We arrived late Friday night (2/16/07) and stayed at the Airport Holiday Inn, although we called that morning to request 2 double beds as they suggested, we were given 1 King and they had no other rooms available. The four of us got cozy in the king. The next morning although they told us the free shuttles were full until 1pm the previous night, upon asking for information to get a taxi, the sweet lady behind the counter got us on the 10am free shuttle. We arrived at the port at about 10:30 and on the ship by 11:30 as part of the first passengers on board after a school field trip full of kids boarded. I have to honestly say, as much as I tried to talk myself into being excited about the Triumph, (of course I was excited about the trip, just not so much about the boat or the line) I was not fully able to convince myself that Carnival might be as good as RCCL. Well, I am happy to say that the Triumph and Carnival Cruise Line exceeded my expectations in all areas except 1.
We had room 9273, which was the first balcony room we ever had. We will NEVER go back to just a ocean view, we are definitely hooked. The room was big enough for the four of us. Although, I would not want another room directly across from the elevators again because of the rowdys late at night after a few cocktails. The room was kept cleaned twice a day as expected, although we never met our steward so I can not name him/her. We left a note once and an ashtray magically appeared for our balcony that night after dinner.
We dined each night (5:45)in the Paris Upper Dining Room, our booth for four was one table away from the back of the ship so we were able to watch the sun set each night towards the mid to end of our trip. Our wait staff was attentive and fast. Each night there was entertainment by some of the wait staff, our guys (Sherwin and Sergiu) did not participate which was okay with us as there was never a 2 hour dinner, we just left the table and watched from the balcony. The latest we got out was one night at 7:10, which was perfect as our kids wanted to do the Camp Carnival activities as soon as they could.
Sunday all day and most of the night it was chilly and ROCKIN. A couple informed us that the waves were 13 feet (don’t know if this is right although my stomach would agree). We ended up purchasing at a whopping $50 Bonine and wrist pressure bands (which most of the crew was wearing). Most of the passengers all day and night walked as if they were drunk as they tried to catch their footing which would have been humorous if I was not feeling so yucky. In the past 15 years this was our 8th cruise, this was the first time I have experienced the rocking boat much less seasickness.
First stop was Cozumel where from this board we found the information on Paradise Beach. We took a taxi at $15, although I knew this was not accurate, I forgot to check my notes so I did not argue. PB was all that that this family of four could have asked for, beautiful beach, great weather, clean facilities lots of fun. Drinks and food were awesome as was the staff. Should we come back to Cozumel again, we will come back for sure. Twelve dollars was the cost of the ride back.
Next stop was Grand Cayman, again from this board we found Captain Marvin. We booked the ½ day snorkel sting ray trip. Wow! I can not say how GREAT this trip, the boat, the crew was. Fantastic! They were so very informative, helpful and knowledgeable! Once we got to the sting rays there was a tour group from a cruise excursion of at least 100 to 125 people! There was no way they could have got the experience that our group of 24 did at probably ½ the price for what we got. The video guy captured everything from the boat ride, sting rays and he scuba dived and taped us as we snorkeled from the bottom looking up. He stopped and captured a lot of what we were viewing. We brought enough money for he trip and tip but forgot our credit card for the dvd. We will absolutely contact him shortly for the dvd. He showed us some of what he captured and it looked great.
Last stop was Jamaica where we contacted Phil Layafette for the Dunns and Tubing tour. Phil is a great man, informative, funny and honest. My discomfort had absolutely nothing to do with him at all. Phil let us know what to expect and how to deal with certain pushy vendors. The falls were more that I could have expected, it was hard in lots of areas but so very worth it. We had 2 guides who were all over the place. They were truly amazing in their skill. We were also fortunate to have stood next to a young married couple who helped my daughter the entire way as well. The trip up was great. At the end, my husband gave one of the guides a $20 and thanked him the first guide immediately disappeared and the next guide jumped with his hand out saying they do not split tips and it is only fair that the amount we gave the first guide we should give him. We could have walked away but we thought, these guys kept our kids safe throughout the trip, so he also got a twenty, but the deal left us feeling uncomfortable. We tried to find the exit which did not lead through the markets as I don’t like to play the game, it is not for me. If I see something I like which is a reasonable price, I pay that price. We ended up going through anyway since we could not find the other exit and was immediately bombarded and harassed upon entry until exit. The first vendor we came to after we told him nicely, No thank you, immediately started cussing at us beginning with the F word. This obviously prompted a brisk walk through the entire area, as each vendor attempted to deal with us. We were the only group going through so our experience was probably not typical, but we were uneasy. Huge note as this was later discussed with a few people, never tell your name as they will carve it in the hopes of guilting you into buying.
The tubing was fun as well, but again, we made a stop where it was obvious they expected you to buy stuff if you make a deal. At the end there was a very nice lady who if she had the type of hat my daughter was looking for, we would have bought something from her. We signed her book, checked out her store and thanked her. We could have gone through Fern Gulley, but I had, had enough. Phil dropped us at Margaritaville where we had lunch & drinks, my kids played on the water slide and then we shopped. I would like to go back there as it was so lush and beautiful but I will do more homework next time. Which is to bad as I have read more negative responses to Jamaican vendors than positive. Maybe if we had gone with a cruise excursion here with more people, I may not have been so uncomfortable…
My daughter stayed in the 6 to 8 group kids club and loved every minute of it. My son was in the 9 to 11 and stayed for most of the activities but I did allow him to sign himself out occasionally which he did a few times only to go back when the next activity he wanted to participate in. The only negative side of Triumph which I have not encountered on 5 RCCL cruises was the lack of beach chairs. I did notice a lot of posts about chair hogs, and this is the truth! Both days we went to the pools there were no chairs. Both days we sat at the edge of the pools watching our kids. The second morning as I headed for breakfast there were only a handful of people and every single chair had a towel on it. My thought on this was RCCL separates the slide from the pool, this might be a good idea with Carnival as that entire area was all together. Of course maybe the newer ships are like this, I will find out I am sure as I will be back on Carnival for sure. Especially since the price is so much better than RCCL.