My husband and I are in our late 20s and have cruised many times before. We were looking for a short cruise to celebrate our first anniversary on July 2nd and selected the Carnival Destiny as it was the only cruise that would be away over the July 2nd anniversary (all other options we looked at were ending that day). We were a bit scared of cruising with Carnival, but decided to give it a go.
I have to say, reading the reviews, I was afraid of what we had gotten ourselves into. I'd say we fell into the category of "cruise snobs" as we have always cruised in balcony cabins on princess, royal and celebrity - so when I read reviews by self-proclaimed "cruise snobs" who hated it - I worried! But I was so wrong! We had a lovely time!
Check in was so quick and so smooth. We had pre-printed our bag tags at home, which seemed to help (not many people had done this). There was an organized line in the terminal (which was SUPER airconditioned). The line moved quickly and we got a happy, jovial staff member checking us in, and then we were ushered on board. I'd say the whole process, from entering the terminal, to getting on board - took 20 mins, tops.
The cabin was great. We booked our cruise about 2 weeks before sailing, and there were no balcony cabins left. The booking associate at carnival encouraged us to take the last remaining "handicap accessible" cabin - 7104, right at the front of the ship. I'm so glad she recommended it. We had a huge picture window, that looked right out over the front of the ship (the bridge was right above us). It was clean and roomy and I enjoyed the additional space in the shower. A helpful tip is to clear away all the magazines and clutter they give you on the dresser - I put it all away and felt much better, plus it gave us lots of additional room. The cabin has two closets (one hanging and one shelved) and lots of storage cabinets/ drawers - we had packed tons but still had lots of space to spare. The safe provided fits a fair bit, but did not accommodate an ipad.
There was one formal night, on the second night of our cruise (sea day, before Jamaica) - be advised that this means, if you want to have your clothes pressed, you have no option but to use the express laundry service for 50% more (since they do not accept clothes on the first day). Given that the prices for pressing / cleaning are so reasonable, we didnt mind.
on the very first day we asked to be moved to a 2 person table in the dining room, and they quickly and easily accommodated us. We ate in the dining room every night, and I really couldn't complain about the food. I'd give it a solid 3.75/4 out of 5. I found the desert menu wasn't too varied, but that was fine as I enjoyed the chocolate cake every night. Two nights, we brought our own wine from our cabin (you're allowed to bring aboard a bottle each), and we enjoyed the super cheap corkage (only $10!). The staff-entertainment while dining is hilarious and we loved it - make sure you have your cameras ready!
The two ports were great, and in both, we booked our excursions through Carnival. In Jamaica, we did the horseback ride and swim with dunn river falls and I was very impressed with the tour and the company. The horseback swim was awesome. The girls in the excursion desk told me its good I pre-booked it before getting on the cruise as that sold out the fastest. In Grand Cayman, we did the stingray sandbar and rum point beach, also good - very relaxing. I encourage you to book your excursions online before going. I found a coupon code online and was able to get additional discounts too! TIP: do NOT buy tours on the shore from random people, several years ago we made this mistake and the "tour guide" was insisting we take drugs aboard - going so far as to put it in my brother's pocket! Luckily we found it before going on the pier! I will never buy unauthorized "tours" ever again! Even on this trip, at dunn river falls, vendors were trying to get you to buy their products by asking you to "hold" sculptures, etc. Be prepared and just say no :)
The pool decks were always packed, but we managed to always find loungers. We got into the pool once - I read on these reviews that the pool was packed, but that just wasnt the case on our cruise - just a few kids in at any given time. Same for the hot tubs. Seemed clean and well cared for. No complaints.
Only ate at the buffet a few times, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't amazing - lines were long but moved relatively quickly. The buffet waiters don't bring you drinks (even non alcoholic)- you need to order from the bar staff, but it was always super quick.
We took lots of pictures in the posed photo booths, but didn't buy any this cruise as they were all SUPER DUPER airbrushed. Also, we found the photos expensive ($22 each). Normally, on cruises, we buy all our photos or just take an unlimited photo package - I didnt see any such thing offered, but maybe I just didnt ask. It wouldnt have mattered since I wasn't into the whole airbrush finish.
In terms of entertainment, we really enjoyed all the bands that played on the ship. The "carribbean band" is a bit cheesy, but they provide a good ambiance around the pool. The destiny orchestra was very talented and we were saddened to see that they didnt get more recognition in shows, etc. The musicals were OK (not as good as some we've seen), but unexpectedly, we enjoyed the game shows and the comedians a lot!
The one thing about carnival that was noticably different than the other ships that we've been on was the clientele. They are REALLY ready to party! It was fun and refreshing. Any time a band was playing or there was karaoke, people would stop, dance, clap and sing. It was fun and everyone was so "go-with-the-flow" in vacation mode. It created such a nice environment everywhere. The majority of the cruisers were african american - but that could have been just because there were a few large family reunions aboard our cruise. Either way - we really, really, enjoyed the demographic on the ship. Age wise, a good mix, too.
My only small "negative" would be that the level of service was not as high as we've had on other ships. The service wasn't BAD, but it just wasnt as high caliber as we've previously experienced (where all the waiters know your names, wine preferences, drink preferences, etc).
All in all, I'd say these two "cruise snobs" had a really enjoyable time on the destiny. Yes its an older ship - but it is by no means dilapidated or falling apart. We noticed no weird smells or stains or anything of the sort. Don't let the reviews scare you! You make as good a time for yourself as you want to have!! We would definitely cruise on this ship again. Hope you enjoy your cruise!