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Carnival Sunshine cruise ship review: What to expect on board


TPG’s Kristy Tolley accepted a free trip from Carnival Cruise Line to cruise on Carnival Sunshine. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.

Sometimes it’s hard to beat an oldie but a goodie, and that’s certainly the case with Carnival Sunshine.

Carnival’s oldest ship and part of the line’s Sunshine Class of reimagined vessels, Carnival Sunshine has the “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades that bring it in line with newer Carnival ships. Modern amenities and an unpretentious environment dovetail nicely aboard Sunshine, and the updated restaurants, bars and public spaces make you feel like you’re on a modern cruise ship.

Sure, you’ll spot signs of wear and tear befitting an older ship, but the dings in my cabin furnishings were easy to overlook.

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I’m not the only one who appreciates this made-over ship. On my second sailing on Sunshine, a four-night Bahamas cruise out of Charleston, I found myself surrounded by a diverse group, though most passengers hailed from South Carolina. My shipmates included lots of families, couples traveling together and multigenerational reunion groups.

The common denominator among passengers was that everyone was ready to celebrate something. On embarkation day, I saw an almost endless sea of matching shirts announcing milestone birthdays, bachelorette parties and other special events. The overall vibe — which continued throughout the cruise — was energetic and festive, and most people didn’t take themselves too seriously. It was clear from the moment we stepped on the ship that if you didn’t have a fun time, it was entirely your fault.

Carnival Sunshine is a great home base for a celebratory vacation (or any kind of getaway, really) that doesn’t break the bank, especially if you live within driving distance of one of its departure ports. Some four-night sailings start as low as $374 per person (based on double occupancy) for a four-night getaway. You’d be hard-pressed to spend less with a hotel stay of the same length — not to mention the extra cost of food you don’t have to worry about with a cruise.

Even if you don’t have a milestone event to celebrate, Carnival Sunshine provides such a perfect backdrop for your fun that your vacation will feel like a celebration.

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Overview of Carnival Sunshine

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

The 102,853-ton Carnival Sunshine is 12 decks high and carries 3,002 passengers at double occupancy in 1,501 cabins.

Launched in 1996 as Carnival Destiny, the ship received an overhaul and a new name in 2013. The glow-up brought added attractions and venues found on newer Carnival vessels. These upgrades included a complete renovation of Sunshine’s pool area and the addition of a full-blown water park, a SportSquare area on the top deck, and an adults-only Serenity outdoor lounge area complete with daybeds, padded loungers, a hot tub and a full bar.

Carnival Sunshine also acquired new food and beverage venues like the line’s signature steakhouse, Fahrenheit 555; its signature Italian eatery, Cucina Del Capitano; and an express Bonsai Sushi. The line also added 182 cabins, bumping its capacity at double occupancy from 2,642 to 3,002 passengers, a 14% increase.

At nearly 103,000 tons, Sunshine Class ships are more than 40% smaller than Carnival’s newest ships, such as Carnival Celebration. That said, Carnival Sunshine still offers a solid list of onboard diversions, from a multi-slide water park to a theater showing original musical productions.

The ship’s age is starting to show, with a few nicks and marks here and there and visible rust spots on the exterior. The need for a fresh coat of paint was more prominent when we were docked beside two newer Royal Caribbean ships in Nassau — so much so that the comedian referenced it in his show that night. It didn’t detract from our cruise, but those seeking a new shiny ship should look elsewhere.

Carnival Sunshine has been based in Charleston, South Carolina, since 2019, but 2024 will be the last year the ship will depart from the Holy City. It’s moving a bit farther up the East Coast to Norfolk, Virginia, beginning in February 2025.

What I loved about Carnival Sunshine

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

The festive atmosphere

Carnival wears its “fun ship” moniker well. The line’s focus on having a great time is infused in every aspect of your cruise experience, and guests are an extension of that ethos. Every passenger I encountered was friendly and ready to participate in all the activities the Fun Squad had planned.

Karaoke was hugely popular during our cruise. There was always a line of people ready to perform, and the Ocean Plaza area where it took place was teeming with crowds cheering them on. Audience members would often get up and dance to the music or sing along.

Loads of people consistently came out for music trivia at the Sunshine Bar in the Atrium, too. It’s hard not to have a good time when your enthusiastic cruise director stands on top of the bar and encourages everyone to join in.

The staff

From Noel, our amenable room steward, to Nicole and Tatiana, our capable Alchemy Bar mixologists, every staff member we interacted with was genuine, friendly and cheerful. We weren’t their only fans. One passenger even had a T-shirt made featuring a photo of Nicole and Tatiana.

Although Carnival reduced cabin cleaning service to just once a day from twice a day in 2022, our room steward was always close by and checking in on us. Our cabin was well-kept and clean, and we had fresh towels when we needed them.

The crew’s flexibility and impressive level of service really stood out on this sailing. For example, we went through a storm during our cruise, and rough seas altered the Welcome Aboard production on the first night. Instead of a musical and dance show, the two onboard comedians performed a short bit of their routine. At least 200 people came out for the show, and the audience was enthusiastic and supportive.

Similarly, since rough seas canceled the tech rehearsal, the “Epic Rock” production on the second night became an “unplugged” version with performers singing from stools on stage. While not ideal, it was another example of the flexibility and upbeat attitude of Carnival staff. Even without a full-on performance, the quality of vocal talent was undeniable.

Perhaps the most moving example of staff personalizing an experience for guests was during the military appreciation event, which is held every Carnival sailing and hosted by the cruise director. Traditionally, a recording of “Taps” is played during a moment of silence. Our cruise director, James, is also a trumpet player, so he plays “Taps” live for the ceremony.

The food

I’ve sailed with Carnival on several occasions, and the food has always been great. Carnival Sunshine was no exception. I was able to sample most included and added-fee restaurants — including Asian favorites at JiJi’s and Bonsai Sushi, and the poolside Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina (more below on each of these).

Carnival Sunshine offers a nice variety of cuisine, so all palates will be satisfied. You could enjoy a spicy chickpea curry dish or jambalaya, freshly prepared artisan deli sandwiches and wraps, or load up on salad fixings and fresh fruit.

The main dining room menu featured fresh seafood, varied pasta dishes (spaghetti carbonara, linguini with Italian sausage), steak and tempting desserts (the creme brulee and Carnival melting chocolate cake are a must).

The only downside is it can be challenging to hit every dining venue you want during a four-night cruise!

What I didn’t love about Carnival Sunshine

Smoke in the casino

Smoking can be a divisive issue on cruise ships, and it’s banned nearly everywhere on board. However, it’s permitted in the casino, which would be fine if I didn’t have to pass through the casino to get to certain parts of the ship. But there was no way to avoid the smoky areas if I needed to get to the Liquid Lounge theater from the Ocean Plaza. I can only imagine how problematic that could be for those who are allergic to smoke.

That said, the casino was always buzzing and consistently teemed with passengers who either weren’t bothered by the smoke or were willing to put up with it for a good game of blackjack.

Limited electrical outlets in cabins

If you’ve sailed on a newer Carnival ship with ample outlets and USB ports in your cabin, you might be surprised by the lack of them on Sunshine. Updating the number of electrical outlets and adding USB ports to the cabins was not part of the 2013 renovation.

The desk area had only two U.S.-style 110V plugs and a European-style 220V plug. The nightstands flanking the bed did not include outlets. If you need more outlets, plan to pack a power strip (just not one with a surge protector, as they’re banned on ships).

Carnival Sunshine cabins and suites

View from aft cabin balcony. KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

Our cabin was an aft (back of the ship) balcony cabin on Deck 5. I’d never stayed in an aft cabin, so I looked forward to having uninterrupted ocean views over the ship’s wake. I particularly enjoyed our view as we plied through rough waters during a storm. It was a fantastic reminder of the strength and endurance of cruise ships.

Another perk of an aft cabin was the size of the balcony — a bit larger than regular balconies in other Carnival cabins I’ve stayed in. Traditional balconies have room for two chairs and a small table. Our aft balcony fit an additional lounger. As mentioned earlier, the ship shows signs of wear and tear, which was evident on our balcony. It desperately needed a good scrub to get rid of the dark spots and paint drippings.

I had heard that noise could be an issue for those staying in aft cabins. We were above the main dining room, and we could sometimes hear the music from the dinner entertainment. However, we never heard it after hours. Honestly, I didn’t notice any more ship noise than on previous sailings in other cabins.

Also, other than the night of the storm, I didn’t encounter any extensive rocking or shifting that was out of the ordinary for a cruise ship.

Overall, I was pleased with the cabin. It was basic, with neutral walls and blue patterned carpeting. No cutting-edge designs here, but I wouldn’t expect that from an older ship. The bed was cozy, the pillows were soft, the room temperature remained comfortable, and I had ample storage for a long weekend’s worth of clothing.

The wear and tear was also noticeable inside the room, including a few wall dings and a couple of nicks in the wood furnishings. Also, one of the hangers seemed to have been repaired with duct tape.

My room had two twin beds pushed together into a queen-size bed that was flanked by bedside lamps and two one-drawer, one-shelf nightstands. The living area had a long sofa that could transform into a bed or the bottom half of bunk beds. In place of a traditional shorter coffee table, there was a taller wooden table that could double as a makeshift working desk.

A large desk/vanity with a lighted mirror and flat-screen TV was on the opposite wall. It housed four drawers (one containing a small hair dryer for in-cabin use), a minifridge, and a cabinet with a small safe. Three side-by-side closets were positioned to the right of the desk.

Our cabin’s TV was installed on the wall to the left of the desk mirror. Unfortunately, the wall came out a bit to the left of the TV, which made it impossible to swivel the TV to the left and view it from the bed. The TV wasn’t interactive like most are on newer ships. It had about 10 channels of news, movies and children’s programming, and several Carnival-sponsored channels.

The bathroom was small but adequate. There were two shelves on both sides of the mirror for toiletry storage and a decent amount of counter space for such a small area. The shower included pump dispensers for shampoo and body wash, as well as a retractable clothesline for drying swimwear.

There were ample towel racks and three hooks on the back of the door. The bathroom was stocked with bath and hand towels, washcloths and a bar of soap.

Most of the accommodations on Carnival Sunshine fall into one of three categories: windowless inside cabins, ocean-view cabins with a window that doesn’t open and balcony cabins. Carnival Sunshine offers more than 200 connecting rooms, ideal for large families or groups traveling together who like to stay close.

Spa lovers can stay in one of the 92 Cloud 9 Spa cabins and three spa suites with direct access to the spa. They also score exclusive spa packages and discounts, unlimited use of the Thermal Suite, a free body composition analysis and upgraded Elemis toiletries in their cabin.

If you want to splurge and book a suite on Carnival Sunshine, you have 58 options across four categories — Ocean Suites (45), Grand Suites (8), Captain’s Suites (2) and the aforementioned Cloud 9 Spa Suites (3). Ocean Suites are akin to junior suites, expanded versions of balcony cabins.

The suites come with varied perks, which can include priority check-in and boarding, as well as priority disembarkation on the final morning of your trip.

Carnival Sunshine restaurants and bars

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Sunshine offers a bevy of restaurant and bar choices. It offers a good mix of included-in-your-fare and extra-fee options, and overall, I enjoyed all my meals on board. If you want to try one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, make reservations as soon as possible, as they tend to book up quickly.

Restaurants

Carnival Sunshine has two main dining rooms — Sunrise Dining Room (decks 3 and 4) and Sunset Dining Room (Deck 3). You can choose fixed-time, assigned table seating at 5:30 p.m. (early dining) or 7:45 p.m. (late dining). If you know you want to eat at either of those designated times, you should reserve when you book, as they fill up fast.

We opted for Your Time Dining, so we could dine any time between 5:15 and 9 p.m. When we were ready for dinner, we checked in through Carnival’s mobile app and received an alert when our table was ready. From check-in to being seated, we only had about a 10-minute wait on both evenings. All Your Time Dining folks dine in the Sunrise Dining Room.

We enjoyed both main dining room meals, which included prime rib, lobster tail, New York strip and pan-seared barramundi. I especially enjoyed the beet and petite greens salad with a citrus dressing. Of course, when on a Carnival ship, you must try the line’s signature melting chocolate cake, which I did, and it was perfection.

Don’t miss the Seaday Brunch, with top-notch eggs Benedict, French toast, made-to-order omelets, brunch burgers and bloody marys. I splurged on a fresh pressed juice ($5) with pineapple, ginger, lime, dates and turmeric. It was fantastic. The main dining room is also open for breakfast on port days.

Guy’s Burger Joint is a walk-up counter restaurant at the back of the pool area on the Lido Deck. My husband is a huge Guy’s Burger fan, so that is always our first meal on embarkation day. Judging from the lines, the majority of Sunshine cruisers had the same idea. Lines moved pretty quickly, though. Even my special-order veggie burger took under five minutes to make (though it was my least favorite dish on the ship).

My husband ordered the “Straight Up” burger with all the fixings, and it was almost on par with others he’s eaten on previous cruises.

His take: “This was the ‘least good’ Guy’s burger I’ve had, and it was still delicious.” His second Guy’s burger on our third day of the cruise was even tastier.

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

Also on the Lido Deck, BlueIguana Cantina serves freshly made burritos, tacos and bowls. It’s one of my favorite casual dining spots, and I would put the veggie burrito up against Chipotle any day of the week.

The Lido Marketplace is the ship’s popular buffet restaurant, offering a variety of culinary options from early morning through late night. Breakfast offerings included scrambled or boiled eggs, beans, potatoes, varied pastries, fresh fruit, and hot or cold cereal. There were also two omelet stations in the Havana Bar area, located just off the Lido Marketplace. (The Havana Bar serves craft Cuban-style daiquiris, mojitos and Cuban coffee drinks.)

Lunch consisted of made-to-order deli sandwiches and pizza, as well as international dishes, hot sides and a salad station.

Carnival Sunshine features five added-fee restaurants — JiJi Asian Kitchen, Bonsai Sushi, Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Cucina del Capitano and the Chef’s Table — for cruisers looking for a special meal. Hot tip: If you pre-book your specialty dinner for the first night of your cruise, you’ll score a free bottle of wine. You can choose between a chardonnay and merlot, and can either drink it with your meal or enjoy it in your cabin later. It’s a nice way to kick off the cruise.

We booked a table at Jiji’s for our first evening on board. The pan-Asian menu features dishes from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, China and Mongolia served family style. I ordered the shrimp dumplings, sweet and sour shrimp, and the Chinese broccoli. My husband had the chicken rolls and the peppered beef. We closed out our dinner with the rose creme brulee with ginger cream and caramelized crepes served with citrus ice cream.

Every dish was delicious. The pacing of our meal was perfect, and we didn’t feel rushed through the courses. Service was attentive without being intrusive. The cost is $24 (per person) for adults and $6 (per person) for kids aged 11 and under — a great price for a fantastic meal.

Open for lunch and dinner, the Bonsai Sushi outpost on Sunshine is smaller than those on newer ships. With reasonably priced items like $5 and $7 rolls, and $2 for soup or salad, it’s easy to curb your sushi craving on the cheap.

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

Other specialty dining options include the line’s signature Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse (one of TPG’s favorite cruise ship specialty restaurants) and La Cucina del Capitano for an authentic family-style Italian meal. During lunch, La Cucina del Capitano offers a free pasta bar. Passengers can also book the Chef’s Table experience, an intimate multicourse meal hosted by the executive chef.

A fun meal for families is the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast ($10 per adult and $8 per child aged 14 and under). Held in the main dining room, it kicks off with the lively Seuss-a-palooza Parade led by The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2. You get to nosh on “green eggs and ham,” pancakes, French toast, “Moose Juice” and other whimsical dishes inspired by Seuss’ books. The characters stick around for meet-and-greets and photo ops.

Bars

After boarding, we checked out the RedFrog Pub on Deck 5. It was far enough away from embarkation day chaos but busy enough for entertaining people-watching. The bar was out of fresh mint, so I couldn’t sample the Ving Mojito, so I sipped a tasty margarita instead.

A fun component of this bar is the screens above the bar that carousel through photos the bartenders have taken of RedFrog Pub patrons. The Pub didn’t seem to be the hub for activities as I’ve seen on other vessels, probably because karaoke, live music and trivia games were held just outside the door in the Ocean Plaza.

The Alchemy Bar is a cocktail bar designed to resemble an apothecary, offering “elixirs” and “remedies.” It’s one of the venues I look forward to the most when cruising with Carnival.

Full disclosure: I’ve been smitten with this watering hole since I tasted my first Cucumber Sunrise aboard Carnival Conquest in 2013. Maybe it’s because it was my first foray into herbal-based craft cocktails or because the bartenders are consistently fun and engaging. Either way, few things can beat a refreshing, restorative basil drop served by some of the best bartenders in the cruising industry.

Want to try something off the menu? No problem. After determining my preferred spirits and flavors, the bartenders always come up with something fantastic. I’m a gin and lavender fan, and our bartender, Tatiana, created an amazing cocktail with gin, lavender, St. Germain, elderflower and lime juice.

The Alchemy Bar on Carnival Sunshine is situated just off the popular Ocean Plaza area, the place to be for trivia games, karaoke and live music.

The Havana Bar is the place to head for top-notch mojitos. The small buffet area by the bar often features Latin-inspired bites like empanadas and Cuban sandwiches. Since it’s located just beyond the main pool on Deck 9 and beside the Lido Marketplace buffet area, I found it to be an ideal spot to retreat to when buffet area seating was limited.

Poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar were both a hub of activity most days. And if you’re lounging by the pool, you can expect servers to come by often and take drink orders. Other popular spots for some spirits include the Serenity Bar by the adults-only sun deck, SkyBox Sports Bar (where multiple TVs behind the bar broadcast various games), the Piano Bar (with nightly singalongs), the Atrium Bar and the Sunshine Casino.

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

We also visited the Piano Bar twice during our short cruise. The pianist/singer was top-notch and had a great rapport with the guests. The only thing that tainted our experience was that both times we visited, a family with younger kids monopolized the show with requests. The Carnival website lists the Piano Bar as a 21-plus venue, but no one challenged the family.

Carnival Sunshine activities

When the weather cooperated, most passengers gravitated to the upper decks for fun in the sun and water. In addition to the one main pool and two hot tubs on Deck 9, Sunshine is home to Carnival’s WaterWorks water park with waterslides and a kiddie splash zone. A bevy of diversions at the nearby SportSquare included a ropes course, minigolf, ping-pong and foosball.

The ship’s quieter adults-only Serenity Deck area was midship on decks 11 and 12 and overlooked the main pool area. Passengers 21-plus could take advantage of a plunge pool with a waterfall, a hot tub, a bar, and loungers and cabanas.

Energetic cruisers who can’t veg in the sun all day can find limitless activities indoors to occupy their sea days. Free events included trivia games, Bingo, spa pampering parties, karaoke, and ice carving or towel animal folding demonstrations. For-fee activities like Build-A-Bear Workshop and $5,000 Jackpot Bingo also drew a crowd.

Shopping opportunities were decent. You have the Fun Shops for Carnival-branded items, souvenirs, jewelry, liquor and fragrances. For a sugary splurge, Cherry On Top sells an extensive selection of sweet treats.

The Sunshine Casino on Deck 5 midship was popular with passengers on my sailing. Every time I walked through, it was buzzing with activity (although, as previously mentioned, I didn’t spend a lot of time there). The venue is a maze of slot machines, with a collection of poker tables, a craps table, two roulette tables and several blackjack tables. Throughout our cruise, the casino hosted organized poker tournaments, raffles and other ways to test Lady Luck.

Karaoke events were held in the Ocean Plaza area in between the Alchemy Bar and RedFrog Pub. The openness of the space provided optimum participation from passengers and performers, so a lively crowd was always on hand to sing along.

Families can take advantage of included-in-your-fare childcare in Carnival’s Camp Ocean facilities on 10. The youngest cruisers can participate in supervised activities, divided into age-based groups: Penguins (2 to 5 years), Stingrays (6 to 8 years) and Sharks (9 to 11 years).

The designated areas for each age group were spacious and offered plenty of seating. Though they had separate entrances, the spaces were close enough that pick-up and drop-off would be easy for families with kids checked into different areas.

Tweens and teens have their own hangouts and activity schedules. Circle C is for cruisers ages 12 to 14, with events like dance parties, outdoor movies and group games. The Circle C space had a futuristic vibe with metal walls and a minimalist design.

Club O2 is for the 15-to-17 set and offers a chance for older teens to hang out together, play sports and games, and interact during group activities. The modern atmosphere extended to Club 02 with a bold red and black pattern on the floor, sleek red chairs and metal accents.

During this sailing, many families seemed to hang out together during the day — spending time at the pool, watching karaoke and participating in other activities.

Carnival’s Cloud 9 Spa on Deck 10 is the place to go for vacation pampering. Various treatments and therapies are available — from deep tissue and stone massages to acupuncture and other traditional Chinese techniques. Additionally, the spa offers hair and nail services, facials and medispa treatments.

You can also buy Thermal Suite passes for a day or the entire length of your cruise. You’ll have access to the heated tile loungers, rain showers, an aroma steam room and a sauna.

The fitness center was well stocked with just about every piece of equipment you need to keep your workout routine while you cruise. It’s free to use, but you can pay extra for instructor-led classes like Pilates, yoga or indoor cycling. If you like fresh air with your morning walk or run, head to the top deck and hit the jogging track.

Unlike newer Carnival ships with a full promenade that provides access to restaurants and bars, Sunshine has the more traditional promenade with shuffleboard and some outdoor seating. Come for a walk or take in the sunset.

Carnival Sunshine shows

KRISTY TOLLEY/THE POINTS GUY

We sailed through a storm for a couple of days, and both the “Welcome Aboard Show” and the Playlist Productions “Epic Rock” show were altered because of it. Instead of a full-on production, we got two short sets from each comedian (for the welcome show) and performers singing from stools on stage (“Epic Rock”).

It was a bummer to miss a “true” Carnival production. I’ve cruised with Carnival several times, and I’m always impressed with the caliber of talent. The shows are one of my favorite parts of cruising with Carnival. I’ve enjoyed Latin-themed performances (“Amor Cubano”), British music tributes (“The Brits”) and an art-infused journey through music and dance (“Color My World”).

We took in a comedy show at the Punchliner Comedy Club (in the Limelight Lounge on Deck 4) and enjoyed it. I’m a hard nut to crack, and the comedian got me laughing out loud more than once. My husband guffawed throughout the set. Each sailing typically includes a family-friendly “PG” show at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The 18-plus shows take place at 8:45 p.m. and 10 p.m. Most cruises have one or two comedians on board.

Carnival Sunshine itineraries and pricing

Throughout 2024, Carnival Sunshine will sail year-round four-, five-, six- and eight-night Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean voyages from Charleston. Depending on the itinerary, stops might include Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan and the cruise line’s private island, Half Moon Cay.

At the time of publication, prices started from $374 per person for a four-night Bahamas sailing in an inside cabin (excluding taxes and fees).

As previously mentioned, beginning in 2025, the vessel will move to its new home port of Norfolk, Virginia. From there, it will offer six-night Bahamas and Bermuda sailings, as well as eight-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries.

At press time, prices started at $519 per person for an inside cabin on a six-night Bahamas cruise (excluding taxes and fees).

What to know before you go

Required documents

If you’re a U.S. citizen on a cruise that begins and ends in a U.S. port, you must have a current passport or an official copy of your birth certificate and a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification to sail. A passport card is also acceptable.

Your passport must be valid for at least six more months.

Important note: The name on your reservation must be exactly as it is stated on your passport or other official proof of nationality. We recommend you check Carnival’s website before you sail for the most recent updates on requirements.

Gratuities

Carnival adds an automatic service gratuity of $14.50 to $16.50 per person, per day to final bills, depending on the cabin category. Children under the age of 2 are exempt.

You can adjust the amount at the Guest Services desk before disembarking if you are not satisfied with the service you received. Additionally, an 18% gratuity is added to bar bills and the cover charge of the Chef’s Table.

Wi-Fi

Over the last couple of years, Carnival has rolled out faster Wi-Fi systems across its fleet, so you can now stream video on some ships. Pricing changes over time, but the fastest “premium” service on Carnival Sunshine was recently priced at $18.70 per person, per day.

Other packages available for a Sunshine sailing include the less expensive “social” plan that only allows access to key social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and messaging services such as WhatsApp for $12.75 a day. A slightly more expensive “value” plan, at $17 per day, adds access to email and most websites. If you pay for a plan prior to sailing, you’ll receive a discount.

Carry-on drinks policy

You can bring one bottle of wine or Champagne (per person) onto the ship at boarding, as well as up to a dozen standard cans or cartons of nonalcoholic drinks such as sodas.

Nonalcoholic drinks in glass or plastic bottles are not allowed. If you want to bring the wine or Champagne to an onboard restaurant or bar to drink, you’ll incur a $15 corkage fee. Drinks brought on board must be carried in your carry-on luggage.

Smoking policy

On Carnival Sunshine, smoking (including electronic cigarettes) is only allowed in designated outdoor areas and in the casino. Smoking is forbidden in cabins and on cabin balconies.

While cigarette smoking is allowed in the casino, according to Carnival’s website, you must be seated and playing to smoke in the casino. Smoking is permitted in designated areas on Deck 3 (port side, forward) and Deck 10 (starboard side, midship).

Laundry

Self-service launderettes are on decks 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (midship) on Carnival Sunshine. Each launderette has washing machines, dryers, irons and ironing boards. There’s a $3.25-per-load charge to use a washer or dryer. The laundrettes also have vending machines stocked with small boxes of detergent and fabric softener at $1.50 per box.

You can also opt for extra-charge valet laundry and dry-cleaning service, which your cabin steward will handle for you. Expect to pay per piece, with prices running from $2 (for an undergarment or pair of socks) to $15 (for a two-piece suit).

Electrical outlets

As mentioned previously, Carnival Sunshine cabins have both standard North American-style 110-volt outlets and European-style 220-volt outlets. Bring a power strip if you need more than that.

Currency

The currency used on Carnival Sunshine is the U.S. dollar. However, the ship operates on a “cashless system,” so any onboard purchases you make will automatically post to your onboard account. You’ll receive a Sail & Sign card that you can use to make charges. This same card also gets you into your cabin.

Drinking age

Passengers must be 21 to drink alcohol on Carnival Sunshine.

Dress code

There is no specific dress code during the day on Sunshine, so people dress casually. Beach attire is the norm for sea days, and if you plan to spend your day on the top deck, plan to dress in T-shirts, shorts and bathing suits (with a cover-up to go inside).

Although there’s an official dress code for the evenings, it’s pretty laid-back. Most nights are designated “cruise casual,” which includes khakis or jeans, polo shirts and sundresses. Super casual clothing like cutoff jeans, men’s sleeveless shirts, T-shirts and gym shorts aren’t permitted.

Depending on the length of your cruise, one or two nights of the itinerary will include a “cruise elegant” night where the suggested attire for men is dress slacks and a dress shirt; sports coats and suits are optional. The suggested attire for women on such nights is cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses. If you don’t want to dress up, you can choose a more casual dinner venue, but dress code enforcement in Carnival dining rooms tends to be lax.

Bottom line

Whether you’re looking for an affordable Caribbean cruise for the whole family or want to escape with your besties, Carnival Sunshine is a solid bet if having a fun time is a priority.

It’s not a shiny, new vessel, so don’t expect flawless cabins and the latest attractions. What you can expect, though, is to have nonstop fun thanks to a variety of diversions and an enthusiastic group of like-minded shipmates.

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