Editor's Note: In one of the most dramatic refurbishments in contemporary cruising, Carnival Destiny will undergo a $155 million transformation culminating with a name change. After its release from a jaw-dropping 49-day dry-dock (from February to April 2013), Destiny will become Carnival Sunshine. Here's what the ship's getting.
The 101,353-ton, 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny entered service in 1996 as the largest passenger ship ever built. While the middle-aged vessel is now one of the line's oldest, regular multi-million upgrades have kept it in line with Carnival's newer, more amenity-laden hardware. In 2008, Destiny gained a Seaside Theater, a brand staple, a mini-golf course and "Circle C" facility for the 12-14's. The line also added 16 balconies to cabins. (An even bigger upgrade is scheduled for 2013.)
Destiny boasts a spacious casino, spa and fitness center, and passengers will find a variety of entertainment and dining options, and comfortably sized cabins -- all at exceptional value for the dollar.
There is a full slate of activities and entertainment for every age group and taste -- from ballroom dancing, classical music concerts, tea time and art auctions to hairy chest and knobby knees contests, blackjack and slot machine tournaments, bingo, and karaoke.
The two-deck main dining rooms -- Universe Aft and Galaxy Forward -- offer two seatings for dinner (6 and 8:15 p.m.), and open-seating lunch and breakfast. The majority of tables seat four and eight; there are tables for two available, but not enough for the large number of passengers. Nightly entertainment by the waiters is part of the "Fun Ship" experience so look forward to a singing maitre'd and dancing busboys. The service in the dining room is efficient and professional. Menu selections are varied nightly.
The Sun and Sea, the lido buffet adjacent to the main pool, is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch though we found the selections limited and lines long. Breakfasts on port days were very crowded. Asian and Mexican stations (selections change each day) and a hamburger grill were quick alternatives to the regular buffet. A 24-hour pizzeria and Caesar salad bar were hits with the late-night crowd.
Also available on all of Carnival's ships is The Chef's Table dining experience, which affords a dozen passengers a multicourse dinner with a master chef, a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley and its operations. This dining option usually takes place in a nontraditional venue, such as the galley or library, and it can be booked onboard at the information desk for a per-person cost of $75.
Passengers board Carnival Destiny by way of a soaring seven-deck atrium called the Rotunda. Its centerpiece is a lobby bar (Flagship Bar) lit with the subtle hue of blue neon; this now popular Carnival trademark made its first appearance on Destiny. The guest services and shore excursion desk are located nearby.
Navigating the vessel is easy once you figure out you can get anywhere from the Promenade Deck (this set-up cleverly forces passengers to walk by the tempting casino).
A 24-hour Internet cafe is situated on Atlantic Deck. There are six terminals; the charge is 75 cents per minute. You can also buy time in packages: 100 minutes go for $55 (55 cents per minute) and 250 minutes is $100 (40 cents per minute). Destiny also offers bow-to-stern Wi-Fi.
Balcony cabins are smaller on the inside (180 square feet), to allow for the 40-square-foot balconies. Balconies have safety-glass panels, affording unobstructed views of the water. Outside standard cabins without balconies are an ample 220 square feet. Inside cabins measure a generous 195 square feet. Bathrooms in all categories have showers, a hair dryer and a medicine cabinet. Carnival now offers free toiletry/amenity kits on all of their ships. Carnival also provides terry cloth bathrobes in the higher category cabins. All cabins have interactive color TV's, radios, direct-dial telephones and individual climate control. All cabins boast ample closet and drawer space. Reading lights and cabin lights can be controlled from a panel over the beds. Most cabins have twin beds that can be converted to a king bed upon request. There are self-service laundry rooms with washing machines, dryers, irons and ironing boards. Self-service ice machines and Coca-Cola vending machines are available.
Carnival recommends $11.50 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff.
|Fitness and Recreation|
At Carnival Destiny's 15,000-square-foot, two-level SpaCarnival, work out on treadmills, Stairmasters, stationary bikes, rowing machines, free weights and progressive resistance machines while enjoying panoramic views. There are men's and women's saunas, steam rooms and locker rooms, and two coed whirlpools. There is also a separate aerobics room and juice bar. Trained instructors lead a variety of exercise classes; personal trainers are available at an additional charge. There is an outdoor jogging track (each lap equals an eighth of a mile) and mini-golf.
The spa and salon, operated by London's Steiner Leisure, offer every kind of massage, facial and treatment imaginable.
The main pool area is one of Carnival Destiny's most popular features highlighted by the winding, 214-foot-long water slide. The deck around the pool is laid out in levels, creating an amphitheater-like effect. There is also open deck space around the aft New World Pool, with a retractable glass ceiling.
The Seaside Theatre is, an outdoor big-screen movie setup located poolside. Similar to sister line Princess' Movies Under the Stars (M.U.T.S.) concept, passengers can enjoy concerts, news and sporting events during the day, and movies at night.
Demographically speaking there is no "typical" Carnival passenger in terms of age or income, although many fall in the middle income range and are attracted to the reasonable rates. Many passengers are between the ages of 21 and 45 with large groups of singles, couples and families.
Carnival's Fun Ships are made for families, with activities that encompass all age groups. There are games and contests for everyone to enjoy together, and there is Camp Carnival, with separate programs for kids, 'tweens and teens. The short weekend cruises attract many families; the midweek cruises less so.
The Camp Carnival facilities for children ages 2 to 11 is on Deck 11. Programs are offered free of charge from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. The multiple-room facility has arts and crafts, computer stations, walls with several monitors for movies and cartoons, a separate section for toddlers and babies, and well-trained staff supervising the children. A highlight is Camp Carnival's dining option, which allows kids to dine with other members of their playgroup.
One area where Carnival is rather unique among family-oriented cruise lines is that it accepts toddlers as young as age 2 into the program -- even if they aren't toilet trained (and staffers will change diapers). Carnival also offers babysitting at an additional charge (plan to pay about $6 per hour). At certain times, babies ages 6 months to 2 years can spend time in Camp Carnival, either with their parents (for free) or on their own (for a fee). However, toddlers and babies that aren't toilet trained are not allowed in any pools onboard, not even the children's pool, and kids must be at least 48 inches to ride the waterslide -- leaving some disappointed five- and six-year-olds on the sidelines.
Circle C is geared toward 'tweens (ages 12 - 14) and this group has its own hangout on Deck 11 with computer terminals and board games. Free activities run from 9 a.m. to about 1 a.m., including scavenger hunts, dance parties, karaoke and mini-golf.
Teens ages 15 - 17 gather in Club O2 next door. The space is similar with computer stations, flat-screen TV's and a mocktail bar. Activities also run from morning until after midnight with photo hunts, T-shirt decorating, ice cream and make-your-own-pizza parties, and sports games. Teens also can opt to attend a supervised, teen-only tour in port.
Most cruises feature one or two formal nights; a dark suit or formal attire is suggested -- most men opt for suits. The dress code for the rest of the evenings ranges from sport coats and ties to resort wear. Otherwise, dress is casual during the day and a bit dressier at night. Carnival's material asks for "resort casual" for dinner in the dining rooms, and most people comply. If you look presentable, jeans are not an issue. No tank tops or shorts allowed in the main restaurants for any meal.
The three-deck-high Palladium Lounge is the venue for Carnival Destiny's nightly Las Vegas-style floor shows and reviews. (Skimpy outfits may not be child-friendly.) This state-of-the-art theater boasts lasers lights, special effects and a sound system to rival any land-based show room. This lounge also has a video projection system, a revolving stage and a retractable orchestra pit. A word of warning -- be sure to get there early to get the best seats. Some of the seats have limited or obstructed views of the stage.
One of the most popular places on the ship is the Apollo Bar, the sing-along piano bar. Get there early if you want a seat. Later in the evening, it was standing room only -- in the hallway! Passengers in the mood for a high-octane dance club will find the entrance to the Point After Dance Club nearby. More than 500 video monitors cover practically every square inch of wall space, and the glass dance floor features various lighting effects. A winding staircase leads down from the disco to the Onyx Room Cigar Lounge, where sofas and comfy chairs abound but don't count on a quiet escape there since music from above is piped in.
The Down Beat Lounge jazz and cabaret room is accented with black and brass walls and a gray carpet covered with red treble clefs. The highlight of the room is the oversized trumpet, tuba and flugelhorn suspended from the ceiling; windows are separated by huge clarinets.
The All-Star Sports Bar offers satellite programming projected on large-screen TV's throughout the room. Aft of the Promenade Deck is the Criterion Lounge; this showroom seating 440 is the place to be for midnight shows. The Millionaire's Club casino is ample, with slot machines operational from 8 a.m., and tables from 10 a.m.
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