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

Carnival Triumph
by John Caruso
Western Caribbean
November 30, 2002

Some background. This is our 3rd cruise. (Majesty of the Seas and Horizon). My wife and I are in our (ahem) mid-30's and our 2 boys are 9 and 10.

Embarkation
Arrived at terminal at 11:15.. Allow at least 30 minutes for traffic in and around the terminal and to park. $10 a day. You must pay IN ADVANCE. Make sure you have money or credit card (they take either) handy when parking the car Once inside the terminal we waited on 3 different lines. 1st time to check in (60 min). 2nd time (about 5-10 min) to get sign and sail cards and a 3rd time (about 30 min) to take pictures. Plus some other waits here and there, we were on the ship by 1:15. Luggage arrived at cabin in drips and drabs. We had all the luggage by 6:15. Lesson learned. If you want to swim or dress for early dinner, bring you bathing suit and dinner clothes in a carry on. Our kids wanted to swim very badly and their swimsuits were in the last suitcase to arrive. Many people in dinning room on 1st night were dressed in shorts because their luggage did not arrive at their cabin in time.

SHIP- What can I say? The ship was nice and clean. Cabins were nice size. We had room for everything. Lets get this out of the way. Yes there were stains in the rugs along the cabin corridors. SO WHAT!

Ok, back to the review. There we many kids. I heard 700 quoted at one time. If you are looking for a fine dining/cruising experience, try Celebrity. This was Disney World. Not that I minded, our kids contributed to the atmosphere as well, but we decided that we would not take Carnival again if we went without kids. The crowd themselves were not rowdy college kids. Go to Space Mountain at Disney and take all the people waiting on line and put them on this ship. That was who made up crowd. Young, Old, Black, White, Hispanic, even Blind. (there were about 20-30 blind folks with seeing-eye dogs on board). Everyone was friendly and happy to have a good time.

FOOD!
You have 2 options. Dining in the dining room or joining the free for all at the buffets.

Dining room - 2 formal nights . I rented a tux I got measured and called Carnival before I left to put the order in. It was $80. It made formal night easy. Every other night was casual. There is no "informal" night. On casual nights, anything goes including jeans. No shorts or tank tops. On the 1st night, people didn't get their luggage so shorts were allowed. In cozumel, we were in port until midnight and so shorts were allowed in the dining room then too. And on the last night shorts were allowed. So 2 formal nights, 3 "shorts" night and the rest were business causal. Dockers and a polo shirt. No Blazers needed. Leave them home. The food itself was good. Standard cruise fare. Many Wines from the wine list under $25. You can get a bottle of wine and if you don't finish it that night, they will continue bringing out the unfinished bottle all week.

Buffets - Breakfast is breakfast. Eggs, pancakes, etc. All good.. Go to the dining room if you don't want to wait on line. Lunch was not very good. A lot of the same unappetizing salads and boring lunch meats. The main courses was no better than your local Sizzler buffet. The "alternate dining" option for dinner was more of the same. Go to the dining room.

In addition to the buffet lines were 4 other places to get food. This is where we got most of our food from. At each you still waited on line to get your food and carry it to an available table.
NY Deli - Corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, smoked salmon and cream cheese, turkey, etc. Good quality. We ate there often! (too often)
Chinese - Horrible in my opinion. Avoid.
Coney Island Grille - I ate the steak sandwiches. Very good. They also had burgers, grilled chicken, fries and hot dogs.
24 hour pizza - Good. - You can get by the slice or wait until a whole pizza was ready. Most people just got slices.

Breads/rolls were excellent. The pastries were a disappointment.

Soda Cards - Unless you can just not go without soda, it is NOT needed. There was PLENTY of coffee, fruit punch, iced tea, lemonade and apple juice avail 24hrs. If you really must have soda, then I guess get a card. Our kids were fine with what was available.

DECK CHAIRS/POOLS - Plenty of deck chairs. Maybe not right by the stage but if you walked up on some of the other decks, there were chairs in the sun to be had. To clear up some confusion about towels. Yes, Carnival provided "Carnival" towels in the room for use at the pool and going onshore. If you lose those towels it would cost you $22. You do not need THOSE towels at the pool. There were an abundance of towels you can use right at the pool. That being said, many of the chairs were "reserved" with poolside provided towels. We only used the "Carnival" towels going ashore. There were 3 pools. Mostly filled with kids (mine!). Same as whirlpools. All kids. There were supposed to be "adult-only" whirlpools but I didn't see and whirlpools that DIDN'T have kids. On the last day I found 2 whirlpools in the GYM with no one in them. That can be a nice sanctuary.

ENTERTAINMENT
The Cruise Director was Devin Flemming. He was more of an administrator than an entertainer. He was efficient but didn't add much to the cruise. His staff was a bore as well. The lead singers in the 2 production shows were embarrassing amateurish. The male singer was a 2nd rate karaoke singer. The lady was better. The other shows were Mexican Folklore singing? What is that? Also a very funny comedian Percy Crews. He brought the house down with a rated PG show and a rated R show. They had 2 other comedians that were frightenly bad. The talent show was good no thanks to Carnival. The guests made up the show. Only one movie was shown "My Big Fat Greek Weeding". There was a good turnout. Why not more movies?

FRS RADIOS. We had them. We kept it on channel 13 and did not hear any cross-chatter. I would recommend them.

LAUNDRY - yes they do have laundry facilities. There is 1 Laundromat on each deck. Broken machines in each Laundromat made the availability scarce. Don't count on doing laundry because you may waste large portions of the day finding machines available or that work. Maybe late at night you can do laundry but aren't you on vacation?

CASINO - Mostly $5 and $10 tables. Very Friendly dealers. Great way to learn table games as the dealers will teach you as you play (and they take your money as well!) We came out $75 ahead in the casino. We spent about $60 on bingo though.

SPA - The wife went to the Spa and said she had the best facial ever.

CAMP CARNIVAL - There is no camp the 1st day and the kids were bored. Once they got started though, the camp had enough activities to keep even my short-attention span kids entertained. Camp is from 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm. The breaks are for lunch and dinner. We had a late seating for dinner. We like that because we don't want to be rushed to dinner when we are still on the islands. The downside was that many of the camp stuff was scheduled assuming the kids had early seating. So if you don't want your kids to miss some of the planned activities, get an early seating. We will do that next time we bring the kids. By the way, just to set some expectation, the camp has playstation and Nintendo 64. That was free. The Arcade downstairs in the main part of the ship is not. It is a Pay-as-you-go arcade. Our kids were disappointed when they found out they could not play arcade games anytime they wanted. Kid-related - Try and buy a lanyard before you leave for the cruise( a strap that goes around your neck for id and stuff.). That way you can have you kid's sign and sail card punched with a hole. Then you can have you kids wear their sign and sail cards around their necks. You can also attach FRS radios and sodas cards to the strap as well. Yes, you can get a free bungee cord thingy from the casino if you want, but I think a Lanyard is better.

COZUMEL -
Though there is a terminal right in town, we did not dock right in town. We docked at the other terminal about 2 miles away. We bought the shore excursion to Playa Sol. $19 gets you in, free non- motorized sports and open bar. You have to take your own taxi there ($14 each way). GREAT place for kids. Nice sand. There is a pool there as well. We used the kayaks, peddle boats and blow-up tubes to float around in. You tip the guy who prepares the kayaks and peddle boats. No big deal. Nice drinks. Plenty of beach chairs on the day we were there. They have floating platforms out in the water you can swim out to and jump around on. The floating iceberg that is there is Very hard to climb on and it is in deep water to get to. Not much fun do due to the difficulty. Don't get the food/buffet there. Looked bad. Wait to get back on the boat to eat. We has a nice day there. We went back to the boat to eat and change before going to town (San Miguel). $6 cab fare to town from the ship. We weren't impressed with the downtown. The kids were tired and we did the walked the whole strip in about an hour and a half. It would be hard to spend the whole day shopping there. There just isn't enough to do.

CAYMAN ISLANDS
We booked a Stingray City tour with a local tour operator "Captain Marvins". http://captainmarvins.com when making a reservation, verify if the start time is ship time or local time (In the summer they are different. After taking a tender to shore, you walk about 3 blocks to the Captain Marvins storefront. There, you check in and wait for a private bus to bring you to the boat. The bus was new and clean. About 15 of us got on and when to the boat. Nice boat. There were two staffers on the boat as well as a guy taking a video of trip which you can buy later if you wish. We stopped at 2 snorkel stops before going to Stingray City. we thought snorkel stops were boring. You stop for about 15 min each time. When booking the tour, unless you really want to snorkel, it is not necessary to get the half day tour. Just get the 2 hour tour. The stingrays were a lot of fun. When we went, the sea was incredibly choppy. Many people got seasick on the boat going out to the sandbar. We highly recommend Captain Marvins. Would you rather go with 15-20 people and get personal attention or go with 70-80 fellow cruisers and be herded like cattle?

OCHO RIOS
We took a 3-5 minute cab ride to the Jamaica Grande Hotel. ($10 adult, $5 child) Ask for the beach chair pass. They will 1st assume you want the $60 all-inclusive pass. The hotel is very nice as long as you don't look to closely. Beautiful pools with waterfall cascading on top of you in the pools. Volleyball in the pool. Ok beach. Lots of seaweed on the floor in the water. A total gross-out. Plus sharp rocks in the sand. Stay by the pool. Plenty of deck chairs. Music by the pool. One of the guests staying at the hotel said the rooms needed updating. The bathrooms were hard to find and filthy when you found them. This was probably our most relaxing day sitting poolside. This was one of my kids favorite stops. Great place for day pass but I would not stay there on an extended visit.

DEBARKATION
There was no mention of bringing your own bags off the ship. I asked the purser and he said taking my own bags off the ship would delay me. So, like a team player, I let the ship take the bags and I waited until my baggage tag color was called. I was pink. We had a room on the 2nd deck. I guess they let all the higher paying passengers off first. The 1st color was called at 9:45am. It was 11:05 and we were still on the ship waiting for our color to be called. Finally we went near the lobby and one of the staff waved us through although our color was not called. Looking back, we did not have any carry-on's with a colored luggage tag on anyway. When we got off the ship our luggage was there. We wonder if we should have just left at the 1st call to leave the ship. Also, it turned out there was no reason we couldn't carry all our luggage off the ship. It was over 8 pieces but I guess it could have been done. We were in the car by 11:30 and driving home to CT!