1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Carnival Sunshine
My February 2016 cruise on the Carnival Sunshine was my sixth cruise and third time sailing with Carnival. Overall this cruise had a great itinerary and didn't have many major disappointments or pleasant surprises. If you know what to expect from a Carnival ship then I wouldn't hesitate to book a cruise on the Sunshine. It was nice that the ship wasn't gilded with traditional Carnival mirrors, neon, and obnoxious colors. I enjoyed the decor. EMBARKATION We arrived around 11:30 and the process wasn't any slower or unpleasant compared to past cruises. Too bad with our hotel stay the night before we didn't each pickup up wine or soda to carry on per their stated policy. CABIN We decided to save this trip by booking an inside stateroom, 2308. There are three closets (his and hers) with a third containing the safe and life jackets. Under the vanity are three drawers to the right and a shallow cabinet to the left, where we stored gadgets and charging cables. We ended up stacking things under the phone to get them out of the way. There was one available electric outlet behind the TV and one near the phone. Bring a splitter if you need to charge several items but we never used ours. No coffee table or extra seating in our stateroom except for a padded stool that stores under the vanity. There was plenty of room under the beds for keeping luggage out of sight. It looked a bit off that there was only one nightstand instead of two. The bathroom had a good size rectangular shower with shower curtain and handheld shower head that mounts to the wall. There is a retractable cord for drying bathing suits. On both sides of the sink are a pair of small shelves that was good enough for the two of us. There is no room under the sink for storage, as it's taken up by service items. Our stateroom attendant, Henry, was courteous and efficient and even left a happy birthday message on the mirror for me. FITNESS AND SPA I applaud the two of us for working out on the cruise, although I only got in one workout to my wife's two. Not for lack of willpower but there were other activities on the ship that interested me more. The fitness center has nicer equipment than the one we pay for at home. I was really quite impressed that it's one of the better cruise gyms that I've seen. Individual TVs are on the treadmills. The treatments at the Spa were simply too expensive for us, even with a $50 happy birthday give certificate from them. No discounts for port days other than the occasional 75 minutes for the price of 55. ENTERTAINMENT Most of the main shows were quite skippable, especially the welcome show. Funny that NCL is my least favorite cruise line but NCLs entertainment is quite superior to what we've seen on Carnival. If you have a twisted sense of humor like we do then you'll want to hang out in the Piano Bar after 10 pm for the adults only sing-alongs with Christine. We were regulars and not easily offended. For my birthday she had me get up on the piano while the audience sang about me having an itsy bitsy teeny weenie...you get idea about this joint. In the evenings head to the Ocean Plaza for band music and to the adjacent Red Frog Pub for 10 pm trivia with Brandon. We won two drinks from him during the cruise and were regulars of his as well. We never bothered with the outdoor movies but did pass through to see many perched at various decks taking in the show. DINING Overall the food was quite excellent and the main dining room offered at least a few menu items for the adventurous, which we greatly appreciated. We chose any-time dining and the service was poor except for that of Francisco and his staff, which were outstanding. Except for his team, we found ourselves ashamed to have to steal service items from adjacent tables (really, we don't like to do this) to make up for tables that were not fully set up before we arrived. Also, Carnival apparently has tossed away some of the traditions of fine dining, such as serving each appetizer as their own course instead of all at once and replacing the silverware after each course. We had one waiter take our forks and knives off of our plates and put them on our bread plates between four courses. Sushi at Bonsai wasn't a bargain but it was very good. We enjoyed sushi boat for two for a mid-day snack that satisfied a sushi craving. The Lido never seemed as crazy for us as it did for others, based on similar reviews, but then again we stayed up late and woke up late as well. Overall the food was pretty good, although I would have liked more variety at least for things that are not standard comfort foods. Cruise ship pizza is typically pretty awful but theirs was worth the wait. And I mean wait. They make around 1200 pizzas each day! PORTS St. Maarten - Disembarkation was a confusing mess. Other cruise lines put up signage and ropes indicating where the lines start but in this case the masses just crowded the stairwells and lobbies. We shared a taxi to the Bikini Beach taxi stand on Orient Beach. For our cruise there was disappointment the night before when the ship had to turn around for San Juan to evacuate a sick passenger, so we lost almost four hours of daylight in St. Maarten. Even though the ship was rescheduled to stay later we didn't quite get in enough beach time before it got dark and cooled off. Getting back onboard was a mess as well and for some reason the line took 50 minutes from the back to getting onto the gangway. And this was nearly two hours before departure. This was a first of its kind wait. Nevertheless, Orient Beach is easy to get to by taxi and is a nice beach day. St. Kitts - Didn't even get off the ship. We've been there before and the ship did not dock near the cruise shopping area and required a shuttle instead to get there. We took advantage of having the run of the ship and easy access to the Serenity area. San Juan - The ship had a crazy short stay in San Juan so we simply walked to both parts of the fort. One ticket gets you into both. Grand Turk - This is an okay beach day that can accommodate one cruise ship at best, even though the pier allows for two ship. Due to windy conditions the Carnival Splendor came in very late, giving the Sunshine passengers time to rule the island. We moved from the beach to the Margaritaville pool before the Splendor passengers came ashore and things became very crowded. HIGHLIGHTS AND TIPS If you enjoy martinis, head to the Alchemy Bar and have an Alchemist's Sidecar or other drink. The drinks made by Dario were really outstanding. Avoid crowds at the Lido by heading to the Taste Bar on deck five in Ocean Plaza. I generally got everything I was looking for and had no trouble finding a table. If you do eat at the lido, head with your food through the narrow passageways on either side to take you to the Havana Bar in the back of the ship for plenty of extra seating. There are also tasty Cuban bites to enjoy at both breakfast and lunch. The Serenity area is an adults only section for sun worshipers. It's really quite nice, assuming you get there early enough or show up just as someone is leaving their lounger. With a mix of outdoor sofas, beds, pods, and padded lounge chairs there is a good mix of sun and shade for everyone. The hot tub is nice but not hot enough to keep people from planting themselves in it all day. They have a policy against chair hogs and will take your items but still the area seems to be primarily towel storage. I wasn't sure that I would get myself on the water slides but I'm glad that I did. I haven't seen slides like this on any cruise ship and they were very fast and twisty. Good for Carnival for having them. SUMMARY This cruise is probably planted in the lower-middle third of the twelve cruises that I've been on in terms of value and overall cruise experience. The ship was clean and service was friendly. Except for a few elevators that were out for the entire cruise near the dining end of the ship it was in pretty good working order. I would recommend the Sunshine for a Caribbean getaway.

A Good Overall Value

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by TC Cruiser

21 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My February 2016 cruise on the Carnival Sunshine was my sixth cruise and third time sailing with Carnival. Overall this cruise had a great itinerary and didn't have many major disappointments or pleasant surprises. If you know what to expect from a Carnival ship then I wouldn't hesitate to book a cruise on the Sunshine. It was nice that the ship wasn't gilded with traditional Carnival mirrors, neon, and obnoxious colors. I enjoyed the decor.

EMBARKATION

We arrived around 11:30 and the process wasn't any slower or unpleasant compared to past cruises. Too bad with our hotel stay the night before we didn't each pickup up wine or soda to carry on per their stated policy.

CABIN

We decided to save this trip by booking an inside stateroom, 2308. There are three closets (his and hers) with a third containing the safe and life jackets. Under the vanity are three drawers to the right and a shallow cabinet to the left, where we stored gadgets and charging cables. We ended up stacking things under the phone to get them out of the way. There was one available electric outlet behind the TV and one near the phone. Bring a splitter if you need to charge several items but we never used ours. No coffee table or extra seating in our stateroom except for a padded stool that stores under the vanity.

There was plenty of room under the beds for keeping luggage out of sight. It looked a bit off that there was only one nightstand instead of two.

The bathroom had a good size rectangular shower with shower curtain and handheld shower head that mounts to the wall. There is a retractable cord for drying bathing suits. On both sides of the sink are a pair of small shelves that was good enough for the two of us. There is no room under the sink for storage, as it's taken up by service items.

Our stateroom attendant, Henry, was courteous and efficient and even left a happy birthday message on the mirror for me.

FITNESS AND SPA

I applaud the two of us for working out on the cruise, although I only got in one workout to my wife's two. Not for lack of willpower but there were other activities on the ship that interested me more. The fitness center has nicer equipment than the one we pay for at home. I was really quite impressed that it's one of the better cruise gyms that I've seen. Individual TVs are on the treadmills.

The treatments at the Spa were simply too expensive for us, even with a $50 happy birthday give certificate from them. No discounts for port days other than the occasional 75 minutes for the price of 55.

ENTERTAINMENT

Most of the main shows were quite skippable, especially the welcome show. Funny that NCL is my least favorite cruise line but NCLs entertainment is quite superior to what we've seen on Carnival.

If you have a twisted sense of humor like we do then you'll want to hang out in the Piano Bar after 10 pm for the adults only sing-alongs with Christine. We were regulars and not easily offended. For my birthday she had me get up on the piano while the audience sang about me having an itsy bitsy teeny weenie...you get idea about this joint.

In the evenings head to the Ocean Plaza for band music and to the adjacent Red Frog Pub for 10 pm trivia with Brandon. We won two drinks from him during the cruise and were regulars of his as well.

We never bothered with the outdoor movies but did pass through to see many perched at various decks taking in the show.

DINING

Overall the food was quite excellent and the main dining room offered at least a few menu items for the adventurous, which we greatly appreciated.

We chose any-time dining and the service was poor except for that of Francisco and his staff, which were outstanding. Except for his team, we found ourselves ashamed to have to steal service items from adjacent tables (really, we don't like to do this) to make up for tables that were not fully set up before we arrived. Also, Carnival apparently has tossed away some of the traditions of fine dining, such as serving each appetizer as their own course instead of all at once and replacing the silverware after each course. We had one waiter take our forks and knives off of our plates and put them on our bread plates between four courses.

Sushi at Bonsai wasn't a bargain but it was very good. We enjoyed sushi boat for two for a mid-day snack that satisfied a sushi craving.

The Lido never seemed as crazy for us as it did for others, based on similar reviews, but then again we stayed up late and woke up late as well. Overall the food was pretty good, although I would have liked more variety at least for things that are not standard comfort foods.

Cruise ship pizza is typically pretty awful but theirs was worth the wait. And I mean wait. They make around 1200 pizzas each day!

PORTS

St. Maarten - Disembarkation was a confusing mess. Other cruise lines put up signage and ropes indicating where the lines start but in this case the masses just crowded the stairwells and lobbies. We shared a taxi to the Bikini Beach taxi stand on Orient Beach. For our cruise there was disappointment the night before when the ship had to turn around for San Juan to evacuate a sick passenger, so we lost almost four hours of daylight in St. Maarten. Even though the ship was rescheduled to stay later we didn't quite get in enough beach time before it got dark and cooled off. Getting back onboard was a mess as well and for some reason the line took 50 minutes from the back to getting onto the gangway. And this was nearly two hours before departure. This was a first of its kind wait. Nevertheless, Orient Beach is easy to get to by taxi and is a nice beach day.

St. Kitts - Didn't even get off the ship. We've been there before and the ship did not dock near the cruise shopping area and required a shuttle instead to get there. We took advantage of having the run of the ship and easy access to the Serenity area.

San Juan - The ship had a crazy short stay in San Juan so we simply walked to both parts of the fort. One ticket gets you into both.

Grand Turk - This is an okay beach day that can accommodate one cruise ship at best, even though the pier allows for two ship. Due to windy conditions the Carnival Splendor came in very late, giving the Sunshine passengers time to rule the island. We moved from the beach to the Margaritaville pool before the Splendor passengers came ashore and things became very crowded.

HIGHLIGHTS AND TIPS

If you enjoy martinis, head to the Alchemy Bar and have an Alchemist's Sidecar or other drink. The drinks made by Dario were really outstanding.

Avoid crowds at the Lido by heading to the Taste Bar on deck five in Ocean Plaza. I generally got everything I was looking for and had no trouble finding a table.

If you do eat at the lido, head with your food through the narrow passageways on either side to take you to the Havana Bar in the back of the ship for plenty of extra seating. There are also tasty Cuban bites to enjoy at both breakfast and lunch.

The Serenity area is an adults only section for sun worshipers. It's really quite nice, assuming you get there early enough or show up just as someone is leaving their lounger. With a mix of outdoor sofas, beds, pods, and padded lounge chairs there is a good mix of sun and shade for everyone. The hot tub is nice but not hot enough to keep people from planting themselves in it all day. They have a policy against chair hogs and will take your items but still the area seems to be primarily towel storage.

I wasn't sure that I would get myself on the water slides but I'm glad that I did. I haven't seen slides like this on any cruise ship and they were very fast and twisty. Good for Carnival for having them.

SUMMARY

This cruise is probably planted in the lower-middle third of the twelve cruises that I've been on in terms of value and overall cruise experience. The ship was clean and service was friendly. Except for a few elevators that were out for the entire cruise near the dining end of the ship it was in pretty good working order. I would recommend the Sunshine for a Caribbean getaway.
TC Cruiser’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Carnival Sunshine price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews