December 2016 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Southern
You're going to get a "Debbie Downer" every now and then as they want to sound important and be noticed , but I am DEFINITELY on the other end of the spectrum. This was my 8th Carnival Cruise and by far the best. I was group administrator for "The Carnival Sunshine Gang" a group of cruisers, some first timers and some very well seasoned Diamond and Platinum members of the VIFP program. The majority of us had never met before. Our Pre-cruise party at Fish Lips at Port Canaveral was attended by a few but consider going there for happy hour if you arrive a day early. You'll most likely get to see a few ships leaving port as it's right on the canal leading out to the Atlantic. Found a great inexpensive Motel only about 2 miles away from our off site parking but its up to you as many choose to stay at a hotel that offers parking and shuttles. Got to the port at about 11 and was able to zip thru check-in as I had Faster to the Fun. Being able to drop off our carry-ons right away is also a plus. The new prices are higher but if you have to use guest services onboard you get the express line which is Always shorter. Well worth the additional cost. IMHO. The Dining service was excellent but the jury is still out on the American Table Menu. I could care less if we had tablecloths or not but the entre's leave a bit . Their Appetizers are top notch and many of us just ordered 2 or 3 and some even skipped or ordered the Flat Iron Steak or upgraded for the $20 for the steakhouse entre's. We had 2 elegant nights on this cruise as it was an 8 day do we got some great entre's those nights and if you like Lobster order 2 as they're small or order 1 and the prime rib. They do a great job on deserts and one couple ordered the Banana Splits off the kids menu! Their Specialty restaurants are off the chart excellent. When you see the Cruise Director and hotel director having dinner at them you know its good. Steakhouse,Sushi Bar, Ji Ji's Asian Kitchen and Cucina del Capitano well worth the prices. The Cucina has some great pictures of all the various Carnival Captains, Godmothers and CCL Presidents and ships thru the years. Fun to look at. Oh That's where they hid the Omlette Station and the in the morning and the Mongolian Wok at lunch. What Can't I say about Our Cruise Director Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams. More energy and talent than I've seen in ALL of my cruises so far. His events in the Atrium bar and on TOP of the bar were FUN. Of course we had Christmas Caroiling and the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" Contest ( one of our sunshine gang came in 2nd) Chris was Very Approachable and made himself available all the time. Trent our Entertainment director has taken over some of the CD's responsibilities and that has been a big help. Tijana Cavic our Guest Services manager and Our Event Planning Co-ordinator were IMMENSELY Helpful in setting up our "Sunshine Gang" Meet & Greet immediately after our Cruise Critic's meet & Greet. We had the Hotel director, the Cruise Director and the entertainment director there for both. had a 50-50 drawing for "Cruisin for St Jude" and raised $155.00. John Heald and the Hotel Director gave us plenty of "S.W.A.G." to give away as well. The Piano bar was a small but great venue for the 50 of us who showed up. Shore excursions in Aruba and Bonaire I got from Trip advisor and saved a bunch of $$. Having been to Grand Turk our group opted to head to Jacks Shack up the beach from Margaritaville about a mile. Great Conch Fritters and Jerk Chicken! Watching Topher their dog dig in the sand was a hoot and he loved being held. Debarcation as always is tough and crowded but if you get Faster to the fun you get off BEFORE Self debarcation and it's less crowded. Port Canaveral is a tough port for shuttles and busses in and out but have patience. All in all a great time was had by our whole group, so ignore the naysayers and "Debbie Downers"