Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by Wendylet: Cruising the Med Sunshine Style
Overall Member Rating
Cruising the Med Sunshine Style
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
This cruise was a 12 night Venice to Barcelona itinerary. My husband and I had already been to several of the ports but we were anxious to enjoy them with our daughters before they are off and married with little ones of their own.
Arriving in Venice the day before allowed us a few days to really see the city and it is one of our favorite spots. It also allowed us to embark at whatever time suited us and that's exactly what we did. We arranged for the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doges Palace on the morning of embarkation. By the time the tour was over it was mid afternoon and we embarked with little waiting at all. Rooms were all ready and we could access them immediately. We all had the Cloud 9 Spa Balconies primarily to ensure there was no smoking on the balconies surrounding us.
Our rooms were on the 11th floor and were spacious enough but I must say that we were only a few doors down from the access to the Serenity area and there was quite a bit of noise from More the banging of the door in and out of that area. One night the closer on top of the door broke and it was jammed open and it just happened to be the night they had a big pool party so that was a bit unfortunate. Despite reporting the door problem I don't think it was resolved by the end of the trip.
We had anytime dining and chose to go to the MDR for the first time on the second night of the cruise and it was absolute bedlam. There were so many people waiting the whole foyer was filled as was the staircase. We decided to buffet it that night and by the next time we attended it was much better. With so many food options though you can easily pick and choose as your mood takes you. We found the food in the MDR to be okay, not outstanding. The buffet was always only half open (maybe they only have the whole thing open during peak times) and we found the selection to be a bit wanting. We ate at the Steakhouse (outstanding) and Ji Ji's (outstanding). Others in our party went to the Italian restaurant and reported it was good.
We found the decor on the ship to be quite nice, not garish at all. I do agree that the way to move around the ship is a bit odd but we found it pretty easy to figure out. Just remember to always go to deck 5 to pass through the casino and get to the dining rooms. We used the exercise room and my daughter used the Spa and both were excellent.
The itinerary on this cruise is what attracted us most of all and we were not disappointed. We did 4 ship excursions and for the most part we were happy. The excursion to the Acropolis was ridiculously crowded (5 ships in port that day) and the amount of time we spent there (40 mins) and in the Plaka (40 mins) out of a 4.5 hour excursion seemed ridiculous. We left that one half way through. Regardless of this we had a wonderful time in the ports.
Due to the intensity of this itinerary we seldom looked for evening entertainment but when we did we liked what we saw. Went to a few shows in the Liquid Lounge and we found the comedians to be mostly quite entertaining. The Comedy Brunch was alright, not spectacular. Don't go there for the comedy as there is only 5 minutes of it but the menu is a bit different. We found it a shame that a lot of the venues that we really liked were only open for lunch from noon until 2:30. With the itinerary we had we could only use them on the two sea days we had.
All in all we had a great experience as one would when the whole family is all together and seeing such wonderful sights. On the last night in the MDR however my husband and I had a bit of a surprise on our plates. When I cut open my baked potato to butter it half of it had gone black and rotten. My husband had a salad that he was about to enjoy a forkful of when he noticed something curious. Upon closer inspection it appeared he had a frozen caterpillar on one of the leaves. Not a small one either!! During the length of time it took to alert our server the caterpillar had time to warm up and started travelling around the plate. What an adventure, for him and for us!! Of course the server was mortified and recorded our room number but we didn't notice any kind of compensation although it was on the last evening so perhaps it might still come!?
Before closing I must echo others in their responses about the Serenity area. It is a beautiful spot that about 30 people got to enjoy on a ship of over 3000. Literally people were sleeping on these beds. As a result, if you managed to get a deck chair somewhere (I mean anywhere on the ship), it was quite a hike just to have a dip in the pool. Also the number of annoying tweens was quite bothersome. I realize there isn't much for them to do at this age but they tended to congregate in the pool area at night and took over the hot tubs. While trying to enjoy the movies under the stars you were often bombarded with yelling, screaming and general bad behavior by groups of about 8-10 at any given time. Carnival staff never says anything to them. My daughter went up to one group to ask them to move along after we had already moved our chairs to get away from them so we could finish our movie. They did comply. Come on Carnival, you are acting like you are afraid to say anything to anyone!!!
Anyway, despite a few small issues we had a wonderful time but I don't think I will be cruising Carnival again, especially during the summer months! Less
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Cabin review: 11023
Across from area containing stairs and near elevators but never any noise from that. Near to door leading to Serenity area so can be noisy at times with door opening and banging closed sometimes. Far from dining area.
Port and Shore Excursions
We did our own thing here and walked the wall as well as we took the cable car up Mount Srg. It was definitely hoton the wall but the views were breathtaking especially on the water side. Once we started hitting land we decided to exit the wall and we found we were very close to the entrance to the cable car. The line for the cable car was very long and the heat unrelenting but we stuck it out. Entrance to the wall and the cable car can be put on a credit card as they do not take euros. Be careful though that should you want something small, like a bottle of water, you will need their Kuna to do it. We stopped at a nice place we passed on the walk up to the cable car for lunch and it was wonderful. Nice, shady spot and we enjoyed our pizza lunch very much. Fortunately they took a credit card. Everything in this town is very close and walkable so I don't really feel it would be worth it to do an excursion here if the wall and cable car are what you are after.
We really loved this port of call. I believe it was one of my favorites. We did not do an excursion because my main focus here was to see the statue of David. I had prepurchased my tickets for Accademia and on the advise of someone on Cruise Critic we decided not to do the Uffizi Gallery as well due to time restrictions. Seeing the statue in all its glory was a serious hair raising experience for me. I was overwhelmed when I saw it and I believe it was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We had a short period of time here so after the museum we just walked around a bit before heading back to the ship.
Pompeii is an extremely huge site to try and visit in the short period of time that the cruise allows you. The last time I was in Naples we did the Archaeological Museum which we found extremely interesting. This time we thought we would like to actually see Pompeii. It takes a long time by train to get to Naples so you have to consider that into your day. Also, traveling back you don't want to miss the last scheduled train so you have to allow for that. Transportation really takes a chunk of time out of your day there. We expected to see more than what we got to see while we were there. They do provide you with a map upon entering but it proves very difficult to find the actual street signs you are on to locate where you are. More than once we hoped to find a particular location and found that we never did as we had already gone by it without realizing. There is stuff written about various locations but it is small and easily overlooked. The weather was scorching while we were there and there is very little shade unless you head to the very edge of the location which is a fair walk. They do have lots of accessible water as you go through so refill your water bottles often! It was definitely worth seeing but you really could use more time in which to do it than a cruiseport often allows.
again, Rome is a pirt that you need time to travel and see on your own. Travel time takes a big chunk of your day from you and despite the fact that we got 11 hours there you easily have to take 4 hours of that time off for transportation. It is easy enough to do on your own. We had ordered tickets online for the Coliseum and easily made it there in time for our guided tour. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and again it was blistering hot. The guide was enjoyable but I found I learned most of what she was saying by simply reading Rick Steeves Mediterranean Cruise Ports books. However other members of our party found it quite enjoyable and learned lots. We chose not to do the underground tour as time was such a restriction. We chose to walk around the Forum which was also very interesting, and included in the price of the admission to the Coliseum. The form is huge and we could have used more time there for sure. We had to add in lunch on this day and really there is nowhere in this area to eat so of course we chose the obvious place right outside the Metro station. Be warned, very expensive and mediocre food which is actually just food from a kiosk just inside the metro station door. A coke there cost me $5.50 euros. All in all with limited time you would need to choose the Coliseum area or the Vatican but you could not do both unless you just drove by. Enjoyed it very much.
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