My wife and i have cruised about 30 times since 1992, so we have seen the cruise industry change in regards to service, food and prices. We were needing a get-away this January and we booked a 5 day cruise on the Sunshine out of Charleston. Previously, a lot of our cruises were out of this port, but on the Ecstasy.
First thing: Embarkation has been expedited by moving it to a different building than security. Time from parking to boarding the ship was about 25 minutes. There are several buffets and other places to eat when you board. We tried the Italian special order on deck 5 beside the Havana Bar. The pasta and sauces were excellent.
First night dining was about standard for Carnival. We were assigned anytime dining which is not really dining. It more like place your order and get out! The food seemed a little below what we had experienced on Ecstasy in years past. (BTW, lobster is not on the menu for any night of the 5 day cruise) Since the tables have to be "flipped" several times, the service is just OK>
The casino has mostly new slot machines (bigger vid screens) and regular table games and an electronic roulette wheel. There is also a large display video Blackjack/Three Card Poker machine near the Skybox lounge. Stay away from that one. We saw about three people play the entire cruise there. After putting in a few bucks, we understood why.
The roulette tables have gone to basically "triple zero" which reduces your odds even further for winning. Only standard odds on the ship are on the one craps table, which had action most of the time.
We were in a Spa suite which gave us access to the steam rooms, sauna and tepidarium on the 10th floor. One sauna was hot and adjusted properly. the other one was not hot and the sauna room was not turned on. The tepidarium chairs were relaxing if you could find one which was open.
Being January, the temp outside was chilly the first day. By Nassau, it was 74 but windy. The Sunshine has a "Dive in" movie theater which had pretty recent hits. You needed a blanked to watch at night but that was part of the fun.
We were advised that we would not dock at private island due to high winds (good call). Instead we went to Freeport, which is the zit of the Bahamas.
I choose to scuba dive in Nassua, which is always handled through Stuart's Cove. SC is a top notch dive operation which will put you on wrecks, fish, walls and sharks. They have a shuttle from port to their docks, which is a pretty big operation.
Highlight of the cruise was Farenheit 555, the specialty steak house on the ship. Upcharge is $38 per person and well worth it. The food and service is on part with the Chef's Table. If you order your steak rare, prepare for RARE, as in cool red center. (Good vet could bring it back.)
i dont drink but my wife has wine. Bar service was good and fast, even in the casino. She played enough to qualify for a free drink card which always reduces cost.
This ship has a little "stuffier" feel that Ecstasy. Staff on Ecstasy was like "family" and was very jovial with passengers. The staff on Sunshine looked a little more intense. They were not bad, just not the same.
OK, for those of you who have cruise before, more than a few times, you know that service on the ships are scaling back. Where as you used to have to expel your cabin steward fro hanging around, you will barely see them.
Overall, for the price we had a fun, relaxing cruise. We choose this port often for it's closeness to home which allows us to drive to port instead of fly or drive for an entire day.
It's fine. gave us access to Tepidarium in Spa. Only used once.