Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ship: Overview and Things to Do

Here's everything you need to know about the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship, with an overview and things to do onboard.

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Carnival Sunshine may hold status as the oldest ship in Carnival’s fleet, but that doesn’t mean that this nearly 30-year-old cruise ship doesn’t have a lot to love. 

When you take a Carnival Sunshine cruise, you’ll enjoy all your favorite, classic Carnival offerings, from the brand’s well-known restaurants to daily activities and entertainment.

The ship always has something going on and is, despite its age and relatively small size compared to other cruise ships, an ideal option for those seeking an active, busy cruise itinerary. Ready to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about the Carnival cruise ship.

Carnival Sunshine Stats

Carnival Sunshine has changed quite a lot over the years, but we’ll get into that in a moment. For now, though, if you take a Carnival Sunshine cruise, here’s what you can expect.

  • Gross Tonnage: 102,853 (making Carnival Sunshine less than half the size of some of the largest cruise ships in the world)
  • Length: 892 feet
  • Staterooms: 1,501
  • Passenger Capacity: 3,002
  • Maximum Guest Capacity: 3,758
  • Passenger Decks: 14
  • Crew Capacity: 1,040

Construction and History

Now to get into Carnival Sunshine‘s long and winding history and its many refurbishments. Carnival Sunshine hasn’t always been Carnival Sunshine. Instead, the cruise ship launched in 1996 as Carnival Destiny

Carnival Destiny, built in Italy in the early 1990s at the cost of $400 million, was the lead ship of Carnival’s Destiny class. Other Destiny-class ships to come later included Carnival Triumph and Carnival Victory

Don’t recognize any of those ship names? Don’t worry — that’s because all of them were renamed when the Destiny class was rechristened the Sunshine class, and all of the ships received new names and new looks. Carnival Destiny became Carnival Sunshine. Carnival Triumph became Carnival Sunrise. Carnival Victory became Carnival Radiance.

Carnival Destiny Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: FloridaStock / Shutterstock

When Carnival Destiny became Carnival Sunshine (along with the transformation of all of its sister ships), it was a big deal. However, that wasn’t the ship’s first major refurbishment. It also received a multimillion-dollar refit in 2005, when the ship was nearly ten years old, that upgraded its public spaces. More renovations occurred in 2010, with changes to the ship’s Lido deck and cabins.

Read Also: Reasons to Take a Carnival Sunrise Cruise

The big-name swap finally occurred in 2012, with refurbishments revealed in 2013 to the tune of $155 million dollars. The new Carnival Sunshine included tons of changes — both cosmetic and functional. New offerings ranged from updated elevators, air conditioning, and laundry, to the addition of the ship’s waterpark, which included, at the time, what was one of Carnival’s largest water slides. Nearly 200 staterooms were also added. 

Popular Carnival-branded restaurants and spots that the ship gained during this 2013 transformation included:

  • Ji Ji Asian Kitchen
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Cucina del Capitano
  • BlueIguana Cantina
  • JavaBlue Cafe
  • Pizzeria del Capitano
  • Fahrenheit 555
  • Shake Spot
  • Serenity Retreat
  • SportSquare
  • WaterWorks water park
  • Carnival Seaside Theater
  • RedFrog Pub
  • BlueIguana Tequila 
  • EA Sports Bar
  • Alchemy Bar
  • RedFrog Rum Bar
  • The Library Bar
  • Havana Bar

While this transformation was mammoth, though, that didn’t mean that Carnival simply stopped updating the ship in 2013. Since that was a decade ago, the cruise line has updated the ship even further over the last 10 years.

In 2016, Carnival made cosmetic changes and changed the EA Sports Bar over to the Skybox Sports Bar. In 2018, more cosmetic changes were made and retail space expanded. More recently, in 2021, additional cosmetic changes were made, but the biggest change was redesigning the ship’s hull art.

Carnival Sunshine Dry Dock
Photo Credit: Barcos Por Cadiz

Finally, in 2022, Carnival Sunshine gained its status as the oldest ship in the Carnival family (if you consider the ship the Carnival Destiny), as Carnival Ecstasy retired. All of the above considered, you can expect a refreshed, modern feel on this Carnival ship, similar to what you might find on younger Carnival vessels.

So, don’t be worried about your cruising experience being outdated or on the lackluster side when you take a Carnival Sunshine cruise. Here’s more of what to expect, so you can start planning your Carnival Sunshine cruise. 

Staterooms

Carnival Sunshine offers a variety of staterooms, including:

  • 586 interior staterooms
  • 28 ocean-view obstructed window staterooms
  • 6 porthole ocean-view staterooms
  • 308 ocean-view staterooms
  • 508 balcony staterooms
  • 10 ocean view, interior upper/lower and twin/sofa bed staterooms 
  • 32 accessible staterooms

The staterooms, though updated, aren’t as sleek as what you might find on some of the cruise ships to launch in the last few years. You can expect budget hotel-level decor and furnishings. Think bright, Carnival-orange wallpaper and carpeting. 

Each stateroom offers basic amenities like a flat-screen TV, hairdryer and non-stocked mini bars in select rooms. 

Do note, that there is a big difference between the porthole ocean-view staterooms and the ocean-view staterooms, so be sure to choose your stateroom accordingly. The portholes are tiny and provide very limited views.

Carnival Sunrise Stateroom
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

The typical ocean-view rooms offer slightly larger, rectangular windows (and just a larger amount of space in the stateroom overall). This ship also offers something called a scenic ocean-view room, which features a gigantic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling window, for the best views possible. 

Similarly, specialty interior staterooms also exist, such as the Cloud 9 Spa interior staterooms. These feature unique decor that’s intended to provide a more relaxing setting (than maybe the jarring bright orange and blue interiors that you’ll find elsewhere). The decor incorporates light green hues and light woods, for a fresh airy feel. Guests here receive priority spa reservations and amenities, such as unlimited use of thermal suites, complimentary body composition analyses, complimentary fitness classes and more. 

You can also book very similar Cloud 9 Spa balcony staterooms. Likewise, specialty Premium Vista balcony staterooms are situated on the aft corners of the ship, offering panoramic views from wrap-around balconies. 

Suites

But what if you need even more space in which to spread out and enjoy your cruise? Luckily, Carnival Sunshine offers plenty of suite options, too. The ship features…

  • 45 Ocean Suites
  • 8 Grand Suites
  • 2 Captain Suites

Ocean Suites (which also technically include a few Cloud 9 Spa suites) offer more indoor space, large balconies, walk-in closets and whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms. Special amenities also include priority check-in and express boarding, priority dining times, room stewards and more.

Carnival Sunrise Stateroom
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

Cloud 9 Spa suites further feature that green, relaxing color palette that all the Cloud 9-themed staterooms offer, but with extra space and amenities. 

The Grand Suites are even larger, with extra room features such as dressing areas with vanities. Extra amenities include priority debarkation at ports. 

The Captain’s Suites are the best of the best, though, with VIP offerings and tons of space. Expect two large bathrooms per suite, separate living rooms and more. 

Free Dining

As mentioned, Carnival Sunshine’s biggest refurbishment added a lot of classic Carnival dining options to its lineup. However, these were a mixed bag of free and for-a-fee restaurants. If you want to try out Carnival’s standard cuisine at the free dining options aboard the ship, you’ll want to head to the following:

Guy’s Burger Joint
Guy’s Burger Joint
  • BlueIguana Cantina, for Mexican and Caribbean eats
  • Guy’s Burger Joint, for burgers and the classic accompaniments inspired by celebrity chef Guy Fieri
  • Lido Marketplace, for your classic cruise buffet experience
  • Seadogs, for hot dogs
  • Sunrise Dining Room, the first of Carnival Sunshine’s main dining rooms
  • Sunset Dining Room, the second of Carnival Sunshine’s main dining rooms
  • Taste Bar, for small bites 

Specialty Restaurants

Of course, if you tire of the free dining options (which is totally possible, given that there aren’t as many on Carnival Sunshine as you might find on other ships), you can always go for an upgrade and try out one of the specialty restaurants. Carnival Sunshine’s specialty restaurants include:

Cucina del Capitano, Carnival Cruise Line
  • Bonsai Sushi, for — what else? — sushi
  • Cherry On Top, for your sweet treats
  • Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, for all of your favorite classic steakhouse fare
  • JavaBlue Cafe, for coffee and accompaniments
  • Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, for Asian cuisines from multiple countries
  • RedFrog Pub, for more Caribbean-inspired eats, similar to BlueIguana Cantina
  • Shake Spot, for getting your milkshake fix
  • Cucina del Capitano, for family-style Italian favorites

Bars and Lounges

Carnival Sunshine offers an array of watering holes where you can wet your whistle. With Carnival known as the “fun” cruise line, you’ll find a lot more active nightlife compared to other cruise lines. Here’s what you’ll find onboard:

Carnival Breeze Alchemy Bar
Alchemy Bar
  • Alchemy Bar, for inventive cocktails
  • The Atrium Bar, for people-watching while you sip
  • The Pool Bar, for poolside drinks
  • The BlueIguana Tequila Bar, for tequila shots and tequila-based beverages
  • Havana Bar, for Cuban-inspired cocktails and entertainment
  • Piano Bar 88, for live music alongside classic drinks
  • RedFrog Pub, for favorite cocktails to go with your Caribbean eats
  • Sunshine Casino Bar, for drinks while you gamble the night away
  • The Library Bar, for a relaxing setting to compliment your relaxing drink

Activities and Entertainment

You’ll find lots of ways to keep yourself entertained aboard a Carnival Sunshine cruise. There are plenty of activities for the entire family, whether you want to spend a day by the pool, working up a sweat or relaxing in style.

Shows

For lots of laughs and live music, check out either the Punchliner Comedy Club or the Playlist Productions theatrical performances. Whether you’re hoping for a Broadway-style show or just a family-friendly fun time, you can find both.

Casino

The casino is a great spot to spend a few hours, no matter your preferred game of chance. Stop in for a drink and maybe swing by the slots.

WaterWorks Park

Of course, you’ve got to try the onboard waterpark. WaterWorks features an awesome waterslide that both kids and adults will enjoy. If you’re not looking for thrills, simply enjoy hanging out by one of the pools. There are plenty of sun loungers to go around.

Carnival Sunshine WaterWorks
Carnival Sunshine WaterWorks (Photo Credit: Vintagepix / Shutterstock)

SportsSquare

For a bit of competitive fun, try SportSquare, where you can play a range of favorite games, from mini golf to ping pong to basketball.

Adults-Only

If you’re traveling without the kids (or just want to get away from the kids for a while), head to Serenity, the ship’s adults-only deck retreat. 

If your idea of a good time is working up a sweat and an appetite, then you’ll want to go to the fitness center, with its multiple classes and great array of workout gear. Afterward, stop into the Cloud 9 Spa, for a full range of treatments and beauty offerings.

Carnival Sunshine Adults-Only Serenity
Carnival Sunshine Adults-Only Serenity (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock)

Kids Venues

After all the family time, if you want to split up and enjoy yourselves solo, the kids won’t be just left to their own devices at the pool or SportSquare. Instead, they’ve got some great options, with something for every age group.

Carnival’s kid’s programming includes Camp Ocean, for children ages 2 to 11; the Circle C Lounge, for ages 12 to 14; and Club O2, for teenagers, up to 17. Each program features its own space and lots of events and activities designed with these three individual age groups in mind. 

Carnival Sunshine Cruises

All of this sounds pretty great. Don’t wait to book your Carnival Sunshine cruise.

Carnival Sunshine FAQ

How old is the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship?

Carnival Sunshine was introduced in 2013. However, the Carnival Sunshine ship hasn’t always been Carnival Sunshine. Instead, the cruise ship launched in 1996 as Carnival Destiny. Since then, it’s undergone several rounds of refurbishments, with the most substantial occurring in conjunction with its reintroduction and renaming in 2013. 

What class ship is the Carnival Sunshine?

When originally launched as Carnival Destiny, Carnival Sunshine was the lead ship for Carnival’s Destiny class. However, when Carnival Destiny was rebranded as Carnival Sunshine in 2013, it took over as the lead ship for the new Sunshine class. Sister ships include similarly refurbished and renamed ships, the current Carnival Radiance and Carnival Sunrise.

How large is the Carnival Sunshine?

Carnival Sunshine is a relatively small ship, coming in at 102,853 GT and 892 feet long. It features just over 1,500 staterooms and suites, with 14 passenger decks and a maximum occupancy of 3,758 guests. At normal, double occupancy, the ship holds just over 3,000 guests, with just over a thousand crew members.

Holly Riddle
Holly Riddlehttps://hollyriddle.org/
Holly Riddle is a travel and food freelance writer whose work can be found in print and digital publications all around the world. She is additionally an entrepreneur specializing in content and marketing services. Beyond frequent travel, Riddle enjoys cooking, reading, camping and spending time with her husband and two dogs. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and just about anywhere in the Caribbean. Find out more about us here.

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