This was absolutely the best family vacation we have been on including Disney World. Just about everything above should have been a 100+ but the directions said that almost no one gets a 100. Embarkation was a breeze. We got there early and got on the ship at 11:30 or maybe earlier. Went to our cabin and changed into our swimsuits. The restaurant was open as was the grill and the pizza bar. Pools open and bars were open. So get there early and you will have the ship to yourself for several hours.
All the food from the formal dining room to the Suns and Sea to the grills and sushi bars was out of this world. All the soft serve ice cream you could can eat. The pizza bar is open 24 hrs but there's usually a grill or something else open as well. Albe our main dining room waiter was the best. The first night my daughter asked for chocolate milk and he had it ready and waiting the rest of the cruise. He served it in her wine glass calling her a princess. Boy she lovedthat. Wherever we were, whenever we were, and whatever we asked for it was gotten for us right away. I asked a busboy for chocolate milk in the Sun & Sea restaurant and he brought me two.
We ordered room service all the time. It was at our door in 10 minutes or less. Faster than I could go get it myself. They have a huge variety of room service food. We usually ordered coffee and desert or coffee and breakfast and sat on our balcony and watched the world go by. By all means go for the balcony room. It is worth the extra. It really was private. We only heard folks on their balconies once or twice. The ship is ultra quiet and we seldom felt it move except for when it got real windy one night, but not enough to even come close to making us sick. Our room steward Ducan was great. He always cleaned the room immaculately and of course made the greatest towel creations.
Every time we passed a crewman they spoke to us no matter where we were. They were constantly cleaning and shining the rails and the glass. Carnival has really done a great job and has a great product. We have sailed RC and I thought Carnival was for the younger crowd but they have a great family product and really cater more to families. They had some great children's programs. We did not do it because we spent our time as a family.
PORTS Key West:Go into town and if you have kids do the pirate museum. KW is a lot like New Orleans. Artsy and decadent. But worth walking around and people watching. Nice place to visit but would not want to live there.
Cozumel: You have to try snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and very interesting. Go to Chakanab Park. A $10.00 taxi fare for 4. The park has an admission price but if you are doing the dolphin swim the admission is paid for. DO THE DOLPHIN swim. Do it at Chakanab. It will be a thrill of a lifetime. I think my wife enjoyed it more than the kids. We did the dolphin swim, the middle priced one. It included numerous times touching the dolphin. You get to ride on its belly while holding its fins and it pushes you on a boogie board. Then you will spend some time just goofing around with it. Book it on the Internet. You will save a ton if you do it yourself rather than going through the cruise line. There is nothing to it. If you just walk up to the gate it is $100.00. We booked on the net and it was 330.00 for all four, which includes park admission. I think if you went through the cruise line it was $160.00 per person. And if you do it yourself you will be in a smaller group, so you will get more time with the dolphin. 12 is the usual group size. We had us 4 and one other. We went to the dolphin swim as soon as the boat docked so go early before the other folks get there and crowd the swim.
We then rented snorkel gear at the local beach. There are several shops that are all supposed to have price controls and rent for the same price but go to the 3rd shop from the dolphin area and go to the counter and bargain with the guys. We got ours for less than half price. If they do not want to bargain go to the next but do it quietly as they are more apt to bargain if the other vendor does not hear them.
Do the self disembarkation. we were off the ship, through customs and in a taxi in 5 minutes, no joke. As fast as we could walk with our suitcases and kids we were off the ship. When they called the first zone, GO because they want to get everyone off the ship as fast as possible to get it ready for the next group.
Carnival did a great job and we had the vacation of a lifetime. Now is the time to go. They are making some great deals right now with the economy down. We looked into the exact cruise package 1.5 years ago and it would have cost us $4,000. We got this cruise AND air for $3,000. They upgraded us from a window room to a balcony before we left for nothing AND put $230 on our sail and sea card. That's money!! Get the balcony, get everywhere early to avoid the crowds, book all shore excursions before you leave on your own and have a ball. We did!!
Carnival Destiny - Four Day - Key West, Cozumel and Day at sea
Embarkation Smooth as can be. Arrived to enjoy sail away even if sail away was delayed for reasons we had no control over. Loved the Lido buffet especially the fish items. I had never seen Miami at dusk so I was ok with this. First cruise with our granddaughter (she turned 3 September 1st) so we were taking it easy and not rushing. We even passed on our first night dining room dinner because we were exhausted. Dining room food was very good and not too crowded. I think other cruisers were exhausted too!
Key West As gorgeous as ever. Went to the Southernmost Point by walking. Had never browsed the shops along Duval on your way to the Point. Took our photos and then went to the Southernmost Beach Cafe and enjoyed the sun, sand and pleasant surroundings. My husband and granddaughter spent most of the time playing in the water. The sand at this beach is perfect for sand sculptures.
Cozumel Incredible sunrise even if we did end up with off and on again rain. We wentto Mr. Sanchos' Beach and it was great. We had angel fish swimming around us and those yellow and black fish too. I just wish it was sunny out! Just a few shops, very reasonable restaurant, massages, lockers, showers and bathroom. Small pool adjacent to the beach. Any water sport you would want to do is available from this beach. You can make an advance reservation via their website. Taxi per carload is $14 US and worth every penny. I'm not crazy about the new pier shopping at the renovated pier post Wilma. Give it time though and it will probably be wonderful. Everything is too new. I like legitimate Mexican crafts and will buy from the vendors at Mr. Sanchos' Beach when I go back in May. The vendors do not hound you while you're relaxing on the beach.
Day at Sea Remember we were traveling with a three year old but it was very relaxing and it looked like everyone around us was definitely enjoying themselves. We were coming through a windy depression so the morning was chilly but by noon you could definitely catch the rays on deck.
Dining Our dinners were pretty good. We were sat at a table by ourselves and we were thrilled. We did not know how our granddaughter would be and she was excellent. She met two very special friends her age from Colorado and we hope to cruise or meet up with them again.
Camp Carnival All I can say is that if I cruise again and use Camp Carnival, I'll remove my tips from my sign and sail so that I can give them all to Camp Carnival and my room stewards who were outstanding! The CC staff is awesome and we loved them as did our granddaughter. We used CC for maybe three hours a day, once during the day and a couple of hours post-dinner so that she could play before bed with her new friends from Colorado and Nicholas from who knows where amongst many others.
Overall I'm doing this identical cruise again with my girlfriends in May and I can't wait. There are a lot of things that you're able to do on a girls' cruise that you can't do when you're traveling with a toddler such as enjoy the nightlife.
Casino Loved it, they have some different slots compared to the other ships.
Other Venues Loved them, loved the set ups, just wish I had been able to enjoy them.
Shows I was only able to catch about 10 minutes of one show with an impersonator singer who was outstanding! Hope to catch the full show in May if it's the same one.
Bingo Games are played in different areas on this ship.
Pre-Dinner Cocktails Go to the area outside the casino or near the ship's map. They have some privacy barriers which are great.
More About Dining It was moderate to good. If you have a young child, ask them to bring you a fruit plate immediately. That saved us each night that we used the dining room.
Ship Itself Lobby deck is deck three with Riviera and Main below, Upper, Empress, etc. above it.
Packing This is one of the most laidback cruises I've been on (my 6th). Elegant night - very few formals more 5pm cocktail outfits or fancy night on the town outfits. Because two of these ports are Key West and Cozumel, the dining room is resort casual but frown on guys in hats or sandals or jeans. There was a captain's reception but no repeat cruiser receptions. My one disappointment: no Destiny pins on my bed! By the way, please, please, please remember to put identification not only on the outsides of your suitcases by on the insides too in case a tag comes off.
I personally thought this ship was in very nice shape. Sure there are areas that need help but they are being redecorated. Main deck isn't real pretty in the hallway but it is one of the lower levels (working) levels of the ship but the oceanview rooms are very spacious and appear larger than what they show in the pictures (mid to aft area - I had the chance to see the inside of a cabin). We had an aft balcony on Empress Deck which should not have been given to us since we were a party of three but we are dealing directly with Carnival on that issues. Otherwise, the balcony on this cruise was good for us since we had our granddaughter and she still naps.
I wouldn't be going on a repeat voyage if I didn't have a good time. This ship appeared to rock from the time you set foot on board until the time we got off. I love the young male assistant cruise director from Canada. He's got a wonderful personality. The female assistants seemed to have the crowd going all the time on the Lido deck. Lido is a central area on this ship. Don't plan on watching the big screen like you may have on Liberty because between the island music and deck activities, you don't need it.
Tips Please be generous to your dining room staff even if you don't use the dining room. They rely on those tables and if you don't show, that's not a good thing for them. I'm sure there are a lot of former waiters/waitresses out there that cruise that understand what I'm talking about.
Comment Cards Fill them out! They benefit the staff and you might win a free cruise!
Disembarkation VERY IMPORTANT: This ship is very efficient when it comes to debarkation. Self-debarkers were allowed off the ship by just after 7am. This ship has to be totally clear of passengers by 10am at the latest. There is no reason to overpack for this cruise. Although there are times you need to dress a little nicer, I think most people on this cruise are there to relax and have a good time, not to impress anyone. If it's the five-day voyage, I might take an extra nice outfit for the evenings.
Have a great trip and see you in May 2009!
My wife and I just got back from a week on the Carnival Destiny on her new itinerary that she began in January: San Juan, St Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St Lucia, and Antigua. There is only one at sea day, the last one. This 10 year old ship is in good shape.
The food was outstanding starting with rack of lamb and creme brulee the first night! The formal nights were Tuesday, lobster night, and Friday, which was my wfe's birthday, and she was very happy it was that night. A very attentive Asst Maitre De' was by our table every night, and led the singing on her birthday. I was overall very pleased with the service on the ship.
Sun and Sea, the Lido buffet area, does not have all the options the later ships have. They do have the oriental window and sandwich window, and by the pool area there was a daily ethnic buffet, as well as the usual all day burgers and fries. The omelette line is not in the buffet area, but is only at the two grill areas near the pool, and the normal buffetareas were unremarkable. I miss the seafood grill on the newer ships on the upper deck of the Lido buffet area.
The layout is still confusing since the galley area separates teh two dining rooms and does not permit easy access from the front to the back on decks 3 or 4. The had improved the design by the introduction of the follow-on Spirit class. I had an 8D on Lido deck, 9209, because I thought it would be convenient to the pool and buffet areas. However, because people continually left the door the passageway into our cabins open, the noise during the day was irritating. Further forward would have been better. They also devoted 2 days to maintenance of balconies, making them not available for significant parts of two port days.
There were only 2 production shows in the entire week, and the rest was filled with a variety of comedians, singers, and a magician/illusionist. Service in the Palladium was poor, during the repeater's reception as well as during shows. There was only 1 hour of ballroom dancing all week and it was during dinner. We were among a very few who dressed for formal nights. Generally a much more casual crowd than on other Carnival cruises we have been on.
We were on our 10th Carnival cruise, of our 30 cruises, and were pleased to find we were identified as Platinum members for this cruise. It included a private reception area, two nice bags, personalized stationery, one night of hors douvers and one night of petit for's .....both delivered to the room after we had left for dinner. The Platinum status does have a Concierge desk at the Purser's with head of the line privileges, and they provide special Platinum debarkation luggage tags if you want to leave at 7:45am on the last day.
They did serve breakfast till 10 on the last day, and just asked that people vacate their cabins by 9. They were still disembarking people at 11am. Very organized, with no lines in stairwells. Everyone had to report to the theater by color and wait to be called to disembark. Worked well.
My only comment on the itinerary was that we repeated a private excursion in St Thomas on a sailboat with 5 passengers that we have enjoyed. I did ship an empty wine shipping carton to the ship as luggage and was able to put 10 bottles of liquor purchased at Al Cohen's across from the dock area in it and ship it back with no problems. In St Lucia we did do a new Carnival excursion that was a land and sea combo that provided a good narrated tour of the island from Castries to the Twin Pitons, and a catamaran lunch ride back with a snorkel stop. A good value. We are beach people, and Dominica was less interesting, and the town is about like the port in St Kitts...unremarkable. Barbados we visited Folkestone Park again where I snorkled, and in Antigua we went to Darkwood Beach, a sparsely populated gem between St John and English Harbor. In both locations we just hired a taxi to take us and pick us up at a specific time. Works for us.
Miami -- October 29 I'll start by saying we went to bed way too late and had to be up way too early to be at the airport by 5 a.m. But we left Knoxville Airport at 6:30ish, found Starbucks in Atlanta, airlifted on to Miami, and checked into our hotel without any problems at all.
The RiverPark Hotel downtown is decent but really old. Musty odor, black marks all over the walls, lots of red and copper in the halls. For the $109 we paid for it, I highly recommend it. Service was nice and they even called a shuttle for us to the port.
Embarkation and First Night -- October 30 Embarkation was smooth even with about a 30 minute wait. A surprising sight greeted me through the terminal window -- the paint on the side of the Destiny was badly peeling. I know it wasn't peeling in March.
Did the usual after climbing onboard. Lunch, exploring, room settling, muster drill, and sail away party. The sail away party consisted of five songs and that was about it.
Then it was on to get ready for our first dinnerand the Welcome Aboard show. Loved our CD, Jorge. He's now my favorite! Also saw a comedian that was all sorts of hilarious.
Made our way to the disco and then to the karaoke lounge, where we found out we were onboard with lots of transvestites/transgender people -- interesting to say the least. The piano bar featured Damian, who was ok.
Met some guys that we ended up spending most of the trip with and ended up staying out til about 5 a.m.ish.
Key West and Halloween -- October 31 We were only in Key West from 7a-2p and we didn't even make it off the boat until 10:30ish. But we walked around and hit the Southernmost Point and Margaritaville, and browsed some shops and art galleries on Duval Street. I LOVE Key West. I'm ready to move there!
After having way too expensive margaritas in Margaritaville, we walked back to the ship just in time. Ran into a guy dressed as a pirate for the festival going on there, that sadly we were going to miss, and chatted with him a bit. I am definitely going back to Key West.
Carnival for whatever reason decided that Formal Night and Halloween had to be done in the same night. So we dressed to the nine's for the Captain's Party and Dinner, as did our boys we met, then we went to change for Halloween. Since we missed the parade because we were getting ready, we missed the costume contest. But I bet we could have won! Our boys and 7 of their travel mates were dressed as the USA 1972 Gold Medalist Drinking Team. Lots of interesting costumes all over the ship, and Halloween was in full swing!
Cozumel -- November 1 We docked late in Mexico because the night before we had to turn back to Key West and someone had to be airlifted off the boat. So instead of 1 we docked at 4 and left at 12a instead of 10p. We took a taxi to Chankanaab but they were closed, so we went to Paradise Beach where I got to go parasailing!
From there we taxied to downtown and walked our way to Carlos and Charlie's. First time I've ever been there, and it was INSANE. Our waiter was way too friendly, but all in all we had an absolute BLAST in there. Made it back to the ship shortly before midnight and sailed away.
Day at Sea -- November 2 It was rainy. Yuck. So we ran around and did various activities onboard. We went to the Kiddie Karaoke, looked at our pics, shopped on board, went to tea time (first time I've done this and I loved it), looked at the artwork on board, and hung out on deck once it quit raining watching football until time to get ready for dinner.
At dinner it hit me how fast a 4 day cruise goes by. Unreal. We said goodbye to our waiters, went to the show 'Formidable' (which I always enjoy) then on to the disco to meet up with our boys.
Debarkation -- November 3 After more than 24 hours of no sleep and a lot of rum later, it was time to debark. I got off the boat super late because I didn't realize what time it was, but luckily at least 20 other people were there too. Easy all the way; breezed right off. Caught a taxi to our hotel, The Beacon, in South Beach.
Miami -- Night of November 3 Loved The Beacon. HIGHLY recommend and should I ever stay in Miami again that is the only place I will stay. They offer complimentary Seattle's Best coffee and hot chocolate til noon, complimentary breakfast at Johnny Rocket's, free luggage storage, and the staff is awesomely nice and helpful. Give them a shot if you are ever there (and search around on the internet -- cheap tickets and hotel website price was $165 -- found it on bookings.com for $116). The hotel is old but has a fabulous retro feel and even though our room wasn't very big, we loved it. After breakfast we took naps then walked all over South Beach that night and turned in about midnight.
Flying Home -- November 4 We woke up early and spent about an hour on the beach and then got ready to check out. Walked all over other parts of South Beach and then taxied to the airport. Taxi's got all my money. No problems at all going home. Made it home with all digits and bits intact.
Food/Service The food and service onboard was exceptional, as always. NO complaints about anyone or anything, minus them having Formal night on Halloween. We loved our dining room waiters, they cracked us up every night. Bar service was good as usual.
Shows/Entertainment The comedian was hilarious. Welcome Aboard and Formidable were done very well. Cruise director's staff could have been better, but not really anything worth complaining about. As mentioned, Damian the piano guy was ok. The Karaoke host was hilarious and even sang a song herself!
Overall The Carnival Destiny is not the prettiest FunShip in the fleet, but I have come to be convinced she is the most fun!
Except for the SeaSide Theatre, which is awesome, I was disappointed in the way she looks. She's an older ship, but that doesn't excuse some of the things I saw. Lights are burnt out all over, construction going on in the Lido elevator area, elevators shut down for said construction, peeling paint on the side. Having just come out of dry dock she really should be in better shape. But I love her anyway.
(I would join Teresa in May '09 had I not sailed the Destiny twice already and am looking forward to cruising another ship).
Had a blast! Any questions? PM me.
This experience started awful, just trying to manuver through the web-site and trying to get answers when calling custmore service. If you book through a travel agent custmoer service will not answer any questions regarding your reservation. You register on line and print all of your documents with the thought this will save you time when getting on the boat, yet we had to wait in lines for 45 minutes to get our "Sign & Sail" then waited another 20 minutes to actually get on the boat.
We had a balcony room, that was very nice. Our steward was wonderful.
The staff in the main dining room was great but the food was mediocre at best. The buffet was awful, lines were long, the food was terrible and the service was worse than the food. When calling for room service, you were on hold a minumum of 10 minutes. You are constantly bombarded by the bar staff to purchase drinks and again wait 10-15 minutes for the drink to be delivered.
The shows were excellent. The activies were lacking, it seemed at every activity Carnival was trying sell something.
The port of callswere good and very organized geting on and off the boat. Unfortunatly the time on each island is was too short.
This is my second cruise. My first cruise was with Royal Caribbean. I will not cruise with Carnival again, I will pay a little extra and sail with Royal Caribbean again.
Just returned from the Destiny on Sunday (6/8). This was my second go around on the Destiny, having enjoyed the Southern Caribbean itinerary in October of 2006.
This is a "different" cruise.
First of all, this itinerary is not for those looking to relax and enjoy the ship. This itinerary has NO sea days. Every day you hit a different island (San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts). Because there are no sea days, the Destiny is much more of a floating hotel rather than your typical cruise ship experience. There is little night action on the ship because most passengers are in bed by midnight. It would be close to impossible to party into the wee hours and then get up at 6, 7 or 8 a.m. to enjoy the next island day after day.
I was in the Cat 1A cabin 2335. This is one of the two Cat 1A's that have two picture windows. The cabin was to die for. The windows covered the entire length of the cabin. There is one twin bed, a pull down bed and a sofa that looks likeit can convert to some sort of sleeping apparatus.
The ship is a bit old. Therefore, many of the bells and whistles that you would find on the newer ships (specialty restaurants, on-screen menus, giant movie screen, etc.) are not available on the Destiny. However, I experienced no negativity because of the ship's age. Most of the ship is in excellent condition with only the aft elevators showing any signs of wear and tear. It is a bit smaller than the newer ships which, for my purposes, was a good thing because it made for a shorter walk from one end to the other.
As far as the passenger base, a lot has been written about the Destiny and ships that sail from San Juan. On my cruise, I would guess that at least 85% of the passengers were Puerto Rican (or Latino). This can be overwhelming if you are not expecting such a large number of spanish-speaking passengers. I had sailed on Destiny before so I knew what to expect. In all honesty, I found the passengers from Puerto Rico to be at least as nice and pleasant as anyone else. The only problem is that they are much more inclined to stay within their own family groups. For someone unaware of the strong Hispanic family bonds, they may initially find their behavior and/or mannerisms to be standoffish and unfriendly. It is not. It is just their custom. (When cruising the Destiny, I would strongly suggest that you give a lot of leeway to the fact that regardless of citizenry, you must remember you are cruising with a large number of people from a completely different culture.) I had no negative experiences with any of the San Juan passengers. Even when language was a barrier, they were pleasant and happy, and more than glad to participate in the hand, face, word communication that is common when speaking in two different languages. Their children were better behaved than I have witnessed on ships out of Florida and while I did not police the teens, I found through my interactions with them that they were VERY respectful to adults and older people. No back talk at all. I chastised a few for various minor misbehavior and they straightened up immediately. Not even a dirty look.
With so many of the passengers staying within their circle, the rigorous island hop schedule, and the language barrier, the nightlife on the Destiny is almost non-existent. This is fine because everyone has an early wake up so as to enjoy the next port. I am usually in the dance club until it closes every night on my cruises. However, I did not miss that aspect of this cruise. I was too tired to stay up much later than midnight.
The staff on this ship was one of the best that I have encountered. My room steward was wonderful, cheery, helpful and prompt. He was my buddy. The dining staff was a notch above what you find on most Carnival ships. The Maitre D sang to the diners in the formal dining room every night. He surely must have been a performer in a past life because he had a wonderful voice. The Purser's Desk was diligent, polite and efficient. The staff seems a notch happier than I have seen on other Carnival ships. This may be because less is demanded of them since most of the passengers are off the ship all day long and return to the ship exhausted, staying up just long enough to shower, eat dinner and maybe take in the show before calling it a day.
I had such a great time that I came home and immediately booked this same itinerary, same cabin (this time on the Victory) for May, 2009.
I would recommend this cruise with some minor reservations. PM me if you want some suggestions to enhance your Destiny (soon to be Victory) experience.
On 13 April 2008 I sailed on the Carnival Destiny Southern Caribbean out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise and fourth with Carnival. In my opinion continuity, from ship to ship, is a characteristic of this line and the Destiny delivers what one expects. One variable however is decor. To my surprise this ship is rather understated to modest compared to the other "fun ships" on which I sailed. Abundant use of granite gives the ship a certain dignified ambience comparably speaking. The "fun ship" looked more like a ship than some others in the line. The Palladium lounge's theme seemed to be a theatre and not amusement park. The coffee shop looks like a coffee shop and the disco looks the part of a disco.
I ate in the mid-ship Galaxy dining room which is simply lovely with a night sky theme. Countless small lights take the place of chandeliers. The food was typical Carnival, which isn't such a bad concept. Like I stated previously, continuity is a Carnival strength and the food is predictably reliable as well. Like on other ships in the fleet warm melted chocolate cakeis always on the menu. If you liked the Coconut shrimp or lobster from the last cruise, then you can order the same here.
Not to overly generalize service, but I found it to be prompt and efficient but somewhat impersonal compared to my previous cruise. This I attribute to the pre-paid gratuities. Hey, since they aren't getting this tip envelope from me, why should they learn my name? Someone else's experiences could vary through.
The entertainment was very good -- again they deliver what one expects. I found the second production show to be can't miss. It was a tribute to night clubs of differing genres.
The itinerary was an island a day, of which I found to be tiring. At times it seemed that one port of call ran into another in a state of confusion. There was hardly time to savor the nuances of each island.
St. Thomas: Very touristy. But I found the downtown an interesting walk with Fort Christian scheduled to open in 2006 (too bad this is 2008), Blackbeard's tower, 99 steps, Emancipation park, and so on.
Dominica: Beautiful island where I walked to two waterfalls, Trafalgar and Emerald Pool.
Barbados: I did a 4x4 Monkey encounter and witnessed plenty of monkeys. I think I enjoyed the 4x4 tour better.
St. Lucia: Another lovely lush island. I did an island tour and took some photos.
Antigua: This has a different ecology which is semi-arid compared to the rainforest of many of the other islands. I found it gorgeous! There seems to be plenty of lovely old churches and the English Harbor offers restored 18th century architecture (Nelson's Dockyard).
St. Kitts: The Brimstone Hill Fortress is most impressive perched high overlooking the sea and neighboring islands. It dates from 1690. Of all the islands, I found the people here to be the nicest.
San Juan: Before leaving for home, I took a city tour which included a visit inside San Cristobal fortress which is yet another impressive site. It dates from the colonial period as well.
We just got back from our Carnival Southern Caribbean cruise, and thought I would share our fabulous time with other Cruisemates! We did not book our flight with Carnival, but through Orbitz -- it was no problem and we had no trouble at all finding a Carnival person to direct us to the place to catch the ground transportation we pre-paid for. We had to wait a while since our flight was early so I think if I did this itinerary again, I would make my own way to the pier. It was pretty mobbed by the time we got there and although the wait was not too long, we were plenty tired by the time we got through, and everyone complained about having to show IDs 50 times. We did purchase liquor at the duty free shop and didn't even have time on board to drink it, but had no problem bringing it on board. To tote it home, we packed it in one of our suitcases and then had to pay $25 because it was overweight by 9 pounds! So much for saving on the duty.
St. Thomaswas great. We did the Barefoot Catamaran Sail to Shipwreck Cove through Carnival and had time to visit the skylift (I think it cost about $10 US PP) that goes up the mountain right across from the pier before the cat sailed. Awesome views! Afterward, we ended up going back on the ship for a drink while we waited for the cat to sail because the shops and bars in the cruise terminal were not great. The tour was fantastic. There was a marine biologist who led the snorkeling people if they wanted to and she really pointed out good stuff and even got some live starfish and other creatures for the kids to check out closely which she returned to the reef. The rum punch and music on the way back was super!
Dominica was next and had suffered a bit of damage from Hurricane Dean. The excursion we booked was altered -- it was supposed to be Hot Sulfur Springs, with a visit to an underground pool and waterfall - the pool and waterfall was damaged from the hurricane so they took us to Trafalgar Falls. Other than the fact that my husband could not walk up the falls because of a medical condition, it was beautiful and they tried to make good on a circumstance out of their control. We get a huge laugh about this tour, though. In Carnival's description, the sulfur springs sounds like a visit to a therapeutic spa in the village of Woten Waven or something like that -- picture that in your mind. It actually was a visit to a man's backyard -- this great fellow, Screw. He is the very image of an easy--going islander. He has a bar with about six scary looking dogs tied up to it and three sulfur pools of varying temperature (the fourth was damaged very badly from the hurricane), that definitely did make us feel 10 years younger. While we bathed, he prepared a feast of cut-up fruit for us and had music playing when we came up from the springs. It turned out to be my husband's favorite destination, most likely thanks to Screw's warm hospitality and the hot springs. The Wacky Rollers tour company deserves kudos for great guides and drivers.
Barbados we went on the ATV Adventure and it was wonderful. We had loads of time left over afterward since we went on the 8:30 am tour so after returning to the ship and grabbing a quick lunch we went to the Malibu Rum Factory. We didn't take the tour, but we did sample the rum! The beach there was very nice and we could have just caught a taxi there for about $3 and paid for two lounge chairs and an umbrella and saved about $60. It is 5 minutes from the ship - and as a matter of fact you can see the ship from the beach. We would be braver next time and just grab a taxi.
My favorite day and tour was next in St. Lucia where we took the Land and Sea tour to Soufriere. They took us pretty much for the whole day, first in a comfortable air-conditioned bus all over the beautiful, mountainous island, through rain forests and villages. Our guide was delightful and knowledgeable about her island. We visited a botanical garden, a drive in volcano and a fishing village and luckily the battery in my camera didn't go dead until after we got on the catamaran for the barefoot sail back to the ship. They had prepared a delicious Creole lunch and took us to a charming snorkeling/beach cove. We drank rum punch, saw the island by sea, especially the dramatic Pitons and listened to 80's hits and Caribbean music on the way back. I took some of the best underwater pictures of my trip there. It was $89 PP for this tour and the best value of our trip for what we got. It was awesome -- don't miss it!
In Antigua, we hired a local cab that gouged us a bit ($50 round trip) to take us to a beach and pick us up later - he took us to Jolly Beach - very clean, virtually deserted. We were able to rent beach chairs and an umbrella, and there was a changing area and bathroom, and a nice little open-air restaurant where we got a tasty burger and a beer. The water was salty and clean, but cloudy from the hurricane so no snorkeling. We could have rented jet skis ($45 a half hour), a little catamaran or a water tricycle which some other cruise passengers did who were there. Several vendors offered to sell us jewelry, shells, coconuts, hair braiding services and weed but left us alone when we said no thanks. It was relaxing and very nice. My advice would be to try to connect with some other people who want to also go to a beach and share the cab fare there and back - our taxi could have held 8 people.
The at sea day was a much needed day to rest and recharge. We played Caribbean Stud Poker in the casino and "donated" a bit more to the Carnival people, laughed at some of the pictures people took in the photo gallery, ate lots of food and had a latte in the internet café on Destiny's Way. The whole cruise was really good, the shows were pretty good - we went to the two production shows which each had good costumes, lighting and scenery, pretty good dancing and not terrible singing. The magician was very good. The cruise director, Steve, was hysterically funny and we enjoyed watching Destiny Idol, Family Feud and the Newlywed/Not So Newly Wed Game on the TV. You could see that the kids on the ship adored him.
We felt a little long in the tooth - it seemed like the average age of couples was 20 - 35, but there were also lots of family groups with grandparents, too I guess. The demographic was about 80% black, 10% Hispanic and 10% everything else. Some of the kids were out of control, behaving rudely and running around with little supervision. It seemed like a lot of people didn't quite grasp the concept of letting people off the elevator before they crowded on. We avoided the buffet because the lines were usually long, the food not so great and surprisingly - no hand sanitizer dispenser like they had on our last cruise (Princess). I would have felt a little better knowing that people had at least sanitized their hands before touching every utensil, every piece of bread and fruit. *GAG!* The dining room food and service was so much better, why go to the buffet except for lunch? The Fountain Fun Card was expensive ($50 each!) and it was difficult to find someone who would get us a soda outside of the dining room. Maybe it paid for itself over the course of the cruise, but I am not certain I would bother again. They didn't even give you a thermal mug like they did on Princess - you had to buy it for $3 but that might have been the key - to have the mug filled up at a bar then lug it with you everywhere you might want a drink.
Our room was 7331 - on the very back of the ship sandwiched between two other cabin floors so there was virtually no noise or music from adjacent floors and not a lot of hallway traffic so it was completely peaceful. Our cabin steward, Wilson, was a doll. Our cabin was compact, but it had a king sized bed (made of two twins) and a little sofa, a side table and chair, lots of storage for our suitcases and clothes (a nightstand, three big drawers, two full closets plus one closet with shelves that also housed our life jackets and additional bedding and a cabinet with a safe). The balcony was pretty spacious but not completely private - people could see us and we could see them in adjacent cabins and on higher and lower floors, but we also made good neighbors and had nice conversations while the ship sailed in and out of the various ports. You could sit back on the two comfortable chairs in relative seclusion. We always had some sort of view from our balcony, some very majestic, so I know why these back cabins are so coveted. I will try to get one for every cruise we are on. The only drag about them is if you have to get to something at the front of the ship, you are doing a lot of walking. The bathroom was small, but the shower was bigger than the one we had on the Caribbean Princess. Other reviews complained about mildew, but our bathroom was sparkling clean and had no smells. The ship itself was clean and well maintained, and sort of possessed the eye-popping glitz and flavor of a 70's space western. We totally enjoyed it because we are Battlestar Gallactica people anyhow, but see how some people might see it as over-the-top. Every single employee we encountered was pleasant, greeted us warmly and served us graciously.
I gave my husband a massage for his birthday, a deep-tissue massage in the spa. He thought it was really great and I had to laugh - afterward, he came out carrying a little bag -- they even get the fellas to purchase some of their spa products! He is enjoying his detoxifying massage gel.
One feature we thought was really great - my husband HATES dressing formally. When he's on vacation he doesn't want to wear a suit or tie, even wearing slacks is a grind but he puts up with it for the sake of getting the good dining room eats. The formal nights there definitely were people dressed very formally like they were at a wedding or prom, but there also were a lot of people dressed "smart casual" so we didn't feel like a freakshow showing up in the dining room. My husband dressed in chinos and a button shirt and I wore a dress one night and shimmery pant-suit the other night. I would bring along a fancier dress and shoes for the next one without feeling like my husband looked out of place.
We overall had a great time and wouldn't hesitate to take this cruise again, perhaps with additional time built in to visit San Juan. Carnival Destiny definitely was a fun ship, and this itinerary was super!
Overall Impression: An above average itinerary with an average rating for a cruise.
Embarkation: Since the ship leaves at 10pm and we live in New York, taking the early morning same day departure was possible to San Juan, PR. We arrived at the dock at 2pm. (The taxi ride from the airport costs $20.00 round trip). Check in was a breese with no delays. We got on the ship, left out hand luggage in the room and left the ship to walk about the port area.
Ship and Decor: Average for this type of ship. Since Carnival heavily discounts (over $300.00 less per person inside cabin than Adventure if the Seas), cruise passengers tend to be the 'newbies' - read 'dont know how to act on a cruise. Not a very friendly bunch usually but that us understandable since they have never cruised before. Since the ship leaves from Puerto Rico, there is a preponderance of spanish speaking (and I mean NO ENGLISH people on board, which surprised me since Puerto Rico is supposed to be part of the US). The first two days tended to have spanish centered music as well).The decor o the ship was average for a ship of this class - ie mismatched tile,'smaltzy and glitsy at times'.
Shows and itinerary: Both were exellent indeed. The best island in my opinion was Dominica, followed by St Lucia, then Antigua, St Thomas and lastly Barbados (I would give the latter a miss). Shows were professionally done and acted.
Cuisine: Here, Carnival failed to impress me. In the past the meals and cuisine were excellent. This time all around the food was mediocre. Water stains on the cutlery as well as plates. Carnival appears to cutting corners here as well as in other areas (entertainment on the Lido deck was average). Breakfast served in the dining rooms appears to be better than that on deck.
Disembarkation: Very lengthy process indeed. We docked at around 7.30am. We were the last group off the ship at 11.30am!!!! The process was very orderly and well run from Carnival's end. US Border Security takes their time....and they should!!!
Summary: If you want a cruise that is affordable with an excellent itinerary, then choose this ship. There is only one day at sea. However, if you would like a more 'upscale' clientelle, then choose Royal Caribbean or the other lines.
We were a little worried about cruising on the Destiny after reading some of the reviews, but it turned out to be the best & most fun time we have ever had on a cruise- this was our fourth. The ports-of-call St.Thomas(we spent the day on St.John's), Dominica, Barbados, & Aruba were fabulous.
We enjoyed the shows although the last production was a little lame. The "Destiny Idol" contst was filled with talent & a hilarious "rap" performance.
We spent a lot of time in the piano bar, kariokee bar, and were definiately entertained.
The ship is showing her age. The colors are outdated & the hall way carpet needs to be replaced. It is hard to figure out how to get around on board. We didn't really care for the buffet, we only ate there once, the lines were very long,and food only so-so, but enjoyed the food in the dining room.