My wife and I are fairly frequent cruisers, but we recently took our first cruise on the Carnival Sunrise, from New York up the eastern coast of New England and Canada with scheduled stops in Halifax, St. John, NB, Portland ME and Boston, then back to New York. Unfortunately, because of bad weather we had to skip both Portland and Boston, which was a disappointment but of course with "safety first" in mind it was nobody's fault but Mother Nature. The stops we did make were good, although most every other cruise line includes Bar Harbor on their similar itineraries for this time of year and surprisingly Carnival didn't, so that was a disappointment. We had never been to this part of the world before and the shore excursions were decent with good guides, albeit a bit on the expensive side. Prior to the cruise we didn't have a very favorable opinion of Carnival from reviews we had read and people we had talked to, and that impression was only marginally improved during the cruise and afterwards. We generally prefer smaller ships, willing to trade off shipboard activities for more personalized service, better food and usually quieter ship time. This ship itself was actually nicer than we thought it would be, as it had been refurbished fairly recently. That was the good news. The bad news was that (according to some of the crew) during the refurbishment they added more cabins and reduced the size of the main dining area. (They also took out the library which was a disappointment to my wife but I won't speculate as to whether removing the library is indicative of Carnival's perception of its clientele.) So, any meal requiring a trip to the Lido dining area for the buffet was a complete zoo at any and all times of the day. Total passenger count was just about 3,000, and it seemed as though every single person chose to jam the buffet lines at the same time and remain there every minute of the restaurant's serving hours. Total chaos ensued with very limited seating when the rush was on at the buffet lines. On the plus side, there was a pretty good supply of other, smaller eating ares with other specialty food types around the ship, but most of them were either fully outdoors or partly open to the elements, and with the bad weather along the way they weren't great options for comfortable eating. For dinner, we had assigned seating each night with our group of ten, so no problem getting a table at our appointed time, although the tables were pretty much on top of each other and the restaurant got noisy. The servers delighted in singing ""Happy Birthday" and "Happy Anniversary" or "Happy Anything" pretty much every night at various tables as circumstances warranted. So much for quiet dining. As for the food quality, the Lido buffet was ordinary to decent, nothing special. Typical cruise ship fare; nothing to kill you but nothing to make you think you were in a really good restaurant. Service was again pretty ordinary, mostly because of the crush of humanity during buffet hours. In the sit-down restaurant at night, the entrees were generally decent to pretty good. I remarked almost every night how good the salads and soups were, among the best of any cruise line I've been on. Not all of the entrees deserved the same high marks. We were in a group of ten people and comments varied from bad to exceptional for the quality of each person's meals throughout the seven-day trip. I have to admit that I didn't have any meal that was not edible, but neither did I have any that I would rank as exceptional (other than the salads and soups which as I mentioned were really outstanding). Ironically, lobster tail was offered one night as one of the included menu choices. Everybody but me got it and loved it. Another night I paid $20 extra to get a lobster tail and could hardly eat it. The meats (pork loin, roast beef and a small steak on various nights) were okay, pretty much done to order but generally not very hot by the time it got placed in front of me. I'm also a dessert guy and they were pretty good, both for variety and quality. Our cabin was actually pretty nice, not cramped but not overly large, with good storage and with a comfortable "king" bed if you managed to avoid the subterranean crack running down the middle from joining two twin beds to make it into a king. Our room attendant was excellent and we tipped him accordingly, along with the gratuities added onto the bill at the end of the cruise. Other than the crack running down the center, the bed(s) was (were) comfortable with nice pillows and covers. The bathroom was small-ish, but since neither my wife nor I are overly large, no problem fitting into the shower. The shower in fact had great water pressure and lots of hot water. We could barely get water out of the sink, either hot or cold. Go figure. My only real complaint about the bathroom was that the shower curtain (what, you think Carnival would have a glass shower door?, LOL!) seemed to have a really musty smell. The ship's entertainment ran the gamut from just plain lousy and insulting to our intelligence, to some of it being actually pretty good. One comedian comes to mind as being both clean and very funny but he was only there for one night. The three electric violin players who performed as a group in the lobby every night were wonderful, albeit a bit on the loud side. I won't make any more comments on the entertainment because everybody's tastes are different. The only other problem we had was that the ship is VERY NOISY. Carnival seems to think that splitting their customers' eardrums with loud music and announcements adds to the overall cruising experience. Our cabin seemed pretty well insulated (walls and ceiling) but music from the entertainment areas of the ship still got through the door. I thought embarkation could have gone a bit more smoothly as it was a bit of a mob scene. Debarkation, given the number of people, was very well organized both on the ship and in the port area and when our turn came we were out of our cabin, off the ship and in a cab in under twenty minutes. In closing, I titled this review "You get what you pay for" and with Carnival you pay towards the bottom of the cruising spectrum, and for that you get an experience that's worth just about every penny.
See my comments above.