September 2015 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Bahamas
We started our vacation by staying at the Dolphin Resort on Disney property at Lake Buena Vista. My wife and I were very impressed by the decor, the room, the expansive pool areas and the food. We thought the Dolphin was an amazing value. We loved lunch at the Cabana Restaurant by the pool. We had dinner at Shula's Steakhouse. It was an outstanding meal at one of the nation's top steak houses.
Although built in 1996, with a $ 155,000,000 extreme renovation in 2013: the Carnival Sunshine looks like a gorgeous new ship. My wife and I loved the muted Caribbean decor better than gaudier older Carnival ships.
We upgraded to a suite at the last minute. By doing that we enjoyed 'expedited embarkation" and skipped ahead of a long line at the pier. We went from the dock to our cabin in less than 15 minutes. 5 minutes later we were enjoying delicious burgers at the Guy Fieri burger joint. It doesn't get better than that.
The food in general was outstanding on the Sunshine. Three new specialty restaurants were added when the Destiny morphed into the Sunshine: an awesome Steakhouse "Fareneheit 355", a wonderful Asian restaurant "Jijis" and a first class Italian eatery the 'Cucina del Capitano." The food, service and atmosphere at these three compare favorably to land based restaurants and were worth the extra fees.
The food and service in the main dining room was good as well. We had "your time dining' and could come anytime between 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Previous reviews complained about long wait times. We had no waits whatsoever! So if you like the flexibility of a four hour dining window, this is the way to go.
The new Playlist Productions shows had great singers and dancers. The lighting effects and background set projections are state of the art. They eliminated the live band and have pre-recorded instrumental tracks instead. But the sound system is so good, you don't miss the band. On the other hand, now that their dancers are also the singers: they have eight solid voices. So they no longer use background vocal tracks. All the singing is live. My wife thought that "Epic Rock," the show that featured top rock songs from the eighties, was the best show that she's seen at sea.
They had a very good Latin band playing in the tropical themed Havana Bar. They had a versatile Top 40 and Oldies band playing nightly in the Ocean Plaza. The singer and pianist in the piano bar was interactive and entertaining.
My wife and I have been on 35 cruises. Donkey, the cruise director on the Sunshine, is one of the five best we've ever seen. His energy and sense of humor made old cruise ship staples such as the "Love and Marriage" game come alive. He's a great adlibber. He also had about 750 people dancing, singing and laughing at the eighties party in the Atrium.
The Serenity pool area for those who want to get away from the silliness at the main pool is now three levels on the Sunshine. It includes a pool, waterfall and many hot tubs. The main pool area has deejays and fun events on sea days. There's a neat sports deck with several slides.
Our suite was spacious. The bed was very comfortable. It had two big closets and many drawers and cubby holes for storage. There was a nice sized dressing area in addition to the bath room. The balcony was large. Our cabin steward, Gede, did a great job of keeping it clean.
We enjoyed the three ports. Half Moon Cay, the private island that Carnival shares with it's sister line Holland America, is one of the most beautiful of the private islands. The weather was perfect. The water was delightful. The barbeque on the island was great.
We've been to Nassau about 15 times before. This time we decided to get a "Resorts for a Day" pass to Breezes, a hotel we stayed at 20 years ago for a land vacation. It's still beautiful and well maintained. You'll find a big pool with a swim up bar, and an awesome beach. This all inclusive property had great food at the outdoor barbeque and also the big indoor buffet. This day brought back great memories of family trips.
In Freeport, we took a Carnival shore excursion to a beach maintained by Adventures Unlimited. The package included, drinks, a nice buffet and the beach. Everything was fine.
Debarkation went smoothly. We went from the ship to a shuttle to our rental car in 20 minutes.
After the cruise, we stayed at the Royal Pacific resort in Orlando on the Universal property. This is a lush Hawaiian themed resort. Our newly renovated room was beautiful. The food at their main restaurant was excellent. We had fun at the new Harry Potter section at Universal.
All in all an awesome ship and a great trip!