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Carnival Sunshine Review

Carnival Sunshine
Carnival Sunshine

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Carnival Sunshine
4.0 / 5.0 Cruise Critic Editor Rating
to book


Ship offers updated bars, restaurants and revamped kids' spaces.


Adults-only areas, while lovely, are a bit small.

Bottom Line

Former Carnival Destiny underwent $155 million makeover, and the improvements are noticeable.


Passengers 3,006
Crew 1,040
Passenger to Crew 2.89:1
Launched 1996/2013
Shore Excursions 249
Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor

Carnival Sunshine Overview

Carnival Sunshine is the result of a 2012 massive, $155 million, 49-day transformation that saw the former Carnival Destiny completely overhauled and renamed. The changes to the ship were not just cosmetic: Carnival replaced the elevators, air-conditioning units, electrical stations and laundry machines. 

Although Sunshine isn't a Dream-class ship, it does contain almost all of the elements found on Magic and Breeze, making it one of the most active Carnival ships out there: 20-minute standup comedy routines, 30-minute production shows, and fast-food sushi, burgers and burritos. The dining and drinking include a burger counter designed by spiky-haired Food Network personality Guy Fieri, a rolled-to-order Mexi-Cali burrito stop and a pair of Caribbean beach bars with mascots (RedFrog and BlueIguana) and booze specialties (rum and tequila, respectively).

To offset these temples to unhealthy eating, there are also two Asian restaurants onboard: Bonsai Sushi, a for-fee, sit-down Japanese restaurant, and Ji Ji, a truly outstanding restaurant offering pan-Asian cuisine.

The design throughout is also radically different from that found on the old Carnival ships, as former designer Joe Farcus' garish color schemes give way to the more understated designs of Hamburg-based Partner Design. Colors are subtle, and the palette throughout -- from the main dining rooms to the corridors and cabins -- is distinctly muted. Certain areas -- the corridor on Deck 5 with Fahrenheit 555, the Piano Bar, Ocean Plaza and the main dining rooms -- could actually do with more decor, as they're so featureless.

What you come away with is the distinct feeling that there has been a quiet revolution going on, with a triumph of style over tack. In fact, there are certain areas of the ship, such as the Library Bar, Java Blue, Havana Bar, Fahrenheit 555 and Ji Ji, where you'd be hard pressed to tell this was even a Carnival ship. 

Having said that, Sunshine still attracts Carnival's bread-and-butter passengers. They're the unpretentious, highly social, price-conscious cruisers out for organized fun. (The relentless emphasis on fun at all times is still ever-present onboard.)

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Included with your cruise fare:

  • Meals in the main dining rooms, buffet, pizzeria, Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and certain room service items
  • Nightly live music performances throughout the ship
  • All main theaters shows, comedy performances and deck parties
  • Use of Carnival Waterworks, the Sports Square and mini-golf
  • Use of the fitness center, not including most classes or any personal training appointments
  • Most daily activities onboard, except where noted
  • Poolside movies at the Seaside Theater
  • Programs for kids ages 2 to 17 in the Camp Ocean kids club until 10 p.m.

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Gratuities ($13.99 per person, per day for those staying in standard staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day for all suite passengers)
  • Gratuities of 18 percent, added automatically to bar and spa purchases
  • Meals in Cucina del Capitano, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and at Bonsai Sushi
  • Most drinks onboard, with the exception of water, tea, basic coffees and select juices in the buffet
  • Spa treatments, salon services and entry to the Cloud 9 Thermal Suite
  • Most fitness classes and all personal training sessions
  • Shore excursions
  • Internet and Wi-Fi
  • Selected activities like alcohol tasting events, the Build-a-Bear workshop, certain arts and crafts classes, arcade games and Win-A-Cruise bingo
  • Onboard photographs or artwork
  • Onboard retail purchases
  • After-hours events for kids in Camp Ocean

Fellow Passengers

Carnival attracts an outgoing set of North American couples, families and multigenerational groups. The average passenger is in the 40's and more than 90 percent of its passenger base is American. 

Carnival Sunshine Dress Code

Daytime:During the day, beachy or port-specific attire is the norm.

Evening:Carnival's evening dress code is typically "cruise casual," but on two nights during the voyage "cruise elegant" eveningwear is suggested. On cruise casual nights, the line recommends sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cutoffs), long dress shorts and collared sports shirts for men, and casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, capri pants, dress shorts and jeans (no cutoffs) for women. Cruise elegant dress means dress slacks, dress shirts and sports coats (suggested, not required) for men and cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses for women. Men might dress in suits and ties or tuxedos, while women might wear evening gowns.

Not permitted: Flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival Cruise Line.

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Deck 1
Deck 2
Deck 3
Deck 4
Deck 5
Deck 6
Deck 7
Deck 8
Lido Deck
Spa & WaterWorks Deck
Serenity & SportSquare Deck
Deck 12
Serenity Deck

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More about Carnival Sunshine

Where does Carnival Sunshine sail from?
Carnival Sunshine departs from Charleston.
Where does Carnival Sunshine sail to?
How much does it cost to go on Carnival Sunshine?
Cruises on Carnival Sunshine start from $149 per person.
Is Carnival Sunshine a good ship to cruise on?
Carnival Sunshine won 2 awards over the years.

Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice

  • 2016 Best for Families
  • 2015 Best for Families

Carnival Sunshine Member Reviews

Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Aug 2019
I recommend Carnival Sunshine for the convenience and pleasant experience of sailing out of Charleston, South Carolina. The ship was comfortable and energetic....Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Jul 2019
This was mine and my friends second cruise on Carnival Sunshine. We first sailed with Sunshine in May 2017. Last month, we went on Sunshine to celebrate my goddaughters 13th birthday....Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: May 2019
The Carnival Sunshine ship was the worst of my cruising experiences out of 5 different cruise company's....Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Apr 2019
I wanted to cruise with my family, relax, and have fun, and I was able to do all of that and more on the Carnival Sunshine!...Read More

Carnival Cruise Line Fleet