We recently had the pleasure of taking a 12 day cruise on the newly refurbished/renamed Carnival Sunshine. We selected this cruise last Fall because of the itinerary, but we really came to like the ship as well. The new décor is great. It is perhaps out of place in the Mediterranean, but Sunshine will be a Caribbean ship in November, and it is perfect for that scene. The refurbishment project was quite ambitious on an aggressive schedule and the craftsmanship wasn't always the best. Still, it is a very nice ship and after we returned home, we booked the November 1 repositioning cruise from Barcelona to New Orleans.
We book inside cabins to save money and because we stay out late and sleep late in the morning. Our cabin was a 4F, it was large enough for 2 people. The bathroom was well laid out, not elegant, but quite adequate. There are nominally 3 closets, but one has the safe, a lot of life jackets, a blanket, etc. There are never enough hangers, we always bring 10 to 20 wire hangers. The bed was quite comfortable, the lighting was adequate, but there could be more. There was a new 28 to 32 inch flat screen HD TV.
We had a problem with the ventilation and a recurring odor of cigarette smoke in the cabin. We were told that the ventilation serves a block of rooms and if people in the balcony cabins leave the door open when they smoke on the balcony, the odor can be drawn into other cabins as well. I have been on 16 other cruise ships and never experienced this before. Carnival brought an ozone generator into the room whenever we requested it. The machine would run for 30 minutes to an hour and we had to be out of the cabin while it was on. This would freshen the air for the rest of the night.
The itinerary for this cruise was ideal; Barcelona to Marseille, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice, Messina Sicily, and finally back to Barcelona. It was so full, we really enjoyed the 3 sea days. Dubrovnik, Venice, and Barcelona were our favorite cities. In an attempt to see as much as possible in the time available, we took Carnival tours in Florence/Pisa and Rome. Being hustled around by tour guides and living on someone else's schedule just isn't our style. We enjoyed doing the rest of the cities on our own, even if we did miss something.
The highlight of our time on the ship was dancing the night away with Mambo Magic del Peru in the Havana Bar. I recommend them to anyone who likes Latin music. We will be highly disappointed if they are not with us on the November crossing!
We spent 4 days in Barcelona after the cruise. The Gray Line hop on hop off bus is a bargain for seniors, with a 30% discount. I had a 2 day pass for the same price as others paid for 1 day. Wherever we went, part of every day was spent on las Ramblas. This is the main tourist area from the center of the city to the waterfront. Not to be missed. We went to the Cathedral several times and enjoyed walking through the small streets in the vicinity. Stay where the tourists are and be extra careful after dark. We came close to being mugged on our third night when we became a little overconfident.
We bought a city bus ticket and took the bus from the port to the walled city. The bus terminal is right outside the cruise facility. The old walled city was fascinating. My wife expected to see a museum and she was just amazed to see a living city instead. I suggest starting early and wearing some very comfortable walking shoes. There is a lot to do and experience. We did not have time to walk the city wall, but I think that is a must do if we ever manage to go to Dubrovnik again.
We got a late start and did not have much of a chance to see Marseille. We too the bus from the ship to downtown and walked around enough to know we want to come back.
We walked into the city and took the hop on hop off bus. In the time we had available, that is all we could absorb. If we ever make it back to Naples, we will probably take an independent tour of the countryside.
We stayed in Venice overnight. We bought a 2 day ticket to ride what I would describe as a water bus. It is the best way to get around in the city. Again, there is too much history to absorb in the time available. We concentrated on St. Mark's Square, taking some time to walk the narrow streets in the vicinity. We bought a city map with the "bus" tickets and that proved essential. If you do some research on the city before your tour, you will have a much better idea of what to see. The locals commuting on the boat were happy to tell us about some of the points of interest as we went down the Grand Canal. We ate a lot of gelato to be able to use the bathrooms at the restaurants. The pay toilets were up to 1 1/2 Euros each.