I must say I was very disappointed in the Carnival Sunshine (sailing date was March 16th 2014). This was my second sailing on a Carnival ship (last sailing was on the Carnival Dream in 2013) and I must say just might be my last. I will try to outline my disappointments and areas I liked below. But before I complain…there are some great things about the ship. The free popcorn on movie nights was awesome, Guys Burgers and the Blue Iguana rocked, the main shows and comedy shows were enjoyable, and the water works section was fun (even for adults).
The overall ship was a disappointment.
The Carnival Sunshine was a newly refitted ship so my hopes were high. Yes, the ship appears new and clean in many ways, but the overall layout and traffic flow was awful. My wife and I had to constantly go up or down a deck to move across the ship (with the exception of deck 5). Whoever thought placing a woefully undersized comedy lounge in the middle of the front end of deck 4 with no way around it besides going up a floor was not thinking very well. Also, the quality of the refit was lacking…many titles are loose and some cracked, the teak decks were ruff and unfinished, wall treatments appeared plain, leaky pipes where visible, and the smell on mid deck 4 (starboard side) was horrid (sewage smell). For a ship just out of a dry dock complete refit not too long ago I would suggest Carnival sends this ship back and get it fixed. Best part in my opinion of the refit was the new Serenity decks and those super cool automatic hand washing stations.
Pubic space size was again a disappointment.
There are way too many people on the ship for the amount of public spaces which caused the ship to feel crowded. They would have done well to add a lower wrap around deck on this refit. The public spaces are way too crowded and again poorly laid out. The comedy lounge was WAY too small and would fill up 45 minutes before the start of the show (so one wastes 45 minutes of their evening to watch a show). Additionally, the Limelight Lounge (main theater) was also way too small (with such a vast refit why did they not make this main theater bigger instead of adding more staterooms). Also, this ship sways and rolls…OMG it sways and rolls. If you are prone to seasickness avoid this ship.
The food was just so-so.
Guys Burgers and the Blue Iguana (Tacos and Burritos) rocked…I mean these are the best! The wait for the Blue Iguana could get long, but Guy’s Burgers moved quickly and always tasted great! The food in the Marketplace Lido deck though was rather bland and sparse and the desserts always disappointed (just bland). Thank goodness the soft serve ice cream was good. I always felt like there was just really a limited selection and I blame the additional upcharge restaurants for that. I am surprised on such a small ship Carnival decided to add three additional upcharge dining options; I truly believe these restaurants just depleted the already limited Lido deck buffet options. We tried the Ji Ji restaurant and the food was good and servers super friendly, but I had to wonder why should there be an upcharge…why not just include it (it was not that nice and could have been a buffet extension). We avoided the Italian and Steakhouse restaurants because we failed to really see a value in what was offered for the cost. We also did not try the Bonsai sushi restaurant, thought I wanted to try it but my wife did not. The MDR was also disappointing. The first two nights we ate in the MDR (Sunset top level) and the server and staff appeared completely disorganized and just unfriendly. The MDR food was bland and just way below expectations on quality. What was a super exciting time on the Carnival Dream last year became a horrid experience on the Sunshine. Because the 1st 2 nights were so bad we skipped the next two nights and eventually requested an entirely different eating section for the remaining nights. The new section had a much better staff and were better organized, but the food was still just really bland.
Pool and Top Decks (So-So)
Best part of the top decks were the Waterworks and Serenity sections. The new Waterworks slides are awesome and fun. But this ship needs an additional pool as the main pool was just way over crowded. The Serenity pool was nice but it too was too packed. I don’t find enjoyment soaking in a standing room only pool shoulder to shoulder with other guests. Also, the 3 hot tubs on the whole ship were consistently packed. Deck chairs were hard to find and too many guests just placed towels on chairs to reserve spots and left for hours at a time. I noticed on the last sea day the staff started clamping down on this, but still when you circle the deck and see empty deck chairs with a book or towel claiming it and no one using then for hours one can become agitated. Simple solutions…make the rules on chair saving stick…when you get up you lose your spot. Another miss on this refit was the lack of a single level wrap around deck one can stroll from stern to bow. Up and down stairs to walk from bow to stern through choke points and through deck chair crowed deck space was just not a great experience.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Embarkation was a breeze and we were on the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the pier. Very smooth process until we got on the ship and noticed they did not give us Any Time Dinning but instead put us in an 8:15 dinning time (who the heck eats at 8:15?). I find it interesting reading another review showed that this also happened to them…seems like an issue Carnival needs to address. If it were not for the fact I had the original confirmation that showed we had selected Anytime Dinning the staff would not have changed us from the 8:15 dinning. With that corrected we had really no other embarkation issues. Now, disembarking was a joke and poorly managed. There was no control of the process by the crew, limited to NO PA communication of what floor was being disembarked which ended up in a chaotic process. In fact even all the port call disembarkations were just a massive chaotic mess.