Caution - this will probably be a long review. :) This was a cruise with a lot of "firsts": my 1st cruise out of Galveston, 1st cruise with my husband and stepdaughter, and their 1st-ever cruise. It was also the 1st time I've been on a cruise having a delayed departure; the 1st time a ship I've been on has substituted one port for another, and the 1st time I've requested a change in room stewards.
We were notified by Carnival the day prior to cruising that, because of mechanical difficulties during the prior cruise, Triumph would be delayed in arriving in Galveston and as a result we'd be embarking and sailing in the evening instead of mid-afternoon. Because we had planned to drive to the port, the late departure didn't concern us all that much. We pre-paid parking at Park 'N Cruise, which is directly across the street from the Triumph, and got a discounted rate. We would park there again - it was very convenient.
Day 1: We found out that Platinum membership definitely has its advantages; we bypassed the lines and were up in the waiting area about 15 minutes after handing our luggage to the porter. The most time consuming activity was having our sodas inspected. Just prior to embarkation, we were given a letter from the Captain, which informed us that we'd be visiting Progreso in lieu of Cozumel. That actually turned out to be a better deal for us, since we're interested in Mayan ruins, and Progreso is a jumping off point for much more interesting archeological sites! (I know, we're Geeks.)
At 6PM, we buzzed up the gangway and were told that: 1. there was open seating in both dining rooms; 2. our room would be ready at 6:30PM; and 3. a $50 credit had been applied to each of our Sail & Sign cards! SCORE! We had a great meal, stashed our stuff in the cabin, chatted with the Steward (more about him in a minute), and toured the ship. Muster was painless as always, at around 9PM. We got "the child" signed in to Circle C, and got down to the serious business of relaxing. As always, there were more activities offered than you could take in - we like Trivia and Piano Bars, so we settled in there. Back to the cabin at around 12:30AM, where we found no turn-down service, sofabed still a sofa, towels for 2 instead of 3, and no pool towels. A quick trip to Guest Services at 1:30AM got most of that squared away.. we assumed there was a glitch with the manifest or something.
Day 2 (at Sea): Warmer up on deck, which was fantastic. Personally, I don't like the giant TV and DJ on Lido; they're both way too loud imho. I kinda miss the live bands Carnival used to have. So we did Trivia, Mini Golf, Scavenger Hunt, the Comedians.. had a great time! Back at the room getting ready for Formal Night, it occurred to me that we still hadn't seen the Steward after our initial meeting, we still didn't have the big blue towels, and that he hadn't made up our room. Another quick trip to Guest Services to explain that being ignored made us sad, and they suggested that maybe a different Steward was in order (turns out that this was our Steward's last week with Carnival - he had given notice). Late seating for Formal Night, so we got to people watch before going in for a really good meal - the vegetarian options are incredible. Oh! The dance production was really well done that night! The choreography and set designs were brilliant; really maximized use of that relatively small stage area, and the entertainers were fantastic as well. Another highlight of the cruise was the gentleman singing in the Piano Bar, "Russell Blues." His voice is really extraordinary!
Day 3: Docked in Progreso right on time, and we participated in the excursion to the Uxmal ruins. What a great tour that was! "Julian" was our tour guide; his knowledge of the ruins, the Yucatan, and the Maya was amazing! I'd go back to the area again on my own and hire him as a tour guide; he was that good. We left the pier at around 9AM, explored the ruins, took a million pictures, were not rushed at all, had lunch at the ruins, got back on the bus and made it back to the ship at around 3:30PM. I think we left Progreso at 5PM. Our daughter met up with some friends from Circle C and ditched us. (yessssss!) We saw some really good close up magic done by Vlad, more Trivia, had a bite at the 24 hour Pizza place, had a nap, then waddled up to dinner at 8:15PM. From there it was Karaoke and I don't even know what else.
Helpful hint: DON'T bring anything that emits light up to deck 6 after dark - apparently the Bridge needs to be as dark as possible for navigating or something. I was spinning poi up there, and got escorted out by Security (the Bridge called them). There's no signage anywhere - they just politely collect you and escort you out of the area. LOL!
According to our daughter, the Circle C program for teens 12-14 was terrific. It's difficult to get specifics out of this 14 year old, but we learned that there was a dance party, Guitar Hero competition, a scavenger hunt, mini golf, cards, a magic show, twister.. she was never bored! There were just under 500 people under 18 on this cruise.
Day 4 (at Sea): Relaxing, gawking at all the photos over in the Photo Gallery, and doing the Cupid Shuffle whenever they played it. Then FREE DRINKS from 5:15-6PM and 7:15-8PM because Captain Marchi thought the passengers had experienced a "challenging" cruise. Then packed our bags after dinner and left them in the hallway. Last night for singing, hot tubs and piano bar.
Day 5: Disembarked at around 9AM. Again, these Platinum perks are awesome. We got in line, buzzed out to baggage claim, through Customs and got into the car by 9:30AM.
In summary, this was yet another well-done cruise by Carnival, with really awesome excursion options, entertainment, and service. The food was uniformly good, I didn't hear any of the foodies complaining, and the crew members made the experience even better. (I just love their friendly attitude!) They must have had to scramble to pull a decent port day together for more than 3,000 people, and it was amazing.