My first cruise was Oct 07 aboard the Conquest, the Triumph, June 08 was my second. I booked a fly away to Ft Lauderdale from OKC. Carnival staff on hand guided us to our baggage carousel and got us to the bus to Miami. My first cruise was out of Galveston so I was really impressed with the Miami port. The embarkation line at Galveston took about 2 1/2 hours. Miami was a breeze. The bus from the airport took 35 minutes. 15 minutes later we were through security and given a number to complete embarkation. There were comfortable seats available to await our number. After a short 10 minute seated wait, we had our sign & sail card in hand and were heading for the ship.
I had reserved first dining but my card showed late so we immediately went to the London dining room to see the maitre D'. There was one couple ahead of us and another speaking with him. The lady speaking to the maitre D' took at least 15 minutes to decide what she wanted. Those waiting in line offered bits of advise and her husband was obviously irritated she wouldn't make up her mind. The line was quit long by the time she decided her table was perfect. Kudos to the maitre D' for his patience. Correcting our dining took about 2 minutes and we were off to check out our cabin and drop off the carry ons. Our past guest upgrade special was a balcony upgrade to the panorama deck., cabin 1034. The cabin was nice but a bit smaller than on the Conquest. Plenty of storage and bathroom amenities. From the balcony, we saw the Carnival Valor and Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas getting ready to sail with us. After the muster drill we headed to the Lido deck for the sail away party. WOW!! Leaving Miami is an excursion of its' own.
Dinner was at a round table for 8 in the center of the Paris dining room. We dined with fantastic couples from Kansas City, New York and Australia. After a day at sea, our first port of call was Cozumel from 8 am to 10 pm. Since we took the Tulum excursion from the Conquest, we wanted to check out resorts at Playa Del Carmen this time. At the ferry dock, we were told 2 round trip jet boat tickets was $48.00 but we could go free if we agreed to take a tour of the Royal Hacienda resort. We normally don't do time share presentations but since our plan was to see resorts, we agreed. The jet boat took 25 minutes and we went by taxi to the resort. Upon arrival, we were assigned a guide who offered us soft drinks and a breakfast buffet that we declined, having just eaten aboard ship. The tour lasted about 2 hours and we even walked in the water along the beach. The Royal Hacienda is beautiful with other phases under construction. After the tour, the high pressure sales began, but my no never changed. We got 2 T shirts and nice shopping bags before being shuttled back to 5th avenue. I'd read about a great place to eat but couldn't remember the exact name or location. After walking about 30 minutes down the ave, I asked a shop keeper if he'd heard of Carnolittos or something like that. He laughed and said Carbonitos was just around the corner. Hot and thirsty, we were greeted by a Mayan waiter and immediately got great margaritas. The fire roasting pork at the entrance smelled so good, we got a couple tacos and HAD to try the salsa selection I had read about on trip advisor. The salsa was more than I had expected. It was AWESOME!! Cabonitos is just around the corner on 6th street from 5th avenue. If you're in Playa Del Carmen, you gotta try the salsa. Completing our shopping and hotel investigating, we ferried back to Cozumel. Apparently the crowds had thinned and the shopping traffic was light. We enjoyed a couple of beers on the back streets watching the locals interact with the tourists before returning to the Triumph. Another day at sea losing in the casino, basking in the sun and sliding down the slide had us rested for another port.
The last time we went to Grand Cayman, we did the Turtle Farm, Hell, Stingray City deal so this time we just wanted to walk around. Tendering in, we waited an hour before the shops opened, which was fine since we had 6 hours to burn. The Peace Memorial was a nice attraction I'd recommend. We ended up buying liquor at a shop by the Post Office. The prices were the best we found and everything was properly delivered to the ship as promised.
The next day was Jamaica mahn, the only port we booked an excursion. My healing knee wouldn't allow us to climb Dunn's River Falls so we booked the Bamboo Beach Club. Oh yea baby!! We go off the ship and were led a short stroll to the beach. There were adirondack and lounge chairs in the sun, under trees and canopies. After being shown our partially shaded spot for the day, we immediately went to the shoreside massage canopy draped in linen. Two 30 minute massages were $88 and worth every cent. Minimum massages are $22 each for 15 minutes. Having a massage on the beach with the waves lapping, kids playing, smell of jerked meat cooking coming by my nose every once in a while and the reggae music on the wind was a definite bright star of this vacation. After the massage, we went to our lounge chairs and were served mojitos and rum punch all day. Occasionally, we were served pasta, rice, sausage and jerked chicken washed down with more mojitos and rum punch. When the heat got a bit much, we swam in the Caribbean. The water had spots of seaweed, but not everywhere. With a couple of hours left we went to the Island shopping center and the Taj Mahal. The people on the street weren't near as aggressive as I'd read about on the line and were very friendly. Having been to Appleton Estates on the previous cruise, I was searching for 30 year Appleton rum. The plantation is obviously the only place to buy it. I did discover a disparity in the price of available 21 year old rum. The dude at a Taj Mahal store said he'd take $142.00 for a bottle marked $160.00. I held out and bought a bottle at the store by the pier entrance for $110.00. Back to the ship I hated to turn over my prized rum but security insisted.
Final day at sea was a bit sad knowing it was ending. The Triumph showed it's age but was obviously cared for. The spas on the bow were reserved for staff only and the front port hallway on deck 6 smelled of urine. I learned that searching out the secret doors. We chose to leave our bags in the hall as we were given number 2 to catch our flight. After our final breakfast, we went to the lobby deck expecting the worst. The Conquest was a madhouse during disembarkation. Leaving the Triumph was sad but efficient. We were off and searching for baggage in 10 minutes. This is where I knew the vacation was over. I waited 40 minutes for my luggage to hit the carrousel and had every Carnival staff member I could find looking for it. Given number 2 to ensure I could get to Fort Lauderdale and catch my flight was a waste of time since they lost the bags. I was VERY relieved when they finally appeared. At least I carried the rum with me to get through customs. This was a great vacation and I would recommend everything we did, especially Carbonitos and the Bamboo Beach Club. Now I can't wait for the one we've already booked in November and also next year. Happy Cruising!!!!!!!!!