I do not intend to "review" the Carnival Destiny. Linda Hahn, Vanisse Mascia, Maryann Novajosky and Doug Terhune have done a much better job of that elsewhere in this issue. In this editorial, I will fill in some of the "blanks," share a few anecdotes with you and thank a few very important people. I'm sure an "editorial opinion" or two will sneak in from time to time.
I wonder if some of you who have been reading for several months all of the SeaLetter Carnival Destiny Updates feel as I do at this moment: The Carnival Destiny has just - December 1, 1996 - returned from her maiden Inaugural cruise and yet I feel as if this issue marks the "end" of a pleasant dream, rather than the beginning of the world's largest cruise ship's cruising life. After months of tracking the construction of the Carnival Destiny and reading the press releases from Tim Gallagher and Jennifer de la Cruz, probably two of the most talented public relations executives I have ever run across, I felt as if I knew this ship before I ever set foot on board on November 21, 1996. As I toured the ship, I felt a sense of deja vu - No, I had never been on board this magnificent ship, but I had spent hours editing and reading about the Sun and Sea Restaurant and all of the open-deck vacation fun space and activities in the August update; the Nautica Spa and Palladium Theatre in the September update; the extensive contemporary Art Collection in the October update and finally the delivery to her proud parents and the naming ceremonies of the Carnival Destiny in Venice, Italy in the November update.
On Thursday afternoon, November 21, 1996, all of Jennifer's and Tim's words came alive as I wandered from place to place (and there are a whole lot of "places" to wander on this ship!). The Lido and Sun decks with the 214-foot-long Slide were just as I had imagined them. The colors in the Sun and Sea Restaurant were just as described in the press release. The Nautica Spa and Palladium Theatre were just as reported. And I couldn't resist touching several of the oval glass murals along Destiny Way created by Luciano Vistosi. These large oval hanging "sculptures" probably intrigued me more than anything else on the ship.
The people of the Carnival Destiny also intrigued me. Early Friday morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee all alone on the second level of the Sun and Sea Restaurant, gazing at the ocean out of huge windows. A waiter by the name of Dalisma came over to see if I needed anything and we began to chat. Dalisma is from Haiti and has been with Carnival Cruise Lines for over 13 years. I had heard many times that Carnival employees are a very happy group. They believe they are treated well by Carnival. Dalisma confirmed this telling me about many of his "friends" who had left Carnival in the past for another cruise line, only to try desperately to come back to work for Carnival. He himself had never been tempted to leave saying, "I see they all want to come back, so why should I leave in the first place?" This is probably one of the most logical comments I've heard in a long time! Dalisma works a "typical contract" - 6 months "on" followed by 2 months "off" to visit his family in Haiti.
Dalisma filled me in on many things - most of this initial Carnival Destiny staff is made up of experienced Carnival employees who joined the ship in Venice in October. Dalisma himself came from the Imagination. During the 12 day Atlantic crossing from Venice to Boston, Carnival held a training "school" on board for new employees - mostly bar waiters and waitresses. From the service we received on board, these folks took to their training quite well. Dalisma said that most of the Carnival training "schools" are held on-board the cruise ships, and over the past several years, I personally can attest to the fact that the schools are paying off. In fact, the food quality and selection and the overall service on Carnival ships has improved dramatically. Compared to my 1994 cruise aboard the Fascination, I found the overall service to be much friendlier and much more efficient and found especially that the quality of the breakfast and lunch buffets, and the salad "fixins" were up there with the best of them!
By the way, Dalisma loved Venice! He was especially impressed by the fact that there were just "buildings and water" everywhere. No roads, no cars - not even bicycles. He also told me that his cabin accommodations on the Carnival Destiny were greatly improved over the ships he worked on in the very early days of the Carnival fleet. He has one roommate and they have their own private bath in each cabin, whereas on the very first Carnival ships, the staff had to share "bathrooms down the hall". He also told me that the Carnival Destiny has 7 engines. I gather that that is a LOT of engines!
Alas, my time with Dalisma was cut short when he was called off to speak French to a passenger who needed his help. C'est la vie!
A few other tidbits which may not be covered elsewhere: All cabins have safes (programmable with your room key cards), hair dryers and HUGE medicine cabinets. The ocean view and "standard inside" handicapped cabins are quite roomy with handrails and shower seats in the bathrooms. The toilet seats did not appear to be "raised", however. There are about 5 inside "non-standard" handicapped cabins - see #7294 on the Empress Deck - which are smaller than the others. These cabins are much too small for wheelchair passengers and are butted up against elevator shafts which can keep folks awake at night.
How do I know so much about these cabins? Well, just in case you all might feel that I publicize Carnival in the SeaLetter because I get "special consideration" from them, think again. (grin) My cabin for the November 21st 2 day "preview" cruise to nowhere was #7294. I would be hard-pressed to tell you that this was something other than the "worst cabin on the ship". But, the old adage is just as true for my husband and me as for most folks - we spent hardly any time in the cabin! The elevators did keep Bob awake one night but my extremely exhausted state at the time managed to let me sleep like a baby, elevator shaft or no. A two-day "Cruise to Nowhere" was just what the doctor ordered. And, as I make it a point in my cruise travel business to keep up with accessibility on the various cruise lines and ships, I was actually glad that I was assigned this cabin. I can now tell all of my wheelchair customers to avoid these "5 cabins" and opt for the other standard inside and outside accessible cabins instead.
As you might guess, the Carnival Destiny glides through the ocean with hardly a "bump". The seas appeared to be a bit choppy, but you wouldn't know it on this ship. Looking down over the railing from the Sun Deck is a kick - I felt as if I could use some binoculars to see the "wavelets". When we sailed out of Biscayne Bay, folks on the Miami Beach highway across the way were stopping their cars, leaping out, taking pictures of us and waving like mad. On Friday, we came across Carnival's Sensation and Holland America's Westerdam who sailed along with us, flanked on either side for some time as we cruised towards Nassau. We stopped for awhile just off the coast of Nassau and I later found out we were "positioning" for a photo of the Carnival Destiny with the Sensation off her stern.
Speaking of photos, there is one gentleman in particular that we at The SeaLetter have come to respect and, if not "love", at least have "great like" for: Mr. Andy Newman. Virtually all of the Carnival Destiny photos we have been featuring since August were taken by and were sent to us by Andy. If I did nothing else on my two day cruise, I was going to somehow, some way meet and personally thank Andy Newman! Through the ingenious deductive reasoning of Maryann Novajosky, the deed was accomplished! On Friday afternoon, Maryann saw a fellow in shorts and a T-shirt with cameras draped all over him "hanging" from a ladder attempting to take a photo in the Nautica Spa.
Maryann: "Are you by chance Andy Newman?"
Above is the photo that Andy was taking when Maryann caught up with him. I believe Maryann got a shot of Andy's feet in the video *she* was taking at the time. (grin)
Many of us - Andy Newman and two of his fellow photographers, Jennifer de la Cruz, Maryann Novajosky, Dale Colsen, Bob Jackson and yours truly - spent a pleasant hour or so chatting in a sitting area along Destiny Way across from the casino. A lively discussion ensued about just how many video screens actually ARE in the Point After Dance Club. I think we settled on the number "567". Andy confirmed my suspicions that he had taken many of our published photos from a helicopter. How else could this ship be captured on film? You may be interested to know that when Andy develops his pictures, he uploads them to me and to other "press" already scanned in JPEG format. The Carnival Destiny sailed into New York harbor on the morning of November 11th and Andy had scanned JPEGS to me by 3:30 PM the same day. She arrived in Miami on November 19th and Andy had scanned JPEGS to me by early the morning of November 20th. She sailed away on her inaugural cruise at sunset on Sunday, November 24th and I had the beautiful photo you see on this month's cover by the morning of November 25th. The interior shots in this issue were sent on November 28th.
All of the update shots of the Carnival Destiny under construction - the Palladium, the Sun and Sea Restaurant, the Nautica Spa, the Ocean View Cabin with Balcony, the Fantail, the Slide, the Lido - were sent to us by Andy Newman. All of the exterior shots in this issue were sent to us over the past three weeks by Andy Newman. The interior and public area shots - the Slide, Cheers Bar, Point After Dance Club and the Rotunda - featured in the four "reviews" in this issue were sent to us by Andy Newman.
All of us at The SeaLetter owe a very huge debt to Andy Newman, as well as to Jennifer de la Cruz, Tim Gallagher and Vance Gulliksen. Because of these folks, our interest has been *peaked* for 5 months as we almost literally waited with bated breath for the debut of the world's largest cruise ship. They are all hereby appointed "SeaLetter Guardian Angels"!
To Mr. Bob Dickinson, President of Carnival Cruise Lines: "Give these folks a raise!" Oh, one other thing: I REALLY like those lion heads at the end of the stair rails!
at sunset on November 24, 1996 on her Inaugural Caribbean Cruise.
Photo by Andy Newman, of course!
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please