1st Cruise Ever - Totally Unpleasant Experience

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern

Cruises: 1 cruise (first)
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 15

Overall rating:

2.3 out of 5
Verified Review
Carnival Sunshine

8 Night Southern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)

Sail date: March 08, 2019

Ship: Carnival Sunshine

Cabin type: Inside

Cabin number: 2110

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

My parents are avid cruisers and convinced me to go on this trip, my first cruise ever, which I mistakenly chose to experience with Carnival. After hearing the great stories that I had always been told about the experiences, the staff, etc., it was completely eye-opening to me how little Carnival cares about the satisfaction of their customers. Carnival was more than happy to take my money for the trip but were very slow in taking care of my very valid concerns - which were never fully resolved or addressed. Overall, for the amount I spent on this trip, I could have gone to a lovely resort for the same period of time, spent much less, and not had a room with sewage stained carpets that smelled like rotten eggs for half of my first vacation in over 2 years. To top of the already bad experience, on the 4th or 5th day we were served with a letter threatening to fine us for smoking in our room because someone up the hall had obviously brought a large quantity of marijuana onto the ship (you could smell it all over the place when the rooms were being cleaned.) I'm pretty sure they knew it wasn't us, but they just wanted to add insult to injury I guess. The way I witnessed the wait staff being treated is great cause for concern regarding the well-being of the team members - if Carnival even considers them such. There were children running wild on the ship, through the dining rooms, through the casino, and through the adult-only areas of the ship with no repercussions. I had been told that there were dress codes and elegant evenings, for which I prepared. Yet, on both elegant evenings the majority of the diners included people wearing swimsuits, shorts, and flip flops. Now I certainly don't mind eating dinner in my swimsuit as I live in a beach town and do so often, but if you advertise a dress code one would expect it to be enforced. It honestly seems like the experience Carnival advertises is a bait-and-switch, as it turned out to be nothing like what is outlined on the website. Overall I was so disappointed with my trip and my parents felt awful for convincing us to join them.


3 out of 5
Everything was quickly-moving and well-organized

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
The food was pretty good in the main dining room. The buffet was ok, but it was awkward trying to reach a lot of the food as it was too far away to get to with the serving tools provided. We kept finding the coffee machines being cleaned during breakfast which made the lines longer than they should have been. We were told that there were dress codes, which also appear to be advertised and outlined on the website, however every single night there were diners in their swimsuits wearing flip flops. Even on the elegant evenings - people were in their swimsuits!!

Onboard Activities

1 out of 5
The pool(s) was/were overwhelmingly small and overcrowded. The adult-only areas were not enforced so there were tons of children (and I'm assuming urine) in the hot tub upstairs. The fitness center was pretty amazing.


4 out of 5
The comedy shows were great, as was the Epic Rock show. We also went to the show hosted by Mikey that had the married couples answering questions but I don't remember what it was called. The live musicians playing throughout the day in various locations were all so talented and fun to listen to.

Children's Programs

1 out of 5
We did not have children on board with us but my guess would be that the activities were not sufficient as there were constantly children on the upper deck adult-only areas that were unattended as well as running through the casino and screaming their way through Bingo and the live music sessions.

Service and Staff

1 out of 5
Our room steward, Rory, was AMAZING. If I could steal him from you to work for me, I would. Always pleasant, on top of every request, and his customer service was beyond stellar - I specifically give him 10 stars even though that's not a provided option. I would have given a higher rating overall, but I can't move beyond this one specific incident. The waiters in general were pretty phenomenal and very hard working. They went out of their way to take care of making sure my food allergies didn't get me killed in the dining room (hooray!) However, one evening in particular it was apparent that the dining room was severely understaffed, and instead of having a team of 3 servers in each area there was only 1!! This was at 7:30pm - right in the middle of dining service. Instead of helping the servers, we witnessed 2 different men in suits (carrying radios, I'm assuming they were "managers" but I use the term very loosely) yell at the servers who were busting their tails to take care of the customers in the dining room - in front of everyone! I think that there needs to be some training for your "managers" about leading from the front and not from the back. There were diners that were complaining because of the lack of service but it was one million percent not the fault of the serving staff - it was obvious that someone did not staff the room appropriately. It really irked me to witness these poor guys working so hard only to be yelled at by some pompous jerk who was leaning up against the wall all night instead of actually doing something to help. Even if those "managers" were touching tables to apologize for the time it was taking the servers to get back to them, it would have gone a long way with your customers. After witnessing the way that the staff is treated on your ship it really gave me pause. If your management teams are willing to treat the staff so poorly in front of your customers, what in the world are they doing to them behind the scenes? It was really shameful to witness.

Ship Quality

2 out of 5
I was impressed to see the housekeeping staff go so far as to dust the baseboards in the ship. The ship was clean down to the smallest detail. The way the ship is laid out leaves a lot of bottlenecked areas when people are waiting for events, such as the comedy show. The fact that people pretty much have to walk through the smoky casino to get to the dining area check-in is pretty gross too.

Cabin / Stateroom

1 out of 5
I'd like to reiterate that this was not the fault of our steward as he was spectacularly amazing. On the first 2 sea days of the cruise, the sewage drains backed up from the bathrooms and flooded our cabin with filthy water containing used toilet paper particles, a used bandaid, rotten sulfur-smelling water, and particles of god knows what. As we were walking back to our room we overheard several of the occupants of the adjoining rooms state that they had already alerted the ship's team to this issue, yet when we discovered that our room had also flooded we were greeted with someone who seemed surprised and unaware of what was going on. It took over an hour for housekeeping to come to our room to clean up and it took even longer to have the nasty water extracted from the carpet. A blower was in our room for 2 days, with the staff having to enter multiple times a day to check on the issue - this was because the room flooded a second time the very next day!!! I would like to point out - the nasty sewer water carpet was NEVER CLEANED, NEVER SANITIZED, it was merely extracted and dried. EW! Let's just note here that after speaking with guest services - the young lady was very apologetic and polite - we were offered a grand sum of $50 to "make up for" the inconvenience. My parents, by the way, were offered nothing to make up for their inconvenience of having to share their bathroom with us for 2 days in a row. I manage a high-end luxury apartment community, and I have actually had this happen to one of my tenants. We waived one month's rent for her, which was over $2200, for the inconvenience, paid to have her apartment cleaned, AND we cleaned her carpets professionally. The flood in my tenant's apartment was no fault of the company's, yet we truly made the situation right as we are a conscientious business who believes in taking care of our customers. Being offered $50 told me that my business does not matter to Carnival. Even had I been offered a credit that was equivalent to the 2 days' cost of my ticket would have been acceptable. I do not believe that this is the fault of the young lady at the desk - she was obviously not given the power to make this situation right. Secondly, we pre-ordered one of the packages offered for the room that included champagne & 2 glasses. The glasses were shattered in the box, which when we opened it, spilled broken shards of glass onto our floor. The glasses were replaced but we had to wait until the next day. After waiting in a 40 minute line at guest services, we were then redirected to the candy store where we again had to wait in line yet again. We were not offered an apology or any type of compensation for our time.

Ship tip

Don't go - get a refund. They don't care about you as a customer.

Ports of call

Port Canaveral, Florida Did not visit port

We live locally and did not make any stops there

Oranjestad, Aruba

3 out of 5
We did not do any excursions - we went to the beach and stopped in at one of the local restaurants on the water

Willemstad, Curacao

3 out of 5
We did not do any excursions - we walked through the adorable Dutch town and visited a perfect little café oasis hidden between the buildings. I LOVED all of the sculpted murals throughout the town.

Grand Turk Island

4 out of 5
We did not do any excursions. Such a beautiful place! The beaches and little beach bars with music were a perfect way to wrap up the places we visited.


1 out of 5
I apologize for my language, but this was a total sh*t show. We checked our bags for a 930-10 disembarkation. We did not get off of the ship until nearly 11 am, and that was only because we got tired of waiting to be called. The checkpoint to leave was total chaos (I know this is not Carnival's fault) and I'm guessing it would have taken several hours to leave had we not paid a porter to grab our bags.
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