August 2016 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Eastern
The good things - the shows were great, the entertainment overall was pretty good. The Dr. Seuss themed events were fun (we had a 6 year old with us), we paid extra for the Green Eggs & Ham breakfast and it was well worth the money, the menu was creative and the wait staff were entertaining. We also paid for sushi lunch one time and that was tasty and a nice atmosphere, also worth the extra. Some of the other lunch options, Guy's burgers and Mongolian Wok, were complementary which was a nice touch.
Bad things - the ship has been refurbished from 2600 to 3000 guests and it shows in a few places. The stateroom and the main dining lounge both felt pretty cramped. When we arrived the bathroom smelled bad - my wife went round it with disinfecting wipes and it was better - apart from that, the stateroom staff were fine, friendly, did what was expected. We heard horror stories about plumbing in some of the upper decks.
Pool options for our 6 year old were limited. The one pool on the Lido deck was small and usually crowded, a little too deep and not really safe for him when the water started sloshing round. He didn't do the big slides, so all that's left is a pair of mini slides and a tiny splash area which he spent hours in.
The dining room wait staff were great, they were very friendly, remembered our names and what we liked, but there were just not enough of them. Our team were working at least another 3 or 4 tables, sometimes it took a loooong time to get service. Not their fault, they just needed more staff. Every other night the Maitre D' made the poor staff stop everything and do some dancing, making the problem worse. Doing that a couple of times during an 8 night cruise would have been enough.
Disembarkation for shore excursions at the first stop and re-embarkation at the end of the day were a farce. They made everyone on an excursion, a couple thousand people, all wait in the main showroom and all leave together through one little door with no thought given to wheelchairs until a couple of minutes before. Everyone was late off the ship and the tour started over half an hour late as a result. Getting back on board at the end of the day was worse, we lined up for 45 minutes in the sun to get back on board the ship. Someone only came round with water about 5 minutes before we got back on board. The other stops were fine though, even Half Moon Cay which needed tender boats.
Lunch on the beach at Half Moon Cay was also badly organized. The burgers were rare, and they ran out of ice, water, plates... In fact, by the end of the cruise, supplies of things like pina colada mix and bottles of wine for dinner were running out. These are things the cruise line makes $$$ on, so running out is a basic mistake.
DON'T BUY DUTY FREE LIQUOR UNLESS YOU REALLY WANT IT. Any cruise line with any sense would deliver the duty free to the stateroom on the last night of the cruise. No... everyone had to line up at 6am the final morning to pick it up in the main dining room. The line was two thirds the length of the ship, it took 90 minutes to get the liquor. Totally crazy.
Even with all that, we still had a good time, I mean, you're cruising, it's hard not to. It's just that we've done a lot of cruises before so we know when some things are not right.