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Carnival Sunshine Review

4.0 / 5.0
1,402 reviews
See all photos
Editor Rating
Very Good
Adam Coulter
U.K. Executive Editor

Carnival Sunshine is the result of a 2012 massive, $155 million, 49-day transformation that saw the former Carnival Destiny completely overhauled and renamed. The changes to the ship were not just cosmetic: Carnival replaced the elevators, air-conditioning units, electrical stations and laundry machines.

Although Sunshine isn't a Dream-class ship, it does contain almost all of the elements found on Magic and Breeze, making it one of the most active Carnival ships out there: 20-minute standup comedy routines, 30-minute production shows, and fast-food sushi, burgers and burritos. The dining and drinking include a burger counter designed by spiky-haired Food Network personality Guy Fieri, a rolled-to-order Mexi-Cali burrito stop and a pair of Caribbean beach bars with mascots (RedFrog and BlueIguana) and booze specialties (rum and tequila, respectively).

To offset these temples to unhealthy eating, there are also two Asian restaurants onboard: Bonsai Sushi, a for-fee, sit-down Japanese restaurant, and Ji Ji, a truly outstanding restaurant offering pan-Asian cuisine.

The design throughout is also radically different from that found on the old Carnival ships, as former designer Joe Farcus' garish color schemes give way to the more understated designs of Hamburg-based Partner Design. Colors are subtle, and the palette throughout -- from the main dining rooms to the corridors and cabins -- is distinctly muted. Certain areas -- the corridor on Deck 5 with Fahrenheit 555, the Piano Bar, Ocean Plaza and the main dining rooms -- could actually do with more decor, as they're so featureless.

What you come away with is the distinct feeling that there has been a quiet revolution going on, with a triumph of style over tack. In fact, there are certain areas of the ship, such as the Library Bar, Java Blue, Havana Bar, Fahrenheit 555 and Ji Ji, where you'd be hard pressed to tell this was even a Carnival ship.

Having said that, Sunshine still attracts Carnival's bread-and-butter passengers. They're the unpretentious, highly social, price-conscious cruisers out for organized fun. (The relentless emphasis on fun at all times is still ever-present onboard.)


Ship offers updated bars, restaurants and revamped kids' spaces.


Adults-only areas, while lovely, are a bit small.

Bottom Line

Former Carnival Destiny underwent $155 million makeover, and the improvements are noticeable.


Passengers: 3006
Crew: 1040
Passenger to Crew: 2.89:1
Shore Excursions: 190


Included with your cruise fare:

  • Meals in the main dining rooms, buffet, pizzeria, Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and certain room service items

  • Nightly live music performances throughout the ship

  • All main theaters shows, comedy performances and deck parties

  • Use of Carnival Waterworks, the Sports Square and mini-golf

  • Use of the fitness center, not including most classes or any personal training appointments

  • Most daily activities onboard, except where noted

  • Poolside movies at the Seaside Theater

  • Programs for kids ages 2 to 17 in the Camp Ocean kids club until 10 p.m.

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Gratuities ($13.99 per person, per day for those staying in standard staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day for all suite passengers)

  • Gratuities of 18 percent, added automatically to bar and spa purchases

  • Meals in Cucina del Capitano, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and at Bonsai Sushi

  • Most drinks onboard, with the exception of water, tea, basic coffees and select juices in the buffet

  • Spa treatments, salon services and entry to the Cloud 9 Thermal Suite

  • Most fitness classes and all personal training sessions

  • Shore excursions

  • Internet and Wi-Fi

  • Selected activities like alcohol tasting events, the Build-a-Bear workshop, certain arts and crafts classes, arcade games and Win-A-Cruise bingo

  • Onboard photographs or artwork

  • Onboard retail purchases

  • After-hours events for kids in Camp Ocean

Fellow Passengers

Carnival attracts an outgoing set of North American couples, families and multigenerational groups. The average passenger is in the 40's and more than 90 percent of its passenger base is American.

Carnival Sunshine Dress Code

Daytime: During the day, beachy or port-specific attire is the norm.

Evening: Carnival's evening dress code is typically "cruise casual," but on two nights during the voyage "cruise elegant" eveningwear is suggested. On cruise casual nights, the line recommends sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cutoffs), long dress shorts and collared sports shirts for men, and casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, capri pants, dress shorts and jeans (no cutoffs) for women. Cruise elegant dress means dress slacks, dress shirts and sports coats (suggested, not required) for men and cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses for women. Men might dress in suits and ties or tuxedos, while women might wear evening gowns.

Not permitted: Flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival Cruise Line.

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More about Carnival Sunshine

Where does Carnival Sunshine sail from?

Carnival Sunshine departs from Charleston and Norfolk

How much does it cost to go on Carnival Sunshine?

Cruises on Carnival Sunshine start from $348 per person.

Is Carnival Sunshine a good ship to cruise on?

Carnival Sunshine won 2 awards over the years.
Carnival Sunshine Cruiser Reviews

Awesome Cruise

We just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Sunshine out of Charleston. We had 14 in our group and we had a blast. We were on the Lido deck with a balcony.Read More

6-10 Cruises

Age 60s

Nice get-away with friends

We are all normally on Princess or Celebrity cruises and this Carnival was our 3rd Carnival and the 3rd cruise we took since the Covid lockdown was over. .Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 70s

She is getting old

The cruise was enjoyed by our group and will sail Carnival again,Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 70s

Carnival sunshine

We had a fantastic time aboard sunshine.Read More

First Time Cruiser

Age 30s

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