We just returned a few days ago from a 5 day Western Caribbean cruise. Prior to our trip, I read through many of the reviews for The Triumph. I must admit that I was a little worried and skeptical due to negative reviews from previous guests. Although this was our 4th Carnival cruise, we were traveling with our extended family and another family (23 in all), and most of them were first time cruisers. I really wanted the experience to be a good one for everyone. We had my parents (67 & 70), my siblings and their spouses, and children ranging from ages 18 to 2.
Several reviews expressed disappointment in the decor, but I was not disappointed. The common areas and hallways were actually more updated than one of the newer ships we have sailed on. The rooms were slightly outdated, but nothing that I was offended by. The bathroom was probably the most outdated, but nothing that prevented us from enjoying the cruise. Some reviewers also expressed negative comments about long lines. I never once thought that the lines were any longer than other cruises. During peak breakfast/lunch times. you're going to have lines.
This was our first time to sail out of New Orleans- usually we sail from Galveston. The embarkation process was very smooth. We stayed in Baton Rouge the night before due a large festival that was taking place in New Orleans. On the morning of our cruise, we arrived at the terminal around 9:30 am. We parked at the terminal and had easy access to parking/porters, and entered the terminal entrance through the parking garage. The lines were not long and we were through the entire check-in process within 1 hour. We were seated in n large waiting area until it was time to board. They began boarding at approximately 11:30. As soon as we boarded, we headed to the Lido deck for lunch. It was pretty crowded, but nothing that was unusual considering the number of people who were boarding and had no place to go. We explored the ship after lunch and then went to our rooms, which were ready by 1:30. We had ocean view rooms on the Main deck (FABULOUS stewards), which ended up being very convenient easily accessible to our dining room and lounge. The dining room was similar to the cuisine that we have experienced on previous cruises, so no disappointment there. Our wait staff was AWESOME.... probably the best that we've ever had! They knew each one of us by name and memorized our preferences. I can honestly say that we did not encounter anyone who was unfriendly or not willing to offer help.
We chose to have dinner in the formal dining room each night (London dining room). Breakfast buffets on the Lido and in the Bistro offered a variety of breakfast foods. We also had breakfast in the Paris dining room one morning, which provided a more calm and personal atmosphere. Lunch options were burgers/hot dogs/chicken tenders/fries on the Lido deck along with a buffet line in the Bistro. I was a little disappointed in the buffet selections in the Bistro, but there was also a New York deli open from 11 am to 11 pm, 24 hour pizza, and a Sushi bar that had varied hours.
Our ports of call were Progreso and Cozumel. We've visited both of these ports a number of times and have usually taken advantage of excursions. This time in Progreso, we took the free shuttle to the downtown area and walked to the beach (only a couple of blocks). Our kids enjoyed finding some souvenirs, which were significantly less expensive than Cozumel. In the area where the bus drops you off, the local merchants have set up a tent market. You can find every type of t-shirt or souvenir that you would want. Also, along the walk to the beach, there are other local souvenir stores with cheap prices and all are willing to negotiate on prices. While at the beach, the adults took advantage of the beach massages. I definitely recommend them. Prices were $10 for 30 minutes or $30 for a couple's hour massage. Awesome! Our second port of call, Cozumel was hampered by a tropical depression. We had booked excursions for that port, but Carnival allowed us to get a refund due to the rain. Definitely a perk booking through Carnival. We were really disappointed, but chose to shop instead. The stores there are more expensive than the last time we visited, and none are willing to haggle. If you're visiting these areas and plan to shop, shop in Progreso.
Onboard entertainment was pretty much the same as we have experienced on other cruises. The night shows weren't as impressive as what we have seen on other ships, but the final show probably made up for that. The ship had two comedians on board who were really funny. We had just a sample preview of them on the first night, but for some reason, the Triumph decided to have them perform in the Punchliner lounge, which is a much smaller lounge. We were never able to get seats to hear them because the room filled up so quickly. There were a couple of nights when there was only one main show, so they could have easily rearranged to make room for the comedians. Also, the water slide was a bit of a disappointment for our kids. The hours that it was open were limited and the line was really long. A couple of times they had to wait 1 hour for a 10 second ride. Another disappointment were the swimming pools. There are 3 onboard, but they are not much bigger than a large hot tub. Pools are usually smaller on cruise ships, but these are the smallest that I've seen.
Debarkation was also very smooth. We chose the self-assist route and were in our car at 7:30 am.
Our overall experience was great. Our older kids felt that there wasn't as much to do for them, but they were never bored. The trip was better than I expected since I had read so many negative reviews. We enjoyed experiencing a ship that we had never sailed on, and our first time cruisers were not disappointed.