Decent Ship with Very Good Crew: Carnival Destiny Cruise Review by Haggis8
Overall Member Rating
Decent Ship with Very Good Crew
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
SHIP: We had the advantage of previously cruising on Later editions of this Class of ship on Carnival as we have been on the Carnival Valor and Glory before. I didn't look to see if Destiny was the first in this class, but it is certainly an early version and Carnival has made subtle enhancements to this class along the way but overall the deck plans are nearly identical. A few things missing on Destiny were the Valor and Glory had an additional food bar on Deck Ten Aft, and No Drink machines up on Deck 10 dining area (a minor inconvenience).
The common areas are definitely dated, but don't believe those travelers telling you that they are horrible, because More they are not. Yes, furniture needs replacing, carpets appear worn, etc. but the crew does a good job of keeping it clean and tidy and as a result we were not put off by it being a little dated. While the common areas will be updated in the upcoming refit, our Cabin had just been done, and we were literally the first to experience it, and we liked the new appointments. New monitors, new cabinets, new furniture (i.e. couch), new bathrooms (however, old deck furniture on the balcony). As we were debarking, more of Deck 6 was being redone and was closed off.
Regarding the ship plans, you'll either like it or you won't - if you need the massive promenades offered on the newest ships, then I'd suggest you NOT book on this Class of ship with Carnival as this could feel confining to you. There isn't much shopping on board, and the interior promenades are limited, to deck 5. You also cannot walk around the entire perimeter of the ship on ANY deck (we did this on Caribbean Princess in April and liked that).
STATEROOM: As I noted above our cabins were completely redone and were delightful. I have found that Carnival is about the only cruise line to provide a real King Size Bed, and their beds are quite comfortable. I want to make a special point here about AFT / REAR Facing Balcony Staterooms. I looked for reviews about this before booking but couldn't really find what I was looking for. These staterooms face the rear - so the cool thing is that you get these incredible vistas just like if you were standing up on deck from the tail of the ship. I was concerned about vibration coming from the cavitation of the props / screws. This is a 16 year old ship, and it was pretty obvious that the harmonic balance on the props was OFF because there was a noticeable vibration in the cabin and as you slept. The other thing to note is that most ships roll from side to side, and it is most pronounced on balcony staterooms, but it was even more pronounced in the Aft cabins. So IF you are prone to sea-sickness. I'd recommend you not book a cabin like this. After a day or two, we got used to the vibrations when we were under-way. Overall, we were very happy with our stateroom.
DESTINATIONS: Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Nassau. We were there to just relax, and didn't bother with any excursions, but on this particular itinerary, you didn't really need any. Grand Turk was great. You basically walk off the ship onto a beautiful beach, with plenty of chairs (many in the shade), and easy access to beverages and off-the-beach activities. We had goggles and swam off the beach and it was great. Its slightly rocky, and there were fish to observe, I saw a small (4 ft) Moray Eel at the edge of the swimming area where the blasting had occurred to create the dock. It appears that this is an evolving reef area and in years to come will be a great beach snorkel. Overall I really liked this beach. The port area, much like many ports any more was clearly created by and managed by the Cruise lines. It was over-priced and fairly limited. We spent time at the enormous Margaritaville Pool and bought $10 Pina Colada's (good, but even more expensive than on-board ship). Regardless, we loved Grand Turk because it was so beautiful and would definitely go back there.
Half Moon Cay: What can I say - heaven on earth. . This was possibly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to in my life. The sand was pristine, the water was crystal clear, and the experience was fabulous. Its a sandy beach (probably manufactured), and so there really aren't any fish to see (very few anyway). Floats are $15 for the day - well worth it. Due to the shape of the Cay, the water just laps on the beach and is very calm. Make sure you get there early if you want a chair in the shade. Food is provided here as Carnival owns the island. Further readings indicate it was originally purchased by Holland America Line, for $6M, and they put in $21M more to develop it. 20 resident staff, and about 100 people are brought in when the ships are there. You have to tender to the island, so get your tickets early and enjoy this gorgeous location.
Nassau: Went here to shop a little and just walk around. Before we left there were 5 ships docked. Didn't make sense to go to Paradise Island because of the prior two beach experiences and even the locals said it was ridiculously expensive. Nassau is a typical Bahamian island - people are pretty friendly, but hustling all the time. I was surprised at the state of disrepair of the docks compared with locations like Cozumel. Certainly this was disappointing and detracted from our impression of the area. Went back on ship early after getting some good deals on general touristy merchandise.
FOOD: Overall, the food on Destiny was typical Carnival - which is to say Very Good. The formal dining room experiences were very good and we enjoyed most every meal. We liked the fact that the plates weren't overflowing (that's the Buffet style patron meal), and were very well presented. Nothing that I could say was a standout - we did try one of the "DIDJA" dishes each night - Didja-ever try - i.e. frogs legs, alligator fritters, etc. All were done very well. The Lido Deck buffet was not quite up to the standard that we experienced on the Valor and Glory - not bad, just not as good as we had expected.
CREW: EXCELLENT. Very friendly, very helpful, and eager to please. Having recently travelled on Princess I've come to appreciate how good Carnival crew members really are. It all comes from the top, if the Captain and Senior officers create a good, friendly culture, then that's what you get. When we walked out on our balcony on day one - we got locked out (because the handle was broken). It was quickly repaired. We left notes for our cabin steward to deliver additional pillows, he responded quickly. Our dining room wait staff was very funny, and we enjoyed them very much; they quickly picked up on our nuances and responded to our style - we all appreciated them and they enhanced our cruising experience. Unlike on other ships, the Maitre-D wasn't all "puffed up" and stuffy - kept his remarks short and sweet, and the dining entertainment reflected the casual nature of the staff. We asked to be relocated after the first night (simply because the booth's hurt my knees), and they graciously complied. The bar staff were good and responsive.
ENTERTAINMENT: Since this was a 5 day cruise, I wasn't sure what to expect. 2 Cabaret shows, only 1 comedian the entire cruise (and NOT every night), and the typical bar bands, etc. Clearly during the shoulder season, the ship is nowhere near capacity, and I got the impression that the entertainment was the B-Team, vs. the A-Team quality that you get during Peak, and on 7-Day cruises. I'd give the rating for the entertainment a "C-Minus". The comedian (one was a no-show), struggled to keep it clean during the family shows (Karl Rimi). He just wasn't all that funny compared to other acts we've seen on carnival. He didn't really have much of a routine, and it did not come off as top notch comedy. At the Adult show, the profanity was over-the-top, and didn't add much to the routine. Hope Carnival replaces him soon.
The on-deck entertainment was Average - this might have been the only area that Princess beat Carnival this year for us. I think Carnival adjusts the flavor for the audience, and this had a heavy Rap and Line-Dance only flavor. Usually the sail-away bands play good Reggae music, but their sail-away was more Rap than anything and we did not enjoy that. I think Carnival need to make an adjustment here too.
SUMMARY: Good Value during off-season, Great Crew, Nice Boat with Excellent Stateroom, and the common areas soon-to-be-updated, and 2 of 3 Destinations are Excellent. The simple litmus test that I apply is "Would I do this cruise again?" And the answer is YES. Less