I will start off saying that I am a highly experienced cruiser having sailed on most of the cruise lines. I booked this sailing because I never sailed out of Charleston and wanted to do something pre-Christmas. The port was very easy to get to from the airport. There's actually two buses that will take you to downtown from the airport where you can walk a short distance to the port. The express bus is $3.50 and more direct. You can also take the local bus which takes about an hour for $2 ($1 if you're a senior) and then take a second free bus to right in front of the port. This beats the $30 that Carnival charges if you're willing to handle your luggage. The port is oddly set up. You drop your luggage off outside into a vehicle that brings the luggage to the ship. Then you walk to basically a warehouse. There's a line outside that snakes through the building until you check in. Then, you are loaded onto a shuttle that brings you to the main terminal where you board the ship. Your room cards will be at your door when you board. The Sunshine is an old ship and despite having a complete overhaul and name change, the ship shows its age. There is rust everywhere, poor caulking, the lido windows leak, the windows are foggy, the ship is very rocky when the seas are a little rough, and the ceiling in many of the public areas are falling apart. Mikey the cruise director was funny and had a ton of wild outfits. I liked how he didn't bring ethnicity, politics, or origin into any comments. I had another cruise director on Norwegian who was Latino and constantly made comments like "where are my Latinos at" and it made everyone who was not Latino feel out of place. Mikey hosted a great military appreciation gathering and I would recommend attending even if you did not serve. The entertainment was hit and miss. Some nights the dancers including their costumes, dancing, and singing were not professional and some nights they were better. Do not expect any acrobatics like on other cruise lines. The food was the equivalent of diner food, not a high end restaurant. The buffet has four stations, but they are all the same food - just four lines you can stand on to get it (and there are lines for everything on this ship). The deli was good. I did not try the Asian option for lunch, but there was always a long line for it. Anytime dinning is convenient, but again the food was just okay and sometimes served warm or cool instead of hot. Occasionally our orders were not taken correctly and the portion was served with something we asked to be removed when ordering. The stateroom steward wasn't great either. This ship is freezing and I would recommend bringing a lot of sweaters and pants. We sailed in December with the outside temperature in the 50s and 60s and yet the ship still had on A/C. We had the heat set on high in our stateroom and the attendant turned it on A/C one day while we were at port. We were freezing when we returned. He also did not vacuum well or clean thoroughly from the previous guests. Since this is Carnival, you have to ask for turndown service in the evening and ask for towel animals if you want these features. Overall, it was an average cruise, but one of my least favorites due to the age of the ship, quality of the food, and quality of the service. I heard a few passengers mention they will never sail again, but I recommend trying a different cruise line in the future.
The 8A balcony cabin was average. I didn't like how there was a window and balcony door instead of full floor to ceiling windows and doors on the entire wall. The room was on the smaller size, but average for this age ship. The bathroom shower was big, but the rest of the bathroom was very tight with not a lot of storage. The shampoo and shower gel was low quality, so bring your own.
The port was very easy to get to from the airport. There's actually two buses that will take you to downtown from the airport where you can walk a short distance to the port. The express bus is $3.50 and more direct. You can also take the local bus which takes about an hour for $2 ($1 if you're a senior) and then take a second free bus to right in front of the port. This beats the $30 that Carnival charges if you're willing to handle your luggage.