Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Triumph
Sailing Date: March 4th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
To start, we got to the Port of Miami very early; around 11:30 (embarkation for us was around 12:30). They had already started to board passengers, which at the time was not bad at all. There were a few lines here and there, but nothing that took longer than twenty minutes or so. It took us about forty-five minutes to get on the ship and past all the checkpoints and photographers (there’s a lot of them everywhere you go). A good idea is to get to the port early. After boarding the ship, we could not go to the rooms until 12:30 or 1:00, but they had the restaurants on the Lido Deck open (the upper deck where the pools are) and we sat ate and had an inaugural drink before we went to our rooms. After eating we headed to our rooms. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of space the rooms had. The bathrooms were small, but luckily I didn’t spend too much time in there (unlike some of my friends; not due to alcohol surprisingly). The beds were very comfortable and the view out of our window was not bad either. We were on the lowest deck (Riviera) and quite close to the water (or so it seemed, you’re actually higher up that you think). You can feel some movement down there if you are sitting still, and at times when you were walking the halls, you would sway (nothing violent, but funny when watching your friends walk in front of you). Going back to the arriving early topic, we just hung out and relaxed while people were still boarding the boat, so it is a very good idea to arrive early to the port.
The Triumph is an amazing ship. When getting off the ship and on to a tender (shuttles from the Triumph to get to the ports) you could really see the massive size of this boat. It towered over everything on the islands we visited (except Jamaica) and the big red fin on top of the boat could be seen just about anywhere you were when you at the various ports. It was always kept very clean. I saw people at every time of day cleaning something. Your room is cleaned twice a day and your cabin steward will make towel animals and put your stuff on it to dress it up (like sunglasses). The galleries and open areas were grandiose and beautiful. They made sure you felt like you were on a luxury cruise ship (even though Carnival is not particularly renowned for its luxuriousness, I think). The pool area was pretty nice. The pools are filled with sea water so be careful when first jumping in or going down the slide (swallowed a lot of sea water the first time on the slide). The “Fun Days Sea” are particularly difficult when it comes getting a chair. You have to search for a while if you get up too late. Oh, don’t worry about getting up for a drink, just be patient and someone will come around. And if you need some water or soda, no matter where you are on the top deck, you’re within feet of a drink station or bar. Soft serve ice cream is available too, for free! For those worried about sea sickness or motion sickness, it never bothered me too much. A few of my friends had problems, but they took motion sickness medicine and they were fine. A few nights we felt some turbulent movement. We ate in the Paris dining room which is located in the back of the boat and it got a little rough. Club Rio, where karaoke is available, is right above the Paris dining room so it was rough there too. By the second day you will get used to it. I really think it is a mental problem so just have good time and don’t think about it.
Now, on to the food. We ate in the dining room every night. To be able to sever the amount of people on the boat, the high quality of food we received, is amazing. Lobster tail, filet mignon, the delicious soups and salads; we never went hungry in the evenings. I’m not a seafood person (here’s where you laugh) so I had some kind beef or chicken every night and it was fantastic. The desserts were terrific too. It is all served in a very fancy way. The formal nights are fun too. It was nice to see everyone dressed up and having fun. You have the same waiters every night and they are terrific. Our waiter, Andy, was a riot. He sang and danced and would joke around with other members of the staff. He definitely entertained us. He also was very good at remembering what kind of salad dressings we all liked and the ways we liked our food prepared. They did a top notch job. For lunches and snacks, the buffets and little restaurants were still quite good. They had something for everyone.
The entertainment was ok. The shows included acts like magicians and comedians. They usually had late night acts for adults which we enjoyed. We would have enjoyed them more had they been longer than thirty minutes. It was strange to think that they knew we had literally no place to go and they had acts that short. The casino was nice. Don’t expect to play Blackjack at night unless you’ve been there since 6:00pm. I found the piano bar and karaoke lounge my favorite places. A bunch of my friends sang and we all had a great time. The piano bar was great because you could sit around the piano and sing along (if you knew the tune). If you just wanted to relax the Oxford lounge was great for trying the Cubans you could pick up at the ports and listing to jazz or piano music. The top decks were also nice to watch the sun set and to look out at the sea. Some nights were windy, but it was very comfortable. The temperatures, by the way, were anywhere between 75-90 degrees. They also have a dance party on the top deck one night which is fun and family friendly (for those wondering).
The destinations were all unique in their own ways. Cozumel, Mexico was our first stop. We had to take tenders because the hurricanes had destroyed the docks and just about everything else. The downtown area was getting better, but we were quite interested to see what it looked like before. We went to a beach instead of excursions. We got a taxi driver for six hours for around $120 (divided by six people). Don’t worry about currency, all the destinations utilize the American dollar. Taz, our driver, waited while we enjoyed the beach and then took us downtown for some drinks before we headed back to the ship. Back to the beach, there was not a lot of beach, but the water was warm and beautiful. There were tiki huts all around which we ate some nachos at and drank our cervasas. All the people were very nice and friendly. After the downtown scene, we decided to walk back to the port which turned out to be a pretty bad idea. We ended picking up a taxi half way there. You don’t want to get left behind, because they will leave you.
Grand Cayman was our next stop. We were excited to do some shopping, but despite what they say, it's pretty bad. Unless you are in the market for expensive jewelry or cheap t-shirts, you might as well just head to the beach like we did. The water was amazing. All shades of blue and clear as glass. My best friend and I rented waverunners (overpriced, but we wanted to do something out of the ordinary) and we had a blast. You could go out pretty far and the water would still be crystal clear. My sister was also on the cruise with some friends and they saw other sites like “Hell” and governors mansion. They really enjoyed it. We headed back to the port early and when we got there to get our tender back to the ship, the line was extremely long. We had been in the sun all day and we had to wait for about forty minutes in the sun to finally grab a boat. We finally got on the last of the four tenders. When I got off we started moving while they were still unloading the last two tenders (which my sister and her friends were on). It really shows that they stick to their schedule, so keep a close eye on the time. The ship stays on the time of the port you left from so bring a watch (i.e. leaving from Miami would have Eastern Standard Time)
Ocho Rios, Jamaica was our last stop. The landscape and hills were breathtaking. Of course, we had not see land elevation above ten feet in days. By then we were pretty tired, as you could probably imagine. The only problem we encountered was when you got off the boat. They have this little market set up within the confines of the port and the people selling “crap” were very pushy. They wanted you to come over and look at everything and they will bargain hard. I stayed away as some of my friends got sucked in. This was the only port where we did not use tenders. We simply walked off the boat and it was nice not having to wait in line for a boat. We walked around a little at the village shopping center and finally gave in to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. We had a delightfully funny waitress named Sonya. It was pretty expensive, but we all had a great time just relaxing. The restaurant actually backs up to a beach and has a water slide that goes through the building. Some other people went to the waterfalls which looked incredible from the pictures they took. The only thing we were concerned about was time because each time we went to a new place, the time there diminished by an hour or so.
All in all, the trip was outstanding. I cannot wait to go on another cruise, whether it be on Carnival or some other cruise line. Carnival did a great job though and I would definitely use them again. When I’m vacation, I expect to be relaxed and virtually worry-free and that I was. I ate well, drank a little too much (alcohol will put a dent in Sail and Sign account), and enjoyed everyone on the boat (other passengers as well as staff). The staff was exceptionally friendly and did a wonderful job. Get on the ship with an open mind and care-free attitude for that one week or however long your cruise is and you will have a great time. Hopefully I will cruise again sometime very soon.