We just got back from the Triumph's sailing to Saint John, NB and Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 22-27, 2002. We are a couple of 30 somethings. Where do I begin? This review will probably get long but I will try to keep it to the point and hopefully include some helpful hints for future cruisers.
New York City We arrived 2 days prior to sailing in order to enjoy NYC. We had reserved a room at the Best Western President Hotel. Great hotel with the perfect location in the very heart of Broadway and Times Square. Would stay there again!. We took the Grayline Double Decker Tours around the city and had a great time. Went to view Ground Hero!!!! In two words, heartbreaking and incredible. The sheer magnitude alone made you want to cry and hug your SO. I took video and pictures to share with my kid(s)-(possibly someday). We sampled various NYC eateries such as Ray's Pizzeria, La Famaglia, and the Broadway Deli. All were good. We really liked Ray's Pizza on 49th Avenue. On Sunday we took the bus to the Southside Seaport. This is a fun placeespecially I would think for families. We grabbed a cab to the Passenger Ship Terminal around 11:30am on Monday morning.
Embarkation In a word, smooth. We arrived and the porter grabbed our bags. We walked right into the terminal and waited about 5 minutes and completed check in. Helpful Hint: The lady at check in said that coming in early is always the best because she said the lines begin to get long after 12:30 or so. We stood in line for another 20-25 minutes maybe and they begin letting us on the ship. Everyone was kind, courteous, and helpful and we were on the ship right away. People----they aren't playing, make sure you have a picture ID and either a passport or raised seal birth certificate with you!!!!!!. Also have read other reviews that stated no AC in the terminal. Although it was not chilly we felt comfortable as we awaited the call to board.
Ship and Room In a word-WOW. The ship was gorgeous, and YES extremely clean!!!!!!!!!!!. We walked around for a couple of minutes inside the atrium and then headed to our stateroom. We were in room 1066(Panorama Deck), and 8E category balcony stateroom. The room was awesome. Plenty of room and clean from top to bottom. My wife stated as soon as she walked onto the balcony that she was spoiled and that we would not be able to settle for anything less than a balcony room again. I said fine, hahaha. I am simply amazed by some of the previous reviews of the ships cleanliness. I found the entire ship to be shipshape and very nice. It will take you a day or so to get your bearing onboard so don't feel bad. J Our cabin steward was Sylvia and she introduced herself at once. She was fantastic and we never wanted for anything. We then went to the Coney Island Grill for a steak sandwich. I got information from these boards that most people won't find this place so soon. The info was dead on and we were the first ones to arrive. I asked for double meat and yummy!!!!!!! We finished and begin touring the ship. The Triumph is a beautiful ship!! She was very clean and gorgeous. Were there some stains on the carpet?? Of course in the hall ways, but after 3000-3500 per week, who's wouldn't, DON'T BE STUPID!!!!! The ship was more spectacular than I guessed it would be. We explored for awhile and tried to learn the layout. I had it down by day 2.
FOOD The food onboard was very good. We ate lunch and dinner in the dining room(Paris Dining Room, aft) and breakfast on the Lido Deck. Breakfast on Lido was standard fare and was quite good. Lunch and dinner in the dining room was very good. Our waiter Fabian was very good but not quite as outgoing as our last waiter Kumar(Imagination). He was eager to please and all we had to do was asked and it was brought. My favorite of the week; I had to name two things. The lobster on formal night was excellent. It was very tender and I enjoyed 3, yes 3 lobster tails(sue me). Also quite good was the mushroom soup I had on the first night. It was called Creme of Fungi something, but was wonderful!!!!!!! Could have had two bowls!!!!! All in all the entries were very good especially the seafood and beef selections. All our tablemates were happy with the food and if we found something to our disliking it was immediately taken care of. We also ordered more entries as we found them to our liking and our waiter always said yes right away and we had our selection in a very short time. I had one sandwich from the NY Deli and found it to be good. The Coney Island Grill had great Steak Sandwiches and the wife said the burgers were also tasty. Some of our tablemates did eat lunch on the Lido deck as they found more of a selection to their liking. We did eat pizza several times during this cruise, especially later in the evening as we had the 5:45pm seating. I found this to be a little early and would have rather had the 6:15pm. No problem however as we got to the shows earlier than most.
Shows The shows onboard the Triumph were good. The first show, Wonderful World, I thought was better than Century Café. The comedian, Anthony Acosta, was absolutely hilarious. The magic show with Kevin and Caruso was pretty good. The show itself was really good, the magic was so-so. As far as the cruise director, Michael Mullane, there is room for improvement, but.. he was good. He did an exceptional job during the debarkation but I will get to that later in the review. The social hosts and staff did a great job all week. Helpful Hint: Try to get to the shows early to get the best seats, they fill up fast.
Ports and Excursions Many people feel that the ship is the best part of the cruise experience and in some ways they are correct, however; Also important to me are the ports of call and experiences I can have there that I cannot have at home. I also find many reviews lacking in this area, so let me tell you how much fun I had. J I found this itinerary to be wonderful. We visited Saint John, NB and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Let me just say that I have heard some people say that the weather on their trips was not good. As I told several people, we could not have bought better weather. It was mid seventies in both ports and gorgeous. Lucky us!!! Saint John is a small industrial type town. There is really not too much to see or do within the town itself. As I did not do a city tour I am relying on the word of others who did those tours. A friend on these very boards rented a car and decided to go sight-seeing. She said they had a great time. I, however, talked the wife into taking the Coastal Kayaking Excursion. Now this excursion is pricey, but let me tell you this-IT WAS WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!!!! We had a blast. We had great company, beautiful scenery, and the weather that was out of this world. The excursion starts with a bus ride to the Reversing Falls. We walked out and got to spend some time admiring the beauty of the river. We then traveled to a beach where we hit the Saint John river for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. We then headed back to the beach for a fantastic Lobster feast(steak for those who don't like lobster-and it was also good). We were not rushed in the least and had a Great time. Once back we went into town for a little bit and explored. Right across from where the ship docks is a restaurant called Steamers Lobster Company. I had a 18oz. Mug of Alexander Keith's draft and a cup of Lobster Bisque. Both were very good and I would recommend this place to anyone.
What can I say about Halifax, Nova Scotia. We loved this little city!!!! We were greeted with bagpipers doing their thing. We headed of the boat ASAP and grabbed a rickshaw(sp) driver who took us to town for 8 dollars per person(10 minute ride). It was a fun ride and since I was on vacation I didn't care what the cost, I was going to do it. J We headed to the Maritime Museum first. This is a great little museum if you are into that kinda stuff, and I am. Had a lot of nice things to see and learn about, and we enjoyed ourselves. We went from their over to the Harbor Hopper booth(right beside the museum) and picked up our tickets for the 1:15pm ride. Helpful Hint: When I spoke with the guy at Harbor Hopper prior to making my reservation. They stated that Carnival had booked them up for the morning. I went ahead and made my reservation online. Good thing. If you are wanting to do this make sure you do this ASAP prior to your leaving. It is cheaper(the ships Excursion was 39 dollars, and I paid like 21.50 by doing it myself). This was a fantastic little adventure and everyone will enjoy it. You head into the harbor to see the city from the water, then you are taken around town and shown all the interesting sights. I highly recommend this. After the Hopper Tour(ribbit ribbit) we headed to Murphy's Rest. For some Fish and Chips(and some beer of course). Nice place and the food was great. We then simply walked along the waterfront and explored the shops. Since the weather was great we decided to walk back to the ship which took about 15 minutes. We both would love to come back and visit Halifax again.
Days at Sea These days were great to simply relax and do as much or as next to nothing as you felt like doing. There were plenty of activities to keep anyone busy if they so desired. Whether your cup of tea was an art auction or a hairy Chest contest, it was all there awaiting your participation. I did go onstage and participate in the horse racing. I was Rockin Robin and won the race, yeeeeeehawwwwww. J The weather was great for sunning or they had lots going on in the bars and Rome Lounge(show lounge).
Debarkation Well this time did come all too quickly, but nonetheless it did rear its ugly head. The morning did come and we went onto the Lido deck to have a last buffet breakfast. We then went back to our room and waited in air conditioned and stress free comfort as the passengers were called to disembark by decks. Now as many of you may have heard, Carnival allows(recommends) that passengers who would like to carry their luggage off the ship may do so. As they can do this they will be allowed to disembark first.. Carnival does this because the NYC port has to unload the luggage, place it in an elevator and carry it to the required location one cage at a time. This makes for a long wait. Trust me when I say, If you can take your own luggage off the ship, by all means do so. We were called last for those taking their luggage themselves and were still off the ship at 9:40am. As I said the cruise director, Michael Mullane did do one thing very correctly, debarkation. He explained clearly and easily what needed to be done. He and his wife Jenni(social host) were down on the lobby assisting passengers with questions and steering everyone in the right direction. Kudo's go out to him!!!!!!! We went outside and took a number to get a cab. We waited about 5 minutes and were on our way. Cab from Port to LGA cost us 20.20 plus tip.
Summation by now you can tell we had a wonderful time. The ship was wonderful and we enjoyed the ports very much. Only bad thing was that it was too short and had to end. One complaint I do have is with the Photo Gallery. This is located on deck 4. This area gets very crowded due to its small size and it is almost impossible to pass thru the area at times. Although this is true you rarely have to go on that deck if you don't want to because deck 5 and 9 are the main corridors that allow you to travel from forward to aft all the way. I did notice that that the cruise was made up mainly of 2 groups, families and seasoned citizens. This was fine for us as we had no trouble with the kids on this cruise. Helpful Hint: if you are wanting to relax in the pool and/or hot tub and not be saddled with children, use the aft pool and hot tubs as they are adult only. I witnessed a security guard in this area making sure that the kids used the forward pools and hot tubs.
Special, Special: Although we did not get to meet Furchic or DebandKip(maybe next time), we did have the wonderful pleasure of meeting Roar3243 and her family onboard. We had a great time hanging with them and look forward to seeing them again(ribbit ribbit). It is always fun to meet people on the boards and then get to meet them in real life on the cruise. We made life long friends I think and can hopefully sail with them again!!!!! J
Even though I live in New Jersey, just 45 minutes from New York City, I have never sailed on a cruise from there. The Staten Island Ferry and the Circle Line just don't count. This was about to change. My wife, mother-in-law and children had planned their yearly pilgrimage to Hershey Park without dad for the week of August 8th, so with my wife's blessing, I booked this cruise along with my cruise brother Lou, whom I had cruised with many times between 1985 and 1992. So let the reunion begin!
Embarkation and First Impressions
Our documents said that embarkation was to begin at 1:30 PM for the 5:00 PM sailing. Having been on the Destiny, and knowing what it takes to check in 3,400 people, we planned to get to the pier early. We drove into the city, and arrived at Pier 88 where the Triumph was docked around Noon. We stopped to drop off our luggage, then proceeded up the ramp to the parking areas, which are on top of the terminals. The price for parking is $18.00 a day which is payable only in cash, when you enterthe lot. We parked the Blazer, took some pictures of the Triumph and the QE2, which was docked next, door, and then entered the terminal building. There must have been 500 people already there, who must have had the same idea as me! Well, to our amazement, Carnival began letting people board at 12:30 PM. The line moved very quickly. We checked in, by-passed the embarkation photo line, picked up our Sail & Sign cards, and stepped aboard at 12:45 PM.
You board onto the Deck 3 Promenade, then through the doors into the 9 deck high atrium, which is called the Capitol on the Triumph. It is quite a sight! We immediately sat down at the Capitol Bar and had our first drink of the cruise, served by a lovely lady from Croatia, named Kristina. A string quartet played classical music. Above us, on one side, the 4 glass elevators made their journeys up and down the Capitol. On the other side hung a suspended gold leafed sculpture of the Northern Hemisphere, which sets the theme of the Triumph.. The World. All the areas, lounges, etc of the ship are named after parts or cities of the world. The decor on the Triumph is even more subdued than the Destiny, and where neon is used, it is used well. There is nothing gaudy about this ship. The only things I didn't like were the illuminated signs on World's Way and on the various lounges. They changed color, making them very hard to read. When I took pictures, I would have to wait for the signs to change to white, so they would show up in the pictures. Very annoying.
We were snapped back to reality, when upon closer examination of our Sail & Sign cards, we discovered that we had been given the early sitting in the Paris Dining room, instead of the late sitting that we had requested. A quick trip to the Maitre'd in the London Dining room, which was just steps away, remedied the situation. In fact, signs were hung saying that the early sitting was full, which was a first for me. As the cruise went on, I could see why. The passenger make up for this cruise was about 20% ages 20 & under, 25% ages 21-40, 25% ages 41-60, and 30% ages 60 & over. These demographics will most definitely change once the Triumph moves to Miami. We were given the late sitting at table # 418 on the lower level of the Paris Dining room, but were asked if this change could take effect the next day. We're easy.
Cabin, Muster, and Sail Away
We had booked a guaranteed category 5 inside cabin on Main (Deck 2), and received a one category upgrade to an inside cabin (# 6352), on Upper (Deck 6). This was an ideal location for us, since it was just a quick trip down the stairs to the Monte Carlo casino and World's Bar. My wife wouldn't settle for anything less than a balcony cabin, but this suited our needs just fine. It was the standard 185 sq. foot cabin with plenty of storage space. The bathroom and shower were ample, even for two big guys like Lou and I. The wash basin was an ugly salmon pink color. They should have left it a neutral color, like beige. As on the Destiny, the toilets are set at a peculiar angle. At least this time my feet wouldn't be sticking into the shower! In one corner was the television set. To our disappointment, Fun Vision, the interactive channel, was not functioning, so there would be no booking of shore excursions or checking Sail & Sign balances from the cabin. Booking shore excursions wouldn't be a problem, since what they were offering didn't appeal to us. (More on that later). There were 3 channels dedicated to movies, 2 channels dedicated to onboard activities and a few channels with either local or satellite channels, which usually had poor reception.
We met our cabin steward, Kelvin, who would do a wonderful job for us during this cruise, always keeping our ice bucket full, and making the famous towel animals every night. It seemed like if we left our cabin for two minutes, it would be cleaned up by the time we got back! Where do these guys hide anyway? We then went upstairs to the South Beach Club for our embarkation lunch, and then toured the ship until 4:30 when the muster drill began. Thanks to the cooperation of the passengers, this drill lasted only twenty minutes, with everybody winding up at their muster stations on Atlantic (Deck 4), either port or starboard sides. Sailing out of New York is a special treat. There is just so much history here. We sailed at 5:10 PM, having waited for the QE2 to back out of Pier 90 and begin to sail south down the Hudson River. As we backed out of Pier 88, to the strains of Billy Joel's 'New York State of Mind', chills went up my spine. Why had I waited so long to do this? As we followed the QE2 out to sea, we watched in awe, the things that, being from the area, we took for granted. The Empire State building, World Trade Center, The Battery, Ellis Island, Lady Liberty, the busy Harbor, just to name a few. Then finally the Verrazano Narrows bridge, a bridge that we have been over hundreds of times, but never under. As we went under, it seemed like we could reach up and touch it, and that there was no way the famous Farcus funnel could avoid hitting it. Just missed. As we headed out the Ambrose channel towards the open sea, with Coney Island on the left (sorry, Port), and Sandy Hook starboard, we realized we were missing our only early sitting dinner. We didn't care.
Food, Food, and more Food
Let me begin this section by saying that I have enjoyed Carnival cruises since 1985. I experienced first hand the deterioration of the dining experience aboard Carnival ships from then until 1994, including the elimination of Lobster from the menu. (Note: Lobster is now back on the menu, but it is Rock Lobster not Maine Lobster). It wasn't until 1998 that we booked on Carnival again, on the Destiny. I immediately saw and tasted the improvement in the food and presentation, a trend that continues on the Triumph. I know that the rating of food is very subjective, but I'll just say that, overall the food is by no means gourmet, but it is extremely good. Since we missed our first dinner in the dining room because we were on deck for the sail away, we decided to the try the alternative dining at the two level South Beach Club. This was done buffet style. There were several varieties of salads and soups, fruit platters, several hot entrees, and a carving station. There was also a good-sized dessert station. Interspersed around the room, both upstairs and down were self service drink stations serving coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juices, iced tea, and water. I had the New York strip steak, mashed potatoes, and veggies, all which were very good. We sat by the window and watched the QE2 sailing parallel to us the whole time. A nice dinner, but I prefer the service in the dining room.
The rest of our dinners were in the Paris Dining room. Our waiter, Johnny from Costa Rica, and our busboy, Bernard from Jamaica were outstanding. There was soft dinner music played each night, which didn't interfere with normal conversation. I won't list everything that I ate, but some of my favorites were the pumpkin soup, prime rib, lobster, salmon, and the chateaubriand, all of which were prepared to my liking. The dessert choices were also good, with the baked Alaska, and cherries jubilee sure to make an appearance. As is the Carnival tradition, the waiters and busboys will perform almost every night, with the highlights being Hot, Hot, Hot and the Macarena. Be sure to bring your cameras!
We ate all of our breakfasts up on deck. If you wanted, you could get a full breakfast in the dining room, or you could have a continental breakfast delivered to your cabin. When my wife and I were on the Destiny last year, we chose the latter several times, as it is great sitting on your balcony with coffee and danish, watching the sea slide by! There are four buffet lines available on the Lido (Deck 9). Two are in the South Beach Club, and two are located by the Continent Pool, midship. Just about anything you could want for breakfast is available, including fruits, cereals, breads, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, and french toast. Stay away from that pan of scrambled (eggs?), and have the made to order omelets or eggs any style. My only complaint here was that the food in the pans sometimes was only luke warm at best. They need to do a better job at keeping the food hot. The Lido breakfast was served until 10:30 AM in the South Beach Club, and until Noon at the Continent Pool lines.
Again, we ate all our lunches on deck. The four buffet lines mentioned above served lunch from Noon until 3:00 PM. There you could get an assortment of beef, lamb, and fish specialties with all the trimmings. But if you crave hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries, you need to head aft and visit the Coney Island Grille, located by the New World Pool, on the starboard side. They also serve yummy cheese steaks and chicken sandwiches. The Grille was open from Noon until 6:00 PM. Across the way, on the port side, is the Pizzeria Napoli, open 24 hours a day, serving all types of pizza, along with ceaser salad and calzones. Outstanding! This place was very popular early in the morning, after the lounges closed. As if you need more choices, The Hong Kong Noodle Company, located on the starboard side of the South Beach Club, serves Chinese specialties. Available is the soup of the day, several different entrees, and plain and fried rice. Very good! Over on the port side of the South Beach Club you'll find the New York Deli, serving all types of sandwiches. Lou had a very good corned beef sandwich here. The Deli was open from 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM.
As you can see, there isn't one single minute during the day that you can't eat! We never saw the Midnight Buffets, which were held at the South Beach Club, or utilized the complimentary 24 hour room service. Whew!
Activities and Entertainment
Even though this was only a four day cruise, cruise director John Heald and his staff pack in all the activities that could be found on a seven day cruise. There were the usual pool games, along with bingo, horse racing, trivia contests, knobby knees contest, a new game show, couples and lovers party, etc, etc. There were also art auctions held every day. The 200+ ft. waterslide was a lot of fun, but was open only a few hours a day. The Continent and Universe pools and spas were open from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM. A great calypso band called 'Xcentrique' played on stage by the Continent Pool each afternoon. The New World pool and spas were open from 8:00 AM until Midnight. The New World pool area also has a retractable roof that can be closed in inclement weather. If golf is your game, then lessons are available from a golf professional on the Panorama (Deck 10), mid ship on the starboard side. The Nautica Spa was open from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM, and the facilities and equipment here, rival any land based gym. There were several varieties of aerobics classes held daily. There were also several health seminars given each day, but I had heard that they consisted of a short presentation, followed by a hard sell for expensive treatments and ointments. Not my cup of tea.
If you are looking for a nice quiet place to nap or read while watching the sea go by, may I suggest the Deck 3 Promenade, located just out the side doors by the Capitol Bar, on both the port and starboard sides. This is one location that is underutilized on both the Destiny and the Triumph. Not many people seem to know about it. Very relaxing, but when you want a drink you'll have to go inside and get it yourself.
The evening entertainment is where Carnival excels. There was music to satisfy anyone's tastes. There was Jazz music in the Oxford lounge, soft dance music at the Venezia Bar, party music with a great band called 'The Music Society' at the Club Rio, and guitar music by the World Bar. Add to that, the Big Easy Piano Bar, and the Hollywood Dance Club, and you could see that there was something for everyone. But the best parts of the evening entertainment were the shows. There were two Vegas style revues, a variety show, and the passenger talent show, all lead by the best and funniest cruise director on the high seas, John Heald. He can make you laugh, even during his port and debarkation talks! The highlight and not to be missed is the Bedtime Story which he does as part of the passenger talent show. I know you're thinking you've seen this before, and I have many times myself, but know one does it like John. To cap off each evening, there are the Late Show specials, held in the Club Rio each night at 12:15 AM. Adult comedy and a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were some of the shows on our cruise.
Since I don't live to far from Atlantic City and I like to gamble a little, I thought I would spend a little time on the subject. The Triumph has one of the largest casinos on the high seas. There are hundreds of slot and video machines ranging from a nickel up to twenty-five dollars. Lou won a few hundred playing the dollar slots, but only because he showed the discipline to quit when he was a little ahead. This applies to any of the casino activities. If you stay there long enough, they will get your money! There were several roulette and craps tables, which received heavy play. For the poker players, I'm sorry to report that Let it Ride has been eliminated. In its place is a game they call Caribbean Draw Poker. If it sounds suspiciously like that cash cow Caribbean Stud Poker, you are right. The variation here is that if you remain in the game after looking at your first five cards, you can throw in and draw up to two cards. The dealer needs a pair of 8's or better to qualify. There is also that sucker one dollar progressive slot in front of you. My advice is to stay away from both Caribbean Stud and Caribbean Draw Poker. They are fun to play, but the house advantage is huge! There are plenty of Blackjack tables on board, with several varieties offered. The first is just the standard Blackjack with the rules as close to Vegas's rules as you'll get on a cruise ship. There is no surrender in these games. The first variation is called Face Up Blackjack, where all cards are dealt, well, face up! Sounds easy doesn't it, until you realize that blackjack pays even money, the dealer wins all pushes, the dealer hits on soft 17, you can only double on 9, 10, and 11, you can only split once, and there is no insurance. Again, huge house advantage! The next variation is called either Triumph 21, or Fun Ship 21. Some of the different rules are, blackjack pays 2 to 1, if you draw five cards without breaking you are paid 3 to 2, if you total 21 by having the 6-7-8 combination you are paid 3 to 2, there is double down s! urrender, and a few other wacky rules which have slipped my mind. Sounds like a great game until you read the fine print. It is an eight-deck game and all the Jacks have been removed! This raises the house advantage dramatically, so my advice to all is to stick to the standard blackjack, where you have a fighting chance! There were several blackjack and slots tournaments held during the cruise that were very popular and fun.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Triumph docks less than ½ mile from downtown Halifax and the waterfront. There are four different ways that you can get there. There are free shuttle buses, taxicabs (not sure of the cost), a $6.00 rickshaw ride, or you can walk. With the exception of the Tidal Bore rafting trip, and the Chebucto Head fishing trip, you were better off on your own, than buying the excursions thru Carnival. For example, the excursion to Peggy's Cove, which I was told was very beautiful BUT very crowded, was much cheaper when bought downtown. The Citadel and the Maritime Museum were within walking distance. Not offered by Carnival, but available on the waterfront, were whale watching and harbor cruises. We chose to walk along the water to the waterfront area. It was a delightful walk that took about 15-20 minutes. We had the good fortune of visiting Halifax while the International Busker Festival was there. The waterfront was alive with loads of street performers, crafts, food, drinks, etc. We had a great time hanging out there. We then visited the Maritime Museum. They had a great Titanic display, including an actual deck chair. Very humbling. They also had a 3-D movie about the Titanic, which was very popular, but you had to purchase advance tickets for it, and the next available showing for us was three hours later, so we chose to pass, and went back to the ship. We sailed from Halifax at 6:00 PM, and as the sun began to drop, it actually became to cold to stand on deck with shorts on. Those of you, who are going in September or October, remember to bring some WARM clothing.
Debarkation and Final Thoughts
I woke up early on the morning of debarkation, as I wanted to be on deck when we sailed into New York harbor. For those who would like to do the same, please be advised that the ship will sail under the Verrazano bridge around 5:45 AM. To me it was worth the loss of sleep, but Lou elected to stay in bed. We finally docked back at pier 88 around 7:10 AM. What followed was by far, the easiest debarkation I have ever experienced. The night before, everyone was told that if you wanted to carry your own luggage off the ship, you would be allowed off the ship first, beginning around 8:15 AM. If you didn't want to carry your own bags off, then you were instructed to leave your bags outside your cabin by 1:00 AM, and the next morning you would be disembarked according to your tag color. The former was an option that will not be offered once the Triumph enters Caribbean service. I guess Customs wasn't worried about 'contraband' being brought back from Canada! We chose the latter option since the thought of spilling out on to the streets of Manhattan during the morning rush hour didn't appeal to us, and plus the fact we didn't have to worry about catching a flight. Truth of the matter was, we just didn't want to leave! Anyway, true to their word, the luggage carriers began disembarking at 8:15, and our color was called at 9:15. We said goodbye to the Triumph, grabbed our luggage in the terminal, jumped in the Blazer, and was home by 10:30. What a breeze!
Four days was simply not enough time to sample everything the Triumph had to offer! There were lounges that I never had a chance to checkout, such as the Olympic Sports Bar. I thought I would be spending a lot of time there. I enjoyed my short time aboard the Triumph immensely, and wouldn't hesitate sailing on her again. The food and service were great, I won a little in the casino, and Minnie at the Continent Pool Bar starboard side, made me some REAL GOOD drinks. Life is good! You can see photos from this cruise at http://members2.clubphoto.com/jeffrey94178/ Feel free to email me with any questions and Bon Voyage!
I booked the whole trip through Carnival including airfare and pre-cruise stay at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. I booked an 8A guarantee in August of 2001. Using the Kelly method I found out 3 weeks prior to leaving that we had been given a major upgrade to a category 11 on the Empress deck (7322). The Kelly method really does work as this is the cabin we got.
We arrived in Miami at 1pm and were met at the gate by a Carnival rep. who directed us down to pick up our luggage and told us another rep. would be waiting by the luggage claim. After picking up our luggage we followed the rep. to the shuttle. There were mostly people sailing that day (Friday) and 1 other couple going to the Sheraton. Be warned it is quite a hike to the parking lot to board the shuttle. Once on board we proceeded to the Port of Miami to drop the people sailing on the Fascination. Then it was on to the hotel. We had a very nice room, it did not face the port but it still had anice view. After freshening up we took a taxi to Bayside Market. The concierge did say it was only a 15-minute walk but it was very hot and humid and I didn?t feel like walking. The taxi only cost $6 including a tip. We spent a pleasant afternoon at Bayside checked out the shops and stopped to listen to a Reggae band play. We went a 1 hour 15 minute boat ride around the Miami bay area on Celebration cruises $10 each. There are many others to choose from. After the boat tour we ate at an outside restaurant right up the steps and to the left of the Celebration pier. (sorry I don?t remember the name) I had a hamburger with all the fixings and fries $5.95 and my husband had a breast of chicken sandwich with fries $6.95.
There is also a Hard Rock Cafe with very reasonable prices. It was now 8pm and we decided to head back to the hotel with the hope of find a store along the way to purchase some bottled water and munchies for the ship. There was nothing of this kind to be found at Bayside. Just up the street from Bayside on Flagler Street I noticed a Walgreen?s, unfortunately it had closed at 8pm. We then caught a taxi back to the hotel with the intention of coming back to the Walgreen?s on Saturday morning (they open at 7am). We did just that, taking a taxi there ($3) and walking back. We had breakfast across the street from the Sheraton at the Coffee Beanery. Bacon and egg bagel, sausage and egg bagel 1 coffee and a large OJ cost approx $10. Prices at the hotel restaurant were very high. Carnival reps. where in the hotel lobby at 9am to pre-check in guests. It went very smoothly, just be sure to have all the documents filled out and have your id handy. The shuttle bus to take us to the port was to arrive at 11:45. Most of the people were waiting outside by 11:15. by 12:15 the shuttle had not arrived so I called the 800 # on the shuttle coupon. A very polite man explained that due to traffic the shuttle had been held up and would be at least another 15 minutes. by this time many other passengers had jumped in taxis and made there own way to the pier, after hearing we would have to wait at least 15 more minutes for the shuttle to arrive (then you?ve got to add time to load the people and the luggage etc.) we decided to do the same. The taxi dropped us off right by the baggage handlers and after giving them a generous tip we made our way to the Triumph. I would definitely recommend the pre-check in at the Sheraton as it enabled us to bypass the people waiting in line when you first go in the terminal. We went straight upstairs and picked up our Sail and Sign cards. There was a short wait in line to have your picture taken for the cards and then on to the ship.
All I can say is wow!! You enter on deck 3 and the first thing you see are the glass elevators we jumped in one and made our way to the Empress deck. Our room was great lots of closet space and a four-draw dresser. There was an outlet over the dresser and one in the make-up area, there was also more draws in this area. We checked out the balcony-four chairs and a small table and then made our way up to the Lido deck. Luggage had started to arrive already but not ours yet.
We had lunch in the South Beach Restaurant and then began exploring the ship. We made our way back up to deck 10 in time for the ship to set sail. The reggae band Eclipse was playing on the stage by the Continent Pool it was a great start to a great week. Our luggage arrived just in time for dinner; we had the 5:45pm sitting in the Paris Dining room, table 568 right at the back with a great view. Ivan from Croatia and Iketow (sp?) from Indonesia were our waiters and they both did a great job.
We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck. Lots to choose from for breakfast, the chefs are there to prepare omelets and fried eggs. I loved watching them flip the omelets and catch them behind their backs!! The pizza was delicious and always fresh. It was constantly busy. The hamburgers from the Grille were also a big favourite. We only had the ice cream once but it was very good. The sandwiches from the NY deli were also very good. I had turkey and my husband had the corned beef. We didn?t try the Hong Kong Noodle. The buffets were very good always something different each day. We ate dinner in the dining room five of the seven nights and everything we tried was delicious-Lobster, steak, prime rib, filet of sole, lamb, and filet mignon. Desserts were to die for.
Corey Schmidt the Cruise Director was very good, now as this is our first cruise I don?t have anyone to compare him to but I think he did a great job. The Welcome Aboard show was a howl, the audience participants really made the show. All the shows were very professionally done and very entertaining. Corey?s show with his birds was good but too short we left when the juggler came on. Callen and Joyce were in the Venezia Lounge; they had the place jumping playing some oldies but goodies (Bob Seger, Lynard Skynard, Grand Funk etc.). The crowd refused to let them play any slow songs they wanted to rock!!! We didn?t go to any of the late night comedy shows and didn?t hear anything good or bad about them from other passengers.
We took a taxi $10 to Chankanaab park and spent the most of the day snorkeling and laying on the beach. It was $10 each to get in. It was heaven, not too crowded at all. Later we took a taxi to the town $10. I personally did not enjoy the town, too many locals grabbing at you to try and get you in their store. Grand Cayman We took the ships Stingray City Island Tour-You stop at Hell (make sure you have your pens and addresses handy so you can send postcards), the Turtle Farm which was a big hit with our crowd and then it?s on to Stingray City. Our boat was not crowded about 40 people. There was quite a breeze and there were big waves that made it difficult to stand up in the water, but even with that the Stingrays were amazing. The boats captain got in the water and held one of them so you could take a picture and touch it. We stayed there for about 90 minutes and then back into town for shopping. Much more civilized here, very pleasant to walk around the town and shop. Ochos Rios.
We took Highlight Tour A. We went to Fern Gully and then Shaw Botanical Gardens, be advised there is a lot of climbing up and down stairs here and it was very hot even first thing in the morning. Then on to Dunns River Falls. Hubby and I did not climb the falls instead we made our way down to the beach, again be advised it?s quite a walk down to the beach and of course you have to climb back up after. But it was worth it. This tour also stops at two shopping plazas. Hubby got a fake Rolex for $25-talked the guy down from $70 (of course his last one we got in NY for $10 but?.).
We took a bungee cord to hold the balcony door open but we never used it the door stayed open just fine, maybe we were lucky, I will take it next time just in case. I did ask our room steward if he could empty the fridge so we could use it but he said he couldn?t. He was very good with keeping the ice buckets full. The funvision was working so we ordered our excursion that way. You can also check how much you have spent on your sail and sign cards. The crew was great, very polite and friendly. No one ever passed you by without saying hello and asking how you were. Some actually seemed surprised when we would ask how they were and how their day had been. Definitely go to the front of the ship on deck 6,7 or 8 and watch the stars at night. Also a great place for some peace and quiet is right off of deck 3. Lots of lounge chairs and very serene. People did save lounge chairs, but?in their defense you can?t honestly expect to sleep in till 1pm and then come out on the lido deck and think you are going to find a chair in a prime location. Most of the people who saved chairs had been there since early morning. So my advice if you want a chair where the action is get up early and snooze on deck. Disembarkation.
I guess when you have 2900 people all wanting to get off at once you are going to run into snags. We were late arriving in Miami it was after 7 when we finally docked. Being non-US citizens we had to go to the Club Rio Lounge to pickup our passports. Mass confusion is the best way to describe this. We then went back to our cabin one last time and went to wait for our colour to be called. We had a 1pm flight out of Miami and wouldn?t suggest you book anything earlier than that. Many people with 12:30 flights were just leaving the ship at 12. Finding our luggage was not a problem, I had heard horror stories but it went very smoothly.
All in all this was a wonderful vacation and we can?t wait to cruise again. Sorry this is so long. Anyone with questions, don't hesitate to ask.
I am writing this letter in regards to a sea cruise I recently returned from on the Caribbean seas on Carnival Cruise Line. I am by no means one to complain about a vacation in any way shape or form but feel I must express my utter disappointment with this experience. Please do not disregard this as a nasty letter but realize its importance in order to more thoroughly satisfy your thousands of customers.
My Carnival Cruise on the "Fun Ship Triumph" departed from Miami Florida at 5:00 pm Saturday afternoon February the sixteenth and returned February twenty third at 8:00 am.
I will begin with the bus ride from Miami International Airport to the Triumph. The overall ride was fine with the exception of three stops for passenger pickup and no overhead announcement regarding any of this taking place. We kept anticipating getting to the ship. However, we circled the airport at least three times. The driver took us through a very rundown section of town. The driver announced that his tip was not included and we better not forget about him. Upon arrival to the docking terminal, every passenger was forcedto sit on the bus until all the luggage was offloaded. This was not exactly an easy task after being cooped up for over an hour in the bus not to mention the additional time spent on the plane rides to Miami. What I'm really displeased about is with the way our luggage was treated. Where the bus had parked there was evidently a large amount of water, which collected into puddles from passing showers. The individuals who offloaded our luggage simply took everyone's bags and threw them from a distance of 4-5 feet onto the ground into the puddles. Our luggage was thrown into the biggest puddle of all and was visibly wet. When we were finally allowed off the bus, the driver was standing in front of the door with his hand out almost insisting a tip for his utterly shameful drive. Once we tipped the individual out of pure guilt, the bag handlers who also wanted a tip met us. They actually charged us a dollar per bag to bring our luggage on the ship, which they claimed would be in front of our cabins in ½ hours tops. I graciously gave them the fee and moved on.
The lines were long and there were at least two to three security checks before boarding but this is understandable.
I was mostly appalled with what happened next. Within minutes of stepping foot on board, the ships whistle sounded for our mandatory lifeboat drill. Now I'm no expert mate on board a ship but did graduate from Massachusetts Maritime Academy and know the proper order of a vessel. This drill was outrageous! I was lucky to find my cabin and life jacket in time to wade my way through hundreds of people and find my muster station. When my fiance and I arrived, we were met by a sea of people who were either drunk of drinking cocktails, sitting or laying on the deck, life jackets being worn backwards if even put on at all and people laughing and joking about how ridiculous this is. After about ten minutes of mass confusion, the captain came on the overhead and did a rather decent job explaining the muster stations and where one should go in the event of an emergency. The mates, which were demonstrating how to put the life jackets on, were not saying a word and could care less if anyone was paying attention or even standing for that matter. Boy, I don't think the US Coast Guard would be too happy with that drill. After another ten minutes of pointless instructions, we were giving the all clear and allowed to go back to our rooms where our luggage still had not arrived and wouldn't until 9:30 pm!
The following are just a few general problems which stand out in my mind when looking back at the cruise, which I had to express in detail. They may not be in chronological order. Please take these comments and concerns into consideration.
I was absolutely appalled at how much gratuity was expected and required to be paid on this cruise. The gratuity per person was 70$ dollars per day which I was never told nor read about in any carnival package pamphlet anywhere before booking this cruise. A 15% gratuity was tacked onto everything you purchased on the ship hands down. Alcoholic drinks, garments, purchasable foods, gifts, room service, the works- all gratuity. This is on top of the 1500$ per person standard cruise fee for this trip. I was also very annoyed with the fact that the Matradies do not receive any gratuity and they should be given a cash tip at the end of the cruise. This was never told to us in advance.
Room service for starters was terrible. I ordered three coca-colas on three different occasions during this cruise. Each took over an hour minimum to be delivered with two-complaint phone calls on top of that! As usual we were also required to give a gratuity on the cola.
Our Matradie from the dining room was also a real beauty. This guy never said two words to anyone at our table the entire trip but he did make his rounds. He made sure he hit the three single female tables each night and carry on in-depth conversations for ten plus minutes a night. To tell you the truth though, he did speak to my fiance and I. We were scolded for entering the dining room past the main course serving even though we could have still received dessert. Luckily, one of our dining couples insisted we not go. They made him allow us to stay. Painstakingly he agreed, but made sure we ordered dessert and coffee only. This is not something I should have to deal with!
Your headwaiters, assistant waiters, and some bartenders were great. The only thing that puzzles me though is that how none of these workers seemed to be US citizens. I did find my answer when I asked an assistant waiter why this was. He told me that Carnival helps Alien Immigrants get their green card. He also asked my fiance and I if his salary of $74.00 dollars PER MONTH was adequate!! He has been working for Carnival for 5 years now and claims he received numerous raises and would like his wife to join him. He claimed that some people started as low as $40.00 dollars per month. Is this legal, just curious?
I can't really comment on this too much because I did not attend to many events. From what I heard many shows were great. Especially the nightly shows when the entire wait staff were made to run out and sing and dance on our tables and stairwells. Those were the best (hint: sarcasm). The cruise director Corey, in my opinion, was not very funny at all. The only time I got a few laughs out of him was when he belittled people so badly on stage they literally cried. What a way to treat your guests, at all times.
This is one area I feel strongly about. Carnivals rule standards need serious improvement and enforcement. I by no means dislike kids but when your sitting next to them at the casino playing slots or sitting next to them at the bar, it gets to be a little much. Yes, sixteen year olds and under sitting at the bar and playing slots with all employees turning there heads. I have to say that I never actually saw these kids purchasing alcoholic beverages but did see several inebriated during the after hours. I don't think that they would have purchased their liquor at our ports of call either seeing that we hadn't hit any at this point. The two Jacuzzis which specifically had signs stating 18 years or older were filled with screaming kids 90% of the time, even the one in the nautical gym. Granted, much of the children issues should be handled more adequately by the parents but this was ridiculous. I did not see one Carnival bartender, waiter, security person, trainer, entertainer, employee say one word to one child. Maybe they were afraid they would be promptly fired or demoted for there actions if anyone were to reveal them to an employee with higher authority. I also saw a sign posted which stated no seats should be reserved for other guests. This may have been a rule but sure as heck didn't apply to the patio chairs on deck. I can't even count how many chairs I saw which were taken by markings such as one shoe, a shirt, a suntan lotion bottle or the worst yet, a blue unfolded beach towel straight from the clean linen bin. People obviously were up at the wee morning hours setting up lawn chairs and marking a row of four or more with clean beach towels. Then probably either retiring to bed or eating breakfast.
Also, is there any way possible that some sort of insignia could be placed on your sign and sail card proving if your over twenty one or not. There were actually a few bartenders who asked to see ID, which I was glad to see. They are doing a nice job. The only problem is that you have to carry two forms of ID around with you at all times, it can be a little bit of a burden. This is just a suggestion to avoid customer inconveniences.
This was not a major issue but still one, which could not be overlooked. Our cabin rugs were slightly stained and numerous towels were delivered to our room with some type of stain. One couple that went the extra mile and rented a deluxe sweet had the fine privilege of boarding the ship and finding their suites bathroom leaking raw sewage from around the toilet. It was quickly covered of course by some type of adhesive patch. Luckily, they claimed it lasted for five days before breaking through the seal. Also, the times which things around the ship were serviced was uncalled for. For instance, the main entrance to the nautical gym was being repainted the entire cruise and blocked off completely with caution tape. The Oxford bar dance floor was being sanded with 4 belt sanders while the entire bar was filled with people. Dust particles, polyurethane, and everything else in the wood was dispersed in clouds throughout the fully packed bar and all over the furniture. I'm surprised no one complained to an agency like OSHA. Especially with no respirators. Can't these kinds of issues be taken care of when at port?
The tours were great once they finally started. Each tour has a specific time frame, which the guests are allowed. Every tour I took was delayed for at least an hour because all paid guests were not ready. I can see time discrepancies but why should the people who show up on time get nixed on the time, which they paid for and should be enjoying.
This cruise was nothing like I had pictured. I was dissatisfied with roughly 75% of my entire trip with half of the remaining 25% coming from enjoyment on the islands. Some positive things were all the pictures taken on board by employees. I also enjoyed the sit down meals, though small portioned, very good. The pizza cafe also was a positive. The drinks were also decent but very weak. I would think that the money each individual pays to come on board, the bartenders should at least be allowed to give a good pour.
Again, please take this as constructive criticism and don't treat it like a nasty letter. I was disappointed and so were many other couples that I spoke with. These are some things, which your line should build on if you would like customers to keep coming back.
My fiance and I feel that we should be compensated in some way to make up for our terrible experience. I just can't see paying over $4000 dollars for what we just went through.
Here is the text version of my review, if you would like to see the review with Pictures, Go To: http://lorvis.home.att.net/cruise.htm. This is mine and Jennifer's 3rd Cruise, first time on the Eastern Run though. This cruise left Miami on Saturday (2 Feb), docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico (4 Feb), docked in St Thomas, USVI (5 Feb), docked in St Croix, USVI (6 Feb) and back to Miami on 9 Feb. We were in Cabin 6432 a Category 8A Balcony Cabin on the Upper Deck.
We arrived at the Port of Miami at about 1045 by Taxi from our Pre-cruise stay at the Carlton Hotel in South Beach Miami. We unloaded the Bags from the back of the Taxi right into the hands of the cruise ship porters. We headed inside where check-in was a breeze. We dropped off our paperwork, showed our passports and we were off to the 2nd floor of the Terminal to pick up our 'Sail and Sign Cards.' We picked up the S&S cards and headed to the waiting room. We had completed the Check-in process in 10 minutes. Now came the hard part ofwaiting til the Ship was ready to be boarded. We had to wait in the waiting room for about an hour, at about 1215, they started snapping the pre-cruise photos and we were on our way to the Triumph by 1230. Security was tight, all bags went through the X-ray machine and all passengers were scanned by the "wand." Some passengers had their bags opened and searched, etc. We entered the Ship on the 3rd Deck near the Capitol Bar, headed to the elevators and our cabin on the 6th Deck.
We chose our cabin specifically for its appearance of a bigger balcony in the Carnival Brochure. The reason it was bigger was because the Cabin was in an "L" shape as it was right next to a set of stairs. We gambled that the stairs were not that often used and hoped that they would not become a noise issue. As it turns out, the stairs are only used for staff and emergencies, so no noise issue at all. The cabin had a Queen Bed as opposed to the normal 2 twins which could be pushed together. The cabin was actually quite large and in our opinion, Carnival could even market this room as a higher category. The Balcony was 20ft long and 4.5 feet wide. Plenty of room out there. Lots of closet space, we even put all of our empty luggage in a closet.
The cabin had a 2 person sofa, TV and a telephone. The TV had 3 recent movies on all day that rotated each day. It had a news channel, NBC and usually TNT or CBS. It had two ship channels that they used to broadcast events that had been recorded by the ship staff the previous day (i.e. - the Shopping Talk and the Excursion Talk). It also had the Bridge Channel in which throughout the day one could view the exact position of the ship, speed, temperatures, etc......
Our Cabin Steward, Chaiya (from the Philippines), was really good. We'd step out for a second and return and find that the cabin had been totally cleaned. Jennifer loved the mint chocolate and the towel animals he left for us each night.
We left the balcony door open nearly 99% of the time. We used the bungee cord that we had brought along to hold it open. We absolutely loved sleeping to the gentle rocking and sound of the ship steaming through the waters. The temperature at night was around 74, so it made for a very comfortable night.
The cabin had climate control, sorta. The air conditioner remained on, but you could easily turn off the vents. We had the vents off nearly the whole cruise.
The MS Carnival Triumph, all 102 thousand tons of her is in really good shape. It is a very large ship and took a few days to learn where everything is. Even towards the latter part of the cruise, I still found myself going to the front of the ship when I thought I was going towards the aft.
There were several decks with plenty of things to do. The Rome Lounge was absolutely huge, seating 1500. There was always something going on in there, Trivia quizzes, Bingo, talks, etc. The Casino was one of the largest I've ever seen. We made our usual deposit there. The Casino Manager always had sessions where you could learn to play the variety of games, I finally learned how to play Craps. Jennifer played in the Slots Tournament, made to the finals and lost. Oh Well......
Plenty of Bars everywhere, all with different themes. The Nightclub had easily a hundred TVs, that's where we watched the Patriots upset the Rams........ They had a good sized Arcade with an underground cave theme. They had a Wine only bar and version of Starbucks, where all sorts of Coffee and Cakes were available. In each of the bars, there was live entertainment ranging form Karoake to a small orchestra.
The Deck Space for laying out in the Sun was abundant, but somehow by 8am, each chair had been 'reserved.' Jennifer usually laid out in the early afternoon and didn't have too much trouble finding a spot. There were four decks upfront that provided really great views at night. The pools were nice and filled most of the time. There were plenty of Hot Tubs and there was always space available. I wanted to try the Slide, but never got around to it. The Gym was fairly large with lots of treadmills and plenty of weight machines. The hot tubs in the Gym were really hot and we liked those the best.
The Cruise Director Andrew 'AJ' Jones was pretty good. We were somewhat disappointed that John Heald had left the Triumph for another ship, but AJ filled in nicely. He had some good funny moments. His only weakness was that he admittedly hasn't been in the Eastern Caribbean in over 3 yrs, so his knowledge of the ports wasn't too good. I don't know if he is just a fill in or if he is staying on as the permanent cruise director.
The Triumph handled nicely in the seas with only gentle swaying with seas of 1-4 ft. But for some reason, when we left St Croix, we encountered about 18 hrs of 8-10 ft seas, where we had some good rocking going on. It didn't bother Jennifer and I, but we heard of several passengers including some of the crew being sick. Lots of people wore the patches and the bracelets.
PORTS OF CALL
This cruise had 3 Ports of Call, not including Miami. Our first stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico. We arrived in San Juan at about 4pm (5pm San Juan Time). The ship only offered a few excursions, none of which seemed very good to us, so we decided to do San Juan on our own. We first headed to the Fortress which guards the entrance to San Juan. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we got there, but we were able to spend some time around it. We then walked through old San Juan and looked at some of the stores. We were back on the ship by 8pm and did some of the ships activities. The ship was pretty crowded, so we gather that most people did what we did. We departed San Juan at midnite.
The next day we stopped in St Thomas. We arrived pier side around 7am. There were 3 other ships in port that day as well, so the Island was pretty crowded. We had a diving excursion and then went downtown for some shopping. There were plenty of jewelry stores and souvenir stores. We picked up some souvenirs and headed back to the ship for a nap. We departed at around 6pm.
The next day we stopped in St Croix. We arrived pier side at around 730am. We were the only ship in port that day. We had a diving excursion this day also. On our way to diving, we went through the Rain Forest and along some of the highest points in the Island. After diving, we hit some stores for some more souvenir shopping and walked along the beach. Lots of people were diving and swimming right off the pier. The ship was to leave at 530pm, but we had to wait for some late and lucky passengers who had to do some serious running to get to the ship before it pulled out.
The weather at all three ports was absolutely beautiful. Highs in the lower 80s and lows in the middle 70s. A brief rain shower now and then.
We had decided not to go with the Ship's Diving Excursions and instead we booked excursions with local companies via the internet and phone.
In St Thomas we went with LETTS DIVE owned by Bill Letts. The risk with booking with local companies is that there is no guarantee that they will show up. We knew this going in and thought we had done enough research and had picked reputable companies. Unfortunately we didn't do a good job for our excursion in St Thomas. LETTS DIVE was a no show and left us scrambling for another diving excursion. Luckily Jennifer and her quick thinking found Water World Sports and booked us on an 2 tank dive for later that morning.
The water was a chilly 78 degrees and the visibility was only about 30-40 feet. The seas were a little rough and the bottom was pretty stirred up. Still a good dive trip though. I would not recommend anyone book with LETTS DIVE on St Thomas. In St Croix we went with Cane Bay Dive Shop. They have a shop right on the pier and provide free transportation to Cane Bay where we planned to do 2 beach entry dives. When we got to Cane Bay we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were going on a boat dive and one beach dive. We were going with one other couple from the Midwest. Cane Bay boasts to be home to one of the best wall dives in the world.
Our first dive was right above the wall. The water was just over 80 degrees. The boat was a small six passenger one. The seas were easily 4-6 feet and we were rocking! Once we arrived at the site, the divemaster unzipped the front part of the boat and we slid right in. Lots of wildlife and the wall was amazing. We went to about 65 feet and couldn't even begin to see the bottom of the wall.
Our second dive was a beach entry, which proved to be tougher than thought due to the rough waters. We had to swim out to about 100 yds from shore before submerging over the wall. On this dive we easily went to 100 feet deep. Again lots of wildlife and a great dive. I highly recommend Cane Bay Dive Shop.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
The food was ABUNDANT. The 24 hour Pizzeria was great. The NY Deli served the biggest Turkey Subs. The Coney Island Grill was all too happy to serve up a Double Cheeseburger. The South Beach Club served the Buffets with plenty of choices. The 24 hour ice cream parlor was awesome too!
For Dinner we ate in the Paris Dining Room, the other was the London Dining Room. There were four seatings per meal. We only ate dinner in the Main Dining Room. Dinner typically lasted about 90 minutes. The food was great. Service was good. On the last nite, I didn't particularly care for what was on the menu so asked for a steak, that's what I got. We ate Dinner at the South Beach Club twice at the Alternative Dining. It was pretty similar to Main Seating Dining except ALOT faster. We enjoyed that part. The entertainment was good, Magic Shows, Juggling Show, Plenty of Comedians and several Musical Shows. All were good and entertaining. We didn't make it to every show, but the ones we went to, we enjoyed. The Rome Lounge provides a great atmosphere to enjoy these shows.
This started out pretty organized, but the crew lost control of this fairly quickly. We docked at the Port of Miami at around 730am. We expected to begin debarkation at around 930am, by color codes of course. Starting at around 9am, AJ started making announcements that Deck 3 needed to be cleared of people prior to the ship being cleared by customs and immigration. These announcements continued til around 10am. Still nobody had been allowed to debark the ship. At around 1030am, it seems as the crew had given up and the doors were opened, the line that had formed since around 930am had been allowed to exit the ship. No color codes or nothing. The folks that were told that they would be allowed to get off early due to early flights, ended up getting off later. We followed the crowd and by 1045 we were on the bus with our luggage and headed to the airport. Our flight wasn't til 1pm so we weren't concerned about getting off the ship as others were.
In conclusion, Jennifer and I had a great time and hated when it came time to leave Miami. I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone and we can't wait to book our next cruise.
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 noontime. It was our first time on the Carnival Triumph, and i was so nervous that I wouldn't meet anybody around my age. (18-25). The embarktion was easy, we waited in the check in line for about 1 hour ( the lines look long but that actually move really fast). After check in, we picked up our sign and sail cards (which is your room key, and the card you use to make any purchases).
Then we boarded the ship. The capital was very big and nice. There was a bar, and three floors of shopping and the photo gallery is there. We were escorted to our room. Since i was traveling with my family, my brother (20) and i got our own room, which was down the hall from my parents. We dropped off our carry ons and then went to the Lido deck for lunch. They had complimentary drinks there, and they didn't care that my brother and i were drinking them so i was really happy.
We didn't get our luggage until 6:00. On other cruises we had our luggagebefore we set sail, which is good this way you can unpack and still see the ship sail without worries.
The entertainment on the ship was great. Each night there was a different show and John Herold was "the best". My favorite shows were the welcome aboard show and the comedian Al Ernest.
After the shows, I would go to the Hollywood dance club where guys would buy me drinks, and i would dance with all the other people 18-25. All the older teens went there each night, so that was a lot of fun. Each night I met different people, and it was so much fun. I didn't go to sleep until 4:30 in the morning and then i would wake up at 12 ( nice vacation).
The food in the main dinning room was good. We ate in the Paris, which was a lot of viberation the 1st 2 nights. The Lido deck was always crowded so i never ate any of the buffets. I hate to wait in lines and the food i heard wasn't that good up there.
Overall this was the best cruise ever. I had so much fun and met so many people.
This was my second Carnival cruise. The first was on the Triumph's younger sister, Carnival Victory, back in September, 2000 when the ship was brand new. So new, that service was uneven. But overall the experience aboard Carnival Victory was good enough to want to take the same cruise again. Carnival Triumph would be an improvement in the area of service, and also décor in the public areas (the cabins are decorated exactly the same), since I thought the Carnival Victory was a bit of an eyesore (the use of the color green went a little too far and those mermaid and mermen sculptures in the dining room could be used as an illustration in the dictionary next to the word tacky). Carnival Triumph is a bit mellower in décor and I thought it was quite attractive in many instances. I found the service to be good. When there was an occasional slip-up it would be corrected as soon as it was mentioned.
Things, however, got off to a very bad start at Pier 88 at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal. I arrived at 12:30 pm and the line was alreadyvery long. To worsen the situation, the temperature had reached well over 90 degrees with a heat index over 100 degrees. One would have thought that with such excessive heat forecasted Carnival would have made some sought of preparation by making cold drinks available to the passengers (this is what Celebrity Cruises does with every cruise). By the time I boarded, which took about 90 minutes, I was drenched with perspiration. A wheelchair had to be found for a fainting passenger. It may be the Fun Ship but it was not the Fun Terminal.
I booked a category 1A as a single and got one of the large outside with porthole cabins. There are several of these located on the Riviera and Main Decks. For the less money than a smaller inside, you get a spacious cabin, 2 portholes, 1 bed, full-sized sofa and even a terry bathrobe. My cabin stewardess, Gabriella, was a doll. There were several requests I made and everything was taken care of immediately. She liked to handle the turn-down service early in the evening. I usually ask for this to be done later, since I have late seating dinner and like to shower before. No problem, She always returned after I left for dinner to remove the wet towels and tidy up. She is a very cheerful and friendly person, and obviously accommodating as well. Her towel animals are gallery worthy!
Since I carried my one piece of luggage on board I was able to unpack immediately. I then proceeded to the South Beach restaurant which is the casual buffet area on the ship. There were already long lines for the buffet and what was being offered didn't look too thrilling, so I proceeded to the Coney Island Grill, which is just behind, in the aft deck pool area. There were only 2 people ahead of me and I ordered a double-meat steak sandwich. I proceeded to the opposite side, where the pizza is served and got a caesar salad. I then returned to the South Beach, since I preferred to sit in an air-conditioned environment on such a hot day. Found a table right near the beverage dispensers. The steak sandwich and salad were both excellent and unfortunately for my bloodstream, I would make a few more pilgrimages to the grill for these bad boys. It was definitely advantageous to have been on another ship with a similar layout, so I had my plan of attack for lunch pretty much figured out. I should add that there is also a deli window and a Chinese food window by the South Beach. Having sampled both on the Victory I did visit the deli a few times but avoided the Chinese food because it isn't made to order and was very disappointing. The deli gets higher marks and its hours of 11 am - 11 pm make it convenient for a late afternoon "snack". I finished off my lunch with some fresh fruit, which was nice to see as an alternative to cakes. But I did pay a visit to the self-serve ice cream machines by the aft deck pool. It was good, but not as good as the ice cream served in the dining room.
I attended the mandatory lifeboat drill. Due to the record number of passengers (over 3000) for this cruise, the muster station area was way overcrowded (hope the lifeboats wouldn't be). The hyperactive kid next to me didn't make it any more pleasant, but like my Mom used to say about childbirth, you forget all about the pain after it's over. I returned to my cabin just to chill out and watched our departure from NYC through my portholes. I was facing Manhattan and said a little prayer as we passed Ground Zero. The cruise director came on the p.a. system to ask for 30 seconds of silence. My next task was to head to the dining room to check out my table. I turned out to be a large table (set for 11) which made me a little weary. I had experiences before where a large table made for long waits for everyone to order and be served. However, it would turn out to be just wonderful. We were all singles (I guess the maitre d' does his homework). Each evening there was a different headcount going from 6 to 9 people. We all got along very well. In addition, we had very good service from our waiter, Fabian and team (assistant) waiter Roberto. I asked for ice tea at the beginning of the first meal and never had to request it again. It was always poured at the beginning of every meal and the glass would never stay empty for long. Orders were taken quickly and served that way too. The menu seemed to be exactly the same as on the Carnival Victory 2 years earlier. This is not gourmet cuisine but everything seemed to be prepared and seasoned well. I may have used a salt shaker once during the entire cruise. And my favorite, the baby back ribs, served at the final dining room lunch were offered again and they are still top notch. As for desserts, the bread pudding was a winner, as well as the German chocolate cake served at the same luncheon. But my favorite dessert would be the ice cream served at the dining room lunches and dinners. Of course, it goes well with whatever else you might select for dessert. Let's just say that I made everyone at my table swear that I only ate apples and lettuce during the cruise, if anyone should ask.
More on the subject of food, I discovered room service breakfast to be an excellent alternative to the noisy open seating dining room and breakfasts. Room service came in handy the morning we arrived in Halifax as I needed to be off the ship a.s.a.p. because I was meeting a friend. Again, last morning it was handy because I wanted to be off early. The food arrived quickly and the menu was more than a roll and a cup of coffee. You could even get a bagel, lox and cream cheese, and the bagel arrived warm! My only disappointment was that Special K cereal was not one of the choices, but no problem. I took some boxes from the buffet the day before and kept my own private stock. The food in the dining room for breakfast was a mixed bag. Had a terrific omelet with Swiss cheese and ham (every time I order this the waiter invariably says that he isn't sure about the availability of Swiss cheese but I always get it, so I don't panic). However, juice was always served with ice cubes in the goblet. I'm not talking a few cubes either. When I poured my juice into another goblet to strain the ice there was maybe 1/4 - 1/3 of a goblet. It was as though they thought of preparing the juice (as I'm sure it's from concentrate or something) at the last minute every morning. Happily, the juice served by room service was always fine. Okay, enough about juice. Now on to carpet stains (only kidding).
I preferred having lunch in the dining room. It tended to be fairly empty and the selection was better than the buffet. At times the buffet would offer some of the same entrees, but I felt, no waiting on line, freshly prepared food and no problem finding a table. In addition, there were no trays to carry your plates on the buffet. How stupid is that? I had a look at the buffet in the evening to see how it stacked up against the dining room food. It was very limited in selection and there is no atmosphere. It felt like visiting a food court in a shopping mall and I like at least a little class when dining on a cruise ship. I do have to confess that the sweet and sour shrimp did look good and I swiped some (just to make sure it was suitable for the other passengers).
Carnival's "signature" dining room entertainment by the waiters was offered up as always. Our maitre d', Jean Pierre really gets into this and putting a microphone in his hands is like putting keys to a candy store in a kid's hand. The only part of this post prandial ritual that I like is when the waiters dance on the tables. If you have a good waiter who participates, it tends to be more enjoyable.
Enough with the food.on to the activities and entertainment. Boy, for a 4-day cruise, they really pack a lot of stuff in. The 2 sea days had me going. Fortunately, nothing is really planned until after lunch, so the mornings were quiet for me. I enjoyed using a deck chair on the outdoor promenade on Deck 3. It was pretty quiet and as long as I positioned myself upwind from the occasional smoker, I was fine. I brought along my personal stereo and relaxed while listening to music and counting the waves (I stopped at 857). The afternoons had such diverse activities and entertainment as "Hairy Chest Competition" (I caught this on the in-cabin tv. Not for the faint of heart.), Bingo (who'd have thought.on a cruise?:)), afternoon tea with music (jazz one day; classical music the other; but who's bright ideas was to use the cigar bar for a tea?), a dixieland band concert, galley tour, art auctions, casino, karaoke, etc. The music events really thrilled me. The jazz trio (Dan McGovern Trio), who also performed nightly in the Oxford Bar were my favorite. They're only booked for 9 weeks on the ship so I hope you catch them. The classical trio (Prelude) also performed nightly. Unfortunately the only time I did hear them was at the tea. They were excellent and on a longer cruise I would have made a point of attending my performances. Equally talented was the dixieland group, Rich's Hot Seven, who, to my disappointment, only performed for 1 hour one afternoon. The 7 are made up of members of the ship's orchestra. How I wish they had more time to perform. Fortunately, the trumpeter (I believe that's Rich) sat in with the jazz trio for a set one evening. There were other musical acts on board the ship who performed in the other lounges, but time never permitted to sample them. I did sit in on 1 bingo game (it was a bargain at 10 games for $10.). I was really amused by the lovely English assistant directors who would ask for a "Bingo hush" if they needed quiet. I also attended their version of the "Newlywed Not-So Newlywed Game" hosted by Michael Mullane. No matter what cruise I've been on, this always is a winner. The ship also offered a version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
As for the main stage entertainment, featured in the Rome Lounge, I caught one of the productions shows called "Wonderful World". I felt it was a bit overproduced and was the weakest of all the Carnival production shows I've seen (the 2 on the Victory were outstanding). The other evening I attended the Rome Lounge show was when the cruise director, Michael Mullane, and his wife Jeni performed. Part of the show was supposed to feature comedian Anthony Acosta, who missed the ship in Halifax. Instead, one of the lead singers from the production show, Trent Webb, filled in and stopped the show. Although I didn't think much of him in "Wonderful World" (I would have to say it was because of the material) his solo act is dynamite, and if he is featured, by all means, catch his act. As for Michael Mullane, I didn't warm up to his style as an entertainer. Apparently he wrote a musical version of "A Tale of Two Cities" but his lead-in to the song from it took as long as the novel. However, as an emcee of game shows and other hats a cruise director must wear, he is top notch. I especially want to thank him for the way he oversaw the disembarkation procedure (more on this later).
The in-cabin tv featured such films as "Ali" and "Lord of the Rings". They also featured certain shipboard events such as the Passenger Talent Show, the Rome Lounge Show with Michael Mullane I mentioned above, as well as the Welcome Aboard Show (minus the comedian who must copyright his act).
I chose to avoid the pool area, but things were hopping there. The calypso group "Eclipse" seemed to be a big hit. The pool was crowded with kids (except our 2nd sea day when it was cold outside, but the aft pool has a moveable roof) and the Jacuzzis always seemed to be full. The gym and spa area were also unvisited by me during the cruise, so I cannot comment on them.
Our one port of call was Halifax. We arrived late due to fog, and disembarking was not handled very well to make matters worse. No Carnival staff member was present to oversee the line off the ship. This meant people could jump the line which made for an even longer wait than was necessary to get off the ship. This is an area Carnival needs to handle better. The fog had cleared and Halifax weather was beautiful and warm. As soon as we docked, a group of bagpipers and drummers performed for us while we watched from the outside promenade on Deck 3. We were also greeted by a town crier who is quite a character. Since I was visiting a friend, there was no need to attend port lectures or take a tour. We avoided Peggy's'Cove, a small waterside village, which is where all the tour buses go. Instead we went to another village on the water called Mahone Bay. It's a beautiful little town with some brightly painted houses. Instead of a lighthouse like in Peggy's Cove, its landmark is a group of 3 wooden churches on the waterfront. There were very nice shops and the people inside were very friendly. One shop manufactures and sells pewter, which is apparently very big in Nova Scotia. The shop has a demonstration area on how pewter is shaped into vessels, etc. We had a lovely lunch at a pub which had a deck in the back facing the water. Since it was a beautiful day, there were plenty of boats on the water. I was back on the ship by 4:30 pm (note that Halifax is 1 hour ahead of NYC but the ship did not change time). We departed Halifax on time and were bid farewell by the town crier and a single bagpiper (this part always makes me sentimental). I have really enjoyed my visits to Halifax. It's not a particularly pretty city or loaded with five star attractions, but it is a lovely town; clean and friendly and they always make us feel welcome. I will be back, I'm sure.
Disembarking the ship was a breeze. I was concerned after the nightmares during boarding and disembarking in Halifax. But thanks to cruise director, Michael who gave excellent instructions and kept the ship informed via the public address system directly in the cabins, all went quickly and smoothly. Those who did not need assistance with their luggage (i.e were carrying it off instead of leaving it out the final night) could disembark first, by deck, 2 decks at a time since there were gangways on decks 2 and 3. I was called off the ship at 8:45 am and in my office by 9:30 am (talk about your reality check).
A brief word about my fellow passengers. We were a very large group. Lots of families. After all, this is summertime and this was a holiday sailing. Carnival gets a rap about unruly passengers and there were some very inconsiderate people and despite my best efforts to avoid them, it wasn't always possible. However, I also met some of the sweetest, gentlest people I have had the good fortune to encounter and I was always grateful for their company and if Carnival attracts these people as well, then they are okay in my book.
As a short holiday vacation this was terrific. Despite some unpleasantries (and believe me they were very unpleasant) I had a very good time. Carnival is probably the best line for the short cruise market, especially when they use their newer ships (most other lines use their oldest ships for the short runs) like the Carnival Triumph. I'm not sold on Carnival for 7 day cruises because there are more lines which offer a better product. Carnival does have a good product, it just needs some better staff to manage it.
my family a party total of 15 and myself just got off the triumph yesterday sat may 25. let me just put it this way we went for some sun and fun we had fun but no sun all it did was rain all 7 days.just some things i noticed i would change on the ship we had 1 person in our party that is in a wheelchair and all of our cabins were on deck 10 the panamora deck anytime he wanted to go to the pool on the lido deck he always had to wait for an elevator to go down to the lido deck insted of having maybe a ramp to go down a couple of stairs.most of the activites were either on the lido deck or in the rome lounge after a couple of days i found myself starting to get a little bored.
our cabin was nice we were 1003 in the front of the ship with a nice window view our cabin was even larger than some of our family that booked a balcony. one more thing i did notice was thatwhen you are on deck 10 trying to go outside to the pool to open the doors it is very hard i think they should have automatic doors that open and close on all levels of the ship.my family is glad to be back home and looking forward to our next cruise in november.
This was our first cruise, and last. What an experience! We had expectations of great food, service, and non-stop fun. What we realized was very different. First of all "the food". Eating on this ship reminds me of a MCL cafeteria with a flair for presentation. The better dinners were dissapointing at best. If you are expecting exotic fruits, vegetables, and seafood, forget it. Your choices of fruits include oranges, grapefruits, apples, and melon. If you like shrimp, bring your own because you won't find much of it on this boat.
How anyone could feel that cruising is a good value when compared to any all-inclusive resorts is beyond me. From the moment you step foot on the boat you quickly discover that your money you spent on the cruise is only a small portion of what they really want from you. Shop in our stores, buy our $2.50 cokes, buy our overpriced excursions, shop in our stores, put money in our casino, and buy the $6.00 drink special. Personally, I would rather be charged for things that I know I want up front. Live and learn.
This was my 4th cruise, 2nd for my husband and two sons ages 16 and 21, 2nd on Carnival. Also with us were my sister and brother in law and their two children, ages 8 and 3. First, there were travel arrangement issues as we had flights on the dysfunctional Sun Country Airlines, which went out of business three weeks before our trip. Our Carnival Agent, however was wonderful and quickly set up new flights for our group, at a reasonable price. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale from Minneapolis and our luggage missed a connection so we waited at the airport. Luggage came, thankfully, but we were on the last shuttle to the ship at the Port of Miami! The bus driver was lost at the pier and could not figure out how to get to the ship, and our anxiety grew. Was this a carnival employee? I don't know, but clearly he had not done this before. Alas, we found the boarding area and made it onto the ship at 4 pm. No lines! No Bon Voyage picture (which didn't really concern us), in fact no one was inthe terminal at all. The lifeboat drill was occurring so we grabbed the jackets and were off to find our muster station. (Waste of time) As we found it the drill was over. We have never come so close to missing the ship! Set Sail a few minutes later and our adventure in Paradise had begun.
Back to the Cabin:
We were on Empress level 7425, rear corner. Excellent cabin. For nearly the same price as all balcony cabins, we had a balcony that stretched the entire back ½ of the ship! It was beautiful. There were a couple of plastic chairs and a table. Sitting out there felt heavenly. The room was set at an angle so it seemed bigger, although the sq ft is the same as other cabins, I think 186 sq ft. We had twins which pushed together and the cabin steward made the bed as a king size, after I requested. Bathroom was more than adequate. My sons were down the hall in 7390 with twin beds and adequate space, although I preferred the feel of the corner room. Perfect for them. Their balcony was opened to our relatives in the next door cabin, so turned out to be pretty big as well. Our cabin steward was great. TV service okay. My husband watched most of the bowl games in the cabin. Some movies, although they became repetitive by the end of the week.
Exploring the Ship:
This is a Beautiful ship, much bigger than I expected. All decorations were tasteful and the ship was very clean. One problem was midship on our floor there was a very foul odor, like backed up toilets or septic tanks. Unsure what this was but by end of the week the smell had improved and we learned to walk down the opposite hall to get to our cabin! The spa and gym were nicely appointed, larger than expected and equipment adequate with Bikes, Stairmasters, treadmills, cybex type equipment and free weights. I rode the stationary bike (no wait) while peering out to sea and listening to typical workout music over the intercom. What a way to work out! Got a massage on New Year's Day, perfect as I was feeling some leftover New Year's Eve partying. Then on to the sauna looking out to the ocean. Did I say Beautiful! Two Jacuzzis overlook the workout area. At the back of the ship was the pizzeria grill and deli, our usual hangout. Kids loved this spot. This surrounded one smaller pool. The bigger world pool with the slide was midship and crowded but not excessively so. Always seats available, although I walked more than sat. 24-hour pizza was excellent. Lines never too long. There was no time that we couldn't find food on this ship. Problem: Kids drink cards. Bartenders were rude and slow in serving soft drinks and on more than one occasion implied we were swapping out cards. We had cards for the three in our party, under 21,each at a cost of $29, so their implications were offensive. The promenade was nice and the casino always a buzz with people. Shopping was somewhat limited to Carnival fare and jewelry, perfume. The Dance club had 2 levels, jazz on the bottom disco on the top, but music in the disco was ancient until late in the wee hours, and children in the club past 11pm, on more than one occasion (under 16 were supposed to leave at 10:45) A real turn off for my husband. My younger son was happy that 16 and up were allowed in the club and he and his brother enjoyed the disco more than I, needless to say. There were other bars with multiple offerings, though. Something for everyone on this ship in terms of entertainment.
Overall, food was excellent. We had Paris late seating which worked well especially with shore excursions, no rush to prepare for dinner. Kids were okay with this also. On Lobster night my son had 2 orders. There were always seafood, beef, and chicken and other dishes (including vegetarian). One night my son had 3 shrimp cocktails! Our waiter was excellent and never questioned if you wanted more than one of anything, didn't like one and tried another or didn't like anything and required something totally different. Our group had a lot of variations! My sister ate steak every night, as she doesn't like much variety when it comes to food. My husband requested pasta when nothing appealed to him and this was fine. Bar service at our table was slow, but after one hint to the Maitre D about this, service improved immensely. We tried alternative dining but didn't like that. We wanted to experience fine dining treatment and the alternative was more cafeteria style. There was a desert bar (extra) not worth it and milk shakes (extra), but worth it, on the Promenade deck. Best deserts were at buffet lunch and midnight. Of course pizza and burgers were great. We always came back to the ship for lunch, which sort of broke up the day a bit.
Adventures in Paradise
The great thing again, something for everyone. Our sons went to the Mayan ruins and loved this. They left ship at about 7 am and ferried to the mainland and then a bus to the ruins. This was completely worth it by their report and the beach was beautiful at the foot of the ruins. They returned at about 2pm just in time to meet us back from shopping in town, had lunch and went out again to Playa del Sol Beach. Cabs are very expensive, so get ready. Our group of eight paid $50 to go from the ship to Playa Del sol and back (the driver waited for us), just 10 minutes down the road. Now on the ship they say a cab to town or the beach is about $16 per cab one way (I don't remember the exact number), that is 4 people to a cab only. More in the cab means more money or two cabs. The cab service here was the only drawback. The shopping a bit pushy after a while, but the beach was heavenly. The admission, chairs, umbrellas, drinks and water toys were all included in the excursion price of $16 per person from the ship. There were kayaks and water tubes and paddle boats (life vests) and a huge water trampoline in the water. The waiters set up your umbrellas and kept the drinks flowing. The sand a little messy with seaweed, but not excessively so, and the water was quite clear. This was a great way to spend the rest of the day. We were there until about 6 pm.
At Cayman, the highlight bus tour was nice. My husband and I went to Hell! We also went to the Tortuga outlet and got a lot of great info about the island. After the bus tour, we did a little shopping. The others did some shopping and we met up at the public beach (the seven mile beach), at about 1 pm. $3 buck taxi ride, $3 bucks to get in and nothing included but still a lot of fun. The kids made sand castles and collected shells. Our family had staked out chairs, (there was a cost for some, I think $5 but others were just sitting for the taking!) There was a subway shop with a line that required at least a 30-minute wait. The sand was clean but the initial few feet into the water very rocky, past that quite smooth. Cayman definitely had an English flavor, and shopping not that pushy craft type, more expensive jewelry, tortuga rum and alcohol and T-shirts. The boat doesn't dock in Cayman and at 3:30pm the wait to board the tender back to the ship was down the street!
At Ochos Rios we did the Highlight tour A to Shaw Botanical Gardens and to two shopping areas. Perhaps one can find all these things on their own for less money, but we went on ship excursions. The gardens were tropical, lush and beautiful; the shopping was expensive jewelry, watches, T-shirts and souvenirs. At the end you go to Dunn Rivers and this was a blast. The market, which you walk through to get out of the falls, very pushy and lots of crafts. Don't be intimidated, if you don't want something say you have no money, you get left alone quickly. My older son had been to Jamaica and opted out of the falls and excursion, instead walking to the same shopping areas where we ended up! He is adventurous and likes to find things for himself. Also, the two younger children didn't go to the falls but there were quite a few who looked to be about age 7 and up there. You really need to be at least about 3 ½ to 4 foot tall to keep your head above some areas of the water. This day was way too short and by 3:30 we were setting sail home. Boo Hoo!!
This was a beautiful, fun filled adventure into paradise and I can't wait to go again. New Year's Eve was a blast with a huge party on the ship with free Champagne, (although you could purchase your own if you wish). For Camp Carnival users, there was some disappointment for my sister and her husband. The counselors were at times rude and the timing of activities off coordination with times you would expect there to be availability. Once the counselor would not release the children to their father because their mother had been the parent who dropped them. He had to go get her to pick them up and he was extremely ticked. The children spent only short times there. However, the time they did spend was lots of fun for them usually. Debarkation was shorter than expected and since we had early flights we were supposed to have early debarkation. It seemed we exited just as everyone else did however.