My husband I and were on the Carnival Triumph sailing 10/06/07, seven nights. We have previously sailed two other times on Carnival (Fantasy and Liberty) This was a terrific cruise for us and we will definitely sail Carnival again in the future.
We flew in to FLL a day before the cruise. I had arranged for a limo to pick us up and drive us to the InterContinental hotel in downtown Miami. We used Cache Limo Company (they are on the web) and I cannot say enough good things about them. They picked us up at FLL within 3 minutes in a brand new Limo (nice, nice nice!) and drove us to Miami for $95, gratuity included. Luis, the owner, is great and tries to meet any request you have, such as certain food or drinks that you might want them to pick up for you beforehand.
We arrived at the InterContinental hotel, which I had booked on Hotwire for $89. This same room was $369 on their website. We were given a complimentary upgrade to a room with a Bay view (so we got to see a RCCL ship leave that evening, and the Triumph was sitting there the next morning). The rooms are awesome and this is where I will stay the next time I'm in Miami. We walked over to Bayside and had some dinner at The Knife, a steakhouse. We thought it was just okay, and probably wouldn't eat there again.
Embarkation was painless. We arrived around 11am at the new terminal, and there were no lines. Everything was organized and even the porter who took our luggage was friendly.
Upon entering the ship, my first thought is why would anyone complain about the ship? I thought she was beautiful. Dh and I went up to the Lido and had some lunch (the usual...cheeseburgers and fries...this is becoming a tradition on our Carnival cruises) Our rooms opened promptly at 1:30. I walked around and took lots of photos and got a feel for the ship.
Sailaway out of Miami is beautiful, and not to be missed!! The mandatory muster drill was boring as usual. We stood for so long I thought I was going to pass out (and we weren't the first ones there either!) I know it's necessary but this is a part I always dread.
I had decided to go cheap and try out an inside room. It was clean and had everything we needed, but I wouldn't go that route again. I missed having daylight in the room and I decided that if I could afford it, I would go with a balcony from now on. (or at least an oceanview on the Fantasy class ship). I sent dh up every morning to check out the weather. (I like to sleep in; he doesn't. So first one up had to do that job!!) Our bed was pushed up against the wall, and I slept on that side because dh nearly smashed me climbing over me to get out of bed. Our bed was comfy, but we could definitely feel that we were sleeping on two different mattresses. There was a split in the middle, but both sides of the bed were comfy, and we both slept like rocks. I love Carnival's bedding. The pillows are awesome and love the duvets! The temp of the room was just right, and if you want to control that, its up on the ceiling. You just push the lever over to allow more air to come in. Also, if in an inside, bring an alarm clock to wake you up. If not, I would have slept all day, as it feels like a cave in there. The bathroom had lots of storage (as did the cabin itself) and the shower was plenty big enough. And, no, the shower curtain did not wrap around me!!
Our room steward and his assistant were very young men who worked very hard, and kept the room in tip top shape. They always had smiles on their faces. Our toilet quit working (they said it was the vacuum) so I told the room steward and they literally had it fixed within 5 minutes. Also, our remote quit working (it wasn't actually the remote, but the TV they said), so I told our room steward one evening before leaving for dinner. He said he made a report on it, and by the next morning they had it fixed. So no complaints on service!!
The food ranged from good to great. Dh loves the pizza and grill. The dining room food was very good overall. The steaks were tender, and I thought the chicken was great. I love that they have an alternative menu because there were some nights that I couldn't find anything I thought I would like on the regular menu. We had the warm chocolate melting cake every night for dessert. It was so good that I didn't even want to try anything else. I've eaten many a dessert, but nothing compares to this, IMO.
Our dining service was spotty. One night it would be great, and the next just okay. We later found out that the assistant had just returned from maternity leave and was still very sore and sick from having a C-section. I really felt bad for her; and cannot imagine leaving a newborn behind. We got to talking to her and she told us all about her kids and family. Our waiter was just finishing his last week before vacation, so I feel like he was about done by the time we got on the ship. But they were both very nice and really tried, it just seemed they couldn't get it together. We never went hungry though and for the most part we were very pleased. It wasn't enough to complain over.
We went to the dining room one morning for breakfast, and enjoyed it very much. I had bacon and eggs, Dh had waffles..both very tasty. Other days, we ordered room service for breakfast. It was very prompt. I didn't try the buffet, we just ate from the grill, deli, or pizza for lunch. The Midnight Mexican buffet was good, and the party was fun!! We didn't attend the Midnight Gala, as the seas were really rough that night and I was feeling the effects of it. So we just went off to bed!
For the most part, I thought the ship looked wonderful. The only thing I could fault it is that the carpets were worn. Ours in our room looked like it had seen better days. The whole week, though, they were replacing the carpet in the walkways on our deck, and it looked great. The layout of the ship can be confusing the first couple of days. Just remember, go to deck 5 first. It runs from forward to aft, with no dead ends. We were familiar with this layout from the Liberty, so we got used to it very fast.
The ports of call were amazing. Half Moon Cay was heaven, as usual. The water is crystal clear and the sand as soft as powder. Tendering is not my favorite thing to do. We went to the Rome Lounge early and had number 4 tickets to get on. Because the seas were rough, it took a while to get the tendering process started. Once underway, things moved much faster. ( And shame on you, the #23's who snuck on...wait your turn like we did!!) The water was very rough. In fact, I was sort of surprised we got to stop at HMC. But we did and HMC was awesome. We walked down the beach to where there were plenty of shade trees and got some chairs. Dh found himself a hammock and slept a lot of the day away. (He was worn out from trying to cram two weeks worth of work into one before we left) I went up early and got our lunch and there were no lines at all. There was not full bar service, just beer, pina coladas, and strawberry daiquiris. We did get to use the soda card, you just have to use it at the bar. If you stop a server to get it, they charge you for a can of soda. No worries, though, as we were close to the food and bar. Tendering back was a pain, as we had to wait a while, and it was hot. I found shelter under a small tree but most people were out in the sun. As we got on the tender, one girl passed out. We think it was from the heat. A medic was there within minutes to check on her, and then we were finally on our way back to the ship.
In St. Thomas, we found a cab and went to Sapphire Beach for the day. Very pretty and uncrowded. Chairs are $7 each for a daily rental, and there was a girl there selling cans of soda for $1, and water was $2. A family next to us ordered a huge pizza for their lunch, so there is food available there, as well as clean restrooms. After leaving the beach, there were taxis lined up to take us back to the ship. We had the driver take us up to Paradise Point first, and it is a steep drive up there. The view is amazing though, so I'm glad we went.
In San Juan, we went to the fort and walked around the town with our new found friends (thanks T & C) I had a great day. We went to the famous Ben and Jerries for milk shakes (yummy!) Later in the day, we went with this couple to Senor Frogs. This is a loud, happening place and was lots of fun. The men enjoyed the fort a lot, too, and it's worth checking out.
In Grand Turk, we went up to Pillory Beach. I thought it was just okay, but they had lots of rain the night before, so a lot of gunk was washed up on the beach. We decided to walk back into town. The area we were in is very poor. The people live in what we would consider shacks. We walked around town and then found a taxi back to the ship (we had been there before so this time we didn't spend much time on the beach or at Margaritaville). Our taxi driver had to stop first and make a beer run. We thought this was funny, as that has never happened to us before. But he assured us he wasn't drinking it until later!!
The production shows were pretty good. We had seen them before so we found them a bit boring the second go around. My favorites were the comedians. They both were hilarious, especially at the midnight shows. The Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game was very funny; do not miss it!! I also enjoyed the magic show. Do not take your kids to the midnight magic show if you don't want them to see the dancers behinds!! LOL
The entertainment staff was terrific. Several faces were familiar, like Bonnie, the asst CD. She was on the Liberty last Dec. Amanda from the Fantasy was also there. It was fun seeing them again. The CD, Brad, was funny and very personable. He didn't seem to be out and about as much as the others on our previous cruises.
Bar staff was great, and make some great drinks. Be sure to try a kiss on the lips...so yummy!!
We attended both the Captain's party and the past guest party. While I didn't, remember you can order any drink you want. You don't have to drink what they are passing out. At the past guest party, we met some other cruisecritic members. There seemed to be a lot of us on board!!
Chair hogs were out in full force. If you want a chair, go up to deck 10. There are plenty of empty ones, and plenty of shade, too. It's also quiet up there. I went up to what would have been the topless deck. It was very windy and no one was up there when I went.
Disembarkation was chaos IMO. We decided to do self assist as we had an 11:30 flight out of MIA (we flew into FLL and out of Miami..it was cheaper to do two one-ways). They never called for self-assist and instead just started with the number one tags (those who had set their luggage out the night before). So we went down to the Rome Lounge to disembark and all of deck 3 was packed with people groaning and complaining. Once the line started moving, though, we were through customs and out of the port within minutes.
The biggest highlight of our trip was meeting some wonderful friends. At the hotel the morning of embarkation, as we were waiting on a taxi to take us to the port, we met a fellow cruisecritic member (Caribbean Tina) and her husband. Later that afternoon, we seen them again. Then again in the casino after dinner. So we all started hanging together after that, and had a great time. We have never hit it off so well with others as we did these. It's as if we have known them our entire lives. Saying good-bye that Friday night was hard. I missed them as soon as we stepped off the ship. So the only solution we found is to stay in touch via phone and email, and to cruise together next year (if not before)!!! We've got it all booked and planned!
Carnival gave us a great week and a great vacation for the money!! Sure there were little things that went wrong, but nothing to ruin a vacation over. The crew is very friendly and helpful, and work very hard for their money. Go with a great attitude and you'll have a wonderful week. We can't wait to sail again, and in fact, just yesterday I booked another cruise. This time we'll be on the Inspiration! Thanks Carnival for showing us a good time!!!.