Carnival Sunshine Itinerary Change and New Pre-Cruise Testing

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In a letter sent to booked guests, Carnival Sunshine has implemented new pre-cruise COVID-19 testing at the embarkation terminal for its January 17 sailing. This new testing requirement applies to all passengers ages 2 and older, and is in addition to the mandatory pre-cruise negative test result that must be presented at the terminal.

Extra Testing Required for 10-Night Cruise

The notification letter, emailed to booked Carnival Sunshine guests, explains that because of the cruise length and the widespread nature of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, everyone must be tested at the terminal prior to embarking the ship for its January 17, 10-night Eastern Caribbean Carnival Journeys sailing.

The statement reads: “Given the prevalence of the Omicron variant and the length of your cruise, we will be testing all guests ages 2 years and older at embarkation, irrespective of vaccination status.”

This new testing requirement will be complimentary, but is required and is in addition to the mandatory pre-cruise test that must be taken within two days of sailing and presented at check-in. Advance registration is required for the embarkation test, and both testing and check-in will occur during scheduled arrival appointment windows.

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Barcos Por Cadiz

Testing at the Charleston, South Carolina cruise terminal will be done in passengers’ cars, with a dedicated lane for COVID testing. Guests will need to park and wait for the results, which should be emailed to them within approximately 15-20 minutes.

Guests must remain in their cars until everyone in their traveling party has received a negative test result via email. Anyone who receives a positive result, along with their close contacts, will not be permitted to sail. A contact number is provided for those testing positive to get further instructions.

Passengers being dropped off at the cruise terminal will test inside embarkation building 324. The same rapid tests will be used, with results emailed in 15-20 minutes.

Passengers who test positive will be responsible for any local quarantine expenses, if necessary. Carnival will attempt to retrieve any checked luggage prior to the ship setting sail, but everyone is advised to keep travel documents, medications, and valuables with them in carry-on bags.

10-Day Itinerary Changed

In the same letter, Carnival announced that the scheduled call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, will not take place “as a result of a new policy requiring guests to have additional testing for COVID-19 in order to debark there.” The letter further explains that “given the limited timeframe for testing, it would not be possible to complete the process to allow you adequate time ashore.”

Carnival Journeys sailings are designed to offer more in-depth experiences and opportunities to explore ports of call, so this change is no surprise. Multiple other ships have canceled visits to San Juan due to the increased testing requirement, which would dramatically limit passengers’ opportunities onshore.

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos /

To replace San Juan, a call to Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, has been added to the itinerary. This is not the only change for this 10-day itinerary, however. In addition to replacing San Juan, the planned visit to St. Kitts has been removed and the ship will instead call at Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

The ship’s original itinerary was to have been two days at sea, followed by five days exploring five different ports: St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, and San Juan, concluding with two more days at sea before arriving back in Charleston on January 27.

Read More: 10 Reasons to Cruise on Carnival Sunshine

The new itinerary still starts and ends with two days at sea, but the ports of call have now been changed to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, Tortola, and Amber Cove. The cruise dates remain unchanged.

All pre-purchased shore excursions for the now canceled calls at San Juan and St. Kitts will be refunded to passengers’ onboard Sail and Sign accounts. New tours for Tortola and Amber cove can be booked online beginning this weekend.

While Carnival is doing its best to keep guests informed of itinerary changes and other alterations to their cruise plans, all cruise travelers should be prepared for the possibility of additional last-minute changes, even while the ship is underway. This fluidity is rapidly becoming standard procedure for all cruise lines, and flexibility is essential to continue enjoying oceangoing getaways as the cruise industry adapts in these unprecedented times.

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