Getting to Miami: After a long day of work, 3 of us headed to the airport for a 7 pm flight. After everyone boarded the plane and the doors were shut, we were told that the Atlanta airport had temporarily shut down due to the high capacity of traffic. They requested that everyone stay on the plane in Richmond while we waited. The hour wait only turned out to be 45 minutes, so it wasn’t that bad. We had an hour layover, so with the delay in Richmond we were going to cut it close, but we made it with no problem. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 12:30 am and were anxious to get to our hotel down in Miami, the Miami Airport Embassy Suites (my grandparents were traveling with us and flew into Miami, so the Embassy Suites provided a complimentary shuttle and I wanted everything for them to go as smoothly as possible since they are both 86 years old). After several recommendations, we chose to take the Tri-County shared ride vs. taxi and since it was almost 1 am, I didn’t think we would have much of a problem. Well, what started off to be 4 passengers (1 was already in the van when we got in) turned out to be 11 passengers going to totally different areas in Miami. I guess after midnight, they just stick anyone who is heading south into the same van. So after heading down I-95 and getting off at several exits to drop people off at their respective homes, we headed down to South Beach for another couple drop offs. Unfortunately, South Beach on a Friday night is not the place you should be driving down the road looking for a hotel since the place in packed. After a 2 hour ride, the 3 of us were the final drop off and were able to check into our hotel. Thank goodness my grandparents had a much better experience with the complimentary shuttle provided by the hotel. On Saturday we woke up and all had made to order complimentary breakfast that every Embassy Suites guest is entitled too. This seemed to be a very popular hotel with the cruiser so expect to see many families, etc. We arranged for a shuttle to pick us up at 11 am and take us to the port. We got the hotel through Hotwire for a price of $61/room, but I know you can get a room/transfer combination from the hotel for a slighter higher price. At 11 a.m. our shuttle arrived and we packed up our bags and headed to the port of Miami. We were now a party of 5 people (me, my fiancé, my brother, and my grandparents).
Embarkation: When we arrived to the terminal, they had not let people go through the security lines yet, so the line started to form. My brother, fiancé and I got in line, while my grandparents sat down and waited. Approx. around noon, they opened up the lines and I went to go get my grandparents to go through security. Security was painless and we had no problems. I noticed that the far line had NO ONE in it yet, so I hurried over there and was with a Carnival rep in less than 5 minutes. We headed upstairs to get our sail and sign cards, took our family picture (embarkation photo that everyone takes) and entered the walkway to the ship! All in all it took about an hour from when we got there, but that was mainly due to the fact that the lines didn’t open up until about noon. My advice is to get there early and wait for the lines to open or get there later in the day after the big rush of people.
December 18, 2004: Once on board we went straight to our rooms because I did not read the memo that stated "please go to the Lido deck to enjoy lunch prior to heading to your rooms because they could not possibly be cleaned yet" (since we got on so EARLY). But in the end, both of our rooms were cleaned. We had rooms 1394 and 1390 (Rivera ocean view rooms). After finding our rooms, we finally headed upstairs to get lunch and saw that we had SOO many options to choose from (Hong Kong Eatery, Coney Island Grill, Pizza, Deli, regular buffet, and don’t forget the 24 hour ice cream machines). My grandparents retired to their room, while we went off to explore. We took the spa tour and saw all the wonderful treatments. We entered into the free spa treatment raffle (we didn’t win, but got 30% spa treatment certificates that were put to good use later in the week). After the tour, we all decided that we wanted to “go green” – this being the sea weed wrap with full body massage that they feature. (Simply 90 to 120 minutes of pure bliss). Around 3:30 the other 2 people in our party got on the ship and were assigned the room of 1390 (inside room right across the hall from ours). All 7 of us were assigned the main 6:15 seating in the London dining room. At 4 pm prompt we were sent to our muster drill locations for the mandatory drill. At this time, we saw the Valor depart for a 1 day cruise to nowhere before heading out on its maiden voyage.
After putting our life jackets away we ran up to the Lido deck for our sail away drink and party! We were able to make it up there before the ship started sailing, which was nice! J We headed to the London dining room for our seating and found that we were seated at 203.
Earlier that afternoon we had discussed the possibility of changing to the late seating, but did not know if we would be able to due to the fact that the ship was at full capacity. I was happy and delighted to see Ricardo was the Maitre D for the London dining room as we had him for our 2 prior sailings on the Paradise. Although he didn’t make any promises, he said he would do what he could. The next morning, we found a note in each of our cabins that we had been changed to the 8:30 late seating in the London dining room. In the end we ended up requesting to be moved back to the 6:15 seating due to service problems, which I will explain later. Ricardo was very accommodating and a wonderful Maitre D. I have nothing but RAVE reviews about him and he will definitely be missed when we sail the Pride in May. There was only one 10:30 pm show that evening and 4 of us were able to say up and see it. Then, we were introduced to our cruise director Mark Price who is absolutely hilarious. The comedian following him was also quite funny, and I was looking forward to his adult only performance the next evening.
December 19, 2004 – 1st day at sea: My fiancé and I decided to start off this cruise on the right start and headed to the gym. Even though it was quite crowded we were able to get the machines we wanted and had a pretty decent work out. We had been on two previous cruises on the Paradise and the Triumph gym had much more equipment and cross trainers due to the larger space. Around 10 am after we had had a good workout and breakfast, we decided to try and find 5 – 6 lounge chairs together for a fun filled day in the sun. We were able to find some in the aft of the ship, but made a mental note to wake up early to save chairs the next morning. (Yes a no no I know, but a common practice with everyone. You would be amazed how many seats are saved at 7 am, yes 7 am in the morning). This was the 1st of mainly days on being lazy in the sun! We had probably 1 too many drink specials by 4 pm, but that is what a Caribbean cruise is all about! While sunning, we meet a few people from Detroit who told us about their horror dining experience the night before. (They were at table 102 in the London dining room, had the late seating at 8:30 and did not get out of the dining room until after 11 pm due to slow service – ouch!). We were hoping this would not be the case since we had just requested to be moved to the late seating and had been assigned table 107 or so we thought! Ha!
Well tonight was formal night and the captain’s party, so we got dressed in our evening gowns (women) and suits (men). The captain’s party was held along the entire Promenade deck – this was unlike the captain’s party on the Paradise where it was held in the main lounge. One thing about the captain’s party – go because you get FREE drinks and free drinks are good drinks. There is a wide variety of drinks that they serve – champagne, white and red wine, lime daiquiris, whisky sours, manhattans, etc. In addition, they also serve appetizers (ranging from mini chicken nuggets to Swedish meatballs). Well on to dinner, as it turns out we were assigned table 102 not table 107, so ironically enough we had the exact table that our friend from the pool was complaining about. We gave our 2 servers the benefit of the doubt, but they were really as bad as they said they were. Not just bad, but AWFUL. The assistant waiter was seen 1 time the entire dinner. She did not even fill out water glasses, etc. The waiter only had 2 other tables, but we were the last for everything.
We made it out of there sooner than 11 pm, but had to run to get to the late show at 10:30! This was the 1st of the Las Vegas style shows. I could not find the rest of my party so I decided to skip the show, but my grandparents and mom thoroughly enjoyed it. (On a side note, my 86 year old grandparents who choose not to sit out all day in the sun with us had a good day at sea, they wandered around the ship, walked to the track a few times, and stopped in to see all the activities that were going on – they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and glad they decided to come along.) This evening was our 1st adult R rated show from the comedian who was showcased in the welcome abroad show the night before. He did an encore of the segment he did in previous show that was hilarious (just think of Godzilla with a combination of Austin Powers at the end, truly hilarious). (During the 10:30 show it was announced that we had to stop in Freeport to make an emergency drop off – a lady had had a stroke, but ½ of the guests did not hear about this since they were in the show).
This evening, we were told to push our clocks ahead 1 hour so we would be on local time with all the ports!
December 20, 2004 – 2nd day at sea & San Juan: When we woke up, we thought we would head to the gym once again, but ended up getting side tracked and decided to be lazy and just go find some lounge chairs. We got some overlooking both the stage and main pool. Survivor was featured in the main pool this day and it was fun to see what activities they had to do. It was also nice to hear the calypso music. They even played some Christmas carols! ? We decided to make these seats our home for all the days at seat since it was in the center of all the entertainment. Another day of drinking drink specials and beer that we had brought on board. We were able to start seeing Puerto Rico around 3:30ish and actually pulled into port at approx. 4 pm, instead of the 5 pm that was listed. We went to our rooms to get cleaned up and we headed down to the 0 deck. When we were walking down the pier into Old San Juan, Bacardi had set up a station and were handing out free rum and cokes. I am not a big mixed/well drink person, so I gave mine to my fiancé, but all I can say is that they were STRONG. We choose not to do an excursion in San Juan since we were only there for the evening and just wandered the streets along with several other cruise passengers. We walked through Old San Juan, went into the Sheraton casino, saw the Christopher Columbus statue and started heading back to the ship. We ended up walking into a local rum distillery shop which was handing out free samples of their rum with pina coladas and other drinks! They were fantastic! We made a point of bringing my mom and grandparents back there when we meet up with them. I apologize that I can’t remember the name, but it is on the main street almost a block away from a market where you can get a horse drawn carriage. My brother and fiancé wandered back to the ship, while I explored some more with the others. We ended up making it a quick visit and got back on the ship and went to the dining room for dinner.
The dining rooms provided an open seating dinner so you were able to enjoy the sights of San Juan when you wanted. We ended up still sitting at our table 102, but had a different waiter. Unfortunately the service was still incredibly slow, so my mother and I made a trip to visit Ricardo the maitre D once more. He was very apologetic about the service and was very happy to fill our request to move back to the earlier seating. Unfortunately our original table had already been assigned to someone else, but he promised the service would be excellent. He was right, we were very happy with our table 215 and our waiters (Erikson and Edmond) the remainder of the cruise. They really made the trip enjoyable and we looked forward to going to dinner the rest of the week! Since we were in port until midnight, all the stores and casinos were closed. They did have a deck party with a Mexican theme that evening. I guess to try and persuade people to get back on the ship and spend money there! ? Our original plan was to go to Senor Frogs in San Juan, but the place was packed and had a line out of the bar, so we opted out and decided to spend the evening on the ship. This evening for entertainment they had a juggler and comedian; both were very good and funny.
December 21, 2004 – St. Thomas: Now this is my favorite port and island in the Caribbean. I traveled there for a week when I was younger with my family and it is always a pleasure to return. Since we were traveling with my grandparents, we decided to arrange a private tour with Godfrey (thanks to all the cruise critic recommendations). I can not say enough good things about Godfrey’s! We were set up with Tony, Godfrey’s brother, who mainly handles the private tours. For 7 of us, we had a 14 passenger air conditioned van. At first I was kind of bummed that we didn’t have the open air vehicle, but the air conditioned was great and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Tony was the best tour guide we have ever had before with any excursion (independent or through the cruise line). He was very informative and took us wherever we wanted to go. My mother made a request to stop by and see the Marriott since that is where we stayed back in the late 1990’s. She also asked if there was still the dairy on the Northern side of the island and to our delight it was still there. He was happy to do that and did even more. We drove by the Ritz (now that is an amazing hotel) and pointed out the Wynhdam, Sapphire beach, etc. We had decided we wanted to go to Coki Beach for an hour and a half, and then head to Megan’s Bay for an hour and a half, and then head downtown for shopping. On the way to Coki Beach, we did a partial island tour as well. Coki Beach was beautiful and we got there before the rush of people. The water was crystal clean and my mom went snorkeling and saw tons of tropical fish! This is the place to go snorkeling. The water was room temperature and very relaxing. I could have stayed here ALL day! On the way the Megan’s bay, we stopped at the dairy I referred to earlier – it is called Utterly Delight and should not be missed! The best milkshakes period! We all enjoyed a mid-snack before relaxing on yet another beach. Unfortunately we did not realize that Megan’s charged $3/person in addition to $5/car to leave, but all in all it was a wonderful afternoon. It was a bit more crowded, but still the beach is huge. The water was not as clear, but that could be due to the tons of people who were in the water, etc. I personally preferred Coki Beach, but I am sure it was just as crowded in the afternoon as Megan’s. Both beaches are beautiful and should not be missed. From Megan’s we headed to Drakes point for an amazing picture perfect view. We finished our afternoon by shopping downtown for approx. 2 hours. We enjoyed some drinks and looked at liquor prices. (We had been told that St. Maarten was the place to purchase alcohol, which was true for some, but my brother found some really cheap prices in Puerto Rico and wished he bought some things there). Since stores in Charlotte Amalie close down at 5 pm, around 4ish can be a little hectic. Tony said for us to meet him by the post office and he came and got us and we were headed back to the ship! It was an amazing day and just sitting here writing about it makes me wish I was back in St. Thomas. I have nothing but RAVE reviews about Godfrey’s and anyone considering using them should not second guess or look elsewhere! The private tour was $40/person and we were gone from 9 am – 4:30 pm (over 7 ½ hours) - you can do their pre-arranged tour which is similar for $20/person! It will be the best tour you will take on the island. On our last cruise we went to St. John, which shouldn’t be missed as well, but if you want a island/beach/shopping tour on St. Thomas – go with Godfreys!!! After getting back on the ship, we got ready for dinner and heading to the London dining room once again! This evening’s show was a magic show that was quite entertaining and the same duo premiered their adult show at midnight!
December 22, 2004 – St. Maarten: Well this cruise, we pretty much decided to do the islands on our own or book independent tours since there were 7 of us. In St. Maarten after looking at all the excursions Carnival offered we decided to just get a taxi to Orient Beach (St. Maarten is ½ Dutch and ½ French and Orient Beach is on the French side). Orient Beach is a topless/nude beach and if you are offended by different cultures and/or have children you may want to go elsewhere. We took a cab there and they ride was $5/each. The more people you have in a cab, the cheaper it is. We were able to rent chairs and umbrellas for a reasonable rate. If you are adventuresome you can walk down the beach and sit in front of a restaurant/bar and get a chair/umbrella and drink for cheaper, but we plopped down right where the taxi dropped us off not knowing any better (and besides we were traveling with my grandparents). You will see many more topless women than full nudity. In addition, I would also say those who are topless and nude are in the minority of people who are on the beach. My fiancé and I took a walk down the beach and when you got on the outskirts of the crowds you found many more people who were nude, etc. We choose to go here simply because where else can you go to a nude beach (yes I know South Beach is topless or there is even a topless deck on the boat, but still…) We were up for an adventure. We ended up spending approx. ½ day there and even got to witness a hermit crab race. The locals have these hermit crabs (they are HUGE) which they put in this little maze and you can beat on which one you think will get out of it 1st. Very funny to see people cheering on hermit crabs! Around 2ish, we headed back to the ship to get something to eat and shower.
Since we had heard St. Maarten was the place to shop for alcohol, my brother and I set out to go shopping. We wanted to take the water taxi into Phillipsburg, but since we were pressed for time, we had to do ALL our shopping at the pier. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me, since I got a deal that NO ONE could beat. I was on a mission – I had to get 2 bottles (ended up getting 3) of Johnnie Walker Blue and 1 bottle of 18 year Glenfidich. On the ship the JW Blue was $120 and in St. Maarten it was $99.99, so I grabbed 2 bottles and the 18 year Glenfidich. Well I was expected to pay over $250 for all of this, but when the lady handed me the receipt it said $25 + change. I looked at the receipt and it had my name on it, so I signed it and left. My brother and I needed to walk briskly back to the ship to get on in time, so I didn’t think anything of what just happened, but then it hit me – the lady had forgotten to type in the 0 – so needless to say I got over $250 worth of alcohol for a mere $25. We ended up getting another bottle on the ship for the $99.99. I know Carnival does not advertise this, but they will match any price that you find in port. Just make sure you write it down or have proof if they ask. They were able to give me that price even though I did not have a receipt to show I purchased 2 others at that price. I had a receipt that I paid $10/bottle, but I don’t think they wouldn’t have honored that one! Leaving St. Maarten was very sad because it was our last port. We were on the Lido deck watching the boat pull away to realize that there was a water taxi following the ship. The boat slowed down because I guess they realized that we left a few passengers! Oops, but the water taxi was able to deliver them to the ship and they boarded successfully after a few unsuccessful times. All in all St. Maarten is a place I would like to visit in the future. The locals are very friendly and I know my brother got a tank top for his girlfriend that said “St. Maarten the friendly island.” I guess they don’t get that slogan for nothing.
This evening was another formal evening, so we got dressed and went around and took some photos as a family. As I mentioned before our waiters were wonderful and truly made our dinners an enjoyable experience! Every night they did a song or dance! I know Royal Caribbean does not do this, and it is nice to see that waiters do have personalities and can have fun! Because it was a formal evening, they did a Las Vegas style show – I attended this one and it had music from all the different decades. It was quite enjoyable for all ages.
December 23, 2004 – 3rd day at sea: Sea days are my favorite since you can relax and don’t really have to do a thing if you don’t want to, but I have to say sea days before going to ports are a bit more fun because they are at the beginning of the vacation instead of at the end. Sorry for the side note.
Well I had made an appointment in the spa for 10 am, so I got up at 8 am and went to the gym. I needed to feel like I did something in order to justify the pampering. I used my 30% certificate that I had received earlier in the week to treat myself to a sea weed wrap and ½ body massage. It was 90 min of true bliss. The ½ body massage turned out to be a full body massage, but for ½ the time, very nice and unexpected. I had never treated myself to a spa treatment on a cruise ship before so I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard that they try to sell their products at the end of the treatment and I can honestly say I did not experience any of this. My massage therapists was very helpful with everything since I was new to this and made the treatment so enjoyable I wanted to go back the next day and get something else. The Spa on the ship was very well equipped and I had a relaxing spa treatment. Yes, people probably gasped at the prices (I know I did at first), but if you are flexible, they offer some great specials later in the week to make treatments more affordable. My future mother-in-law had given both my fiancé and myself some on board credit, so I thought I would splurge! Well worth it. I plan on doing a couples massage for our honeymoon cruise on the Pride in May. After the massage, I spent the day relaxing out by the pool in the seats we reserved earlier in the morning. This afternoon they offered a galley tour where you could see where they prepared all the food. On all the cruises I had been on, I had never been on the tour, so it was quite interesting. Tonight was the big gala buffet at midnight, so all the chefs were preparing for that.
Tonight’s production was the guest talent show. I would imagine all Carnival cruises do this and it is a way for some selected guests to be showcased. Unlike previous cruises, I did not hear too much about this until the day of, but the talent turned out to be amazing. We mainly had singers and one gentleman played the piano. All 5 acts (all 8 participants) turned out to be excellent. My fiancé was disappointed that he missed the show, but was able to watch it over and over again on the television in our room thanks to the Carnival logbook! ? (They play back all talks, shows, and pretty much anything that is not syndicated – good to know in case you miss something)
December 24, 2004 – 4th and final day at sea: I woke up to realize that our wonderful week was almost over! I always hate waking up and knowing you only have 1 day left to enjoy all the fruity drinks and the sun. Since we had an ocean view stateroom, I was able to see outside that it was raining – oh no! The one good thing about being on a ship and not at a land location is that the captain can go around an inclement weather and make sure it is always sunny. Within 30 min it was a beautiful day with very few clouds and lots of sunshine! We had gone out early to get our chairs to find out everyone who had saved chairs earlier in the morning had all their things soaking wet! Oops! After breakfast we spent a wonderful day soaking up the sun. In the afternoon they did a synchronized swimming thing that was quite cute and an ice sculpture. Since it was Christmas Eve day, it turned out to be a reindeer which was appropriate. At 4 pm – there was a special Christmas production put on by Camp Carnival in addition to the Carnival dancers and singers. Although we did not have any younger children in Camp Carnival, it was nice to involve the kids in this production. Being on the ship, it didn’t feel much like Christmas, so it was nice to hear some holiday tunes! Even Santa Clause made an appearance! This evening, dinner was as usual, but the dining rooms were a bit more decorated that the days before and they had Christmas carols playing in the background. This evening’s entertainment was a singer who sang Motown music. Not necessarily my decade of choice, but he was excellent. He had people dancing in the isles and people were shouting out requests. A great entertainer to end the week long cruise!
December 25, 2004 & Debarkation: Our original flight was departing Ft. Lauderdale at 12 pm, and we were a little afraid that we would not be able to make this flight time (mainly from people’s comments on Cruise Critic). After speaking to the purser’s desk, they recommended doing the self-debarkation in order to guarantee getting off the ship at a certain time. They said since we had a lot of foreigners on the ship, the debarkation process would probably take longer than normal. We were lucky enough to be able to send some of our bigger bags home with other family members who had later flights and were under their baggage limitations, so we only had to carry off our alcohol, a book bag, and carry-on suitcase. I would have not enjoyed having to carry all 3 of our suitcases through customs and the debarkation process. Self-debark is set for the time period of 7:30 – 8:30 am, and they clear each deck at separate times. We were probably one of the later ones cleared and started the debarkation process around 8:25ish. It took approx. 15 min to get through customs and to be on a shuttle bus headed to Ft. Lauderdale. We only had to wait a few minutes for the bus to fill up. After a 30 min drive to the airport, we were at the airport by 9:45 am and had plenty time to check our bags and make our flight, but instead of catching the noon flight, we held off and made arrangements to take the non-stop flight to Richmond at 2 pm instead of having to fly through Orlando. But if we had to make our noon flight, it could have been done very easily. A side note about the Ft. Lauderdale airport – unlike last year when we went and experienced horrendous lines through security, there seemed to have changed their procedures for security and from 10 am – 2 pm there was never a wait to go through security. I can only speak of Terminal 2, so maybe people were flying other airlines other than Delta, but it was certainly an improvement. Since we had other family members go through the regular debarkation process, I can say that the ship was cleared around 9:30 – 10ish. Their color was one of the last ones called, but they had no problem catching a shuttle bus/taxi to get to the airport. My brother who went through the regular debarkation process and took the Carnival transfer to Ft. Lauderdale made it there by 11:30 am. Regarding customs, we had no problem with our alcohol purchases. We actually carried 7 bottles through customs and we were not questioned. I am unsure what the break-off point is, but I know since we traveled to St. Thomas our allotment per person went up to 5 liters per person.
Return Flight: I am very thankful that we were able to get on a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale back home to Richmond. I heard of some nightmares of travel on Dec. 24th and 25th due to weather conditions, etc. and was happy to get home safe and sound. Although we did spend some extra time in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale the non-stop flight was well worth the wait. We were able to spend Christmas dinner with my fiancé’s parents, which was a nice way to end the evening.
As the week went on you can see that we did less and less, but overall it was an enjoyable experience. I would recommend Carnival to anyone as I have cruised with them 3 times and had no complaints whatsoever. I will go more in depth about specific things in my next section.
Cabins: We had 3 staterooms all together – 2 outside and 1 inside. Overall the outside cabins were slightly bigger and they had a couch. The rooms were decorated in the Carnival décor like you see on the website. I know some of the newer ships (Conquest, Valor, Miracle, etc.) have some additional amenities, unlike the older ships. I believe they are beginning to update these older ships with each dry dock they have. The comforters were beginning to show some wear, but overall everything was clean and in working order. Maybe one day we will try a balcony room, but right now for the price an outside is fine for us and fits our needs! We were on the Rivera deck and did not feel much rocking the entire cruise. I know we have traveled during the holiday season before and this cruise by far was the best when it came to rocking and the ship moving. Even though we wear the patches, I think we may not have needed them this week! About the cabin size, we fit 3 people more than comfortable in an outside cabin, but definitely would have been cramped in my mom’s inside cabin. The bathrooms are a nice size – there is enough room to stand in the shower comfortably and no the shower head is not over the toilet or anything. If size is an issue, I would recommend opting for an outside room over an inside room.
Food in Dining Rooms/Room Service: All of us in our party found the food to be wonderful. The service with the exception 2 nights like I explained before could use some help was wonderful. We really enjoyed having Erikson and Edmond as our waiters. They knew exactly what we wanted and needed by the end of the 1st evening. I was impressed. The 1st formal night, they have lobster and make sure to order more than 1 – they are great. I do have to admit my 1st one was just all right, but the 2nd one was great! I am glad I went ahead and ordered a 2nd one or I would have been disappointed. The highlights of the week were the pumpkin soup, the chicken filets (more like chicken quesadillas), mushroom soup, sweat and sour shrimp, lobster, filet; the list could go on and on. The breakfasts both on the Lido deck and in the main dining room were very nice. I know the made to order omelets were great and it was one thing I was looking forward to before we left. I also enjoyed how they had fresh melon on a daily basis. Lunch consisted on sandwiches, pizza, Asian cuisine, food from the country they featured on a daily basis, or hamburgers/hot dogs from the Coney Island grill. The one complaint I had about the Triumph is I was expecting a sushi station. I had been on the Paradise 2 times and they had set one up every evening, so you could have sushi on a daily basis if you wanted. I had read on the Carnival website that sushi would be available for lunch on a daily basis, but it was only served 1 time and it wasn’t that good since there wasn’t much of a variety. VERY DISAPPOINTING!! The menu offer for room service is very limited (sandwiches, vegetable plate, snack items, etc.), but my fiancé and brother managed to order room service on a daily basis (sometimes it was 2 or 3 times per day). I think they must have eaten over 10 BLT’s each over the course of the week. I know they offer an additional menu for breakfast that includes pastries and breads and fruit juices. Unfortunately you are unable to order from a full breakfast menu, but you can get a quick bite before you head off the ship to an excursion, etc.
Drinks & Bar Service: This cruise we decided to be adventuresome and try to bring some alcohol onto the ship at embarkation. We packed 2 - 12 packs of beer in addition to 5 bottles of champagne; the champagne mainly being for special occasion dinners. Although it is stated that you will be charged a $10 corkage fee, neither server charged our table. Prior to sailing we had also purchased drink coupons as we have done this for all the cruises. It doesn’t necessarily save much money, but it is nice to pre-pay for some things so the bill at the end of the week is not that outrageous. The drink coupons say they are good for drinks up to $4.95, but we were able to use them on several occasions for the drink special of the day that were $6.25. One time the difference was charged to our sail and sign card, but on several other occasions they said not to worry about it. In all the general areas including the pool, the bar service was excellent. There was no need to get up and go the part because a bar service attendant was close by. The bar service in the main dining room was even sub-par this year. Our waitress even began to remember our personal preferences by the end of the week. My favorite drink became a “kiss on the lips.” Even though it isn’t loaded with alcohol, it makes a tasty treat or relaxing tropical drink!
Cruise Director & Social Hosts: Mark Price is the cruise director for the Carnival Triumph. He is very entertaining and we enjoyed cruising with him. Mark was a true showman; he was quite the comedian at times and sometimes even did a song and dance. The only other cruise director that I have to compare him to is Shawn Bussey who was the cruise director on the Paradise. I know a lot of people dislike Shawn, but I liked her quite a bit (I guess I am biased because I am women, but still…) It seems that I heard more from Shawn throughout the day vs. Mark. I know Mark was out and about the cruise ship because he always made a reference to whom he saw and meet each day during the evening show. I do remember one Social Hosts name – Marcus and he was quite funny and had lots of things to do out on the Lido deck, but I can not remember some of the females names. I know the one from South Africa was very very good, but once again I found Tina from the Paradise to be more active. All in all, the cruise director and social hosts made the cruise so enjoyable that I would recommend sailing with the Carnival Triumph again and again!
The Carnival Triumph is a beautiful and it provides tons of activities for all ages. With every cruise, you will always have some people who are disappointed with the service, food, room, etc., but overall this cruise line always seems to impress me as well as all my other traveling companions. Both the Eastern and Western itineraries are great and I look forward to sailing with Carnival once again in May for our honeymoon cruise. This time we will be sailing the Mexican Rivera on the Carnival Pride.