My wife and I cruised the Destiny for the second time. Overall, great cruise. This was her 17th cruise, over 20 for me. We flew Delta from TN, arriving on Friday afternoon. We had Pricelined the Marriott ($121) for two nights. TIP: when checking in ask for a corner room. The windows are magnificent and there are two balconies, one of them with an ocean view. Secondly, get up as high as you can. They were playing music in the lobby both nights until 2am and we could here the beat even on the 5th floor. My wife did complain and they took care of us. So the service at the Marriott was good; the beach not so much. The pool area was nice. Two shallow pools, lots of kids. If you are a walker Ashford St. is a little boring going left or right. I walked away from the beach, crossed the major road and got into the "downtown" area and walked over to Miramar area. (We had originally booked thru Hotwire Hotel Miramar. After reading so many negative reviews, I took the loss ($162.) and booked the Marriott for the beach). While I was walking (about 5 miles) I tried finding the Hotel Miramar, asking two people as well, never found it. BTW, we did not have to pay the resort fee at the Marriott. I had asked them if I had to and they said no. We ate at Tiajana's and Uno's. Both $30. meals. Sunday we left the hotel at 10:30 for the ship. It was $20 ($18 + tip) from the airport to the hotel and the same from the hotel to the ship.
Arriving at the port, we stood around a while. So many people were still getting off. After about 20 minutes a porter asked to take our luggage. We tipped him and probably 20 minutes later they let us start the check-in. We were first to check-in so that was quick. We sat after check-in from about an hour. Got on board about 12:30. OPINION: My wife knows I am ansty to get on board but I would advise not go as early as we did. I thought after we checked in there would be a glut of people but there wasn't. People trickled thru check-in. They did take care of priority passengers and it was fairly orderly. I don't know about later on though. You enter the boat not on a regular centrum level. It is low on the ship Deck 0 I think. After the pictures it was very confusing on where to go to get on the ship. You have to wind around the stair case and go downstairs so just keep walking down the corridor even though it will appear that you are walking away from the ship. Of course, we directly went up to eat. After that we went to our cabin (2334). After getting settled we went off the boat and toured OSJ. Having been there two other times we made the effort to go down streets we had not walked before. We toured El Morro for the first time; it was excellent.
On these boards I had read that 2334 was 1A cat. and that it had two portholes and regular bedding situation. It is bunk beds!! I had even seen pictures (obviously from a different ship) on these boards. I ran over to 2335 because I had read that it was bunk beds. It was as well. I was disappointed with the bunk beds, but oh well! We asked Maricleno for feather pillows and egg crate topper for the beds. We got the pillows,he said they didn't have them for the beds. Remember, at the back of the ship if you are not an early riser, you will become one. The winches for the tethering dock ropes start up about 30 minutes before docking. It is brief but loud. The room did have a double medicine cabinet and a nice 2'x5' shower, great robes, decent hair dryer (the European kind), no frig. We had on night of noise about 2 pm. but that was it. The room has a long hall, maybe that helped. We are very early risers and go to bed usually around 10pm.
FOOD: It was good. The Bitter and Blanc dessert was excellent (worth the cruise by itself. My wife found 'a' dessert recipe for it on the internet last night). The lobsters were small but sweet, all four of them. We had early seating, table 420. We originally had 444? (for eight or ten) and asked for a table for two. 420 is a booth and they set it for four each night except the last night. But we were by ourselves. I did not take a suit to wear(first time). There were plenty of tuxes though. We did witness a couple of nights them turning people away for not keeping the new relaxed dress codes. I tried four times and never got a hot baked potato. The prime rib was good. I never got a steak that wasn't stringy though. The pizza on Carnival still reigns supreme or at least the goat cheese pizza does; as does the hot dogs, hamburgers and Reuben (ask for double meat!). Sushi was OK. I still say they do not use the normal sticky rice; it seems to be ground up or something. BTW, I put on 10#. (Normal) It was my wife's birth date on the 5th. I told our waiter Michael on the second night so that they could prepare a serenade. He brought the cake on the 4th. This was a reflection of the service we got all week. Michael was a poor waiter. He basically brought food to the table. If I order two en trees, he brought them at the same time. I asked him not to do that, didn't work; he brought both anyway.
PORTS: Since we had been on this cruise before, I researched independent tour companies that we did not use before so that maybe we could have a different flavor to the port. Without exception, we saw different things than we had before. St. Thomas - we basically stayed on the boat. However, after lunch was did get off to walk around. We discovered a K Mart just a few minutes from the dock. Walk off thru the shops, go left and stay right past the incline. (We had gone to the top of the mountain on a tour before and I thought we would do the incline. NOT! It was $19. That made the $30. we had paid PP nice.) Dominica - Went with Levi Baron , Bumpiing Tours. Went with four others when we got to the meeting spot (Hey Erik, Alicia, Jeff & Nancy!!). We took the Roseau Valley Best Tour. It was very difficult hiking. If you are not into hiking or not physically fit do not take this tour. We were wasted the rest of the day (went to bed at 9:30 that night!) Now...we are into hiking and it was a great hike, but I did not know the intensity going in. I still would have gone but would have worn better shoes than water socks. Great day, paid $110 + $20 tip. Barbados - Went with Cameron Reid. Private tour with Colin. Rainy day. Do not miss the Nicholas Abbey. Beautiful gardens. Great day, saw a lot. $125. + $20. tip. St. Lucia - Benard the St. Lucia Taximan. Private tour. Rainy day. Stayed away from the mountains (since we had gone with Cosol before, we had seen the most popular sites). Benard was very good. $100. (tip included). Antigua - Gordon. This tour started out rough. Gordon brought his 7 year old daughter with him (first time we had that occur). And if I had a dollar for every time he said "um" in his sentences, the cruise would have been taken care of. We were thinking it was a private tour since no one else was with us; but after and hour and a half of driving around looking at where Gordon had gone to school, where relatives lived and where his father had taught he how to drive, we picked up another couple. They were great fun. Don't miss the Steinford property or Devil's Bridge. We ended up paying $40.PP + $10 tip. The tour was OK, Gordon just needs to have a better rap and leave the child with Mom. St. Kitts - Ilva Wallace. Toured with "King" William. Private tour. $125 + $20 tip. We circumnavigated the island. The King was very entertaining.
We did the Baggage Express. Very worth the $15PP. We left the boat around 10AM and our flight did not leave until 3:40. I wish we would have planned something that day, but we did not want to do anymore OSJ and were not interested in seeing anymore SJ so we went leisurely to the airport.
The Destiny crew was very friendly. Casino dealers were either very nice or just dealt the cards. Lido food was OK. Not great desserts nor was the chocolate buffet (during the lunch time, I think on the next to last day). Room service brownies are great as well as the roast beef and brie. I took too many shorts and shirts. So pack light! Get playing cards from the friendly Purser's desk. Shows are good. The bald comedian from Brooklyn was great. We had seen the juggler 3X before, same act. The magician was very good. We don't do the productions.
We love Carnival. I am working on a cruise for October 2009. However, on the Freedom the taxes, port charges and fuel are half the price of a cruise (4C). Anyway, we are on the Triumph this October and the Brilliance of the Seas in February 2009. So as long as I have a cruise booked I'll be alright.