My two brothers and I sailed on the Triumph on 1/14/13 - 1/19/13. This was fifth cruise overall; my fourth with carnival.
First, I'd like to acknowledge three crew members for outstanding service. David, a bar waiter who usually helped us in the MDR, was fantastic! He would stop by our dinner table a few times each night to check on us and remembered our names, what we liked to drink, and portfolio numbers. I think this was just his third or fourth sailing, but he seemed like he already had everything down. Always up-beat and working hard. Henry, our team head waiter, was very funny and had a positive attitude. He was out sick a couple of nights and we sure missed him! Finally, Dobromira was a team assistant waitress who only helped us for dinner one night, but she sure made an impression. She was very attentive and had a brilliant smile. She should be promoted, in my opinion.
Compared to my other three sailings with Carnival (with the last one in 2007), I'd say most aspects of the cruise had improved - none had declined. The ship was kept very clean - we almost never saw any dishes, empty bottles, or trash sitting out for more than a minute before it was removed. Most notably, the quality of the food served at dinner was much better than my previous experiences. My family and I go out for dinner an average of four nights a week, ranging from high-end chef-owned restaurants to chain restaurants, as well as fast-food. I'd equate the food at dinner comparable to a four-star restaurant, with lunch and breakfast similar to a typical sit-down chain restaurant. I've read some reviews suggesting that the dinners were like "Applebee's". In my opinion such people are liars or irrational. Overall, I liked the food from the various grills on the Lido deck. Service by the MDR staff was at least the same as a four-star restaurant. The wait for food was usually much less than that in most restaurants, and only twice being about the same (once between our appetizers at dinner and main course and once between our main course at lunch and dessert). Again, I've read some reviews stating that people were in the MDR for two to two-and-a-half hours due to the service time. We were never in there for more than an hour unless we chose to have another drink or dessert.
I'd say the only thing that might be improved on is the debarkation process. We were in a Grand Suite and should have had priority debarkation. Not sure if we missed something or not, but it seemed as if we were just in the general throng of people who chose the self-assist option. I'd also note that many of the people who chose the self-assist debarkation couldn't readily handle their own bags, despite Carnival's recommendation to be able to do so. Not that Carnival could enforce it, but if a passenger isn't able to hold all of their bags in the air for at least 15 seconds, they shouldn't be using the self-assist. What happens is that they are unable to maneuver their bags properly, end up knocking into people and inanimate objects, are unable to keep up with the traffic moving to get off the ship, and generally greatly slow the whole process down.
Last thing I'll note is that all three of us on the cruise are fairly critical. I was a bit worried about my two brothers reactions since they had never cruised before, but both were equally as positive about the experience. Great job Carnival! We'll all be back!