We just returned from the Mardi Gras cruise on the Carnival Sunshine out of New Orleans. Overall we had a wonderful time and even though the cruise was a little pricey when compared to other times out of New Orleans (not surprising) it was still nice. There are some serious problems in my eyes though with the Sunshine, which is an older ship (Destiny) that has been completely updated and re-named the Sunshine. Here are my thoughts:
Entertainment: The SportsSquare area is really cool. Kids loved it and so did we. The slides were broken a bit the first two days but they got them fixed. The water was freezing though and the kids did not really want to freeze. The main pool (The Beach Pool) is an absolute joke. I would say the capacity is 30 people. It is that small. My inground pool at home is bigger, seriously. The shows were above average for the most part but they do not have enough. They compensate with the Hasbro Game Show thing which is cute but there were maybe 3 or 4 good ones out of 7. The Liquid Lounge which is where the shows are held.....another joke. Uncomfortable seating and very small for the size of the ship. They turn in into a nightclub after the shows and you can tell that they went too far in that direction and it cost them in the design of the main theater. Once again, size is a huge problem in the Limelight Lounge which doubles as the Punchliner. Whoever designed that thing had to be high. There are not nearly enough seats and half the seats are BEHIND THE STAGE. I mean, really? They say that they are aware so they schedule five shows per night. Even seen a comedian that flew in that day and has to do five shows in one night? Let's just say the last show is a struggle. Overall, I was disappointed in the places these people had to perform more than their performances.
Food: The dining room is kind of plainly decorated but who really cares? I am on the ship for the food. :) The dining room experience was excellent. We had amazing waiters and an awesome bar guy who took care of us big time. We showed the love back at tip time. :) The other food options near the pool are excellent as well.....Guy's Burger Joint and the BlueIguana Cantina (tacos/burritos) are excellent as are most of the options in the back (asian/italian). The kids killed the lunch noodles on the italian side. Again, it was not the food it was the lack of options. I have never been on a cruise where the stuff was closed more than this one. The buffet was the same lame stuff every single night (hot dogs and the like) and never changed. The deli was hardly ever open at night and the aforementioned great options are not available after dark either (burgers, tacos, italian, asian) without a fee for the italian and asian. Makes no sense. Great food that you couldn't get. The only thing open 24 hours was the pizza and it may have been the worst ever. There was the same one guy working it all the time and never had help. Most of the time you got a half-cooked, toppings sliding off pizza or a uncooked pizza with nothing on it. It was sad. Same issue really. Great people, great food.....lousy presentation/delivery/options.
Cabin: Our cabin was really nice. We went with the aft-view balcony and we really enjoyed it. The bathroom to me is a touch small and the shower reminded me of showering in the FEMA trailer after Katrina but overall I cannot complain. We loved the view, we had excellent service and the few times we had to call for something it was taken care of immediately.
Smell. The septic/crap smell was unbearable at times on the ship. Not sure what the issue there was but it was bad.
Pricing. Seems like everything has an extra fee now. That seems to be the new norm, just something I have to get used to. Steakhouse, fee. Milkshakes, fee. (Awesome though!) Dinner at night in the Italian or Asian area, fee. Arcade, insanity. I get that they cannot include everything for your cruise fare, but when I pay $4,000 for a week it just seems like more things should not require an additional fee. Just something I have to get used to.
Kids Activities. My son went to Camp Carnival a few times (9 years old) but was bored. My 13 year daughter loved Circle C. Had to drag her away. :) Always so dependent on the kid. The staff was super friendly though and hard working.
As I said, overall it was a great trip. There are some serious issues though with the Sunshine and when the boat is packed, as you would expect on the Mardi Gras cruise from New Orleans, there are issues. To me, the biggest things were the lack of space for the shows and by far the biggest to me was the horrible lack of food options after dinner. That to me was by far the biggest disappointment. Was also sad to see the other cruisers take it out on the staff. The workers always tried their best but they were overwhelmed a lot of the time. Overall, awesome trip!