We just got back last night from our trip on the Carnival triumph, so here is a little of the good and the bad from our trip. This was our first cruise.
We booked through tripcentral.ca who in turn booked through carnival. Carnival made our hotel and flight arrangements. We were booked on air Canada on our trip down and American airlines/American eagle returning. Our flight there from Halifax to Montreal was late arriving at Montreal so we barley made our connecting flight. In Montreal we had to collect our baggage, go thought US customs, return our bags to the airline, go through security again, and make it a long ways inside the airport, all in about 1 hour. Can you say stress
. We did make it though, with one causality, my wife hurt her foot trying to make it to our gate.
When we got to Miami at around noon my luggage showed, my wife's didn't. More stress. We filed our missing luggage claim with air Canada, and reported to our carnival rep for our transfer to the Miami airport Hilton. Got to the hotel and checked in, no problem. Great service at the hotel. All the staff were very friendly. The beds were really soft and comfortable. Little bit of airplane noise, but not that bad. Would have preferred a hotel closer to south beach. We did take a taxi to south beach and went to Emeril's for dinner. Great experience, little pricey though, but worth it. Never did I have such great service in a restaurant.
Saturday morning on a buss again and off to the triumph. Very cherry Jamaican driver, no problem man. Backed down a highway onramp an pulled a U Turn at a light to avoid traffic, no problem Man
Embarkation was a pain, but ya gotta go through it, and it went pretty smoothly. We found out the ships was booked solid, still spring break in some places. Got on board and were in a room in just a few minutes. No long waits for the elevator. Our room was a little smaller than I expected, but was big enough. We had room 6401-balcony room. It was quit enough here. No noise problems.
We dined at table 108, London dining room, late seating. We had great table mates. Everyone at our table had anniversary’s during the week. Pretty mush every one at our table had the same feelings about the food, it could use work. The beef was always the best choice. The pasta were never too warm and lacked flavor, boring and bland. They used mozzarella for their French onion soup, instead of gruyere or Swiss cheese. It was very bland. The Won Ton soup in the dinning room and hong kong nooodle company was the worst I have ever had. Tasted like dishwater. Not only my opinion either, everyone at our table that had it said the same. Our waiter said "Indian chef making Chinese soup, what can you expect" lol. Fish was always a bad choice. I think every fish dish they served had a strong fish smell. If fish smells like fish, it's been around too long. Chicken was always overcooked and dry. With the negatives out of the way, there were a lot of good choices. Salads were good. Most appetizers were good. Deserts were ok, some better than others. I guess the key lime pie was great. Our tablemates had it, but chocolate soufflé was on that night as well and I had it, also very good. We had a fantastic wait staff, they received extra compensation at the end of our week. If you didn't like something, they could usually tell and asked right away if you wanted something else. Replacement were on the table in no time. Also, asking the waiters their recommendations is a good idea. By late seating they knew what folks liked and didn't, might save you some time. All in all, the food needs improvement, but we didn't go hungry, and the dining room experience was fun. Only time I saw anyone turned away from the dining rooms was for breakfast. That was men wearing tanks tops or muscle shirts. There were a few folks during formal nights that lacked the good manners to meet the dress code, but didn't pay them too much attention.
The photo staff took some very nice pictures, but they were also like the paparazzi. They wouldn't take no for an answer and they were everywhere. Was almost scared to have sex in our stateroom for fear of hearing someone say smile
. They also shouldn't be allowed in the dining after people have started eating, very annoying.
Cabin Stewart was great. Barley saw her, room was always clean. She forgot to take dirty glasses with her a couple of times, but no big deal. Some of tablemates didn't have the same luck. They complained about their first Stewart, found out she was fired, too many complaints. The replacement was no better. Some days their room wasn't made up at all. Hit or miss I guess.
Entertainment was good. The dance shows were really great. Adult comedy was ok, not that funny though. Adult magic show was a waste of time, except of the Hot dances in the skimpy outfits
Their was little magic and I think the whole show lasted about 20 minutes. Piano bar was great. My wife said before the trip that she would not go to the piano bar. She expected all rat pack music. When we got there it was here favorite place late evening. Damian, the piano player, was great. Good singer, pretty good choice of music, and a great personality for interacting with the crowd. Played a lot of classic rock. The disco and Rio lounge didn't seem to be too busy. With the ship filled, would have expected larger crowds, but didn't seem the case. We each made a $20 donation to the casino. Not really gamblers, but the placed usually seemed busy.
As for the ports, we only went ashore to make a prone call home in San Juan. Loved ST. Thomas. I was there before, my wife never was. Folks are a little pushy to sell jewelry downtown. We took a cab downtown, $4 each. When we were done shopping got a cab to sapphire beach and a tour for $20 each. Tour was nice, beach wasn't that great. We met one couple from New York who said it was the dirtiest beach they have ever saw. They had no change rooms that I saw and the floors in the washrooms were bad enough that I wouldn't change there. Just stayed in my shorts and laid out for a couple of hours. $5 per lounger rental, not too bad. Got a good sunburn on the chest, on a partly cloudy day, with a bit of rain, in only 1 1/2 hours, so watch yourselves in the sun. Took the water Taxi downtown to do some shopping in ST Martin. As pushy as ST Thomas merchants were, ST. martin was mush worse. Almost made us feel unsafe there. My wife went for a quick swim at the beach in front of the main street. They wanted $10 per lounger there, but we didn't stay that long so didn’t bother. We were planning on going to orient beach, but we were both tired and I was still burnt from ST. Thomas so we went back to the ship to relax a bit.
Disembarkation didn't start until around 8 30 for self disembarkation. We were on deck six (purple) and I think we got off around 9 30. By the time we picked up our luggage got through customs and on a bus, and too the airport it was around noon. Our flight didn't leave until 1 25, but there were long line up at American airlines counter. We did get to our gate with about 20 minutes to spare. I thought we would have been there hours before; so I guess it might have been better to self disembark.
When we got to New York and went to the American eagle gate to check in, we were told we might not get seats, they might be over sold. We would have to wait and they would call us. Stress factor went way up. In the hour we waited, we must have saw a dozen or more people, for various destinations, walk away from their gate, cursing and swearing. The staff at their gate seemed unsympathetic arrogant and smug. They never did call us, but about 5 minutes before boarding I went to check again on our seats, and they already had our new boarding passes printed. They could have told us we had seats. We were getting a little stressed as we had childcare issues if we didn't make the flight. It all worked out in the end, but it was a lot of stress. I would avoid American eagle if at all possible.
Would I go on a cruise again, I'm not so sure. The cruise itself was fun, and worthwhile. All the stress of the flights, going to a hotel, getting from the hotel to the ship, and the flight home, make an all inclusive resort with a direct flight, seem like a better choice for a vacation. Something to be said for just getting off a flight, taking a bus to a resort and you can start you vacation right away.