After seeing an advertisement in the Atlanta Journal for a $749 per person balcony cabin on the Carnival Triumph, we decided to do a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on October 18th, 2003 for our honeymoon. We are both 35 years old. My wife is a physician and I own a consulting firm. Our Carnival experience was an overall pleasant one, however we had two major complaints.
Embarkation was a snap. Our flight arrived in Miami at 10:00 and we took a cab for $20 to the ship. A porter who took our bags immediately greeted us and we then got on board in no time. Very pleasant procedure overall. The Carnival greeters were fantastic. Once on board, the interior felt like the inside of a Vegas casino, but it was very well kept. Our rooms would not be ready until 1:30, so we spent the time having lunch in the South Beach Restaurant. Try the smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese!
Our room was on Deck 6, cabin # 6254. We chose this cabin because it had a queen bed in it. (We didn't like the idea of having to pushtwo beds together.) Yes, the carpets outside the cabins are very water stained on every deck that we visited. But if you can get pass that, which we did, everything else about the room was wonderful. The cabins are very roomy and this was the first time we've had a balcony. And we've decided that, from now on, if our cruise offers balcony cabins, we're taking one. It was great. You could step right out and get some fresh air whenever you felt like it. And you could read or have your morning coffee in quiet relaxation with nothing but the sun and sea.
However, the cabin we selected also became one of the two major complaints we had about this cruise. It was right above the Rome Lounge and you could hear everything as though it was happening in the cabin next door. Not too bad for the 8:30 shows, but try getting some sleep at midnight with loud music blaring into your room. We never got a good night's sleep because of it. The worst night happened when they held a midnight encore presentation of their magic show and we had to be up at 6 the next morning for a port excursion. After complaining, we were offered a 20% discount on another cruise. Kind of cheap considering there was not one evening that we could rest before midnight. Best piece of advice- never book a cabin over or under a public area or engine room.
Our room steward was helpful, never intrusive, and always made new towel animals every night. That was a big hit with my wife! The only annoyance was that our room steward never answered any of his pages. His response- "My batteries must be getting low in my pager." We paged him four times on four different days (during his posted available times) and we never heard from him.
Once on board and in our cabin we discovered that they gave us the early seating instead of the late seating that we were confirmed on. It appeared that they did this to a lot of the passengers. We decided to keep the early seating (6:15) and found that we liked it much better that we thought we would. It gave us a lot of freedom for evening activities. We did approach the maitre'd and ask him to place us at a table for two, which he was able to provide. We decided to do this after getting a look at some of the people who boarded after us. Absolutely horrific. Some of these people looked like they had just gotten out of prison. Definitely low class. We came across one guy on the cruise who was absolutely furious that he and his wife were seated at a table with some people who fit this description. We hope that Carnival will take a cue from other cruise lines and provide open seating at smaller tables.
Dinners were kind of hit and miss. Some nights the food was incredible. Some nights we sent it back. Most of the time it was good. The lobster was a big hit. We thought we would get some little sea monkey, but we got a very large, succulent lobster tail. And we were asked if we wanted seconds. Service was very good and the overall food experience was a positive one.
The food at other times was good, as well. The pizza shop was excellent and so were the burgers. We sampled the yogurt machine several times on the cruise. The midnight fare was acceptable, as well. We did the room service thing on several days, usually breakfast, and it was always very prompt and the servers were very courteous. The room service menu does not tell you can get smoked salmon to go along with your bagels in the morning, but you can. One thing they got wrong every time, though, was our jelly order. No matter what flavor you asked for, you always got something else.
Our other major complaint was not with the food but with the lack of enforcement of the dress code in the main dining rooms during the evening. It was appalling to see people walk in with shorts, jeans, flip-flops, tank tops, and NASCAR T-shirts. When we complained to the wait staff, they would do nothing. We had to complain directly to the maitre'd, who most of the time would just make an announcement over the loudspeaker. If you want to dress casually, there's nothing wrong with it. Just don't do it in the main dining rooms. Eat at one of the casual restaurants on board. The wait staff should have the authority to tell a passenger on the spot that they do not meet the dress code. They should not have to wait until the maitre'd finally sees it. All cruise lines should have a mandatory etiquette class that you have to attend prior to being able to dine onboard.
We had a little over 3,000 passengers and 1,100 crewmembers on our cruise, but it never seemed overcrowded. Sometimes it took a few moments to find a couple of empty lounge chairs, but there were always some vacant ones. One annoying little thing that Carnival could cut back on was the relentless onslaught of the drink pimps. It got so bad that I actually timed them. No lie- every 60 seconds someone was asking you to buy a drink on deck. That's 120 times in two hours that someone is asking you that. If you're trying to take a nap or read a good book, forget it.
The Rome Lounge was the focus point for all of the entertainment and meetings. It's a beautiful place and they did a wonderful job with it. They could have turned down the sound a bit, but that would have meant giving us a decent night's sleep. The cruise director, John Heald, did a marvelous job and provided a very witty commentary throughout our journey.
Don't bring your computer along and think you're going to use their wireless system to surf the net as they advertise. Their "internet managers" are as skilled in computers as they are in brain surgery. Any technical problems and you're out in the cold. They know how to tell you to put in your username and password. Anything goes wrong on their end and you'll wait the whole cruise for a mainland tech assistant to get back to them.
The gym was okay. There are about ten treadmills, ten Precors, dumbbells, exercise balls, and some Keiser hydraulic workout machines. Several of the Keiser machines did not work. A better suggestion would be to get some machines that use actual weights.
The spa is nice and the treatment list looked great, but we never did any.
The overall condition of the ship was great. No complaints other than the ones described previously.
PORTS OF CALL
Cozumel was our first port. We rented a Jeep Wrangler (the taxi driver we tried to talk to was a rude SOB) for $93 total (rental, taxes and complete insurance) and took it to a dive operator that was a recommended vendor on the Carlos and Charlie's website. It's called Cozumel Equalizers and the guy's name is Darwin. I had been corresponding with him via email about renting a private boat for just me and my wife to go to several snorkeling spots in the southern part of Cozumel- Palancar, Cardona, and Columbia reefs. This was his final email to me: "For a charter boat and visiting reefs in a non crowded area ( Palancar, Colombia and Cardona) is $150.00, just you two, including box lunch, Coronas, purified water and soft drinks, equipment, guide and fast covered boat."
We showed up on time and I tried to pay him the $150. He acted surprised at the amount and tried to get us to pay more. When I complained, he took the $150. There was no box lunch and I had to remind him that he promised us beer and soft drinks. He then sent someone out to buy us a six-pack of cheap beer, two soft drinks, and some chips. We ended up following a French girl named Sarah, who would be our snorkeling guide, to the marina where the boat was kept. Our captain was Carlos and they took us out on a small boat through a slight chop to the reefs.
The snorkeling was great. We passed Chankanaab Park on the way out and it was too rough for snorkeling. We snorkeled Palancar and Columbia but did Dzul-Ha instead of Cardona. We saw a barracuda and a spotted moray eel at Columbia. Dzul-Ha had the most fish. We took a break and ate at a beach club where we had some Dos Equis and bought our guide lunch. ($40 for two beers and three lunch entrees.) Afterwards, we took the Jeep back to Dzul-Ha and snorkeled some more. There is a beach club that you can rent lockers at and have a few beers. Snorkeling was the best thing about Cozumel. The shopping areas are filled with pathetic tourist traps. People are constantly trying to lure you in and sell you their worthless junk and hideously overpriced jewelry.
We skipped going to Carlos and Charlie's and instead had a relaxing daiquiri at Fat Tuesday's. We went back to the ship, cleaned up and returned to Cozumel to have dinner at Pancho's Backyard in the port shopping center. Good food and good service. The chips and guacamole are superb. So are the giant margaritas. Dinner for two, with tip, was $72 and included two large premium margaritas with extra tequila, one regular premium margarita, guacamole and chips, two seafood entrees, and bananas flambé for dessert.
We found a nice jewelry store in port called D Montero's that had some great looking pieces but they where closed when we returned. The guy said they would stay open until the cruise ship left but that wasn't the case. Too bad for them- we were coming back to buy over $400 in jewelry. (Their prices start out high but you can get them to come down real low if you bargain.) Check them out when you get there.
Overall, Cozumel was not that great of a place except for the snorkeling. It's definitely not a place we wanted to stay in until 11 p.m. Would have much rather had the additional time for Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios. Oh, if you drink here make sure you have someone to watch over you. One guy barely made it on board at the last minute. They found him passed out on the pier and brought him back to the ship in a wheel chair. One couple did not make it back on board in time and they were left behind. They had to fly to Grand Cayman and meet the ship there. (The boat is one hour ahead of Cozumel. When they tell you to be back by 11:30, they mean ship's time. That's 10:30 Cozumel time.)
Our second port was Grand Cayman. We definitely could have stayed here a lot longer. Everyone we spoke to on the ship agreed that they should switch port times with Cozumel and Grand Cayman. The shops are so much nicer in Grand Cayman and there is no pressure to buy something. No one hassles you.
We wanted to go snorkeling and try Stingray City but did not want to get packed on a cattle boat. So we searched the web and found good comments about a local tour operator called Capt. Marvins. We were told that they only take about 20 people per trip, but we had about 50 on our boat. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't what we were supposed to be paying for, either. The snorkeling was so-so. We went to Coral Gardens and the Barrier Reef. Then it was off to Stingray City, which was a blast. I've fed stingrays before at a marine park, but not like this. You are in the water with them and some of them are four and five feet across. Both my wife and I agree that this is a not-miss opportunity.
Once we got back to downtown, we had barely an hour to try and shop. Then it was off on the last tender back to the boat at 3:45 p.m. And they mean 3:45 p.m.
Ocho Rios was our last port. We had heard so many bad things about Jamaica that we decided to use the ship's excursion desk. All of the snorkeling tours take you to the same place- snorkeling and Dunn's River Falls. We have pictures of some of the boats packed shoulder to shoulder with people. On the night before, around 8 pm., go up to the desk and find out which snorkel and falls excursion has the least amount of people booked on it and then compare it to maximum capacity. We did this and found out that that San-San had only 14 people booked on it. It was almost double the price of the other excursions ($79 compared to $49), but it was well worth it when we looked down and saw a hundred people trying to cram onto a boat with no shade. They served us Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and juice as we left the dock. I don't drink coffee, but my wife does. I tried a sip of hers and liked it so much that I had a cup. It's that good.
The snorkeling spot wasn't as nice as Grand Cayman or Cozumel. They took us straight out from port and dropped us off on a reef that had seen better days. Afterwards, we went to Dunns River Falls. It was a nice experience but my wife liked it much better than me. We've been to Hawaii several times and that's my idea of a waterfall. Following hundreds of people up what amounted to be a muddy stream wasn't my idea of great fun, but it was entertaining. Wouldn't do it again but my wife would. They had plenty of security near the beach area of the falls and no one hassled us. We went through the crafts market and all you have to do is walk away if someone is bothering you.
On the boat ride back, they gave us some very potent rum punch. After four of them, we met some other passengers at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and had some more. A definite stop! Again, not enough time in port. We had to be back on the ship by 3 p.m. But we did have enough time to find a great deal on a Tanzanite ring at Jewels and Time in the same shopping complex as Margaritaville.
For the most part, the staff was friendly and helpful. The food was good 80 to 90% of the time and if you didn't like what you were eating, they'd find something you'd like. The cabins were large and roomy and the balcony was definitely worth it. In the future, we will pay close attention to where our cabin is located. We picked our cabin because a cruise consultant in the July issue of Conde Nast Traveler specifically stated that you could not hear any noise from the public areas below if you were on Deck 6. Boy was she wrong. We could hear everything. We were kind of dismayed that they only offered us a 20% discount on a future cruise, but they wouldn't entertain any other compensation.
Will we sail with Carnival again? Yes. But we're also going to try some of the other upper end lines like Radisson to see how they measure up.
We sailed on the Triumph April 5, 2003, Western Caribbean. Or rather, it sailed on April 5, and we caught up with it on April 7th in Cozumel. This is going to be a long and exhaustive review, the type I liked reading on Cruisemates before we went away.
We had Carnival-guaranteed flights out of Toronto, Canada on April 5th, but the nasty springtime weather caught up with us with about 5 inches of ice and freezing rain in two days. Our plane boarded two hours past the 10:15 flight time, but as we strapped ourselves in we were already thinking ahead to making our Miami ship sailing at 4pm.
Not to be. The captain came on and informed us that the Airport had run out of de-icing fluid for the second time in two days, and that we could not fly out on the plane we were on. They were anticipating another plane in soon without 6 inches of ice on the wing, and we would transfer to that plane. We did that, but by the time we took off, it was 2:15pm (we were the last flight allowed outof Toronto that day) and with the three-hour flight time to Miami, it meant we no longer expected to be aboard the Triumph when it sailed.
The whole plane was full of cruisers. We were with a group of 6 people (out of a larger group of 24 from across Canada) headed for the Triumph, and there were several others within earshot who were headed for the Triumph as well. As well, many were bound for RCCL's new ship (is that the Voyager of the Seas?)
We arrived at the luggage carousel in Miami by 5:05pm which apparently was good enough for the RCCL group to make their ship, but the Triumph had already sailed. We later heard from the RCCL group that the ground staff at the airport was incredibly rude to them, like the weather which delayed the plane was their fault! However they made the ship, although apparently several of them were without luggage for 3 days.
Our large group had an excellent Travel Agent from Montreal, and by the time we arrived in Miami, he had set us up with a Holiday Inn by the airport. When we arrived there by shuttle, an information package was waiting for us which detailed Sunday's travel arrangements. Our first-night excursion was around traffic barriers to the neighborhood AMOCO station for a six-pack. We did see a garbage-strewn canal that was noted as a "Manatee Habitat". We made the best of things, sitting on the pool deck drinking the beers in weather definitely warmer than we left behind in Toronto.
The next day we were at the airport by 7:30am for a flight to Houston at 9am, and then on to Cozumel at 2pm. We arrived in Cozumel about 5pm. Our travel agent had arranged a very nice waterfront hotel (the Casa Mexicana) and the shuttle from the airport was only $3.50 US. New Pesos are very easy to convert to US dollars as there are 10 pesos to the dollar. Got a little scare initially before I realized that the symbol for the new peso is identical to the $$ sign--I thought a room service cheeseburg was $72.00!
Walked up the main drag of Cozumel after we settled in to our hotel. Got about three blocks and decided to go into an ocean side restaurant for a drink or two to watch the sunset. It was quite nice (I believe it was called Acuario). The drink or two turned to several after we discovered it was "happy hour" and each one we ordered came as two. Several Margaritas, beers and Cuervo Especials later, we decided to pick a couple of giant live lobsters out of the tank for dinner.
Unfortunately for the other couple (the wife Chris had never flown on an airplane before this trip, but had been on 4 within two days), they discovered that their tolerance for tequila was less than my wife and mine. She spent a long session in the bathroom, and when her husband was helping her back to the table he missed a step and twisted his ankle. She never did get to taste the lobster, which was her idea as she had never had it before. My only faux pas was not realizing that the tip was included in the (rather large) bill and tipping an additional $40.00 US to the waiters. We all agreed it would've been a memorable evening had we been able to remember it.
We checked out the next morning and took cabs to meet the Triumph at the Cruise Ship dock. We now know how salmon feel while swimming upstream. Several hundred people were town-bound while we were rolling/carrying our luggage to the boat. No porters here.
Our embarkation was rather quick as they were expecting us after two days of absence from the boat. Our luggage was in our rooms 15 minutes after our arrival.
We took advantage of everyone being off the ship to explore. The Triumph is a beautiful ship. Yes, there was some water stains on some of the carpets in the hallways. However, our room (Category 6A-Oceanview on the lowest deck, the Riviera) was spotless and quite nice. It had a kingsize bed, leather couch and plenty of closet, counter and storage space. It also had a very large window (about 5 X 5 ft) with a view down about 20 feet to the water. We never ventured into a balcony cabin-all of our group was booked into the same category-so we never felt bad about not having one. Our cabin steward (Yanie from Indonesia) cleaned twice a day and was never intrusive.
Okay, some summaries:
The Ship: Fantastic! The central atrium is about 10 stories tall with brass and glass elevators as the focal point. Dining rooms were massive with décor like you would find in major luxury hotels. Thirteen bars, all with different styles and themes. We drank in 12 of the thirteen (we checked our sail and sign receipts). Lots of open areas on the Lido deck. We only swam on the day we came aboard, as everyone was off the ship. Each elevator bank (there were 4) lets you out on a different part of the deck, so you need to figure out early on where you want to go and get used to the layout. You can't always "get there from here".
Unfortunately, the bank of elevators nearest our stateroom zipped us directly to the Casino. This is one of the largest ones afloat, and we "sank" a good deal of our money into it. However, it was no worse than other casinos I have been in. If you had any money left, the gift shops had reasonable prices on duty free goods. Most of the stuff that was going to go on sale went on sale by Tuesday, so you had some time to peruse the goods. Didn't find many better deals on shore, but didn't look too hard.
The Food: Don't know what previous cruisers found to complain about, but we all thought the food was excellent, particularly in the dining room. Selection, presentation, service, and portion size was all above average. Wait staff was friendly and attentive. They knew all our names early on, and even called you by name if they saw you somewhere else on the ship!
We tried the alternative dining and had no complaints there either. The only drawback was that with the late seating, no one ever had room for that sumptuous midnight buffet.
Entertainment: Only saw one magic show (Kevin and Caruso) but it was excellent. After the late seating at dinner, we didn't feel like sitting in the Rome Lounge for shows. We went to the disco, but that was more oriented for the teens and twenties (it was still spring break in some states). We went to the Venezia Lounge and the Rio Lounge for live bands and dancing. We did see some of John Heald's presentations on stage, and as previous reviews have stated, he is a good comedian and showman. Greg in the "Big Easy" piano bar kept everyone well-entertained-we never were able to get a seat at the bar. The Oxford Bar was a place to go for cigars after dinner and live jazz-very civilized. It did seem as if there were lots of interesting things going on during our late dinner seating, but I guess you have to make some sacrifices.
Excursions: We swam with the stingrays in Grand Cayman-this is everything that it's cracked up to be! Great fun and exciting. Everyone's initial nervousness turned to delight as it became apparent these sea creatures were gentle and gregarious. They feel like velvet, and seemed to love brushing up against all the bathers. My wife (who's very nervous around water) even discovered how easy it is to snorkel, and vows to try it out more extensively next time. There is no pressure to buy anything in Grand Cayman (I think because all the islanders have more money than the tourists). In Ocho Rios, we did the mountain river tubing. It was fun, the drive up into the mountains may have been more adventurous than the tubing down! River was scenic and refreshing, but was relatively tame. The guides try to make you feel as if you're on the brink of death, but after having tubed on rivers in British Columbia, it was pretty easygoing. We also went to Dunn's River falls with our guides from the tubing. Due to time constraints, we just walked down to the beach and back on the stairs beside the falls. Much pressure to buy things here (first guy had our names carved into wooden "good luck" statues before we had the opportunity to tell him we didn't want them--$30 US.) Had a couple vendors pull the "you don't respect me, mon" when we declined to buy. Ironically, those inevitable "ganja" vendors are the quickest to give up when you say no. Found Jamaica the most beautiful island in terms of geography. Excursions from 7am to 3pm do not allow you get anything but the briefest glimpse of the port-it leaves you wanting more.
General Comments: As first-time cruisers, my wife and I were quite impressed by the ship. The hectic cross-continent rush to meet up with the boat did not make for a very relaxing start to the trip. We both agreed that the cruise was not exactly what you could call a leisurely experience. Perhaps because it was our first time, and we wanted to experience as much of the ports of call and shipboard life as possible, we seemed to always be on a tight schedule (up at 6:30, etc, etc).
Carnival Cruise Lines: Had great service and did not experience some of the negatives that other cruisers encountered. We did think that their credit of $77.00 dollars per person valid within 18 months for another cruise was kind of a chintzy way of making up for the first two nights on board that we missed. I know that our group paid far more than $40.00 dollars a day for the cruise package. They did send a bottle of wine to the cabin for the inconvenience. Another annoyance was that the final night, when you need to have your luggage out in the hallway for collection-they take away the robes that have been at your disposal all week. When you are trying to pack away everything you don't want to carry on to the plane, those robes would've been at their handiest. A call to room service achieved nothing. I made a point of putting my luggage out in the hall in my underwear (not a pretty sight), daring anyone to say anything about it!
Debarkation: We managed to hold the one color luggage tags that never got called. After waiting for over 4 hrs (as non-US residents we had to collect our passports and check in with US customs at 6:15 am), they announced the "last two colors" which were not ours. We then all rushed off the boat, where a porter loaded our luggage on the wrong bus for our group. We made the airport with about 1 hr. to go!
Conclusion: A great experience. Although we have nothing to compare it to, Carnival came through with flying colors. I never saw anyone suffer for not having deck chairs, although if you insisted on being 20 feet from the pool, you might have had trouble. Drinks were not horrendously expensive, but the tab can add up in a hurry. We had no negative experience with any staff member, and all of the guests we met at shared tables, etc. were friendly and outgoing. One of the female members of our group got harrassed by a 20-something who berated her when he found out she was a Canadian. Apparently she was largely responsible for our government's decision not to go to war in Iraq (a stance which the majority of Canadians didn't agree with). She ended up going to her cabin crying, but not before telling the 250-lb goof to come back and talk to her when he had grown up. This whole incident occurred without any of the Canadian male contingent being present, which was likely fortunate.
Anyone considering a cruise should not rule out Carnival's "Fun Ships"-they truly lived up to their names.
Some background. This is our 3rd cruise. (Majesty of the Seas and Horizon). My wife and I are in our (ahem) mid-30's and our 2 boys are 9 and 10.
Embarkation Arrived at terminal at 11:15.. Allow at least 30 minutes for traffic in and around the terminal and to park. $10 a day. You must pay IN ADVANCE. Make sure you have money or credit card (they take either) handy when parking the car Once inside the terminal we waited on 3 different lines. 1st time to check in (60 min). 2nd time (about 5-10 min) to get sign and sail cards and a 3rd time (about 30 min) to take pictures. Plus some other waits here and there, we were on the ship by 1:15. Luggage arrived at cabin in drips and drabs. We had all the luggage by 6:15. Lesson learned. If you want to swim or dress for early dinner, bring you bathing suit and dinner clothes in a carry on. Our kids wanted to swim very badly and their swimsuits were in the last suitcase to arrive. Many people in dinning room on 1st nightwere dressed in shorts because their luggage did not arrive at their cabin in time.
SHIP- What can I say? The ship was nice and clean. Cabins were nice size. We had room for everything. Lets get this out of the way. Yes there were stains in the rugs along the cabin corridors. SO WHAT!
Ok, back to the review. There we many kids. I heard 700 quoted at one time. If you are looking for a fine dining/cruising experience, try Celebrity. This was Disney World. Not that I minded, our kids contributed to the atmosphere as well, but we decided that we would not take Carnival again if we went without kids. The crowd themselves were not rowdy college kids. Go to Space Mountain at Disney and take all the people waiting on line and put them on this ship. That was who made up crowd. Young, Old, Black, White, Hispanic, even Blind. (there were about 20-30 blind folks with seeing-eye dogs on board). Everyone was friendly and happy to have a good time.
FOOD! You have 2 options. Dining in the dining room or joining the free for all at the buffets.
Dining room - 2 formal nights . I rented a tux I got measured and called Carnival before I left to put the order in. It was $80. It made formal night easy. Every other night was casual. There is no "informal" night. On casual nights, anything goes including jeans. No shorts or tank tops. On the 1st night, people didn't get their luggage so shorts were allowed. In cozumel, we were in port until midnight and so shorts were allowed in the dining room then too. And on the last night shorts were allowed. So 2 formal nights, 3 "shorts" night and the rest were business causal. Dockers and a polo shirt. No Blazers needed. Leave them home. The food itself was good. Standard cruise fare. Many Wines from the wine list under $25. You can get a bottle of wine and if you don't finish it that night, they will continue bringing out the unfinished bottle all week.
Buffets - Breakfast is breakfast. Eggs, pancakes, etc. All good.. Go to the dining room if you don't want to wait on line. Lunch was not very good. A lot of the same unappetizing salads and boring lunch meats. The main courses was no better than your local Sizzler buffet. The "alternate dining" option for dinner was more of the same. Go to the dining room.
In addition to the buffet lines were 4 other places to get food. This is where we got most of our food from. At each you still waited on line to get your food and carry it to an available table. NY Deli - Corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, smoked salmon and cream cheese, turkey, etc. Good quality. We ate there often! (too often) Chinese - Horrible in my opinion. Avoid. Coney Island Grille - I ate the steak sandwiches. Very good. They also had burgers, grilled chicken, fries and hot dogs. 24 hour pizza - Good. - You can get by the slice or wait until a whole pizza was ready. Most people just got slices.
Breads/rolls were excellent. The pastries were a disappointment.
Soda Cards - Unless you can just not go without soda, it is NOT needed. There was PLENTY of coffee, fruit punch, iced tea, lemonade and apple juice avail 24hrs. If you really must have soda, then I guess get a card. Our kids were fine with what was available.
DECK CHAIRS/POOLS - Plenty of deck chairs. Maybe not right by the stage but if you walked up on some of the other decks, there were chairs in the sun to be had. To clear up some confusion about towels. Yes, Carnival provided "Carnival" towels in the room for use at the pool and going onshore. If you lose those towels it would cost you $22. You do not need THOSE towels at the pool. There were an abundance of towels you can use right at the pool. That being said, many of the chairs were "reserved" with poolside provided towels. We only used the "Carnival" towels going ashore. There were 3 pools. Mostly filled with kids (mine!). Same as whirlpools. All kids. There were supposed to be "adult-only" whirlpools but I didn't see and whirlpools that DIDN'T have kids. On the last day I found 2 whirlpools in the GYM with no one in them. That can be a nice sanctuary.
ENTERTAINMENT The Cruise Director was Devin Flemming. He was more of an administrator than an entertainer. He was efficient but didn't add much to the cruise. His staff was a bore as well. The lead singers in the 2 production shows were embarrassing amateurish. The male singer was a 2nd rate karaoke singer. The lady was better. The other shows were Mexican Folklore singing? What is that? Also a very funny comedian Percy Crews. He brought the house down with a rated PG show and a rated R show. They had 2 other comedians that were frightenly bad. The talent show was good no thanks to Carnival. The guests made up the show. Only one movie was shown "My Big Fat Greek Weeding". There was a good turnout. Why not more movies?
FRS RADIOS. We had them. We kept it on channel 13 and did not hear any cross-chatter. I would recommend them.
LAUNDRY - yes they do have laundry facilities. There is 1 Laundromat on each deck. Broken machines in each Laundromat made the availability scarce. Don't count on doing laundry because you may waste large portions of the day finding machines available or that work. Maybe late at night you can do laundry but aren't you on vacation?
CASINO - Mostly $5 and $10 tables. Very Friendly dealers. Great way to learn table games as the dealers will teach you as you play (and they take your money as well!) We came out $75 ahead in the casino. We spent about $60 on bingo though.
SPA - The wife went to the Spa and said she had the best facial ever.
CAMP CARNIVAL - There is no camp the 1st day and the kids were bored. Once they got started though, the camp had enough activities to keep even my short-attention span kids entertained. Camp is from 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm. The breaks are for lunch and dinner. We had a late seating for dinner. We like that because we don't want to be rushed to dinner when we are still on the islands. The downside was that many of the camp stuff was scheduled assuming the kids had early seating. So if you don't want your kids to miss some of the planned activities, get an early seating. We will do that next time we bring the kids. By the way, just to set some expectation, the camp has playstation and Nintendo 64. That was free. The Arcade downstairs in the main part of the ship is not. It is a Pay-as-you-go arcade. Our kids were disappointed when they found out they could not play arcade games anytime they wanted. Kid-related - Try and buy a lanyard before you leave for the cruise( a strap that goes around your neck for id and stuff.). That way you can have you kid's sign and sail card punched with a hole. Then you can have you kids wear their sign and sail cards around their necks. You can also attach FRS radios and sodas cards to the strap as well. Yes, you can get a free bungee cord thingy from the casino if you want, but I think a Lanyard is better.
COZUMEL - Though there is a terminal right in town, we did not dock right in town. We docked at the other terminal about 2 miles away. We bought the shore excursion to Playa Sol. $19 gets you in, free non- motorized sports and open bar. You have to take your own taxi there ($14 each way). GREAT place for kids. Nice sand. There is a pool there as well. We used the kayaks, peddle boats and blow-up tubes to float around in. You tip the guy who prepares the kayaks and peddle boats. No big deal. Nice drinks. Plenty of beach chairs on the day we were there. They have floating platforms out in the water you can swim out to and jump around on. The floating iceberg that is there is Very hard to climb on and it is in deep water to get to. Not much fun do due to the difficulty. Don't get the food/buffet there. Looked bad. Wait to get back on the boat to eat. We has a nice day there. We went back to the boat to eat and change before going to town (San Miguel). $6 cab fare to town from the ship. We weren't impressed with the downtown. The kids were tired and we did the walked the whole strip in about an hour and a half. It would be hard to spend the whole day shopping there. There just isn't enough to do.
CAYMAN ISLANDS We booked a Stingray City tour with a local tour operator "Captain Marvins". http://captainmarvins.com when making a reservation, verify if the start time is ship time or local time (In the summer they are different. After taking a tender to shore, you walk about 3 blocks to the Captain Marvins storefront. There, you check in and wait for a private bus to bring you to the boat. The bus was new and clean. About 15 of us got on and when to the boat. Nice boat. There were two staffers on the boat as well as a guy taking a video of trip which you can buy later if you wish. We stopped at 2 snorkel stops before going to Stingray City. we thought snorkel stops were boring. You stop for about 15 min each time. When booking the tour, unless you really want to snorkel, it is not necessary to get the half day tour. Just get the 2 hour tour. The stingrays were a lot of fun. When we went, the sea was incredibly choppy. Many people got seasick on the boat going out to the sandbar. We highly recommend Captain Marvins. Would you rather go with 15-20 people and get personal attention or go with 70-80 fellow cruisers and be herded like cattle?
OCHO RIOS We took a 3-5 minute cab ride to the Jamaica Grande Hotel. ($10 adult, $5 child) Ask for the beach chair pass. They will 1st assume you want the $60 all-inclusive pass. The hotel is very nice as long as you don't look to closely. Beautiful pools with waterfall cascading on top of you in the pools. Volleyball in the pool. Ok beach. Lots of seaweed on the floor in the water. A total gross-out. Plus sharp rocks in the sand. Stay by the pool. Plenty of deck chairs. Music by the pool. One of the guests staying at the hotel said the rooms needed updating. The bathrooms were hard to find and filthy when you found them. This was probably our most relaxing day sitting poolside. This was one of my kids favorite stops. Great place for day pass but I would not stay there on an extended visit.
DEBARKATION There was no mention of bringing your own bags off the ship. I asked the purser and he said taking my own bags off the ship would delay me. So, like a team player, I let the ship take the bags and I waited until my baggage tag color was called. I was pink. We had a room on the 2nd deck. I guess they let all the higher paying passengers off first. The 1st color was called at 9:45am. It was 11:05 and we were still on the ship waiting for our color to be called. Finally we went near the lobby and one of the staff waved us through although our color was not called. Looking back, we did not have any carry-on's with a colored luggage tag on anyway. When we got off the ship our luggage was there. We wonder if we should have just left at the 1st call to leave the ship. Also, it turned out there was no reason we couldn't carry all our luggage off the ship. It was over 8 pieces but I guess it could have been done. We were in the car by 11:30 and driving home to CT!
My father, mother and I (17 years old) boarded the huge Carnival Triumph in New York City.
The ship is decorated nicely and has many lounges, dance clubs, and places to hang out. Unfortunatly, the size of the ship means tons and tons of people, which made the ship pretty crowded.
CABIN- The cabin on the Triumph is extremely big for a cruise ship- horay to Carnival! There was tons of room just to relax. We had Cabin 7360, a balcony one. The balcony was nice and it was big too. The bathroom was nice as well. FOOD/SERVICE-First of all, I would to comment on the matre'de. Before the trip, we specifiaclly requested Early Seating. When we got on the ship, we got late seating. We also discovered that half of the ship had the same mixup. So everyone ran down to the Matre'de to switch there dining. My father asked him if he could switch it and the matre'de said that we had to deal with it. A couple of minutes later, a man asked to switch and slipped the matre'de some money. His dining was switched. If you travelon this ship, beware of the matre'de's gimic! Now, about the food, it was pretty good. Main courses were big enough and tasted good. However, when I ordered cheesecake, the piece was small and was puffed, not creamy! The 24 hour pizzaria was good too, as was the other food places on the Lido Deck. PLACES WE WENT AND ACTIVITIES ABOARD-I hope Carnival changes the itenerary for next year. Saint John was just a boring, little, industrial town. My town has more to do. Halifax was better, but it still lacked activities. So at the port, we spent most of the time on the ship just relaxing and watching events that were going on. Activities aboard the Triumph were adequate except they were all crowded, so we didn't do many. Bingo wasn't too fun like it was on our last cruise on Royal Carribian's Nordic Empress. OVERALL- This cruise was pretty good, but I didn't like the itenerary. I would take Carnival again, but not to Canada. This August, we are going to the Bahamas and Florida aboard the Norwegian Dawn. We were going to take the Carnival Legend to the Carribian, but it was a bit pricy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I only have one goal in writing this, and that is to let you know that the Carnival Triumph is the best cruise ship for your money, time, and vacation. I will explain to you why: I am a Marine and I was able (with two of my best friends and fellow Marines) to occupy a Stateroom with a balacony on the lido deck of this wonderful cruise. The entertainment was non stop the fact that we had an itinerary every morning before we even woke up was amazing. The pool sides were great, and the live band was even better. John Heald, the cruise director, was simply amazing. No matter what he did he made sure that the Passengers were always having the best time. The shows in the Rome Lounge were of Vegas quality and in my opinion even better. Now, I know that there are many out there that are looking for a relaxing time with no one bothering them, but if you can't find a relaxing time on this cruise maybe you shouldn't take a vacation because you will never find solace. Theshore excrusions were out of this world, except for a little on the pricey side. I hate to say that but, for 185.00 I expect a lot more.
The food was amazing, Joel, my waiter made sure that I was not only full but that the quality was simply tasty. On the other side of things, 3.74 for one beer is a little on the steep side, other than that I have no qualms whatsoever. It was the best cruise that I have had for as long as I can remember. Oh one more thing, I wouldn't be doing justice to Kevin and Caruso and NeW WaVE MaGic if I didn't mention their show, which completely and utterly knocked my socks off. If anyone who reads this, is going on the Triumph be sure to see them you will not regret it. A final note the dancers in all the shows, seemed to love what they did, and there is not a more respectable profession than when a person loves what they do
***To All who sailed on the Triumph on 3-22-03, Thank you for helping making this cruise the best one I have ever had.....Thanks
I can't say I didn't ENJOY my cruise, but my expectations were definately not met by Carnival. I had a lovely room that we paid over $2000 for. Our cabin steward was great. The ports of call were wonderful. Gr. Cayman, Cozumel and Ocho Rios all exceeded our expectations with beauty, cleanliness and hospitality.
The boat itself was beautiful and clean.Most of the staff were also wonderful.There were several employees that were down right rude.One in the Olympic Sports Bar who always acted like you were putting her out if you asked her for a drink.She wouldn't clean up after other guests.She expected other coworkers to do so.The tables were usually full of dirty glasses,ashtrays, etc. Another employee in the NY Deli acted very rude daily.
The pool and deck situation was also out of control. There weren't ever any open chairs. Only towel after towel, but no people sitting in them. If I wasn't up and down by the pool at 7:00am, I was out of luck. The dining was good, but the buffets were average or worse. The ice tea was constantly out. The ice cream was usually out.
The lineswere always so, so long. The entertainment was fairly good.We thought the cruise director did a good job of entertaining and was very informative. We did not bring our child, that goodness. The worst part of the trip was when a group of adult men took over the Lido Deck during the Days at Sea.They were loud, drunk, obnoxious and offensive. The one man decided to walk around the childrens pool/slide for over an hour with a fake 3 ft. long penis protruding from an apron.This was absolutley disgusting and I can't believe the employees just walking by and ignoring it. I found this behavior to be to be sick, in the least.I don't need to vacation with such trash.
I will definately cruise again, but not with Carnival.I just can't get over the fact how cruise lines boast about their impecible service, well this cruise came up short of average service.
13 Family members traveled together on the Carnival Triumph, this included 6 adults, 2 teenagers, and 5 children. Half of the travelers had never cruised before. Age ranges of the adults was late 30's to late 20's. My previous cruises have been on the Carnival Destiny, Paradise and Norwegian Sky. The cruise was booked through skyauction.com. We did not have any problems with this agency. My family of four paid $1600.00 for two inside rooms on the Riviera deck, this price included all taxes and port charges. We were pleasantly surprised to find that skyauction had champagne and chocolate strawberries waiting for us in each of the 5 cabins our group booked. I will definitely use their service again.
Pre-cruise: We traveled via JetBlue Airlines from Syracuse NY to Fort Lauderdale FL. I can't say enough wonderful things about this airline! Great prices, great new planes, an individual television and headset for every seat, all leather roomy seats.......friendly staff........If this company offers services in your area.....please give them a try. We had arranged for a private shuttle to meet the 13 of us in Fort Lauderdale. The cost of this was $120.00 andwe tipped $30.00. The shuttle company was Miami Shuttle. We were happy with this service. We booked via priceline the Renaissance Miami Biscayne Bay Hotel in Miami. I felt the hotel was more than adequate for an overnight stay. We had a nice room with a beautiful view of the ships coming into port. The kids enjoyed the pool, and there is a Burger King across the street (traveling with kids!). No complaints regarding the hotel........we paid $50.00 from price line per room. One of my sisters did not book through priceline, and she paid $100.00.
Embarkation: This went smoothly and quickly. No complaints. Well done. The boarding process took about 30 minutes.
The ship: I was a little disappointed in the overall condition of the Triumph. While the ship was generally clean, there were obvious areas that need immediate attention. I was surprised to see that in the morning, on a couple of occasions, there were still dirty classes left on the bar from the night before. At least two of the elevators had several holes punched in the walls. The carpets in many of the halls were stained very badly. I had read about the stained carpet before I went, but was really surprised at the degree of staining. Most of the laundry machines were not functioning. I had to haul my laundry bag all over the ship before finding a wash machine that worked. I saw a man get very upset (at the wrong person). He carried his huge laundry bag a significant distance, only to find out that the machines were not working. He then walked all the way back to his room to ask his steward. His steward suggested he use the machines on another (specific) floor. He came back sometime later, hollering at the Steward because those machines didn't work either and the steward had suggested yet another floor. Many of the laundry rooms have only 1 or 2 functioning washers. The crew was often using these.
The ship does have well maintained public areas, the Dining rooms were very nice, the casino was well kept, the shops and lounges were without complaint, our staterooms were fine, but seems like it should look better for its age. I sailed on the Destiny on my first cruise, and while I loved the ship then, I have decided that I greatly prefer smaller ships. It is my opinion that a larger ship does not offer anything more to me than a smaller ship, except about 1000 less people. I really do not care for the pool layouts on this class of ship. The kids really enjoyed the water slide. They have really expanded the hours from our two previous Carnival cruise. The slide was open from 12-5 on sea days, and a couple hours a day on island stops.
Favorite spots on the ship: I LOVED sitting outside on deck 3..................the warm breezes, the solitude.........mostly shaded area.............the fresh ocean smell...............I spent many hours sitting here reading. (On a couple of afternoons, I brought my pillow from my room for my nap!) I really enjoyed watching the ship pull into ports from the front of the ship. Both of these areas were seldom used. To get to the front of the ship, walk all the way forward on deck 6 & 7 and go out the side door, this area is nice.
To put things in perspective, I should say that those of our group who had never sailed before felt the ship looked great. It is not a dump.......it is nice, but certainly could be better with very little effort, replace the carpet in the cabin hallways, fix the washing machine, and repair the walls in the elevators, wax a few floors, wash some windows..............easy.
Our cabins 2240 & 2244.. We had plenty of storage space, the beds were comfortable as were the pillows.......warning, these cabins are under the Rome lounge and there will be loud noise on two nights of the cruise. I called down to the pursers desk to complain that it sounded like a big brass band was sitting in my room with me (forgive the slight exaggeration). I was offered ear plugs! I couldn't believe it. They didn't even apologize. I said "I just told you that my room sounds like there is a big brass band in it and I am unable to sleep, you tell me that the show will be over at 11:30 and offer me ear plugs, did I hear you correctly?" Then she apologized. She then became much nicer and told me that there weren't any empty room available, but that there may be rooms available once we arrived at San Juan. She said if rooms became available, she would offer me the choice of moving. The next day I had an apology letter delivered to my room along with a bottle of champagne. After arriving at San Juan, I was offered a room on the 6th floor. Carnival also offered to move me into the new room, so I wouldn't have to do it, However, after checking the schedule in the Rome Lounge, I noted that there was only 1 more show that I expected to be noisy, so I decided to save myself the trouble, stay in the room and just go to the show! My face to face dealing with Stephanie at the Pursers desk were always handled well, she was polite and helpful. On the last day of my cruise, I received another apology letter from Carnival, along with a 15% discount on our next cruise. Overall, I was very happy with how the situation was handled.
Oh, I couldn't find an ice machine on my floor, after walking the entire way around, even though the Carnival Capers said there was one available on every floor, so I called the pursers desk, and they gave me the room number of the room next to the ice machine. Thinking I must have somehow missed it, I headed out again to find it. I found the empty spot where it must have at some point been......So I next asked our room steward, he told me they removed it and had never replaced it......and I could go down or up a flight to use theirs. I wouldn't have been so annoyed, if I had been told that there wasn't an ice machine on our floor..........and spent a lot of time looking for it..... .
The service: I should say that our waiter in the Paris Dining Room was the best. He was above and beyond any previous waiter we have ever had. My room steward was as expected. The first two days, we seemed to have a problem with our schedule coinciding, however after we discussed this, it was never a problem again. He was in twice a day and did a nice job. (My sister's room steward was not as accommodating. She requested an extra pillow and he argued with her about needing it, before finally getting it for her). Service in the casual dining area needs to be improved. For example, we were attempting to have lunch in this area on a day at sea. The place was packed and we were having difficulty finding a table. I spotted a waitress clearing a table, I went over and asked if this table was available as I was unsure if perhaps the occupants were simply getting desert. She looked at me, kind of made a face and said "I don't know". It wasn't what she said, but the attitude of how she said it. I felt like I was an annoyance to her. The lines on sea days were simply unacceptable. I have never experienced lines like this on any other ship, simply unacceptable.
Food: The food served in the Paris Dining Room was some of the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Everything was tasty, and cooked as ordered. The variety was good, the presentation was good and the taste was very good! It was a real pleasure to dine in the Paris Dining room. This was the first time that I tipped over the recommended amounts for the service staff. I noticed that the early seating dinner, was much less formal on formal night as compared to the late seating and other ships....Many people in the dining room on these evenings with simple dresses, slacks and shirts. The Buffet on the lido deck left a lot to be desired. I found the food unappealing and never more than slightly warm. We had two lunches here, but then decided we would not eat lunch here again. The pizza parlor that is open 24 hours a day had okay pizza and okay Caesar salads. The Grill offered tasty hamburgers, hot-dogs, steak sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches and French fries. The quality of the steak sandwiches varied greatly.....sometimes dry and tough, sometimes moist and tender. The kids felt the hamburgers were very good. I never did try the Chinese restaurant. The NY Deli offered a variety of sandwiches which were okay. Room service.........I was disappointed. The room service menu does not list times that items are available. I tried to order a ham sandwich for breakfast one day and was told that sandwiches are not available until noon. With such a limited menu, I felt that everything on the menu should be available 24 hours a day.
Itinerary, The islands: San Juan: In my opinion, this is a wasted stop. I would rather arrive earlier, so we could actually do something here, or replace the stop with a closer destination. We got off the ship, walked to a fort (which was closed) and then just walked around for an hour or so, then got back on the ship. This stop does have a phone and Internet shop at the pier with reasonable prices (10 cents per minute for calls to the US), also Internet service was cheap.
St. Thomas: We took a taxi to Red Hook and caught the ferry to St. John. We spent a wonderful day at Trunk Bay. This is an awesome beach with facilities. The trip over and back (four taxi rides and 2 ferry rides) cost about $75.00 for my family of four. It would have cost well over $200 if I would have booked the same excursion from the ship. Save your money and do it yourself, it is very easy to do.
St. Martins: We loved this stop. I highly recommend "Everything's Cool" as a great place to spend the day. We took the water taxi ($5.00 per person for unlimited trips back and forth) from the pier (get off at the second stop and turn left to get to this great beach bar/ restaurant) It is a short walk from here. This bar offers 99 cent beer from the bottle, a different beer each day and it has wonderful frozen drinks. Two beach lounge chairs and a beach umbrella are available for $10.00. There are several water trampolines available for use, it was $5.00 to use these for around a half hour. The water was fairly calm, with just enough waves to keep the kids entertained for hours. There are a lot of sea shells available at this location and the kids filled up small buckets and had a wide variety of shells. There were told by security outside of the ship that sea shells were not allowed to be brought back on the ship and they would be taken from us, however, they were not. This beach was much nicer than I had imagined, while not as lush and tropical as Trunks Bay.....it has a atmosphere all it's own. There are a few downsides to the beaches at St. Martins....clothing is not required. Although the vast majority of the people do keep their clothes on, there were several who chose not to wear tops (including a woman who had no business taking her clothes off in public, as there are some things that we should not have to see. She was affectionately referred to as "Brutal Betty" by the guys in our group.) The kids (ages 9,8,6,5,4) didn't even notice the nudity....they just happily played in the surf.
I did not like the general itinerary. Having 2 days at sea, then all three stops in a row followed by the slow sail home, did not work for me. We were exhausted after having 3 island stops in a row. I would have preferred to have a day at sea between to help us relax.. Also, it really made it feel like our vacation was over on Wednesday, when we were leaving St. Martin and heading back to Miami. I will next time choose a cruise with the stops spaced out to allow us to rest a little between islands.
The cruise director: John Heald is great. This was my second cruise with him, unfortunately, many of his jokes were the same as they were four years ago, but he is still a super cruise director.
Camp Carnival: One of the reasons our family decided to all cruise together is because we do not live close. The kids really looked forward to spending time together. My son, age 9, is very shy and decided not to participate in Camp Carnival after learning that he could not be with his cousin who is 8. Our families live 6 to 7 hours apart and the boys had really looked forward to doing Camp Carnival together. I had been informed by folks from these boards that my nine year old would be allowed to move down to the 8 year old category, however we were told at the orientation that this would not be allowed. A couple of days later, we did ask again, and then they agreed that my nephew could move up to the nine year old category. Also, there are no teen programs for age 16 & up. As a result, my 16 year old son did not have a good time. The last time he cruised, he went to the children's program for the first day, met kids he wanted to hang out with, then they had a blast. This time, he met one person. He actually said that next year, he will stay home when we go, that he missed his friends. However, my five year old nephew used Camp Carnival, and he loved it. The camp counselors appeared to do a wonderful job entertaining the kids.
General comments: The adult only hot tubs in the back of the ship were really "Adult Only". The kids were promptly asked to leave. The hot tubs were never hot, just warm........the shower was never hot, just warm. In an effort to have people stop saving chairs, the instructions in the Carnival Capers now tells you that you are to take your beach towel from your room to the pool. It also tells you that if you lose it, you pay for it......so, you will see less towels used to save chairs, and more suntan lotions and books. There were some other towels available at the pool area, but they were not easy to find, and were not replenished when they ran out.
A little problem for us was that they strictly enforced no children in the casino. On previous cruises, our son accompanied us a couple of times to the slot machines, he never played, would just quietly watch. This time, he walked down with me, and we were told he couldn't be there, and we had to leave (we never even made it to a machine). I do not think this is a bad policy, just it had never happened on our other trips.
The smoking policy was really an issue........the capers said that smoking was only permitted on the starboard side of the open air decks, however, most of the passengers did not know the port side from the starboard side...so therefore, smoking was taking place on both sides. It wasn't until about 4 or 5 days into the trip that they explained what port & starboard meant. When my sister asked crew which side of the ship she could smoke on, they told her anywhere she wanted. She asked several crew members and received the same response each time.
I really missed the free style dining that is available on the Norweign line. The dining room was really a highlight of this trip, it was just having to comply with their dining times that was a pain.
Post Cruise Stay: We stayed at the Embassy Suites at Miami Airport. We were satisified with the accomadations. We paid 50 dollars for the room at Price Line.
Summary: Despite the complaints listed above, we really did have a great cruise. It was super having our family together for a vacation. We didn't pay much for this cruise, so I really feel it was fine . However, I will not be sailing on this class of ship again. It did NOT exceed my expectations....it may be that my expectations are growing with each cruise I take. I prefer smaller ships, I will be looking more closely at the itinerary.
Kim M. Carr
Just returned yesterday from our long awaited cruise on the Triumph. We had booked a category 8 Verandah for our family of 5 (2 adults and 3 kids ages 9, 13 and 16) and with the exception of dinner time with all of us trying to get ready at the same time, the room was just fine for all of us.
Got to Miami on Friday, the day before departure, and stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay where they have pre-check in right there in their lobby. by doing this, we avoided the VERY LONG line at the Carnival terminal at the port. However....Carnival neglects to prepare you for what really is in store for you during embarkation. You go from one holding (waiting) area to the next, and it takes about 2 hours to actually get on the ship regardless of when you check in. But once on board...WOW...such a beautiful ship. We headed right for the New World Pool area and plopped our butts down at the bar (where we remained for almost all of our time at sea...Sandor, from Hungary, has got to be the BEST bartender ever...Hetreated us WONDERFULLY!) One more thing Carnival needs to address is the reserving of deck chairs. This was a joke. Got up early to physically sit in the sun, and geesh, had to be a shoe or book on EVERY SINGLE chair. Not fair for those of us who are actually ready to sit out in the sun.
Set sail and spent two days at sea before arriving at San Juan, a port which Carnival should just as well pass right by. Not enough time and pitch black, lots of things closed, and you have to be back on ship before you even get the chance to venture.
Back on board and headed towards St. Thomas. Word of advice...SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING - ANYTHING before getting off the ship, or at least have a very good idea of what you want to do before you get off. Our group got swindled by a cab driver and before you knew it, we had paid over $150 in cab fare to just visit down town and one of the local beaches. Quite a rip off. St. Thomas was a nice enough island, lots of shopping, but the really good deals are in St. Maarten, so save your souvenir shopping for that island. (Example...Beach towels on St. Thomas were $10 EACH, got 3 for $10 on St. Maarten.) Back on board (actually THE LAST BACK ON BOARD - ship almost left without us, so word of caution, when they say be there by 5:30 - BE THERE!!!!)and enjoyed our sailing to St. Maarten.
Got to St. Maarten on Wednesday and really only wanted to visit the beach and shopping area on the Dutch side. Don't listen to the cab drivers - you can walk (10 minutes) to the beach and to downtown and walk back. Or if you really want a deal, take the water taxi for $5 all day riding. You can go over to the beach and then back to the ship for lunch and back to the beach again. The beaches and shopping in St. Maarten were OUTSTANDING. Our family had a great time. Rented Jet Ski's and took the kids for a banana boat ride. They got to play around on the trampolines in the water ($5 each for all day wrist band, and jet ski rental was $75 for an hour and the banana boat ride $10 per person. Plenty of beach bars and shopping just a block up from the beach. This was really our best day and we didn't want to leave. MORE TIME ON ST. MAARTEN!!!! Obviously everyone else on the ship thought so to because the line to get back on board the ship went waaaaayyyy past the terminal walkway.
Another 2 full days at sea before we got back to Miami, and unfortunately, by then we had become a little bored with the ship. Still problems with the deck chairs, so I spent time in the sun on my own room balcony. We don't gamble so the casino didn't catch our interest. We did go to all of the shows in the Rome Lounge and John Heald is the funniest guy. We enjoyed most shows tremendously! Enjoyed the 24 hour pizza almost every night, but must say the buffets weren't so good. Better off making it to the dining room for meals - they were great. We were really disappointed in the Gala buffet. Mostly desserts. Pizza again! LOL.
Our flight out of Miami was a late one so we signed up for a shore excursion in Miami to the Everglades and that went very smoothly.
One thing to give extremely HIGH marks to Carnival and our US Coast Guard, was that there was a young boy who got appendicitis while at sea, and he had to be airflighted out by the U.S. Coast Guard. I have never witnessed something so scary yet so moving in all of my life. The Carnival crew along with our own US Coast guard did an amazing job in getting this boy and his mother off the ship, and it was quite site to see. Thank god, he was flown to San Juan and was doing just fine by the time we got back to Miami.
I don't think I would ever do another cruise with 4 full days at sea, but certainly we had an excellent time, and hey - we missed the Blizzard at home - Boston got 27.1 inches of snow!!! Suckers!!!
This is our 3rd cruise, our second with Carnival. My husband and I are in our early 50's and enjoy Carnival's atmosphere of fun. Embarkment was a series of waiting lines. This was our first cruise since 9/11. Security was much higher than we recall. Photos are taken before you board and are "coded" to your Sail and Sign card. Each time you leave or board the ship, you insert your card into a machine and your picture comes up. Also, you pass through metal detectors and all bags are X-rayed. US Coast guard escorted in and out of Miami and it was interesting to watch how they wouldn't let any small pleasure craft come near us.
Entering the ship, you are immediately struck by its size and beauty! We had a balcony cabin (8305) and I must say it will be very hard to ever go back to anything less. The cabin had lots of storage, a very nice size bathroom and the balcony was fabulous. Based on other postings we read, I brought a bungy cord and we slept each night with the door open.it was wonderful! Ourroom steward, Ivana was excellent. Always smiling and eager to make our stay the best it could be. And of course, I never tire of the towel animals.
Food: The food was okay. Not terrible, but not really what I would call "fine dining." The dining room food presentations were very nice and the service was very good. The Paris dining room affords a wonderful view and there was open seating for breakfast each morning. The appetizers were excellent but the desserts were often quite stale. The only buffet we ate was one breakfast. The made to order omelet was excellent. Be prepared for long lines however. The burgers, pizzas and, Ruebens on the lido deck were all good. Room Service was excellent, fast service and good food. We often ordered breakfast and ate it on our balcony. We tipped the steward $3 each time we ordered.
Entertainment: Everything we had read about cruise director John Heald is true. He is the best we have seen. On our previous cruises we had not really attended the various events throughout the day (game show trivia, talent contests, etc) cruises but John was so funny we tried to make sure we attended everything he was involved in. He announced he is retiring after 15 yrs in June. I sure hope he stays on with Carnival in a training or recruitment capacity for other CDs. He certainly knows how to do it right! The big production numbers were good, but we had seen them on our previous cruise. Note, at the Q & A session, John said these shows are changed about every 3 yrs.
Public Areas: Let me repeat myself, this ship is beautiful! Yes, there was stained carpet in the hallways but nothing that took away from the overall beauty. We especially enjoyed the Capital bar and the Oxford Bar. The Piano Bar was fun and I must say the musicians on this ship were very, very good. The spa has a great view. I had a pedicure, that was excellent ($50) and was pleased they didn't try to sell me any products. They are very lax on enforcing rules on the lido deck (eg saving chairs and smoking only on one side of the deck etc) but they were very strict about no one under 16 yrs in the gym -including the Jacuzzis. We spent very little time near the pool this cruise. Probably because it was impossible to find an "unsaved" lounge chair and we could just go down to our own cabin and catch the rays. The ship is huge and we got our exercise by getting lost at least once or twice a day. That said, it was even fun when we got lost because we "discovered" new places each time. The casino was fun but remember it's a casino.the odds are that it will take your money. We enjoyed the Internet cafe next to the Oxford Bar. We bought 100 min for $55. Watch the Carnival Capers for extra minute deals throughout the week (use 5 min, get 5 more min free). Given the # of passengers, there was never a feeling of being packed in. The only time crowds were seen or space was limited was getting back on the ship at a port of call, waiting lines for food on the Lido deck and disembarkment. Also, given the time of year we were sailing, the # of kids on our cruise was limited and they were rarely even seen. I think between the Camp Carnival and the teen specific activities, the kids had little interest in hanging out with adults.
Shore excursions: Our first stop was San Juan. Arriving in late afternoon, it is a fairly useless stop. We took the city tour with the Juan Carlos show. Save your money! It is not worth the $49pp! The tour was useless because it is dark and you can't see much. Shopping was limited to about a ½ dozen shops that were open and the show was on par with a Holiday Inn lounge act. My advice is stay on board and take advantage of the discounts offered in the spa while in port.
Having been to St Thomas, we got up early and took a cab to Red Hook Ferry and went over to St Johns Island. From there we grabbed a cab and took a tour of the island. (I think all the cabs and ferry cost ended up being about $45pp). It is much less touristy and since ¾ of the island is a national park, it is breathtaking. The surf was very rough the day we were there so snorkeling was out. Instead we went swimming at Trunk Bay. For $3 you can rent a locker and they have free showers and changing facilities right there. Note: on the ship they really hyped buying Godiva liquor in St Thomas. We took the bait and bought 2 bottles. I checked yesterday when I went to the store and found we saved a whopping $1 per bottle by purchasing it there. Sure wasn't worth lugging those bottles all the way home for that.
St Maarten: This was our favorite. Again, we skipped the cruise ship tours and hired a cab (His charge was $50 for two of us but he was so good we gave him an extra $20 tip) and got an excellent 4 hr tour of the island. Since it was just the two of us, our driver stopped whenever and wherever we wanted. He gave us lots of information and background of his island and it was nice to have a "private tour". We especially enjoyed the French side of the island. I would definitely tour this way again.
Disembarkment: What a nightmare! First, they made announcements throughout the previous day that we were all to wait in the lounges and because of that, all lounges would be non-smoking. Smokers were told they were to smoke on the rear of the lido deck. Within 10 minutes of our arrival at the lounge near the casino, ashtrays were produced and smoking began in earnest. It made for a very unpleasant wait. It was nearly 11 am before we got off the ship. Then long lines awaited us in the terminal. Bags are placed in grouping based on your luggage tag colors. After a frantic search, we found our bags in a completely different color grouping. Terminal staff tended to be quite unfriendly and not very helpful.a big departure from a week of helpful and cheerful staff on board.
Overall: It was a wonderful trip on a magnificent ship. If you can afford to, pay the difference for a balcony and book a Triumph cruise quickly so that you can experience John Heald before he retires. (PS despite what John says about postings about him.I am not his mother!).
Review: We sailed on the Carnival Triumph on a 6-day Bahamas cruise out of Norfolk, VA. First off, three cheers to Carnival for having cruises out of Norfolk. It is an easy drive to the port for us, and so convenient not to have to fly to get there. Made the whole cruising experience so much more pleasurable.
To give you the perspective that this review is coming from, I am 24, my fiance is 25, and we previously sailed with Carnival a little over a year and a half ago on the Fascination to the Southern Caribbean.
Overall, we had a wonderful time on this cruise. How can you not have a wonderful time on a cruise??? Beautiful boat, beautiful beaches in the ports, tons of food, tons of entertainment -- you really can't go too wrong. That said, here's the rundown of our week.
Week before cruise Got our tickets in the mail, and we had been upgraded from a 1A outside cabin to a 4a inside cabin. Although our new cabin was bigger and higher up on the ship, it did not have a window, which is the precisereason we booked the cabin we did. I had the old room number on my receipt, and called my travel agent to get back into a window cabin. Our old cabin had already been given away, so Carnival put us in a 6A outside cabin. Although a bit of a pain, I was pleased with how they handled the problem.
Sunday Paid $75 to park my car in the designated parking facility. Our luggage was loaded onto carts and taken right to the ship. Rode the free shuttle bus to the ship. Embarkation was very fast and easy. There was essentially no wait. We got our sail and sign cards, and were on the boat within minutes. Ate lunch on the Lido deck and relaxed for a while in our cabin. Dinner was casual that night. We skipped the Welcome Aboard show and decided to wander the ships and check out the lounges. For the most part, the lounges were dead, and they stayed this way for most of the cruise. We hit the midnight buffet, and called it a night.
About 2:00 or so in the morning, I woke up to hear a very strange noise every time the ship tiled to the right. It sounded like metal slamming against metal. I tried to ignore it for an hour or so, and then decided I couldn't stand it any longer and called the pursers desk. They sent down two security officers to our cabin, and they heard the noise for themselves. They went off to fix it, and told me to call the Purser's desk to see what it was. It was fixed within a few minutes, and the Pursers desk said that some machine had gotten loose on the crew deck below us and was hitting the wall of the ship... I was just glad to be able go to sleep without that noise! They called us the next two mornings to make sure the noise didn't come back. And they gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne and a small discount on our next cruise. Although the problem was annoying, I felt that Carnival handled it very well and very promptly. Kudos to the ladies and gentlemen at the! Pursers desk!
Monday -- day at sea We slept in a bit, and had breakfast on deck. I'm not a big breakfast person, but my fiance really enjoyed the omelet station. We laid out by the pool for a while, and had no trouble at all finding beach chairs. There always seemed to be plenty to go around at all times, which was very nice. We decided to try out the water slide, and it turned out to be a really good ride. We must have gone down 3 or 4 times each! We had lunch on deck and took a nap before dinner. It was formal night, so we dressed up and went to the cocktail party. They held the cocktail party in several small lounges instead of in the big show lounge like they did on our last cruise. We happened to go in the lounge that the captain showed up in, but several of our tablemates were in another lounge and never saw the captain at all. We went to dinner in the dining room, which was okay -- it was lobster night, and neither of us like lobster. Then we saw the show Wonderful World, which was excellent.! Visited some of the lounges that were once again dead, hit the midnight buffet, and went to bed.
Tuesday -- Nassau day 1 Slept in a bit because the ship didn't dock till 11:30. Fiance hit the omelet bar again, and I hit the Pizza Bar for an early lunch. We took the Blue Lagoon shore excursion at 11:30. The Triumph docked at the very end of the pier, so it was a very long and hot walk to the boat to the Blue Lagoon. It was a pleasant, yet packed, boat ride out there. The Blue Lagoon is a really beautiful beach. It was a bit crowded, but that was to be expected with a popular shore excursion. We rented inner tubes and floated the day away in the water. Had a really good pina colada from the bar on the beach. We did not choose to snorkel with the stingrays or do the dolphin encounter, which are both located at the Blue Lagoon. We heard mixed reviews about these two activities. The consensus was that they were not as good as the stingray and dolphin excursions on other islands.
We hit the straw market on the way back to the boat -- now that is one crazy place. I bargained for some sarongs to take back as souvenirs, and I was more than ready to get the heck out of there after 5 minutes. Too pushy for my taste.
Back to the boat for an early dinner on the Lido Deck. We found it really convenient to have this option for dinner. We wanted to go back on the island and didn't want to spend a ton of time in the dining room, so dinner on the Lido Deck was perfect.
We took a taxi for $10 to Atlantis. This is a really stunning resort! We walked around the casino, and went through a door off the side of the casino to get a look outside. We wandered down the path and got to see some really cool pools with sharks and all kinds of fish swimming around in them. We kept strolling and hit Paradise Beach which is behind the resort. We kept strolling and came back to the building and walked through and got to see the aquariums that are next to a restaurant inside the resort. I later came to realize that the path we took is reserved for hotel guests only, and you have to pay for admission during the day if you're not a guest. Oh well, too late to worry about that... We played the slots in the casino for a bit, and I won $27 dollars on the nickel slots, and my fiance won $20 on the dollar slots, and we only put in a total of $10, so we were quite happy with that.
Back to the ship, we were totally exhausted and decided to go to bed early.
Wednesday -- Nassau day 2 We did the Atholl Island snorkeling shore excursion that morning. Took that long walk again to the boat, but this one was much less crowded, and a much more pleasant ride. The boat ride was about 30 minutes, and then we got an hour to go snorkeling at the marine park. There were lots and lots of fish to see -- too many for my taste, but my fiance was in heaven. I pretty much stayed on the edge and tried to avoid the fish as much as possible because I am a chicken... We got some good pictures with an underwater camera and had a nice ride back to the dock.
Back to the ship for lunch on the Lido deck. I took a liking to the grilled chicken sandwiches with cheese from the grill. We took a quick shower and headed out again to explore the island.
We took a cab for $15 to Cable Beach. The driver dropped us off at the Radisson Cable Beach resort, and we walked through the hotel to get to the beach. I decided not to bring out the Carnival towels, and we were able to use the beach chairs and cabanas at the hotel with no problems. The beach was a bit smaller than I had hoped, but very pretty and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. Took a taxi back to the boat and changed for dinner. This was the best dinner menu on the cruise. I had Chicken Carnival, and my fiance had the scallops, and they were both excellent.
We saw the magic show on board the ship, and it was excellent. Hit the midnight buffet, and went to bed.
Thursday -- Freeport We took the Freeport Snorkel shore excursion that morning. The shore excursions on Freeport were extremely organized. The bus came right up to the ship and took us to the dock of the snorkeling boat about 15 minutes away. The boat ride was very short and dropped us off at a beautiful reef off of the island. I was a bit more relaxed on this snorkeling trip and didn't try to stay away from this fish so much this time. I found this excursion really enjoyable. There was a really diverse variety of fish, and the reef was really neat to explore. Got back on the boat to go back to the dock, which was located at the Marketplace. Did a little shopping here, and found it a bit nicer than Nassau's Straw Market, still pushy, but not quite as bad, and not so many vendors to deal with.
Back to the ship for lunch on Lido deck for another grilled chicken sandwich for me. We relaxed for a while in our cabin, and then changed for dinner, which was the second formal night of the cruise. Took some pictures, and then went to the return cruiser cocktail party. Never pass up free drinks on a cruise! Dinner that night was okay -- I didn't really like anything being served in the entrees, so I had a pasta dish, which was so-so. Saw the second big show of the cruise, Century Cafe, which was again excellent. The shows on the Triumph were far superior to the ones we saw on the Fascination.
There wasn't much to do that evening, and the lounges were once again dead, so we pulled out some beach chairs on deck and relaxed for a while up on deck -- I think we fell asleep for a while, and it was very pleasant up there. Woke up in time for the gala buffet. The food was very pretty, but it was much too exotic for my tastes. I'm not one for caviar and pate... Next was bedtime.
Friday -- day at sea Slept in and got up in time for lunch on deck. It was very overcast out, but we decided to hit the pool and the waterslide anyway. Got in a few runs on the slide, and relaxed on beach chairs for the afternoon. Went back to the cabin to pack up and shower and change for dinner. The fudge cake at dinner was excellent. Found a comfy seat in the Rome Lounge and watched the Knobby Knees contest, which was hysterical, and played Millionaire, which was fun. We watched the talent show, which was so-so, and hit one last midnight buffet before bed.
Saturday We chose to do "self-assist" checkout, which is where you carry your own luggage off the ship so you can get off earlier. It was very nice to be able to get off earlier. However, they called for 3 decks to leave at the exact same time, and it was like a zoo in the hallways and stairways. The whole process took about an hour -- it wasn't too too long, but the crowds on the boat were crazy and cramped. The shuttle bus took us to the parking lot, and we were on our way home.
Our cabin It was extremely big. It had a full-sized sofa, and two twin beds pushed together. The window was a nice size, and the bathroom wasn't too bad at all. Very happy with the cabin, and the cabin steward.
Dining Room Service Tipping was handled differently on this cruise than on our last one. This time, the tips were automatically added to our sail and sign card at the beginning of the cruise, and you had to go to the pursers desk if you didn't want this. At first, I thought it was a great ideas because it would save me the hassle of putting money in the envelopes and making sure each person got the right envelope, etc. However, we noticed a distinct downgrade in the dining room service we got on this cruise, and we had to wonder if it was because they knew their tips were coming automatically. Our waiter did a perfectly adequate job, but he was not outstanding. He did not ask our names, and he did not make any attempt to do anything but take our orders and deliver our food. He answered every request, but did not go out of his way. Our busgirl was perfectly adequate as well, but again, she was not outstanding. She delivered bread at the beginning of the meal, and poured drinks. I ordere! d iced tea on the first night, and I had to remind her every night that I did not want water, but iced tea. And there were plenty of times that my glass was empty and I had to ask for a refill, which never happened on any other cruise I've been on. No one was really bad, but no one was outstanding either. I think that being tipped automatically has something to do with the lack of outstanding service in the dining room.
The boat I really liked the decor of this boat. Subtle but nice. The international theme was carried out very nicely. The one room I did not like at all was the South Beach Restaurant on the Lido Deck. There were stained glass eyes hung all over every wall. I found it a bit creepy. The ceiling also seemed very low to me and made me feel cramped in.
Overall Once again, overall we had a really good time. Any negatives I mentioned were minor things and did not affect us that much. Carnival is very good at making cruises available to the general public, and that is very admirable. We may choose Carnival again -- their rates are hard to beat -- but we're leaning to Royal Caribbean for our next cruise. I think we're ready for something different.