Please don't flame, these are my opinions!!
9-24-06 to 10-1-06
Leaving out of San Juan
Going to St. Thomas, Barbados, Dominica, & Aruba
We booked this vacation close to a year in advance. Six months later, we booked our airline tickets through a popular website. We brought a newbie with us, my husbands cousin, and he shared our first ever inside stateroom. My parents also came, and they had a balcony suite. My husband, his cousin, and I are late 20's early 30's. My parents are late 50's, early 60's. None of us had ever left from San Juan before..... Now that you have a little knowledge of us, on to the review.
Flights to San Juan
We decided to fly in the day before, and stay the night in San Juan.... or so we thought. We arrived at Chicago O'Hare about two hours before the flight. We walked up to the counter at the Continental Airlines check in, and they only had our names in the system.... no tickets for us. We had booked our flights through a popular website, and even checked them on line the day before. They had no record of us on any flights, and there were no flights to San Juan for the rest of the day. We had taken a limo, and had no way home. The very nice gentleman at the counter was very helpful, and got us on a flight to Newark, New Jersey, where we had to stay the night, and fly to San Juan on an early flight the next morning. All I have to say is I will never fly anyone but Continental again. Everyone was super friendly, you could actually hear what the captain was saying over the intercom, and even on a two hour flight, they fed us a snack, and handed out complimentary ear phones. We were greeted with smiles from all the flight attendants. It was a great flight!
Boarding in San Juan
We arrived at the pier, and proceeded to check in. We were probably the third group to check in. We had to wait about an hour and a half before they opened the doors to let people onto the ship. Then we noticed that everyone had a slip of paper with a number on it, and they would only let you on if they called your number. By this time, we had been waiting, and people who had checked in after us were able to board. I went up to a lady and told them that we had not received a slip. She gave me one, but we had to wait. It really was a stupid system. No one really knew what was going on, and everyone was just standing in lines... it was really unorganized. Part of the problem was close to 70% of the other passengers didn't speak a lick of English. This was problem number one. Everything took double the time because everything was first announced in English, and then had to be repeated in Spanish. We finally were able to board after a two and a half hour wait. I have never had to wait, and was a little irked by this point.
When we first got on, we noticed a pretty strong smell, it was very musty and moldy smelling. The carpets were very stained, and you could see paint chipping from the walls. I'm not one to complain, or let it ruin my vacation, so off to the room we went. It was our first time having an inside stateroom (which we ended up loving!). As we walked in, the smell of dirty feet filled the air..... how gross! We then noticed that all Shawn (my husband's cousin) had to sleep on was a broken cot. Had I know that he was going to pay $300+ to sleep on a broken cot, I would have gotten a balcony room so he would have more room. I would have thought since we booked almost a year ago, we would have gotten a room with a bunk bed. Also, the two twin beds that my husband and I were to sleep on where on opposite sides of the room. I moved them next to each other, and that worked out fine... sort of. We had no room to move if Shawn had his cot out. I was slammed against the wall, and if I had to get up to use the bathroom, I would have to walk over DH, and then jump over the cot. This really wasn't my idea of fun, or safety in case of emergency! The room itself was in poor condition. There were chunks missing from the wall, stains on the carpet, stains on the sheets and comforters. The tiles in the shower were coming off, and looked like they had already been fixed before. The way the toilet was put in there, you had to have your feet in the shower to fit on it correctly. The air didn't work correctly, and I will get more into detail about that later. Again, I really didn't let it bother me, we laughed it off, why ruin a vacation with the little stuff?? We were still away from work, and we were still determined to have a blast.
Dining Room Food
Since we didn't leave port until 10 pm, we had open seating dinner the first night. Four of the five of us ordered the New York Strip Steak. I think I've had better meat at Ponderosa! It was fatty and tasteless. My dad had the talipia, and loved it. Night after night, the beef just wasn't up to par. However, my father loved all the fish.... and boy was there a lot of fish on the menu. I cannot eat seafood, so it was hard for me to have anything but beef. Most of the time, I took a couple bites, watched everyone else eat, then a couple hours later, went up to the deli for a ruben. The deserts were yummy as always. Our waiter, Christian from Peru, was awesome. The staff in the dinning room are always fantastic, and I have never had any issues. I was very disappointed in the dining room selections. But hey, I was on a cruise, and not at work, so I'm not going to complain.
The deli was great!! I had to eat there many of times. The buffets never looked appetizing, so I only had salads. My father had the buffet everyday for lunch, as with any buffet, some of the food he thought was great, and others left something to be desired. We were excited to try the pizza.... then horrified when we put it in our mouth. It was way undercooked, and soggy. My husband did like the burgers, and I did try one, and enjoyed it. As you may of guessed, I lived off the deli. Other Carnival cruises, I have loved all the food, and had no issues. I was a might disappointed..... again, I wasn't going to let this ruin anything!
Overall Condition of the Destiny
I found it to be pretty dirty, and falling apart in many areas. The pools were old looking, with rust visible. All the windows looked very dirty, and the carpets just need to be replaced. Most of the games in the game rooms didn't work, and they wouldn't change in the tokens. The elevators had issues too. Several were closed through out the cruise. Nothing to ruin my fun though!!
I'm not sure if I would ever spend the extra money on a balcony suite. We loved our inside stateroom. We were at the back of the ship, and loved it. My parents were across the hall, and they said they were nearly rocked out of the bed. Since we were in the middle, we felt nothing. We were able to sleep in because there was no window to let the light in. We loved it!!
We did have some issues with it along with the ones stated above. One issue was the air was not working correctly, and it was darn hot in there. We called down the the pursers desk, and they said they would send someone up to look at it. We waited about an hour in the room, and no one came. We finally left for dinner, hoping that someone would come while we were gone. When we arrived back, nothing had changed. It was now going on 10 pm, and we wanted to sleep. The next night, I called the pursers office again, and they again told me someone would come to check it. I was in the room for the rest of the night, and still no one came. A day went by, and the purser called the room. She wanted to check to see if the air was better. I told her that it was the same, and no one came. She proceeded to tell me that some one had come up when I had called, and they fixed it. When I told her I had been in the room the whole night, she told me that they had come. She didn't seem to understand that I was in the room, and no one had come. She continued to argue with me that someone had come. I gave up, and said ‚ÄúNever mind, I will just write a letter to Carnival when I get home.‚Ä? I then hung up on her. I don't like being called a liar. Two days later I got a letter under the door from her, saying that she was sorry I was disappointed. What a joke! Another issue was the cot. It was missing springs, and sagged to the floor. I still don't understand why we weren't given a room with a bunk. It was really hard to have three people in there. My last complaint about the room was the sheets. They didn't fit the bed. By the time we woke up, we were sleeping on bare mattress....EWWWW! When I asked the room steward about it, she said it was all they had. Again, not enough to ruin the cruise.
St. Thomas ~ Beautiful. This was our second time there, and we would go back in a heartbeat. We didn't do an excursion. We went off by ourselves. We took the sky tram to the top, and what a view. We did lots of shopping, and some geocaching..... for those who don't know what that is, it's like a giant treasure hunt.
Dominica ~ Gorgeous! My parents took a tour, and said it was their favorite place on earth. They saw the falls, and the rain forest. My mother has MS, and is on a walker. Their guide was great, they kept the air on high, and made sure to take my mother places that were accessible for walkers. They would love to go back again. We didn't do an excursion, and walked around town. It really would have been better had we not been offered drugs every 5 minutes. I would go back in a heartbeat! Next time I would do an excursion.
Barbados ~ It was beautiful, but I don't think I would go back. We took a taxi to the shopping area, and we hadn't even stopped before people were sticking their heads in and asking if we wanted a tour. The same guy asked us 4 times if we wanted a tour. I felt like I was getting bombarded. We shopped for a couple hours, then went back to the ship for swimming.
Aruba ~ This was one of my favorite islands that I have been too. You can really tell the dutch influence. It was gorgeous! We did not have an excursion their either, we just walked to the shopping areas. The prices were great. I was able to get my husband a new wedding band for far less than what I thought. I can't wait to go back there!
Would I cruise Carnival again? You bet!! I still think it is the best bang for the buck. Would I sail on Destiny again? Nope! Would I sail out of San Juan?? Doubtful. We loved all the staff (accept that purser). Everyone was very friendly. The cruise director was great (Steve Knisley). Overall, I felt the cruise was geared towards the locals of Puerto Rico. Most of the music played was Latin, most of the buffets had Latin food, and most of the deck parties played Latin music. Not a big deal, but I felt out of place. With so many people that didn't speak English, there was defiantly a language barrier. Kids were in the adult only pools, and they didn't understand why they were being asked to leave.... or they would just ignore the people asking because they didn't speak English. Plus everything took double the time (like the life drill) because it was repeated in Spanish. It was nothing that would ruin a vacation, but it still made us feel out of place.
I never let anything ruin a vacation, we paid to much, and waited to long to have a bad cruise, we just took everything in stride, and made jokes out of it. We had a ball, and can't wait to get on a ship again!