It's not the ship your on but the people your with that make your trip FUN!!!!
OK- couple of quick items:
(1) Let me apologize for just getting this review started. I promised I would do it and I have been working on it but LIFE has gotten in the way of actually gathering all my thoughts putting them into a word document and then getting them over to the forum.
(2) The views expressed are mine alone.
So let us begin with the Sunday prior to the cruise we arrived at Greater Buffalo Niagara International Airport (a short 7 minute ride from my home ?). We went with Southwest because they were the cheapest (my personal preference is Jetblue- you cannot beat the T.V.'s in the headrests).The 11 of us flying from B-lo arrived at the airport within 30 minutes of each other. Southwest flight went well-no issues. Once we arrived at Fort Lauderdale- QLS was already calling to state they were onsite. We grabbed our luggage with the ATL crew of 2 arriving right after this. They gathered their luggage ad off to the shuttle we went. QRS was great they pulled right up curbside, he loaded all our luggage into a trailer pulled behind the van and yes the van fit all 13 of us- 12 in back with 1 riding shoot gun upfront with the driver.
After a 45 minute drive from FLL to South Beach we arrived at the Wyndham Garden South Beach on Washington & 11th, 2 out of the four rooms were ready so we loaded our luggage into those rooms. We were told to come back in about 45 minutes and the Junior Suites should be ready. Both of the rooms that were ready were located in the building were the lobby was located-NOTE TO SELF- THE ELEVATOR IS OUT OF ORDER- our rooms were located on the 1st and 3rd floors. I of course opted to leave my luggage in the 1st floor room-since three floors of lugging up & down did not make me happy.
Since we had some time on our hands we decided to grab something to eat- 11th Street Diner of course ?. I had seen them showcased on Triple D with Guy and needed to try them out for my self-YUMMY. It was the last day of gay pride week we learned while sitting on the back patio people watching. Food was great, service was wonderful and for those that don't know your tip is automatically included at all the restaurants in South Beach-so unless you got a WOW above and beyond no need to tip extra just pay the bill.
Across the street from the Diner is a liquor store to purchase wine at- Tuto & Sons (has to be the smallest liquor store I have ever been in) Very crowded with a women standing outside letting in a few people at a time. We then walk down Washington to 5th Street-over one back to CVS for distilled water (one in our group has a CPAP machine). After that we take a nice walk back to the hotel- I found Dash Miami (the Kardashian Store) it's located right on Washington-didn't go inside just took a picture of the front of the store.
Back at the hotel the rooms are ready but we are 2 buildings over from the Lobby- Bel Aire, 2nd floor NO ELEVATOR. So up to the 1st & 3rd floors to retrieve luggage, over two buildings and up two flights to our rooms we go ? but once we got to the rooms I have to say it was OK- large spacious, renovated- HUGE bathrooms. Load the guys into one room, with the girls in another-made for an interesting night to say the least.
Now it's time to hit Ocean Drive. Wet Willies was our first destination-"Call a Cab"-ordered 13 everyone had to have one to celebrate DH's birthday the day before. Got two tables right at the front and people watched, creaked jokes and had fun. Then some had a second- I couldn't hand and taped out (but I did sip on DH's ?). Off to Mango's for some more drinks & dancing. If you enjoy Salsa then you must see- at least once- the dancers at Mangos ---OH what fun we had.
Now heading back to the rooms everyone decided to go back to the 11st Street Diner for a late night snack- I have to tell you service SUCKED this time!!! It took an hour for our food to arrive after it took 30 minutes for the guy to even take our order. I could have gone in the kitchen and made my own food faster and there were only 9 of us not 13 this time. And to top it off the place was empty. But I have to admit that burger was awesome-messy but oh so good!!
Time to get some sleep again the hotel is great-room large, bathroom large, no noise, clean, no bugs.
Tomorrow we board Destiny...............................................
Day Two- SOBE to POM Monday April 16, 2012
On Board Show- 10:15 Welcome Aboard Show- missed it
On Board Movie- The Sting & Dances with Wolves- missed them
On Board Comedians- no shows tonight they are part of the Welcome Aboard Show.
Karaoke -- Awesome 8:30pm- Late Criterion Lounge
Singles Party- 11:30 pm Point After Club (our single attended and thought it was fun)
Got up and of course ate breakfast at the 11th Street Diner-very good. Back to the hotel to finish repacking-moved my steam iron into the swimsuit suitcase since that didn't have any RR's. Rechecked the room to make sure we didn't leave anything --dragged our luggage back to the lobby, checked out and waited for QLS to pick us up. They were running late something about the ships came in late so people got off late, anyway shortly they arrived- same van from the day before, different driver-younger playing the music we danced to the night before- this was going to be a great trip --we could all feel it!!!
Off to POM we went short 10-15 minute drive, gave our bags to the porters-made sure we tipped as we wanted the bags to make it onboard (WINK, WINK). Went thru security, had my carryon search since I put all the large bottles into that as I didn't want my actual luggage searched-worked wonderfully ?.
No kiosk check-in for us. Two lines but it went fast, off for the first picture but since we all were not together anymore we took individual couple pictures and crossed to get on the ship- I of course jumped when I got to the end of the ramp- I've done it on NCL, Princess and now Carnival. We all waited for the rest of the party out on the deck so we could all DING as a group.
Since we arrived around 1 the rooms were ready once we boarded and being on the Lido deck we went straight there to drop our carry-ons and grab lunch. It was already crowded and yes the Buffet lines get crowded on this ship more than I have seen on others BUT you're on vacation, you didn't have to cook go earlier or later or suck it up and relax.
We found two tables near the Lido pool & bar (smoking side) and I have to admit we pretty much used these tables as our meeting & hang out place all cruise. Got my first DOD-good drink but need the glass more than anything else to make my future drinks in ?.
We all kept taking turns to go check and see if our luggage arrived- by sail away everyone had received their luggage with RR's- and yes 22 is excessive but we kept thinking there are 13 of us-we didn't come close to finishing all of them nor did we finish the 2 bottles I ordered from Bon Voyage or the beer I ordered for DH- we actually left two for our room steward. I used most of my drink coupons-except two, I'll save those for the next one. I had my stream iron taken, as well as another couple had their iron taken and it was in the same bag as 2 RR but those didn't get taken ?. We go the irons back on the morning of embarkation- DH laughed when we went in the room and saw all the liquor they had!
We had ATD- we all agreed for 7pm- no wait, they had our bookings linked so whenever anyone went up to the stand they asked if everyone was here. The table of 13 we asked for was actually a 10 & 5 very close to each other (we actually did 9 & 4) but it was such fun. Food was OK to great-tried the Caesar salad- good, lasagna bolenese (SP?) (starter size)- GREAT , flat iron steak (good), a baked potato-OK & Warm melting cake with 2 ice creams (like everyone said to do)- the ice cream (great) the cake (not so great-just my opinion). I have to say after reading about it in other reviews I didn't know it wasn't cake. It was more like my Holly Hobby Oven cake that I made as a child that I didn't let cook (at all). It tasted more like pudding to me and was very rich but to each his own. DH went with fish and received the smallest piece of Salmon I have ever seen-it was a good thing he also ordered the Tilapia. Some at the table ordered the Duck appetizer and raved about how good it was-it did look good. Then they did the cake for DH- we also included in our single of the group as he had just celebrated his birthday 4 days prior. We had a great time at dinner.
Now it's time for cocktails-we actually made them in the cabin of one of our party. Did some exploring of the ship, went to Karaoke, then off to bed for me, 3 consecutive nights of party for me was starting to take hold.
More adventures tomorrow -- Nassau here we come!!!
Forgot to mention that we booked a cabana for Half Moon Cay so we I boarded I need to go to the excursion desk to pick it out. Since we arrived later in the day the only ones available where #1-5 & 13-15. I chose lucky number 13.
DAY THREE- Nassau Tues April 17, 2012
On board Show- Showtime (missed it) & Grease Sing a Long Version (missed it)
On board movie- Jerry Maguire; Brian Adams in Concert; Cher in Concert; Thor & Batman (missed them)
On board comedians- Jason Blanchard & Eddie Clark
Got up in enough time to eat breakfast on the balcony, yes I remembered to put out the card before we went to bed and I woke up right before the knock on the door. 4 coffees & 4 teas get you a pot ?. Since I packed coffee mugs with lids this is exactly what I wanted- Danish & fruit plates round out our tray.
Pulling into Nassau is a wonderful sight; turning around to back in was great. We had five other ships in port with us-so it made for a very crowded port.
Of course we met up with our party on the Lido deck at those two tables ? to figure out our game plan for the day. Since we arrived late the captain made an announcement that we were actually going to be in port for one additional hour-wish I had booked that Booze Cruise now but oh well-Scubagirl (Bahamas thread) was right about cutting it close. It was decided most would go shopping and the beach-Junkanoo (FREE) for DH & I and we would meet up at Senor Frogs later.
We window shopped on our way making note of a few items to pick up later and headed to the beach. Boy it is a much nicer walk & beach this time than it was with the kids 4 years ago. Nice colorful huts to purchase drinks & food as well as rent a lounger for the day.
We rented one lounger for DH, I just laid on my carnival towel on the sand. The water was a little cool but that was OK. Around lunch time we could smell the barbeque cooking and boy did it smell good. DH went looking and came back with Jerk chicken w/a roll-OMG it was so good-nice and spicy. Reminded me of Jamaica.
Around 1pm or so we decided to head out for shopping and gave our lounger to a young couple to enjoy for the rest of the afternoon. We needed to pick up shirts for the boys and meet up with everyone for Senior Frogs-what fun we had!!!! We went to the frog on our last trip but not the bar part as the kids were with us-what a contrast.
Back on the ship to get ready for formal night. I know we went to dinner again around 7-had a little wait this time but we just checked out the photos, then into dinner we went. Got to see the singing and dancing tonight that was fun. Of course we had lobster (some even had two), I ordered the flat iron again so I could have surf & turf ?. One in our party tried the Southern Fried Chicken -- she thought it was good. After Dinner off to get cocktails so we could explore, went to the nightclub, I think I say a comedy show that night-it was funny & crowded. Went to Karaoke again-didn't perform but enjoyed watching others-whether they could sing or not.
Had late night pizza tonight- it was very good tried the Pan (peppers, onions, sausage).
Off to bed tomorrow Half Moon Cay and our cabana ?
DAY FOUR HALF MOON CAY- WEDNESDAY APRIL 18, 2012
ON BOARD SHOW: Showcase of the Stars (missed it) & 60 Seconds or Less (Missed it)
ON BOARD MOVIES: My Best Friends Wedding & PS I Love You (missed them)
Today was the day we had been waiting for since we booked the cruise. Two out of the 13 went to the island early; the rest of us took our leisurely time having breakfast in the MDR this morning. I had forgotten to put out the card so no morning coffee on the balcony ?. Having breakfast in the MDR is very nice, very relaxing. I ordered French toast, over medium egg, chicken sausage, coffee & half a grapefruit- all was very tasty.
Since most people were laid back today several announcements were made that no tender tickets were needed just head to the tender to go ashore and that is what the 9 of us did. Since we had #13- it was a little hike from where you get off the tender-no worries were on vacation we took a slow stroll down the path. Past the Ship wreck bar, past the bathrooms --finally we make it to 13- YEAH. We have 13 loungers lined up in front of the cabana thanks to Tim. I drop my stuff and off to the water I run-dang its cold when I first enter but I get use to it quite quickly. All the girls are in the water joking and having a nice time. What a wonderful island!!! DH learns to snorkel and I think he spent the most time in the ocean. Plenty of beer & DOD's today. The monkey's (the cup for the DOD) are cute and I have my Miami Vice-life is good. The BBque is nice and the chocolate chip cookies are great!!! DH & I actually got our food and went back to eat it at the cabana (had to relieve another couple from keeping watch). Glad we decided to do it this way because we did have someone try to come up into the cabana but Tim was there and the guy walked away.
We hitched a ride back to the tender with a truck that was headed in the other direction-got to see the island though. Very pretty. The line for get back on the tender was ridiculous-OMG Carnival has to do something about this. The captain had stated not to wait until the last minute to get back on we started more than an hour before the last tender-so 2:30 we go get in line and at 3:30 we hadn't even boarded the tender back. The ship didn't leave until after 5 pm. I don't have a solution for what they should do differently but there has to be a better way-maybe more tenders.....just a thought.
Dinner again at 7- I know I ate something but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was-just know for certain I did not starve. More cocktails after dinner, listening to music and hanging out with my friends at the nightclub.
Late night pizza, taken back to the balcony with a drink. I love this balcony!!!!
More tomorrow ---Grand Turk and Jack's Shack!!!!!
DAY FIVE- GRAND TURK THURSDAY APRIL 19, 2012
On Board Show: The Game of Love- Wonderful- funny-the old couple stole the show!!!!
On Board Movie: Finding Nemo, ET
On Board Comedians: No Show tonight
MEGA DECK PARTY & MEXICAN BUFFET- FUN, fun, fun 9:30- DJ Alex spinning the hits & 11:00 PM Line Dancing (yes I was out there doing the cupid shuffle & shacking my tail feather ?-so to speak)
Had breakfast at the MDR again-wonderful, no lines but of course I had forgotten the card so no morning coffee on the balcony ?.
Grand Turk is one of DH's favorite ports. We were here 2 years ago and advised our group we would see them back on the ship no M'Ville for us-we wanted to relax at Jack's Shack. Off the ship no lines to Duty Free we go to grab a snorkel mask for DH (yes the bug has hit him). Through M'Ville down the beach to Jack's-went past a new bar on our way. Since our last visit they have made the temporary shelter for the food into a permanent structure. Two loungers & an umbrella-rum punch & a blue margarita we were all set!!!
DH had a great time "exploring". I went into the water just to cool off then back to sunbathing. I get the most relaxed when I get plenty of vitamin D. DH had a conversation with a Band on the Carnival Liberty (which we are currently researching for our next cruise with the kids 2014) One of the guys was actually from a neighboring city in upstate NY.
It was a wonderful day at Jack's-had some jerk chicken & fries and headed back to the ship around 3:30-4pm. Since we had arrived late again (which we seemed to do in all our ports) we had extra time-we picked up a gift for DH's assistant and back on the ship.
Showered and off to the MDR again around 7. I was going to try the fried chicken tonight- I was not impressed. I kind of wish I had of tried it early in the cruise because it was hard. I didn't starve just didn't like that main course.
Had cocktails and headed to the Mega Deck Party---the nachos are the BOMB-homemade salsa & chips (I actually had them every day ?).
No pizza tonight still full from the buffet-off to sleep and we can sleep late at sea day tomorrow!!!
DAY SIX- AT SEA FRIDAY APRIL 20, 2012
Nice relaxing start to a relaxing day; almost missed breakfast in the MDR. Told DH I was leaving him because I didn't want the Buffet since I knew tomorrow I was going to have to eat there. Only two from our party there sat with two nice couples and their children. One of the families told us that they didn't know they were actually getting on the ship until Monday- we sailed Monday! They had been calling Carnival looking for cabin to hold 5 but the ship was sold out. Instead they told their friends they would go to Key West. Then on Monday @ 3:15pm they got a call that there was a cabin available first floor-inside, they said they boarded the ship @ 3:59pm. The father stated that is why they never travel without their passports! I would have been a nervous wreck.
Enjoyed my chicken sausage & French toast, then off to sit out on the deck. We had the two tables by the bar & five loungers by the hot tub for the girls. We ate, drank and shoot the s&^t -all afternoon. Watched the hairy chest contest, ice craving and I forgot we watched the mixology contest earlier in the week- I think it was the Nassau day because I remember seeing the older woman in the contest at Half Moon Cay and telling her I thought she should have won.
Drank lots of Miami Vice today, in between going to the room to make cocktails & packing. We all decided that no MDR for dinner tonight. We would spend the entire day on Lido and eat at the Buffet-wasn't bad. Went and saw the last show Viola Paris (sp?) the girl sings better than the guy but it was still good. Had some more cocktails, went to the Comedy show (early version-G), then to the nightclub-Salsa music, then to bed.
More tomorrow getting off the ship but staying in South Beach for one more night!
DAY SEVEN- POM TO SOBE SATURDAY APRIL 21, 2012
I woke up during the night and saw the lightning bolts-we had run into a storm coming back into Miami- dang there went my beach day! Was raining way too hard to stand out on the balcony and watch as we pulled in but I had to go out on Lido to get coffee this morning. Gathered the final items together into the carryon since we had put out our luggage the night before, left the bags in the room to go have breakfast. Spoke with the room steward again (Patrick) & his assistant (Ronny- I think) but we had tipped them last night over what I gave Patrick the first night to keep my cooler full. I take care of him and he took great care of us. Since it was raining the lines by the pool were not long. Sat near our tables and ate (someone else had beat us to them ?). Went back to the room to grab the bags, we were zone 6 but we knew we were waiting for everyone in our party to get called. Everyone was called about 9 am-and we got off the ship --so sad to hear that last DING.
Got a porter to gather our luggage-went thru customs like a breeze. I had purchased 4 bottles of liquor in the Duty Free shop on board and DH thought we would have to pay. I swear the guy didn't even look at the form, and yes I did declare them. He just asked us "did you have fun?", of which we replied "yes sir we did"! He said "welcome home". And the porter took us outside to the waiting QLS van. Since there was only 7 of us going back to SOBE Wyndham for another vacation day we had a Bus/Van no trailer. Ten minutes later we are @ Wyndham and its about 9:45AM and of course our rooms are not ready and it is raining so no beach!
Wanda at the front desk works her magic and gets one of the rooms ready within the hour. So we at least have a place to put the luggage. Rain starts to let up some, so us girls decide to do a little shopping. I have so much alcohol to come home with I'm afraid I am over the weight limit so I purchase another suitcase ?, then purchase more souvenirs of course .
The guys meet up with us and decide they need sweatshirts because of the rain it has cooled off some-so more shopping. Back to the hotel to check on the Junior Suite- and Wanda has worked her magic again the room is ready and its only 2PM!!!!
Everyone goes to their respective rooms-DH opted to say together tonight so we have a Grand Suite-with the other 5 sharing a Jr Suite. Around 7-of course we decide we might actually need so food so where do we go-11th Street Diner, which remembers us from earlier in the week and asked how the cruise was-LOL!
After dinner it's time for Wet Willies again-this time we sit closer to the bar downstairs but meet this older guy who does tricks-AMAZING tricks. We watched him pour sugar in his hand, open his hands-nothing then do it again and the sugar drop out. He bummed a cigarette from a guy in the front, lit it and made it disappear- and it never re-appeared. He danced a little and made a bill disappear to then have it come out of his mouth!!! We tipped him for his performance. Tonight I had "shock treatment w/attitude adjustment ", instead of "call a cab". Was feeling really good by the time we made it down to Mango's which was off the chain (as my kids would say ?). I drank water because by now my feet and ankles had swollen due to alcohol, salty food and wearing shoes with little support-flip flops. But I did dance just a little by 11Pm, yes I said 11 I was ready to walk back to the hotel to get some sleep we had an early day tomorrow-QLS would pick us up at 6:45AM to make our flights home.
DAY EIGHT- FLIGHTS HOME & SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
YUKE-up at the crack of dawn since QLS picked us up at 6:45am. I had already re-packed the luggage using the new suite case to re-distribute the weight of all the bottles & RR's (I had 4 32ozers in my bags left over). No 11th Street Diner this morning-grabbed Dunkin Donuts coffee & sandwich at FLL. We flew AirTran home (they were the cheapest), but I only had to pay for one bag as we had a credit with them. I had found a website that actually watches your booked flights and advises you when the price goes down --they can do it for every airline except Southwest (you have to manually check them yourself). The reduction in pricing actually paid for 3 bags ?.
The flight from FLL to ATL was uneventful. Once in ATL we had to hit up Popeye's for some chicken-needed a fix since I was so disappointed on the ship. I almost purchased a family meal to take on the plane for the kids-as I was not going to cook when we got home. Flight from ATL to BUF was uneventful-we ran into a little turbulence but I slept most of the flight.
Once at the airport hugs and kisses to say good bye to our family & friends and a promise that we will do another cruise together. The kids are calling our cell phones to say they are outside with Grandpa -who has been living in my home for the week taking care of them. I have to tell you when we get back to Buffalo we here there is a storm warning for SNOW the next day 6-9 inches-YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! Thank the Lord the weather guys & gals were wrong, we only get a light dusting but it is still cold, way colder than I anticipated coming from the Caribbean.
Final thoughts- If you are thinking of going on the Destiny or have already booked Destiny --GO, have fun, she is a great ship. I didn't smell anything weird. We had cabins on: 2 (Window), 6 (Inside), 7 (Balcony), 9 (Balcony) floors. And yes I saw them all. The decorations you order from Bon Voyage-we had Birthday done in our room are wonderful-DH loved them. You get stuff attached to the ceiling & a banner on the wall.
The only problem we had in our Lido Balcony was outside the bathroom the floor was damp one day- Patrick (room steward) & his supervisor (women forgot her name) put a fan in our room while we were out of the room to dry it out-it worked great and no I didn't go to guest services to complain, I didn't ask for any compensation- I thanked them for taking care of it-PERIOD.
As I stated before the lines for the Buffet are sometime long but you're on a ship with almost 4000 people that's going to happen. All the staff we encountered was friendly and yes the wait staff will ask you 5 million times if you're ready for a drink but they make like $0.60 per drink they sell so they are just trying to make a living and if you don't want anything then just a polite "no thank you" goes a long way.
If you have any questions-please feel free to ask. I have all the Fun times EXCEPT the last day-somehow I think I left that one on my of the poolside tables.
I'll try to get those pictures up this weekend and thanks for reading our journey. I have to say Carnival was quite fun, not sure if it was the line or the people this trip but since I am looking at another Carnival ship for our next adventure I might have to think it was a little of both ?.
And the last item is I just want to thank all the CC members who answered my questions before we went and to all those members that asked questions I hadn't even thought to ask. There is a wealth of knowledge on this forum and I just want to give thanks for it-so thank you fellow Cruise Critic members-job well done!