Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review
February 16, 2014
Just The Facts
Ship: Carnival Sunshine
Ship Captain: Roberto Leotta
Cruise Director: Butch Begovich
Ports: New Orleans, Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Weather: Excellent all week
This is my 40th Carnival cruise, 3rd time on the Carnival Sunshine, and 86th cruise overall. I am cruising with my dear wife (DW) and the fantastic group of experienced cruisers: the Snoozemates. As well as 688 fellow Bloggers on John Heald’s 7th annual Bloggers Cruise (BC7). My first Bloggers cruise was BC2 also sailing from New Orleans on the Fantasy so we have come full circle. This is also the first week of a Back-to-Back (B2B) cruise.
We overslept and was awakened by a call from our car dealer so a bit of a late start. The good news is that we are driving our brand new 2014 GMC Acadia. We left the ranch about 10:30 am and headed south again using the same wonderful Texas backroads I traveled last month on the way to NOLA. The weather was good, the drive wonderful, and we arrived in Gonzales, Louisiana about 7:00 pm. to stay overnight at the LaQuinta. We 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. Most of the Snoozemates’ are partying in the French Quarter this evening and I know having a great time.
We left Gonzales about 9:45 am for the easy one hour drive to NOLA and the cruise terminal arriving about 10:45 am. We 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 for the new car, and it’s just an elevator ride down to cruise check-in area. Also since we are cruising for two weeks and they only collect for one it is a value this trip. Down the elevator to the nice VIP area for check-in and we were processed about 11:30. We then proceeded to boarding and it was very busy, but we made it on board and to our cabin about noon. We have an aft facing balcony on deck 8. We began seeing friends immediately as their cabins are all in the area Then it was up to the Havana Bar were we had some group tables for cocktails and Mongolian Grill (JiJi’s) for lunch. This is a great spot for our group to meet as it’s directly above our cabins and one has the choice of Cuban Food, Mongolian Grill, Cucina Del Capitano (Italian), or the Lido Buffet across the way. Many thought the Cuban Iced Tea from the Havana Bar was an excellent cocktail. Some explored the ship, I returned to my cabin and my bag arrived, but none of the others. Boat Drill was about 4:00 pm, and we sailed away about 4:30 pm. DW was getting somewhat concerned with no bag as yet, but it seemed many had not received all their luggage. The first bloggers event was Welcome Cocktails in the Liquid Lounge at 5:00 pm and it was a full house of Bloggers. I enjoyed a few Funship Specials and visited with friends and bloggers, a FUN event. Following it was time for a visit to the Alchemy Bar then to the cabin to prepare for dinner. DW’s bags had arrived and all is now well. Matre’D Ken arranged for three excellent tables in the center of the dining room for our group. Perfect. It is traditional Carnival menu items tonight and I had the Creme of Sun-ripened Tomato Soup, Linguine & Sausage as a starter, Gazpacho, the Tilapa entree, and two desserts: the Creme Brulee & the Black Forest Gateau Cake. The shops do not open until we are out of the Mississippi River, but the casino and bars are doing a brisk business. Most of the group who had partied in the French Quarter the previous night made it an early night. I retired soon after to get some last minute free internet time while in the river and rest. A great first day.
Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Very calm in the Gulf of Mexico and I had a very good nights sleep. Nice and sunny today and quickly warming. DW ordered her usual room service breakfast and about 8:40 am I went up to the Havana Bar and had a very nice omelet from the omelet station. Soon I was joined by several other Snoozemates arriving for breakfast. Nice to have a designated meeting area. At 10:15 we went down to Piano Bar 88 for our private ‘Morning Glory’ cocktail party. This is one of the new cocktail party options on Carnival and the first held on the Carnival Sunshine. Cocktails include: Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Belinnis, Screwdrivers, House Sparkling Wine, Red Wine, White Wine, Sodas, Regular Coffee and Tea. in the spirit of the morning event many wore pajamas and EVERYONE arrived in their white Carnival cabin bathrobes. Very funny. With just our small group the service was excellent and very soon everyone was in a very spirited mood. After the party we all met in the Havana Bar area to continue the party and have lunch. People had their favorites including Guy’s Burgers, Mongolian Grill, or Pasta from the Cucina. The ‘Havana Iced Tea’ from the bar was very good too. Several had enrolled in the Cocktail Seminar at the Alchemy Bar this afternoon and several attended the ‘Friends of John H’ cocktail party in the Limelight Lounge. It was nice visiting with other friends and bloggers. This was certainly a full day for cocktails so by 5:00 I needed a nice nap that extended into cabin time for the rest of the evening. DW had a nice dinner from Lido so we didn’t make it to the MDR this evening. The rest of the group enjoyed various activities including: the Casino, the production show Latin Nights, Adam Coe in the Red Frog, The Swamp Thang Band was in the Ocean Plaza, Ben in the Piano Bar, and Percy Crews was in the comedy club with late shows.
Day Three--Tuesday—at Sea
The ship rocked a little more, but another good nights sleep as we entered the Caribbean this morning. An invitation under the door this morning for a luncheon changed my plans for breakfast, I’ll save the sea Day Brunch for the last sea day. I had another great omelet from the omelet station then enjoyed a bowl of fruit on our balcony. It’s a beautiful day and the large balcony is wonderful. We were invited to the Captain’s Luncheon for Diamond guests in the Steakhouse 55 at noon so we went to the Library Bar for a glass of wine prior, this is the only bar on the Sunshine that I had not previously visited. They have an automatic wine dispenser as well as a small bar. At noon we entered the Steakhouse, they had assigned seating and we sat with friends that I knew, Caroline the Guest Services Manager, and Linda the Housekeeping Director. They had a set menu with choice of entree between Salmon or Chicken. I started with the unique mini salad of mozzarella cheese and cherry tomatoes, pasta course of spaghetti, the Chicken Roulade entree with a mushroom creme sauce, and a selection of three small Creme Brûlées for dessert. They also served wonderful breads with three flavors of butter, choice of wines, sparkling water, and sides of Spinach and Creamed Potatoes. They prepared a vegetarian dish of Mixed Vegetables in a phyllo wrap for DW. It was a very nice and enjoyable lunch experience. Thanks Carnival. There was a Crazy cocktail party after lunch and balcony time, but I was really looking forward to the Alchemy Bar opening at 4:00. I was carrying messages from the Triumph Alchemy bar crew for the Sunshine Alchemy bar crew and had not had a chance to deliver them. Great fun with them and other Diamond friends at the Alchemy. We went down to the Limelight/Punchliner to see Al Ernst’s comedy show at 6:45, he has become a regular for Bloggers cruises and was very funny as usual. The Snoozemate’s crew then met up in the Ocean Plaza area for an aperitif. Dinner was good tonight, I ordered the French Onion Soup, Pasta, the Short Ribs entree, and Strawberry Cheesecake for dessert. Motor City was the production show this evening and they had the big Mardi Gras Party in the lobby area. The group split up for various FUN activities this evening.
Day Four— Wednesday--Roatan, Honduras
Calm seas and a good nights sleep. I was up early and watched us back into the pier at Mahogany Bay, we were docked before 7:00 am. Since it’s a port day the breakfast venues opened early and I went down the The Sunrise MDR for Melon, Omelet, Corned Beef Hash, and Bacon. DW did room service as usual. We were in no rush as we didn’t have any specific plans and went ashore about 10:00 am. We walked to the beach and it was very crowded with both the Carnival Dream and Sunshine docked. We headed back to the shopping area and there saw our friends so decided on a few drinks at Fat Tuesdays that soon became 15 friends, 7-8 buckets of beer, cocktails and nachos. What a wonderful group we have. I returned to the ship about 2:30 and had a Guy’s burger then went to the Serenity Deck to cool off in the swimming pool and waterfall. After almost an hour of lying in the warm sun I had another Guy’s burger on the way back to the cabin for a short nap. One of the group had a wonderful sail away cocktail party for us at 6:00 pm in their suite. Excellent h’orderves, small bar, wines, and snacks. Thank you very much. It was now time for dinner, I ordered the Tom Kai Guy soup, the very good Bowtie Pasta with Turkey, the Lamb entree, and Bitter & Blanc and Tiramisu for dessert. John Heald brought in a special entertainer for just the blogger group, Gronway Thom, so we attended his one and only show at 10:00 pm in the Liquid Lounge. He is a comedy juggler with a lot of audience participation and should be seen at least once. Not everyone's cup-of-tea, but I found him very entertaining. It was now time for my late cocktail, The Deal Closer, from the Alchemy Bar before retiring. Another great day on the Carnival Sunshine.