Well here we go!! A little background. My wife, 2 girls 6 and 8 and I all went on this trip. This is our 2nd Carnival Cruise. The 1st for the girls. I heard all the good and bad reviews, but went with an open mind.
1.- Flight down.
We flew down the day before and got into Miami at about 3:30PM. We booked the Hampton Inn Miami Airport West with a rate of 120.00 for the night. The hotel had recently finished a full renovation and was very nice. They offer a free shuttle to/from the airport, and have a complimentary full breakfast. We really enjoyed it, and the kids loved the pool.
We took Yellow cab from the hotel to the port. We paid 35.00 total for the trip, tip included. If you take a cab from the airport it is only 24.00 total.
Arrived at the port at about 10:45AM, and passed our bags off to the curbside porters. 1.00 per bag for a tip, and we were on our way. We entered into the new terminal, and there was NO line for security. Made it through and into the check in line within 5 minutes. Another 10 minutes later we were waiting to board the ship. ( a word of caution, if you plan on using cash for your sail and sign, you will probably need a credit card to activate your sail and sign account. We had to do this, and then switched to cash alter.)
We boarded the ship at 11:30, and were on the lido with a drink at 11:47. It was a smooth, painless process. The new terminal is very nice. Our rooms were open at 1:30, but we went down early and stowed our carry on bags. They didn't have a problem with this. The rest of the day was spent roaming around and checking it all out. The ship is in really god shape. All the hallway carpet had recently been replaced. The ship was constantly being cleaned, and painted the entire week.
3.-Stateroom At about 1:45 or so, we went down to check out our room. We booked a 6B oceanview stateroom. Room number 2389. It has a king size bed, a couch that folded out into a bed, and a pull down bed from the ceiling. Lots of space, and plenty of storage. The room was nice and clean also. The only problem I had was that the window was dirty. I told the cabin steward, and it was cleaned the next morning. I also like the ice bucket to be full, so I gave him a little extra, and it was full the whole time. From time to time, there was a urine smell when you opened the toilet. Nothing overwhelming, but it was noticeable to me. The rooms get cold if you leave the vent wide open. We did smell the infamous "Sewer Smell" a few times in a certain spot in the hallway. It was in the aft starboard side, right by the elevators. There is a corridor that goes from the hallway to the elevators. You could smell it there every once in a while. Nowhere else did I smell it. I had to give em props, because with 3100 passengers on the ship, and over 1100 crew members, it's bound to get a little funky occasionally. It really wasn't that bad.
4.- The Food We tried pretty much everything that was available. The lido food is on par with what we've had before. Hamburgers were good, the 24 pizzeria was also good. The HOng Kong Noodle company serves chinese food. It's pretty good. The lomein noodles are really tasty. We ate at the South Beach buffet several times, and it was always good. They have a taste of nations al week with different types of food. It was ok most of the time. I wasn;t much for Indian food. We had the early seating in the Paris dining room. We sat upstairs, and our servers were Saka and Iveta. The food was all great, I didn't have one bad dish. It is all a matter of taste. I enjoy trying new things and did several times. My wife had the warm chocolate melting cake twice, and it was undercooked both times. My oldest daughter had steak almost every night, which she enjoyed. I tried the strip steak and did not like it. Lobster was GREAT, as was the prime rib. The leg of lamb was undercooked, but tasty. Try the apple pie--it rocks!! Shrimp cocktail as always good. Bar service was good all week all over the ship. It was annoying at times though. It seemed that all they wanted to do was get ya drunk!! I'm ok with it, but I can see how others would get peeved.
Half moon cay- talk about awesome!! Take as much time as you can here. The sand is like cornstarch, and the water was great. Food is provided this port, and it was good. Burgers, hot dogs, and jerk chicken. Try the chicken, you'll like it. You have to tender here. Get to the Rome Lounge early to get a low number for tendering. You will be happy you did. There are waiters up and down the beach, so getting a drink is easy. Friends of ours rented one of the cabanas, and they liked it. Some finger foods were provided, along with snorkel gear, flaties, and other things.
St. Thomas- Immigration is here. You do it onboard on deck 5 before leaving the ship. If you have an early tour, line up ASAP. It seemed like everybody lined up early, and it took us about 30 minutes to get through. We took the Sunny Liston Tour. He was the best. Lots of fun-singing and dancing the whole time. He took us to many different places, and was very knowledgeable. We had a couple of hours downtown for shopping, and ended the day at Sapphire Beach where we hung out and swam and snorkeled. Good snorkeling to the right at this beach. We drove past Coki Beach on the way, and it was DIRTY! I would never take my family there. A lot of homeless walking around, beggers, and dirty vendors. The drive in to it was also an adventure in dirtiness.
San Juan- My wife and youngest decided to stay on board this day, so my oldest and I toured both the forts and walked old town. There is a trolley that runs about every 15-20 minutes--and it's free. lots of history here, and shopping too.
Nassau- Our final port. We got off, and went to the straw market. it's just as gross as I remember it. My wife did buy a purse here, so she was happy. We then took the #10 Jitney--(the local bus service) and went to the Sheraton on Cable Beach. We paid 5.00 each for a towel, and got to use their pools, and the beach area. There is a swim up bar, bathrooms, and a cafe for lunch. It was a great deal.
The kids loved it. We could hardly pry them away. Lots of activities all over the ship every day. They cried when we left.
Casino- We went to the casino a couple of times. broke even. We're not much for gambling, but there seemed to be a lot of people who were.
We went to a couple of the shows. The dancers were on par for cruising. I agree with others that the female lead was not the best. She was very dramatic in her singing. Lots of vibrato--kinda over the top. The male lead was a little better. I've seen better in a lounge. We saw the Eddie Capone adult comedy show. It wasn't too bad. Wasn't too good. It's just as good as you'd see in your local pub. Triumph orchestra was very good. Lots of talent there.
By far the best show of the week was the hypnotist. HE WAS GREAT!!! Lots of laughs.
Lido deck entertainment was good. The calypso band was great the whole week. Lots of good island music. We also checked out the piano bar and karaoke. The guy in the piano bar looked like a serial killer. He was very good pianist, but couldn't sing to save his life. Karaoke was, well, karaoke. Some talent, but lots of wanna be's too. It was fun.
Each night in the dining room, the staff either danced or sang. it was entertaining each time. The kids loved it.
Overall the ship looked great. I didn't have any bad experiences with the pursers desk or any of the staff. I wished that our cabin steward could have been quicked at times, but he always seemed to be busy.
We used cash for our sail and sign, and had no problem activating or maintaining our account. We did not take advantage of the spa services. The gym was clean and had nice equipment.
Waterslide was open almost all of the time it was scheduled to be. There were some windy times, and then it was closed. Didn't mini golf, but a lot of people did. We used the pools quite a bit, and loved it. Hot tubs are nice.
-We utilized the secret door on the Lido deck, and it was a really cool experience. We went out there while we sailed away from Miami, and the views were awesome. There were only a handful of people out there, and this was the case each time we went out there. Be careful, it gets a little windy out there.
We used the luggage tag system, and asked for the last number available. We were able to stay onboard until 10:30. Our flight was at 4 so we were in no hurry. We got all our bags easily, and breezed through customs. We flew Delta down and back. Going home we missed our connection and had to take a later flight. Our luggage was another 2 hours getting there. A long day. All in all we had a great time all week. I loved the Triumph. Sure there is some wear, but there is 3000 ppl a week abusing her. Some of the cushions need replaced in the booths in the south beach buffet. Seriously though, I had to look hard to find issues