I want to start by saying there is nothing wrong with Carnival Destiny but I would rank it as a 3 star ship, nothing fancy, but good enough! They are missing some of the little extras that we saw on Royal Caribbean such as fruit carvings, the grandness of the dining room, the art available in the hallways and stairwells and that sort of thing. Nothing that would lessen your experience, just not as fancy.
ROOM - We upgraded to a suite from our standard balcony room (cost about $500 for the 5 nights) and it was worth every penny. We had priority check-in which resulted in no lines for us even though the regular line was wrapped around the building. That alone was worth the money. The room is also significantly larger. We were travelling with our 2 and 4 year olds and we had plenty of room for them to play in the cabin and the deck was big enough for everyone to sit on.
FOOD - the food was good. I would say it is about the same quality that you would get at a More
Dennys restaurant. The food in the main dining room is the same as what they serve on the buffet line and the presentation lacks a little. The food schedule is a little strange. There was a buffet line that served things like hot dogs and hamburgers that closed at 6pm so if you have a picky eater, you need to get there before it closes or they will have to eat of the main buffet line. There was only one formal night on our cruise and we noticed that most people were not really dressed up. Lots of golf shirts and sun dresses in the dining room. In fact, most people thought my husband worked there because he was in a suit!!
GRATUITIES - as with all cruises, this is a big part of it. Carnival will automatically charge your credit card so do not give a tip to a specific person unless you want to tip above their recommended tip.
SHOPPING - if you plan on buying jewellry while on the cruise, make sure you know your prices before you go. I just bought a 14K white gold pendent with blue and white diamonds. The list price on it was $1020 (no chain included). They offered me $577 and then $465 for the pendent which I jumped at. I see a very similar pendent for $399 with a gold chain on-line, so it probably was not a great deal! On the same note, I bought a tanzanite ring a few years ago that was appraised at 50% more than I paid. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose! Beware that if you buy alcohol on shore, they will take it from you when you come back on ship and store it until the end of the cruise. If you buy something special that you want to enjoy on the cruise, you can pay a fee to bring it on board (it turns out costing the same as if you bought the drinks on board from them). There is no way to get cheaper drinks onboard!
SPA - the spa is great. It is a little old and out dated (getting a face-lift in 2013), but the staff is amazing. The treatments get cheaper as the week goes on. You can great deals on the last day. For example, on the first night, I paid $199 for a ginger and lime salt scrub with a full body massage. The same treatment was offered on the last night for $129 and it came with a scalp massage and hot stone massage on your back. Of course, you run the risk of not getting in if you wait to long, but I have to say I had no trouble booking on any of the days we were there.
ENTERTAINMENT - there are nightly shows that are your standard cruise ship entertainment. The casino is full of the same games you find in Las Vegas. They are mostly $0.01 and $0.02 machines that do not pay out much, but they are fun!
CAMP CARNIVAL - this is the most amazing service they offer on board. We could not get our kids out of there. They have some free play times (usually in the morning) but the rest is scheduled activities that kids love. They have some strange hours as well, for example, on the day at sea they close at 4pm and reopen at 7pm. You can make arrangements to have your kids eat with them at 6pm, but there is no service from 4pm-6pm. For us, it made it difficult to get to our 6pm dinner if we wanted to go without the kids. We did not look into how they operate for meal times when you are on shore, but there must be some way to leave your kids there for the day. If you have little kids, they give you a cell phone that you have to carry when your kids are there so they can get in touch with you if they need to. There is also an opportunity to let your kids stay past the 10pm closing time at a cosst of $6.75/hr until midnight (it goes later for the older kids).
INTERNET - there are Wi-Fi services on the ship. You can pay as you go or buy a package. We bought 120 minutes for $60, so it is expensive. We had problems with it not working in some ports, but no problems at all at sea. There is an internet cafe there to use if you do not have your own computer. Less
You are docked here and it takes less then 5 minutes to get from your ship to the beach/shopping area. There is limited shopping available (mostly jewellry stores). The Margarittaville is a lot of fun. The beach is amazing. The sand is about 6-8 inches deep and soft as powder.
What a beautiful beach! You have to take a tender to the island but it flows very smoothly. Of course there are busy times with long waits, but if you go a little later and come back early, you should be able to walk right onto the boat. There are rentals available (snorkels, floats, etc,) and you use your room card to pay for it. They have a limited number of shaded seating areas available for rent for $20/day. These can be a life-saver on hot days. There is a little water park available for small kids and you can snorkel right off the beach.
You dock at this port and depending on your location on the dock, it can be quite a walk to get to shore (10-15 mimutes). It gets a little crowded going through the customs building but thins out once you are through....be patient! The beach is beautiful and is only a 15 mimnute walk away. The shopping is great and the people are wonderful!