Carnival Sunshine inaugural festivities on Saturday, May 18, included a luncheon for travel advisors, local officials and VIPs during which Carnival made a donation to One80 Place, a homeless assistance center supported by the cruise line for many years. Charleston-based ships have donated hundreds of mattresses, chairs, dishes and other items for use at the facility over the years.
Carnival Sunshine’s schedule from Charleston includes four- and five-day sailings to the Bahamas, six- and seven-day voyages to Bermuda and the Caribbean, and the first-ever Cuba cruises from Charleston with a series of five-day sailings calling at Havana. Also offered are longer-length 10- and 11-day Carnival Journeys sailings to the Caribbean with day-long calls at tropical islands, opportunities to sample local cuisine and entertainment and activities like a retro Throwback Sea Day.
“Carnival launched Charleston’s first-year round cruise program nearly a decade ago and we’re delighted to homeport Carnival Sunshine which offers our guests so many wonderful onboard features and amenities,” said Terry Thornton, senior vice president of nautical and port operations for Carnival Cruise Line. “This weekend’s festivities were a great way to celebrate the arrival of Charleston’s newest year-round cruise ship while supporting a longtime charitable partner that has made such a tremendous impact on the community,” he added.
Commented Jim Newsome, SC Ports Authority president and CEO, “Carnival Cruise Line is a great customer of the Port, and we’re proud to welcome the Sunshine as a reflection of their success in Charleston. Cruise operations are an important part of SCPA’s maritime commerce mission and the diversification of our business segments. We look forward to continuing this productive relationship with Carnival and applaud their commitment to supporting charitable organizations in our community.”
In addition to featuring more than 500 balcony staterooms and nearly 50 suites, Carnival Sunshine offers a wide range of onboard amenities that include stunning outdoor spaces like a three-level Serenity adults-only retreat, a suspended ropes course and Speedway Splash, dual racing slides that are part of an expansive WaterWorks aqua park. A variety of food and beverage options such as Ji Ji Asian Kitchen, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant, Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub and the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar are included as well.
Charleston is an important part of Carnival’s ship deployment strategy in which the line positions ships near large U.S. population bases along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. Carnival sails from 20 different North American homeports providing a convenient and cost-effective means for its guests to get to and from their cruise. It’s estimated that roughly half of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of a Carnival homeport
Carnival launched Charleston’s first year-round cruise program in 2010 and the departures attract guests from across the Southeast and other regions. Carnival and other cruise operators generate $131 million in direct expenditures and account for nearly 2,400 jobs and $93 million in wages toward the South Carolina economy.
With Carnival Sunshine repositioning to Charleston, Carnival Ecstasy was deployed to Jacksonville for year-round four- to seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean. In turn, Carnival Elation, previously based in Jacksonville, shifted to Port Canaveral for a new four- and five-day Caribbean/Bahamas schedule from the Space Coast.