O.K. I have read the entire thread and want to comment on several things. . .
Hurricanes. Typically, September/October is prime time for Hurricanes. However, the islands that are visited on a Southern Caribbean itinerary are too far south to be affected by most hurricanes because the Hurricanes form further north. In other words, the Southern Caribbean itinerary is your best best for Sept/Oct.
The passengers. I cruised the Destiny October 2006 and the ship was 4 to 1 with 4 being spanish speaking (some bilingual, some not). O.K. I am going to say something and please understand this is my most humble and personal opinion and experience.
If I had to generalize about the non-english speaking passengers, I would have to say they were extremely unfriendly and many bordered on hostile. Most of the spanish speaking passengers actually were able to speak English but, when in the presence of a non-spanish speaking person, opted to speak spanish for no other reason then they could. For example, I was at breakfast one morning in the dining room and was placed to sit with two hispanic women. While it was just them and me, they spoke spanish. It was not until the table filled up with english speaking passengers and these women realized by speaking spanish they were excluded from the lively conversation by the rest of us, did they start to speak perfect english. Come to find out, both women were from New York City!!!!
Had it just been me at the table with them, they would have continued to speak spanish just to create a sense of division. Something like this happened to just about every non-spanish passenger that I encountered on this cruise.
I do not know or care about the politics of the Island of Puerto Rico but there was a feeling of hostility towards non-spanish speaking passengers that every non-spanish speaking person saw, felt and experienced. They simply seemed angry at us for some unknown reason. However, to be honest, I didn't see the spanish speaking passengers interact much outside of their individual groups either so it may just be a cultural thing that they do not extend outside of their tight little circle. Each group just stayed within their little group. Very un-cruise-like in my opinion.
I did not do the buffet after the embarkation lunch so I can't speak to the behavior that I have read about in the buffet.
Also, every night in the disco, when hip-hop, old school was being played, the dance floor would be jammed. If a group of latinos came in (no matter how small the group) and the music would be immediately and permanently switched to salsa. This happened every night without fail. The lounge never played big band, jazz or easy listening. Every single night in the lounge was salsa music. If a passenger didn't like hip-hop or salsa, they can forget dancing on the Destiny.
The attitudes of the spanish-speaking people on this ship surprised me b/c I am in NYC and know and interact with many latinos. In NYC I have always found them to be some of the warmest, most loving and friendliest people around. However, what I experienced on that cruise was the polar opposite so I just attributed the hostility to be a San Juan thing and not a Latino thing.
It is definitely a "them and us" mentality on this ship.
However, the islands are to die for so I will be back on board the Destiny in Fall 2008. I now know what to expect.
BTW, there were several children on board but school was in session. I guess education is not that important to some.
If you want to see these islands via a cruiseship, take the Destiny. It is much cheaper than RCCL Adventure of the Seas, which has many of the same problems.
For reasons I can probably guess, both cruiselines seem to use ships in need of some TLC for their San Juan cruises.
Why Carnival doesn't have a Southern Cruise from Florida is beyond me. A nice 8 or 9 day for $500 more would be a sure fire hit and could easily visits those same islands. It would sell out months and months in advance. I don't get it. Maybe one day. . .