Our family sailed on Carnival Destiny from San Juan,P.R and we all had a wonderful week aboard this great Superliner.Two of us were first time cruisers. I had heard previously about Carnival ships being rowdy with young partygoers, but I can say the behavior of all the guests could not have been better.
Boarding: was a bit chaotic as it had been raining all morning in San Juan, but did not take too long (considering the crowd)after we had our documents checked and entered the Fun Pass line. We checked in, had our security and cruise memories photos taken, boarded the vessel and arrived in our cabins in about 45 minutes after arriving at the pier.
Cabins: were ready, clean and well organized.We unpacked and checked out the info. in our cabins concerning the Safety Drill.
The ship was really beautiful, a real floating resort, lots to do on days at sea. We had a great Cruise Director, Josh, from Phily, he's a blast, our Cabin Steward, Dining Room Waiter Adam from Turkey, and all the other servers who I couldn't help notice worked hard to make sure the guests didn't have towait long to get their orders. I did not encounter a single occasion we had a bad experience with the Destiny's crew members.
St Thomas: We did Paradise Point, then took a scenic drive on the way to Megans Bay. This was a great 3 hour beach excursion. There is a local restaurant at the beach. Next stop was BlackBeards Castle, and a stop into Charlotte Amalie, and back to the ship.Very nice island.
Dominica:We had our stay cut short here due to a medical emergency after leaving St. Thomas.The Capt. elected to turn around to St. Croix and we're glad to learn from Josh, that the passenger was doing fine after surgery. Nevertheless, we still got our tours in, we went on a tour of Roseau, the Rainforest, Trafalga Falls and Emerald Pool.Excellent day.
Barbados: After a night of rocking and rolling because of strong winds and rough seas, we arrived in Bajan land. Great beaches in Barbados.Did the city tour, passed by UWI, went to Signal Gun Hill among other places and of course a beach at Divi Southwinds in ChristChurch. Last but certainly not least, a Sunset Dinner Cruise and really , really, I mean really enjoyed well seasoned Flying Fish, etc. Back to the ship, we leave at 10 PM
Day at Sea:Buffet breakfast, a salt water swim in the pool, water slide,jogging track to burn off those extra pounds I've added to my frane in 3 days, and yes, more food, ice cream etc.
Aruba: Talk about leaving the best for last, if I had any say,I would have stayed an extra day.We didtheNatural bridge, Rock Formation City, California Lighthouse tour capped of by a drive back to the ship via all the Resort hotels in Aruba. Ate on board the ship, went shopping in the city center which is across from the pier, then took a taxi ($10 each way per person)for a dip in the most inviting water and softest sand I've ever felt under my feet. When we arrived at Palm Beach, a local radio ststion was throwing a major lunchtime/early afternoon party, and it was Goooood.We met many Carnival guests there.Then there was the Sunset Cocktail Cruise, Wow!Green Iguanas.Set sail at 11 PM.
Day At sea:Similar to the first day at sea, but a few different things happening, an ice sculpture of a unicorn. This is where we pack up to leave next morning.
There are to formal Dinner Nights, Tuesday and Thursday.Excellent menus in the Dining Rooms. We had a late sitting and boy was the food great.
Thanks Carnival for an excellent first cruise. Looking forward to the Valor next May(2005).
We sailed on the Carnival Destiny on 1/18/04 out of San Jaun. My wife, son(14) daughter(5) flew into San Jaun from Boston the day before as we like to go a day early just in case of weather problems or anything else that might go wrong. Thank God we did!! As we were waiting for our luggage our daughter said she didn't feel well so I asked my wife to bring her out and get her some fresh air, thinking it was cause by the flight. Well as I waited and waited, we were missing a suitcase. So I went to the American Airlines claim counter and filled out a claim they said they didn't know where it was but assured me that it would be delivered to our hotel(Normandie) that evening. To make things worse it was my wifes suitcase that was M.I.A.. So there I am ready to give the bad news to my wife who was outside,thats when I realized that I had bigger problems. My poor daughter was bent over next to the trash can getting sick. We finally got to the Normandie hotel. Allevening long we spent trying to get our daughter feeling better. When we would get her temp down her stomach would get upset so all night we didn't get much sleep(no suitcase yet).
Sunday morning(no suitcase) we called our Dr. he suggested we bring her to the hospital which we did. As we were driving to the hospital we had decided that if she wasn't better by 6:00 pm we would have to cancel the cruise (10 pm sail time). The Dr. at the hospital was great, very good with her, he suggested a shot of antibiotics which would get in her system right away. He gave us 3 other prescriptions and off to the pharmacy to fill them. We weren't in there more then 10 minutes and there was our daughter running around like nothing happen, but of course we were still worried. Four hours later still no fever, she was back eating and feeling good and wanted to go swimming. So off to the ship we went.(suitcase in tow as it showed up why we were at the hospital).
The ship in my opinion was everything I expected. It is little older but in good shape I didn't look for stains in the carpet so I didn't find any. We were upgraded to a mini suite cat 11 from 8b. very nice!! The food was OK not good but plentiful. I have had better food before on different Carnival ships. We went to Camp Carnival to get info. and sat down to watch our Patriots beat the Colts in the AFC championship game. We had plan to meet other people who we had met online but the place was jammed up, standing room only!!
Day 1 We did finally meet up the next day in St.Thomas while on a tour from Godfreytours.com. Hi Lisa. Godfrey was everything everybody has said. Two hours of shopping 2 hours of sightseeing and 2 hours of swimming all for $20. per person. Highly recommend.
Day 2 Domincia We went out to the Main St. and found a taxi. We told him what and where we wanted to go and we agreed on a price for $20/pp. He brought us up through the rain forest to the waterfalls. Along the way he stop on the side of the road to point out different flowers, and grass. He pulled some grass and tied it up in a bow and had us smell it and it smelt like lemons. We also stop at Mr Nices' stand where it's nice to be nice. We could taste banannas, coconut, and other native foods. The waterfalls were absolutely breath taking. Well worth the trip for $20 p/p as the ship tours were charging somewhere in the $50's.
Day 3 Barbados - Outside the terminal there was a sign with the prices for taxis. We decided to take a taxi to Harrisons Cave. If you have never been in a cave before I suggest to go. The other couple we were with, went to a cave in San Jaun and they said that Harrisons was much smaller. My kids enjoyed it and we got to see some of the country side why we drove to the cave. Our taxi driver waited outside for us why we were there. I believe the cost was $16 per adult and $5 for children for admission. And again we paid $20 p/p for the taxi which after the caves he drop us off at the Boatyard beach. The Boatyard charged $12 to get in but they gave you $5 back in tokens towards food and beverages. They had chairs with umbrellas, water trampolines. They had watersports so that you could rent. Very nice beach.
Day 4 Sea day We did the typical things on a sea day, laid out in the sun, spend some money in the casino, laid out in the sun, spend more money in the casino.<G> Camp Carnival was full of activites for the little ones. One of the things I like about this class of ship was the layout of the deck area. We had no problems finding chairs, no they weren't near the Lido pool but close enough when you needed to take a dip you could. I beleive the layout with the decks fanning up towards the sun deck gave you much more room I didn't feel like we were on top of each other.
Day 5 - Aruba- Having spent a couple of weeks in Aruba before we rented a jeep and toured the island on our own. We rented right at the pier without reservations and had no problems. We first went to Dunkin Donuts! Anyone form the Boston area will know after 6 days without a Dunkins' coffee you are going through some serious withdrawal <G>. Then off to the lighthouse,Vista Chapel, rock formations and then the Natural Bridge that took about 3 hours. So off to Baby Beach for some lunch and snorkling. The afternoon was spent swimming and snorkling we headed back into town where the wife bought a nice Sapphire ring. We went back to the ship to freshen up and eat dinner, we just grab some sandwiches that night. Our daughter was begging to go to Camp Carnival (which she did everyday) so we dropped her off, our son, who we didn't see much went to "hang out" with the teens. We headed to Carlos n Charlies for a couple of drinks. If you have never been in a Carlos n Charlies that is a place to go to people watch and have a good time.
Day 6 Sea day -- See day 4 but more money in the casino less in the sun <VBG>!
Day 7 Debarkation we didn't find any problems with it if you were patient except the few who still insists to wait in the halls and in the stairways. We got to the airport ate lunch boarded our plane back to Boston with all sad faces.............Except for me because I knew I was heading to Houston to the Super Bowl in 4 days......
Overall we had a great time especially the way our trip started out, but again I NEVER had a bad cruise. Camp Carnival was great I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about taking the kids.
Forgive me in advance if this gets long, but I find information so helpful when I'm making travel decisions that I feel like I have to "pay it forward" for others by posting all of the details! We are Lisa & Jim, early 40's, living in Pittsburgh. We have two young teenage kids, but they got left back home for this trip. This was our first cruise on Carnival, our first cruise out of San Juan, and our first cruise purchased via Skyauction, so I had a lot to be nervous about going into this one! All in all, I'm glad to say it was a wonderful cruise.
OK, let's deal with the rumors first. We had heard lots of rumors about Carnival and were concerned whether we would enjoy this line as much, ie lots of singles, more youthful, partiers, etc. Our experience didn't live up to this reputation at all! There were fellow cruisers of all ages, although at this time in mid-January there were fewer families and teens than we have ever experienced. There were quite a few retired folks and 40 somethings like us. Maybe we justdidn't pass by late enough, but we found that the disco had far fewer people in it than the karaoke lounge! We met lots of wonderful people and wouldn't hesitate to do Carnival again given the right price & itinerary.
As for San Juan, we didn't find getting through the airport to be much hassle at all. We flew through Miami on American, arrived right on time, collected our luggage and took a taxi to the pier. The price was set by the taxi service people at the airport prior to our leaving. We did run into a MAJOR traffic snarl, however, since there was some kind of huge festival going on in Old San Juan. The taxi driver wanted us to get out about 8 blocks from the ship and walk, but we refused. (We told him we would tip him if he got us closer to the ship.) About 10 minutes and lots of side streets later he got us there and we gave him $25 for the $18 fare. We had also heard that when sailing out of San Juan English speaking American sometimes feel in the minority. This wasn't the case for us, either. I would say most of our fellow passengers were from the continental US, with many from the northeast, central states, a few Californians and Texans.
When we arrived at the port our Skyauction experience was put to the test. We had won the auction for a 4A inside cabin, but had paid the upgrade charge to get a 6A oceanview guarantee. Our documents, however, indicated we were booked at the 4A level - although an email from Skyauction verified that we had paid the upgrade. Add to that the fact that we couldn't find our documents to take with us on departure day, so we walked up to the pier with our passports and a printout of our online funpass registration. This proved to be no problem at all and we were efficiently assigned to our cabin which we soon learned was an 8B balcony cabin on deck 7! That was exciting. Within minutes of arrival of the pier we were walking on board. (We were a little surprised that nothing in San Juan seemed to be computerized like our past experiences.) Funpasses were already produced and simply on a table in alphabetical order to be distributed to guests, credit card numbers were simply recorded by hand on documents, etc.
After checking out our cabin and doing the upgrade dance of joy, we spent some time exploring the ship. We planned to meet some folks we had met online in the sports bar where they were to be watching the playoff game, but it was PACKED! We found the public spaces to be clean, bright, and attractive. We were too busy looking around to notice any carpet stains that may have been on the floor! We were assigned to the Universe dining room for early seating at 5:45 and went for our first dinner there soon after boarding. First night on board is open seating. We were seated at a table for 10 with all retired folks except for us, which was our first clue that the party boat myth was just that. Good friendly folks and lots of sharing of cruising experiences over dinner. After dinner we spent some time on deck during the sailaway. It was windy, the boat was rocking, and it started raining so we went back to our cabin to unpack and turn in fairly early.
Day one was St. Thomas. We went to the buffet for breakfast and found it sort of lackluster. It would be the same every day except pancakes & French toast alternated. Yogurt, some fresh fruits, cerials, breakfast meats, eggs, hash brown patties, omelets made to order and some pastries. OJ, apple juice, milk, coffee, tea, and iced tea available self serve. I liked that. We got off at 9 and promptly found Godfrey from godfreytours.com waiting for us with a sign. He delivered us downtown and showed us where he would pick us back up at 11:45. We poked around in some jewelry stores and at the vendor's market area. Found some really good buys on batik style outfits, fake dreadlocks regae hats, etc. to take home to the kids. I think these were the best prices on these kind of things that we found the whole cruise. Bought some rum which would be delivered back to the ship. Met Godfrey punctually and joined about 20 others for his open air bus tour. We went to the Mountaintop where we had banana daquiris, drove around the island and saw other sights, and were then dropped off for two hours at Coki Beach. Although he tells you you can pick between three beaches, the encouragement to go to Coki was pretty strong that day. We had a snack there at Coki and another daiquiri which was good and enjoyed our time swimming. He again picked us up punctually and returned us to the ship. I would recommend him highly as a good way to see the island and have transportation for the day for $20 per person.
That night at dinner we found we were assigned to a booth for four but nobody else joined us that night. Our waiter was Nestor and assistant was Joel. They provided very professional and careful service. (Lots of forks, cleared from the table at the appropriate time!) We found our dinners that night and throughout the cruise to be "OK." I honestly didn't think the quality was as good as what we've experienced on other lines and the portions were quite small. My hubby usually had two entrees. I was disappointed in the desserts, too. They all seemed sort of "fluffy." No really good rich desserts, IMHO. (I did enjoy the soufflé the one evening.) Since I can't remember when we ate what, I'll go ahead and include my other food comments, here. The lobster was very small and dry. Instead of ordering a second lobster tail most folks seemed to order something else. Beef was only served medium well or medium rare, but there didn't seem to be much difference between the two - very little pink on anything. We've never really eaten at the midnight buffets on any cruises but we checked them out for fun. For the most part they just looked like a repeat of the earlier fare at the buffet. Cold cuts, a couple of hot dishes, the same desserts as served at lunch at the buffet. As many comment, we found the pizza to be very good and ate that for lunch & snacks when we were looking for something to eat. I never ate from the grill but hubby did and said it was OK. We ate from the Happy Valley Chinese one day and thought it, too, was just OK. The roast beef on the baguette from the New York deli was good and the BLT from room service hit the spot! Soft ice cream was available most of the time. There was always hard ice cream, desserts, and cookies available for purchase in the Café on the Way. I missed the cookies available so plentifully aboard another line at no extra charge. You won't go hungry, but we didn't find food to be the highlight of this trip! (In fact, although I didn't attempt to follow my weighwatchers plan, I did find upon our return home that combined with my lack of enthusiasm for the food and the extra exercise in port I hadn't gained any weight. That's a bonus!) Again, Nestor & Joel were a great team and made dinner enjoyable and fun.
Day two - new port - Dominica. Loved it! Loved it! I had lined up a tour for us ahead of time with Reynold and Reynos Tours that I read about on the boards. He picked us up promptly at 9. Two other people had pre-scheduled with him. He suggested that we look for others to go along so that he could lower the price. We quickly came up with a group of 10 and headed on our way. He picked up Rosalind as a guide to accompany us. Our promised 4 hour excursion lasted nearly 6 hours as we visited Emerald Pool and falls, Trafalgar falls, Mr. Nice's fruit stand, and other sites. Rosalind told us much about the island, pointed out lots of plant life information, etc. We visited a home where we bought caribe baskets. Swimming in the natural pool was great fun. Breathtakingly refreshing! Rosalind swam with us which was fun. The stop at Mr. Nice was great. We got to sample all kinds of native fruits, some homemade candies, cocoa beans, and even some kind of fish paste on dried banana. (I could have skipped that) This is all done for a tip in Mr. Nice's basket. We got back into town with time to do a bit of shopping and then return to the ship. He would have taken us for a short snorkel at Champagne Bay at the end of the day had we wished but we wanted to do some poking around in town. I think that this, too, was a great day for $25 per person. In addition, you are asked to tip the tour guide. That night at dinner we met our tablemates, Robert & Stephanie on their honeymoon from Dallas. We really enjoyed our time spent with them and having dinner companions instead of sitting by ourselves made the meals much more enjoyable.
Day three - Barbados - our least favorite port. Our plan for the day was to take a taxi to the Malibu Rum Factory, take the tour and then spend some time at their beach. We didn't know until leaving the ship that it was a national holiday and EVERYTHING was closed. (Except for the shops in the little mall right by the pier.) Since Malibu was closed, we had a taxi driver take us to a beach of his suggestion which turned out to be in an area called Holetown. The beach was OK. There were guys there renting chairs, umbrellas, floatie mats, etc. Most things were $5.00. I paid $10.00 for a cheapo float mat. A guy came buy with a green monkey offering to let you hold it for a photo for a "donation." I of course did so thinking the monkey was cute. He promptly bit me on the hand. Fortunately, he didn't break the skin but I had a bruise in the shape of a monkey bite on my hand for the rest of the cruise. After a fight broke out between the person at the bar and a woman who he was charging double what the posted price said a beer would be, we decided to leave. We asked the taxi driver to take us to the Boatyard where we paid $12.00 to get in but that included chairs and $5 in tokens toward food or beverage. There are water trampolines and an iceberg available there at no charge. We had sandwiches and drinks there which were good. The place was VERY crowded since it was the only thing open but was a fun place to hang out. We eventually made our way through the pushy taxi drivers and walked back to the ship. Note to self - find out if there are holidays on any islands we're visiting and schedule a ship's tour if so.
Day four - Fun day at sea. I can't really remember what we did today. I know we spent some time in the Casino - throughout the course of the cruise hubby & I each hit for around $400, but of course that's probably about what we each spent, too! We found deck chairs on the deck above the pool rather easily and hung out there throughout a chunk of the day. Yes, there was a lot of chair saving and a chair close to the pool was not to be had, but chairs were available on other decks and in nice locations.
Day five - Aruba. Our favorite. We left the ship around 9 and walked a few blocks to the left to Big Twin Harley where we had reserved a Harley for the day. (Not cheap - I think it was $140 for the day.) We rode to the California lighthouse first. From there backtracked and tried to find the chapel - but we never did. We didn't find the map to be of much value and the roads were lacking in street signs - but anyone we asked for directions was so helpful and nice that it almost made it more fun! We were able to get to Natural Bridge on the harley, but couldn't of course get to the Natural Pool. We drove around through some residential areas, including a stop at a grocery store. From there we headed towards Baby Beach. We enjoyed a great lunch at Coco's Beach, a little beachside bar & restaurant to the right of Baby Beach closer to the oil refinery. At Baby Beach hubby rented snorkel gear, we got chairs ($5.00) and I rented a nice substantial floatie mat for $5.00. We really enjoyed the completely calm clear water and reluctantly headed back around 4 to return the bike. We got stuck in some traffic & barely made it back in time. I was disappointed that the shops were closed near the port and we didn't get to do any shopping. We did enjoy a wonderful dinner that night at the German restaurant in Seaport Village. My vegetable platter was my favorite meal of the cruise. We visited a couple of the casinos for a short while (drinks were free while sitting at the machines!) and then returned to the ship.
Day Six - last day at sea. Pretty much the same as before. Hung out on the deck above the pool. Spent some time in the casino. Picked up a few little things in the shops on board. Enjoyed our last dinner with Robert & Stephanie, Nestor & Joel.
Debarkation was very smooth - but only if you were ready to be patient since it took longer than any we have experienced in the past. This was the first time we had disembarked according to where our cabin was located. While told to be ready to be called to the theater for immigration any time after 6 am, it was closer to 8. We had breakfast, went back and picked up our last items from our cabin and went to the lido deck to lay in the sun and wait. It was 11 am before our color was called to disembark. Once called, we moved smoothly through to claim our luggage and go through customs. We had hoped for more time to poke around Old San Juan before heading for the airport but instead got more time in the sun! We did take a taxi to an area called Bacharina Village suggested by the purser's desk where we could check our bags for a while. We spent about 2 hours having some lunch and looking in a couple of shops before heading to the airport. This again went smoothly. Only took a few minutes to get checked in at the airport and we were on our way.
Miscellaneous comments - I found the crew on this cruise to be very different than past experiences and I wonder if Carnival's pre-charged tipping influences this. For instance, our cabin was in good condition and any note that we left with a request was perfectly accomplished. Until the next to the last day of the cruise, however, we never actually met our delightful attendant, Luminita. It also seemed like a group of three people took care of a large block of staterooms. Even the waitstaff, while fun and attentive, didn't seem as "personable" as what we have experienced in the past. I wondered (and this is just my wondering.) if having more of a "guarantee" that the tips are coming allows the staff/ crew to perform their duties in a very professional and competent fashion without having to do the "overly personable attaching routine" that may at times be part of the game to make sure one receives a tip??? While I "missed" the experience of chatting with the cabin attendant, our every need was cared for in a professional and competent way and perhaps this is a "healthier" work environment than one in which the gratuity is more dependent upon the personable nature of the attendant. Anyone else have thoughts on this?
We had smooth sailing most of the trip. A few times you could feel the ship rocking a bit, but hey, you're on a ship and that's part of the fun! I do get seasick in very rough seas, however, but didn't experience that at all this time.
Upon our arrival home to Pittsburgh, it was very late, very cold, and snowing heavily. We made a skidding landing and our normal 40 minute ride home in the car took 3 hours. Yikes. We really need to book another cruise. This was our best cruise bargain to date and proved to me that ANY cruise can be a GREAT cruise if you have a good attitude, meet wonderful people, visit amazing places, and have a sense of humor. Happy sails!
PRE CRUISE DAY- After reading several reviews, we chose the Wyndham Condado a 4 * hotel for $157 a night (via cheap tickets). For two people, six pieces of luggage it cost $12 total for the taxi from the airport to this hotel. We were extremely pleased with our room #844, a corner room with views of the lagoon and port (saw the ship!) and a balcony overlooking the ocean. The shower easily fit two and there was a walk in closet for clothing as well as a bar area and separate seating mirror to get ready. The hotel will hold luggage for free until check in, we arrived at 2pm and our room was ready. Then we changed in to swim suits and lounged poolside while had a drink in the swim up bar. Two pools, 1 salt water and 1 regular as well as a huge hot tub. A slide with shallow water for the kids too. We ate pool side, limited menu for lunch.
Excellent grounds including walking paths along the ocean, hammocks, private sunbathing spots and a beach.
For dinner we decided to walk around town, "newSan Juan". There are several restaurants in the immediate area, one very fancy (all expensive BMW's pulling up) wide menu selection about $20-50 per plate. We ate next door at La Hacienda, a small locally owned place with views of both the ocean and the strip (street with all the action at night). If you like hot food try the salsa with chips...very hot we loved it. The restaurant also serves breakfast, ate there again, mistake - not very pleased with the Mexican eggs. We sat facing the strip, pleased as the later in the evening, the more it picked up with everyone walking around from Armani suits, to shorts to night club clothes. We then felt even safer walking the main strip, heading away from the lagoon, stopping at all the ocean front bars. We walked a total of a mile one way, a ton of night life that really picks up about 10 pm, by midnight though we were done!
Now here is the BEST advice if checking out Sunday after 10am... If you agree with your room bill, sign it and leave it with the key card at the main desk. after 10 am, the lines are so long with all those checking in and out (unnecessarily) that they have a free rum punch bar set up to keep the tempers down. The line, which we did not need to wait in was over 45 minutes long. That preferred member line was no different. If the computerized system is working you can check out via your TV, it didn't work for us. Call a bell hop 15 minutes before you wish to leave anytime after 11am, as ours took over 30 minutes to arrive.
Pictures of hotel, grounds and areas we walked on the web here, if interested.
THE DESTINY- (There is a ton of info on the net about the ship, so only included is what we would want additionally.) From the hotel, the taxi was $15 about a 15 minute drive. Very, very crazy taxi driver who wanted to get us there in less than 5 minutes, all traffic aside. The port at 1:30 already had a 30 minute wait. As soon as your feet hit the ground, grab a porter, if not, they are hard to come by as you wait in line with all your stuff for that 30 minutes, all the porters passing you are taken, It's a pain to keep picking it all up to take two steps for 30 minutes. Very organized, they let groups in about 25 at a time and proceeded to check your documents in line as you wait outside(about 10 people pre checked while waiting, so being pre-checked, we skipped through all that and went immediate to the sail and sign "pre checked in" short line) and were taken next. Pictures for the card were about a 5 minute wait, then no wait and two choices for your boarding picture. Then onto the ship at level zero.
It's two pm now, boat doesn't sail until 10 pm and OUR ROOM IS READY!!!) We had a balcony #6307. The room had enough storage to hold our 200lbs of luggage. The couch area with table was ample for two. In addition, almost the entire wall across from the bed was a desk with mirror and chair to get ready while the bathroom is in use. Limited plugs bring a power strip. As we're told, don't unplug the TV, an alarm goes off! The shower was large, great mirror storage area, if all my junk fit, it's big! The toilet was on a strange angle, so that if you are large in nature, I'd imagine it might be tough to maneuver, (need to sit sideways). Balcony was small. Nice but a waste to us. It had three chairs for a room that slept two? Had to climb over the chairs to sit. It's only value to us was taking pictures while pulling out or in and not wanting to mess with going up on deck. We worried that the location above deck 5, promenade, would bee to noisy but we didn't hear a thing. Our location however was above Cheers, the wine and Martini bar, not the casino or piano bar.
People we met had room 8101, the room right next to the bridge. They had a bit of a foyer, but the room was the same, except for the view... they could look to their right on the balcony and wave to the captain in the bridge... no privacy.
Unlike the Conquest (which we sailed spring break), there were plenty of lounge chairs available on all the deck levels, never had to go out early in the morning and save chairs.
Kids activities, now camp carnival did a great job, we know because we seldom saw any kids. Aside from the camp, there were VERY limited facilities for the kids, especially if yours are over 12 and find the camp embarrassingly childish. Unlike the Conquest, there is not a separate teen disco and hang out. The arcade is half the size which IS a bad thing because there are so few events scheduled for those kids old enough to venture out on their own. The disco is for teens until 11pm, then there is no entry under 16 BUT this is an ADULT disco now... and you DON'T want them there. The tweeners and teens just seemed to walk around. Carnival Capers had little to offer them. We didn't bring our kids on this one and were glad. But for those with younger kids who'll go to the camp, I'm sure it was great as all the young ones were hard to find during the day.
Also be aware that the Destiny picks up and drops off passengers at three ports. Because of this the ship was increasingly multi-cultured than others. This was really neat as there was a Latin lounge to accommodate a larger Latino population. We enjoyed meeting people from even Holland and Germany as well as San Juan, although I never did learn to salsa.
If you sail before November, say hi to Rayna at Cheers wine and Martini bar. You can stay there drinking beer from another bar on the Promanade, as you'll want to because she's such a fun bartender, just strike up a conversation. Tell her Carol and Rob say HEY!
Although we had confirmation of late dinner, seating for 8, we were tortured by an early seating, table of 4 (there were a ton of tables for 4). Well when your table mates just smile and nodded at you (yes they were English speaking), it's the longest hour of your life. Switch to late, after begging and agreeing to a table out in Siberia, which was a MUCH better alternative.
Although not advertised you can go to decks 6&7 and enter the balcony for the front of the ship, can't see it any other way on the open decks that we've found.
ST. THOMAS Okay, now there are a few excellent beaches here. All I can say is COKI is a must do (see pictures), took a cab $14 for two, one way. If you don't accidentally get on a tour taxi, it only takes 10 minutes to get there. This is right next to Coral World, which we did not do but looked like the biggest rip off known to man. The chairs are $5 per chair, umbrellas available and restrooms and staff that will walk into the water to bring you a drink. Stands for the usual stuff including snorkeling mask $5, you should get this. There are snorkeling reefs to the right and left of the beach. To the right is Coral world. To the left is more secluded. We entered the water, to the left when facing ocean and the fish all swam up to us, waiting to be fed. It was GREAT. Drinks about $4. There are several stands there, not that you ever need to think about getting up for a drink. Staff were accommodating, without being pushy, you'll see several walking with tray's announcing "drinks", you just nodded and they're there. The beach here was the cleanest and the clearest. It is NOT Carnival affiliated (CCL doesn't own it), but CCL does offer excursions to coral world and the snorkeling is at this beach. We did it for 1/4 the price by catching a taxi at the peer.
We passed Sapphire and it looked beautiful, about 5 minutes before Coki, if your coming up the south east towards the north (again that tour thing). Saw Magdens beach from above, not impressive to us.
The driving... holy cow!!! The driving is on the European side, without changing the steering wheel on the car to the right!!!! Plus it is all hills and narrow winding roads with a probable 50% blind spot around each turn. And we were going to rent scooters! ha! I could have screamed, several times.
Didn't shop here, well anywhere else except Aruba!
DOMINICA Well for us, 100 degrees, plus humidity was a bit much at 7am, This is a gorgeous mountainous Island from what we could see on the boat and port. We shopped for 15 minutes, very pushy people like Jamaica, same stuff at every stand. (found the necklaces cheaper at Aruba). Looked up at the enormous mountains, continued sweating and said.. NO WAY, are we hiking up any mountain to see water falling from it. Back to the ship we went!
Now we asked the several couples we met. One broken down van, one group of seniors in a tour that extended it beyond belief and the lunch was orange slices and one bottle of water in a four hour rain forest excursion (which they had to wait for despite complaining of thirst). We were told that the temperature did drop 20 degrees once on top of the mountain and the water was very cold, and a lot of hiking. Wish we could give a better review, but the fact that only our ship from a port that just sailed three actually went there, might say that Princess and RC know something about Dominica that CCL doesn't.
Did visit the spa and had a facial. The spa offers specials on port days and I was pleasantly surprised that when I called to book, they lowered the price another $15.
BARBADOS Disclaimer-left all my research at home so forgot what beaches to visit.
Our room facing the bridge was on the right side of the boat. Well the port had no special view from the balcony, just a shipping dock. We went into port and asked the information desk to recommend a beach with a restroom, bar and snorkeling. This paid off jerk LIED, and told us to go to SURFSIDE (which if I had my notes I would have known better) Picture trailer park trash, on the dirtiest and rockiest beach. Yep!
Worse, my bad, we overpaid the taxi driver in US dollars, which was double, ask if your taxi is US or Barbados and determine the price ahead of time. This did give us a great tour of the west coast and the resorts, so the money was still well spent. $25 US to get to the surfside, about 10 minutes from Mullens and then $15 US dollars to go to the Boatyard, which is past the port, past downtown a bit east of the ship.
The boatyard, as all the reviews' say, was excellent. The facilities clean enough, a shopping strip to the right with an additional restaurant, or you could eat at the boatyard. Admission as $12 pp, then you're given $8 pp back in tokens. Chairs for free, just a tip if you want an umbrella dug in for you. Volleyball, free, jet ski can haggle down to $40 for 30 minutes which we did. Also banana boat and inner tube rides, don't know the price. Snorkeling from a dive shop right as you walk in for $10pp which CCL charges over $40 for to go to the same spot just to the left of the boatyard. Tried the flying fish sandwich, liked it. Drinks about $4 for beer. Credit cards accepted, ran a tab all day... and night too.
Now the excursion for the Beach Carnival, which ran from about 2-5pm was a rip off at $78 pp. (our buddies did this, we crashed it.). Included all the rum punch and burgers which they ran short of. This was just left to the boatyard (when facing ocean) at Carlile beach.
Want the comparison?-per person, boatyard vs. this beach Carnival- to do CCL excursion $78pp, transportation,all the rum punch (no other choices), one burger, chairs a bathroom and no water sports.
Boatyard on your own, taxi both ways $6 total, $4 to enter after you subtract the drink or food credit. Chairs, bathroom and availability to rent all motorized water activities and snorkle for $10 if you want that. Figure if you paid for that burger it would be $10. I'm at $20, Can you drink more then $58 worth of rum punch per person? In three hours? In addition, on your own, you stay as long as the boat is still in port.
We joined our friends at Carlisle, brought our own $4 beer for a short bit then walked the 10 minutes back to the boatyard along the beach, after being very pleased about not choosing that excursion. Had such a great time, and new friends we so jealous that we returned to the boatyard for the night life. Don't cut off your wrist band for re-entry. This was just like Carlos and Charlie's at night. Caught a taxi both ways again no problem finding one they all wait for the tourists out front. It was a blast, got on the boat at the last minute, after getting some beads first.
DAY AT SEA Not pleased with Jorge, the cruise director, hardly saw him and there was a three hour window with no activities planned, okay for us who like to lay out, but wouldn't have minded some options.
ARUBA How much more time do you have?? We followed many peoples suggestions and rented a jeep, just across from the dock.... THANK YOU! This was the greatest time. We rented the big jeep with the 'air conditioning' (back open) and took the insurance for $110 plus a $20 to fill her back up. Had the jeep from the am until 6pm. Even though none of the roads really are named, the map they give you lists restaurants so it's left at subway... and so on. Surprisingly easy, for driving all day, we were only turned around once.
We drove counter clockwise from the port, turned left before the natural pool. I've heard mixed reviews about going through the national park. We just LOVED it. These are dirt, rocky bumpy roads. You do need a 4x4. Mind you as I say this, a tour bus is tipping side to side winding down this path with all the passengers being bounced around. So, if those crazy bus drivers can do it.... but don't try it in a car. Then off to the natural bridge, which was beautiful to see. Great photo stop. A shop with facilities and drinks was there, 25 cents to use the bathroom.
The lighthouse to the northwest corner had a breathtaking view of the island. A must see, even just for the view. Next to the lighthouse is an Italian restaurant La Trattorie El Faro Blanco where we ate. Don't let the formal appearance scare you off. Food was excellent, the prices are in Aruba's currency, our exchange was 0.55 so the price was good, $60 for 4 for lunch and the VIEW, well just go there to see. Could have sat all day overlooking the beach and island, but hadn't been to the beach yet.
Many people are suggesting Palm. Take into consideration that a hurricane or two just hit the pier. There was an oil spill near Palm beach. The water was greasy, odorous and murky. There is parking as well as a public entrance next to the Hyatt. Here you can rent beach chairs for 5$ and be pointed to the hotel, next to the Hyatt to use the facilities - pool and all. From here we decided to try a different beach, there are several great looking non resort type beaches. Eagle was one between Palm beach and pier. Eagle beach had those Corona beer commercial huts with a bar a bit down the beach. There are fewer people here on eagle, the water clean and clear. There were still shade huts and palm trees like Palm Beach, only a longer walk to the bar, which is across from the resort you'll know it, that's where everyone is gathered.
All the main carnival approved shops close at 6pm. The shopping centers, right off the pier, looked, and ARE terrific, stays open much later. These are all local shops where haggling is allowed, the carnival approved mall area is across the street.
Night life is everywhere in the downtown area, although if you want Carlos and Charlie's get there early the line gets long. We stopped at several clubs, avoiding the ones with covers. Iguanna Joes had a large frozen drink, some lethal looking in ½ carafe containers. Restaurant atmosphere although there are tables that overlook the strip where all the action is. Next was La Petite grille, more fancy, still overlooked the strip. Then Mambo Jambo, or something close had a large frozen drink selection and fair menu choices it was a rowdier bar atmosphere, like Jack Asters, excellent décor and a bar with stools aligned the parimiter to watch the strip. Further down on Westraat street, opposite direction from the pier was choose a name bar. For $25 pp from 6-8 pm all you can drink and latin music. Competes pretty well with Carlos and Charlies.
Kukoo Kunuku excursion was attended by another couple. Four hours, you start with a ride in a crazy decorated bus being taken to a local' house (happens to be a chef). Here he serves your group dinner for 1 ½ hrs. Then you get on the party bus and stop at 4 bars, with a one drink voucher for each bar, ending up at Carlos and Charlies, bypassing that eternal line to get in. They had a great time. Dinner was served restaurant style outside, with a house tour after. $75 pp
Day at sea -sunburn
EXITING BOAT INFORMATION The best info we came by. You remember how long it takes to finally get off? We booked the cheapest tour in San Juan, our flight booked for 3:15. The tour with transportation was $37 pp. So You're off the ship 830am, get a porter to take your luggage to a van where it is delivered to you at the airport and board the bus! We went to a fort, 45 minutes, great pictures, interesting. Then the bus stopped at old San Juan, right next to the Princess port. We had a brief guided tour then 90 min. to walk around. Gorgeous!! Then the bus drove through new San Juan, past our old hotel to the airport. There was the van and our luggage was being unloaded! Through security to the bar for lunch where we met people who were just let off the boat at 1130am and by the time they caught a cab and cleared security it was past one when they reached the bar with us.
Info. We have a ton of cab and all the excursion prices as well as the carnival capers. Will post on the web if anyone has questions. E-mail I'll try hard to get the info to you
Thank you to everyone who posted reviews who helped make this the best vacation, you all are the best!!!!
This cruise is my third cruise second on Carnival Destiny. Through out this review I will be comparing the difference of experiences between my cruise in 2001 and now 2004.
September 4th - Morning of September 5th
We decided to depart to San Juan a day early to avoid air traffic delays and to relax before going on the ship. We and a group of 70 guests stayed at the Comfort Inn. Our flights to Philly and San Juan landed ahead of schedule. Comparing back in 2001, getting off the plane looked the same but when arriving to baggage claim it was different. Before they did not have a conveyor belt, they brought all the luggage to the front of the airport and literally threw it into the airport. Now, it's like a whole new room. They used to have a room where the lost luggage would go. Now it is where we wait for our luggage. When we got our luggage, I started to see the un finished part of baggage claim and saw the natives just standing there. I think there should be a better place for them tostay especially with airport security. Got a cab to the Comfort Inn, and waited outside for a good 40 minutes before checking in. This inn was not in the best location. Very crowed, with buildings just inches apart, with no view but another hotel. The room was perfect, two twin beds, with a little coffee table. The room was a good size for two.
The pool area was a big athletic size pool. Please Note: If you have kids and want to go in the pool this is not place for them cause this pool starts at 4 feet and goes to 9 feet deep. About a 3 minute walk to the ocean. The food and Service was good but did not contain much for a continental breakfast. Contained coffee, cereal (Raisin Brand) and toast. Nothing else I ended going across the street to pick up a banana.
For a one nighter this is a great place to stay at. If you are staying more than one night than I suggest you go out to breakfast at least one of the nights. Otherwise, the service here was excellent. All in all yes I would go back to this inn. This is an excellent choice to stay at! September 5th - EMBARKATION
We arrived at the Pier around 11AM. For a good half hour we were not moving because they open the gates at 11:30. Just before the line started to move we noticed a stand for water and lemonade near the front of the line. When I was here there years ago they did not have this great terminal and dock. It was just a pink building (that is next to the terminal.) We were on the ship by noon. It helps speed up the process by using the fun pass, everything was breeze once the line started to move. After we had lunch on the Lido, we checked out our home for the week. What a great room! We opened our balcony to find a beautiful view of Old San Juan. We got off the ship and did some exploring around the area. We walked up to the fort and did some shopping. We headed back to the pier and boarded the ship. Before the ship set sail there was the annual boat drill. Two words: T O O L O N G. The Carnival Capers clearly said 9pm life boat drill. We left our cabin at 9pm and they did not make an announcement until 9:15 and finally started at 9:25. and ended around 9:45. Word of Advice: come as late as you can, otherwise you are way in the back. We went back to our cabin to watch us sail off to St. Thomas.
Monday September 6th - St. Thomas 6:30 AM walked out onto our balcony to find a gorgeous view of St. Thomas. We booked a shore excursion called A Journey Through Paradise We went around the island and went to places like Mountain Top. Later went into town, for 2 ½ hours of shopping. Very good deals here. Great place to buy jewelry.
Tuesday September 7th - Antigua
Change of route due Hurricane Ivon. We were supposed to go to Dominica. Our last cruise (2001) we went to Antigua as well. Back than the island had a stinch and streets were polluted. Now what a surprise the island was so much better for the greater good. No more stinch no more streets polluted. The only big difference now is that they have an extra dock and their prices went up $9.00 for t-shirts. We did not do any shopping on this island, just walked around.
Wednesday September 8th - Dominica Now the hurricane has passed Dominica but in Barbados has winds of 90MPH and the terminal is down. Due to the winds we went to Dominica instead of Barbados. When we came into port you can see that they were setting up shops. I took a shore excursion by myself to Trafalger Falls and Sulphur Springs. Word of Caution: Both the Sulpher Spring and the Trafalger Falls have very steep walk ways. If you have walking problems I would not recommend this trip. I went into an air conditioned bus. It was a nice and relaxing ride. Our first trip was to the Sulphur Springs. When walking to the Springs there are a lot of vendors trying to sell you stuff. The springs were volcanic rock. Smoke can be seen from up close and on the ship. The next stop The Trafalger Falls. Before entering the Trafalger Falls make sure you have your ticket. The falls were breath taking. This was a great site! After the falls we relaxed at a hotel where they offered Rum.
Thursday September 9th Barbados
What a surprise! We found out we are now going to Barbados. The terminal was a little damage otherwise all fine. We decided to take the Harrison Cave Tour. On our way to the cave, we got some history and saw how the islanders live. Learned that famous people like Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods have homes on the island. These caves are a must see! The ride to and from the caves is about 50 minutes.
Friday September 10th:Day at Sea
I will talk about this later in the review.
Saturday September 11th Tortola (near St. Thomas)
Due to Hurricane Ivon being over Aruba we headed back north just around the corner from St. Thomas and St. John. As you are all probably thinking "I never heard of this island"? That's cause tourist don't come hear much. Before taking a tour, we did some shopping. These prices are a lot better than Antigua. $5.00 for t-shirts VS $9.00 in Antigua. Later we caught a ride that took us around the island. This island was very exotic! Very Scenery. Our first stop was to the top of the mountain. We saw a lot of great views of the island and the ship. Our driver took us on the west part of the island. On the way he showed us what beach the tourists go to. A white beach that looked clean. After the tour, we did some more shopping and went back on Destiny.
On Carnival Destiny: Entertainment
I thought there was lot more to do on the ship three years ago than now. I was very disappointed in this area. The day we were at sea they only had one pool game and that was survivor. I heard they did throw in golf balls but I did not witness it. The shows on the Palladium Lounge made no sense. The first one was based in Paris. The show was so bad I saw several people (including myself) leave. The story line made no sense. It was all mixed in together. I ended up going to Karaoke. Karaoke is the event to attend. You don't have to go on stage, just watch. Overall: I think there should be more do on the ship (as far as entertainment) I saw a lot of empty bars at night like the Apollo Bar.
Food and Service:
One nice thing about Carnival is there's always the Lido deck for food. I found lunch's to be the best. You have choice the most choice and everything is opened. New York Deli and the Pizzeria were my top favorites. I did try the pizza that contains garlic bread and goat cheese. Very good! A most try! At New York Deli I would highly recommend the Reuben Sandwich. There are a lot of great desserts out between lunch and dinner. The buffet during breakfast was great. Every morning I always asked for omelets. The only problem I found during breakfast was they did not have orange juice ready before the grand buffet. The dinner buffet went down hill. One of the times they had all these side meals but no main meal. We were mostly found at the Galaxy Dining Room. Our Waiter Kasavan and Assistant waiter Adrijan were always a ton of fun. Adrijan had a big sense of humor and was always a joy to have. The food in the dining room had limited choices but it was good and different. They had great Entertainment towards the end of the seating. The first night they were singing and dancing Hot Hot Hot. Our table joined in the conga and saw some belly dancers during the song. I thought this was the best of them all but sad to say they don't have that much guest involvement. The service was always top-notch but the food could have more of a variety.
Room and Service
Our balcony cabin was on the Lido deck (9209) The view on the balcony was incredible. Every morning we would walk outside and see us coming into port. I don't think an inside cabin would ever be the same. After noticing we had one queen bed, our room steward Ivanhoe said he will change the bed to twin later tonight. He did. Ivanhoe always made sure our room was very clean and more organized.
This process is so much better now than in (2001) it was so un organized than. Guests kept going downstairs when there color was not called. Cause of this there was an endless line on the Rivera deck. We did not get off till 10AM and almost missed our flight. Now it was the complete opposite, very organized. Everyone went down when there color was called. Lines were not that long and everything went smoothly. Even though they tell you to hang out on decks 5 or 9, we stayed on deck 3 near the flag bar and had no problems. We left the pier by 9:10 and was at the airport shortly after. Our friends had their room on Verandah and for some strange reason Lido is one of the first decks to get off but Verandah is the last one. We were the last deck to be called in 2001 as well. Being there before 9:30 was great cause you beat most of the guests from the three cruse lines. Got ahead of all the major lines. Bad news was our flight left at 2:40Pm about a 5 hour lay-over. We stayed in the same concourse the whole time. For three cruise lines that all end on a Sunday, the airport could put more restaurants or build more concourses. Around 10,000 guests come into this airport the same day. Long lines at the two restaurants (30 people at least). Long lines in both restrooms. Long lines going though security. The only area where there were no long lines, was the drug store. In Philly (Our connection flight) walking to another concourse was so much like a ghost town but for the greater good when you compare to the San Juan airport. Hopefully in another 3 years they will be up to par.
Conclusion Through out this vacation changes in itinerary and events were changed. This did not effect our vacation to have fun. Unfortunately I have noticed Carnival Destiny's Entertainment to have poor marks. There were not that many ship-wide or lido activities suitable for the many age groups on the ship. This vacation was a lot of fun. I'm am disappointed we did not go to Aruba but Tortola made up for it. The ship was like I remember from 2001. I always saw the crew cleaning the ship inside and out. Overall this was a phenomenal vacation that I will never forget!
Since this board provided me so much useful information, I feel obligated to share my experiences with other cruisemates and maybe help answer some questions So here it is..
If I were to sum up my first cruise experience on Carnival Destiny in one word, that would be 'Awesome'!
I had read and re-read the different reviews here and on other sites and had a mixed feeling going into the cruise but once one we had nothing but pleasurable experiences on-board and off the Destiny. The crew is simply marvelous, looking out for how to (not just meet but) exceed all our expectations, right from the dining room staff to the room stewards to the security folks.
But let me start from the beginning.
I took the Destiny 7 day S. Caribbean cruise starting from San Juan on Mar 28th with my wife and two kids aged 9 and 3. We were traveling with another family with kids of similar ages (great idea as the kids always had company from get go)
We reached SJU on Mar 27th and spent the night at Caribe Hilton. Next morning was spent at Caribe's beautifulpool and beach. We checked out around 3:00pm (had requested late checkout) and took a cab to the pier. Reached around 3:30pm, did not experience any lines, and were in our cabin by 4:00pm. (I think the bulk of people must arrive either around noon or later in evening so we had a really smooth embarkation)
Our cabin was on Upper deck (level 6) with private balcony. At first the room appeared small with our two large and two small suitcases occupying most of the floor space but once we unpacked and pushed to the suitcases under the bed, it seemed much nicer. We had a queen bed and two bunk beds (which my kids absolutely loved). They convert the sofa into a lower bunk bed and the upper bunk bed is pulled down from the ceiling. I would imagine that without the bunk beds configuration, the room would look much bigger.
We had requested late dining but were given early dining which seemed annoying at first but later worked out better as we could have our lunch between 6:15pm-8:15pm and catch the night show in Palladium at 8:30pm with the kids not getting too drowsy or tired. Our kids enjoyed the two dance shows and a magic show but did not care much for the comedy shows when they were glad to spend time in the Camp Carnival kids' area. (again the timing works perfectly as the Camp regular hours are till 10:00pm so the kids could be there while you enjoy the show).
First night was open dining. The next night we were assigned a table in Galaxy dining room but had a lukewarm dining experience (not the food, just the overall experience). But once I mentioned it to our head waiter, Vincent, he demonstrated why people would keep on coming back to Carnival. The next 5 nights we had the most extraordinary dining service with Vincent and Gretta requesting special dishes for us and taking extraordinary care of our kids' (and our) whims and wishes. High kudos to them for being such a talented staff and going way beyond what was expected of them.
While we are on exceeding expectations, let me tip my hat to our room stewardess, Laura who somehow managed to get our room (multiple times a day) back to a sparkling clean and orderly state from complete disarray even if we left the room for no more than an hour. She was omnipresent but still so non-intrusive with such a charming disposition. Great job Laura!
Ports were all great though we enjoyed them at our kids' pace. Never booked a shore excursion thru the ship as they all start pretty early. Just got down at the ports and talked to the local cabbies to come up with a deal. Did an island tour in St. Thomas with some shopping at the local merchants (not touristy gift shops). Headed straight to the Rainforest in Dominica and enjoyed swimming in the cool Emerald Pool under the waterfall (did stop on the way for some coconut water and roadside shopping). Hit the Boatyard beach in Barbados where we did a lot of fun water activities including jet skiing with the 9 year olds. Took an island tour in gorgeous Aruba that concluded at the Baby beach with few hours of snorkeling with kids. Also enjoyed a wild evening (minus the kids) at Carlos and Charlie's.
The days at sea came at the right time and helped us unwind and relax by poolside while enjoying the hot beats of Cool Runnings' live Reggae music (lot of audience participation). Took turns babysitting kids on different days and enjoyed the Casino, bars, and karaoke till wee hours in the morning.
The ship is evidently not brand new but it is kept spotless (yes I know, there still are some carpet stains!) by the ever-cleaning crew. The water was not at all choppy and after the first night (where it felt like we were in a gentle hammock - or was it the drinks!), we hardly felt any movement at all.
Disembarkation was also very well planned and we were out of the ship at 9:55am. The planning sheet had targeted our deck to disembark by 10:00am so we were right on the money. I think the people who complain do not follow the guidelines and end up spending too much time in lines when they could be relaxing on the Lido deck enjoying breakfast under the Puerto Rican Sun. Upon return we stayed one more night in San Juan enjoying the Marriott pool, beach and Old San Juan city to let the vacation linger a wee bit longer.
There is so much more to say but trust me, this is something that HAS to be experienced.
A quick comment about Carnival v/s Royal Caribbean. I chose Carnival over RC as I liked CCL price for balcony cabin much better than RC and Destiny was touching much better ports (including Aruba) in its S. Caribbean itinerary. And CCL did prove to be an astounding value for money. If RC were to really earn the extra money that they charge for the 7 day S. Caribbean cruise then they REALLY need to be able to provide me all that Carnival did and then take it over the edge in terms of service, food, and entertainment. I'd certainly try RC in future but CCL has positively earned an admirer in me who would be very interested in trying out one of the newer Carnival ships.
So my friends! Go savor what we did! You will not regret it. You might just have to contain yourself with that warm, floating feeling and the traces of white sand in your shoes once you get back :)
This was our seventh cruise, the second with CCL, departing March 14, 04. The itinerary was San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, Aruba, San Juan. Our TA at Cruise Magic called CCL and got us an immediate upgrade to a guarantee 4A inside at a 1A price of $555 all-incl, and on arrival we got another free upgrade to 6A outside on the Riviera deck.
We flew in about 5pm, and airport to cabin took a little over an hour, very slick, no line longer than a couple minutes. A taxi dispatcher at the a/p curb gets you a cab and gives you a paper stating the cost of the trip to avoid "misunderstandings" between passengers and drivers ($16 plus 50 cents per bag, tip not included). Others arrived about 1pm, previously the worst time for embarking with 2 hour lines, and said they pretty much walked on the ship, no lines. And others arriving mid-afternoon got on quickly. The people who arrived at 7pm had to waited the longest of any we talked to, about an hour.
Our 6A outside Riviera deck cabin was great, long vanity counter and mirrors,free safe using any magnetic strip card like a drivers license, 4 foot square window, king bed, large sofa, chair, table, tons of storage space, 2 outlets on the counter, ice and pop machines down the hall. People with thick hair will likely want to bring their own hair dryer, the cabin one will take you forever. Don't trust the telephone wake-up call system, it failed for us as well as our friends. Soap and shampoo in the shower, adjustable shower height, slow drain, we were standing in water at the end (foot bath?). Nice bag of toiletries and thick robes. You can view your account and book tours on the TV (press Menu).
We thought the ship was lovely, any signs of wear were very minor. We really liked the Sun and Sea lido buffet, it seemed classier and less noisy than the ones on other ships, perhaps because there were no clattery trays, and it has an upper level away from the crowds where you can always get a window seat because most people probably won't or can't climb the stairs holding food. A lovely peaceful place to eat.
The Happy Valley always had an interesting Oriental dish or 2, and the NY Deli made great sandwiches with all the fixings, pastrami, corned beef, etc. Great 24 hour pizza just out the back of the Sun & Sea, about 8 choices. Ice cream and frozen yogurt cones near the pool by the drink machine on the port side.
As on all our other cruises deck loungers near the pools go fast on sea days, and everyone breaks the rule and saves them, so you might as well too. Here's a tip if you want to be near the pool to hear the music and also need some shade like we do (it's very hot). First, there is shade at the pool level on either side of the deck, but these areas are full of tables and chairs. But there is an overhang on deck 10 above the pool behind the band, where you can move your lounger in and out of the sun. There is also shade for about 4 chairs under the radar globes (?) on the small deck where you walk up the stairs to the water slide. If you get out to these places by about 7:30 you'll probably find empty chairs. If you don't check on them frequently your loungers could get pushed around by other people jockeying for positions (as happened to our deckmates) and you'll find your chairs pushed way out in the sun or back against the wall. Pool chairs in full sun are available until about 8:30. If you don't need to be near the pool there are lots of chairs in other places.
The dining rooms were lovely, food and service great, got the wrong dinner time and table size, but the maitre d' fixed it. Take your camera to dinner, lots of "waiter" shows, even a Backstreet Boys show, quiet a riot. Entertainment was good, floor shows, comedians, a magician.
Nice rubberized jogging track, nice gym, 3 or 4 ellipticals, maybe 10 treadmills, about the same bikes, several strengthening machines, free weights, no pulleys, surround windows, lovely change rooms, lockers, showers (no shampoo here (?). You walk through the spa to get to the gym.
One general tip about ports, have lots of small bills, you always need them so you have the correct amount for cabs, tips, snacks, buying small things. Getting change is often a hassle. Take about $40 in ones, lots of fives, and a few tens. Twenties are only good for paying for large things like private tours. Most vendors, even little market vendors will take travellers cheques, but often can't make change for 20's. The ship will cash your traveler's cheques, and fortunately had lots of 1's and 5's when we ran out.
Port side cabins view the bay and hills, starboard ones view the port. This was our second time in St. Thomas, and for the morning my wife shopped the Havensight stores at the dock while I found a good internet place to find out if our kids had wrecked the house yet. Internet on the ship is expensive, 75 cents a minute, and in most ports you can get about 15-20 minutes for $2-3. Havensight has a good internet place at the main intersection where the cop (?) has a booth, across the street and up the stairs, I think it was $4 for 15 minutes, very fast connection, professionally run, about a dozen computers.
In the afternoon we wanted to hang out at a resort with a pool and beach, we like to go back and forth between the two, where we can order drinks and snacks, so we went to the Ritz Carleton near Red Hook, a $9 p.p. cab ride. You can also do this at the Bolongo Bay Resort for $15, or the Emerald Beach Resort for free (a local told us). The Ritz was lovely, email us if you want the details on how this works.
The locals pronounce it DOM-in-EEE-ka. Here's a link to a good map we found, the only thing missing is Titou Gorge, put a dot just below the town of Laudat for that (www.avirtualdominica.com/images/bigmap.jpg ). In Roseau we docked right at the town, port side cabins facing the town, starboard facing the bay. When you walk off the ship to the end of the pier you find all the tour reps, both ship and private, and you get tons of propositions as in most ports, but they aren't pushy and accept "no thanks." The going rate for a non-ship tour is $30 for 2 major stops over about 3 hours, and the ship charges $45-50 for the same thing. We like active tours and booked River Kayaking privately with Wacky Rollers, it's not offered through the ship. But the ship does offer Wacky's river tubing tour ($75), good fun we heard. We also booked floating up the Titou Gorge (between rocks) with Wacky, and got a 2 for 1 deal at $75. Some operators want you to pay for both a driver and a guide, about $45 pp total for half a day, but the drivers can "guide" too, just get the 2-guy deal if you want to have someone's undivided attention.
However, it was raining that day and the rivers were too dangerous, so both the ship tubing tour and our kayaking tour were canceled, and people also weren't allowed into the Gorge. It rains a lot there, I think we were told 400 inches a year. So we decided we still wanted to see the Gorge, and also wanted to see Trafalgar Falls, and got a private tour guy, Louis, (recommended by the Wacky rep), who agreed to take us to those for $30 p.p. We agreed with him that we would use the rainy morning for shopping and start the tour at noon, hoping for less rain by then.
So we started dogging the rain in and out of stores, and found shopping in Dominica was the cheapest of all the ports. The Cornerstone Café has internet upstairs, cheapest anywhere, I think I paid $2 for 20 minutes. There is one classy shop, Lande Leather, a general store selling lots of stuff, just off to the left of the end of the pier. . They were the only place on the cruise that beat the ship price of booze by a couple dollars. Know your leather prices, Wendy thought some were good but others weren't. And we didn't know what knock-off Gucci things and other knock-off brands were worth (you see these in San Juan too, like leather Gucci purses for about $50). There are many side streets off the main drag with vendors, little cobblestone alleyways, construction style reminded us of the French Quarter in N.O., but more run down. You bargain off about 20% of the asking price. Wendy got a lovely sun dress there for $16 that she later saw in San Juan for $34. And we got an oil painting about a foot square stretched over a wooden frame ready for a show frame for $18. That size in Aruba was $40, and in Barbados it was $300. CDs were $12, everywhere else they were about $18. You can do the main drag and all the side streets in a half day if you keep moving. Different vendors will often sell the same stuff, but their bottom price is never much different, so if you find what you want there's not much point in wasting time getting a better price from the next guy, get your 20% off and take it. Don't miss the little shopping enclave roughly behind Lande Leather, bunch of vendors in an enclosed area, very good selection here, and cafe where you can leave your DH with a $2 beer. The rain was not very heavy, off and on all morning, easy to jump from one vendor's umbrellas to the next one's, you don't need to carry one unless you think you'll melt.
Luckily the rain had mostly stopped later in the morning, and we grabbed lunch in the lido at 11:30 and were back on the dock at 12 where we met Louis. With the ship not leaving till 6 you could start a tour as late as about 2, but a flat tire or accident could make you miss the ship. The roads inland to the sights are narrow and winding, up hillsides, frequent stops to let oncoming vehicles by. If you get car sick easily you shouldn't do these tours. One toot on the horn means "I'm approaching the corner", a toot from another guy means "so am I", and 2 toots means "I'm coming through." We wondered what would happen if both vehicles gave 2 toots, but it never seemed to happen.
The scenery was lovely, very much like Hawaii, and Louis was great at explaining all the local sights. First stop was the Titou Gorge ( www.kenshinterlandtours.com/titougortraf.html ), where the last 50 yards of the road were under a few inches of water, a river flowing down a gravel road, where we had to park the van with a couple other cars on a high spot and start walking up the flooded road. To walk to these sights you need footwear that can get soaked and muddy, like old gym shoes. Wendy had her rubberized slip-on beach shoes (Walmart and Sears, $8), and I had my old but sturdy sandals. When they get muddy there's always some clear water nearby to swoosh off the mud. The Gorge was too fast and dangerous from the rain to do the swim-up between the rocks, as we'd been told, but it was fun poking around, getting some jungle/trail/water shots, there might have been 10 people there, and then back to the van for Trafalgar Falls.
Trafalgar Falls ( http://ruthtanner.tripod.com/wf/trafalgar.html )has a $2 entry fee, from which you walk about 10 minutes to a viewing platform. This walk is over slippery roots and rocks, and you have to be careful picking your way along, it's not a stroll. You can also walk further past the platform to the base of the falls, perhaps a 5 minute walk that's even trickier, steeper, wetter. Near the base of the falls there is a "jungle hot pool" which you can climb down to and sit in like a hot tub, but again it's over slippery rocks and we did it but not many others tried to get down. Louis said it's much easier when the water isn't so high, the water was covering up the rock "steps." Louis often took our picture with our camera, or we traded cameras with other tourists and took each others pics. I bought beers for us and Louis back at the ticket place, $2 for the small bottles, local brand, and we headed back to town, got there about 3:30 I think, tipped Louis an extra $10, which he really appreciated, he was great, did a bit more shopping, and then back on board. People who went to the Emerald Pool said they could get into the pool even with the high water. We didn't talk to anyone who went to the Sulphur Springs. If you like intense hiking, Ken's Hinterland Tours offers a river hiking tour, crossing some rivers and really seeing the rain forest. Forget doing a beach, they aren't good on this island, but the rain forest and mountains are wonderful.
Although Wacky Rollers Tours if very professional and reliable, you might prefer not to use them if it's raining, because they use the open army vehicles like on their web site (www.wackyrollers.com ). We passed them on the road several times, and the people looked rather miserable wearing hooded ponchos in the rain, we were glad to be in a dry van.
Port side cabins face the dock (industrial view), starboard ones face the bay. There are maybe 30 nice stores in the terminal building, and when you exit the terminal the tour "gates" are on the left, and the $1 van shuttles to Bridgetown are to the right. You might wait 5 minutes for the van to fill, or you can take a $3 p.p. cab to town and leave right away.
The shopping in Bridgetown is expensive and sporadic, even the Net in Little Switzerland was too much, but I found a cheaper one on another street. The nicest place to go is along the water causeway boardwalk that leads to the main bridge at the city center park area with the Big Ben clock. An art gallery in a small plaza wanted $300 for a foot square oil painting that we paid $18 for a similar one in Dominica. There are more vendors on the bridge. But the best shopping was in the Pelican Mall 2 blocks outside the main terminal gates. The shuttle driver will drop you off there, and it was an easy 10-15 minute stroll from there back to the ship, nice breeze off the bay. Perhaps 30-40 stores with a/c in a pretty park setting, colorful local dancers put on a pirate show about 10:30 or 11, lots of art, crafts, some clothing, etc.
Then after lunch we did the Snuba and Boatyard Beach tour through the ship ($99 incl admission for the day to the Boatyard and a free drink), they wouldn't let us book it privately ($55) because of a deal with CCL. Snuba is diving to a 20 foot maximum while breathing through a regulator on an air hose connected to a floating "raft" that follows you (and 3 others). It was a fun experience, but takes some prep. Ocean Adventures runs the tour from the Boatyard complex which is near the ship.
The tour guys are all fun on the short boat ride to the site, but it's all business when they prep you. You have to breath deep, not shallow breaths, and you have to blow your ears every 3 feet down to equalize pressure, and they show you how to clear water from you mask while under. The guides have scuba on, and show you signs to communicate while under. They said you have to relax to do all this, and that women are better at relaxing and following directions and signals than men, and are more successful, and sure enough, one guy on the tour kept freaking out and couldn't handle it, but his wife did fine. If you can't manage it or want a rest, you can surface and hold onto the raft, and float along with it, still looking into the water with your mask on and see the stuff (like yer wife below giving you the wussie sign). We thought the hoses would get tangled but it seemed to work ok, the divers helped with that.
We snuba'd over 3 small wrecks and some coral, and it's a way different experience than snorkeling, even being just 10-15 feet down you feel in another world. It's bright enough for underwater shots, and you can grab the wrecks to stabilize yourself for shots. I wasn't good at clearing water from my mask, mostly I blew salt water in my eyes which stings, so I surfaced more than some people to clear my mask. This meant I had to re-do the ear pressure thing on the way down, bit of a nuisance. The pressure is about 5 times what you feel going up in a plane, and you have to do it regularly on the way down, or if you wait too long looking at fish etc it won't work and you have to surface and start over. Surfacing doesn't affect the others connected to your raft. We had enough air for about 30 minutes, which seemed enough for everyone. We only had 10 brave cruisers on this tour out of 2900 on the ship. We also had a guy and his 12 y.o. son from a resort, and the lad did fine. Free bottled water on the boat, which we used to clean the salt from our eyes and faces as well as drinking. On the way back to shore we all felt like Navy Seals, just a grinin' and drinking.
Spent the rest of the afternoon at the Boatyard Party Beach ( www.theboatyard.com ), music pumping, loungers, umbrellas, friendly beach staff fetching drinks and helping if needed, good snack bar, pretty good booze, patio café area, water trampoline, climbing iceberg, jetskiis, change rooms, lots of people (it's a fav with the ship crews), great sand, long pier to take a walk out on, lots of hard bodies. Your teens and kids will love to come here, but it you want a quiet beach nearby, face the water and look to your left, and you'll see more beach outside the Boatyard property, where other cruisers said it's quiet. In the evening the Boatyard turns into a party bar.
The main nightlife is at St. Lawrence Gap, a 10-15 minute cab ride from the ship, but the locals told us of a nice place in Bridgetown, and I checked it out while shopping. You go across the main bridge at the park with the Big Ben clock, turn right, first building on the right, walk towards the water along the building, turn left, walk past several shops and you come to the Waterfront Café. Pretty location, nice view, evening entertainment. You can sit outside under umbrellas by the causeway.
It's easy to see why Aruba is everyone's favorite. It's clean, the buildings are all pretty pastels like Disneyworld main street, and there's lots to do. As you exit the terminal take a booklet from the kiosk, it has a good map insert of the island and of Orangestaad. Walk off the ship, go maybe 100 yards to the main drag, turn right, go 1 block to Weststraat, and everything starts there. Across the street is the Royal Plaza mall, three 3-story pink buildings with tons of shops with pretty interior courtyards, lots of shade. A block further down is the Seaway Mall, an inside mall. Booze and jewelry were expensive ¼ rum was twice the ship price, and tanzanite .75 carat earrings with diamonds were $1300, but a similar pair on the ship at their 40% off sale were $300. But we got a great beach bag for $5 (saw them for as much as $35 other ports), and got a wooden hanging face mask bargained down from $45 to $30, never saw them cheaper than that. Oil paintings that were about $20 in Dominica were $40.
For night life there are 5 party bars at this intersection, 3 in the Royal Plaza and 2 on Weststraat. Iguana Joe's and Mambo Jambo are on the second floor at either end of the Plaza, with a great view of the strip, the harbor, and the ships. Le Pitit Café is in the middle section of the Plaza, same great view, and a Latin dance bar is above the café on the third level. Two young Dutch kids who boarded in Aruba told us the name, something like Doridos J and said it had good music. The Bahia is up Weststaat towards the ship, and Carlos and Charlies is a few more doors down. It and it's sister bar Senior Frog's have branches all over the Caribbean, and have a rep as party places. You can see Carlos's sign from the gangway. Bahia had a good rock band, playing Eagles etc., and was a classier place.
Because of the Carlos and Charlies rep we had to check it out. It looks like a standard roadhouse, plank floors, bar decorations. Before about 8pm there is canned rock music, no cover charge, and people are drinking at the bars and eating snacks at the tables. After about 8pm there is a $5 cover charge, and a DJ comes out to start the action with some bar games like "guess the song" for a free drink, and he handed out about 10 of these, with everyone shouting and having a good time. Then he took it up a notch, offering a free shooter of Tequila to everyone who joined his conga line. In a flash he had about 100 people behind him, wild rock music, dancing past a waiter standing on a chair who poured a big shot (or 2) in everyone's mouth as they passed him, spilling as much down their front.
By now it was close to 9, standing room only, the staff takes away most of the tables and chairs, and the DJ starts the serious bar games, like bar top dancing contests for free shooters. The winner got a free shooter down the throat, then the losers got them, then everyone standing on the floor within the DJ's reach with their mouth open got them. Police sirens and whistles going off, lights dimmed, everyone screaming, dancing, singing along with the songs. He often killed the volume at the chorus, and 300 people "sang" the chorus. Guess what, all 300 knew the exact dirty chorus to "Monie, monie" (sp). It was wilder than the movie Coyote Ugly, more like in front of the stage at a wild rock concert. Except we didn't see anyone dump a pitcher of beer on anyone's head, and to be fair, there was no nudity like "Girls Gone Wild" in Florida, there were no fights (gorilla bouncers), and no one passed out on the floor. There were more girls than guys, about 3-1, and with the Crystal gone it was just Destiny cruisers, resort people, few locals. Every few minutes large water vapor misters sprayed the crowd, a nice touch, and sometimes the staff shot clouds of paper clippings all over. Several times we were going to leave to check out other bars, like The Cellar, Club 2000 in the Royal Plaza (couldn't find it while shopping), E-Zone on Weststraat for Euro music, La Fiesta, and the three places the Banana Party Bus stops, Tumazu, La Ronda, and Choose a Name. But then some new game started and we just couldn't stop watching, and stayed until the ship sailed. Small local beers were $4, regular size beer like Coronas were $4.50, and liquor was $5, or just follow the DJ around with yer mouth open. What a scene. The young hotties told us the Aruba Carlos has a "badder" rep than the one in Cozumel; imagine, the conservative Dutch out-partying the Mexicans. There's hope for us Canuks.
About our tour, we love catamaran cruises, lots of deck space and more stable than the yatchs. We took the Aruba Sailaway Beach Cruise run by Pelican Tours through the ship which was terrific. Large 73 foot cat, the Fun Factory 1, free booze. First stop was snorkeling the WWII wreck of the Antilles, a fascinating scene. We anchored behind the wreck and then snorkeled from the stern of the wreck towards the bow, with the wreck getting closer to the surface the closer we got to the bow until it was only a few feet underwater, covered in golden coral, beautiful, tons of fish. You can stand upright and touch the wreck with your fins. Bubbles rise from the divers inside the wreck. A great snorkel whether you arrange it yourself or through the ship. Next stop snorkeling a brain coral reef, lots of fish.
Last stop a chicken and ribs b'b'cue at the Pelican Company pier on Palm Beach, stores and café on a large pier, lunch or dinner in the café depending on your tour time, then free time on their section of the beach. Water equipment, great sand, papillas thatched umbrellas and loungers, over an hour there. Then sailed back to the ship pier laying on the webbing with our drinks. Our other favorite spots are sitting in front of the windshields or dangling our feet over the side holding the railing. A fun crew.
Disembarking was fine, we did immigration about 7, buffet breakfast about 8, color called to debark around 9, and on the pier at 9:20. The last color was scheduled to be called at 11. Luggage pickup was well organized and efficient.
Our flight was at 3:45, so we had time to do San Juan. CCL won't store your luggage, but there is a luggage holding business across the street and to the left of the pier, at the end of the yellow/green/red awnings ("Self-Audio something"). They also rent the audio players ($5) which play a description of the sights around San Juan, press the number for the sight you are at. Luggage storage is $3 per bag, and the dear girl allows you to strap your carry-on to your luggage and counts it as one piece, so we left 2 luggages and 2 carry-ons for $6.
Then we walked the 2 blocks along the bay past the Wyndham toward the park area at the town square where the horse drawn buggies are, and then headed into old San Juan to shop and explore. Pretty blue cobblestone streets, no place for high heels. Could have walked up the hill to the fort but didn't. This was Sunday, and a few shops opened at 10, but most were open by 11. Shopping prices were up and down, you had to know your stuff. Lots of knock-off labels, Gucci etc.
A lunch suggestion is the Baccachina, 1 block in from the bay, on the street parallel with the bay, street name starts with Forte-xxxxx, green awning. Pretty hacienda style courtyard area with trees and umbrellas, another area with a/c, and another area with fans, your choice. We waited 10 minutes for a seat at lunch time. Big platter of nachos/cheese/ham bits for $6.95, big Caesar salad for $6.95, local beer for $2.50, Bud for $2.75, great prices in general, dinners for $15. Finally had to go, walked back to the luggage place, $20 cab to the a/p incl bag charges and tip.
This was the best Caribb cruise we've ever had, you'll have a ball. Hi to our new shipmate friends Kim, Rose, and Lena! Email us if you want.
-Bob and Wendy
We just returned from the beautiful ship the Destiny. I read many reviews about her and some of them were negative. So I was worried some as we took off for our cruise. We left the day before to spend the night in San Juan,PR. We had reservations at the Regency Hotel, we didn't' read much good about that either but we went for it. It cost $150 night, not cheap but certainly not the most expensive on the island. The hotel is owned by the Condado and we were able to use all the amenities at that hotel. Our room was huge with a balcony. We planned on staying in PR another 2 days after the cruise and chose the Regency again. As far as the airport goes, we had nothing but good experiences. Very clean and safe, no problems at the airport at all. We took a taxi form the airport to the hotel, there are many many taxis, and the cost is set by someone inside the airport, about $28, 6 people, 14 pcs luggage.
We got to the port around 11:30; there was a small linebut nothing out of order. We got moving toward the ship around 12:00. After all the security and checks we were on the lido deck having lunch at 12:30. We couldn't get to our cabin until 1:30 so we didn't mind eating! We went to our cabins at 1:30; we were on the 7th floor rooms, 7292, 7296 & 7300 all with balconies. They were clean and well appointed. Blow dryers in the bathrooms(they work great), large showers, huge closets and lots of drawers. We didn't need anything. Hint: put your luggage under your beds. (Some people don't know this). Our luggage was in the hallway at about 3. We took the time to put it away and got settled
. 1st night is casual night for dinner, shorts are allowed. Open seating. We enjoyed our 1st dinner very much.
The dinners every night in the dining room were delicious. The service was outstanding we never wanted for anything at all. Lido dining: A large variety of food all day and on the midnight buffet. We had the NY deli sandwiches, some don't know you can have the sandwiches toasted or grilled. We had the Chinese, it was ok. Hamburgers are delicious along with fries! Entertainment: I felt could be better. The shows in the Palladium were very good. The small bands just so so. The piano bar was fun to sing along with. Casino: Talk to my husband, he did very well. Many choices to choose from. Drinks: Good and the prices were normal. $3.25 beer plus tax up from there. Layout of the ship: Here is a hint, 5th floor is the only floor you can get from one end of the ship to the other. 5th floor will take you to shopping, casino, stairs to purser's desk. A very useful floor, don't forget 5th floor.
Formal nights- Everyone worries so much about this night. We had 2, the day we were at St. Thomas and the 1st at sea day. My husband wore a tux, I saw many men who did. There were a lot of men in suits and ties. Not too many in just a shirt and tie and very few in no tie. I saw gowns from wedding gowns(yup 2 married on the ship), bridesmaids gowns, to pretty cocktail dresses. Lots of sparkling ladies looking very nice. Take all the pictures they have, you only buy what you want.
I read that the lines were so long and there were too many people. I read that there were stains on the carpets and the ship needed painting. I did not see the lines of people, if there were 15 in line past the plate pick up that was a lot. As for stains on the carpet, I didn't see any. I also didn't see any places that needed painting.
Now for the ports. St. Thomas is absolutely beautiful and a dream to see. We took a tour with Godfrey tours, he is the best. $20 person and he takes you everywhere. Email him and he will set it all up. Dominica, well I can at least say I was there. I didn't' care much for this island. We took a tour with Reynos tours, $30 person. Reynos did a fine job, but there just isn't anything much to see on this island. We went through the rain forest, to emerald pool and we were going to Tangaler falls. We had him drop us off at the ship before that one, we had enough riding around. We (the girls) felt very uncomfortable and wanted the ships arms around us. If I was to go here again, I would use this day as a spa day, only getting off the ship to browse the shops close to the ship. Barbados, simply wonderful. We took a taxi straight to Spieghtstown (spikestown) and to the beach there. All day in the sun was what we enjoyed. We went jet skiing, swam, we had drinks and rented beach chairs. An absolutely great day. We also were taken to a cigar factory, to watch women making cigars. This was exciting to my husband to see this. They use Cuban tobacco and wrap with local tobacco so they can be brought back legally. And from what my husband says, they are the best tasting cigar he has ever smoked. I am glad we went there. Aruba, we will come back here to spend a week or so. So clean, so friendly and so pretty. We did the DePaul island snorkel tour off the ships excursions $49 per person and it was great. It is all up to you and what you want to do. If you want to snorkel ½ hr you do, if you want to snorkel the whole 3 ½ hrs you can do that too. The price includes drinks, and a delicious buffet. Definitely worth the money. San Juan, we stayed there the day before and 2 days after the cruise. We found it to be a wonderful place. Neither dirty nor unsafe. We ate in the local restaurants and ate PR food. We found it to be pricey, but really everything is in PR. We rented a van $59 day from Charlie's and drove all over the island. What a way to see the island. We walked around Old San Juan Monday night 7ish and found it to be beautiful also. Though most of the stores were closed, we found some outside stands open. Ladies do your shopping with your head. Buy your Laramie jewelry here, 1/3 the cost! The ship will tell you they are the only ones to have it, wrong. OSJ is full of it, the exactly same items. All in all this is a fine ship and a great itinerary. We will look at her to sail on again. Put your worries away and have a great time.
Well here I go at some sort of review!
We arrived in San Juan on the Thursday before our cruise, we stayed at the Tres Palmas Inn, a guesthouse on Punta las Marias Beach, I would recommend staying here! It is not for people who love the 5 star amibience, this inn was a perfect tropical getaway!!
On the Sat. before the cruise we where shopping in a store in old San Juan and we where talking about the Destiny, the store clerk heard us talking and she informed us that the Destiny was not working and it had been inn port since Fri. Night!!??
We decided to walk down to the ship and see if we could get some information, Now we where starting to worry, we came from Canada so now what are we going to do? When we asked some represenatives they informed us that the ship was back to normal and we would be sailing on Sunday!
Sunday we thought we would get there around 11am, since they had time to get things ready we assumed we could board fast??!! It wasn't bad it took a total ofone hour and we where eating lunch on the lido deck!!
Once we where on the ship we could tell there was no Air conditioning!
we where thinking that they where working on it and it would be back to normal by the time we sailed!
Whem we finally got to our room, there was a letter letting us know that they would have it up and running by that evening!
Well we stayed on the Lido deck as long as we could It was way too uncomfortable!
We left port at midnight!
I booked all our tours on the Funvision in the room it was great!!
We did the Buck Island Snorkel! I enjoyed it alot, the weather was great and the crew running the catamarn where great!!
My husband had been here before and had told us that the town isn't that great so we decided to take the calypso party cruise, It was great!! The Island is beautiful, so green and lush!! We stopped at a beach so we could swim around or just laze on the Beach I can't wait to do it again!!
Well we decided to take the jolly rogers Party cruise and I wish we did not!! Don't get me wrong, everyone who did take it ( other than Us) had a great time!!
for me there was too many people on the boat! You could't move!! and I just wasn't into partying like that! The beach where we could get off and relax was Awful, very rocky and the amount of locals just pushing there ware on you was really bad!!when you said no thank-you to them they would get mad at you and start cursing at you!
I would do the carlisle Island tour next time, everyone who took that really enjoyed themselves!!
We did go into town to do some shopping and we found that Barbados was way cheaper than ST. Thomas! But once again we where being pushed to buy things!!
Day at sea,
I enjoyed just hanging by the pool but for our single friends they did not have enough activities for people to do, That was there complaint both days at sea! I hung by the pool all the time!!
We did the De Palm Island Snorkel!! Fantastic and I would do it again!! Once again Aruba is my favorite Island!!
Overall the ports where great!
The food was okay, my husband is a better cook!
Our service was exceptional in the Dinning room, Sumchi our head waiter, Alexander our other server, and boredphat our bar server!!I miss them!!! We double tipped them cause we had so much fun!!!
I will say thou, compared to our other cruises the entertainment that the severs did was very unorganized and nothing compared to our past cruises!!
The ship in general was nice but I think it does need some dry dock time!!
Everything seemed unorganized!! We where in stateroom 6287 and we could not use the bathroom it smelled so bad!! When I was in St. Thomas I bought air freshner and that did not help, it was bad and there was nothing they could do, along with very little air conditioning it was not comfortable at all!! Our cabin steward needs to start at the bottom again he was aw3ful!! I cleaned the room most of the time!
The staff in the onyx bar and the cheers wine bar where also wonderful!! always smilin and making us feel comfortable!! Izabela in the wine bar makes the best martinis!!! ask her to make you the chocolate one her way!!( with baileys)
Leaving the ship on sunday was terrible we where herded like cattle and when you went to get your luggage it was brutal!!!Everyone says you get what you pay for???Well we paid 2500$ canadian each to get here, I expected alot better!! The whole ship was unorganized!! maybe because of the whole A/C thing!!
Overall I think the Destiny was nice and I had a great Time, cause I believe you make the best out of anything!! I would not go on carnival for a while, I think they need to improve alot of things!!
for all you folks who love the Destiny??!!
Continue to!!! Prehaps maybe one day I will try her again??!!
If anyone would like to ask me questions or talk just email me at
happy sails to all who are on there way!!
enjoy to the fullest!!
This was my first trip "going solo" and I had a wonderful time!
Now..settle back because this is sure to be very long!
I flew out of New York on Sunday morning and arrived in San Juan at around 1:30. Luggage arrived pretty quickly. There were several Carnival reps set up right in the baggage claim area for people to check in. Since there were a bunch of people on this flight heading for the cruise I had to wait in a line but it went very quickly since there were so many reps. Here I got my documents checked and received my cabin # since I had booked a guarantee. These people were very efficient, friendly and helpful and directed me on where to get a taxi and what lines to get into when I got to the terminal. There were a ton of cabs so it was a short wait to get in one. Fixed rate of $16 for transport to the pier and then $1 for my 2 bags of luggage. Extra luggage was charged per bag. I gave the driver $20 for both my trip tothe pier and then when I returned at the end of the cruise.
When I got to the terminal there were a few people waiting around outside. I got a porter so he could deal with getting my luggage whisked away and I could go straight through security to the tables which were set up to get my sign and sail card. I was also given a card for my dinner time for that evenings open seatings. There was a line of people (not to long) waiting to check in which I bypassed. Got my sign and sail picture, my embarkation photo op. and then got on line to board the ship. Also a short line. They were letting people go on in groups.
All said and done I was in my cabin within about an hour of getting off the plane.
I booked a category 1A Guarantee. I made this choice for several reasons including that I was traveling alone and the single supplement is very high (I paid for 2 people basically although I was alone). I also really wanted an inside for those before dinner naps! I was upgraded to a 4D on the Empress Deck. I was really very happy with my cabin. I absolutely loved the forward location. I was close to the main elevators (although I rarely used the elevators and almost always took the stairs and walked) but far enough away not to hear the "dinging" and the people, I was just down the corridor from the door to that wonderful deck area below the bridge. I spent time out there alone each night and even had the opportunity to see shooting stars.
Cabin steward was great. He was very friendly. Took care of getting my beds pushed together right away and always made sure I had towels to take outside.
Booking Excursions and Spa Treatments
I did this as soon as possible. From reading posts and carnival website before going I had a fairly good idea of what I was interested in doing. I armed myself with the shore tour "booklet" as soon as I got to my cabin and took it with me to the Lido Deck with paper and pen to peruse and figure out exact schedule while I ate. I had a very particular idea of what I wanted to do and when, for example, I did not want any excursions in the morning etc.
I was very glad that I did this. I was able to schedule my port time and my spa time around each other and vacation exactly how I wanted to.
Additional benefits to getting this done quickly were 1) when I could not access my funvision quickly I just ran down to the desk and was able to book it there without having to wait in line and 2) by 7:00PM that evening everything was set for the week (excursions in each port and 4 spa treatments throughout the week) and I was already having my first massage with nothing else to "think" about.
I knew by my sign and sail that I had the late seating in the Galaxy Dining Room which was 8:30PM - just what I had requested. One of the first things I did was go to the area in the Universe Dining Room that was set up for dinner inquiries after I boarded. I was very pleased to find out that I was at a table for 8 with "the single people".
I had been given the early seating for the open dinner that first night which I did not go to so Monday was my first opportunity to meet my tablemates. I was very excited about meeting these people and arrived to the dining room only to be met with disappointment that night...I walked over to my table and it was full! A man had walked over at the same time as I and was also standing there wondering what was going on. I am not sure what happened but there was a "mix-up" for that night. The two of us were then put at a different table with a family from Martinique who were on their last night of their cruise and also spoke no English at all. I was certainly bummed out to say the least but wound up having nice conversation with the other single man and we wound up spending the evening hanging out together in various lounges.
The rest of the week I was at my regular table. What fun!!! There were 4 of us who were single travelers, a mother and her 22 year old daughter from the Midwest and a mother and her 2 teen children from Israel. We had great fun getting to know each other all week and us single folk hit the nightlife together after dinner.
The food in the dining room was wonderful and the head of our wait team (Israel) was fantastic. I had steak every night and it was always cooked perfectly. The desserts were also very good. This was my one big, 'real", meal of the day so I ate a lot and have nothing but good things to say about the variety of selections and the quality of the food.
I only had breakfast in the dining room on my first morning and then on my last morning. I am not a big breakfast eater! I did have some eggs a couple of times in the Sun & Sea buffet on the Lido Deck. It seemed that the lines for breakfast here were kind of long. Must have been a lot of late risers on this particular voyage!
The lines for food at the buffet were actually pretty long a lot of the time. This had not been my experience on the Triumph a few months ago. It was pretty manageable though. Most of the times the lines moved quickly and those times that I did not feel like waiting I would get a salad at the pizzeria and then go to the buffet line when it 'quieted down".
All the food here was good as well. There was a nice variety each day. The pizza was great and the grill food was very good as well. I did not eat from the deli or the oriental area.
I also never made it to the midnight buffet. The couple of times I did walk through just to check it out the lines were very long.
Services were very good! I had 4 treatments throughout the week. I found the cost to be a little more than what I would pay at home but I expected that. If you book one of the "specials" you get a more reasonable deal. This is a wonderful thing to be able to do during your vacation and they certainly know how to pamper you here. Just be prepared for the little chat that the therapist has at the end with you about what they recommend you continue to use at home. I listened politely and purchased nothing. Personally, I have ample access to very good products which I like for a fraction of the cost here at home.
St. Thomas - Kon Tiki Raft Party - I enjoyed this. It was very interesting because the Legend was in port right behind us and the Kon Tiki was right in between the two ships. I got to meet people who were sailing on the Legend which was fun. The boat took us over to a beach with a short period of time having the glass bottom available for viewing. Rum punch was served and snacks were available for a charge. There was live music as well We had about an hour or so to swim and sunbathe before the boat headed back. During the ride back the music was louder and people danced and we had a limbo contest.
Martinique - Calypso Party Boat - Another nice sized boat with free flowing rum punch and music. The boat moored near a beach and people had the option of jumping off and swimming to shore or going over on a dingy. I swam and they put my bag on one of the dinghy's so I had my stuff where I needed it. We spent about an hour here and then got back on the boat. Again the rum punch flowed, snacks were served and the dancing began. The boat also stopped at a bat cave for a few minutes on the return trip. This was a very fun crowd and people really let loose and danced.
Barbados - Kayak and Turtle Experience - This was a really fun trip! A quick bus ride to a boat. The boat took us over to a beach where there were kayaks and guides waiting. These were 2 people kayaks. I was alone so I just kind of waited until I could figure out another person who was also in need of a partner. I wound up kayaking with the teenage son of a couple who was also on the excursion. We kayaked down to another beach area. We had the opportunity to swim in the water or sunbathe for awhile. Then back on the boat which went out a little further and at this point we were given snorkel gear, a ladder was dropped and we could get in the water. The guides had food for the sea turtles so we had plenty of opportunity to see them as well as a bunch of fish that came around to eat also. Swimming with the sea turtles was very cool and I enjoyed the opportunity to kayak as well. Once again the rum punch was flowing during the return boat ride.
Aruba - Snuba Aruba on DePalm Island - This was great! I had read about snuba and sea trek before I left. I decided on Snuba because I have young children who would not be able to participate in this so I figured I would save the sea Trek for when I was traveling with them and take advantage of being able to Snuba this time. A bus took us over to a ferry which went to DePalm Island. This is a wonderful set-up! There were plenty of lounge chairs both in the sun and in shady areas, lots of swimming spots even a special area for "kiddie swimming", playground equipment, a large enclosed cafeteria with a buffet , a bar and a grill that served hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, grilled chilcken. All the food and drink (soda, juice, alcohol) was included . There was opportunity to Sea Trek, Snorkel and Snuba. I really enjoyed Snuba and would highly recommend it. I was also able to snorkel for a while. This was a coral reef and it was truly beautiful! Tons of different fish..you could even "pet" some of them while you snorkeled.
I had also signed up for the Kukoo Kanukoo excursion in Aruba. I was told that I would be back from DePalm Island in time to participate. The ferry that I was scheduled to get on from DePalm back was full of supplies so we had to wait for the next ferry. Due to this I got back to the ship only 10 minutes before Kukoo Kanuku was leaving. I went straight to the Pursur's desk and I was given the opportunity to get my money back if I did not want to rush off to the Kukoo Kanuku bus. I had no desire to have my vacation be a run-and-rush deal OR go out for the evening sticky from salt water so I opted to turn in my ticket and take the refund. I heard I missed a really fun party though!
In the Rotunda there was classical music. A string quartet played at times. This was a nice place for my late afternoon cappuccino and people watching.
I only went to one show all week and that was the midnight R-Rated Comedy show on Tuesday night. I laughed so hard! I found this comedian to be funny without going overboard into nasty.
I chose to spend my time in some of the lounges. I started off most nights with a glass of wine in the Onyx listening to jazz music for a little while before dinner. After dinner I would go back to Onyx with a couple of my tablemates and we would listen to the last set. The jazz trio was very good.
The Apollo was fun on some nights. There was one man who did the sing-along that was very good. His name was Don. A couple of times that I stopped in there and someone other than Don was playing I did not find it to be as much fun.
The AllStar Bar was empty the couple of times I walked through and Jay Leno was on the tv instead of sports.
I never made it to the band in the Downbeat. There was karaoke here a few nights and that was fun.
There was a good musician/singer in front of the Destiny Bar. People were singing along and dancing.
The Point After nightclub was a spot I made it to almost every night. I love to go out and dance. Personally I prefer to go out to dance when a band is playing but the selection of music was good and the DJ took requests. As expected, there were a whole lot of very young people in here. Us older (over 22) folk managed to find each other and dance and later in the night a lot of crew members would show up and they were a blast to dance and hang out with.
A sad day! Immigrations started at 6:00AM which is really early! I wound up staying up and partying all night so I was pretty wiped! I had an early flight so I got to be in the first immigration call at 6. Sat for a while in the Palladium waiting for my turn. As soon as I was done there I went to the Universe Dining Room for the open seating breakfast. After eating I went back to my cabin for a little while and at 8:00AM I was called to disembark. Again a short wait in the Palladium until it was my turn to file out.
Searching for luggage in the terminal is such a drag! When I sailed in April I had been in the "last remaining passengers" call so when I got out there my luggage was sitting all together in a basically empty corner therefore this was new experience for me. I found one piece relatively quickly but after a couple of walk throughs I realized that my second piece was nowhere to be found! Again, plenty of Carnival reps around . I went to one and told her that I could not find my bag. She asked what deck I was on - apparently there was a problem with some of the bags from my deck and they were improperly placed - wrote down my cabin # and description of my bag so she could retrieve it. Within a couple of minutes she returned with my luggage and a smile.
Plenty of taxis lined up outside to whisk you away to the airport.
If you don't like the idea of sitting around on the ship waiting for your deck to be called (there were people who had still not gone through immigration yet when I was disembarking) then it would seem as if an early flight (before 12:30PM) or a late flight and taking a shore excursion in San Juan is the way to go. Early flights and Shore Tour people were called first and our final morning went very smoothly from one thing to the next without a lot of waiting around.
Things that helped to "make" my trip
- Travel Alarm Clock - carried this around and used it when I took a nap whether I was in my cabin or lying in a lounge chair on deck - if you miss a spa appointment you get charged!
- Post-It Notepaper - Was able to leave a note for the cabin steward and also notes for friends I made on their cabin doors.
- CD Walkman - headset for while on deck and speakers for in the cabin
- Thermal Travel Mug - great for coffee but also useful for keeping water cold
- Water resistant beach bag/stuff sack - Kept my stuff safe, dry and free of sand both on the boat excursions and when sitting on deck.