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Carnival Sunshine Atrium

Carnival Sunshine
A "Destiny" in the making...

by Linda Coffman

November 2013: Pierside in New Orleans, Carnival Sunshine may look just like another Carnival Cruise Lines ship, but that appearance is deceiving as she was originally Carnival Destiny when first launched in 1996. After a 49-day $155 million total transformation that featured the addition of a partial deck and the expansion of two more, Carnival Sunshine emerged as a virtually new ship that contains all the Fun Ship 2.0 innovations which have been added to other ships in the fleet, as well as a few unique areas such as the Havana Bar.

More space and an increased passenger capacity of 14% meant that Carnival Cruise Lines’ designers made passenger flow throughout the ship a top consideration to lessen the chance of what could have potentially been overcrowding and bottlenecks. Some areas are even designed for double duty in the reconfigured layout of public spaces. For instance, seating is available in the Havana Bar when tables fill up in the adjacent casual buffet restaurant, the new Ocean Plaza takes some of the stress off the Atrium as a gathering place, and the Library Bar is a quiet spot for reading and enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine.

Planning for the increase in passenger capacity aboard Carnival Sunshine resulted in other “increases”—including 14% more deck chairs than previously found on the ship, as well as a 19% increase in dining capacity and 32% more bar seats. In the fitness center, 58% more equipment is available for passengers’ healthier lifestyles. More than 700,000 children sail on Carnival ships per year and they weren’t overlooked during the Carnival Sunshine transformation. Their facilities are 25% larger than before.

The 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine offers stunning features—such as the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub with its own private label house brand Thirsty Frog Red draught beer; a massive water park with waterslides, aqua play splash park, and drencher-type "bucket"; SportsSquare outdoor recreation area with mini-golf, a basketball/volleyball/soccer multipurpose court, an outdoor fitness center, ropes course, and even a hot dog stand; the all-new Ji Ji Asian Kitchen specialty restaurant; and Cucina del Capitano Italian specialty restaurant. And there's even more, as the ship incorporates "Fun Ship 2.0" elements, including Guy's Burger Joint, the Blue Iguana Cantina, the Library Bar, and poolside barsthe Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. Dining and entertainment highlights include Bonsai Sushi, the line's full-service sushi restaurant, Sea Days Brunch, Hasbro, The Game Show, and new musical revues from Playlist Productions.

For a ship that once was the world’s largest, Carnival Sunshine feels surprisingly intimate with its fresh new public rooms and sunny atmosphere.  While her decor is toned down considerably, within her Caribbean inspired interiors you'll still find all the fun you expect and more.

Carnival Sunshine's array of traditional and alternative dining choices are the most expansive you'll find in the fleet.

Sea Day Brunch

The Sunrise Restaurant and Sunset Restaurant are the formal dining rooms where diners are assigned either early or late seating or the more flexible Your Time Dining, an open-seating option. Start your dinner with a selection of appetizers, soups, and salads, and move on to a variety of entrees. In addition to the always popular lobster, served once each cruise, Carnival's decadent Chocolate Melting Cake is available every night. Don't be in too much of a hurry to leave the dining room or you'll miss the inventive and talented wait staff performing musical numbers just as energetically as they served your meal. The dining room is also where the Sea Day Brunch is presented only on sea days as the name suggest, featuring playful interpretations of traditional brunch offerings and some unique selections, at no additional charge.

For a romantic dinner or special occasion, Fahrenheit 555, Carnival Sunshine's steakhouse features a full service bar for before or after dinner cocktails and, for the $35 per person cover charge, it's one of the best restaurants—and dining bargains—at sea. Not only is the food exceptional (escargot, New England crab cakes, lobster bisque, grilled lamp chops, prime rib, free range chicken, veal chops, lobster, and several cuts of beef from 9 to 18 ounces), but the presentation is sophisticated and the atmosphere decidedly upscale. It's a fine dining experience you won't want to miss.

Introduced on Carnival Magic, Cucina del Capitano, which celebrates Carnival's tradition of Italian captains by sharing some of their favorite dishes, also makes an appearance on Carnival Sunshine. Served in relaxed family-style surroundings, the menu includes pastas, risotto, and Italian specialties. The setting is enhanced by framed photographs of Carnival’s ships, its captains, and their families that adorn the walls. Lunch is complimentary and dinner is $12 per person ($5 for children under age 11).

Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, a new specialty option that has been introduced on Carnival Sunshine, features cuisine from the Far East with a $12 per person charge for adults at dinner ($5 for children 11 and under). Selections at lunch include complimentary custom-made noodle dishes with a choice of noodles, vegetables, spices, and meats.

Carnival’s full-service sushi restaurant, Bonsai Sushi, serves such popular Asian-inspired delicacies as sushi, sashimi, rolls and chef specials in a contemporary Far East atmosphere. Menu items are individually priced from $1 to $6 and include Japanese beers and sake.


Ji Ji Asian Kitchen

The Taste Bar

In the casual buffet-style Lido Marketplace Restaurant, the variety of informal dining choices starts at breakfast with made-to-order omelets and continues with a wide variety of buffet items for lunch and dinner, as well as meat-carving and pasta stations. In addition to the usual selections, there are a daily taste-of-nations specialty, a Pizza bar, and the Deli for just-made sandwiches. Several serving stations dispense ice cream treats. For beer lovers, there are self-service taps—just insert a keycard and pour.

Also serving poolside are Guy’s Burger Joint that offers up freshly made burgers, fries, and innovative toppings created in partnership with Food Network celebrity Guy Fieri and BlueIguana Cantina, where authentic tacos and burritos are made to your specifications and can be further personalized at the extensive salsa and toppings bar.

On Deck 5, the coffee bar/ice cream bar/patisserie serves specialty coffees, teas, frozen delights, and pastry treats for a nominal charge and complimentary snacks throughout the day and evening at the Taste Bar adjacent to Ocean Plaza.

For parents who want to share a romantic dinner for two, the Camp Carnival program and group evening babysitting takes the hassle out of child care. In addition to the many choices, Carnival Sunshine offers the flexibility of dining whenever you are hungry—around the clock. Room service never closes and, while the choices are somewhat limited, a picnic on your private balcony is always a treat.

With so many categories from which to choose on Carnival Sunshine, stateroom selection might seem daunting. In reality, there are only five main accommodations types with a few differing configurations within them. They range from standard Interior and Ocean View staterooms to Ocean View staterooms with private balconies and Suites with large private balconies. Sixty percent of all staterooms are outside and, of those, 65% have balconies. Within the balcony categories are Premium Vista Balcony staterooms that are aft-facing and have an extended balcony and spacious Premium Balcony staterooms.

Carnival Sunshine also features 95 exclusive "spa" staterooms and suites with unlimited access to the Cloud 9 Spa facilities, including the use of special "Cloud 9 Spa" logo items, personal fitness bands and yoga mats, complimentary fitness classes, and priority reservations for spa treatments and services.


Ocean View Stateroom 8275 with Balcony

Carnival Cruise Lines has always prided themselves on spacious cabins and Carnival Sunshine’s are no exception. The staterooms are actually very similar in layout to other vessels; however, the accommodations have also received attention in the form of new soft goods and art with a tropical flavor. In addition, 182 new staterooms were added to bring the total to 1,503 in various configurations to satisfy the needs—and budgets—of 3,006 passengers in double occupancy (or 3,758 when every berth is occupied).

As the ship was originally launched in 1996, the cabinetry in our balcony stateroom 8275 is a bit different than the furnishings in similar accommodations on Carnival’s newer ships, but the room is no less spacious and comfortable. Differences we noticed include the lack of a mini-fridge (although we understand that the newly added cabins have them), no shaving mirror in the bathroom, and, oddly, no nightstands. Those things aside, we found the storage abundant with two closets for hanging garments and plenty of drawers and shelving units for storing folded clothing. Open shelves provide space for all the miscellaneous items we pack for a cruise vacation—cameras and so on. Lighting in both the cabin and bathroom is actually superior to what we are accustomed to on newer ships.

Speaking of bathrooms, the shower is huge—it actually takes up nearly half the bathroom. Although the remaining floor space is a bit tight, once again there is plenty of storage for toiletries on the glass shelves found on both sides of the mirror. Bathroom amenities include shampoo and bath gel in shower mounted dispensers and an array of sample toiletries. Naturally there is a hairdryer in a drawer next to the desk/vanity table and bathrobes for our use during the cruise are provided.

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than a lumpy, bumpy bed with scratchy sheets and pancake thin pillow. To insure sweet dreams, Carnival provides more than a chocolate treat on your pillow. The exclusive "Carnival Comfort Bed" systems start with plush mattresses and add soft and comfy duvets, upgraded pillows, and linens for a good night's sleep. 

Passengers with physical challenges haven't been overlooked—staterooms have been designed that take their special needs into consideration.

Continue to explore Public Spaces & More --> Carnival Sunshine (Part 2)

Cruise Diva's Blog Highlights from the Carnival Sunshine inaugural season from New Orleans:

At Home Aboard Carnival Sunshine
Welcome Aboard a More Spacious Carnival Sunshine
Join the Fun & Games on Carnival Sunshine

Carnival Sunshine Dining Options
Carnival Sunshine is So Entertaining
Brunch is a Hit on Carnival Sunshine

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