This was our 6th cruise overall and 2nd with Carnival. Both of our cruises with Carnival have come since the economic melt down so I don't know if is due to cuts that Carnival has made and perhaps RCCL has done the same thing, but it felt to us as if there were a lot more planned activities on our RCCL cruises than either of our Carnival cruises.
Day One - Embarkation
We arrived at the port via the Alamo shuttle bus around 11am. I would estimate that our wait time in line was about 10 minutes to get through the first security check point. We had attempted to get some rum and tequila through in some water bottles, but that failed. Just because the bottles are sealed isn't enough to get them through. Tip to people thinking of trying to get alcohol through, if the fluid bubbles they will confiscate it. At the same time as I was being told our bottles were a no go, another gentlemen was having to take each of his bottles out of a sealed water package and having the 2 our of 24 that were alcohol confiscated. Oh well.
Once we got on board we were actually able to head straight up to our room (8189) and drop off our carry on bags. Having carried a laptop around for a couple of hours on a previous cruise, I had actually left it home this time so being able to leave the bags in the room while we went to get lunch was a nice perk. As I mentioned we headed up to the lido deck to check out the buffet dining room. It was busy as you would expect right after boarding but we were able to find a seat right outside the New York Deli. The food was ok for a buffet but I do recommend the Reuben sandwich at the deli.
After lunch we did a quick tour of the ship. Getting to the port we actually got a tip from a lady on the shuttle bus about an iPhone app called ship mate which gave us maps of the ship. For the first day or so we found the app to be very helpful even if I disabled the data on the phone once we left port. After we got the lay of the land (so to speak) we didn't use it as much but I would still recommend it if it is your first time on a particular ship. Following our tour of the ship we headed up to the lido deck to watch our departure.
We chose late dining so we had some time to kill between leaving port and chow time. We decided to check out the casino for a bit. I played $5 hands of blackjack while my wife headed for the penny slots. My wife had some difficulty with the new procedures for putting money on your card and lost $20 so be very careful about following the procedures or you could be out some money too.
Day two - Sea day
Seeing as this was our vacation I slept in until 10 am (I know, such a wild man). My wife was up early to go do some laps around the walking track. We decided to spend the day doing many of the activities listed in the Fun Times, but like I said in the first paragraph it felt like there were stretches without much to do. In many cases there were only or maybe two things listed per hour so we did spend some time back in the room watching the movies.
Day three - Ocho Rios
We decided that we didn't want to do much for our excursion in Ocho Rios so we chose the Paradise Beach Club excursion. Since the announcement was made that excursions would get off the ship first, we chose the early start time for our excursion. The website lists that the excursion lasts 3 hours, but it actually goes as long as you would like. There was some confusion at the meeting point on the pier, but once that was sorted our the excursion staff was very professional and we enjoyed our time with them. The shuttle ride over to the beach was very quick and we were escorted into a gated portion of the beach and then walked a little ways to an area where some beach chairs had been laid out and a couple of tents were setup to serve food and drinks. The food was just BBQ fare, but the jerk chicken was delicious. I attempted to get my $50 in just the chicken. The beach itself was nice and the water seemed clean. We were directly across from the ship which provided a nice photo op. If I find myself on Ocho Rios again, I would not object to repeating this excursion only this time I would remember to bring sunscreen.
Our room was on the pier side so we got to watch the events unfold. I was kind of disappointed that despite the fact that we were already 5 minutes past departure time there was a family slowly sauntering down the pier. When I was in college I was a campus bus driver and we had a saying "If you run your ride, if you walk you walk". Put simply if you ran to catch the bus I had no problem waiting for you, but if you walked I closed the door and pulled out and you got to wait 15 minutes for the next bus. After watching this conceited family join us on the ship, the ship did finally shove off and start to head out to port. I felt bad watching what happened next, but it was their own fault because all kinds of announcements were made on board, but as we pulled out there was a group of three people that came running down the pier.
One of the highlights of this cruise was definitely the Chef's Table. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of paying $75 per person for a meal, but after experiencing it I believe that it was money well spent. Chef Stanley seemed to be very happy to answer any questions we had and I enjoyed the tour of the galley. The food was delicious, particularly the braised beef course.
Day four - Grand Cayman
This was our second time calling on Grand Cayman so we decided to save money on the excursion and just walk around the shopping district. Looking back on it, I would probably chose to do an excursion but this was our trade off for choosing to do the Chef's Table. Grand Cayman does not have a pier so we had to tender to the island which for some I am told is an issue, but we did not have any trouble with it. We had breakfast in the main dining room before heading to the other main dining room to get a spot in the tendering line. Overall I would say it took about 10-15 minutes to go from dining room to pier. We walked a few blocks to the Margaritaville to get food. It was pretty much the same menu you find at any Margartitaville here in the states, but our 2 burgers and sodas came to $35US which struck me as being a bit much.
Day five - Sea Day
Our second sea day was pretty much a repeat of our first sea day.
Day six - debarkation
I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly debarkation went. We chose to do the normal debark by leaving our bags outside our room the night before and just carrying off a couple of items. We got a final breakfast in the main dining room and waited about 20 minutes in the Palladium Lounge for our number to be called. Since our flight home was out of Ft. Lauderdale and wasn't until 3pm, we decided to rent a car through Dollar for $32 rather than pay the $30 per person to get a transfer to FLL.
Our room 8189 was a balcony room on the Verandah level. The room was midship and 7 doors down from the rotunda elevator lobby. I would recommend this location to anyone who is considering this ship. The lido deck is where many of the activities take place so being just below it is very convenient, but the room was far enough forward that there were other rooms above us so we didn't have to hear everything above us. The size of the room was nothing spectacular but we had more than enough room for the two of us to not be tripping over each other. The shower was big enough that my 6' 360 pound frame could fit with room to spare so that was good. It would have been nice if the room had one of the nice flat screen TVs that we saw in a few other rooms as we walked through the halls. The color scheme of the room was definitely dated and the pink sink could use a change but overall the bed was comfy and I would not mind to be in the room on a future cruise.
Now for the part that I am sure everyone wants to hear about from a fat guy. Well the food was decent. There were some items that were much better than others and some items that I would choose to pass on in the future. I already mentioned the Chef's Table and it is not fair to compare any of the other food items to that so I will just leave it at that.
Each night there was a Didja menu item, as in Didja ever try... I tried my hardest to try the didja item each night but really had to pass on the frog legs and the sushi. I did find that I really liked the escargot from the first night and the alligator bits from the second night. The best meal far and away that we got in the dining room came on the first night when I got a beef brisket that almost melted in your mouth. The second night was our elegant dining night and they served lobster tails. I actually was able to ask for a double serving and was able to get a double serving.
Overall I would recommend the Destiny as a cruise ship. She does not have all of the bells and whistles that the more modern ships have, but for a relatively low cost cruise I would have no qualms about cruising with her again.