Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

My Panama 14 Day Cruise aboard the Carnival Sunrise Review

Recommended Posts

I wanted to make a review on one of my “bucket list” cruises I have had on my list for some time (before anyone asks…no I am not sick, but you never know what is coming around the corner, life is for living and at the age of 32 I have no interest in delaying what I want out of life 😊)


My name is Jodie and I am from Liverpool United Kingdom, I work at a University and love my job. I always travel with my dad and my sister, since my mother passed away in 2012 we always travel with our dad, he is currently 79 (he will be 80 this November – me and my sister have booked a surprise 3 week cruise on his favourite ship the Carnival Breeze, currently he has no idea about it). My big sister is now 47 (she had her birthday onboard the Sunrise) and she is a nurse, a sister in a community team.


This is my first review and so I have not got many photos of the ship to share but I will for future reference take pictures to accompany future reviews (because they look so pretty and also adds to the excitement if you are due on the ship being reviewed). I am going to break it into different posts so you are not bored reading one continuous post. and I hope you like my attempt at providing a balanced view of my experience. 


Prior to boarding the ship my family and I stayed in New York, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square South, its located on 60 w 36th Street Times Square. HIGHLY recommend this hotel, free hot breakfast, unlimited access to coffee and hot chocolate during the day. Free WIFI, the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, and the rooms are huge (for New York) and clean.  There is also a luggage room to keep your luggage locked away safe if you arrive before check in time, and on our arrival, this happened so we locked up our suitcases and went off for a walk.  New York is such a diverse and invigorating city and the few days stay we had here was really good we managed to go on the big red sightseeing buses which I loved – there were about four different tours we completed on these buses, we completed a self-guided tour of Grand Central (such a beautiful train terminal), went to see two musicals; Waitress and Beetlejuice (highly recommend both musicals)


But let’s get onto why you have clicked on this post… The Carnival Sunrise Review. We booked the Carnival Sunrise because of the ports of call here is the itinerary:

Day 1 - New York – Embarkation day

Day 2 – Fun day at sea

Day 3 – Fun day at sea

Day 4 – Grand Turk

Day 5 – Fun day at sea

Day 6 - Grand Cayman

Day 7 - Fun day at sea

Day 8 – Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Day 9 – Partial transit into Panama Canal

Day 10 – Fun day at sea

Day 11 - Fun day at sea

Day 12 - Half-moon cay

Day 13 - Fun day at sea

Day 14 - Fun day at sea

Day 15 – New York – Debarkation day

This was our second Journey’s cruise, and we were excited, this was our first time sailing out of New York (we had previously only sailed IN to New York), it was also our first time to Costa Rica, and our third attempt at getting to Half-moon Cay.


Prior to checking in on 24th May - I had received an email from Carnival stating to show up on boarding time (we had 12:30pm) I had no desire to be sitting around a pier so we turned up at the terminal about 1pm – boarding and security was simple and fast and we were on the ship for 1:10pm. We boarded the ship with ease and soon I was at the excursion desk reserving my villa for Half Moon Cay.


The Lobby/ Atrium – this was the first thing I noticed as you boarded onto the ship at deck 3.. it felt small and a little chaotic, the bar takes up a lot more space than seating is available on that deck, the line for Guest services was looped around a few times going toward the staterooms on deck 3, I did think this was a bad sign.  Because it was only 1:10pm the staterooms were not yet available but we wanted to find the room, so we knew where to go. Elevators were packed, so we opted to take the stairs. Deck 1, room 1263… when we got to deck 1 the doors were open, so we wandered down the corridor to find our room, our sign and sail cards were already outside our cabin door and the cabin had been attended to. We grabbed our sign and sail keys and dumped our bags and went off to explore.


Dad was feeling hungry, so we went to Lido, in the Lunch express elevator. When we got to lido, I was a little surprised at how small the lido deck was, the pool area seemed to dominate the deck however there was no shade where you could dip your feet into the pool ledge (unlike Vista, Breeze and other Carnival Ships). Approaching the Lido Marketplace, the sides by Guys Burgers and Blue Iguana Cantina are exceptionally narrow… if a wheelchair or a scooter was coming down there would be no way you could fit a person going in the opposite direction of the scooter/wheelchair. This caused a lot of foot traffic, regardless of the time this proved an issue. The doors are no longer automatic you need to hit a button to open the door before going into the lido marketplace, I did witness this claiming a few peoples faces at the start of the cruise.


With refurbishment Carnival had increased passenger capacity by 500 people, if it was sailing at maximum capacity. I do not think it was at max capacity when we sailed on her, however something to note if looking to book this ship, crowding is inevitable on this ship. We found this to be an issue when eating on lido getting a table after waiting in long lines for food was difficult, but not impossible – we would factor this time into any activities we were doing so allowing time is important – think about this for when getting off the ship, or wanting to go and do an onboard activity. It didn’t ruin our cruise, we just adjusted to it 😊


Embarkation day on Lido was an awful mess, tables were uncleaned, dishes were piled up with half eaten food, drinks. I felt so sorry for the crew who were trying to clear the plates as fast as they could, it seemed an influx of passengers onto lido had not been prepared for.


Lido treasures – The Deli – I loved it here, each day they would have a daily special some specials tasted nicer than others, but the deli crew were always friendly and would custom any order if the passenger asked for it.


Lucky Bowl – we ate here once – it’s in place of chopsticks or the Mongolian wok as it is also known as – there are three different bowl combinations each day, morning they cook omelettes and offer morning and dinner bowl specials. My family and I did not like it, and actually missed the Wok.


Bella Italia / Cuchina’s – the Italian restaurant is located up the stairs (or in the elevator) in the middle of Lido Marketplace. At Lunch time it is free but of an evening time it is a fee per person and a different menu. Of a lunch time my family and I enjoyed the pasta dishes, you custom request what you want to go in the pasta, if you want lasagna, or bread or a salad to accompany the pasta. The bread is awful do not order it, there is a greasy non taste to it. The pasta is fresh and cooked el dente really tasty and 10 – 15 minute wait not too bad at all.


Food combinations on embarkation day and the days that followed on Lido Market place were … interesting to say the least but I enjoyed the creativity and sometimes it worked and tasted really good.


If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have, if I have missed anything or something you want to know before I finish my review.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

After we had our food, we had to make our way for the mandatory safety briefing – I am not sure whether people knew it was mandatory as we were waiting a considerable amount of time despite being notified of the safety briefing. I think if Carnival were looking to make some money they could issue a fine to passengers who fail to show up or who are considerably late – I understand it takes time to get to the correct muster station but not by 45 minutes the ship is not that big.


After the safety briefing, we went back up to the room to unpack the suitcases as they had already been put inside our room (our cases were big and took up a good portion of the corridor) we then met our stateroom attendant Mackenzie. Mackenzie is a real sweet person. He asked when we would like our room to be cleaned and if we wanted it to be both we could have both, he also asked about if we had any special requests, we explained we like ice, and fresh towels every day aside from that we were happy, we said we were usually out the room by 7 – 7:30pm and we would be up and out no later than 8am. 


Because sailing out of New York the cheers package cannot be valid we brought on our own soda and 2 bottles of wine. This was not an issue but something we needed to keep remembering to go back the room to fill our bag up with cans or our glass with wine for the first night. I was unaware of this when I purchased the cheers! Package but thought I may not be the only person unaware of this.


We were delayed coming out of the port by 2 hours, this was because (we were told) passengers had checked a lot of bags and it took longer than anticipated. This was not an issue as the next day was a sea day anyway – we had nowhere to go anyway – I know some passengers were not impressed by this. My family and I happily waited on deck 7 forward to watch as the ship finally sailed past the statue of liberty and the beautiful New York landscape. By the time we had sailed past the statue of liberty it was time to freshen up for our evening meal.


We have always chose Anytime Dining with Carnival, we like the flexibility of it, prior to sailing I had seen someone said on the Carnival Hub app under dining with anytime you can request a table – we used this the first two nights until we found an amazing team who we were prepared to go through a smoky casino to check in and request (sadly currently on the app you cannot request a table/ head waiter).


We went to the welcome aboard show before going to have our meal as we didn’t feel hungry from what we had eaten on Lido, the playlist cast – I have to say very talented – the male singers in particular have such rich and wonderful voices.  The welcome aboard show is pretty much the same format we got to meet our cruise director who was The Flying Scotsman Chris. Chris was lovely, very active and present in a lot of the activities, I would go as far as to say one of the most active cruise


After the show we requested a table and got one immediately the app tells you where to go and what table number, you then show this to the dining room Host/Hostess.  If you do not show up after 10 minutes your request for a table is denied and you need to re-request – this never happened for me or my family but something to consider if you have someone in your party who dawdles.


To get to most floors on the ship deck five seems to be the deck that goes from forward (Front) to Aft (back) of the ship without any disruption to walking straight, sadly this means you need to traverse through the thick cigarette smoke, I am not a precious person who coughs at the smell of smoke however there is an issue with the air flow in the casino, I had read previously this was an issue and sadly has not yet been addressed so I was prepared for this. Other areas of the ship you need to go up across and down to get to, an example of this is the limelight comedy club where you need to go through the casino and down a floor as it is in between the two dining rooms (radiance and Sunshine) – I will talk later on in the review about the unusual layout choices of this ship.


Overall the food in the main dining room was good, some menu items have been better on other Carnival ships, but we were never hungry and a lot of the time anything we did not like it was due to not being to our taste not because the food was cold or inedible. In these instances, our favourite wait team Bosco in the Sunshine Dining room and his team Gaipuilu and Marius were incredible! Bosco would bring out additional items for my family and I to try, if we said we liked something or thought something tasted good he would send for more of that item. Excellent service and if you are any time dining I would highly request Bosco and Gaipuilu (sadly I know Marius left the ship when we did so he won’t be on board). Service was amazing and flawless it didn’t feel rushed nor did it feel slow.


Day 2 – Sea Day

This was the day we spent a portion of it relaxing on a sun lounger (in the shade as I do not really enjoy sitting in the sun) enjoying the deck music the DJ Xtreme and Keith (who played the fantastic Caribbean style music on the drums). Sun loungers are hard to come by on this ship as deck 9 is quite small I noticed there was a ream of stickers in the towel hut on deck 9 however I did not see these enforced when on the ship, to be fair a lot of people were sitting on their lounger’s not many were hogging, which was nice to see. After a while my dad and I got a little too hot and my sister still wanted to stay in the sun.  so, my dad and I went for a walk. We participated in a few trivia’s, again my dad and I noticed that Lido deck and the decks above were filled with people, but the areas on deck 5 which had the most seating areas were also filled with people. We stood up for one of the trivia activities, it was fine, but again another feeling of not having enough seating areas for the increased capacity the ship had.


This was day 1 for the Cheers! Package and we had a ball experimenting on drinks, a lot of the time my catch phrase was “Bartenders choice as long as it is not soda, or water” the bar staff on this ship were amazing a few of my favourites were: Vilko, Milton, Julianna, Csar, Saw, Ryan, Jordan, Dalia, Zenya, Citrawan. To name but a few 😊 I did get to know a good portion of the crew it was 14 days after all!


Day 2 - the next day was another fun day at Sea which was for me more of the same, sadly I did not keep the fun times which outlined the activities so I will take this time to talk about a few things I noticed at this point of day 3 on the ship.


Elevators (Lifts) – take the stairs if you can because these came infrequently and were harder to get when coming out of the shows – both comedy and Playlist shows. The elevators at the aft of the ship had an odour which I can only describe as garbage or the sea food shack which is located aft opposite side of the pizzeria. These particular elevators never smelt any differently sadly.


Air conditioning – bring a portable fan – there are areas on the ship which are hot, for example the aft of the ship by the tides bar is unbearably hot.


Our stateroom 1263 had poor air conditioning flow, we were given a fan but it was too noisy for my sister to have on during the night. We continuously reported this issue to be told the temperature was normal. We have been on many carnival cruises (18 so far) and have been previously freezing, this was not the case. It felt the aircon was spread across too many rooms for its original layout.  The Limelight comedy lounge was also extremely warm. There was also areas in the Lido, by Guys burgers, by the Deli incredibly warm, when you walked into the Lido Marketplace you did not feel the benefit of the air con (unlike other Carnival Ships).


Entertainment – the playlist cast only performed three shows (nine if you include the two shows a day they do’ early dining, late dining options) during the 14 days two new shows and one classic show. The rest of the entertainment were called Viva Variety – and there were guest entertainment acts.  If you want a seat the doors open 30 minutes before the show is due to start but the line starts about 45 – 60 minutes BEFORE that, seats are limited and due to the layout of the liquid Lounge there are chairs as opposed to the previous ships like the Breeze, Freedom, Glory where there are rows of long seating options in the main theatre.  The liquid lounge is only across two floors deck 4 and deck 5, if you come in at deck 4 and spot a seat on deck 5 I would advice caution up the stairs as they are small size and steep.


Anyway, let’s talk about the playlist cast shows:


Soulbound – a new show which has a gothic edgy feel to classic soul songs, this was my second favourite show they performed on this cruise. I enjoyed the different twist on classic well-known soul songs. The cast also perform into the audience which again reduces the size capacity again of the liquid lounge.


Vintage Pop – another new show, with a 1920’s feel to it with costuming and sound to modern songs. For me this show I did not like it was not to my taste and about 15 people halfway through got up and walked out not to return again.


Latin nights – a classic, and one of my favourite shows, fantastic to see this show be kept.


Overall I missed Flick, I do not think the new shows are comparable Flick was a step forward and I feel the new shows were a step back although I appreciated Soulbound had a Flick inspiration from it and Carnival do have to try new things, I do understand that.

The viva variety acts were a bit hit and miss, the singers were amazing there was a male singer and a female singer who did the best female soul singers, the juggler made me jump various times, Bobby Borgia if he is on your sailing go to watch him, he is amazing! He is an illusionist and the man who helped with the movie Now You See Me. Every time I see his shows, I get chills!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The problems you described were still there on the 6/10 sailing. The marketplace was a zoo. The person who approved the design should be fired!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for this detailed review.  I'm just not sure I'm interested in sailing on these remodeled and over-passengered ships. Reports like yours help me to make this type of decision.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3 – sea day

At this point the bar staff knew my folio number! We had started to learn the layout of the ship, it is not the best type of layout but because it is a certain size you do not walk that far enough to be completely lost. The three sea days so far had been amazing, a lot of relaxation, trivia, bar drinking, indulging in amazing food and being entertained.


Again I wished I had kept the fun times or at least taken pictures to share what activities were on this journey cruise I do recall a lot of Michaels craft events and some guest lectures from people talking about how to take the best vacation pictures, to social media presence – I did not sit in any of those lectures although I know they were popular as other guests commented on the events when I spoke with other passengers.

I feel like a disclaimer is needed at this juncture as I am not a big drinker or a binge drinker by any stretch of the imagination in fact at home I do not drink, only when on holiday when I can unwind and enjoy a chilled alcoholic drink listening to Caribbean music.


Day 4 – Grand Turk

For this port of call, we have been to many times and I wanted to do something different, so I paid for an excursion called Home Sweet Home Retreat. It cost $94.99 per person and was classed as a 4.5 hour excursion. We picked up this excursion at the hut on Grand Turk through the duty-free shop by the water fountain. Because we were early, we even had time to go looking through the stores. Once we had purchased a few things from Ron Jon Surf shop we were given wrist bands colour coded and when the time was right the driver called the colour wrist band and we boarded an open bus, this bus looked like an old army bus, you entered from the rear up metal steps which had loose rope to the side there was no windows in the bus which meant you felt the gorgeous breeze as we travelled to the retreat. The retreat felt like it was the other side of the island, as the beach the property was located on had no one else on it, you could only hear the waves rolling up onto the beach, not another person in sight aside from the other passengers who opted to choose this excursion.


There was unlimited drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a lovely healthy meal prepared you could go up as often as you wanted for the lunch once it was ready. There was WIFI however it was not that great a signal. The beach was lovely, the water not so lovely, you needed to traverse into a small channel where there was no rocks, this was hard to do with the waves and we also had to be careful of sea urchins (fun!) we did not have beach shoes because my feet had swollen with the salt water and my sister forgot to pack hers. Like the beach in Grand Turk where the ship is, the sand collapses under your feet so you slide into the water with ease, coming out of it is a different thing however and so my exits out of the water were less than elegant thankfully no one was graceful and by the end of it we were all too drunk to care! Crusher was the bartender and he did not water down the drinks by any means.  The music was playing, you could kayak or snorkel. I chose to swim in the crystal clear water, sadly there was only a few fish in the where we were swimming. You could return to the ship any time the driver would take you back, it was very relaxed, the property was a nice size, probably a little small for the group who utilised it on our excursion but there was two bathrooms, and I mostly stayed on the beach or in the water for the most part of it.


Would I purchase this excursion again? Probably not however I did enjoy my time at the retreat and I know my family enjoyed a different excursion from the usual poolside cabana or jack shack.


When we got back on the ship all we wanted to do was to shower, my dad goes to get into the shower room and exclaims “this is not good” and peeks around the door to tell me there is water coming up the drains! The drain behind the toilet and the shower drain had a deluge of water coming up, the water was not entirely clear water, we reported it to guest services, within an hour someone came to fix the problem. The engineer told us it was due to blocked drains, this was the sixth sailing this ship had been on since dry dock, how on earth could the drains be blocked?! He used the shower head hose down the drains, a lot of brown water and something indescribable came up he then proceeded to try and attach the shower head back on before being told not to do that, he wanted to know why we had stopped him, his reply was “its no problem its ok” to which we explained that we needed a new hose because it had been shoved down a dirty drain, he seemed confused but went off in search of a unopened hose, he came back 20 minutes later with a hose and attached it and we thanked him, he then left and Mackenzie came in to clean the bathroom floor as it was soaked in brown water, Mackenzie told off the engineer as the water had come into the cabin also, he got to work on cleaning it and apologised for the wet carpet, we told him it couldn’t be helped and thanked him for sanitising the bathroom, we then took our showers and rushed out as we wanted to see the show.



Day 5 Sea day

After the whirlwind end of the evening we decided the next day we would go to guest services to complain, we are not the complaining sort of people but we had paid a lot of money and for the drains to be blocked after its sixth sailing was not exceptional, we had been on older ships and this had NEVER happened before.  We spoke to Eder who informed my family and I that water coming up is “normal” he dismissed our complaint as this was something to be expected, my sister said it was not normal, it went back and fourth, I couldn’t believe guest services were arguing to be “right” my sister in the end explained that he didn’t seem to understand, to which he cut her off and told her he spoke very good English, I eventually stepped in, we were getting nowhere fast and my sister was getting annoyed at his attitude, I explained that we did not doubt his English competency but maybe he was misunderstanding the context, we had been on 22 different ships with different companies, 18 with Carnival, 3 with Royal, and one with Costa and we had never experienced water coming up the drains, and we had sailed on some old class ships, and that for a ship which had been refurbished by a lot of money and paying a lot of money for this cruise we do not think that water coming up is normal. Eder again argued that it is common, my sister told him this was not good enough and to get the manager, he said he was the manager, my sister told him to get his manager. After 10 minutes the manager William came to my family and I, we raised the issue and he explained maybe Eder’s wording was not correct, it does happen but is not normal for it to happen. William offered money for a speciality dining room, or $75 towards cruise photos, the bar, I said would it be possible to have that amount credited to the account as we had the Cheers! Package and we had booked Chefs table already. We reported the issue of the aircon again to William whilst speaking to him and he came to our room to check it only to tell us we needed to close the curtains to feel the benefit of the aircon and that actually the aircon was at the lowest it could go.

Throughout the cruise we would get a knock on the door with someone checking the temperature the readings always said the same, but the temperature was consistently warm. We decided we would not engage in this ongoing battle, we knew the room was too warm but Guest services decided to argue back as opposed to assisting and I was not spending 14 days wasted in arguing with guest services about an unresolved issue. 



Sadly this was not our only encounter at guest services, the only two people on Guest services who I feel are equipped to handle customers are Victoria and Maja.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, mets123 said:

The problems you described were still there on the 6/10 sailing. The marketplace was a zoo. The person who approved the design should be fired!


I agree I have sailed on the Sunshine and I think that particular ship also had its issues, the layout should be consulted with passengers I feel, we are after all paying to go on this particular ship, whilst I had a great cruise I would not choose this ship unless it was for a good deal and going to ports we have not been to and want to go to

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, fyree39 said:

Thank you for this detailed review.  I'm just not sure I'm interested in sailing on these remodeled and over-passengered ships. Reports like yours help me to make this type of decision.


I have sailed on the Sunshine - I did not like this ship, (we did have an issue with a member of the fun squad who was offensive and personally verbally attacked my family and I) - and I do feel some issues on the Sunshine have been addressed in this new ship but I think they have created new issues which were not existing on the ship. 



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Liverpoollovely said:

Approaching the Lido Marketplace, the sides by Guys Burgers and Blue Iguana Cantina are exceptionally narrow… if a wheelchair or a scooter was coming down there would be no way you could fit a person going in the opposite direction of the scooter/wheelchair.

I made this exact same note in my review from a wheelchair last year when it was the Triumph. (Review linked in my signature.)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Buckimion said:

I made this exact same note in my review from a wheelchair last year when it was the Triumph. (Review linked in my signature.)


wow thank you for sharing I had never sailed on the Triumph so was unsure if this was refurbishment fail or if this was the exact layout 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...