To begin I’d like to say that I’m an avid traveler both on cruises and on land. In fact, the cruise I just completed was my 19th cruise since 2000. This particular cruise review is based on my recent experience on the Carnival Triumph which is currently sailing from Galveston, Texas. The Triumph has a rotating cruise schedule whereby there are two back to back 5-day cruises, then a 4-day itinerary, then back to the two 5-day itineraries, then 4-day, etc, etc. For the 5-day itinerary you depart Galveston and immediately have a two nights and a full day at sea. Then you arrive into Progreso, Mexico as the first port of call. There is one day at this location after which you sail to Cozumel for a day, then back to sea for two nights and a full day back to Galveston. If you book the 4-day itinerary you will depart Galveston with two nights and a day at sea. Then you’ll arrive into Cozumel for a day then back to sea for a full day back to Galveston.
I have to say that this particular trip for me was a last minute thought. I had retired from the Air Force for a second time and needed a break. My husband was not able to go but he suggested that I head out and enjoy some decompression time on my own. Well, it ended up being an amazing little trip and my expectations were greatly exceeded!!
EMBARKATION: We live in Houston so it’s super easy to drive to Galveston and board the ship. After I arrived at the port, I pulled up and dropped off my bag with a porter so I didn’t have to drag it from the parking lot. This ended up working out really well and I’m glad I thought ahead on this one. Then I went directly to parking lot A which is close to the port entrance. Parking for the 5-day cruise is $50.00. However, I’m a veteran and the parking lot offers free parking for VA service connected veterans! Great deal!! After parking there was a shuttle sitting right by my vehicle so I jumped on with my backpack and was taken directly to the entrance for check-in. Since I was booked into an Ocean Suite, it enabled me to use Priority Boarding which was COMPLETELY empty! Meanwhile, the main line had 1,000 people waiting! I walked right up to security, they scanned my passport, I went through x-ray and was taken to the Priority Check-in room. I was immediately checked in with no issues. After that I was granted immediate access to the ship. I boarded about 12:30 PM and the ship was scheduled to depart at 4PM so I had some time on the ship to figure out the layout prior to departure. Also, while some of the cabins were not ready, mine was so I was able to get comfortable in my cabin before departure.
BAGGAGE: My bag arrived about an hour prior to departure and within minutes I had everything unpacked and my cabin setup for the trip. Super easy!!
OCEAN SUITE: This cruise was only my second Carnival cruise but I was immediately pleased at my cabin. We usually travel in first class and opt for suites whenever we cruise. This particular cabin was PERFECT for one or two people. The size of the cabin was very comfortable and there was a ton of storage space. When I booked the cruise I was going to get a regular balcony stateroom but decided to treat myself in spite of the solo traveler cost for traveling alone. Just as a point of reference, the ocean suite for one person was about $1750 for the 5-day itinerary. I thought that was a pretty decent price. The regular balcony cabin was going to run me about $1300 as a solo travel so the suite was well worth the extra $450. The cabin had a nice dressing room with a desk, the bathroom had a nice whirlpool tub along with a shower and there was granite counters and table tops throughout the entire suite. Additionally, there was a full bar stocked in the refrigerator and plenty of stemware, cocktail glasses and the like. Overall, as this size cabin is concerned, it was one of my favorite layouts when compared to other cruises. If you can swing the price, I HIGHLY recommend this category of stateroom!
FOOD: As I mentioned I’m an avid cruiser and have been on cruises departing from U.S. ports as well as European ports. The last few years we’ve been sailing a lot on Norwegian Cruise Lines and have enjoyed NCL pretty well. But one of our complaints with NCL is their pre-packaged/prepared foods. Even in the dining room you can tell many food items are just taken out of packages and heated up. We confirmed this before on a couple cruises by asking some of the servers. But, on Carnival, almost all their food is actually prepared on board. I was HIGHLY surprised at how good the food was. But then I remembered when we sailed on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa a few years ago that they food was also good on that cruise as well. I ate in every part of the ship. Since I was alone I didn’t eat much in the dining room but tried it once so I could ensure my review was accurate. I also ate a few times in Guy’s Hamburger joint and also at the pizza place on the aft end of the ship. I was in LOVE with the pizza! Thin cruise fired oven pizza handmade right in front of you. I got pizza at least a half dozen times throughout the trip (especially after having some late night drinks). There was always a queue but it moved quickly and it was worth the wait.
ROOM SERVICE: I decided to have room service on a couple of occasions. I didn’t do the breakfast service but did have a couple sandwiches (which are all like little pannini’s). The food (including desserts) was above average and worth the wait.
BARS: I had read about The Alchemy Bar prior to departure and ended up hanging out there every evening. If you part of the LGBT community this is the bar where the nightly “Friends of Dorothy” get together was held. Regarding that, there were only a few gay people on board so it was fun meeting others. I met some really nice people (both gay and straight) in this bar. The bar is wonderful! The drinks are amazing and I fell in love with their version of a Manhattan. But they also offer a mini martini tasting the first night at sea so I highly recommend giving that a try. Then you can taste several things and pick a favorite for later. Like I said, I was at The Alchemy Bar ever evening and met up with some of the fellow passengers I met during the trip. We had a LOT of fun and good laughs!
CASINO: The casino is really nice but like most casino’s smoking is allowed and it’s quite annoying to me. So I would go in the afternoons when it was quiet. The smoke was a lot less so I felt like I didn’t have to rush.
ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were great and I loved the comedy club on board! They have a “clean” version of some of the comedy acts early in the evening that are PG-13’ish but after 11 the same comedians come back and get really raunchy (which of course is the fun part)! As far as entertainment there is ALWAYS something going on so you won’t be bored.
SHOPPING ON BOARD: Shopping is just average, nothing Earth shaking to mention.
CABIN STEWARDS: The cabin stewards were amazing and on top of everything at all times. I never had one issue. I would ensure I left the cabin in the morning for breakfast and by the time I would come back the cabin was made up. In the evenings (and after my daily nap) I would be out about 8PM and as with most cruise lines, my cabin was made up for the evening immediately after I left. I called out to my cabin steward twice and he was right there.
EXCURSIONS: I rarely ever do excursions when cruising. I’ve done many in the beginning years of cruising but don’t book any others for ports of call I’ve been too many times (like the ones on this itinerary). I am a ship lover so while in port when everyone is off the ship, I really enjoy my pool time, sauna/steam room time and other activities without all the people.
SPA: I opted for a 75 minute Bamboo Massage. I am a licensed massage therapist so I’m always leery about massages when I don’t know the therapist. I usually like men to work on me. As a guy, I want another guy just because I want the most pressure possible. But I have to say, my bamboo massage was really nice and the female therapist was able to provide more than adequate pressure without being dangerous. She hit a couple spots and I about flew off the table. So overall I would recommend the bamboo massage if you need extra pressure. I also did a facial while I waited for my massage time (I had arrived a little early and asked if there was another treatment I could do until the massage started). The facial was great. So much so that I violated my own cruising rule about buying products from the spa. I ended up buying $500 worth of products but I loved them and since they were all organic, I was happy to spend the money. The products are supposed to be enough for 8 months of use. After just two days using the Elemis products my face looked even more clean than usual and I swear that my lines had disappeared. If you opt for a spa treatment, don’t feel pressured to buy anything. Many times I actually tell the therapist of the treatment that I sail a lot and have purchased all the products I’m interested in and just want the treatment without the sales job. They are happy to skip all that at the end. That way you can just relax and not feel stressed about having to turn them down when asked if you want to purchase something.
DISEMBARKATION: Routine, nothing much to report here. Again, I was in a suite so I was able to disembark very early and was off the ship, through customs and in the car (via the shuttle back to the parking lot) within a short period of time. I was home in Houston prior to Noon that day and was unpacked before 1PM.
SUMMARY: In closing this cruise was just PERFECT! I wasn’t sure how I would like the 5-day itinerary (as most of our cruises have been 7 or more days). I had originally thought that by the time you get unpacked it would be time to pack again. But it didn’t feel like that at all. I felt like the trip and number of days were perfect for a nice little getaway. Coupled with the fact that Galveston is so close to home, it just made everything even more relaxing not having to worry about flights and such. You may recall that the Carnival Triumph was the news worth ship that became stranded in 2012 because of an engine room fire. Passengers were stuck at sea for over a week as they were tugged back to Mobile, Alabama. But after that the ship went into dry dock and was refurbished into the beautiful ship it is now. As I stated before, my expectations were greatly exceeded regarding every detail of the trip. I loved this ship a lot and have already told my husband that we’ll be rebooking on this cruise so we can go together (hopefully in the next couple of months). It’s so easy that it makes for a last minute getaway! If you’re considering booking on this itinerary/ship, you can tell by my review that it’s so worth the money. You will just love it!