The Carnival Destiny is a beautiful ship, nice cabins at good prices, nice entertainment choices in the evening. We had a lovely time (how could you not on vacation?) and thoroughly enjoyed our balcony cabins. Watching the ship depart from a friends' balcony that spanned the back of the ship was fabulous.
However, it's important to share that they put way too many people on the ship which greatly reduces the enjoyment of passengers and service. Think wall-to-wall people (mostly children) in very small pools to the point that many people cannot even get into any of the pools to cool off. We ended up using the showers to cool off when laying out on the decks. Plus, shows were standing room only or people were unable to get in to see the shows the entire time unless you arrive at the theater door way early and wait in a long line to get in. There were excessively long lines for the buffet and grill food options (so bad that the service closed twice before we were able to More
get to the buffet) and tables in the buffet restaurant were very difficult to find.
The food on the buffet, at the deli and Chinese food windows were good if you could get it. Some would think it's not a good enough quality for a cruise, but we weren't expecting super high quality for the price of this cruise. The grills were ok if you like fried/fatty food. The calzone was very good, pizza just ok. The food in the main dining room was mostly disappointing though I'd highly recommend the chocolate lava cake if you've already booked your cruise on this ship. We had the late seating and ended up with cold and/or over-cooked food most of the time. I talked to a passenger who had the earlier seating. He said the food quality was very unreliable -- some good, some cold/overdone, as well. We ate breakfast in the main dining room the last day and it was very good. Don't bother with the seafood if you're wanting fresh since most was previously frozen and a bit rubbery. Wait to get your fresh seafood at the ports you'll visit. Fabulous in Cozumel's port restaurant that overlooks your ship (sorry, don't recall the name but I believe it's the only one at the port with a direct view of the ship. Great margaritas there, too.
Service was good in some areas, lousy in others. The drink wait staff did a good job, along with our dining room waiter. We only saw our room steward one time the entire trip when I called to tell him that the bottle of water that was in our room at cruise start had already been opened. He brought a new bottle but then never brought another even though I'd left a note asking for more. Aside from the somewhat dirty cabin on arrival, he did clean our cabin daily and leave towel animals, it was just almost impossible to locate him to get anything additional (much different than previous cruises where the stewards were always available and eager to help).
Strangely, this ship doesn't do the traditional tip envelopes on the last day. Instead, it automatically charges a tip to your account, whether you opted for that route or not.
The ports (Key West and Cozumel) that the cruise visited were nice. However, the timing was backwards from what would have worked well. We arrived in Key West well before most things opened and left as things were getting going. We arrived in Cozumel after prime snorkel time and only a few hours before most of the beaches closed. We still enjoyed the ports but in the future will choose itineraries that better fit what's available at the ports. If you go to Key West, be sure to have a piece of key lime pie at the Key Lime Pie factory - very tasty.
If you are renting a car in Miami before or after your cruise, I'd recommend Budget Rent-a-Car in South Beach over Hertz "pick you up at the port". You'll need to take a taxi to the rental place but their service and price is far better. We encountered poor communication, significant overcharges and an "upgrade" that turned into a downgrade (put into a smaller car than paid for) at Hertz along with having to actually jump into the street to flag down one of their vans (even after calling). It's taken several days of calls and waiting almost thirty minutes on hold with Hertz to try to correct the error. The problem still isn't corrected but I've been offered a coupon off a future rental (no thanks).
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Beach Hotel. It was absolutely wonderful, great beach and terrific location with a short walk to restaurants and night life. We much preferred that to our stay in a Miami South Beach hotel before last year's cruise. Less
Nice size room. Wonderful view from the balcony. Comfortable beds. Extensive storage space. Excellent location close to stairs and elevators. It was very noisy though and not a good choice for someone who isn't a night owl. We could hear a singer from our room and loud talking throughout the night. Upon arrival, the room was a bit dirty and the cabin steward was difficult to find throughout the entire cruise.
This was my third time to Cozumel and it was fabulous, as always. All three times, we've visited Chankanaab on our own. It's a short, inexpensive taxi ride. The park is beautiful with lots to do, great service and rarely crowded. Snorkeling is one of the best I've done, though you'll want to get there early since it's not as good later in the day. If you choose this port, go with a cruise that gets you there early. Most of the beaches close at 5 and it's not known for much nightlife. The shops and restaurants at the port are nice to visit.
This is a very fun port to visit. We didn't reserve an excursion since we were able to easily walk to anything we wanted to see. It's about a mile and a half from where we docked to the furthest thing in Key West, with lots to see along the way. We walked along Duval street to the Butterfly Conservatory and then down to Higgs Beach and the Southernmost Point. The Butterfly Conservatory was very enjoyable, gorgeous butterflies and foliage. It was a bit overpriced for what you get but I'd recommend going there. Walked around and viewed the lighthouse, Hemmingway House, many shops and talked to street artists. If you choose this port, know that many things don't open until 9 am or later and most of the fun gets going in late afternoon/evening. Our ship arrived at 7:30 am and left at 1:30 pm so we missed a lot.