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Thank you to everyone on these boards for all your advice and help. Here as promised my review:
We were a group of 11, and chose Carnival because we were traveling with older teens and young adults and wanted to cruise with a younger crowd. My family of 5 has been on 3 previous cruises, two with Celebrity, one with Royal Caribbean.
We arrived at the terminal early, around 11, and embarkation was a breeze. A quick stop at the liquor store in the terminal, where they told us we could bring alcohol onboard as long as it was inside our carry on, (surprise, thatís not what Iíd heard) and we were ready to board. Since our rooms wouldnít be ready till 1:30 we headed up to the buffet. My first disappointment. The line ups were very long, very slow. The selection was poor. The plates were very small, and there were no trays?!? The food was ok, the cafeteria style eating area was stuffy, noisy, hot, the windows were filthy. After a quick walk around I was disappointed that there was no attractive place to eat outside either. (More dirty windows) Couldnít help remembering our first buffet onboard the Celebrity Galaxy, where the trays were lined with crisp white linen place mats, minimal fast moving line ups, delicious food as far as you could see, and waiters there to help you carry your tray to a clean table outside in the shade overlooking the Port of San Juan.
After lunch we were all eager to check out our rooms. We found them to be very spacious, there was more than enough room to store everything, and we loved having a balcony and ended up using it more than we could have possibly imagined. On that first day though the toilets werenít flushing, and the shower overflowed. I noticed toilet bowl brushes beside every toilet (cabin and public) on the ship and I found this quite disgusting. Also looking at the toilets, some of those brushes werenít used nearly enough. Some of our luggage didnít show up till nearly 10 pm which meant some of us had to eat dinner in the clothes we had left home in over 24 hours earlier. We were disappointed when told that 11 of us couldnít sit at one table in the dining room. After listening to a horribly off key band by the pool side at the sail away party we fell into bed exhausted. Needless to say our first impression of the Destiny wasnít good.
However as the week progressed I must say we found plenty of things to love on board. First of all the staff was wonderful! Always smiling, friendly, and eager to help. Entertainment was the best we had ever experienced. Great comedians, dancers, music... For the first time we actually looked forward and enjoyed each eveningís entertainment. Throughout the ship, great musicians everywhere, even the music on the Lido deck improved greatly after the first night.
Dinner in the dining room was great, maybe not quite as good as Celebrity and RC, but still very good. The waiters were excellent, and they all sang and danced for us every night. After the 3rd night, still unhappy with our seating arrangement, I approached the Maitre Dí, told him how disappointed we were at not being able to all sit together, and he offered us the Captainís table! We couldnít believe our good fortune. Every night for the remainder of the cruise all of us ate together at the biggest table in the center of the diningroom. So if you are not happy with your table at first, ask again a couple of days into the cruise and you never know what might have become available. Although the buffet remained horrible, crowded, and stinky, we loved the deli as well as room service. We ordered room service most breakfasts and ate on our little balcony. Found it to be fast, and delicious.
Our fellow passengers were definitely much younger than those on previous cruises. About half of the ship were Puerto Rico locals and they were a fun loving bunch. Our kids loved the fact that the entire boat didnít go to bed at midnight as they had found on previous cruises. We were awakened once by a group of young people trying to find their way to their room at 3 in the morning, but other than that, the rumors of drunks everywhere are greatly exaggerated.
St Thomas: We did a bit of shopping then headed for Sapphire beach. A beautiful quiet little secluded beach. We would have all loved it had we not been hit by a big rain storm.
Dominica: We were booked with Reyno tours on the advice of members on this board. Since there are no beaches or shopping here, this is a great alternative. Reyno and his tour guide Saraya were great. Took us to the emerald pool, where we went swimming under the waterfall. Mr Niceís fruit stand was very interesting, but Trafalgar falls we found rather boring. By this time we had been 13 packed in a little van for several hours and we were exhausted, and a little car sick. Reyno wanted to take us to the Botanical Gardens and an outlook point but we asked him to take us back to the boat. Overall it was a long day, a lot of time spent driving but Reyno and Saraya kept things interesting all the way with lots of interesting facts, singing, home made wine and banana chips for everyone.
Barbados: Crane beach! The most beautiful beach in the world. We almost didnít go because it was another 45 min drive and we were tired of driving. What a mistake that would have been. We asked the cabbie to take us to the local entrance, no entrance fee! We spent 3 hours body surfing, cliff jumping, tanning and just enjoying the beauty surrounding us.
Aruba: Shopped till we dropped. Would have like to have done something more interesting but when there are 11 of you everything gets so expensive.
Overall we had a great vacation. If you are looking for a very elegant, classy ship the Destiny is not for you. The ship is definitely showing its age. But if you are looking for a more relaxed atmosphere and are traveling with young adults, you will have a great time on this ship.
Thanks, we leave on the Destiny 1-23-05!!! Do you know if the dining room was open for lunch everyday or just sea days? I guess sometimes it is and somethimes it's not, I love eating a relaxing lunch in the dining room and am hoping its open when we go.