My wife and I brought our four boys (23, 20, 19 and 12) on the Triumph for our second cruise as a family. We previously sailed on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Port Canaveral, Florida two years ago. I was a bit hesitant about the Triumph, given it's history and the reviews I have read here mentioning lingering odors. My wife has what seems to be a bionic nose as she can smell things the rest of us can't, but I am pleased to report that she didn't smell anything foul on the Triumph and overall we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise!
EMBARKATION - Galveston was 100% better than our previous experiences at Port Canaveral. I had wanted to book Faster to the Fun after reading posts here, but found it to be sold out. No matter though as we were eating Guy's Burgers within 30 minutes of arriving in Galveston, so that's $100 saved! I parked in a private lot directly across the street from the ship. I had reserved a spot through Galveston Park N Cruise online for $37. When we arrived, we simply walked across the street directly into the terminal. It couldn't have been any easier. We dropped off our luggage and got through security without any problems at all.
ROOMS - We had two picture window rooms on the 2nd level. They were ready for us when we arrived and our room steward Boubon was there to introduce himself when we returned from lunch. I read several reviews with complaints about the stewards, but Boubon couldn't have been any better. We saw him every day and he was always willing to assist. He let me in the boys room several times as he saw me knocking on their door to wake them for breakfast. The only complaint I have about the rooms was that unlike the Ecstasy, there was no map channel or Cruise Director Fun Times show on TV. There were channels set up for them, but it was never on. The only way to see where we were was on a map they have set up on level 5 by the casino and it's just a pre-set sequence of lights indicating our route with a blinking light indicating where we were. That may be trivial to many people, but I enjoy watching the channel showing our location, speed, sea depth etc. that was offered on the Ecstasy.
DINING - We ate breakfast and lunch daily at the Lido deck buffet. The boys and I had Guy's Burgers several times as well. Everything was great. The lines weren't long and we were able to sit at the same table almost every meal so we all knew where to meet. The offerings are many. You have the usual buffet line plus a quick serve station for breakfast which just serves the basic eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes. There is also an omelet station for breakfast and separate deli and chopsticks stations for lunch. Again, no complaints with Lido. We did attempt to have breakfast in the Paris Dining Room one morning, but ended up walking out when we hadn't been served after waiting 45 minutes! Five of us had gotten our appetizers, but one was still waiting. The service there was terrible. As we left, we spotted the maître de and told him why we were leaving. He apologized profusely and offered to seat us elsewhere for immediate service, but we had already made up our minds to head to Lido and declined his offer.
For dinner we sat in the Upper London Dining Room for the early seating. Our servers, Benny, Rombat and And??? were great. The food was great. The service was great. The view wasn't so good though. We had a window table, but the only thing we could see was lifeboats. It would have been nice to see the water. Oh well. I don't understand the folks who have posted complaints about any of the food aboard the Triumph. We were completely satisfied with all aspects and dining is probably our favorite part of cruising!
ENTERTAINMENT - The nightly shows in the Rome Lounge were the typical song and dance routines. Nothing special. The one complaint I have is that the female dancers attire was PG-13 rated at best. Not a show went by without their bottoms being exposed to the crowd several times. I don't know why they deemed that necessary with a family show, but they sure aren't shy about flashing them! My older boys enjoyed it of course, but the 12 year old didn't need to see it. My favorite show was the Magic Show on the 4th night after leaving Cozumel. The Big Easy Show to close the cruise was nothing spectacular. Just more song and dance.
Other than that they had the usual stuff we've seen before. Bingo, Karaoke, Trivia, Battle of the Sexes, Newlywed Game, To Tell the Truth, Guest Talent Show etc. Honestly we were bored during the two Days at Sea as these other "shows" don't really entertain us. Maybe we are in the minority on that, but it's not our cup of tea. There was a close up magician on board who came to our dinner table one evening to do card tricks. He was very entertaining and had a show each night in the library which we would have loved to see, but unfortunately it was scheduled at 10:30 PM each night which was right in the middle of the comedy shows, so we never got to see him. I wish they had his show in the afternoon as we wouldn't have missed it, but we weren't about to miss the comedy shows!
There were two comedians on the ship. Caroline and Roman were both very good. Roman was our favorite. They each had a family friendly show followed by a rated R show later in the evening for a total of four shows each night. They were so good (and the other offerings were so lacking) that the comedy club was standing room only for each and every show. There were people standing outside the club watching and listening who couldn't get in. They need to expand the size of the comedy club. We realized quickly that we needed to get there very early to get ANY seat, never mind a good seat. We even sat through two hours of karaoke one night just so we would have good seats for the comedy show later. They really were the highlight of the entertainment for us.
The other complaint I would offer is that the Cruise Director Marcelo wasn't nearly as good as the CD's we had on the Ecstasy. To start with his accent (Chile) was so strong that I couldn't understand half of what he was saying. He also wasn't as funny as he seemed to think he was. Plus as I stated earlier, there was no telecast of the days activities as was done by the CD's on the Ecstasy. There was a channel promoting "Audio Fun Times", but there was never anything on it. I did see the Asst. CD one time at the Comedy Club and she was much better, but that was the only time I saw her in 5 days on board.
PORTS OF CALL - My wife is of the opinion that we need to have excursions pre-booked to fill any and all days at port. That's what we did for our honeymoon cruise as well as the Ecstasy cruise with the boys two years ago. Our Ecstasy cruise was altered due to weather, causing us to miss one port day altogether and have another rescheduled. This created havoc with our pre-scheduled plans and we spent a lot of time and effort rescheduling at the Excursion Desk. After that experience and reading posts here, I convinced her to play it differently this time around. The excursions at Progreso were so lacking that we didn't schedule anything. Instead we took the shuttle into town and played it by ear. They had a double decker bus offering a 25 minute tour for $5. We did that to see what else the town had to offer (not much). The bus ride was quite entertaining though as the wires draping across the street were mere inches from the top of the bus railings. This required anyone over 6 feet to duck down to avoid having their head cut off! After the bus ride, we walked down to the beach and around the town before returning to the bus station for a little flea market style shopping before returning to the ship.
For Cozumel, I had made reservations for an all inclusive day at Mr. Sanchos Beach Club directly though Cozumel Watersports online before we sailed. They only required a small deposit via Paypal ($45 for the 6 of us) and offered a 100% refund if you cancel for ANY reason. Their excursions are exactly the same as what Carnival offers, but at a discounted price. The day we arrived in Cozumel turned out to be a crappy weather day. It was cold and raining when we got to shore, so the beach didn't look like an attractive option for us. Knowing I could get a refund of our $45 deposit for Mr. Sanchos, we opted to visit another place I had seen on the Cozumel Watersports website, the Eco Park Adventure which offered horseback riding, zip lining, ATV's and paintball. We got a taxi and hired the driver to spend the day with us. The Eco Park was inland and when we arrived we were the only family there. Between the six of us we did each of the four offerings and had a GREAT time. My wife is a big time horseback riding fan and she was a bit disappointed by that activity as the ride consisted of a simple figure eight track repeated several times, but the other three activities were absolutely fabulous! The taxi driver then took us to the other side of the island to a restaurant on the ocean where we enjoyed lunch and swimming as the ocean side water was much calmer than the ship side. Once we returned back home to Texas, I emailed Cozumel Watersports requesting a refund of my deposit since we didn't go to Mr. Sanchos as planned. I was promptly granted a refund as requested once they confirmed we didn't show up at Mr. Sanchos. No questions asked! I urge anyone to us this option when visiting Cozumel. What a pleasure they were to deal with. Had we booked this same excursion through Carnival, it either would have been too late to make any changes, or other offerings may have been sold out. Cozumel Watersports is the way to go.
DISEMBARKATION - Almost as smooth as embarkation. We opted for self service disembarkation and were called to depart at 8:15. We were on the Lido deck for breakfast at the time as our printed material stated disembarkation wouldn't start until 9:00. Once we heard the announcement, we returned to our rooms to pick up our luggage and were off the ship and back in our van by 8:40. We would have been delayed much later as my 12 year old and I were sailing without passports. The passport lines were very short and the other four members of our party who had them were at customs in no time. Those of us with birth certificates only were placed in a looooong line. Fortunately for me, I had filled out the customs form under my name, so the passport only agent handling the rest of my family called us over and processed us all together. I did get a little feedback from the agent asking why I didn't have a passport like the rest of the family, but I endured that pretty easily with a couple of "yes sir" responses and we were on our way!
SUMMARY - Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise aboard the Triumph! There were no smells in any of the areas we visited. The staff and service were great. The ship was clean and impressive. The price was right for a family of six. We will not hesitate to sail Carnival again!