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Let me start by saying we've cruised on the Sunshine before, right after the 2.0 upgrade, so we knew what to expect: An overcrowded ship that handles rough seas very poorly yet also has Carnival's most up to date restaurants, shops and amenities. In other words, a mixed bag. Our last trip on the Sunshine was a generally positive experience. Two years later, however, things seem to have slipped significantly. The first hint of a problem came during our (very smooth) embarkation at Port Canaveral. We overheard one of the workers make a comment about "fitting 5,000 people on a 4,000 person ship" or something along those lines. As someone who has seen the Sunshine's overcrowding issues first-hand, it was a comment that definitely raised eyebrows. And those concerns turned out to be justified: the Sunshine seems even more crowded these days, if that's even possible. Deck chairs are virtually impossible to secure on sea days. Lines for the Mongolian grill run 15-20 deep on both sides. Navigating the ship requires that you move around people like you're on an obstacle course. Overall, it makes for a very harried experience over eight days. It's not relaxing. Additionally, the ship is plagued by two other serious concerns: A sewage smell that permeates the lower decks and an inability to navigate choppy seas. Carnival tried mightily to disperse the sewage smell with machines, but these are band-aid fixes. The reality is that this ship, for lack of a better word, literally stinks. It could be a systemic problem that can't be resolved, which may be why Carnival opts for ad hoc solutions like ozone machines. Again, this isn't a problem unique to this one ship, but it's an issue that this ship seems to suffer from in much greater proportion. I'm familiar with heavy seas -- I've sailed up and down Alaska. So I was really surprised to see the Sunshine rock and roll so dramatically in relatively moderate seas. Quite a few people I spoke with were dealing with motion sickness symptoms, despite weather that was fairly calm. A staff member mentioned that the previous two weeks had been extremely rough, with sliding tables, broken plates and other minor weather-related issues onboard. Bottom line: I'm not sure this ship handles rough (or even mildly choppy) seas particularly well. As someone who sailed this ship right after it was overhauled, I can also attest that some of that "new ship smell" is gone. It's not the cleanest boat, and it's showing its considerable age in some regards. On the positive side, the food was mostly good if not great and the staff was wonderful. Carnival personnel have been uniformly excellent on every cruise I've taken with the line, and I'd rate them near the top of all cruise line staffs. Like other cruise lines, Carnival's specialty restaurants are much better than the bland, institutional, dinosaur classical French-inspired cooking found in the main dining hall. JiJi's in particular is a good value. I've given this particular outing two stars, but I'd really rather rate it two and a half. It wasn't a great experience, granted, and the ship has some very real problems. Yet that has to be weighed against the fact that Carnival, for better or worse, is very inexpensive. Had I booked Disney, or one of RC's new ships this time, and paid that premium I would be considerably more disappointed. I chose this ship because of the port itinerary and schedule -- I knew going in there would be some trade-offs in terms of guest experience. Given the competitive pricing, this ship is still a viable option for many people. If you're looking for a more refined experience, however, keep looking.

Carnival Sunshine: Great staff, disappointing ship

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by penguinusa

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2017
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Interior Upper/Lower
Let me start by saying we've cruised on the Sunshine before, right after the 2.0 upgrade, so we knew what to expect: An overcrowded ship that handles rough seas very poorly yet also has Carnival's most up to date restaurants, shops and amenities. In other words, a mixed bag.

Our last trip on the Sunshine was a generally positive experience. Two years later, however, things seem to have slipped significantly. The first hint of a problem came during our (very smooth) embarkation at Port Canaveral. We overheard one of the workers make a comment about "fitting 5,000 people on a 4,000 person ship" or something along those lines. As someone who has seen the Sunshine's overcrowding issues first-hand, it was a comment that definitely raised eyebrows.

And those concerns turned out to be justified: the Sunshine seems even more crowded these days, if that's even possible. Deck chairs are virtually impossible to secure on sea days. Lines for the Mongolian grill run 15-20 deep on both sides. Navigating the ship requires that you move around people like you're on an obstacle course. Overall, it makes for a very harried experience over eight days. It's not relaxing.

Additionally, the ship is plagued by two other serious concerns: A sewage smell that permeates the lower decks and an inability to navigate choppy seas. Carnival tried mightily to disperse the sewage smell with machines, but these are band-aid fixes. The reality is that this ship, for lack of a better word, literally stinks. It could be a systemic problem that can't be resolved, which may be why Carnival opts for ad hoc solutions like ozone machines. Again, this isn't a problem unique to this one ship, but it's an issue that this ship seems to suffer from in much greater proportion.

I'm familiar with heavy seas -- I've sailed up and down Alaska. So I was really surprised to see the Sunshine rock and roll so dramatically in relatively moderate seas. Quite a few people I spoke with were dealing with motion sickness symptoms, despite weather that was fairly calm. A staff member mentioned that the previous two weeks had been extremely rough, with sliding tables, broken plates and other minor weather-related issues onboard. Bottom line: I'm not sure this ship handles rough (or even mildly choppy) seas particularly well.

As someone who sailed this ship right after it was overhauled, I can also attest that some of that "new ship smell" is gone. It's not the cleanest boat, and it's showing its considerable age in some regards.

On the positive side, the food was mostly good if not great and the staff was wonderful. Carnival personnel have been uniformly excellent on every cruise I've taken with the line, and I'd rate them near the top of all cruise line staffs.

Like other cruise lines, Carnival's specialty restaurants are much better than the bland, institutional, dinosaur classical French-inspired cooking found in the main dining hall. JiJi's in particular is a good value.

I've given this particular outing two stars, but I'd really rather rate it two and a half. It wasn't a great experience, granted, and the ship has some very real problems. Yet that has to be weighed against the fact that Carnival, for better or worse, is very inexpensive. Had I booked Disney, or one of RC's new ships this time, and paid that premium I would be considerably more disappointed. I chose this ship because of the port itinerary and schedule -- I knew going in there would be some trade-offs in terms of guest experience.

Given the competitive pricing, this ship is still a viable option for many people. If you're looking for a more refined experience, however, keep looking.
penguinusa’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
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Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Interior Upper/Lower
Cabin 1A
We made the grievous error of allowing Carnival to choose our cabin, as we rarely spend much time in the room. Big mistake. Carnival placed us in the very last room at the aft of the ship on level one. It honestly looked like a room normally reserved for storage or overbooking situations, as there were items stuffed under our bed. Even worse, there was a horrible sewage smell in the corridor that Carnival tried to fix with limited success over the eight days we spent onboard.

We also didn't find out which cabin was ours until the day before we sailed, which created luggage issues. Additionally, all of the materials sent to our cabin were listed under a different family's name. I assume the family who were originally assigned our cabin complained when they saw where it was located, and were subsequently moved.

The lesson: Never let Carnival assign your cabin. It's not worth it.
Deck 6 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews