Sunday, February 2, 2014

Carnival Triumph Cruise Review

Carnival Triumph Cruise Review 1/27/2014

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

This is my 39th Carnival cruise, third time on the Triumph, and 85th cruise overall.  I an cruising as a solo.

Sunday / Travel
Debarkation from the Carnival Sunshine was very easy so I was on the road from New Orleans to Texas by 8:30 and arrived in Alvin about 2:30 pm.  It was a nice travel day, but another cold front is approaching due to arrive in Galveston just before sail away on Monday.  I’m staying with cruise friends and enjoying some fast land based wifi.  We had a great Tex-Mex dinner at Gringos with other cruise friends and after returning, I retired early.  Thanks Guys.

Monday / Embarkation / Day 1
Lobby & Lobby Bar
I awoke very early and took advantage of the fast internet, then had a light breakfast before leaving for Galveston at 9:45 am. I arrived at EZ Cruise Parking by 10:20 and was shuttled over to the ship straightaway.  When I left my bag with a porter I asked for the VIFP/FTTF Priority tape.  I was checked in at the VIFP priority check in area by 10:45 saw some friends straightaway and after a short wait we were escorted to the ship.  The Platinum, Diamond, FTTF were all boarded together, but there was not a huge number of people, so it was smooth.  I went straight to my cabin on deck eight and it was all ready for me.  I dropped my bag and went to Lido for lunch before it got too busy.  There is no Mongolian Grill on Triumph so I had a Reuben sandwich and a Tuna Salad sandwich from the Deli. After lunch I went to the lobby bar and had a diet coke and did some people watching as they boarded the ship. I did meet and visit with folks from the FB page roll call. I was also hoping to see the GS manager who I knew from previous cruises, but they are very busy with a credit card/sail&sign problem with a lot of guests…although mine is working just fine. To be honest I had my fingers crossed for a possible upgrade, but it wasn’t to be.  I went back to my cabin to get my computer and my checked bag had already delivered, I know the VIP tape helps.  I had received some messages from clients so I actually booked a couple of cruises from the lobby area as they were clearing it for the scheduled 3:45 Boat/Safety Drill.  They allowed me to stay until I finished, I did kind of look official.  Safety drill went smooth and very soon the Triumph was sailing from the port of Galveston on her way into the Gulf with the usual escort of dolphins.  Since it was now very cool on deck it was off to the Alchemy Bar for my sail away drink.  I was given a message from the Carnival Sunshine Alchemists to deliver to their Triumph Alchemist friends so it was a great conversation starter for me and my NEW friends at the Alchemy Bar.  I returned to the cabin to unpack and prepared for dinner then returned to the Alchemy for an apĂ©ritif.  The Welcome Show was scheduled for 7:30, but I had seen it previously so I listened to the Mickey Utley Band in the Casino until time for dinner in the Paris dining room.  I have a nice eight top table in the center of the lower level, my favorite location and a Diamond friend and soon to be new friends at the table as well. For dinner I ordered a Shrimp Cocktail, Escargot, Gazpacho, the Chicken a la Grecque entree (grilled Chicken with Pasta), and NY Cheesecake and Black Forrest Gateau for dessert.  Dinner was very good and the service was excellent, making up for the last night on the Sunshine two evenings ago.  I went to the double headliner comedy show after dinner and both Charles Elstner and John Wesley Austin did their acts.  The Hollywood Nights lounge is 3x the size of the Limelight on the Sunshine and it was packed.  Following I popped into the Piano Bar with Michael next door and they were closing up, not many taking part there.  Finally my now traditional Alchemy Bar nightcap: the Deal Closer before retiring.  There was a very nice Gift Basket in the cabin when I arrived back…thanks Carnival, Jen, and John.

Tuesday / Fun day at Sea / Day 2
Carnival Triumph - Lido Buffett
Very smooth seas overnight and good sleeping in the inside cabin, just enough movement for an enjoyable nights sleep. I was off to the Paris dining room for breakfast about 9:00 am. for the Sea Day Brunch and ordered the Fruit Plate and Steak & Eggs.  After Breakfast I bought the Cheers Card at the lobby bar and visited with the Excursion Desk about the new price match guarantee on a tour to  Uxmal.  It’s a cool blustery day on deck so I had a cabin morning.  I saw a friend at the Lobby Bar so I had lunch back in the Sea Day Brunch as they serve until 1:00 pm.  This gave me a chance to try something completely different and I ordered the Hen alla Diavola a small whole Split Chicken in a Marinara Sauce. It was very different, but very good.  Although overcast it began to warm up on deck so it was great for guests, but I watched an afternoon movie & listened to some music in the cabin.  At 4:00 it was time for the Alchemy Bar opening and there is already a group of ‘regulars’ being established.  I had the start time off on the production show Wonderful World so I thought I was going 15 minutes early and was actually 15 minutes late, but I had seen the show on a previous Triumph cruise.  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.  Elegant night dinner was good, I ordered: the Stuffed White Mushrooms, 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 to the Alchemy for a Deal Closer (or two) before turning in for the night.  The Platinum gift was delivered tonight: a Carnival Logo Bag.

Wednesday / Progreso, Mexico / Day 3
Calm seas overnight and I slept very well not getting up and around until 9:00ish and went to the Lido deck and had an omelette from the omelette station with a side of bacon and ham.  They do have the bacon police on the Triumph, at least in the section I was using.  I then had a Bloody Mary from the Red Frog Rum Bar on Lido deck since I missed my MDR one.  Guests were leaving the ship, but a large number were staying on board as was I.  The weather was pleasant and I got a nice table on Lido deck aft and enjoyed the day.  I took my small JBL speaker and had my own personal music and rediscovered that the aft pool bar also makes a very good Bloody Mary, the best on the ship in fact.  A nice way to enjoy the day.  I had a great view of passengers returning to the ship so before too many returned I made a trip to Guy’s for a  plain Guy’s Burger with fries, a very good lunch.  I also had a view of a weather front approaching and about the time we sailed at 4:00 pm we had a light rain. After some cabin time and cleaning up I went to the Alchemy Bar for a cocktail then to see I went up to the Variety Music with Jerry in the Lobby.  He sang requests and has a very enjoyable show. It was now dinner time and this evening I ordered Gazpacho, Shrimp Cocktail, the Farfalle Pasta in Alfredo Sauce with Turkey, the Pork Steak in jerk sauce, and a Banana Split for dessert. The ship is really rolling tonight as we sail through that weather front and enter the Caribbean, I actually like it. Of course an Alchemy Bar nightcap: the Deal Closer, but had discovered a variation of it to make it more of a chocolate mint flavor (substitute creme de menthe for the amaretto).  A nice relaxing day on the Carnival Triumph.

Thursday / Cozumel, Mexico / Day 4
Carnival Triumph at Puerta Maya, Cozumel
After being rocked to sleep overnight as we entered the Caribbean, we arrived early at the Puerta Maya pier and were docked before the scheduled 9:00 am arrival time. We are docked next to the Carnival Breeze and the Nieuw Amsterdamn is docked at Puerto Langusto, the only three ships 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 and potatoes.  A friend went with me to do my usual rounds in San Miguel so we took a taxi into town ($8) about 11:00 and we went to Woody’s Bar & Grill owned by my friend Nelly to use their WiFi and have a diet coke and some Guacamole & Chips.  My friend had never had a Wet Windy’s margarita so that had to be done, a Mango/Banana combination for each.  We then went down to La Candela for a fantastic lunch.  This is not a ‘tourist’ restaurant, but a very nice place that serves a ‘Daily Special’ for the local business clientele. We both ordered off the menu and had the Pescado Mayan, fresh Grouper cooked with onion, tomato, pepper in banana leaf wrapped in foil served with steamed vegetables.  It was excellent, but soon it was off to the ship as it sails at 4:00 pm.  Note the black smoke in the photo: I wonder if that is a precursor to the incenerator problem to come?  The  VIFP Party was held at 5:00 in the Theater for Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Guests.  Jen did a good job presenting the film and the ‘live music by the show band was wonderful.  I sat with a group of other Diamonds, most all who know each other and as they did the count for senior on the cruise…who knew…it was a tie between my friend and myself at 39 Carnival cruises. I had never asked her how many she had, nor she me, it was a surprise and we each received a bottle of champagne.  Thanks Carnival.  Time for the Alchemy Bar since I’m already dressed for dinner for some nice cocktails.  For dinner tonight I had again the Gazpacho Soup (this was preordered), Pasta, Shrimp Cocktail, the Chicken Breast entree, and Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert.  Evening cocktail and the crew of the Alchemy gave me messages for the Triumph crew that I will gladly deliver in just 14 days when I return to the Sunshine for a B2B cruise.

Friday / Fun day at Sea / Day 5
A calm night at sea and a beautiful sea day most of the day.  The plan is to do as little as possible today.  I had my favorite Sea Day Brunch breakfast this morning: Fruit Plate, Steak & Eggs, and Bloody Mary.  It was excellent.  Spent some time people watching on Lido aft, the pool was taken over by teens.  I don’t understand why they can’t have just ONE pool for adults.  I had a nice nap from 1:30 - 2:30 and then went up to get a Guy’s Burgers for lunch.  I had a plain-jane burger and one burger with condiments and they were excellent.  Just as I finished my burgers suddenly the ship lost complete power and went dead in the water.  Of course this being the Triumph, the ship that was stranded at sea almost exactly one year ago, there were a lot of anxious thoughts.  Announcements for Alpha teams, etc. and all the crew coming out from the kitchen and serving area, looking worried, to listen was somewhat interesting.  A lot of worried looks all around. My first thought was at least I just had a nice hot meal.  Soon Jen made announcements that there had been an incident, but it was minor.  I visited with other Diamond guests who were in the Lido Buffet area and we weren’t really too concerned as yet.  Another announcement that the source of the problem had been determined and corrective steps were already underway.  We were told that a situation in the incinerators caused safety breakers to engage (trip). Basically like a big blown fuse I guess.  After about 40-45 minutes of total time the lights returned and in another 15+ minutes we were underway again although not with full power everywhere.  Interesting that Guy’s saved the day as suddenly everyone wanted something to eat (I guess…just in case) and they handled the guests very well.  Although a little late I even made it for the 4:00 pm opening of the Alchemy for a cocktail.   Air conditioning was the last to be restored about 5:30 and soon all was well.  Interesting that the internet was down, perhaps purposely.  It was now time to prepare for the Captains Reception for the Diamond guests at 7:15.  I was not expecting the Captain and he did not make it, but many senior staff did.  They had excellent Hors d'oeuvre and wonderful cocktails.  There were 8-9 Diamonds I actually knew or had met all previously.  Thanks Carnival Triumph, a first class job, much better than the Brunch the week before with just menu items available and my purchasing my only cocktail.  Final dinner was good, I ordered the French Onion Soup, Penne Marisco as a starter, and the Veal Parmesan.  For dessert I had the Baked Alaska.  Two final ‘Deal Closers’, one of each type, from Alchemy before turning in for the evening.

Saturday  /  Debarkation
I awoke at 6:30 and we were already docked.  I suspected they wanted debark to go fast and smooth because of the loss of power incident on Friday.  I had already received emails from press that knew I was aboard ship. I hurriedly packed and was ready to go just in case and yes they began self debark by 7:15 am.  No time for breakfast, but the bananas from the fruit basket served that purpose.  I was through US. Customs by 7:35 and at EZ Cruise parking by 7:50 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.  I stopped for gas ($2.98) and was off the island at 8:08 am.  At Twisted Oak Ranch by 1:00 pm.

I have cabin 8397 an interior located next to the aft elevators on starboard side on deck 8.  A great location, but an odd bed configuration and I had the Steward move my bed so that I could see the TV. The cabin has a swipe type safe, twin/queen beds, but no refrigerators in the interiors (OK by me we never use them), Bottle Opener, Medicine Cabinet, Small Table, Bench Seat at Dresser, and Flat Screen TV with interactive features.  The cabin stewards was fine, the cabin was always clean and ice chest filled.

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 we 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 10 member ship orchestra, 12+ production dancers, and two excellent feature singers.  Also very good bands and solo performers. 

The entire crew were certainly very friendly.  They really made the cruise. Waiters and Cabin stewards were very good.  Favorites this cruise were Maja in the  Lobby Bar; Milos, Joacin, & Alexandrea in the Alchemy Bar; and our MDR hostess.

There is really a lot to do on the ship with bingo, casino, trivia games, and excellent entertainment. This is a very good starter ship for newbies to cruising and there were a lot on board, also a lot of extended families and various groups. A perfect ship and cruise for all of those.  As an experienced cruiser and as I get older I prefer longer cruises, but this was certainly a FUN and INTERESTING cruise.

The Diamond Reception was excellent.
Jen’s announcements during the Friday power loss was important.
Alchemy Bar and staff.
MDR food and Service.
Laundry service is best of any Carnival ship I have sailed.

~Thanks to my FB friends for photos~