This was our first cruise so take it at that face value. We have traveled extensively so we are picky at times.
Carnival Destiny fit not only our budget but also our timeline for this short vacation. We are heading to Europe in the summer so this was a perfect short vacation before that one. We had read many stories about the ship being too old, Jamaica being too violent, and on and on... None of it is true. Ship is in excellent condition and will be going to dry port early next year for a major upgrade (Carnival Sunshine Fun Ship 2.0). Ocho Rios was an excellent port and if you have an excursion booked with a reputable company you will be fine. We had booked from Jamaicaforaday.com (Jewel All Inclusive Resort). I know you might be thinking why the resort and not the falls. Well my wife and I just wanted to relax and enjoy the beach and pool along with great food and drink options.
Our embarkation was confusing at first as the lines were long. That was our fault because we came to port at around 11:30am. It seems like everyone gets there at the same time. Immigration was a breeze. After standing in line for about 45-60 minutes we finally got our sign and sail card. We headed to the ship and was surprised to learn that our room was ready. We had an excellent room steward and asked him for a bucket of ice. He filled that bucket of ice for us the entire cruise without us ever asking him. He did that twice a day. After dropping off the hand carry-on we went to Lido deck to get a quick bite to eat. Lines were not that long and my wife and I headed in opposite directions. She went to the main buffet while I went to the NY Deli. Do try the Salmon on the Bagel it is an excellent option.
Room: We had an aft-balcony on Empress deck. It was quite, roomy, and had great views. We really enjoyed our room.
Casino: Won a whole lot on the first day. Lost a whole lot during the next four days. All in all we were only down a few on the last day. Overall experience, excellent. We played for fun and little winning also helps.
Shows: Excellent. Who cares if they are raunchy. We only went to the adults show so they are suppose to be a bit wild. The superstar show was good and the costumes were very colorful.
Pictures: Costly but good. Yes the portraits cost around $21 but they are very good quality. We ended up buying several and also bought the digital copies for keepsake.
Items: Please buy all items at home. I had to purchase Visine at the gift shop and it cost me $12. Oh well that was worth it too because my eyes were red due to sun exposure.
Ocho Rios: Everyone scared us about this port. Well we can honestly say they were all wrong. It is an excellent port and very efficient. If you have booked an excursion with a reputable company you will be in good hands. We did Jamaicaforaday for Jewel Resort. It was all adults and all inclusive resort. What great memories we bring back from there. Cant wait to go back in for a week at the end of summer. I do not know if people were haggled if they went on their own.
Cayman Island: We did the 3 snorkel trip with Captain Marvin that included Stingray City. This is something that everyone should do. Captain Marvin's crew and staff were excellent they went above and beyond to cater to our needs. The photos were a bit costly $45 per CD for about 15 pictures but well worth it.
Carnival staff: Looked after us at every interval. Great staff especially the host and waiter at Universe Dining room. We really were sad to leave them the last day of our cruise. We did get there facebook so we will be chatting away soon.
Overall: Carnival is for everyone. It has great entertainment, food, value, and lots of fun. We did not go there expecting to dine at Todd English or China Grill or even have a stake like in Prime 112. If you have those standards on a cruise ship you will surely be disappointed. The food is good and the drinks are ever flowing so sit back and enjoy... The ports are amazing... Just use a little brain and book an excursion so you do not have to hassle with vendors especially in suspect ports. Best of all ENJOY... After all its your vacation.