We arrived in Miami from AZ on Saturday, May 31st. Stayed at Hilton Downtown Miami. Got the room on priceline for $55/nite. Our room was amazing as it was on the 17th floor and looked out to the Miami skyline and the port. First thing Sunday morning I opened the curtains and saw the ship where I would be spending the next 7 days. The excitement level reached its extreme.
Returned our rental car and got to the port early, around 1045am. Lines were fairly short and we were quickly checked-in for the cruise. We were able to board around 1145ish. After getting on board we made our way to our room, which was not ready yet, however, we were able to drop off our carry-ons. When we were at the room, I left a note for our room steward letting him know that we needed the beds to be separated as there were 3 of us in the room and I certainly was not sleeping next to my mom, who decided to come on the trip. Our room steward happily made this arrangement for us. Went upstairs for the first drink of the day and to see the huge smile on my son's face and his remarks, "This is really cool." Slowly the other 30 people in our group made it onboard to begin the celebration of our kids HS graduation.
Not having anything to base a "good" ship from a "bad" ship on other than my own opinions and reviews from CruiseCritic.com, I found the Triumph to be quite nice. There was nothing specifically in appearance that made me think that this ship was not in tip top shape. There were always people around cleaning and making things look good.
Some comments had been made about setting sail while at muster drill and as a first cruise, I was concerned that this was going to happen. I didn't want to miss out on anything. I had nothing to worry about as we did not leave the port until well after the muster drill.
Our bags arrived before dinner so I had a chance to unpack. There was plenty of storage and drawer space in the room. We actually did not even use 1 of the closets. The bathroom had plenty or storage space under the sink. I did bring an over-the-door organizer which proved to be quite useful in holding all the items that might have ended up on the limited vanity space in the room. I'm glad I brought it because I almost left it at home based upon some comments from previous cruisers. With 3 people in an inside room, the extra storage for small items was useful.
Dinner was good most nites. However, I guess I was expecting something over the top on formal nite and unfortunately I did not find that to be the case. On formal nite they had lobster (which I don't eat seafood at all due to allergies) and prime rib. In all honesty the steak I had the previous evening was 100% better than the prime rib. The prime rib was overcooked, dry and lacking any flavor. After all the raving on the website, I was looking for to an amazing meal. Overall, I enjoyed my meals on board. I never made it to the south beach buffet for lunch or dinner because I can't stand waiting in line to get food. Breakfast was ok as I was up usually before the buffet opened so I was able to get my food very quickly when it did open. Lunch was in the Paris dining room a couple of days. The food was good, but the bar staff was over aggressive. In the matter of 10 minutes, I had 4 different people come and ask if I wanted anything from the bar. 2 of the most memorable items I had onboard at dinner where 2 appetizers on the same night. The first was steak skewers that were grilled followed by chicken soup with lemongrass and coconut milk. AMAZING combination.
We visited 3 ports, Cozumel, Grand Caymans and Jamaica.
Cozumel- We booked the dune buggies through Island Marketing. For $89 we got our monies worth and had an amazing time. 15 people from our group went. Oscar, our guide, took us snorkeling for about an hour where we saw eels, a barracuda and misc other colorful fish. The water was great for 1st time snokelers as the water was not rough and he was patient. From there he took us on a tour of the island where we went to El Cedral, the 1st mayan ruins in Cozumel were found here and to the east side of the island where there were actual waves at the ocean. While swimming, Oscar prepared an awesome lunch of chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole and flour tortillas for us. Everyone chowed down. From there we continued on to the Casa Antigua, the tequila museum, where we proceeded to try at least 15 different tequilas and were treated to a tour on how they make tequila. For 5-6 hours we were treated to a great time in Cozumel and everyone had the best time. The ones who did not come with us, were very disappointed after hearing about the day we had. BTW, this tour included unlimited water, soda and beers. Each dune buggy had a cooler and was refilled at each stop.
Grand Caymans - I booked a tour with Nativeway which included sting ray city, snorkeling and rum point beach. The water here is beautiful and the people were great. Where sting ray city is is out in the middle of the ocean. After a 30 minute boat ride out we came to the sandbar where we would encounter the sting rays. The snorkeling here was not as great as in Cozumel as I'm a novice and the water was rougher and I did not completely know where to look. We had no guide for this. It was a wander on your own for 45 minutes and then come back to the boat. This was a bit disappointing. However, once on the boat heading to Rum Point, this was quickly made up with rum punches. Rum Point included lunch and the beach is pretty neat. We only had an hour there and once done with lunch it was just about time to get back on the boat. I could have passed on the snorkeling and just gone to the beach instead and I would have been happy. There is a bar and gift shop at Rum Point but keep in mind everything is listed in Cayman dollars, which is about $.20 to $.25 more per dollar than US dollars. Cost $60 + tip
Jamaica - Again I booked a tour with Island Marketing for the Catamaran and Dunns Falls tour. When we got off the ship we had about an hour and a half to kill before we met the group. So we decided to take a short walk into town. BIG MISTAKE. From the moment we left the secured port area, we were harassed by taxi vendors who wanted us to hire them to see the island. A polite no thank did not work. They often continued to walk with us trying to convince us to go with them. Telling them we already had plans booked did not work either. We spent about an hour wandering again, being harassed and then I was done and said I would go back to port and wait for our meet n greet for the excursion. Jamaica is a beautiful country and I certainly would have loved to see more but I don't like being harassed as we were. I know that had I gotten away from the touristy areas I would have discovered more of its beauty.
The excursion though was good. The best part being the sailing after Dunns Falls. We boarded at the port our catamaran. There were a total of 8 of us to their 5 crew members. Again snorkeling was rough for first timers and there were several on-board (some even newer than me, like my mom). Our guide was great though and showed us the difference on urchins that would hurt us and those that would not. He also fed the fish by opening a urchin as opposed to milkbones. He also showed us a reef starfish, which looks like a spider, and reminded me of the spiderman movie. I'm weird ok..... From there we went to Dunns Falls and they handed us off to a guide. At first it seemed as if we were going to have a great time. He by-passed the line of people by taking an alternate route up. However, by doing so, we manager to miss some great photo ops that were at some of the falls. He had us up to the top in about 20 minutes, which is much quicker than any other tour that was there. He practically threw a hissy fit because he did think that the $25 tip he received was enough. Well duh....you raced us past all the photo ops and didn't give us a chance to take them ourselves. He did not deserve the $25 let alone anymore. ANYWAYS, we then boarded the catamaran again and went sailing for about an hour and and half. For me, this was amazing time. I chilled and let the crew keep my rum punch glass full, which they did. They brought us right to the pier were we got off and jumped on the ship. Cost $69 + tips
Disembarkation- We did checking of bags the previous evening and had originally received zone 24. Knowing that we had to get to Ft. Lauderdale for a flight I went to the pursuers desk and got a lower #, 3. However, after reading the capers from the room, i saw that we would have enough time so we used the zone 24 instead of 3. Good and bad. Good as we got into port early and at 715am they were calling for zone 3 to go ahead and get off. I was still asleep. As 10a came I started getting nervous as they were only at zone 14. Yikes!!! This was bad, now I was concerned about getting off in time. We went to Rome lounge and managed to get off the ship within 30 minutes. So it all worked out. Now we know, do the self-assist or get the lower number zone and get off when your ready.
The only negative I had on this trip was the god awful wake-up call I got every day of the cruise at about 3am. It sounded as if someone was down below or in the walls, with a metal wrench banging the crap out of the metal pipes. Every day from 3am-5am this went on. The first day I thought it was a 1 time occurrence. The 2nd day I was pissed. By the 3rd day the pursuers desk got a very rude and sailors mouthful at 3am. They apologized but said they were unaware of anything that could be causing this. Of course, when they came to the room, the noise would stop, as all things like this happen. The 4th-7th day I called the pursuers desk between 3am-5am, whenever my wake-up came so that they were aware of the disturbance. By the 4th day, they sent down some ear plugs. By the 6th day they acknowledged that there was a problem and sent me a $175 OBC for the problem. Nice, but it did take away some of my cruise experience.
I didn't stay out and watch all the shows or go dancing or attend the art auctions, all things I planned on doing, since I was sleep deprived . So it did take away from the vacation. However, I will cruise again and I will cruise with Carnival and I will hit the Caribbean again!