I caught the virus on my New Year's Eve Trip and never experienced such violent gastrointestinal episodes, uncontrolable, on going for hours, coming out from everywhere (certainly you can imagine - I don't want to be that graphic). Not only did I have to pay double for this trip as a single person, but I actually paid nearly four times the amount because it was a holiday voyage. Well, I wanted to go and if only I knew what was in store for me. I had to pay that money to get violently ill and I was charged a doctors fee too for $175.00! I am not turned off about cruising, but I am permanently turned off with CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES...
When I called to complain and wanted restitution for the experience, looking for maybe an apology and half off on a future cruise, that would have made up for it - but wishful thinking... I was HUNG UP ON by a Customer Care Representative, who did not care at all and told me the cruise line is never responsible for passengers getting sick... I wanted to laugh, it isin the midst of a major epidemic ! WHO IS CARNIVAL KIDDING !!! BUYER BEWARE - sail on a cruise line that cares about it's passengers. Carnival puts on such phoney airs, they want your money, when they get you, they will show you their true colors - I have even expeeienced people in the Purser's office who were not very kind about the situation... CARNIVAL HAS LOST MY BUSINESS FOREVER AND THAT OF ALL MY FRIENDS - BEST ADVICE - DO NOT SAIL CARNIVAL !!!
What a dissappointing vacation indeed!!
Let me start by saying that if you are planning a Carnival Cruise do yourselves a favor and DON'T.
My wife and I booked a seven day southern carribean cruise aboard the Destiny 14 months prior to the departure date. This was to be for our third anniversary. We had been on this ship 11-7-1999 for our honeymoon. The difference was day and night.
Embarkation: Two words come to mind, CHAOS AND EXTORTION!!! At the airport in San Juan we were greeted by greasy haired, gum smacking staff members who hadlittle interest in making embarkation bearable. We were led ALA CAttle line to the luggage carousel in the terminal. We indentified our luggage and were then asked to get into line. We stood in line at the airport for 45 minutes awating the arrival of those wonderful buses to take us to the ship. We waited outside!! in 85+ degrees with 90% humidity!! When those lovely motor coaches arrived( sarcasm) they slung our luggage underneath the air polluting bus and we were off to the terminal. At the terminal we were aggressivly greeted by another carnival representative whospoke to us in a military tone and stated " listen up, if you need help with the luggage tell me now. Get off the bus grab your luggage and follow me to the ship!!!!! In past cruises we were not made to take our luggage in this way. It was taken from the airport to the ship by staff and placed at our cabin door. Not here. So we dragged our luggage to the terminal and left it. As we were walking to the ship we were greeted by another helpful ( sarcasm ) staff member who stated we needed to give him a tip to ensure our luggage made it onto the ship!!! I should have ran then!!
THE SHIP AND CABIN. We had an outside balcanony room. The room was dirty, the bed linens were old and the service was horrable!!!
The food: Our suggestion is for you to bring your own, Pack snacks. It was always cold. We ate in Aruba because we could not bear that horrable cuisine another night.
The follow up. I talked with carnival the day we got home and was promised some compensation. We have not gotten a response from them even though they promised to send us a 15% certificate with a few other things.
My advice, GO on royalal carribean, the s.s minnow with gilligan, but avoid carnival at all cost.
Our vacation actually started when we dropped the kids off at my sisters house at 4:00 Saturday May 3, 2003. We then we out to dinner and then spent the night at a hotel near BWI airport. We parked our car there for the week and took a shuttle to and from the airport.
Sunday - My husband surprised me by giving me a silver necklace with a heart shaped pendant on it to start our vacation. Our flight left on time, 7:15am, and landed in San Juan 20 minutes early. We were meeting Jodi and Ron (fellow Cruise Critics) at the baggage claim (their flight came in 10 minutes after us). After checking in with Carnival at the airport, my husband went searching for Jodi and Ron. Unfortunately we could not find them. We got a taxi without any problems and were off to the ship. There was a small line outside; we were inside within 10 minutes. That is when we saw the larger lines to get your picture taken after you pick up the sign and sail card. However, it still went pretty quick. We were in ourcabin within 45 minutes. We dropped off our carryon and went to get lunch. Then we went off the boat to tour Old San Juan. Very nice place, with old cobble stone roads. We walked to El Morro Castle. Not a short walk like we were told, it took us about 50 minutes in the 90 degree heat up steep hills!! It was a great view from the top of the fort. Got back to the ship in time for dinner. Talked to the Matre De' and asked to change our dinnertime with no problems. At 9:00pm we met some people from message boards in the All Star Sports Bar and had a drink before the muster drill. We then met up with the same people after the muster drill and went up to the Spa deck for the sail away party. Then we went to the Casino. I quickly lost $20.00 in the slots, my husband was playing blackjack. About 12:00, left my husband playing blackjack and went to bed.
Monday - St. Thomas We booked a tour with Godfrey Tours (http://www.godfreytoursvi.com). We highly recommend this tour. Godfrey picked us up outside the cruise terminal. He had a sign with our names on it welcoming us. At first we were the only ones on his tour. He dropped us off in Charlotte Amelia to go shopping, bought some souvenirs for the kids and some Tanzanite earrings for my self. We went back to meet Godfrey and the tour bus was filled with people; however, Godfrey made sure he had reserved space for us. The tour bus did not seem crowded at all. The bus was actually open on the sides with flaps in case it rained. The only rain we had was a 5-minute downpour. We then started our tour of the Island. Godfrey takes you to the highest point on the Island, called the Mountain Top. Along the way he stops at certain points to show you the sights and to take pictures. At the Mountain Top is where you see gorgeous Megans Bay. The sight just takes your breath away!!! You can also enjoy some shopping and drinks at the Mountain Top (Great Banana Daiquiri's). After this, we head back down to the beaches. Godfrey, again, stops along the way to show you sights and to take pictures. At this point, it is off to the beaches. Godfrey will take you to either Megan's Bay or Coki Beach. We chose Coki Beach. This is a lovely beach with, spectacular snorkeling. You can buy "fish food" (dog biscuits) on the beach and the fish eat it right out of you hand. We spent 2 hours at Coki beach. Godfrey came to pick us up right on time. We had a half hour to get back to the ship, which should be plenty of time, however; there was an accident on the road we were taking. Godfrey took a short cut and got us to the boat with maybe 2 minutes to spare (you need to be back at the ship a half hour before ship depart, so we actually still had about a half hour)!! Met our dinner companions for the week. We had a great table. All the dinners were fantastic!!! I would love to go back to St. Thomas for a week!!!
Tuesday - Martinique We took the ferry over to a beach. It was nothing special. Just remember that this is a French Island, there are plenty of topless women on the beach. Also, people were trying on bathing suits right on the beach. So if you have children, you may want to try an excursion through Carnival. If I ever go back to Martinique I will do an excursion. The beach was not that great. Actually have better beaches in Maryland. This night was the Captains Gala, first formal night. Dinner was exceptional!! They served lobster and prime rib. Very good, my husband ordered three dinners that night. Went to the show tonight. It was a Las Vegas style show. I did not enjoy it but many people did. I just do not like Las Vegas style shows.
Wednesday - Barbados This was probably my favorite island (this or St. Thomas). We booked a tour on line with Glory Tours (http://www.glorytours.org). We were supposed to have Sarah as our tour guide, but she had a doctor's appointment, so we had Vernon instead. It was an excellent tour. We started off at Harrison's Caves, which is awesome. Then we drove to Bathsheba stopping to take pictures and walk around (beautiful). We then drove along the east cost and again stopped to take pictures and walk around. We had lunch at a little café, had flying fish - you definitely must try. After lunch we went to the Wild Life Reserve. This was awesome. There were turtles, bunnies, deer, and something's I have know idea what, just walking round. Then there was a Bird Aviary that you could walk into and see all the Toucan's, Peacocks, Pelicans, Pink Flamingos, etc. Then there was a house that had Iguanas, Lizards, and more bunnies. There was a pond that had crocodiles in it and the staff was feeding them, so we got a good look at them. Unfortunately, we did not see any of the famous green monkey's, they return to the Reserve at feeding time around 2:00 - 3:00. After the Wild Life Reserve it was off to the beach to go snorkeling and to swim with the sea turtle. There were many fish to see, however, only one sea turtle. It was still an awesome experience. I would love to go back to Barbados for a week.
Thursday -Day at Sea We were up about 8:30am and went to get a chair up on deck. I thought it was going to be difficult to find a chair, but the deck was empty. It stared to fill up quickly though. Pretty much stayed on deck most of the day. Left to get breakfast and lunch, but that is about it. This was our second formal night and our 10th Anniversary. My husband surprised me with diamond earrings! They have photographers all over the ship with different backgrounds to choose from. Take advantage of this. We only did a couple pictures and they did not turn out like we hoped. Went to the early show tonight. This one was better than the first show. Then went to the Apollo Bar for piano sing-a-long. Stayed up for the adult comedian, which was pretty good.
Friday - Aruba We rented a jeep with another couple (hey Jodi and Ron). We first went to the California Lighthouse, then to find the Natural Bridge. Along the way to the Natural Bridge we stopped at some rock formation. This is were people were stacking rocks. Supposedly, if you stack three to five rocks it is suppose to bring you good luck. Off to the Natural Bridge - very pretty sight. Then we went looking for the Natural Pool. You could have taken a road to it but we decided to go 4 wheeling to get there. We went up and over the mountains to find the Natural Pool. It got pretty hairy at some points wondering if we were going to make it up or down some of these hills. Even went into a restricted area where no vehicles were allowed. We did not see the sign until we were exiting from the area. No sign on the other side. After about 2 hours we finally found the Natural Pool. It was a pretty sight; however, not worth the two hours getting there. Then we went to Baby Beach for snorkeling. Awesome snorkeling! Again, the fish will eat right out of your hand. Someone brought bread with them and the fish loved it. We returned the Jeep about 5:30 and then we shopping right at the pier. Went back to the ship to shower and then headed over to Carlos and Charlie's for dinner. After eating, Carlos and Charlie's was the place to party. The place was packed with just about most of the bar being filled by people from the ship.
Saturday - Day at Sea Up about 8:30am and went to get a chair up on deck. Again, no problem got a deck chair right in front of the stage. My husband entered the hairy chest contest; however did not win. Started packing. Watched the Newlywed and Not so Newlywed game. It was pretty funny; however, you know the cruise director staged some of the answers to make it funny. Went to dinner, finished packing and then went to see the Magician. He was alright.
Sunday - Disembarkation and San Juan Needed to get in line for customs at 6:00am. Went up to deck 3 about 5:55am and there was total chaos. No one was directing anyone, everyone was lined up everywhere. You had no idea were the line began or ended. Once the line started moving, it did get better and once you got into the Palladium Lounge you could tell it was organized. We were done with customs about 7:00am. Went to get breakfast and then our carryon and then to deck 4 to wait to leave the ship. We went on the Rain Forest excursion, since we had a 5:45 flight. This was an OK excursion. We still ended up waiting at the airport for about 3-4 hours.
Food We never at breakfast or lunch in the dining room, always at the buffet. Breakfast was its usual fanfare, cereal, yogurt, eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, breads, pancakes, French toast and made to order omelets. Lunch you had a choice from the Deli, Chinese, grill, pizza and a hot lunch buffet. We ate every dinner in the dining room expect for Friday. All dinners were excellent!! Some of the dishes included several types of shrimp, prime rib, lobster, pasta, lamb, jerk pork, fresh fish and several different types of steaks. The appetizers and soups were tasty. Possibly, the best part was the desserts. Numerous types of chocolate cakes, mousses and Baked Alaska. Remember, you can order as many meals as you want. We had no complaints about the food for dinner. Our waiter, Ivca and assistant waiter, Geraldo, were superb! Ivca gave his recommendations along with telling us things to do on the different islands on the night before. If you are near table #178 in the Galaxy dining room, please say hello to them.
Overall The ship was kept very clean. We were always seeing someone cleaning!! The staff was very friendly and attentive. I think only once a crewmember did not smile or say hello for the entire week. Our cabin was kept very clean; however, I never meet our room steward! This was fine with me, he did everything without bothering me. I just left notes for what was needed and he took care of them. Did not have hot water the first day; called the pursers desk and it was fixed immediately and the next day we had a letter of apology under our door. We were a little worried after reading so many negative reviews before we left. Afterwards, all I can say is that it was an incredible trip! Some people just want to complain about anything or cannot be pleased no matter what. We met some wonderful people. Hello to Ron and Jodi, SuEllen and Terry, Joni and Ken (Ken, enjoy your honorary membership), Kelly and Dan, Amy and Jeff and Butch (AKA Buck) and Lisa. Jodi, believe it or not, Howard only wrote a tiny bit of this review J
If anyone has any questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Destiny Review (part 1)
This is my 3rd cruise and my husbands 2nd and I have to say I was just so thrilled with the entire vacation
I'll start off with the flight from Boston and the Embarkation process and Debarkation process
My FIRST suggestion would either fly in the day before if possible or take the earliest flight out in the morning..we were fortunate enough to get the 7am flight nonstop out of Boston and were outside the terminal hailing a cab by 11: 15..the bus wasn't leaving until 12:00 and although we did have transfers it was WELL WORTH the $20 to get to the pier probably an hour plus more than the bus. We were in line (porters took luggage) about 15-20 minutes and they started boarding about noon.from there you go through a few lines (and at this time the lines were relatively short) got our pictures taken, got our room card and before we knew it we were eating lunch on the lido deck by 12:30 (very smooth) and were in our room at 1 changing so we could head out and explore Old San Juan.( don't forget to put some sunscreen) by the time we got back to the ship which was about 3:30- 4 the lines going through the process were SO long ..hence get in the day before or an early flight
Debarkation.since we had a late flight home we learned from our last experience in Jan and instead of hanging around the airport for 6 hours we decided to take an excursion..we still ended up at the airport around 2 for a 5:15 flight but it gave us a chance to have some lunch and after that the wait wasn't so bad.so since we had an exursion booked we were along with early flights, the first to get off the ship ..it started off seeming like complete chaos but once we got into the lounge the process went very smoothly and we just went , had breakfast and then were back in the lounge until they called us.our excursion started around 9 and we decided to go on the Rainforest tour.
Food.Breakfast was the usual fare of cereals, yogurts, fruit.scrambled eggs as well as made to order eggs and omelets, bacon , sausages, muffins, coffee, etc.this was the buffet in the sun and sea restaurant and the lido deck.lunches consisted of salads, NY style deli, Chinese and I believe in the sun and sea they had a variety everyday of different hot lunches..desserts etc.to me a buffet is a buffet and breakfast is breakfast.the food was good but after a big breakfast we werent looking for a big hot meal at lunch..we never did manage to get to the dining room for breakfast or dinner..there was 24 hour pizza, ice cream (never thought I'd see anyone eating ice cream at 9 AM but I saw more than a few people walking around with cones for breakfast.I guess why not) They also had hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken sandwiches.I think the only thing my husband said he didn't like was the steak sandwich ( and I think we may have missed 2 meals the whole trip) Dinner in the dining room.we sat with the nicest people (there were 6 at our table) and the service was wonderful, efficient and the food.well what can I say..dinner was exceptional and considering how many meals they put out at dinner..well lets just say we enjoyed every meal..We had more than enough to eat and on more than a few occasions we ordered more than 1 dish ..we had everything from Prime Rib, to Salmon .Wiener Scnitzel, Beef wellington, Chataubriand, Duck.everything was cooked JUST the way I like it and there isnt anyone pickier than me when it comes to my meats..I don't eat it that often and when I order it it HAS to be tender and it HAS to be medium rare..lets just say whatever I got was cooked to perfection.. I did miss the entrance of the waiters with the Baked alaska ..no more flaming baked alaska.oh yes and coming from New England I HAVE to comment on the lobster..if your first experience is with lobster on this cruise and you didn't like it its no wonder why.you HAVE to have a Maine Lobster.I don't know what they serve on other lines but on this ship it's a wam water lobster.no taste and if you have no teeth you wouldn't have a problem eating it.Grand Gala buffet was a sight to see.it was just spectacular..the ice carving..just a beautiful presentation.served in the Sun and Sea restaurant up on the lido deck ..we never really ate at any of the midnight buffets.we had a late seating 8PM and for us it was a perfect time to eat..we didn't have to rush to get back to the ship after being off the ship all day and it gave us a chance to enjoy a martini on the balcony before dinner
The wait staff was constantly keeping tables clean and everyone was just so pleasant and smiling all the time..we never ordered room service so I cant comment on that.
Condition of the ship: considering the age of the ship she has held up quite nicely. I believe in every port we saw they painting some part of the outside of the ship.we saw people constantly cleaning or wiping the brass railings.our room was kept clean and we barely saw our room steward Francesc The cabin did have a hairdryer in the bathroom and thank goodness I brought my own..the last day I turned it on just to see and if I was bald it would have been fine.The first couple of showers the water was room temp, which actually was fine, but I did call the front desk the next morning and within minutes (I mean minutes) someone was knocking on our door and it was taken care of)
Don't need a bungee cord.our balcony door stayed open just fine..actually a few nights we slept with the door open
Comments on is a balcony worth it.ARE YOU KIDDING ! ? lets just say, first cruise, inside, second cruise large window and this cruise Balcony..I don't think I will EVER cruise without one again.it was worth every penny .we brought a small bottle Bombay sapphire gin with us and would enjoy a nice martini on the balcony before dinner.
Casino.not kind to us at all ..I didn't see too many people it was kind too.they had table games and slots from 5 cents to 5 $.don't waste a lot of money in the casino
Sea days.. (Thurs and Sat) I have to admit I thought if I got out to the pool at 8:30 we'd never get a chair because all the chair savers would be out and there were a few chair savers (you know who you are) but if you got to the poor to save a chair at 7 or 7:30 am what a waste of your time..I was out at the pool after breakfast about 8:30 (I'm a sun person since I was little) and didn't leave until 4:30 except for a few bathroom runs and to grab a bite to eat and even then ate at my chair..at 10 - 10:30 there were still chairs to be had..by noon there werent any chairs by the water My Destiny review (Part 2)
Shore excursion.the only shore excursion through Carnival we took was the last day in San Juan.do something other than sitting in the airport if you have a late flight.we went on the Rainforest tour.there were two others to pick from.one would have been a museum tour which would have brought you at the end to a local hotel where you could use the pool, and the other was a tour of the city.pay attention to when the tour desk is open otherwise you'll find yourself not having anything to do and if you are organized shore excursion people go to the talk and book early is what I hear..pay attention to the Carnival capers as to whats going on
St thomas is the first stop..we got on the open air bus to Red Hook .but wouldn't have made the 9 am ferry (we got off the ship about 8:45)..we made the 10 am ferry.were there in about 15 minutes and from St Johns took a cab to Trunk Bay.it was AS beautiful as Megans bay.not crowded at all.spent about 2 hours there then took the ferry to the downtown area shopping.from the shopping area we walked to the ship about 2.5 miles
Barbados.booked a tour with Glory tours. On line...The Pot of Gold tour.it was $75 PP and we left at 9 and returned about 4..full day..started off at Harrisons cave, sightseeing along the coast, had lunch at a little roadside restaurant, to a wildlife refuge and snorkeling on a glass bottom boat..I would highly recommend this tour or anyone through Glory tours
Martinique.If and when I got back I would take an excursion ..we took a boat ride to one of the hotels to go to the beach there.I do have to say that after being to St Thomas, Barbados and knowing Aruba its one of those places I can say (like Nassau) I'm glad I went and saw it but don't care if I ever go back.. and if I do I would go the excursion route and see something else besides the beach.maybe we just went to the wrong place but our beaches back home are nicer
Aruba.what can I say..it IS and will always be my favorite island..we rented a 4 wheel drive jeep with another couple and we started off at the California lighthouse..then down to stop at the Radisson where we stayed a few years ago..the natural rock formation. thenatural bridge.and then heres where the 4X 4 came in very handy.we headed off to see the Natural pool.lets just say if you EVER want to go 4 X 4 go on a guided tour.I can see how over some of that terrain even with a jeep you can still get stuck or even worse tipping over.we didn't fortunately.we took the long route which a bit on the adventurous side.after this wild adventure we headed off to Baby Beach.I didn't go snorkeling but my husband said it was THE best .next time we go to Aruba will have to get back there.we had dinner at Iguana Joe's.upstairs..across the street from the ship.(YUM) did hit Carlos and Charlies ( I think I may have been one of the few people not drunk or at least drinking).one big drunk fest but its always fun sober watching a bunch of drunks having a good time, standing on chairs screaming.another "what can I say"
Shows.Cant really comment on many of the shows except the first night at sea we saw one of the comedians..he was funny.
Some useful hints:
If you are going to bring booze pack it WELL and pack it in your suitcase.
If you buy booze on any of the islands (Barbados seems to be a good place for buying) if you just carry it on they'll tell you to go over to another guy further in the ship and he'll tape it, pack it up and you'll get in the night before the ship leaves..but given the distance between where you went through check in and where this guy was you could easily just keep walking and it didn't seem like anyone would have stopped you.either that or put in your backpack..they didn't seem to bother wth that or maybe or maybe they just turned a blind eye on purpose
Also , watch prices.I know the price of Bombay back home and example on the ship it was the same price as what I bought mine for back home (it was just a little bigger ..on the ship) but it wasn't worth carrying any bottles home with me)
Cigarettes..now that's a different story.even being able to buy them for $25 carton back home they WERE cheap enough to take home more than a few cartons.worth the savings..like I said..KNOW YOUR PRiCES.even on jewelry.
For those of you that think Carnival is a younger crowd (well I do like to consider myself part of the "younger" crowd but I'm 47 ) and there were from babies to 80 year olds.there was something for everyone and if you wanted to get away from it all there were plenty of places and if you wanted to watch the ice carving or the hair chest contest on the lido deck there was that too
Final comments (if you havent passed out by now)
From beginning to end everything was wonderful.and we cant wait to sail again If you have any questions please don't hesitate to email me at JLTMET56@aol.com
Just got back from the Destiny and thought I would give you my perspective. I thought the ship was beautiful. Everything seemed very clean. Our room was small, but I booked as a single and then had someone join me and their were no rooms to upgrade too. I think that service has gone down since the started the automatic gratuity. Here are a few points. Our cabin steward never introduced himself to us. He did a decent job on our room but some things left unattended too. Our drink glasses were never emptied. They sat on our desk for 6 days with the fruit on the rim. It kind of became a test for our steward. We ended up rinsing them out to take them home. We didn't get all of our carnival capers. We would have to go down to he information desk to get them on some days.
Our head waiter was very tepid in his friendliness with us. He was down right rude at times. At breakfast one morning we ordered Eggs Benedict. That was all both my sister and I ordered. When it arrived itwas one egg benedict. One egg, half a English muffin and a slice of Canadian bacon. Well that one egg benedict just didn't cut it. So we ordered another. Upon their arrival our waiter asked us if that would be enough food for us? On several nights one of our table mates a young man wanted two entrees. Our waiter acted like this young man was just a spoiled brat. On every other carnival cruise I've been on the waiters told me to order a second entree if I wasn't full or didn't like the first. And would bring one of each dessert because they knew that was my favorite part of the meal! One night they had two desserts that I wanted to try. Big mistake, it was like I had asked for a pot of gold. Our assistant waiter was very sweet and did what he could too make our meals pleasant. The food was very good for the mass production that the do.
The wait staff pool side was exceptional! It was very hot the week we went and our personal waiter (Jimmy) always brought us a bucket of ice without even asking! And brought us glasses of ice tea, lemonade and water. As many know they don't get paid for this. We of course took care of him, but he always went out of his way.
The ports of calls were all beautiful, except for Martinique. My sister and I decided to stay on board after we heard of the rudeness of the island and that there had been a epidemic of pick pockets. Our table mates went to the rain forest and said it was beautiful. So it depends on your willing to adventure.
All in all Carnival exceeded my expectations, I just think that the staff does not have to earn their tips anymore and are taking advantage of this.
I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Destiny from January 12-19th, and had a great time. There were a few minor glitches and negatives, but the overall experience with Carnival was just fine. At the airport in San Juan, the Carnival reps were there and told us to gather in one spot after getting our luggage. We did have to move our own bags from inside the terminal to an area outside where the buses were. But that wasn't too difficult. There were porters available with carts for the elderly or those who thought they had to bring their entire household along. At the pier, our bags were unloaded from the bus and we did have to take them quite a ways before they were checked. It's a joke to have to pay a guy a buck a bag after we'd already hauled them most of the way, but that's how the system works. The rest of the procedure went smoothly as we were given our sign and sail cards and directions to our cabin. The lines moved quickly and waiting was minimal. We had balcony cabins onthe Veranda deck just off the elevator area. The cabins were fine. It was clean and there was plenty of room for storage. The balcony area proved to be a real plus during the trip and I would recommend them as well worth the cost. We were traveling with three other couples and our rooms were all together.
Our steward unlocked the balcony partitions so that we could open them whenever we wanted. This gave us the chance to visit back and forth during the day. The food on the ship was good. Evening meals in the dining room had a good variety and the quality was fine. Carnival doesn't serve 5-star fare, but it was as good as what you get in many nicer restaurants. We did eat breakfast in the dining room one morning and enjoyed that too. But most meals were at the buffet off the Lido deck. The breakfasts were usually the same with so-so scrambled eggs. But they'll make you an omelet or fried eggs on the spot. The noon and evening buffets were okay, with plenty to pick from. If you like sandwiches, be sure to hit the New York deli. Also, the pizza is good 24 hrs a day. Regarding our ports-of-call, we only did one shore excursion through Carnival. On St. Thomas, we caught a cab ride downtown and did a little shopping. I'm not much of a shopper, so all of the ports seemed the same to me. Hundreds of shops sell the same merchandise for about the same prices. We did the same at Martinique and that was a waste of time. The pier where the Destiny docks is a dump, so you get a bad first impression. The merchants in town aren't very friendly and seem cool to tourists. I wouldn't waste time on this stop.
At Barbados, I got off the ship and asked a local cop about a good beach to do some snorkeling on my own. He told me where to catch a city bus that would take me up to Folkstone Underwater Park. Cost is $1.00 and the ride took about 30 minutes. A fellow on the bus told me when to get off and I was able to walk one block to the beach. It was great snorkeling (I had my own mask & fins) with lots of fish and coral. There are public facilities there that you can use. After 1 hour, I rode the bus back to Bridgestone and walked a few blocks back to the ship. It was a lot cheaper than the Carnival snorkel trips, but I didn't get a catamaran ride or the "free" rum punch.
On Aruba, our group did much the same thing for a beach trip. We caught the city bus about two blocks from the ship, and rode up to Palm Beach. Cost is $2.00 and it takes 30 minutes. Once on the beach, you can rent a beach chair for $5.00 and use the beach towel that Carnival provides. I saw a catamaran pull up to the dock and unload a bunch of people from the Destiny. They had paid $35.00 and ended up on the same beach as us. They also took a bus to get back to the ship. So save some money and venture out on your own. The one excursion we did take was the Sunset Cruise at Aruba. Well worth the cost. We had a 2-½ hour sail on a big cat and they had open bar the whole time. I thought the Destiny was in good shape. Some have complained about wear and tear, but that's to be expected on a ship that 2500 people run over each week. Our air conditioning wouldn't shut down and it got very cold the first night. But I mentioned it to our steward Jasen, and it was fixed in less than an hour.
Our de-barkation wasn't any big problem either. Our deck was the last one to be called, so all most of the crowd was gone and we had no trouble finding our bags. The bus was right there waiting to take us back to the airport in a short time. I think we received excellent service from all of the Carnvial employees, and would recommend this cruise to anyone who is looking for a fun experience for a practical price.
Last year my wife and I decided we wanted to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary by taking a cruise as we had done on our 20th anniversary. On that cruise we met 2 other couples, from Texas, who became our very good friends. As they had helped us celebrate on our previous cruise we asked them if they would like to accompany us and help celebrate our anniversary once again, they jumped at the chance. Two other friends of ours, a husband and his wife from Canada, who had never cruised before asked if they could join us also as they had heard about the wonderful time we had on our previous cruises and we of course said "Yes".
We had previously been on Caribbean cruises and visited several of the islands plus vacationed at some "all inclusives" on other islands so we searched the internet/brochures to see what itineraries the cruise lines had to offer. The Destiny offered several ports of call which we had never visited such as Barbados. Martinique and Aruba, so we decided to go on the Destiny.
On Sunday May 19th my wife and I, alongwith the couple from Canada, flew from Toronto via Philadelphia to San Juan. Upon our arrival in San Juan we, along with other people on the flight, went to the first baggage carousel we came upon. There were no signs indicating which flight it was for or any Carnival representative to help us. The carpeting was water soaked and smelled of mildew. We just stood around waiting for our luggage along with the other people. After a period of time I overheard someone saying our bags were actually coming in at another carousel. Once we located the correct carousel we noticed several Carnival representatives. After retrieving our luggage we lined up with the other people who had been on our flight and were going on the cruise.
After standing in line for between 15 to 30 minutes, the representatives finally made their way to where we were standing in line and informed us we didn't belong in this line as we were Canadians and all we had to do was take our luggage outside and board the bus to the cruise terminal. At NO time were there any indications of any kind such as signs/announcements as to what "Non US Residents" should do.
Once at the terminal, we were directed twice into lines which were not meant for us. There were no signs to indicate where "Non US Residents" should go. It would seem Carnival Cruise Lines does not get many people on their cruises who are Canadians.
Once in our cabin I was pleased to see there was a safe for our valuables but it could not be locked so I called Information and they said someone would be there shortly to fix it. This gave us time to look around the cabin. The walls were dirty and dented, the bathroom sink was chipped and there were cracked tiles in the shower floor. After about half an hour one of the crew appeared and attempted to fix it with no success. I was told I would have to call Room Service in order to have someone else come to and try to fix it. We elected to do this later as we were expecting our friends from Texas to arrive and we wanted to do some exploring.
While reading the newsletter regarding our first port of call we noticed, in order to board the ship after going ashore, a photo id would be required along with our "Sail & Sign" card. Luckily my wife and I had brought along our drivers license. As it turned out, the photo id was never asked for.
Early the next day I wanted to book a scuba diving excursion in Aruba so I left my wife on the Lido deck and went to the Information Desk. After approximately 30 minutes of standing in line I was told I would have to go to the Excursion Desk on the other side of the lobby which I did. The gentleman seated there advised me it was closed and would be open between 7:00 and 9:00 PM but I could book excursions through the ship's "Fun Vision" system. As I didn't want to miss out on the excursion I went up to our cabin to reserve it. After numerous problems with the system such as no video, computer error messages, etc. I was able to book it on the 8th try.
Starting the 3rd evening, the Captain's Night, until the last night of the cruise it was virtually impossible to use any of the staircases in the "Flagship Hall" during the evening, due to ship's photographers posing passengers on the stairways. One evening, while seated at our dining room table, after finishing our meal the waiter approached us and tried to sell us some Carnival Cruise recipe books. I was not the only one at the table who felt this was almost an invasion of privacy.
On the Wednesday morning while enroute from Barbados to Aruba, one of the islands we had never visited, the ship lost power at approximately 7:35 AM for approximately 7½ hours. During that time and as a matter of fact, other than the last night aboard ship, the Captain never made any announcements. On our previous cruises the Captain made at least 1 announcement per day even if it was only to give an update as to the ship's position. It was over an hour before the emergency lighting was activated. This did not bother us as we had an outside cabin on one of the upper decks but I'm sure the people with inside or lower cabins were not too happy about being "left in the dark".
As there wasn't much to do, we spent quite a bit of time out on one of the decks in the shade ( 3rd deck ). I had to use the washroom and rather than returning to my cabin, which would have required walking up 5 flights of non air-conditioned stairs I chose to use one of the public washrooms on the Lobby Deck only to find both the urinal and toilet overflowing which had covered most of the floor.
Once repairs had been completed and we were underway, the Cruise Director simply made an announcement our next port of call would be St. Lucia, an island which we had visited before. No explanation or apology was given as to the change in itinerary. I was informed by the Information Desk, after standing in line for over 30 minutes again, that my account would be credited for the previously booked scuba diving in Aruba but they had no information regarding what excursions would be available in St. Lucia.
As a gesture of "Good Will" everyone received a $50.00 credit to their shipboard account plus one of the bars would be free for an hour to compensate for the inconvenience. It was impossible to get close to the bar to obtain a free drink at the one bar where the free drinks were being offered. This was totally ridiculous.
Later in the evening we found out there a list of excursions available for St. Lucia. Everyone in the group decided to sign up for the snorkeling including myself as there was no scuba diving being offered. I was concerned about someone in our group missing out on this but was assured by the crewmember who was in charge of the forms that there would not be a problem. At the end of the evening when we returned to our cabins, each one of us had a note that the snorkeling had been sold out.
During the cruise it was virtually impossible to use the pools due to the crowding. This also applied to the hot tubs with regards to children even though they were posted "Restricted to 18 years of age and over" and no one enforced it.
The last day of the cruise I attended the meeting regarding what had to be done prior to leaving the ship on our return to San Juan. The meeting was conducted by the Cruise Director. We, "Non US Residents", were told we would have to wait until our deck number was called before reporting to a specific location to have our passports returned and to clear US Customs and Immigration. On several occasions we had been given incorrect information by a crewmember so we learned to ask the same question to 2 or 3 other staff and then accept the answer which was given more often. I wanted to make sure we had to wait until our deck was called so after the meeting I asked 3 other crewmembers about waiting and all of them said "No, don't wait. Report at 6:00 AM."
To me, the $50 credit and 1 hour free bar was a feeble attempt to make up for the inconvenience and is almost laughable.
It will be a long long time before we even think about taking another Carnival cruise. Our friends from Canada, who had never sailed before, have been turned off cruising completely. I doubt if they will ever go again. I am almost embarrassed to have recommended this cruise to them.
In closing I would have to say it wasn't quite the 25th wedding anniversary celebration my wife and I had planned. About the only saving graces were our waiter, cabin steward and the food! It was definitely not worth the money we paid for the cruise let alone the time spent planning/making arrangements, new clothes, long distance phone calls, vet bills for boarding our dog, limousine to and from the airport etc. It took approx. 5 weeks to get a response to a letter I wrote to the President which included a certificate giving us a WHOPPING 10% discount on our next (as if there will ever be one) Carnival Cruise. I have been in contact with other people who were on the same cruise and they received a 2 for 1 deal on their next cruise plus substantial shipboard credits.
This was our first and last cruise with Carnival. It was terrible. We planned this trip 13 months before departure. We were married on the ship while in St. Thomas. We were given a color picture by Carnival of the "ceremony only room" that we were to be married in. When we were onboard the ship, the room we were to get married in is the Onyx Room, which is a cigar bar. Very dark and stunk of cigars. Only after I became upset and complained for an hour and had the picture in my hand of what we contracted for, that they weren't delivering, did they move the ceremony in to the library. The food was horrible the entire trip. Barely warm. They served the same food all the time in the buffet. The restaurant areas smelled of rotten eggs and food the entire time. We never made it to Aruba because the "boat" broke down at sea for 8 hours. We had to dock in St. Lucia instead. We had no power for 8 hours. No running water, no warm food, no flushing toilets, no air. The cruisedirector told us if we didn't like the fact that we couldn't go to Aruba that we could jump overboard and swim.
He later tried to apologize by saying it "is the comedian in him" and he didn't mean to make anyone upset. Our cabin was #1195 on the Riviera. From the moment we stepped foot into the cabin we knew we would not sleep until they moved our cabin. There was a constant banging noise and the sound of water running. The banging was so bad it shook the bed alot of the time. We complained about this to Keri and the Information Desk who tried to make us believe that she had no idea what the noise could be. It wasn't until our room steward told us what was under us that we finally knew. It is the crew kitchen guys. Don't take #1195. The Information Desk wouldn't move us to another cabin because we paid for #1195. We got a 10% discount toward a future cruise within 18 months. The entertainment was lousy. The ship was not very clean. Brass railing were never polished. The cleaning people ride the elevators with you, along with their chemicals. Martinique is terrible. Stay on the ship. St. Thomas seemed nice. Barbados seemed nice, and St. Lucia was just okay. The drinks will cost you about $6.50 because tips are included, regardless of how lousy the service is. We were supposed to have late seating for dinner and got early seating. Naturally, they refused to change us to what we asked for 13 months ago. We will NEVER cruise carnival again unless the cruise is absolutely free!!! Think twice before cruising Carnival!!!
Cabin 1164 (Rivera Deck oceanview)
Early Seating in the Universe Dining room 5:45pm table 430
Overall we had another wonderful cruise with Carnival. We have done the Southern Caribbean cruise before on the Fascination in 2001 so the only new island for us was Aruba. The quality of the food everywhere on the ship was wonderful. The main dining room has always been excellent but we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of all the Lido Deck restaurants (Sea and Sun buffet, Pizzaria, Happy Garden Chinese food, the Grill, and the New York Deli). They were all a major step up from our previous Lido Deck food experiences.
The ship is in great condition. This was our first experience with a Destiny class ship, we have only previously sailed on Fantasy class ships and were very impressed with the increased size of the ship. The Destiny seemed much larger then either the Fascination or Sensation. There are plenty of places on the ship to "escape" to if you just want a quiet moment and plenty of places where there is always action. If you want a quiet deck chair the best place tofind one is either the topless deck around the smokestack or by the Stellar bar on the Lido deck in the very aft of the ship. The deck chairs by the Stellar bar are padded which is nice on a sunburn.
Other important information: the formal nights are Tuesday (Martinique) and Thursday (at Sea), and tips are on your sign and sail card.
Embarkation in San Juan:
We arrived at the San Juan airport at about 1:30pm and proceeded to the baggage claim. Once we found our luggage we did the pre-check in right at the airport. There are Carnival representatives checking you in by the open space across from the last baggage carousel. You need to have all your forms filled out and the credit card that you want to use available for them to swipe in the palm pilot type check in computer. After checking in (it took about 5 minutes, but we took a longer time because we had a guarantee cabin and she had to look up our cabin number), we got a cab to the port. From the airport to the port is $16.00 plus $0.50 for every bag over 2. This is per cab, not per person so if you have more then one person in your party you will come out ahead getting a cab versus the transfers from Carnival.
Once arriving at the ship we got into the x-ray line. This has changed since we were last in San Juan (pre-9/11). You and all your luggage has to go through the x-ray/metal detector before the porters take it from you. It is actually kind of irritating to lug all that luggage through the long hallway and then have to pay a porter to put in a metal bin 5 feet from where you stand, but we wanted our luggage to actually make in on the ship so we grinned and gave him $2.00 for our 3 bags. There was a security staff shift change at 3:00pm on our sailing which stopped the line for a good 20 minutes, but it the heat it feels a lot longer.
After going through security you proceed to the sign and sail pick-up location. They could have used another 2 people at the card pick up table to keep the line moving better but we got through okay. After picking up your card you have your picture taken to be stored on your sign and sail card. Every time you get on and off the ship you have to plug you sign and sail card into a machine that brings up this hideous security picture. If you have glasses on they make you take them off for this picture. Then, you proceed to the embarkation picture station which is another not so great picture that they try to sell to you. There will be a liquor store to your right. If you want to bring liquor on this is your chance. They have really good prices and as long as your purchase fits in your carry-on no one will know but you, remember you have already been through the x-ray scan. Then you get on the ship and go to your room and do what you wish. There is lunch waiting on the Lido Deck that is very good and a whole ship to explore. You can also get off if you wish to explore San Juan. Dinner the first night is casual, open seating as many people have not got on the ship yet and most have not received their luggage yet.
We had a 4A guarantee booked and received a 6A cabin which was very spacious. The room was much larger then the 6B we had on the Sensation. We had a couch that pulled out into a bed plus the 2 twin beds. We pushed them together immediately and then the room steward made them up with king sheets without us even having to ask. The Destiny has FunVision, an interactive TV program, where you can order room service, check your sign and sail balance at any time, and order your shore excursions. They don't activate the FunVision until 6pm the first night so right after dinner we went back to our room and ordered our shore excursions. I prefer the FunVision to the paper method because you know right away if the tour is sold out or not, no making a second choice.
St. Thomas USVI
I have been to St. Thomas several times so I felt very comfortable doing my own excursion there. We caught a cab to Coral World ($7/person/way). The cabbie gave us a $4.00 off coupon for Coral World which was better then the $3.00 internet coupon I had found (www.coralworldvi.com). We spent several hours at Coral World and Coki Beach (the adjoining beach with great snorkeling). Coral World has lockers you can rent for $3.00 each for use when you are at Coki Beach and showers and changing facilities for those who don't like being sandy on the ride back to the ship. When on Coki Beach you may be approached by locals looking to rent you snorkel equipment, a beach chair, braid your hair, ect. If you are not interested just say no and keep walking they don't really bother you much if you just tell them you are not interested. After we were done at Coral World we took a taxi back to the ship and did some shopping at Havensight Mall, that's right where the ship docks. We bought some liquor; do compare prices they vary from store to store. We found them lowest at Dazzlers. Our liquor was packaged in a box so we were asked to check it when we returned to the ship which we did as we had no intention of drinking that liquor on the ship. St. Thomas is the only place they had a liquor check desk even set up on the ship, so if you buy it at any other port you will have no problem taking it back to your cabin. We could have easily taken it back in St. Thomas as no one was really paying attention, but my dear husband has too much Eagle Scout in him to break the rules.
My advice, stay on the ship. I don't know why they go to this port. They only offered 7 tours which should have been my first clue. Last time we were in Martinique on a cruise we just walked around the downtown shopping area and were not too impressed so this time we decided to do an island tour and see if there was more to this island. The island tour was very expensive, our most expensive excursion. Personally I was not impressed with the island tour and other people we talked with on the ship were not impressed with their tours. There is not much shopping unless you are looking for French perfume. If you do go shopping make sure to bring small bills. They do take US$ but have a hard time making change in US$ for larger bills (they use the Euro).
We loved Barbados this time too. We went on the Island Safari tour and it was worth every penny. They take you in open air Land Rovers fitted with seats in the back to places you can't see on a regular tour bus. We saw some breathtaking views of the ocean, especially the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. They have very strong currents and waves that have eaten away at boulders in the ocean that are just wonderful to look at. Make sure to put on sunblock as we both just got fried on this tour. Also don't wear your best shirts because it might get a little dirty, especially if it has rained recently. You are in Barbados until 10pm so dinner that night is casual, shorts are okay because they know many come back to the ship for dinner and then get off again to explore more.
This was our first time to Aruba and we really enjoyed it. We went on the Pelican Too Catamaran and Snorkeling tour. It is a very good time on the catamaran. The snorkeling is okay, no real coral to look at but lots of fish. And then on the way back to the ship the rum punch flows freely. Be careful with the rum punch. The juices they use really mask the rum taste and some people really got intoxicated because they didn't taste the rum in their drinks and had more then they should of but it was all in good fun. We had lunch on the ship and then walked around the shopping area near the ship in Aruba. If you are looking to buy jewelry this is a really good place. The people at the jewelry stores are really willing to bargain with you. We were just looking at tanzanite and the person came down $300 on the price, we still didn't buy but it is good to know that they are really willing and to bargain with you. You are in Aruba until 11pm so dinner is once again casual, shorts okay in the dining room. There is a Carlos and Charlies and Iguana Joe's very close to the dock and you can hear the party from the ship. We watched people stagger back to the ship from our window at 10-10:30pm, it was great fun. This also leads to many open deck chairs in the morning the next day as sun and hangovers don't mix well.
We had a 12:30pm flight so we were part of the early debarkation group. We received our special luggage tags under our door but if you don't receive them you need to take your itinerary to the information desk and they will give you the correct tags. They are very strict about the early debarkation group. You need to have a tag in your hand to get off the ship with the early group, many people tried to get in with the early group and were denied at the immigration line and actually getting off the ship. Everyone on the ship (US and non-US citizens has to go through immigration before they get off the ship). With the early debarkation group we had to be in line at 6:30am to go through immigration. The line was very long but moved very fast. Then you have to be in a specific lounge at 8:15am as they let that group go first. This was the fastest debarkation we have every experienced. We were checked in and at our gate at the airport by 10:00am wondering what we would be doing for the next 2 hours until our flight left. Take some food with you to the airport. They have very little in the way of food stands and what they do have is grossly overpriced ($7.00 for a personal pizza, $5.00 for a small hotdog). I would suggest grabbing a couple boxes of cereal from the Lido deck and putting those in your carry-on. Another random thought for you. They Cafe on the Way is an a la cart pastry type shop with specialty coffees, cakes and milkshakes. The food is decent but not worth the added cost since the food in the dining room is so good.
If you have any other questions feel free to e-mail me. I have all the Capers and the Shore Excursion booklet if you have questions specific to that, I just don't have a functioning scanner.
A fabulously relaxing cruise. The ship: our favorite to date. The ports: very good, with something for everyone, especially in beautiful Aruba. The staff: professional and responsive but on the whole rather distant -- like they were on automatic pilot.
Carnival's Destiny was built in 1996 and was at the time the world's largest passenger ship. Now RCL's Voyager of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas are larger, but Destiny is still a champ. She holds nearly 5000 people and crew at capacity, yet the ship never felt crowded. In fact, many times we were the only people in an elevator or hallway. As usual, most of the bar staff are from countries such as Croatia, Thailand, and Romania. Most of the the ship's navigational and engineering staff, including the Captain, are Italian. And then there is Ronaldo from Brazil, the handsome but ever-present social host. Ronaldo made up for horribly mangling the English language with lots of charm. We were constantly asking each other "What did he just say?".
Definitely take a taxi to and from the San Juan airport -- it is cheaper per person and much fasterthan the Carnival bus. Plus you don't have the long waits for other passengers, their bags, and the chaos involved getting everyone on the bus. $16 for a cabful to or from the airport. If you get to San Juan the day before, the Wyndham is only a short walk (even with bags) to the ship. The Marriott is nicer, cheaper, is on the ocean, but requires a $12 cab ride to the port. There's a nice Walgreens a block away with cheap prices on items you forgot to pack. If you have time, be sure to see El Morro or San Cristobal, the massive forts of Old San Juan.
Carnival does not advertise their adult soda cards --- a great savings and convenience since the usual cost is $2-$3 each. With an adult soda card you get all the soda you want. The card costs $30 for an adult for a 7 day cruise. We drank on average of 4 sodas a day each, so we saved about $100! There are cards for kids, too, at a lower price.
The 24/7 pizza/salads/ice cream are a universal hit. They also serve calzones on request, as well as some nonmainstream but delicious pizza (like goat cheese).
The gym/spa is enormous, the largest afloat. Workout machines everywhere (and they all worked!), coed hot tubs, separate wet and dry saunas for men and women, an aerobics studio on the second level (it's that big!), ten massage rooms, a hair salon, and locker rooms as big as many landside gyms.
Although Carnival says embarkation starts at 2:30, you can get on as early as 12:30. Bring an umbrella, though, as the waiting line is outside where it (often) rains on embarkation day. Head for lunch on the Lido deck as your room will not be ready until 1:30. To save yourself hassle, be sure to complete all your paperwork from Carnival before getting in line.
In Aruba, renting a car ($40-70) to tour the island makes for a nice day. Aruban drivers are sane (unlike on Martinique!) and the country is lovely. The downtown area of Orangjstad is clean and organized. We used the city bus to travel back from a tour for only $1.50 per person! Go easy on the tequila at Carlos and Charlies, a famous bar/restaurant in town. The drinks are huge (24" high) and pack about 1/4 bottle of 180 proof tequila each. But to people watch there is the best - and the wildest!
On the Ship
Breakfast in the cabin is a wonderful way to start the day. They don't offer much in the way of variety, but for spoiling yourself this is a good start. Breakfast is also served up on the Lido deck and in the main restaurants, Galaxy and Universe. The lines are always longer outside than in. Just walk 50 feet inside and the lines are shorter.
Our cabin (Verandah 8136) was a treat. Lots of room, as in most Carnival ships, spotless, and in good repair. Destiny was "in the shop" over Christmas 2001 and you can tell they fixed some well-reported problems, such as non-working elevators, faulty toilets, and poor signage.
Lunch and dinner are on the Lido deck and in both restaurants. The food is plentiful but just OK. Even in the restaurants on "special" nights, the food did not meet the expectations Carnival sets in their advertising. All the fun flaming desserts are no longer served "hot" and the waiter entertainment was half-hearted. Best value? The wine list. They charge much less than landside restaurants for a bottle. You can get many good ones (try the Chateau St Michelle) for under $23.
The most romantic view on the ship is at the bow but finding access it is not easy. Go to Deck 7 and go forward as far as you can. There's an unmarked door on the left that takes you through another door then outside to a deck overlooking the bow and a panoramic view of the ocean. Great on a moonlit night. Stairs from Deck 7 will take you to a smaller but equally private area on Deck 6.
There are lots and lots of hot tubs. The best? In the spa, where no children are allowed. The most fun? On the Lido deck under the retracting roof. Here is also a small pool, a bar, and walking distance to the ice cream machine! On sea days (when you're not in port) head out to the pool early (by 9am) if you want a lounge chair. They fill fast. The waterslide is great (the longest on any ship) but hold your nose on the way down unless you want water blasted into it upon landing at the bottom!
At the casino, like all casinos, there is no easy money. You only have to choose how much you lose and how fast! If you see Nas, the Casino Manager from Cyprus, please say hello from George. Play Bingo the last night for the free cruise - otherwise unless you're bored Bingo is a waste of money. There are also Scratch-off Lotto cards for a buck. Carnival makes a mint on these. We've NEVER heard of anyone winning more than a buck or two.
Carnival now "taxes" your shipboard acct $10 per person per day for tips for tipping your waiter, asst waiter, and cabin steward. You can raise or lower it, but that takes a wait at the purser's desk, always at least 15 minutes.
Not So Great
The comedians (there will be 2-4 per cruise) are hit and miss, mostly miss. The Cruise Director, Jorge Solano, is a former standup comic who is very funny and personable but delegated too much airtime on the PA to the incomprehensible Ronaldo.
The traditional Captain's Welcome is not the same as it has been on cruise lines for years. You don't get to have your picture taken with him or shake his hand. The Photo staff is friendly but overworked. The immense photo galleries get clogged in the evenings - browse during the day if you can.
Getting off the boat takes forever, especially with new immigration/customs procedures. Best advice: Sleep late (until 8), get through immigration, get breakfast, then head to a shaded, padded lounge chair (outside on Deck 3) to take a nap until you're called to get off the boat (between 9:30 and 11:30). Again, take the taxi rather than Carnival's bus.
Finally, a dirty little secret:
Ever wonder why a ship begins to smell, especially later in the cruise? We thought this was due to systemic plumbing problems but now we have a whole new appreciation (and admiration for) Carnival. The problem isn't the plumbing, although things do break occasionally. That smell, folks, is from a small number passengers -- people who drink too much then hurl -- and do it just about anywhere on the boat, from the public decks to lounge chairs, even in the restaurants. With alcohol being offered to you 20 times a day, and freewheeling ports with bars (like Carlos and Charlies, or Senor Frog's) that don't have to worry about you driving home, it's way too easy to get plastered to the point of getting sick. So have fun, but use good judgment, and keep the place smelling nice for the rest of us! Besides, have compassion for the Carnival staff. Cleaning that stuff up is no fun.
Hellos to Angie and Eric, scuba-diving dentists from San Diego, and Paul and Michelle, honeymooners from Boston!