Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Destiny
Sailing Date: June 18th, 2006
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Carnival Destiny shore activities for
people looking for something exciting…
We just got back from the Southern Caribbean sailing of the Carnival Destiny. We are divers, and that is one of the things we like to do in port. But, we also like to do something a little more exciting than the “beach break” excursions offered by the cruise line. We booked all the excursions on our own, and they were way cheaper and more fun than anything Carnival offered. I consider the cruise to be a hotel and restaurant that moves us to a different island each night. The shows and games are not my thing, so I can’t really comment on them.
San Juan: Our plane got in early (like noon), and the ship didn’t sail until 10pm, so we quickly realized it’s either go sit on the deck of the boat for 8 hours or go do something. We rented mopeds and toured Old San Juan. If you walk out of the cruise terminal and go left, look down the next block and there is a guy from NY that rents mopeds by the hour. It was the only way to see San Juan. We stopped and shopped, went to the fort and had lunch, but mostly just loved riding around all the old alleys and side streets.
St. Thomas: This was our first stop. We got a tip that St. John is the way to go for snorkeling and boating. We got off the boat and took the bus ($10), right at the off ramp of the boat, to the Red Hook Ferry. The ferry leaves on the hour, starting at 9am. We took the ferry ($5) to St John to rent a dinghy and explore all the beaches. Right when you get off the ferry, look to your right, there in front of the dive shop is a guy with approx., 10 yellow rubber dinghies with 15 hp engines. We rented one ($70) and then saw the whole island, it was awesome! It was so great to see and snorkel all the beaches on our own and not have to choose just one. The snorkeling in St. John is as good as the diving, in my opinion. Plus, we took the dinghy to one of the outlying Cays (they give you a waterproof map) and had the beach there all to ourselves, which was amazing. There is a great beach bar to hang out at when you return the dinghy. This was such a fun day. If you do this, bring some snacks from the breakfast buffet on the boat and a Ziploc bag for your stuff, everything in the dinghy gets wet! Plus, the waves were pretty rough, so only do this if you are comfortable in the ocean and around boats.
Dominica: Second stop and this one was a blast! Dominica is a rainforest island, pretty much rains all the time. This was true for our day there, too. We went on an ATV tour with Highride Nature Adventures: http://www.avirtualdominica.com/highrideadventures/. Melanie is the operator of this company and her and her wonderful family makes you feel welcome right from the start. They pick you up right at the off ramp to the boat and take you to their home high up in the rainforest. They outfit you with raingear and you are off for the best time you can have in the rain! The tour takes you through the rainforest, all through mud and water and sometimes pouring rain. They offer one and two hour tours. We took the two-hour tour and were so glad we did. The second hour, the guide really “gets on it” and you are flying through the rainforest. He also takes you around the local village for a beverage break and tells you all about this beautiful island. Definitely a must-do excursion for thrill seekers. Whatever you do, PLAN SOMETHING for Dominica! The shopping is pretty much nothing and there are no beaches. The waterfalls are ok, but overcrowded. Some friends of ours went to the Zipline Adventure Park through Wacky Rollers and loved that, too.
Barbados: We went on a two-tank dive with The Dive Shop and it was the best diving we have ever done. We did all wreck dives, one dive we saw four different wrecks and a sea turtle that was at least 5 feet long. If you are a diver, go with Haroon at The Dive Shop, he keeps his dives small (no more than 6 divers) and his dive master, Julian, is amazing. After our dive, we just did some shopping for trinkets, but I understand there were some beautiful beaches, if you wanted to hang out.
Aruba: We went on a two-tank dive with Pelican Watersports. I would not recommend them, too big and just a cattle call type of feeling. They promised us we would dive the Antilla (one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean), but when we got there, it was 2 reef dives. Nothing interesting or new. If you go to Aruba, insist on diving the Antilla, we hear it was fantastic. But, after the dive, the Aruba stop was redeemed. I had made arrangements to rent a Jeep Wrangler for the day through Amigo Car Rentals ($70). This was awesome! We drove the whole island; saw all the sights and beaches. The best part is, half the island has no road system, so you are off-road! Aruba is a desert island and we had the best time finding our own way around. It’s so small, you can’t get lost, just drive one way until you find the ocean.
General info on the boat: The reason to go on this cruise is the itinerary; all the stops were amazing in their individual way. I would recommend it to anyone for this reason, just make sure you maximize your time on shore! The food was OK (Royal Caribbean was better) and the service normal for this type of boat. The entertainment was so cheesy, even by cruise ship standards. Book the latest dinner (8:30), so you have tons of time on shore and just eat a snack at the Lido before dinner if you get hungry. Bring a book (or 3!) and your Ipod, for the days at sea and you will actually enjoy them, very relaxing.
Getting off the boat: Debarkation took less than 30 minutes for us. The tip? Tell them you have an early flight (we did) and that you are going to walk your bags off this ship. You get special luggage tags and you don’t put your bags out the night before. That morning, at 7:45 am, you meet in the prescribed location, but the people with their bags were put to the side and we were one of the first ones off. Plus, we weren’t searching for our bags in the cruise terminal and sailed on through, grabbed the first cab we saw and were on our way. The cabs are cheaper than the Carnival arranged transportation and there is no waiting around.
Awesome itinerary – hope you enjoy it as much as we did!