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Jason Zisser

Age: 42

Occupation:Real Estate Analyst

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Triumph

Sailing Date: October 17th, 2005

Itinerary: Cruise to Nowhere

My wife and I just returned from a 2-day cruise out of Norfolk, VA to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Norfolk is evidently just beginning to accommodate cruises and hasn't yet figured out how to do it well. For starters, once you get off I-264 there is a "cruise parking" sign, and we followed it to drop off our car. Unfortunately, the Triumph returned late and the prior passengers had not yet returned, and we could not park for "at least 1 hour" Ultimately that turned into 3-4 hours"! Fortunately, we decided to drive around downtown Norfolk to kill time. We saw the boat and a parking garage across the street from the dock. The price to park was the same - problem solved! For some reason, niether carnival nor the city wants you to know about this. There is no port facility in Norfolk, so you have to wind around a naval museum, partially in the hot sun until you get into a temporary tent where you are processed. The whole ordeal took about 2 hours. I hear it is easier in established ports like Miami.

Now about the boat and the passengers. The passengers were primarily "outlet mall people" dressed in pastel sweat clothes with cartoon characters on them. DEpsite this most people were pleasant and we had nice conversations with other diners in the main rooms and casually throughout the ship.

The ship itself was mixed bag. The rooms were great, they were clean, stocked with what they were supposed to be stocked with, and the balcony was awesome. The common areas in my opinion though were like Las Vegas and an Italian wedding parlor on a bad day! Horrible decor. Further, certain areas of the ship are having issues w/the sewage system and it smelled as such. The gym was incredible, with lots of equipment, great views, hot tubs and a spa. Fortunately most cruise people don't exercise so there were no crowds.

The food was the biggest disappointment! The formal dining rooms served middle American fare (prime rin, stuffed flounder, and attempted a few exotic dishes but they were mediocre at best. The South Beach cafeteria on the upper deck may actually be a better bet because they keep the food simple. Admittedly, I expected a lot and was disappointed.

Entertainment is a matter of taste and the shows at least were not my cup of tea. I thought the performers were talented but the shows were stupid vacuous stuff that really didn't interest me. The comedians were raunchy, and at times unfunny. However, they beat the shows hands down.

Activities were practically non-existent and I was getting bored after 2 days. The famous hairy chest competition was stupid. Perhaps on the longer cruises there is more on board entertainment but it was pretty scarce on this trip.

Service was excellent almost without exception. Conversations with the waiters, crew were among the most interesting parts of the trip.

If you like to drink, smoke, gamble and eat and are not picky Carnival is for you. I gues the general lack of sophistication in food, entertainment, etc. was what bothered me the most. I hear it caters to families, and we plan to bring our kids on the Triumph again in January.

The ship is due for drydock later this month and hopefully will be brought up to more contemporary standards. Perhaps the longer cruises have more interesting after dinner activities such as deck parties, more cerebral games, etc.

I'll report back in January 06 and give the Triumpg another chance.

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