Miami: I booked through Priceline and got the Hyatt Regency for 2 nights at $38/night. I asked for and got a balcony with a partial view of the port. Hotel was really nice and we (husband Fred and I) had no problems walking back and forth from Bayside Market Place. Did some shopping and walking around. Be careful - they are really pushy in trying to get you on one of their site seeing boats. Had lunch the first day at Hooter's (yes Hooters - the girls may dress in short shorts and tank tops but they aren't sleazy and it is one of the best burger and wings around and they are only around $6 each! Not to mention that there were plenty of women customers there too.) and had dinner at another restaurant that was right on the water (sorry can't remember the name) and that was o.k.
Morning of: Since the Sheraton was only about a block away - I called and asked if Carnival was having pre-check in. The front desk said yes. We walked there and it turned out to be another cruise line and not Carnival. If you want to know make sure you ask for the Concierge. He was the only one who knew anything.
Embarkation: We got to the pier around 11:45 and there were already long lines. I think we waited around 45min to an hour to get through the lines.
The Ship: Absolutely beautiful! We went on the Destiny in 1998 and that had more of a "glitzy" dEcor. The Triumph was a lot more sedate in coloring but still just as spectacular. We had a balcony room and it was on the Lido deck (room 9282) and it was perfect. Right near the glass doors that open to one of the pools and right near the laundry! For all you stain fanatics - there were some on the carpets but not once was the carpet actually dirty and I saw people cleaning all the time. There was a singles group of about 600 people and it made for some interesting and entertaining moments. I am sure there were some children on board. Maybe because they all seemed so well behaved I hardly noticed them. Actually a lot of them were so polite they even held the elevators for me if they noticed me approaching! We did have rough seas for the first couple of days including 12ft waves. Doesn't bother me but Fred wasn't feeling too great.
Cruise Critic Meeting/Log Book: I had a great time meeting everyone and it was nice to run into people and be able to say hello. Almost all of us was on the Godfrey Tour (details to follow) and it was a blast. Big thank you to Roscoe's daughters for the use of the snorkel equipment (our first time!) in St. Thomas and for RRLLAL and his wife (who is really great!) for letting me sit with them during a lot of the bingo games (Fred is not a big bingo player!) We found the log book in the Library over by the games. Had fun reading everyone's entries. If RRLLAL reads this - we were able to sneak into the library about midnight and read your entry too!
Entertainment: We had a couple of Cruise Critic stars with us. Roscoe was pulled up on stage for the Welcome Aboard show and Fred was pulled up for the infamous Bedtime Story. He played the bad guy (Who's Your Daddy!) It was a great experience and after that everyone would come up to him and chat. John Heald was great - even if he did the exact same things 5 years ago on the Destiny. This was his second to last week. The comedians were funny and the magic show was good. Lost money in the Casino, of course and could never win at bingo. I did notice that they never did the free cruise bingo. But the last one was for $2000 (which you get a good price on a cruise for 2 and have money left over for airfare!).
Food: I will start with the only bad thing first - the desserts. Almost everything we tried was really bland except for a select few in the dining room (same issue on the Destiny, too). That said everything else was yummy! We sat with another couple in the Paris restaurant (our first time sitting with other people) and they were great. Our waiter, Sam from India, was great and always had my tea and Fred's cappuccino ready for us right after dinner. We didn't have to ask for more of anything. He always brought extra appetizers, entrEes and desserts - telling us to try this one or this one. The food on the Lido deck was good too and never cold. My only other complaint is that they need to label the food a little better because sometimes I had no idea by either name or look that there was fish in the dish. Luckily I am not allergic - just my taste buds are.
San Juan: I really, really wanted to find something nice to say.....but I can't. We just got off the ship and walked around. For some reason I started getting a migraine and really nauseated so we headed back to the ship after 2 hours - no Senior Frogs like we planned. I ended up in bed by 7:30.
St. Thomas: Took the Godfrey tour for $20/person. This was the best deal all vacation (even beats out my cheap meal at Hooters!) First he dropped us off for shopping. Fred and I were hungry so we found a nice cafe called Jen's. This is a great lady who came from Chicago and has lived in St. Thomas for the past 18 years. Decent food. Godfrey suggested her place. We poked around the stores. FYI - John Heald said that St. Thomas was the best port for liquor. Wrong. St. Martin had the best prices. After about 2 hours Godfrey picked us up and took us on a very detailed tour of the Island. This guy knows his stuff and answered any questions we had. Don't forget to get your Banana Daiquiri! After the tour we had our choice of beaches - Meagan's Bay or Coki beach. We ended up at Coki beach. Across the street from the beach you can rent jet skis. Fred did this at a cost of $50 for a half hour ($90 for an hour). Roscoe's family had rented 2 chairs and were nice enough to let us leave our shoes and towels there and his daughters lent us their snorkeling equipment....our first time! (Big thank you to them). The water was absolutely beautiful. The beach itself was just ok. Meagan's Bay looked so much better. Godfrey again picked us up after about 2 hours and gave us a tour back to the ship. All in all it was a fantastic time.
St. Martin: We didn't really do too much in St. Martin. We took our time getting off of the ship and then we spent the day walking around and shopping. We passed Everything's Cool a couple of times and I really wish that we had gone and visited. Everyone who went that we talked to said that they had a great time. Boo Hoo. Just another excuse to get there again! Don't forget your free sample of Guavaberry Colada.
Disembarking: We decided to walk our own luggage off of the ship and this was great. We paid for the Carnival transfers ($11/person). We were at the airport by 8:45am. We had a 3:45 flight but was able to get on an earlier flight (11am!).
Notes of Interest: *Love that Funvision! After getting sick in San Juan I went to bed and Fred decided to go have a couple of drinks. I woke up around 11pm and was curious where he might be. Turned on Funvision, entered the folio number and ta da! I could tell he was hanging out at the Olympic Sports bar based on what he ordered for drinks.
*Go and grab that "free" stuff that they tell you about on the Shore talks. I say "free" because something's were $5 or $10 - but still a good deal. I ended up with: tanzanite earrings (free), another pair tanzanite earrings ($5), the matching pendant ($5), pink sapphire earrings ($10 and are really nice), and a 1 carat loose blue topaz (free but they would really like you to have it set there - I didn't)
*St. Thomas was my favorite port with all that we did. St. Martin was the most beautiful one and the one port that I would love to go back and visit again. The water was THE most clearest, green/blue color I have ever seen. San Juan.....if you don't have anything nice to say....well I am sure you get my meaning.
*All in all this was my favorite cruise out of all 2 that I have been on! We got out and mingled more with people and that made it all the better.
Thanks for taking time to read this. If you have any questions let me know!