Greetings fellow Cruisers!
Herein lies the tale of the longest time (to date) my lovely new wife and I have been able to spend together, along with my two new stepchildren (Hereafter DW, DS14, and DD16).
We sailed the October 28th Destiny, 4-night Western Caribbean itinerary, with stops in Key West and Cozumel. This was my second cruise (my first was on the Triumph a few years ago) and everyone else's first. This was, first and foremost, our slightly-belated honeymoon (we actually married in August). It also provided the first extended time the four of us have had together. When we originally booked, it was with our respective work and school schedules in mind. We didn't even pay attention to the fact that it was Halloween weekend. Of course, once we realized it, we prepared to participate! :)
As much as I hated to do it, our schedules dictated flying into Fort Lauderdale the day of the cruise. We landed at around 12:30, and immediately sought out the Carnival representative to see if we could get on the official shuttle. We could, and did. I think we were almost the last folks to board the ship... The boarding area was nearly empty. The cruise terminal itself looks to have had a major overhaul recently. Given the mess it was in on my first cruise, all I can say is bravo, Miami!
Sadly, we missed the lunch buffet. However, we did take a brief walkabout after the muster drill to note the key locations onboard and get the the drink cards charged up. (None of us drink alcohol, so no DoD's for us). As for the muster drill itself, it was almost enough to send DW and DS home packing (neither are particularly fond of crowds, and we were among the early arrivers, so we were stuck behind just about everyone, and had to wait forever for the laggards.) Explaining how much "better" it was now that wearing the life vests is no longer required didn't help much.
Over all, the food was about the way I remembered from Triumph. The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was a big hit (as expected). The lobster on formal night was a bit disappointing, however. They arrived looking a little sad, and a lot overcooked. DS and DD tried various foods that were new to them. DD pronounced that she "couldn't decide" whether or not she liked brie. (She kept eating it, so I suspect she'll come down on the "like" side...) The rest was of moderately high standard, if a little institutional at times. Everyone got a kick out of how the bar staff remembered what they had ordered from the first night, though DS was concerned that he would never be allowed to change his mind.
Life on Board:
The beds were comfortable, and the stewards amazing. Very efficient - almost too much so for DW, who is one of those who would prefer to clean up the house before the cleaners get there! :) By the end of the cruise she was enjoying the fact that she didn't actually "have to" do anything. We got a separate interior cabin down the hall for DS and DD to share, figuring they could come visit us, or head up to one of the public decks for fresh air. Next time, we'll try to at least get them a window cabin - those interiors are practically caves! DW and I's cabin, on the other hand, was great! The bed was comfortable, and the balcony was great - until the folks in the next cabin started smoking on theirs. :( The towel animals were a big hit. DW and DS (who is an Origami master already) attended the how-to session. DS ended up building an elephant to leave for the hotel staff where we spent our post-cruise night.
We also caught one of the large production shows - it was very well produced and performed, though the talking sofa was a little hokey.