I sailed on the Carnival Triumph on Oct 12. This was supposed to be an Exotic Eastern cruise, however, what was tropical depression 15(?) which turned into Omar ( I believe ) we were re rerouted to the Western visiting Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel after stopping in Half Moon Cay. I cruised with a friend, and several of his family members whom all drove to Miami. They were very disappointed that our itinerary was changed, but it wasn't such a big deal to me as I had been to all the ports before with the exception of Ocho Rios. We had an interior cabin for 4, and the other part of our party had an inside cabin for 3. This was the second cruise since the Triumph came out of dry dock.
As far as the ship, this was my second time on the Triumph, and 9th overall on Carnival. I thought the ship overall was in great condition. It was obvious the hull had been refinished as it was a bright blue, as well as the Seaside Theater was installed on the Lido deck. Much of the outer deck areas seemed to have been freshly painted. Perhaps also carpeting had been replaced throughout the ship, but other than that, I could not tell anything else major had been done during the drydock. It did not seem the cabins had been renovated, although ours was in fine shape and very clean.
Initially I was concerned about sharing a cabin with 3 other people, but it turned out to be not bad at all. I slept in the cabin, took showers, but otherwise was never in the cabin, less so than any other cruise I had been on.
Having cruised on Carnival 8 previous times, I had a good idea of what to expect regarding my cruise experience. In that sense, I was not disappointed overall. The staff and crew that I encountered throughout the ship were always friendly. However, of all my previous cruises, I enjoyed this cruise director the least (Ryan Fitzgerald). Additionally, the Lido deck band was hardly that, just a duo who used pre recorded music for all of their songs. They were not terrible, but I just couldn't get into that type of entertainment. I like live music to be exactly that, live. I am not sure if its become difficult to get quality bands to perform on the ships, or its a cost cutting measure, but none the less disappointing. This is made even more disappointing because the sound system that is part of the Seaside Theater is excellent. However, the Rome lounge orchestra, which was a 10 piece was very good, so perhaps that made up for it. One other thing, there was only one production stage show, rather than two, which is the first time that has happened on a cruise. As far as other entertainment, Frank Del Pizzo, one of the comedians who performed was very funny. He actually had a full routine and did not make fun of the audience for his act. I am not sure why comedians do this on a cruise ship, but I have never seen them do it at a comedy club, and its generally not that funny.
Our group ate in the Paris dining room every night. We had a very friendly and personable waiter, but the service overall was a little below the standards I had experienced in the past. His assistant was missing in action much of the time. However, the food for the most part was good to very good. On the last night, the Prime Rib was as good as any I have had on land. I never ate a meal in the Lido buffet, but I did visit the NY Deli a few times and had some great sandwiches. Speaking of the buffet, often times the variety during lunch is greater than that in the dining room, but during busy times, there were always lines for breakfast and lunch. I never waited to get seated for open seating at breakfast or lunch in the Paris dining room. Why wait in line when I can get served? Additionally, for breakfast, the same food is served both places. So again, why stand in line when I can be served? I am not sure why more people don't go to the dining room when open seating is available, but they should.
As far as ports. It was not so surprising there was bad weather where we were headed because the seas were rough, and the winds high. As soon as we turned and headed west, the seas got noticeably calmer, and the winds turned into gentle breezes. Our tendering in Half Moon Cay was delayed about 30 minutes due to high winds. Its a beautiful beach with crystal clear water. I just relaxed and went swimming, and took a nap in the shade on the beach. It was my first visit to Jamaica and I did an excursion through Carnival, Rafting the Martha Brea River. It was billed to be 1 hour and 15 minutes to an 1 1/2 hours on the river, but we were only actually on the river for 45 minutes. It might have been the river was moving faster than usual due to heavy rains the previous day. None the less relaxing. The drive was about an hour outside of Ocho Rios so I got to see a little of Jamaica. In Grand Cayman, I took a cab to the beach and relaxed again. In Cozumel, I visited Chakanaab park. Its a great place to go snorkeling. There is also a nice beach (not one that leads to the water though) with lounge chairs under huts to relax and enjoy the breezes, along with several restaurants and bars. There is also a Dolphin swim encounter there, where one can see the dolphins and people interacting. It seemed to be a great place to snorkel, but not swim.
Debarkation was the most organized I have yet experienced on a ship. They actually called the number system. Like obedient passengers, we waited until our number was called which came around 10 AM ( we had a high number) and were able to walk right off the ship with no line, and right through customs with no lines. I prefer to wait in the comfort of my cabin, and then the promenade or lido decks as opposed to standing in line, so this worked fine.
One last note, I also participated in the On Deck for a Cure. There were about 30 people who participated. Sadly, it should have been more, but I applaud Carnival for having a program such as this on board.
Was the cruise perfect? Of course not. However, considering the friendly crew and staff, the good and plentiful food, decent entertainment, clean ship, its hard to argue against the value of a Carnival cruise.