Let me start off by saying this was my first cruise.
Myself, my fiance, and my mother left Memphis by train to New Orleans. I LOVE New Orleans. We stayed at the Marriott Convention Center across from the port. After spending a wonderful day in the big easy we headed off to the port. It was a bit disorganized, but seemed to work there. Once inside is where the fun began. I am a police officer in the Memphis area, however I was wearing a New Orleans Police t-shirt that I had gotten from visiting a N.O.P.D. precinct in the quarter the night before...didn't think much about it. We had just arrived in the first of (what was to be) several long lines. I didn't mind, I had read that this was part of it. However, after getting in line, a Carnival employee approached me, and took all 3 of us in our party to the front of the line! "We take care of police officers here" he said (glad someone does). I just nodded and said "thank you". Same story with the next line (passports, sign and sail cards)..front of the line. Then one more time with boarding..we were instantly issued a "zone card" with a number already called. Long story short(ish), from baggage drop off to boarding the ship was around 10 minutes!
Ok, now we're on the ship. They told us our room would be ready around 1:30 (we boarded around 11:45), so we did what I was looking forward to doing: we ate. :) I have read MANY reviews about long lines at the buffet. While the lines were somewhat long, they moved quickly. We ate, we were happy. Walked around the ship, life was good. At 1:30 exactly, we went to our room (1223/Riviera deck), and sure enough it was ready. Took a picture of the little towel animal (walrus), and settled in for a bit. Room was clean and large. (My first cruise so I didn't know, but mom, who has cruised on several higher end cruise lines, said it was the biggest room she'd been in)
SHIP: The Triumph is a nice ship...a bit dated. 80's styling and a pepto bismol pink bathroom, but who cares, right? Ship was very clean everywhere, no complaints there. The giant tv was great, watched "Up in the Air" on night...very nice. Interesting side note: the ship gets its tv news from Colorado (?). The light switch to the bathroom hissed and flickered, no biggie. BTW here's an easter egg for you if you ever stay in room 1223. Look behind the picture over the couch/bed, see if that yellow piece of gum is still behind it. No, I didnt put it there, but saw it everynight whilst laying in bed lol. Wonder how long thats been there?
STAFF: Top notch. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Our waiter at dinner, I Ketute, was fantastic! Always friendly, remembered who drank tea and who drank water by the second night. Only staff gripe was the liquor girl, Ieva...she was pretty on the eyes, but not friendly at all. Again, I'm on a cruise ship, so who cares!
FOOD: Buffet food could best be described as Ryan's or Golden Corrall type. Not 5 star, but good. Best part was that there was ALWAYS something to eat. One gripe is that (despite heavy research on cruising and the Triumph) I didn't realize that the buffets (South Beach, ect) close for several hours at a time throughout the day. Bummer, but luckily there's always the pizza buffet and the hamburger one. Needless to say I wore those out!
We were assigned to the London dining room, "your time dining" (recommended). Since there were 3 of us, we always requested a booth so as not to be seated with random strangers. The staff accommodated us every night, and it was most enjoyable. The food was good, and the deserts were fantastic. Chocolate melting cake is ADDICTIVE.
Paris dining room for occasional breakfast/lunch (although we usually did the buffet) was nice as well.
SHOWS: We only went to 1, a comedian who was hysterical! (His opening line was "Who here is from out of town?") So I cant comment on any of the other shows.
Here's what Ive learned about cruising:
1. You WILL feel every motion of the ship. If you're prone to get sea sick, take precautions (it didn't bother me, in fact I slept like a baby).
2. You WILL walk a gajillion miles. There are stairs EVERYWHERE. You'll get used to it, and you'll need it after eating all that pizza and melting cake.
3. Therefore, the elevators are you friends!
4. In regards to #3, you will wait for them, however.
5. Cruising is FANTASTIC!
My only 'gripe' about the experience (and its really more of an observation), is probably limited to Carnival and the price....I had always envisioned supermodels drinking martinis and gentlemen like that guy on the liquor commercial ("the worlds most interesting man") to be the "norm" of clientele. Wrong! More like visiting your local Wal Mart..or better yet, the cantina scene from Star Wars. Not exactly the upper crust of society on a Carnival Cruise (especially leaving out of NOLA). Everything from long red beards and camo hats to 3, yes THREE, separate "family reunion" groups on board...complete with matching lime green, orange, and red t shirts. Whatever, again, who cares? There were no problems, and everyone there was there to have a good time, and that's exactly what everyone (ourselves included) did!