Guests aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunshine are not sailing the itinerary they have expected, due to a medical diversion that has forced an itinerary change and swapped ports of call.

This has some guests upset due to shore excursion alterations, but the cruise line is making what accommodations are possible.

Carnival Sunshine is currently sailing a 5-night Bahamas cruise that departed Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, August 19, 2023. The ship was due to call on Half Moon Cay, Carnival’s private island in The Bahamas, on Monday, followed by Nassau on Tuesday before a day at sea to bring the ship back to Charleston on Thursday.

Due to a crew member’s injury and the urgent need for a medical evacuation, however, it has been necessary for the ship to divert to Nassau on Monday, and the call on Half Moon Cay has been cancelled. The nature of the injury has not been disclosed to safeguard the crew member’s privacy.

Carnival Sunshine (Photo Credit: Daniel Wright98 / Shutterstock)

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has noted the change, and confirmed that Carnival Sunshine will visit Princess Cay on Tuesday instead. This will provide guests with an opportunity to enjoy a private island destination with similar offerings.

“[Carnival Sunshine] missed Half Moon Cay and will instead go to Princess Cay tomorrow,” Heald said.

While the two islands are only 15 miles (24 kilometers) apart as cruise ships sail, Carnival Magic is already scheduled for Half Moon Cay on Tuesday, but Princess Cay does not have a vessel planned for that day. By switching to Princess Cay, guests aboard Carnival Sunshine will enjoy a less crowded, more exclusive experience.

Many guests onboard are frustrated at the change in order of ports, as the schedule adjustment has caused nearly two-thirds of the planned shore excursions for Nassau to be cancelled instead of shifted to Monday.

The only shore tours that have been able to be accommodated to the new time and day in port are several beach excursions, dolphin swims, and snorkeling options. Walking and tasting tours, visits to Atlantis, Jeep adventures, and a number of sailing, snorkeling, and other options are all cancelled.

“We apologize for any disappointment or inconvenience this may cause,” the letter notifying guests of the changes said.

Guests are still able to debark the ship to explore Nassau on their own, including the new cruise terminal facilities and Junkanoo museum, as well as the famous straw market and other downtown retailers.

Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Guests could also arrange their own transportation to local beaches, enjoy a surrey ride, or take a cab to Atlantis, but should take extra care to ensure they can return to the cruise ship on time. Refunds for cancelled tours are automatically being refunded back to guests’ Sail & Sign accounts.

No other cruise ships are currently visiting Nassau, and in fact, no ships at all were scheduled to dock in the capital of the Bahamas today. Many tour operators may be closed today and unable to change schedules at the very last minute to accommodate Carnival Sunshine‘s unexpected visit without violating local labor laws or other operational restrictions.

It can be frustrating for guests when cruise ship itineraries change at the last minute, especially when fewer shore options are available. Every cruise line, however, puts the health and safety of guests and crew members as a top priority, and the medical evacuation was necessary.

The 102,853-gross ton Carnival Sunshine is the first of the cruise line’s transformed Sunshine class vessels, and was formerly Carnival Destiny. The ship has more than 900 international crew members aboard, and can welcome 3,002 guests at double occupancy or up to 3,785 guests when fully booked.

The ship is homeported year-round from Charleston offering 4- and 5-night Bahamas itineraries as well as the occasional longer Eastern Caribbean sailing. In December 2024, Carnival Sunshine will move to Norfolk, Virginia to offer similar sailings from a new homeport.

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