Hi All! We just returned from our first cruise on the Carnival Destiny.. I would rate the week a 9!!! Maybe a 10 except for the hair dryer (LOL- it gave me an excuse for not wasting time doing my hair!) Lets put it this way, I brought 3 books with me and didn't read ONE page! So let me get started! Oh yes the music was very loud on the Lido deck.. wish they could have turned it down, but many people seemed to like it.
We flew in a day early.. Denver, Miami (flight canceled had to only wait 2 hours for next one.. American Airlines) to San Juan. Arrived at about 7PM. Took cab ($12) to Condado (excuse my spelling for some of the towns) and stayed at Coral Princess Hotel. Booked on Hotels.com -four in our room, two couples for $150 total. Another couple had small room for $99. VERY clean, great continental breakfast in outdoor patio. Small pool and rooftop hot tub. Fridge, Micro and Whirlpool tubs in room. Walking distance to Marriott, Pizza Hut, Fuddruckers and superb beach! Went to beach in the am and then headed ($20) cab for 6 of us to our Destiny!
Took about 1 hour to get on board, lots of lines, but air conditioned building now! Pictures and bought liquor at duty free shop, put in purse and walked on board with it. Laughed when we walked by the Liquor "check in" table.
We went directly to our rooms, it was about 1:30 and the room was ready. We unpacked and then ran around the ship! It was fantastic! When we got our table assignments for dinner we realized two couples were at one table and one at another. We stood in line the first day to get our table changed. No problem! We were put at table 177 in the Galaxy Dining room at the first sitting! Juan was our waiter and Ursula was his assistant! They were FIVE STAR *****! They never laughed when we ordered TWO entrees! Ursula always had my tea ready after I sat down without me asking! Lemons were always put on the table after the first night! The meals were wonderful! I can't tell you my favorite, because they all seemed great! After the first two nights I started to skip the salad because I had to cut out food somewhere! Desserts were a little bland, but we seemed to order enough that after sharing we were all pretty full!
That first afternoon we had a few "drinks of the day" and then went to the sports bar to check out the Bronco/Patriot game, seeing as I am from Colorado and our friends were all from New England! AHHHHHH.. the TVs in sports bar did not get the game, so we got off the ship and found "The Brickyard" in Old San Juan within walking distance and they put on the game for us! Great people! We got back on the boat in time for our 6:15 dinner.
We ran around the ship some more and made it to the safety drill at about 9:30! It was pretty informative and went quickly! Then it was up to the roof to check out the boat leaving! 3 miles out of port the casino opened and off we went! We finally dragged ourselves to bed at about midnight!
Monday - St. Thomas- (Most beautiful beach) -- We went to breakfast buffet in AM on the Lido deck.. great food! the omelets- made to order were delicious! We disembarked the boat I think around 9 and then found a cab right off the boat. We asked them to take us to a beach with 1) shade And sun, 2) beautiful sand and 3) clear water where we could rent snorkel equipment! The cab driver was wonderful.. For $7 (a piece) he took the 6 of us up to the top of the island where we stopped to take pictures of the ship and the island and they also had shops to purchase things and steel drums playing music! Then he took us to Coki Beach.. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! It was my FAVORITE beach on the trip! For $10 a piece we rented snorkel gear (there was 6 of us so we rented 3 sets and shared) and then I think it was $5 for a chair. Lots of shade and lots of sun.. there was a bar/restaurant that served us pina coladas ON the beach! One lady sold two of the women in our group some awesome pants and my DH purchased a great Hawaiian shirt for $12! In the area you could rent mopeds and other things as well... I would HIGHLY recommend going to Coki! Our cab driver even spent the day there talking to people and took us back 4 hours later for the $7 each again! We got back to the ship and showered and went to the Lido deck for drinks and to check out the boat leaving.
Most nights we went to the shows.. The first night was the Welcome Aboard Show! The dancers were terrific. Other nights the comedians were pretty hysterical and the magicians amazing! The cruise director- I could have watched every show.. He had great timing on all his jokes.. Reminded us of a mature Steve Urkle! The spoon contest on the first night was absolutely the funniest of all the shows! (If you miss the shows they are shown on the TV’s the next day) Of course we always wound up in the casino every night. Pretty much won and lost most nights, I did come in THIRD place in the Black Jack tournament! Definitely one of the highlights of my gambling career.
Anyway -on with the trip. Tuesday-Dominica- (most unique island-rainforest). We went to the dining room this day. Enjoyed being waited on! We had contacted Reyno Tours before the cruise at email@example.com and had a fabulous day. Two of the DH went on the Carnival excursion to raft down the river thru the rainforest. NOT WORTH THE $. Even days later they still felt cheated.. They were so jealous of our tour. Reyno Tours met us outside the boat. They have three AIR CONDITIONED vans. I repeat……AIR CONDITIONED! There was a driver and a tour guide.. Locals that did a wonderful job. We went to the Emerald Pool and hiked down and jumped in! Pretty cold water, but glad we did it! They explained many things about the island, the history and the people! We also went through the Rain Forest to Trafalger Falls, went through the Botanic Gardens, stopped at the Mr. Nice Fruit Stand (where we sampled all sorts of fruits and he even showed us how they process sugar cane) rode past the Black Sand Beaches (Volcanic activity) and stopped for a Panoramic View of the French Town (Roseau) and took pictures of our ship in the background. Contact Reynaldo and you won’t believe the price we paid!!!! We were touring for 5 hours! They have you pay at the end and after talking to other people on board, believe me -we feel we definitely got our money’s worth! At the end our tour guide even walked us to a grocery store so we could buy water and pop for the next day! We went back to the ship showered and dressed for our first Formal night!
After the formal dinners (Tues and Thurs) we headed for pictures and then went back to the room to change! My DH had bitched for months about “dressing up” for dinner, but put on his Dockers, tie and jacket just to shut me up! LOL… Yes the lobster was a little rubbery, but with the prime rib “chaser” it was wonderful! LOL.. Drinks, Watch the boat leave, Show, Gamble, sleep..
Wednesday- Barbados- (Most fun beach). We woke early and went to the dining room for breakfast, we had an absolute terrible waiter that made a rude comment, so on the way out I mentioned it to Andrea, the front desk girl in the dining room and she was so apologetic and the next day remembered us and from then on sat us with wonderful waiters at a window table.. (tipped her at the end extra!) This time when we got off the boat we went to the information booth inside the port mall that we went through to get a taxi. The info man called around to find out which beach would be best THAT day, because with the storms coming, some of the sand had been kicking up and making the water murky. He sent us to a wonderful beach at Folk Stone Marine Park! We hopped in a cab and it cost us about $17 for the 6 of us.. (found if we asked for cabs that fit 6 we usually got them!) (cab driver even rode us through the golf club in which Tiger Woods got married at AND came back 4 hours later to pick us up!) This beach, come to find out, is where some of the excursions go, but we paid nothing to use the beach and our DH’s by now had gone to a store and for $42 bought snorkel gear! There was beautiful coral and loads of super fish for them to see! By now the girls- (we don’t really like fish) so we started to snorkel for sea glass and had a ball! There was also rental equipment here for diving, glass bottom boat tours that came in next door too and you could go on them for about $40! There was a bar here also AND a building that had outside warm showers, and dressing rooms to change our clothes! We took a cab back to the boat and went to all the shops nearby. We were told that most of these islands import all their products so don’t go wild buying things! We bought T-shirts and minor trinkets. Drinks, watch the boat leave, Dinner, show, gamble, sleep! LOL - matter of fact we LOL ALL DAY LONG!
Thursday- Day at Sea.. Woke up at 6AM to go get a spot near the pool on deck… no one else got up that early so by the time the sun was burning above us we were ready to relinquish our seats to others (probably by 9 AM)! I am so glad that I read about the highlighters on the Cruise Critic. I bought extras and we all “plotted” our day! We shopped on board, gambled, went with DH to watch him smoke his new “Cuban” cigar in the cigar bar (barf)! Showered, swam in pool, went to the ice carving demo, afternoon tea, the art auction- too long, but stayed to get the freebie! I think this was second formal night. Great food, I think this was the Beef Wellington night! We went to a show and ended the night by taking pictures at the midnight gala buffet.. Just beautiful, but of course we had to wait in line to take pictures and all my husband kept saying was “where’s my plate!” LOL! Gamble, sleep! - gosh we didn’t have to watch the boat leave this time!
Friday- Aruba. (Biggest beach disappointment- just didn’t find the right one). We did research and decided we wanted to go to the “best beach on the island” Palm Beach, took taxi $17, but had to take two cabs for the six of us. When we got there we were overwhelmed with people asking us if we wanted tours, chairs, etc. Very beautiful beach, but the chairs and shade areas were all property of hotels, and they told us we could not use them.. Chairs were $8. Rip off. Water was a gorgeous color to look at but was too cloudy to snorkel. It reminded me of a bunch of retired people at a beach in Florida, just standing in water, doing NOTHING! We stayed a very short time. ½ of us went back to boat (DH actually went shopping by himself) and one other couple and I got in cab and asked them to bring us to the closest beach to the boat that was nice. He brought us to Havana Beach Club, within sight of the ship and right NEXT to the airport. More locals there.. Of course it also was a topless beach, only a few people were though. Nice bar, gorgeous sand and clear water.. It even had a pool, outside shower and restaurant.. We could have actually walked back, but it was very hot! We took a cab for about $8 for the three of us! We went back to the ship, showered and the girls went out shopping and ended up at a Casino called Castle something. Kept winning couldn’t stop and didn’t get back to ship until after 8! DH’s were worried. We had sent them to Carlos and Charlies but they decide after a few beers and a $50 tab they went back to ship. Met up with them, did the buffet for dinner. Drinks, watched boat leave, gambled, sleep! And oh did we sleep.. The beds were redone during the latest dry docking. I slept like a sloth! Down pillows, down comforter (of course I am allergic to down, but it was so comfortable it didn’t matter- I could have asked for something different but it was so great I never did!).
Saturday- Day at Sea (Wilma hits!). I had taken ginger pills for a few days before the cruise (learned about this on Cruise Critic) and then one every day during the cruise, but when we woke up to 8-10 foot waves, I decided to take the Bonine over the counter motion sickness pill. I did not have any problems. Other couple wore patches behind ears and the other couple took nothing. It was extremely rainy and rocky, but kinda fun! (everyone back home thought we were in hurricane all week) Walking down the aisles there were barf bags taped to the walls. It felt like you were staggering down the halls. Again we did lots of the activities.. Had the 24 hour pizza for lunch (great) and yummy steak sandwiches at the grill. Dinner, went to disembarkment talk, got early tags at meeting because we had to be in first batch of people to get off boat to catch 12:30 plane, packed and left suitcases outside room (thank god I packed a soft sided suitcase inside my suitcases for all my new JUNK), tipped (extra) our steward, assistant steward, favorite bartender, waiter, assistant and main dining room seating girl, gambled, and slept!
Sunday (saddest day). Woke at 6 AM. Showered and met everyone in dining room to have breakfast and say goodbye. Met in the theater at 7:45 to get off boat in first wave. Took about 1 hour for completing the process… MAKE SURE YOU PUT SOME TYPE OF RIBBON ON YOUR SUITCASE TO MAKE IT LOOK DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER THOUSANDS OF SUITCASES DOWNSTAIRS!!!! DH and I were waiting at Taxi area and another couple asked if we wanted to share a taxi to airport so we did! Saved $$! We were at airport in PLENTY of time.. Had lots of sitting around to do! Other couple got out at 3:30 and then Couple #3 were leaving the next morning ……..
BUY TRIP INSURANCE… we used CSA Travel protection.. For $62 a couple it was worth the piece of mind… Couple #3 were stranded in San Juan and are Still there!! Of course they bought a little more insurance then us and they now have $1000 a day to spend on hotel and meals, so because the airports are all closed in the US they are stranded on beautiful San Juan.. Not in the original $99 room, but a $300 room at Marriott, 19th story, balcony overlooking beach! They may get out tomorrow but so what if they don’t! They are having the time of their lives, a vacation in itself! Ordering room service, going to beach, pool, best hotels. I told them at church today they prayed for hurricane victims and I chuckled when I thought of them!
Boy this has been long but .. The last thing I can think of was the pink sticky note on my door to let me know it was MY room. Saved lots of time because all the doors look the same! We booked using MILITARY FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISCOUNT and got the cruise for a ridiculously low price. We booked using a guarantee- starting with a 4A. They bumped us up to a 6B window room! We made out like bandits and enjoyed almost every moment… except I gained 6 pounds and NOW I have to go back to drying my hair… LOL.. Any questions? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thinking of Alaska or Valor next.