Last week I had the pleasure to cruise on Carnival Sunrise’s first sailing from her Fall/Winter homeport of Port Everglades, Florida. The 101,509 GRT ship underwent a $200 million transformation in early 2019 and the improvements are noticeable throughout. Originally launched in 1999 as the Carnival Triumph, the vessel spent two months in dry dock receiving upgrades to her dining, activities, entertainment and even the addition of 115 new staterooms and suites.
If you’re looking for something different than your typical stateroom, during the dry dock, Carnival added several new room categories. These include three Scenic Ocean View and two Scenic Grand Ocean View rooms each offering floor-to-ceiling panoramic forward-facing windows, two Captain’s Suites perched one deck above the port and starboard side bridge wings and featuring bedding for 5 guests, separate master bedroom, two bathrooms, living room with a wall of windows and massive balcony with forward, side and aft views. There are also brand-new Cloud 9 Spa staterooms that offer a special decor, Elemis bath amenities and access to the ships thermal suite. One thing that I really appreciate is that before the dry dock, while ship was still in service, Carnival took the opportunity to systematically refurbish every stateroom and suite onboard. I’m not talking just new carpet and curtains either, the accommodations look new from top to bottom and resemble rooms on Carnival’s newest ships with new LED lighting, 4 USB ports (2 on desk, 2 near bed), new furnishings and cabinetry, large flat screen television with a selection of free On-Demand movies, plus completely refurbished bathroom.
Carnival is known for having the most included dining options onboard their ships and the Sunrise does not disappoint. Even the most picky eaters will find something to enjoy from the daily menu selections in the main dining room and expansive lido marketplace buffet including The Deli and new addition Lucky Bowl, where you can get made-to-order bowls. Unfortunately, while the food is delicious, Carnival replaced one of my favorites spots, Mongolian Wok with this new offering. Other popular complimentary venues include Guy’s Burger Joint, with some of the best burgers at sea, BlueIguana Cantina, serving great burritos, huevos rancheros and arepas during breakfast and burritos and tacos for lunch, plus an awesome salsa bar, Pizzeria del Capitano with five varieties of pizza by the slice (or get a whole pizza delivered anywhere onboard for $5), and Pasta Bella Pasta Bar (located inside Cucina del Capitano), for made to order pasta dishes during lunch. Also not to miss is Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse, dishing up platefuls of down-home barbecue faves like pulled pork, bbq chicken, beef brisket and sides like baked beans, collard greens and mac and cheese. Take the time to enjoy a leisurely meal with offerings like steak and eggs, eggs benedict, burgers, pasta and many others at the SeaDay Brunch, served in the aft Sunshine Restaurant on sea days only of course.
For something a little different, Carnival Sunrise has several specialty dining offerings. Bonsai Sushi (a la carte pricing) serves the freshest sushi, sashimi and bowls for lunch on sea days and dinner every evening. Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse ($38 pp), is an intimate spot to enjoy a variety of appetizers, USDA prime steaks, seafood and shareable sides, plus an extensive wine selection and great desserts. My recommendation is to experience the “Art at Your Table” dessert presentation. Cucina del Capitano ($15) serves classic regional Italian dishes with large portions and including favorites like chicken parmigiana, veal scaloppini, branzino, risotto and pastas along with appetizers and sides served family-style. Open daily for lunch, Seafood Shack (a la carte pricing) located near the aft pool, has a menu of the freshest seafood with casual choices like fried clams and shrimp, clam chowder, lobster rolls, crab cakes, fish and chips and more.
Carnival Sunrise also features two dining experiences onboard. Chef’s Table ($95 pp) located off the Radiance Restaurant offers a tasting menu that is personally curated by the Master Executive Chef. Each masterful course can also be paired with a wine choice (at additional cost) to make it the ultimate foodie must do. If you’re traveling with the kids, the Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast ($5 pp) features colorful characters straight from the pages of the books while enjoying mixed-up breakfast creations.
Carnival Sunrise features the line’s original Playlist Productions in the purpose-built Liquid Lounge. Each of the shows engages the audience with props, performers and special effects interwoven into the transformational floor seating. On my five night cruise, we experienced three shows. “Soulbound” was timely on our Halloween cruise and combined soulful hits with a macabre theme. “Vintage Pop” delivered one flashy performance after another with big band sounds from the live ensemble, multiple costume changes, dance numbers and strong vocals. “Latin Nights” turned up the heat with sultry performances and a dance club vibe.
You’ll also find incredible live performers around the ship from string trios, guitarists and steel drums to rock groups and stand-up comedians.
Cruise Director Chris Williams (aka “The Flying Scotsman”) not only has a plethora of fun activities planned onboard, he’s a first-rate entertainer all on his own. He can be seen almost every night in the ship’s atrium pumping up the gathered masses as he hosts after-show parties and events, on one evening even impersonating Tina Turner. Chris’ talents are highlighted in his very own one-man show (The Flying Scotsman) where he belts out rock classics and even an operatic melody.
Carnival’s fleet are called “Fun Ships” for a reason and onboard Carnival Sunrise, activities abound seemingly everywhere. Indoors, you’ll find many of the Carnival mainstays onboard including Hasbro, The Game Show, three tiers of kid’s programs: Camp Ocean for kids 2-11, Circle “C” for teens 12-14 and Club O2 15-17, Seuss at Sea activities like the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time, Make it with Michael’s arts & crafts, Bingo, Karaoke, Warehouse Arcade and Sunrise Casino. Get out and enjoy topside fun starting with the Sailaway Deck Party, outdoor movies at the Seaside Theater, the mid-ship and aft pools located on Lido Deck and Carnival WaterWorks, featuring two fast slides and a splash area for smaller kids. You must experience the SportSquare complex offering hours of fun with games like foosball, billiards, cornhole, shuffleboard and basketball, plus the challenging SkyCourse ropes course, where you’ll get the best view on the ship as you maneuver through 10 different elements. Up one deck from SportsSquare and easy to miss, is the Mini Golf course.
Bars & Lounges
If you like to bar hop, while listening to great music or just people watching, the many themed venues onboard Carnival Sunrise have you covered day or night. A good place to start is at the Atrium Bar, perfect for meeting up with friends before a show or meal. While chilling near the main Lido pool, enjoy a rum or tequila infused libation from the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar or other favorite beverage at the aft Tides Pool Bar. Catch a big game or sporting event at the SkyBox Sports Bar*, toast to your good fortune or forget your losses at the Casino Bar, sing-a-long to chart-topping hits at Piano Bar 88 or get into an island vibe at the RedFrog Pub, where they’ve got exclusive Carnival brews on tap along with live performances. You’ll also find bars open for scheduled events in the Liquid Lounge and Limelight Lounge. If making a drink is almost as important as drinking it, you must spend some time at the Alchemy Bar. The master mixologists will prepare you a customized beverage with combinations of ingredients from their special collection.
*Due to broadcast restrictions, some games/events may not be available.
Places to Chill
With all the activities and things to do around the ship, it’s easy to forget to slow it down a little. The all new Cloud 9 Spa has the pampering services of a salon, soothing treatments and a thermal suite to literally just do nothing. You’ll have another great experience at the Serenity Adult Retreat. This two-story complimentary venue, located forward on decks 12 and 14 provides a collection of padded sun or shaded loungers and day beds, private bar, plunge pool and one of my favorite spots to watch the ocean going by.
In addition to a selection of accessible staterooms located on every deck, Carnival Sunrise has great maneuverability for those in wheelchairs or scooters. Two special ADA elevators were added during dry dock, making the upper level of the Lido Marketplace as well as SportSquare and Mini Golf accessible to everyone. There are also lifts for the Serenity Pool and Tides Aft Pool.
As I was onboard filming, I had the opportunity to talk and interact with many members of the crew across all departments. I’ve already mentioned the exemplary talents and energy of cruise director, Chris Williams, however, the entire crew onboard deserve mention as well. No matter where I went (and I went everywhere), I was greeted with a friendly smile and noticed a genuine interest in making the cruise memorable for the guests.
Departing Port Everglades, FL: 4 and 5 night Caribbean itineraries (Oct – Apr 2020 & Oct – Apr 2021)
Departing Norfolk, VA: 5 and 6 night Bahamas itineraries (May 2020):
Departing New York, NY: 4 to 12 night Bermuda, Caribbean & Panama Canal itineraries (May – Oct 2020)
For more details on Carnival Sunrise itineraries, please visit Carnival Cruise Line’s website.
Having sailed on every class of class of ship from Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Sunrise is packed with some of the best offerings in dining, activities and experiences from across the fleet. For the most part, the improvements and additions seem to fit within the overall flow of the vessel without creating significant areas of congestion or looking out of place. I look forward to future cruises onboard Carnival Sunrise.