Tips for cruising with kids on the Carnival Sunshine! What to see, do and eat aboard the ship, and all about our 8 day Southern Caribbean tour.
Friends! Here we are in January and I am aching to be back on board the Carnival Sunshine.
We had the best time on our trip in December (maybe you saw some snippets on Instagram stories?!?), soaking up the new sights and the warm, tropical weather. It was an awesome experience with our girls!
If you missed my first two posts about our trip, check out my Tips for Travelling with Toddlers here and our Pre-Cruise Stay in Orlando here.
Our cruise was an 8 day Southern Caribbean cruise, and we had 4 sea days and 3 stops: Aruba, Bonaire and Grand Turk.
I will admit — I love the sea days as much as the port days! I love being “stuck” on the ship, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but indulge in the incredible food, have a nap and maybe play some mini golf or soak in the hot tub. I find sea days so relaxing and it’s the perfect chance for the kids to catch an extra nap and get rested up for the next port!
I was really, really excited to see Aruba! We booked a bus tour around the island (right from Carnival shore excursions) and I would love to go back to spend more time there.
Because the kids are young, we weren’t able to do some of the more adventurous excursions like snorkeling or ATV tours, so it was a good chance just to tour around and see the island. I’m definitely looking forward to a time when we can go out and do something a little crazy!
Aruba was stunning and had some incredible nightlife and resorts, but we also saw the Natural Bridge, Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse.
Bonaire is the place that really surprised me.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew it was a pretty small place, with a small population, and I didn’t know if there’d be much to see.
Bonaire is so ridiculously beautiful! It’s a place I feel I could have a vacation home because it is so tranquil and beautiful. There’s not a lot of hustle and bustle, there are no high rise hotels or resorts (though there are some resorts), there are no Wal Marts. It’s so incredible peaceful.
We went on a glass bottom boat tour and it was so fun! We had a spend a great morning out on the water, had a quick nap, and went back out to explore around the town.
We had stopped in Grand Turk a couple years ago when we cruised the Caribbean with my whole family, when our oldest daughter was 2. The first time we came we hired a taxi to give us a tour of the island and, because it’s so small, you can see a lot of it in a short time!
It’s such a neat little place. Our oldest loved going to the lighthouse and petting the donkeys, and we loved browsing the little shops and seeing the historic part of the island.
This time, we decided we were just going to relax at the beach. When you get off the ship you walk right out to the Grand Turk Cruise Center — it’s a neat little place with a big swimming pool, a gorgeous beach with tons of lounge chairs and umbrellas, and tons of cute little shops. We scored some lounge chairs right by the water and spent 3 or more hours on the beach.
The water was perfect — it couldn’t have been more clear and warm but not too warm. The beach sand was so soft and clean and the sun was shining. We had an incredible morning and only tore ourselves away from the beach to have lunch and let the girls nap (which is another reason it’s so awesome that the ship docks right at the beach!).
The Kids’ Highlights From the Cruise:
I mean, besides everything. Here are the things our kids love about cruising!
- The food: Carnival stocks all of their favorite foods, all the time! Not to mention 24 hour pizza, room service, and ice cream.
- Waterworks: The ship has two large waterslides and an area with smaller slides and a splash pad for the little ones. It’s always a big hit!
- The staff absolutely spoil them: It amazes me every time how gracious the crew is aboard the Carnival ships. They care about every need you have and make sure the kids are perfectly comfortable and well-fed.
- The playground: There is a playground off of Camp Carnival that the kids love! I love that it’s open to all kids most of the day so that even though our 2 year old didn’t go to camp most days, we could still take her to play.
- Camp Carnival: Our 4 year old loved going to Camp Carnival! They have different games, activities, arts and crafts planned and she often wanted to go there instead of hang out with us. She went almost every night for dinner while we ate in the dining room so we could have a bit of a relaxing meal and she could enjoy a meal and activities tailored just for kids.
- SportSquare: SportSquare is an area on the very top of the ship that has basketball, foosball, pool, mini golf, ping pong, a jogging track, and more! It’s a great place to spend a morning as a family on sea days.
- Dr. Seuss breakfast: The Carnival Sunshine hosts a Dr. Seuss character breakfast and the girls had a blast! There are decorations, a themed menu, fun music and different characters who make their way around to meet the kids. The kids asked to do it again the next day!
- The glass elevators: Because let’s be honest, for the kids these are one of the best activities! 😉
- The live music: Both of our girls love music, and it seems like anywhere you go, there is live music or a DJ and I love to see their little heads bopping to the music. It adds such an element of fun to the atmosphere on the ship!
Our Highlights from the Cruise:
- The food: There are just so many options! We love the dining room (steak, seafood, and everything you could ever want!), but we also love the Cucina Del Capitano (Italian restaurant), Pizzeria (24 hours of the most authentic Italian pizza!), the Deli (the most amazing sandwiches!), Guy’s Burger Joint (for the best burgers ever), the Blue Iguana Cantina (my favorite are the breakfast burritos in the morning!), and we were lucky enough to eat at the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse one night. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. The staff at all the restaurants go above and beyond, at every meal, and you will get some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. It’s all totally authentic, and only the best quality ingredients are used (for real. I saw them wheeling in bags and bags of specialty pizza flour from Italy!).
- The bed: Oh my word. It’s so comfortable! The pillows are fluffy and amazing and I will admit I had a nap pretty much every day.
- The view: It’s hard to beat that ocean view. From the room, or from almost anywhere in the ship. It’s so tranquil!
- The sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean: I know it sounds a little over the top, but just sitting on the balcony when the ocean was calm, with the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean…. it was good for the soul.
- The incredible service: All of the crew goes above and beyond. The housekeeping staff, the kitchen crew, the servers…. you will feel like a million bucks. Guaranteed.
- Melting Chocolate Cake: let’s be real — it deserves it’s own point! This stuff is incredible, and I’m working on a copycat recipe to come soon 😉
*Disclosure: please know that my family and I were given the chance to cruise with Carnival free of charge so that I could share our experiences with you. We are long time lovers of Carnival Cruise Lines!
Jessica Helton says
Hi. Did you have to pay for the beach at the cruise Center inn Grand Turk?
Ashley Fehr says
No, you don’t have to pay for it! You do have to pay for some of the lounge chairs with umbrellas
Nicole | Culinary Cool says
We did a Carnival cruise about 2 years ago and LOVED IT! I know what you mean about the lava cakes (plus I loved how you could just keep ordering as many as you want). We were on the Glory and the staff (especially the wait staff and housekeeping) were phenomenal to us. Looks like you and the fam had a great time!
Ashley Fehr says
It was SO fun! One of our favorite ways to travel for sure (and not just because of the cake! Lol)
Malinda @Countryside Cravings says
What a fun time and it all looks so beautiful!! I saw a few of your IG stories and it really did look like a lot of fun!!
Ashley Fehr says
Thanks Malinda! We had a blast!