We were definitely an old school cruise bunch...seriously....our group was so old tghat when we were in school there was no history class! My wife and I were the youngsters at age 47, my mother and father in law and my uncle are all early 70s, Grandma is 92 and her caregiver is 63. We had three oceanview cabins between us on the main deck (2). Grandma is not completely wheelchair bound, but her balance is iffy and she moves about as fast as the butler in "Arthur". We used her wheelchair most of the time to get her around. Our goal was a low pressure, low price cruise with wonderful fellowship. Here are our thoughts and tips on the Carnival Triumph.
The Triumph was very wheelchair friendly. It was easy to store our wheelchair in the cabin and it was a tight fit getting through the door, but it worked fine. Most people were very respectful, patient and polite when they saw Grandma coming through in a wheelchair and I have to say that, no matter how helpful Carnival is, you really have to count on the goodness of your fellow travelers. I wish everyone the same experience we had with quality cruisemates.
The Carnival staff were very proactive with wheelchairs or the infirm....and there were dozens on the ship. When a Carnival staffer saw us in line with Grandma, they would quickly move us to an alternate entrance and walk with us to wherever we were to be seated. First rate service that kept Grandma out of the heavily populated and fast moving walkways. We thought it was going to be difficult to maneuver Grandma.....but Carnival made it easier and safer than we could have ever imagined.
Our embarkation was made easy because there was a line specifically for the handicapped. The whole party gets to go with the handicapped traveler, so were escorted around the early arriving crowd at noon straight to an area where a greeter checked our travel documents, sent us through the metal detector, over to get our group photo, and then up to the second floor via elevator to set up our sail & sign accounts, then another quick photo for security purposes (the one that comes up when you use your room key/sign and sail card for purchases or entering or leaving the ship), and then up the ramps and onto the third floor of the ship at around 12:30 p.m.
At about 1:15 p.m., the hallways to the rooms were unlocked. The buffet was already opened on the 9th floor and we all had lunch. Our bags arrived closer to 4:00 p.m. with everything intact. The emergency drill took place in the ship's library on the 4th floor for the infirm and their families. A smooth, painless experience.
At 225 square feet, the statesrooms were very large by ship standards. We had plenty of room for all of our clothes and room to move around. The tiny bathroom had a basket of amenities that included toothpaste. The hairdryer is a vacuum cleaner looking thing that simply did not generate much air. If your hair dryer is a styling tool, bring your own. The shower has body wash and shampoo. The TV is the old CRT style and I think ours was a 19". The remotes in all of our rooms were absolutely worn out and one was missing the back cover.
We could not check our sign and sail info from our TV because the remote buttons were so worn that some functions did not respond. It was not a huge deal since you can change channels at the TV. The cable included CBS, ABC, NBC (set out of Miami) and TNT and a station called "Boomerang" that showed movies like "Two Weeks Notice" and other favorites. There were lots of channels featuring ship info and products. They had CNN International, but not regular CNN and no sports channel.
The floor in one of our rooms had become warped somehow and there was an air space between the floor and the subfloor in room 2364. It meant when you walked through the room you would step on this spot which would pop back up and make a lot of noise. I hope they fix this soon. The room stewards are tremendous and will have yuor room made up and refreshed each day before you get back from breakfast and will give you turn down service and a towel animal at night.
Be careful of the beverages in your room....our caregiver cracked open a $5.00 bottle of water before she noticed the sign listing the charges.
The ship was beautiful and is a big upgrade, in my opinion, over the Ecstacy. Everything we saw was very clean and well decorated. The layout is a little tricky as only the 5th floor went from the front to the back of the ship. The ride from Galveston to Cozumel was the rockiest I had experienced on a cruise.....but we found out there had been a major earthquake in Mexico on the second day of the cruise which likely affected us. The ride coning home was much smoother.
There is a black bar, a dead spot, in the middle of the big screen on the back of the ship that needs to be repaired. The putt putt golf on the top level is 9 holes of fun, but you have to go down two decks of stairs and halfway across the ship to get your club, scorecard and ball....why? The Internet Cafe on the fourth floor offers 75 cents per minute net access that is slower than dialup....very, very slow. Avoid using the Internet on the ship if you can. It took me about 12 minutes just to check email.
The casino slots are just as tight as every other cruise ship's slots. I'd complain louder, but I watched a guy hit a $1,600.00 payout on a dollar machine on our last night. I then watched a poor woman lose about $300.00 in thirty minutes on the machine right next to it. The casino is very smokey, which is not unusual. The casino tables closed at around 2:00 each night.
The "What a Wonderful World" variety song and dance show on the second night was colorful and a lot of fun. The dancers probably had 10 costume changes and the male and female vocalists had strong, clear voices.....not soulful by any means, but semi-pro quality that was plenty to keep us entertained. The same group was back to perform the even more elaborate "The Big Easy" on the last night with impressive costumes and staging and the delightful Triumph ship band.
The "Magic with Anders" was a ho-hummer with an illusionist that told awkward stories that just did not seem to work and did fairly simple illusions. Everyone seemed to question why the showgirls needed to be in thongish type outfits for the show, but it was obviously intended to distract the audience from how bad the show was. If you are going to miss a show, this is the one to miss.
Anders was back with the racy "The Kiss Goodnight" which was billed as a burlesque show. The show was in The Rio Lounge in the back of the ship and was too small to meet the demand and quite a few people could not get in. It should have been held in the too large Rome Theater at the front of the ship. The show was "R" rated with lots of thongs but no nudity of any kind. My uncle loved the showgirls who were playful and very attractive.
The biggest hit on the cruise ship, by far, the Christian Simmons country band. They played all over the ship and every night in the casino with a spectacular presentation of country favorites. "Miss Jessica", Christian's girlfriend, does a dead on Linda Rodstandt and every thing else they sang was top notch. It sounds as if they are contracted with Carnival for another four months. Hopefully, Carnival can contract with more top notch cover bands in the future.
The food, from our daily lives, is simply fantastic. It is not a five star dining experience, but even a three to four star dining experience is a big jump from what we make at home. They serve unusual dishes (we ate escargot, frog legs, alligator fritters and sushi for appetizers) and they are well presented on fine dishware. The wait staff is a lot of fun and very attentive. The portions are small to very small, but you can always order more of one thing and the waiter will promptly get it for you. We ate the early dinner in the London Dining Room...the other is The Paris Dining Room. The only complaint we have is that being upstairs in the dining room made it hard to see the wait staff's nightly singing on the stairs and the occasional dancing they would do.
We always ate the Lido deck (9th floor) buffet for lunch and it was always delicious. The ninth floors best kept secret is a little station called "Chopstix" which was open daily from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It serves wonderful Asian dishes that are freshly made every few minutes. The pork fried rice was incredible. I ate there four out of the five days.
We did the sit down breakfast in the Paris Dining Room toward the back of the ship. The breakfast menu did not change. We really enjoyed the eggs benedict and just about everything else we tried except the waffles, which seemed to be pre-made and perhaps pulled out of the freezer....just not up to par with everything else.
Be ready to be hit up for bar service every few minutes....literally. If you are in the casino without a drink, you will be asked every two minutes or so. This ship had the least pushy photographers I have seen on a cruise, which was nice for us. We bought a few of the very nice photos we volunteered for. The crew was wonderfully helpful and friendly....they work extremely hard seven days per week. I only ran into one rude worker and was surprised there weren't more testy employees after the guests bombard them with constant needs all day. The auto tips of $11.50 per day are well earned. We tipped $20.00 to our waiter on the last day and gave $5.00 everyday to our steward because we thought they deserved a little extra.
We liked Progreso a little more than we thought we would. The beach was nice and the $20 an hour massages were a hit. Progreso is not a wheelchair friendly port, but we managed fine. Cozumel is much nicer and the water is blue and beautiful. We went to Paradise Beach and relaxed. Be advised that the cab prices went up by about 40% on December 1, 2011. What we thought would be a one way cab ride of $18.00 was $28.00. We learned from these reviews to carry lots of small change. We saw others that were paying with $20 bills getting the "I don't have change, please buy more" routine.
We loved this Carnival cruise and it helped put Carnival back near the same level as Norwegian in my book, which has always been my favorite. We were stuck in fog on our embarkation day and were delayed in getting into port for 9 hours. The crew improvised and made the day very pleasant and kept us well informed. Well, that's about it......God bless and happy holidays.