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In celebration of my sister-in-law's 50th birthday, my brother was able to rally 38 (ages 6-69) of us to go away on a cruise together. Her birthday was August 17th so we chose a cruise that would sail during her birthday week and leaving out of NY, as all of us live in the NY/NJ area. The Carnival Sunshine was my 10th cruise. I had been on Carnival 4 times previously and on RCCL 5 times. I had read the reviews on Cruise Critic prior to our sail date so my expectations weren't very high, although I did read them with a grain of salt as I generally tend to go with the flow on trips (and in life in general lol), so not much bothers me. But most unfortunately, Sunshine was my least pleasant cruising experience for a variety of reasons. Weather/Port Issues: Now I know Carnival has no control over mother nature. We generally know better than to sail during hurricane season, but as previously mentioned, we were celebrating a birthday in the middle of August so we crossed our fingers and booked. 90% of the days were cloudy and during at least 3-4 of our days/nights we encountered rougher seas than we like. Our first stop was supposed to be Puerto Rico but the port was cancelled all together due to multiple storms in the area. We understood avoiding the port for safety reasons but found out at a later port that other ships in the area simply diverted to different ports as opposed to forcing their passengers to a 3rd sea day. We were also told by staff that Sunshine has missed Puerto Rico multiple times which doesn't feel like coincidence. We were reimbursed our port taxes which were a measly $16 bucks, and were incredibly disappointed that Carnival did not make more of an effort to rectify the disappointment of a lost day. Ship/Cabin: For a good part of this year my husband and I have been house hunting so we can spot a lipstick re-do from a mile away and that's what Sunshine is. At first glance it looks sleek and clean and modern but then you start looking deeper and its a bit cringe-worthy. Our balcony was narrow and rusty. The bathroom was dingy, we had a weird black ring in the toilet which we think was cigarette ashes that couldn't be cleaned, and at one point our sink stopper popped out and looking down through the pipes was plain scary. The ship was clean, but you could tell the bones were a bit brittle. There were a lot of people on that tiny boat. The pools were super tiny. We spent more time at the Serenity pool as it was adults only so it didn't feel AS congested as the other, but it was still pretty bad. The hot tubs were always full to the brim so we never bothered. Service: I wasn't blown away by any of our servers on the trip. Our room steward barely serviced our room, although we were in and out a lot so its partially our fault. Our waiters got our orders wrong quite a bit. Some of the bartenders were great (Albert in the Casino, Danni in the Red Frog) but the rest were mehhhhhhh. I seriously contemplated taking back our gratuities to be honest... Food: I LOVE food, our whole group LOVES food and the meals on Sunshine were just "okay" for the most part. Main Dinning Room (MDR) / Buffet / Room service were nothing special. For breakfast, the MDR was good, but the menu never changed, so eventually we started going to the buffet instead but by our 2nd day there, I was tired of eating runny eggs, and tasteless pancakes and french toast. The omelette station was very good but the 45 minute wait kept me away (we only had omelettes once because we woke up SUPER early). Lunch was by far had the best meal options. Although the buffet and 24hr pizza weren't anything special, the deli was great (the pastrami was heaven), and the tacos/burritos at Blue Iguana Cantina were awesome. Most of our group really enjoyed Guys Burger Joint, but it made me and hubby a little sick so we only had them once. Jiji's stir fry/noodle station was really tasty too. I didn't try the Cucina Del Capitano (Italian Station) but heard the marinara was salty and the alfredo was bland. We also went to eat at Bonsai Sushi one late night and really enjoyed it. The servings are HUGE and the short ribs were delicious! For dinner in the MDR I was excited for a few of their appetizers, steak and desert options but for the most part I was underwhelmed by what I received. Two nights we ordered the $20 NY strip and Surf & Turf (from Fahrenheit 555) and we were pretty disappointed then too. Room service was also nothing special and certain items had a surcharge. There's a 24hr pizzeria upstairs and you're charging $5 to deliver it to my room? Chicken fingers are available in the buffet 70% of the day, and again you charge $5 for it? It just didn't make sense. Entertainment: Again, this is not really Carnival's fault, they can't predict whose traveling on their ships but leaving from NY is always a little painful. It brings a rowdier/more abrasive crowd than when you leave out of Florida. There was one small incident were one of the teens in our group was randomly shoved by a fellow passenger and most nights at the comedy club we were almost trampled by others trying to get in/out. The Quest, which I usually enjoy watching (and/or participating in) was GHETTO (which I can say, as I was born and raised in the 'hood lol). The comedy club had 3 different acts. One put most of our group to sleep, the other was good, and the last one was hilarious. I personally did not attend the shows in the Liquid Lounge but the rest of the group that did said most of them were fun. The dance parties that started in the Atrium and made their way across the ship were also pretty fun to watch. Emma, our cruise director was lovely (and called us "Lovelies" every day). The group running the trivia, beer pong, dance classes, and games were nice enough but not necessarily memorable. Ports/Shore Excursions: We didn't book any excursions through Carnival as they were severely over-priced. As mentioned above, PR was cancelled so that was a wash. In St. Thomas we hopped in a cab and went to Coki beach and swam/snorkeled/jet skied. In Grand Turk we had a blast on an ATV tour we booked with Zoom, Zoom ATVs for half the price Carnival was charging. Overall, we enjoyed being together, we loved being able to surprise my sister-in-law (she only knew about 8 of us and cried happy tears when she saw the other 30 of us in our matching t-shirts), we laughed and drank (a lot, to dull the pain lol), swam, caught SOME sun, took tons of photos and made some great memories BUT, that was in spite of the Sunshine, not really because of it.

Not so sunny, that Sunshine...

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review by Lori.Merc

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
In celebration of my sister-in-law's 50th birthday, my brother was able to rally 38 (ages 6-69) of us to go away on a cruise together. Her birthday was August 17th so we chose a cruise that would sail during her birthday week and leaving out of NY, as all of us live in the NY/NJ area. The Carnival Sunshine was my 10th cruise. I had been on Carnival 4 times previously and on RCCL 5 times. I had read the reviews on Cruise Critic prior to our sail date so my expectations weren't very high, although I did read them with a grain of salt as I generally tend to go with the flow on trips (and in life in general lol), so not much bothers me. But most unfortunately, Sunshine was my least pleasant cruising experience for a variety of reasons.

Weather/Port Issues:

Now I know Carnival has no control over mother nature. We generally know better than to sail during hurricane season, but as previously mentioned, we were celebrating a birthday in the middle of August so we crossed our fingers and booked. 90% of the days were cloudy and during at least 3-4 of our days/nights we encountered rougher seas than we like. Our first stop was supposed to be Puerto Rico but the port was cancelled all together due to multiple storms in the area. We understood avoiding the port for safety reasons but found out at a later port that other ships in the area simply diverted to different ports as opposed to forcing their passengers to a 3rd sea day. We were also told by staff that Sunshine has missed Puerto Rico multiple times which doesn't feel like coincidence.

We were reimbursed our port taxes which were a measly $16 bucks, and were incredibly disappointed that Carnival did not make more of an effort to rectify the disappointment of a lost day.

Ship/Cabin:

For a good part of this year my husband and I have been house hunting so we can spot a lipstick re-do from a mile away and that's what Sunshine is. At first glance it looks sleek and clean and modern but then you start looking deeper and its a bit cringe-worthy. Our balcony was narrow and rusty. The bathroom was dingy, we had a weird black ring in the toilet which we think was cigarette ashes that couldn't be cleaned, and at one point our sink stopper popped out and looking down through the pipes was plain scary. The ship was clean, but you could tell the bones were a bit brittle. There were a lot of people on that tiny boat. The pools were super tiny. We spent more time at the Serenity pool as it was adults only so it didn't feel AS congested as the other, but it was still pretty bad. The hot tubs were always full to the brim so we never bothered.

Service:

I wasn't blown away by any of our servers on the trip. Our room steward barely serviced our room, although we were in and out a lot so its partially our fault. Our waiters got our orders wrong quite a bit. Some of the bartenders were great (Albert in the Casino, Danni in the Red Frog) but the rest were mehhhhhhh. I seriously contemplated taking back our gratuities to be honest...

Food:

I LOVE food, our whole group LOVES food and the meals on Sunshine were just "okay" for the most part. Main Dinning Room (MDR) / Buffet / Room service were nothing special. For breakfast, the MDR was good, but the menu never changed, so eventually we started going to the buffet instead but by our 2nd day there, I was tired of eating runny eggs, and tasteless pancakes and french toast. The omelette station was very good but the 45 minute wait kept me away (we only had omelettes once because we woke up SUPER early). Lunch was by far had the best meal options. Although the buffet and 24hr pizza weren't anything special, the deli was great (the pastrami was heaven), and the tacos/burritos at Blue Iguana Cantina were awesome. Most of our group really enjoyed Guys Burger Joint, but it made me and hubby a little sick so we only had them once. Jiji's stir fry/noodle station was really tasty too. I didn't try the Cucina Del Capitano (Italian Station) but heard the marinara was salty and the alfredo was bland. We also went to eat at Bonsai Sushi one late night and really enjoyed it. The servings are HUGE and the short ribs were delicious! For dinner in the MDR I was excited for a few of their appetizers, steak and desert options but for the most part I was underwhelmed by what I received. Two nights we ordered the $20 NY strip and Surf & Turf (from Fahrenheit 555) and we were pretty disappointed then too. Room service was also nothing special and certain items had a surcharge. There's a 24hr pizzeria upstairs and you're charging $5 to deliver it to my room? Chicken fingers are available in the buffet 70% of the day, and again you charge $5 for it? It just didn't make sense.

Entertainment:

Again, this is not really Carnival's fault, they can't predict whose traveling on their ships but leaving from NY is always a little painful. It brings a rowdier/more abrasive crowd than when you leave out of Florida. There was one small incident were one of the teens in our group was randomly shoved by a fellow passenger and most nights at the comedy club we were almost trampled by others trying to get in/out. The Quest, which I usually enjoy watching (and/or participating in) was GHETTO (which I can say, as I was born and raised in the 'hood lol). The comedy club had 3 different acts. One put most of our group to sleep, the other was good, and the last one was hilarious. I personally did not attend the shows in the Liquid Lounge but the rest of the group that did said most of them were fun. The dance parties that started in the Atrium and made their way across the ship were also pretty fun to watch. Emma, our cruise director was lovely (and called us "Lovelies" every day). The group running the trivia, beer pong, dance classes, and games were nice enough but not necessarily memorable.

Ports/Shore Excursions:

We didn't book any excursions through Carnival as they were severely over-priced. As mentioned above, PR was cancelled so that was a wash. In St. Thomas we hopped in a cab and went to Coki beach and swam/snorkeled/jet skied. In Grand Turk we had a blast on an ATV tour we booked with Zoom, Zoom ATVs for half the price Carnival was charging.

Overall, we enjoyed being together, we loved being able to surprise my sister-in-law (she only knew about 8 of us and cried happy tears when she saw the other 30 of us in our matching t-shirts), we laughed and drank (a lot, to dull the pain lol), swam, caught SOME sun, took tons of photos and made some great memories BUT, that was in spite of the Sunshine, not really because of it.
Lori.Merc’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8C 7291
At first glance it looks sleek and clean and modern but then you start looking deeper and its a bit cringe-worthy. Our balcony was narrow and rusty. The bathroom was dingy, we had a weird black ring in the toilet which we think was cigarette ashes that couldn't be cleaned, and at one point our sink stopper popped out and looking down through the pipes was plain scary. The ship was clean, but you could tell the bones were a bit brittle.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • ATV Tour
    Had a fun time zooming (get it, "Zoom Zoom Tours" lol) around Grand Turk. The company was easy to book with and easy to get in touch with for changes/additions/questions. Our only issue was that our tour guides didn't all introduce themselves. At the beginning of the tour we started out with 2 guides, so at one point when a 3rd person came out of nowhere and started following us, a good handful of our group thought we were getting robbed. After a few moments we realized he was part of the tour company though and all was well. They should've just all be introduced to us from the beginning or we should have been told a 3rd person would be joining us along the way.
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  • New York (Manhattan)
    I'm from NY and love the city but the crowds are much rowdier than when you leave out of FL. The port is also very old and dingy. For the price we're paying, they can afford to paint and put down a new carpet.
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  • San Juan
    I'm not a big fan of Old San Juan. This cruise bypassed it completely due to a storm but its one of my least favorite towns to visit.
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  • St. Thomas
    Went to Coki Beach which we generally like but most of the drivers at the port were, those setting up umbrellas and chairs and our bar lady were RUDE. I'm giving you my hard earned money, I'd prefer you NOT to be a douchebag about it... Just my two-cents lol!
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    View Cruise Critic's St. Thomas Cruise Port Review