a function for us and it was nice meeting the Captain and seeing Stephanie again. Thanks Carnival. The Facebook group had a cocktail party scheduled for 2:00 pm in the Piano bar, but it was moved to the Limelight Lounge as the Piano Bar was far too small for the 60+ people. Luckily that lounge was available and nice of Carnival to give them a full hour 2:30-3:30. Back to work in the cabin then a cocktail at the Alchemy Bar. I then went to see Lance Montalto’s comedy show in the Limelight lounge, it was again a packed house. Lance treated me to dinner in the Bonsai Sushi on deck four, it was the only specialty restaurant I had not visited on the Sunshine. We had The Boat
a combination of sushi, shrimp, salmon, etc. for two. We also had Soup and Sake. Very interesting meal and I enjoyed the sushi. I had a Tiramisu martini for dessert from the lobby bar. Cornelius one of my favorites from the Alchemy was also there as the bartenders put on a flair show as a part of the big Mardi Gras Party
in the lobby area.