As a chronically early riser, I find a quiet–eerily silent–Sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. as I make my way to deck 9 and its coffee stations. New York’s gray skies seem to have followed us but in the distance a single ray of sunshine peeps beneath the clouds and pierces the ocean’s surface. Yes! There is hope that the swimsuit I packed might actually be used.
Slowly, Sunrise begins to come to life and I enter the Lido buffet and run a slalom course around hordes of people balancing plates piled with omelets, pancakes, breads, potatoes, muffins and fruit. These people, it’s obvious, like to eat as much as they like to drink.
The Lido is a vast double-sided buffet space. Done in an almost Tiffany blue with blonde woods and silver accents, quirky glass lighting fixtures extend from the ceiling above each table. Breakfast, lunch and dinner may be taken here or, for lunch and dinner, nearby spots like The Seafood Shack (a la carte pricing), Guy’s Burger and Blue Iguana Cantina offer specialty fare that may be enjoyed at outdoor tables, in the air conditioned Lido or poolside. (Note: The Seafood Shack’s lobster roll, a generous two-roll portion, has become a Carnival staple…and for good reason–it’s delectable!)
On this gray (but getting brighter!) sea day, it seems half of Sunrise’s guests are in the casino pumping slot machines or browsing “The Fun Shops” that rim the atrium on deck 5. Lined up outside shop doore, tables display watches, gold by the inch (they still do that???), and while the shops themselves have lured customers with a “Mimosa Shopping Party,” $10 accessory sales and, of course, duty free prices on jewelry, liquor, tobacco and more. I buy a bag of sour cherry funnel gummies–replicas of Carnival’s red, white and blue stack–to bring back to my office mates back home.
As the day draws on, optimistic sun worshipers brave the wind, occupying most deck chairs while a few hearty souls really dive in…the swimming pool, that is. Music plays–loudly–for most of the afternoon, interrupted only by the “Hairy Chest Contest,” a parade of men vying for the coveted title, and judged by some rather aggressive women.
Tonight at 7:00 p.m. is Carnival Sunrise’s “Welcome Party,” hosted by Captain Bruno in the ship’s atrium and, by late afternoon, a surprising number of Sunrise guests have donned their fanciest duds and brightest bling for the occasion. Ship photographers are everywhere to capture the dramatic transformation and as 7:00 p.m. draws near I take a center seat at the atrium bar to enjoy the electric violin performance of The Black Diamonds, a refreshing break from the pounding rock, disco and rhythm and blues that form the typical Carnival Sunrise soundtrack. Bravo, Black Diamonds!
This evening, again, I choose an “optional” dining experience: Fahrenheit 555, Sunrise’s steakhouse. With a $38 surcharge, reservations are fairly easy to come by and totally worth it for the intimate ambiance, amber lighting, suede upholstered seating, touches of wood and brass and, most importantly, the food! Somehow the space manages to simultaneously evoke the typical masculine feel of a steakhouse while its soft lighting and sumptuous decor make it the most romantic dining venue aboard.
I forego a $12 glass of Cabernet Sauvignon when I discover that all bottles are 50% this evening. With the half-price savings, I choose a lovely $44 bottle of Malbec–Terrazas Reseva to be exact. I certainly won’t be finishing the entire bottle tonight, but am assured that it may be retrieved and enjoyed tomorrow or the next day at any restaurant on the ship.
Fahrenheit 555’s menu is a dizzying selection of beef and seafood specialties: filet mignon, surf & turf, dover sole, rack of lamb, roasted chicken, exclusive Wagyu beef and more. After last night’s overindulgence at Cucina, I start with a light and delicious Caesar Salad (instead of the lobster bisque that I really, really, really wanted) and choose a 9 oz. filet mignon as my main course with sides of garlic rapini and mushrooms. The fork-tender filet arrives perfectly medium rare–cooked throughout but with the distinct red interior that I prefer (and usually never receive)–the mushrooms and rapini are the perfect accompaniment.
Across the restaurant, someone has ordered the smoked oysters. Not my thing buy I am dazzled by the presentation: The dish arrives beneath a glass dome which, when lifted, disperses clouds of fragrant smoke through the restaurant.
The evening’s entertainment includes a Motown Dance Party and trivia contest but I simply can’t stay up that late after the excellent meal I just consumed. Another glass of my malbac, a dessert of sweet coffee ice cream, and I’m ready to go back to my cabin, spend some time on my balcony watching the full moon and look forward to a day in Bermuda tomorrow.
Story and photos courtesy of Judi Cuervo.