This trip was our second aboard Carnival Triumph in a month and our fourth aboard the Triumph in 10 months. We live about 2 hours from the Galveston port which makes it appealing to cruise often. We cruised another line to Alaska and quickly our group which typically consists of 10 up to as many as 25 guests decided to stick to Carnival. We have an older teen (17) as well as middle 20's children. They along with all their friends that sail along with us thoroughly enjoy Carnival because of the other passengers their age and the partying. They interact a lot with the crew who all seem to enjoy their antics. We as parents like to watch our children enjoy themselves. We also have some gay men that travel with us and they are much more accepted on Carnival versus some of the older, opinionated crowds on other lines.
FOOD: Although I have read several reviews on this site and see mixed reviews on the food, I doubt that any of these cruisers went hungry. True there could have been some room for improvement in some areas but I can't imagine preparing for 3500 people within a 2 hour window and have it all taste like a 5 star restaurant. I always try to keep in mind what I paid to cruise this line and the number of passengers they are trying to serve. At the end of each meal I leave the table full! If I get an entree that I don't care for the wait staff is so very accommodating to bring another choice. The room service food has always been good. The buffet line always has enough choices to find something for everyone.
ENTERTAINMENT: We always attend the shows however did not on this cruise because we had already seen the shows 2 or 3 times each. They did have two new comedians on board and if you see a Mr. Cee Jay Jones booked on a future cruise, be sure to check out his show. He was a funny guy. The production shows are entertaining as well. The dancers are good, not great. Most of the costumes are very nice. We have seen several singers through the cruises and they are typically fairly good. Again, I compare what I pay and I think I certainly get my money's worth.
CABINS: We typically book a balcony however we waited too late on this cruise. On this boat we have stayed at the very back of the ship and also at the very front. We prefer a balcony simply for orientation...I like to wake up look out and see where I am located. However we made it just fine on this little 4 day excursion with an inside cabin. I will say that previously on this ship we booked the Empress Deck, along the very back wall and the two corner cabins are over-sized and so are the balconies. Very nice surprise.
EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: Carnival has this down to a science at the Port of Galveston. I highly recommend arriving at the port by 10am...cuts way down on the lines. Yes, you may have to sit in the holding area for a short time until the ship is ready to load passengers but that beats standing in the long lines that occur by noon. I also recommend self assist debarkation. You are off the boat by 8:30 and avoid the congestion of the new passengers arriving tangling up with the passengers trying to leave the port.
CONDITION OF THE SHIP: This is my one of my biggest complaints. This ship needs a renovation. It is starting to show its age and wear and tear. There is rust evident in several places, a water leak that I checked on each time I was aboard and sure enough, it was still there. This ship is scheduled to sail out of Galveston until 2014 and I'm not sure how it will look by that time!
ADULT ONLY AREAS: This is my other big complaint. Having raised my children...my youngest is 17 and she likes to hang with adults or young adults....I would like to enjoy an adult only area. Even a 16 and up area. There are two hot tubs and a pool in the back of the ship. The hot tubs are designated 18 and older however it stays over run with small children. There Is an attendant that comes by occasionally and tells them to get out and then resumes his mopping duties. Then they move to the adjacent pool and canon ball off the sides. Several of the wait staff told us this used to be policed....I wish they would resume that service. There are plenty of other areas for kids and parents with kids. Give us a break after we've raised ours and before we have grand children!!!
EXCURSIONS: We stopped in Progresso and Cozumel on the last cruise. This cruise was Cozumel only. I read one complaint on this site about Progresso being an underdeveloped fishing village.....that's the charm that I love about it! Next time I will spend whole day exploring around Progresso. This time we slept in and took the bus after the crowds so we only had a couple of hours in town. Food and hospitality are great. Yes there are kids begging to sell your their hand made Chinese items but hey, that's part of old Mexico (well except they used to actually make the stuff). We also have gone into Merida previously and that was a nice excursion too but Progresso reminds me of what Cozumel used to be 25-30 years ago. Ahhhh....Cozumel. I am always thrilled to see it and sad as we depart. We have never taken a ship excursion. We always choose to avoid all the folks we've stood in lines with and find a "non cruise ship" beach. We do miss the days of docking downtown across from Carlos and Charlies. Those were the good ole days. The new pier is nice but pretty evident that politics are rampant even in Cozumel because the poor downtown merchants are suffering now that Carnival built their own pier and lined it with their own stores. So many cruisers I run into believe this is Cozumel. I encourage everyone to rent a car or take a taxi and go downtown. It's the heart of this island and important to support those people there. They have built their businesses around these cruise ships and now the cruise lines have deserted downtown for their own company owned pier. It's a shame. But more on Cozumel. We have para-sailed, rented jet skis, rented a private boat for snorkeling all right on the beach at Mr. Sanchos beach club. We swam with the Dolphins at Chankanaab park although now I suggest checking out the new Dolphinaris downtown. Chankanaab is hooked up with the cruise line and have become very commercialized. When we first went there I took my own camera on the pier. I took some great photos but I also bought the ones they took. Now personal cameras are forbidden and you must buy their photos if you want any remembrances of the day. This trip we rented jeeps, made our annual trek around to the back side of the island and then proceeded to spend the rest of our day at Mr. Sanchos. The food there is never disappointing, the service is great and this time we rented a boat that took us out to the reef for snorkeling complete with a driver and two divers. For $200 seven of us went out with three crew. We thought the value for this was great compared to a 60 person catamaran through the shore excursion desk with two or three crew for all those passengers.
OVERALL: We just came home this morning and every is in agreement that we wish we were on the boat that sailed about an hour ago. Already miss it. I think all things considered it is a great place to vacation and I'm ready to go again.