Year Started: 1972
Ships in Fleet: 25
Summary: The most successful cruise line in history. Don't be misled, a high-quality cruise experience perfect for families and young couples, Fantastic value. the FUN ships, but not "party boats."
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Singles.
Good for: Families. Singles. Seniors.
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Teens. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Families. Group.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, South America
Good for: Group. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:East and West Caribbean
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Families.
Good for: Singles. First-time Cruisers. Overall Service.
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Singles.
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Group.
Good for: Families. Group. Singles.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Families. Singles. Overall Service.
Regions: Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Cruise To Nowhere
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Mexico, Caribbean Eastern, Hawaii
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Singles. Group. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Europe, TransAtlantic, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Families. Group. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Good for: Families. Singles. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal
Good for: Singles. Families. Value for Money.
Good for: Families. Seniors. Children`s Programs.
This was my very first cruise. It certainly will not be my last. I was swept off my feet with pampering.
I got off to a rocky start when I started to Jacksonville, Florida, got 5 hours away and realized that I had left my birth certificate in a red folder in my car at my friends house. We called Carnival and they helped us make arrangements to satisfy this catastrophe. I had planned to catch a plane back home but fortunately they enabled me to go.
Love the water especially hot tubs.
The shows could have been targeted to a more general audience.
The food was good and available all the time. I enjoyed our waiter very much Santiago. He made our dining experience one to always be remembered. He knew all our cruisers by name. He always went out of his way to make sure we got our food and all that we needed timely.
I enjoyed going to the Stir Up Cay Island. Nasau was OK my daughter enjoyed Senyor Frogs. Overall it was a great affordable vacation. The 8-10 hour car ride to get to Jacksonville Florida was long andtiring. Next time I think I will sail out of Charleston, SC on 6 hours away.
We left from Miami, to Cozumel, Jamaica and Cayman. Getting on board was easy no issues at all. I talked with some folks who had 'priority boarding' passes. I asked the fee, she said $40 or $50 for it. Not sure if we were just lucky or they simply wasted their money, but we were able to board within 10 minutes of them.
The crew was nice, I really haven't known any crew that was rude or demanding. However, if your primary language is English, get ready for a lot of blank looks from the crew at times. Many are foreign, in fact I only saw or spoke with as many as 3 the entire trip that you could bet their language of native dialect was English. Not a big deal, but that's the industry I suppose. Just more or less a heads up. The ship, Valor was nice. A couple of things I noticed getting on Sunday afternoon. Deck 5 is the Casino, among other things. On the deck 6 (where our room was) the stairwell going down to five, you immediately smelled smoke, real bad too - asif active gaming was currently in progress. Again no big deal, but ventilation was real bad.
I will post some good things, but let's get down to brass tacks here; you want to know what isn't good first. Here they are: The pool(s) is/are tiny. There is a water slide, pretty nice I'd say. Keeping in mind that the near top deck for the open pool (deck 9 LIDO) - the pool itself might fit 15 before you are bumping elbows. We too brought kids, and the sardine fest of kids in that pool was crazy. There was an equally sized pool towards the back for adults only I think, but geesh, what if I wanted to chill out by the pool with my kids without getting nearly jumped on by others. Don't mean to be Debby Downer here, again just voicing my opinion in hopes this helps you gain a visual or at least set expectations accordingly.
Two hot tubs on the main deck, pretty nice. I think there were others towards the front as well. There are some others in the adults only areas, I'm sure they were nice, but we stuck with our kiddos, so I really can't tell you much about those.
I know it's vacation or holiday, but for the love of God, does the music have to be so loud for 8 hours during the day on Deck 9? THUMPING OVER & OVER, etc... I like loud music, trust in that, but the selection was very slim, and was really directed towards the youth genre and other similar Jamaican type. That is fine, but a little more variety would certainly have been welcomed. Someone please tell me why there is a DJ on deck 9, using a laptop, as if he's actually controlling the music selection, wow. Gimme a break.
Food and dining was nice. I really like the formal (2 nights) dinning, very fun, as did the kids. I will say that on other cruise lines, I know the servers put on a 'singing/dancing show' in the middle of dinner. They cute and all good. The problem is that they were every night. It's like having a endless supply of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; they are great but best in moderation.
O yeah, the 'Camp Carnival' (kid watching for babies up to young teens) was really nice. Good security, friendly folks. The shows: Comedy, dancing, magic, trivia, etc were pretty nice. Then again, the folks you may see or the shows will skew somewhat. O yeah, during football season (not soccer), they put a game up on the big screen on deck 9, pretty nice.
Overall, good stuff, nice break from work, kids had a great time. Put it this way, if my wife & I go on another cruise or take friends (but without kids) we will not book with Carnival. Hope these run on sentences didn't waste your time. Have fun all!
This is the worst I have ever done. I've cruised Carnival twice before and decided to give it another chance to see if things had improved a bit, of course I was wrong by a long shot.
Embarcation was one of the most unorganized and to think that they have been doing this for so many decades over and over. Long lines and rude people were just unprofessional.
Ports of call were ok with the exception of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Not too many people were happy with this port, a complete ripoff.
Food was very, very poor. From selection of entries to just tasting right, It was all a dissapointment for me. There were food selections on the menu that were not the items that you would get.
The cabins seemed to be very acomodating and large enough, we had an ocean view on the second deck and was very comfortable with the exception of the bed mattres which should have been change on the previous overhaul.
And lastly was the layout of this ship was horrific. I know this is kind of late to remedy,so I belive Carnival need to go andsend spies to were they build Royal Caribbean ships to learn how its done.
All in all it was a bad cruise experience which I will never have to go thru again. Therefore I must say good-by to Carnival Cruise Lines and pay a little more for a better experience.
We (wife and I are 57 yrs old) just returned on 11/11/12 from our 6th cruise. This was our 4th Carnival cruise and our first on the Legend. We chose it because we had never been to Honduras or Belize and we like Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Also because Tampa is an easy flight destination from where we live in the midwest. Because of bad fog the ship was late getting into port (not their fault) and we could not board until about 9 pm. Carnival sent us texts and emails all day keeping us up to date. Carnival also made the choice to credit our account $15 each for lunch and $25 each for supper and $11 each for gratuities because we could not get on ship until late the first day.
After getting on board, we went to our cabin and then we went and enjoyed a meal etc at the casual buffet on Lido deck then we went to our cabin and found our luggage was there and waited to be called for Muster station training. We actually had the Muster station training about 11:00 pm. Thenext morning our cabin steward introduced himself. He was a joy all week! Always smiling and willing to talk and very genuine. His name was Camelo Carmada on Deck 5 starboard (I think).
During the week we enjoyed the various shows at The Follies theater. The talent was extraordinary. Singing, dancing, comedy ventriloquist, etc. Also, the clean family comedy at the Firebird lounge was great. We tried bingo a couple times and once my wife was one of three people standing that only needed 1 number to win $750. Someone else won but we had fun. There was so much to do on board we didn't do everything (mini golf, ping pong, basketball, spa, gym, chess, board games, casino, etc etc etc) We did get use out of the hot tubs and pools.
We tried Truffles restaurant (resort casual /semi formal signature dining) for breakfast 2 times and for supper 4 times and ate the rest of our meals at the Unicorn Buffet or Unicorn Cafe/Deli (all on Lido deck-Casual dining) and usually tried to carry our plates out the back of Unicorn Buffet to Serenity area (21 and over) to eat. On our first night in Truffles we liked the head waiter so much we kept asking for him. We had "your time dining" in Truffles deck 3. Our waiters name was Kamal. On the first night we liked one of the desserts (Creme Brulee) so much we asked if it would be on the menu every night.
He said no it is not but if we tell him which nights we will be at supper he would have it specially made for us on that day. Sure enough he did. We had the Creme Brulee 4 times! On Thursday night we had an extra-ordinary formal night dining experience at the Golden Fleece Steakhouse (see menu here: http://www.carnival.com/onboard/cruise-food/~/media/CCLUS/Images/pdf/Steakhousemenupdf.ashx ). It costs $35 per person extra and is worth it. Every item all 4 of us had was very good. We had a waitress who was so very delightful. Her name was Dragana Jankar from Serbia (and I wish my 24 year old son could meet her). Constructive Suggestion: We only ate at this restaurant once because of the extra cost. We wish it was less expensive or that the menu items were priced or somehow included (reservations only) so we could have enjoyed it more often.
Most Carnival employees were friendly and were doing their jobs good and seemed to go out of their way to be helpful. We rented a jeep on Cozumel and went shopping in town, then went sight seeing and went to Coconuts for lunch on cliff on south side of island. Then we went to Mr Sanchos beach and snorkeled and relaxed on the beach. Note: when we arrived at Mr Sanchos a man told us it was $50 per person all inclusive. I knew from previous visits that it was optional and told him we just wanted to swim, snorkel, buy some food and refreshments, and relax for a couple hours. He said we could do that if we buy some refreshments and food and he let us in. The lounge chairs, umbrellas, swimming pool, rest rooms, and showers were no extra cost. The best snorkeling on Cozumel is still Chankanaab Park. There is a entry fee there.
At Belize we went Zip Lining and Crystal cave tubing. It was safe and fun, but because of the 90 minute bus ride each way we do not recommend it. However you do get to see how poor Belize is.
At Roatan, Honduras we were supposed to do dolphin swim and snorkel, but it was changed because of murky water (no underwater visibility) because of weather the day before. They gave us a choice of full refund of dolphin encounter with partial refund which is what we did and greatly enjoyed it. On the 20 minute bus ride to Anthony's Key Resort we saw how poor the Island people are. Constructive Suggestion: At Grand Cayman we were scheduled for the Snuba excursion. It got cancelled because of murky water from the weather the previous day. This is the time we would have liked to have been told before getting off the ship about this cancellation. We waited in Follies theater for our excursion group to be called until 11:35 am, and all other people without excursions could get off ship at 10 am. So when we arrived on shore we were told it was cancelled. We would have wanted that 90 minutes back to enjoy Grand Cayman more. So we took a shuttle for $5 each way per person to Sea Grape beach (part of seven mile beach, but less wind) and while snorkeling there the water was crystal clear and we saw large schools (hundreds) of fish or many varieties and saw a small stingray and it was great at Sea Grape beach.
Except for the fog delaying the boarding the first day we had decent weather with sunshine and temps in the 80's. Ocean temps were around 80. In Roatan, Honduras there was morning rain and mostly cloudy with some sun all day. On the last day at sea coming back to Tampa through the Gulf of Mexico the wind was 45 mph out of the Northeast and I asked about the waves and I was told 15 to 16 ft waves. The weather was like this all day and into the night (over 14 hours), yet none of us got sick because of the stability of the Legend, and possibly because we were going into the wind and waves, and because we took Meclazine (non drowsy Dramamine or Bonine) that morning when we saw the weather. My wife is very susceptible to motion sickness and she had to lay down for a few hours in the afternoon on the Lido deck but she never got sick.
Constructive Suggestion: We had a balcony with obstructed view. That means the top of the lifeboat is even with the floor of the balcony and that was not a problem in any way. We had a good view of the ocean. However, the balcony is approximately 3 ft less wide then balconies on other floors. I wish that would have been made plain to me when I chose the cabin at booking. Also, cigarette smoke in the slightest amount makes my wife feel sick very quickly. Smokers in the cabin next to us used their balcony to smoke every morning and evening and for that reason we could not enjoy our balcony. I would like to see Carnival offer non smoking sections on balcony cabins. The only other thing about the cabin that I feel needs an upgrade is the TV. They need new flat panels with larger then 20" screens instead of the old 19" tv's.
Constructive Suggestion: The internet on this ship (the Legend) was soooo slow. I have purchased internet time on every cruise and I have never been this frustrated by such slow internet on other ships. I tried using the ships computers a couple times and I tried using my new laptop a couple times. It was a waste of my time. I ended up leaving about 60 minutes unused internet time on the account. The Legend needs to upgrade their equipment for speed and bandwidth. In fact, all the ships I have been on, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, were slow and need to upgrade their internet equipment. The Legend's internet was more then twice as slow as all others. I should have asked for a refund. It was useless.
One more thing. We flew into St Pete/Clearwater Airport on Allegiant Air 2 days before and flew out 1 day after the cruise. For about the same money as a shuttle to the port for 4 of us from our hotel in Clearwater I kept a rented car the whole time (rented from Tampa airport, returned to St Pete airport to save money) and parked it at Premier Parking with a free shuttle to Cruise Port. Having this rental car gave us a lot of freedom to go to beaches or other area attractions.
We arrived back at Tampa on time and had a decent debarkation experience.
-----PLEASE CAREFULLY READ THE ENTIRE CRUISE CONTRACT BEFORE TAKING THIS CRUISE----
Sail Date: April 29, 2013
Cruise Region: Caribbean - Western
Cruise Length: Five days
Horrible, Awful, Cheats, Scams, and Liars.
Once you have read this contract you realize you have signed your life, first born, and bank account over to Carnival Cruise lines.
Once you board this "ship" or floating bathroom as i would like to refer to it they will offer you drinks. Complimentary? OH NO, they will make sure to get your (sails and signs account card) and then let you know they have a daily drink special of $10 if they are feeling generous that day.
After you get a look around the ship they will let you know where your cabin is located and where your baggage will be. (Please ignore all baggage location as you will have to fight your way to it at the end of the hallway where you can grab all you want.)
Now we get to the fun parts, want your room cleaned??? Oh, they will surely help you out by removing your valuables from your room in my case an iPhone 5 and somecash. So, now that they have robbed you, you will try to make a report when you make your report please be ready to be searched by security and treated as a criminal, because not only will they search your entire room bag by bag, article or clothing by article of clothing, but they will also go through your safe.
Now that you have proven that the items are NOT in your possession they will ask you how much cash you have on your person, (why i haven't quite figured out yet) and tell you they will return within an hour or so. That being said after 5 hours of sitting in my cabin i decide that i am going to go up to customer service where i ask for the manager it seems that all staff are "the manager" after asking how everyone is the manager i got pulled aside by two security guards behind a curtain to meet a lovely (sarcasm) lady named Barbara.
Barbara proceeded to call me a liar, i then asked to see a video or recording of who had entered my room, this was not possible because "they don't have any". So, now i am told to "PROVE" that my items were there in the first place. I attempted to explain that i cannot prove the location of something that is no longer there the reply i received was that the investigation was complete. I go on to realize that now i have to cancel my cell phone and bank info because of data stored on my iPhone, they were very nice at offering free calls to do so, BUT then you get a bill of 100$ for international calling.
Now they will try to show you a log of when people come in and out of your room pay attention to the times they burst in on you with "towel service" or "activity sheets", because they tell you that only the "steward" has access to your room.
So we have covered the basics of this cruises personnel lets get to the ports. One of the two stops was delayed by poor planning due to another ships arrival leaving non priority guests stuck on the boat for part of the day. All in all i felt more safe and comfortable having a random bar keep in mexico look after my items then i did in my room.
I would never get back on this boat, even if it was free.
We did the 8 night cruise of the eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Breeze and absolutely loved the ship. We staying in a cove balcony cabin and will definitely book this type of cabin again, it was so much fun being close to the water, especially when in port when you could watch the yacht's and sailboats pass by.
The service was wonderful and our cabin steward was friendly and did a wonderful job of keeping our cabin in order, no complaints from any of our group. The food was great, we had early dining in the Blush Dining Room, our head waiter was terrific and explained the menu each night along with making recommendations. We went to the Steakhouse one evening and it was amazing,the food the service again no complaints from anyone in our group.
If we had to complain it would be about the entertainment, the shows have really taken a cut, they are definitely not the caliber that we have seem in the past on other Carnival cruises. My husband did the "Behind the fun tour" $95.00 for about 4 hours and felt it was well worthit. ( You cannot book it in advance and have to book at the shore excursions desk as soon as you get on the boat as it fills up fast).
We had Ken Bynes as our maitre'd boy that man can sing!!
A crew member named "Daniel from Indonesia" Humiliated me and left me with a very bad memory. I made the horrible mistake of snapping a photo of the photos posted for sale. (Photos taken freely by the cruise's staff the night before) (I just wanted to take a picture to relay to my wife to ask if she wanted to purchase it)
As I knelt to snap the photo from my Iphone, I was met by Daniel's finger in my face with a demand to "DELETE IMMEDIATLEY" I felt embarrassed and as I tried to stand to explain my apology and that I was only trying to confirm with my wife if she wished to purchase the photo on display, Daniel's response was to reach for his Walkie-talkie" and call for "SECURITY"...People looked on like I was a criminal. I may have made a mistake by using my cell phone to snap a photo, but I certainly didn't deserve to be treated like this.
Daniel was over bearing and insisted on witnessing me delete the photo. I shakenly complied with the thought of "Security" arriving. I will never make the same mistake. Please tell Danielthat he needs to relax and not be a police officer hot dog. Otherwise, I loved the cruise.
However - Carnival is a value. The housekeeping staff is amazing. Please only report this one in cident. I felt guilty, the rest of the staff was awesome.
Holiday Cruises? Think Twice!
My family and I just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston. We sailed from Dec. 30-Jan. 6. My husband, daughter and I have been on eight or more cruises. We thoroughly enjoy the cruising experience…everything from the food to the activities to the ports of call. We have chosen Carnival in the past because of its children's activities. Our daughter is an only child and absolutely loves mixing and mingling with other kids her age in the Circle C. Carnival is the fun ship, after all! We really do believe that a cruise vacation is a good value for our money. This time, we brought along five extended family members as a treat. So…if one follows the price of cruises, one knows that holiday cruises can be expensive.
Just as I've always remarked to my spouse, I'd rather not fly during Thanksgiving or Christmas. As it turns out, embarking on a cruise at this very busy holiday time was not the best of ideas, either! One morning I heard the cruise director state that there were about 4600 guests aboard. Notcrew, only guests. Every cabin must have been filled to capacity (three or four or more). I honestly believe that the crew was overwhelmed. Dinner service was off, lines were longer, activities were not as varied, the theater shows were not performed well. One crew member told me that the three weeks prior to my cruise had been exceptionally busy.
My husband and I especially enjoy the outdoor theater screen. Out of the seven evenings, there were just two that allowed for movies. Other nights were devoted to football…Time of year for Bowl games! (Get why I'm saying think twice?) I am a fan of football to be sure, but these same games were broadcast in cabins and at least one bar area. So, we were a little disappointed not to have watched more movies. New Year's Eve was especially busy after the first theater show. We reasoned that every passenger wanted to eat early because the line for anytime dining was so long that we had to think of eating at the buffet upstairs. It was just a crushing scene of people; no organization to the "line" and unlike anything we'd experienced even on a Spring Break cruise.
I was disappointed in the types of activities on this cruise. In a nutshell, if one is a trivia enthusiast, then one has plenty of opportunity to nurture that hobby! I like trivia games too, but it just seemed like overkill. The standard activities like Bingo, art auctions, sports games, etc., are alive and well. In Carnival's defense, however, I must comment that on our rainy Saturday there were plenty of board games and card games to keep people busy. In fact, as I walked the ship on that day, just about everyone was involved in some type of game.
As stated above, my husband and I have cruised many times.In fact, we just sailed the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston in August and could not have had a better time. We've been on RC, Holland America, Princess, Carnival and Celebrity. I've never felt the need to write a review. I felt especially compelled this time around because of our experience. This New Year's Eve cruise is one we'd rather forget. We have come away thinking that we wasted our money. Service was not up to standard and the amount of people just overwhelmed us. We will cruise Carnival again, but we'll choose a better time of year. Lesson learned!
It's been a week and some change since my body returned ashore in Galveston again, but I'm still not myself. I'm pretty sure I'm still out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Carnival Triumph and don't have any intentions of returning anytime soon. I was a first time cruiser on this journey so my opinion may be biased as I have nothing to compare it to, but regardless, I felt compelled to write about my wonderful experience. This will probably be lengthy, so feel free to skip through if you don't have the time.
I went on a four day cruise with my mother and sister. My mother cruised a long time ago when Carnival Cruise Lines was just the Carnival, and my sister was a first timer the same as myself. Just to be clear, we're both in our twenties, so we went as a fully adult family (no kids). My aunt and uncle had been out of Galveston twice in the past year or so (but on the Magic), so they had a lot of experience to share with us for getting through PortGalveston and utilizing time and money wisely on the ship. Just about everything they told us (except for the differences between the Magic and Triumph) was extremely accurate and made our experience wonderfully smooth. I recommend to any first time cruisers - regardless of ship and line - to find some family or friends whom have been at sea recently to brief you on your journey beforehand. It's extremely helpful!
Galveston was unseasonably cold and miserable on departure day, but for being a cruise during the holidays, things seemed pretty light at the port terminal. The porter was quick to help us with our bags and was the first of many very friendly Carnival employees we would come across. We were expecting gigantic lines for check-in through what were we told was a maze of a building and obstacles, but they breezed us through very quickly. I think we waited a total of five minutes to check in, and security was even faster than that. We were on the ship a lot earlier than we expected. We were also told that they wouldn't begin embarkation until 12:30 but we were eating lunch on the Lido deck by 11:30! They also made an announcement aboard the ship that staterooms would not be ready until 1:30, but being my inquisitive self, I left my family to continue eating as I explored the ship, and I found myself at our stateroom pretty quickly - and it was ready long before then (though the bags hadn't arrived yet).
There's really nothing to do while waiting for departure, and everything aboard the ship is closed except for the bars and food places on Lido, as well as the Lobby bar where everyone boards the ship. They are playing loud party music the whole time which is fun for a while, but you have to save some of that party for departure. Some people (including us) eventually went to their rooms to catch a quick nap or just learn the features of a stateroom. We had an exterior/ocean view room on Main deck near the bow on the port side - which gave us a good view of the boarding action and gangway. Once again a common theme, they said everyone should be aboard by 3:30, but people were still being allowed to board 10 minutes before the safety briefing. The crew of the Triumph seemed to be very lenient on scheduled times for important events throughout the entire voyage, which is fine, but it made for a late departure from Galveston as well as from Cozumel.
As far as organization goes, boarding was smooth and most everything while underway as well. However, there were a few times which the process seemed to be completely unorganized and the thousands of passengers aboard just flooded the stairwells and elevators. The first time this happened was for the mandatory safety briefing, which they ask you to report to your muster station so you can watch them demonstrate how to put on a life vest. One thing I noticed right away though, they do not make it very clear where the muster stations are even for someone who pays attention to details. I eventually found small signs near the stairs that depicted them, but that was long after we were underway. There is nothing in the stateroom that tells you where to go, and muster stations aren't really organized to staterooms either. It was for these reasons that you had people coming from forward cabins going to rear stations and vice versa, as well as crossing between port and starboard stations. It was pretty chaotic, and they lined everyone up shoulder to shoulder three or four lines deep, so it was pretty hard to watch the crew members demonstrate anything. I think a much more acceptable safety briefing would be to override all the TVs aboard the ship, including the big screen on Lido, and just let people watch it from where they are. It probably took a good half hour from our scheduled departure time to watch a five minute briefing, so most of that time was spent just getting people to the right stations and lining them up. I think that process can be streamlined big time - or in the very least provide each stateroom with a diagram of muster stations so people know where to go.
Once the mess cleared up though, the party was on and we left Galveston about an hour late. Other features aboard began to come alive as we made it into open water, but people were already attacking the bars and casino which were not allowed to open until international waters - because we left late they didn't get to open until around 6:00 that evening. We spent some time in the Lobby drinking, and of all the bars aboard I think I spent the most time there. It is in the middle of the atrium and there's constantly things going on around it, so it is not a quiet place to drink, but they seemed to be the most generous with the alcohol of all the bars during the voyage.
Dinner was quite a treat for us since we were allowed to dine in t-shirts and jeans on Casual nights, but the dining room and service is extremely formal. It takes some getting used to if you're not exposed to formalities too often. The food was good though, even though I have seen other reviews saying that it was bland, generic, etc. I found it to be very tasty, and the menu selection was pretty good for adults - and selection changes nightly. A lot of items offered I couldn't see too many children ordering though, but they have off-menu service as well if they can't pass on the chicken nuggets. The desserts are probably the best, and a lot of them are made with artificial sweeteners.
Afterwards I split from my family and went to the duty free liquor store. You can't beat 4 1-liter bottles of Bacardi products for $38 anywhere in the states! Of course you cannot have your liquor until it is delivered to you the evening before debarkation, but they delivered mine in time that we could have made some last minute drinks. A word of advice, though: be sure you know the allowances that U.S. Customs allows you to bring back, because if you're over the limit, you'll end up having to pay the tax on them anyway. Basically you can bring back 1 liter of alcohol per person of age in your group. I spent the rest of the evening exploring all of the bars aboard the ship, and I might have done a little gambling (which I don't really remember). Since you're isolated on the ship in international waters, the bartenders seem to have no problem getting you drunk as long as you remain civil and coherent, and of course can afford to keep paying $8/drink. Be careful - that adds up at the end of the trip, but I knew that going into it. I think I had some pizza on the Lido deck to end the night, and I managed to make my way safely back to the stateroom, where I found my family already fast asleep. Party poopers!
As far as bars go, I spent most of my time in the Lobby bar (which I think has another name but I just called it "Lobby"). There's lots of noise and people around everywhere, but like I mentioned they seemed the most generous on the good stuff. The bar in the casino is probably where I spent the least time drinking. It is always very busy and the staff seems to be the least attentive -but they do allow smoking on one side (cigarettes only as I learned - no cigars). Another bar I spent a lot of time in is the California Wine Bar. It serves wine, but it serves other stuff too (including a martini taster). I even saw some people angered by that fact. It is in a high traffic area but is often bypassed, so it's pretty quiet. Just behind it is the Big Easy piano bar, which is also nice if you're into that. There's going to be a lot of repeat songs in there, though. Club Rio is very much like a lounge, dark and drafty with velvety seats all around. It's a good place to drink while watching the comedy or karaoke acts, but tableside service is slow. There are also numerous smaller bars on the Lido deck, which are basically just poolside walkups. If you're looking for peace and quiet, the Oxford Pub is the best. It was always dead when I went there, so there's no one to talk to usually, but it's extremely quiet if you need a break from the noise and action of the ship. There are lots of comfortable seats, too. It is hard to find though, mid-ship on Deck 4, which is cutoff from the forward and aft parts of that deck.
The Fun Shops weren't exactly what I expected them to be, but worth a look nonetheless. The liquor store was my favorite, of course. It was small, though, which meant small selection - but they also have all your small dry good necessities, and some pharmacy items, on hand. The majority of these stores on one side were souvenirs and the other was jewelry. There was also a fragrance shop and clothing shop. Almost every time I passed them, one would always be jam packed full of people due to some promotion they were throwing, so one could hardly ever find breathing room to just browse. I suggest you do your shopping at port.
The Rome Lounge is more of a small auditorium stuffed into the forward part of the ship. I found it quite amazing something that grand would be in a ship (it took space on 4 decks and probably had close to 500 seats), but they didn't seem to offer very many shows of interest in there. Most of the time they were offering information about Carnival sailing and going ashore, and other times there was a lot of Bingo being played. In the evenings they did have some small productions. I caught the show that reviewed many of the Broadway hits, and the performers were very talented, but in general it just didn't keep my interest. I am a big fan of musicals too, but I didn't find it very entertaining. It is not formal theatre at all, either - people are allowed constantly to come and go as they please. It made me feel that they aren't utilizing the space to its full potential, because it truly is a grand theatre area.
The first sea day we went through some rough water, and sometimes would experience trouble walking. It wasn't too bad though, but the high wind forced them to close the mini golf and other activities on the upper decks. Otherwise, there was plenty of activity across the ship all day and night, and lots of activities offered. That was also the formal dinner night, or as they say, "Carnival Elegant". They even rent dresses and tuxedos for it, but I just stuck with a collared shirt and slacks. I didn't pack my dress shoes either, but I got by wearing my walking shoes. Most people stayed dressed well into the evening. I returned to Club Rio to watch the "family friendly" comedy act. Unfortunately, I think due to the self-censoring, the comedian I saw bombed horribly mostly because of lack of clean material.
The next morning we finally arrived to nice, warm weather in Cozumel. Getting off the ship was unfortunately the most unorganized mess I've had to wade through in a long time. As soon as people saw we were approaching the pier, they began to flood the stairwells, and so there was just a ton of people moving very slowly trying to squeeze through the small doors downstairs. Families were getting separated. No announcements were made other than a "welcome to Cozumel", and no efforts to organize the mess were being made either. In fact, there were even some employees in the middle of the chaos trying to sell $5 bottles of water. The only positive part of such an experience is that everyone was in such a good mood so there wasn't really any cutting in line, complaining, or anything else - just a lot of wise cracks and excitement. This was the part of the voyage where Carnival truly failed to impress me - everything else I was quite happy with.
Since this is a review of the Triumph, I will skip the details on Cozumel, only to say that it's so Americanized that you don't even feel the least bit out of place or unsafe - at least in the cruise ship area. I didn't go into town so I can't say what it's like there, but I assume it's very much the same. Getting back on the ship was the same nightmare as getting off - no organization and very slow security process. We departed about an hour late, but everyone was so drunk and happy that the entire ship was partying as we said goodbye to Mexico. They held a late night party on the Lido deck, which was a lot of fun, but we ran back into the weather we'd left behind and mid-party it began to get very windy and cold.
The second sea day was a rough one. Winter in the Gulf of Mexico at its finest. I was watching the waves from the outer part of the Lobby deck crash on the bow of the ship and then splash nearly twenty feet away from us. The rough seas were not unfelt throughout the ship. In fact, I could not really sit down for a long period of time because I'd begin to feel queasy. Walking around was tough for a lot of people, too, but everyone remained in good spirits. I stayed on the Lido deck most of the day, just because it seemed to be the least motionless deck, although the pools had been drained because it was so rough, water was going everywhere. Also, the list of ship's activities was much shorter than the outbound sea day's. There was hardly anything to do except drink and gamble. It seems like they should spend a lot of time that day entertaining people, because they'll all be sad the next when they have to get off the ship.
Carnival realized there were a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans requesting the game on this trip, so it made the big screen that evening as a planned event. So instead of dinner, my family and I took part in the dining room lunch for the first time. The menu was decent, but service was nothing like the evening dinner service. These were different waiters, and they were not as friendly or attentive as the evening crew. I would just stick to lunch on the Lido deck. So that evening in rough seas, my family went out on the Lido deck amongst a bunch of other Cowboys fans bundled up in warm clothes, blankets, and towels to watch the game on the big screen. It was not a scene you'd expect on a cruise, but everyone was making the best of it. This being a few days past Christmas though, there were a lot of kids on this trip. It seemed tolerable most of the trip for singles, couples, and adults in general, but the last evening things kind of got out of hand. There were a lot of kids just roaming free throughout the ship with no parents around. Yes, even in the casino. That wouldn't be tolerated in Las Vegas. I don't know why that evening was different from the rest, but it was enough to say I wouldn't go around Christmas again.
To counter that, I went to the late night "adults only" comedy show, where the comedian I'd seen before did a lot better material-wise. The second comedian was extremely funny, and had everyone laughing start to finish. It was a nice way to end the night and keep minds off of the rough waters we were all feeling. The host of the show also brought up an interesting statistic that made me think there were a lot of fellow Texans aboard. He said that the Club Rio bar for a standard four day trip usually takes in about $12000-$14000 in liquor sales, but this voyage being so near Christmas had over 1100 passengers under 18, they estimated a much lower take. By that night (and they weren't even finished serving yet), they had brought in $34000 on our trip alone, in that bar alone. I got a good laugh from that, too.
Information was readily available about debarkation across the ship, so they are most organized when trying to get everyone off the ship. Everything is done the night before - if you're checking your bags they bring tags, and they also bring your Declarations forms. They tell you to debark by floor numbers and stay out of the Lobby. Carnival means business for arrival. Everything except Lido is shut down, and we went to breakfast before getting ready to leave. When we came back, they had already started to clean our room. They were friendly about it, but it was obvious they wanted to turn the ship fast, as it was leaving again that same afternoon. Everything in that process went smoothly, except that the handle on one of my liquor boxes broke and one of my bottles went leaking all over the floor of the Lobby. I was very upset for a few minutes, but to anyone that was trying to step around that mess, I apologize. It turned out that I would have had to pay taxes on it anyway as I was one over my family limit, but of course I was willing to do that so I still considered it a loss. But getting through Customs was a breeze and again Port Galveston was a cinch. We were on our way home in no time.
That is where I'll conclude my inexperienced cruise review. I hope it offers some insight into first time experiences and the Carnival Triumph. Carnival has some issues here and there, and I don't expect perfection, but overall it was an amazing experience that left me high, dry, and begging for more. It was not nearly long enough for me and I am already trying to arrange to go on my second cruise for my upcoming birthday. This time I'll probably go it alone or with a friend, and on a longer trip with more ports of call. Would I sail on Triumph again? Yes. Would I sail on Carnival again? Yes. But would I consider another cruise line as well? Yes, if just for the perspective.
Pros and Cons of the Freedom: Having been on over 35 cruises, this was without question the fastest and easiest embarkation process I've ever seen. We arrived earlier than our 1:30 scheduled time, yet walked through the terminal and never had to wait for anything. They had at least 20 agents open to process people and the whole thing took less than 15 minutes.
PRO: We had an Aft Extended Balcony Cabin (7445) and it was wonderful! There are 3 windows for great viewing, a HUGE balcony with 2 lounge chairs, 3 chairs and a table. Spent a lot of time out there!
PRO: Great food in the Posh Restaurant (Traditional seating). All beef was excellent, which isn't always the case on ships, seafood, fish, pasta and appetizers wonderful and the Chocolate Melting Cake a delight.
CON: The SunKing Steakhouse was disappointing. Having had the best meal ever on the Legend a few years ago, we were not as excited this time. We both ordered Surf and Turf and later talked to each other and found that our lobster was undercooked. We should have commented on it at the time. The service fora specialty restaurant was not the best - things forgotten, served to the wrong person, etc. Not really worth the $35.00.
CON: The pools are all VERY small and are really "dunking" pools, not swimming pools. One cannot swim more than 4 or 5 strokes and are at a wall. They are also salt water, which is fine with me, but others seemed to mind that. I must say I haven't seen a saltwater pool since the Norway in the early 90's.
CON: The entire ship's decor seems to be 1970's orange, brown, gold, yellow, with no variations in color. It was a difficult ship to figure out as there are "blind spots" and no real visual changes to orient oneself. It seems to be "cut up" with walls,mirrors, turns, no "landmarks" in your head to orient yourself. That in itself might prevent me from sailing that class of ship again.
CON: The entire ship seems "dark" inside. We were in the sunny, bright Caribbean and the decor did not lend itself to that airy, light feeling.
PRO: The staff and crew were helpful, cheerful, accommodating in every area. Room service in the a.m. was prompt and every order correct. Room steward was efficient and gracious. Dining room staff was excellent.
THE PORTS: We called on St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua and Nassau. Each port has it's own charm and flavor and we enjoyed them all. Bought some jewelry in St. Thomas, local things on the other islands, and each island is what one makes of it. If you go outside of the terminals and into the towns and beaches, your experience will be greater.
We did go to the hypnotist show which was as predictable as they all are, albeit entertaining. The passenger talent show was fun - always one woman who HAS to sing "Crazy". Cruise Director, Brad Calabrese, must have been a student of Johnny Carson as his timing and quick witted replies are refreshing.
PRO: Debarkation: Casual morning as you don't have to be out of your cabin until 8:30. You can also get room service on the last morning, which doesn't happen on all ships. Nice breakfast on the Lido Deck, waited for number to be called. No lines to speak of onboard, small area to look for luggage, a bit of a wait for customs and immigration, but all in all, quite efficient. We were at our hotel by 10:15 a.m.
Again, there's no such thing as a "bad cruise" and we had a ball. Just wanted to put those things out to you.