OVERALL CRUISE EXPERIENCE (Scale of 1-10) 8
EMBARKATION: A TOTAL disaster! This was the 3rd time sailing out of the Port Of Miami in 16 years and it is STILL the worst port to cruise from! It took almost 2 hrs. to get from the parking garage to our cabin. The biggest hold-up....THE EMBARKATION PHOTO! Carnival has to add a line for people that don't want their picture taken when boarding (god knows they take enough of them onboard)! We waited 1 hour on that line alone. Doesn't Carnival realize that some people leave their homes very early when flying in or driving to the port? By the time we arrive at the ship, all we want to do is BOARD!!! Most of us could care less about having our pictures taken at embarkation. My advice to anyone cruising from Miami would be get to the pier by 11:30am or after 2:30pm. Between those hours, plan to wait in VERY long lines. There is a lot of construction going on at the pier and the signage to get around is POOR.
THE CABIN: We had a balcony cabin (6331) on the upper deck. It was a great location. Mid-ship in all aspects. The cabin itself was a little smaller than on our past Carnival cruises though it may have just seemed that way because there was furniture pieces that were too oversize for the cabin. If you have a lot of hair, bring your own hairdryer. The one in the bathroom is OK for short hair but takes a long time to dry long hair.
THE DINING ROOM (And Food): We dined in the Paris Dining room. Very far and difficult to get to from our cabin. They should divide the ship in half and send the passengers in the forward part to the mid-ship part of the ship to the London Dining room (mid-ship) and send passengers in the aft portion of the ship to the Paris Dining room. We had to either go all the way to the aft elevators or go through the casino and walk aft to get to the dining room. The food was better than what I had read in past reviews. The portions were also larger than I had read in past reviews. The desserts left a little to be desired though. The 24 hour pizzeria and the grill on the Lido deck were better than I had expected. The buffet (outside on the Lido deck) for breakfast offered mostly cold eggs but had omelettes to order. I didn't try one but heard they were pretty good. Try the buffet inside. The lines are a little longer but the food is hotter.
THE SHIP: We enjoyed the ship. Even though the ship was booked (3150 Passengers) completely, the hardest thing we found was getting lounge chairs at ANY of the pools. This is the RUDE passengers fault though that put a towel on the chair and disappear for 2 hours. The ship was always being tended to in some way from the time of embarkation to disembarkation. The staff on the Triumph should be commended for doing a fantastic job. The Triumph sailed the ocean like we were standing still. Granted the seas were calm during most of the cruise, but a vessel that size doing 21 knots will have displacement. We felt no movement!
SAN JUAN: What a waste of time. We docked at 5pm and did the Bacardi Rum Factory tour. We also did this tour 16 years ago and their were MAJOR changes to the tour since then. The majority of the tour was a 10 minute video. BORING!! 16 years age we did an ACTUAL walk through of the factory and that was interesting. Our tour guide,"POPPY" was the highlight of the tour. At that time of the day, there is nothing to do in San Juan (not that I think the time we arrived made any difference). I wanted to send some E-Mail pictures from the factory to some friends but we were rushed back on the bus for return to the ship. If you go to this port...Stay on the ship!!! Don't waste your time OR money in San Juan.
ST. THOMAS: A very beautiful island (once you get past the taxi drivers trying to get you to hire them for a tour of the island). We eventually did the tour ($20 p.p. and we took as long as we wanted, a good deal) and got some really great pictures and did some shopping. Again, A VERY beautiful Island!
ST. MAARTEN: The best stop on the whole cruise!!! I could have stayed here all week and skipped the other 2 ports of call. We did the St. Maarten Beach Break (at Mullets Bay) and have never experienced a more beautiful beach!! The ocean was crystal clear, the sand had no rocks or pebbles or shells and was like walking on cotton (very hot walking in bare feet though) and the beach was clean. CAUTION......If you plan on going here on a shore excursion, be prepared for some topless bathers. Even though it is illegal on the Dutch side of the island, we had 5 woman that were walking around and swimming topless like it was permitted. I WILL make St. Maarten a future stop on a cruise. I highly recommend it!!
RENEWAL OF VOWS : We purchased the $385 package and it was handled great. They had a ceremony (performed by the Captain), a 2 tier wedding cake, a rose for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom and LOTS of photo's. The Captain actually sat with us and had cake and spoke to us for about 15 minutes. He was quite the gentleman. The staff assigned to us (Tanya) was excellent. We were fortunate to have 2 friends from a cruise on the Pride 2 years ago sailing with us and the acted as our best man and maid-of-honor and signed the Renewal Of Vows certificate along with the Captain . It was great. Be prepared though, the photo package is $1200 and you don't find this out until AFTER the pictures are taken. You can talk them down (we got some pictures and the video slideshow for $250) and you get 1 FREE 8X10 as part of the package.
DISEMBARKATION: A TOTAL disaster!!!! Customs held us up for 1 1/2 hours past normal deboarding time and the cruise director kept apologizing because they wouldn't tell him why either. I am sure flights were missed because of this. I have sailed from New York & Port Canaveral and it was ALWAYS easy on and easy off. Like I said earlier, Miami is just a mistake to cruise from. It can make a very exciting time of the prior months waiting for the cruise VERY stressful. It is very disorganized.
I would sail the Carnival Triumph again and would recommend it to others. Just not from the Port Of Miami!!!!