Since we live in Florida our cruise adventure started with a drive through the Everglades. We arrived at the Miami Pier at 12:30. We chose to park shipside ($140) and joined a long line waiting to check in. Carnival employees do a good job keeping the lines moving. The only long wait was to actually board the ship. For some reason the picture for our sail and sign card was made onboard as we entered the ship. Since there were only a few cameras and many guests coming onboard there was an unexpected (for us) logjam at the doors. I don't remember this from other Carnival cruises. Don't they usually take pictures at the desk?
Finally walking onboard through the atrium I noticed that the maitre d' was on duty, so my DH immediately took care of changing our table assignment to a table for 2. That done, we headed to the Upper deck forward to our veranda cabin. The cabin was very similar to other Carnival ships. Well organized, plenty of room for storage, comfortable beds, and roomy shower. I was interested to note that the mini-bar had been removed. Since I only use the mini bar to refrigerate my water bottles - that wasn't much of a disappointment, and the extra storage space was good for luggage. I was surprised to find a bit of mildew on the grout in the bath. Later my DH brought this to the attention of our room steward, and he made an effort to clean it using an abrasive cloth. What the shower really needed was an application of bleach, but maybe they don't use that on board. In all other respects the cabin was very clean.
Our tummies were telling us that it was time to visit the Lido Deck (which we call the "Feedo" Deck) for lunch. The Lido on the Triumph has the central main buffet areas with two lines. By the time we went to lunch there were no lines, and we enjoyed our first meal of salads and chicken marsala and roast beef. Inside the dining room we also discovered a Deli station and a Chinese Food Station. At the main pool there was an international buffet and a buffet with the usual hotdogs, hamburgers etc. Next to the aft pool there is another grill station where they are also grilling chicken and veggie burgers and of course the famous Carnival 24 hr. pizza station. If the dining areas are full, take your meals upstairs in the mid section of the deck. The tables up there are mostly empty. All around the Lido you will find the ice cream and yogurt machines. Sadly, no toppings of any kind were available.
The boat drill was conducted efficiently and quickly, and by the time we were back in our cabin, the luggage had started to arrive. We made quick work of unpacking and stowing luggage, and then went out on the balcony to watch our departure from Miami.
We are late diners, so near to 8:00 we made our way to the London dining room, midships. Our table for two was fine - nothing special - but not near a noisy clearing station. I'll say hear that I believe Carnival does a wonderful job in their food prep. The menus are varied and appeal to many tastes. All the dishes come beautifully presented. I am amazed that I can actually order a steak medium rare, and it arrives to my table hot and medium rare. One reason we are Carnival cruisers is the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. Oh my goodness! My DH enjoyed one every night, and then asked the breakfast server on our last morning for "3 to go." J
The Triumph is a beautiful mid sized ship. If you are familiar with the Carnival Conquest Line - you will find the layout much the same. Just remember that you cannot walk through the ship on the third or fourth floors due to the restaurants. The restaurants are easily navigated from the fifth floor that has the bars, casino and shops.
We did have one disappointment on this cruise. Our cabin was Upper Deck, aft, directly over the Venezia Bar. The music from the bar was very loud in our cabin, especially the drums and bass. I sleep with earplugs - so I was fine every night except one night when the music continued to 2:00 a.m. If you party late - no problem. But - if you don't close the bars at night - you may want to book a forward cabin on the Upper Deck or choose another floor.
The seas were a bit rough on our way to Puerto Rico. No problem for us, we are good sailors and actually enjoyed the rocking motion, especially at night in bed. Due to the rough seas the captain slowed down the boat - so we were late arriving in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. Many of the shore excursions were cancelled. Dinner in Puerto Rico was open dining in the Paris dining room, but due to the delay there were more diners than expected so the London dining room was also opened. This disappointed many of the serving staff since they had been planning on free time in port. After dinner we disembarked and took an evening stroll through town. Since it was after dark - we stayed close to the port area. This part of Puerto Rico is beautiful. The fully lighted ship at dock was a great photo op for many. A few street side venders still had their wares on display, and it was nice to get outside and walk off dinner.
On Wednesday we docked in St. Thomas. We have been to St. Thomas enough times to discover our favorite snorkel beach - Coki Beach. We found a taxi, and soon we were on our way. The fare was $10.00 per person. We could have waited in an open air taxi for it to fill up and saved a dollar per person, but we were anxious to get to the beach. Don't expect much ambiance as you approach the beach area. If you approach through Coral World dock it is nicer, but our taxi dropped us off at the main beach area which looks very off putting, but we knew that the beauty of Coki was UNDER water. We rented beach chairs ($5.00 each) on the right side of the beach near the rocks. Umbrellas were also available for rent, but we quickly erected our portable beach cabana, donned our snorkel gear and began to snorkel. Right away you are in a "fish tank." My DH had remembered to bring dry dog food, and WOW, we were quickly surrounded by hundreds of sergeant majors and parrot fish and clown fish. We had to learn to let the dog food get soaked or else it would float, and the seagulls would get a treat! The area right around Coral World has beautiful areas of coral and many varieties of fish. Later my DH went over to the rocks on the other side of the beach. There are larger varieties of fish there, but there is also a strong current on that side of the beach that I remembered from other adventures, so I chose to stay on the right side. There is beauty enough there for me.
There are servers all along the beach ready to bring sodas, beer or fresh fruit smoothies, even burgers and pizza. Since we had left the boat early, we were ready to get back to the ship around 2:00 p.m. We found an open air taxi ready to depart. It was a small private beach tour that only had one more stop to make so we joined them. We took a longer way back to the boat and made a quick stop at Sapphire Beach. Beautiful! Back at the ship, we had burgers on the "Feedo" and then I enjoyed the hot tub and the almost empty pool deck.
Thursday was St. Maarten - Another one of our favorite Caribbean destinations. My DH had booked a snorkel excursion called "Deluxe Catamaran." Our worries about the number of people on the excursion were groundless due to the shear size of "Sweetie Pie." After a quick introduction we were on our way to Tintamarre Island - a French out island. The beach was beautiful and not crowded. My DH had taken is own snorkel gear, but I had opted to use the gear supplied by the boat. Big mistake. It was impossible to get a seal on my mask so after a short time snorkeling - I returned to the boat and got a noodle and rum punch and enjoyed the rest of my time relaxing in the sun. After an hour or so we were called back to the boat and given a light lunch. Sodas, rum punch, beer and water were supplied, so everyone was having a grand time. My DH was the last one out - and only returned to the boat when the captain whistled to him. He had observed the usual fish but also an eel and lobsters. Our sail back to port was beautiful. This was a great excursion - but take your own snorkel gear! J
Thursday night was the big party on deck - and no one does a party quite like Carnival. They divide into the usual teams of "Red and Blue" and the teams practiced group acts that they presented at the party. It was fun for both the participants and the observers.
We enjoyed the second big stage show onboard with a New Orleans theme. The comedian / juggler was also good. We avoided the adults only show and comedian act. The piano bar musician, Peter was just OK. He had allowed a guest to sing on the first night - so she thought she was part of the act each night. I was glad when he closed the "open mike." The combo "Just Friends" were very good. They did medleys of Beetles, Disco ... etc.
Our cruise ended with two beautiful days at sea. I love sea days and took advantage of the down time to relax and read and nap and of course - eat.
Too soon our week at sea was over. We chose to carry our own luggage off - and it went pretty well. It is important to walk all the way forward before you go to the 3rd floor lobby to disembark.
I have enjoyed sailing on Holland America and Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but every Carnival Cruise really is a "fun ship."