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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(1) INTRODUCTION

I have recently returned from a five day cruise to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman on the Destiny, September 27 – October 02, 2008. What can I say… I guess that’s why you’re reading this, right? Well, I want to go back. Heck, I didn’t want to leave!

If you are reading this review, I’m sure that it is not your first, and further that you have read many of the other Destiny reviews and myriad threads – the likes of ‘is it a good ship?’, ‘what happened during the dry dock (d-d) renovations?!’ or ‘what about the new itinerary?’ – I think I have literally read hundreds. Short answers: yes, a lot but possibly not everything you think, and it’s a great itinerary. I’ll try to touch upon as much as I can speak knowledgeably about, and share my experiences with the ‘new and improved’ Destiny out of her home port of Miami, for all of you lucky people cruising on this fine ship in the future.

First, before we go any further – to acknowledge some of those ‘other’ reviews and threads about Destiny… Judging from the reviews and comments, this ship seems to be about as polarizing as a politician or thread about smoking, casual/formal dress or ‘scandal’ (du jour) on this board. I can only attribute the bulk of it to the ship’s condition before drydock (although, I don’t think that’s really it – we’ll get to that later), the port of San Juan and / or the previous itinerary. I can’t speak unto any of those, but having just returned from a recent sailing – post dry dock, new port, staff rotation – however you want to qualify it, I cannot entirely understand what so many people have been complaining about. I can affirm that as the ship stands and sails today, there need be no reason for alarm, only eager anticipation.

As the first to pioneer the ‘big ship’ concept, and the largest in the world when she first sailed – Destiny provides numerous options in dining, bars, entertainment and everything else you would expect.

In short – Destiny is a fine ship in great condition, and I would not hesitate for a moment to sail on her again. I read that the last sailing out of San Juan and first out of Miami, both straddling the dry dock period had a few bumps along the way. Not so for the second out of Miami, and so I doubt it will be relevant for future cruises. The ship is in fine condition – she floats and can speed away at about 22 knots, despite weighing 101,000 tons, the bars are well stocked and staffed by friendly people – wallpaper is stuck to the wall, deck chairs and good food are abundant, the paint and finishes, however extreme, are in fine condition. And it sure is a ‘fun ship’.

I want to end this introduction – this first segment of what I now realize is going to be a very long review (I’m not done with the introduction yet!@#%$), with a piece that I think really puts cruising into perspective:

-----

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

 

Wouldn't you like to get away?

 

Sometimes you want to go

 

Where everybody knows your name,

and they're always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

 

-----

Alright. So nobody without access to your boarding documents knows your name before you board… But damned if they all didn’t know my name by the time I left! ;-)

Gold star to whoever calls that out first. (better hurry)

There’s a lot more to come. I’ll be writing a comprehensive review, in sequential order of importance and chronology, with pics along the way, and the full capers for this cruise / itinerary… Do you want to know anything in particular? Let me know.

‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’ – Winston Churchill

 

destiny-exterior-from-ocho.jpg

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.....do you have the Capers anywhere yet?

 

Inquiring minds want to know.

 

;)

 

wasiii

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Maybe you should start at the end when you are most depressed and work your way backwards to all the pre cruise excitement.

I think all reviews should be done that way so they end on a happy note.

Never mind someone out there will find fault with just thinking about going on a cruise and it would ruin my idea.

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I can't wait. I love reading your reviews. Hurry hurry. I am leaving on Nov 21st and I want to share you experience with my husband. We are so excited and reading them make me more anxious. Thanks for sharing.

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I sail on Destiny on 10/20 Eastern and am glad to hear the good news about her post dry dock. Can't wait to hear more.

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I can't wait. I love reading your reviews. Hurry hurry. I am leaving on Nov 21st and I want to share you experience with my husband. We are so excited and reading them make me more anxious. Thanks for sharing.

 

no worries - i'll have it all up in time for all 4 of you - including bases5, wrfe and wasii!

 

more tonight.

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no worries - i'll have it all up in time for all 4 of you - including bases5, wrfe and wasii!

 

more tonight.

 

.....for your scans. Just love to read the Capers to preplan my cruise!

 

:D

 

Bill

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Falkor,

 

You don't know how much I'm looking forward to your review. I love your writing style and cannot wait. We are booked on Destiny 6 weeks from now and am getting more and more excited; particularly after the line:

 

"I can affirm that as the ship stands and sails today, there need be no reason for alarm, only eager anticipation."

I can't wait to see the rest. Got it set for e-mail notification!

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..especially considering that I was also on this sailing and I want to know your opinion. I have yet to write my review because I am having a hard time putting all of my words into a short version for others to read. :confused:

 

And yes, I have cruised before. This was # 13 for my husband and I.

 

So, let's hear it!

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(2) DRY DOCK RENOVATIONS

Alright – so this topic in particular has been the buzz of these boards for months now, since we all first realized that Destiny was slotted for her early September dry-dock, so let’s start there. We all asked, ‘dry dock, what’s that mean… exactly?’. There were a lot of hopes and even more speculation, but it has remained the great unknown. Until now.

First, let’s put it into perspective. A dry-dock renovation, sounds like quite the ordeal – if only for taking the boat out of the water. Sure, a lot of less than common r/m (repair and maintenance) and some upgrades definitely happen in this, one of the few times the ship isn’t crawling with passengers. But really, this is a regular practice and most ships are dry-docked every two years, mostly for repainting of the lower hull (only possible in dry dock, or rather, out of the water). On that note, here’s a picture of exactly that. I want to credit member Aim1 for this photo (it’s just so cool) and there’s a link to her, very interesting, thread below the photo.

 

destiny-bottom.jpg

Aim1's thread here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=856794

 

Now while still on that topic right there – painting – I’ll offer one of things that did NOT happen in dry-dock. Full exterior painting. That’s obvious. The ships outer, and mostly lower hull, do indeed in places show their age, with some visible rust – nothing major. But who cares? You see the exterior paint job of the ship when you get on and off. I will add that not anywhere in the interior spaces, or accessible exterior spaces (once on the ship) will you see any bit of it. I can’t really even imagine how this could bother me. And I guarantee you, when pulling into port, the Jamaicans or anyone else don’t say among themselves ‘oh here comes that destiny – she’s not newly painted’. They hear a faint ‘ka-ching’.

Another one of the major renovations that you’ll never even notice is what’s behind the walls and under our decks. I toured the bridge with the captain (TIP! YOU CAN ASK TO DO THIS AT THE PURSER’S DESK, THOUGH ASKING THE CAPTAIN AT HIS RECEPTION IS – WELL, A LOT MORE COOL), and he explained that a lot of the dry-dock renovations were mechanical in nature. That’s the ship’s systems – engines & propulsion systems, electrical, plumbing, delivery systems (like HVAC) and computer and systems hardware.

So anyhow, all dry-dock renovation projects are not created equal. Just because Carnival has embarked on the ‘evolutions of fun’ program for the Fantasy class ships does not mean that the destiny, triumph or liberty are all due (or gonna get) the Carnival water works. Quite frankly, I don’t even know where they’d put it. So, on that note, for anybody wondering, this is a recent picture of the Destiny’s water slide / pool area. It hasn’t changed. But, so what? An eight year old in my party surely did not know the difference, and had a blast riding the same (already still very fun) water slide.

destiny-slide.jpg

 

Moving on, Destiny was also benefit of Carnival’s Seaside Theatre, installed on the lido deck above the pool. It’s an about 300 square foot screen, and plays any number of different programs through the course of the day. Quite frankly, I never paid much attention unless I was walking by for but a moment, so I can’t offer much insight into its programming. I’ve read that there’s CNN news in the mornings, in the afternoons while events are going on, they broadcast the events live to it, and I also noticed a few movies being played, along with music videos. I can understand the allure of watching a movie by the sea and under the stars, but frankly while on a cruise my highest priority isn’t watching a big television. I can do that at home.

Now for the greatest actual structural renovation the ship received. Let me just say, that anybody having booked the ocean view family staterooms with floor to ceiling windows on the spa deck, cabins 1001-1018 really made out well. With luck like this, screw the ‘upgrade fairy’. Ahem. To clarify, all staterooms on the spa deck were converted to balcony cabins. Take a look at the before and after floorplans:

 

 

 

spa-b4-after.gif

If there’s still any doubt, take a look at a picture of Destiny docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica taken on Monday, September 29. You can clearly see 8 little ‘bays’ or ‘indentations’ (or BALCONIES) just behind the windows on the spa deck, left of the waterslides and below the Doppler radar golf balls:

 

destiny-exterior-from-ocho.jpg

 

So, congratulations to all of you booked on the Spa Deck already… That’s a mighty fine upgrade right there.

Now, for some other things that the rest of us can enjoy… These are some of the less glamorous upgrades the Destiny received while in dry dock:

1. Deck boards in the pool areas / lido deck were replaced (and I suspect a few other places from what I saw

2. Typical fit and finish items throughout the common areas – new paint, tile work, and general repair and maintenance to these areas

3. Some cabins were upgraded, but not all. Some have new carpet, new bathrooms, new televisions, etc. and some do not. I did notice LCD TVs in the deck 7 suites, but I don’t even know if these were new, and I know they’re not everywhere.

Overall the ship is in good shape aesthetically / cosmetically. I did not notice any significant repair or maintenance work, or anything that really needed it. The ship is kept incredibly clean – it’s a lot like Disney World in that manner – I think a piece of trash’s life span on this ship must not exceed 3 or 4 minutes, people are always walking around to ensure this.

Some people will say that the décor seems a little dated, but I’d say that it’s just as off-the-wall, crazy, colorful, garish, and zany as it was to begin with, or as any other Carnival ship. Let’s be realistic here – neither the Destiny nor any other ship in the fleet is a Queen Mary 2 (QM2) – it’s really not comparable. And while I am not really a fan of the Joe Farcus aesthetic, but I also don’t go on a cruise to marvel at the décor – I’d got to Europe or, well, almost anywhere else if that were my intent.

While on this topic of the fit and finish of the ship, and these renovations, I’ll offer the single other point (besides exterior paint) that was less than stellar. There were, at some times, some problems with the elevators. It was never a major problem, and I was always able to catch an alternate if needed, but in the interest of full disclosure – yeah, some of the elevators had problems at times. Sure didn’t bother me.

So, that’s the end of the ‘dry-dock section’… Now, on to my cruise… :cool:

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(3) THE BEGINNING

I don’t really want to or think it relevant to go into much detail regarding my ‘pre-cruise’ happenings – because well, why do you care? Yours are sure to be different than mine.

So I’ll keep it brief. I had an early (7.40AM) flight out of Houston to Miami. I thought it’d be a good idea to stay up all night so I could be SURE I’d be there on time (I am NOT a morning person) – well, that didn’t work. I slept through my flight, and 73 phone calls from my party. Thankfully, Continental allowed me to re-schedule to the next flight (10.30AM) FREE of charge, as they extended this to all Houston area residents given all the crap Hurricane Ike brought. Kudos Continental. I got on the plane and arrived in Miami at about 1.30PM, almost half an hour early, at the same time as other members of my party. We got our bags and went to find the Carnival transfer.

Here’s where it becomes relevant to the rest of you. The Carnival transfer representatives will meet you near the baggage claim (based on when your flight comes in) and bring you to a little area somewhere near baggage claim #20. It’s nothing special. There’s chairs against the wall in a less-trafficked area by a door to the outside, and they separate people by which boat they’re going on. Don’t expect some sort of ‘lounge’ or anything like that – it’s nothing if it’s not mundane. Waited there for about 20 minutes until other people were gathered, and then went outside to a charter bus (again, nothing special). We waited to leave the airport until after 3.00PM (after the official ‘boarding time’, but it was OK, I figured it was on them at that point). The drive to the port took about 20 minutes through Miami, mostly due to a good deal of traffic.

We rolled up to the port, porters took any baggage to be checked (and made it clear that this would be the last time you saw him, so if you’d like to tip him, pony up), and we entered the terminal. They checked your ID and boarding documents as you walked in, and then on to security. It’s just like an airport, put your bags through the xray, walk through a metal detector, and you’re off. Then up to the second floor.

Let me make it clear – we didn’t arrive at the terminal until about 3.30PM – and know what? It was glorious. I understand the benefits to arriving earlier, but when you come a bit later, there were absolutely no lines. Then up to the desk to verify immigration documents (passports, birth certificates, photo ids and the like) and register credit cards to the S&S accounts via a physical swipe… That took all of 5 minutes, then it was off to the ship. Grand total: 10-15 minutes.

A short, brisk walk across the gangway, and we were in the lobby / rotunda. Everybody had to have the quick picture to be assigned to the S&S card, then we were free, and greeted by the soaring rotunda, and glass elevators.

 

destiny-rotunda-elevators.jpg

 

None of my party had every been aboard this ship before, but knowing how laboriously I researched this cruise (the deck plans, these boards, carnival site, etc.) everybody turned and looked at me, and said ‘alright, where do we go’. I stopped, looked around, and said ‘follow me’. Quickly, we navigated the rotunda, made it to the cabin in a few minutes’ time and dropped the bags off.

And that’s where I found…

::drum roll please::

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

 

(4) DESTINY CAPERS – 9/27/2008, LET THE FUN BEGIN!

 

I don’t think these need much explanation! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you… The first Carnival Destiny Capers I came across! Take a look:

 

 

01-09-27-08-A.jpg

01-09-27-08-B.jpg

 

01-09-27-08-C.jpg

 

 

 

01-09-27-08-D.jpg

 

Enjoy! More to come…

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Great review so far and the posting of the Capers are the BEST I have ever seen. No need to squint to try to see what they say.

 

Looking forward to more!

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This review is giving me a warm feeling in my tummy. Today marks exactly 3 weeks until we leave for vacation. I was not that excited, but today, after reading this, its building. I think I am going to explode. How do they expect me to work under such pressure?:o

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This review is giving me a warm feeling in my tummy. Today marks exactly 3 weeks until we leave for vacation. I was not that excited, but today, after reading this, its building. I think I am going to explode. How do they expect me to work under such pressure?:o

 

Um,,, get one of those regulators you see on a pressure cooker and put it on your head? :D

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Absolutely wonderful review! And thanks for the Capers!

 

So looking forward to more!!!

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.....MORE CAPERS PLEASE!

 

Just kidding. I only have 38 more days to plan for my cruise and I nnneeeeeeddd those Capers!

 

:rolleyes:

 

wasiii

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Great post. DH and I will have the pleasure of sailing on her in November.....my birthday present. I enjoy reading all of your posts and I am looking for more!!

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Love the Review.................Did they really take the sauna and hot tubs out of the spa area? So did they move them to another location, or do away with them all together?:(

 

Also......the Carnival deck plans show 3-4 bars/lounges on the Promenade deck way in the back.......The Point After, The Criighiton lounge, and one other.....all close together, but the capers you posted doesn't list any of these. It has the other bars on the Lido, Promenade, etc. and the times that they are open. I'm wondering if they combined all 3 to make one big lounge during the dry dock.

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Love the Review.................Did they really take the sauna and hot tubs out of the spa area?

 

Also......the Carnival deck plans show 3-4 bars/lounges on the Promenade deck way in the back.......The Point After, The Criighiton lounge, and one other.....all close together, but the capers you posted doesn't list any of these. It has the other bars on the Lido, Promenade, etc. and the times that they are open. I'm wondering if they combined all 3 to make one big lounge during the dry dock.

 

if you take a look at the deck plans, it does look like they replaced the hot tubs out of the spa area, though if i'm not mistaken the steam and sauna rooms are still in place. i never went to the spa so i can't share much info in that regard.

 

regarding the bars on the promenade deck - there are actually 5 at the rear of the ship. the point after dance club (disco), cheers wine bar, the downbeat lounge, the criterion lounge, and the apollo (piano) bar. and they're definitely all still there.

 

the capers i posted (music and dancing section) had: 'rockin music' at criterion lounge, sing-a-long piano music at the apollo bar, funship karaoke at the downbeat lounge, and dance music at the point after disco... cheers never really had ANYTHING going on there and i don't think i ever saw more than 4 people there.

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Great review so far!! Were you able to save any of the menus to post or can you tell us what is on the menu?? I am also anxious to hear which excursions you chose.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this!!:)

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Glad to hear the drydock horror stories are basically unfounded! Sounds like they now have all the kinks worked out - aside from a few elevator problems?

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Glad to hear the drydock horror stories are basically unfounded! Sounds like they now have all the kinks worked out - aside from a few elevator problems?

 

i'm sure the people on the ship just before and after might have a few legitimate claims to make, but not those of us on the second cruise. at least as far as i am concerned. so an elevator or two weren't working at some time... the others were! and it's not like any single elevator didn't ever work - just some isolated outages... so what.

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(5) ORIENTATION, GETTING SETTLED IN

So, where did I leave off? I had boarded the ship, found the way to my room in a couple minutes, then found the CAPERS (and then subsequently posted them – see above). That’s right.

Here’s where I’m going to weave in and out of the chronology of this review (and I will continue to for the rest of this entire review). I could tell you that I dropped my bags, did some light unpacking, took a look around the room, counted how many outlets there were (3), got / made my first drink, met the room steward and had to wait around for about 15 minutes, reading the capers, until the muster drill. I’ll write about some of that later.

Instead, let’s consider this a tour of the ship, and I’ll throw in any information that I picked up about these places – at ANY time, during the course of my cruise. I’ll start out chronologically – like with a stop at the muster drill, purser’s desk, maitre d, and lobby bar – but I sure didn’t go right from the purser’s desk to every lounge I’d visit in one stride. But I know that you want to know more about stuff like that, than what drawer I put my socks in.

We boarded pretty late, as previously mentioned, so the muster drill snuck right up on us. As we were walking to the room, people had their life vests on and seemed confused – all over the place! A little discomforting, when you first board a boat, I thought! The laugh aside, shortly after boarding, we grabbed our life vests, evacuated to the muster drill section (A), and took a few choice pictures. It was pretty quick (because I think we were some of the last to arrive), but it seemed somewhat less than organized. Difficult to hear at times, and I think it could have been over a little more quickly. But whatever. Done.

After dropping the vests in the room, it was a quick trek back to the flagship / lobby bar in the rotunda. It’s nice enough – mostly benefit of its location. It’s a great place for people watching, especially as adventurous people are circumnavigating the ship on that first day to acclimate themselves, a stellar choice for a first drink. Through the course of the cruise, there was most often live music – mostly piano or guitar and vocals… A nice stop, but I wouldn’t spend my night here. Great for an ‘on the way’ drink though, at any time. I seemed to end up here at least once a day, though for very brief periods of time, and always on the way to somewhere else. It just never seems to be quite the destination, unless just for the novelty of it, like on the first night. And entertainment and ambience in alternate venues (such as the piano bar) was typically superior, though that’s hit or miss at… the karaoke bar!

Returned with the receipt for my first charge at the lobby / flagship bar, I got a little note saying there was a problem with my S&S account… How convenient, or so I thought. It was right across the room (see what I’m talking about the on-the-way convenience?)… The purser’s desk seemed to be about as hit or miss as the karaoke onboard. Quick summary – there were problems with our s&s cards linked to credit cards (it seemed because we were linked bookings) – we had to make about 5 trips to get it straight. One problem resolved, back to atrium bar, and then the other persons’ card would kick off… Service was spotty. One staff member first tried to fix it, then said if it didn’t work, come right back to her (and not wait in line). We returned, but waited in line – because we weren’t really comfortable cutting a short line – she seemed shocked ‘you waited in line?!@’. Anyhow, she ‘fixed it’ again… Back to the atrium bar, another little notice. This time, one member of our party approached the desk (ahead of the (at this time long) line, as instructed) and was scolded by a (new) staff member there. That, and the next return trip to FINALLY fix it, were the lowest level of experience we received for the whole cruise. So very frustrating, actually. But enough of that, back to the atrium bar – and finally our cards worked.

Next, although our boarding documents initially said 5.45PM dinner, but we had confirmation for a change to 8.00PM and our funpass documents said that, our S&S cards said 6PM. A quick talk with the (funny and charismatic German) maitre d at the galaxy dining room, our reservation was switched to… 8.15PM. They really need to sort this dinner time thing out. Anyhow, nothing but simple and the maitre d cracked some pretty good jokes. For the record, there are four seatings for dinner – at TWO times – 6.00PM and 8.15PM. There is no 5.45, 6.00, 8.00, 8.15 anymore. Though I saw every single one of those on some carnival document! Each dining room (universe and galaxy) have two seatings, one each at 6.00 and 8.15PM.

From here forward, I’ll talk about some of the places I stopped, and the few I stayed, through the course of the cruise while ON THE SHIP. Seems as good a time as any to post the next set of CAPERS, don’t you? Here’s a look at what was going on during the first ‘fun day at sea’ aboard Destiny.

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(6) DESTINY CAPERS – 9/28/2008, (FIRST) FUN DAY AT SEA!

Here are the capers for the first fun day at sea, incidentally also formal night.

02-09-28-08-A.jpg

 

 

02-09-28-08-B.jpg

 

 

02-09-28-08-C.jpg

 

 

02-09-28-08-D.jpg

 

 

Everyone was out to party on this second night of the cruise and it was a lot of fun – so moving on, I’ll cover the bars / lounges / entertainment, etc.

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This is so terrific! You're really getting me excited for our Christmas cruise. Just wish you'd done our itinerary! How similar do you think the day at sea will be? Ours is the final day rather than the first.

 

You're a great writer! Keep it coming!

Thanks!

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This is so terrific! You're really getting me excited for our Christmas cruise. Just wish you'd done our itinerary! How similar do you think the day at sea will be? Ours is the final day rather than the first.

 

You're a great writer! Keep it coming!

Thanks!

 

I think the sea days (especially the last one, in your case) are bound to be rather similar.

 

I'd also bet that some of the activities, etc. from first sea day on my itinerary, will happen on your first day or first port day...

 

Some stuff like the hairy chest contest (on my first sea day) are guaranteed to pop up, even though the schedules are not exactly concurrent.

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I really appreciate everything that you are doing!!!! Thanks so much for all the capers and the great detail that you are putting into your review!

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falkcor--Did you go to the past guest party? If so, what night was it? Thanks so much for the reviews and capers. You are helping me get through the next 5 months. :)

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

 

(7) BARS & LOUNGES – THE APOLLO (PIANO) BAR – MY FAVORITE

 

So according to the capers, the second day was supposed to be a ‘fun day at sea’ – and man was it ever. It seems that waking up on a cruise ship powering through the seas at full speed (we were speeding at 21+ knots toward Jamaica, to make up for time lost in late sailing the day before), has an effect on people – you realize you’re REALLY on vacation. It was also elegant night, so people were out and about looking for fun before our first port day in Ocho Rios.

 

Where to start… How about one of the most popular carnival establishments, the piano bar. It’s kind of funny, this almost qualifies as a dry-dock renovation – because after shifting home ports and a few weeks out of the water, there are some inevitable crew changes. Some of the first questions are always ‘who’s the new cruise director’, followed immediately by ‘who’s the new piano player?’.

 

For those inquiring minds that want to know, the new piano player in the Apollo (piano) Bar is Martin Kaye, a charismatic and incredibly entertaining chap from Manchester. If I’m not mistaken, this was actually his first cruise (9/27/08-10/02/08) on the Destiny. We really discovered his talent and the piano bar on this first sea day, and dutifully returned every night, and would settle in until close. I had visited everywhere else on the promenade deck (our evening home), and decided this was the venue of highest caliber – the best entertainment, best groups of people, and definitely without question the most fun.

 

Martin’s great – he has an incredible demeanor and voice, and even greater talent. He would grace us each night with some of his own original compositions (which were all great) – I think his favorite, or at least most played, is ‘about you’, also the name of his CD (available for purchase for 20.00). The last night, I purchased a CD – it’s a tip with a benefit, and a great souvenir for the great times I had in this bar. If you’re interested, check out his web site – there are a few clips of his original compositions:

 

http://www.martin-k.com/

 

And here’s a link to some of his original compositions:

 

http://www.martin-k.com/clips2

 

I guarantee you that he’ll be impressed if you come in and request some of his songs. And you won’t be disappointed. Some of the clips are a little short on his site, I can attest – they’re actually longer. Check out a minute of ‘about you’ here:

 

http://www.martin-k.com/Media/about%20you.mp3

 

Like I said – he’s quite the entertainer. He’ll jump up on the piano, play the air guitar and sing to requested songs, and ad lib with guests all night. He knows a good deal of songs that everybody else in the room does, which makes for great sing-a-longs. He’d pit the guys against the gals, to see who could sing the loudest, which was always a lot of fun – even when the gals cheated by singing into the mic, we still won. Very fun.

 

Some of the favorites were: Rocketman, Candle in the Wind, Hotel California, We are the Champions, Brown Eyed Girl, Layla, Sweet Caroline, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Nightengale, and Piano man (of course). Though I’ll note – this must be the most requested song, and if he’s already played it, he can be a little testy – I swear he doesn’t like the song. One night, we tipped him 30 dollars to play Piano man (again), and learn a new song for me. That’s a TIP in itself – he can get lyrics to any song you want, but I definitely recommend asking nicely and a tip.

 

In short, Martin and the Apollo (piano) Bar made my cruise. We’d settle in every night, with some other regulars, all really great and fun people. He even started announcing our entrance ‘yeaaaah, my boys are here!’. So much fun. Here’s a pic of Martin, from my seat at the bar around the piano on the last night…

 

Just a preface. Drink service in the piano bar is strictly via the bar waitresses – there is no physical bar with service in the Apollo bar, and they have last call for drink service earlier than the bar or Martin shut down… So, for the picture – they said last call, and I obliged:

 

last-call.jpg

 

Yeah, that’s crazy isn’t it? Well, I realized that Martin would play for at least an hour after they stopped drink service in the piano bar, as long as he was enjoying himself (and he was, he admitted it). So think ahead!

On the topic of thinking ahead,Martin has a fish bowl in the middle of the piano – take plenty of singles. I’ve tried crumpling them up, making them into paper airplanes and the like – but if you make it in, you get to request a song… And for you single women out there, you might be able to get a kiss out of the piano man if you make it in. And for the men out there – you can always say the person next to you got it in! LOL

Here’s an apropos excerpt from one of Martin’s songs – track 6 on the CD, ‘Reach my Goal’:

Stuck in a moment, and I can’t get out

I’m goin’ no where, and my mind’s in doubt

So many places that I want to see,

I’m holding back my life from me

There are walls that keep me from my dreams

There’s a life that’s waiting there for me

Deep inside I know I still believe

I will reach my goal,

I will take control

I will reach my goal,

I will never ever let go

Just when I’m feeling that I can’t go on

Life turns a corner and my fears are gone

It’s getting started, things are happening

And now, I know my DESTINY

You can never tell where you may go

If it’s right the light will let you know

It was distant, now it feels so close

So that’s enough of the piano bar… And for those that want to know – smoking is allowed in the piano bar (I’ll mention that, as I know inquiring minds want to know). Moving on, a few tips and tricks I picked up before we visit the rest of the bars / lounges aboard…

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Destiny – Post D-D 9/27-10/2/08 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman – Review & Capers

(8) BARS & LOUNGES – A FEW TIPS

So here’s a few tips that I picked up through the course of the cruise, having visited… Well, every establishment with the exception of the Onyx Bar (it was in an off-the-path location, and the idea of a cigar bar did not appeal to me)… Here’s my response to some of the most-asked questions about bar service on ship, and a few of my own observations.

1) Ask for the BIG GLASS. Mixed drinks / cocktails come in little (I’d say 8-10 ounce) glasses, and ordering multiple refills / drinks can get old pretty quickly, especially if you’re staying in the same place. Like I said, mine was the piano bar, and bar waitress service can be intermittent when they get busy. The ‘BIG GLASS’ is a glass tumbler / big glass that is exactly twice the size of the small cocktail glasses – nobody will serve it in that glass (do not ask me why, I don’t understand) – so order two cocktails and the BIG GLASS – they’ll know what you’re talking about. See my pic from the piano bar above – the screwdriver (orange) far left is in the big glass with a straw. Now that’s a drink.

2) Those hurricane glasses – don’t sweat it. From what I can tell, they do not in any manner distinguish hurricane glasses on a per cruise basis. I saw clear, pink and yellow glasses through the course of the cruise, and often two at any given establishment.

3) Those hurricane glasses are the same as the ‘distinctive 15oz glass’ that the drinks of the day are served in.

4) Shop around – All bartenders are not created equal, and some yield notably stronger drinks than others. If you’re into that kind of thing.

5) Pick a bartender / bar waiter/waitress and stick with them – tip a few dollars through the course of the night (I typically tip at least 1-2 dollars every round) and you’ll find they’ll be on top of your every whim and watch out for when you need them.

6) Tip your bartender! A few dollars can go a long way. Let ‘em know you appreciate what they’re doing, and you might expect some stronger drinks as the night goes on.

7) If the bar / lounge you’re at isn’t serving, the one across the hall might be! – the hours of the various establishments vary, but don’t forget that there’s always something across the hall. I would sometimes go from the piano bar late night, and pick up drinks at the disco.

8) The bar open the latest, according to the casino staff, was always the bar at the lido deck – it’s typically open until 4AM.

9) Room service can bring you beer with your order – for a charge of course, but sometimes it’s just plain convenient.

10) Those drink tickets – i didn’t bother with them. i did some research – MAYBE you’ll save some money, but that’s not even guaranteed. lots of people report having to pay the balance of the drink value + gratuity vs. ticket face value – so if you have to pay for it and sign the S&S receipt anyway, what’s the point?

11) Put your s&s on a credit card, and when you get the final bill before debarkation, don't look, pack it, and worry about it later - what a bad note to end a vacation on . A few friends i made on the boat & hung out with every night put it well - 'we don't like to talk about how much we spent'. My sentiment, exactly.

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Great review so far!! Were you able to save any of the menus to post or can you tell us what is on the menu?? I am also anxious to hear which excursions you chose.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this!!:)

 

I didn't even think to take pictures of the menus or anything like that, but I'll offer some information regarding what I came across / ate.

 

And no worries, I will detail which excursions we took - because they were great!

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Thank you soo much! This is the itinerary that I am sailing on Dec 6, so reading about your cruise is wonderful!! I love hanging out at piano bars, but a new entertainer will be on board when I get there, I hope he is even half as good!!

 

I am waiting for the rest of your review!! You are doing a great job. I really like your common sense approach and you don't let the little things get to you! You realize you are on vacation!!! YAY!!

 

Terry

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