February 15, 2003
Just returned yesterday from our long awaited cruise on the Triumph. We had booked a category 8 Verandah for our family of 5 (2 adults and 3 kids ages 9, 13 and 16) and with the exception of dinner time with all of us trying to get ready at the same time, the room was just fine for all of us.
Got to Miami on Friday, the day before departure, and stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay where they have pre-check in right there in their lobby. by doing this, we avoided the VERY LONG line at the Carnival terminal at the port. However....Carnival neglects to prepare you for what really is in store for you during embarkation. You go from one holding (waiting) area to the next, and it takes about 2 hours to actually get on the ship regardless of when you check in. But once on board...WOW...such a beautiful ship. We headed right for the New World Pool area and plopped our butts down at the bar (where we remained for almost all of our time at sea...Sandor, from Hungary, has got to be the BEST bartender ever...He treated us WONDERFULLY!) One more thing Carnival needs to address is the reserving of deck chairs. This was a joke. Got up early to physically sit in the sun, and geesh, had to be a shoe or book on EVERY SINGLE chair. Not fair for those of us who are actually ready to sit out in the sun.
Set sail and spent two days at sea before arriving at San Juan, a port which Carnival should just as well pass right by. Not enough time and pitch black, lots of things closed, and you have to be back on ship before you even get the chance to venture.
Back on board and headed towards St. Thomas. Word of advice...SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING - ANYTHING before getting off the ship, or at least have a very good idea of what you want to do before you get off. Our group got swindled by a cab driver and before you knew it, we had paid over $150 in cab fare to just visit down town and one of the local beaches. Quite a rip off. St. Thomas was a nice enough island, lots of shopping, but the really good deals are in St. Maarten, so save your souvenir shopping for that island. (Example...Beach towels on St. Thomas were $10 EACH, got 3 for $10 on St. Maarten.) Back on board (actually THE LAST BACK ON BOARD - ship almost left without us, so word of caution, when they say be there by 5:30 - BE THERE!!!!)and enjoyed our sailing to St. Maarten.
Got to St. Maarten on Wednesday and really only wanted to visit the beach and shopping area on the Dutch side. Don't listen to the cab drivers - you can walk (10 minutes) to the beach and to downtown and walk back. Or if you really want a deal, take the water taxi for $5 all day riding. You can go over to the beach and then back to the ship for lunch and back to the beach again. The beaches and shopping in St. Maarten were OUTSTANDING. Our family had a great time. Rented Jet Ski's and took the kids for a banana boat ride. They got to play around on the trampolines in the water ($5 each for all day wrist band, and jet ski rental was $75 for an hour and the banana boat ride $10 per person. Plenty of beach bars and shopping just a block up from the beach. This was really our best day and we didn't want to leave. MORE TIME ON ST. MAARTEN!!!! Obviously everyone else on the ship thought so to because the line to get back on board the ship went waaaaayyyy past the terminal walkway.
Another 2 full days at sea before we got back to Miami, and unfortunately, by then we had become a little bored with the ship. Still problems with the deck chairs, so I spent time in the sun on my own room balcony. We don't gamble so the casino didn't catch our interest. We did go to all of the shows in the Rome Lounge and John Heald is the funniest guy. We enjoyed most shows tremendously! Enjoyed the 24 hour pizza almost every night, but must say the buffets weren't so good. Better off making it to the dining room for meals - they were great. We were really disappointed in the Gala buffet. Mostly desserts. Pizza again! LOL.
Our flight out of Miami was a late one so we signed up for a shore excursion in Miami to the Everglades and that went very smoothly.
One thing to give extremely HIGH marks to Carnival and our US Coast Guard, was that there was a young boy who got appendicitis while at sea, and he had to be airflighted out by the U.S. Coast Guard. I have never witnessed something so scary yet so moving in all of my life. The Carnival crew along with our own US Coast guard did an amazing job in getting this boy and his mother off the ship, and it was quite site to see. Thank god, he was flown to San Juan and was doing just fine by the time we got back to Miami.
I don't think I would ever do another cruise with 4 full days at sea, but certainly we had an excellent time, and hey - we missed the Blizzard at home - Boston got 27.1 inches of snow!!! Suckers!!!