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Carnival Sunshine 8 Day Picture Review with Funtimes, Menus and much more!

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Carnival Sunshine- 8 day Southern Caribbean- September 11, 2015



Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk

 

Hello everyone! Thanks for coming along to see what the Carnival Sunshine has to offer. This will be my first attempt at a review on Cruise Critic so I hope to cover as many topics as possible. My name is Sean and I’m in my mid 20’s from upstate New York. This review will range from the Fun Times, to their inserts, as well as a detailed review of Cucina Del Capitano, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and Fahrenheit 555. I’ll focus on what the ship itself has to offer as well as mini guides to get you started in each of the ports (Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk). So let's jump right into it with a little background on the Sunshine itself.

 

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Background on the Sunshine

 

The Carnival Sunshine was born as the Carnival Destiny and began sailing in 1996. At the time, she was the largest ship in the world weighing in at over 100,000 tons. However, in 2013 the Carnival Destiny went through a major renovation costing over $150,000,000 and resulted in the Carnival Sunshine. Until the launch of the Vista next year, she is currently the only ship in the fleet to offer all the 2.0 upgrades, ranging from Guys Burgers to Waterworks and Sports Square. She also features the largest serenity deck with a gorgeous waterfall. The Sunshine features a great memory wall to the Destiny which is located on deck 9 between the atrium elevators and the lido pool. I’ll have some pictures of this later on. If you ever get a chance to sail, I highly recommend checking it out as you pass by.

 

Pre planning

 

I guess we can begin in the fall of 2014. I had just returned from sailing on the Carnival Glory with some friends (including my friend Matt who will be joining me for this cruise) and was experiencing the post-cruise blues. I always find the best way to get over these blues is to begin planning your next cruise. But where to begin? I wanted something exotic and far away from home. Sailing out of San Juan would be great but, still being a somewhat inexperienced cruiser, I doubted my ability to efficiently plan a 7 day cruise with the majority being port days. I also really prefer an 8 day cruise over a 7 day. That extra day makes a world of difference to me. So I began looking at either southern or western Caribbean as the destination. Going south would get me that extra day, bumping me from a 7 day cruise to an 8 day and it would also achieve my goal of being far from home. So, without much more thought, I decided to head south. But why the Sunshine?

 

Well, to start, Southern Caribbean Cruises are not that popular. My only choices to choose from were the Conquest, Breeze and Sunshine. Because the Conquest and the Breeze sail from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, respectively, they are able to fit another port of call into their itinerary (La Romana). That was a huge plus to me. Because the Sunshine sails from Port Canaveral it would be three ports, but there were also some draw backs of course. The Conquest lacks a serenity area which I absolutely love. The Sunshine has 3 great decks of serenity; plus having sailed on the Glory, a Conquest class ship, I wanted to try a somewhat new layout. So for those two reasons, I crossed the Conquest off the list. Now the Breeze. Like I said earlier, I would have been able to get an extra day in port, and the Breeze was newer and bigger than the Sunshine with some great onboard experiences, but there was one problem: the only sailing that would work would be the sailing that returned on Halloween. I didn’t really want to be away for that holiday. So even with the lack of La Romana, the Sunshine seemed to be a good choice.

 

The Sunshine also brought on the Disney World factor. Sailing from Port Canaveral meant I would be able to stop at Disney World for a couple of days prior to the cruise. To give some back story, I had originally sailed on the Splendor in the Spring of 2014 and stopped at Port Canaveral. With not much to do in the actual port, I decided to venture out on my own and go to Magic Kingdom. I had not been in many many years and by just going for a short day again resparked my interest. In fact it did so much I decided to skip a cruise this past Winter and just visit the parks for the week. But even after that vacation, I still wanted more Disney. The Sunshine meant I could go to Disney again, as well as travel to exotic locations and have a superb Serenity deck. So it was decided; 8 days to Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk leaving Port Canaveral on September 11th. The cruise was booked and there were 201 days to go.

 

 

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Now the planning was in full swing. Which stateroom to choose? What to do in port? Would I try one, two or all three of the specialty restaurants? I was so unsure. Along the way I found so much conflicting information about the Sunshine as a ship as well. It ranged from mini bars only being in suite staterooms to only “Your Time Dining” guests being allowed to eat in the Sunrise Restaurant (both not true, by the way). I wanted someplace where I could find solid information about someone who had actually cruised on the ship and not just what someone had heard or read. I also wanted to book the speciality restaurants ahead of time and I wanted to know how family style worked at Cucina and Ji Ji when just two people would be dining (I can tell you right now…not that well (more on that later)). On top of that, information was not as populous on Aruba and Curacao.

 

When I had sailed into Nassau for the first time I felt as if I knew the city like my home town from all the different pictures and reviews on Cruise Critic. But it wasn’t like that for Aruba or Curacao. When I exit the ship, do I head right or left to reach downtown (in both ports, once you exit the terminal, head right.)? I knew the answer was out there but I had to do some serious digging and forum searching. With all the haste and uncertainty, I had decided very early on in the pre-planning process that I was going to write a review. I wanted one place people could go to get the answers to some of the most basic questions about cruising. In addition, I knew there would be some heightened interest in the Sunshine as she would be sailing from four new home ports in the upcoming months.

 

 

Stateroom Selection

 

For some reason this is one of my favorite parts of the booking process. I really enjoy checking out stateroom pictures as well as trying to find the best location on the ship. I knew I wanted a balcony for this cruise for two reasons. One reason was because of the problem with over crowding and the lack of deck chairs that I had repeatedly read about. Another reason was because of the amount of sea days. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but there is a slight chance Aruba would be missed due to high winds. Aruba day could very well turn into another sea day. I felt a balcony for this cruise was a must. There were still bowling alley balconies at my time of booking as well as almost all of the aft balconies. It was a toss up and I didn’t really prefer one over the over. I ended up booking the bowling alley balcony and for no real reason. I continued to do research on the Sunshine and found two pieces of info that sparked my interest. One was the breakfast buffet at the taste bar. Each morning for a few hours, the Taste Bar in the aft of deck 5 serves breakfast. Lines were minimal or non existent and also very quiet. I thought it would be a great spot to either enjoy breakfast in the adjacent Ocean Plaza or even bring back to the balcony. Only problem is, I was two decks away with my balcony on deck 7. Another interesting fact that I had discovered was only certain staterooms contained a minifridge/bar. Not that it was needed by any means, but it would be nice to have. It was a real undertaking to find what staterooms contained those fridges and which ones didn’t. After ample research, I determined all aft balconies on deck 5 contained the fridges.

 

I guess now would be a good time to show the chart I had created to sort out which staterooms did indeed have the mini fridges. To sum the chart up quickly, all suites contain fridges, as well as cabins added during the Destiny to Sunshine transformation. Other than that, a minifridge being in your stateroom as a standard feature would be few and far between. Not even all Spa Staterooms contain one.

 

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Alright, so now that that is out of the way and the fact that I had become enticed by the Taste Bar breakfast and the newly added cabin with a minfridge, I decided to switch rooms. It was a great decision and I loved cabin 5342. I will go into greater detail as the review progresses. But for now, I felt the switch was a great move on my part for just a minimal amount of extra money.

 

Rating System

 

So now that the background is all covered, we are just about ready to focus on the cruise review itself. I’m going to do something a little different in the rating scale. I hope the review carries along like a story of what happened on each day with key events being highlighted. However, I also want to focus on what I feel are popular aspects of the cruise. At the end of the review, I will rate each of the categories below out of 100%. Here is where it may get weird for some of you: even though every category scored is out of 100%, some categories will weigh more heavily on the final average of the cruise vacation than others. For example, the food aspect of the cruise is scored out of 100 and then that category is weighed 20% against the final average. Venues on board are also scored out of 100 but only affect the final average by 10%. So here is how the rating will go:

 

Food = 20%

Entertainment = 15%

Service =15%

Decor and ambiance = 10%

Venues = 10%

Onboard activities = 10%

Cabin = 10%

Ports = 5%

Pay for extra’s = 5%

 

I hope its not too confusing. Just think about it as if you were in school. Your final exam weighs 10% of your final grade but your quizzes throughout the whole year affect your final average by 25%. Amongst other categories the percentages in the end must total 100%.

 

As the food and dining portion are my favorite part of the cruise, I weighed this portion the heaviest. Ports is only at 5% because Carnival has no control over most of the ports. I have the option to book directly with Carnival or venture out on my own. Pay for extra’s will also only weigh in at 5%. Although they are nice, most people do not partake in them and by no means are they a necessity of a cruise. Everything else is weighed fairly similarly.

 

So without further ado, lets begin the review. I’ll skip Disney World since that has no bearing on the cruise vacation itself, and we can begin at Orlando Airport where we picked up the rental car to head to port.

 

 

Hey! Just started reading our review! So far so good. I was wondering where did you find the screen shot of what rooms have a mini fridge?

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And now the Steakhouse

 

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When you walk in heading toward the left

 

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Now turning around and heading right

 

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The next room over

 

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And now heading back out

 

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Now for…

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The Library Bar had a nice selection of books you could borrow. They also had a nice variety of board games you could play as well.

 

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This was different- a pour it yourself wine station. You could choose from 3 different sizes and the machine would automatically pour the wine into your glass.

 

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Now we are back in the atrium- still heading forward, we reach the Liquid Lounge. The stage shows are performed in this theater and then afterward, the chairs on the floor are removed, the curtains on the upper stadium style seating are drawn and the lounge turns into the Liquid Night Club. I don’t have any photos on the night club but here are some of the theater. It’s also important to note that Carnival never allows smoking in this venue as they do in many of the other ships' night clubs.

 

The entryway on deck 4 vs the entryway on deck 5.

 

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Here are some different angle shots from around the theater

 

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All of the chairs get moved off of the floor once the shows end for the night. That’s how the theater turns into the club. It's important to note the floor is not on any sort of elevation so if someone is seated in any of those chairs for a stage performance, the people sitting in row 10 are at the same level as those in row 1. It may make it a little harder to see the stage.

 

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And finally the bar. It's unique for a bar to be located inside of the main theater but then again, it's unique that the main theater transforms into a club.

 

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Alright, so deck 4 is now complete. Let's head up to deck 5 forward. As previously mentioned, there is an entrance to the theater from both decks 4 and 5 so lets exit from deck 5 and walk past the Fun Shops heading toward the aft of the ship.

 

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And let's have a peek inside. All in all I was kind of disappointed in the Fun Shops on the Sunshine. They really lacked designer watches and sun glasses for men. They had tons of stuff for women but I can’t really compare if it was more or less than previous ships I have been on. I just don’t really pay attention to women’s jewelry, sorry!

 

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From the Fun Shops we reach Cherry on Top.

 

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I have sailed on the Sunshine and you had things I didn't know about! What a great review.

 

We are sailing again on the Carnival around Christmas time and now I doubly look forward to doing it again.

 

Did you play Trivia?

 

Was Jamie Still the C.D.? While she was more than competent, I didn't like the activities quite as much as we usually do. I loved the ship. I did not expect to do so and I came away a huge fan. Your photos are exquisite.

 

We went to all of the For pay restaurants. Loved Ji Ji and the Italian One. The Steak House..FORGOT the MAIN rule of dining there............... don't eat much if you are going because the portions are HUGE.

I did not like Cherries on Top as much as other ships. Not the same selection of Candy. ( I have a five year old grand daughter. I KNOW Cherries on Top. and Granny likes them too.)

Edited by AmberTeka

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Great review so far! I am hoping to sail on Sunshine next year and am loving your take on things. Thanks for posting it.

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Great review! Thanks can't wait to read more! Thanks for putting in the time!! We are sailing on the Sunshine in March!! :)

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Fabulous view! I appreciate all the hard work.

 

Which DR is for your time dining? Does the taste bar make omelets or just buffet food for breakfast?

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Great start to your review and excellent pictures! You are bringing me back to our cruise on the Sunshine (same cruise itin) we did in August.

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Following with interest - we cruise on Oct 23rd and are excited to be on the Sunshine. Already looking to book the Sunshine out of NYC in 2016.

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I am loving your review! Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures. We will be on Sunshine in January and your review is making me look forward to it even more.

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What an awesome review so far!! Trying to decide which ship to go on in Feb 2016 and am following your review with interest because Sunshine is one of the ones we are considering... :)

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Hey! Just started reading our review! So far so good. I was wondering where did you find the screen shot of what rooms have a mini fridge?

 

Thanks :) And I made the chart of the rooms with the mini fridge. It helped pass the time as I was waiting for my sail date to arrive.

 

I have sailed on the Sunshine and you had things I didn't know about! What a great review.

 

We are sailing again on the Carnival around Christmas time and now I doubly look forward to doing it again.

 

Did you play Trivia?

 

Was Jamie Still the C.D.? While she was more than competent, I didn't like the activities quite as much as we usually do. I loved the ship. I did not expect to do so and I came away a huge fan. Your photos are exquisite.

 

We went to all of the For pay restaurants. Loved Ji Ji and the Italian One. The Steak House..FORGOT the MAIN rule of dining there............... don't eat much if you are going because the portions are HUGE.

I did not like Cherries on Top as much as other ships. Not the same selection of Candy. ( I have a five year old grand daughter. I KNOW Cherries on Top. and Granny likes them too.)

 

We did play trivia a couple of times, along with half of the people on board. Well, it wasn't that bad but it did feel like there was a lot of people there. Sometimes no place to even sit. I was really hoping for a "Friends" trivia but I didn't see it ever posted in the Fun Times.

 

Jamie was not the CD, I was somewhat disappointed about that, but I knew she wouldn't be well before we actually sailed. We had two CD's who switched off during the cruise, Chris Salazar and Chris Loveland.

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It looks like a lot of you will be on a Sunshine sailing leaving from NYC. I wish Carnival would keep a ship up here year round. It made cruising so much more convenient. Having sailed from NYC in the beginning of April I can see why Carnival stopped. The ship was pretty empty with multiple tables unoccupied at dinner.

 

 

 

Fabulous view! I appreciate all the hard work.

 

Which DR is for your time dining? Does the taste bar make omelets or just buffet food for breakfast?

 

Your time dining can eat in either the Sunrise or Sunset, which I did not know either until I boarded the ship. If you want an omelet you will have to go to the aft of deck 9.

 

Great start to your review and excellent pictures! You are bringing me back to our cruise on the Sunshine (same cruise itin) we did in August.

 

I agree, the Sunshine is a great ship and some exceptional ports.

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Next over is the Warehouse arcade. The Arcade seemed modern and appeared to have current games, but I can’t be entirely sure. Either way I’m sure kids will have a good time.

 

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Before we head through the casino, let's loop around to the other side of deck 5 and hit up the EA Sports Bar. Each night different sporting events could be viewed here. Off to the side, there is a video game system available to play. I believe it was Xbox but I can’t be certain.

 

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Now we can head into the casino. Sorry, this is the only picture I snapped. Even though it appears empty, it still smelt of smoke in there.

 

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We exit the casino and, having a look back, you can see The JavaBlue Cafe/The Shake Spot, computers to access the internet (The Funhub) and a slight portion of the Taste Bar. Directly where I am standing is also where Anytime Dining guests check in. In other words if you elect to not have a specific dinner time, and eat when it works well for you, this is where you head. They will give you a pager which will notify you when your table it ready.

 

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Standing in the same spot, but instead of looking forward, I am now looking aft. We can see the Alchemy Bar on the left and the Ocean Plaza Stage on the right. There is also a small counter right in front of me. That's where the Fun Finds Shopping expert can be found. His name was Gemstone John and he was quite the character.

 

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You can see the walkway in the picture above goes both straight and to the right. Let's head to the right and go into the Red Frog Pub. The Red Frog Pub does serve food…but not on the Sunshine, which is kinda weird.

 

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Here’s the inside. It was pretty nice with a Key West vibe to it. There was usually a solo guitarist here each night. They also played beer pong in here a few days as well. No surprise, there was always a good turn out for that.

 

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So now we exit…

 

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And two more of the Alchemy Bar

 

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Once you walk past the Alchemy Bar you reach the elevator bay. This is a photo from that bay. Our stateroom was down that hall and all the way to the right.

 

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Ok, so deck 5 is now complete. We can skip decks 6,7 and 8 as they consist only of Staterooms. Now we are in aft of deck 9 just outside of the Havana Bar. Remember there once was a pool here. This is a terrible photo but it gives you an idea about where we are. Walk through that area and you are in the Havana bar, with Ji Ji on the left and Cucina on the right.

 

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Beyond the bar area is a small dance floor where another live band would perform most nights. They also had some Latin dance classes in this area. The Havana Bar is a huge hit for Carnival as they are revamping the concept again, making it even larger with the introduction of the Vista next year.

 

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Now standing in the same spot as the previous one, but this photo is taken more towards the left. Mongolian Wok (Ji Ji) is directly behind me.

 

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Now we turn around and head forward into the Lido Market Place. As I mentioned earlier, I loved this design and layout. Look how airy and open it is. There are even some "trees" with park benches around them.

 

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