This was only our second cruise and this is my first review so it may or may not be helpful. Our last cruise was also a carnival cruise on truimph. We are a family of 3. I also tried to put in one thing I learned since new cruiser like me would be also reading this.
Hotel: We booked at the hampton in down town Miami thru Hotels.com. We were told it came with a free transfer to the port. Not true. We had to pay for the transfer. The hotel staff was really nice and they upgraded us to a suite since we were miss informed by Hotels.com. This was really nice of them since it wasn't their fault. The suite was awesome and they have the most comfortable mattress I have ever had in a hotel room. We both have back problems and hate to sleep any other bed than our own, but I wished we could have taken the bed on the cruise with us. The suite had a full kitchen and a small dining area. There is a supermarket right across the street and a burger king and drug store too.
LEARNED FACT: always call the hotel directly to make sure that everything that is on a discount booking site is really true.
Ship Info: The port was a little congested. It took about 1 hour to get all the way thru to board the ship. We did see people with cases of soda and water that got thru fine. One guy had about 7 cases. The ship was beautiful.
State room: We were supposed to have an inside cabin on the lower floor. ( by choice) But they moved us to one on the 6th floor right above the stage to the lounge. This was a horrible spot. The first night they had Karaoke there. Needless to say you can not sleep when people that think they can sing are squealing like a cat right below your bed. We went to Guest services and complained. They did not have any other rooms available on that night but 2 nights later after someone didn't board at the first stop we were given their room. It was a balcony. I can see why most people prefer a balcony. It was roomier and instead of a bunk bed for our son he had a sofa bed. He liked that a lot. The mattresses were OK. not as good as the ones at the hotel , but not horrible either.
LEARNED FACT: Get a guaranteed room if you want to be able to sleep well.
Activities: We went to a few of the trivia games they had on the boat. The were a fun way to pass the day. We did not go in the pool. the main thing I don't like about carnival's pools is that the water is salt water. I know a lot of people like this. We did use the hot tubs a few times. Due to the lack of sleep the first 2 nights I choose to skip the shows once I got a quiet room for a few nights and catch up on sleep for early excursions.
LEARNED FACT: If you don't like smoke don't go to the family trivia game in the cigar bar. Even during the day there was smoke. Smokers not picking on you, it is the cigar lounge. I just think carnival should not put family activities there. Also, the casino was horrible to walk thru to get to where you wanted to go. There was so much smoke we had to find other ways thru or hold our breath and run for air. Son has asthma. The kids club is on the same floor.
Children's clubs: DS is 15 and so he could come and go as he liked in the teen area. He actually was not impressed with the teen lounge. He spent most of his time at the arcade or the jogging track. He said it was boring all they wanted to do was sit around and talk. He did sneak into the 12-14 yr old group and joined those activities. He had more fun with this group than his own. He had only just turned 15 so maybe he wasn't ready for the next group?
LEARNED FACT: Carnival needs to join the times and get pagers or phones that only work on the boat that parents can rent. The night we changed rooms we could not find DS to tell him, I had no idea the happening place was the jogging track. So I had to sit in the old noisy room til he came back. I know other cruise lines have this capability why can't carnival?
Dining: We ate in the main dining room all but the last night. We had the late seating and sat at a table with 2 other families. The kids all got along really well. The food was excellent and the staff was very on top of things. The pizza on the pizza parlor was a bit cardboard like. The buffets were also very good tasting. My son was so excited about the burrito bar but after the first time he said it wasn't as good as he thought it would be and he never went back. We did not do any specialty restaurants. Room service for breakfast was very good and prompt.
LEARNED FACT: You can order a sandwich with room service ahead of time and keep it in your mini fridge so hungry teen with the midnight munchies doesn't have to leave the room or make a call when others are trying to sleep. Bring ziploc baggies with you.
Service:The steward was very nice and helpful. The dining room staff were great. I drink about 4 glasses of water at dinner and only 1 night was I waiting for fresh water. Customer service desk personnel were very professional even when we say a very irate woman cuss them out. Since they found me a quieter room the saved me from being sleep deprived.
The medical staff on the other hand were incompetent and rude. This is long so if you want to skip it you can. DS fell on the 2nd to last day. He was alone with another 15 yr old and they were in a lounge during the day. He hit his head, fell down and doesn't remember anything until the other boy sat him up. The other boy did not see it happen. Head wound + memory loss = possibly passed out/posible concussion. The other 15 yr old called down to the infirmary and the nurse said she could not come right now and could the other 15 yr old hold pressure on my son's head wound. I understand that she may have been busy with another patient, but why she could not have called another ADULT employee to assist until she was free??? The other boy panicked and that is when he sat my son up and took him thru the ship to the elevator and to the infirmary. I am sure since he was covered in blood all they way to his shoes that other employees had to have seen him and did not offer any help. They paged us and once we arrived in the infirmary we were informed that he needed stitches. I asked DS what happened and he said he couldn't remember. So I said to the nurse that he may have passed out and she said "no he didn't." Since neither of use were there to verify that he didn't pass out they should treat it like he did. After working 18 years in the emergency room as a registered respiratory therapist that has to respond to every trauma in the hospital and being pediatric advanced life support certified I think I do have a little experience with these things. She became rude after I insisted again that there is a possibility that he passed out. DS then said "I started to black out in the elevator" She yelled at him that he did not and that it was blood in his eyes.
The Doctor was not any better when he came in and I mentioned it to him. I also said that we had the travel medical insurance in case they needed to do more tests or ship him off the boat. The nurse then tried to get me to leave the room. I was not yelling or threatening them so why make me leave? I refused stating he was under age and I was not leaving. She then rudely said go stand at the bottom of the stretcher. I promptly did. I know not to get in the way. DS had a headache for 1 1/2 weeks and was very drowsy after the accident. He slept for 4 hours with me waking him every hour to see if he was OK. Good thing I knew to do this since they never mentioned it. Oh and they wouldn't even give antibiotic cream for the wound. Luckily I had some but I wasn't sure if I had enough. If we would have been on land I would have walked right out of there and found competent help. I wrote a letter to Carnival and when they finally replied it was sorry they should have been more sympathetic. I did not meed sympathy I need GOOD medical care for my child. They also said they would look into it and let me know. it has been 5 months. I guess they really don't care.
Learned fact: Go on CC and ask about the medical care before booking.
Embarkation: This went a lot better for us than last time we cruised. I think because we did not go straight down there bit waited till it slacked off a bit.
Summery: Overall it was a wonderful cruise. If DS would not have need medical care i would have rated it better.