Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line
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WaterWorks / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Carnival Sunshine
Carnival Sunshine / Kristen Boatright
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Carnival's Guy's Burger Joint
Carnival's Guy's Burger Joint / Carnival Cruise Line
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Cheeseburger and fries from Guy's Burger Joint
Cheeseburger and fries from Guy's Burger Joint / Kristen Boatright
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BlueIguana Cantina on Carnival Sunshine
BlueIguana Cantina on Carnival Sunshine / Kristen Boatright
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Serenity / Kristen Boatright
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Atrium / Kristen Boatright
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Glass Elevators in the Atrium
Glass Elevators in the Atrium / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Balcony Stateroom
Balcony Stateroom / Kristen Boatright
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Cloud 9 Spa Balcony Stateroom
Cloud 9 Spa Balcony Stateroom / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Shakes at JavaBlue's Shake Spot on Carnival Sunshine
Shakes at JavaBlue's Shake Spot on Carnival Sunshine / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Red Frog Pub
Red Frog Pub / Kristen Boatright
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Ji Ji Asian Kitchen
Ji Ji Asian Kitchen / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Punchliner Comedy Club
Punchliner Comedy Club / Carnival Cruise Line / Andy Newman
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Hasbro Connect 4 Basketball
Hasbro Connect 4 Basketball / Kristen Boatright
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Carnival Sunshine

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Carnival Sunshine was built in 1996 as Carnival Destiny, but a major overhaul in 2013 made this then-nearly 20-year-old ship shiny once more. During the refurbishment, Carnival basically sawed the vessel in half and revamped it to increase capacity and ditched the Vegas-style interiors for a more modern look and feel. (Alas, more than a decade has since passed, and the ship, technically the oldest in the fleet, is approaching its third decade of service without much further enhancement.) Carnival similarly later refurbished and renamed two other older ships — Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Radiance — and all three are now part of the line’s Sunshine class.

What We Love

Casual Poolside Dining: Look for some of the best burgers at sea at Guy’s Burger Joint, where the beef is ground fresh daily. Similarly, BlueIguana Cantina is easily the best grab-and-go Mexican fare on any ship; you can also dress your tacos, burritos, and nachos with sliced radishes, lime wedges, and salsa from the toppings bar. Better still, BlueIguana serves awesome breakfast burritos in the morning, too. Best of all — both eateries are included in the cruise fare. It’s worth noting that these two free casual dining options are a better-quality alternative to the mostly so-so main dining room and buffet. The only standout in the latter is the pizza spot, complete with a brick-lined oven, hand-torn basil, and sliced-to-order prosciutto. You’ll wait a little longer for your custom pie, but it’s so worth it.

The Comedy Club: The evening at Punchliner Comedy Club starts with family-friendly comedy acts, and ends with a truly "blue" (read: raunchy but hilarious) late-night set. Carnival has an ingenious system of moving comedians between ships in the Caribbean every few days, so you get to see a variety of entertainers. 

Best Known For

Seuss at Sea: The fun Dr. Seuss-themed character breakfast on sea days includes visits from Thing 1 and Thing 2, plus — you guessed it — green eggs and ham and Cat in the Hat-inspired stacks of red velvet pancakes.

Serenity Lounge: This adults-only retreat gives grown-ups a quiet space to relax on upgraded wicker lounge chairs with cushy padding. The best part: the silence, a welcome change from the DJ-fueled main pool scene. 

Skybox Sports Bar: This boisterous space — full of giant screens and comfy red bar stools — has a continuous ticker of scores, drawing a large crowd during peak football, baseball, and basketball seasons. 

Waterslides: These big colorful slides are a big draw for tweens and teens on hot Caribbean sailings, when the plunge at the end may just be the "coolest" experience on board. 

Who It's Best For

Anyone on a Budget: Carnival Sunshine is a low-cost option for families, retirees, and couples — although anyone expecting the more polished décor of Carnival’s newer Excel class (Mardi Gras, Celebration, and Jubilee) and Vista (Vista, Horizon, and Panorama) class ships will be sorely disappointed.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Everything New is Old Again: It has been more than a decade since this ship was reborn as Carnival Sunshine and much of the sheen has worn off. This ship is now almost 30 years old and guests on recent cruises have reported some major wear-and-tear issues. Just remember: There is a reason why Sunshine’s cruise fares are so low.

Sherri Eisenberg
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger