3 Norfolk to Caribbean - Eastern Carnival Sunshine Cruise Reviews

•Background information- This was my 26th cruise - my third with Carnival. I had my 79th birthday on the cruise. I use a mobility scooter because I can't walk far or stand for long. My partner was a younger woman friend. It was ... Read More
•Background information- This was my 26th cruise - my third with Carnival. I had my 79th birthday on the cruise. I use a mobility scooter because I can't walk far or stand for long. My partner was a younger woman friend. It was her first cruise. We went to Nassau, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk. This cruise had really high winds and rough seas a majority of the time that we were not in port. My friend was seasick the first sea day (formal night) and a number of other people said they were also seasick. Sometimes they closed the decks because of rough weather. And there were two medical evacuations - one in Amber Cove (reported broken bones) and one in Nassau. •Travel to embarkation port and embarkation My husband drove us to the port and dropped us off. We left at 8, and stopped a couple of places on the way down. Even with the stops, we should have completed the 171 mile trip by 12:30. But since the last couple of miles took half an hour, we did not get to the embarkation point until after 1:00. The lady at the port check-in took away my refillable water bottle (which I purchased for the trip) because she said we were not allowed to take any plastic on board. According to Carnival, this was not Carnival policy. It was particularly silly because there were plastic water bottles in our room which we could purchase. Other than that annoyance, check-in was quick and we could go to our rooms right away and drop our carry-on luggage. We did not get the rest of our luggage until after dinner. They would not say when the lifeboat drill was. And when they had it, they took all of us mobility impaired people into a room so we didn't have to go out on deck which was OK but there did not appear to be an check on who was at the drill and who was not. Our drill was over before the one of the people out on deck. When the drill was over, we went out to see the 5 o'clock sailaway, but they were still loading the ship. We finally went inside at 5:40. I think they left about 6, but we wanted to eat so we missed it. I really wanted to take photos of some of the harbor, so this was disappointing. I don't know the reason for the delay. •Ship information I thought the ship looked a little tired. It did not have the overexuberant decor that I associate with Carnival which some people criticize but I didn't mind. The colors of some areas didn't appeal to me but I liked it better than on some ships I've been on. The ship was decorated nicely for Halloween The elevator doors had mirrors on the outside, but it would have been nice to have a mirror on the back wall of the elevator too - that way I could see whether I could back out on my scooter or whether I was going to run over someone. The elevators were large and fast. But the atrium elevators were on a different system than the main elevators so you couldn't just push one button and have them all stop. You had to run back and forth to look and sometimes I wouldn't get to an elevator in time before the doors shut. There was no way to go all the way around the ship outside unless you were on deck 10 (and then you had to go through some stateroom areas). On deck 3, if I wanted to see both sides, I had to go through the atrium. Some of the thresholds for going out on the deck on deck 3 were too sharp and steep and the scooter (and wheelchairs that other people used) would get hung up. But I know they could do this better as SOME of the threshold were just fine. There was not enough space in the public areas - the atrium on deck 3 and outside the dining rooms on deck 3 were way too small. We went to the theatre for the disembarkation lecture and it did not look like there would be good sight lines from the main area on deck 4. The pools are small - I would have done the water slide, but it was always closed due to high winds unless we were in port, and in port I was doing other stuff. The computer area was easy to use (except that I had trouble climbing up on the stools to use the computer next to the printer). I did not understand at first that once I logged on, shutting down the computer did not log me off - I had to physically log off each time. I really liked the one flat rate computer charge for the whole cruise - no having to keep track of minutes. The internet was pretty slow - slower than what I've had recently on other ships. But I could use it in the room just fine. I went into the gym once and tried to use the exer-cycle which I use several times a week at my own gym, but I found it too hard to use and gave up. There are no restrooms near the restaurants. There should be a closer restroom. •Activities-There were a lot of activities and they were back to back with no space between them. For instance, I went to some trivia - it didn't seem very organized. Everyone was on their own. And there were three trivia games one after the other in the same place with no space in-between. We went to the Halloween festivities, but the parade was too late for us. I don't know if my friend would have played Bingo - we couldn't tell what the charge was for a card so she didn't try. My friend like the activities out by the pool at night (70s night, 80s night, etc). •Service - service was adequate. I know that the room stewards have more to do now, and they did leave us nice towel animals every night. But we found a power strip and a bungee cord under the bed left from previous passengers. The waiters in the restaurant did not remember that I don't drink coffee, or at least they always asked me if I wanted coffee. Otherwise they were most accommodating, including bringing my friend a house salad that wasn't on the menu. Carnival seems to put great emphasis on all the stewards and waiters calling us by name. And they try very hard to do that. They succeed with me, but my friend had a somewhat unusual name which was difficult for them. Personally I think this is a shallow immitation of friendship and an unnecessary burden on the workers when they should be concentrating on doing their jobs instead of remembering everyone's names. •Dining - We were to have My Time Dining in the Sunrise restaurant. Since our cabin is on deck 3 in the bow, it means we have to go up in an elevator to deck 5, go aft and go down in an elevator to deck 3 to get to it. I found out that we were supposed to check in on deck 5 first and when they had a table for us they would call and we could go down to deck 3 - that is because there is no space to wait there on deck 3. That was a totally 100% unacceptable, even if I could have walked down the steps and didn't have to use the elevators. They should only assign people to eat in the Sunrise dining room if they do not have a stateroom on deck 3 and they should NEVER have Anytime Dining there. People above deck 5 can go to the stern of the ship and go down to the restaurant and people below deck 3 can go to the stern and go up to the restaurant, but people on deck 3 are screwed if they are assigned to Sunrise. So I asked for early dining in the Sunset restaurant which is right here by the room. We did get it, fortunately. The restaurant never appeared to be full. The waiters danced every night, and I for one could do without that but my friend liked it. I expected them to sing Happy Birthday to me, but they did not. Restaurants- I tried JJ's at lunch one day and was not impressed. I wanted stir fy and not stir-steamed - it turned the meat to tasteless globs and the vegetables were limp rather than crisp. I went to Cucina del Capitano for lunch on embarkation day, and did not return. I usually got help with the buffet in the main Lido restaurant, but this didn't happen in JJ's or Cucina. I got a burger from Guy's and it was delicous. I also got breakfast at the BlueIguana (their version of ranchos hueveros) and it was also very good. I liked the Lido buffet although it was difficult for me to negotiate (I couldn't easily reach the back row of dishes, I couldn't see the labels as they were over my head and I have trouble negotiating with the scooter without running over people while I am holding a plate of food), but almost always the staff would rush to help me and would also find me a seat and get me a drink We had room service four times, and it was prompt. My friend ordered coffee once and it tasted funny to her - like the coffee pot or cup had not been cleaned. But I don't drink coffee so I can't address that. The menus have been cut to the bone - there is no longer an 'anytime menu' (as such) although there are some items that appear every day. The breakfast menu in the Sunrise is called Brunch and they have breakfast and lunch items. The Lunch menu has only entres and desserts. The ice cream choices do not change much so I stopped asking, and there does not seem to be an option for a sundae type ice cream dessert. Food - The bread at dinner was good. They had nice cranberry rolls which I especially liked. Some of the desserts were good. The snails were good and so were the braised short ribs which were very tender. I drink a glass of cranberry juice every day. Some cruise lines will have cranberry juice (HAL, AMAWaterways, Celebrity) and some charge bar prices (RCCL). Since I thought Carnival might be one of those that charged for it, I brought a bottle of cranberry juice with me. And I was correct. One of the people at the Cruise Critics meeting said they charged her for each glass of cranberry juice. A glass of cranberry juice is not worth $5.00 Carnival does not do Caesar salad well - it is gloppy with dressing. (Noted on my previous cruise with Carnival). Sometimes the food (like potatoes) was/were cold when they should have been hot. Very often, the food was not what was described or was different from what I expected from reading the description. Herbed dressing - no bread in the dressing - seemed to be some kind of fruit or vegetable concoction. Caprese salad - a lump of cheese, a few leaves of lettuce and a whole tomato. (I expected alternate tomato and cheese slices). "Locally caught" crab soup - very little crab in it and I wondered where the Local was where it was caught - we were in Nassau. Junkanoo pot which was to have shrimp, calamari and chicken with pineapple and pepper. But I didn't see any pineapple. It actually did have shrimp, a little calamari and one piece of chicken, but it also had mussels and quite a few scallops. Sometimes they took a good dish and screwed it up. I had the ox tongue, which I like, but they put carmelized onions with it. Yuk. •Entertainment - Neither of us went to any shows •Port & shore excursion Three out of four of the excursions we signed up for were canceled. My friends snorkeling excursion in Nassau and our SNUBA excursion in Grand Turk were both canceled, and my friend's Segway tour had to be rescheduled. Nassau - My friend had never been snorkeling and she particularly wanted to swim in the ocean. But the snorkeling excursion was canceled due to 'lack of participation'. I wonder whether it might also have been because of the recent hurricane. After she saw the photos I took in 2002 of "The Dig" at Atlantis, she really wanted to go there. So we signed up for that excursion The tour included a van to and from Atlantis, but the minibuses didn't have a place for luggage so we had to fold up the scooter - which was easy to do. (The excursion was $60 and the van to and from was included - the admission to the aquarium part is $45). We had a very nice girl as a guide - She took us all through the resort and casino (there were four Chihuly glass sculptures) and guided us through the aquarium. There were large swarms of fish, but the water was not as clear as I remember. The guide said she had been doing the job for four years, but when I asked where some of the things we had seen in 2002 were, she didn't know as she was in school then. Afterwards she told us how we could get to the predator tank and they were feeding the sharks at 3, so we went over there. Eventually we found an entrance for me that didn't have steps. My friend saw them feed the sharks at least from a distance. She didn't have the chance to swim. Quite a few of the beaches and restaurants at Atlantis were closed. We did some shopping there (they said their machine was not working so we had to pay cash) and then got into the van to go back to the ship - but the scooter was still on the sidewalk. Apparently there was a Youth Parade in downtown Nassau and the streets were blocked so we couldn't get back to the ship. Oasis left at 3 and Enchantment was to leave at 4. There were some folks on the shuttle from Enchantment who were worried about getting back but the lady in charge of the van shuttles said they emailed the ship and told them that they would be late back, so they wouldn't miss the ship. And Enchantment was still there when we got back. Amber Cove: I did not do a tour with Carnival at this port, and I did not sign my friend up for snorkeling because I thought the seas would be too rough - and I was correct. We had a very nice tour of Puerto Plata with Marysol tours. We were picked up at the port, and visited the Rum factory, a jewelry and souvenir shop, a cigar factory, the cathedral and the fort. We did not see the Amber Museum or the chocolate factory, and we did not get to ride the aerial tram because of lack of time. I had thought this would be a bus tour with drivebys of various places. It was not. We actually went in and visited each place. The price for this tour (driver and English speaking guide) was $40 without the aerial tram. Marysol refunded the $10 we paid for the aerial tram ride. Grand Turk: My friend did the Segway Tour which she enjoyed very much. I could not do that tour as I could not stand for that long, so I was signed up to do Snuba with her. I was to meet her on the dock at 11. I went out on the dock and stopped by the booth where the Snuba and the Segway people were, and she told me that Snuba had just been canceled as it was too rough and we wouldn't see anything. So I went over to the snorkel booth and they said all their tours were leaving by 9 and there were no afternoon tours. Then I went to where the guy who dispatches the taxis was and asked him and he said we could go to Pillory Beach and rent equipment there. I went down to the Carnival beach (right at the port) and saw that they rented snorkel equipment there too. Then I went back to the ship and confirmed that the SNUBA had been canceled, took off my bathing suit and reorganized. When my friend came back I told her the news, and asked whether she wanted to snorkel here, ($16 rental), go to Pillory Beach ($8 taxi each way plus unknown rental but she would probably see more interesting stuff), or just go and have a tour with me. She opted to go and snorkel right there. She went back and changed into a two piece suit and when she got back, I gave her the underwater camera and some minimal snorkeling instruction, and left her to it. She actually saw some fish, and apparently the swim area goes out past the drop-off and she could see the top part of the 'wall' there. I took a cab into town to visit some places (like the museum) which I had not been able to visit in 2008 when we were here before because it was right after Hurricane Ike •Disembarkation We were unavoidably late back to Norfolk due to stopping in Nassau for a medical evacuation. We were to have arrived at 8 a.m. and we were not docked until about 1:00 pm. When we got the disembarkation information, they knew how late we were going to be, but they still said they wanted us out of our rooms by 11:00 - I did not see the need for that because there are no passengers getting on this ship - it is running empty from Norfolk to Charleston. Later they changed the time to 12:00, but we did not get that message because they didn't broadcast it over the PA. And really there was no need for us to leave our rooms at all, since they did not have to get ready for more passengers. We were told that there wouldn't be enough time to go to lunch, which wasn't correct - we could have gone and eaten lunch. Since we woke up late, that meant that we did not get either breakfast or lunch. We wheelchair/scooter people were sequestered in the Sunset restaurant to wait. They did give us coffee and pastry, but it wasn't lunch. If we wanted to go to the bathroom, we had to go across the atrium (no one who was not disembarking was to be in the atrium) and through the big double doors. We did not get the announcements in there. Apparently it took from 1 to 3 for all the people who were carrying off all their luggage to disembark. I do not think all those people were carrying off their luggage. I think they lied. Even though we had disembarkation #1, we did not get off until 3:30. My friends husband who was picking us up had to wait for us from 11:00 to 3:30 They should have let us go to lunch, and they should have let us stay in our rooms where we could use our bathroom and watch TV and be comfortable. •Summary After she got her sea legs (she was seasick the evening of the first sea day), my friend had a marvelous time. But the medical evacuation meant she could not get to her job and that meant she did not get paid. She couldn't really afford to lose that money, but she will survive, and she had a good time. I had a good time - none of the problems we experienced interfered with that. I got to revisit the Atlantis aquarium, see a new port in the DR, and I finally got to go to the museum in Grand Turk. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We thought of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore, but doing so costs us a whole day at sea. I would rather take that day in a foreign port than at sea. Being from Tidewater, I truly appreciate the convenience of leaving from ... Read More
We thought of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore, but doing so costs us a whole day at sea. I would rather take that day in a foreign port than at sea. Being from Tidewater, I truly appreciate the convenience of leaving from Norfolk. Plus, Grand Turk and Amber Cove, DR are new ports for us, another reason to take this cruise. We cruised last year on the Carnival Splendor so I would like to make some comparisons. One factor I noticed which was much different, in a very positive way, was that there was a marked decrease in the attempts to push liquor, jewelry and photographs. This created a more relaxed ambience. There was much less rowdiness on this ship, in fact, my fellow passengers seemed friendlier and more pleasant to be around. The engineering on this ship was much better as the Carnival Splendor had a sewer odor that could be quite pungent and unappealing. In fact, things like our showers and sinks, seemed to run perfectly. On the negative side, I really missed the live band and dedicated singers ( I think there were only five entertainers, as opposed to the twelve on the Splendor. Also, the service in the main dining room ( Sunset Restaurant) was good but not superior as it was on the Splendor. No problem with embarkation. Smooth and friendly. QUARTERS: Our cabins was outside window, Oceanview. Carnival ergonomics are excellent and we had plenty of room. We lacked a refrigerator but that did not bother us. However, one is allowed to bring on 12 soda cans ( no water bottles or green tea), so it would have been helpful to have them cold. It was my birthday and the decorations were very nice. Plus, a wonderful couple I know, left us a bottle of sparkling cider. The cabin was kept immaculately by our Steward. He was friendly and helpful. Only complaint was that the outside window was a bit dirty and should be cleaned. FOOD: Generally, I liked the food. I admit it is not nearly as good as it was 12 years ago when we took our first Carnival cruise, but there are highs and lows. Breakfast is fine The omelets are excellent, with short lines. Made to order. Oatmeal is well prepared. I love the soups, especially the cold soups. Their famed chocolate volcano melting cake is very good, though my wife does it better. I liked Guys burgers. Service is quick and friendly. The fries are similar to Five Guys, although appropriately about 1/5th as many since this is only One Guys. Burgers a bit greasy but I like greasy burgers. The Deli is very good. Real, non-pressed turkey. They also serve bagels and lox there. Another tip is the 4 cheese pizza. There is 24 hour pizza and this was a favorite of mine. Tips I learned about late: the Mongolian Wok and Cucina del Capitano, serve excellent food and are free for lunch. The lobster was good and one could eat as many lobster tails as one wants. Some of the meats less so. The Indian food choice at dinner is below mediocre. The desserts rather bland except the tropical fruit plate. Be sure to order this early in the cruise. For some reason, the fruit is super for the first few nights and then becomes less generous and more over-ripe later. The sea bass is very good. ENTERTAINMENT: As mentioned earlier, I miss the live band and dedicated singers and dancers. The dancers are very good dancers but average singers. Also, the first two nights the production shows, Playlist Productions, were a repeat from two years ago when we sailed on the Carnival Glory. The performers were better and I liked their vibrancy and enthusiasm, but the shows are a bit short and I do not like repetition. The best show was the Studio VIP production. The Epic Rock show was very good, but since my wife is a former Disco Queen we liked the Studio VIP show more. The visuals on the Epic Rock show are imaginative and stunning. The other two shows were a Latin show and a Motown show, but since we had seen the same shows two years ago, we would rank these below the others. I enjoyed the Cruise Director, Emma's enthusiasm and friendliness. Reading other reviews that found her "Hello lovlies" greetings irritating, I found it quirky and airy. She was not all over the ship and as funny as the previous Cruise Director on the Splendor, Kevin, but I think she handled her chores well and did a very good job. My wife and I like the trivia contests; if you like trivia contests this is the cruise for you. Musically, I think that the group Deja Vu was very good. Talented and a nice selection which matched the music of the Production show. A couple duo, Two of a Kind, was also very good. One major suggestion would be to PLAY CARIBBEAN MUSIC. If Carnival does not want to hire a reggae, soco or steel drum band, at least play this type of music when heading and traveling in the Caribbean music. We hear plenty of the usual American music back in the United States. I attended the Military Appreciation Gathering and thought this was very well down. There were a few WW II vets and it was interesting to see them. Some of the heart felt remarks by my fellow Vets were inspiring. We went to a number of the shows in the Punchliner Comedy Club. Get your seats early as the club fills up fast, though there always seems to be a seat on the sides. But better to see the comedian rather than view it on the TV's. Al Romero was our favorite and had my wife laughing hysterically. Chris Wiles and Spike Davis were also funny but not quite as funny as Mr. Romero. Two other shows in the Liquid Lounge included a hypnotist, Rich Gazzi, and a singer Consuela Ivy. Mr. Gazzi, who will be performing at the Funnybone in Virginia Beach. Is very amusing and his show was a of fun. He got the participants to do some amusing things. Some of the subjects seemed to be acting, and it seemed they really were not hypnotized, but otherwise, we enjoyed his show. Ms. Ivy is a dynamic and enjoyable singer with a great stage presence. We enjoyed her show. My only complaint , which is true with a number of entertainers, is the ceaseless efforts to get the audience involved.. I am a static sort of person, who comes to shows to be entertained; not to be a part of the show. She is immensely likable and and easy lady to listen to otherwise. My wife and I took a group dance class from Laura, one of the dancers. She taught us the cha-cha and was an excellent and friendly teacher, since I am not particularly graceful. Since it was my birthday, I indulged myself in a spa treatment. I signed up for the men's only package ( 60 minutes). The spa staff was gracious. The treatment included a Deep Cleanse Facial,Scalp, Neck and Shoulder Massage, a double shave and a Pressure Point hand and arm message. I was somewhat taken aback when the masseuse was a male, but it turned out to be better than my initial reluctance justified. My skin felt like a baby's when he was finished with me. The gym was more than adequate and never seemed crowded. However, it may take an effort to find a machine with a working television. Do not forget your headphones. EXCURSIONS: We took three excursions. All three I would recommend. Since we had been to the Bahamas and Atlantis, we chose the Sea and See Tour. We boarded a van which took us past a number of sites in Nassau, and viewed Parliament, the Governor's Mansion, the Supreme Court, Heffer's Sporting Good Store, and then to the famous Queen's Staircase, and Fort Fincastle. We then boarded a boat for an interesting tour along Pleasure Island. The tour was informative and humorous. We were taken to the Seaworld Explorer. The coral formations and interesting and beautiful schools of fish were astounding. The windows could have been clearer and cleaner though. Our second excursion was the best. CRYSTAL CAVE EXPEDITION AND CABARETE BEACH WITH LUNCH. We took an hour long trip to the Caves of Cabarete. The guide was excellent and re-assured my reluctant wife that she could descend into the cave. with a railing on one side and a rope on the other. The cave is small and difficult to navigate. Our flashlights helped us see some fascinating formations...our imaginations ran wild. We then were led on a tour of the flora of the area with a number of interesting medicinal trees. We then visited the world famous Cabarete Beach. The beach is gorgeous. The meal we enjoyed was the biggest surprise of the cruise. It was prepared gourmet style and far exceeded our expectations for lunch. I ordered sea bass which was a large and tasty portion. I would highly recommend this tour. The final excursion on Grand Turk, Coast to Coast Grand Turk Safari.This is a very thorough and enjoyable tour. However, though I regret not doing one of the snorkeling tours. ( My wife does not snorkel). There is a very nice free beach on both sides of the port. I noticed that many of the resorts were open but for sail. Grand Turk is a very nice island, the people are friendly so hopefully the economy will do better. It is English and is more like Bermuda than the other Caribbean islands. DEBARKATION: The ship was already badly delayed. There was a medical emergency which necessitated that the ship return to Nassau rather than head directly back from Grand Turk. Debarkation was very slow. Perhaps, this was due to terrorist fears since Virginia, New York and Texas were dubbed as targets the day before elections. All in all we enjoyed the cruise very much. We thought the ship seemed to be in good condition and we noticed the ship was constantly being cleaned. We hope other lines will use Norfolk as a port to increase our choices, but until then, we will stick with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
this was the second cruise for my wife and I both being on Carnival. The first was a 5 day cruise last Oct. out of Norfolk Va and the second being this past week on an 8 day cruise also out of Norfolk .Everything on board was exceptional ... Read More
this was the second cruise for my wife and I both being on Carnival. The first was a 5 day cruise last Oct. out of Norfolk Va and the second being this past week on an 8 day cruise also out of Norfolk .Everything on board was exceptional from Guys Burgers to Farenheight555 to the evening dining room meals. They fed you well. Entertainment every evening was great especially the Hypnosis show. We laughed so hard through the whole show. All personnel made you feel welcome the entire cruise. On shore we enjoyed the bus tour at Amber Cove. 80 % of the people there drive small Moped scooters . Couldn't believe they sometimes haul the whole family on one scooter as many as 10 in one instance. The liquor was very cheap there along with the tobacco products. Grand Turk was beautiful and the ocean water crystal clear where you could see all different color fish swimming right around you. I got to experience a $20 cheeseburger and the wife got a great $20 taco salad. Little pricey but really good. The ride on board the ship was somewhat rough due to heavy winds both going and coming back and the emergency medical detour to Nassau on the way back was a first for us. This had to be done and hopefully the patient recovers. We just got an extra 5 hour cruise out of it. The ones with plane tickets may have had to make some changes but everyone never complained that we know of. Once we got to the terminal things did not go as well as everyone including us hoped for. They didn't have enough help lined up to unload all the suitcases off the ship into the customs area. It was over 4 hours before we got to customs and we were ones of the first due to my disability. We finally left at 4 pm and were originally supposed to disembark about 11 a.m. The ship was supposed to be in South Carolina for another cruise leaving at 7 p.m. so don't know how Carnival handles something like this? Norfolk needs to be better organized at this terminal or they will lose all cruises out of here! Not blaming the cruise line at all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Carnival Sunshine Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 3.7
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 4.1

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