Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst is aboard the revamped Carnival Sunshine. His first dispatch follows.
The Havana Bar is a triple-threat space. At lunch it serves Cuban sandwiches, empanadas and flan. In the evening there’s live Latin dance music. After midnight, it becomes a disco.
Oh, and it’s a bar, too.
The venue, which is new to Carnival on this ship, is emblematic of what Carnival is doing with recreation and entertainment, providing more variety and different functions in different parts of the day.
The Havana Bar space is square-shaped at the aft, with panoramic views looking backwards out of the ship. It is low and a bit dark. The center of the room is a bar with Iberian tile decoration. A couple of faux palm trees help suggest the tropical atmosphere.
Havana Bar was created out of the former aft pool deck on Carnival Destiny, which was enclosed. Its roof is the floor of the WaterWorks aqua park.
Starting at 9:30 at night, a three-piece band plays Latin music, which alternates with recorded Latin songs until 12:30 a.m. Latin is a refreshing change of pace from the rock, folk and country-oriented music on the rest of the ship.
On this sailing, the Piano 88 piano bar, newly relocated from Deck 5 to Deck 4, was rocking most nights. The pianist represents the desire to bring more flair to entertainment, as well as breaking up the offerings into smaller venues than the ship’s theater.
“Traditionally, our musicians were great musicians, but perhaps less performers. They helped support the shows that took place in the main theaters,” said Carnival’s chief marketing officer, Jim Berra. “Now we’re building purpose-built rock bands and soloists. They’re still great musicians, they have the chops, but they’re also very entertaining.”
Ocean Plaza, Liquid Lounge, Red Frog Pub and Limelight Lounge all offer some musical or comedy entertainment.
When it comes to recreation, Carnival Sunshine’s 48-foot tall waterslide complex dominates. But there is also mini-golf, basketball, shuffleboard, foosball and ping pong, as well as a jogging track and two swimming pools.
The newly expanded Cloud 9 Spa serves up a bevy of beauty and relaxation treatments in 15 treatment rooms, including two couples rooms. The ship offers a Zspa teen program designed for passengers ages 13 to 17. A fitness center and beauty salon are adjacent to the spa.
Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.