CARNIVAL TRIUMPH Western Caribbean May 13 - 20, 2006
Sometimes we book cruises with a specific aim and this was one of those times. Vincent's nephew, Matteo, was coming from Italy with his beautiful wife, Grazia, on their honeymoon. Since we had sailed with Captain Francesco La Fauci (Italy), we thought the newlyweds would feel at home on the Carnival Triumph with Capt. La Fauci. We then booked ourselves on board too, after recalling how wonderful our last cruise with him was. However, the best laid plans do not always "come to pass." Captain La Fauci debarked the same day we embarked 5/13/06. But this hospitable gentleman left instructions to the new Captain Angelo Los to watch over the newlyweds. Captain Los took this very seriously and their first cruise was a "Triumph" for the honeymooners. A full moon was ordered and the setting was complete for a week of cruising in the Caribbean.
This was our second cruise on the Triumph, our first one was in 2001 when she was quite new. We are happy to report that she is kept in excellent condition and still stunning with her fourteen decks and the traditional red Carnival whale tail funnel.
The Port of Miami is easily accessed from I-95. There is serious reconstruction going on, but it neither blocks nor delays access. We were given wheelchair assistance and priority registration. Even though the staterooms were not available until 1:00 pm, we were shown directly to ours on Upper Deck 6 at 12:30 pm. We checked on our dining room reservations and they were perfect --- a table for four in the London Dining Room Balcony, midship on Deck 4. Since our cabin was all the way forward, this was the closest restaurant for us. We always check the logistics when boarding these very large ships. It is important for those with limited mobility to book a centrally located stateroom to minimize the effort of getting to and from the areas of interest. However, in this ship the only two wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony are located all the forward, thus we did not have any other choice. We are thankful to Captain La Fauci who personally reserved our table in the centrally located London Dining Room. Passengers with limited mobility must plan ahead so that they can get the best enjoyment with the least possible effort, avoiding unnecessary fatigue. Captain La Fauci understood our situation and made the proper arrangements to accommodate our needs. Results: A very enjoyable cruise for us all.
After inspecting our staterooms, we went to the welcome aboard buffet at the South Beach Club on Lido Deck 9. We stopped at the Grille for tasty hot-dogs, hamburgers and French fries ---- the honeymooners loved the American food.
The Triumph was built in the Fincantieri Shipyards, Italy in 1999 and the bronze plaque on Promenade Deck 5 lists it as hull #5979. The ten deck high Capitol Lobby on Deck #3 has a magnificent geographical depiction of the world on the ceiling and more of these wonderful maps are on the ceiling of the World's Hall leading aft. The Triumph is a tastefully decorated ship, less glitzy and more functional than many of the newer ships. For a detailed description read our earlier review (9/29/2001), since this review will concentrate on both ambiance and service on board.
The Carnival Triumph is 101.509 gross tons, 893 feet long and 116 feet in the beam with a cruising speed of 21 knots. Her guest capacity is 2,758 (double occupancy) with a crew of 1,100 and registry is in the Bahamas. She has 14 numbered decks plus Deck "O", which we will discuss later.
SERVICE & FOOD
It is always apparent that the level and quality of service comes from the "TOP" on down. The Captain dictates the tone and response of the crew. Under Captain Los, the Triumph aims to please. Every crew member we encountered tried their utmost to make us comfortable and happy --- and they succeeded. By keeping close tabs on his staff Hotel Director Henry D'Roza can be confident they are on their toes. Chief Purser Andrew Sideras runs the Passengers' Service Desk most efficiently and his Assistant Karine Rayneau made our life on board smooth sailing.
It is in the restaurants on board that passengers mostly notice the quality of the staff. Executive Chef Pradeep Rao was in the first week of implementing the newly introduced variation in the menu by French Chef Georges Blanc. This is a hit for us --- Monsieur Blanc has added delicate sauces and unusual combinations to Carnival's fare. Yet, the traditional American menu items are also highlighted. It was nice to see gustatory classics remain while new items are integrated into the menus. Now there are stuffed quails and pate` brulee` side by side with delicious chicken breast or cooked to order steaks. The menu reflects the passengers' desires, from honeymooners to retirees, from young families with babies to established families with teenagers: there were many large tables with families of several generations all enjoying spending time together.
The London Dining Room Maitre D' Joseph Vincent has a well organized group: our Waiter Stephen (St. Vincent Is.) and his asst. Wijayanti were very efficient. The breads were hot and fresh every day, but, alas we wanted them crispy and darker. We dined with Captain Los on the first Formal Night and found him to be a polite and genteel host. However, on Tuesday night he invited us to Deck "O" for a pasta dinner. This turned out to be the highlight of our trip, since we got to see the crew on its own turf. We dined family style with the ship's officers. We selected appetizers from a spread of olives, prosciutto, cheese, etc. and had a very down home soup of lentils and black-eyed peas. There were two types of spaghetti, aglio olio e peperoncino or Puttanesca. Our entree was a choice of either filet mignon or tilapia filet. Cruise Director Stuart Dunn, whose Aussie accent we enjoyed over the PA System, joined us confessing that nightly he ducks in to check out the appetizers. This was a great night with a lack of pretense on the part of Captain Los, Staff Capt. Domenico Cilento and Chief Engineer Sergio Sciolla; their welcome was heartwarming. Fine food and simple surroundings brought out the best in all of us. It was interesting to see the direct phone line to the Bridge (periodically ringing). However, even while eating, we noted that it is the ship which is uppermost on all of these men's minds.
The 24 hour room service is great, each morning we had continental breakfast in our stateroom --- always prompt, always hot. Lunch in the dining room is open seating, with menus that vary each day with tempting offerings we enjoyed. Since many cruisers go to the buffet, there are always lots of window tables available and service is prompt. We also lunched at the 24 hour Pizzeria where pizzas are made to order (Neapolitan --- Tomatoes, olives, peppers and mushrooms; Rustica -- Basil, tomato and olive oil; Pan -- Sausage, peppers, onions, and tomatoes; and Mary's favorite Le Chevre -- Goat cheese and wild mushrooms. If you prefer you may order a Calzone, ask and they will bake it extra crispy, Vincent's favorite. The Pizzeria also has a great Caesar's Salad with croutons and sliced chicken breast. The Pizzeria is located all the way aft on Deck 9 near the outdoor pool and bar.
During this cruise there were a group of Chefs teaching Georges Blanc's methods to their colleagues. We found the new menus very interesting and the food quite good. The lobster tails were prepared perfectly not over done, coming from Boston, Mary is picky about her seafood. The escargot was not as good as the former recipe, now there is a bit too much potato. Just butter and wine makes a much better sauce. Food has been continuously improving on the Carnival ships. Congratulations Chef Rao. There are less offerings, but better and more unique ones, and the plating is elegant too.
Wheelchair accessible stateroom #6207 is all the way forward at the prow. From the balcony, we could look directly over head to the Bridge overlook. When we first sailed on the Triumph, we were told that there were no wheelchair accessible staterooms with balconies. That is incorrect, we were misinformed. There are two of them at the prow and this time we had one. When entering on the left, there is a triple armoire with private safe, shelves and hangers. Next, there is a lighted mirrored vanity/desk with three drawers, two large cabinets and a TV. Alas no mini refrigerator.
When entering on the right there is a large bathroom with a double sized shower, safety rails and a mirrored medicine cabinet and a single sink. There is a king size bed, a single night stand, two reading lamps, a coffee table and one arm chair. On the balcony there was a table, two chairs and our excellent steward Anatoli (Bulgaria) brought Vincent a small low chaise. The colors were shades of orange and the cabinetry was maple. Very bright and pleasant.
Cruise Director Stuart Dunn kept things humming and the shows in the Rome Lounge Theatre were lively. The "Wonderful World Show" was a tribute to music from around the world. The hit act of the cruise was "The New Wave Magic" of Kevin and Caruso, which was very nice, High Tech and fascinating. There were high stakes Bingo games, cruise raffles, exercise, trivia, pool side games, etc. There was something for everyone and all ages.
Carnival does not rush passengers out of the staterooms, in fact they are allowed to remain until 9:30 am. The same baggage tags used to board were used to debark. We had wheelchair assistance from Agnetha Combrink (S. Africa) who was so sweet. Once passengers carrying all their own baggage were off, then regular passengers began to disembark. We were off in a jiffy, fast and painless, in about 20 minutes we were out of the terminal.
PORTS OF CALL
Sat. 5/13/06 Miami, FL Depart 4:00 pm
Sun. 5/14/06 At Sea
Mon. 5/15/06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:00 am Depart 6:00 pm
Tues. 5/16/06 At Sea
Wed. 5/17/06 Georgetown, Grand Cayman Port Authorities closed the harbor due to high seas and winds. Tendering was too dangerous. Port charges were refunded.
Thurs. 5/18/06 Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00 am Depart 3:30 pm
Fri. 5/19/06 At Sea
Sat. 5/20/06 Miami, FL Debarkation begins at 8:00 am for those who carry all their own luggage.
This was our 60th cruise, but only our 5th on Carnival ships, since we had our first cruise on Carnival in 2001. We have enjoyed Carnival ships better and better ever since, especially when considering our low initial expectation. Carnival is now becoming one of our favorite cruise lines, and we have already booked another cruise on the Triumph for this summer, mainly to meet again our friend Capt. La Fauci. Our next cruises will be Sept. 2nd on the Triumph, Sept. 23rd on the Caribbean Princess, Oct. 15th on the Freedom of the Seas, and Jan. 20th, 2007 on the Voyager of the Seas, unless we can find some great value with last minute sales before then. Undoubtedly, encountering old friends on a cruise is always a pleasure, it gives us the opportunity to reinforce the friendship, reminisce with them on past events and update each other on recent happenings. Of course, it is always nice to revisit familiar faces and places and to make new friends. That is the best reason to cruise, for us it makes our days on board interesting! Happy Cruising!