This was our first cruise with Carnival and, having read about all the problems with this ship since it's refurbishment in May, we were a bit apprehensive. Needn't have worried - we had a fantastic time and were very impressed with Carnival Sunshine! The sun shone both on and off the ship and we had a brilliant family holiday - myself and husband (both 60), daughter (33) and grandson (10)
We had 2 interior cabins on deck 7 (7283 and 7287) and they were the biggest interior cabins we have ever had. The one for my daughter and grandson in particular had 2 twin beds but they were arranged in a "L" shape so plenty of floor space and ample storage with 2 wardrobes, a shelved cupboard which contained the safe and a set of drawers (could have done with a bit more drawer/shelf space perhaps)
Cabins were ideally located at the aft close to main dining room (2 floors down)and sports decks and waterpark (2 floors up). Cabins were bright and beds very comfortable. Shower was also much bigger than normal ship's showers
We ate in the main dining room - Sunshine dining room and were fortunate to have a table for four near the aft windows. The food was very good, always hot and served quickly. Good variety with plenty of choice and also a "standard menu" always available if you didn't fancy anything on that day's menu. Wine was sold by the glass, which was a bit odd and cost around $6.50 a glass The service in the dining room was excellent and we had a great team in Thomas, Marghadeza Magdelena (not sure how to spell her name!), and Milos, who were exceptional
During the day we ate in a variety of venues - Market place buffet was okay but a bit limited in choice. Guy's burgers - awesome!. Havana Bar has an omelette station at breakfast and cooks all kinds of eggs to order. We also tried the Cucina de Capitano italian restaurant at lunchtime (free)- really good but it has a cover charge at night. Also the pizzas (free 24/7) were great and the deli run by Benjamin (who seemed to work all day and night every day!) was great - toasties, deli sandwiches etc) Orange juice & apple juice are free at breakfast and lemonade and iced water freely available all day - and very tasty.
Waterpark has 3 large flumes (very fast) - grandson loved them! Also water activities for younger children He also loved the "Skycourse" ropes to walk round high up on this deck. Sports deck was slightly disappointing as it is geared to US citizens and has only basketball, no football. Also good mini golf
Lots of quizzes, gameshows etc but they were all American orientated questions so we struggled a bit (e.g. how many numerals are in a social security number - different answer for UK and US!)
We didn't use the actual Spa (pricey) but the adult only "Serenity spa" area was brilliant with it's own pool and hot tubs and really comfy loungers
Cruise was very port intensive and we were on early dining so only went to a couple of shows - very disappointing (we left one after 10 minutes). There were also various artists performing around the ship. One singer/guitarist "Robbie Litt" was outstanding. My husband enjoyed the comedy shows
We don't use ship's excursions as they are extortionately expensive and we always do our own thing. Be very careful with Carnival shuttle buses. We jumped on one at Livorno thinking it was free and it wasn't - think it was €5 each if I remember rightly! We had no option as it is too far to walk and through an industrial port. At Palma, Carnival were charging $20 or €17 EACH for the shuttle. We walked outside the port gates and took the service bus into town - very, very easy and it cost us €3 each return
The service was excellent all over the ship and I have to say that the customer service team were the most professional, polite and helpful we have ever come across (and we have previously sailed with RCI, NCL, Princess and Fred Olsen)
We had a great time and would definitely sail on this ship (and with Carnival) again. Atmosphere is very relaxed, not "in your face" as with some American lines, staff all looked as if they were happy and were very friendly whilst still being professional. There were "sales" of watches , jewellery etc but they weren't pushed constantly.
Even on the sea day the ship never seemed crowded and it was possible to get a sunbed even in mid afternoon!
The biggest problem we encountered was the supposedly American way of pricing (although we have never experienced this on any other US ships) We found out the hard way when we spent a lot of money on photos that the prices onboard are quoted WITHOUT tax so we were charged an extra $40 on top of the prices already displayed in the shop (a nasty shock!!) Any other ship we have been on (including RCI and NCL) have quoted the price including tax and or those lucky enough to be able to reclaim it the price goes down (not up as in Carnival's case!)It was okay for the Americans on board (around 90% of passengers) as they could reclaim the tax but not for those of us from Europe
Carnival did not really make any considerations for the fact that this was a cruise in Europe and that some of the passengers were from Europe!