cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Sunshine Review

Following a $155 million overhaul, Carnival Sunshine is marketed as a “new” ship, with a new name. But our inaugural sailing revealed a ship that was not ready for guests.

November 18, 2013

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The variety of cabins on Carnival Sunshine is pretty broad, warranting careful consideration during the booking process. For instance, Interior cabins make up a whopping 42 percent of the sleeping arrangements, and there are seven different types of Interiors, ranging from “Upper/Lower” cabins (a pair of bunk beds), to units with a porthole view, to Cloud 9 Spa cabins (what we stayed in). Unlike its competitors, Carnival doesn’t provide cabin square footage on its website, but a reservation attendant told us that “all” Interior cabins are 185 square feet. Not true.

Next up are three different types of Ocean View cabins, including obstructed and “scenic” (six forward-facing cabins on Deck 9 with oversized windows). One-third of the ship’s cabins are classified as Balcony, a category that includes 26 Aft-View Extended Balcony units and 6 Premium Vista units (these are nifty aft corner cabins with wraparound balconies). There are also several types of Suites.

Aboard Sunshine we found roughly 80 cabins we would categorically recommend against booking. These are the 40 cabins on Deck 6 immediately above the Liquid Lounge nightclub and all the cabins on Deck 3 (just below). The nightclub did not operate every night of our cruise, but on the nights it came alive (after 11 p.m.), these cabin doors and walls rattled with every beat and guests called the front desk demanding to be moved.

Our Cabin: Cloud 9 Spa Interior

For our cruise we opted to try one of Sunshine’s new accommodations, the Cloud 9 Spa cabins. Also available with a balcony or as a suite, the 95 spa cabins are found on decks 10 through 12. Upgrading to a spa cabin costs between $18 and $26 per day, per person. Carnival’s website says the spa cabins add in “private spa access, special amenities and priority spa reservations.” What this translates to: complimentary admission to the thermal suite in the spa (a day pass is normally $20 per day, per person, or $99 for 7 days), bathrobes, slippers and Elemis bath products instead of the usual freebies, and—maybe—a more convenient spa appointment time. We can only recommend upgrading to a spa cabin for those who plan to spend a good portion of their cruise lounging on the spa’s heated ceramic beds.

Otherwise, our cabin was fairly pro forma, measuring a snug 158 square feet by our ruler (it felt even smaller). After a series of embarkation issues were resolved—described here—we found our cabin to be a decent hideout. There was no couch; the only place to sit other than the bed was a chair at the small desk. The mattress was very comfortable, providing a good night’s sleep, and an unexpected benefit of booking a spa cabin was that, with less foot traffic and no kids, the hallways were quieter than most other places on the ship (sound through cabin doors is a recurring problem we have with Carnival ships).

The bathroom was typically compact, but adequate and clean. After embarkation we had good pressure for our shower, and hot water throughout (other cabins had problems). At various points the toilet would not flush; we were told that the entire forward section of the ship was out for a few hours one night. Our bathroom towels were thick, plush and new, and we had yellow pool towels. There was no shampoo/soap in a wall-mounted dispenser, but two tiny holes hinted it might yet be installed.

There were three full-length closets, each 20 inches wide; one was filled by half with life jackets and a ladder for the pull-down bunk bed. More clothes hangers could have been provided. Cabin lighting was good, almost adequate for reading in bed.

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Cabin Amenities

Our TV was 27-inch ViewSonic model—sufficient for a cabin of this size. There was a minibar under the TV, with the usual small array of spirits, beer, wine, sodas and energy drinks. There was a safe above the minibar, and a hair dryer was found inside the desk drawer. Most Carnival cabins include a bowl of complimentary goodies, such as shampoo and toothpaste samples. Our spa cabin was equipped instead with Elemis products—a nice upgrade. Other spa “extras” were a bathrobe and slippers.

Other Cabins

We did not stay in the rest of these cabins, but we have summaries here provided by Carnival Cruise Lines. Note that photos below have been provided by the cruise line and not our reviewer.

Ocean View
Large windows offer excellent views of the ocean and sneak peeks of each destination. Stateroom amenities: Television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.

Balcony
Relax and admire the passing scenery from your stateroom’s private balcony. Stateroom amenities: Television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.

Suite
A spacious room, that includes Priority check-in during embarkation. Stateroom amenities: Whirlpool bath; vanity dressing table; television; soft, comfortable, and cozy linens; hairdryer/bathrobes; 24-hour stateroom service; ample closet and drawer space.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Dining
  4. Drinks
  5. Recreation and Entertainment
  6. Kids, Services & Other Details

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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