3 Things That Surprised Me About My Carnival Cruise

Written by: Amanda Bailey on December 12, 2017

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November 26th to December 1st, I embarked on my very first cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine. Okay, technically it was my second cruise, but the first was prior to my time at KHM Travel Group and knowing anything about the cruise industry.

Carnival is one of our most valued supplier partners, so naturally I had seen and heard a lot about their ships and the onboard experience. However, there is no substitute for actually being on board, and experiencing everything a Funship 2.0 has to offer.

1. The Food (and Drink!)

Let’s face it: cruise ship food and drink doesn’t have to be impressive. It just has to be satisfying, and there has to be a lot of it.

However, I continuously found myself impressed by what was on my plate, or in my glass, on the Sunshine. The first evening, in the assigned dining room, I ordered the “didja” appetizer — as in food you always wanted to try, but did not dare. It was a cured salmon dish, with dill and grapes. I have tried smoked salmon, but it was the flavor combination that intrigued me. The risk paid off, and it ended up being one of the most memorable dishes of the cruise. Whether it was a flavorful Ringer burger from Guy’s Burger Joint, or a tender filet from The Steakhouse, the standard for tasty on the ship was high.

Carnival’s commitment to craft beverages was also very refreshing (pun intended). The Thirsty Frog Red Ale, which is brewed exclusively for the cruise line, gave me — a craft beer enthusiast — a delicious way to cool off during afternoons on the Lido deck. In terms of craft cocktails, the Cuban-inspired concoctions at Havana Bar, and the mixologist magic being poured at Alchemy Bar were strong in both flavor and strength.

2. The Adults-Only Options

Nothing personal against kids, but an escape for me is primarily adults-only. The Sunshine delivered in its entertainment and spaces for a truly grown-up vacation.

I spent the majority of the days at sea relaxing at the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, which covers three decks, with plenty of comfortable lounge chairs, couches and even hammocks for the 21+ crowd. The pool and its waterfall is the focal point of the Serenity area, but it also includes its own bar and jacuzzi, and if you get a prime seat, you can still enjoy all the Lido deck entertainment.

The nightly sing-along at Piano Bar 88 was another one of my favorite spots for grown-up fun in the evening. I also appreciated that The Punchliner Comedy Club featured an adults-only performance each night, along with a family-friendly show. Because the Sunshine has separate hangouts and activities for teens, tweens, and young kids, it really is a FunShip for all ages.

3. The Guest and Crew Diversity

I anticipated that the guest demographics would largely be families with younger kids, but it seemed much more varied. The ship and the itinerary drew in groups of friends celebrating milestones, couples young and young-at-heart, and families with adult children.

The ship’s crew hailed from all over the globe. Our dining room attendants were from Southeast Asia, our mixologist at The Alchemy Bar was from Poland, and our bubbly, charming Cruise Director Emma was from the United Kingdom. Getting to know the stories behind the staff was one of the most interesting parts of the trip, and made spending time with 3,000 other travelers on a ship feel like a very personal — and personalized — experience.

My time on the Sunshine gave me a new, deeper appreciation for Carnival Cruise Line and its commitment to fun and relaxation for all types of cruisers. This was not technically my first cruise, and it will hopefully not be my last with Carnival!


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