We just returned from our Southern Carribean cruise onboard the Sunshine. Had it not been for the wonderful friends we traveled with and the many travelers we met, this would have been a cruise bust. I will start with the positives: embarkation was painless despite having to wait several hours for everyone to receive their luggage (we packed our carry-on for this contingency), JiJi and Cucina's were worth the extra fees, our room steward, Ardana was attentive as was our main dining room wait staff...a big shout out to Big Al (see negative for more on that story), & to our deck server, Putu who kept us well hydrated as we lazed in the sun:-).
Now for the negatives. We were well aware that the Sunshine was a recently renovated older ship but were unconcerned as we had twice cruised onboard the Carnival Sensation a numer of years ago & had received excellent service both times. Unfortunately, this was not the case during this one. Our first night we dined at JiJi's & as noted above thoroughly enjoyed. We had selected "Your Time Dining", so for the second night (formal night), we had a wait of approximately 45 minutes due to the volume of diners. We were seated at approximately 8:30. Our server, Elmer advised if we wanted 2 lobster tails to order at that time as they stopped serving at 9:15. Really? Despite many attempts at engaging our wait staff, thanking them with each course served, we were met with silence. A grunt of acknowledgement would have been better than nothing. Our food was served lukewarm at best. Unfortunately, this was a first cruise for one of our friends & the experience left her as cold as the baked potato we were served. We eventually left our table prior to dessert, the service was that poor. We did submit a complaint & were assigned second seating for the remainder of our cruise & received excellent care by Big Al & others. However, the food quality was just not as we remembered nor anywhere as good as served onboard the RCL Oasis we sailed upon in January. The renovated areas seemed poorly designed to accommodate the number of cruisers. For instance, to attend a comedy show, cruisers had to stand in line prior to each showing or stand during the show due to limited seating. The venues are too small. Many areas of the ship required going through the casino and/or going up/down flights of stairs to access the correct elevators to your destination, difficult for travelers with disabilities. Balcony rooms do NOT have refrigerators, prepare as we did to bring a collapsable cooler. Our room steward kept it filled with ice, thank you Ardana. Overall the crew were efficient but unfriendly. The lack of attention to detail evident throughout. Many experienced cruisers expressed the same concerns. Is the crew disgruntled or new? It wasn't clear but something is amiss.
We purchased excursions for Aruba & Grand Turk. Aruba was chaotic & disorganized. We arrived early but departed 30 minutes late. Grand Turk was better organized but cruisers are essentially limited to the port following the excursion. Curaçao was gorgeous. We elected to wander the area on our own & were grateful we did. Unfortunately, a friend became ill requiring the attention of the ship's medical staff. They were very knowledgable & professional.
Has Carnival cut too many corners to keep their cruises relatively inexpensive? Not sure. Would we book the Sunshine again? Not a chance.