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Jean Johannsen

Age: 28

Occupation:Key Account Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Triumph

Sailing Date: November 26th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Before going on this cruise I read all the reviews I could on this page and found them to be very informative and exciting. Especially for a first time cruiser like myself the reviews have been most helpful in preparing for this cruise. Therefore I will also write about my cruise experience so that others can get information and inspiration for their cruise.

I traveled on this cruise with my boyfriend and my parents.

A bit of background information about us: I am from Denmark (and so are my parents!) but live in Spain with my Spanish boyfriend. My parents have cruised several times before and invited us on this cruise with them so that we could spent some quality time together and experience what a cruise is. For my boyfriend and I this was our first cruise and for my boyfriend it was also the first time he traveled to other places than Denmark, so naturally, it was a very big experience for us.

Pre-cruise – South Beach, Miami

Since I had only visited Miami one day about ten years ago and my boyfriend obviously had never been, we decided to fly in early. We flew in to Miami (from Alicante over Madrid) on Wednesday afternoon. It had been a very long day of traveling and after clearing immigration and getting our bags we just got into a taxi which took us to our hotel (Best Western South Beach).

The hotel was okay. The price, location and breakfast were all excellent, but the rooms were old and dirty (actually found a very dusty (and dirty) pair of tracksuit bottoms on the final day when checking if we had left anything under the bed!!!).

The next couple of days we spent exploring South Beach and we had a wonderful time doing so (highly recommend it). On the second day we were joined by my parents who had flown in from Copenhagen. They had been to South Beach several times before and showed us some of their favorite places for walks and great dining.

Cruise travelogue:

1st day – Saturday: Embarkation


On Saturday morning we were all really excited about going to the ship, but had decided to wait until checkout time at the hotel. When we finally left for the port we could see the ship as we crossed the causeway – very impressive! When we arrived at the check-in area the check in line was also very impressive!!, but we took it all as an experience and passed the time people watching and trying to figure out which step of the process was next (very happy that my parents had tried it all many times before!). All in all it took us two hours to get through all of the lines and enter the ship.

We went straight to our Staterooms (enjoying some aerobic workout on the stairs as all elevators were occupied). My parents had really splurged and booked two balcony staterooms on the eight floor. The room was just beautiful and much roomier than I had expected. The bed was the best I have ever slept in and the giant duvet just made it perfect – I even agreed to join my boyfriend in sleeping “the siesta” sometimes because the bed was just soooooo comfortable.

We had some lunch and then went to explore. Having never been on a cruise ship it was difficult to know where to start…………I think we saw all of the pools and then headed to the spa deck to check out the gym. We are very fond of working out (some might call us fanatics, but that just sounds so negative!) and had read that the Carnival Triumph has one of the best stocked gyms on a cruise ship…………..well, we were a bit disappointed I must admit. There was a small free weight area with miscellaneous dumbbells and small bars with even smaller weights to put on…………hmmmmm, then there were some weight machines which worked with hydraulics – never been my favorite kind of thing. On the positive side, though, there was a lot of cardio equipment with nice views over the ocean.

Since I had not been able to gather a lot of specific information about the gym equipment from reviews read I have chosen to cover this in more detail for those interested:

The gym
The gym is ok in size and is located at the front of the eleventh floor with views over the ocean. In the middle there are two hot tubs with glass walling around them. On one side you will find the free weight area and on the other the hydraulic machines. One the front row there is cardio equipment.
Upstairs there is a small aerobics area equipped for step classes, spinning and different types of aerobics.
The dressing rooms are shared with the spa and are quit nice and the showers have a lot more water pressure than the ones in the cabins. There are small and large towels available and meal substitute bars for free.

Cardio equipment:
-A large number of well-functioning treadmills.
-A few outdated stationary bikes
-A few outdated steppers that were very noisy and not at all well-functioning
-A number of cross-trainers (never tried them, but seemed to work well and were popular)
-Two reclining stationary bikes, well functioning and new
-One reclining stationary bike with a TV screen with some kind of videogame where you were supposed to follow the route – never got it to work properly!

Free-weight and machines:
-A number of (old) dumbbells in miscellaneous weights and designs
-Two bars that were very light and short + some weight to put on, the heaviest weighing 5kg – not at all in good condition and I was actually afraid to use this equipment because it was so old and fragile.
-5-6 basic machines to work chest, legs, back and abs.
-A large number of swissballs
-Two benches fixed at a 90º angle

NO bench press, no squat rack, no pull-up bar, etc.

The gym was generally not crowded and we only had to wait once to use a treadmill and that was on a sea day at about 11a.m.

Rules of proper attire such as wearing shirts and closed shoes are enforced.

Now, on with the story……………

After this small tour of the recreational areas it was time for the lifeboat drill. We all put on our west, went to our lifeboat station and had a good laugh bumping into each other and taking silly pictures.

We were supposed to sail shortly thereafter, but it just did not happen! After some waiting around on the deck an announcement was made that they were still loading water and were therefore not ready for sailing yet. After hearing this we decided to hit the gym (after three days of not touching any weights while in South Beach we were getting quiet restless!!). We did some weights trying to adapt our regular routine to the free weights and equipment available – did not really succeed the first day, but by the second it was easier to find solutions (probably because my expectations had dropped!).
After the workout we relaxed in the hot tubs in the spa (water very warm!!) and by the time we got back to our room we were sailing out off Miami port. We enjoyed the lights of the port and South Beach from the balcony and then got dressed for dinner (2nd seating, London Dining Room).

We had a table for four upstairs in the dining room. There were not a lot of people in the dining room and especially not upstairs. We thought that this was just because it was the first night and some people might be tired. But no, this was not the reason – a lot of people just never showed up and I suppose that they preferred dining in the buffet restaurant. Really a shame because the food was just lovely and the service very nice. I was surprised to see how small the portions were (having been to American restaurants I assumed that the portions would be just as enormous!) but it was actually really nice because you could have all courses of the meal and still have room for dessert.

2nd day – Sunday: Day at see

The morning we spent hanging around the pool and then we met up with my parents for lunch (too much to choose from!). In the afternoon it rained so we headed to our room for a long “siesta” and then hit the gym before getting ready for the Captain’s cocktail party and the first formal night.

I was surprised to see that everyone was really dressed up and some wore truly beautiful dresses. After having read reviews on this board I had gotten the feeling that people did not really dress up; well they did! I was very happy that I had decided to pack my gala dress at the last moment!

We had some cocktails and then headed to dinner and later more cocktails and some disco dancing (just my boyfriend and I, though – my parents hit the casino) – great evening!

3rd day – Monday: Cozumel

We had been looking very much forward to this stop and were very pleased to see that it had been added back on to Carnival’s schedule just the week before. Our time in port had been greatly reduced, though, and we had to tender in since the piers had been destroyed by the hurricane.

The tendering process was just a nightmare. We went down to get our tender ticket after breakfast and it took us 1 ½ hour to get on a tender!!! We really tried to stay positive and excited about seeing Cozumel, but the whole process was just tiring and did not seem very organized. I understand that they normally do not use tenders in Cozumel, but their own pier and therefore they are not used to the process, but even still it was handled quiet badly.

My boyfriend and I had decided to rent some bicycles and go have a look at the island. It turned out that it was not the easiest thing to rent, but we ended up at a scooter rental place (Sol y Mar) where the guy who worked there was able to radio for some bicycles for us. They were not the best bicycles we have ever tried, but we happily headed out along the coast anyway, excited to see a bit of the island. What we saw was very impressive - everything had been really badly destroyed by the hurricane and there were no leaves on any of the palm trees and the bottom of the sea had literally been washed up on the beaches. There were huge sea shells, fossils and dead corals everywhere – very interesting to see. We passed by the Chanukkaban (not sure of spelling!) Natural Park and saw that everything there had been destroyed as well. Shortly thereafter a passing car started waving at us to turn around – we would have none of that though and just continued on our way, while discussing why the men in the car wanted us to turn around (did we not look comfortable on our bikes??). Well, we soon found out why - the road went missing!!! The road was so badly damaged by the hurricane that it had been closed off/was not there anymore!

We then had the choice to go to the larger road away from the coast or turn around. Considering the fact that we are very fond of our lives we decided to just turn around and follow the quiet road back to the port area. From there we continued into the town (the ship tendered into a port area about 2-3 miles from the town) and started looking for a place to get some lunch. After a bit of searching around we found a cozy looking restaurant one street from the ocean, La Candela. It had a really nice, shaded, verandah with wicker furniture and the food was just wonderful and also very cheap. We had the menu of the day (menu del día) which included starter, main course and drink. We paid only 95 pesos for the two of us!! I cannot recommend this restaurant enough – you should go! After lunch we did some shopping, but found the prices to be much higher than what we expected, so were a bit disappointed.

After handing in our bikes we got in line for the tender back to the ship. This was about an hour before the last planned tender. But the tender ride back was planned even worse than the morning’s tender – we waited in line on the pier for almost an hour and no tender came!!!!!!! The line of people was just huge and everyone got more and more disgruntled as the time passed – not very comfortable at all! I was convinced that there was only one tender operating and that it must have encountered some kind of problem, since it did not return? But when the tender finally picked us up and took us out to the boat another tender was docked there and a third was heading ashore – where were these tenders when we were waiting in line for over an hour on the pier????!!!! Very tiring and I must say that the grumpiness and slight aggressiveness of some of the fellow passengers in line just did not make it any more enjoyable!

4th Day – Tuesday: Day at Sea

Enjoyed a relaxing day by the pool and in the gym.

The evening show was a hypnotist. We had never seen this kind of show before and were very curious as to what it was exactly. I found it to be very fascinating, my boyfriend found it to be very relaxing – he actually feel asleep to the hypnotist’s calm voice!!! My parents, who have seen this type of show before, did not think it was that good, though, had seen better.

5th Day – Wednesday: Grand Cayman

We had booked a tour to Sting Ray City with Moby Dick tours from home after reading great things about them on the internet.

When we came off the tender (which was much easier this time) it was very easy to find the Moby Dick crew and we quickly “checked in”. The price had gone up to 40$, but since we had booked before the price markup it only cost us 35$.

We had a wonderful trip and the crew was very entertaining and attentive. They were both in the water with us and made sure that everyone who wanted to touch or kiss a sting ray did so. At first I was a bit too enthusiastic and attempted to feed the rays squid as the crew had illustrated. The rays must have been very hungry though, because I was quickly surrounded by three or four rays that rubbed up against me and one mistook by forearm for a piece of squid (I do eat a lot of seafood, maybe they can smell that?) and gave me a beautiful hickey!!! I have to admit that I got a bit nervous and threw away the squid and just tried to stand completely still until the rays had found out that I was not a piece of squid.

My mom did not go in the water and my boyfriend only briefly, but they still had a great time viewing everything from the boat. They also told me that the crew brought some rays close to the boat for them to see and take some good pictures – nice touch.

We also made a stop for snorkeling, but the coral was not very impressive – the water was great though, so we very much enjoyed the swim.

After the tour we walked a bit around the town, but did not really like it – soooo many people – there were 7 cruise ships that day and you could barely get into the shops because they were so overcrowded.
We did go into two shop selling watches because my boyfriend wanted to buy one, but in both cases the same watches could be bought cheaper on board the ship!

This evening there was a marvelous magic show – I have never seen anything like it – it must have been like the expensive shows in Las Vegas – so, so impressive. My parents had just been to see David Copperfield in Copenhagen and said that this was just as good, if not better! The tricks were incredible, they were funny, and the stage show just fantastic. You should not miss this show! I believe the artist were called “David and Carusso” and it was also the name of the show

6th Day – Thursday: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Again I had booked a tour from home after reading reviews on the internet. I had booked the tour with Orville Taylor and we just wanted to be driven around a bit and see and learn a bit about Jamaica.

We were met by a woman with an Orville Taylor sign. She, however, thought that we were a group of five and that we wanted to go to the waterfalls like everyone else!!! I had specifically written that we did not want to go to the falls, so it seemed a bit strange. Also the driver was not Orville Taylor – I thought it would be – maybe I understood it wrong and it is just the name of the company? All this made me a bit uneasy, but in the end we had a very nice tour with Tony who told us a lot about the island and stopped several times to pick spices, so that we could smell them. What I did not like about the tour, though, was that he wanted us to stop for shopping all the time. We said no thanks, but it seemed that he actually got into trouble with some of the vendors for not stopping. Towards the end of the tour we agreed to stop and shop, however, and bought some really beautiful wood carvings. When we were later dropped off in town we asked the price of similar carvings in the market and it seems that we had made an okay deal.

The town was full of shops and markets. Everybody was very eager to sell, but in most cases accepted a “no thanks”. My boyfriend was offered to buy marihuana a couple of times, I once, and my parents none. All in all we found Jamaica to be much more pleasant than expected from what we had read prior to the visit and the island was very lush and beautiful.

One tip concerning buying liquor: We bought some small bottles of Jamaican rum in town, but found that they were half the price at the liquor shore at the ferry terminal! (Bought some more J). Also, my parents just brought theirs up to their cabin and no one said anything (Being a real goody-two shoes I dutifully handed mine in for storage and later delivery to the cabin – arrived the following afternoon).

In the evening it was the second formal night and time to dress up again. We, again, had a lovely dinner and then had some nice pictures taken (bought some of them – were really nice) before hitting the disco. The music was really fun at first (80´s disco) but then became strange ( I do not understand why a DJ does not change the music if he sees everyone leaving the dance floor!!!) so we left. We then went up to see the grand midnight gala buffet full of ice sculptures and beautifully decorated cakes. We were surprised to see people actually standing in long lines just to take photos!!! Had these people never seen a decorated cake before……………….
My boyfriend and I decided to come back when the buffet opened and try some of the food. When we came back the lines were so long, though, that we just gave up. Instead we ordered a pizza (without cheese – the cheese is VERY greasy) and had a chat with the pizza baker. Nice pizza!

7th Day – Friday: Day at Sea

Again we spent the day relaxing by the pool and going to the gym. This day we even ventured to try the water slide – very fun!

In the evening before going to dinner we prepared most of our suitcases. When we came back from dinner we found out that this had been a very good idea, because the time we had to leave the suitcases outside the door had been changed!!! We did not find out till we read the newsletter on our bed. This actually annoyed us some, because all of a sudden we were in a hurry to finish our bags.

All through the night there was a great deal of noise – bags being carried away and passengers screaming?!!!?

8th Day – Saturday: Disembarkation and flight home

Our flight was not until 6 p.m. so we had booked the tour to the Everglades. This meant that we had been given special stickers for our luggage and had priority at time of disembarkation.
The disembarkation went rather quickly, but with some confusion because there was no one to inform the tour groups about where to go/meet and the cruise director and the entertainment director gave conflicting information. Also our luggage was not separated according to the tours as we had been informed, but according to decks. Strange…….

The tour was very nice, though, and since we were a small tour group (24 people), we could all see the alligator show without any pushing and showing and the ones that wanted to could hold the baby alligator, “Snappy”. The airboat ride was a bit disappointing, though. We did not go that fast and we were not supplied with earplugs (just some toilet tissue to stuff in our ears!!!) so the noise was overwhelming.

We found the tour to be very good value at 35$/person. Not only do you get the tour, but also priority disembarkation and a ride to the airport!

After the tour we were dropped off at the airport, and from thereon things got a bit annoying, but that would be a review of Iberia Airlines………………..

Conclusion

We had an absolutely wonderful vacation. We saw so many places and had so many experiences while still being able to relax soooooo much. Before going on this cruise I was somewhat apprehensive about the whole “cruise thing”. Being very fond of independent travel, avoiding the crowds and living out of my backpack I was afraid that I would just be terribly bored on such a ship and not be able to enjoy it due to the crowds of people and only quick stops in port. But I actually did enjoy it and the short stops in the different port were not that big of a problem because I had researched everything from home and made plans, so we still got to se a lot. Also I greatly enjoyed the relaxation side of the cruise – did not have to do anything!! No cooking, no cleaning, no hectic driving, etc. The gym was three floors up, the pool one floor up and the restaurant four floors down! I was just all so easy – think it is the first time ever that I have truly relaxed on vacation!

What I did not enjoy, however, were the constant crowds and lines for everything. At lunch time the lines were just horrendous and as mentioned earlier we completely gave up on getting anything form the Midnight Gala buffet. And of course the whole tender thing in Cozumel was just not nice!

Another thing that I did not enjoy was having to listen to fellow passengers always complaining and bickering about each and everything – lighten up!

I cannot comment on the quality of Carnival versus other companies, this being my first cruise. But I very much feel that this cruise it what you make it. Since the boat is so big and there is so much to do you can design your own cruise experience. For example we did not take part in all the fun and games offered, we did not eat lunch at the same time as everyone else and we did not get into the overly full hot tubs! But we did not do all of these things because we prefer it that way; they were there if you wanted them, but you could also have a wonderful day just going at your own pace and doing your own thing.

So in conclusion we had a wonderful vacation and can highly recommend this form of vacation to everyone else!

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