We just got back from our cruise on the Destiny (09-03-2006 to 09-10-2006). This was our fourth Carnival cruise. This time it was just my husband and I cruising (left the kids at home) and we booked our first balcony cabin. We found we used it much more than we thought we would. It's going to be hard to go back to an interior cabin after this!
I booked the air on my own. While we live in NH and the Manchester, NH airport is close to our house I ended up booking a flight out of Logan in Boston. American Airlines had a great deal when I booked back in March 2006. I booked roundtrip air on a non-stop flight for $283.00/pp. I would encourage anyone who has several airports within driving distance to them to check flight information and price at each airport. As we booked our own air we did fly into San Juan a day early to avoid any potential problems with airline delays, especially since we were traveling during hurricane season.
I booked the San Juan Beach Hotel for $100 per night through Hotwire. While it was fine for one night, I wasn't impressed. When I booked it was rated as a 3 star. In reality it was more of like a 2 star. While it was clean, there were holes in the bedspreads, the carpet was stained and the bathroom had chipped tiles and a cracked sink. There were plenty of restaurants within walking distance and it was right on the beach, so, for the price it wasn't too bad. If you're planning on staying in San Juan for more than one night, I would look at a different hotel.
We arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m.. We checked in and were on board and eating lunch by 1:00 p.m. Disembarking was fine, except our luggage tags were the last ones called. We didn't get off the ship until about 12:30 p.m. As our flight out wasn't until 3:00 p.m. we weren't in any hurry. I was a really nice day so we just hung out up on the Lido deck until it was time to go. The first luggage colors weren't called until about 9:00 a.m. so I would be careful of booking an early flight from San Juan. Once we got the airport check in was a breeze. There were only about 10 people ahead of us in line and no crowd at the airport at all.
As I mentioned earlier in this review we booked our first balcony cabin. We were in cabin 8319 which was in the rear of the ship. I loved this location as we were just one deck under the Lido. Neither my husband nor I noticed any noise. Our room steward did an excellent job. No complaints here. I did read on other reviews that some people had issues with the air conditioning in their cabins. While our cabin was very comfortable throughout the cruise, I did notice that the halls could get very warm at times. Also, we did have breakfast with several couples who were also on our deck who did have issues with their rooms being very warm, so it appears this is still an issue in some cabins.
My husband and I both agreed that the shows on the Destiny beat every other cruises hands down. The production shows were fantastic. The comedians, juggler and magician were also great. We both enjoyed seeing and hearing Duke Daniels (from the Platters). Overall, we couldn't have been happier with the shows. We didn't really hang out at the Lido deck pool so I can't comment on the pool area entertainment other than to say that we saw it in the Capers and they are still doing the Hairy Chest contest, Fear Factor, Survivor, etc.
Can't comment here as we didn't travel with the kids this time. I really didn't see many kids on board.
We had the early seating (5:45 p.m) in the Universal dining room. While the service was great (as we expected from previous Carnival cruises) I must say that the food was a letdown. We both agreed that the quality just wasn't there. Our impression was that the food in the dining room was on par with the food normally found at the buffet. The only exception to this was the prime rib, which was excellent. The desserts were very good and on par with other Carnival cruises. While we didn't go hungry, we were disappointed with the quality.
Pizza, the NY Deli and the Grill (burgers, hot dogs and fries) were all good. The Asian place (can't remember the name) was hit or miss. The buffet was ok. Some things were better than others, but again, the quality of the food was not was it's been on other ships.
While it didn't ruin our cruise and we didn't go hungry, overall we were disappointed with the food quality on this ship.
SHIPS CONDITION: This is an older ship and I found it to be in good repair, clean and comfortable. Everyone I went there was someone cleaning something. I didn't see any stained carpet or disrepair. I know some people have commented that they felt the ship wasn't at its best but I have to disagree.
St. Thomas: We grabbed a taxi and went to Coki beach. Taxi was $9/pp each way. Beach chair rentals were $5/pp and an umbrella was $10. The beach is gorgeous and really wasn't crowded. The snorkeling was great. We brought our own masks and snorkels and just rented the fins ($5/pp). There are restaurants and bars right along the beach and there is a restroom and fresh water showers. We had a great day there and would go back again.
Dominica: We booked the river tubing directly through Wacky Rollers. It was $60/pp and we had a blast. The river was moving pretty quickly and the water was about Class II. We had about 14 people in our group with 6 guides. I felt very safe doing this excursion. Everyone had to wear a life vest and we all had a paddle. After we were done we went back to the ship, got cleaned up, had lunch and still had time to shop at the pier. I found the people of Dominica to be very friendly. While people tried to get you to come into their stalls, they weren't at all pushy about it. A simple no thank you was fine.
Barbados: We booked a 5 hour Catamaran trip through Heatwave. It was $60/pp and included lunch and open bar (they had a full bar). There were 10 of us on the Catamaran (6 from the ship and 4 from a resort) and we all agreed that this was the best excursion we've ever taken. We went swimming and snorkeling with the sea turtles and snorkeling over two ship wrecks. We then went to the Boatyard where we had full use of all of their equipment. It was best day of the cruise!
Aruba: We had another beach day at Palm Beach. We went to Moomba Bay and relaxed for the day. It was $10/each way for the taxi and $5 for beach chairs. They had restaurants and bars there was well as restrooms and a fresh water shower. We stayed there until about 6 pm, went back to the ship, had dinner and then walked around downtown Aruba until 9:30 when we had to be back on board.
WEATHER/SEAS: Weather was great the entire week and seas were calm. While there was a shower in St. Thomas it blew over very quickly. We couldn't have asked for better weather.
If there are any other questions or other information you would like to get about the ship or my experience, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put in the subject line Carnival Destiny so that I don't accidentally delete it.
We again had a great time on the Destiny. We both loved the itinerary and even with the food quality we would sail her again.