BACKGROUND We have benefited greatly from reviews in the past, so its' our turn to give a little bit back. We are a couple in our early 60s married for 37 years living in the UK (Yorkshire), therefore, some of this review will not be relevant to the majority of readers based in the US. We Brits tend to assess the quality of a holiday on the value for money of basic items (food & drink), all the rest is secondary. This was our second cruise the first was in 2005 from Galveston (should have been New Orleans) in the wake of Katrina. We sailed on the Carnival Conquest to the Western Caribbean.
TRAVEL TO SHIP We caught a train from Doncaster to Manchester where we were collected at the train station & transferred to the Cresta Court Hotel Atrincham by a courtesy coach. This was pre booked via the internet at a cost for one night of £56 per room. The coach journey was only 15 minutes & we found the hotel to be well appointed & clean. We did not dine at the hotel but chose to walk to a very local pub (only 2 mins away) the George & Dragon. I had a sumptuous rib eye steak for £11 & the beer was very reasonable at £2.30 a pint. The next morning we were transferred by coach to Manchester Airport. I will not dwell on the journey to Miami as I prefer to stick to the positives, suffice to say that our scheduled flights were changed at the last moment & now entailed a 4 1/2 hour wait at Atlanta. We stayed overnight at the Comfort in Miami Airport (clean & basic) no problems.
EMBARKATION We arrived at the terminal around 1230 & set foot on the ship just about 1400, which was not bad I don't suppose considering that there were 3 thousand fellow passengers. This process would have been speeded up had there have been more check-ins available. I absolutely hate queuing or waiting in line as you may call it.
THE SHIP I have previously read a lot of guff about the Triumphs poor condition & dEcor all I can say is that I didn't take a magnifying glass with me so was unable to find fault with it, I'm sure that some people go looking for things to moan about. Not us, life's too short! Our balcony stateroom on Veranda deck had everything and more that we required, situated towards the stern of the ship and just a short walk to the elevators to access the fabulous Lido deck. When you live in the UK you have to get the sun whenever & wherever it's available.
DINING. We were at a table for 8 in the Paris restaurant 2nd sitting. Our table mates were a group of 5 LOUD lifelong friends, former New Yorkers now living in Miami, they were a great bunch of people and we had great fun each evening. Apparently ours was the noisiest table in the restaurant. We will keep in touch with these wonderful people. I enjoyed every meal, I like red meat so by and large I stuck to that, I have read from previous reviews of the inconsistencies of the lobster, sometimes its great other times its rubbery. Our lass had lobster and she found it to be rubbery. A slight criticism of our waiters, they didn't appear to have the finesse or professionalism as we experienced on the Conquest. For the sweet toothed, the chocolate melting cake is as good as everyone says!
The variety of choice on Lido deck is tremendous; we tried every outlet apart from the New York deli, not our scene. The steak sandwich from the South Seas restaurant was great and the Hong Kong noodles is a Must try. If you can't find anything that you like to eat on this ship, then there's something wrong
BOOZE Back to basics now. A full imperial pint of Fosters was reasonably priced at £3 ($5.95) 440 ml of Boddingtons £2.60 ($5.25) & a decent measure of Jameson's whisky £2.50 ($4.95). These prices compare very favorably to our previous cruise, probably due to a better £/$ exchange rate. We found all the bar waiters to be very efficient and pleasant. Carnival boasts that there were staff from 40 different countries employed on this ship & I don't doubt it, we had some great conversations with many of the Europeans about football (soccer).
ENTERTAINMENT We only saw a couple of shows, basically due to the time difference between UK & US, when the shows started at 2200 our bodies were telling us that it was 0300. Towards the latter part of the week we got used to it. The comedian Eddie Capone in his first show was EXCELLENT; therefore we were full of expectancy for the midnight Adult only show. Must confess that seeing him in this, we felt that he did not come up to his own high standards. The games on the Lido deck during the day were entertaining. Played a little roulette during the week, most enjoyable despite losing on each of three attempts. (Does anyone ever win?)
PORTS OF CALL SAN JUAN:- we had decided before sailing that we would visit the Hard Rock Cafe, we got a couple of T shirts but were disappointed that there was none of the live entertainment which is synonymous with the Hard Rock chain. San Juan itself seems to be a lively place though. Be prepared for the hot & sticky climate in the evening. ST THOMAS:- What an absolutely fabulous little Island!! I had pre booked a trip with GODFREY TOURS (highly recommend this guy), he picked us up promptly from the boats security gate & took us down town for an hour shopping, then on to Coki beach for 3 ½ hours before returning to the ship The cost was $20 per person (worth every penny / cent). The journey to Coki beach was a sight to behold, situated on the other side of the Island entailed a journey up and down the mountain the views were tremendous. Coki beach is a narrow strip inside a 200 yard approx bay. The sea is clear & warm, fairly tranquil whist we were there. On arrival you will quickly receive the attention of a beach waiter ,who will attend your every need. Sun beds cost $5 each, Beer is a remarkable $3 per bottle/can or a bucket of 6 for $15. Patchy, the wife & I shared a bucket 3 Guinness 3 Heineken (strong stuff) they brew them with far greater volume than at home. For lunch I had a local fresh fish (red snapper) cooked to perfection with chips /fries all for $15 WOW. On the return journey to the ship Godfrey took us via the coastal route. So we had a wonderful insight into most of the island. WE WOULD GLADLY SPEND A WEEK ON THIS ISLAND. Everything about the day was perfection the courier, views, beach, food & of course drinks.
GRAND TURK:- Slightly overcast on the day we were there, after a little shopping we spent most of the time in Margaritaville. Having never visited a Margaritaville before, although I had read many reviews, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the drinks are not as expensive as some indicate $5 per bottle of beer. I know nothing of the cocktails which apparently is what most people tend to drink at these places, so I can't comment on their value. The DJ / animator at this complex was a class act, he kept everyone entertained and concluded the session doing press-ups with a 13 stone / 182lb woman on his back, Awesome!! (That's the DJ not the woman) SUMMARY A great holiday, If you live in the US this is great value for money. Traveling from England increases the total cost fourfold, air travel overnight accommodation etc. But I repeat we had a great holiday/ vacation. No this must have been a holiday, not a vacation for to quote a line from my favorite movie "a vacation is when you go away & you ain't never coming back"