by Scott Warshaw
January 27, 2001
My wife and I just returned from the 1/27/01 sailing and we had the best cruise ever (this was our 4th - first on Carnival, 2 on Princess, 1 NCL) and were pleasantly surprised.
Drove from Ft. Lauderdale (Avis - total bill $31) to Miami - 25 minutes with traffic too. Checked into the Sheraton Biscayne Bay at noon (free booking - credit card miles). Spent day in South Beach - night at the Bay Market. Dinner was fun at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company - a must if you have never eaten at Bubbas. Did Carnival Pre-check in at 9:00 a.m. in hotel lobby, dropped Avis rental car at the pier at 11:15 a.m. and was on the ship by 12:45 p.m. A very hassle free process! Everyone should try it.
Carnival really learned how to manage 3,000 plus passengers in an organized and well-informed manner. Many times during our 100% occupied cruise (excluding buffet lines, sun deck & pool areas during days at sea - of course), we found ourselves saying "where is everybody?". The ship was so big that there was plenty of room for all passengers to enjoy their vacation without seeing large groups of people.
95% of the staff were very friendly and most of them greeted you and smiled as you pass them in the corridors. On our sailing date - repairs to our air cond. in our cabin were quickly restored and apology notes were distributed under cabin doors to all that were affected. Now that's good Management! Dining room service was outstanding and our waiter/bus boy combo - Roberto & Nolbert (table #334) treated us like royalty every day. The food was just as good as on any ship that we sailed on. We didn't expect to eat such delicious food and always ordered 2-3 appetizers, 2 entrees, and dessert! They didn't even charge extra for cappuccino. Buffet food really didn't impress us, however the following delicious alternative dining options did: 24/7 unlimited frozen yogurt/ice cream machines, 24/7 pizzeria, Hong Kong Noodle Factory and New York Deli. Great concept Carnival - give people several choices and they will pick what they want to eat!
As a native New Yorker, I have been exposed to B'way shows - hats off to Carnival in providing above average cruise entertainment. Even the magic show was Las Vegas style - show girls in sexy outfits prancing around the stage. What a great magic show - two standing ovations! Both comedians had us crying in the aisle with laughter. The reggae band was very good and I even played (drums) with them twice outside on the Lido deck infront of a full house. Another passenger also participated and sung the blues. The other musicians were also top notch, including the classical trio, "Barry" the funny and talented piano sing-a-long guy, and the Asian Rio Lounge band. We had an inside cabin and found same to be adequate and had plenty of room. Never saw our room steward, but everything was done to perfection, including creative towel animal creations with our personal items (sunglasses, hats, etc.). Saved a lot of money, but will book a balcony the next time and splurge a little. Booked Category 4A guarantee and ended up with Category 8A mid-ship.
We did all island excursions on our own, as this was our return to the Western itinerary. In the morning we climbed the falls in Jamaica and had NO PROBLEMS MON! Total cost $30 for two adults (round trip cab from port, falls admission, locker rental). Went right back to ship to enjoy a quiet afternoon in the sun. In Grand Cayman we went to the Marriott (at the beginning of 7-mile beach) and used their chairs, ordered drinks from their "beach bar waitress", had wonderful lunch at Marriott looking out at blue/green water, snorkeled 100 yards from hotel and saw incredible schools of fish. Back in town - sampled free rum cake and purchased booze at the Tortuga Rum Store ($8 for 1L Absolute, $9 for 1L Tortuga 151 Rum). Cozumel was fun! In the morning we did our shopping and had lunch/drinks at Carlos & Charlie's. Dropped off shopping stuff in our cabin, picked up our snorkel gear and went to Chucknaab Park for 4 hours - if you love to snorkel, this is the place to go. $32 for two adults (round trip cab from port & park admission). The Park had "beach bar service" and had two large pineapple frozen pina coladas delivered to us without getting off our free fiberglass beach chairs ($5 for each drink).
Only a few complaints:
2) The water slide was incredible, but was only open for limited times (sea days: 10am-noon, 2pm-5pm; port days: 2pm-4pm). Two guards monitored the slide and were fun for all. Adults screamed out loud as they whipped around the cork screw slide. LOL.
3) As usual, not enough of lounge chairs at pool areas. No Problem Mon - just got up at 6:30 a.m. to reserve lounge chairs like all the other cruise ships that we were on.
Overall -- We highly recommend the Carnival Triumph and at those prices, you can't beat the value that you get compared to other cruise lines. Way to go Carnival!! Keep up the good work!!by Scott Warshaw