We are a family of four (2 adults, ages 50+ and twin daughters, age 15) who thoroughly enjoyed our cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine.
We live in the Tampa Bay area, so it was a short, two-hour drive to Port Canaveral, we parked off-site at ParkNCruise (for a very reasonable $7.99 a day), were shuttled to the ship, and were on board in no time. We had a spacious balcony cabin (#8327) and our girls were across the hall in an interior cabin (#8329). I must say that we had a fabulous balcony space--one of the best we've ever had--and I so enjoyed sipping my coffee out there every morning as the sun came up. (I don't like the coffee on the ship and I don't like to pay extra, so I bring premium ground coffee, flavored creamer, and Splenda and put it all in the bottom of my French-Press coffee cup, add hot water (ordered from room service), and two minutes later, presto! fabulous (free!) coffee!)
We LOVED the food in the Main Dining Room--no reason to eat elsewhere for dinner--and our girls dressed up every night to join us (their father was very happy about this). We had early dining (6PM) and found our Wait Staff to be friendly and efficient. We were in and out in less than an hour every night. The food and service was definately one of the highlights of our cruise.
For lunch, I also enjoyed the Deli and Pasta Bar and my husband and daughter loved Guy's Burgers (you have to ask for extra fries or they give you just a small portion). For breakfast, I usually just had a banana, bran muffin and an egg, but my husband enjoyed the many offerings at the Buffet.
We found the entertainment to be GREAT--what they can do with 8 dancer/singers is amazing. And although the theater is not your typical space, the way it is configured allows for wonderful audience interaction--something I haven't found on other ships. We never had a problem seeing any of the shows, often arriving 5 minutes before the show started. We particularly enjoyed the Latin night and Rock shows, although all of them were excellent. One night my husband was part of the show and as a thank you, we were invited to meet with the entertainers and were served complimentary (adult) beverages. They posed for pictures with us "volunteers" and autographed our "VIP" badges. Nice!
They had a wonderful live band playing every night (at a different public space) and it seemed like they could play virtually every type of music--thoroughly enjoyed that.
After just one visit to Club 02, our girls quickly made friends and hung out with them the rest of the cruise. They especially loved the ropes course and all the offerings on the Sports Square.
As far as the ports go, the area getting off and on the ship at Nassau was especially congested and the people hawking their wares just got to be too much after a while--probably because the heat of August was testing everyone's patience.
In St. Thomas, we took Carnival's Jeep and Beach excursion and had a great time. My husband drove the jeep (a brand new one!) up to the top of the island and our guides (talking to us through a radio) would stop along the way pointing out interesting facts. It was tough for me to concentrate on the narration though because I felt like I was on "My Toad's Wild Ride," with my husband driving like a wild man. (He would deny this, of course, and the girls loved every minute of the ride.) At the top, we stopped for some photos and a soft drink and browsed through a gigantic gift shop. On the way back, we spent about an hour at a beach (nothing special), but it did have rest rooms which I was grateful for--but no umbrellas, which would have been nice because it was another scorching hot day.
We also enjoyed our day in San Juan--walked around Old San Juan and did some shopping. It's a beautiful island with warm, friendly people. At Grand Turk, the shopping area is small and right off the ship along with a beautiful beach. We did some shopping and the girls did some swimming.
On other cruise reviews, I have read how difficult it is to get around the ship. We didn't find that at all--we just went to Deck 5 and we could get pretty much anywhere we wanted. We took the stairs most of the time (to work off some of those wonderful calories we'd eaten) and it didn't bother us a bit to walk through the Casino which had a wide aisle and was great for people-watching.
I am an early riser and went to the gym almost every day, and although they had lots of machines, the equipment does not face the ocean on any side, so I was a little disappointed about that, but no big deal. Also disappointing was the size of the Comedy Club. We tried unsuccessfully to get into one family friendly show so the next time we arrived 40 minutes early and were still seated on the side of the room that you could only see the comedian from a TV monitor. No problem though, we still enjoyed the show.
If I would do one thing different it would be to NOT book a summer cruise...we live in Florida and it's bloody hot during the summer--and the Caribbean is no exception. We'll probably stick to the school holidays in the future--Spring Break and Thanksgiving. We are about 4 cruises away from Diamond status on Carnival, so we'll likely be booking Carnival for the foreseeable future.
All in all, we completely enjoyed cruising on the Carnival Sunshine and would definitely do it again. After all, no work, meal preparation or doing laundry for a week--what's not to like? Happy Cruising!