Friday, June 27, 2014

Carnival Triumph Cruise Review

 Carnival Triumph

Cruise Review 6/21/2014

Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Triumph
Captain:  Allesandro Iemmi
Cruise Director:  Mike Pack
Ports: Galveston-Progreso-Cozumel-Galveston

This is my 45th Carnival cruise, the 4th time on the Carnival Triumph, and 92nd cruise overall.  I am cruising as a solo.

Saturday / Embarkation / Day 1
Galveston Harbor
I awoke early and was on the road about 6:10 am arriving at EZ Cruise Parking just after 10:30 am and was shuttled over to the ship straightaway.  I decided to carry my bag with me through check-in and not leave it with a porter.  I was checked in at the VIFP priority check-in area by 11:00 and it was not busy at all.  I’m the only Diamond guest and I guess there are few Platinums and FTTF’s. After a short wait we were escorted to the ship and I was in my cabin by 11:30.  It was smooth process.  After dropping my large bag I went straight to the Lido buffet for lunch before it got too busy.  There is no Mongolian Grill on Triumph so I had some Roast Beef, Chicken Tenders, and Fried Fish.  The Mustard Sauce for the chicken tenders was very good, but no tartar sauce for the fish.  The Blueberry Cobbler at the Desert Station was very good.  When I returned to the cabin a Housekeeping Supervisor was inspecting it.  Very efficient, although it looked good to me she’s requesting a deep cleaning.  Thanks.  I set up my cabin since I have my bag and spent some time on the internet using my mobile hotspot.  I also purchased an Excursion on the cabin television, I really like the interactive TV systems.  Since I’m the only Diamond guest I called Guest Services and made them a proposal: in lieu of a cocktail party, breakfast, or bridge tour with the Captain, I would be happy with a few cocktail vouchers for the Alchemy Bar.  That would save the Captain an hour of his busy schedule and I’m happy with that…they readily agreed.  Very soon afterward Jennifer from GS delivered the vouchers.  Wow nice guest services already provided from two departments.  I was headed to see the Matre’D about my dining room table (why would they seat the only Diamond guest upstairs on level two?) when I noticed that the Alchemy Bar was open.  Milos is still one of the bartenders so it was good to visit with him again.  Alexandrea who I just saw on the Freedom is server.  Unfortunately they are limited on the liquor they can use until we get 12 miles out to sea and because of TABC taxes they restrict the type of alcohol available to the bars.  Boat/Safety Drill was held about 4:00 pm.  Safety drill went smooth and very soon the Triumph was sailing from the port of Galveston on her way into the Gulf.   I did not see the usual escort of dolphins, but the Pelicans were more active than I have ever seen them.  Lots of them diving and catching fish, especially near harbor entry.  I enjoyed watching the sail away and very glad I got a balcony cabin.  I tried to take a wee nap, but at least rested.  The Welcome Show was scheduled for 7:30, but I have seen it previously so I went to the Alchemy Bar for aperitifs and used my Diamond guest drink vouchers  I met the other Alchemist, Marko, and had a nice time.  The Alchemy Bar is not near as busy as I am used to and I guess it is because with summer sailings there are more children taking berths & parents with children so fewer martini fans on board than a fall or winter cruise. I did not check nor change my dining table prior to going to the Paris dining room (MDR) and thought I would at least see it…worst table location on the ship.  I went to see the Kris the Matre’D and Ms. Natasha actually recognized me and immediately moved me to a better table on main floor. Natasha is a sweetheart and I was very courteous about the situation, but I am amazed that the ONLY Diamond guest on the ship is assigned the absolutely worst table in the MDR.  They blamed it on Miami, I will follow through on that. For dinner tonight I ordered: the Escargot, Gazpacho, the Lasagne Bolognese (as starter), Chicken a la Grecque entree (grilled Chicken over Pasta), and the Black Forrest Gateau for dessert.  Dinner was good and the service from head waiter David was excellent. Following dinner I wanted to go to the double headliner comedy show @ 11:00 pm with both Lester Bibbs and John Wessling, but I was so tired I retired after dinner. I will see them later this cruise.

Sunday / Fun day at Sea / Day 2
Milos and Marko  'Ziveli'
Very smooth seas overnight and an enjoyable long nights sleep. The excursion ticket I purchased on the interactive TV system yesterday was delivered under my door this morning. I was off to the Paris dining room for breakfast about 9:30 am. for the Sea Day Brunch and ordered a Bloody Mary, the Fruit Plate, and Steak & Eggs.  After breakfast I played some trivia and bought the Cheers   (almost unlimited liquor) Card  at the Casino bar.  I went to Guest Services and deposited some cash to my ship board account and stayed at the Lobby for for a few Bellinni morning cocktails.  I could use my toast Noroc as one of the bartenders was from Romania.  They delivered a plate of chocolate goodies for Elegant night and it’s great when you get them early in the day.  I watched some World Cup soccer on cabin TV and took a much needed nap.  For a late lunch I went up to Lido deck for a great Guy’s Burger and Fries and the decks were packed with guests.  At 4:00 pm it was time for the Alchemy Bar opening and I stopped by for an afternoon cocktail about 4:30ish, then back to the cabin to prep for the evening.  I went a little early to see the production show Wonderful World and got a nice 3rd row center seat. The show features the Carnival Triumph dancers and singers and highlights music from around the world. There were songs or dances from: France, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Africa, Spain and more. It is a fantastic show with full cast of singers and dancers and full LIVE orchestra. The Can-Can was my favorite dance and Con Te Parte my favorite song.  I later visited with the female feature singer at the Alchemy Bar and complemented her on the song, she says it’s the one song she is a bit nervous to sing, but she does a wonderful rendition.  Elegant night dinner was good, I ordered: the Stuffed White Mushrooms, Pumpkin Soup, Farfalle Pasta with Turkey, Prime Rib, and the Cherries Jubilee for dessert.  Other good options were:  Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Alligator Fritters, Lobster Tail, or Pork Spare Ribs. Then it was off to the Punchliner Comedy Club to see comedian John Wessling, a very funny and entertaining show.  I also tried the Punchliner cocktail, why not with my Cheers program, but really not my ‘cup of tea’.  Finally to the Alchemy for a Deal Closer (or two) before turning in for the night.  The Platinum gift was delivered tonight: a Carnival Logo insulated coffee mug.

Monday / Progreso, Mexico / Day 3
Pyramid of the Soothsayer - Uxmal Mexico
Calm seas overnight and I slept very well but had to get up early for my excursion.  I ordered a light breakfast from room service as my wake up call and it was delivered about 7:00 am.  I have been to the Yucatan many times over the years, but have never been to the Mayan ruins of Uxmal so I booked the Carnival Uxmal & Haceienda Ochill excursion ($85.99 pp).  We met at 8:00 am in the Rome theater and were on our way just about 8:30.  It was about a 1.5 hour drive to Uxmal and the guide explained a lot about the Mayan culture on the way.  Uxmal is very impressive site, we saw: the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, the Nun’s Quadrangle, the Ball Court, the Palace of the Governor, the House of the Turtles, and more.  I was also interested in the local tree that was sacred to the local Mayan, as I have two of them hidden on my ranch (the ranch also sets on a limestone cap at the same elevation)  I will clean out the cedar growing around them when I return as the tree is beautiful if allowed to get sunshine and grow.  I also saw a very interesting blue bird with a long unique tail, the guide said they call it a Motmot bird that I later confirmed (click on link).  We were at the Uxmal site a total of about 1.5 hours and then proceeded to Hacienda Ochill a restored sisal plantation & production facility.  It is a beautifully landscaped site and we were served a very nice light Mayan luncheon. We were at the Hacienda an hour total before boarding the bus for the return to Progreso. I admit after this tour, my old legs and bum knee were in some pain. We arrived back at the pier an hour before sailing and boarding was smooth, I had expected lines.  I was told later by an ship officer and he said a record number, almost 1/3 of guests stayed on board. If you read my last review for a call here I stayed on board my last visit.  I was back in time to have a plain Guy’s Burger with fries, a very good late snack, then to the cabin to clean up from the hot day in the Yucatan. After some cabin time I went to the Alchemy Bar for a cocktail and people watching.  It was now dinner time and this evening I ordered Shrimp Cocktails, the Farfalla Pasta in Alfredo Sauce with Turkey, the Grilled Red Snapper, the Breaded Shrimp & Fries, and a Banana Split & Tiramisu for dessert.  Of course an Alchemy Bar nightcap: the Deal Closer before retiring.

Tuesday / Cozumel, Mexico / Day 4
Woody's - San Miguel, Cozumel
After being rocked to sleep overnight as we entered the Caribbean, we arrived early at the Puerto Maya pier and were docked before the scheduled 9:00 am arrival. We are docked next to the Carnival Dream and the Navigator of the Seas  and Carnival Legend are docked at the International Pier, the only four ships in Cozumel.  It will be a very hot and humid day in Cozumel.  I was in no rush as I have no big plans and I had a MDR breakfast this morning of Eggs Benedict with side of bacon, corned beef hash, and potatoes.  I left the ship about 10:00 and shared a taxi into San Miguel ($4 my share).  I went straight to Antonio’s Barber Shop and I got a haircut from my friend Martin ($7+).  He also told me the location of Similaries, the generic pharmacy, that sell prescription drugs at a huge discount, but the pharmacy next door Y&R matched the prices of the items I needed.  Next stop is Woody’s Bar & Grill to use their fast WiFi and have a few diet cokes and some Guacamole & Chips.  They had live music today at Woody’s, that’s new for day time and I don’t know if that will be a regular feature, but it was nice, Too soon it was off to the ship as it sails at 4:00 pm. My first stop was on deck 9 for a Guy’s burger and diet coke then to the cabin to clean up and cool off.  The VIFP party was held at 5:00 in the Club Rio Lounge for Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Guests.  Mike did a good job presenting the film, introducing the senior staff, and the ‘Live’ music by the show band was fantastic.  I sat with table mates near the front and since I knew I was the only Diamond guest I knew I would be senior guest.  I had my photo taken with the staff and surprise-surprise it was delivered to my cabin that evening.  I had already made a deal with the Guest Services Manager (GSM) for no special Diamond event so I was very pleasantly surprised when Captain Iemmi and some staff surprised me at my ‘hangout’ the Alchemy Bar for an aperitif. I think they knew I was always there at that time and I was very honored by their extra effort and attention.  I really enjoyed visiting with the Captain and also GSM Stephen who I discovered is a fellow Scotsman.  The Housekeeping Ops Manager, Beverage Ops Manager, Hotel Manager, & CD Mike were also there…very impressive. Thanks Carnival.  For dinner tonight I had Lobster Bisque, Penne Siciliana Pasta (as starter), Panko crusted Shrimp, the Chateaubriand, and Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert.  Stephen (GSM) sent a wee dram of Glen Morangie to my table…Slainte & thanks.  Tonight at 11:00 was the cabaret show A Kiss Good Night a fantastic show if you can get a seat.  After a final nightcap at the Alchemy Bar it was time for me to retire.  A great day.

Wednesday / Fun day at Sea / Day 5
Carnival Triumph theme decor
A calm night at sea.  The plan for the day is to do as little as possible, I feel like I may have a bug since I have a sore throat, and I suspect it may the fresh mango slices I purchased from a Mayan lady outside Uxmal.  I should have known better than to do that since my immune system is still not 100% since my rare tropical disease  (schistosomiasis) incident last year.  About 9:15 am I went to the MDR and I had my favorite Sea Day Brunch breakfast this morning: Fruit Plate, Steak & Eggs, and a side of Bacon & Corned Beef Hash. It was excellent. I returned to the cabin just to rest and update this review.  I had a nice nap and then went up to get a Guy’s Burger about 3:00 pm for late lunch. I spent some time on deck drinking a few ‘boat drinks’ and the frozen concoctions did feel good on my throat.  I saw the Variety Music with Ashby performance in the Lobby Bar, he was very good, not to be missed.  It was now 7:00 so I attended the final Production Show: The Big Easy. It was a very good show with a lot of costume changes and featured many songs associated with New Orleans.  Final dinner was good, I ordered the French Onion Soup, Penne Marisco as a starter, and the Veal Parmesan.  For dessert I had a Banana Split.  After dinner a final Deal Closer from Alchemy before turning in for the evening.

Thursday  /  Debarkation
I awoke at 6:30 and began packing soon afterward, it was obvious we would not arrive early, but probably closer to the 8:30 published arrival.  I had half a banana for breakfast and went down to the designated meet point for Diamond & Platinum guests in the London MDR by 8:00 am.  It was not busy there at all similar to embark and we were the first to leave the ship about 8:20 am. I was through US. Customs by 8:35 and at EZ Cruise parking by 8:50 am.  I always walk back to the car as by the time you walk to the shuttle pick up you could be 1/3 the way to the lot itself.  Much faster to walk. The only two slight hiccups were: I used a birth certificate as I have my passport submitted for renewal and that can take longer and I had to have my truck jumped due to weak battery.  Neither took long since I was among the first at Customs and I was first by far at the EZ Cruise parking lot.  I stopped for gas ($3.38) at Raceway next to the bridge and was off the island at 9:08 am.  I met the DD and DW in Waco for lunch about 12:30 pm then following had a new battery & windshield wipers installed.  Home at the ranch about 4:30 pm.

I have cabin 7397 a balcony located near the aft elevators on starboard side on deck 7.  A fair location, but I only booked the week of the cruise so good location for such a late booking. The cabin has a swipe type safe, twin/queen beds, no refrigerator (OK by me rarely use them), Three-section closet, Three Drawers,  Cabinet (new) with three shelves, Two Electrical Outlets (rare) on long Counter/Dresser, Bottle Opener, Medicine Cabinet, Small Table, Small Stool at Dresser, and nice Flat Screen TV with interactive features.  The cabin steward George was very good, the cabin was always clean and ice chest filled.  What is nice is that they seem to have eliminated the problem with door slammers on the balcony doors.  The doors are adjusted so that the returns hold the door very well, you may even have to physically close them yourself, but a much better option than the door slamming.  Whoever was the Ship Engineer that solved this problem needs to go fleet wide. I actually have a friend who no longer books balconies, only ocean view cabins (OV’s) because of the annoying door slammers.

Both Main Dining Rooms are very nice especially the Paris Dining room.  The new Blue Iguana for burritos and Guy’s Burgers are excellent.  The buffet food is pretty standard, but the desserts are good.  The MDR food is IMHO just adequate, but I had a nice location and the waiters were good.  No Mongolian Grill, but they have Chopsticks, an Asian specialty spot.  Love the new Alchemy Bar and the Lobby bar is very nice.  Thirsty Frog beer is available in the Red Frog Rum bar, EA Sports bar, and Lobby bars.  If guests want the full entertainment experience, then the Triumph may be the ship for you.  They have a large 9 member ship orchestra, 12+ production dancers, and two excellent feature singers.  Also very good bands and solo performers. 

The entire ship crew were very friendly, they can make the cruise more enjoyable. Waiters and Cabin stewards were very good.  Favorites this cruise were David my headwaiter; Milos, Marko, & Alexandrea in the Alchemy Bar; and MDR hostess Natasha.  The Ship Officers were fantastic…they really seem to enjoy their work and are very friendly.

I do NOT normally cruise in the summer primarily for two reasons: Children and Pricing.  If school is not in session pricing is 25-40% higher than other months and of course there are lots of children and teens using 3rd & 4th berths in cabins.  Experienced cruisers such as myself usually avoid the summer; however, one can actually survive and enjoy a summer cruise.  Here are four recommendations:  Balcony-you must have a balcony so that you will have your own private space.  Forget about deck space and swimming pools, they will be packed.  On this cruise the aft pool was the teen pool and the main lido pool was families and small children.  Dining-late set time dining will be your best bet, fewer children. Also if you really want some sun & deck time you can go out about 6:00 pm when many go to early dinner.  Alchemy Bar-already one of my favorite places, the fact that they do not serve soda keeps the kids away.  Casino-I’m not usually a gambler, but I did spend some time in the casino this cruise, it’s kid free.

The Senior Staff surprising me at the Alchemy Bar was ‘over the moon’.
Alchemy Bar and staff.
Uxmal Excursion
MDR and Cabin Service.


Mrs. Piglet said...

Thanks Ray for your reviews. It's like listening to a friend recount the time they had on their vacation, the "great", "good" and the "could be better".

I appreciate the small details that you go into as it has proved helpful to me on other cruises. Thanks again.

Snoozeman said...

Thanks Mrs.P

Unknown said...

I loved every second of this cruise. I was on the ship at this time..