Background: This is my 5th cruise and my cruise buddy's 4th. It's actually our fourth together. We've been on both the Fantasy and Ecstasy for 4-day cruises, and the Paradise for a 7 day cruise. Obviously this was a much bigger ship than the usual and it would prove to be interesting.
EMBARKATION: A: Increased security was very evident here. Every bag that you were carrying on with you had to go through scanners, as well as your person. This was a definite change from previous cruise check-in. They also checked that all paperwork was filled out before they even let you get in line to check in. Personally, I rather liked that, kept the lines moving quickly.
SHIP: A-: It's very well decorated, and the Capitol Bar in the Atrium is very striking. But the darn ship is just too big. And maybe it's not the ship itself that is too big, but the fact that there were 3000 + people on board that made it frustrating. Lines for everything all the time. I'm used to having 3 or 4 people in front of me for food, not 24.
FOOD: A-:I really enjoy the food on Carnival. Starting with our Paradise cruise in 1999, the food has improved tremendously and our favorites are the lobster tail, filet mignon and the grilled tiger shrimp at dinner. The lido lunches are also improved on this ship with a whole lot of variety from grilled fish to carved pork sandwiches. There was also the deli line and the pizza line. Both of which were constantly full with people.
We again opted for late seating dining. We were assigned to a booth this time, and it was a disappointment. First, no one showed up to eat with us for the entire week. Well, until the last night. Turns out we were assigned a single male table mate, who we would have preferred to never meet. He was kinda creepy, and his teeth were rather black from about the 1 zillion cigarettes he had smoked over the years. It was just not what I'd call a good job on the match-up. I really wish Carnival would take age more into consideration when assigning tables. Our last table was great, all 20 something's and single. This guy was nowhere near late 20's, early 30's. Just seems that would make for more fun than the usual "single", "couple", "married" distribution.
SERVICE: A: Our dining room staff was outstanding (probably the best we've ever had) and our room steward was great. Also we were lucky to have John Heald as the cruise director. He is as terrific as I'd heard, and definitely spiced up the trip.
PORTS: San Juan: Old San Juan is beautiful, but we took the San Juan scenic and shopping tour. I don't really recommend it. There isn't much to see in New San Juan (or at least our driver only pointed out the fast food franchises) and the shopping time is about 45 minutes. Not that there are really any shops open at 8pm.
St. Thomas: Our excursion was changed, we had scheduled a snorkel trip to St. John's and Trunk Bay. They took the group to a different beach/snorkel area and we decided to not go along. The whole point was St. John's and Trunk Bay and not the snorkel with us. We went shopping in Charlotte Amalie. It rained off and on all day, though we managed to stay dry while eating lunch on the ship. We did take the Tram trip in the afternoon and the view was beautiful. You can see all of the city and the port as well as some of the outlying islands.
St. Croix: With a hurricane out to the opposite side of the island, our excursion was cancelled again (it was a catamaran sail around the island). We opted to find a cab to Christiansted to shop. Instead we hooked up with some people from the ship and took a tour of the island. We drove through the rain forest, went to the Cruzan Rum factory and did get a little walk down the boardwalk. It was a great time, and included seeing a beer drinking pig. Pretty impressive stuff.
MISCELLANEOUS: We did meet some fun people on the ship, and found the Venezia lounge with Brad and Cleo to be great fun. I was also disappointed in the disco. Usually that's the place to hang out and meet people. For some reason this trip it was empty every single night EXCEPT 80's night. Hmmmmm....
Spa: The spa staff was excellent, as we enjoyed manicures, facials, massages and I had my hair color done. It was a bit of a pamper yourself vacation, and the people here were terrific. I also used the gym a few times, and found all of the equipment to be very up to date, and easy to use.
DISEMBARKATION: A-: This was handled very differently than in the past. We were allowed to stay in our cabins until they called our color tags (we really liked this...not so much hurry up and wait). Though, clearing through customs definitely took longer than it has in the past. We were off the boat by about 10:15, and in Miami Beach by 11:15 (a very quick stop at the car rental place).
OVERVIEW: This was our 20th cruise in the last five years, but our first ever on Carnival Cruise Lines. Many times we have berthed along side a Carnival ship and enjoyed the music and happy voices wafting over from the Lido decks. We thought someday. . . . That day came when Vincent came across an "offer he couldn't refuse!" We booked this cruise just one week before sailing.
The Triumph was built in 1999 and is the 5,979th ship launched by the Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, Italy. She is mostly white with the Carnival red, white and blue "whale tail" funnel aft, and orange covered lifeboats. An elegant lady with a gross tonnage of 101,509. Her length is 893 feet and beam is 116 feet. She has a cruising speed of 21 knots and every bit of it was used on the last night in our speedy return to the port of Miami. Captain Massimo Marino altered the schedule in order to get a passenger with medical needs back to land safely.
The Triumph carries a total staff of 1,100, has 1,321 cabins with a guest capacity of 2,758 (doubleoccupancy); however, on this voyage she carried 3,022 passengers of which 200 were children. There are only twenty five wheelchair accessible cabins, none of which have balconies. They are either inside or with windows only. Which is odd on a ship where about one third of her staterooms have balconies.
Even though the weather was rainy the first three days at sea, the Triumph sailed "steady as she goes" in the capable hands of Capt. Marino (he lives up to the direct translation of his name -- the "Greatest of the Sea") and we had one of the smoothest weeks afloat.
EMBARKATION: We drove to Miami and before entering the Port, we passed one security check point, where we had to show picture IDs and were asked questions about our place of residence etc. No problem, we were on our way in a minute. Since we booked late, we picked up our tickets at the pier. Again no problem, two lines for pick up (one for U.S. citizens and one for non citizens) with minimal waiting. Second in line, we got our tickets, filled in two cards, showed our credit card, and that was it. Vincent's wheelchair was taken by Carlos Queto, a Carnival employee, and we were escorted past the dining room, where we checked that our table was close to the doors, and then to our cabin # 9233 Lido Deck. We arrived at the pier at noon and were in our cabin at 12:25 pm --- pretty efficient, no lines, no delays.
THE SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS: Passengers are boarded on Deck 3 and enter the ship's ten deck high atrium, the Capitol Lobby. There is a huge golden map of the world, half forming the Deck 5 ceiling near the on board shops. The rest of the map folds up to form a fan on the wall covering the next three decks with a beautiful midnight blue sky surrounding it and covering the next five decks. This is all visible from the four glass cage elevators of the atrium.
by now you have guessed that the motif of this ship is the WORLD and designer Joe Farcus has carried out that theme quite nicely with repetition throughout the ship. There is also an abundance of lavender neon lighting. The atrium has a bar constantly in use with live music, and many bar stools, chairs and sofas, all done in leather.
The ship has an excellent Deck plan as follows:
On Decks 1 & 2 there are only cabins (Cat. 1A, 4A, 4B, 5A, 6A and 6B).
On Decks 3, 4 & 5 are the Public rooms: The Capitol Lobby is the hub of the ship with the Purser's Desk and the Excursion Desk. Just off the lobby is the London Dining Room (Mid ship) and the Paris Dining Room (Aft). They are exactly alike except the Paris Room has a glass wall overlooking the wake of the ship, which is stunning. However, remember the aft has more motion and ship movement does bother some cruisers. Each restaurant has a first floor on Deck 3 and a balcony on Deck 4, where there are booths separated by aqua glass walls.
These are beautiful dining rooms with many ocean view tables and glass doors etched with Atlas holding the world on his shoulders, a theme repeated on glass doors throughout the ship. Deck 3 is also the first floor of the three deck high Rome Lounge, the theater. Here the seats are arranged semi-circular, amphitheater style and very comfortable. Acoustics are good and for once the sound was not too loud.
Deck 4, in addition to the dining room balconies, has the Photo shop (quite extensive) and the Washington Library, a formal wood paneled room with large gilt framed formal portraits of U.S. Presidents, Washington and Lincoln: A sumptuous room with red and gold carpet and draperies with capitol motif. Inlaid wood tables and beautiful wood bookcases finish the room. The shortness of hours, only two per day to get books, is a pity.
On this deck, between the two dining rooms, there is the formal Oxford Bar with the English theme carried out into the corridor, which functions as the Internet Cafe`. Large gilt framed portraits of English royalty are readily recognized. Very British. Very Nice. Very sedate. This area which includes the Card Room and the Internet Cafe` (10 computer stations for passengers) is the most formal and relaxing on this ship.
Deck 5 is the most popular deck; it has the shops which have much the same wares as all other ships. This monopoly of on board shopping needs to change, if cruise lines want to tempt repeat cruisers. Just off the Capitol is the Casino, Club Monaco, the Olympic Bar and a nice travel pattern which lets passengers stroll through the Casino (billed the largest afloat) to the World's Bar, on to Tokyo Underground (the cavern style video game center) to the Hollywood Dance Club (Circular like a miniature Hollywood Bowl).
Continuing toward aft is the Big Easy Bar with its walls covered with real oyster shells. The California Wine Bar has the best art on board: Huge hand blown Murano wine glasses, which are bases for the most delicate and ethereal figures designed by Lucio Bubacco of Venice, Italy. This is across from the Venezia Bar with its Golden Winged Lion. Finally, the last room here is Club Rio, where the Captain held the Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party (the wine and cocktails flowed freely and there were great hot canapes), here also the film The Mexican was projected on big screen.
Decks 6, 7 & 8 are all the staterooms with balconies; in addition on Decks 9 & 10 there are balcony cabins forward and the rest of the public areas aft. Deck 9 has two pools with spas, a pool side stage and a variety of eateries, such as the N.Y. Deli (great N.Y. style sandwiches), the Hong Kong Noodle Company (with only average or mediocre oriental food), The South Beach Club (with a pretty good buffet) and, at the rear of the ship, the 24 hour Pizzeria (excellent pizzas and even calzone) and finally the Grille with excellent hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. Here also the self-service ice cream machines received a workout from the passengers (yum...my!).
Decks 11, 12 & 14 are public areas with the Nautica Club, Spa, Gym and Children's World. Vincent enjoyed two massages at the spa (Port days $89; Sea days a stiff $108). The gym was nicely equipped and the staff was helpful. The jogging track is Deck 11 aft near the funnel, far from the cabins, which is good, since on several cruises we have had negative experiences with our suite just under the track, where enthusiastic joggers were running between 5 and 6 am. We thought the ship's layout was quite thoughtful and nice.
FOOD AND SERVICE: We are happy to report that the Carnival food is varied, well prepared and presented, and on a par with other major cruise lines. The menus are varied and in some cases Carnival offers more entree selections on their menus than usual. Normally we avoid the buffets on the pool deck, but on the Triumph, we ate there several times and well.
Chef Andrew D'Souza (India) has spent 11 years on Carnival; we met him when he came to our table in the London Restaurant. He gave us a private tour of his galley, and we were impressed with his organizational and cooking skills. On Friday night he was preparing a request for Captain Marino, gnocchi, and asked us if we would like some: They were light and delicate and so was the pesto sauce -- Bravo Chef Andrew! Vincent is a discriminating gourmet and Mary a happy gourmand, so together, we make a formidable couple, who like to sample many of the dining room offerings.
We enjoyed the lobster tails, the Cornish hen with black cherry salsa and Vincent especially liked the New Zealand rack of spring lamb Dijonnaise, which he pronounced done to perfection (a difficult task when preparing over 12,000 meals per day). Chef Andrew's sauces were fresh and light.
The Maitre d' Jean Pierre Weinand was a welcoming presence in the two formal restaurants. Each day he announced the opening of each restaurant with his inimitable basso and wished all a Bon Appetit. He keeps his staff on its toes, and we were pleasantly and capably served by our waiter Arnel Espirity and asst. waiter Javier Martinez: they were quick, remembered our likes, dislikes, and served with charming smiles. The Head Waiter Veljko Dondivic (Croatia) is observant and knew his wines. He and Vincent discussed at length the Mondavi Pinot Noir '98 sent to our table by the Captain. There is an excellent selection of wines on board and reasonably priced.
In general we were pleased with the Menu offerings:Appetizers were varied. Try the Gazpacho Andalouse and the Gratinated Mussels and Shrimp Provençal. Salads were fresh, abundant and interesting. Try the Hearts of Artichokes, Tomatoes, Fennel and Celery. A large selection of entrees, usually six for luncheon and seven for dinner, including Pasta dishes which were also available as appetizers, so many made the choice difficult, but pleasant and interesting. Meats were generally excellent, although Vincent preferred the Prime rib to the Beef Wellington. Breads were fresh and hot at each meal. Desserts were to be relished, not overly sweet. The souffles were perfect, hot and puffed up: Chocolate with rum sauce and a hazel nut with a vanilla sauce. The apple pies and cakes were great. What more can we say, dining was a pleasure aboard the Triumph.
CABINS: We had a pleasant meeting with Hotel Director Miles WIllis (knowledgeable and informative) and we learned some things we should have known before booking. There are no wheelchair accessible cabins with balconies. All of the cabins modified for wheelchair access are either interior or ocean view (with window). When we booked a Category 8 with balcony, we thought it would be fine, but as soon as we got on board, we saw Vincent's wheelchair and walker were useless due to the narrowness of the entry way, the door to the bathroom and the passage around the bed to the balcony. We contacted the Purser's Desk and asked if we could pay extra for an upgrade. They put us on their list. Since we were one of the first to board, we assumed we were at the head of the list (never assume). They said we would be called after the ship sails. After sailing we went to the Purser's desk and were told "happily" they could down grade us to a wheelchair accessible inside cabin on Deck 6. Mary, with claustrophobia, deep sixed that move.
Mr. Willis called us and apologized, he was very gracious, but we chose to remain on Lido Deck 9 Cabin #9233, a tight one for us (185 sq. ft.), but at least with a balcony (40 sq. ft.). In normal conditions this cabin would have been just fine, but with Vincent's limited mobility, it became problematic. With hindsight, we should have checked the dimensions of the cabin before booking it and asked for the availability of a larger stateroom or a suite.
When entering the cabin, on the left were three closets, one with a personal safe and shelves and two with many hangers. Next was a lighted desk/vanity with stool and three huge drawers, then a T.V. wall unit with several more drawers and cabinets. There was plenty of storage space here, but no refrigerator. Ice was put in twice a day, but usually melted when we wanted it.
Entering on the right is the bathroom, shower with curtain, single sink and many handy towel racks, a hair dryer, but no shampoo, just one sample envelope by Clairol (BRING YOUR OWN!), and free Bic razors. However, there were always plenty of fresh towels, tissues and complimentary robes to wear while on board. One day our cabin was not made up; even though we had left the "Please Make up Room" card on the door knob. We heard that the same had also happened to others. Not wanting to "rock the boat" we did not report this complaint to the Purser's Desk.
There were twin beds pushed together, but not made as one bed. The far wall had a window and a door to the balcony, which held a small, low chaise, a chair and a table. The cabin decor was simple, stark formica in burnt orange, lavender and gray, with tweed carpet. The bed spreads were a bit worn and balled, but all was clean. There were two numbered prints by Virginia Ferrara evoking the island period of Gauguin.
The in cabin T.V. offered limited programming: No CNN or ESPN here, but limited news from NBC and CNBC and very little else, a few movies transmitted many times during the week and a few other channels showing the ship's position, nautical data and shore excursion information.
ENTERTAINMENT: Cruise Director John Heald is friendly, funny and busy, busy, busy. The ship's layout allowed passengers to move smoothly from one activity to another and the schedule of events encouraged attendance.
The entertainment is billed as Las Vegas style; we found it to be average with flashes of great. Generally, the music in the lounges was loud and predictable. The "Highlights" played at the Captain's Cocktail Party; they were a combo of two males and two females who were really great. One girl singer with glasses looked like a pre-med student, but sang scat like Ella Fitzgerald. Each time she stepped up to the microphone, she wowed the audience.
The magicians Kevin and Caruso with their new wave magic were excellent. We heard comments that the comics were too raunchy, but very funny. Finally, the main show "Wonderful World" with Trent Webb and Kimberly Cote was enjoyable. These two lead singers did justice to some difficult pieces in several languages. Very nice.
Bingo was held in the Rome Lounge with $1,000. prizes each day and a free cruise on one day. Trivia was run with a "Who wants to be a millionaire" theme also in the Rome Lounge.
Carnival caters to a younger crowd (average age 48 years and many young families with children) which could explain some of the musical selections. These cruisers dress less formally and are more typically Americans and fewer foreigners. There were many more P.A. announcements than on any other cruise we've taken ( i.e. Bingo games, Casino specials, Shop sales, etc. etc. etc.).
ACTIVITIES AND PORTS: This seven day cruise has three ports of call sandwiched between four sea days -- two at the beginning and two at the end.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is normally a night port, had daylight added by our two hour early arrival (4 pm to 2 am). The passengers appreciated it. We've been there several times and feel the port with the two forts, La Fortaleza and San Cristobal guarding its entrance is unique. Of course the Bacardi Rum Factory tour is popular, but our philosophy is that, "If it's available at home, don't buy it abroad and then have to haul it home."
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (8 am to 6 pm) is another one of our favorite ports -- lots of shopping near the pier and a short taxi ride to down town shopping and Mary's favorite Mr. Tablecloth-- the best priced linens in the Caribbean. There are several good tours: Coral World ($27); Shopping Tour ($19); St. John and Trunk Bay (good for first time snorkelers, $54); etc....
St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands (8 am to 5 pm). There are white sandy beaches and Buck Island, the only underwater National Monument in the U.S. The Buck Island tour ($69) offers great snorkeling. Two other tours are both about $30 each and provide a rain forest drive or lunch and swimming at a private beach. Most passengers liked St. Croix for its sleepy quality and natural beauty.
SUGGESTIONS: 1. Life boat drills could be held, as other cruise lines do, in lounges. Our Muster Station "A" was on the promenade, in a crowded area with a huge AC exhaust fan blowing directly on passengers. Mercy! Mr. Willis, however, told us that, for safety reasons, Carnival prefers that the passengers go directly to their assigned Muster Stations.
2. We felt that embarking and disembarking were made easy for the handicapped. But Carnival should be better attuned to the needs of handicapped persons by building in its ships more wheelchair accessible staterooms in higher categories, including suites and cabins with balconies, as do the major competing cruise lines, such as RCI, Celebrity, Princess, etc. We were told that on the Triumph there are 25 wheelchair accessible cabins, all of them in lower categories: 4D and 4F (interior) and 6B (ocean view).
3. The cruising industry is giving consumers the best vacation value. This is true with CCL, RCI, Princess and other cruise lines; however, in this competitive market, Carnival has to compete not only with its lower priced fares, but must not neglect the little amenities to which the cruisers have become accustomed, i.e. the shampoo in the bathroom.
4. As pasta lovers we have noticed that even though the chef has tried to cook the pasta al dente, by the time the dish arrives to the table, the pasta is gluey. We know that the problem is in the quality of pasta that is being used. We suggest that they switch to a brand made entirely of durum wheat, preferably by an Italian company, i.e. Barilla.
Overall this was a good cruise, even with some minor disappointments. It was a great value, very hard to pass by. With Vincent's limited mobility, we'll be able to cruise on Carnival ships only if we book a suite, otherwise we have to wait until wheelchair accessible cabins with balconies will become available on Carnival new ships, since we have become addicted to balconies!
Happy Cruising!Mary & Vincent Finelli
Thursday Eve/Friday 9-13 to 9-14-01 We drove 24 hours 20 minutes straight through from NW Ohio to Miami for our pre-night at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. (Airline travel was still questionable, as they were just returning to full flight schedules.) Sorry Kuki, we didn't make it to your pre-cruise party. We arrived at the Sheraton Fri. night at 9:20pm.( We were beat.) The Sheraton was very nice.
Saturday 9-15-01 Leaving Miami There was no pre-check in at the hotel. There were not enough passengers staying there, we were told. We checked out at 11am and went to Bayside Marketplace for breakfast. We did a little shopping there and then it was off to the ship. Traffic was heavy. The guys dropped us off, along with our luggage & went to park the car. ($70 week) We went thru security, check-in, Sail & Sign photos, picked up S&S cards, had our embarkation photo taken & we were on the ship. It really went rather quickly.
The ship was huge. (We had sailed on the Ecstasy before, the Triumph is much larger.) This was our third cruise, but our friends were first timers. They lovedthe ship, much larger than they thought it would be. We dropped off our carryons in our cabins & went to lunch. After lunch, we picked up the tuxes & went back to our cabins to wait for the lifeboat drill. It didn't take very long, returned our life vests to the cabin & went up top to watch us leave Miami. We didn't leave until about 6 pm. We then got ready for dinner. We had late seating (8pm) in the Paris dining room.Table #414. After dinner, we went to the Rome Lounge for the Welcome Aboard show.
Sunday 9-16-01 At-sea day We had breakfast in the South Beach Restaurant. (Ate there every morning) Lots to choose from, nice variety of food. Attended the shore excursion talks in the Rome Lounge. We had lunch in the South Beach Rest., then wandered thru the ship. Checked out some of the art, played a few slots & did a little shopping. (Beautiful rings $25 ea. or 2/$39.99) We then booked our shore excursions.
Club Rio was the Captain's Party place. Everyone was dressed up. Lots of sparkles & tuxes. Our captain, Massimo Marino was dashing in his uniform. (My husband can look at the bikinis, I can look at the captain) Dinner was delicious. This was lobster night. Formal pictures were taken, then off to the Rome Lounge for the "Wonderful World" show. It was great. Don't miss it!!!
Monday 9-17-01 San Juan South Beach buffet for breakfast before the shopping talks. We had lunch in the dining room because our waiter asked us to come. He said that he was bored the day before, as no one showed up. It was very nice. We did more shopping & got our formal pictures from the previous night. We then went up on deck to watch our arrival in San Juan.
We didn't have a tour here. We just got off the ship & walked uptown & did a little shopping. It rained. We went back to the ship for dinner. We were allowed to wear shorts that night, since we were in port. After dinner that night we went on a mission, to find a guy named Marcin. He played with the Amadeo Trio. (We had seen them earlier, but the the group was playing at the time.) They were on break at this time, so I walked up to him & he looked at me. I explained I was looking at his nametag. It said "Marcin." I told him that I was supposed to tell him hi from Traci. He looked at me confused. I told him that they had met on a ship two years ago. He then said "TRACI !!!!" He asked if I was from CA & I told him that I had met Traci on the Cruisemates board. She wanted to know if anyone would be sailing on the Triumph soon, & if they would tell a friend hi for her. Of course I volunteered. Traci, Marcin says "HI !!!" You must have left quite an impression, as he was very excited to hear from you. He seems like a very nice guy!
Tuesday 9-18-01 St. Thomas We had an early breakfast- as we had a shopping tour, meeting in the Rome Lounge at 8:15. We took a junta to Paradise Point for a little shopping & some photos. We had 45 minutes there. Then back down the hill to downtown Charlotte Amalie. We had a great shopping trip there. ( T-shirts, souveniers, jewelry & a new digital camera.) Caught a junta back to the ship & had lunch in the South Beach Rest. for buffet. (D.R. is closed for lunch in port) The guys got back off to walk to a Radio Shack store that we had seen, for a cell phone charger.
Bob & I got ready for the Past Cruiser's Party. Drinks & appetizers before dinner in the Club Rio. We met Mike & Sheri in the dining room. It was our Silver Anniversary today. They had a bottle of wine waiting. I surprised Bob with a silver watch & he gave me a platinim/diamond ring. It was a fantastic way to celebrate, on a cruise.
The evening show was magic by "Kevin & Caruso." It was really great. ( How'd they do that?) Bob & I went to the casino for a while and Mike & Sheri retired for the evening.
Wednesday 9-19-01 St. Croix Our shore excursion was cancelled due to the weather. It looked like rain but turned out to be a nice day. After breakfast, we took a van ($12pp/rt) to Christiansted for the day. Had a nice time shopping, had lunch at Hotel on the Cay (ferry ride $3pp/rt) That's where we were supposed to have our Beach Party tour. St. Croix was beautiful! Grabbed a return ride back to Frederiksted & boarded the ship. We rested until dinner.
The Guest Talent Show was the entertainment for the evening. It was great!
Thursday 9-20-01 At-sea day We slept in, not Bob though. Had breakfast & went to the Rome lounge for the galley tour. Very interesting, the ship has 4 kitchens. They tell you how much food they bring, etc. We had lunch in the D.R. We then played a little bingo, $10 for 6 games. Didn't win anything & then it was time to work on the tan. We watched a little of the frog races & then went up to the topless deck. It is nice & quiet up there. After a while, we watched a little of the Survivor contest going on below us. We then went inside & did more shopping. They had Carnival T-shirts 2 for $20. Nice ones! It was then time to get ready for the 2nd formal night. We had another delicious dinner & more photos were taken. The evening show was Century Cafe featuring the Carnival dancers. It was good!
Friday 9-21-01 Last day at sea This was a sad day. It was to be our last day on the ship. ( We had received a letter the previous night, offering us another week on board for only $299pp, port fees & taxes included) After much thought, we regretfully turned it down.
My husband went to a golf clinic while we went to breakfast. He was going to take a golf lesson after it. He showed up at breakfast & said the clinic was cancelled, since he was the only one there. We then went to the debarkation talks at 11 am where we met more of the crew.
After lunch we caught the end of the Newlywed/Not So Newlywed game. Bob went to get his golf lesson. We played bingo. During bingo, Bob's name was drawn for a $2000 Tanzanite necklace, from the Omni tickets. Since he wasn't there, they drew another. (The guy behind us was furious. He said the week before, he must have stayed the second week, a mother/daughter's name was drawn & she wasn't there to claim it. They gave it to the other to give to her. They knew I was his wife. I guess it wasn't meant to be.) I gave hubby the bad news when he called the cabin to see if I had returned. We had a couple more souveniers to buy & a few more pictures to take, then we got ready for dinner. After dinner we tipped our waiter & ass't. It was really sad to know the week was over.
The show that night was a juggling act & a singer. It was fun to watch! We then went back to our cabin to fill out customs forms & pack. We went to the midnight buffet for a snack ( Watch out for the green stuff, it was HOT) After putting our suitcases out, we went to bed.
Saturday 9-22-01 Arrive Miami Breakfast was served only in the Dining Rooms. We then said good-byes to our table servers and went to our cabins to wait for our color to be called. They cleared the ship about 9:30. We were off & had the Durango loaded at 10:35am. It went quickly. We headed north on 95 and we arrived home in Napoleon OH at 1:30 pm on Sunday (27 hrs later, different route home)
Cabin - Category 8a Upper deck w/balcony Great room! #6355 The balcony was awesome. We wonn't leave port without one. ( We had read on posts to bring Christmas lights to decorate it). Lots of storage space, AC worked great (too good in my opinion) hubby likes it cold, I made him warm up my side of the bed. There was some noise at night from below, but the rocking of the ship just put you to sleep. You didn't notice it long.
Room Steward - His name was Mohammed. We didn't see much of him, compared to our last cruises, but he did a great job.
Waiter - Leonardo "Leo" He has been with Carnival for 9 years. He was great. Very personable & very entertaining. We left feeling as though we had made a true friend that week.
Ass't waiter - Anthony "Tony" He did a great job, a little on the quiet side, but always there when you needed something.
Cruise Director - John "Julio" Heald We've sailed twice before with Carnival & John was the CD both times. We were pleased to hear that he was the CD this sailing too.
Captain Massimo Marino - Quite handsome & friendly. We accidently gave him a chorus line kick, doing this in the reflection of the bridge. He just walked up, smiled & waved.
Food - was fantastic! The lobster was perfect, the filet mignon melted in your mouth. Favorite desserts- Hazelnut Creme Brulee, Hot Chocolate Souffle & Grand Marnier Souffle. The chilled orange/tapioca soup was - "soup-erb" We always looked forward to the fresh bread, too.
Ship - Seemed to be in great shape. Small thing here & there, but who cares about a light bulb. They were painting it in port all the time.
OVERALL - My goal was for the four of us to have a fantastic vacation, though I would settle for a great time. It was FANTASTIC! Our first time companions said "It was more fun then they ever imagined!"
This is a condensed version of our 25th Anniversary Cruise. If interested, look for the full version, coming to our website www.thebogerts.net Any questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'll try to help you out.
Bob & Tina Bogert Ecstasy Aug. '91 Ecstasy June '93 Triumph Sept. '01
Day 1 - Saturday, Welcome Aboard!
This is my review of our Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival Triumph from June 30 - July 7, 2001. My family of six went with my aunt and uncle's family of five, as well as my grandparents. The thirteen of us drove to the Port of Miami around 11:30 a.m. It was pretty crazy because cars were everywhere, and there were different terminals depending on which cruise ship you're boarding. There were workers waiting to collect the heavy luggage that would be brought to our room that evening. All of us carried lots of small bags with us, but the ones we couldn't personally carry had Triumph red tags with our names and cabin numbers. You have to tip the guys to ensure that they get your luggage to your room safely. One advice - count how many bags you're handing over so that you can be sure they all arrive later that evening/night. After that, my dad dropped us off at the terminal so that we could start lining up. This was our second cruise, so we had some experience this time on whatto do. Last time, on Paradise, we parked our car and then walked all the way to the terminal w/ all our luggage!! *For the first-timers, it is recommended that you get to the port early because lining up and going through the whole boarding process, along with lugging all your bags, can take a while.
* Also, the forms in the cruise packets that are sent to each person should be filled out BEFORE arriving at the terminal, because once in, it is chaos. Have your papers ready. While we were in line, my dad went to find parking for our van. He met us at the line and told us that he came close to not getting a parking spot. Be sure to bring enough cash to park your car at the Carnival parking lot. They do not take credit cards or checks! The fee increased this year to $70 for us, and my dad just had enough. Once we checked in, we were out of the first line and went to pickup our sail and sign cards, done by room number. Inside each envelope is a card for every occupant of that room. The card also tells what dining room you got, what table number, and whether or not you're in main or late seating. The sail and sign card is your life for the week - all your purchases on the cruise are made w/ the card, and it is the key to your room. It is also the only ID required to leave and return to the ship. This year they took our pictures and while it doesn't show up on your card, it shows up on a computer when you're going in and out. If you lose your card (which happened to my sister later on), the purser's office will get you a new one and cancel the lost one immediately. You do not have to retake your picture. Triumph has about 3400 passengers, but since we knew the whole process, we got on the ship in about 45 minutes. We got on at around 12:45, and the ship did not deport until about 4:30, which gave plenty of time for people to board.
Upon entering, we found ourselves at the atrium, Deck 3. It was a marvelous sight, and suddenly the exciting of cruising returned. Our rooms were on Main deck, deck 2, so we just went down one flight. I was sharing my cabin with my two sisters, and our room (2449) was the only odd number, so we went one way and our entire family went the other. Our room had two beds and two pull-down bunks that were locked. In order the pull them down, you have to call your cabin steward. Our travel agency had sent wine to each room, and a snack package to my father's room because he arranged everything. The phone can be used to call your room steward, the information desk, room service, wake up calls, and other cabins. After the initial settling in, we all met and took the elevators to the 9th floor, the lido deck, which was the most popular floor. One bad thing about the cruise was that elevators took forever to arrive, so sometimes we would take the stairs, even from Deck 2 to Deck 9! At the lido deck you can tan, play in the pool and waterslide, and eat from the Coney Island Grille, the Sun Lovers buffet for lunch, and the 24-hour pizzeria. Inside, there is the South Beach Club, which houses the Hong Kong Noodle Company and the NY Deli on opposite sides, and of course, buffets. We went immediately to the Hong Kong Noodle place, where there was less of a line than the NY Deli. The food was not that great, not authentic Chinese food. We also checked out all the selections at the buffet. There were lots of delicious looking cakes with elaborate pieces of hardened sugar and chocolate stuck to them like art. There's also ice cream and frozen yogurt machines. Most of the cruise, the vanilla ice cream was broken but the vanilla yogurt tasted so much like ice cream that I didn't even know I had been eating yogurt the whole time. The machines were popular for those sunning and the younger kids, as well as endless fries and hamburgers at the Coney Island Grille. We enjoyed the view of Miami outside and honked at passing cruise ships. The view was picturesque.
At 4:30 there was a lifeboat drill. Announcements can be heard inside your rooms. Life jackets were in the box under the TV, and we had to follow everyone on our side to a certain muster station, where we wore our lifejackets and listened to the captain and crew. That took about 30 minutes. Then it was off to main seating at the Paris dining room. We were really lucky and got a big table with a window view, at the upper level (there are two levels to both dining rooms). One of the highlights of our cruises has been being served endless amounts of starters and main courses and desserts all week! Tonight was casual dress code, since it is expected that some passengers have not received their luggage. Dinner was great - we met our main waiter, the assistant waiter, and the maitre de. After dinner we headed back to our cabin to "digest" and enjoy the complimentary cabin movies. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was playing. At 10:30 there was the Welcome Aboard Show, something no one should miss. Every big show is hosted in the Rome Lounge, conveniently one floor above us. Seats always fill up quickly. We never sat up in the balcony during the week. The show sets the tone for the rest of the week. You meet some other passengers when they are called up to embarrass themselves. It is great fun. We met the cruise fun hosts, as well as the cruise director, John Heald, who definitely made this cruise a memorable experience. John is one of the top cruise directors, and hilarious. He is British so you can imagine that he has wacky, naughty humor. Unfortunately, it was one of his last weeks on the Triumph. He will be relocating to the Carnival Spirit going to Alaska in the fall. Right away the night was full of laughter. My dad was one of the passengers picked to participate, and later on became the celebrity of the ship for the entire week. I won't spoil the surprise, but he was told to say certain things beforehand, so it all seemed natural when he was up. He did a great job cracking everyone up without really trying to be funny. The show was a wonderful end to the first night. All the participants received a bottle of champagne.
Day 2 - Sunday, Fun Day at Sea!
We kids could never get up early for breakfast, so we woke up around noon and went immediately to the Paris dining room for lunch. For those who do not want to be served, the Sun Lovers buffet is always available on lido. If you wake up around 12:30, do not bother going to the dining room, because it is already too late for main seating. They have to prepare for late seating people to eat lunch. Lunch was delicious - so far the food has been better than Paradise. Our parents had gone to the Cozumel shore tour talk by John in the Rome Lounge at 11:00 a.m. We would be arriving at Cozumel the next day. On Triumph there was a lot of bingo and trivia, but no game shows like we had on Paradise. My uncle went to the art preview and while we kids explored the 13 decks of the massive ship. The lido deck had music, a Men's Hairy Chest contest going on, and as usual, lots of tanning. I did not go out and tan at all during the week but I heard that it gets really packed and you must get there early and literally reserve a seat. We grabbed some fruit (they have endless fruit salad) and ice cream cones and went back to the room to shower and prepare for the most formal night of the week, which was tonight. *For first timers, be prepared - the toilets make a suction sound when you flush, and it may be startling at first!* There is a lot of excitement because of formal portraits you can take in different areas of the ship. Most of the photographers are near the atrium stairway, Decks 4 and 5. We dressed up and went to take pictures. Then off to Paris for formal dinner - tonight they served the best courses all at once. Lobster tail!! Prime rib! And lots more. I especially remember the lobster tail, as I have been looking forward to that since Paradise. We all ordered the best main courses. There was so much food, I wanted another lobster tail but could not fit it. Must sacrifice for dessert! J I think we scared our waiter by ordering so much. Then we rolled back to our rooms or to check out the photo gallery, which had pictures from the day before, when we first boarded. One tip - wait till the end of the week before buying pictures, because at the end of the week you can check out ALL the pictures you took and see which ones you want. If you buy them the same day, you won't have anything to compare to, and they get pricey! About $20 for each large photo. At 8:45 we saw the first show, Century Cafe, which had singing and dancing.
Day 3 - Monday, Cozumel, Mexico!
This morning we got up early to get ready for scuba diving. We prepared a bag the night before, with sun block, water shoes, eyeglasses cases, towels. Our cousins didn't bring a bag but ended up needing a place to put all their stuff. The ship provides big blue towels that say Carnival Fun Ship, but if you lose them, there is a $35 fine, so keep them with you and make sure no one takes yours! We went up to lido and ate a quick breakfast to have energy later on (they have omelets but it takes too long to make). Then we got off the ship. Make sure if you do scuba or anything that involves signing a form or having parents sign, do it the night before and have it ready. Also keep your sail and sign cards in a safe place. We boarded a small boat which took us about 15 minutes away from the Triumph. We got to an island where instructors were waiting. After the 20-minute instructions, we got all our equipment. My parents had major reservations about letting my 13 year old sister go, but they talked to people at the information desk that said she would be with an instructor at all times. I was a bit nervous, because of the equipment and all the rules to remember. Although we are good swimmers, this does not affect scuba diving, as I would find out. As beginners, we would go down to 30 feet maximum, and we weren't allowed to bring underwater cameras b/c they were afraid we weren't ready to handle taking pictures while applying the rules. Two instructors took the 7 of us out to sea. Right away I had trouble with my mask - water kept leaking in and stinging my eyes. My sister and I had trouble remembering to only breathe through our mouths, and how to equalize so that we could go deeper. Javier stayed behind and helped us. When I wanted to go down, we communicated through hand signals and he let the air out. I panicked a little as I went down. I had to try and pop my ears so that I could equalize the pressure. Just as I was getting used to it, it was over. For another 30 minutes, you have to pay more. My cousin was stung by a jellyfish but he was ok. We saw some nice fish, but I didn't get to enjoy it as much as I wish. Then we waited to board the small ship back to Triumph. Gorgeous scenery.
Back on Triumph, it was only 11:45. The adults had gotten up for lunch at the South Beach Club. We showered and met them, ate and then went shopping. At John's talks he will recommend certain stores to go into, with deals just for cruisers, and you can get a map of the downtown shops that are recommended. All of our fellow cruisers were carrying them. We took a taxi downtown. There is a lot of bargaining in Mexico. People try to lure you in wherever you go, so you have to know how to bargain. Also, do not drink the water! After we reached the end of the strip we headed back. My uncle and aunt were looking at opals, tanzanite and diamonds and found an opal at a good price so they stayed behind. Taxis charge extra for air conditioning! My grandfather bought rum at the duty free shop before we boarded. Upon boarding you think, "Home at last" because all week the ship does become your home. We got ready for dinner, the main time that all 13 of us got together. Much of the time the kids went on their own and adults did their own thing. There was a Mexican folklore show at 10:45 that some of us went to. John had mentioned that there are two shows - the folkloric and the other being watching the drunken people come back on board. My dad said to be at Deck 0 at around 11:15 to see the drunks, but we were at the folkloric show so I missed it. Very rarely do people actually miss the boat, but sometimes it happens. My brother and my cousin disappeared for a while and my mom grew concerned because the ship leaves at midnight and you MUST be back on ship at 11:30 p.m. We ran into my brother and cousin at the midnight buffet getting hot chocolate (available 24-7, along w/ iced tea, lemonade, tea, and water). They had gone back to the shops by themselves but luckily watched the time. We kids stayed up late watching cabin movies or eating pizza and Caesar salads at the pizzeria. Also, due to my uncle's snoring, all my cousins and my brother ended up sleeping in our room the rest of the week. It was fun, although two people always got the floor!
Day 4 - Tuesday, Fun Day at Sea!
Today we kids again woke up really late and ran to the dining room to eat lunch. It was 12:45 and I think our waiter was a bit annoyed. We still had time to eat but they wanted time to clean up. Lunch in the dining room is not as popular as lunch on the lido deck. My parents had gone to the Grand Cayman and Jamaica adventure talk at 11:00 and discussed the shore tours we would take. After lunch, there was another art auction. My uncle bought a huge Peter Maxx painting. At 3:15 we went to the Marriage Show in the Rome Lounge, which was entertaining because of John. One couple could really sing when the man was asked to sing to his new bride. They were picked to participate in Wednesday night's guest talent show. My brother and cousin had brought a guitar to practice and record in preparation for the talent show. They are 15 and 17, respectively. Sadly, the guest talent show is only for those 18 and older, and only about 6 acts are chosen. Lip-syncing and stand up comedy aren't allowed. There is a kid's talent show for Camp Carnival but no teen talent show. At 5:00 the main seating guests who had been given special invitations and had been on previous Carnival cruises went to a Carnival repeaters party at the Club Rio. It was a dimly lit lounge where a band from the Philippines called the Highlights played while we enjoyed complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres. My sister, having just turned 21, gladly accepted two rum punches and before she knew it, suffered a red face and a breakout of hives. Photographers are everywhere on Carnival - on the shore when we land, and they were also at this party. When the picture came out later, we could see the extent of damage to my sister's face! Around 5:40, John came out and talked about the new ships they were making, and there was a raffle in which a young boy won his mother champagne that costs nearly $300 on the ship. We sat around until it was time for dinner. All the courses on the menu have sophisticated names, but underneath they give a general description, which helped me out. My sister ate a lot of bread and butter and retired early to bed. At 8:45 we went to the magic show with Kevin & Caruso, who coincidentally, had performed on Paradise. Most of the show was a repeat but still fun.
Day 5 - Wednesday, Grand Cayman!
Happy Fourth of July! The ship doesn't have fireworks or anything special to celebrate this event. My family woke up around 9 and ate breakfast at the lido deck. At the Cayman Islands, the cruise ships are too big to dock so they anchor at sea and take tenders (little boats) to Grand Cayman. We saw the Grand Princess also sharing the sea with us, and it took our breath away (we were originally going to take that ship). We took the tender and got to the station at Grand Cayman, where a lot of people were crowded around looking for their tours. Our tour was the Highlight Tour A, which included a bus tour of the7-Mile Beach, Hell, the Turtle Farm, and Stingray City. We found our bus tour and climbed on. Our driver spoke good English. by the way, the Cayman Ids. are behind us by one hour, so it is important that you keep track of ship time, not their time! We were to be back on the last tender at 3:45 and the ship would leave at 4:30 for Jamaica. On our bus tour, we went down the 7-Mile Beach (only to learn it is actually only 5.6 miles) and stopped at Hell, one of the tourist stops. We bought postcards and took a picture at the Hell sign and post office. The driver said we could write out postcards and he would send them when he returned. Next stop was the Turtle Farm, where they breed turtles. We saw lots of turtles ranging from 600 lbs. to babies. We got to hold some turtles, which was a lot of fun. Then the driver took us to the boat to go to Stingray Island. This was what we were looking forward to. At Stingray City, we saw many other boats and people already feeding the rays. We each got snorkels provided by the boat, and we were armed with two underwater cameras. The captain came out and held a stingray and you could take pictures with him. We were not supposed to try and catch stingrays to hold or chase them. My family tried to do both. We scrambled to get squid (do this first or else everyone will take them) to feed the stingrays. They were cute and feeding them happened mostly in the beginning. I felt the "vacuum" as they sucked the squid from my fingers. Before we knew it, it was time to go. We got a good amount of time out there. The water is shallow and beautiful, crystal clear. I really missed Stingray City as we pulled out.
After the tour, we browsed the shops, all which sold the same things. Nothing special. The jewelry didn't have as much to offer as Cozumel. There was supposed to be a shop with the very best price on Rolexes, so my dad checked that out, but still incredibly pricey. We took the tender back. There were still tenders going past 3:45. I guess there were too many passengers to stay within that time limit. My dad had been given an invitation the night before to participate in John's Bedtime Story, which would take place as part of the guest talent show, so we were anxious about what would happen. We met up for dinner, where the waiters danced on tables and sang Yankee Doodle for July 4th. The only downfall about sitting in the upper level of the dining room is that the waiters don't perform up here for us. They stay down below, and you have to get up (yes, that can be hard if you're enjoying escargot - three or four helpings of it!) and look over the stairway.
The ship provides Internet service and at certain times, there will be a free 5 minutes. I would avoid doing this if you can, because it isn't worth it. My cousin had time to log on and off, which was about it. They were charged about $6 to check their email. Also, all throughout the week there are people taping events, and they end up as Video Diaries of the trip for you to purchase. We brought our own video camera so we didn't purchase any, but they serve as good memories. They played them on Channel 13 all day. At 10:15 we went to the Rome Lounge to get good seats for the highly anticipated talent show, but a lot of people were already there from the 10:00 bingo. At 10:30 they played Win-A-Cruise bingo, and some lucky guy won another Carnival cruise! Then the talent show started. Only about 4 acts got to go. Then John came out and told some jokes, and started his Bedtime Story, which involved audience participation. My dad played the hero, and was absolutely hilarious. He is shy and introverted by nature, but apparently everyone seems to think he was born for comedy. Only on a cruise do all your inhibitions melt away! Everyone was in uproarious laughter and the Bedtime Story was a hit. If you have John, you will get to experience this, although he said afterward that he isn't doing it on his last week at Triumph, because nothing could top the one tonight. The participants of the Bedtime Story all received free video diaries, which would be sent to our homes. I think the talent show people should have received free copies as well. The talent show ended just in time for the midnight buffet. Many people stopped my dad and everyone called out to him all night and for the rest of the week. Some people even requested pictures with him! My grandmother found his "stardom" quite entertaining. Lots of friendly people on the ship, and surprisingly, you see many of the same people among 3400 passengers.
Day 6 - Thursday, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Today we woke up around 9:00 to see that we had arrived in Jamaica. I wish I had been able to wake earlier each time we landed so that I could see us dock, but I was unable to. We ate breakfast at the South Beach Club again and then went to Deck 0 and got off at Jamaica. It was cloudy, and I hoped it would not rain during our tour. We had purchased the Highlight Tour A, which was recommended in the Carnival Caper the night before. It is the best and safest way to enjoy Ocho Rios. It includes the rainforest Fern Gully, Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, Dunn's River Falls, and stops at two different shopping centers. Once we found the line for our tour, it moved pretty quickly. We boarded a bus with a driver named Lion and a tour guide. We drove through Fern Gully first. It was nice and cool, very shady with tall trees. Along the way, we saw a "fire man" under a huge banyan tree. He was an amateur playing with fire, blowing it out and such. Afterwards people stuck money out the window of the bus to tip him. Jamaica is the poorest of all the land stops, and we were warned about the people that still offer drugs and will do anything for money. The Jamaicans always say "Don't worry, be happy, mon." They really emphasize no worries. Thankfully, the sun came out and we got to enjoy Jamaica's natural beauty. Shaw Park Gardens was a neat stop, glad we went. There were lots of tall trees and interesting plants, as well as a great natural falls. The tour guide was nice and knew good places to stop for pictures - he even helped us take them. Sometimes he was a little hard to understand, but we got the gist of his explanations. We saw the Bird of Paradise plant and lime trees and banyan trees. There was a great overlook of the Bay of Ocho Rios where we saw Triumph, the only ship docked. After Shaw Park, we went to two different shopping centers and spent 30 minutes at each stop. There we went to see the many watch stores, and got some postcards. We compared prices of the opals here and in Cozumel. Watches in Jamaica are supposed to be the best price. After the shops, was the highlight - Dunn's River Falls. The falls have become like an amusement park; you get your hand stamped and you can rent water shoes. My family all wore water shoes we had brought from home - it's convenient and comfortable, and saves money. People who decided not to climb the falls could spend time at the gorgeous beach or looking at shops. My family definitely wanted to climb it, and I encourage you to do so. It is one of the best memories of the week. We started at the bottom, near the beach. We joined hands and formed a human chain, and then the guide led us up. There was another older gentleman that went along for the purpose of helping those of us with non-waterproof cameras take pictures and keep them dry. We brought two underwater cameras so that we snap pictures at any time. The falls are unique in that there are lots of grooves for footholds and flat rocks to step on. Sometimes we found the human chain to be more of a hindrance, because in some areas it is better if you have both of your hands for balance. We reached a certain area where there was a dip in the falls, forming a small pool. Our guide told us to fall backwards into it. Some of the women skipped it, but my sisters and I linked arms and fell in. A good thing about the falls is that there are plenty of places you can just stop and sit. We saw people that had come on their own, enjoying just the water cascading over them. The falls is relatively safe to climb. For those who find they cannot handle it, there are places on the sides you can exit. People from Dunn's River Falls took pictures at certain spots and processed them while we completed the climb; photographers from Carnival were also there. The climb took about 45 minutes to an hour.
Back on the ship, my sisters and I decided to try some of the NY Deli sandwiches, since we had not. The sandwiches were delicious - my sister loved the tuna salad on wheat and I loved the corned beef on country roll. We looked out at the dock of Jamaica, and our departure at 3:30 p.m. was delayed due to missing personnel. That gave us more time to enjoy. We went outside to see it leave port. Although the ship is massive, it pulls out pretty quickly. Tonight was the second and last formal night. We got ready and once again took new pictures. They had a night scene of the Triumph that was really realistic and we ended up buying that one. After pictures and dinner, it was the last big show at the Rome Lounge called Wonderful World. All the singers and dancers took us to different places around the world, including Italy, Germany, Asia, France, Spain, and finally, America. I thought the last part on America would have been fitting for July Fourth. At 11:15 it was time for the awesome gala fare, which displays all the hard work of the chefs and their creative decorating skills. The gala fare took place in the South Beach Club, and people lined up to take pictures. There were mermaids made of lard, flowers carved in watermelon, a little dragon made out of fruit rinds and cheeses, a huge ice carving of a dragon, lots of cakes and other wonderful displays. I felt that Paradise did a better job with many more displays, but I still appreciated Triumph's gala fare. At 12:30 you could start eating the food, but it mostly looked better than it tasted. The gala fare was a great end to a fabulous shore day.
Day 7 - Friday, Last Fun Day at Sea!
Today we woke up feeling sad that our cruise was coming to a quick end. We chose this day to do everything we had not yet done. John gave a debarkation talk at 11:00, which I missed once again. They showed it on TV, and he introduced all the staff. My dad also got a standing ovation for his two performances this week. We ate lunch and checked out the previous night's pictures, trying to decide which to buy. We looked at the shops, which had last day sales on shirts and jewelry. There was a final art auction, but my uncle was satisfied with his huge one, which was on display on Deck 3 at the atrium. At 2:15 we went to the Newlywed and Not So Newlywed game. A place we never visited during the week was the spa and gym. At 3:30, the South Beach Club hosted Highlights of Food and Beverage, which had little stations where you could learn napkin and towel folding, see someone carve an ice sculpture, and watch cake decorating. This is something fun to check out. At 4:30 my younger siblings went to play in the pools and the slide, which we had not taken advantage of the entire week. Unfortunately, the slide closed at 5:00 but they said it was really fast and awesome. They also spent some time in the hot tub. There was Shipboard Survivor going on out at the lido deck but we didn't watch.
It was time for our last dinner. Tonight was tip night. Earlier, each room received a paper with comments and a survey to fill out, as well as envelopes for tips. There are recommended gratuities - for example, the cabin steward is $3.50 per day per person. We felt this was reasonable. Our family gave more to each person - the steward, our two waiters, and the maitre' de. Of course, today all the staff is happy that we're about to leave and they get their tips. I felt like our waiter and steward could have been better, but they still worked hard. And all the food we ate must have added up to the price we paid for the cruise!
We also had a lot of packing to do. Baggage needed to be outside our door before midnight. Today the photo gallery was open all day. (On shore days, sometimes the gallery was closed). At 9:15 p.m. they had their first and only game show. My cousin and I were actually picked to participate. I lost to a lady that knew a lot of 50's music, which was mostly what was asked. The winners got a lot of souvenirs, while each person also got a solid gold plastic trophy of the ship. After the game show, there was bingo and then the last show, which featured Nashville recording artist Trent Webb. This was more for adults and we skipped it to go look at the pictures one last time. I saw a picture of a pirate holding a sword to my brother's neck and decided to wake up early tomorrow and purchase it. The pictures are a maze because there are galleries on both sides of Deck 4, and ours were scattered in different places. It's best to try and keep them all in one pile. Our luggage was at the door by midnight. My brother and cousin were contemplating falling asleep outside on the stacked up deck chairs, but were talked out of it because they would wake up with sunburn, dew, and could possibly have been vandalized by teens who were dancing at the clubs (clubs close at 3 a.m.) or drinking at bars. We didn't want to fall asleep and miss out on any part of the ship, but eventually we did sleep. *Although I did not go to the clubs or discos, I checked them out and they were jam packed with young kids around the age of 13, as well as the older crowd of people in their 20's. There is also Underground Tokyo, which is an arcade center for young kids.*
Day 8 - Saturday, Disembarkation!
Today we got up early, at 7:30, to shower and get ready. Leaving is just as hectic as boarding, if not more, because everyone is supposed to cram into Rome Lounge at 9:15 and wait to be called off. We ate a somewhat rushed breakfast at the South Beach Club. Then I ran to the photo gallery to find the pirate picture in the spot I had reserved. Lo and behold it was gone! None of us could find it. I was really disappointed but figured that maybe a girl saw my brother and bought it. Better that than the possibility that our eyes missed it or someone threw it away by accident. Afterwards, around 9, we raced to the room to wait for the announcement to proceed to the Rome Lounge. We all carried our luggage and walked one flight up to the Rome Lounge. This was the time that we felt grateful for the Main deck rooms. Everyone in the upper floors had to wait forever for the elevators, while carrying a lot of stuff. The Rome Lounge had people spilling out, so we just waited in the lobby area. People with handicaps waited in the bar and piano area nearer to the exit. This was the place that took our breath away as we first entered. While waiting for things to process, several young girls wanted their pictures taken with my father. I was sad that all the attention would end after disembarking. Everyone on the ship had come to know him. We got off at about 10:15 and looked in the huge terminal for our luggage, among 3400 passengers' luggage. Luckily our bags were color coded so we spotted them and counted to make sure we had every bag. Once you leave the terminal, you cannot return, so we took all of our stuff, included 3 boxes of rum, by hand. Luckily the six of us were strong enough - we had two bags hanging off each arm, and then additional stuff in our hands. The officials did not inspect our belongings. We got to the parking lot and waited for my dad to drive up. There was a lot of traffic, but eventually we spotted the van pull up and loaded everything in. Then it was time to head home! It was hard to believe our second cruise was over, and now we had only pictures and videos to serve as memories. The ship was getting ready for 3400 new and lucky people.
This was a wonderful vacation. Carnival really held up its bargain as the Fun Ship. It is great for families, although one family we talked to that usually goes on Royal Caribbean and decided to give Carnival a try had a horrible experience. They had a room on Deck 11, which was probably really high class, but their room had no air conditioning all week, their toilet flooded, they had a bad waiter, and one of their dresses was ripped when the luggage was being delivered to their room. Of course we found their story a huge contrast and exception to everyone else. We reassured them that majority of experiences on Carnival are positive. Overall, Triumph is a mini-city at sea with lots of fun to behold!
First off let me give you some background on myself. I'm 18 years old from Detroit Michigan, and this was my second cruise. I cruised last April (4/00) also with Carnival on Ecstasy, and this trip was one that I had been planning for years beforehand. I haven't seen but a few reviews written by teenagers so I thought one would be welcome so others my age can get an idea of what ship to take. I was traveling with my uncle from Connecticut, so I was by myself most of the time; hopefully this gave me a unique point of view, as I was able to experience nearly every aspect of the ship. I'll try to divide this up into sections to make it easier for those people who like to skim.
Airport Transfers and Embarkation - My Flight from Detroit was relatively smooth, with the exception of the landing, which can be compared to a dump truck falling from the sky, but this is the fault of Northworst airlines, not Carnival. I waited for my baggage a little while but not long, and then headed down that gauntlet theymake you walk to the busses. I hope one day they make it easier for people to get to the busses. Now, I'm not a weak or lazy guy, but even I had trouble lugging my stuff that far in the heat and humidity, I cant imagine how much worse it would be for a family or an elderly person. Right about the time we got to the loading area, the clouds opened up and it really started coming down. They pulled the busses right up underneath the overhang so no luggage or people got wet, but it still was a bummer driving to the port in this giant thunderstorm. This brings me to my first piece of advice: don't take the bus transfers. They're always crowded and they take forever. First the driver squeezes as many people as he can onto the bus (which in out case was an odyssey due to the fact that he couldn't count right) then he has to single handedly put all of the luggage on the bus, because we apparently aren't smart enough to do it ourselves.
Once we get to the port, he then has to unload it all (again by himself) while everybody has to wait on the bus. Transfers are roughly $25 a person each way and a taxi will only run you about $20 if you have 2 or 3 people in it. Take a taxi if you can, they're cheaper and much less hassle. Due to the rain we actually unloaded everything right inside the warehouse, but the porters still hassled everybody about paying them a dollar a bag, even though all they had to do was put the bags on a cart 10 feet from the bus. Make sure you pay them though, who knows what they do to your luggage if you don't. Embarkation itself was very smooth and efficient, we weren't in line more then 10 minutes, and the entire process took no more then 20 from when we got in line until we were on the ship.
Ship and Cabin - We were in a category 6A room, which is the kind with a window but no balcony. We stayed in cabin 1380, which was on the port side aft on deck 1. I was amazed at the amount of space we got in this room. Two beds and a couch (which converted into a third bed) spacious bathroom and plenty of storage space. Both my uncle and myself were able to completely unpack out stuff for the week, and stash out suitcases under the beds. The cabin was always kept clean and in order by our steward, and yes he made those neat little animals, but I had to hide them to keep him from disassembling them every night; I wanted to make a zoo. Although he never introduced himself, he was always there when we needed him for towels or when I locked myself out. The only negative aspect of this cabin was the noise. It was most noticeable in the bathroom. For some reason, there was a lot of movement in the bathroom, but very little in the cabin itself. There was also a loud, rhythmic banging noise that could be heard whenever the ship was in motion. There was also very little insulation between cabins, and even less between the cabins and the hallway. People knocking on doors down the hall sounded like people knocking on our door, and consequently I missed room service a few times thinking it was down the hall. Even with these problems, it was a huge cabin and I loved being able to put all of my stuff away for the week. The ship itself looked tired and old to me; had I not known better I would have guessed this ship to be 5-6 years old instead of a year and a half. Carpeting really stood out as being dingy and unclean. Elevators had a tendency to break on a off during the week, but they were always promptly repaired. It seemed to me that as the week wore on things started to stop working. One thing that I noticed the most was those little twinkle/fiber optic lights in the public rooms and the promenade. by Thursday, many of them weren't working anymore. A little thing that wouldn't bug most people, but I only noticed it because I have training in light design. It just added to the overall impression that Triumph is overworked and undermaintained. I never had a problem with chairs, except one day in the afternoon when the funnel shadowed the part of the deck I was at and I had to move, it wasn't had to snag a chair at any point during the day. Plenty of open space for people to just hang out and relax, I never felt like there was 3,400 other passengers onboard with me. Stability was good overall, but lots of vibration in the aft sections and lots of pitching and rolling in the forward sections. We had rough seas most of the time though, so I doubt this is typical of every cruise.
Food - Excellent, simply excellent. It always bugs me hearing people say they can get better food at some 4 star restaurant on land. Duh. Your average 4 star restaurant doesn't have to feed 3,400 hundred people in the space of a few hours. Food in the dining room was very good, and the speed of out wait staff was excellent, if not personable. Assistant waiter was wonderful, always accessible, while our headwaiter always rushed us and never seemed to be around. We had early seating (5:45) in the Paris dining room, and one thing that I must comment on is the vibration in this room. Always noticeable, even towards the end of the week when you'd think you'd be used to it. Leaving St. Thomas one night when the ship was maneuvering was exceptionally rough. The food itself is beautifully presented, although the portions are a bit small. You can, however, order several entrees if you are still hungry. Desserts were a tad disappointing, and they can't flame the baked Alaska anymore due to some new regulation. Overall, my experience in the dining room was great, and the performances by the waiters were really well done and fun to watch. They perform every night expect Monday (on an eastern itinerary at least) so bring your cameras. Room service needs improvement, I was on hold for a long time when I called and it took a long time for my food to arrive. They only offer cold dishes from room service, so if you want hot stuff, head up to the lido deck. The food at the South Beach Club was good, and it was especially convenient for breakfast and lunch. The midnight buffet was allright, some of the food had been under the heat lamps for a while but not long enough to make it taste bad. Ice cream and Pizza was always available by the New World Pool, but the ice cream would run out due to the kids pulling the levers just for fun. They could use some toppings like sprinkles or chocolate though. Pizza was excellent; a huge selection to choose from and even if they had to make one from scratch for you, it would only take 10 or 15 minutes. I didn't try the Hong Kong Noodle Company, but the NY Deli was fantastic. Even when the line was long I wasn't made to wait more the 5 minutes or so. Food was excellent overall and I never had a dish I didn't enjoy the entire week.
Ports/Activities - With the exception of St. Thomas, the ports on this itinerary were disappointing. I have read that San Juan is crowded and boring, and I found this to be true. I did, however, enjoy the bioluminescence bay kayak tour. It was really neat seeing all those little glowing things in the water, but unless you really enjoy kayaking then the bus ride might be too much for you. St. Thomas was the exception to the rule. It was absolutely beautiful. I did the historical tour and it was a good combination of scenery and history, I was able to get some really good pictures. Shopping was also good, although not the experience I was expecting. They (referring to the Carnival people) make it seem like you can buy jewelry and electronics for a few dollars, but in reality its still pretty expensive. Far less then the states of course, but not the rock bottom give always they make you think are there. St Croix was also only average, as there wasn't much to do. My uncle did the diving tour there, and he said all they did was float around in the area by the pier. I did the St. Croix island tour, which took me to the Cruzan Rum Distillery and a old sugar cane plantation, and it wasn't anything special. It was interesting and informative, but nothing out of the ordinary. We also stopped to shop in Christansted, which seemed to me like a tropical version of my hometown in Michigan; lots of 'quaint' little shops and things. Activities aboard ship were great; there was always something to do. Cruise director John Heald was absolutely the best. He made us laugh all week, and even though the things that happened during the shows weren't unique to our cruise, it was still absolutely hilarious seeing John tackled and kicked around the stage during the bedtime story. If you ever sail with John, DO NOT miss the bedtime story. You will never see anything funnier in your life I guarantee it! The featured shows were also very good, although they were extremely loud. There must have been some reason why the sound guy had all his levels maxed out, but the volume level was unnecessarily high, and I saw some people leaving because they couldn't take it. The Captain was very visible throughout the week, something different from my Ecstasy cruise, when he was nowhere to be seen. Pursers' staff was very helpful and friendly, as was the bartenders at the various bars onboard the ship. Photographers were especially nice to work with, and the photos all turned out great. Bands and musicians were also very good, especially the 'Highlights' band.
Overall, I had a great time on this cruise, I would recommend it to anybody that likes to party and have a good time. If you want impeccable service and less kids then its not for you, but Carnival truly does have the fun.StgeKng
This was our third cruise one was on Royal Caribbean and the other two have been on Carnival. I think personally for me and my husband Carnival beats hands down. They get you so involved with everything that is going on. The ship we took was the Triumph and it was huge and gorgeous. I was so impressed. We had a balcony cabin on the panorama deck which is right up there on top we had cabin number 1019. We loved the balcony we sat out on it everynight and even left our door open at night just so we could enjoy the sound of the ocean.
The food on the ship was plentiful. If you went on this ship and left hungry there is something wrong with you. There is something to eat twenty-four hours a day and I mean good food not just sandwiches. They have a twenty-four hour pizza bar and room service and they have a Hong Kong Noodle Factory which was excellent. On our first formal night we had lobster tails and prime rib ordered two entrees that night the lobster was very fresh andvery good.
The shows on the ship were out of this world they were just like Las Vegas shows. The cruise director John Heald was out of this world too he could be a stand up comedian he had everyone laughing in the aisles.
The casino was the biggest that I have ever seen on a ship and loads of five cent games too. You could spend hours in there. The drinks at the bars and lounges are very good not watered down they averaged about almost 4.50 including gratuity for a mixed drink.
I just can't say enough good about this ship and the crew it was wonderful and I will remember this trip forever. I can't wait to go again.
I will be glad to answer anyones questions who might be going on the ship soon. Feel free to e-mail me at DebaFra@aol.com
Drove from Ft. Lauderdale (Avis - total bill $31) to Miami - 25 minutes with traffic too. Checked into the Sheraton Biscayne Bay at noon (free booking - credit card miles). Spent day in South Beach - night at the Bay Market. Dinner was fun at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company - a must if you have never eaten at Bubbas. Did Carnival Pre-check in at 9:00 a.m. in hotel lobby, dropped Avis rental car at the pier at 11:15 a.m. and was on the ship by 12:45 p.m. A very hassle free process! Everyone should try it.
Carnival really learned how to manage 3,000 plus passengers in an organized and well-informed manner. Many times during our 100% occupied cruise (excluding buffet lines, sun deck & pool areas during days at sea - of course), we found ourselves saying "where is everybody?". The ship was so big that there was plenty of room for all passengers to enjoy their vacation without seeing large groups of people.
95% of the staff were very friendly and most of them greeted you and smiled as you pass them in the corridors. On our sailing date- repairs to our air cond. in our cabin were quickly restored and apology notes were distributed under cabin doors to all that were affected. Now that's good Management! Dining room service was outstanding and our waiter/bus boy combo - Roberto & Nolbert (table #334) treated us like royalty every day. The food was just as good as on any ship that we sailed on. We didn't expect to eat such delicious food and always ordered 2-3 appetizers, 2 entrees, and dessert! They didn't even charge extra for cappuccino. Buffet food really didn't impress us, however the following delicious alternative dining options did: 24/7 unlimited frozen yogurt/ice cream machines, 24/7 pizzeria, Hong Kong Noodle Factory and New York Deli. Great concept Carnival - give people several choices and they will pick what they want to eat!
As a native New Yorker, I have been exposed to B'way shows - hats off to Carnival in providing above average cruise entertainment. Even the magic show was Las Vegas style - show girls in sexy outfits prancing around the stage. What a great magic show - two standing ovations! Both comedians had us crying in the aisle with laughter. The reggae band was very good and I even played (drums) with them twice outside on the Lido deck infront of a full house. Another passenger also participated and sung the blues. The other musicians were also top notch, including the classical trio, "Barry" the funny and talented piano sing-a-long guy, and the Asian Rio Lounge band. We had an inside cabin and found same to be adequate and had plenty of room. Never saw our room steward, but everything was done to perfection, including creative towel animal creations with our personal items (sunglasses, hats, etc.). Saved a lot of money, but will book a balcony the next time and splurge a little. Booked Category 4A guarantee and ended up with Category 8A mid-ship.
We did all island excursions on our own, as this was our return to the Western itinerary. In the morning we climbed the falls in Jamaica and had NO PROBLEMS MON! Total cost $30 for two adults (round trip cab from port, falls admission, locker rental). Went right back to ship to enjoy a quiet afternoon in the sun. In Grand Cayman we went to the Marriott (at the beginning of 7-mile beach) and used their chairs, ordered drinks from their "beach bar waitress", had wonderful lunch at Marriott looking out at blue/green water, snorkeled 100 yards from hotel and saw incredible schools of fish. Back in town - sampled free rum cake and purchased booze at the Tortuga Rum Store ($8 for 1L Absolute, $9 for 1L Tortuga 151 Rum). Cozumel was fun! In the morning we did our shopping and had lunch/drinks at Carlos & Charlie's. Dropped off shopping stuff in our cabin, picked up our snorkel gear and went to Chucknaab Park for 4 hours - if you love to snorkel, this is the place to go. $32 for two adults (round trip cab from port & park admission). The Park had "beach bar service" and had two large pineapple frozen pina coladas delivered to us without getting off our free fiberglass beach chairs ($5 for each drink).
Only a few complaints: 1) Being non-smokers, we found the smoke unbearable towards the late evening hours, especially on Deck 5 (casino, public lounges, corridors, etc.). We just avoided these areas at night and found other areas on the ship to breathe smoke free air.
2) The water slide was incredible, but was only open for limited times (sea days: 10am-noon, 2pm-5pm; port days: 2pm-4pm). Two guards monitored the slide and were fun for all. Adults screamed out loud as they whipped around the cork screw slide. LOL.
3) As usual, not enough of lounge chairs at pool areas. No Problem Mon - just got up at 6:30 a.m. to reserve lounge chairs like all the other cruise ships that we were on.
Overall -- We highly recommend the Carnival Triumph and at those prices, you can't beat the value that you get compared to other cruise lines. Way to go Carnival!! Keep up the good work!!by Scott Warshaw
Background: I am 42 and my husband Chuck is 55. Our kids are 15, 14, 13, and 11, the 13 year old being the only girl. This was my 6th cruise, 3rd on Carnival, with 2 others being on Royal Caribbean and the last on a ship that no longer exists. This was Chuck's 5th cruise and the first for the kids.
Pre cruise: We spent two days pre-cruise at the Wyndham Biscayne Bay, purchased through Priceline, for $40 a night per room (2 rooms). The accomodations are clean, the service personnel friendly, and the location is good. We asked for rooms overlooking the bay, and received one of the two, fitting that criteria. We had a great view of the port, and it was wonderful to wake up early in the morning to watch the ships pull in and dock. Since we had the kids with us, we decided to forego our usual dinner at Bubba Gumps, and instead took advantage of the food court at Bayside for our evening meals. For breakfasts, we went across the street from the hotel, to Burger King. The hotel does not offertransportation to the pier, but they do have a free shuttle to Bayside that runs every hour from 10am till 9pm, which we took advantage of twice. We also convinced the shuttle driver to take us to the port on sailing day. Taxis in Miami frown on more than 5 people in a car, and we were happy to have a van take us. The driver did not quote a price, but we gave him $15 and he seemed very pleased.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at about 10:50am on Saturday. Lines were already long, but we made it through security at 11:30. We had all our paperwork filled out in advance, and finished our check in at 11:50. There was a bit of a hold up and they wouldn't let anyone board for a while, but we were finally in our cabins at 12:30. All in all, not too bad.
Cabins: Chuck and I were in cabin 8228, a balcony cabin on the Verandah deck. The kids were in 8230, directly across the hall from us. The balcony cabin had 2 robes in it, but no amenities basket as promised. We asked our cabin stewardess, Anita, if we could have one, and she said that we should be able to get one by the next day, which we did. She also made up the beds as one, with a large sheet as I requested. Our TA had sent us bottles of champagne, and plates of chocolate covered strawberries and other candies were delivered, just before we sailed.
Day one: We dropped off our carry ons and headed to the Lido deck for lunch. Between us, we had Pastrami and Corned beef sandwiches from the NY deli, Beef and broccoli from the Hong Kong Noodle Co, Pizza, and hamburgers and hot dogs... Totally stuffed, we made our way to the Capitol Bar and bought soda cards for the kids. Our youngest lost his card on the first night, but it was replaced at no cost, by showing the original bar the purchase receipt. We headed back tot he cabin and met with Anita again. She asked us if we would like extra pillows, if the kid's upper bunks should be kept down, and if there was anything else she could do for us. We had noticed earlier, that our kid's dinner assignment was different than ours. They were in the same dining room, at the same time, but at a different table. We went to the designated area to meet the maitre de' to change this. After all, it wouldn't be fair to someone else to have to share a table with my kids! To put it simply, the maitre de' was NOT nice! He claimed that our TA arranged for us to sit with another group (a table of 8) and that our children would be fine as their table was right next to ours (a booth for 4). No other seating arrangements were available for the 6 of us, so we had to leave it as it was. It might have been ok, but we found out when we got to dinner, that the kids had a different waiter than us! Nothing more that we could do, we went off to explore the ship. We had planned in advance to meet up with some people from the internet, and ended up at one of the bars on the Lido deck. I wasn't sitting there for more than 5 minutes, when I was approached by someone from the group that recognized me from a picture. We joined her and the rest of the gang at a table and got to know one another. It was nice meeting people you *know* for the first time. Soon after, it was the lifeboat drill. 20 minutes and it was over with. Sailaway was delayed due to storms in the East and we didn't get underway till well after 6pm. We had late dinner seating, so we relaxed for a while. Our luggage didn't arrive until after our dinner, so it was definitely a casual evening for us. At 8:15, we arrived in the dining room and found our tables. That's when we found out about the kids having a different waiter. Our waiter was Raghu, from India, and theirs was Selvan. Selvan did not speak good English and to put it bluntly, was awful. Our kids didn't even get their entrees served until we were nearly finished with out desserts! My oldest son left the table before he was served as he was battling a bad cold and did not feel well. Dinner that night consisted of Smoked Salmon appetizer, Rack of Lamb, which was excellent, Sirloin steak that was cut very thin and was overcooked and chewy, and Sweet and Sour Chicken. Someone at our table had 2 of the steaks, so I have a feeling that Chuck just got a bad one... He didn't want to order another. For dessert, we had Chocolate Decadence and a Mango Cheese Napoleon, that was to die for. We skipped the production show and spent some time in the casino after dinner. It was a long day, and we ended up going to bed fairly early.
Sunday, Sea day: We went to the dining room for an open seating breakfast. We had a good waiter, Augusto and an aft table overlooking the wake of the ship. Dolphins were swimming alongside us, and many people, including the crew, went to watch. Chuck and I grabbed some chairs by the pool after breakfast and got a bit of sun until the clouds came at about 11:30. The rain started shortly thereafter. Our oldest son was still feeling ill and he spent the whole day in his cabin sleeping. The other kids made some friends and spent their time in the game room and exploring the ship. We decided to have lunch in the dining room, and it was a nice relaxing way to kill some time. This was a good day to do nothing, so we napped in the afternoon and played in the casino before dinnertime. This was the first formal night, beginning with the Captain's cocktail party. It was held in 3 different lounges, and I never did get to see the captain. Most people were dressed very nicely. I would say about 10% of the men wore tuxes and the teen boys were mostly wearing nice slacks, a shirt with a tie, and some with jackets. The girls wore mostly prom type dresses. Dinner was excellent this night. We started with a Wild Mushroom Ragout and Shrimp Cocktails. The lobster tails were cooked perfectly and we each had 2. I couldn't even eat dessert because I was so full. The waiters sang "O Sole Mio" and interacted with many of the passengers. My one sick child was now becoming two, as number two son was suddenly all stuffed up and coughing his brains out. I sent them both to bed to rest . The other kids went off to the game room and the disco and Chuck and I went to the Casino. It was a good night at the blackjack table : )
Monday, Cozumel: I watched the sun rise from our balcony, as I had my coffee that was delivered promptly from room service. We found out soon enough, that son #2 was feeling awful and had decided not to accompany us to the beach. I felt bad about leaving him in his cabin, but there was nothing I could do for him. On a lighter note, son #1 was feeling much better. I went to the Windjammer and got some food for my sick boy, got him all settled in, and the rest of us gathered to leave the ship. We took a taxi to Chankannaab Park, where we walked the grounds for a while, then found a place to park our things. I had booked a dolphin swim online for my daughter, and while I got her ready, Chuck and the boys went and rented some snorkel equipment. The dolphin swim was amazing and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well worth the cost. Chuck taught the boys how to snorkel and they were having a fantastic time as well. The only thing that bothered me at Chankannaab, was that there were TONS of flies! I did not expect this, as I didn't see one fly when I was at Playa del Sol earlier in the year. We took a taxi back to the ship at about 2pm to check on my son. He was really feeling awful. It was bad enough for a trip to the ship's dr., Dr. Levenstein. End result? He was dehydrated, and the only thing we could do was to pump him with liquids and have him get more rest. He said he didn't mind if we left him again, so after several large glasses of apple juice, we left him in his cabin and took a taxi to town. None of us had eaten since early in the morning, so we decided to start our outing with an early dinner at Carlos and Charlies. I was totally amazed when we walked in. The place was dead!!!!!! I was there earlier in the year, twice, also in the afternoon, and the place was hopping. Well, it was probably better for the kids this way anyway. The food was fantastic, especially the Bbq Shrimp. We shopped around for a bit after our meal but all we bought were some small onyx items for gifts. This was my 3rd time in Cozumel this year, and it really doesn't thrill me that much anymore. Back to the dock where my daughter and I had our hair braided. The boys went back to the ship with Chuck. I was back onboard about 9pm, too tired to do much, so Chuck and I went for some pizza. Son #2 was feeling the same, the other kids were off in the disco and game room, and Chuck and I just hung out. We did go to the midnight comedy show, which was a riot!
Tuesday, Sea day: We couldn't have asked for a better day, other than son #2 still being sick :( Chuck and I had omelettes at the buffet at about 8am and decided to grab some deck chairs early. Yeah, yeah, I know about the saving thing, but we were planning for a full day in the sun and chairs were already marked by people at 7! We found some chairs in a nice spot, one deck above the main pool, and put our towels and some magazines on them. We only held three chairs for the six of us, as we didn't know how many of our kids would be joining us. We ended up spending the whole day outside, with a short break for myself to enter the slot tournament. Our kids came and went throughout the day so I did not feel guilty about holding one chair for the 4 of them. We lunched at the pool, sandwiches from the deli, and stayed out till about 4pm. After showering and cooling off, I headed for the casino for some serious blackjack and caribbean stud. The slot tournament was a bust, btw... All I was able to do was break even for the day. Still a little behind from the beginning of the cruise, I was determined to beat the ship at THEIR games, albeit later : ) I went back to the cabin and Chuck and I shared some Champagne on the balcony. The seas were turning a bit rough, and you could feel the motion of the ship. We called the kids and told them to meet us for dinner in the dining room at 8. Before dinner, Chuck and I went to the past guest party. An invitation had been left under our door the night before. This was held in several lounges in the aft area of the ship. My daughter had been wandering about and ended up joining us. This was the first time I actually caught a glimpse of the captain, who was shaking hands with everyone that approached him. Since the sun had worn me out during the day, I had little appetite for dinner and only ate some beef wellington, which was wonderful. Baked Alaska was the featured dessert, which my kids loved, but several other desserts were offered as well. The waiters sang "Hot, Hot, Hot" while dancing through the dining room, grabbing unsuspecting passengers as they passed. I was one of the *lucky* ones, and found myself dancing around like a fool.. Ok.. it was fun and we have wonderful videos to show my grandchildren what I jerk I was : ) After dinner, I decided to enter the blackjack tournament. I always enter, but have never qualified before. This time I did, so I knew that I was at least going to get a t shirt for my $10 entry fee. The finals weren't to start until later, so I played some REAL blackjack until then, and I did VERY good : ) I ended up being #4 out of 7 for the tournament finals, and only one out of two women. Down to the last hand and it was just myself and one other person. He had $1850 and I had $1800. It was his turn to bet first and he surprised me by only betting $50! I was a little nervous, so I was unable to quickly calculate how much I needed to beat him, but I knew that without a double, and both of us winning, $300 would be more than enough. Besides, I had nothing to lose but my entry fee. Well, we both won the hand and I won the tournament. $250 and a 24k gold plastic ship on a stick :) Off to play some Caribbean Stud, where I kept up my winning streak.
Wednesday, Grand Cayman: Seas were too rough to drop anchor near Georgetown, so we ended up about 5 miles from town, at Spott's Sound. Our Stingray City tour was cancelled, as were most others, so we took a bus to town (at a cost of $4 pp, ea way), to shop. I really believe that the ships should should rent busses for their passengers when this happens, but I do understand that they can't control the weather. Prices for EVERYTHING were high in Grand Cayman, and we bought nothing. We went back to the ship on a very rocky tender. It was an afternoon to relax, play a little blackjack, and enjoy the scenery. Dinner was wonderful, once again, and it was back to the casino for the rest of the night, where my winning streak continued.
Thursday, Ocho Rios: Son #2 is feeling better and he decided to join us. We pre booked a tour online with Ionie McBeam, for our family of 6, and another of 4 that I had met online.As promised, Ionie was waiting for us at the dock with a comfortable air conditioned van. She said she would take us wherever we chose to go at a cost of $21 per person (I believe that it's $25 pp for 6 or less), for the whole day. The sun was shining and we decided to start with the Falls. She dropped us off at 9 and promised to return at 10:30. The climb was exhilerating for me as I am not one to exercise, I don't like heights, and I'm a klutz. I did make it to the top though, and all in one piece :) My youngest RAN up the falls and asked if he could do it again! We had a half hour before Ionie's return, so I grabbed a Red Stripe and relaxed. At 10:30, Ionie picked us up and took us to Mahogony Beach. We grabbed some chairs, ordered some drinks, and settled in. The sky was a little cloudy, but we all managed to get a fair amount of sun. The Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris were STRONG, made with LOTS of Appleton Rum. At 12:30, it was time for lunch, and Ionie suggested a restaurant called BiBiBips, overlooking the beach. It was a good choice, because there was something for everyone, including my picky children. Prices were reasonable and the menu ranged from burgers and hot dogs to traditional Jamaican fare. We had Red Stripe battered shrimp with Jerk sauce, hot wings, and Jerk Chicken. Service was quite slow though and we weren't finished until almost 2! Ionie waited for us and we decided to spend the rest of our time shopping. She dropped us off at Soni Center, but we had such little time, that all I bought was some jerk sauce and some Blue Mountain Coffee. The kids bought some small Jamaican souveniers. We got back to the ship at 3:30, the required time. Ionie was a great bargain and pleasant to be with. The ship offered a similar tour at a price of $45 pp. I definitely recommend Ionie and you can get more info at www.ocho-rios.com. Please tell her that Pam from Chicago sent you her way! Back on the ship, it was time to see if my gambling luck would hold up. Not only did my luck hold out, but it seemed like I couldn't lose. I played till 7pm, and walked away happy :) This was the second formal night, and dinner was fantastic. There were many things on the menu, and I didn't hesitate ordering all of my favorites. I had Portabella mushrooms, crawfish etoufee, large grilled tiger prawns with garlic, filet with gorgonzola and red wine sauce, and a wonderful hazelnut creme brulee for dessert. This was definitely my biggest food day. After dinner, it was, of course, back to the blackjack table. I felt like I couldn't lose, and I didn't. I closed the casino at 3am with my dining room tablemates.
Friday, At Sea: It didn't look like a promising day. It had rained all night and the skies were a sea of dark clouds. Regardless, we headed up to the Lido deck for coffee and to stake our claim of chairs, at 8:15. Despite the weather, chairs without towels were already a hard to find commodity. None the less, we found 3 of them, left out belongings, and went for a quick bite. by 9am, we were in our chairs, hoping for the clouds to break. by 11, the rain started :(... No let up all day, so I ended up spending most of the afternoon in the casino, where they were happy to take back much of my winnings from the previous two days. Dinner for the last night was amazingly not that appealing to me. I only had a salad, a delicious slice of prime rib, a cheese plate with a glass of port, and a Grand Marnier souffle. The rest of our group feasted on Shrimp Cocktails, Fettucini with a mushroom cream sauce, and Turkey with stuffing. All of which I was told were great. After dinner, it was back to the casino to try to recoup some of my losses from the afternoon. Unfortunately , however, this day was for the dealers, and at 2:30am, I gave up, short for the day, but still with quite a bit more than I started out with when I boarded the ship.
Saturday, Disembarkation: We woke up at 6:45, only to look out the window and see a dreary Miami day. We got all our last minute stuff together, woke the kids, and headed to breakfast in the dining room at 8:15. The line we passed for immigration was long (750 Canadians), but we weren't in a hurry since we were staying in Miami Beach for another 2 days. We returned to our cabins after saying our goodbyes to our tablemates and Raghu, our waiter, and at about 9:30, headed towards the Rome Lounge, our assigned waiting area. Debarkation started shortly thereafter and we were off the ship, all 7 pieces of luggage in hand, by 10am.
General Cruise notes: The staff in the casino were great. As an Ocean Player's Club member, I was addressed by name on the second day by the casino manager and all the hosts. Several dealers stood out for their humor and personality, most notably Andy and Trevor. Carla, another dealer, was as friendly as they come. Our dining room waiter, Raghu, was the best. After horrible service for our kids on the first night, Naem, the head waiter, assigned Raghu to my kid's table. He took care of them as he would his own, making sure they were happy and well fed, and bringing extras of things he thought they would like. Despite being sick for a few days, my boys spent most of their time in Underground Tokyo, the game room. My daughter made numerous friends and hung out in the disco every night. I still believe that Carnival needs to set aside a seperate area for teens on all their ships though, as it seemed at times that many public areas were overrun by 12-15 year olds. I will note though, that this being the week before Christmas, with tons of kids onboard, none were unruly and most of them were totally out of sight.
Radisson Deauville Resort: After we left the ship, we took a taxi (with a driver reluctant to take 6 people) to the Radisson. I purchased this hotel through Priceline at a cost of $55 per night, per room. The taxi ride was $30 plus tip. The hotel is old, and shows wear in many places. The lobby is spacious and clean however, and as impressive as I remember it as a child. We were able to check in right away, even though it was quite early. We were given adjoining rooms overlooking Collins Ave. The view wasn't great, but we were still able to see Triumph and Explorer docked in the distance. The bellman was very friendly, as were the front desk personnel. The hotel literature said that major renovation had been done recently, but I didn't see it. The rooms were fine though, complete with coffee maker, hair dryer, safe, and refrigerator. the neighborhood is pretty run down, but we felt safe taking a walk from the Walgreens across the street to the Dennys, a couple blocks away. My kids expressed both concern and remorse for the homeless man we passed, sitting in a doorway. Although it was fine overall, I think I would have rather stayed back at the Wyndham. Maybe it was the used condom on the pool table in the hotel game room that turned me off???
Conclusion: We had a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. We might not choose the same hotel (Radisson), but we would definitely go on Triumph again. My kids loved every minute, except while they were sick, of course, and are already asking me when they can cruise again. Chuck, on the other hand, said that *I* am too stressed when the kids are around, and he prefers when he and I cruise alone :)
We booked our trip through a Travel Agent in August of 1999 and waited such a long time for December 2000 to roll around so we could celebrate our 20th anniversary on this beautiful ship. Originally, we booked a category 8a on the ‘Upper' deck (6), but we were upgraded to category 8d on the ‘Lido' deck (9) after a few months. We enjoyed the convenience of being on the Lido so much that we'll probably book that deck from now on.
We left early in the morning from Newport News, Virginia, the day before we cruised so we could relax and be well rested the day we sailed. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale airport and took a Carnival transfer bus to the hotel in Miami. We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay Hotel, which was purchased through Carnival as a pre-stay. The Sheraton is a nice hotel with a view of the Port of Miami outside our window. Carnival Representatives come to the hotel the day of sailing at about 9am to pre-register guests on the ship. This made it very convenient to get registered before arriving at the port.The line at the hotel to get registered was never very long, and very convenient. The bus to the port was to depart the hotel at 11:45, but we chose to take a taxi for about $8 plus tip.
Arriving at the port at about 11am, we saw quite a few sad faces standing around waiting to load onto buses. Their cruise was over, but deep down in our minds, we knew that we would be in the same situation a week later. We gave our luggage to the porters, and inside the terminal we went with our carry-on bags. There were already quite a few people standing in line to go through the x-ray machines and get registered. We had to wait in this line to get scanned, but since we had pre-registered at the hotel, we were able to bypass the next line and go on upstairs to the boarding area. We waited a short period until they were ready to start issuing the Sail and Sign cards. We got ours quickly and proceeded to the escalator to wait again. We were a little disappointed that our Sail and Sign cards showed ‘Early Sitting' (6:00 pm) for dinner, as we requested ‘Late Seating' (8:15 pm), but we would get that changed later. They let the wedding parties embark, and any others that had pre-arranged early boarding. At approximately 12:30, the gates opened and we were able to get on the ship. Our pictures were taken and on the gangway we went.
You board the ship on the 3rd deck, which opens into the Capitol Atrium. There was a trio playing piano, violin, and flute right behind the Capitol Bar. We quickly got our pocket-sized map of the ship and proceeded to the elevators to check out our cabin. The Atrium was decorated very nicely for the Holidays.
Arriving at the 9th deck, we quickly found our cabin and went inside. The cabin was very nice and had plenty of room for us. We explored our new home for the next week and checked out the balcony. The balcony made for a very nice touch. There was a chaise lounge, a chair, and a small table, all which came in handy throughout the week whenever we decided to order room service and enjoy the view. The bathroom was just large enough for two people and had plenty of room to hold our toiletries. The shower was large enough for two if you were so inclined to conserve a little water and double up ;o) We flushed the toilet and giggled about the sucking sound as it emptied. Enough of this, it was time to explore the rest of the ship, so we changed into our swimsuits and cover-ups and off we went.
We left our cabin and headed straight out to the Lido Deck to find the ‘Drink of the Day'. The first bar we found, we stopped at and met James, who we would start calling ‘Smiley'. He had a very big smile every time we would come to his bar throughout the week. We ordered our drinks, which came in nice plastic hurricane style glasses. The first one was expensive, but refills were very reasonable after that. Let's explore some more and head on down to the London Dining room to see if we can get our dinnertime changed to the late seating.
Arriving at the London dining room, we found a sign saying that ‘Late seating was at capacity'. We were a little bummed, but talking to the head waiter that greeted us, we found we could put our name on the waiting list to get changed. The Maitre'd was very cordial to us and explained that changes are made according to how early you booked the cruise. Since we booked at such an early date, he told us that it would be no problem to change, and we should find a card in our cabin later with the change on it, but if after having dinner tonight we found that our table mates were fine and we didn't want to change, just let him know after dinner so they wouldn't make the change. He said changes are made sometime late in the night and couldn't be changed again. It turned out that our table mates that night were all much older couples whom we didn't have much in common with and we would take our chances with the new seating the next night. We would find the next night that it turned out to be a very good move as our new tablemates were awesome. We were off to explore the ship some more.
We just can't believe how beautiful this ship is. We both thought that it was laid out very nicely. It was a little confusing the first day or two finding our way around, but we got over that soon enough. We went into all the public rooms and lounges to see what was going on. There wasn't very much happening yet, but we found the ‘Big Easy' piano bar, which we had heard was a lot of fun with Ed RRocks on the piano, and made a mental note to return for the 10:00 show that night. The Cruise Director was Matt Goodwin. He was pretty good, funny, and not too intrusive. The stories we had heard about announcements at all hours of the day and night just didn't happen on this cruise.
We explored some more and then kicked back on a lounge chair on the Lido deck for a while to sip another drink of the day and people watch. Shortly before 3:00, we went back to the cabin to get our lifejackets and proceeded to our muster station for the lifeboat drill. It was hot and stuffy standing around with the life jackets on, but it was necessary and didn't last but about 20 minutes. Thank God we never had to muster after that. Back to the cabin to drop off the life jackets and meet our Cabin Steward Mackenzie for the first time. Mackenzie was awesome all week with the way he kept our cabin made up and the towel animals were very creative. We would look forward to them every night of the week. The Cabin Stewards work very hard for the tips they receive from guests. It's my understanding that Carnival pays them very small wages and that tips make up the majority of their pay. We were very happy with the service Mackenzie provided and his envelope at the end of the week helped show our appreciation for him.
It was almost time for the ship to depart the port so out onto the Lido we went to stake out a spot for the departure. We mingled with other guests and watched as the Imagination left port ahead of us. We whooped and hollered at them on the count of three and they did the same to us as they passed. It was our turn to depart and we were underway. Miami showed us a beautiful sunset as we were leaving. We took lots of pictures which can be found in our photo album on our website at http://members.home.net/glennallen/photos.htm.
Time to get ready for dinner. We came back to the cabin and found our luggage had been delivered. Even though we had our luggage and should have gotten dressed up a little, we chose to just wear shorts and a nice shirt that night. It was no problem as most people didn't get their luggage until later and the cruise line knows that and expects people to dine the first night in their traveling clothes. Our tablemates were nice, but as I mentioned before, they were much older couples and we didn't have a lot in common, so we took the change in tables the next evening. After dinner we went to the casino for a little gaming. Didn't win anything, but we didn't spend much and left for the ‘Big Easy'. Ed RRocks definitely knows how to get a crowd going. We listened to a lot of great music and sang along with the crowd. The Big Easy is very unique in that it has oyster shells all over the walls and a round piano bar with fake piano keys all the way around it. Ed and the piano in the middle rotated slowly so you can get a great view of the entertainer all the time. Ed was a lot of fun and his tip jar reflected that. We stayed there the rest of the night and actually got pretty hammered. My wife, bless her soul, got me back to our cabin sometime in the middle of the night. We propped open the balcony door and had a nice warm breeze blowing in the cabin as we slept away the night.
The second day of the cruise, Sunday, was spent at sea on our way to Cozumel, Mexico. We went out on the Lido deck and staked out a pair of lounge chairs on the upper deck and enjoyed the music from the Calypso band ‘Eclipse'. The band was good all week and kept us very entertained. We met a nice couple from Charlotte, North Carolina whom we would see and mingle with the rest of the week. The day was spent mostly relaxing in the hot sun and catching rays. The drinks of the day were flowing nicely. This is what life is all about. We tried the water slide, which is a blast. It's very fast if you lift up your butt and ride your shoulder blades and feet all the way down. Warning to all, it is salt water so keep your mouth and nose closed when you get to the bottom. The line wasn't ever very long and moved quickly. We explored the ship some more, enjoyed the men's hairy chest contest, and then laid out in the sun a little longer, until it was time to start getting ready for our first formal dinner. We decided to go all out and I wore my tuxedo and Donna wore a nice formal black dress. We went down to the lower decks where there were quite a few area's setup to take professional photo's of everyone in their formal wear. We had a few taken and then they were on display the next day for purchase. Carnival tries to make the photo gallery as organized as possible by grouping the pictures and putting up signs telling you where and when the photo's were taken. We got a couple glasses of wine from the Capitol bar and went in to the dining room when it opened at 8:15 to find our new table. We were pleasantly surprised to meet our new tablemates and find we were seated at the largest table in the dining room at the center. We later found out that this was normally the Captains table, but we all had changed to the late seating and they seated us there. We never saw the Captain at dinner, but enjoyed the table nonetheless. At our table with us was a couple from Michigan, five single ladies traveling together from New Jersey and a pair of French Canadian sisters. We had a wonderful time with all of these people throughout the week and were so happy that we had our time changed. The food in the dining room was fantastic. Yes, there were a few minor problems with the way a piece of meat was cooked or with something being ordered that wasn't just right, but all it took was mentioning it to our waiter, Armando, and all was taken care of. Armando was adequate as a waiter, but there was definitely room for improvement in his actions. His assistant, Humberto, was awesome. He didn't speak very much English, but he was a treat. Humberto always had a smile on his face and would bend over backwards to make sure that the plates were cleared and your glass was always full. After that night, he remembered who usually wanted coffee with their dessert, as well as other little things that you wanted. The wait staff sang for us tonight. It was very entertaining. After dinner we went to a couple of the lounges and enjoyed the entertainment. We went to the late sitting show, Wonderful World, which was great. The dancers and singers are very talented and the show was first class. We stayed for the ‘R' rated midnight comedy show featuring George Solano. He was a very funny man. He had a heckler start on him early in the show, but he held nothing back and the heckler was put to shame. Then Jennifer from Arkansas (definitely had too many drinks that night) started on him and he made us all laugh, very hard, at her expense. This was not a show for children or those who are easily offended. Back in the cabin we found the first of our towel animals, a swan that Mackenzie would surprise us with. Another peaceful night sleeping with the balcony door opened.
The third day of the cruise, Monday, we awoke to land on the horizon. Though it was still a little dark, we could see lights on the shore. We ordered some coffee from room service as we approached Playa Del Carmen. We went out onto the Lido deck to get breakfast from the buffet and watched as the tenders took guests to shore. At this point we still hadn't booked a tour so we went down to the Purser's desk and booked the ‘Fiesta Party Boat'. We were a little late in deciding which tour we wanted to take, but it was never a problem and we didn't get turned away from any tour due to it being booked up. After pulling in to the port of Cozumel, we went down to debark and meet the party boat on the pier. We found the group waiting for the triple-decker party boat and watched as this ‘party machine' pulled up. There were balloons all over it and very colorful. We could see already that this was going to be fun. We boarded the party boat and staked out a space on the deck to put our gear and started the party. The bar was open and the rum punch and margaritas were flowing. They also had fruit punch, but hey, I wasn't driving so rum punch it is. The punch was good, but I tried a margarita next and I thought they tasted better. The bartenders were great and kept you as full of drinks as you wanted to be. The boat had a band onboard playing party music and the crowd was dancing and singing and having a great time. The crew got everyone into the party mood by playing games, dancing, and even a conga line. It was a lot of fun. Our pair of tickets showed numbers 109 and 110, so I know there were at least that many people onboard, but it wasn't crowded at all. The probably could hold a couple hundred people onboard. We went to Playa Sol beach where there was snorkeling, volleyball, a zoo, shops, bars, and restaurants. The bartenders from the party boat brought the punch and margaritas out and setup at the entrance to the pier for anyone that wanted to drink while there. We snorkeled out to the large inflatable ‘Iceberg' that floated out in the water. You could climb it and jump off into the water if you wanted. We just snorkeled around it and checked out all the fish. It was beautiful. The water was so clear and you could see all the way to the bottom, which was probably about 15-20 feet deep. After swimming back to shore, we relaxed in the sun, drank margaritas, and watched the volleyball games until it was time to depart for the ship. There were more party games and music on the way back. They even had a piñata filled with treats for the children to break. We were sad to have to get off the party boat at the dock, but it was well worth the price. We had a blast and it looked like everyone else did too. The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping in San Miguel. We took a taxi in to town and walked around the shops. Of course, no visit to San Miguel is complete without a stop in at Carlos'n Charlie's. Music, drinks, and food were plentiful. The shooters here were an experience not to be missed. The girls selling the shooters make it a lot of fun. We enjoyed a few drinks and continued shopping until later in the evening when we took a taxi back to the pier and mingled in the shops there for a while. The duty free shops at the pier have some really good deals. We boarded the ship and got ready for dinner in the dining room. After dinner we watched people stumbling in from town. It was a lot of fun watching some of the people who had a little too much to drink as they danced and sang their way onto the ship. We partied some more on the Lido deck as tonight was the ‘deck party' with the Philippine band ‘The Highlights'. They were awesome playing 60's, 70's, and 80's tunes. It got very windy out that night and we both went inside to put on long pants and a jacket. There was a lot of dancing and partying well into the night as we left Cozumel.
The fourth day, Tuesday, was another ‘Fun Day at Sea'. We didn't get out on deck early enough to get a pair of deck chairs, so we had one and just kept an eye out for two chairs together to open up. We waited a long time but we eventually managed to find some. We relaxed all day and tried our hand at the slot tournaments in the casino. We played some bingo for a chance at some money. No luck there either. Food was abundant around the ship and we ate pizza, sandwiches, burgers, Chinese food, and anything else we could find. We went to the Purser's desk and booked the Stingray City tour for our next day in Grand Cayman. We went to some more lounges, had drinks, danced and then went to the Rome Lounge for the next ‘R' rated midnight comedy show featuring Maurice Jovan. He wasn't as funny as the first comedian, but he was good anyway. He also wasn't as rough on some of the audience as was the other comedian. I noticed Jennifer from Arkansas sat up in the balcony and kept quiet tonight ;o)
The fifth day, Wednesday, we arrived in Grand Cayman. The pier isn't big enough for ships to park so we had tenders taking us to shore. The weather wasn't so good today as there were a lot of clouds and wind. Many tours were cancelled, including our Stingray City tour. We were very disappointed about it, but we weren't going to let it get us down. We decided to just book one of the Island Highlight tours later in the day, so we stood in the line to make the change. Though the line was kind of long, it moved quickly and within about 20 minutes we were on our way to the tender to go ashore. We shopped in the area around the port and then got on the bus for our highlight tour later. The bus took us to see many of the sights around the island and was very informative. We went to the ‘Conch House', seven-mile beach, the Tortuga Rum cake factory, the Cayman Turtle Farm, and Hell. The whole tour was just ‘OK' in our minds. Though we booked this cruise wanting to go to Grand Cayman, it wasn't what we thought it would be and would be hard pressed to return. But we will return someday just so we can do the Stingray City tour. The line was very long getting back on the tender and we knew the ship would be late leaving the island. We assumed since so many tours were cancelled this morning that there were just a lot of people to get back on the ship late. That, and there were two other mega-ships in port that day. Dinner and dancing were the order for the rest of the night.
The sixth day, Thursday, we arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Even though we have heard horror stories about Jamaica and being hounded to buy drugs and such, we found that this was our favorite stop of all the ports of call. We took the ‘Cool Runnings' tri-maran boat to Dunn's River Falls. The trip up the falls was really fun. We enjoyed it a lot. We were able to get a lot of good pictures going up the falls. Even though the water was cold at first, you got used to it once you got in. This tour was only mildly tough. There were people ranging in age from very young to very old climbing the falls, and I would recommend this one as a ‘must see' place while in Jamaica. After arriving back at the ship, we went into town to do a little shopping. We got some really good deals here. I would say we got our best deals shopping in Jamaica. My daughter wanted a blue sundress from the islands and we found a very nice one here and haggled the price down to $6 from $20. After picking up some Blue Mountain coffee, Rum, and some other things, we were ready to head back to the ship when we met Glenn, the cab driver. Whether his name was really Glenn or if he just heard my wife call out my name, we'll never know, but he asked if we had tried the ‘Red Stripe' beer or some ‘Jamaican Jerk', which we hadn't but wanted to. We had just under an hour to be back to the ship, but we let him take us to the Jerk Center where we bought him a Red Stripe and ourselves some Jerked Pork and a couple of Red Stripes. Glenn waited for us and then took us up the mountain to a shack on the side of the road where we checked out the man's woodcarvings and the local vegetation. It was a trip to remember forever. Glenn got us back to the ship with about 15 minutes to spare. Although we were a little apprehensive about going up the mountain with him, all turned out well and we had a smokin' good time ;o). From the ship, we went up to our cabin to check out the view. At the first two ports, our cabin was facing the pier, but in Jamaica we had the backside view of the ocean. It was one of the most beautiful sights we had ever witnessed. We could look both sides and see the Jamaican coastline and then out to the sea. There was a little shoal out in the water that provided a view that was awesome as the waves rolled up onto it. It was definitely spectacular. I just wish we could have stayed in Jamaica longer. Sometime in the future, we will return to Jamaica for a land vacation to stay a week or two. It was now time to depart and get ready for our second and final formal night dinner. Tonight I wore my white dinner jacket with my tuxedo and Donna had another long black formal dress. We looked like James Bond and Pussy Galore. We decided to have the Black and White Glamour Shots taken tonight and they were, by far, the best pictures taken all week. We bought the 8x10, which has been scanned and printed on the high quality printer, and are now ready for framing to give to family for Christmas. Everyone at dinner looked so nice tonight. The ‘Midnight Gala Buffet' was tonight and it opened for picture taking at 11:15, and then opened for eating at 12:30. We were so drained we never made it to the buffet. We got some pizza and called room service for chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and milk before retiring.
The seventh and last day, Friday, we woke early and went out to the Lido deck to ensure we had choice of lounge chairs for the day. We scouted out a good site, lay down in the morning sun for a while and then went to the breakfast buffet line to eat. After breakfast we laid out in the sun some more. It was very hot and little to no cloud cover for the entire morning, until around noon when clouds started to roll in. Even so, it was still quite warm and was a perfect day. Carlo, the Assistant Cruise Director came on deck to start the last of the deck/pool games. I saw people all week winning the little 24-carat solid gold plastic trophies of the ship, and I wanted one, so I volunteered as one of the men for the game. Little did I know that I would be stuffing my shorts full of fruit to win one of those little 24-carat solid gold plastic trophies. He tossed a whole bunch of fruit into the pool and one by one the contestants had to jump in and had until the count of 15 to stuff as much fruit as possible into their bathing suits for points. I won for the men with two pineapples and numerous oranges, apples and pears. Who'd a thunk I could gather 340 points worth of fruit in there. Everyone that participated won a 24-carat solid gold plastic trophy and the female winner and me won a bottle of champagne, which we brought home and will enjoy on New Years Eve. Dinner was very nice tonight, but it was sad that we were seeing our tablemates for the last time. We all exchanged email addresses and will keep in touch in the future. We handed out our tip envelopes tonight to Armando and Humberto. Humberto got a little extra from us for his effort. We never saw the Head Waiter or Maitre'd when we were leaving, but I came back the next morning and left their envelopes on at the hostess stand for them. We prepaid our tips so the envelopes for them had the tip coupons marked specifically for them. I'm sure they found them when they came on duty. We had to have our luggage in the hall ready for pick up by midnight so we got them all together and made sure we had something to wear the next day with us, set our bags out in the hallway, and they were gone within about 10 minutes. We were back in the ‘Big Easy' piano bar for one last night with Ed RRocks. He mentioned something about his last show, but I wasn't clear if that was his last show this cruise or if he was actually leaving the ship. For future cruisers sake, let's hope he is still on the ship. He was a very good entertainer.
Saturday morning we awoke to Miami on the horizon. It was a sad day for everyone. We had to be in the Oxford bar by 9:15 this morning so we had a leisurely breakfast on the Lido deck and said goodbye to Mackenzie then went to the Oxford Lounge to wait. We were escorted by one of the Assistant Cruise Directors around 9:45 to disembark. We went through the gangway and into the large warehouse that housed our luggage. It didn't take very long to find our bags and get through customs. Within minutes, we were in a cab heading back to the Sheraton for our post stay night. Miami is a beautiful city, but we weren't very happy about being there now considering the circumstances.
Our flight home left Fort Lauderdale at 6:00 am the next day, so our transfer to the airport was picking us up at 3:30 in the morning. Way early, but when you use the transfers, you are at their mercy and schedule. We had a quiet dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and got to bed pretty early. The flight home was uneventful, and we were home by 10:00 am.
Overall I would rate this cruise a very good value. The Triumph is beautiful and there were always people on deck cleaning and painting and doing anything they could to make this ship as nice as it is. The drinks were adequate as far as liquor strength goes, and the price isn't any more than you would pay for a drink in a bar back home. The food was great all week. The dining room food, while not 5 stars, was very good and presented nicely. Food in the alternative dining areas was really good also. Great Pizza! Entertainment was good if not great. We didn't go to all the shows, but what we saw was good. The magic show and the adult comedy shows were very entertaining. The Galley tour was good. It's really interesting to see how they feed all 3029 passengers that were onboard. Embarkation and debarkation went well, though it was a little bit of a hassle, it was reasonably smooth.
I'm sure there is more that I want to touch on, but this is all I can remember for now. If you have any questions at all that you'd like answered, feel free to email us.
This is my review of our cruise on the Triumph on July 1. There were three in our party, and we were all up at 4:30 a.m. so as to get to the airport 2 1/2 hours before the flight as it was a holiday weekend, and were told that the flight was overbooked and we did not have our seat assignments as yet and we wanted to sit together. We arrived at Kennedy at 7:00 a.m. for a 9:20 a.m. flight and check in went smoothly. We were all sitting together near the back of the plane but that was all right. The flight was overbooked, and the pilot asked if anyone was willing to give up their seats for a $500 voucher, someone quickly gave theirs up and the plane was finally ready to take off. Many other passengers were going to be on the same cruise as we are. The plane left the terminal, however, we were stuck on the runway for almost one hour, due to the air traffic controllers instruments going out. Luckily we were on a early flight. We finally took off andthe rest of the flight went smoothly. We arrived in Miami around 1:45 p.m. and the Carnival representatives were at the gate to meet those with transfers. We went down got our luggage, gave it to a porter to take to the shuttle bus and we were on our way. We were lucky, as we were the last to be allowed on the shuttle bus so we were at the pier within 20 minutes. Once off the shuttle bus, we made sure the porters took our luggage, gave him the recommended tip and then the downpour came, we had to make a made dash to the terminal.
Once inside the terminal, we found a line to start the process of being checked in. We had all our papers ready, and within 15 minutes we were off the first line and on our way to pickup our sail and sign cards, that also went fast, and we are now on the line to get our picture taken, we were surprised that at this time there was not many passengers boarding, so it went very fast. Next step was to get our pictures taken and right onto the ship. The whole process took about 30 or 45 minutes, boy was I surprised was thinking it would take much longer.
We entered into the on Deck 3 near the Atrium what a site We made our way up to level 6 cabin 6389 to find our cabin, found it very quickly. We opened our door, and to our surprise, my girlfriends children and my daughter had the cabin decorated for our birthdays. The bon voyage department did a great job at this, we also noticed that my travel agent sent us a bottle also, what a great surprise. The room was much larger than I expected. We checked out the balcony, and then off to the Sports Bar to meet others from aol that I had been talking to over the past month or so. They were already there and drinking. We got our drinks and introduced everyone to each other. We did not have much time as we had to go to the muster, so we all departed.
Once the muster was over, we went to explore the rest of the ship before getting ready for our late seating in the Paris Dinning Room, upper level at table 509. Tonight was casual dress, as most passengers have not received their luggage, our included, as did not arrive until almost 10 p.m. There were many in shorts which is not usually allowed in the formal dining rooms.
Dinner tonight was an experience I do not think we will every forget. We were seated with two other single females from NY and three gentleman. One of the guys kept falling asleep, and looking at the young ladies bosoms. He ordered the same thing exactly as my daughter, and only took one bite of the steak, he almost fell head first into my girlfriends dessert. Tonight I ordered the NY Strip steak, very good, and cooked just the way I like it. The other two guys who were traveling together, were very quite, and we did not think this table would be for us, so since we got along with the other two females, we all went down to see the maitre'd to see if he would be able to change our table for the remainder of the cruise. He accommodated us quickly, and we were given the late sitting in the Paris Dinning Room but downstairs at table 312. Could not wait to see who we would be sitting with for the remainder of the week. After dinner we went to the casino were I won a little to keep me going for the rest of the week Slots were paying off tonight. We made it an early night since we were all tired since we were up since 4:30 a.m.
Day 2 I was up early today, guess my body still has its alarm on work schedule, but no problem with that got out of the bed, dressed, and went up to the Lido Deck for a cup of tea while the others slept in. Since I was up by 6:30 a.m., I was able to watch the sunrise. This was a beautiful site. I just sat by the pool and relaxed until the other two joined me and we went down to the Paris dinning room for breakfast. This was the only day we opted to eat breakfast there. We met some wonderful people, who convinced my daughter and girlfriend to swim with the Sting Rays when we were in the Grand Caymans. Had a wonderful breakfast starting with fresh melon.
After breakfast we explored the ship before going to the Rome Lounge for the excursion talk on Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. I stopped in the gift shop, as the night before, I saw the last Beanie Baby Bear that I was missing and wanted to price it. To my surprise it was the same price I was buying them for in NY ($7.00) so I treated myself to it. This made my day. After the talk we decided that we would do the Mayan Ruins so we would have to be off the boat tomorrow by 7:00 a.m. After the talk, we went back to the room to get ready for the pool. We had no problem finding lounges on the top deck. We found chairs placed our towels down and went down to the buffet in the South Beach Club for lunch. I did not see anything on the main buffet that was to my liking, so took some fruit and went off to get some pizza. By the way the pizza was the best I have had in a long time, and NY is known for good pizza.
After lunch we went back to take in the sun. As it was now around 1:30 I decided it was time for a drink, so when the bar server past, I ordered drink of the day the Island Delight. The drinks are reasonable, however, I had purchased the bar coupons in advance, and therefore they came out cheaper. I would definitely recommend buying these to anyone who would ask. The only drinks I paid extra for until I used them up was the drinks in the specialty glasses, which I did order a few as I wanted a few glasses as keepsake.
This afternoon they had an art auction, however, we did not go as we are not art lovers. I did hear from our table mates, who did go and made some purchases that it was interested and that they gave out original lithographic to anyone who attended.
Tonight was the first formal night, and the first night with our new table mates. We will find out who we will be sitting with for the rest of the week. We all showered and dressed for dinner, went up to have pictures taken and then to the Paris dinning room, table 312 to meet the other three. It turned out we were sitting at a table of all females. Three of us were on the cruise celebrating our 50th birthdays, so we had something in common. So it was now me with my daughter and girlfriend, two friends from Westchester, and a women and her two daughters. We warmed up to each other very quickly, especially the 10 year old little girl. She was a doll. Looks like we all made a good move. Our server Denise and our assistant waiter who I forgot his name were good. Tonight I ordered the Lobster, and had my friend who had never had it before order it as well, told her if she did not like it she could always give it to me and order something else. To her surprise she liked it. Of course, the dinner was always served with an appetizer and a salad, and even soup if you liked. The assistant waiter after the first night remembered what we wanted to drink after dinner and every night after asked if we wished the same.
After dinner we went to the Rome Lounge for the first of many shows. It was called Wonderful World starring the Carnival Truimph dancers and featuring Karina Wright & Christopher Alan Graves. The show was very colorful and well done, and the singers were very good.
After the show it was off to the Casino and I am still ahead of the game. The machines were still paying off tonight, and my daughter found out she likes the slots, it was her first time gambling. Now she is ready to go back to Atlantic City.
Day 3 - Mayan Ruins Today we were up around 5:00 a.m. so that we could get ready to leave on the tender at 7 a.m. for the ruins. I am glad that I take my showers before going to bed at night because to have three females in the bathroom in the morning no one would every be ready on time. We went up to the Lido deck for breakfast before tendering off to shore. I once again started with fresh fruit, followed by a made to order egg white omelet, today along with bacon and a bagel. Coming from NY where bagels are really great, these were pretty good. Off the ship to the tender and then onto the bus to take us on the tour. The Mayan Ruins are very interesting, at one time you were allowed to climb them but over the years, since they are beginning to fall apart, you can only look at them. But learned some interesting things about them. There is also a lovely beach there where some of the people took time out to swim. My girlfriend found a lovely chess set in onyx and got the price down from $36 to $20 so she bought it for her son. We were once again on the bus and we were served either Mexican beer or coke, we choose the coke. Once back at the dock we boarded the catamaran to take us over to Cozumel, which took approximately 30 minutes, what a lovely breeze we had. We arrived in Cozumel and returned to the ship to drop off the chess set and get something to eat. Today, I tried the Coney Island Grill since I do not like Pastrami or Corn Beef, am funny about the Turkey that I eat and did not see that they had Roast Beef, so I never went to the NY Deli. The burger and fries were to my liking and would most likely be having either them or the pizza most of the week. Always began lunch with a large salad from the buffet. My daughter and friend both enjoyed their sandwiches from the NY Deli and enjoyed them.
After lunch it was back off the ship to do some shopping. We took a cab into town, cost of $5, and hit the shops that Cory had suggested. My daughter and I both found lovely Tanzanite rings which we got down from $460 to $210 and $235. I also purchased pendants one for me and one as a Christmas present for her. My girlfriend feel in love with the pendant and had one made up for her daughter who could not be with us. Found another onyx chess set for $19 for her daughters boyfriend and some other onyx pieces for myself, bought some of the vanilla I had read. My daughter found some really nice onyx wind chimes that she picked up for her nana and her dad and his wife, and then it was time to get back to the pier for the Sunset Booze Cruise. The catamaran was boarding so we did not have time to drop off our purchases or get anything to eat for dinner. The boat ride was relaxing and the sunset over the Caribbean was well worth the price of the excursion. The only problem was that we never got to Carlos and Charlies for a drink and fun. We still had time to do some shopping right at the pier and picked up a few more gifts. After arriving back on the ship we got a piece of pizza and to bed we went. We made it an early night.
Day 4 Today is the Fourth of July, but nothing special is happening on the ship. Again I was up early, around 7:00 a.m. and up to my favorite place, you guessed it the Lido Deck for my cup of tea. Found chairs by the pool as I knew the other two would be up shortly, I saved the chairs, plenty at 7:00 a.m. to choice from. The decks did not start getting people until around 8:30 or later, do not know why everyone says they are taken by 7:00 a.m. My daughter and friend were up by me by 7:30 today. Into the South Beach Club once again for our omelets and bacon along with a large portion of fruit. Love my fruit and it was very fresh.
It was a very sunny day so we took in the sun until around 10:30 left our towels and went to play a game of bingo while waiting for the excursion talks on Grand Cayman and Ochos Rios. My daughter did not stay for the talk so she was back to the pool. We did not win at bingo. We booked our excursions in the Grand Cayman and Ochos Rios. Back to the pool for some sun. Ordered a Mimi Vice and found a great new drink. we went to lunch at the buffet again today, do not want to spend to much time away from the sun.
Tonight the waiters and assistant waiters sang for us. I tried the Halibut tonight, never had it before, and found out that it was very tasty. After dinner we went to the casino as I did not want to see the magic show. Wanted to go to the Piano Bar, but never got there. The casino had me hooked.
Day 5 We did the Highlight A Tour in the Grand Caymans, which included Turtle Farm, the Town from Hell, and Sting Ray Island. While at the Turtle Farm it poured for about 30 minutes, but that did not stop us from the rest of the tour. Once it stopped, it was as if it never rained. It dried up as quickly as the rain came. String Ray Island was a fun experience. My daughter and friend got afraid of them, for one reason my daughter almost stepped on one and she almost slipped under the water. I did pet them, and tried to feed them. It was something I can say I did once, but do not think I would do again. We had stopped at Seven Mile Beach on the tour of the island and it was beautiful. If ever I go back to the Caymans I will spend sometime there.
After the tour, took tender back to the ship. ate pizza, as once again the Hong Kong Noodle Co. was not offering anything I liked. Can't comment on this place to eat as none of us ate there all week. We were than back on the tender, and off to shopping. We purchased some of the Tortuga Rum Cakes as I had heard they where very good, and after trying it decided to bring some home for gifts. At Captain Rackham's I bought some Rum Fudge, that was very tasty.. My friend found herself a Tanzanite Ring for a good price near the pier. I was looking for some Black Coral but did not see anything I liked. I was looking for the glass blowing factory and we finally did find it. It was not far from Captain Rackham's, and I purchased a small vase. Should have bought more, but since it is heavy, did not want to have to carry it. Went back to the pier at 3:15 as the last tender is at 3:45 and did not want to miss it. I noticed from the balcony, however, that the tenders were still going well past 4:00, guess with so many passengers on board, they did not have enough to get everyone back by 3:45.
Went back to the room and took a nap as we were really tired after being on the move every minute of the past few days. We then got ready for dinner, and off to the dining room. Tonight most of us ordered the filet migon, done just right. After diner we watched Corey Schmidt's exotic birds and then Louis Ramey in the Rome Lounge. After the show we went for Cappacino and dessert at the Vienna Cafe. I had the Black Forest Cake enjoyed it so much wish I could have done it more often. My daughter and friend had a very rich chocolate cake and loved them also. We also ordered chocolate chip cookies, very soft and chewy. Can see why this place on the ship cost extra. We were than back to the casino, started to loss tonight, as the slots are not paying the way they were the beginning of the week, but did not come with the hope of winning so if I loss I do not care. Around 1:00 a.m. we went back to the room to get ready for bed.
Day 6 Today we arrived in Ochos Rios, and I was again up early, as a matter of fact we were all up early and went up to the South Beach Restaurant and once again had breakfast. Today we did the Highlight Tour A, which included shopping in two of the shopping malls, a ride around the island, where we saw Shaw Park Gardens, which is a beautiful Botanical Gardens which overlooked the Bay of Ochio Rios. Here it rained for about 5 minutes, the Jamaicans call it liquid sunshine, it then cleared up. Here we saw some very tall trees that we were told were very old. Lovely water falls were also on these grounds. Once we left there, it when the shopping came, and then off to Dunns River Falls. The falls are a site to behold, and if you do not want to climb the falls there is a lovely beach where you can spend your time. We decided to climb the falls, this made my second time to do so. There are places to get off the falls if you find they are to difficult to climb, which my friend did. She saw it was something she did not want to do. The climb took about 45 minutes I think. It was then back to the pier, lunch and the pool. Nothing much to buy in Jamaica, except the 100% Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Rum Fudge and Rum Cream. The stores do allow you to test before you buy. I am not a coffee lover, but did enjoy this coffee and bought a pound. The pound package costs $14, however, they do sell smaller packages, which I bought back to give as gifts to friends.
Tonight was the second formal night. Pictures were taken again on the different decks. After dinner we went to see the Century Cafe which once again starred the Carnival Triumph Dancers and featured Christopher Graves and Karina Wright. After the show Cory introduced the staff, and Karina announced that this was Cory's last cruise on the Truimph, and that he was taking a week or so off before going over to Italy to bring the Victory over to NY for its sailing to Canada. He will be the CD on the Victory.
After the show, we went up to the South Beach Restaurant to see the Midnight Gala Fare and took pictures of the ice sculptures, and the cravings in the fruit, and the wonderful looking desserts that were on display for passengers to take pictures of before opening the buffet up for eating at 12:30. Everything looked great, however, did not want to hang around to find out if it was good for two reasons, one we were not hungry yet and wanted to spend some more time in the casino.
In bed by 1 a.m. as I wanted to be up early for our last day at sea.
Day 7 - Day at Sea Today is our last day at sea, and in my eyes I think the best weather. The sun was shining, and I stayed in the sun from 7:30 until 11 a.m. when we had to go hear the talk on disembarkment talk and how to fill out the forms for customs. This took about one hour, and then it was back to the pool to take in the last few hours in the sun. We left the pool around 1:30 or 2:00 went to lunch and then cleaned up to do our packing and found out we need an extra piece of carry off luggage to pack all our gifts. We got cleaned for dinner after relaxing on the balcony.
Tonight was tip night, and the waiters and assistant waiters are all in good spirits knowing this. We did tip the recommended tips, but some at our table did not, as they were not totally happy with the waiter and his attitude. My feeling is that the $3.50 a day is not bad and I would usually tip this in NY if I were to eat out for dinner.
After dinner we said good-bye to two of our table mates as they would not be down for breakfast in the morning. We were then in the casino until late, Today I tried the drink of the day which was the Caribbean Breeze, but did not enjoy it as much as the others I had tried. Still my favorite for the week was the Miami Vice.
Day 8 - Disembarkation Today had to be up early, even if you did not want to we had to be at breakfast at 8:00 a.m. since we needed to be in Rome Lounge at 9:15 to await our turn to leave the ship. After breakfast, we said good-bye to the rest of our table mates, exchanged numbers, hoping to hear from everyone, and went to back to our room to get our carry off luggage. It was then off to the Rome Lounge to wait our turn. Since some had not cleared customs, it took longer than it should have. Total time to get off ship was approximately one and half hours. We found our luggage quickly and off to the shuttle bus to go to the airport, checked in at the airport and waited around until our flight. Arrived in NY around 4:30, good thing we had an early flight out of Miami, since I heard a storm was going to hit and may delay flights.
I have a few comments that I had not included in my day to day writings. My daughter never went into the disco, as she said that even after midnight it had tons of teens in it and the older crowd did not want to hang out with them. Piano Bar was also crowded so did not get in there as well, but heard it was a good time for everyone. There was a guy playing a piano small area near the Vienna Cafe that we sat and listened to once and he was very good. Many children were on board, and at times were annoying while we were in the pool, jumping off the sides of the pool making big splashes. I never encountered them running in the halls either at night or during the day.
This was the best vacation I have had in a long time. As a matter of fact, when I returned my mother said how relaxed I look, she said it again this week. I said that is what a cruise does for you. I hope to be able to afford another one next year, and it will most likely be on Carnival.