Prior to the cruise, my friend and I the the shut-eye service with jetBlue from California to Fort Lauderdale. The shut eye service was basically jetBlue's other way of saying Red-Eye. In addition to the free blanket and pillows offered by the airline, they also gave everyone an Bliss Spa Kit (Bliss is the spa at most W resorts) that contained various spa products, an eye mask, and ear plugs. Towards the end of the flight, the crew members handed out "hot" towels so that we can "freshen up" prior to landing. In addition to the spa kit, we enjoyed the 2 beverage and snack services and the self service snack bar they set up in the galley. Because the flight was delayed for about an hour, they offered everyone onboard free movies from their Fox Inflight movie service that normally cost $5 on domestic flights. This was a bonus to their 36 channels of DirecTV that was also offered for free. The flight itself saved us a night in a hotel because it was scheduled to arrive early enough that I didn't really have to worry about any delays that could cause me to miss the ship.
When we got to Fort Lauderdale, it was about 6:30AM so we rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car which was a really smooth process, we were on the road and driving around Fort Lauderdale at around 6:45AM. We were not suppose to be at the port till 1PM so we drove around Fort Lauderdale and visited the Seminole Hard Rock Resort where we had a wonderful breakfast. We also took an everglades airboat tour prior to the cruise.
After our little improve shore excursion around South Florida, we returned our rental to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location at the Miami Airport, boarded the shuttle to the airport terminal where we took a cab from the Miami Airport to the cruise ship terminal. We got to the terminal at around 12PM and was not onboard the ship till around 2PM. Of all the cruises I been on, this was by far the longest, and chaotic, embarkation process ever. Took us a good 2 hours before we set foot onto the ship.
Once onboard the ship, we went to our balcony stateroom on deck 6. The stateroom was very spacious. It had alot of storage spaces around the cabin, 2 beds, and a couch. The Balcony was very big and had 3 chairs and a table. The only downside was the sheets on one of the bed that seemed to be dirty and took four days worth of calls to get the sheets changed. There was a noticeable stain on the blanket that showed that proved that they never changed the sheets. In addition to the sheet, the nightstand had various assortment of gum on the back which we did not noticed till I moved the nightstand to try and get something that had slipped through the back. Aside from the nightstand and sheets, the rest of the cabin met my expectations. The beds were high enough off the floor that I was able to but all my suitcases under the bed with out having to force it under the bed like what I had to do on other ships.
The ship itself was really nice and very easy to figure out your way around. The difference between Triumph vs other Carnival ships that I've been on was that this was the first Carnival ships where all the games in the arcade actually worked. Everything else was your standard Carnival loungs but with a world theme to it. At night, it seems like the piano bar and disco was rockin whereas the casino seemed a bit dead and the Oxford lounge was pretty much a ghost town.
The entertainment was top notch Vegas style. Most of the shows were at the Rome Lounge. The lounge / theater seem to have all the latest in theater technology and could rival those theaters on Broadway and at the lastest casino in Vegas. The shows held in the Rome Lounge included the Welcome Aboard show, Wonderful World, Century Cafe, Magic Shows, Comedy Show, and other various production.
There were two theater production shows, Wonderful World featured amazing sets and awesome lighting effects. In addition to the sets, the show was very upbeat and took you around the world. Century Cafe on the other end uses one set that was transformed to fit the decade that the scene takes place, unlike Wonderful World, Century Cafe had a really slow starts till the last 25% of the show where it starts to pick up.
The other entertainment, including the Welcome Aboard show, was basically what you would expect from Carnival or any other cruise line with the exception of the Magic Show. The magic show was very Vegas-Style and have amazing sets and lighting effects. (They even have show girls to make it more Vegas-ish) They pretty much went all out with the magic show, similar to Siegfried and Roy and other high end magic show in Vegas. The big surprise was the Adult Magic show they had later in the night. According to the cruise director, it was the first ever adult magic show at sea. The Adult Magic show was not as flashy as the regular magic show, but it is something different. For those that want more details, lets just say that the adult magic show featured more skin than what you would find in any other public space on the ship and is not recommended for the younger folks.
The dining experience was about average and on par with other cruise line, the food was not the best, but not the worst, in the industry. But I was happy with the 5 lobster tail that I had on the first formal night. Room Service was also on par with that on other cruise line, only difference is, I had roomservice on the Balcony which was an awesome experience and that in itself make the cost of getting a balcony worth it. Like other cruises, there was basically an endless supply of free food.
The service was, again, on par with most other cruises I've been on and meet my basic expectation from the crew of the ship. The only area that fell below my expectation was the room steward and the area that exceeded was the dining room staff.
Now on to the ports! We visited Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios. Getting off the ship was really easy and fast at all 3 ports. We docked at both Cozumel and Ocho Rios and tender at Grand Cayman. There were virtually no build up or lines when getting off or back on the ship. It was a really good flow of people while we were at all 3 ports. We did Shore Excursions in all three ports, and all three were worth the money, however, one of the tours I might not want to do again even though it was a good experience.
First excursion was SeaTrek and Snorkle which we did did on our own. All I know when we got to Cozumel was that its cheaper to to SeaTrek on our own than book it through Carnival as we will save about $30/person. From reading CruiseCritic's Cozumel Forum, I also know that SeaTrek is located south of the downtown Cozumel. With those information, we just started walking south and after a while I started to rethink if we were going the right direction, just so happen, I look up and saw a sign pointing to Cozumel Insider. I also recalled that someone from Cozumel Insider reply to one of my post regarding SeaTrek so I follow the sign to Cozumel Insider and I met a friendly lady there and she helped us book a SeaTrek adventure and pointed us in the right direction. Turns out, SeaTrek was just 3 buildings away from Cozumel Insider, I just had to walk 3 more building south. Anyways, SeaTrek was amazing! Because we booked it ourself, we got a private SeaTrek tour and a private Snorkle tour for $59. Doing it this way, we saved $60 all together and had a private version of the tour. In addition to SeaTrek, we also did the Cozumel Miniture Golf which was a miniture golf course around a tropical garden with geckos roaming around.
At Grand Cayman we did the Cayman Pirate Encounter tour through Carnival. The reason why I didn't book the tour sepereate was because I was not able to get a schedule of when the Priate Ship cruise departs for the public aside from the one that show a cruise leaving right when our ship leave port. This is also the excursion that I enjoyed but would not do again. It was a experience, everyone have fun, but its also one of those thing that you would only do once and never again. The cruise was fun and we enjoyed seeing the pirate terrorizing the kids and two "evil" adults but it got old fast and by the time we got to the swim stop, it seemed that everyone just want off the pirate ship.
In Ocho Rios, we did the Canopy Adventure and that was the best excursion in my life! It was a rush flying through the rainforest on a zip line, everyone should do it, just keep in mind, theres alot of walking involved.
The cruise was an wonderful experience and, like my other cruises, a experience that I'll never forget. The only downside was disembarkation, which like the embarkation process was a long process which at the end I kindda found pointless because after all the time spent waiting in line, when we got to customs, we handed our document to the custom officals and all they did was like ok and let us go, didn't even question us or anything which seemed kindda weird since they questioned everyone else infront of us and behind us.
After the cruise we stayed at the DoubleTree Oceanpoint, this is worth mentioning because it was a nightmare getting to from the port. We spent 45 minutes trying to get a cab or shuttle to get us there and no one would take us to the hotel because they were all going to the Miami Airport. We asked one of the Port of Miami staff how we can get to our hotel and he said to take a cab and I explained to him the situation and he told me that "they prob wont take you because its close enough that they make more money taking people to the airport" We ended up found a cab driver that would take us and told us that its not that far, so we hopped in and took a cab to the hotel but they took us wrong DoubleTree, the taxi driver ended up taking us to the DoubleTree Surfcomb, which was on the same street as the DoubleTree Oceanpoint and we spent a few minutes arguing with the taxi driving over how many locations DoubleTree have on that street. We ended up getting out of the cab and the DoubleTree Surfcomb helped us get to the right DoubleTree a few miles away.
The DoubleTree Oceanpoint is a really nice property located in Sunny Isle, right between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The hotel is right on the beach and have a really nice pool and two nice hot tub, one of the hot tub even have a waterfall going into it.
Overall, this was an interesting cruise experience and was worth every penny!