Number of Cruises: 61
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Triumph
Sailing Date: October 7th, 2006
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Carnival suggests that you download and print your "Fun Pass" at home prior to embarkation as this will speed things along; however, EVERYBODY in line had a "Fun Pass" so it did not seem to have any benefit as far as shorter lines were concerned. The customer service reps at the Port of Miami were very polite and professional, and were a pleasure to deal with. Despite the long lines, they moved quickly, and we were able to board the ship in a reasonable amount of time. The baggage handlers at the port carelessly threw our luggage around on the pavement outside the terminal and were incredibly rude, stating "this is when you're supposed to tip us." (When our luggage arrived to our stateroom that evening, half of it was damaged so badly that it was no longer functional and we had to purchase new luggage.)
On-Board the cruise director went out of their way to be friendly and provide great customer service. Our room was made up promptly each morning, clean towels and ice were replenished throughout the day, and turn-down service was provided each night.
Stateroom: We had two ocean-view rooms, which had two portholes that did not open. As a warning to everyone, THERE ARE NO NON-SMOKING ROOMS ANYWHERE ON BOARD. Our rooms obviously had smokers in them. The bedding and carpet was full of cigarette burn holes and they did nothing to try to fumigate the room prior to us boarding the ship. The room, as well as the rest of the ship, was FREEZING as the recirculated air seemed to be set at the coldest setting and there was no apparent way to control the temperature of the individual rooms. Keep this in mind and pack accordingly. I did not think I'd need to pack sweats and a coat for a trip to the Caribbean, but I sure wish I had. Also keep in mind that none of the shops on board nor on the islands seem to sell sweatshirts or other warm apparel.
Entertainment: Again, there is smoking EVERYWHERE. Carnival attempts to hang "no smoking" signs in certain areas, but rude people smoke in those areas anyway and Carnival does nothing about it. All of the bars and the casino were unbearable. Sitting outside on the decks was a challenge too, with inconsiderate smokers flicking hot ashes on others and polluting the air. Speaking of sitting on-deck, it took us over an hour to find chairs located together. There were tons of empty chairs with towels tossed on them, as other passengers apparently "claim" their chair and then disappear while others are walking around forever trying to find a place to sit. Carnival has a "no saving chairs" policy as well, but does not do anything to enforce that either.
Food: I put this in a separate category because I found the food on-board to be incredibly bad. Everyone always raves about the wonderful food on cruises. They must not have been talking about the Carnival Triumph! I had to send my dinner entree back to the kitchen nearly every night. The steak entrees were never cooked to order -- when requesting rare, I always received well-done. The seafood always came out dry and tough as leather. The lobster entree that many people really look forward to was tough, rubbery, and had a strange odor -- definitely NOT fresh. They inaccurately describe the food on the menu; for example, the same medium-size pink shrimp are called "Mississippi prawns" one night, and "Black tiger shrimp" another night, when in fact they are neither. Similarly, the "Grilled Atlantic salmon" and "Broiled cold water salmon" are prepared in the same manner and are one and the same. Why exaggerate? The dinner salads consisted of nothing more than iceberg lettuce with one barely-ripe tomato wedge and one thin cucumber slice. I tried the buffet a couple nights hoping for better luck, but found that they basically served reheated leftovers of whatever was served in the dining room the previous night. The lines at the buffet were always quite long, and full of people in dripping wet bathing suits and dirty hands grabbing at the food with or without utensils. I recommend trying to get food that is recently put out, so as to avoid any unwanted contamination by inconsiderate guests. The late-night food options were disappointing. There is supposedly a 24-hour pizzeria on the ship; however, I was never able to actually get any pizza as they never had any made. It was always going to be "20 minutes," with a line of people patiently waiting for the mysterious pizza. The late-night buffet consisted of hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, and cookies -- nothing else. Room service was very efficient, and it was nice that it was complimentary. The selection is very small, however -- mainly just sandwiches and a coupl!
Shore excursions: Carnival royally ripped us off on these. First, during the shore presentation, the Carnival employees reinforce how important it is to book excursions only through Carnival, to ensure one's safety on shore, etc... Once onshore, I realized that this is because Carnival charges DOUBLE the actual cost of the excursions. These same excursions can be booked through the individual companies at half the price. We found out the hard way by paying Carnival $60 each for three of us to go snorkeling. We were assured that all equipment would be provided. Well, what was provided to us was snorkels with mold growing in the mouthpieces and leaky masks. Needless to say we weren't able to do any good snorkeling with masks that filled up with water and snorkels that we could not put in our mouths. We brought this to Carnival's attention immediately upon reboarding the ship, but they refused to do anything. Speaking of shore excursion rip-offs, we noticed that the "Harley in Paradise" excursion, when booked through the private company is only $190, while Carnival charges $400 to book it through them! This is totally outrageous.
Debarkation: This was handled as efficiently as embarkation, except that this time we carried off all of our own luggage so that they would not destroy it again. Again, Carnival did not fail to rip us off one last time, this time through transfer service to the airport. We paid $45 for the three of us, and they proceeded to put us on a Greyhound bus crammed full of other cruise-goers. Needless to say, we walked past dozens of local cab companies waiting just outside the ship, willing to take us to the airport for only $20.
All-in-all, Carnival lived up to its reputation as far as this cruise is concerned. The service and overall quality was in line with what others have told me to expect. The most disappointing aspect was the blatant ripping off of customers and failure to stand behind their services. I can understand needing to make a profit, but marking excursions up 110%, and then taking no responsibility for what occurs on said excursions? How pathetic. We certainly won't be booking another Carnival cruise again, ever.