• Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Log In
Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,369 Reviews

Worst cruise ever. Done with Carnival

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by XanaXand

73 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2016
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View

We have cruised 20 times since my wife and I got together. She has been on even more than that. This was our 7th Carnival cruise, but I guarantee you it will be our last.

We were so excited about this boat. It was recently refurbished and seemed to have some things we had never seen before on a cruise ship. But wow, what a huge disappointment all around.

Let's start with check-in. Carnival has a policy where there has to be an adult over 25 registered before anyone under that age, including 18. So they broke their own policy by checking in our daughter first, before us (the obvious adults/parent). This caused the system to not allow us to properly check-in. We had to wait forever for manager to finally "fix" it. He told us it would be fine. It wasn't. EVERY SINGLE TIME our daughter either left the boat or came back on the boat at every port, her card failed and flagged her as not being a passenger. It was embarrassing and we held up the line. She couldn't charge anything on the boat either, even though we stood in line half a dozen times at the Guest Services desk and was told each time that everything was corrected.

One of the biggest complaints of this boat by us, by other people on our cruise, and by many other people in their own reviews is this...THE SMELL. It was the worst smell and it was everywhere on this boat. The disgusting, sickening smell of damp and sewage was so bad in some areas people would not stay there. We smelled it getting on and off the boat EVERY TIME. It was rampant across the lower floors and in certain areas of the upper decks. When I complained, all I got was that "it's an older ship". Really? So after all of the refurbishment and changes, it basically has an old and worn out sewage system that leaks. That is why you see so many reviews from people mentioning not only the awful smell, but leaking in staterooms and bathrooms. The whole trip I kept wondering if the terrible taste of the water on this boat had something to do with the matching smell of damp sewage. Drinking water wasn't good. In fact it was disgusting. Smelled awful and tasted worse.

Then we get to our room. It wasn't cleaned even though we were one of the last on board. The room was OK, but the bathroom was clearly disgusting, there was what looked like menstrual blood on the toilet, dirty toilet paper in the trash can, and several items left from the previous passengers including tampons and used deodorant. When I complained to our room steward, he said this was only his 2nd cruise and he wasn't' sure what to do. It didn't get cleaned until day 3 and we had to use our friend's bathroom connected to ours. There is also only 1 outlet in each room. Fun time sharing.

On every cruise I order a few fun things that are usually in the room waiting for us when we first get there. This time they weren't there. I called and was told the platters of food and champagne were "not on board yet" and would be delivered when available. They delivered them in the middle of the night that first night. It was sushi, pastries, and strawberries, left unrefrigerated sitting on the floor. The champagne was not only not chilled, but came with no ice and no bottle opener. The first sea day was Valentine's Day, and my wife was supposed to get 2 dozen roses and a cake. The flowers were wrong and the cake was gross. It also came with no forks or plates. On our niece's birthday, her birthday cakes were clearly ordered to be delivered to the restaurant. They were left sitting in our stateroom. Ridiculous.

Speaking of the room next door, the 3rd bed was broken. So even though they booked and paid for a room for 4 people, they only had two beds instead of 3. We had to bitch so much just to get an apology and then I had to get nasty to get them a measly partial refund. The room manager didn't even realize they admitted they knew the pull down ceiling bed was broken well before we set sail. What a gigantic inconvenience it was for their two girls to sleep together on a single sofa bed. Oh, and did I mention that both of our bathroom doors were broken? Ours would shut but only slamming it a few times, and theirs not only would never stay shut, but never locked either. Also, the toilets clogged many times and we had to call and yell for a manager to get them fixed.

Now on to the crew. Most of them were OK. Although I have to say over 20 years there has been a clear decline in cruise employee attitude and performance across all cruise lines. But this one had something we had never seen before. The 3 main people you deal with on this boat (cruise director, comedy club manager, host) were nothing but obnoxious and annoying. Most cruises have personable, fun, and interactive folks in these high visibility positions. These 3 young men looked like a college frat boys with "I'm cooler than everyone else" attitudes and matching looks on their faces. My wife loves everybody, and she couldn't stand these 3 at any of the few events on the boat.

The boat was clearly redesigned so that Carnival could try packing in another 100 rooms full of passengers while sacrificing shared space and fun things to do. The dining room was so small that our group of 4 rooms, all booked together, was assigned to 3 different dinner times. When we complained and asked for the same time, we were told by the maître d' that we could all do the Anytime Dining option and the longest wait would be 15 minutes tops. No matter what time we showed up we had to wait AN HOUR AND A HALF each night for dinner. And it wasn't just us. Most people we talked to during the time we were all crammed around the area where the seating host was said the same thing. They would have half the ship waiting around for dinner with very little to do except hit the casino or buy drinks.

The show lounge was the smallest we have ever seen, even on much smaller boats. It seats less than 500 people and there were 3600 passengers on board. There were usually 2 shows (sometimes 4) and we had to leave dinner or whatever we were doing to go stand in line for at least 30 minutes before each show or comedy act if we even wanted seats.

The pool was also the smallest one we have ever seen. They redid the entire desk to add some cool bars and food, but the pool was the size of a regular pool in someone's back yard. With 3600 passengers, it was nearly impossible during the day to find room for the kids in the pool, and totally impossible to get a deck chair, much less a few together. We have never been so annoyed walking through a pool area because of so much congestion. Speaking of small, the casino was fairly small too. It was hard to get on most tables after dinner in the evening.

We paid $5 each to have a special "Cat in the Hat" breakfast the last full day. They clearly showed all of these pictures and videos of it. It showed numerous Dr. Seuss characters and fun. There was only Thing 1 and 2, and at the end Sam I Am (who actually wasn't Sam I Am, but the other guy from Green Eggs and Ham. They didn't even know the difference. LOL pathetic.) THERE WAS NO CAT IN THE HAT AT THE CAT IN THE HAT BREAKFAST. I asked multiple times and was told different stories about why. Our niece (who turned 7 on this cruise) was so upset about that.

There was also no photo package available, even though the Carnival website said there was and we bought it on every other Carnival cruise over the last few years. They said "not on this boat" and charged $22 for every picture we wanted. The ship was even designed like a prison or department store, with theft detectors with alarms placed all over that deck around the pictures. Employees stared at us like criminal thieves the whole time we were going through our stack to figure out which ones were worth $22 a pop.

There is an app now called the Carnival Hub. It is brand new. Which means it is in Beta testing. Which means it should be free. Not only did it not work half the time, but they charged each passenger $5 to beta test their own product. Disgusting. Unlike every other boat, you couldn’t check your account on the TV or even get a bill at the room the last night. So you were stuck with an app that didn’t work or standing in line at Guest Services to even know what you were being charged for. And we were charged for water and towels we didn't use. When getting off the boat, my wife was told she had a $180 balance even though my same credit card was connected to her as well as mine and it was paid.

This boat advertised a lot of things that got us to book it. 3 huge water slides on the back that were rarely open. In fact it seemed they were only open while we were in port and not during sea days. A hot dog stand was up at the top near them and IT WAS NEVER OPEN ONCE. Social Internet claimed Snapchat would work, but staff member said it will not work, so it was sold stating functionality the staff already knew didn't work. Arcade stole a lot of money. Machines were all "new" and yet just kept money for no game. No staff to complain to.

Paid extra for the "high-speed" internet package, but was just as slow and bad as the cheaper package. No dance club, even though advertised complete with a DJ! Lunch shut down early. No real hot tub (only two lukewarm small pools without jets). Bars didn't open till super late. Lido didn't have space for dancing or sail away parties. Dripping water coming down from ceiling in photo gallery. Wasn't clear there was a different time between boat time and local time. No weather, temperature or time on TV. Had to cancel shore excursion for sick child and was interrogated, and then they canceled the entire excursion themselves without explanation! Chateaubriand was supposed to be medium well or medium rare but it came out bloody red rare, nearly raw. When we sent them back, they came back overcooked and ruined. Steakhouse, Italian and Asian restaurants were $15-35 per person extra, but were just OK and tough to book. Room service took over an hour EVERY TIME. Mixes for drinks like Long Island Iced Tea were awful. Was told by the casino staff that they would accept chips from the Holland America ship (same parent company) but after waiting in line for a half hour...told the opposite and refused. Rude employees asking if we tipped. No chocolate mints on pillow. No refrigerator in room. They threw away our mouthwash and claimed it "might have been alcohol". Singers and dancers were so boring. Comedy acts were OK at best. Bought the Cheers alcohol package but had to wait at nearly every overcrowded bar for drink service, including the casino.

There were so many problems that each and every one of us, all long-time cruisers and Gold/Platinum VIFP members of Carnival, walked off the ship saying none of us will ever cruise on Carnival again. In fact all of us have at least one thing we have to go and dispute. Carnival has made it clear to us it doesn't care when 12 paying passengers are treated so poorly and then try to tell them about it. If you are reading this review I assure you it is 100% accurate, as we have numerous witnesses, pictures, and videos. I beg you not to cruise on this ship or with Carnival, for your own sake.

XanaXand's Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
Get tomorrow's price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6A 1451

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Previous ReviewNext Review
2 Reviews Written
73 Helpful Votes
Never Miss a Deal!
Subscribe and Save
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

More Carnival Sunshine Reviews

Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.