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We were a family of 5 - two adults, 2 kids (6 & 7), and a grandparent. We booked this specific cruise primarily because we loved Half Moon Cay so much the first time, and we had been on 3 previous Carnival cruises. We understand that Carnival is somewhat of the “value” brand, but we had no issues with any of our prior trips. This one felt a bit different, though. I left this cruise feeling disappointed. I'll go over the major points that stuck with me, both the good and the bad. The cabin was ridiculously small. This was my 9th cruise, so I know a stateroom. This was noticeably tiny. Our cabin stewards were fine. We didn't have any special needs, so there wasn't much interaction with them. My kids hated Camp Carnival. I have no idea why. They had loved it on their first cruise, but this time they complained about it the entire time. It's also closed at awkward times periodically throughout the day. We are early diners, but CC was closed every day from 5-6 pm. This is the exact time we are trying to get ready for dinner, and having the kids in that tiny stateroom made it quite difficult. They did have a nice Waterpark area, and my older son enjoyed the slides, but the area was packed, absolutely nowhere for us to sit to watch them, and zero bar service. (more on this later) The weather wasn't great, so that hampered the outdoor activities, and there were very few coordinated activities for kids outside of the Camp. The food was totally fine. I have read reviews complaining about the food, but we had no 'bad' food experiences. The buffet was exactly on par with all others I have had, the Guy Fieri burgers and Blue Iguana (burrito bar) options were both fantastic! The food hours were weird, too. The buffet was the only thing that was open all day and evening, so it's your only option if you wanted to eat 'off hours'. My husband loved the omelet stations, offered at two locations each morning. The pizza was terrible. The mongolian wok was fair, maybe a bit sub-par but not gross. The 'cuban food' they advertise is 5-6 baskets of latin-inspired apps that were available for self-serve during the lunch times. No fresh-pressed cuban sandwiches that we were expecting. Main dining room food was totally decent. Good options, good service, and really good flavor on almost all items. Melting chocolate cake was offered every night for dessert, and it's mind-blowingly delicious. Room service was spotty, and fair quality. We ordered in-room continental breakfast on the day of an excursion, so we could get off the ship early. It arrived over 90 minutes late, and we had already left for the excursion. We ran late because we had to go eat breakfast at the super packed buffet. We ate at two of the premium restaurants, Cucina del Capitano and Farenheit 555. Both were superb. Cucina is $15 pp upcharge, and worth every penny. The steakhouse – Farenheit 555 – was beyond amazing. The upcharge for this one is $35 pp, but completely worth it. It was a true fine-dining experience, very much on par with a Ruth's Chris or Chop House. My husband and I both had 18 oz Ribeyes, and my mother had filet. Every bite, from the amuse-bouche to the desserts, were mouth-watering. Excellent service, fabulous food, and extensive wine list. We attended the Dr. Seuss-themed breakfast with the kids. It was $5 pp but very much worth it. The entire restaurant was decked out in Green Eggs and Ham and Cat in the Hat décor. The menu was custom made for the event, super adorable and had great themed food offerings (including Green Eggs and Ham, and stacked pancakes that looked like The Cat's Hat). The service is where I think I had my biggest issue. We are day drinkers – we go to bed really early because of the kids, so we like to have a few beverages in the afternoon and quit after dinner. There was literally NO beverage service to be found – in ANY of the common areas – during the day. Not by the waterslides, not where we played trivia, not in the lobby. In any of these areas, you had to go find a bar, which were not necessarily nearby, and even then every bar we tried to get near was 3-4 deep with people trying to order and one bartender on duty. We easily would have spent $100 or more on drinks if they had been accessible. (double-edged sword I guess, but a huge loss for Carnival all around). One very huge bright shining star in the beverage/service section is the Alchemy Bar. Very 'upscale' feel, where the mixologists make custom, and hand-crafted cocktails. They are true artists, and very entertaining to watch. The drinks take a while to make, so it's not a quick 'in and out' drink experience. The cocktails were way above average in quality, creativity, and flavor. The entertainment was very heavily geared toward the late-night crowd. There was literally nothing for us to do in the evening, as we ate dinner at 6:00, then had to get the kids ready for bed by 8:00. Now, I understand this isn't Carnival's responsibility, but I really wish they had offered some kind of show, comedy, or other cruise-y type entertainment earlier in the evening. We played Trivia a few times, but that was pretty much the only indoor activity to do during the day. We had a great time at Half Moon Cay, and other excursions were very fun as well. We do hate how far you have to walk to get the lunch on HMC. If you're situated at the far end by the little waterslides, your looking at about a 15-minute walk to the food. The kids weren't having that, so we headed back to the ship a little earlier than we wanted to. I have a feeling that people on the ship who either didn't have kids, or who could stay up later to enjoy the activities, likely had a better time that we did. All in all I think there were good things and not so good. Nothing at all was insurmountable or awful. Maybe cruising isn't for us anymore, I'm not sure. I'll likely try another line (RCCL) before I make a decision for sure.

You take the good, You take the bad......

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by ehg2001

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2016
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Interior
We were a family of 5 - two adults, 2 kids (6 & 7), and a grandparent. We booked this specific cruise primarily because we loved Half Moon Cay so much the first time, and we had been on 3 previous Carnival cruises. We understand that Carnival is somewhat of the “value” brand, but we had no issues with any of our prior trips. This one felt a bit different, though. I left this cruise feeling disappointed. I'll go over the major points that stuck with me, both the good and the bad.

The cabin was ridiculously small. This was my 9th cruise, so I know a stateroom. This was noticeably tiny. Our cabin stewards were fine. We didn't have any special needs, so there wasn't much interaction with them.

My kids hated Camp Carnival. I have no idea why. They had loved it on their first cruise, but this time they complained about it the entire time. It's also closed at awkward times periodically throughout the day. We are early diners, but CC was closed every day from 5-6 pm. This is the exact time we are trying to get ready for dinner, and having the kids in that tiny stateroom made it quite difficult. They did have a nice Waterpark area, and my older son enjoyed the slides, but the area was packed, absolutely nowhere for us to sit to watch them, and zero bar service. (more on this later) The weather wasn't great, so that hampered the outdoor activities, and there were very few coordinated activities for kids outside of the Camp.

The food was totally fine. I have read reviews complaining about the food, but we had no 'bad' food experiences. The buffet was exactly on par with all others I have had, the Guy Fieri burgers and Blue Iguana (burrito bar) options were both fantastic! The food hours were weird, too. The buffet was the only thing that was open all day and evening, so it's your only option if you wanted to eat 'off hours'. My husband loved the omelet stations, offered at two locations each morning. The pizza was terrible. The mongolian wok was fair, maybe a bit sub-par but not gross. The 'cuban food' they advertise is 5-6 baskets of latin-inspired apps that were available for self-serve during the lunch times. No fresh-pressed cuban sandwiches that we were expecting. Main dining room food was totally decent. Good options, good service, and really good flavor on almost all items. Melting chocolate cake was offered every night for dessert, and it's mind-blowingly delicious. Room service was spotty, and fair quality. We ordered in-room continental breakfast on the day of an excursion, so we could get off the ship early. It arrived over 90 minutes late, and we had already left for the excursion. We ran late because we had to go eat breakfast at the super packed buffet.

We ate at two of the premium restaurants, Cucina del Capitano and Farenheit 555. Both were superb. Cucina is $15 pp upcharge, and worth every penny. The steakhouse – Farenheit 555 – was beyond amazing. The upcharge for this one is $35 pp, but completely worth it. It was a true fine-dining experience, very much on par with a Ruth's Chris or Chop House. My husband and I both had 18 oz Ribeyes, and my mother had filet. Every bite, from the amuse-bouche to the desserts, were mouth-watering. Excellent service, fabulous food, and extensive wine list.

We attended the Dr. Seuss-themed breakfast with the kids. It was $5 pp but very much worth it. The entire restaurant was decked out in Green Eggs and Ham and Cat in the Hat décor. The menu was custom made for the event, super adorable and had great themed food offerings (including Green Eggs and Ham, and stacked pancakes that looked like The Cat's Hat).

The service is where I think I had my biggest issue. We are day drinkers – we go to bed really early because of the kids, so we like to have a few beverages in the afternoon and quit after dinner. There was literally NO beverage service to be found – in ANY of the common areas – during the day. Not by the waterslides, not where we played trivia, not in the lobby. In any of these areas, you had to go find a bar, which were not necessarily nearby, and even then every bar we tried to get near was 3-4 deep with people trying to order and one bartender on duty. We easily would have spent $100 or more on drinks if they had been accessible. (double-edged sword I guess, but a huge loss for Carnival all around). One very huge bright shining star in the beverage/service section is the Alchemy Bar. Very 'upscale' feel, where the mixologists make custom, and hand-crafted cocktails. They are true artists, and very entertaining to watch. The drinks take a while to make, so it's not a quick 'in and out' drink experience. The cocktails were way above average in quality, creativity, and flavor.

The entertainment was very heavily geared toward the late-night crowd. There was literally nothing for us to do in the evening, as we ate dinner at 6:00, then had to get the kids ready for bed by 8:00. Now, I understand this isn't Carnival's responsibility, but I really wish they had offered some kind of show, comedy, or other cruise-y type entertainment earlier in the evening. We played Trivia a few times, but that was pretty much the only indoor activity to do during the day.

We had a great time at Half Moon Cay, and other excursions were very fun as well. We do hate how far you have to walk to get the lunch on HMC. If you're situated at the far end by the little waterslides, your looking at about a 15-minute walk to the food. The kids weren't having that, so we headed back to the ship a little earlier than we wanted to.

I have a feeling that people on the ship who either didn't have kids, or who could stay up later to enjoy the activities, likely had a better time that we did. All in all I think there were good things and not so good. Nothing at all was insurmountable or awful. Maybe cruising isn't for us anymore, I'm not sure. I'll likely try another line (RCCL) before I make a decision for sure.
ehg2001’s Full Rating Summary
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