This was our eighteenth cruise, the eleventh on Carnival, and second on Triumph. We knew just what to expect and just knew that it would be a great time. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
We arrived in New Orleans a little before noon on Aug. 16, and parking was rather simple but at $16/day it was more expensive than about any other place where we cruised from. Next time we would likely try a stay/park/cruise package at a hotel/motel, but that has not always been a good experience for us. A flat tire on a motel van nearly caused us miss a cruise in the past. Still, there seem to be some good places in New Orleans which are just a short walk to the pier.
With our VIP status, we thought embarkation would be a breeze, but it wasn't really that way. Apparently the letters V I P on our Fun Pass from Carnival were not printed in big enough type (really). We found ourselves in an argument with the embarkation personnel, but finally they went and found our cabin cards in the VIP group so they allowed us to remain in that line. Actually, people in the regular lines were getting through faster than we did since there were only two people servicing the VIP's. Still, we got on board after about an hour, and the cabin was ready by 1:30.
The Triumph was much like we remembered, but our aft balcony room seemed smaller than the one on our previous Triumph cruise. In fact, there was no sofa or chair in the room at all, just the bed, a small round table, and a padded seat slid fully under the built-in desk. Our room steward was most accommodating, but he said there was not enough space in our room for any sofa, perhaps he could find a small chair for us. I think that we will not be using a Carnival agent to book ever again, at least not the one we had. He had insisted that we NOT book the forward balcony as we preferred, and gave us this aft one, which he said had a larger balcony -- didn't mention the smaller cabin inside. Our problem last time was neighbors on the rear of the ship continually going to their balcony to smoke, providing plenty of second-hand smoke to make our balcony unenjoyable. While underway, the forward balcony should have always had only fresh sea air. Fortunately, we had no problem with smoke this cruise.
When our luggage was delivered to our room late in the afternoon, we found a note in our large piece indicating that they chose to search it for "items not allowed." We found nothing missing, but clothing was bunched and disheveled, and liquid items removed from ziplock bags and allowed (or made) to leak. In fact, we found a Panasonic camcorder in the bag which was certainly NOT ours. There was a paper in it with the name "Reeves" but I just turned it in to Guest Services rather than try to find this person. I hope that Carnival found him and returned the item. I wondered how many others just "lose" such items or have them "confiscated" by security.
As it turned out, our aft balcony was a great benefit for me. Although we found the food on the Triumph to be quite good, I did have an issue with breakfast on the first morning. My wife preferred to have an omelet, so we went to the deli sandwich station where they had omelets made to order for breakfast. Since I was waiting with her, I selected scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes from the deli area for my meal. The slower line in this smaller area was not where people normally waited for scrambled eggs, and since my wife had all the other same items that I did, I later determined that I should not have chosen the scrambled eggs either. The great egg recall at the time may have influenced my thinking, but eggs are notorious for needing complete cooking in order to be safe to eat. Later that day I got very ill with vomiting and diarrhea. This was intense for a day or so, then lessened a bit and mostly disappeared by the final day of the cruise. It was nothing contagious as others around me did not get ill. It was good to get outside on the balcony for fresh air, so I was sure it was not motion sickness. I never had problems on 17 previous cruises -- and the gentle motion of the ship was actually soothing at night and helped me sleep.
Ports turned out to not be near as enjoyable as in the past, and we mostly went out on our own for as long as I could handle it. We hadn't tried to book any adventure/tour through Carnival. Entertainment on board was not that enjoyable either since I had difficulty sitting through shows or other organized activities. After that first morning, I didn't eat very much at all. It was the first cruise that I was on where I lost weight, about 10 pounds. My wife did comment that the food was as good as we remembered from before, and maybe better.
Debarkation went really smooth, and with VIP status, we could have easily been off the ship and on our way by about 7:00. We chose not to use the priority departure since we had plenty of time to drive to relatives for a visit before we headed back home. In all, it could have been a wonderful vacation except for the one small inattention to detail, which I presumed to be improperly cooked eggs. Whatever it was, this attention to detail is precisely the reason that we will book with Royal Caribbean, Holland, Celebrity, etc. in the future. Our next cruise will certainly NOT be on Carnival, but with time we may eventually return.