We had two cabins (2212 and 2216) on the Carnival Triumph's Aug. 31-Sept. 7 sailing. We unfortunately cruised during two hurricanes (hey, that's the chance you take when booking during hurricane season), but all in all, it went as well as can be expected.
We arrived a day early thank goodness and stayed at the Hampton Inn Blue Lagoon near the airport. The next day we boarded a shuttle to the Port of Miami. We took the 11 am shuttle from the hotel and were onboard by 12:15 pm at the latest. Check in was easy and effortlesseven though we did have a hiccup with the Sign and Sail cardfirst, they couldn't understand that I wanted my mother and aunt on my account and our second cousin was to be on her own account. Then we couldn't find out any information about the refund of our fuel surcharges as we were part of the group that booked way before fuel surcharges were announced.
But once we got on we had lunch in the buffet restaurant on the Lido deckbeware, the floors are marble and very, very slick in the humid weather-I nearly feel twice in the tennis shoes I was wearing and I know I would have fallen if I would have been wearing flip flops. I wore Tevas most of the time and had all the grip I needed to get through without falling in this restaurant.
The lines were soooooo long. This was my sixth Carnival cruise, and my first on one of their larger ships (I've always done shorter cruises on the Fantasy-class ships), so I expected some lines, but these were really long. I guess it just reflected how many people were on board. We had no problem with the Deli line or the burger/hot dog/minute steak line in the back, so I mostly ate there on heavy traffic days.
After lunch we went to check out our rooms. We were very nervous as we booked two 1A category rooms with porthole windows. One bed was a traditional twin bed and the other was a sofa bed that converted to a twin. I was in the convertible sofa bed and found it to be pretty uncomfortable and it was slightly raised on one side so inevitably I would roll back toward the wall. My mother was in the other room and she had the same type of bed and was very comfortable, so again, it might have just been mine. We did take the advice of other cruisers and asked for some extra padding which he brought the next day.
Our room steward was fantastic! We keep everything clean and well stocked. He even brought us a bucket to keep our sodas and water in and made sure it was always filled with ice.
Now, on to the weather situation...because it was hurricane season and, unfortunately for us, a hurricane, we couldn't go to the first or second ports of call (the private island or Grand Turk), instead we had to haul cookies down to St. Thomas. We did get $20 back for each missed port, so that was nice...RC doesn't give you anything.
Basically we were on the ship for three days and the last one was a doozy. Normally I'm not one for seasickness, but that last day before St. Thomas, I had to take one of the complimentary pills they offered (b/c they were out of patches by this time) and lie down. I missed dinner that night and our waiters sent their well wishes to me.
Dinner in the dining rooms was decent. We had the first seating in Paris. Some things on the menu were great (salmon) and others weren't so great. All in all, pretty good though. Our waiters kept our drinks filled and remembered who like iced tea and who liked lemonade. Additionally, they remembered who the after dinner coffee people were before we even had to ask.
Entertainment was a little lacking, but I think this is mainly due to the fact we were supposed to be a port-intensive cruise instead of a days at sea cruise, so a lot of repeats for things to do. I participated in everything I could think of that was free :-) I won two trophies for trivia (go red team!), hit the gym, went to tea (very nice atmosphere), watched ice carving and did my best to try to stay out of the casino :-)
I did have a run in at the Purser's desk. I saw some other comments about them not being so friendly and I also found this to be the case. I needed to find out about the fuel surcharge that I was told by our PVP through Carnival would be refunded as an onboard credit. So naturally I couldn't find out anything until I was on board. So, the second day of the cruise, I went to check on it and the lady just looked at me and said you have to check with your travel agent and tried to wave me away. I told her I booked through Carnival and was told I was going to receive an onboard credit. She pulled up something on the computer, said, no, sorry, we don't have any record of it and tried to dismiss me again. Now, because I anticipated a problem, I brought I copy of the email my PVP sent me stating I would be receiving an OBC. I basically had to make her look at the email print out. Then said said, can I make a copy of this. Then she said they had to call the home office and see what they say, so she said to give it a couple of days. It took four days before it got resolved but as promised, she called my stateroom at let me know that the refunds were issued back to the credit card we used, not to our sign and sail card good enough, but what if I hadn't have asked and come with documentation??? I wasn't going to eat $70 per stateroom.
Now, back to the trip...Once we made it to St. Thomas, it was overcast. We tried to wait it out hoping it would clear up a bit and it did. We wanted to do a tour and wanted to book in advance with Godfrey or some of the others mentioned, but once we learned of the hurricane, we didn't want to book not knowing if we were going to even make it to that portI know they refund your money, but it seemed such a hassle at the time. I wish we would have gone through that hassle because we walked off the ship, the cabbies were there, we asked if they know of anyone who does tours, he said sure and walked away. Then an old guy came up and said he would do one for us for $50 each. Since I had done the research regarding Godfrey's tours and Sonny Liston tours, I knew it should only run about $25 per person, so I thanked him and walked way. What did I do that forhaggling I guess is really how they do things and I hate doing things that way, so I told him what I expected to pay based on research and he said fine, but he wasn't friendly about it. I wanted to just find someone else, but they are all working with each other and the other people were like, "no, I can't take you, that's my brother." So away we went with this old guy.
St. Thomas is really very scenic and beautiful, even on an overcast day and even with a crappy tour guide. We couldn't hear a thing he said over the intercom (it was an open-sided truck type vehicle with flaps you could pull down on the side if it rained), so I couldn't tell you exactly what we were looking at, but it was a nice view from the mountain top and a very scary ride. Because we got a late start, we didn't get to stay at the beach (and he actually didn't even want to take us, but I insisted wanted pictures and we paid for it), but I got my pictures and he headed down the mountain...now I see why he didn't want to take us...the traffic!!! It was horrible like rush hour in Atlanta, only with one lane in each direction instead of six! But we made it back to the ship in time for dinner. We literally boarded the ship, put down our shopping bags and went to dinneras soon as we sat down at our table, torrential downpourwe timed that one perfectly :-)
The next day we went to San Juan, PR and we could NOT have asked for a better day in port. It was so lovely there and sunny and warm (everything we had hoped our cruse would be). It was the first sunny day of the cruise and we relished it. The process in San Juan was far more organized. We got off the ship, went through the terminal and there was a desk for tours and a desk for shore excursions. We went to the one for tours and asked how much and what does it entail and we were told $20 per person and it was a tour of Old San Juan/New San Juan and Shopping. We were sold and got on board. We were on very comfortable, air conditioned shuttle buses and our tour guide was very nice (and his sidekick was too cute for wordsmy goodness, I still talk about that man and probably will until the day I die that's how cute he was!!)
It was absolutely beautiful there and we stopped at various parts of the city to take pictures and hear more about the history this was truly a tour in the sense that I had hoped it was informative, scenic and very lively with our tour guides even pointing out Ricky Martin's penthouse :-)
After San Juan, it was smooth and sunny sailing back to Miami. For the first time the whole cruise I went on deck, went in the pool, had a fantastic cocktail that caused me to pass out on my lounger and just had an all around good time.
The ship was nice, I thought it was very well maintained. I did notice the infamous smell (it was on the Main deck, port side going toward the front of the ship) but it disappeared by the time you got to my cabin. The food was typical mass cruiseline food. It wasn't terrible, you could always find something you could eat, but it just may take you a minute to get through the line. All in all, a good cruise. I would however like to take the same itinerary again just not during hurricane season!