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Carnival Sunshine Oct 17-22


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A quick review of our Carnival Sunshine cruise that we just returned from yesterday. First about us. This was DH and my 15th cruise, 9th on Carnival, with 3 cruises on NCL, 2 on Disney, and 1 on Princess. This cruise was to celebrate our 28th anniversary on Oct. 21.

 

I originally booked an OV but upgraded to a balcony room 7293. I purchased $1000 in Carnival Gift cards for $900 from AARP. I used $700 towards the purchase of the cruise and put $300 down on our On-board account. We also received a $50 OBC from our TA and $23 OBC from CCL which I assume were overcharges on port fees/taxes. Before cruising I purchased the Sail Away Package for $82 to be delivered to our room. It came with a zippered tote, 2 beach towels, 2 engraved champagne flutes, a bottle of Brut Champagne, 2 Tshirts, 2 visors, $25 bar credit, and $10 photo credit. I have purchased this on our last 3 cruises and have a collection of flute glasses going:D. I also reserved the steak house for dinner on our anniversary. Once on-board Carnival also gave us a free 5x7 photo and dinner at La Cucina for our Anniversary along with our Gold VIFP gifts of 2 large bottles of water, 2 pins, and 2 drinks on the last day. Pre-cruise I also reserved a car at Avis on Water Street in Saint John for our port day there.

 

We decided to drive to this cruise since it fit nicely into our vacation schedule and we were hoping to see some nice fall colors. Coming from Michigan, we drove through Canada spending the night at Niagara Falls. The weather was gorgeous for mid October, in the mid 70's. We stayed at Courtyard Niagara Falls and was able to walk to the falls for some great views. Sorry I tried to upload some photos but they failed. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

 

The next day we drove the rest of the way to Secaucus, New Jersey where we stayed at the Embassy Suites. Again it was another beautiful day and the colors traveling through the mountains of New York and Pennsylvania were beautiful. We stopped by the Walmart before going to our room and purchased 2 8 packs of the small cans of pop (diet pepsi for me and sprite for DH). This worked out perfectly for us on the cruise.

 

We chose the 10:30 check in time when they started the assigned check in times in NY. We left our hotel at 9:30 and were pulling into the terminal parking at 10:30. Parking was $200 for the 5 days. Check in was quick and easy and we were boarding at 11:45. We went to Lido first. This was our first cruise with a Blue Iguana and Guys Burger so we went for the burritos first as there was no line yet. I had the chicken and DH had the beef. They were delicious. After lunch we went up to the Serenity deck to wait for our rooms to be open. I was glad I watched the weather reports before we left and packed accordingly. It was close to 80 degrees in NY in mid-October. You could tell there were a lot of people sweating in their jeans, sweat shirts, and jackets while we were chilling out in our shorts and short sleeve shorts :p. We couldn't have wished for any better weather and it lasted the whole cruise with most days around 70 degrees. We spent a lot of time on the Serenity Deck, which was never busy, relaxing.

 

Our rooms were ready around 12:30 but we waited a bit before heading down since it was so nice out. Once we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find a refrigerator in our room. I was not expecting that. That eliminated our need for our collapsible cooler and didn't request ice at all. Our cans of pop fit perfectly in there along with one of our bottles of water from Carnival and our bottle of champagne from my Sail Away Package.

 

We met Ida our room steward. One of the few times we would see him on our cruise as he seemed to magically clean our room and disappear when we weren't around. We had service 2x a day, once a day was not offered nor suggested. Mustard drill was down on deck 3 was long and warm and a necessary evil.

 

Instead of continuing this review in day by day basis I will just give some of our thoughts and opinions of our experiences over the next 5 days:

 

MDR: We ate in the MDR Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday dinner, Tuesday and Friday Seaday Brunch and Saturday morning breakfast. We had anytime dining where we had to check in across from the Taste Bar for dinner. We went down for dinner at 5:15 each night and had no wait. We asked for a booth each time and they were happy to get us one every time. This was excellant for us as we have experienced the close tables for 2 before on Splendor and Princess and wanted to avoid that at all costs. Both the service and the food for all our meals were great. We really had no complaints. We had decided on Wednesday to use our La Cucina free dinner from Carnival that night but when I called to reserve they had no openings. Since we had Steak House reservations for Friday, we were left with Thursday and the only time they could get us in was 9:00 pm. Since I need to eat well before then we ended up going to the MDR on Thursday at our normal 5:15 but ate a much lighter meal so we could eat again later at La Cucina.

 

Fee Specialty Restaurants: On our last sailing on NCL Jewel we also received a free dinner at their Italian Restaurant. We were not impressed with NCL's Italian restaurant at all and were glad we didn't pay for it. While we liked CCL's Italian restaurant better I still was glad we didn't pay it for since we didn't feel it was worth the premium over the MDR food. We did pay for the Steak House on Friday night and were slightly disappointed. First the Steak House was all smokey when we arrived at 6:00. They gave us a free glass of champagne to make up for the inconvenience. We also used our VIFP free drink coupons there. The food was very good, but we didn't feel it was worth the $35 extra pp over the MDR food which was also good. I felt the service was better in the MDR too. We were glad we went as this was our first steak house experience on a Carnival ship, but I doubt I will be booking them again.

 

Other Included Restaurants: We both loved the burritos at Blue Iguana. DH had the burgers at Guy Burgers and sandwiches from the Deli and enjoyed them both. Neither of us ate at Ji Ji's or the Italian Restaurant for lunch. I had a pizza and enjoyed it. I'm not one to get much from the buffet but DH found a lot that he liked on there like the roast turkey he said was wonderful. We had omelets one morning from the omelet station in the back. It was very good. We found we could always get a table back by the Cuban Bar for Breakfast and/or lunch.

 

Casino: The casino was nicer to me than DH. He pulled out $80 on our S&S account and cashed out $12 at the end. I pulled out $20 and cashed out $41. Not bad for 5 days of playing.

 

Entertainment: To me Carnival has always lagged behind all the other lines we have sailed in terms of entertainment. The recent ships we have sailed on Carnival (Freedom, Glory, Splendor, and Dream) had me pleasantly surprised with decent dancers and singers but poor choreography. Being a Dance Mom this was something I noticed. This was the first ship we have sailed with Playlist Productions. In a nut shell we did not like the shows and even skipped one of them which is not something we normally do. It seemed they tried hiring singers who were also dancers instead of 2 main singers and a group of better back up dancers and it failed IMHO. We thought the singing, dancing, and choreography were now sub par.

 

We made it to 2 of the comedy shows. One from each comedian. While we have enjoyed the comedy clubs on the other ships, these guys were not our favorite. They were ok but I wouldn't go back to see either one more than once.

 

We like Emma the cruise director. She kind of reminded me of my daughter who is in college now debating whether to go into hospitality services or elementary education.

 

The Piano Bar was fun but crowded and the piano player couldn't carry a tune.

 

This was our first experience with Hasboro games. It was fun to watch. I didn't mind it. But we like watching game shows. I can see why some wouldn't like it.

 

Ports of Call: We rented a Lincoln MKS from AVIS in Saint John. We went to the Reversing Falls, Irving Park (which was closed), and just a drive along the river. We came back and did some shopping at the port. There was a Bag Piper who sent us on our way as we sailed away.

 

In Halifax we just walked the Harbor Walk taking in the views and doing some shopping.

 

Overall we had a wonderful cruise. The weather was better than I ever expected and we really enjoyed the Serenity Deck because of that. This was a relaxing and fun cruise which was exactly what we were looking for. We had sailed this ship 6 years before when it was Carnival Destiny so it was interesting to see the changes that were made to it. We liked the addition of the Sports Square and Serenity Decks. The cruise itself was not crowded. There were very few people in the 6-22 age bracket. There were young families with younger kids, but mostly couples our age (50) and older. I would not hesitate to sail this ship again if fit our other vacation wants.

Edited by Warm Breezes
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Also on this cruise. Excellent summary. I agree the shows were sub par; I felt the comedians were better than most I've seen onboard; Emma was great; dining room service spotty; ship extremely clean and well kept up; plenty of seating on decks...not too much indoor seating- I miss the couches on the promenade to people watch; very relaxing feel (older crowd...ps loved it!)

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Thank you for your interesting and informative review.

 

Do you happen to remember how soon before your cruise the staggered boarding time was available for your cruise?

 

They started doing this in NY about a month after we booked. This was a first for this port so we were part of the initial wave to book it when it became available for the NY cruises. When we sailed on the Dream in May out of New Orleans which already had the new system in place, we were able to pick our time right when we did the onboard check in after we booked in February.

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Also on this cruise. Excellent summary. I agree the shows were sub par; I felt the comedians were better than most I've seen onboard; Emma was great; dining room service spotty; ship extremely clean and well kept up; plenty of seating on decks...not too much indoor seating- I miss the couches on the promenade to people watch; very relaxing feel (older crowd...ps loved it!)

 

I'm not much of a comedy fan, but DH is, so my opinion here is actually from him. He normally loves the comedy clubs on the ships but he just wasn't impressed with these two. I think we may have had better dining room service because we came in at 5:15 every time. We had no wait to sit and we got the waiters before they got too busy with other tables so we had more of their time and attention. I too missed the promenade couches. It was usually our place to play cards and where we waited to disembark...having said this we went to the Red Frog Pub to wait for disembarkment and there was no one in there when we went in despite a crowded Ocean Plaza. Very few came in and joined us there. It was a great place to wait.

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Thanks for your review, you mentioned the Steakhouse was smokey, can you give more information on this?

 

It was like they were having issues with the ventilation in the kitchen. Nothing smelled like it was burning or anything it was a thick meat cooking smell and the smoke was pouring out of the grilling area in the open kitchen. It cleared up while we were eating our appetizers and salad so they must have gotten it fixed. Our reservations were at 6:00 pm.

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It was like they were having issues with the ventilation in the kitchen. Nothing smelled like it was burning or anything it was a thick meat cooking smell and the smoke was pouring out of the grilling area in the open kitchen. It cleared up while we were eating our appetizers and salad so they must have gotten it fixed. Our reservations were at 6:00 pm.

 

OK, thanks for the reply.

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They started doing this in NY about a month after we booked. This was a first for this port so we were part of the initial wave to book it when it became available for the NY cruises. When we sailed on the Dream in May out of New Orleans which already had the new system in place, we were able to pick our time right when we did the onboard check in after we booked in February.

 

Thank you for responding. How far away from the date of the cruise did this become available on the Sunshine?

 

My cruise isn't until July, and I'm wondering if it's too soon to show up, as I can't access it.

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Thank you for responding. How far away from the date of the cruise did this become available on the Sunshine?

 

My cruise isn't until July, and I'm wondering if it's too soon to show up, as I can't access it.

 

I just went back and looked. I booked this cruise on May 31, 2016. The Check In times became available on September 7 but you have to remember that Carnival just rolled this program out in NY as of October 1 so we were some of the first ships to have it there. When we sailed on the Dream on May 15, 2016 out of New Orleans, we booked at the end of February and the check in was available when we booked.

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I just went back and looked. I booked this cruise on May 31, 2016. The Check In times became available on September 7 but you have to remember that Carnival just rolled this program out in NY as of October 1 so we were some of the first ships to have it there. When we sailed on the Dream on May 15, 2016 out of New Orleans, we booked at the end of February and the check in was available when we booked.

 

Thank you again. I guess I will wait until it's 6 months away, and if I still can't access it, I will give them a call.

 

I wasn't concerned until I read a post from someone saying they picked late and got a late time of 2 o'clock. This person is upset as they like to have lunch when they board, and I can't blame them.

 

I appreciate you looking it up.

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Funny - you did not think Patrick in the piano bar could carry a tune! We thought he was the best we had ever had! Guess tastes/ears can be very different!

 

Like everything else, music is subjective. I liked the fun atmosphere in the piano bar and I thought he played the piano very well, I just didn't like his singing. I think the best I heard on a Carnival ship was on our Splendor cruise....and I couldn't begin to tell you who it was and even he couldn't hold a candle to the Dueling Piano players we saw at Howl at the Moon our NCL Epic cruise...we kept going back to see more of them as they were great.

Edited by Warm Breezes
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Funny - you did not think Patrick in the piano bar could carry a tune! We thought he was the best we had ever had! Guess tastes/ears can be very different!

 

 

Agree, Patrick was the best we had in a piano bar!

 

Just "sing very loud if not necessarily well" if you don't like the sound of his voice. :D

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Agree, Patrick was the best we had in a piano bar!

 

Just "sing very loud if not necessarily well" if you don't like the sound of his voice. :D

 

Oh believe me I did....as well give a shout out as soon as anyone entered the door :D:p. Like I said before, I thought the atmosphere was fun.

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