My husband and I just returned from a 13 day journeys cruise aboard the Sunshine. We typically have rain a good portion of our vacation and were pleasantly surprised to only have rain two half days. The ship itself is in great shape for its age. The crew went out of their way to make the cruise special. We visited 7 islands - St. Thomas, Aruba, Curacao, St. Marteen, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Amber Cove. We had been to all of these ports except Amber Cove. I turned platinum on this cruise and enjoyed all the perks - chocolate covered strawberries, a free blanket throw, 5 bags of free laundry, priority boarding and disembarkation, and a free drink. The shows on board were all pretty good. My husband and I enjoyed the comedy shows the most and averaged two shows most days. The Love & Marriage Show dragged on too long. It took almost 45 minutes to pick the contestants. We ate most dinners (10 of the 13 nights) in the main dining room with Any Time Dining. We never had to wait over 5 or 10 minutes for a table. Most nights we were in and out in about an hour and 15 minutes. We typically ate early (around 5:15). We only paid to eat one meal and that was at the sushi restaurant. Sushi for two with tip was around $25. We booked all excursions on our own. There were a few things that irritated me. Number 1 - the free drink. You have to get it either at breakfast or lunch and only in the main dining room. I went three times before I even found the dining room open during these times. One time breakfast was over and lunch hadn't started. Another time lunch was already over. ( I know it is free and you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but get real, it is a $9.50 drink!) Number 2 - No refrigerator. This is the first time I have ever cruised a big cruise line with no refrigerator. Number 3 - making you choose morning or evening service of your cabin. We chose morning but our steward still serviced it twice a day but you could tell he was overextended doing so. Shame on Carnival for putting him in this position. I think each steward services over 30 rooms. Number 4 - Disembarkation was a nightmare. It took us over two hours with priority and we just made our flight by 10 minutes and yes it was an afternoon flight. Overall, I will still sail on Carnival again but will give other cruise lines equal consideration.
We did an Ocean View Guarantee and were assigned our cabin 4 days before sailing. We were the first cabin mid ship right by the elevators. It was less than 100 steps (using elevators) to the pools and bars on the Lido deck. Overall, we were very pleased with the cabin. We have had balconies three times and interiors 17 times. This was our first ocean view and I would book one again. We loved how spacious the room was.
We took a taxi to Secret Harbor and snorkeled. We didnt take into consideration the time difference when we told our driver to pick us back up at noon. We tried to call him to let him know we wanted more time, but he didnt answer so we only had about an hour and a half at this beach. I guess we could have told him to come back later but we didnt. The snorkeling is good. You are not allowed to use the chaise lounges as they are for Secret Harbor guests only.
We took a taxi to Arashi Beach. It is right next to the lighthouse at the far end of the island. We had a group of 12 so he only charged us $5 each way. The snorkeling here was very good. I saw an octopus and I hadn't seen one in years! There were a lot of snorkel boats anchored right off shore so I am sure this was one of the better places to snorkel on the island. We went back to town about 2 and ate lunch and shopped a little.
We hired a private driver to drive our group of 12 around the island. He took us to the National Park Sheete Boca, Playa Grandi (to see the sea turtles), Kenepa Beach (to snorkle) and finally a stop to see the flamingos. He also let us stop at a store to get sodas. Several of our party ordered burgers at the snack bar at Kenepa Beach and they all said it was the worse burger they ever had. I ordered a chicken hot pocket from the man by the parking lot and it was quite good. He also had several homemade bread and pastry items. All in all a good day!
We hired a snorkeling company to take us out on a private boat for the day. He took us to two spots to snorkel and two spots to swim. He supplied the sandwiches and drinks. The snorkeling at the first stop was just so-so. There are sometimes sea turtles there but only a couple people in our group of 12 saw any. The second snorkeling spot was a lot better. He took us to one beach with a restaurant and the second one was a secluded white sand beach. The ride out on the boat was a bit rough but it was smoother on the way back. We went to the Mahoe Bay to sea the planes but none landed or took off until we got a little ways out so we didnt get to see them close up.
We hired Greys Island Tours. We had Thereford Grey and his nephew take us out around the island, up to the Palm Court Gardens, and then to Shipwreck Beach Bar. The snorkeling was very good here. We saw a star fish and a sea turtle. I had seen most of this island before but had never been to the gardens. They also stopped at an overlook for us to shop and take pictures with the monkeys (for a fee). We had a great time and the six hour tour was only $25!
My husband and I took a walking tour that I had printed off the internet that ended at a secluded beach. The walking tour also took us past the walk of the presidents and the holocaust memorial. The water was very choppy so we didnt get in the water. We walked back to town and had a couple mojitos. We looked around at a few shops and went back to the ship.
This was an easy port day as you just walk off the ship and they have a giant pool with water slides and a lazy river and loungers. The only thing they charged for was zip lining. I didnt go but heard it was $20 was an all day pass.