To give you an overview on us, I (32) have worked in the Cruise Industry for 7 years and have been lucky enough to experience many ships; both professional and personally, my partner (25) worked on the Disney Dream for 6 months as a youth activities co-coordinator.
I think with many Mediterranean Cruise holidays you can sometimes come back home completely exhausted and the 9 nights on the Carnival Sunshine was no exception, 9 packed nights with only 1 sea day to relax. But it was worth it, the ports on this Itinerary are fantastic, each with each own character and each with something unique and different to see. We decided after much discussion that we would get off the ship each day, in some ports just for a few hours and some for the full day. Each one we enjoyed, but some definitely more than others.
The ship itself well it has many many plus points, but it also does have a few negatives but you will only notice some if you look closely enough! The new parts of the ship including the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements are excellent, and have the look and feel of a brand new ship. Unfortunately what they seem to have done is left many of the old parts of the ship but become more noticeable the longer the sailing went on! Below is my opinion on various parts of the ship that we used the facilities!
I did notice several drip buckets throughout the ship, including one almost directly outside my cabin, which had the ceiling panel removed on the first day and was never replaced. The worst I saw was one outside the lower level entrance of the sunrise dining room; it was more of a constant trickle rather than a drip! It wasn't pleasant to see when you queued for your evening meal. I have a picture and post along with others.
Cabin - We opted for an inside cabin category 4G, Cabin 8203, Cabin was light and spacious, bed was extremely comfortable, ample storage space for clothes and a safety deposit box. Bathroom was clean, shelves to store all your toiletries and the shower was a great size and always had super-hot water. Our cabin steward Warren was welcoming, and asked us each evening if he could help or get us anything we needed.
Couple of issues which seemed to be a factor for many people at guest services, the Air Conditioning although nice and cool, was extremely loud! At some parts during the night it was light a Lancaster bomber was flying low over your cabin, you have no option to switch it off, but only to alter the temperature. Each evening when I suspect was the busiest time for guests taking showers, a strong sewer smell came from the plug hole in the shower. It lasted around 2 minutes and then was fine.
Food - This was my favourite part! I love my food and I love a variety of food, the Sunshine came up good in this area!
Lido Buffet: although lacking on variation was always tasty and always well stocked. I enjoyed the sandwich deli which was open throughout the day was great! It was interesting to see how many people where eating hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken sandwiches at 2am!!
24/7 pizza: was amazing, 5 choices of pizza made fresh in traditional style, it was extremely popular late at night! I lost count the amount of times I visited, which was surprising considering that all you can get in most ports on this cruise is pizza!
Guys Burger Joint: Tasty, tasty, tasty!! I believe I had 6 over the course of the 9 days, the Ringer and Chillius Maximus my personal favourites! The fries where great also, pick them up and head over to the toppings bar to load them up!
Blue Iguana Cantina: My personal day time favourite! Amazing Tacos, amazing burritos with tortillas made fresh in front of you! This was also open for breakfast, breakfast burritos although heavy on the stomach where extremely tasty! It closed at 230pm each day so don't miss out!!
Ji Ji Asian Kitchen: Excellent fresh tasty and expertly presented Asian food, you can smell the woks cooking as soon as you walk into the restaurant which gives it the authentic feel, we visited twice and enjoyed it both times, the Duck Starter and the Singapore Spicy Prawns are amazing! The cover charge was $12 per person which is great value. The main difference is that you don't feel rushed that you do in the main dining room. It's worth a mention that this place is open for lunch each day with no service charge.
Fahrenheit 555: This was the place I had most expectations for, Carnival big this place up as the best steakhouse at sea and they are close, but no different to Cagney's Steakhouse I have experienced on NCL. Service was ok, but I expected more for the cover charge of $35 per person. Initially they welcomed us in, sat us down and after the first course, our plates remained on our table for almost 15 minutes. I can't say the food wasn't brilliant as it was, my crab cake starter was good, my main of 5 spiced Rib Eye was extremely tasty, but it wasn't the best cut I have ever had. Dessert was amazing, 4 chocolate sampler! Yum! The service let it down slightly, and was actually better at Ji Ji's for half the cost.
Sunshine Dining Room: We always asked for a table for 2, which we waited on average 10 minutes for, no problem, they gave us a buzzer and we went for a pre-dinner drink. On the first two visits the food was great, really great, but we have the daily specials menu, the 3rd occasion I has the fried chicken off the standard menu and it came cold and wasn't pleasant, this was the only food I didn't like on board over the full 9 days! Not bad considering I guess.
Taste Bar: I LOVED this concept, each day it offered a sample from each of the restuarants on board, we used to grab a bite to eat late afternoon when it opened at 5pm, it was always tasty and freshly made! Great concept and it would be great to see this on other ships and other lines!
Java Coffee and Shake Bar: Great idea, although you can get free coffee from the Lido deck all day, it just didn't cut it for me, I required something stronger!! The Java coffee was around $2.50 for a Latte, but it was worthwhile, I also enjoyed the spiked coffees. I filled my loyalty card within 3 days. Shakes were also great!
I think that covers the areas that I ate in!!
Bars - We enjoyed the benefit of having $1000 free on-board credit, so we managed to sample all the bars on-board. During the day the Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar seemed the places to be, excellent cocktails and cold beers! I found myself drinking the Red Frog beer more often than not as I took liking to it!
I used the PYOB stations on many occasions which got around the 15% service charge and it was only $4 for a Red Frog! Also it felt extremely manly pouring your own beer!
The Alchemy Bar was nice, impressive cocktails made to order in front of you, although'.it always seemed to be a "friends of Dorothy" meeting no matter what time of day we visited! (not my thing, but it was more of an observation)
The Piano Bar was a firm favourite during the Cruise, IF you could get in! It was only a small place and Alex the entertainer seemed to have a regular audience that attended every night, it was fun to have a few drinks and request a song to sing along with.
Limelight Lounge was good for the comedy shows, we went to one of the adult shows and it was very close to the bone! Not for the easily offended! We enjoyed it.
Red Frog pub was good, live music and regular pub quizzes taking place. With 3 nights left on the sailing they ran out of Red Frog beer, but strangely had it available at the pool bar.
What is worth noting when sailing from Barcelona everything has an extra 10% VAT on during the whole cruise, so you pay $5.95 for a pint, plus $15% service plus 10% VAT - Making it $7.43. Unfortunately there is no way of getting around it for this Cruise.
Entertainment - The cruise director Kevin Noonan worked extremely hard to get everyone involved in the daily activities, evening entertainment and involved the game shows! Live Music seemed to be in every bar including the Atrium bar each night. Sky Green was my personal favourite and she is most definitely more talented than working on board a Cruise Ship. The stage shows where ok, not the best I have seen on a cruise ship, not a patch on NCL or Royal Caribbean but the team of 8 worked hard, I did really enjoy the Rock of Ages show. I can't remember her name, but one of the women had a much stronger voice and she was great!!
On a few occasions the Liquid Lounge transformed into the night club..which was odd.the DJ came out onto the stage and within 30 minutes it was like the passengers where in the middle of a crew party! The crew easily outnumbered the passengers in the night club.
I got up on stage and was involved in Hasbro the game show, it was fun and I earned myself $20 on board credit which was nice!
Sports Square, Sky Track & Waterworks - Loved the water slides! The Yellow one was slow, but the green/blue ones are super-fast!! And fun!! I played some mini golf on one day which was ok, all the other things such as foozeball, shuffleboard, pool tables where always busy.
Serenity - The pool and waterfall in this area are great, you can just sit on the side and relax, or stand up in the pool to around chest level, it was so relaxing. Unfortunately it was extremely difficult to get beds, impossible on sea day! People actually slept on the double beds the night before sea day to ensure they got a space! It wasn't policed as adults only; each day walking through there was several children.
Overall, I had a great time on the Sunshine, and would sail on her again on the basis that they put her back on dry dock for a few weeks and fix all the things that are stopping her becoming a great ship. It's a shame, a little more attention and she could be much better. I would be concerned travelling on her in the Caribbean when full to capacity on more sea days, we enjoyed the luxury of experiencing the ship in the afternoons when many passengers where still on shore.