Carnival Triumph - Eastern Caribbean: Carnival Triumph Cruise Review by 1tonysmom
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Triumph - Eastern Caribbean
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
PRE-CRUISE: Drove from Tampa on Friday to Boca Raton. Stayed at the Holiday Inn Express right off the turnpike using Priority Points (ie free room). Room was clean and comfortable. Thought we would get up early and head to the port right after breakfast. Not to be. DD woke up at 4 a.m. vomiting and complaining of a severe headache. Spent the morning at a local pediatrician. Turns out she had her first migraine. Not surprising, as we have another child with them and a strong family history. Spent the day alternating Motrin and Tylenol to keep her semi-comfortable.
EMBARKATION: Arrived in Miami at 12:50 p.m. Parked offsite (covered valet parking) at CBM parking at a savings of $30. Not sure if we would do it again More (will explain later). The shuttle runs on the hour, so we were on the way to the port at 1 p.m. & arrived at 1:15 p.m. Porters were not rude in the least. If you treat them nicely, they are nice in return. The lines were long, but kept right on moving. Didnt actually time it, but I think we were onboard in less than an hour. Carnival had 3 lines for embarkation photos, which sped the process up considerably. The atrium of the Triumph is just breathtaking. Our first cruise was on the Paradise (our honeymoon, absolutely loved the ship). Last two Carnival cruises were on the Glory. The Triumph had the Glory beat with the 9 story atrium. Nice music playing, a great atmosphere to start a vacation.
CABIN: Headed up to our cabin to drop of our carry-ons. We were in cabin 8271 (8C) on Veranda deck. This was our first balcony cabin and we were not disappointed. Cabins were nicely decorated in the usual Carnival tones. Cabin was great with a chair and lounger. Cabin door would stay open on its own most of the time (good as I forgot a bungee cord). Bathroom was very pink. Seemed more spacious than on other cruises, with a large medicine cabinet for storing items. The location of the cabin was perfect. Very near the forward elevators, but far enough away that it was very quiet. Our cabin steward, Boni, did a good job. Didnt get a towel animal the first night, but we did every other one. My DD looked forward to seeing what animal was next. FYI, the control for the cabin temperature is on the ceiling. Took us a while to find it. My only complaint, is that every time the cabin was cleaned, the air was turned way down, so that cabin was freezing when we returned. Toward the end of the week, Boni got the idea that we liked it a little warmer, so he left it alone. The bed was reasonably comfortable (I am spoiled by a memory foam mattress), but the pillows were fantastic. I am seriously considering ordering some from Carnival.
DINING: We had first seating (5:45) in the Paris dining room which is aft on decks 3 & 4. We were in the upper dining area. The table is probably the best location we have ever had. We were on the starboard/aft corner facing out the window. It was so nice to look out over the islands as we were sailing away. The food was excellent. My favorites were the tilapia (1st night), lobster and prime rib and the grouper (last night).
All the food was served at the correct temperature and the beef was cooked properly. Enjoyed the roasted pumpkin soup and had a couple of the pasta dishes as appetizers. My favorite dessert by far was the chocolate decadence. I wish I could get this every night. The rest of the desserts were just OK. I would say the desserts were the weak link in their menu. Of course, you could always get chocolate chip cookies or ice cream.
Service was excellent. Our head server, Sumendra (Sumi) from Bali, was the best. He was professional, courteous and treated our daughter like she was a princess. After the second night, her dinner was waiting for her when we arrived. I think she lived on pizza for lunch and peanut butter and jelly for dinner, but she was happy. His assistant was Iwayan (Wayan), also from Bali. Always had my iced tea ready to go. We also brought two bottles of wine to the dining room and were not charged the $10 corkage fee.
We dined with a lady from Virginia, traveling with her two grown daughters and her grandchildren. They were nice people, but we didnt have a lot in common. Next time, I think we will request a table to ourselves.
The Maitre d' DID NOT even try to enforce the dress code. Many wore jeans and shorts to the dining room. Formal nights were not. This did not affect our dining experience, but it is sad people dont even make the effort. We try to follow the dress code as we feel it adds to the whole dining experience. Even DD wore dresses to dinner and was all gussied up for formal night. Did lunch most days on the Lido deck. Buffet was spotty. Some things were really good, others were not so good. Pizza was great this cruise. My 4 year old DD had cheese pizza every day Fries at the grill were good, burgers were a little overdone. Sandwiches at the New York Deli were great, especially the Reubens and the line moved quickly. Didnt try the Hong Kong Noodle Co, as their hours were weird (2-5 p.m. daily). Desserts were uniformly blah, except for the chocolate buffet on Friday afternoon. Did breakfast mostly in the cabin (room service rocks) or on the Lido deck. We did the dining room one morning and it was very good. Scrambled eggs on the buffet were nasty, but you could get fresh omelets or eggs cooked to order.
ACTIVITIES: We didnt participate in most of the activities. Mostly enjoyed the pool and hot tubs. FYI, the pool is salt water and is not chlorinated. The hot tubs are fresh water and are definitely chlorinated. Water slide has a height requirement of 42. DD went down the slide a couple of times, but the lines were long. Others seemed to enjoy the activities poolside. Watched some of the Survivor competitions, volleyball, etc. Heard some people complaining they would not cruise again because they were bored. While the staff doesnt entertain you every second of every day, there were always things to do if you checked out the daily Capers. While I am not a huge shopper, I made it a point to go to the shopping talks given by Kirstie, the Super Shopper. We sat in the first row. If you jump up and down and cheer a lot you can get some great free stuff. Between my husband and I, we got a strand of Majorca pearls, a small bottle of mango liqueur and a Del Sol t-shirt for my DD. All in all, the stuff was worth about $60. Not bad for a couple of hours of my time. We also did find out some good places to shop. Will cover those under port of call section.
CAMP CARNIVAL: The staff at Camp Carnival was FANTASTIC! DD has never wanted to participate in the childrens program much before this cruise. Maybe it was the age. This cruise, she had a great time. Embarkation day, we checked out the facilities before sailing. The club is located on deck 11 (Spa deck) on the port side of the ship. It is smaller than on the Glory, but it has a cool space maze bouncer that my DD loved. The staff, Julie from England, Minkie from Botswana and Cindy from S. Africa were great. DD got very attached by the end of the week. She usually attended Camp Carnival in the mornings from 10-12. Afternoons were spent poolside. She went to dinner every night with us, although the kids can dine with the counselors every night except the first and last nights of the cruise. Had we had a table alone, we would probably have exercised this option at least a couple of times. She went back in the Camp in the evenings from 7:30-10 p.m. and asked to go to the pajama party every night. She did the evening babysitting 4 nights. We made sure to give a tip to the staff, as they are not included in the recommended tips. FYI, the tips are pooled among the Camp staff and used from group activities.
SERVICE: The crew on the Triumph was very outgoing and friendly. Everyone had a smile and sailed hello. Most asked my daughter for a high five which she loved doing. Photographers were pretty good, some better than others. The guy (sorry I didnt get his name) who is bald with the goatee and does pictures by the grand piano was the BEST. Very patient. Got some great shots of my DD. Only had one person get a little short with me. We were supposed to have a fruit basket delivered upon embarkation. I called the pursers desk on Sunday AM when it had not arrived. The purser who answered the phone was a little snappy, I think she was being bombarded with calls and by people at the desk. She said she would check into it. The fruit basket magically appeared before lunch and she did call the cabin to make sure it had arrived. Drink service was pretty good by the main pool. Couldnt get a server at all in the Club Rio during Karaoke. DH ended up having to go up to the bar. Didnt get any drinks in the Rome Lounge, but the servers were plentiful. PUBLIC AREAS: The Triumph is a gorgeous ship. It is very tastefully decorated, with the exception of the chandelier in the Rome Lounge. The ship doesnt show her age at all. Crew was always cleaning and polishing. Anyone who is a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events will like the South Beach Buffet, as the room is decorated with eyes everywhere. Only caught a whiff of sewer smell once in the bathroom by the aft pool.
ENTERTAINMENT: The cruise director was Stuart Dunn from Australia. I think he did a good job. Not as over the top as John Heald, but very solid. We attended both production shows (Wonderful World and Century Café). I am a former dance instructor and thought the dancers were very good. Probably the best we had seen on a ship. Very energetic, good precision. The male and female singers, Kevin & Randi were pretty good. A lot of it depended on what song they were singing. The magic show with Kevin & Caruso was great. Much better than the magic show on the Glory. DH also went to the midnight adult show the did and said it was great. Said the dancers costumes were skimpier, but no nudity. We also saw the comedian, Jeff Lau (sp?) on Tuesday evening. Show was hilarious, definitely R rated so dont bring your kids. Missed the other comedian. DH also went to the show with the comedian/juggler and said he was funny. Didnt make it to the guest talent show.
PORTS OF CALL: We did the Eastern Caribbean with stops in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. It was nice stopping in San Juan and St. Thomas first, as we did not have to go back through immigration during the course of the cruise. The Glory goes to Nassau before St. Thomas, and it was an inconvenience to go back through immigration before disembarking in St. Thomas.
San Juan: Arrived at the port at 4:30 p.m. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have left my daughter in Camp Carnival. San Juan is a little hilly and not conducive to a 4 year old having to walk. We did a horse and buggy tour of the city. It was pretty, but overpriced. Our driver was not particularly knowledgeable as to the history of the city, which was disappointing. We then walked to the Barrachina restaurant to try a famous Pina Colada. It was delicious. Had a quick snack and got my daughter a kids meal and then headed back to the ship. Probably would have stayed in port longer if we had been kidless. Didnt do much shopping. Got a cute handmade doll for my DD, but that was it.
St. Thomas: I got up early to check out the shops at Havensight pier. We had a tour booked at 11 a.m. with Godfrey Renal that included 1 hour of shopping downtown, an island tour and some beach time. Didnt find anything at the pier. Looked for a gold necklace for DD, but the stores wouldnt come down enough, so I passed. Went back to the ship and had breakfast with DH and DD. Gave my daughter the option of coming with us or going to Camp Carnival. She chose to go to Camp. Got off the ship at 11 a.m. and Godfrey was waiting for us. Dropped us off downtown for an hour of shopping. FYI, skip shopping at the pier and go downtown. Great little market with better prices. Wish we had more time. Bought a nice knock off Brighton purse. Grabbed lunch at a little place, Mercury Café. It is a funky little restaurant with a great menu, cool art on the walls and live classical guitar. It is down Hibiscus Alley, which is right off the main drag past A. H. Riise. It is almost across from the Ammolite store. We had the prosciutto and brie sandwich on a pretzel baguette and some corn chowder. Yum. DH purchased a CD from the classical guitar guy. Tour resumed at 12:15 p.m. Godfrey took us to several nice overlooks and is very knowledge about the history of the island. We also went to the Mountain Top which has great views of the surrounding islands. Had a yummy banana daiquiri. Also bought a nice Caribbean topaz ring and a sterling silver necklace with some gold overlay for DD. The price was right ($19), as I didnt want to spend too much on something that is likely to get broken. For those of you not familiar, Caribbean topaz, AKA Shimmering topaz is a white topaz treated with titanium. It gives you stone that changes colors depending on the light. Has hues of silver, purple, blue and green. Very unusual. We then went to Coki Beach. Have been to Coki several times before. Snorkeling was great and water was refreshing. Rented chairs and an umbrella for $10. FYI, the resort on Sapphire Beach has gone bankrupt, so all the facilities on the beach and now closed. Could have also done Mageng Bay, but the water is much clearer at Coki. No restaurants, shops, etc. Coki has several beach bar/restaurants, restrooms (not too bad) and a freshwater outdoor shower to rinse off at. Coral World is also right next door for those who dont want to do the beach. I think this cost for Coral World is about $15 USD. Godfrey got us back to the ship at 4:30 p.m. The cost for his tour is a reasonable $25 pp. We also gave him an additional gratuity, as he provides an excellent tour. I would highly recommend him for anyone going to St. Thomas.
St. Maarten: We arrived in St. Maarten on time at 8 a.m. After breakfast we put DD in Camp Carnival so we could do a little shopping alone. Took the water taxi ($5 for all day) to downtown Phillipsburg. Went to all the stores giving away freebies. The best one was a pair of Mexican fire opal earring at Genoa jewelers. Go inside and shout Long Live Genoa to get the freebies. They will make a nice give for one of my nieces. Went shopping specifically for a gold coqui (frog) charm for my DD. Found a nice 14K gold charm at Kay Jewelers. Jewelry prices were better in St. Maarten than in St. Thomas and the people seemed more willing to deal. I bought a Caribbean topaz pendant at another store (sorry dont remember the name). The first price given to me was $169. Got them down to $120. It is really a beautiful piece and looks great on my 4mm Omega. Also went to the Belgian chocolate shop. Got some adult chocolates for gifts (they even delivered them to the ship). Went to Del Sol to get some gifts for the ladies in my office. Found cute color changing key chains for $3 each. Back to the ship for lunch and to pick up DD. Then we headed to Orient Beach for a few hours. First cab driver did not charge for DD. Price is based on number of people in your cab. It was $18 plus tip for the ride out. Orient Beach is gorgeous. Beach vendors were not too pushy. Got my daughters hair braided for $2 per braid. Had a delicious pina colada on the beach. DH took a walk down the beach during the braiding and said it was very educational. I only saw one woman topless. Considered doing a massage on the beach ($60 per hour) but decided to swim instead. Did not purchase any alcohol this trip, as Carnival has changed their policy and delivers it to your cabin the morning of debarkation, instead of the night before.
DISEMBARKATION: We opted to do the early self-debarkation and carry off all of our bags. Due to smart packing (and doing a little laundry), we had two large rolling suitcases, one small rolling carry-on and a small rolling soft-sided cooler. DH had a small backpack on and I had my DCL beach bag on my shoulder. It was a little difficult managing the bags, but the elevators were not crowded and it beat waiting around for our color to be called. Wish Carnival would do it like Disney. On Disney, we had breakfast and walked off the ship, picked up our bags and hit the road. We were off the ship by 7:55. Called the parking company. They said they would be there by 8:20 a.m. At 8:20 they called and said the van had broken down and to take a cab, which they would pay for. Got the most inept cab driver in the city. He couldnt find the place, wasnt even close. Even I knew where we had to go. I finally had to give him directions. It took us an hour to get from the port to the parking garage. Made him fight out the fare with the parking people. Got in our car and was on the road at 10:20. Next time we will just park at the port so we can get on the road right away.
SUMMARY: We absolutely loved the Triumph. The ship is laid out well. No problems navigating the ship at all. Did miss the alternative dining that the Glory had, but not enough to stop me from sailing on her again. Itinerary was the best. Crew was one of the best we have encountered on any cruise line. Carnival continues to provide a first class cruise experience and the best value for your money. Less
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