We sailed on the Carnival Sunrise as part of a large 40+ group of friends, so we did not choose this particular ship or itinerary. We have sailed with Carnival before and are Gold level members.
Embarkation: We were pre-assigned a time to show up to check in for boarding. That was excellent and went very smoothly. Hats off to Carnival and the NYC port for making what used to be a nightmare, a pleasant experience.
Cabin. We had a balcony cabin on level 6. We were near the Atrium. The room was quiet despite the loud night-time parties in the Atrium. The room location was ok for most areas of the ship we frequented. Our cabin steward and staff were extremely friendly and efficient. Our plumbing worked fine! Balconies were cleaned during our cruise, which was nice. Plenty of USB & AC outlets for our electronics. Air conditioning was sufficient.
Public areas: The pool areas were crowded as usual on a ship, especially on sea days as you would expect, however, the pools are too small for the number of guests on board. We did not even want to go in as there were shoulder to shoulder people in the pool most of the time. NOT INVITING!. The lack of staff to clean the dishes from the pool area made for a messy area much of the time. Poor ship design between the Guy's Burger joint and the Lido Marketplace made a narrow passageway that caused traffic jams constantly. I was always afraid my food would be knocked into and spilled moving from outside to inside. The coffee/tea area, ice cream machine and the pillar/railings make for a very narrow 2 way passage. The air conditioning in some areas either did not work or was poorly designed. We found "hot spots" all over the ship.
The dining room food was fine, wait staff worked very hard. Most of the time I received what I ordered. The Lido marketplace buffet was overcrowded most times, It seemed to run past the stated closing each day as there were still people waiting in line to get food at the closing hour. Buffet food was ok, not exceptional. We ate there only twice. Guys burger joint was fast and good, the Blue Iguana Cantina was OK but fast to get food, Pig & Anchor was excellent! Highly recommend if you like southern BBQ! Lucky Bowl was excellent! No lines to speak of most of the time. we ate there frequently. Did not try the 24 hour pizza but we heard it was good. Did not try Bonsi Sushi (extra charge), it was empty most of the time. The Red Frog pub was a large area, not crowded, beers were ok. Personally I did not like the Red Frog "red ale", but the Toasted Amber was good. The ship seems to have only 4 flavors of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry & butter pecan). Only the first 3 are available soft serve, butter pecan is available in the dining room with the other 3 flavors. Personally I wanted more choices in the dining room as Ice cream ins my choice of dessert. Not a fan of cakes, etc. Lido buffet was also one of the poorly air conditioned areas of the ship, it was hot most of the time, which made eating uncomfortable. Staff was good cleaning the tables.
Ports of call:
Grand Turk: The ship dock at Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville. Just a pool/beach stop, nothing to see there. Food & drink is for purchase only, not free. We took a private trolley tour with Island Trolley Tours (not a ship excursion). the were excellent. If you want to see the island, this is the only way ($30/pp) Ship tour is twice that. Buy tickets on beach or online prior.
San Juan: Ship docks right in town, El Morro is a long walk but do able with the time allowed.
Amber Cove: Another pool stop. Pools are very crowded both in Margaritavile & Amber Cove. Nothing to do there other than shop & swim in the waist high water. We did not swim in the pools as we dislike over crowded pools with no shade opportunity other than hiding under a foot bridge.
Disembarkation: Handled well. we lined up around 0830 to get tags. we had tag # 8. This got us off the ship around 1030. We waited in the Liquid Lounge. The only complaint I had was I did not have any idea when our number would be called. We had someone picking us up and I was not sure when to tell him to be at the dock. Geting off the ship and getting our luggage was excellent, and efficient. Customs was a breeze!
Final thoughts: Level 3 was the best serenity area on the ship. Forget the official Serenity deck as it was also overcrowded and no shade. Deck 3 off the Atrium was quiet, had a panoramic ocean view, a nice breeze, and was near the Atrium bar. Plenty of deck chairs also! If you like crowds, loud parties, so so ports of call and long lines...this is the cruise for you!