Prior to this cruise, we have been on four other ones; our first was our Honeymoon in 2000 on the Paradise. Wife had cruised once before on the Imagination. All of our cruises have been on a Carnival Fun Ship. This Cruise set sail on Saturday, December 2, 2006 out of Miami, Florida for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean. We would be calling on the Ports of: San Juan Puerto Rico on Monday, St. Thomas USVI on Tuesday, and St. Maarten on Wednesday. With days out at sea listed as Sunday, Thursday, and Friday. Our Cruise Director was Paul Stanley who is from England. Traveling on this Carnival Cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph is my wife and I. Wife occasionally uses a wheelchair due to Spinal Bifida. Our room aboard was on deck 2, main deck, cabin 2347 with an ocean view via picture window.
Embarkation: Living in Miami we had two choices to drive ourselves or be dropped off. We chose to be dropped off and save $105.00. Parking at the port has become $15.00 per day. Even if you have a Disabled Parking Permit. With exceptions being according to Florida DOT exceptions are made only if the car/truck/van is equipped with ramps, lifts, or hand controls. For those who wish to drive down, I suggest you look for hotels where they offer park and cruise. I learned of this when I sailed out of Cape Canaveral. With a one night stay at the hotel pre or post cruise you are permitted to park your vehicle for the length of your cruise. The hotel in Cape Canaveral dropped us off at the pier and picked us up when we arrived as part of the park and cruise deal.
We arrived at the Port of Miami at 10:45am. With my wife in the wheelchair we were escorted to the front of the line and had our Sail and Sign cards within 5 min. We were given a VIP priority boarding pass, and escorted to a VIP waiting area. We waited about 10 min then we were escorted again to another sitting area. Here they were selling bottle water for $1.00. We waited another 10 minuets then a lady came out, took our pass and escorted us to the ship. We were stopped for Carnival Embarkation photo. Which took three attempts as the camera was malfunctioning. Then with Sail and Sign cards in hand we were walking onto the ship just after 11:30am.
At the security check point to get your picture taken for the SS Card. My card was malfunctioning. A security officer escorted us to the purser's desk to get that taken care of. However, I was directed by the purser's deck to come back within the hour as they were not quite ready. So my wife and I headed on up to deck 9 lido deck for lunch. Lunch was really good, I went and picked us a cheese burger and fries, roast beef with au jus and baked bread, and I stopped off at the Hong Kong Noodle Company where I picked up fried rice and spicy beef. Then we went back to the purser's desk, and took care of my Sail and Sign card. Since we had London Dinning room forward at 6:15pm which is right next to the purser's desk; I went over to verify where our table assignment was. Using a wheelchair we wanted no surprises: i.e. finding a booth or obstructed pathway. We then explored the ship and checked out our cabin. Wife loved the cabin. While cabin 2347 is not an handicap accessible room we had plenty of space. The wheelchair was never in the way. Our suitcases were able to fit underneath the bed for the first time not taking up space in the closet. The bathroom did have a small step to get into, which was not hard for my wife to do. The shower head was adjustable. The biggest draw back to the overall area of cabin/bathroom was the placement of towels. There was one shelf six feet off the floor above the toilet. My wife is 4.9; she could never reach the towels. As I am 6.0, I had no problem.
At muster drill, we gathered our life jackets and went to our station E. As we approached the area a crew member stopped us and asked us to follow him. He led us to deck 4 Oxford bar/internet cafe/golf simulator. He asked us to wait there. Then another crew member arrived and waited with us. Muster drill for us was a total joke. There was no talk or discussion as to what would take place for us in the event of a real emergency. Once muster drill was over we headed to the elevators to get us a good spot for Sail Away We stopped on Deck 10, and picked us up one of the drinks of the day the carnival fun ship. Once we sailed away and the sun had set we stopped off at our cabin and dropped off the life jackets, and then we were off to dinner. Dinner was good, we both ordered the Grilled Satay of Chicken Tenderloin. Wife choose Sweet and Sour Shrimp, I choose the Grilled New York Strip and Potato. I also tried the broiled fillet of salmon. I did not care for the salmon. We were seated at a table for four. The other couple was about 65. We are 36/38. We chose to change our seating assignment the next day. We just did not click with the other couple. Our server that night was headwaiter PT. His service was ok, Service of courses seemed slow. Although he was working by himself, as I never saw an assistant. After dinner we headed up to deck 5 aft to the Big Easy Bar. Being on Cruise Critic we had talked with the piano player: Mark asongulove and looked forward to hearing him play. There we waited, and waited about 9:45 a Carnival employee came by and informed those waiting that the piano bar would not be open that night as the piano player Mark had been sick since the past Thursday. At least he told us that he should be able to perform the next day. So we called it a night.
Day 2 Sea Day
We woke up early and headed o deck 10 to see the sunrise. It was very windy. After our pictures we went to change for the day and off to breakfast in Paris aft open seating. I ordered Eggs Benedict which was awful. The sauce looked curdled and seemed to be separating. So I had the server take it back. I then took French toast my wife just took cereal. The Seas were really rough. At 9:45am we went to the super shopper talk on St Thomas in the Rome Lounge. The ship was really rocking and rolling and my wife was turning green. So in the middle of the talk I took her back to the cabin to rest. Then up to the purser's desk for the sea sickness pill. There was a line and they were giving them out as if it were candy. Heading back to the elevators crew members were placing barf bags in front of every elevator. We heard we could experience possible 13 foot waves; all open decks above deck 9 were closed off. The show for that night was canceled. We took lunch in our cabin via room service. Room Service seemed to be slow at times. That night was Captains cocktail party and formal dinner. At the cocktail party the servers kept by passing our table. So I had to chase after one of them. All she had was Champagne. I asked her to refill and come by our table. She never did. The horsdouvers that were served were disgusting. It resembled a half cook pot sticker. Our dinner time was now 8:00pm in Paris dinning room aft on the second floor. Our table was 428 our head waitress Ulla, her assistant Hilario. We were also served by Miguel headwaiter. Miguel was not really part of our service team. But he had a table for 2, table for 4 and a table for 10. The table for 4 only showed up at formal nights. The table for 10 always showed up at 9pm. So he really only had a table for two that first hour. After our first night at dinner, each night after the extra chair was removed so my wife just rolled in and was seated, our iced tea was there and waiting for us. Service was exceptional and I could not have asked for better.
All three meals were open seating as we were in San Juan from 5 until 11:30 with our sail away at midnight. We took no shore tour. We simply walked around and took pictures. We made three short stops, Senor Frogs, Hard Rock, and Walgreens to get our souvenirs. We walked to El Morro, along the wall and back to the ship. We stopped for dinner in the dinning room, and then called it a night. There really was no entertainment going on in the ship this night. Mark had told us the night before that he would not be performing as we would be in San Juan. At 11:30 we did go up to sample the Mexican Midnight Buffet. Most of it was pretty good. I preferred the chips and salsa. One thing to note happened here. At the gangway, the photographers refused to take our picture with my wife in the wheelchair. This forced me to go to the purser's deck and complain. That was settled then and there. It never happened again. In fact the photographers seemed more courtesies the rest of the cruise.
We purchased the Sky Ride tickets on board for $15.00 per person and saved Three to five dollars. I was assured before purchasing the tickets that this was an accessible attraction. The only thing accessible is to get up to the ticket window. Then there are about 40 steps everyone must climb. They have no elevator. So we took our tickets back and returned to the ship for a complete refund. After that was taken care of, we took a taxi into town and did some shopping. If you wish to purchase any liquor do it here. Your allowance is 5 litters per person. Prices cannot be beat. Godiva Chocolate liquor here at home $35.00 at St. Thomas I got it for $17.00. Plus we bought Chococo a VI product which cost $7.00 per litter. But be sure to do your research, Starbucks coffee liquor was $26.00 while here at home it runs for $18.00. In Town, there are times that the streets and pathways are rough for those in a wheelchair. Havensight Mall is easier and better for wheelchair users. But we do love going into town and the pictures you can get.
We docked and took a cab to Marigot French side. Being Wednesday their tent/flea market was set up and running. The taxis are unmetered. We paid $16.00 with tip to get there and $18.00 to get back. The trip took about 35 minutes both ways. There were some rough spots for my wife in her wheelchair. But we found pretty much everything accessible. It was here in Marigot that we picked up some nice gifts for family and friends. After we returned to dock, we took the water taxi to Phillipsburg downtown. There are three main shopping areas; boardwalk, front st, and back st with a few side streets connecting front and back streets. For all you Sci Fi Fans be sure to stop at Planet Paradise The Yoda Guy Nick Malley who helped create Yoda has his studio here. I picked up some one of a kind Star Wars art work. It was neat to see his work and the chance to meet him. After some more shopping we returned to the ship.
Thursday and Friday were days out at sea. We spent a better portion of our time relaxing and reading. Thursday was past guest party and last formal dinner. Service at the past guest party was better. Each time my glass was empty the wait staff placed another drink down for me. Don't know what it was but was blue or green in color. My wife's drink was red in color. So loud you could not here what the names were. But the drinks were good. Dinner was Prime Rib for the both of us. I also ordered the grilled shrimp. Friday, was the first time I ate all 5 courses, loved everything. All the meals were good, never cold unless it was suppose to be, i.e. shrimp cocktail and chilled soups, Mango cream soup was good. As I said the service we received in Paris was outstanding.
After dinner each night, wife and I went one floor up to deck 5 for our favorite place on the whole ship the Big Easy Bar the bar was not much to look at, thousands of oyster shells make up the ceiling and the walls. But the man behind the piano was Fantastic. Mark, who played the piano each night, was awesome. Each night he gave you a show. Part comedian, part singer& all entertainer. We never made it to the shows in Rome Lounge. It was here at the Big Easy Bar we meet some of our fellow Cruise Critics, Kathy from Maine and Steph and Jim from New York.
A couple of notables, Deck 12 there is a mini golf course. There is also a golf simulator on deck 4 Oxford Bar half hour $25.00. The Sports Bar is never mentioned at all in the Caper. It is like it doesn't exist. But it is on deck 5 between the casino and ship shops. It was always empty, each time I looked and always playing a soccer game. If you wanted football you had to go to your cabin which pulled in all the networks. Speaking of the in cabin TV there were three movies I noticed that was being played on the all movie channel. X-men 3, Devil Wears Prada, and Jackass 2. Internet use, was .75 cents a minute, or purchase a plan that gave you a price of .40 cents.
Debarkation was a bit chaotic, start and stop. They said it was because of congestion in the lines by having too many people at once. Finding luggage was easy, finding a porter to help not so easy. Once I did find one, it was hard to keep up with him. But he took us to were our friend was waiting. All in all, we have always found Carnival Cruises to be relaxing and enjoyable. We are already planning our next one. Carnival has always been good to us, if there was a problem they have taken care of it.