This is the review for our Carnival Triumph vacation for my boyfriend and I, for a sailing date of November 3, 2007 for a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise. This was the first cruise for both of us and it seems we may be hooked! ? I am 27 and he is 31.
PREVIEW We flew into Miami on November 2, the day before our departure. We flew out of Philadelphia on American Airlines and had an uneventful and decent flight at a good price and only a very minor delay. Once arriving in Miami, we took a cab from the airport to our hotel, the Radisson Miami Downtown. The cab fare was approx. $20.00 with tip from the airport. We did book this one night stay on Priceline, as it did not matter to us where we were staying prior to our cruise. We paid $55 + taxes and fees for this bland, very basic, but met the minimum needs room. If you read reviews of this hotel, you will hear people say that this is in an unsafe and dangerous area of Miami. This is very far from the truth. It is in a normal downtown area, within a brief walk to a fantastic waterfront park, transportation areas, American Airlines arena, and approx. a 10-15 min walk to Bayside Marketplace. The people that consider this an unsafe area have obviously never left Suburban Neighborhood USA. The evening prior to our cruise, we did go to Bayside Marketplace. This is a mostly outdoor shopping and dining complex on the bay that has a wide variety of dining options for dinner, despite the fact that they are mostly chain restaurants. Off to bed early, as the cruise excitement continues to mount.
EMBARKATION We left the Radisson via a shuttle service at approximately 11:30am. The Radisson has shuttles that cost just $5.00 per person. We arrived by 11:40am. It is slightly chaotic as often at this time, the previous cruise guests are often still hanging around from the previous cruise. If you are not carrying on your own luggage, give it to a porter and tip him a $1.00 per bag. Porters at the port of Miami are all wearing tags identifying themselves by a number. We walked into the terminal, where we were directed upstairs for check-in. We were placed in a line. At this point, it did take quite a while to get checked in, as not that many representatives were working the line at this point. We got in line at 11:45am and were checked in by 12:15PM. They started letting guests on board by 12:20PM. We were on board by 12:30! All in all, a fairly painless process.
OVERALL CONDITION OF THE SHIP Awesome…Wonderful! Ok, so look at this way. The Carnival Triumph is 8 years old. The Carnival Triumph serves 3,000 guests per week, with only a 3 hour turnaround time per cruise. Is this ship in wonderful condition? YES! Everything was clean, polished, in good condition. In fact, if there was only one thing I noticed all week, it was a broken door glass at the forward entrance to the Lido Deck behind the elevators, which was probably broken by some drunken guy late at night. That is it. Trash was always picked up, room service trays were always collected from the hallway, everything was being polished and cleaned all the time, common areas were beautiful, and they drained the pools and hot tubs every night. There were constantly people cleaning, polishing, and making sure that it was up to our standards.
BARS/ FOUNTAIN FUN CARD There were too many of them. If you can't find one, that is your problem. I counted at least 11 throughout the ship. We did purchase two soda cards. They are approx. $50 per person for the entire week. We did not encounter any "rude bartenders" by using the card. We were kind to them and they were kind to us.
SERVICE The service was phenomenal. These employees are on this ship for nearly six to seven months at a time, without much of a break from guests like us, except when they are in there staterooms. Be nice to them and you will receive nothing but fantastic service. The only rude person I encountered the entire time was one of the buffet employees. That is all. Be nice and you will receive excellent service. We did not modify the standard $70 per person tip allotment for the week. We paid that and also in addition tipped the maitre'd, and also gave extra tip monies to our favorite bartenders, head waiter, and waiter in the dining room.
STATEROOM We had room 6231 on the Upper Deck (6). We were on the forward side of the ship on the starboard side with a balcony. The balcony was heavenly and I would not have went any other way. It was such a pleasure to be able to sit on the balcony and listen to the waves, watch the water, stars, and feel the breeze. The balcony is a comfortable size with two chairs and a small table and is private. The room itself does kind of follow the muted peach theme, which is a little odd at first; however, gets to grow on you quickly. It really is not that bad. There is a television which picks up approx. 15 channels, plus all of the Carnival channels. We had two twin beds, which are easy to push together into one queen or king, one sofa, one small table, tons of storage space, luggage pushes easily under the bed, air conditioning that works too well and is adjustable. The bathroom is spacious for one person at a time. The shower has very high pressure and very hot water. Shampoo and body wash is provided in a dispenser. If you want conditioner, you have to bring your own. Plenty of storage space on the counter and in one vanity. Overall, the room gets a 9 out of 10 for comfort, space, and cleanliness. The room gets a 5/10 for décor; however, that really shouldn't matter. Our stateroom steward was Diego. Diego was friendly when passing us in the hallway and always had the room made up two or three times per day, and we never actually saw him in our room. He did turn down our beds every night and had a towel animal ready to go each night as well. We were very pleased with his service.
ROME LOUNGE/ENTERTAINMENT The Rome Lounge is like a freezer. Brrrr….cold. Anyway, during our cruise the main evening productions were two Carnival produced productions, one called Century Café and one called Wonderful World. I would give the Carnival productions a 8 out of 10 for costumes and dancing. I would give them a 5 out of 10 for production, as they were just a little corny/cheesy. I think they could be better produced. However, also on this cruise was a magic show, which I would give a 10 out of 10. There was also a comedian by the name of Eddie Capone, which was also excellent. The magician and comedian also had late night adult shows, which were much more adult, as the name says and also equally as excellent. They also had one musical artist for a show one night, which I did not attend. Overall, the shows were very good to excellent.
ACTIVITIES If you do not want to relax and cannot find anything to do, then you did not read your daily Carnival Capers. There is always something going on - from deck parties on the Lido deck, to trivia, name that tune contests, Pictionary, pool games, and so many other things. Read your capers and attend events. The activities staff which consists of Amanda, Chris, and Island Girl are excellent!
DINING Initially, we had the Paris Dining Room Late Seating at 8:00PM. The first night, we were at a table with four people from Montreal. They were talking English when we got to the table. Once we sat down, they changed to French and would not communicate with us, despite our efforts to make friendly conversation. It was really rude. After our first night, we went to the Maitre'd and were switched to the London Dining Room Main Seating at 6:15PM at table 201. We had an AWESOME table, with a couple from Connecticut and the best couple from England. Wow! Our table had fun the entire week. We had excellent service. Our head waiter Viktoria and our waiter Vasil. Every night in the London dining room, they take time near the end of your meal and all the servers sing or dance. The food was excellent and I would rate the dining room food 8 out of 10. I would rate the service a 10 out of 10 for dinner. Breakfast and Lunch are open seating in the Paris Dining Room which we took advantage of most mornings and only occasionally for lunch. We found the service during breakfast and lunch to be somewhat lacking and unorganized. However, the food was good to very good. On the Lido Deck, we found the buffet food to be the only disappointment of our trip. Again, food tastes are subjective; however, I would only give the buffet food a 4 out of 10. The buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - as well as two midnight buffets throughout the week. There is also a 24 hour pizzeria which I thought was excellent and would give it a 10 out of 10. The Coney Island Grill serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and similar and I would give it a 6 out of 10. The Hong Kong Wokery I did not try (I am not 100% sure that is what it was called). The NY Deli I would give a 10 out of 10 as I thought the Reuben's and sandwiches were excellent. There is also the Vienna Café on Deck 5, which serves cookies, desserts, and coffee products which is not included in your cruise price. The buffet is usually open from 7am - 10am for breakfast; 12noon - 2:30pm for lunch, and 5:00PM - 9 or 10 for dinner. The NY Deli is usually open from approx. 11am - 10pm; the Coney Island Grill approximately the same time. The pizzeria is 24 hours, and the Hong Kong place is usually only open at Lunch. Overall, I would rate the buffet as needing improvement, the dining room food as excellent, and the other eateries as very good. There were two formal nights during our cruise. We did dress formally for those nights and we wore nice jeans and a polo for our other nights in the dining room.
MISC On Deck 5, there are a few shops. We did not really feel the need to buy things, so we did not frequent those often. However, they seemed to always be fairly crowded. The casino is fairly large and has a wide variety of slot machines and a few table games. There is also a piano lounge, wine bar, Hollywood Disco, and a few other places all of which were up to par and had excellent entertainment.
SPA/FITNESS CENTER The Spa on Deck 11 is awesome. We arranged for several spa appts including massages and facials, all of which were done with professionalism and are equal to any treatment I have ever had at home, which equates to the word excellent. The prices are equivalent to what you would pay at home. Watch your capers, because the first night they give away tons of free spa services just for attending a raffle. The fitness center is open during the same hours as the spa, and is accessed through the spa. Both are open 8am - 8pm, which the fitness center opening at 6am. The fitness center is quite extensive with many many treadmills, other machines, and free weights. There are also two hot tubs available in the spa, along with a sauna and steam room. Classes are available - some of which are free and others for a nominal $10 fee.
LIDO and OUTDOOR DECKS There are three adult pools. The forward one is open until 8pm, the midship one is open until 10pm and the aft one until midnight. The accompanying hot tubs operate the same hours at each pool. There are plenty of lounge chairs. PLENTY! So people do often save chairs and loungers right near the pools. Does that really matter? It didn't to us. If you don't need one DIRECTLY at the pool, then just look around and there are many others. All within a short walk to the pool. Remember, there are chairs on Decks 3, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
SAN JUAN The ship pulled into San Juan at approx. 5pm. Unfortunately, it was already getting dark and we did not get to appreciate the beauty of Old San Juan in the daytime. We did get off the ship and we did have dinner at Senor Frogs. Senor Frogs is a loud, upbeat facility. The food was decent and the entertainment was very good. However, you need to be in a lively mood to enjoy it; otherwise, you may not have enjoyed your visit. After that we did take a walk along the waterfront, which gives you the opportunity to explore many "plazas", "parks" and "fountains". We did get back on the ship approx. 8:30PM, as I feel that this port would have been better visited in the daylight hours.
ST. THOMAS Pulling into St. Thomas is amazing. So lush, green, and beautiful. Upon first glance, I would almost think we were pulling along side a moderate income version of the rolling hills of Los Angeles, with the homes perched on the sides of mountains and hills. Anyway, we disembarked immediately at about 8am and we took a tour of with Sunny Liston. Sunny is an excellent value at just $25 or $30 per person. He will drop you off for one, two, or three hours of shopping in the shopping district. He will then pick you up, and take you on an approx. 1 ½ hour tour of the island, which is very well narrated. He is very funny and you should have a fun time on his tour. You will sing and be entertained while in the vehicle. Sunny then dropped us off for two hours at Sapphire Bay. Sapphire bay is a nice beach with beautiful clear water. We had a great time. A few tips in St. Thomas. It is good to tell a taxi driver where you want to go and set a flat rate ahead of time, as there are no meters in these taxis (trucks). Also, many items in some of the stores can be bargained in price, especially on the higher priced items. Don't be afraid to try.
A NOTE ON BOTH SAN JUAN AND ST. THOMAS. If you do not book a tour or excursion ahead of time. You can easily get a tour/excursion of either city once you disembark the ship. There are plenty of tour operators eager to take your money and give you a tour of the area.
GRAND TURK Grand Turk, which is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands (British West Indies) is a fairly new port to the cruise ship scene. The population is small and practically doubles when a cruise ship arrives. There is the immediate port area which has some shops and Margaritaville. Margaritaville does have a freshwater pool, and you do not have to be a customer to use it. You can take a taxi to the downtown area for more local shopping and watersport rentals. There is a beautiful beach right were the cruise ship docks. Chairs are out along the beach. The water is beautiful and the sand is great. Spend your time on the beach. Also, if you do book an excursion, do book it through Carnival at this port. The opportunity may not be available once you arrive at this port. We did the AquaBoat excursion at $99.00 per person. This was an awesome excursion and well worth the money. They took us out far into the ocean on two person aqua boats. We then got the opportunity to snorkel for approx. 45 minutes. The entire excursion was about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
OVERALL, this vacation gets a 9 out of 10, with the only needs improvement areas being the buffet food and service. Other than that. WOW! Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have --- As I am sure I forget some things.