January 28, 2010
Just came off a fantastic cruise off the beautiful Carnival Triumph. After reading many reviews of the ship I was concerned with the quality of not only the crew but the ship as well, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
We live only a few hours from New Orleans so we drove our personal vehicle the day before departure. Looking for a good deal on parking is hard to come by as parking at the port ranges from $16.00 to $18.00 per day. We found a great cruise and park deal with the Holiday Inn Superdome, the package involves one night (or more if you wish) stay prior to your cruise and you have complimentary parking in their parking garage during the duration of your cruise. This hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to the ship, however since Katrina the driver informed my husband and I that no hotels are allowed to pick up passengers upon their return to the port. The Holiday Inn Superdome is an older hotel, but it was well taken care of and the staff was professional and very kind.
The morning of departure we took the time to wander around New Orleans, the French Quarter is only a few blocks from the hotel so it was an easy walk. Bourbon Street is a must; Café Beignet is a quaint jazz themed eatery who serves the infamous Beignets’ at a reasonable price. Fantastic…I think Carnival needs to add them to their breakfast buffet. There is still hurricane damage in parts of the city, some buildings are still boarded up, but otherwise the city was in fantastic and festive shape.
We arrived at the pier around 1:30pm thinking we would miss the crowd, but we were very wrong. Being our 4th Carnival cruise we thought we had this timing figured out. It took around an hour and a half to board the ship, this was a good lesson for my husband on why we need to keep cruising, once he saw the MUCH shorter VIP line he wanted to be Platinum already. ? Even though the line was long, the Carnival staff was helpful and in high spirits, they kept the lines moving and the crowd in a festive mood. However, it did help that the Saints are in the Super Bowl, WHO DAT??
Having sailed on the CCL Glory and a couple of the Fantasy class ships in the Carnival line we are used to that Vegas style feeling that Carnival is infamous for. The Triumph being built in 1999 was no exception to this rule; however it did seemed to be toned down from the Fantasy class ships we have sailed on. The ship is in great shape for her age, of course there will be some wear and tear but overall beautiful condition and very clean. We chose an inside stateroom for this cruise, it was our first experience with one and we actually loved it. The cabin is very spacious; there was plenty of room for the two of us and lots of storage, plenty for a 4 day cruise. I do highly suggest bringing a power cord as there is only one outlet in the room. There is a hair dryer in the bathroom, but I would suggest bringing one if you have very thick hair as the one provided is not very powerful. Our room steward was great he asked our names once and called us by name the rest of the cruise, even when we were just passing through. Our room was always picked up upon our return to the cabin.
We ate on the upper portion of the London dining room. I mention this because that was the only area on the ship assigned to Carnival new Any Time dining schedule. We were told to show up to the dining room between 5:30pm and 9pm and be seated for dinner. It was nice since it fit into our schedule, however it did take away the personal experience of getting to know your waiter and your fellow cruisers. You are asked if you would prefer a table for just your party or if you would like to eat with fellow cruisers, the only problem with this is that many cruisers wanted to eat with just their party. We ate with just the two of us all but the first night, which was a disappointment as we did not get the chance to make friends through this experience. The food was good, we have noticed the quality getting worse through the years, but it was much better than anything we would be eating at home. The Lido café always had some combination of pizza, hamburgers, and salad. Of course we still had our ritual of taking advantage of 24 hour ice cream cones.
Cruising out of New Orleans in late January means chilly cruising. Pack warm for those dates. The first day out it was in the 70’s so we were able to enjoy the lido pool area, our cruise was not full so there were plenty of deck chairs to choose from. We enjoyed Carnivals usual entertainment (hairy chest competition, carnival Olympics, dance contests, etc) and of course the live music. We had one musician who reminded us of a bad American Idol contestant, but the Calypso and variety bands were great. The LED screen on deck was nice; they usually showed the news and a relaxation video, at night they offered concerts and movies under the stars. On Sunday the Pro Bowl was featured….in Spanish. Cozumel was in the 80’s and sunny, absolutely beautiful. We chose to walk downtown, it took us about 45 minutes, and it is more like 2 miles, the taxis will tell you 4. We ate at Panchos’ Backyard, a gourmet Mexican restaurant, the food was great and the atmosphere was serene with live music and an open air design. This was our 3rd trip to Cozumel so we did not partake in any shore excursions, but you can see beautiful coral on the beach by the sidewalk into and out of town.
The last day at sea was very cold. The high was around the high 50’s, needless to say Carnival sold many sweaters and sweatshirts on our cruise. We enjoyed ice carving demonstrations and more Carnival games by the pool, however we wore our robes and used our beach towels as blankets. Still enjoyable, just had to improvise and overcome. ?
The shows were spectacular, how the dancers can dance so well and not topple over during the wavier shows is remarkable. Our cruise staff was very helpful and cheerful. We did not encounter one bad employee, and even had the chance to chat with many of them. We took part in Carnivals On Deck for the Cure walk, in the last 2 years Carnival has donated over $2.2 million to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer foundation with this walk. We donated $20.00 and got pink bracelets and T-shirts as well as participated in the one mile walk around the track. Our assistant cruise director informed us that through this organized walk on every ship Carnival averages $90,000 a month in donations to the foundation. VERY GOOD WORK Carnival and Carnival Cruisers!!!!
Overall the Triumph is a beautiful ship, a truly classic Carnival fun ship. The crowd was a bunch of excited New Orleans fans looking forward to this weekend, WHO DAT??!! The staff only added to the enjoyment and festive atmosphere of the voyage. We are defiantly Carnival cruisers for life and are looking forward to cruising out of New Orleans again in the near future. Go Carnival and Go SAINTS!!!!