The Best of: The Carnival Sunshine

img_1494Hello lovelies! Welcome to the very first installment of the “Best of:” series on Southern Dreaming. The month of May and into the first half of June has been nonstop travel for me, so now that I am finally planted back home for a while, I am ready to begin sharing the “Best of” everything I’ve been loving, with you guys.

(Note: This review is not sponsored or endorsed by Carnival or its affiliates in any way. This was my personal vacation and reflects my honest thoughts.)

So rewind back to April 28, and we have our first journey to review. To celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary, Shane and I booked an 8 day cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine, departing out of Port Canaveral, Florida. If you want to hear more about the stops we made and the adventures we had off ship, check out my articles on Grand Turk and Curacao. But for our time here today, we are going to be focusing solely on the ship itself, and will only be reviewing the merits of the ship that do not incur an additional cost.

Best of Casual Dining: (TIE) JiJi Asian Kitchen and Guy’s Burger Joint

It is no coincidence that both of my “Best of”s for casual dining are made to order rather than pre-made buffet style options. Not to knock the buffet, because goodness knows I love some chicken tenders and mac and cheese, but the hot, fresh, and custom deliciousness of Jiji Asian Kitchen and Guy’s Burger Joint sets themselves apart from the competition.


Lunch courtesy of Guy’s Burger Joint

Guy’s Burger Joint: This nostalgic, classic Americana style restaurant is right out on the Lido deck, just a few feet from the pool. Even though everything on the menu is made fresh, the line moves with lightening speed. So check out the menu ahead of time, and be ready with your order when you get to the front. Once your juicy and perfectly grilled burger is on your large round trey, head over to the toppings bar to load up on everything from relish, sauteed mushrooms and onions, to condiments and lettuce.

Jiji Asian Kitchen: Go all the way to the back of the ship on the Lido level and you will walk right into a zen paradise. A nice quiet (and cool) escape from the loud, hot fun of the pool area on the Lido is the perfect lunch spot for some made-to-taste Asian food. Behind a wall of plexiglass are staggered bowls full of fresh, uncooked ingredients. The line does move a little sluggish just because of the cook time required, but on the bright side, it gives you plenty of time to make up your mind and create the perfect combination. If you are wondering just how customized you can make you lunch at JiJi’s, let me tell you, you get to choose everything from the meat and vegetables to the sauce and rice. Once the chef takes your wok off the fire, you walk away with a bowl full of piping hot, saucy goodness.

Best of Entertainment: Dive-in Movies

img_1493-1I am always down for a drive-in movie. I mean, experience great cinema while out under the stars, in the fresh summer air- how could it get better? Easy. Just take out the “r” to give you Dive-in Movies. Once the sun goes down, under the cool hue of the moon, pick your spot underneath the blanket of stars and settle in for a big blockbuster hit. Up above the pool is a movie theater worthy screen that boasts titles that are just out of theaters. With the sea breeze blowing, and the heat fading, you might get a little cold- but don’t worry- you can use your Sail and Sign card to check out blankets to keep you cozy. (Free of charge!) Last but not least, don’t forget to grab your complimentary popcorn or ice cream cone before you snuggle in with your honey for movie night.

Best of Relaxation: The Serenity Deck

Serenity Deck

Photo credit: Ray’s Cruise Blog 

If you aren’t familiar with Carnival lingo, the Serenity Deck is an adult only (21+) retreat complete with its own bar, pool, hot tub, and multi-level lounge area. As soon as you ascend the staircase up to the Serenity Deck, the entire ambiance changes immediately. The music transitions from loud, pulsing vocals, to a soft instrumental vibe. Beyond just the atmosphere, the lounging is significantly more comfortable. The chairs have thick cushions, and the top tier is complete with hammocks, cabanas, and couches.

Best of Recreation: Carnival Fitness Center

OBXfitness1jpg.jpgWhether you are a fitness pro or a bit of a couch potato, the Carnival Fitness Center is a great place to keep your energy level up, feel good, and get one of the best views on the ship. Located at the very front of the vessel, you have a perfect view of the ocean ahead from most of the equipment. More than just a great view, this gym boasts a large variety of equipment and spaces. If working out on your own isn’t your thing, you can sign up for a variety of classes or personal training sessions.

Best of Breakfast: SeaDay Brunch

img_1032.jpgAgain, I’ll never down the buffet, but you just can’t beat fresh. Just as the name suggests, they only offer the SeaDay Brunch on days where you are at sea. This is all the more reason not to miss this incredible dining experience. Instead of hitting up the mass produced treats of the breakfast buffet, head to the formal restaurant for an extended and unique brunch menu, in a more formal setting. Just like dining at night, you are seated by the dining room staff and presented with the menu of the morning. You won’t just find eggs and bacon on the list at SeaDay Brunch, instead, you have choices like filet mignon and eggs, or frosted flakes encrusted french toast (super yummy, by the way!) So take a break from the buffet and keep it classy with the SeaDay Brunch.

(Note: Casual clothing is totally fine for SeaDay Brunch.)

All in all, the Carnival Sunshine is a beautifully updated city on water. From the made to order food, unique entertainment options, airy staterooms, and numerous amenities, we enjoyed our time aboard the ship just as much as our time in port. This trip was exactly what we needed to reconnect and relax. I hope this article will help you plan the best trip possible! I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you think in the comments or contact me. Let me know what you want to see next.

Keep an eye out next week for the next installment in this series, “The Best of: Helen, Georgia”. Sweet Dreams and Happy Travels! shane and michelle 2





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