We had 8 cabins booked covering our group of 25. We drove in from Houston the night before departure and booked rooms at the Holiday Inn Superdome taking advantage of their park and cruise rate. The younger ones in our group really enjoyed a late night on Bourbon street, while the rest of us made a stroll through the French Quarter to find a bite to eat with the kids. We were given tickets for the shuttle the next morning and our group made the trip in two van runs from the hotel. I have to give major props to the Carnival staff and New Orleans Port Authority for the efficient operation of the cruise terminal. Everything was super smooth getting on board - total of 40 minutes from leaving the Holiday Inn Shuttle van to standing in our cabin. (BTW - Getting off was just as painless. Total of 25 minutes to be cleared through customs with bags in hand getting into a taxi.) Our luggage was delivered to our cabins about 2 hours after boarding, well before we even set sail.
Compliments to Carnival for:
I would give the entertainment onboard high fives for the best quality on a cruise. (Rome Lounge variety/music shows, magic from Vegas and three out of four of the comics in the Rio.)
Food was very good, and for the most part our service was good. What some of them lacked in food service ability was balanced by the effort being put into trying to get it right and for the extra attention given our youngest little cruisers to help them enjoy the dining experience as well. We had three designated tables with late dining for our group so we moved around at the tables to mix the groups up each night a little. That gave us an opportunity to compare the wait staff at each table.
Outstanding experience for the 12-17 year olds in our group in their teen clubs. The Carnival Kids Club didn't work so well for our boys ages 4-10. However, we managed to keep them busy in the pools, playing games and eating the never-ending stream of ice-cream cones.
We had balcony cabins on the Verandah deck and interior cabins on the Riviera and Verandah decks. All were cleaned and attended to very well, beds were comfy and clean. Nobody had noise issues. We were directly below the Lido back deck and still didn't have any problems with noise.
Really need to address the whole saving of deck chairs deal. There is a policy but none of the Carnival staff makes any effort to enforce it, and as a result you have a few guests who stake out 10-12 chairs next to each pool almost daily. Rarely is anyone in said chairs - just beach towels in case they decide to lay out later. Really difficult for other quests who have younger children they are trying to watch in the pool.
The mix of guests makes for an interesting experience which was certainly expected. However, there were so many absolutely rude folks aboard who could affect your fun. I don't see this as a problem that Carnival can be held accountable for - but I have to mention it to fairly cover our experience. (I mean how much time are you saving by closing an elevator door manually to avoid waiting for an older person on a walker from being able to enter with you.) Same issues with people in line at the buffet not letting a child reach in just to get silverware they had forgotten to take. Sometimes the amount of liquor being consumed was the root cause of the attitudes you ran into, and of course that was expected as well. Certainly there were plenty in our group that truly enjoyed the daily drink specials!
We had 19 first time cruisers in our group and every single one of them is ready to cruise again. Our overall experience on the Triumph was a perfect vacation.
Loving me some Carnival today!