We chose this inaugural cruise of the Sunrise as we were travelling Virginia, D.C. and Outer Banks of North Carolina at the time so departure port was very convenient. This was going to be our first trip to the Caribbean and we hoped that ... Read More
We chose this inaugural cruise of the Sunrise as we were travelling Virginia, D.C. and Outer Banks of North Carolina at the time so departure port was very convenient. This was going to be our first trip to the Caribbean and we hoped that Carnival would similar standards to Holland America as they are the same company. Although we are not big party animals or boozers, we got the impression from pre-cruise reviews that there were plenty of opportunities for quiet times to enjoy the hot tub and adult-only space called Serenity. We are obviously not Carnival’s target market.
We arrived at Norfolk port at 2 pm for 3pm boarding. As boarding was strictly scheduled, we figured we’d just walk aboard, have a coffee and snack, then unpack our bags. We had last eaten at 10am. We were told in the boarding line there would be snacks, sandwiches and pizza available when we got on board. Boarding took 3 1/2 hours! No snacks or water were available in line or when we boarded; snack bars were all closed. Our dinner was booked for 8:30. Bartenders gave preferential service to alcohol consumers over those of us who needed water.
Most of our luggage arrived in our cabin before we did, and the cabin was very nice. However, before we could unpack we had to do a thorough dusting with wet facecloths as all surfaces were covered in sawdust. A female cabin steward introduced herself shortly after our arrival and asked our preferences for cleaning, robes etc. We never saw her again, nor did we ever get our robes. Cleaning was hit and miss with dirty rags found behind lamps, on floor, etc. We didn’t get water glasses until day 4. I asked a male cabin attendant if there was hair conditioner or body lotion provided. No, you have to buy these. Hairdryer had a concealed plug connected in a drawer with a 1 foot cord. Would have to put your head in the drawer to use it!
When we booked our cruise early February, we were told “anytime dining” was fully booked and our only choice was late dining at 8:30pm which doesn’t suit our schedule or health. Carnival would not budge on this for us despite digestive issues and being early risers. We spoke to a very helpful maître d our first evening and she changed our dining quite easily to 6:00 if we were willing to eat with another couple, which we were. When we arrived next night for dinner at our assigned table, the couple we were put with refused to let us sit with them. After much fuss, the dining room manager asked us to wait in the bar outside until they could find us somewhere else. We waited an hour and weren’t even offered a drink or anything to make up for this embarrassing fiasco.
Our waiters in the dining room for the rest of the week were great, but food was just okay. There is no real butter on board, only watery whipped butter, and no cheese taste to the cheesecake, or real cream in the desserts. Meat and fish were mediocre quality and portions were small. Steaks were tough. When I ordered a bottle of wine the first night (to be kept for subsequent nights), the waiter dropped the cork in the floor, then picked it up and put it back on my bottle.
The Lido was a disaster. Unlike Holland America where you go to a food station for whatever you want, such as salad, fruit, dessert, eggs, sandwiches, pasta, etc., one must wait in a painfully long slow line just to get a box of cereal or piece of toast. Oh yeah, no butter for toast. Toast is premade and cold. Only 2 fruits offered all week. You can get eggs at another station, but nothing to go with it. Hygiene was lacking. Sanitizer dispensers were usually empty and hand washing stations had no soap. Coffee and beverages were regularly slopped all over the floor — why not have a coffee server making the rounds at breakfast.
Nice desserts served after lunch, but only one station with long lines. Guy BBQ got shut down on day 2 for some reason, but Guys burger bar was good, as was the pizza. Mexican Cantina lacked hygiene precautions for condiments, and the added cost seafood stand was a rip off for simple fish and chips which should have been included for a lunch option.
The adult only Serenity area is a joke. All lounges are scooped up at the crack of dawn and hogged all day — no enforcement when held by towels and books. Most loungers have no umbrella or shelter from sun. Too high to climb on rough sea days. Area shared with kids running up stairs to get to water slide.
The hot tubs and pools were jammed with people lounging on the edges with their drinks; too crowded to get in for a dip. The excessively loud music and rah-rah-rah yelling of the “fun team” around the pool area was really annoying (is this kind of forced fun really fun?). Overall we found the ship just had too many people to find a spot to read a book, have a conversation or just relax and watch the ocean.
The ship itself was quite filthy and ill prepared. Washrooms we’re closed as toilets backed up, bands had to play ‘unplugged’ due to electrical failures, toilets and showers stopped working in cabins with no explanation given, and staff just standing around eating areas while tables went uncleared.
The stop at Half Moon Cay was the highlight; most beautiful beach and waters I have ever been to. Only complaint was lack of shade or umbrellas in the afternoon. Would have like to stay longer but couldn’t find shelter. Freeport doesn’t have anything to offer unless you pay for an excursion to get away from this huge industrial port. Grand Turk was okay except for blasting really offensive rap music on beach, certainly not suitable for young kids. Read Less