This was our first time cruising with Carnival but it certainly will not be our last.Like others we had done our research on the cruiseline itself and also on the ship itself,and like others we had read both positive and negative reviews so like always we got ready for our cruise with an open mind and now I can positively write an utterly positive review due to myself and my husband having had a fantastic time aboard her.
We started our holiday with an overnight stay in Barcelona at the lovely hotel Arc La Rambla situated on Las Ramblas and in a perfect position to get to the cruise pier the next morning.We booked a taxi at 10.30am and arrived at the port 5 minutes later check in was a breeze with no crowds at that time and we were sat in the upstairs waiting area 15mins later.Embarkation began at 11.30am and we were on the boat for 12.00pm.
We went upstairs to the Lido Deck and we were enjoying a tasty taco by 12.15pm.We then relaxed in Serenity until we could go to our cabin around 2pm.
Our cabin was a Spa Balcony on deck 11 perfectly situated for the serenity area,the cabin itself was lovely and spacious with a more than adequate balcony.Included was entry to the Spa and a free class each,at this point I must mention there are two steam rooms,a thermal suite but NO thalassopy pool in the Spa area.If you do not have a Spa cabin, entrance is $25.00 per day.Bathrobes were also included in the package but the slippers that were advertised as part of the package were none existant and only when we inquired were we told by the steward that these hadnt been sorted out yet,but he did fetch us a pair with Marriot hotels displayed across the front(Strange).
The dining options on the Sunshine are superb,with a high quality throughout,we particulary liked the variety of food options available on the Lido deck these were:-
Blue Iguana Cantina:-open for breakfast and Lunch
Guys Burger Bar:- We cant speak highly enough of this place,the rumours are true,the burgers particulary the Ringer are the best we have ever tasted and the fries oh my goodness these are absoulutely delicious very very moreish!!!
Then you go through to the Lido Buffet area,were there are several stations although they are not all open at the same time,there is a good variety of food on offer in here again delicous and the food that is meant to be warm is exactly that warm.Also in this are is the 24hr Pizza de Capitano,the Pizza slices here are so tasty.
Wandering through the buffet area,you come to JI JI the Asian Kitchen,at lunchtime they present a mongolian wok make your own stir fry via the chefs and they cook it for you fresh its free and once again delicious.At night it becomes an amazing restaurant book here early in your cruise because we can almost guarantee you will want to come a second time for a fee of $12.00 this is a bargain eatery.
On the opposite side is Cucina de Capitano a lovely Italian Restaurant at night with a $12.00 fee,at lunchtime a free pasta bar all made fresh by the chefs.Take the order form from the waiter when entering,find a table,you then tick,which pasta,sauce and filling you want then take it back to the chefs to cook and your meal is brought to your table when ready,restaurant quality pasta for free.
In the middle of these two restaurants is the Havana Bar,where there is entertainment at night,but also combined with the afore mentioned restaurants is also a great place to eat your breakfast and lunches with a lovely quiet atmosphere.In a morning the pasta bar and mongolian wok make made to order fresh omelettes .It was lovely having breakfast in this area as you can sit by the huge aft windows and gaze at the lovely views.
On deck 4 midships is the steakhouse Fahrenheit 555 a lovely elegant dining experiance with a fee of $35.00 it was worth every penny or dollar,I enjoyed the surf and turf ,it was amazing so tender.
We were on Your time dining with our main restaurant being the Sunrise the food was lovely in here.But the one and only sit down breakfast we had in here was very dissappointing the service on this occasion was very slow and the food that was meant to be warm was freezing,we did observe that not many people came down to eat breakfast in the MDR.
Punchliner Brunch:- This was held on the one and only seaday in the Sunrise Restaurant,the food was lovely and a comedian came out on the hour for ten minutes it is held from 9.00am-1.30pm,its free and no reservations are required.
The taste bar we didnt try but basically it offers small bites from the different eateries around the ship,changing each night we saw a few people pick up plates and head down to the restaurant with them,to eat as appetisers.
The shakespot and Java cafe offer for a small fee shakes and coffees.We felt in this area there could have been more comfy seating as it was a huge empty soulless place lacking atmosphere.
There was always lots going on around the ship and the entertainment was top notch although a couple of the comedians we found a little dissapointing,the Ocean Plaza area came alive at night with a fantastic duo who sang anything from 80s music to American Rock,The singer Zach Majors in the Red Frog Pub also gave a good performance.Lovely cocktails you can find in the Alchemy bar ,oh and do try the Martini tasting in here,its an experiance !!!
Check your balance at the sail and sign machines located in the Atrium and you might have a surprise, a credit of $63.78 dollars each had been credited to our account this was for a nine day sailing everyone got this reimbursed,I think it was for overpaid port taxes.
Although this was a port intensive cruise we had gone on the Sunshine with a view to enjoying a nice relaxing ship while everyone was off sightseeing we wanted to relax on board and we did just that,we did see visitors being allowed onboard ship,mainly crew members families but there was no problem with this and on one occasion there was a few health and safety drills for crew taking place onboard and although this was noisy for a couple of hours it was reassuring to observe all the safety procedures that the crew were taking part in.
We disembarked in a few ports;-The shuttle bus to get to Marseille cost 14.00 euros return each and shuttle to Livorno centre cost 5.00 euro.In Naples we docked very close to the hydrfoils,these are very regular and go to Capri,Sorrento and Ischia etc.
When sailing into Venice try and get a sunlounger on the Starboard side as about 11am you start to approach Venice and this sail in is absoulutely stunning you sail through the little Islands and eventually past St Marks.If you are sailing out of Venice you need to get a seat Portside.
Embarkation was easy and stressless,it can be early but I think Carnival take note of your departure details in your paperwork you fill out online beforehand and they refer to this before giving you your disembarkation details.
All in all we had a fantastic cruise on the Sunshine and can highly recommend her to all.