On March 19th my family and I set out for a Western Caribbean cruise on board the Carnival Triumph. We arrived the night before from NY and stayed @ the Courtyard By Marriott Downtown Miami. Took a cab there from the Miami airport which cost $20.00 with tip. The hotel was 5 minutes from the Port of Miami and this hotel offered free breakfast and transfers to the Port for a total of $145. GREAT DEAL!
Embarkation was smooth took only about 45 minutes (we pre registered).
Once on board we found our cabin to be spacious enough for the 3 of us. We had selected an ocean view cabin. This was OK but for our next cruise we have booked for this up coming February '06 we have booked a balcony cabin. The cabin was very clean I can not complain about anything our steward did. He was always near enough to make up our room within 15 minutes of the "please make up our cabin" sign being put on the door. Our room was freshened up 3 times a day. This was a wonderful change from a hotels once a day service.
The ship was always clean. There often was crew members seen cleaning areas such as door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails and other items touched regularly. I was pleased to see this.
The food was very good in the dining room. Our servers were very pleasant and entertaining. Its very interesting to learn a bit about what their life is like on these ships. They work 12 hour days 7 days a week. There are no sick days for them. I found all staff members to be pleasant except for one working in a gift shop on the last night of our cruise. Yes, there always has to be one in a bunch!
Buffet food was OK. It was nothing special. There were some evenings when I believe we had leftovers from the main dining rooms menu the night before. Many mornings we chose to have breakfast delivered to our room by room service. Room service offers a continental breakfast and sandwiches & salads are also available for lunch or dinner in your cabin. All in all no complaints about the food or its service.
Entertainment in the Rome Lounge was so so. There is some room for improvement in this area. I didn't find the dancers to be very good. They were more like a High School group than a Las Vegas style bunch. But that didn't destroy my cruise. I do not go on a cruise to be entertained by shows. I am there for the great islands we visit and soaking up that great caribbean sun.
First stop was Cozumel, Mexico. Was good for shopping since you can pretty much name your own prices with the vendors. Dolphin swim was just OK considering it was $170.00 per person. I thought we would have been given more time with the Dolphins for that price. The entire encounter once in the water lasted 30 minutes if that.
Next was Grand Cayman Islands. Here I fell in LOVE. The stingray swim was nothing but a great thrill. This cost $50.00 per person and was worth it. This encounter was not hurried or rushed. Kirk Sea Tours was out tour operator. These people running this trip were great. Total time in water with stingrays was about 1 1/2 hours. This is a must see not to be missed! After you are done with your stingray swim and you are brought back to town. You can ask your taxi driver to let you off at The Royal Palms Beach Club. This beach is on the beautiful 7 mile beach and is free. There is a snack/beverage shack there for you to have lunch at and they also have bathrooms and showers. I thought I had died and gone to heaven on this beach. The water was warm and a beautiful shade of blue. We could see our ship docked from this beach.
Next we were off to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This was a bit of a disappointment. We were at a loss here. We wound up getting a private taxi driver to take us to Dunns River Falls and show us a few other sights. The beaches that were close by to the pier we were docked at were not the best. They were roped off so that you could only get wet up to about your waist. Not my idea of a day at the beach. Also the Jamaican shops there seemed to be run by rude middle eastern people not locals. I was a bit surprised and questioned this and the locals did not seem to be very happy about this take over. BEWARE, some of the local people are very aggressive and want you to purchase items from them off the street. Keep walking if you are not interested. If you stop they will try very hard to get you to part with your $.
Many people seem to cut Carnival up in these reviews. I can not complain about this ship. It was always clean, staff was pleasant. I did not find there to be many annoying PA system announcements as others report.
To sum it up... If you are a family with children or not this cruise line would work well for you. At sea days there are many many things planned for the kids & adults to do. Days you are in port it is up to you to have lots to do or not. We were on this ship with hundreds of teenagers for Spring Break and there never was an issue where they were out of line. Everybody just seemed to be enjoying themselves in their own way. I would do this cruise over again no problem. Try it yourself and make up you mind for yourself.