This was only my second cruise and was amazed at the size of the ship. Previously I was on the Fantasy, and boy what a difference.
We boarded in Port Canaveral FL, and compared to Charleston SC, it was a fast moving event. I do not think my wife and I stopped longer than 3 minutes at any point until we were on the ship. Leaving the ship after the cruise went even faster, we were on Deck 1 and carrier our bags, so we were the first group to debark. We were off the ship to the rental car office, had the car and going to breakfast before 0830 in the morning. We always stay an extra day after the cruise to enjoy the Florida Beaches, so the quicker we can get to that beach the happier we are.
The Fantasy staff I feel were a lot more attentive than what the staff on the Sunshine was, but that might of been because of the amount of guest. This was about the only complaint that I had for the whole cruise, so you know it must of been good.
Positives:Serenity Deck was the largest that I have seen on a ship. The Steak House was well worth the extra cost, we did find out that if you buy a bottle of wine they will keep it chilled for you until your next meal if you don't finish it. Burger Place was good, but really crowded at times.
All and All for my second Cruise I really enjoyed the time I spent on this ship.
We arrived the day before the cruise traveling from Boston area by train. My wife has a great fear of airplanes, buses, limousines, taxis, etc. Actually anything that moves faster than the horse drawn carriages in Central Park. But for some unknown reason a train (NOT the Acela though, I made that mistake once) is OK. Go figure! Stayed at the Broadway Millennium on W 44th Street and took in the Rockette Summer Spectacular Show at Radio City Music Hall. Both were great.
Embarkation: Normally on cruises out of New York we arrive at the cruise terminal between 10:30 and 11:00 then sit in the V.I.P. lounge (one of the few suite perks) until boarding begins. This time, for reasons I won't bore you with, we arrived at 11:30 and were immediately whisked onto the ship. Loved it.
The Ship: As is our normal practice once on board, we were off to "get the lay of the land" and take lots of pictures of our home town for the next 8 days. Not to be disappointed we the found ship to be easy to navigate, neat, fresh and clean.
Crowding as mentionedin many reviews was not apparent to us except on the open deck on sea days. Maybe we need to get up earlier but we were never able to find two deck chairs together on sea days.
Then it was off to the Lido for that first onboard cruise meal. Many of the reviews I had read complained about the difficulty finding table space in the Lido. We NEVER had a problem finding a table. I had mentioned to my wife we may have to eat in the Havana Bar which would not have been a problem but in fact we ate there once out of a desire and it took a while to find an empty table there.
A silly little thing but when I get off the elevator I never seem to know whether to go left or right to my stateroom. I walk to one side and if I wrong I say to my wife "So this is what the other side of the ship looks like" or "they still haven't painted the walls a different color" or some other type foolishness. Well on the Sunshine they have signs for us dummies with arrows to the "Odd" and "Even" number rooms.
Stateroom: As I mentioned at the start of this review we had a Grand Suite which we
had gotten an upgrade from an Ocean Suite 5 days before the cruise. I have never been
able to justify the substantial price difference between the two categories and have always simply gone with the Ocean Suite on all our Carnival cruises. For all intents and purposes, with the exception of priority boarding there are no perks to a suite with Carnival. We did receive a complimentary Specialty Dinner which foolishly never used and a fresh fruit bowl. Don't know why but both were deeply appreciated.
As for the suite, it had enough storage space for 6 people even though it was only my wife and I, nice size TV, whirlpool bath, dressing room, etc. Our Room Steward Kristina and her assistant Gilbert were wonderful. When Kristina saw us returning to our stateroom she would rush down to open the door for us. They really treated us well and always were quick to neaten up our room.
Food: The food was fine. Great ... No. Selection was OK. Great...No. You get the idea.
For Breakfast we ate at the Lido Marketplace with two exceptions when we went for the Sea Day Brunch in the Sunrise Restaurant. The Lido food while not Hot but was warm enough to melt butter on the pancakes and French Toast as they change it out frequently.
Absolutely no complaints about either place.
For lunch the Asian and Italian restaurants open up (actually they are open for breakfast also for omelets and eggs also). Also there is Guy's Burgers. I know everybody raves about the place but the one time (second day of the cruise) I ate there my cheese burger was about as dry and looked like a piece of charcoal. Took 1 bite, tossed the rest in the trash and got pasta at the Cucina del Capitano and never went back.
As for dinner we had early sitting in the Sunrise Restaurant. We were celebrating my wife's birthday on this cruise. On the first night our wait staff brought a small cake and sang Happy Birthday to her. She told them her birthday wasn't until the last night of the cruise so they came over and sang Happy Birthday every night.
The food was fine, the presentation was attractive and the service was efficient.
Staff: Our room stewards and wait staff were wonderful but that's as far as it goes. With the exception of the first Formal Night when we had an opportunity to meet the senior officers of the ship, I do not recall seeing an officer during the entire cruise. We enjoy having a picture taken with the Captain. On prior cruises there has been a ship photographer taking one of those overpriced $20 pictures but not this time. I fortunately had my cell phone with me for the Carnival Hub to take the picture.
The bartenders didn't seem to want to be there. On more than one occasion I had to interrupt the talking between themselves or washing glasses to get service. On day five I could not buy a Coke at a bar. The common response was "I don't have any". I went back to my stateroom and ordered 6 Cokes through room service. On day seven even room service did not have coke or ginger ale.
My wife was not impressed with the people at Guest Services. Like so much other stuff on this cruise they were efficient and accommodating but made her feel like she was being a bother to them.
Entertainment: The entertainment was OK. Missing was the live Reggae music by the pool. There was a D.J. "spinning discs" but it just isn't the same. Also the magician was an absolute disaster. Each illusion seemed to take a lifetime and frequently made no sense. I admire magicians and what they can do but this guy...
The stage shows were performed by some very talented performers however the sets and live music supporting them was no existent. Carnival has cut back here too.
The Comedians were all wonderful for the shows we attended and that was numerous. We however did not see any of the late night adult shows as this is not our kind of humor.
We enjoy listening to the Karaoke but for some unknown reason we missed all of it! It is always a lot of fun and we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We must have been having fun elsewhere.
Ports/Excursions: Due to my wife's fear of moving vehicles mentioned at the start we do not participate in many excursions.
As for the ports, we absolutely love Half Moon Cay. This is our sixth visit to here and look forward to going back. We still talk about our first visit when we swam or rather paid to "swim with the stingrays". We had no clue and made complete fools of ourselves. If you ever meet us on a cruise ask to see the pictures. Yes, I carry them with me just to give people a huge chuckle.
We also visit a bar in Nassau to have a Bahama Mama. It used to be The Iguana but is now under new ownership with a new name. It isn't the same so we may have to start a new tradition in Nassau.
We thought about swimming up to the bar at Margaretville at Grand Turk which we had never done on previous visits but opted to stay on the ship instead.
Conclusion: "A bad cruise day is far better than good work day". Overall, this was an acceptable cruise, No real complaints and nothing to rave about It really depends on your expectations and previous experience.
We have noticed the "cruise experience" is being redefined by the cruise industry. Gone are the Midnight Buffets, ice & food Sculptures and for all intents and purposes, Formal Nights. Replaced by amusement park rides, commercialized dining (Guy's Burgers, Johnny Rocket, Ben & Jerry's, etc.) and multiple dining venues.
We did try, and generally succeeded, making this into our kind of cruise. We will be back with Carnival in November on the Vista. Maybe things will be different there.
I recommend the Sunshine and this itinerary with the caveat don't expect to get wowed.
must admit, after reading the earlier reviews posted prior to my trip, I boarded the Sunshine with the expectation I was going to be underwhelmed-wrong!
My father in-law and I (somehow) talked our spouses into turning the two of us loose for a week in the Caribbean to get some sun and shake out of the midwestern cold weather blahs. The wives had too much Christmas planning to do to get away and cut the boys loose for a week. Fyi, we are 60 and 82, so it wasn't like we were going to find a tattoo parlor, buy stock in a rum distillery and find a couple of bikini clad maidens and forget reality-we just needed some sunshine!
Mission accomplished, big time.
We cruised from New Orleans on the Sunshine for a 7 day run to Jamaica, Caymans, Cozumel.
Our plan was to do some light site seeing and get a tan, have a few cocktails, eat too much.
Now, as to the ship. We both thought it was wonderful! Clean as a whistle, everything in fine working order, every single staffer pleasant and efficient, the layout simple and easy tomaneuver.
My father-in-law and I have had 10 cruises between us and can both say this ship was the best we have been on for the overall experience. We have been on the small boats (the original Mardis Gras from Carnival and RCL's Sun Viking) and the mid sizers of Princess and RCL. The Sunshine combined the best of both-quiet spaces of the small vessels and the energy and diversity of the mids.
I can't say enough about the Serenity area-what a perfect spot for us old farts! You could always find shade, and up front it was just us and the horizon. A great bar, no kids, big hammocks, and double bed sized lounging areas for crying out loud! What a great space!!
Very good shows. The dancers were as good as you would find anywhere short of Broadway itself. I mean this- these shows are usually fun, but second tier in the dancers ability-not this group! They are the real deal! The group had adequate voices (hey, if they were great singers on top of their dancing ability this group would be on Broadway and not on a ship) and the production fit their skill sets perfectly-great fun and we thought it was a wow each time! Very happy guys!!
Previous comments suggest the chow was average. I must say, these folks must live at the Ritz and breakfast on Bon Bons-the food was great! We did anytime dining, went early, and were offered a table for two each mealtime. These were either small tables surrounding the center of the dining room or quiet two person booths-both great options.
Good choices for entrees with at least one exotic (for us) starter each meal-great time to try something you wouldn't normally roll the dice on.
Wait staff was awesome-always available, yet unobtrusive-just what you want!
The first night our dining room cocktail staff person decided to adopt us and found us to say hello and visit briefly regardless of where we were seated subsequent evenings-that made us feel super special and we have to give her a personal shout out-Plamena, we will cruise this line and this ship again just to see you again! You are the BEST!!! Of all time!!! If I gush anymore my wife won't let me come back!!!
The pool area:
This ship has a different take here-an amphitheater layout with lots and lots of seating and a very small pool. I must admit, I liked this priority a lot. There were a bunch of large showers scattered about to allow you to "wet 'er down" and cool off without having to jump into the pool. This left the small pool to the little ones and that seemed satisfying to everyone. The kids have a huge pool play area of their own aft, but this main space allowed the moms and dads to be in an adult space with them, yet not worry about crowding out the young adults or old codgers looking too cool off. Very well thought out plan!
We went inside, small. To us the fun is topside and the cabins are for sleeping. The steward had our names down day one and was all over our needs immediately/ These staffers are always the best and work their tails off keeping the guests happy and the cabins spotless! Thank you!
As good as we could ask for, better than advertised, we are coming back for sure (and we will find you Plamena-ouch, honey, quit hitting me...).
Thank you Carnival!
Thomas and Malcolm
The Sunshine was a beautiful ship. It seemed brand new and not renovated. All the FunShip 2.0 enhancements are great improvements to older ships.