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Cruise Ship Review
Carnival Destiny
By
Jerry & Beth Reynolds

Carnival Destiny Thanksgiving SeaLetter Group
Eastern Caribbean Cruise
November 1997

Carnival Destiny

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 Sensation.

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 trip.

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 ship.


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: 72700.2735@compuserve.com.

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