Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Triumph
by Lunyma@aol.com
December 16, 2000

Background:
I am 42 and my husband Chuck is 55. Our kids are 15, 14, 13, and 11, the 13 year old being the only girl. This was my 6th cruise, 3rd on Carnival, with 2 others being on Royal Caribbean and the last on a ship that no longer exists. This was Chuck's 5th cruise and the first for the kids.

Pre cruise:
We spent two days pre-cruise at the Wyndham Biscayne Bay, purchased through Priceline, for $40 a night per room (2 rooms). The accomodations are clean, the service personnel friendly, and the location is good. We asked for rooms overlooking the bay, and received one of the two, fitting that criteria. We had a great view of the port, and it was wonderful to wake up early in the morning to watch the ships pull in and dock. Since we had the kids with us, we decided to forego our usual dinner at Bubba Gumps, and instead took advantage of the food court at Bayside for our evening meals. For breakfasts, we went across the street from the hotel, to Burger King. The hotel does not offer transportation to the pier, but they do have a free shuttle to Bayside that runs every hour from 10am till 9pm, which we took advantage of twice. We also convinced the shuttle driver to take us to the port on sailing day. Taxis in Miami frown on more than 5 people in a car, and we were happy to have a van take us. The driver did not quote a price, but we gave him $15 and he seemed very pleased.

Embarkation:
We arrived at the pier at about 10:50am on Saturday. Lines were already long, but we made it through security at 11:30. We had all our paperwork filled out in advance, and finished our check in at 11:50. There was a bit of a hold up and they wouldn't let anyone board for a while, but we were finally in our cabins at 12:30. All in all, not too bad.

Cabins:
Chuck and I were in cabin 8228, a balcony cabin on the Verandah deck. The kids were in 8230, directly across the hall from us. The balcony cabin had 2 robes in it, but no amenities basket as promised. We asked our cabin stewardess, Anita, if we could have one, and she said that we should be able to get one by the next day, which we did. She also made up the beds as one, with a large sheet as I requested. Our TA had sent us bottles of champagne, and plates of chocolate covered strawberries and other candies were delivered, just before we sailed.

Day one:
We dropped off our carry ons and headed to the Lido deck for lunch. Between us, we had Pastrami and Corned beef sandwiches from the NY deli, Beef and broccoli from the Hong Kong Noodle Co, Pizza, and hamburgers and hot dogs... Totally stuffed, we made our way to the Capitol Bar and bought soda cards for the kids. Our youngest lost his card on the first night, but it was replaced at no cost, by showing the original bar the purchase receipt. We headed back tot he cabin and met with Anita again. She asked us if we would like extra pillows, if the kid's upper bunks should be kept down, and if there was anything else she could do for us. We had noticed earlier, that our kid's dinner assignment was different than ours. They were in the same dining room, at the same time, but at a different table. We went to the designated area to meet the maitre de' to change this. After all, it wouldn't be fair to someone else to have to share a table with my kids! To put it simply, the maitre de' was NOT nice! He claimed that our TA arranged for us to sit with another group (a table of 8) and that our children would be fine as their table was right next to ours (a booth for 4). No other seating arrangements were available for the 6 of us, so we had to leave it as it was. It might have been ok, but we found out when we got to dinner, that the kids had a different waiter than us! Nothing more that we could do, we went off to explore the ship. We had planned in advance to meet up with some people from the internet, and ended up at one of the bars on the Lido deck. I wasn't sitting there for more than 5 minutes, when I was approached by someone from the group that recognized me from a picture. We joined her and the rest of the gang at a table and got to know one another. It was nice meeting people you *know* for the first time. Soon after, it was the lifeboat drill. 20 minutes and it was over with. Sailaway was delayed due to storms in the East and we didn't get underway till well after 6pm. We had late dinner seating, so we relaxed for a while. Our luggage didn't arrive until after our dinner, so it was definitely a casual evening for us. At 8:15, we arrived in the dining room and found our tables. That's when we found out about the kids having a different waiter. Our waiter was Raghu, from India, and theirs was Selvan. Selvan did not speak good English and to put it bluntly, was awful. Our kids didn't even get their entrees served until we were nearly finished with out desserts! My oldest son left the table before he was served as he was battling a bad cold and did not feel well. Dinner that night consisted of Smoked Salmon appetizer, Rack of Lamb, which was excellent, Sirloin steak that was cut very thin and was overcooked and chewy, and Sweet and Sour Chicken. Someone at our table had 2 of the steaks, so I have a feeling that Chuck just got a bad one... He didn't want to order another. For dessert, we had Chocolate Decadence and a Mango Cheese Napoleon, that was to die for. We skipped the production show and spent some time in the casino after dinner. It was a long day, and we ended up going to bed fairly early.

Sunday, Sea day:
We went to the dining room for an open seating breakfast. We had a good waiter, Augusto and an aft table overlooking the wake of the ship. Dolphins were swimming alongside us, and many people, including the crew, went to watch. Chuck and I grabbed some chairs by the pool after breakfast and got a bit of sun until the clouds came at about 11:30. The rain started shortly thereafter. Our oldest son was still feeling ill and he spent the whole day in his cabin sleeping. The other kids made some friends and spent their time in the game room and exploring the ship. We decided to have lunch in the dining room, and it was a nice relaxing way to kill some time. This was a good day to do nothing, so we napped in the afternoon and played in the casino before dinnertime. This was the first formal night, beginning with the Captain's cocktail party. It was held in 3 different lounges, and I never did get to see the captain. Most people were dressed very nicely. I would say about 10% of the men wore tuxes and the teen boys were mostly wearing nice slacks, a shirt with a tie, and some with jackets. The girls wore mostly prom type dresses. Dinner was excellent this night. We started with a Wild Mushroom Ragout and Shrimp Cocktails. The lobster tails were cooked perfectly and we each had 2. I couldn't even eat dessert because I was so full. The waiters sang "O Sole Mio" and interacted with many of the passengers. My one sick child was now becoming two, as number two son was suddenly all stuffed up and coughing his brains out. I sent them both to bed to rest . The other kids went off to the game room and the disco and Chuck and I went to the Casino. It was a good night at the blackjack table : )

Monday, Cozumel:
I watched the sun rise from our balcony, as I had my coffee that was delivered promptly from room service. We found out soon enough, that son #2 was feeling awful and had decided not to accompany us to the beach. I felt bad about leaving him in his cabin, but there was nothing I could do for him. On a lighter note, son #1 was feeling much better. I went to the Windjammer and got some food for my sick boy, got him all settled in, and the rest of us gathered to leave the ship. We took a taxi to Chankannaab Park, where we walked the grounds for a while, then found a place to park our things. I had booked a dolphin swim online for my daughter, and while I got her ready, Chuck and the boys went and rented some snorkel equipment. The dolphin swim was amazing and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well worth the cost. Chuck taught the boys how to snorkel and they were having a fantastic time as well. The only thing that bothered me at Chankannaab, was that there were TONS of flies! I did not expect this, as I didn't see one fly when I was at Playa del Sol earlier in the year. We took a taxi back to the ship at about 2pm to check on my son. He was really feeling awful. It was bad enough for a trip to the ship's dr., Dr. Levenstein. End result? He was dehydrated, and the only thing we could do was to pump him with liquids and have him get more rest. He said he didn't mind if we left him again, so after several large glasses of apple juice, we left him in his cabin and took a taxi to town. None of us had eaten since early in the morning, so we decided to start our outing with an early dinner at Carlos and Charlies. I was totally amazed when we walked in. The place was dead!!!!!! I was there earlier in the year, twice, also in the afternoon, and the place was hopping. Well, it was probably better for the kids this way anyway. The food was fantastic, especially the Bbq Shrimp. We shopped around for a bit after our meal but all we bought were some small onyx items for gifts. This was my 3rd time in Cozumel this year, and it really doesn't thrill me that much anymore. Back to the dock where my daughter and I had our hair braided. The boys went back to the ship with Chuck. I was back onboard about 9pm, too tired to do much, so Chuck and I went for some pizza. Son #2 was feeling the same, the other kids were off in the disco and game room, and Chuck and I just hung out. We did go to the midnight comedy show, which was a riot!

Tuesday, Sea day:
We couldn't have asked for a better day, other than son #2 still being sick :( Chuck and I had omelettes at the buffet at about 8am and decided to grab some deck chairs early. Yeah, yeah, I know about the saving thing, but we were planning for a full day in the sun and chairs were already marked by people at 7! We found some chairs in a nice spot, one deck above the main pool, and put our towels and some magazines on them. We only held three chairs for the six of us, as we didn't know how many of our kids would be joining us. We ended up spending the whole day outside, with a short break for myself to enter the slot tournament. Our kids came and went throughout the day so I did not feel guilty about holding one chair for the 4 of them. We lunched at the pool, sandwiches from the deli, and stayed out till about 4pm. After showering and cooling off, I headed for the casino for some serious blackjack and caribbean stud. The slot tournament was a bust, btw... All I was able to do was break even for the day. Still a little behind from the beginning of the cruise, I was determined to beat the ship at THEIR games, albeit later : ) I went back to the cabin and Chuck and I shared some Champagne on the balcony. The seas were turning a bit rough, and you could feel the motion of the ship. We called the kids and told them to meet us for dinner in the dining room at 8. Before dinner, Chuck and I went to the past guest party. An invitation had been left under our door the night before. This was held in several lounges in the aft area of the ship. My daughter had been wandering about and ended up joining us. This was the first time I actually caught a glimpse of the captain, who was shaking hands with everyone that approached him. Since the sun had worn me out during the day, I had little appetite for dinner and only ate some beef wellington, which was wonderful. Baked Alaska was the featured dessert, which my kids loved, but several other desserts were offered as well. The waiters sang "Hot, Hot, Hot" while dancing through the dining room, grabbing unsuspecting passengers as they passed. I was one of the *lucky* ones, and found myself dancing around like a fool.. Ok.. it was fun and we have wonderful videos to show my grandchildren what I jerk I was : ) After dinner, I decided to enter the blackjack tournament. I always enter, but have never qualified before. This time I did, so I knew that I was at least going to get a t shirt for my $10 entry fee. The finals weren't to start until later, so I played some REAL blackjack until then, and I did VERY good : ) I ended up being #4 out of 7 for the tournament finals, and only one out of two women. Down to the last hand and it was just myself and one other person. He had $1850 and I had $1800. It was his turn to bet first and he surprised me by only betting $50! I was a little nervous, so I was unable to quickly calculate how much I needed to beat him, but I knew that without a double, and both of us winning, $300 would be more than enough. Besides, I had nothing to lose but my entry fee. Well, we both won the hand and I won the tournament. $250 and a 24k gold plastic ship on a stick :) Off to play some Caribbean Stud, where I kept up my winning streak.

Wednesday, Grand Cayman:
Seas were too rough to drop anchor near Georgetown, so we ended up about 5 miles from town, at Spott's Sound. Our Stingray City tour was cancelled, as were most others, so we took a bus to town (at a cost of $4 pp, ea way), to shop. I really believe that the ships should should rent busses for their passengers when this happens, but I do understand that they can't control the weather. Prices for EVERYTHING were high in Grand Cayman, and we bought nothing. We went back to the ship on a very rocky tender. It was an afternoon to relax, play a little blackjack, and enjoy the scenery. Dinner was wonderful, once again, and it was back to the casino for the rest of the night, where my winning streak continued.

Thursday, Ocho Rios:
Son #2 is feeling better and he decided to join us. We pre booked a tour online with Ionie McBeam, for our family of 6, and another of 4 that I had met online.As promised, Ionie was waiting for us at the dock with a comfortable air conditioned van. She said she would take us wherever we chose to go at a cost of $21 per person (I believe that it's $25 pp for 6 or less), for the whole day. The sun was shining and we decided to start with the Falls. She dropped us off at 9 and promised to return at 10:30. The climb was exhilerating for me as I am not one to exercise, I don't like heights, and I'm a klutz. I did make it to the top though, and all in one piece :) My youngest RAN up the falls and asked if he could do it again! We had a half hour before Ionie's return, so I grabbed a Red Stripe and relaxed. At 10:30, Ionie picked us up and took us to Mahogony Beach. We grabbed some chairs, ordered some drinks, and settled in. The sky was a little cloudy, but we all managed to get a fair amount of sun. The Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris were STRONG, made with LOTS of Appleton Rum. At 12:30, it was time for lunch, and Ionie suggested a restaurant called BiBiBips, overlooking the beach. It was a good choice, because there was something for everyone, including my picky children. Prices were reasonable and the menu ranged from burgers and hot dogs to traditional Jamaican fare. We had Red Stripe battered shrimp with Jerk sauce, hot wings, and Jerk Chicken. Service was quite slow though and we weren't finished until almost 2! Ionie waited for us and we decided to spend the rest of our time shopping. She dropped us off at Soni Center, but we had such little time, that all I bought was some jerk sauce and some Blue Mountain Coffee. The kids bought some small Jamaican souveniers. We got back to the ship at 3:30, the required time. Ionie was a great bargain and pleasant to be with. The ship offered a similar tour at a price of $45 pp. I definitely recommend Ionie and you can get more info at www.ocho-rios.com. Please tell her that Pam from Chicago sent you her way! Back on the ship, it was time to see if my gambling luck would hold up. Not only did my luck hold out, but it seemed like I couldn't lose. I played till 7pm, and walked away happy :) This was the second formal night, and dinner was fantastic. There were many things on the menu, and I didn't hesitate ordering all of my favorites. I had Portabella mushrooms, crawfish etoufee, large grilled tiger prawns with garlic, filet with gorgonzola and red wine sauce, and a wonderful hazelnut creme brulee for dessert. This was definitely my biggest food day. After dinner, it was, of course, back to the blackjack table. I felt like I couldn't lose, and I didn't. I closed the casino at 3am with my dining room tablemates.

Friday, At Sea:
It didn't look like a promising day. It had rained all night and the skies were a sea of dark clouds. Regardless, we headed up to the Lido deck for coffee and to stake our claim of chairs, at 8:15. Despite the weather, chairs without towels were already a hard to find commodity. None the less, we found 3 of them, left out belongings, and went for a quick bite. by 9am, we were in our chairs, hoping for the clouds to break. by 11, the rain started :(... No let up all day, so I ended up spending most of the afternoon in the casino, where they were happy to take back much of my winnings from the previous two days. Dinner for the last night was amazingly not that appealing to me. I only had a salad, a delicious slice of prime rib, a cheese plate with a glass of port, and a Grand Marnier souffle. The rest of our group feasted on Shrimp Cocktails, Fettucini with a mushroom cream sauce, and Turkey with stuffing. All of which I was told were great. After dinner, it was back to the casino to try to recoup some of my losses from the afternoon. Unfortunately , however, this day was for the dealers, and at 2:30am, I gave up, short for the day, but still with quite a bit more than I started out with when I boarded the ship.

Saturday, Disembarkation:
We woke up at 6:45, only to look out the window and see a dreary Miami day. We got all our last minute stuff together, woke the kids, and headed to breakfast in the dining room at 8:15. The line we passed for immigration was long (750 Canadians), but we weren't in a hurry since we were staying in Miami Beach for another 2 days. We returned to our cabins after saying our goodbyes to our tablemates and Raghu, our waiter, and at about 9:30, headed towards the Rome Lounge, our assigned waiting area. Debarkation started shortly thereafter and we were off the ship, all 7 pieces of luggage in hand, by 10am.

General Cruise notes:
The staff in the casino were great. As an Ocean Player's Club member, I was addressed by name on the second day by the casino manager and all the hosts. Several dealers stood out for their humor and personality, most notably Andy and Trevor. Carla, another dealer, was as friendly as they come. Our dining room waiter, Raghu, was the best. After horrible service for our kids on the first night, Naem, the head waiter, assigned Raghu to my kid's table. He took care of them as he would his own, making sure they were happy and well fed, and bringing extras of things he thought they would like. Despite being sick for a few days, my boys spent most of their time in Underground Tokyo, the game room. My daughter made numerous friends and hung out in the disco every night. I still believe that Carnival needs to set aside a seperate area for teens on all their ships though, as it seemed at times that many public areas were overrun by 12-15 year olds. I will note though, that this being the week before Christmas, with tons of kids onboard, none were unruly and most of them were totally out of sight.

Radisson Deauville Resort:
After we left the ship, we took a taxi (with a driver reluctant to take 6 people) to the Radisson. I purchased this hotel through Priceline at a cost of $55 per night, per room. The taxi ride was $30 plus tip. The hotel is old, and shows wear in many places. The lobby is spacious and clean however, and as impressive as I remember it as a child. We were able to check in right away, even though it was quite early. We were given adjoining rooms overlooking Collins Ave. The view wasn't great, but we were still able to see Triumph and Explorer docked in the distance. The bellman was very friendly, as were the front desk personnel. The hotel literature said that major renovation had been done recently, but I didn't see it. The rooms were fine though, complete with coffee maker, hair dryer, safe, and refrigerator. the neighborhood is pretty run down, but we felt safe taking a walk from the Walgreens across the street to the Dennys, a couple blocks away. My kids expressed both concern and remorse for the homeless man we passed, sitting in a doorway. Although it was fine overall, I think I would have rather stayed back at the Wyndham. Maybe it was the used condom on the pool table in the hotel game room that turned me off???

Conclusion: We had a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. We might not choose the same hotel (Radisson), but we would definitely go on Triumph again. My kids loved every minute, except while they were sick, of course, and are already asking me when they can cruise again. Chuck, on the other hand, said that *I* am too stressed when the kids are around, and he prefers when he and I cruise alone :)