This was my 5th cruise total and all have been with Carnival. With me this trip was my 22 year old daughter, it was her first and to hear her tell it, her last cruise. My 5 year old granddaughter, it was her 2nd cruise and my 3 year old grandson and it was his 1st cruise. We had cabin 8284 on the Veranda Deck 8 and it was a balcony cabin.
We left San Antonio at around 10am on Sunday October 9th in very wet and raining weather conditions. The driving was hazardous to put it mildly. I take 110E to the Sam Houston Tollway South. The cost is $4.50 paying $1.50 at each of the 3 toll booths along this route. It seems to cut off about 30-45 minutes of our drive to Galveston. I arrived in Galveston at around 2pm. We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites near the Sea Wall. I arrived about an hour before check in and we were allowed to wait in the lobby until our room was ready. I highly recommend staying at this property. They are friendly and the rooms are always clean. The breakfast is hot and fresh and its near restaurants, gas stations, and Wal-Mart for last minute shopping trips before you leave on your cruise. I know they have parking there for cruises, but I chose to use Galveston Park n Cruise. I pre paid $35 for an outside space and their lot is located directly across the street from the terminal. Check in and out with Galveston Park n Cruise is fast and efficient. They have always been helpful and friendly.
We arrived at the terminal at around 11pm on the 10th. I dropped my bags with the porters and parked. We walked back to the terminal and found that the check in entrance had changed since my last cruise from here in February 2011. After heading up the escalators, the line was clear. I was up at the check in desk in less than 5 minutes after walking off the escalators. After Carnival verified the kids and my daughters birth certificates we all got our Sail and Sign cards. It was too early to establish my cash account, so we were directed to seating. I received a zone 1 embarkation card and was seated in a row of chairs according to our family size. We were only in that area maybe 45 minutes before embarkation began. I think it took another 20 minutes to get up to the security check point to hear the Boing sound that said Welcome Home! I love hearing that sound! It means I am on my way to an awesome vacation. I had the family sit in the lobby while I made my way to the guest services deck to establish my cash account. Note: You do not have to do this immediately when you board. You are given a $20 starter account and you can go later to establish your account if you are using cash. If you are using credit or debit you have nothing to worry about.
After getting the cash issue squared away, we headed upstairs to the Lido deck to get lunch. I noticed that finding a table is sometimes an Olympic event! Even this day the pickings were slim. We did eventually get a table to settled down to eat lunch. By 1.30 the cabins were opened and we got our 1st look at our new home for the next 5 days. It is a balcony cabin on the port side. The beds were left together and it has a couch, rather the size of a small love seat, since it was too short even for my 5'5 frame. There is an upper that the cabin steward let down. The upper over hangs the bed buy about 4 inches and if you are not careful you will whack your head when you sit up. The TV is the old style TV dusty and the remote would not work for the 1st few days. I was able to eventually get a new remote and then was able to access the interactive features of the TV such as viewing my folio. There is no fridge in the cabin. A bit of a disappointment, but the steward kept my wine and water covered in ice. There is ample storage in the closets and under the bed as well as several shelves in the other small closets at the end of the bed. The in room safe works with a card that has a swipe on the back. The bathroom sink had some issues during the cruise, as well as the shower and draining issues. There was a major water leak that soaked my carpets for a few days. It was repaired before I left the ship.
Room Service was ok. Mostly cold food items. There is no book in the cabin anymore giving you what is on the menu and you have to request a menu. Wake up calls were hit or miss. Sometimes they would not call and sometimes it would be late, rarely on time. So I would suggest brining your own alarm. I did notice that there are 2 110 electric outlets in the vanity area as well as the 220. There is a hair dryer mounted to the wall in the bathroom. Its rather odd looking and the tube does get hot if you keep it on very long. I have short hair and it took a long time to dry it, I cant imagine trying to dry long hair with it. This is the 1st bathroom that had a cabinet to store you personal items in. Its a 3-4 tier mirrored shelf/cabinet with a door. Its very convenient and easier to keep the bathroom tidy.
The beds were a bit harder then I have had in the past, conversely the mattress on the couch was very soft. There are several pillows on the bed, but I bring my own. The balcony door is not as heavy and was pretty easily opened by my 3 year old. There is a latch that can be opened by any smart toddler that can climb on the bed and reach! I made sure that I kept the latch looked and made sure the kids understood to not go out the door without me. The balcony had better chairs then the on the Liberty. Those were too low to the ground and made it difficult getting up and down if you have a back injury, as I do. These chairs were more a normal height. There was also a small table. There was no ashtray, I did ask several times and one was never provided. My daughter used a half filled water bottle instead. I dont smoke and I only smelled cigar smoke once, while out on my balcony. I was between two other cabins who smoked, and even with asthma it never bothered me.
The food was take or leave. Some was really good and some was really bad. The gourmet burger was a huge let down. It didnt seem any different than those served on the Lido for lunch. The bun was hard and crumbling. My head waiter seemed to be only interested in one or two of his tables and ignored the rest. Getting drink refills was a hassle. After the 4th night I started eating on the Lido for supper, the food was essentially the same, again some bad and some really good. I did try the deli and found it very good. I did not try to Chinese. I did try the Sushi and it was ok. The shows were great. I loved the new Illusionist show and the Big Easy was very good as well. Tex , the Cruise Director was funny, not as good as Steve Cassel from the Ecstasy, but still gave a good showing. I did rarely see him outside of the shows however, not a big deal. I went to the past guest party and the drink were as weak as ever. There is lots of stuff to do on board sometimes. I wish there was more. Not sure what else could be added. The progressive Trivia was different then what I have participated with in the past it seems less organized. The ship is very pretty. Not too small and not too large. I loved the dcor, seemed a cross between Italian Renaissance and Tuscan. Its very classy and not as Vegas Show lounge as seen in other ships.
There seemed to be some issues with the mid ship pool and a couple aft elevators and one of the Atrium elevators, they did fix the pool issue about 3 days into the cruise. This was the 2nd cruise out of dry dock and I really think they had a few more issues to work out. Overall the ship looked great. I will cruise on the Triumph again. Debarkation went pretty quickly and it did seem to flow efficiently. I was off the ship and in my car by 10.30am.