Cruising the Caribbean on Carnival

by Ellen Ann / 2530 days ago / Comments

Living in land-locked Arizona for the last 6 years, I find it slightly ironic and amusing that my happy place would be the open ocean.  Add to that my desperate fear of water; the irony grows.  Put me on a road next to a river, lake, or even reservoir and I turn into a quivering mass of anxiety and fear.  Put me on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and I am happy, calm, and anxiety free.  To me, there is nothing more wonderful and calming than looking out a window, or over the rail of the deck and seeing nothing but beautiful blue ocean on all sides. 

I am lucky and blessed to have recently cruised on the Carnival Sunshine with my brother and 8-year-old niece.  We sailed out of Port Canaveral, Florida to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Grand Turk.  We toured the islands and went to the beach.  I was stung by fire coral on Bonaire; my knee swelled up around the sting; I took a picture, a Benedry, and went on with my vacation.  I was not letting anything stop me from having a good time.  As a matter of fact, the day before the cruise, we went to Universal and Islands of Adventure in Orlando.  As my luck would have it, I walked into a pillar in the dark maze of one of the rides, smashing the front of my face enough to cause bruising, but escaped without a broken nose.  So that little fire coral sting was just par for the course.

Many people think they would not like cruising.  They have told me they would feel confined and bored.  Please let me tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.  The ship is like a small floating city that holds a few thousand people.  It only takes a day or two to get the layout of the ship and there are maps at every elevator.  Very quickly you know your way around and you begin to recognize some of the other passengers.  You say hello to total strangers because you have seen them several times in passing or at a show.  You start to make friends.

The cruise staff is there to make sure you have a terrific experience.  Our cruise director, Emma, was the best.  I have been on seven cruises over the years and Emma was exceptional.  Her energy, sense of humor, knowledge, and ability to energize audiences was incomparable.  Her assistant cruise director, JJ, was the same.  They were like two peas in a pod. 

The Sunshine is a newly refurbished ship.  Everything is new and beautiful.  We had an ocean-view cabin with a King bed and sofa-bed.  We had the King separated into twins and my niece took the sofa.  There was plenty of closet and drawer space for all our clothes and “stuff”.  Each cabin has a private bathroom with shower.  Every cabin has a tv.  You can get room service 24 hours a day.  It was comfortable and big enough that we did not get in each other’s way.  The view was gorgeous.  Trust me though, you are not going to spend a lot of time in your cabin.

There are two main dining rooms on the Sunshine; the Sunset Restaurant and the Sunrise Restaurant.  We were seated at a table for 8 with another family of three, and another couple.  We all shared what we did that day and what we were going to do that night.  We shared ideas for the island tours.  We exchanged emails and facebook pages, took pictures, and hopefully we will all keep in touch.  The wait staff was phenomenal and entertaining. The menu was varied and the food was scrumptious.  If you go, you must try the Melting Chocolate Cake for dessert!  Do not forget to get a scoop of vanilla ice cream with that.

The Lido Marketplace on the pool deck is a buffet restaurant with tons of choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  At 11:30 every night, Lido reopened with light snacks and desserts.  Also on the pool deck is Guy’s Burgers.  Free cheeseburgers and fries from noon to six.  Pizzeria del Capitano is open 24 hours.  Yes, pizza lovers, thhat is 24 hours a day of free pizza.  Coffee, tea, iced tea, lemonade, juice, water, and ice cream is available 24 hours a day for free as well.

For an extra fee, there are several specialty restaurants on board the Sunshine.  There is The Cugina del Capitano for Italian food, JiJi Asian Kitchen for Asian cuisine, Bonsai Sushi, and the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. 

Every night at sea there was a song/dance show.  They performed a Motor City show, followed by a Motown Trivia party in the atrium.  The atrium is 4 decks high so lots of people were involved in this trivia/dance party.  It was fantastic fun.  One night there was a Latin show, and the last show was an 80’s music based show.  I went to each of them and loved them all.

There were two comedians and a magician on board.  I did not go to the magic show, although my brother and niece went.  Instead, I went to one of the lounges to hear the band, Broken Taillights, perform country, pop, and classic rock songs.  There is so much going on; you are not locked into any one activity.

One night we went to the Piano Bar and had a blast.  There is also the Havana Bar, a Karaoke bar, the Serenity Bar, and a few others.   During the day while my niece was in camp, we played Bingo, joined the Slot Tournament and the Blackjack Tournament.  No wins, but lots of fun and excitement.  We also checked out the art gallery, the photo gallery, and the shops.  We spent the afternoons with her on deck enjoying the pool, hot tubs,  and waterslides.  After dinner, she went back to camp since she didn't care to go to the shows.  When we picked her up we went to the Lido for a midnight snack.  This was one of our favorite activities.

There are dance classes, health seminars, trivia, basketball, mini golf, ping pong, karaoke, a singles meet and greet, a lip sync competition, among many other activities.  There is a library where you can quietly read, or play a board game or cards.  If the library is too sedate for you there is a separate section of the upper decks for adults only where it is quieter than the pool deck but not as quiet as the library.  There is an arcade on board although the games do cost extra.  There is also a full-service spa on board.  Yes, wifi is available.

One of the greatest things Carnival does is hold the Groove for St Jude event on every cruise.  You can purchase t-shirts and other items. Every dollar goes to St Jude Hospital for Children.  They hold a dance party on deck to raise money for this wonderful charity.  I love that they sponsor this worthy hospital.

Cruising is addictive.  You either love it or hate it.  I love it.  My brother and I already booked our next one, with my niece, for December on the Carnival Breeze out of Galveston, Texas.  Maybe you would like to join us?


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About Ellen Ann

Ellen Ann Journalist

I grew up in Philadelphia which is rich in the culture of music and arts. I played the cello for 3 years in elementary school and for a short time I was a part of the Philadelphia Children's Orchestra. I believe every home should have a piano whether anyone plays it or not. Someone will almost always try to learn and there is always a friend or relative who will just sit down and play. I enjoy most music, live theater, and live comedy. Music brings back memories, soothes the soul, changes my mood and outlook. Sometimes all it takes is a favorite song to make the day beautiful! I now live in the Phoenix, AZ area where I am a not-so-boring accountant. I try to make time to travel, explore the area where I live, the music and arts in the southwest, and just, in general, learn who I really am and who I want to be.