Out of 4 cruises, 1 was with Royal Caribbean and the last 3 on Carnival. We previously sailed on RCCL Mariner of the Seas, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Miracle and now the Triumph. I sailed with my husband, our 10 year old son, our 2 year old daughter. Also my cousin and her family, fiancé and twin 11 year-old sons from Connecticut traveled with us. We left out of the port of New York City, which worked out great since we live in NY. A quick 30-40 minute drive from home and we were at the cruise terminal. The cost to park at Carnival’s facilities is $30 per day, so it ran about $150 for 5 nights. When first arriving we proceeded to park and THEN unload all of our luggage. At the time there was not a clear indication of the luggage/porter situation. It was quite a pain trying to lug 3 suitcases, 2 carry- on bags, a garment bag along with our 2 year old and her stroller all the way back. Once we reached the freight elevator section is when we were able to give our luggage to a porter. Upon entering the terminal and seeing the horde of people I thought OH BOY!! However, we were asked for our fun pass, went through the metal detectors, and waved to the big check in line. The line was long but moved very quickly, I believe less than 30 minutes-not bad at all. We checked in, received our sail and sign cards and off to board the ship. All in all after registering our credit cards, taking the customary embarkation photo, to boarding the ship was about less than hour give or take. Definitely not bad, especially considering we were leaving from New York.
I was worried about how the Triumph would look and compare, especially after sailing on the beautiful Carnival Liberty last summer. Let me say upon first entering the Triumph, it is pretty nice and looked better than I expected. However, there the Liberty wins hands down. Furthermore, I think if it would be better to sail the Triumph first and then the Liberty. But after seeing the beautiful Liberty and then sailing on the much older Triumph, there is a definite a “culture shock.” The two definitely do not compare. At this time it was about 2:00.
My first stop was to the Maitre’D to confirm our tables were the same as my cousin and her family, who had not arrived yet. Then we went to our cabin to drop off our carry-on bags and off to the Lido deck for lunch. Upon entering the buffet area, I was immediately turned off. I’m not sure what it was but there was a faint smell of perhaps garbage or spoiled food that kind of killed my appetite. The buffet area was a complete mad house. Right now I am really starting to miss the Liberty. Just a little side bar information about me, I have a preference to the bigger, newer ships. Yes it's true; you cannot go all the way through from front to back on decks 3 and 4. However, if you’ve been on one Carnival ship, then it really isn’t hard to figure your way around another. Now I’ll break this review up into sections of interest: Ship Decor and public areas: some areas were really beautiful, others you can see its age and wear and tear. Deck 5 is beautiful with all of the shops, bars, the casino and different things, and it goes all the way through from front to back. I liked the walkway on the side with windows and big comfortable seats for people watching or whatever you fancy. Most of the public areas are well kept and cleaned. However, I was not too thrilled with the swimming pools. Cabins: We were in cabin 1326-Oceanview, which is on the Riviera deck (deck 1) and it was a perfect location. The beds and the bedding were so comfortable! However, the nice bed was the best part. I know the Triumph was refurbished; however I definitely noticed and missed little things with the Liberty. However, one blaring difference/disappointment was no refridgerator/minibar in the cabins. On Carnival’s older ships the cabins do not have fridges, except the suites and penthouses. I didn’t really like that, especially because we were traveling with our daughter who still drinks milk in her bottles. However, I found this out 2 weeks before sailing and we bought a small cooler on board that we kept filled with ice to store her milk. There were 3 closets in the cabin and 2 robes to use. The bathroom was small, and still has the original décor-pink tiles on the wall and the sink had some kind of green-grime in it, also the toilet seat had scratches on its surface. These are just my quirks when it comes to bathrooms. But there were body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower. There were also trial size samples of toothpaste and a razor, not all the little things that were included on the Liberty and the Miracle. Our cabin steward was okay, again big difference to last year’s steward. He did service the rooms twice a day, however he never filled the ice buckets, never replaced the glasses after we used them. And one day we were still a little sleepy and had the “Privacy Please sign on our door after breakfast. We got showered and dressed and left the cabin by 11:15 am but he had slipped a card under our door saying “Sorry we missed you…” and he did not clean the room at all that morning. My kids did love coming back to the cabin at night and seeing the different towel animals along with chocolates on the pillow, I love the turn down service. The television worked fine, but it was an older model that hung in the corner by the window. Oh well, we definitely were not on a cruise to stay in our cabins and watch TV. FOOD: Everyone's favorite subject (it is mine). Well how do I begin...Over all it was good with a little room for improvement. If you want a sit-down breakfast it was in the Paris dining room. The service was hit or miss. But it is easier than dealing with the lines and chaos on the Lido deck. Most mornings the service was good. One day there was a little issue with everyone and the person who does the seating arrangements. The food was good; however at the buffet there is a long wait for the omelet station, then when things ran out, there was a wait for it to be replenished. Also, the pancakes and French toast were cool, not even warm. Most times the Lido deck was just too chaotic with the other guests some. For lunch we only ate up at the Lido deck. I definitely missed the fish and chips restaurant on the Liberty. In all 3 of my Carnival cruises, I don’t know why but I have never had lunch in the dining room. We ate most lunches on the Lido deck (buffet). There are 2 or 3 grill sections with cheeseburgers, French fries, along with hot dogs, onion rings, chicken tenders (were good) and nachos and melted cheese sauce. Each day I ate the items at the grill for lunch. There are the 24 hour ice cream machines that are available 24 hours a day. However, the ice cream this year was just off. It always had that frozen-ice chips kind of texture. For dinner, we ate every night in the main dining room. On a 5 day cruise, we only had 1 formal night, which was definitely fine by me. I will tell you some of the dishes that I liked as well as the ones I did not. I loved the warm-chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. YUMMMYYY!!! I also liked the prime rib, the BBQ ribs, grilled pork chops, and some of the cold soups, ex. Mango soup. One thing that I loved was the cream brulee. Normally I do not like how most people prepare it, but Carnival’s was delicious. The other desserts were ok. Thank God for the warm-chocolate melting cake. For the most part the food was good, but it could be improved upon. We missed the one late night buffet/Mexican buffet the night of the deck party. They had the chocolate buffet on the last sea day. Definitely not as good and definitely not as many choices as on last year’s cruise. Last year there were about 10 different kinds of chocolate cake, there was a chocolate fondue machine for dipping fruits, and other things-even freshly made donuts that were dipped in chocolate, also last year they had different flavored ice creams and milkshakes, chocolate cheesecake, different truffles, homemade fudge, candies, etc. However on the Triumph they had about 5 or 6 chocolate cakes, chocolate and vanilla ice cream that they were making “swans” out of, a few truffles, not really too much. For dinner, we had the Main (early) seating in the Paris Dining room (see food section). The dining room was nice. For the wait staff, I do not remember our head waiter’s name, but our assistant waiter was Kadek, we were at table 524-Upper. The head waiter was not friendly at all, not rude but not friendly and no interaction. He did his job sufficiently though, so at the end of the day I can’t really complain. However, our assistant waiter was very nice and definitely the more personable of the two. Last year’s wait staff was the absolute best. Ports of Call: We went to CANADA. I know BORING. We had stops in Saint John and Halifax. Okay 2 things here, one either Carnival should cancel Canada as a port of call. Or they should visit Montreal or Toronto or even Quebec. But Saint John and Halifax were not really the most interesting ports of calls. The day we arrived in SJ, the people were so nice, they gave out Canadian flags and stickers to the kids and some ladies were handing out slices of cake, their hospitality was so very nice. That day was Canada Day. Some places were closed as that is a National holiday there. However, just up the road from the Cruise port was a day of Canada Day festivities, all of which sounded really nice and like fun, especially for the kids. The only problem is that almost all the residents of SJ’s and almost all of the cruise passengers were there and it was VERY crowded. The walkway to through traffic was very narrow. The idea and festivities planned sounded great however, due to extreme space limitations we were only there for about 30 minutes. We then walked up the street and were able to grab a taxi in a minivan to take us on a private tour for 1 hour. He took us to the Fundy where they have the reversing falls everyday/every 8 hours. That was nice and afterwards he let us our near the Market where we bought souvenirs and got delicious milk shakes and then walked back to the ship. The next day we arrived in Halifax. When first getting off the ship, it looks a like an industrial town with nothing interesting nearby. We walked a bit and once again we were able to find a taxi-minivan to take us on a tour. The tour guide’s name was Omar. And Omar was very nice. He took us to the Citadel, what a beautiful view and we took pictures. We also went by the national park-forgive me that I forgot the name. Afterwards, Omar brought us to the main strip where all of the stores and restaurants were. He stopped and came inside with me to the pharmacy as I needed to buy some cough syrup for my daughter. He was very nice and very patient. He heard me mention that I heard Canada has good fish and chips (and seafood in general) and he brought us to a seaport area where we had the best fish and chips ever! We also paid/tipped him extra because the tour was suppose to be for only one hour and it went over. Afterwards back to the ship to rest up for dinner. My birthday, I will keep it short. My dear husband surprised me and ordered a DELICIOUS cake from the Formalities shop and had the waiters bring it out and everyone sang happy birthday to me. It was so nice.
Cruise Director and activities: Our cruise director was Jorge and his assistant was Natanya. Jorge was funny and I enjoyed him. However, what others have said is true, I’m sorry but Natanya’s voice drove me nuts also. However, we did not see much of Jorge at all, just the first night and the during the disembarkation talks. I definitely enjoyed Karl-with a K on the Liberty last year. Carnival is definitely the fun ship, however this year it was just okay. I believe all of the best activities, personnel, and amenities are on the newer more expensive ships. I normally like the Marriage/Newlywed game, however this year they used the exact same questions and one-liner jokes as on last year’s cruise. There weren’t as many fun games during the day either. The one good thing, my cousin won the “Magic Ball” bingo but there was another winner (who said “bingo” very late-I smell controversy), so they split the $800 jackpot. Oh well still nice. We usually enjoy the after dinner shows. Not this year. Last year there was the tribute to Motown-very nicely done, the juggling act-yes it was very good and hilarious, the comedians especially Percy Crews. The deck party and “colors” games were much more fun. This year’s shows on the Triumph were not staying up for, and we turned in early most nights after the first few minutes of the show. Camp Carnival: What can I say; if it gives any indication of how much fun our son had...he only had dinner with us 2 out of 5 nights-and one of those we had to twist his arm-JUST KIDDING. The counselors do a great job, and keep the kids very entertained and very busy. They did everything from swimming, to scavenger hunts, ice sundae making, candy making, pizza making, cake decorating, Nintendo WII and other video games, tee shirt coloring, some chocolate game, on Thursday night was the "Ultimate Pajama Party" with at least 15 different things lined up for the night. It lasted until 3:00 AM!!! And on that night the counselors walk each child back to their cabins. Normally the parents pick them up unless you sign a form permitting a child from age 9+ to sign themselves out. Every night they have dinner for the kids to eat with the counselors and their new friends and go to a show and then back to the many other scheduled activities. Also each child received little gifts like a Carnival's backpack, tee shirts, and other little things. It was great. However, my two year old daughter was a totally different story…Because she is only 2, Carnival supplies a cell phone for the 2 and 3 year olds so that they can always reach the parents and vice versa. The first night we brought her for a “test” for an hour to see how she would do. She walked in with no problem. Even still my husband and I waited a couple of minutes and peeked in and saw her dancing on the carpet with the other kids and counselors. When we went back an hour later, I saw she had been crying. Once she realized that mommy and daddy had gone she wanted out. Well she wanted to go to Camp Carnival…if I could stay there with her. Needless to say that was the end of CC for her, as she wanted no parts of it. Oh well, she’s still pretty young, maybe when she’s a little bit older she’ll enjoy it.
Disembarkation: the purser's desk gave us #6 luggage tags. They first called everyone who were doing the self-embark first, which took a long time. However, when they first began calling luggage numbers, they called at the same time: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8”-HOORAY we were already near the exits and off we were. It was about 10:00 am. We were able to go through customs in no time, found a porter and back on the road to drive home on the Fourth of July. This is all I can remember for now. I know this review was long, but I hope it was helpful. Please excuse any typos because I was typing a lot of info in a rush. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions. BON VOYAGE!!