By Jerry & Beth Reynolds
Carnival Destiny Thanksgiving SeaLetter Group
Eastern Caribbean Cruise
We booked our trip almost a year in advance. The good thing about that was we
got a great rate, the bad thing was we thought the day would never come for us
to sail. Beth is 36 and I am 50 and the following is our review of our
Thanksgiving 1997 cruise. We first cruised in February on Carnival's
On this cruise we went with a group of people that our travel agent, Sharon
Jackson, put together. There were 17 in the official group, 14 in a "side group",
and CompuServe Cruise Forum member Larry Campbell and his son were unofficial members.
Sharon and Bob Jackson had planned to go but were not able to at the last
minute so Vanisse Mascia became our crew captain. Since Sharon and Bob
couldn't actually be there they wanted to be with us in spirt. Well I should
say "Spirits" as Sharon hosted us all to a open bar party shortly after we got
on the ship. It was a great opportunity to meet everyone. Most of us were
assigned to two tables close to each other at the main seating but some of the
group opted for late seating and we didn't get to see them as much on our
I am getting a little ahead of myself. Beth and I along with Vanisse and
family arrived a day early and checked into the Sheraton Biscayne Bay Hotel.
The Hotel itself is overpriced but that is one of the hotels Carnival uses for
the pre-cruise package and that turned out to be a plus.
If you stay in a Carnival hotel, they have people come to the hotel on the
morning of your sailing and they do a Pre Check-in for you. This was great as
later that morning when we arrived at the dock we walked right past all the
lines of people and went directly to the second floor where we received our
sign and sail cards.
We had decided to carry all our luggage on. It was a bit of a hassle but we
wanted to get an early start on un-packing, especially since we had the Group
party to attend later in the evening. As it turned out that was a wasted
effort. Carnival did a great job of getting the bags on the ship early. Most
seemed to have their luggage outside their cabins before we sailed. That was
not what we experienced on Sensation.
Speaking of cabins, we loved ours. The balcony cabins are so much more
enjoyable. We loved sitting out there while reading or just watching things
go by. Having a balcony adds a whole new dimension to your sailing
experience. The cabins are a nice size even though the balcony space is
subtracted from the normal cabin size, not added to it. We really enjoyed
having the couch in the cabin. Carnival is famous for its generously sized
bathroom and shower. We also enjoyed quite a bit more storage space on Carnival Destiny as opposed to the standard Fantasy Class ships.
The Carnival Destiny is a huge ship (At present, the largest cruise ship in the world!) and was carrying around 3100 passengers and 1070 crew
members on our sailing. Even with this many people on board you have more
space per passenger than on the Fantasy Class ships. All service was as good
as if not better on Carnival Destiny then it was on Sensation. Carnival has done a
very good job of planning and preparing to handle the large number of patrons.
The ship is so large and so poorly laid out I don't think we ever found all
the public rooms on board. Carnival Destiny has the same short fall that others have described on other Carnival ships - the central dining room disrupts all
sensible traffic flow through the ship because you cannot walk from one dining room to the other on the same deck. It is worse on Carnival Destiny because the flow is
disrupted on two levels since the dining rooms are two levels high on this
Carnival Destiny Promenade Deck
Carnival has made a major improvement in the map they give you when you come
on board. This one will fold up to fit in your shirt pocket quite nicely.
Guard this map with your life, your are going to need it over and over again.
Carnival Destiny celebrated it's first birthday while we were on board so I don't need
to say much about the repair of the ship. It is excellent and still looks new
in most all areas. The interior decorating of this ship is much more subdued
than the Fantasy class ships, Beth and I found the decor quite pleasing, with
lots of modern art and paintings around the ship instead of blazing neon
everywhere like other Carnival Ships tend to display.
The extended service dining on the Lido deck area was well received by all we
talked to and with 500 kids on board it was a busy place. In addition to the
24 hour Pizza area they have added Chinese and Italian Food areas to what had
been the standard Lido deck fare on other Carnival ships. They also have a
separate Grill area inside at the rear of the ship besides the two normal Lido
deck grills. In addition to all this they have the two buffet lines inside
the Sun and Sea two level dining area.
One negative comment heard about the extended dining experience was that the
Chinese and Italian serving areas were not open during the evening, only
during lunch. If Carnival really wants to offer extended dinning service they
need to have these open to the folks that don't want to go to the main dining
rooms in the evenings.
Others have commented about the high quantity of cigarette smoke they experienced on their Carnival
sailings. Neither Beth or I smoke and we did not notice a lot of smoking on
Sensation nor did we notice it on Carnival Destiny and we were paying attention while
on Carnival Destiny due to the comments mentioned. I do not know why it would differ
so much from sailing to sailing but it must. We have just been lucky I guess.
On that same subject there was a lot of talk about the new non-smoking ship to
be introduced by Carnival. (Ed: Paradise is due to debut in the Fall of 1998) By far the large majority of people on our cruise
were appreciative of that effort and applauded loudly every time the new
feature was mentioned. If our passenger complement was any example, this is
going to be a very popular ship.
The dining experience on Carnival is enjoyable. The thing that often
separates a Five Star restaurant from a Four Star is their soups, pastries and
desserts. The enigma of Carnival is those three items are as good as you will
ever experience anywhere but the entrees are just "good". I don't think I
have ever run into that anywhere else. Our service was very good from our
waiter (15 years with Carnival) and the bus boy did a good job but not
excellent. We tasted a much wider variety of entrees this time then on
Sensation (Vanisse made us do it!), and Carnival does have some intriguing items
on the menu.
The waiters do the same songs on every Carnival ship and even though this was
only our second cruise we were already bored with it. Heaven help the couple
that cruised with us and said they were on their 17th Carnival cruise. Same
goes for the repetitious Cruise Director jokes and skits.
The Entertainment was very good. Part of the credit goes to what I
would consider an exceptional dance troupe, some of whom have been on Carnival Destiny
since it first sailed. The biggest credit has to go to the state-of-the-art
production facilities of the magnificent three level Palladium Show Lounge.
The show you see the first formal night is the match of any in Las Vegas and
it has spectacular lighting, lasers and sound. Don't miss this show!
The other entertainment was good also. They had a couple of comedians, a
magician and a juggling act as well as another Carnival production number on the
second formal night. They of course had the passenger talent show too. What cruise
would be complete without amateur night?
I am not going to describe the ship itself, any further than I already have,
as there are good number of pictures available of the ship here in the SeaLetter and the Carnival
catalog gives you a good idea of the layout. I have pictures of almost every
part of the ship (I took over 400 digital images) and a few are included in this article.
I am also not going to expound on the Ports-of-Call or the excursions since
those too are covered in the Ports of Call section here and in other reviews.
On the Eastern Itinerary that Carnival Destiny does every other week we stop at San
Juan, St Croix and St Thomas. One note that we heard over and over about San
Juan, "Why Bother!" You get to San Juan at 6pm, and by the time you get off
the ship everything in town is closed. It is dark so you can't go sight
seeing. This stop, at this hour, is a total waste of time.
Trunk Bay, St. John
The dis-embarking went almost as well as the embarking. Those of us with
early flights were allowed to get off the ship first and we were off the ship
and in a Taxi by 9:15am. I tried to take a picture of the monstrous warehouse
that they put your luggage in as it is an amazing sight and somewhat
frightening when you first see a warehouse with over 10,000 pieces of luggage
spread across its floor and you are told to try to find yours, if you can. I
didn't even get my camera to my face before my hands were slapped and I was
told that Customs would not allow any pictures. Well I tried.
Our second Carnival experience was our best one yet. We loved Carnival Destiny and we
loved our balcony cabin. There is always lots to do on a Carnival cruise or
plenty of time to just lay in the sun, whatever is your choice. Beth and
I have done the Eastern itinerary twice now. Our next cruise will be a
different itinerary and a different cruise line as we try to broaden our
experience level. We heartily recommend Carnival Destiny to you if you like an active
ship and active cruisers as your companions.
Photographs of the Carnival Destiny sailing from Miami and the balcony cabin by Andy Newman of Carnival Cruise Lines. Other photographs in this article are by Jerry Reynolds.
Jerry & Beth Reynolds were married aboard Carnival's Sensation in February of 1997. This was their second cruise but will NOT be their last. They can be reached for questions or comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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