CRUISE REPORT -- Carnival Triumph (07 Aug - 14 Aug)
Hey everyone! I just got back from the Carnival Triumph on Saturday and I had a blast!! I’ll try to give you some details about everything that happened to me on the cruise; as a result, this report may be a little long. I hope that the extra detail will help new cruisers (hey, I’m now a veteran cruiser!). After you read the report, if you have any questions, let me know. The details are below:
I arrived at the Miami Airport without incident. I had arranged air transportation from Albany, NY to Miami through Carnival and I had no problems. I also had no problems finding the Carnival representative in the baggage claim in the airport. If you have a guaranteed room (like I did), the rep will have a list of all the passengers and their cabin numbers; they will tell you your cabin number to write on your baggage tag so it is delivered to the correct cabin. I carried my luggage (a backpack and my garment bag) to the bus, but I’m sure you can get a skycap to do it for you as well. The trip to the pier was ~ 20 minutes; the weather was rainy in Miami and traffic was at about a medium level. When we got off the bus, the porters there had us verify that our bags were going to the right ship (the Inspiration sailed the same day we did, so there were two different groups of cruisers, and hence bags); tipped them a couple of bucks. After that, it was all about waiting in line. I got there about 1PM and it took me about two hours to get all the way through the line. My wait was all indoors, so I didn’t have to wait in the rain. It’s really simple here; you go through some metal detectors and x-ray machines, then there are two lines (FunPass completed and not completed). After you get to the counter and give them your credit card for the Sail and Sign account, you go upstairs and wait in another line to get the actual Sail and Sign card. After that, you go have your picture taken for the first of what seems to be a billion times (the photographers are all really nice, it’s just that they are all over the place). Then you cross the gangway and you emerge on deck 3 in the Capitol (the nine-deck atrium at the forward part of the ship). This is where the Purser’s Information Desk, Shore Excursion Desk, and Capitol Bar are located. It was already packed, and since I wanted to find my cabin to dump off my backpack, that’s where I headed.
Okay, so now that I’m on the ship, let me tell you about the condition of the ship before I go on. This ship is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!! Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe how glamorous the ship was. Did I see stains on the carpets? No, because I didn’t go looking for stains on the carpets! The décor of the ship is gorgeous! It didn’t seem gaudy or overly loud to me, but I did like it a lot. The corridors on each deck are painted a different color, which I thought was a nice touch.
Anyway, back to my trip. I had originally booked a 4A guarantee (interior cabin on the 4th deck), and I kept my expectations realistic. I did not expect to be upgraded, that way I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was mildly surprised at the airport when the rep told me my cabin would be 7206 (to write on my luggage tags); I still didn’t get my hopes up. After I boarded the ship, I went to deck 7 (Empress deck), and went forward. My cabin was all the way at the forward part of deck 7, with a window facing diagonally to port. Look at the deck plan here: http://www.carnival.com/Deck_Plan.as...=TI&deckCode=7
. It was a handicapped room, so it had the seat and special handholds in the shower, and the door was a little wider, but there was no sign on the door saying it was a different type of room. It was an upgrade that I didn’t expect and I was very pleased. Now, I won’t expect this type of upgrade in the future, and you shouldn’t either, but it could happen
So anyway, I got to my room at about 2:40 PM, and the lifeboat drill was at 4PM, so I decided to walk around the ship and explore a little. When you first board the ship, they give you a deck plan. As it is pretty much useless, I left mine in my cabin. There is a deck plan by every elevator for the particular deck you are on, and these also have a side view of the ship showing what is on every deck. Trust me, after about 2 days you will know how to get anywhere on the ship, especially if you have a good memory. Keep in mind that the only decks that allow you to go the entire length of the ship are deck 5 (Promenade deck), and deck 9 (Lido deck). The other decks do not allow you to go the entire length of the ship; they are bisected by something. For example, decks 3 and 4 are cut in half amidships by the London dining room. In addition, it is useful to learn a couple of different ways to get to different places on the ship. For example, I was in the Paris dining room, lower (deck 3) for dinner. The Paris dining room is in the extreme aft part of the ship on decks 3 & 4. The main way to get there that I used from my cabin (remember, 7206 is on the extreme forward part of deck 7) was to use the forward stairs to go down to deck 5, then walk along the starboard side to the aft stairs, then go down to deck 3, where the Paris dining room is located. Alternatively, I could walk all the way to the aft end of deck 7 to the aft stairs, then take the stairs all the way down to deck 3, then to the Paris dining room. Notice that I took the stairs most of the time. Not only is it more exercise and thus better for you, but the wait times for the elevators were sometimes excessively long; at almost all times it was faster to just take the stairs, either going up or down, although the climb from deck 3 to deck 9 could be quite a trek, depending on how much I’d had to drink
Anyway, so I walked around until about 3:45, then I went back to my cabin for the lifeboat drill. I had two lifejackets in my room, but I only needed one. My lifeboat muster station was Muster Station B, which was on the forward part of deck 4. All the muster stations are on deck 4, and your particular one depends on what part of the ship your cabin is located. It wasn’t too bad; it only took about 25 minutes, after which I headed back to my cabin to stow my lifejacket and order some shore excursions. I ordered two shore excursions in Cozumel and one in Grand Cayman. I didn’t book anything in Jamaica, because I was going to wait and talk to some people about them. Turns out that Jamaica got canceled and we went to the Bahamas instead (due to Hurricane Charlie). I’ll talk about those when I get to those days. Also, I noticed that there was already a charge on my SnS account; $70 for the week’s gratuities for the room stewardess and Service Team in the dining room. This is the base amount of gratuity; you can adjust it based on the level of service you get.
So, after I booked my shore excursions, I got ready for dinner. I had requested the late seating; I got the early seating in the Paris dining room at 5:45 PM. I think that next time I cruise, I’m going to request the early seating again. Sure, it cuts into your “on shore” time a little bit, but the nice thing is that it leaves you free to do whatever you want for the rest of the evening. I usually left the dining room about 7:45 or so, and so the night was long and allowed me to do all kinds of different stuff which a later dinner would have made it difficult to do. I had so much fun with the people with whom I had dinner. I was at table 444, which is in the middle of the dining room, and I didn’t ask to change because I didn’t care about sitting by myself or anything like that. I came on the cruise to meet people, and what better way than by sitting in the middle of the dining room? My table was an 8-person table, but the most people who ever showed up were four (including myself). The other interesting thing was that all of us were cruising by ourselves! It was nice being grouped with other people by themselves; by the third day of the cruise, we would have a “daily update” where we would talk about stuff that we had done that day and what our plans after dinner were. We also took turns buying a bottle of wine for the table each night (except on formal nights; that’s when we’d get the champagne), and we would just B/S about various random things, from what we did in “reality,” to what shows we would go see, to trying to arrange a deep sea fishing trip in the Bahamas (that never came to fruition, unfortunately). So, to Tanya, Jen, and Emilio – you guys helped make my cruise a blast! In addition, our two servers – “Service Team” is what they are called – were excellent and very friendly. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but I do remember that he is from Indonesia; and the other one was Carolina, and she is from Russia. The Maitre D’, Dario Panella from Italy, came over and talked to us; especially on the formal nights when I wore my dress blues (I’m in the Navy). He asked me all about my uniform and what I thought about being in the Navy and other such things. He even remembered on the last night when I was leaving the dining room and wished me luck in all my future assignments.
After dinner, I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I went back to my to my cabin, where I met my room stewardess, Diane from Hungary, as she was turning down my bed. She was also really nice; every time I saw her in the corridor, she would always ask me how I was doing and what I was doing or how my day had been. She also made the towel animals, and they were so cool I didn’t take them apart; I just set them aside on my nightstand. She also helped me roll the neckerchief I wear with my dress blues, and in general was very helpful. She was also very observant; after only two nights she figured out that when I left my room I would turn off all the lights except the reading light by my bed and leave the in-cabin music playing, and so every time she would come in to make up the room (in the morning or at night), the reading light would be the only light on and the in-cabin music would be playing. This is service way beyond of what I expected.
After a brief conversation with Diane, I decided to walk around the ship and see what the nightlife was like. I ended up in the Oxford Lounge, where I had a couple of drinks and a cigar. This turned out to be a nightly tradition for me; after dinner, I would go to the Oxford Lounge for drinks and a cigar, then I would go see the late show in the Rome Lounge. It was really relaxing to sit there and listen to jazz while puffing on a cigar.
I did some other stuff that night, but to be honest with you, I really don’t remember what I did. I think I walked around on deck and enjoyed the fresh ocean air. It was absolutely beautiful. The next day I got up and had the buffet breakfast; pretty standard fare, but it was good. Then after that at about 11AM, I went to the “welcome aboard” talk by the Cruise Director, Carlo Lombard. Let me say that throughout the cruise, he was AWESOME! He was very funny and informative. Also, on the second night of the cruise (which was the first formal night), I went to the Captain’s cocktail party in Club Rio, and Carlo was there welcoming in all of the guests. At first, I didn’t recognize him, but he shook my hand with both hands and said, “Welcome aboard, sailor!” (I was wearing my dress blues), and that really made my day for some reason.
Anyway, back to day 2 (Sunday) of the cruise. Like I said, I had the buffet breakfast and then I went to the “welcome aboard talk.” Carlo held one of these talks the day before we would pull into a port. The one on Sunday morning was, in addition to being a welcome aboard talk, a “how to get on and off the ship and what to do in Cozumel” talk. One of the main things to remember when debarking for shore is to take your Sail and Sign card, another form of photo ID (I took my military ID but I’m sure a driver’s license will work fine), and the Carnival Capers (the daily list of shipboard and shore activities). It is recommended that you take the Carnival Capers because inside there is usually a small map of the area immediately surrounding the pier where the ship pulls into, and it also has an emergency contact number for the ship should something happen to you while you are out and about on shore. Also, even though your SnS card is good enough to get you back on the ship (they electronically keep track of everyone who debarks and then reboards), you will need the photo ID to actually get onto the pier, because that is controlled by local police forces (actually the Mexican Navy was controlling the area in Cozumel; I laughed because I didn’t even know that Mexico had a navy). I bought a small backpack at Wal-Mart for about $5 and it fit perfectly in my garment bag; here is a list of what I took on a shore excursion: SnS card, photo ID (my military ID), American Express card (for emergencies), sunscreen, water bottle (brought from home so I wouldn’t have to buy water on the ship; I just refilled it before I went out), beach towel (supplied in cabin), hat, sunglasses, and gum (I hate bad breath). You’ll also need to take the tickets they slip under your door for shore excursions (if you book them from the TV), and it never hurts to take some cash with you. Make sure not to bring just a single large bill; instead, bring several smaller denominations so that it is easier to tip and stuff like that. I kept everything in my backpack except the three cards (SnS, ID, and AMEX); I kept those in the pocket on my swimming trunks so that there was no way I could lose them. Besides, immersion in salt water will not hurt them; I took them all scuba diving in my pocket and they suffered no ill effects.
Anyway, so after the talk I went to the South Beach Club on deck 9 for lunch. It was a buffet style lunch; not super fancy, but there was a good variety. This is where I ate lunch just about every day. In addition to having a skylight, there are also beautiful views of the ocean; it was very relaxing to watch the water while eating lunch. The service staff in the South Beach Club during lunch is the staff that works in the dining rooms at night. I asked Carolina about this and she said that they work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I was not surprised, but the amount of work that they do did not faze me; since I am in the Navy, I am used to such long hours. However, I’m sure a normal person would find these working hours horrible. After lunch, I went to the pool and sunbathed. This is what I would usually do after lunch; it was very relaxing. I had brought The Bourne Supremacy to read while I was sunbathing, but truth be told, I didn’t touch the book once during the whole cruise. I was so into just relaxing that I would fall asleep in by beach chair. A word of caution to people who are very fair: put on plenty of sunscreen before you decide to take a nap in the beach chair! You will be hurting and very red if you don’t
Since the second day was a “Fun Day at Sea,” the deck area was packed, and the “drink pimps” (as I’ve heard them called) were on patrol. Now, actually I use that term with reservation, because they would not hound you to see if you wanted a drink. If they saw that you already had a drink, or if you looked like you were asleep, they would leave you alone. Sure, if you did order a drink from them, it might take a while before you would get it, but keep in mind that there are literally a thousand people on deck. With that many people to take care of, of course it will take longer to get your drink. Don’t get all worked up about it though; as Carlo would always say – “You are now on vacation” and “You can sleep when you get home!”
Well, after a few hours of sunbathing, jumping into and out of the pools and Jacuzzis, and drinking the “drink of the day” a few times, it was time to get ready for formal night. On my cruise, the formal nights were on day 2 (Sunday) and day 6 (Thursday). I went back to my cabin at about 3:30PM, because I was wearing my dress blues and Diane had told me that she would help me roll my neckerchief, and I needed to shower and whatnot. So I walked back to my cabin, Diane was walking down the hallway, and she asked me if I had time to roll my neckerchief! I was surprised that she remembered that I would need her help at all! That is just another example of the level of service that I received on the ship.
So anyway, I got showered and put on my uniform and went out for the evening. I went to the Captain’s Cocktail party, which was at 5PM in Club Rio. This was where I ran into Carlo welcoming all of the people into the party. It was very convenient because Club Rio is on deck 5 right above the Paris dining room, so from the party to dinner was a very short walk. During the cocktail party there was some live singing; I forgot the group’s name, but there weren’t too bad. Actually, all of the on-board entertainment was pretty good. Then after about half an hour of singing, Carlo introduced the Captain of the Triumph, Rocco Lubrano, and the senior officers of the ship. After the Captain made a brief speech, it was time for dinner. By this time, I had already had like three or four drinks, so I was feeling pretty good. At the cocktail party, when you finish your drink, immediately a waiter walks up to you and offers you another one. It was great!
After dinner, I went to the show in the Rome Lounge entitled “Wonderful World.” I thought it was good, considering that it was on a ship at sea, with the constraints associated with that. In addition, I’ve never seen a real Broadway revue before, so I thought it was really nice. After the show, I decided to try my luck at the casino. The only game I played was blackjack, because I don’t understand craps, roulette, and the other card games, and I don’t like to play slots because it’s just a machine taking your money, with no skill involved. One of the things I found interesting was that about 90% of the dealers are from Romania. I don’t know if this is just a coincidence or what, but they were also very friendly and would ask the players where they were from and stuff like that. Another thing is that the casino is much more laid back than a casino in Las Vegas, for example; they don’t mind if the players help each other out and stuff like that. Personally, I find that other people giving me advice annoys me, especially if I have a bigger stack of chips than they do. Blackjack is all about probability, and if you pay attention to the trends of the cards (instead of just blindly hitting or folding based on what the dealer may or may not have), you’ll do much better. In case you were wondering, over the course of the 7-day cruise, I ended up winning $205 over what I started with; not bad for a beginner! I used my winnings to tip my room stewardess and Service Team above the base gratuities already taken out at the beginning of the cruise. I felt that the service I received was worth much more than the $70 split among the three of them, so I gave each of them $50 cash. Not in an envelope either; I simply handed each of them a $50 bill. That way I could ensure that they got the money. The casino was nice to me, so why not share the wealth?
After the casino, I did some karaoke, listened to some jazz, etc.
Okay, so now that you know what my daily routine was for much of the cruise, let me tell you about what I did in my ports of call. In Mexico, I booked two shore excursions: the Hideaway Beach Powerboat excursion and the Sunset Catamaran cruise. The powerboat thing is awesome! I highly recommend it to everyone. Basically you get a two person powerboat with an outboard motor, and you drive it around for about 30 minutes until you get to a secluded beach where you can just relax for a couple of hours. Most of the boats had two people, but since I was by myself, I got my own personal powerboat. The maximum speed of the boats is directly proportional to how much weight is in the boat; thus, I was able to go much faster than a boat with two people in it. What I would do with my boat was ride the wake of the boat in front of me; it was so much fun, and yes, I almost flipped my boat over a few times. Don’t worry though; the more conservative boat driver will not flip over. I was going wild and crazy and that’s why I almost flipped. The Sunset Catamaran Cruise was also a lot of fun. The catamaran picked us up on the same pier that the Triumph docked at. It turns out that there were only five of us on the cruise. It was myself, a younger couple from Tennessee, and an older couple from New Mexico. It was a lot of fun, and it was all the margaritas, tequila, and beer we could drink. The crew was really cool too; at our request, they dropped us off near Carlos n’ Charlie’s instead of back at the Triumph. We went to Carlos ‘n Charlie’s, and to be honest with you, I don’t really remember the rest of the night
In Grand Cayman, I did the beginner’s scuba diving. This was also a lot of fun. They teach you all of the basics of diving in a swimming pool, and then they take you out into the open water, where you spend about 30 minutes swimming around. I got to go down to a depth of ~ 50 ft, which I’m told is fairly deep for the first dive. It was really beautiful, and my only regret is that I didn’t take my camera with me. The dive place was about 1.5 miles from where the little boats were ferrying people between the Triumph and shore, so after the diving was done, I decided to walk back. Let me tell you, that was a good decision! It was a beautiful day, and the scenery was also beautiful. After I got back to the ship, I took a nap because the diving wiped me out.
In the Bahamas, I didn’t book any shore excursions; instead, I went shopping and to the beach with some new friends I met on the ship. First of all, skip on the “Straw Market,” it is nothing more that an indoor flea market where the vendors are all bugging you to buy something and the aisles are barely 4 ft wide. If you get to the main street right by the pier, it’s not as bad; some of the shops are very nice, and I bought a Cuban cigar to smoke on the last night of the cruise. It’s just that the Straw Market and the kids trying to sell me walking turtles (toys, of course), braid my hair, or other cheap stuff left a bad taste in my mouth. Next, we took the ferry over to Paradise Island and went to the beach near the Atlantis Casino. You can’t go on the actual beach used by the Atlantis, but it’s pretty close. The water is very clear and the beach sand is nearly white. It would have been perfect if not for the ever-present hair braiders and people trying to rent you a jet ski or something. Then, on the walk back to the ferry, some guy wanted to fight me for some reason! I’m not really sure why, because I didn’t do anything to provoke him; but it was just another thing about the Bahamas I didn’t like. Overall, the Bahamas was the worst port of call, and I think next time I will just stay on the ship. If you want to go shopping in the Bahamas, know where you want to go; then go there and come straight back to the ship. Believe me, the people on the ship are much nicer than the Bahamans.
The only other thing that I can think about writing about is getting off the ship. On the next to last night of the cruise, you have to fill out a customs declaration form, but it’s self explanatory and Carlo talks about how to fill it out in one of his talks. Usually you have to have your luggage outside your room by Friday night at midnight, but on my cruise, Carnival was trying out this new debarkation process. If you are an American citizen, within your customs allowance, and are willing to carry your own luggage off the ship, you can depart between 7:30-8:30 AM. They call you by deck during this time frame and you simply take your luggage down to deck 3 and you get off of the ship, go through customs, and then walk to the bus to the airport. Very simple. I recommend it for people traveling by themselves; it makes the debarkation process very easy.
Well, that’s pretty much it! I’m sure I’ve left some stuff out, so if you have any questions, please ask! I will also have my pictures posted soon at my moblog (http://randomnuke.textamerica.com
). I hope this helps the new cruisers! -- Craig