In January of this year I sailed on the Carnival Sunrise from Ft Lauderdale for 5 Nights to the Eastern Caribbean. The itinerary included a stop in Amber Cover DR and Grand Turk plus a day at sea on each end. Although its been a few months, I realized I had not written a review of the Sunrise.
The Carnival Sunrise, formally Carnival Triumph was renovated back in 2019 and renamed Carnival Sunrise to take after the Carnival Sunshine which was originally Carnival Destiny. This multi million dollar renovation replaced almost everything from furniture in public areas to the entire design. They also added food venues like Cucina del Capitano, Bonsai Sushi and the Red Frog Pub, all staples of the newer Carnival ships.
One of the biggest structural changes was to the theater. The redesign took after the newest class,Vista, in the fleet making it only 2 decks and smaller. More on the theater and my thoughts later. To do this, they moved the bottom floor of the theater up one deck and added cabins to deck 3 so the theater now covered decks 4 and 5.
I will begin with a review of my Interior Stateroom Cabin 7399. When I booked this, I booked an Interior Guarantee. This means you book an interior and get your cabin assignment from the cruise line at a later date. I don’t do this very often because I am usually concerned with the location but this time I really did well. My cabin was on deck 7 aft behind the aft elevators. This was great because I only had 2 decks up to Lido and 2 decks down to Promenade plus being behind the aft elevators, there was rarely any foot traffic.
The stateroom was very well laid out so I did not feel cramped as sometimes you do in an interior stateroom. There was a queen size bed with a large TV and plenty of closet space. There were only two things I would have liked to have in the cabin, drawers for clothing and USB ports next to the bed. Other than that. I really liked this cabin.
As usual, Carnival did not disappoint when it came to the food and service. For this cruise, breakfast was at the buffet, lunch was usually Guys Burgers or Blue Iguana. For dinner, I ate four of the five nights in the dinning room but did have the buffet one night.
Breakfast at the buffet was great as usual. I grab an omelet or some mini waffles and eggs, have a seat out side and enjoy the ocean air. Now, there are several options on this ship for breakfast. Blue Iguana for a breakfast burrito, the dining room and new a breakfast burger at Guys Burger. Now I did not try Guys for breakfast this time but if it continues on other ships I will.
For lunch, I of course headed for Guys Burgers for my usual Straight Up with some donkey sauce. If you have not had one, you really need to. But later in the cruise I discovered the Blue Iguana Fish Tacos. Well, that was lunch for the rest of the cruise. Just added a little sour cream and this watermelon salsa they offered and off to the races. Not sure out of all the times I have sailed Carnival, I missed these tacos.
Let’s talk about dinner. As I have done on most of my cruises, I chose my time dining. It allows for the most flexibility. As I said, for all but one night I ate with family in the dining room. They had a great menu each night including one night with my Teriyaki Salmon which is my favorite in the dining room. I didn’t try anything new on this cruise but did of course finish most dinners with the famous chocolate melting cake. The food was great and the waiters we had were outstanding.
As I mentioned, I did have dinner in the buffet one night. Now, I usually don’t do this but I really did not see anything on the dining room menu I wanted. This, I was disappointed in and wished I had just had something from the deli. Carnival tries to match the Lido Deck buffet with the dining room menu with a few variances but it just was not great. With one exception, the carved leg of lamb, that was fantastic.
During the late night, I discovered something I hope will be fleetwide. Traditionally, if you want something to eat after 11 at night, its usually the pizza or a small buffet of heavy foods. On the Sunrise, they had an omelet station which I thought was a great idea. Don’t get me wrong, the pizza is good but you can only eat so much pizza.
With Carnival you are always going to be to find entertainment whether it’s a show in the theater, a comedian or live bands. I only saw one show on this cruise and it was called Vintage Pop. The theater was a lot like the one on Carnival Vista taking up just 2 decks. Also, instead of fixed seating on the bottom floor, they use movable chairs for most of it. This gives them flexibility in their performances. In Vintage Pop, they used the floor for some of the performance adding tables for people to sit at, if you were early. For me, this is one of the top shows on Carnival along with Epic Rock and Flick.
The live music is scattered throughout the ship from the lobby to the Red Frog Pub with a great variety. I tell you on of the staples on Carnival now is the electric violins usually playing in the lobby. On formal night, I heard Highway to Hell from ACDC played for the first time on a violin.
One of the highlights for me this cruise was the casino. Probably because I did so well, if I had not, it would have been the worst part. But aside from winning, they has some dealers with great personalities and the people playing were fun as well. I play roulette exclusively and did not have a problem getting on a table. It was a little odd that most nights the roulette tables were not very crowded and this is just not normal for roulette. Smoke is usually an issue in the casino but this time it was not too bad. Most cruises, I have to play at the end of the night so I can just take off my smoke filled shirt when I get back to my cabin but not the case most nights. Maybe they did some work on the ventilation.
Our firs was in Amber Cove, a port in the Dominican Republic built by Carnival Corp. Here you have the option of shopping, zip lining or just hanging out by the pool. We booked an excursion called La Casa en La Playa. It’s a short bus ride to this beach house where you and a small group have access to this wonderful private beach. It was a pretty cloudy so not much for sunning but very relaxing.
We were greeted on the bus by “Mamma” who was so sweet and took care of the whole group. The house is right on the beach where you have access to chairs, hammocks and of course wait staff. You can also take out the Kayaks which my cousin and I did with no additional cost.
About mid day, they served a fantastic lunch of jerk chick off the grill along with vegetables. While at the beach house, food, drinks and activities are included and of course transportation to and from the cruise port. I would highly recommend this tour if you want a small group and relaxing day.
Grand Turk was the next stop and is also a port built and used by Carnival Corp. Here you have shopping, a pool at Margaritaville and a beautiful beach with clear blue green water. It started out great and we had some time to swim and snorkel before the rain and wind came. It didn’t last long but it was pretty windy hanging out on the beach was really not an option.
This was my second time to Grand Turk so I wanted to try something different and go to the right side of the pier. There are clam shells you can use for free but this is more for relaxing on the beach than swimming. See, this side is pretty rocky near the water but if you bring water shoes, there is some great snorkeling. If you want soft sand and swimming, go to the left side of the pier
With sea days, everyone is on the ship so you get an idea of how crowded the ship can be. Where does everyone want to be on sea day, outside so that is where the crowds are.
There is a lot to do on the Sunrise like the waterpark, mini golf, ropes course and the pools. The slides at the waterpark were so much fun and rarely had much of a line. I only played mini golf a little but it’s a great course. Now, I have a fear of heights so the ropes course was not part of my plan. But I plan on tackling that on the Breeze in August.
As far as the pool and deck areas, finding a chair was almost impossible unless you were a chair hog. By 10 AM there were towels on chairs everywhere. Now, I am not a have to sit right next to the pool person. I am happy on a railing over looking the ocean but that was even impossible. The Serenity Deck was much smaller than others I have seen and even had a very odd rectangle hot tub. All of that being said, if you want something in the morning, you may have a hard time finding a chair but wait until afternoon and you might be more lucky.
If you are looking for a quiet place outside, go down to deck 3 lobby. There are doors that go out to a deck where there are chairs and hardly any people.
Carnival has a pretty easy debarkation process. You have two options, self assist or have the bags taken off for you. Self-Assist allows you to take all of your bags off your self but you do have to handle them all. They start with this group early in the morning and call by deck number.
The other option is to have the bags taken off by crew for you. For this, you leave your bags outside your room the night before then pick them up in the terminal before you clear customs. The day before you debark, you will pick up luggage tags at a designated place on the ship and those will have numbers on them. Of course, the lower the number, the earlier you get off. They will start announcing these numbers after all or at least the majority of self-assist passengers have debarked. Keep in mind, if you are trying to make an early flight, self-assist is your better option.
Which option I use depends on the factors involved, port, driving or flying and how much luggage I have. For this cruise, I chose for them to take my luggage because I was not in a hurry to get off the ship. I had my carry on and sat on promenade and enjoyed my coffee stress free.
Once I arrived in the terminal, it was easy to find my luggage because everything is clearly marked. But, once I got over to customs, it was probably 30 to 45 minutes to get through. After that, I headed out into the madness, found my van from Avis to go and get my car and was off.
Even though this has nothing to do with the ship or Carnival, I want to talk a little about my experience with Avis Rent a Car. I rode down with my cousin and her husband but they were not coming back to Jacksonville right after the cruise so I had to get transportation back to Jacksonville. The flights were too late in the day and the train took way too long. So, I decided to rent a car from the Avis location near the port. Well, this turned into what I consider a disaster. I am pretty patient and will wait if its reasonable but it was 2 hours before I got a car. They had one person checking people in and seemed to take forever with each person. I will say, they were friendly and I had a pretty nice car but the wait seemed excessive.
Overall, I had a fantastic cruise and would recommend the Carnival Sunrise to the right person. See part of my role as a Travel Adviser is to set expectations. The Sunrise might not be good for some but great for others.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.