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Carnival Sunshine Review

2016 Best for Families
2015 Best for Families
2014 Best for Embarkation
View More

Find a Carnival Sunshine Cruise from £204

Carnival Sunshine
4.0 / 5.0
1369 reviews

Ship offers updated bars, restaurants and revamped kids' spaces.
Adults-only areas, while lovely, are a bit small.
Bottom Line
Former Carnival Destiny underwent $155 million makeover, and the improvements are noticeable.




Passenger to Crew


Shore Excursions
Sails To
Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Sails From
Carnival Cruise Deals
Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor

Carnival Sunshine Overview

Carnival Sunshine is the result of a 2012 massive, $155 million, 49-day transformation that saw the former Carnival Destiny completely overhauled and renamed. The changes to the ship were not just cosmetic: Carnival replaced the elevators, air-conditioning units, electrical stations and laundry machines. 

Although Sunshine isn't a Dream-class ship, it does contain almost all of the elements found on Magic and Breeze, making it one of the most active Carnival ships out there: 20-minute standup comedy routines, 30-minute production shows, and fast-food sushi, burgers and burritos. The dining and drinking include a burger counter designed by spiky-haired Food Network personality Guy Fieri, a rolled-to-order Mexi-Cali burrito stop and a pair of Caribbean beach bars with mascots (RedFrog and BlueIguana) and booze specialties (rum and tequila, respectively).

To offset these temples to unhealthy eating, there are also two Asian restaurants onboard: Bonsai Sushi, a for-fee, sit-down Japanese restaurant, and Ji Ji, a truly outstanding restaurant offering pan-Asian cuisine.

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The design throughout is also radically different from that found on the old Carnival ships, as former designer Joe Farcus' garish color schemes give way to the more understated designs of Hamburg-based Partner Design. Colors are subtle, and the palette throughout -- from the main dining rooms to the corridors and cabins -- is distinctly muted. Certain areas -- the corridor on Deck 5 with Fahrenheit 555, the Piano Bar, Ocean Plaza and the main dining rooms -- could actually do with more decor, as they're so featureless.

What you come away with is the distinct feeling that there has been a quiet revolution going on, with a triumph of style over tack. In fact, there are certain areas of the ship, such as the Library Bar, Java Blue, Havana Bar, Fahrenheit 555 and Ji Ji, where you'd be hard pressed to tell this was even a Carnival ship. 

Having said that, Sunshine still attracts Carnival's bread-and-butter passengers. They're the unpretentious, highly social, price-conscious cruisers out for organized fun. (The relentless emphasis on fun at all times is still ever-present onboard.)


Included with your cruise fare:

  • Meals in the main dining rooms, buffet, pizzeria, Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and certain room service items
  • Nightly live music performances throughout the ship
  • All main theaters shows, comedy performances and deck parties
  • Use of Carnival Waterworks, the Sports Square and mini-golf
  • Use of the fitness center, not including most classes or any personal training appointments
  • Most daily activities onboard, except where noted
  • Poolside movies at the Seaside Theater
  • Programs for kids ages 2 to 17 in the Camp Ocean kids club until 10 p.m.

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Gratuities ($13.99 per person, per day for those staying in standard staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day for all suite passengers)
  • Gratuities of 18 percent, added automatically to bar and spa purchases
  • Meals in Cucina del Capitano, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and at Bonsai Sushi
  • Most drinks onboard, with the exception of water, tea, basic coffees and select juices in the buffet
  • Spa treatments, salon services and entry to the Cloud 9 Thermal Suite
  • Most fitness classes and all personal training sessions
  • Shore excursions
  • Internet and Wi-Fi
  • Selected activities like alcohol tasting events, the Build-a-Bear workshop, certain arts and crafts classes, arcade games and Win-A-Cruise bingo
  • Onboard photographs or artwork
  • Onboard retail purchases
  • After-hours events for kids in Camp Ocean

Top Carnival Sunshine Itineraries

Carnival Sunshine
carnival journeys - ex souther

Charleston, Aruba, Bonaire, Grand Turk, Princess Cays, Charleston

View All Carnival Sunshine Itineraries (18)

Fellow Passengers

Carnival attracts an outgoing set of North American couples, families and multigenerational groups. The average passenger is in the 40's and more than 90 percent of its passenger base is American. 

Carnival Sunshine Dress Code

Daytime:During the day, beachy or port-specific attire is the norm.

Evening:Carnival's evening dress code is typically "cruise casual," but on two nights during the voyage "cruise elegant" eveningwear is suggested. On cruise casual nights, the line recommends sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cutoffs), long dress shorts and collared sports shirts for men, and casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, capri pants, dress shorts and jeans (no cutoffs) for women. Cruise elegant dress means dress slacks, dress shirts and sports coats (suggested, not required) for men and cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses for women. Men might dress in suits and ties or tuxedos, while women might wear evening gowns.

Not permitted: Flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival Cruise Line.

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Carnival Sunshine Ratings

Public Rooms4.03.7
Fitness Recreation5.03.8
Value For Money5.03.7

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More about Carnival Sunshine

Where does Carnival Sunshine sail from?

Carnival Sunshine departs from Charleston

How much does it cost to go on Carnival Sunshine?

Cruises on Carnival Sunshine start from £204 per person.

Is Carnival Sunshine a good ship to cruise on?

Carnival Sunshine won 7 awards over the years.

Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice

  • 2016 Best for Families
  • 2015 Best for Families
  • 2014 Best for Embarkation
  • 2014 Best for Entertainment
  • 2014 Best for Public Rooms
  • 2014 Best for Value
  • 2014 Best for Families
Show More

Carnival Sunshine Member Reviews

Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Sep 2019
We had noticed a decline in the dining room service on Carnival Cruises until this last on the Sunshine.... Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Jan 2020
First night dining was about standard for Carnival. We were assigned anytime dining which is not really dining. It more like place your order and get out!... Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Jul 2019
This was mine and my friends second cruise on Carnival Sunshine. We first sailed with Sunshine in May 2017. Last month, we went on Sunshine to celebrate my goddaughters 13th birthday.... Read More
Carnival Sunshine
Sail Date: Sep 2019
LOVED the Build a Bear and made a Carnival Bear (and I'm an adult) lol Shows were good. Comedians were funny. Negatives were: the food was below par.... Read More

Carnival Cruise Line Fleet

Carnival Ecstasy
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

1118 reviews

Fun and friendly with a laid-back vibe; highlights include waterslides, a singalong piano bar, nightly Punchliner Comedy Club and mini-golf; carries some 2,500.

Carnival Ecstasy Cruises to the Bahamas View All Carnival Ecstasy Cruises
Carnival Elation
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Elation is the seventh of Carnival's eight Fantasy-class vessels (debuting in 1998), and went through a significant upgrade in 2009.

Carnival Fantasy
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Carnival Fantasy may be the oldest vessel in the Carnival fleet, but it certainly has style, and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Carnival Fascination
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination debuted in 1994 and went through a significant upgrade to public areas, top-deck spaces and cabins in 2010.

Carnival Imagination
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun and friendly with plenty to do from sunup to sundown including high-energy pool deck fun and stage shows, plus waterslides, mini-golf and more.

Carnival Inspiration
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

A smaller ship packed with energetic fun all day long; highlights include nightly comedy, enthusiastic karaoke, waterslides, mini-golf and 10 bars and lounges.

Carnival Paradise
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Smaller ship with a fun and family-friendly atmosphere: highlights include short warm-weather itineraries, a waterslide and mini-golf; carries about 2,500 people.

Carnival Sensation
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, friendly vibe with a packed lineup of daily activities, nightly comedy, energetic stage shows, silly pool deck fun, and a multi-slide waterpark.

Carnival Victory
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fewer attractions than other Carnival ships but only offers short sailings; highlights are the comedy club, four pools and water slide; about 3,000 passengers.

Carnival Spirit
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

One of Australians' favourite cruise ships -- like a true Aussie, it's laid-back, fun and friendly -- from crew, to passengers and the atmosphere.

Carnival Pride
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Lively and fun with a dizzying art-through-the-centuries decor, nightly standup comedy, two waterslides, four pools, and lots of bars and lounges; can carry about 2,500.

Carnival Legend
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun and friendly with lots of pool-centric fun, a multi-slide waterpark, nightly comedy, and 16 lounges and bars; spends much of year in Australia.

Carnival Conquest
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Unpretentious vibe with pool-centric fun and water slide, plus Hairy Chest and Mr. and Mrs. Conquest contests; also 11 bars and 9 eateries; carries about 3,500.

Carnival Glory
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Lively entertainment and activities include nightly stand-up comedy, high-energy Playlist Production stage shows, twister water slide, and a nonstop schedule of daily activities.

Carnival Miracle
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, family-friendly ship focused on Carnival signatures like the high-energy Playlist Production shows, nightly comedy, RedFrog Pub and line dancing deck parties.

Carnival Valor
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Silly poolside games, piano bar sing-alongs and PG- and R-rated stand-up comedy give this smallish mega-ship its fun vibe; also features the RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Liberty
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, friendly vibe focusing on Carnival signatures like the Punchliner Comedy Club, gut-busting Guy's Burger Joint and cocktail-focused Alchemy Bar; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Freedom
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, laid-back and friendly; highlights include nightly comedy, high-energy stage shows, twister water slide and the popular RedFrog Pub; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Splendor
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Can hold upward of 4,000 passengers; features indoor/outdoor pool with retractable dome, Twister water slide, mini-golf and just one extra-fee restaurant.

Carnival Dream
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, friendly vibe; features Guy Fieri's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, family-friendly and adult stand-up comedy, nightly karaoke, water park and mini-golf.

Carnival Magic
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Holds about 4,000; highlights include water slides, the RedFrog Pub, two-bathroom family cabins that hold up to five, a ropes course and Carnival's signature fun.

Carnival Breeze
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Nonstop activities and attractions include top deck water park and ropes course, 4D Thrill Theater and nightly standup comedy; can hold up to 4,700 cruisers.

Carnival Sunshine
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun and friendly with nightly stand-up comedy and short, energetic stage shows, plus a calorie-packed burger joint from celeb chef Guy Fieri; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Vista
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Holds a bit more than 4,000 passengers; offers a waterpark, suspended-in-midair recumbent bike thrill ride, ropes course and the first IMAX cinema at sea.

Carnival Horizon
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Carnival's newest megaship, holding some 4,000 passengers, launches April 2018; highlights include new barbeque/brewery and Teppanyaki restaurants, an IMAX movie theater, waterpark, beer brewery and ropes course.

Carnival Sunrise
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

A completely reimagined ship, Carnival Sunrise is Carnival Triumph transformed with new venues, entertainment options, and a whole new Fun Ship look.

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