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Michael Skinner

Age: 36

Occupation:Financial Advisor

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Triumph

Sailing Date: March 11th, 2006

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

This was our 2nd cruise, and both have been with Carnival.

We went on our first at New Years, and liked it so much, we decided to take the parents on this one a couple months later. In total, there were 8 of us (both of our parents – late 50’s to early 60’s; we’re mid 30’s, and our 2 daughters 8 & 11).

The Triumph was great. Just fantastic. We read some reviews that said it needed updating, etc, but we found it in great condition. Someone said it had been dry docked 5 or 6 months earlier, so maybe that’s the reason.

Embarkation was a breeze. In total, 45 minutes tops. We arrived at the port around 11:45 or so (on the advice of another review we read. Thanks!). Had no lineup for security, no lineup to do the paperwork, and no lineup to get our cards. Because we were a little early, though, they made us wait in the lounge for about 10-15 minutes. After that, straight upstairs & along the walkway to get our pictures done. A good indicator of things to come.

This cruise was during spring break, so we figured there’d be a lot of families with kids. Well, there were a fair number of families, but A LOT of college spring breakers. This was definitely a happening ship. But not over-the-top though. The college kids were pretty quiet throughout the day (catching up on the lack of sleep from the night before, no doubt), but about mid-afternoon you could see the ship really coming to life. It was a lot of fun.

Room steward was great. Always went out of his way to say hi and ask how the day was going, etc. Not sure if it was the tips I was leaving or just his attitude. Either way, he kept our rooms perfect.

Our head waiter & assistant were awesome and service was great. Definitely no complaints there. Even if they saw us during the day, they’d come up & ask about things. Really nice personal touch. Once again, not sure if it was the tips I was leaving or just their personalities. We thought it was sincere, though. My parents gave them each a nice gold bracelet on the last night & they were really thrilled.

Food was anywhere from average (some days at the buffets) to fantastic, but overall really good. I still can’t understand why some people complain about it, though. With all of the dining choices, it’s impossible not to find something you like. If the buffet isn’t working for you, go to the grill, the deli (awesome sandwiches), the chinese food place, the pizzeria, or go to the sit down meal. If you don’t like your sit down selection, order something different. No big deal.

We didn’t do any set excursions. In Puerto Rico, there really isn’t enough time (you arrive at 5:00pm). We just toured the main downtown area & it was nice. Lots of shops & vendors there.

In St. Thomas, we did some shopping and ended up getting our own tour from a taxi in the downtown area. There’s literally hundreds of these taxis that are large converted pick up trucks with a roof & open seating in the back. They get together a group of 10 or 12 people & do tours. The parents did their own thing, so it was just our family of 4. It was $90 in total. That included a tour of most of the island, 2 hours at Sapphire Beach (beautiful), and being dropped off right at our ship.

St. Maarten seemed A LOT cleaner than St. Thomas, but both were just beautiful. We did some shopping again (they must have more jewelry stores than people – it’s insane). And then got a taxi out to Orient Beach ($7 / person). Incredible beach. Just can’t say enough about the beach & the colour of the water, etc. I couldn’t tell you how many people were there – thousands and thousands. But it didn’t seem over-crowded; it’s one huge beach.

For debarkation, we did the early, do it yourself routine, as we had noon flights. It’s the only way to go. Talk about fast. We started leaving around 7:45am, and we were off the boat and through customs in about 15 minutes.

Overall, the 8 of us had a fantastic time. Not sure if we’re going to cruise Carnival next or try something different; just to get something else to compare to. If we do go to another cruise line, it’s not because Carnival was lacking, that’s for sure. We’d be back in a heart beat.

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