Saturday, May 16, 2015

Carnival Triumph Review May 14, 2015

Carnival Triumph
Cruise Review 4/14/2015

Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Triumph
Captain:  Mario Nicolini
Cruise Director:  Kirk Benning
Ports: Galveston-Cozumel-Galveston

This is my 54th Carnival cruise, the 9th time on the Carnival Triumph, and 104th cruise overall.  I am cruising with my beautiful dear wife (DW).

Thursday / Embarkation / May 14th, 2015 / Day 1
We left the ranch at my regular scheduled goal departure time of a 6:00 am.  You can make very good
Carnival Triumph
time in the early morning hours and I didn’t get into serious traffic until Houston.  We arrived at EZ Cruise Parking just about 10:20 am and we were shuttled over to the ship soon afterward.  We checked DW’s bag and I again decided to carry my bag with me through check-in and not leave it with a porter.  We were checked in at the VIFP priority check-in area about 10:50. Looks to be 4 Diamond guests (I always look at the Diamond page when they check me off the list) and there were several others in the VIFP lounge. After the wedding party, we boarded  about 11:25 am.  It was a smooth process.  After dropping my bag in cabin 8397 we 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 most Carnival ships, so I went for freshly made (especially if your early) select Asian food from Chopsticks and from the buffet I sampled the Tomato & Arugula salad,  Chicken Fingers with sweet mustard sauce, Roast Beef with Horseradish (only fair) and Grilled fish with tartar sauce.  After lunch we went out to the Pool area and saw many guests eating a Guy’s Burgers immediately on embark…amazing burgers.  DW got the Guy’s Fries with Ranch dressing…great fries too. Following our walk about we went back to the cabin for a short nap. DW’s bag was delivered about 1:00 and the Boat/Safety Drill was held just after 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 went to the Alchemy Bar and was very pleased to see Marko behind the bar.  He fixed me a cherry - vodka martini as we were still in Texas waters.  The two of us went to Alchemy about 6:20 pm and it packed with people primarily doing the martini tasting.  I had a Quick Fix and DW a Cosmopolitan. The Welcome Show was scheduled for 7:30, but we have seen it many times we stayed and had our own martini sampler.  Renata from Serbia is the other Alchemist and Mario the bar server.  Dinner is at 8:15 pm, we have table 543 in the center of the Paris Dining Room (MDR), a nice table with nice people in a good location. For dinner tonight I ordered: the Escargot, the Lasagne Bolognese (as starter), the Creme of Broccoli Soup, the Pork Steak entree, and the Black Forrest Gateau for dessert.  The comedian tonight was the Cowboy Comedian and there was a full schedule of entertainment in the lounges, but we retired to the cabin after dinner.
Friday / Fun day at Sea / May 15th / Day 2

Wonderful World
Smooth seas overnight and I had a very good nights sleep. We were off to the Paris dining room (MDR) for breakfast about 9:30 am for the Sea Day Brunch and was expecting a long line, but there was really no line at all.  We had a nice table location and friendly table guests. I ordered the Fruit Plate and Steak & Eggs, DW ordered a Cheese Omelette and Pancakes, it was all very good.  We did go for a walk and I went by Guest Services to make a query about the drink vouchers usually in your cabin on day one.  By the time we returned to the cabin they were there, but it does take away the option of using them today if they arrive after brunch time. Guests were really happy and busy today, we had beautiful weather and the outdoor decks were packed as well as the casino. It is certainly a younger demographic on a four day cruise than the longer cruises we usually take. I enjoyed a great Guy’s burger about 2:30, then time for a short nap.  The production show Wonderful World was tonight at 7:00 pm for late setting dinner guests.  It is my favorite of the productions shows on the Carnival Triumph and 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 is my favorite dance and Con Te Parte my favorite song.  The Captain’s elegant night dinner was tonight. I ordered the Stuffed White Mushrooms, Farfalle Pasta with Turkey (as a starter), a Shrimp Cocktail, the Prime Rib entree, and two desserts: the Cherries Jubilee and Bitter & Blanc.  Other good options were:  Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Alligator Fritters, Lobster, or Pork Spare Ribs.  The Platinum/Diamond gift was delivered tonight: a Carnival travel game board.  BTW—no more chocolates left at turn down service.

Saturday / Cozumel, Mexico / May 16th / Day 3
Calm seas overnight and I had a nice sleep. We have no early plans for the day so I slept late then
Best Burrito---EVER!
went to the Paris MDR for a nice breakfast of Eggs Benedict, French Toast, and extras. DW had room service.  We are docked at the Puerto Maya Pier and we are the only ship in Cozumel today. About 9:40 am we went down to deck zero and were on our way to San Miguel ($8 taxi). We went by the Antonio’s Barber Shop, but Martin wasn’t there as yet so we went across to street to the church for some reflection time.  When we came out Martin was open and I got a great haircut as usual.  He has been my regular barber for nine years now.  Afterward we went to Woody’s Bar to use the internet and drink some diet cokes.  DW did a little shopping and I had a couple of Bohemia beers.  I love the internet here, it’s faster than at home on the ranch.  I had heard some rumors of a new burrito place with good burritos in the neighborhood and I found Burritos Gorditos just a few blocks from the square.  The rumors were wrong, these aren’t good burritos, they are GREAT burritos, the best I have ever had…ever.  We then went over to Wet Wendy’s for one of their featured mega margaritas ($6).  Very good.  We were disappointed to hear that Chad and Claire had sold both of their places in town, but we wish them the best.  We then caught a taxi back to the pier and were back on ship about 3:00 pm.  I still believe we leave at the ridiculously early time of 4:00 pm for our return to Texas, it used to be 6:00 pm.  It was off for aperitifs at the Alchemy about 7:15 and it was busy and fun.  It was a smaller crowd in the Paris MDR for dinner as it usually is on Cozumel night.  I ordered the Chicken Breast Pasta entree in Alfredo Sauce (as a starter), the Fried Shrimp & Fries plate from the Comfort Food selection and the custom New York Strip Steak from the premium section ($20).  The steak was excellent and perfectly prepared. For dessert I had a Banana Split.  It was Mexican Fiesta night on deck and Liars Club in the Theater, but we retired to the cabin following dinner.

Sunday / Fun Day at Sea / May 17th / Day 4
Diamond Guest Party
Calm seas over night and the weather is again nice.  I was up about 8:30 am and watched Sunday Morning on CBS just as I would at home.   We went to the Paris MDR for the Sea Day brunch about 9:30.  I ordered the Hueveos Rancheros this morning and a bacon side, all very good.  I had a walkabout on the decks and checked my online account at the kiosk, always good to do on the last day to avoid any surprises. The decks and pools were packed with guests. I had a Guy’s burger today for lunch…always great.  Afterwards cabin time and I worked on this review, watched a movie, and filled out my Customs forms.  The final Production Show: The Big Easy is this evening, but at 7:00 pm the Captain and senior officers hosted the Diamond guests in the Piano Bar for Cocktails.  They served very nice h’orderves and I was able to order premium Alchemy cocktails (Renata was the bartender). It’s always a very fun gathering and I had not met Captain Nicolini.  Final dinner was good, I ordered the Penne Marisco (as a starter), and the Meat Loaf entree.  For dessert our table had preordered the Creme Brûlée the night before so we enjoyed it.  Following dinner it was off to the cabin to pack for debarkation.

Monday  /  Debarkation
We had smooth seas overnight going into Galveston.  I finished packing and we went to the Diamond area to wait for debark.  We ran into CD Kirk who I had not visited with previously.  A very nice guy and a good Cruise Director.  We are at Terminal Two and that is unusual since there is not another ship in port.  Somewhat of a delay as CBP came on board to make arrests…one of which was directly in front of us.  Interesting.  We were off the ship about 8:35 am. The Carnival Triumph still has one of the best organized debarkation of any ship I have sailed. I was through US. Customs by 8:45 and at EZ Cruise parking by 9:00.  I always walk back to the car as by the time you walk to the shuttle pick up location you could be half the way to the lot itself.  Much faster to walk.  I was off the island about by 9:15 am. (Gasoline on the island was $2.39 gal.)  It was raining through Houston and it slowed the trip home.  We stopped in Hearne for lunch at Mary’s Alamo Cafe (blah) and we were back at the ranch about 3:00 pm.

We had cabin 8397 an interior located on deck 8 next to the aft elevators on starboard side.  I prefer this aft location just below the buffet and have actually had this cabin on previous cruises.  The cabin has a swipe type safe, twin/queen beds, three-section closet,  two electrical outlets on counter/dresser, Bottle Opener, Telephone mounted on wall, Small Table, Small Stool at Dresser, Medicine Cabinet, Kleenex dispenser, and Hair dryer in toilet, and small flat screen TV with the interactive features.  There is no refrigerator (OK by me I bring a cooler) nor couch. The cabin is great for me as a solo, but not so much for two as the configuration is unusual in this end cabin.  DW likes to read and if the beds are in normal location for lights you can’t see the TV.  Our cabin steward was very good, the cabin was always clean and ice container filled.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
Both Main Dining Rooms are very nice especially the Paris Dining room.  The Blue Iguana for burritos and Guy’s Burgers are excellent.  The buffet food is pretty standard fare, but selected desserts are good.  The MDR food is IMHO just adequate, but I had a very nice table location, good fellow guests, and the waiters were very 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 bar.  If guests want the full entertainment experience, then the Triumph may be the ship for you.  They have an 8 member ship orchestra, 10+ production dancers, and two excellent feature singers.  Also very good cover 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. They always seemed to have a smile on their face and eager to please the guests. The excellent training by Carnival is quite obvious.  Favorites this cruise were my MDR wait team, Alchemy Bar team; and overall Crew in general. Specifically Julius our head waiter and Elvis the Matre’D were especially helpful.   The Ship Officers were fantastic…they really seem to enjoy working as a team and are very friendly.

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