Saturday, August 2, 2014

Carnival Triumph Cruise Review

Carnival Triumph

Cruise Review 7/28/2014

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

This is my 47th Carnival cruise, the 5th time on the Carnival Triumph, and 94th cruise overall.  I am cruising as a solo.

Monday / Embarkation / Day 1
Carnival Triumph Itinerary
I awoke early and was on the road about 6:00 am arriving at EZ Cruise Parking just about 10:15 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 too busy at all.  I’m one of only three Diamond guests and I guess there are a few Platinums and FTTF’s. After a short wait we were escorted to the ship and I was in my cabin by 11:30am.  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, my usual first day eating choice, on Triumph so I went for some buffet basics: Roast Beef, Chicken Tenders, and the Fried Fish, the same as I had last month.  The Mustard Sauce for the chicken tenders was good AND they had tartar sauce for the fish…they didn’t last month and just shrugged when I asked for it…thanks Carnival for having it available.  I went back to the cabin and since I had carried on my bag I began unpacking and setting up the cabin.  Thank goodness I had my electric fan strait away as it was warm in the cabin.  Hopefully that will improve once we are underway.  Once unpacked I used the internet while it was available.  I remembered the excellent blackberry cobbler I had last time on the Triumph I went back to the Lido dessert station to confirm that it wasn’t there…no dessert so….Guy’s burger & ice creme.  LOL.  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 actually had a nice short nap.  I called Guest Services and made a query as to a Diamond event this cruise.  I know the other two Diamonds and none of us care for another Bridge tour.  Lydia from GS actually called me back and asked for suggestions so I believe we have that ‘worked out’ for this cruise.  The Welcome Show was scheduled for 7:30, but I have seen it previously so I went to the Alchemy for aperitifs. 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 had a terrible table assignment previously on the Triumph so I had had emailed Kris the Matre’D a few days earlier and he did get me a nice table, the same I ended up with actually on last Triumph cruise. For dinner tonight I ordered: the Escargot, the Lasagne Bolognese (as starter), the Pork Steak entree, and the Black Forrest Gateau for dessert.  Dinner and service was good. Following dinner I wanted to go to the double headliner comedy show @ 11:00 pm with both Caroline Picard and John Wessling, but I was tired and retired to the cabin. I will see them later this cruise.

Tuesday / Fun day at Sea / Day 2
Feature Production Show
Smooth seas overnight and I had an enjoyable nice long nights sleep. The cabin finally cooled somewhat, I used my own cruise tip: leave the bathroom door open as not to block the return air vent.  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. It was very good. I walked the decks doing some people watching and also passed along some news to my Diamond friends.  Since I’m traveling solo I had considered purchasing a Cheers program today as I did last month, but decided not to do so.  I’ll order my cocktails ala carte this cruise. For lunch I went to Chopsticks located on Lido deck and had a small sample plate, it was OK, but not as good as a full Mongolian Grill.  They had a nice Key Lime Pie at the dessert station and they delivered to the cabin a small plate of chocolate goodies for Elegant night about 2:00. It’s great when you get them early in the day.   About 4:00 I went up to get a Guy’s Burger and a few diet cokes.  The production show Wonderful World was tonight, my favorite of the productions shows on the Carnival Triumph.  It features the 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.  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 off to the Punchliner Comedy Club to see comedian Caroline Picard, a very funny and entertaining show.  Finally to the Alchemy for a Deal Closer or two, and I had a chance to visit with Stephen the Guest Services Manager too. The Platinum gift was delivered tonight: a Carnival Logo insulated coffee mug.

Wednesday / Progreso, Mexico / Day 3
Progreso Beach- Pier in background
Calm seas overnight. I have no plans for the port so I slept late then went to the MDR for a nice breakfast.  We are docked at one of the longest piers in the world over 5 miles long.  There is a free shuttle to take guests into town or the free beaches.  I did go down to the shops at the pier for less than an hour to look for a straw hat for the DW to wear on our Australia cruise in a few weeks, but didn’t see any I was sure about so returned to the ship.  It was unbelievably hot so glad I did not do an excursion this trip.  When I got back to the ship I had a cooling shower and cabin time.  I had a Guy’s Burger and Fries for late lunch and ate on the deck 9 aft area.  The entertainment in the theater was Showcase of Stars, basically guests singing with the show band. I had aperitifs at the Alchemy as usual about 7:15 and was joined by my Diamond friends and Damir, the Hotel Director actually picked up the tab for all of us.  I guess seeing all the Diamond guests together was too good an opportunity. Thank you Damir, it was appreciated especially since I’m not on the Cheers program. It was now dinner time and this evening I ordered two Shrimp Cocktails, the Farfalla Pasta in Alfredo Sauce with Turkey, the Jerk Pork Loin, and a Banana Split & Tiramisu for dessert.  No comedy on schedule this evening and since I do have plans for Cozumel I retired soon after dinner.

Thursday / Cozumel, Mexico / Day 4
VIFP Party - Carnival Triumph Officers
After being rocked to sleep overnight as we entered the Caribbean, we arrived at the Puerto Maya pier and were docked by the scheduled 9:00 am arrival. We are docked next to the Carnival Breeze, we’re the only two ships in Cozumel.  It will be a very hot and humid day in Cozumel.  I had a MDR breakfast this morning of Fried Eggs with side of bacon, ham, corned beef hash, and potatoes.  I left the ship about 9:45 and took a taxi into San Miguel ($8).  I went straight to Antonio’s Barber Shop as he opens at 10:00 and I got a haircut from my friend Martin ($7+).  Next stop is Woody’s Bar & Grill and a visit with Nelly, I had not seen her on my last 3-4 trips to Cozumel. I then went to Spa Alexander (the word spa is very generous—it’s a small storefront) to get a pedicure ($20) before returning to Woody’s where I set up my laptop to take advantage of their very good WiFi internet connection. My MDR table mates also came by.  Too soon it was off to the ship as it sails at 4:00 pm. My first stop upon returning 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.  Kirk did a good job presenting the film, introducing the senior staff, and the ‘Live’ music by the show band was fantastic.  I sat with my other Diamond friends and when they called the Diamond guest to the stage I had my photo taken with the staff.  I went by the Alchemy Bar where Markos mixed a special cocktail for me, it was good, we called it a tornado because it had a mixture of flavors including cherry & pomegranate.  For dinner tonight I had the Bing Cherries, Lobster Bisque, Penne Siciliana Pasta (as starter), the Chateaubriand, and Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert.  The pasta and steak  were especially good tonight.  Anders, the Magician was the feature show in the Theater.  Also tonight in the Rio Lounge at 11:00 was the cabaret show: A Kiss Good Night, a fantastic show if you can get a good seat.  A FUN day.

Friday / Fun day at Sea / Day 5
Alchemy Bar Fans - Carnival Triumph
Calm seas over night.  The plan for the day is to do as little as possible.  I was up early so went to Lido buffet for breakfast.  They have Eggs Benedict on the buffet if you get there early enough.  After breakfast I had a soda at the aft bar and went to look at the shops on Promenade deck.  They actually had a Carnival ‘Texas’ T-shirt that I had never seen before so I thought I should get one for the Australia cruise.  I had nice afternoon lunch at the buffet: Chicken Tenders, Fried Chicken, Sliced Turkey from the carving station, mashed potatoes, and salads.  Afterwards  cabin time and I worked on this review and filled out my Customs forms.  The final Production Show: The Big Easy is this evening with two shows. It was a very good show with a lot of costume changes and featured many songs associated with New Orleans.  At 7:15 pm the Captain and senior crew and Diamond guests met at the Alchemy Bar for Cocktails.  (Hmmm…I wonder who suggested that?)  It was great and since all the Diamonds had already recently sailed on the Triumph it was really a FUN gathering, very much like cocktails among friends. In addition to Captain Allesandro there was: CD Kirk, Hotel Mgr. Damir & his lovely family, GSM Stephen, BevMgr Reda, HousekeepingMgr. Melissa, and more. Final dinner was good, I ordered the Crab Cake, French Onion Soup, Penne Marisco (as a starter), and the Veal Parmesan.  For dessert I had the baked Alaska and a Banana Split. Go

Saturday  /  Debarkation
I awoke at 6:15 and began packing soon afterward, it was obvious we would not arrive early, but probably closer to the 8:30 published arrival.  I had time to go to Lido deck for a light breakfast snack 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 8:30 and at EZ Cruise parking by 8:45 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 skipped my usual gas fill up at Raceway ($3.29) and was off the island at 9:00 am.  I stopped at the new Buc*ee’s location in Waller, Texas for gas ($3.24) and a breakfast burrito.  Home at the ranch about 1:30 pm.

I have cabin 2497 an ocean view located on Main Deck (deck 2) far aft in the angle of the ship from starboard to aft.  I have not stayed this low on a ship in many years so vibration can be a concern at times when docking especially.  The cabin is an irregular shape and actually very spacious, I have seen 9C’s this size so very nice size for this category.  The cabin has a swipe type safe, twin/queen beds, no refrigerator (OK by me rarely use them), Four-section closet (one more than norm), Three Drawer cabinet, Large sofa (a real sofa, not a hide-a-bed type), Two Electrical Outlets on corner shaped Counter/Dresser, Bottle Opener, Telephone mounted on wall, Medicine Cabinet, Small Table, Small Stool at Dresser, and the older style TV, but it does have the interactive features.  My cabin steward was very good, 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 I had a very nice location, good fellow guests, and the waiters were good.  No Mongolian Grill, but they have Chopsticks, an Asian specialty spot.  Love the 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, 10+ production dancers, and two excellent feature singers.  Also very good bands and solo performers. 

The entire ship crew were very friendly, they themselves can make the cruise more enjoyable for the guest. Waiters and Cabin stewards especially very friendly.  The excellent training by Carnival is quite obvious.  Favorites this cruise were my MDR wait team, Alchemy Bar team; and overall Crew in general.  They always seemed to have a smile on their face and eager to please the guests. The Ship Officers were fantastic…they really seem to enjoy working as a team and are very friendly.

For a person who has rarely sailed in the summer time this is my 3rd summer cruise this year.  I usually don’t sail in 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’s my 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.

Diamond Guest Cocktails with Captain & Senior Staff
Alchemy Bar and bartenders.
Carnival Triumph Crew members
Cozumel Day