My family and I (husband and daughter 12, son 14) are back from our first cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph. This review is long, but I tried to think of the things that I wondered about before we went. If you are a previous cruiser you may want to skip this!
We flew from Reagan International into Fort Lauderdale ($600 for the four of us including taxes) as the flights were much cheaper. We then took a limo through Holland Limo company ($96 including tip) to the Hyatt Regency (Priceline 2 rooms for 40$ each). The Limo company was a special way to start things off. He stopped at a drug store so we could buy champagne to toast our cruise. The return trip was to be a Limo also, but the driver messed up and brought a town car. The company refunded the difference, but I would probably use a different company due to this mix up.
The Hyatt was beautiful and they gave us adjoining rooms with 1 king and the other with 2 doubles. I would definitely use Priceline and hope for this hotel again. We took a taxi to the Bayside mall for dinner and site seeing ($7.50 plus tip for the taxi). The next day we ate in the Hyatt. It was expensive ($50 for the 4 of us which included a cruise discount) but the service and food was excellent! We made a quick walk to a drug store for last minute items and then off to the Port at 11:30 for embarkment ($8.00 plus tip).
Getting there early was very helpful as we were on board in less than 30 minutes. No wait to speak of anywhere. (thanks to everyone who suggested going early)
The ship was beautiful. We were on floor 8 mid deck with a balcony. We got the balcony for only $200 more and I am so glad. We are probably now spoiled for this option. The four of us in the room was not too difficult, but we are RVers and are used to navigating the four of us in 34 foot RV. There was a queen bed a couch bed and a bed that folded down from the wall above the couch. My son was up there much of the time and it did not interfere with people sitting on the couch.
The carpet did appear stained as people stated BUT mid trip they replaced the carpet on our floor. No interruptions and they were so quick! We were also warned about people saving deck chairs and it being an issue. We did find that to be a true, but we went to the top deck where the water slide is and found deck chairs stacked up. There were always places around we just sometimes needed to look.
We went to the teen sign in that night and much to all of our disappointment there were almost no other teens there. The ones on board, and there were less than 20, were not going to the teen things. That meant our kids were each other's best friends for the voyage. This was one of our two disappointments about this trip. This meant less adult solo time but it was good to be with the kids too. I would probably pick a different time to have more kids or save lots and try to bring a friend for each (a wonderful but improbable dream).
San Juan was a cool place to see us cruise into. We arrived early and so our city tour started early. It was as people stated, not worth the time. Most things were closed. I would not do this again. My hubby and son were to do the bioluminescent canoe trip. It was highlighted the day before we arrived in San Juan. When they went to meet the crew at 5:00 the second disappointment - it was cancelled due to a full moon. It was the one thing I think Carnival handled very poorly. They should have contacted us earlier. They could have done something else, but we were already separated. My husband also found out that while you can bring wine to your room at embarkment in Miami, you cannot at the ports. It is taken until the end of the cruise.
Waking up in St. Thomas was awesome. It was an amazing view with all the sail boats and the Island behind them. Our day was almost ruined as we failed to turn our clocks back (despite repeated reminders from Carnival - but the craziness in San Juan had us side tracked) and missed our excursion The 5 star St. Johns snorkeling. I was in tears when I went to the Porters desk. Carnival was very gracious about it and gave us tickets for the afternoon five star excursion. This evened out the cancelled trip the day before. As we missed the earlier time we went shopping in St. Thomas in the morning - it cost I think $12 for the four of us to go to town. We didn't buy much but did get to see the town.
The five star St. John's trip was a wonderful trip. We had a great time. This was the first time the kids and I snorkeled in the "real" ocean (we snorkeled at Discovery Cove before) and it might not have been as amazing to people who do this regularly but it was beautiful for us.
St. Martin was also lovely and picturesque. We took the Island tour which gave us a view of both the Dutch and French side. We then took the water taxi to the boat (5.00 to ride all day per person) and change into swim suits. We returned to the beach on the water taxi and found some people offering 2 chairs, an umbrella and 2 complimentary drinks for $10 for as long as we wanted it. It was very easy to get around in St. Martin that I would easily go here without booking an excursion unless that activity was something I really wanted to do.
Food on the ship was very good in the dining room. The Pizza was okay and the buffet was okay - not spectacular, but not terrible either. In the dining room, our wait staff Ibolya (Romania) and Kenroy (Granada) and they did an amazing job! My husband did get more than one appetizer on some days with no problem. If we didn't finish our food they always checked to see if we liked it and offered other options. They did everything they could to make us comfortable. There were open seating nights and that service was not as good as our regular servers and made me feel lucky we were seated where we were! Kenroy's last night on the trip was the same as ours (for 2 months and then he was coming back) and we hope he is having the best time off!
The shows were great. The magician and jugglers were excellent. The music and dancing shows were very good as well. I did not stay up for the really late shows (my husband did for some and liked them) as I am early riser. They played bingo before every show and that got to be a bit much - it is very expensive at $10 or $20 for one play.
Sitting on the balcony at 5:30am was so relaxing (but made it hard to stay up for the late shows). We saw flying fish but nothing bigger than that. The room steward said that they saw a whale one day - but we missed it.
Used the internet cafe to check on work (70 cents per minute). They had a better deal on Friday so if you can wait until then minutes are cheaper (I think 30 minutes for $12). We bought soda cards for the kids and one for the adults that we used only one at a time. I am not sure we used it enough but then I didn't have to think about it when the kids wanted a soda. We also got room service several times and it was very good. The room staff did a great job of taking care of us. They made lovely little animals out of the towels. I made sure to thank him for them so he would know we liked seeing them. He was very patient about fitting room straightening around the kids and our room use. He cleaned the room at least 2 times each day.
Our limo (which ended up being a town car) was to pick us up at 10:00. They recommended a 9:30 pick up but I was worried that we would not be off the boat then so scheduled for 10:00. We could have taken early disembarkment if we wanted to transport our own luggage, but we had two not on wheels and decided against that. At 10:00 we were not off the ship yet so I called them and they asked that I call them again when we got off the boat. That occurred at 10:15 and by 10:30 we were through customs and immigration. We didn't take off at FLL until 3:30 but none of the Miami excursions allowed for a 3:30 FLL flight. We checked in at the airport and then caught a cab to Las Olas (I am not sure if we were allowed to do that or not but no one asked or questioned it) and ate at a lovely restaurant downtown (20 minutes and $15.00 for the taxi with tip).
Overall we had a wonderful trip. It was relaxing and interesting. I would definitely do it again and would return to the Carnival Triumph.