We flew into Miami from Toronto, with American Airlines, the night before the cruise. We stayed at the Sofitel near Miami airport for $122CAD, which provided a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. The hotel concierge arranged us a transfer to the Port of Miami for $10/person.
Embarkation We were met in front of the Carnival terminal by one of the staff who quickly checked our Fun Pass, which we filled out online before we left, tagged our luggage for our stateroom, and sent us inside. We stood in a short line where another representative reviewed our passports and Fun Pass, then went through security. After a short walk, we stood in another lineup and checked in. From the time we left the hotel (12 noon) to stepping on the ship was less then 50 minutes (12:50pm). Our stateroom wasn't ready but there was lunch available on the Lido deck, with entertainment, and of course the bar was in full swing.
The Destiny The ship is showing some signs of age but looked pretty good to us. The maintenance staff worked hard everyday with painting and upkeep. The water was a little rough on the third night but it gently rocked us to sleep. We weren't bothered with sickness at all.If you do have any nausea or sea sickness, go to the front desk. They have a treasure chest full of pills that will ease the pain. Accommodations Our room was ready by 130pm. We stayed in room 1205, which had a king size bed, a couch, and an ocean view. The room was a lot bigger then we had thought it would be which was good, as we were a little worried about getting claustrophobic. The bed was comfortable, large duvet, and six feather pillows. There is plenty of room in the closets to hang clothes, and lots of drawers to store anything you may need. The washroom was small, you had to keep the door closed to maneuver about. We had lots of hot water, water pressure and fresh towels. The hairdryer handle kept coming off, but we dealt with it. Our cabin steward Dean, kept our room in pristine condition. He left us a new towel animal every night with mint chocolates on our pillows. He also provided us with a complimentary bottle of champagne and had it on ice for us.
Food Breakfast - Was available buffet style in the Sun and Sea restaurant, typical buffet breakfast foods, nothing fancy. You could also go to the Universe dining room for a sit down breakfast, eggs Benedict all the way! Lunch - So many choices. On deck 9, Lido deck you could choose from a buffet in the Sun and Sea restaurant, typical. There is a deli where you can have grilled and cold deli sandwiches, it was ok, we thought the pastrami to be a bit on the fatty side. There's an oriental counter, which had soups, stir-fry's, and spring rolls. We really enjoyed this, nice option. There's a 24hr pizzeria and ice cream bar, this came in very handy after a long night at the Casino. There is also two quick serve counters near the main pool, they always had salads, hot dogs, fried chicken, burgers, and fries. Dinner - We had a late seating in the Galaxy dinning room, and sat at table 112. You have the same table every night and we were sat with two couples close to our age. We're from Canada, a couple from Whales, and a couple from New York. This made for interesting conversation and we all became great friends during the cruise. The service by Uan, Renato, and Katerina was impeccable!!! The menu changed daily and we were never disappointed. Don't be shy, if you like more then one thing on the menu, order it. We always had two apps, one being a soup, which was always good, and one of the daily salad options. For dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake, OMG!!!
Captains Ball - One of the only times you'll receive free drinks. Middle of the afternoon, meet the Captain, have some drinks and hors d'ourves.
The Bars - Drinks aren't cheap, cocktails range from $6.95 to $9. Beer was $3.75 to $7. You can purchase 5 drinks of the day on a card which saves you 20% in the end, basically the fifth one is free. There is also a Fountain Fun Card, which was $5.50/day, this gave you unlimited soft drinks which are normally $2 a shot. Entertainment The nightly shows were pretty good. A lot of high energy dancing and singing, Broadway musical sort of things. The girls don't wear too much for costumes, maybe at the earlier evening show they are more covered up. We loved the first comic, Hugh Macaulay, hilarious!! He had two shows, clean family show and an adult show later in the evening. The second comedian Dean Gaines wasn't our sort of thing. He took the racial jokes about the ships crew too far and most of his jokes were centered on the southern United States, which was only funny to the dozen or so people from the southern States. The cruise director Noonan and his assistants kept you well informed and entertained throughout the day. There were games by the pool, bingo, and dance contests in the disco.
The ship had various entertainers during the day, Reggae on the Lido deck, acoustic in the Casino, piano in the Lobby bar. The Casino was always a busy place, and a fun one, we donated many dollars there!
On Board The ships photographers took great pictures and we purchased a few. A bit on the expensive side at $22 for an 8x10, but they were well done. There is a tax and duty free store with clothes, jewelry, perfumes, cigars, cigarettes, and alcohol. They had a big sale the first night on booze, and free samples, don't miss it. They also had a raffle every night, for a watch, jewels, booze, make sure to get a ticket in the shop. There was an art auction, which most of the art was out of our reach, but the free champagne and the experience made it a lot fun.
Nassau There were five ships in port, which made it very crowded in the shops. You were able to barter with the merchants and get some great deals. We spent most of this day on the ship because of the crowds and it was also windy.
Half Moon Cay WOW!!! All I can say. Privately owned island by Holland America, and mostly preserved in its original 2500 acre beauty. You get to shore on a fairy, where there were two bars, plenty of beach chairs, washrooms, misting stations, and a beach BBQ put on by the Destiny chefs. There are cabanas for rent for the afternoon, I think $250 for the day, and a private villa, over $1000, and they were all booked before the ship left Miami port. The sand is like powder and the water was the clearest blue we've ever seen. Sit back relax and enjoy. The cabana boys will be by with drinks.
Grand Turks and Caicos This was a great beach to lounge on and work on the tan, warm clear water, with great sand. There were nice shops to browse through and a large duty free store. We spent some time at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, where there was a pool, food, drinks, and entertainment. Friends of ours went and did the powered snorkeling, and said it was the best coral they had ever seen. We took a taxi downtown, which is $5/person either way, but were sadly disappointed. The hurricane destroyed all of the shops and most of the homes, the local school is now a large tent. We felt so bad for the residents, I would stay in the tourist area. If you take a walk along the shore to the right of the pier you will come across the most beautiful conch sea shells, it made a great souvenir. Disembarkation This went even better then the embarkation. We had an early flight so we kept our luggage with us and met in the Palladium at 7am. As soon as the ship was cleared by customs we went into the terminal and because we were non US residents there was a separate customs line. We were the only ones in it, and we were out of the terminal in less then 10 minutes. We purchased a transfer from Carnival for $30/person which took us to Ft. Lauderdale airport. We were at the airport by 9am. We then flew Southwest to Baltimore, and then Air Canada on to Toronto. Overall We can't say enough about this vacation. The food, service, and entertainment far exceeded our expectations. It was great value for the money. The age on the ship seemed to be 21-45, there were some kids onboard but Camp Carnival kept them busy and we rarely saw any of them. We will definitely be looking into another cruise in our future vacation plans.
Mike & Heather