We flew from Pittsburgh directly to San Juan. Embarkation was very smooth, with a preliminary check-in at the airport. This enabled us to have our Sign & Sail cards ready when we arrived at the pier. There were no long lines at the pier, and only about a 10 minute wait at the airport. Destiny is huge, but we never felt like the ship was crowded. There were lines a couple of times at the Sun & Sea restaurant buffet, but nothing terrible & not all of the time. There was always plenty of seating in the show lounge and anywhere else that we went throughout the ship.
We loved our balcony cabin! It was great to be able to step outside whenever we wanted to. We didn't sit out there as I thought we might, since we found shady places on a deck where we spent time before heading to one of the pools. Our only complaint about the cabin was its placement. We were, unfortunately, directly above the "Downbeat Lounge." It was really only a problem two of the nights. Most nights, they had a jazz quartet with a female singer & it wasn't loud. Unfortunately, Wednesday & Thursday, they had Karaoke in there after Gail Caryn & her group finished at midnight. Karaoke was supposed to be over at 1 AM, but continued until after 1:30 both nights. Amazingly, my husband was able to get to sleep, even though it was very loud (so loud that I could hear the words to the songs, even with my foam earplugs in) and even vibrated the bed at times with the bass. Friday night, we were delighted to find no one in there (even though Karaoke was scheduled at midnight). They'd had the Farewell Deck Party that night & I guess most of the Karaoke crowd was there. So, we had a quiet night. Saturday night, Gail's group was on until 12:30 and nothing after that. We were there to hear her, since we enjoyed them. In the future, I will be more careful to check what is above & below a cabin before booking. I never thought to check above & below! It worked out fine, though, with only two loud nights. We said it could have been worse, if we'd been 6 or 7 cabins further toward the center of the ship, we'd have had the Disco below & they played even later into the morning than the Downbeat Lounge. Actually, that turned out to be the only negative thing about the cruise.
We found the food/presentation at the dining room to be wonderful. Everything we had was tasty and attractively presented. We ate at the Sun & Sea buffet on deck for most breakfasts & all lunches and found the selections to be varied and very good. There is also 24 hour pizza and a grill with hot dogs & hamburgers, plus chicken sandwiches most of the daylight hours. The New York Deli and Chinese food station were also very popular.
We went to the shows each night & enjoyed them all. They had two "production numbers. Both of these were very entertaining, especially the second one. There were also a couple of comedians, a juggler and a magician. We also had Duke Daniels, who was one of the original members of the group, "The Platters" one night. When he started to sing, it was apparent that his voice is not what it used to be as it was cracking a good bit. But, his act was one of a good deal of comedy interspersed with the songs. He obviously knows that he isn't the singer he once was and has incorporated comedy into his act. By the time he finished, the audience was totally "with him" and he got a standing ovation, as much for his act as the history of the "Platters."
Monday, we were in St. Thomas. It seemed odd not to have an "at sea" day the first day as I've always had. We took the tour that accommodated 6 guests on a private sailboat. It turned out to be one of our two favorite things that we did on the islands. The sailing was so relaxing and the scenery was beautiful!! I would highly recommend that sail/snorkel tour! In St. Lucia on Tuesday, we did some shopping in the morning then took a bus tour in the afternoon. It visited an old plantation site where they make batik decorated cloth and other items. From there, we visited another old colonial home and took a tour. The huge front porch of that house afforded a spectacular view of the harbor where the ship was docked & it was a great photo opportunity. After that, we went down to Marigot bay and took a ferry over to a beach.
Wednesday was the first at sea day and it was very relaxing. We spent our time on deck and in the hot tub and Sun & Sea Pool area.. Thursday, we were in Curacao. We went into town in the morning. It was about a 10 minute walk from where the ship was docked. We took a free ferry over a canal to the main shopping area. They also have a pontoon bridge that swings out of the way to let ships through, but when we were going & coming back, the bridge was open, so we took the ferry both ways. They had the usual souvenir shops, but we most enjoyed walking through their fruit & vegetable market & by a line of fishing boats selling their morning's catch from the boats. It was interesting to see the people inspecting the fish & other items for sale, more of a slice of island life than one usually sees. In the afternoon, we took another snorkel tour. This one was on a sightseeing type boat, not a sailboat. It was a rougher trip out to the snorkel site. I didn't mind the roughness, but at least two people felt ill enough that they didn't go into the water to snorkel. The scenery out & back was again beautiful.
Friday was the much-anticipated arrival in Aruba. (Many folks we spoke with had booked this cruise in large part due to Aruba being part of the itinerary.) It was funny to see what a flat island Aruba is after the relatively mountainous St. Lucia & Curacao. It is indeed extremely windy, but not as bad as I'd expected. We shopped in their downtown area (again within easy walking distance from the ship) and took a catamaran sailing snorkel tour in the afternoon. The catamaran held 45 people, half of whom went out on the front of the boat where they have a "trampoline" deck (not for jumping, just sitting). We sat up on the side of the boat, on a broad ledge with a railing at the end for the trip out & it was heavenly! We sailed from the end of the island where Destiny was docked to nearly the other end. As we sailed, the captain told us what each of the hotels/time shares & other buildings along the shore were. The beaches are long and white & the shades of blue, green & turquoise of the water are the most amazing I've every seen anywhere in the Caribbean. Snorkeling was great once we dropped anchor and we were there about an hour. On the way back, we sat up at the trampoline area & enjoyed rum punches. It was glorious and about as close to heaven as I'll probably ever get We were in Aruba until 11 PM and many people had dinner on the island or went to the island casinos. We stayed on board after the tour. That turned out to be a perfect time to walk the jogging path on Destiny, not as hot and we got to see the sun go down.
Saturday was our second & last "at sea" day. We made the most of it, spending most of the day on deck. It was hard to believe that it was nearly over. Sunday, since we had a late flight, we took a tour of San Juan. This enabled us to be one of the first to get off of the ship. The downside of that was having to get up earlier to be at Immigration with the first group. Yes, since 9/11 *everyone* now must pass through U.S. Immigration, not just the non-citizens. It did go quickly, though. We found our luggage quickly & got onto a mini-bus for the city tour. Our driver took us to the San Cristobel fortress in Old San Juan where we spent about a half hour touring. Then, we went to the Old San Juan shopping district and had time to explore. He was very interesting as he pointed out the sights and talked about the history of the city & island. After going through the new section of the city with its hotels & casinos, he left us at the airport. I hope any travelers on Destiny have as great a time as we did! Any questions, please e-mail me.