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purplephenom

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  1. I sailed the Sunshine in 2018 when it was doing the 8 day Southern route, so a bit different from now. That said, it is my favorite ship to date. I was really worried before I left- I had heard the ship was stupidly crowded and the only redeeming feature was the 3 level serenity deck. Well, I didn't find the ship crowded at all. The area outside the red frog pub- Ocean Plaza- became a favorite hang out. They had activities there, and if they were busy, there was seating a little further down the hall so it was fine. The seats on the floor of the theatre weren't my favorite, mainly because I'm short and always end up behind someone taller than me. But, we learned to get there about 10-15 minutes early and just chill, and it was fine The waterslides were fun. I'm glad I tried the ropes course once, but I found out it's decidedly not for me. But, the line was short enough that those who liked it were able to go around multiple times and never a long wait. The buffet never really seemed crowded to me, but we would eat breakfast early and lunch late. So it could be that it was crowded during peak times. Guys always had long lines, but moved fast. The taco salad (on the burrito side) at blue iguana became my favorite, and then I'd hit up both the blue iguana and Guy's toppings bars to customize. The biggest disappointment for me, was the Serenity deck. On our sailing, the top level was always closed, and the 2nd level was sometimes closed. That didn't leave much room. Also, it's right above the Lido pool/screen. This made it a great place to take pictures and watch the craziness, but it certainly wasn't serene. This deck also has hammocks and different type chairs, but they were usually full. We'd go up late at night when it was quiet and relax on the chairs and that was nice. What we ended up doing was just going up a deck from Lido and finding regular chars. Never had much trouble and it was more chill there than by the main pool.
  2. Ebay sometimes has sales on gift cards or coupon codes. I do Swagbucks (really casually these days, I used to do a lot more). Depending on how much time you're willing to put in, you can get some "free" gift cards to be used to buy Carnival cards. There are other similar sites, Swagbucks is just the one I use. Sometimes, some of the gift card resale sites have Carnival cards- you can decide your comfort level using those. If you go that route, just buy a new gift card right away.
  3. This isn't specific to this ship, but one thing I love about late dining, is when everyone leaves to get ready for early dining is a great time to swim. This is also true with anytime, I guess, but at least some of the anytime people are also eating earlier. Carnival ship pools are always crowded during the day, but in the calm before early dining, I can actually swim around. Pool isn't big enough for laps, obviously, so I sort of swim in an oval. Maybe this could be a hint for any late diners on this ship, since the size of the pools comes up a lot.
  4. Crowding on Carnival snorkel excursions doesn't really bother me. I like to hang back or off to the side to see what I like and take the pictures I want- plus snorkeling isn't a race. If you want a good Carnival snorkel excursion, look at the Ultimate snorkel- it goes to the wall and another spot or 2, and they pretty much left anyone who knew what they were doing alone which was great. That said, the reef and rays, seems really short to make a couple stops doing different things. You may feel more rushed than with one of the other excursions you have listed. As long as a lot of that time isn't eaten up in transportation (on the snorkel boat), you should end up with significantly more water time there.
  5. I agree with this- especially if this leads to more people traveling with surge protected power strips, not knowing they're not allowed. Then they are confiscated and not being able to charge things becomes a bigger issue. Although, I am always amazed at how long my phone lasts when its on airplane mode and only used for occasional pictures. The reasons why are obvious, but its one of those little things that makes me happy when cruising.
  6. I'm pretty sure there are 2 different numbers- full and max capacity. I think full is 2 people per cabin, max capacity is 3 in every 3 person cabin, 4 in every 4 person cabin. The only reason I bring it up, is I was really nervous before I sailed the Sunshine because everyone said it was crowded and awful. And it was my favorite cruise, and we never really felt crowded. Plus, whatever you think of refurbished ships, this ship is built and here now. It would be a shame if it were a stream of constant bad experiences- hopefully there are at least some parts of the year when the reviews are good, because it means people are having a good time
  7. .I was expecting a picture of your injury, but I almost screamed at work when I actually saw it. I had to fake cough to play it off. Hope you have a have a relatively easy recovery. Great review, your diving pictures look awesome. I really had one of my best snorkeling days there, and this is just really making me want to try diving.
  8. I'm curious to see how the Sunrise reviews look in January/February, and other times when its less common for the ship to be full of families. Most ships usually get more "this felt crowded" reviews in the summer. The Sunrise may be more crowded than other ships, but I'm still curious.
  9. Cheers doesn't make sense for me. But, if I were to ever try it, it would have to be on a short cruise- I could probably keep up the drinking pace then. Sometimes it seems like everyone on this board buys cheers, or no one buys it, depending what thread you are reading. But every cruise group is different- my suggestion is generally add up what you think you'll drink and add about 20% to account for trying new drinks, and being in vacation mode and deciding to order another. Then see if it's worth it to you.
  10. Could it be the room service pizza?
  11. There is a teen club. Your 16 year old would be in Club O2 which is 15-17. Make sure to go the first night. They have activities but a lot of the teens just walk around, get pizza, get ice cream, play basketball, whatever. The club is more like a meeting point than like day camp. Friendships are formed that first night, so it's important to go then.
  12. I read all this same stuff with the Sunshine. Maybe it was because we sailed in February, and the ship wasn't at max capacity, but it didn't feel crowded to us. We really enjoyed all the added areas, except for the Serenity area, which is what I had read so many good reviews on before we left. Just goes to show, everyone's experience is different. Also, because of my experience on the Sunshine (we booked it because it was the cheapest cruise to the Southern Caribbean) and because of how much we enjoyed the added areas, we are now booked on 2 more Southern Caribbean cruises on the much more expensive Horizon. Everyone's experience is different, but I'd love to do another cruise on the Sunshine. Really, I hope more people hate it so the rates get cheaper.
  13. The post holiday season time is a great time to cruise. It's a nice way to have something to look forward to after the holidays and when we're getting to the boring part of winter at home. Prices are somewhat lower. Kids are mostly in school so the ships are less crowded. And flip flop tan lines can last until it's warm at home :-) The weather maaay be a concern if you are coming from Florida or a warm weather state and don't swim until the water is really warm. But if you are coming from a state with a cold winter, it'll feel great
  14. The Skyride really seems like a 1 and done thing for a lot of people. The line seems to get long, and it takes awhile, even though multiple people go at a time. It's probably one of those things that's cool to do once, but I don't get the sense that a lot of people (including kids) are eager to do it over and over again. The good news, OP, is you and your kids picked a ship with tons of other fun stuff to do- the ropes course, sports square, waterworks, etc. Also, all of these things have more repeat value than the Skyride. That's my opinion, but also reading reviews on here, I've yet to see one where anyone wants to do the ride over and over, but kids certainly do the ropes course or water slides over and over. If you haven't booked your excursions yet, maybe pick something active and adventurous to do in one of the ports- zip lining would get your boys up high and flying thru the air. My cruise on the Horizon isn't til February, so while I'm hopeful the Skyride is open by then, I sort of doubt it. It seems this thing has had so many problems.
  15. There's some other "special" dish. I want to say its a fancy pasta but I honestly don't remember
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