I'm a seasoned traveler and cruiser, but this was our first cruise on Carnival. I have been hesitant to travel on Carnival. Our favorite line is HAL. So, I came in with low expectations … but I was more than pleased. The Sunshine is a beautiful ship. The refurbishment really did a magnificent job. It's not as grand as some ships we've been on, but it far exceeded my expectations.
We stayed in a new cabin on the 5th deck for 4. It was roomy, had nice heavy robes for use, and we had excellent service. Linens and pillows were great. We loved having the Alchemy Bar and the Red Frog pub right outside our door for late night entertainment. The drinks at the Alchemy were truly cosmopolitan and some of the best I've had anywhere. Live acoustic guitar in the Red Frog was great to end the night. We did try the Cheers program, but truly it drank us. I'm pretty sure we ended up on the short end on that one, but oh well….
Food was surprisingly good in the main dining room. It was a step above other contemporary lines which really surprised me. The steakhouse is highly recommended, and in hindsight I wish we'd gone more than once. It's a steal for the $35pp. We did try JiJis which was good as well. The 24 hour Pizzeria was a hit with our boys as well as Guy's Burger. Kudos to Carnival for bringing his concept; it was the absolute best burger I've had on a cruise ship. We had good service everywhere we went.
It was a Spring Break cruise, so capacity was at the max. Sun decks were crazy crowded, but we were always able to find a chair even in the Serenity Deck. The Serenity Deck is absolutely beautiful and a great plus for this ship. Comedy club was surprisingly good and I'm not a comedy girl. Our boys loved the kids club and Circle C. Begged to stay every day. Kudos to Carnival for the great kids program.
There were some issues that Carnival does need to address. The primary issue we had was the sewer smell in the Liquid Lounge. It was so serious that we couldn't stay in there, and we tried on several occasions. There were places on the ship you would have a whiff, but I can literally count it on 1 hand and didn't bother us. We did hear that some passengers not on the lowest 2 decks had an issue with the smell at times. I didn't ever see any buckets or leaks anywhere, but someone in the guest services line behind us did have a leak in her cabin. Overall, I saw really no issues other than the sewer smell and overcrowding on the SunDeck.
Overall, it was a great value, and I wouldn't hesitate on sailing the Sunshine again.