Embarkation: Was stranger than normal! Usually we go through the security check and the next section consists of lines to receive your ship card. This time those lines were across the room, so new cruisers were confused, & we saw some that were trying to get on the ship with just their boarding passes--only to find they had to go wait in a long line! We have Platinum & our embarkation went smoothly, but I felt sorry for the confusion for the new cruisers. Maybe this is just a temporary thing as it was the first time we ran into this. When we got on the ship, our cards would not open the cabin door, so we had to make a trip to the desk to get new cards which negated the early to our room Platinum perk. Then we got one suitcase a couple hours later, but the second suitcase did not arrive until most of the other suitcases were in the hall, and so our Platinum perk did not pan out again!
Cabin: Our cabin was nice and roomy with pleasant décor. The shower was nice More
& large, but the rest of the bathroom was small with less storage than most ships we have been on. Also when you sat on the stool one foot had to rest in the shower because of the angle of the toilet! The heat & A/C control worked very well, so we could adjust it as needed. There was NO full length mirror in our cabin which also was a first. Also there was no interactive TV, so we were disappointed that we could not rent a movie when bored!You could not check your account statement through the TV. We had an ocean view room, & we were pleased with it. My sister and her husband had an inside cabin and thought it was comfortable, but
they did not have ANY night stands in their cabin, and they needed them for her breathing apparatus and his fan. There was plenty of space on both sides of their bed, so it was surprising that they did not have these! We had a good room steward that took good care of our needs.
Dining: We felt that most of the food was pretty good, but that the buffet line was just fair. Really enjoyed having all the 2.0 program choices. Our waiters did a pretty good job waiting on us, but seemed sarcastic & argumentative some of the time. When my brother-in-law told the waitress there was some type of debris in his cup, she argued that it was part of the cup, so he flicked it out with his fingernail & she was still arguing it was part of the cup! Why not just go get a clean cup without comment! The wait staff was told it was MY birthday and they sang Happy B-day to my sister, and remembered the cake AFTER I had already eaten my dessert. No big deal, but still a little disappointing for me. One afternoon we went to 3 different beverage stations in the cafeteria and all three were empty! The coffee was always served cold in the dining room, but was hot in the buffet area. Another thing we noticed was that our dining room (Sunset) was extremely noisy, and we think it is because of the low ceiling as it is only one level with lots of people talking!
Ship Design & Layout: The WORST we have been on. We were so disappointed with the common areas. They were all way too small and cramped for the amount of passengers. We were told that the Limelight Lounge only held 200 people--which is way too small, and some of these people had to sit along the sides behind the stage, so they could not see the performer--which is crazy! They told us they had 5 shows most nights to make up for the small room, however, it is not always possible to get to some of those shows due to your dining schedule or even because you don't want to stay up until midnight! All other comedy clubs that we have been on are much larger and more comfortable. The large showroom--the Liquid Lounge was AWFUL! It is only 2-stories and most are 3, and WORST OF ALL it septic odor was overwhelming so
we had to leave before the show began, and we never returned because of this! We smelled this odor quite strongly as we were embarking, but figured it would improve after the ship sailed. However, it was quite strong in the front part of the atrium very often. We are frequent cruisers and use to occasionally smelling a faint septic odor at different times and places on most ships, but nothing like this! The atrium bar
took up most of the atrium space, so there was very little room for passengers to dance and we like to go watch on most ships. It was so pathetic that people had to dance around the sides of the railings! We were also surprised to see cabins on the Promenade deck, so that made the common areas even smaller. One area that we thought was VERY NICE was the Sports Deck--lots to do and lots of fun going on!
Entertainment: We felt it was almost non-existent! During the day, it was either trivia games or spa seminars where they are trying to sell you something. Wish they would update the games, come up with some new ones, OR even better have some interesting guest lecturers OR daytime movies in the Liquid Lounge (if it didn't smell like septic.) My sister & brother-in-law went to the Dive-in movie one night and said that the movie started, but one of the bars continued to play loud music, so they could not hear the movie's
dialogue. It took multiple complaints from several passengers and around 10-15 minutes to shut down the bar's music! We enjoyed the comedians when we were able to get in. One night we went to the Piano Bar and the entertainer seemed more interested in pushing his tip jar and drinks than actually entertaining! There was a band in the Ocean Plaza that was good most of the time. They changed the music genre every night, so of course, they were better at some songs than others, but overall they were pretty good. It is difficult to get a seat in the Ocean Plaza most of the time when there is actual entertainment.
Ports: Roatan was very nice as usual, but this was the first time that we visited when there were two ships in port, so we had a difficult time getting a couple of chairs. I think we were lucky and got the last two on the entire beach! Next time we will probably rent a clam shell so we will at least have a place to sit and put our junk! Otherwise, it was very enjoyable. In Belize our tender experience went well because we have Platinum status, but there were long lines due to an accident that occurred early in the process. All we heard was that a female passenger was injured and bleeding, so there was a delay due to this unfortunate incident. The shopping experience in Belize has improved as they have finished an air conditioned shopping center toward the far end of the pier and also have installed some white canvas shades along the walkway. We had a bad experience on the return tender though. We got on when it was half-full and they would not depart until EVERY SEAT was filled which took a half an hour. What was worse than the wait time was that the diesel engines were running and many passengers were complaining about the diesel FUMES. They were overwhelming, so we don't know if this was an isolated incident of waiting until the tender was completely full or if this is a new policy to save fuel! This has never happened to us before. It will make us reluctant to get off the ship the next time though. We love Cozumel. Went snorkeling and saw hundreds of beautiful fish, so we had a great time! Cozumel is always the highlight of our trip.
Disembarkation: We have Platinum status and they told us the wrong time, so people were already disembarking when we got to the lobby area. Otherwise, it went very smoothly and quickly.
Summary: We have been on at least 16 cruises and most of these on Carnival. Of course, we like some ships better than others--each have their pluses and minuses, but this is the first ship that we would NEVER go on again. This is the first time that the negatives very much outweighed the positives in our opinion. We heard many other seasoned cruisers complaining about this ship! One passenger had a second cruise booked and got on the internet and switched the booking to another ship while onboard! However, we talked to a couple of first-time cruisers who thought it was okay, but they had nothing to compare it to. We feel strongly that Carnival needs to continue to build new ships instead of refurbishing the older ships--especially if they are going to turn out like this disaster! Less
Carnival Sunshine Cruises to the Western Caribbean