Well we just got back from the Triumph... Here's the review... Disclaimer: you might have found your experience completely different than I did. However I'm calling it as I see it and comparing to my previous cruise..
I've heard all sorts of nightmares from people about the boarding process in the terminal being long and drawn out. It wasn't the case at all. We went from terminal door to cabin door in under 30 min. (However.. the porters are just bloody rude asking for tips.. Yes I know its their livleyhood etc etc but they just kept yelling "dont forget to tip us! its $1 per bag!!" ... I was a bit put off by this.
We left port at 4:00 and I sat on my balcony with my wife as we sailed away from Miami at sunset. --As an aside, I was on Lido deck (9). Our steward was OK.. But no where near as nice or personable as the guy we had last year on Adventure Of The Seas... I never got his name. Also there was mold on the shower tile and curtain. I know the ship is about a decade old but that's something that can be taken care of relatively easy.
That night at dinner, we were expecting to be seated at a large table with many people.. We were at a four seater and the people the cruise line paired us with were a nightmare.. They were loud, obnoxious, rude, and a little mentally ill (you get the idea).. I seem to recall RCC having us take a survey so that we were placed with people we would have things in common with (kinda like e-harmony for cruisers) I wish Carnival would have taken the time to do SOMETHING like this. If that weren't bad enough, the food was not up to par as far as I'm concerned. I ordered a steak cooked medium.. They brought me a piece of leather (over cooked and just ruined) I ate it because I was starving. I finally complained to our waiter who had the audacity to tell me I ordered it wrong and I didn't know what medium was. My jaw DROPPED.. I had some words with the waiter about this and left the table. The food wasn't worth ruining my vacation over.. I was steamed and walked through the main part of the ship looking for something to do.. It was about 10 PM when I found that magical bar....
Now some of you may be thinking "he got drunk!!" well, you're right.. but that wasn't the magic. I walked in to the piano bar. It was called the big easy and was decorated with shells on the walls. It was dark with a grand piano in the middle.. The piano was elevated with bar stools all around a circular pedestal that rotated clockwise. Playing the piano was younger guy (mid 30's).. I took my seat (I say MY seat because I was there for the rest of the week.. the waitresses even had my drink ready for me every night) I requested a number of songs, and got to talking with the Piano man.. His name was Brad, he was from Toronto and had played piano all his life. I'm telling you about this particular bar and this particular pianoman because I wish I could do justice to the atmosphere and fun I had with Brad and everyone else that became regulars at the big easy. Let me tell you about some of the characters:
(my wife and I gave nicknames to everyone cuz we couldn't remember their real names for the first few days)
Crazy drunk guy:
He's in his mid to late 40's with two teenage sons.. He acted like a 19 year old frat boy.. He was ALWAYS drunk and dancing around and trying to get you to dance and LOUD.. He wore a tie dyed shirt. He was fun.
slutty pirate girl
: she wore the same revealing shirt ALL week. it was striped like a pirate's shirt and when she talked, she always closed one eye. She tried to sleep with everyone.
Brian the frat boy
: One of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Just wants to have a good time. He loved music, loved to sing every song.. and loved to salsa dance. He's the everyman friend that didn't have an enemy in the world..
: On the last night she was aretha franklin in the Legends concert.. So that's her name. Nice lady that was there every night .. she requested great songs and felt brad up the last night (loong story)
: He is a Sgt in the Army and was taking a cruise with his friends before he was about to be shipped out to Iraq for his second tour of duty. As an aside, he said he wished people knew that Iraq isn't as bad as the media describes it.. At least not all of it. I never saw Sgt Ron sober... (I spose if I was about to ship out, I would party it up as much as possible with my friends too)
There are another 15 characters in this mish mash of people but this gives you an idea of some of the friends I made. I'm spending a lot of time on the piano bar because we ended up going there every night and it was the perfect way to end everyday. It made the cruise that much better when you had a ROOM full of friends that you could share stories with, listen to great music and joke with. It was like "Cheers" in bizzaro world. I digress, I'll illustrate the message with this video.. This was on the last night where everyone was singing to Bohemian Rhapsody... Now on the surface it looks like there are only 20 something people in the bar but if you look closer you can see people from 18-88 (look for the old man!)
After closing down the piano bar, we went to the casino and hit 5 jackpots. We won $500 (we play quarter slots)... As it was now closing in on 4AM, we went to bed.
The second day was a sea day.. We took this time to walk the ship: I think the ship is fun.. But I can see how the decor could be seen as tacky. There are neon lights on the elevators and all over the main atrium. A big difference between triumph and RCC adventure is the atrium. The atrium on adventure is big and long and tall and makes you think you're walking a street similar to a vegas hotel.. The triumph had many levels that went up (bar was on bottom level, then photo/dinner level, mall level (two stores), and it went all the way up to the top of the ship... But it felt more claustrophobic than adventure.
We hit the pizza place.. Everyone says the pizza is great and they're right!
We also lounged on the deck. Of course the deck was brimming with people but we found a good area and the drink guy was around enough to keep us from dying of thirst. It was HOT.. We burnt ourselves even though we applied constant sunscreen. We then took a nap in our cabin until dinner which was the first formal night. We took portraits at all the stations we could find which brings me to my next point: There are very few good photographers on this boat.
They have some OK photographers but I only found one that amazing talent. I didn't get his name but he was a tall white guy with a russian accent. If you're sailing triumph, find him and get him to take as many pics as possible!!!! (the portraits are pricey.. $20 per photo)
we then went to dinner and had prime rib.. Again, they served it to me over cooked except I think the waiter was having a better night because his attitude changed and he took my side. Believe it or not, HE took the meat back FOUR times before he said it was good enough for me to eat. I was impressed. The prime rib still sucked though. (c'est la vie)
We wandered over to the piano bar.. Natalie (wife) wanted to see one of the shows in the Rome theatre so we headed over there at midnight. It was the "adult only magic show"... I have never seen such a TERRIBLE magic show in my life! Essentially the "adults only" was him saying the f word a few times and scantily clad women in thongs.. (I saw more tantalizing eye candy by the pool) ... Apparently we missed the big magic show that was earlier and its much better.. APPARENTLY... We went back to the pianoman and closed er down..
The third day we were in Cozumel.. We took the excursion to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. I'm a big history buff and I get goose bumps going to places like this. To be honest, it wasn't worth the cash. Yes I can say I've been to some Mayan ruins but you can't walk up to any of them and the guide only told of all their accomplishments (they invented the number zero...)
I wanted to hear about WHO they were.. Who was the guy that owned the house I was standing next to.. What did he do etc etc.. It was sooooo hot that we did the tour.. walked around a little and headed for the air conditioning.. I almost passed out from heat exhaustion.
TIP: I decided to take the "trolly" back to the bottom of the road but I didn't take it up to the ruins.. They'll charge you full price to take you down because they like to extort people.. Being thick headed I said no way and walked. (you'll note I almost passed out too)
We headed back to the ship (an hour long bus/boat ride) got something to eat and drink and headed back out to do some shopping. I wasn't really thrilled with the shopping here. It was the same crap they have at every port town. Diamonds, tanzanite (spelling??), etc.. We went back to the boat and swam. I went on the water slide (good time by the way) and then it was time for the nap until dinner.
On the third night we lucked out.. It was open dining so you could come and go whenever you wanted. We didn't have to sit with our nightmare couple.
next day was another sea day.. more sun tanning and drinking and piano man.
then we were in the grand caymen islands.. Took the ferry in since they don't have a port and the shopping is fantastic. You just have to know where to look. Oakley sunglasses (yes, real ones) are as low as $100.. The same pair is sometimes $400+ here. it was a very short stay in the islands and we were off again..
This is where things got interesting. We were cruising at 10 knots to Jamaica.. when suddenly the engines STOPPED. and we were working on thrusters. Dave the cruise director came on the loud speakers and said we were assisting people in distress. I looked over my balcony railing and saw a.... "boat" .. it was put together with the hull of an old boat and branches (like TREE branches).. it was a boat of cuban refugees that was WAAAAAAAY off course. We were halfway between cayman islands and jamaica.. They were trying to get to florida. There were 17 people on board.. the boat was filling with water.. they had no food and almost no water left. They had flagged the boat down with a tree brand and an orange shirt. The captain had spent an hour bringing the Triumph alongside them. It was very unstable.. Here is the video link: note the guy bailing the water out of their boat!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PllRrqG8x4
The next day we were in Ocho Rios... Let me say this before you read on: These are my thoughts on what I saw.. You may have had a different experience and thats fine:
I WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER RETURN TO JAMAICA IN MY LIFE
We got out of the terminal and were ATTACKED by street vendors and when we said no they would follow us down the street telling us not to be rude and "just relax mon" ... Even the taxi drivers hounded us wanting to take us to Dunn's river falls or Bob Marleys.. And they would NOT take no for an answer! We were sized up, they checked out what we were wearing what kind of valuables we had.. I felt like I was going to be robbed in broad daylight at any given moment. I stayed on the island EXACTLY 45 min.
TIP: Don't buy the round trip taxi service.. you have to arrange a time with the guy to come pick you up but if you want to leave sooner you are SOL
that night involved heavy drinking to get over the trauma of Jamaica.
The final day at sea followed.. We generally relaxed, ate, sunbathed shopped on board, etc etc... That night was the craziest night of my life with the regulars at pianoman.. It involved getting up on the bar, shots etc etc.. It was a great time.
... I was sick the next day (from the night before) .. I played name that tune and was robbed of my victory by a cheating woman. (thats my story anyway).. I saw the legends concert and it was fun and ended my time on the Triumph where else? Piano bar!!!!
We were late this morning: apparently we had stopped in the middle of the night so the coast guard could pick up the refugees so they couldn't claim asylum on US soil. They were sent back to Cuba and I have no idea what happened to them. We did the early departure and I HIGHLY reccomend this. We just kept our luggage and were the first to get off. It took less than 15 min.
So here it is:
The ship is nice. It was clean for the most part. SOME of the workers were very nice. Of course the pianoman fostered some amazing relationships, I hope to keep in touch with the entire crazy bunch! The pizza was good.. the decks were spacious and the pool was not too cold or warm.
the food needs work. Whoever the chef is needs to supervise his cooks. I shouldn't have to send a steak back 4 times. A lot of it just felt thrown together, the presentation was ok.. but nothing special. The bathrooms were a little on the dirty side. They should be cleaner than they were.. And is it too much to ask for paper towels in the bathroom?
What is up with the lousy attitude of the service people on this boat? I felt scolded by the photo people when they told me they were not opened and to get out.. The staff in general were just not up to par. (except for the bar staff, they were always nice).. I think part of it is the fact that all their tips are pre-paid before the cruise even starts. They're not working for it.
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE PUT 2 PLY TOILET PAPER IN THE BATHROOM?!?!?! SERIOUSLY for the THOUSANDS the average person spends on a cruise you can afford to take care of our behinds a wee bit better.
I'll end with this: If you go on a carnival cruise.. find the pianoman and give it more than one night.. The people you meet and the atmosphere could be magical! AND TIP YOUR PIANO MAN WELL!
That is all. For pics or more videos, feel free to e-mail me