I've cruised several times, with this being my second Carnival cruise. I enjoyed the Carnival Legend a few years back and was really surprised how drastically different and disappointing the Sunshine was. First, the "pros" included a great staff in the main dining area and the awesome cabin steward. We had terrific service in these areas and staff who seemed happy and professional throughout. Another pro was that the dinners in the main dining room reached expectations. (We ate at Fahrenheit 555, the specialty steakhouse, our last night and my fiance had to send back a fatty, unpalatable steak, but the cheesecake rocked). The best part of our trip was getting off for excursions. Despite one of them being canceled the night before due to weather, The Shore Excursion staff let us know ASAP, which gave us enough time to choose another. Carnival seems to use good tour companies at the ports and we felt well looked after and enjoyed them very much.
Okay, the "cons": First off, the ship seemed very crowded and difficult to maneuver due to areas being closed off where one couldn't walk through the length of the ship, but would have to go up or down floors trying to get to one end to the other. The "refurbished" design seemed very unfriendly to comfort and convenience for the cruiser, but rather served to pack more people in. Unlike other cruise ships, I didn't feel free or as welcome to move about or hang out wherever I wanted. It often seemed like if a function wasn't going on in/near a bar/lounge, no servers would come around to ask you if you wanted a drink. The views of the stages in the comedy club were partially obstructed, as was the stage near the Alchemy bar by tall plants and multiple think columns. The main "theater" was the ugliest I have ever encountered on a ship, and the most uncomfortable to sit in. It was small and not even close to majestic like on other ships. One expects to be "wowed" by the colorful, inviting, and imaginative ambiance that parts of a cruise ship can offer. The Sunshine just didn't seem to offer this.
Although our room was nice and comfortable, the appearance of buckets in the hallway to catch dripping water from the ceiling, and the occasional odors of sewage we would encounter was a first for me on a cruise ship, especially for a refurbished one. I think the biggest difference of this cruise from my last one with Carnival on the Legend concerned the entertainment atmosphere. For my taste, it was way too overbearing and loud. I could not find enjoyment or relaxation on the top deck due to the overly loud D.J. music blaring by the pools and the people packed in like sardines on deck chairs. Even the "Serenity" area was polluted by the extreme noise of music or television blaring over the speakers. The cruise director, Jamie, seemed to embody the overbearing atmosphere that this ship exuded (I don't want to be rude, but it would be better if she didn't yell into the microphone, but just let the microphone do the work). I think this high volume party atmosphere suits what many people look for on a cruise vacation, but not me. The trip wasn't a loss, we did have some fun; however, compared to the Carnival Legend, it was very disappointing and we won't be returning to Carnival.