Prior to cruising, we stayed at the Maison St Charles and took advantage of their $139 park and stay special. The hotel was great and our car was safe the entire time. I will definitely stay here if we cruise from NOLA again. Actually, I loved the hotel so much I would probably stay there even if we're not cruising.
Embarkation: The embarkation process was easy, but some of the Carnival employees were fairly rude to us (one example: my phone was ringing and as I reached to silence it a man in a Carnival shirt threatened to take my phone away if he saw it out again- I had already gone through the line and was in the seating area waiting to board, so I'm not sure what the problem was. Several other people were talking on their phones at the time). Once onboard we stood in a short line at the shore excursion desk to book our Behind the Fun tour, then on to the buffet. We had arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:20 and were eating by 12:15. Our room was ready by about 1:15.
Cabin: Our room was great. We were in 1109 and I would stay in that room again if we return to the Triumph. It is a balcony stateroom on the spa deck. The rooms on the spa deck are bigger than the rooms on the other decks. Our room was spacious and though it was very pink, the decorations were tasteful. Our shower had great water pressure and very hot water! Our balcony was a decent size. One note if you're thinking of booking the spa deck- the balconies are not covered and the people above can see you!!! Also, there's no shade out there during the day. Fair trade, I think, for being able to look at the stars at night. Our steward was really pushy and abrupt and the assistant steward apologized to me for the steward's behavior but indicated there wasn't much he could do.
Food: I'd expected banquet-grade food in the MDR and had read all the menus. I was disappointed anyway. Sure they served prime rib, escargot, etc., but it was more like an elementary school cafeteria's take on those dishes than how any of them would be served by any restaurant/caterer. Several people at my table started ordering several different dishes at dinner, in hopes that one of them would be edible. The soup was pretty bad. Every salad I had was good to great, and the Asian food near the buffet was also good. Speaking of the buffet, the food at the buffet was always a step up from the quality/taste we got in the MDR and there were several meals where we left the MDR and went to the buffet to supplement our meals. On a brighter note, the service in the MDR was excellent and our waiters learned our names and gave us pointers about what to do in port and ways to enjoy ourselves on the ship.
Cleanliness: The cleanliness left something to be desired. We often saw the same room service trays sitting in the hallways for several hours, the Lido tables weren't bussed often or well, and once at lunch in the MDR I opened my napkin to find several pieces of crisp lettuce inside.
Staff: The staff (save for our cabin steward who was kind of standoffish) were very nice, but didn't seem too motivated to go above and beyond. Tex was our cruise director and he was visible around the ship, and the rest of the entertainment staff were visible and engaged as well.
Activities: Maybe it was because they had to improvise an extra day's worth of activities (due to port cancellation), but the activities seemed really amateurish. For example, the "set" for the much-touted Love and Marriage game consisted of three folding chairs and some legal pads. That said, the entertainment was good, the shows were good, and everybody was having a good time.
Behind the Fun tour: for those who are curious- it was $95, and only about 30 people get to participate, so if you're interested sign up early. We saw the laundry room, morgue, medical clinic, supply room, bridge, backstage area, engine room, galley, and some other places that I can't think of now. I'm glad I did it and felt it was worth the money.
Debarkation: Fine while onboard, but the rude NOLA Carnival employees struck again. We didn't have to clear customs after our sailing for some reason (we didn't visit any foreign ports- maybe that's why), so the Carnival people were literally screaming at us to put our passports and customs forms away (what did they care what we were holding in our hands?), then we would walk 200 feet and another employee would tell us to take the forms and our passports out for customs... round the corner and "AS YOU WERE TOLD EARLIER, you need to put your passports away" etc. Meh... eventually we got our luggage and walked outside. A Carnival employee met us at the door and asked where we were going. I said "to get a taxi to take us to our hotel." She demanded to know the name and address of the hotel, then she directed me to the taxi stand. Not sure why it was any of her business where I was staying (there was only one taxi stand, not like different lines to go to different places), but we got a cab easily and made it back to our car.