December 2013 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Western
I sailed the Sunshine with my family, we booked the cruise a year ago and decided, based on positive experiences with Carnival in the past, to ignore the bad press Carnival received this past year. As our cruise date drew nearer I began to look at reviews of the ship, I was upset to see mixed reviews, but went into the beginning of my cruise hoping for the best. In the end we all had a good time, got away from our daily lives for seven days in the warm climate of the Carribbean. However the ship left several things to be desired, I will break it down below. Due to this we will not sail with Carnival again.
Of the two other ships I have sailed on this ship has the most confusing layout. After seven days aboard I still dont know where some things were located. Also the ship stinks, I read about this in reviews before boarding and prayed that it was being exageratted or that it would be fixed at my time of sailing. It was not. The smell is the of raw sewage from the 3,500 passangers and 1,000+ crew aboard. It is strongest on Deck 4 in the Pixels Galary, at the Stairwell/Elevators, and in the Liquid Lounge. The smell also seems to move about the ship (usually sticking to decks 2-5) but is always strongest on 4. For being newlsy refurbished the ship is also in disrepair. I noticed several loose floor tiles while walking around the atrium (in the pixels gallery, by guest services, near the casino etc). Also, while in an elevator my sister went to hold a handrail and upon touching it it came loose from the wall and fell to the floor of the elevtor. Floor trimming came up in one of glass elevators and jammed the door so it wouldnt close, me and other passangers thought it was going to fall (was making a bad crunch sound) before I realised what had happened. Also, with the addition of the "For a Fee" restaurants certain things such as the Comedy Club, have been shrank. On a ship with a capacity of 3,500 the comedy club is lucky to hold maybe 150 - 175. Two nights in a row I showed up for a comedy show a half hour early only for the club to be at capacity.
Let me start with breakfast. You have to try the eggs on the buffet at least once. They are powder, you can feel the powder in your mouth! Breakfast consists of the same undercooked bacon, powedered eggs, oatmeal with no brown sugar, boiled eggs (yay real eggs!) and selection of dry cakes and danishes for the entirety of the cruise. No variation, repeated every day. Lunch was my favorite meal on board, the Asian Stir Fry was very good (however they ran out of Noodles on day 2 of our cruise), Guy's Burgers are delicious! and the Blue Iguana Cantina is also very tasty. For dinner my party tryed to eat at the dining room. Food here was often served cold or luke warm, often we did not get what we ordered (mom ordered shrimp cocktail and got fruit cocktail instead). Dinner at the buffet on the lido deck is essentially the same food served in the dining room. The food for dinner was tasteless and bland (though pleasing to the eye), the flat iron steak needed a lot of salt to be edible.
On my Disney cruise in the past I got to know my room steward, he was helpful, friendly etc. Same experience on my past carnival cruise. This cruise however, the only time I saw my steward was when he introduced himself the first day. Not friendly, couldnt find him when I locked myself out of my room. We celebrated my 24th Birthday teh last night of the cruise. My mom apparently ordered and arranged for a cake to be brought to the table in place of desert. SHe took care of the plans the day before, and then when we went to dinner, asked the staff about it and was assured everything would go off as planned. When it was time for desert the staff brought me a single piece of cake (standard cake, not from what she ordered). She showed them the receipt for her full cake. They quickly brought out a full cake which said on it "Happy 24th" while my mom had the camera pointed at me, and sat it down in front of my 14 year old brother and sang to him..... Talk about service.
This will be short, as entertainment was virtually nonexistant. Shows often revolved around the cruise director talking or otherwise entertaining. One comedy show was cancelled and moved however when asked no staff had any details as to when or where it was moved. Lots of shows that were selling stuff "Return home looking 10 years younger" etc...
Toilets would stop flushing and then flush on their own, leaks on several decks, carpet stained in places. I ran out of things to do aboard. I understand carnival cruises are not all inclusive and extra fees will be incurred. However after loosing my casino money, refusing to pay more to eat at a for a fee diner, and seeing the shops their really was not much left to do on board besides drink (extra fees again) and lay on the lido deck.
In conclusion, avoid the Sunshine if you can. If you can't and have already booked, you will have a good time overall (I mean you ARE in the Carribbean afterall) the ship is just substandard.