Carnival Sunshine: Western Caribbean
I have to tell you cruising is one of our favorite family vacations! This is our second year taking a cruise as a family and it won’t be our last. Why do we all love it? It might be easier to tell you what we don’t like (which is simply that it took a long time to drive to Florida.) There are five people in our family and our kids range from 8 – 17 (how did that happen gah) read they have VERY different ideas of fun. On a Carnival cruise there is literally something for EVERYONE in our family to do to keep us entertained as well as more choices to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at available at all times of the day or night. 24/7 people. I haven’t even talked about the views and the destinations – which are amazing.
We boarded the simply beautiful Carnival Sunshine and immediately had lunch, because that’s what you do while waiting on your staterooms to be ready. Once we were all settled and had our safety meeting (safety first) we went up to the deck to watch as we pulled out of Pork Canaveral Florida. Let the fun begin!
The Carnival Sunshine was an impressive ship. The food was delicious. I mean really DELICIOUS. There were so many restaurants available on this ship. We made it our mission to dine at EVERY. SINGLE. restaurant on board. Research people. We’re thorough. If you want sushi you got it. You want Italian? Asian? Burgers? Mexican? Steak? Yes. The answer was always yes.
In addition to regular dining on the lido deck, the dining rooms (and room service) you can dine at the following premium restaurants: JiJi Asian Kitchen, Cucina del Capitano, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, and Bonsai Sushi. These are available for a nominal fee during dinner hours and reservations are recommended. Each one of those restaurants was unbelievable and definitely worth a look. I’m sharing the recipe for one of my favorite dishes from the cruise. Nonna’s Meatballs from Cucina del Capitano. Meatballs you say? YES! They were ridiculous and you HAVE to make them. I mean look at those babies? Who wouldn’t want a bite of that goodness.
I’m not sure how anyone could ever go hungry on a Carnival cruise. To offset my eating (research, research) I took the stairs almost exclusively. That’s a lot stairs. A lot. The only time I took the elevator was when I was wearing heels. I’m clumsy and falling down flights of stairs just wouldn’t have been pretty so the elevator it was during those meals. They also have a gym. A really nice one. I took my running shoes with all intentions of keeping my treadmill sessions. I made it ONCE. Well technically twice but the first time they were closed so I went and had ice cream instead. What?
If you’re looking for a very special dining experience I recommend the Chef’s Table. Reservations in advance are highly recommended as there is VERY limited seating. You can look forward to a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen complete with appetizers followed by 8 courses of the most amazing food all prepared by the Executive Chef and his team of wonderful sous chefs and servers. You won’t be disappointed.
Our first port of call was COZUMEL. We debarked the ship and headed off for a day of catamaran sailing and frolicking on a private island. We ate, drank and relaxed. I promptly called dibs on one of the ocean hammocks. Yes they were IN THE WATER. Mind blown. Drinks, sunshine, gorgeous waters and swinging in the ocean with not a care in the world. It was a pretty perfect day.
Our second port of call was Belize. When I woke up and walked out onto our balcony that morning I was shocked to find there was no dock. Nope they just dropped anchor right there in the middle of the ocean. Tenders came to take us off for a day of snorkeling and exploring beautiful Belize. You better Belize-it! Amazing people, beautiful waters and some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced.
Our third and final port of call was Mohogany Bay, Isla Roatan Honduras. We took in a little local shopping (they even had a Harley Davidson store, yes we had to get a t-shirt) sipped on fresh coconut water and enjoyed the local people and sights before heading back to the ship.
Most afternoons you could find me on the deck sipping on Miami Vices (when in Rome or when on the high seas) and lounging on the sun chairs, kindle in hand. The kids? Well they were always off at Camp Carnival. We could barely get them to eat with us. All they want to do is hang out at Camp Carnival. It’s like a clubhouse for the kids. There are (age appropriate) games and activities going on at all hours of the day and night. Their night owl parties are some of our kid’s favorite. Dancing, snacking and hanging out with kids their own age. It’s pretty much a kid’s dream camp.
At night you can take in a comedy show, a theater show, try your luck at the casino, shake your booty in the nightclubs or just have a few drinks at one of the many BARS! Alchemy was my hands down favorite on board the Carnival Sunshine. They set things on fire. FIRE. The cocktails were some of the best I’ve ever had. We were fortunate to attend a mixology class at Alchemy during the cruise which was a blast (if you’re into cocktails it’s a must do). I’ll be re-creating a few of my favorite cocktails from Alchemy to share with y’all shortly, yes we’ll be setting stuff on fire too.
Like I mentioned there is literally something for everyone in your family to do on a cruise. There are so many options available at each port of call for excursions but if that’s not your cup of tea, the spa is pretty spectacular try a day of pampering or just sit in the adults only pool section and relax and enjoy a day to yourselves.
Now that’s it’s cold and the days are shorter I’m longing for our next cruise. The kids are already asking about next year and chatting up where they’d like to go. Although I’m not sure it really matters to them the destination, being on the ship is what they love. Did I mention they have a high ropes course and water slides on the ship? Sure do! I took a few trips down the slides myself. Good times!
Carnival definitely knows how to put the fun in cruising. They also know how to take care of their guests. Everyone from our stewards, to servers were so attentive and considerate and went above and beyond. I’m still not sure how they can remember our names all week long from day 1. I have trouble remembering my own kids’ names. Truth. I should probably just start referring to them as Number 1, Number 2, Number 3. Kidding. Kinda.
Now where to cruise to next?
Disclaimer: Our cruise was provided by Carnival. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.
The recipe was provided compliments of Carnival and printed with permission.
- 1 pound strip loins
- 1 pound beef trimming (prime)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 pounds yellow onions - chopped
- 1 pound fresh thyme fresh - chopped
- 0.50 Ea garlic - chopped
- 1 oz Parsley - chopped
- 0.02 Ea kosher salt/black pepper to taste
- 4 ounces Brioche bread (soaked in milk)
- 3 eggs
- Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds roasted and crush
- .50 can pomodoroni can sauce
- 10 cloves garlic - sliced
- 8 ounces olive oil
- pinch sugar
- kosher salt/pepper to taste
- .25 fresh basil
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (thinly sliced)
- red crushed pepper flakes
- fresh fried sage
- chopped parsley - chopped
- Method for MEATBALLS; Hand cut fine brunnoise of strip lion and Prime beef trimming.
- Chop onion, finely slice whole mozzarella and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in sauce pan, saute garlic and onions for 5 minutes and set aside to cool down mixture.
- Combine beef with sauteed onions and garlic and rest of the ingredients, check seasoning.
- Make 1.3 ounce meatballs, place in the sauce and cook on a very slow fire. (Do not overcook the meat balls, need to be very soft).
- Method for SAUCE; In a hot sauce pan using olive oil sauteed garlic, red crush pepper and can cherry tomato, stir continuously. Cook for 30 minute and finish with salt, pepper, olive oil and little sugar if required.
- Finish and presentation. Place sauce in the dish, lay meatballs and top again with sauce (should be fully immersed).
- At the time of service dish out 4 each for single portion, dish should have enough sauce.
- Place sliced whole mozzarella on the top of meat balls and place under broiler. As soon as it is removed from the broiler quickly sprinkle with crushed red pepper and chop parsley,
- Garnish with fried sage.