We are not new to cruising. This is our 6th overall and our 5th on Carnival. This cruise was very last minute as we got a "deal" from the Players Club in mid-December and booked on New Year's Eve to sail on January 13. Part of the deal was an upgrade to a balcony....more about that later.
Arrived in Galveston on Sunday evening and stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites at 61st and Seawall. Very clean and they had a good breakfast the next morning. There were a few quirks with our check-in but all was taken care of fairly quickly. We ate supper at the Tortuga Mexican Kitchen (basically the same parking lot) which was great as usual.
Arrival and embarkation was very, very smooth. We left the motel at 9:30 am to head to Lighthouse Parking. There was a shuttle waiting for us and we were at the port in no time. We gave our bags to a porter and headed to check-in. We were through security and up the escalator and getting our sign and sail cards by 10:30 am. Very, very easy. We only had about a 30 minute wait before they started boarding. On the ship, we help a few newbies about where we were and where to go and headed to the Lido. We tried Guys Burgers for lunch and I must say they were wonderful as was the Red Frog Beer. Not big beer drinkers but wanted to give the new stuff a try. I really liked it. We wandered a bit and went to cabin at 1:30. Bags were not there so we wandered around some more looking into shops. At that time we found the maître de and switched to early dining (late was all that was available since we booked last minute).
Back to cabin, unpacked, muster drill and sail away on our balcony.
Cabin: We upgraded to a balcony ONLY because of the special deal we got. All balconies were the same price to we chose an aft wrap since I had heard so much about them. Gotta say.....I'm not sure. First, it was January and it was coo and windy. Second, it was just my husband and I. If it had been warmer and we'd had friends or family, we might have enjoyed it more. Our room size was cut down quite a bit because of the balcony (We had ocean view directly below this one on Main deck last time). Will I get another balcony??? If I get a very good deal and if I can get one on the side. Our stewards were wonderful and as always everything was clean and tidy.
Food: We ate all evening meals in the dining room. Wait staff was superb as was the food. I don't think we found anything we did not enjoy. All of our breakfast were from the buffet. Standard fair but still very good for buffet food.....both hot and cold. We ate one lunch in the dining room and it was good. As I said before, Guys Burgers was great as was the Blue Iguana Taco/Burrito Bar. These were great additions to food venues. Chopsticks and the Deli are still open but will have a line at peak times. Our tip is to eat at non-peak times......like lunch at 11 am. If you wait til noon, you will wait in long lines.
Entertainment: We went to the last part of "Wonderful World" It is very good and they have very talented people performing. If you enjoy musical type programs, you will thoroughly enjoy this. We stayed up late one night to see the Adult Only Comedian. It was good and he was funny. Some of the things he said got a little out of hand as far as I was concerned, but that was strictly my preference. We also attended our favorite, the Game of Love, and this time ended up on stage. We had a great time!!! And people remembered us and talked to us about it for the rest of the cruise. We even won the coveted Ship on a Stick!!!
Excursions: We booked a Carnival excursion (which I normally do not do) in Progresso. We wanted to go to Merida and just did not want to take a chance having bus trouble on the way back. I must say this was the best decision we made. Our tour guide, Carlos, was awesome. We learned so much about the Mayan culture. We saw so many things I don't think we would have seen on our own. We are both so glad to have chosen this. We had a Mayan lunch, which was actually fajitas but were totally different that what we think of. The accept dollars, but be ready to do the conversion. They will help you, though.
In Cozumel, we walked about 3/4 mile to Discover Mexico and really enjoyed it. The cost was $34 (I had printed a coupon from internet). There was a video presentation, an art showing with many different mediums, and building replicas of the 3 "ages" of Mexico. Being an ex-history teacher, my husband really enjoyed this.
Debarkation: Fairly smooth. We docked an hour early so debarkation began early. We had zone 19 and when we were finally called we made our way down. The warehouse was a nightmare. It is always congested but seemed worse this time. The wait for a porter wasn't too long but the line after you got your porter was very long. Don't get me wrong, the wait still wasn't bad.....just longer than the 3 other times I'd been there. Lots of passengers that were not very courteous. Still we were through customs (carried out 6 bottles of liquor with no questions asked), to the Lighthouse bus, in our car and driving out of Galveston by 10:45 am. But we had a long 12 hours home!!
Overall the trip was very good. Things were smooth. All Carnival employees were friendly and accommodating. Tours were great. Food was very good. Will I cruise again.....you betcha!! Will I cruise on the Triumph again.....in a heartbeat!!!