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This was our 10th cruise (7th with Carnival) and our first to embark out of Port Canaveral. We stayed in Kissimmee (Orlando), the night before and had a great time. The drive to the port should have been better planned by me the next morning. Using Waze, we ended up on toll roads instead of I-4. While this did eliminate a lot of traffic, it added to my worrying nature that there would not be enough places to stop for breaks, if needed. Next time, I will plan better. We arrived on embarkation day in Port Canaveral and I knew from reading the tips here on Cruise Critic, we should not try to park until after 1pm. I knew that would be extremely difficult for me being retired military and planning to be every place early and not one minute late. Well, we purposely stopped to visit Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral around 11am. While the views from the tower are great and the museum itself is full of great information, it provided the distraction I desperately needed to keep from driving 10 minutes to the port and board the ship. We finally arrived at the port at 1:30pm and had the absolute best experience of any cruise embarkation experience, to include Faster To The Fun in New Orleans. We drove straight to the porters, off loaded our luggage and 3 passengers. Then my wife and I drove to the terminal parking area and parked on the top deck. Our late arrival made sure all the inside parking spaces were already taken. Once we parked and met up with the rest of our party, we proceeded straight to the front of all lines. That statement is actually incorrect, because there were no lines. No line at TSA. No line at Carnival check in. No line anywhere. If we had purchased FTTF, it would have been wasted. With our late arrival at the port, our cabin was already open and waiting for us. If we could pack in smaller suitcases, I would definitely just bring them aboard with us instead of leaving them with the porter. Having embarked out of New Orleans, Tampa and Mobile (before the terminal renovations) I must say that PC is my absolute favorite place to drive and board. The ship is beautiful and the waterworks area is great. The serenity area is also good, but get there early. I did see crew members placing stickers on lounges with stuff but no people in an effort to curb the chair hogs. I also saw the tactics the chair hogs used to defeat this effort. I won't share it here, but, at least Carnival is trying to solve the problem. The Liquid Lounge provided the best seating of any ship I've been on. I was able to sit in an upper seat and not have to peer around, over, or through plexiglass or hand railings to see the shows. Unfortunately, one of the musical shows had the music so loud that the voices of the singers could not be heard. I couldn't believe no one else noticed and fixed it, but, maybe that's just me. We never went back to a musical production. The juggler and the magician were excellent shows to see. Another negative for me was the layout of the ship. Deck 4 aft has the Limelight Lounge directly ahead of the aft elevators, with no way around it. Check out the deck plans. You cannot traverse deck 4 from the forward to the aft elevators without passing through the lounge. This is fine when nothing is happening in the lounge, but is absolutely terrible when a comedy show is going on. Deck 5 has a similar problem for me and probably for others who are sensitive to cigarette smoke. To get from the aft elevators to the front of the ship, you must pass through (not beside) the casino. These two decks (which are the primary decks for almost everything inside on the ship) being designed in this manner cause me to rate this ship as the absolute worst deck layout I've ever encountered. To successfully get to any place on deck 4 or 5 required a detour to deck 6 (since 3 has the dining rooms and galley and cannot be traversed either). We ate every evening meal in the dining room. Our first night, we seemed to have been forgotten by our servers. Our second night, we weren't served an appetizer until we had been seated for 40 minutes. Our third night was great. We had your time dining, therefore, had different servers each night. We decided we were not going to take a chance and eat in the dining room any more and would just eat at the buffet on Lido. Well, as we were walking out of the dining room, the manager asked how our visit went. We told him the 3rd night was excellent, but not so for the first two nights. I figured that would be the end of the conversation and usually is when customer service folks really don't care about the service they provide. To my surprise, the manager aggressively asked for more details about the substandard service of our first two nights. He was really making an effort to understand our experience. Once we reaffirmed that the 3rd night had excellent service, he made a note so that from now on we would have the same table, same servers, and same dining time for the rest of the cruise. I was shocked and delighted. True to his word, when we checked in for Your Time dining the next night, the managers note was right there next to our names and we were taken to the same table/servers for the rest of the cruise. To me, the mark of a good company is not that they don't make mistakes. The mark of a good company is to correctly fix the mistakes they make. This experience was a perfect example of that. I'll also mention the following since I didn't know it before boarding and must have missed it while reading CC. Your Time dining on the Sunshine has a check in time starting at 5:15 on Deck 5 across from the Taste Bar. This simple means you show up to check in, they assign you a table, give you a slip of paper with the table information on it, send you down two decks to the Sunrise dining room, hand your paper to the hostess and you are promptly seated. I liked this method. Also, they allow you to check in before 5:15 to get your slip of paper, however, the dining room doors don't open until 5:15. So, to avoid waiting in a throng of hungry people between two elevator banks, we would check in about 5:05 or 5:10 and just sit at the Alchemy Bar until 5:17. The throng of people clears out really fast and we could just walk straight to the hostess to be seated. Port comments: This was our first visit to any of these ports Grand Turk - we enjoyed the catamaran sail and snorkel and beach excursion and would recommend it. Next time, we will spend the day on the beach to the right side of the pier to avoid the crowds. San Juan - we rode the trolley to El Morrow, the walked down through the old town to the shopping street and had a good time. If you want to ride the trolley, when you leave the terminal, turn left and proceed to trolley stop 14. If you see 20 people in front of you ask them how long they have been waiting. Once you decide you are not going to wait that long, continue walking to trolley stop 13. Hop aboard and when you get to stop 14, smile and wave at the 20 people who are still waiting because you took the last seats available. Also, when you pass trolley stop 1 (directly across from the cruise port terminal) you can also waive at the 30 plus grumpy people waiting for a seat on a trolley. St Kitts. We enjoyed the rail and sail sightseeing excursion. They have a great shopping area within the secure area. We will only venture outside on an excursion. St Maarten. We took a taxi to Sunset Beach Bar to watch the planes - that was great. Afterwards, we taxied back to the ship for lunch, then took the water taxi to the shopping area.

Mostly Enjoyable

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by KCinBAMA

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 10th cruise (7th with Carnival) and our first to embark out of Port Canaveral. We stayed in Kissimmee (Orlando), the night before and had a great time. The drive to the port should have been better planned by me the next morning. Using Waze, we ended up on toll roads instead of I-4. While this did eliminate a lot of traffic, it added to my worrying nature that there would not be enough places to stop for breaks, if needed. Next time, I will plan better.

We arrived on embarkation day in Port Canaveral and I knew from reading the tips here on Cruise Critic, we should not try to park until after 1pm. I knew that would be extremely difficult for me being retired military and planning to be every place early and not one minute late. Well, we purposely stopped to visit Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral around 11am. While the views from the tower are great and the museum itself is full of great information, it provided the distraction I desperately needed to keep from driving 10 minutes to the port and board the ship. We finally arrived at the port at 1:30pm and had the absolute best experience of any cruise embarkation experience, to include Faster To The Fun in New Orleans. We drove straight to the porters, off loaded our luggage and 3 passengers. Then my wife and I drove to the terminal parking area and parked on the top deck. Our late arrival made sure all the inside parking spaces were already taken. Once we parked and met up with the rest of our party, we proceeded straight to the front of all lines. That statement is actually incorrect, because there were no lines. No line at TSA. No line at Carnival check in. No line anywhere. If we had purchased FTTF, it would have been wasted. With our late arrival at the port, our cabin was already open and waiting for us. If we could pack in smaller suitcases, I would definitely just bring them aboard with us instead of leaving them with the porter. Having embarked out of New Orleans, Tampa and Mobile (before the terminal renovations) I must say that PC is my absolute favorite place to drive and board.

The ship is beautiful and the waterworks area is great. The serenity area is also good, but get there early. I did see crew members placing stickers on lounges with stuff but no people in an effort to curb the chair hogs. I also saw the tactics the chair hogs used to defeat this effort. I won't share it here, but, at least Carnival is trying to solve the problem. The Liquid Lounge provided the best seating of any ship I've been on. I was able to sit in an upper seat and not have to peer around, over, or through plexiglass or hand railings to see the shows. Unfortunately, one of the musical shows had the music so loud that the voices of the singers could not be heard. I couldn't believe no one else noticed and fixed it, but, maybe that's just me. We never went back to a musical production. The juggler and the magician were excellent shows to see.

Another negative for me was the layout of the ship. Deck 4 aft has the Limelight Lounge directly ahead of the aft elevators, with no way around it. Check out the deck plans. You cannot traverse deck 4 from the forward to the aft elevators without passing through the lounge. This is fine when nothing is happening in the lounge, but is absolutely terrible when a comedy show is going on. Deck 5 has a similar problem for me and probably for others who are sensitive to cigarette smoke. To get from the aft elevators to the front of the ship, you must pass through (not beside) the casino. These two decks (which are the primary decks for almost everything inside on the ship) being designed in this manner cause me to rate this ship as the absolute worst deck layout I've ever encountered. To successfully get to any place on deck 4 or 5 required a detour to deck 6 (since 3 has the dining rooms and galley and cannot be traversed either).

We ate every evening meal in the dining room. Our first night, we seemed to have been forgotten by our servers. Our second night, we weren't served an appetizer until we had been seated for 40 minutes. Our third night was great. We had your time dining, therefore, had different servers each night. We decided we were not going to take a chance and eat in the dining room any more and would just eat at the buffet on Lido. Well, as we were walking out of the dining room, the manager asked how our visit went. We told him the 3rd night was excellent, but not so for the first two nights. I figured that would be the end of the conversation and usually is when customer service folks really don't care about the service they provide. To my surprise, the manager aggressively asked for more details about the substandard service of our first two nights. He was really making an effort to understand our experience. Once we reaffirmed that the 3rd night had excellent service, he made a note so that from now on we would have the same table, same servers, and same dining time for the rest of the cruise. I was shocked and delighted. True to his word, when we checked in for Your Time dining the next night, the managers note was right there next to our names and we were taken to the same table/servers for the rest of the cruise. To me, the mark of a good company is not that they don't make mistakes. The mark of a good company is to correctly fix the mistakes they make. This experience was a perfect example of that.

I'll also mention the following since I didn't know it before boarding and must have missed it while reading CC. Your Time dining on the Sunshine has a check in time starting at 5:15 on Deck 5 across from the Taste Bar. This simple means you show up to check in, they assign you a table, give you a slip of paper with the table information on it, send you down two decks to the Sunrise dining room, hand your paper to the hostess and you are promptly seated. I liked this method. Also, they allow you to check in before 5:15 to get your slip of paper, however, the dining room doors don't open until 5:15. So, to avoid waiting in a throng of hungry people between two elevator banks, we would check in about 5:05 or 5:10 and just sit at the Alchemy Bar until 5:17. The throng of people clears out really fast and we could just walk straight to the hostess to be seated.

Port comments: This was our first visit to any of these ports

Grand Turk - we enjoyed the catamaran sail and snorkel and beach excursion and would recommend it. Next time, we will spend the day on the beach to the right side of the pier to avoid the crowds.

San Juan - we rode the trolley to El Morrow, the walked down through the old town to the shopping street and had a good time. If you want to ride the trolley, when you leave the terminal, turn left and proceed to trolley stop 14. If you see 20 people in front of you ask them how long they have been waiting. Once you decide you are not going to wait that long, continue walking to trolley stop 13. Hop aboard and when you get to stop 14, smile and wave at the 20 people who are still waiting because you took the last seats available. Also, when you pass trolley stop 1 (directly across from the cruise port terminal) you can also waive at the 30 plus grumpy people waiting for a seat on a trolley.

St Kitts. We enjoyed the rail and sail sightseeing excursion. They have a great shopping area within the secure area. We will only venture outside on an excursion.

St Maarten. We took a taxi to Sunset Beach Bar to watch the planes - that was great. Afterwards, we taxied back to the ship for lunch, then took the water taxi to the shopping area.
KCinBAMA’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin 4A 1627
Clean and comfortable. Plenty of room for 2 adults. Two hanging closets and one closet with shelves. No refrigerator - ask the steward to bring ice every day/night and perhaps bring your own collapsible plastic cooler to compensate. TV works great, plumbing works. Walls are not metal so your magnetic hooks only work on the cabin door, ceiling, and the bars/beams for the upper pull down beds. We use an over-the-door bathroom kit for most of our bathroom items, not much room on the shelves or sink area (typical of cruise cabins). Never heard elevators or people above/below. Not sure what is below, it's a crew area. I would book this cabin again.
Deck 1 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins