I’ll admit, when I got invited on a 7-day cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d never been on a cruise before, afterall. Maybe I was assuming I’d be incapacitated by seasickness and confined to my cabin the entire 7 day trip, and so the fact that I wasn’t was pretty much a win in my book (thank you, Bonine).
Seasickness-less aside, however, I was beyond impressed. With the ship. With the service. And most of all, with the food.
Every night the food seemed to get better and better. At one point, around the 5th course of the Chef’s Table dinner, I had to remind myself that I was ON A FREAKING BOAT.
All my presumptions about cruise dining must have come from the 80s. Not that I ever went on a cruise in the 80s, or ever for that matter, but still, you probably have the same picture in your head: big, generic buffets and fancy dining rooms with forced seating and mediocre American fare. Amirite?
With the Carnival Sunshine’s “Funship 2.0″ updates (a $155 million dollar-retrofit completed in 2013), they have taken their dining to an entirely new level. You are no longer limited to just the buffet or main dining room, but can now choose your own dining experience in one of their 4 specialty restaurants on board the ship. Yes, there are four entire restaurants on the thing. It’s ridiculous. And delicious.
Each night we were able to experience one of the ship’s specialty dining options, including JiJi’s Asian Kitchen, where they started the night off right with these gorgeous sake sangria cocktails (and how’s that for dinner with a view?) Other highlights of this meal were the Hakka-style noodles and the wonton dessert (over a coconut-tapioca pudding that is high on my “to-recreate” list). While JiJi’s is considered a premium dining option, the cost is only $15 per person. For anything you want (so might I suggest ordering one of everything and sharing?) A steal.
The next night it was off to Italy (well, technically we were on our way to Mexico, although dinner made us feel otherwise). Cucina del Capitano is the ship’s family-style Italian restaurant, again, like JiJi’s, only $15 for all-you-can-eat (and I know some might see that as a challenge, but I saw it as an opportunity to try a bite or two of everything on the menu). This bruschetta and these arancini (fried risotto balls) blew me away, not to mention the presentation.