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Old December 7th, 2002, 12:42 PM
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102,000 GROSS TONS

Best For People Who Want:
One of the largest ships afloat; a budget/mid-price cruise; a high energy, Las Vegas-style atmosphere with lots of glitz; many singles; many choices of excellent nightlife and daytime activities; alternative evening dining; balcony cabins; large fitness/spa facilities; enormous casino; extensive children’s facilities and programs; large cabins, many which hold three- and four-passengers.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Want:
A classy, more-refined style of cruising; uncrowded public areas; more intimate ambiance; kid-free cruising; freedom from constant public announcements for daily activities.

Onboard Experience:
Viva Las Carnival! Triumph and her sister ships, Destiny and Victory are not only three of the largest vessels ever built, but also have the highest energy in the fleet. During days at sea passengers in their 20’s and 30’s lift glasses with pink umbrellas, dancing the Macarena to a live band on deck. Action is non-stop at night, with the casino and disco lively till the wee hours. At night, you can find dozens of venues with entertainment ranging from lavish production shows to off-color comedians, a fun singalong jazz bar to cool blues and a hot disco. Carrying a wide range of ages, from singles to the retired plus families and hundreds of kids in the summer and vacation periods, it’s a perfect cross-section of Americana. If this atmosphere appeals, you also get some of the largest cabins at sea, good food and a well-run organization that keeps everything running like clockwork, despite a maximum carrying capacity of 3,400 passengers (including upper berths).

Personally, however, I found it difficult to find my way around these ships – better signs at elevators and stairwells would help a good deal. Unllike other megaliners, these ships are high density and feel crowded. I encountered long lines at the shore excursion desk and luncheon buffets.

Deck space was limited on Destiny, but you will find several improvements on Triumph and Victory, however. Open deck space has been expanded, allowing more space for sun bathing; Carnival has added 33 tables for two in dining rooms and cabins above the noisy casino are used by crew on Triumph.

On Destiny, the decor was lighter with the whimsical touches of avant-garde designer Joe Farcus. Triumph is much darker inside and, lacking those fantasy touches, the ship resembles a 1970's Las Vegas hotel.

Public Rooms:
Upon boarding, you’ll enter a soaring atrium rising to a height of nine decks, with glass elevators rising to Pool deck. Most lounges are along the ship’s "Promenade", a boulevard with comfortable seating for people watching. The ships’ main theater is three decks high (the slightly off-center seats of the lower balcony are the best seats); seated on the main floor, you’ll be trying to peek over someone’s head.

My favorite nightspot is the piano bar, where everyone sings along. The Sports Bar features seven large-screen televisions providing a satellite feed of the ESPN Network. Built into the bars are video poker machines. The two-floor disco has 500 video monitors while a terrific jazz and cabaret room is always packed at night. Additional public rooms include boutiques, a patisserie /cappuccino bar (there’s a charge), small library, video game room and wine bar. Tuxedos may be rented for formal nights in the evening wear shop

Hats off to Carnival for feeding thousands of people so well. In my experience, the food is better than is found aboard some ships costing more – and Carnival’s pizza is the best at sea (available 24 hours per day). At breakfast and luncheon buffets, you’ll find made-to-order dishes and the best salad bar I’ve encountered. Carnival has new menus which include delicacies such as chateaubriand, lobster and rack of lamb. Desserts may be bland, except for those made of chocolate, which are mouth-watering.

Don’t expect personal or very refined service aboard a ship this size. Carnival’s staff is efficient and does its job well – dining room service is hilarious during dessert, when waiters do silly dances balancing trays on their head.

A new flexible dining program went into effect in March 2001. Changes include four seatings for dinner in the main dining rooms, alternative Bistro dining every evening and an increased number of service staff. Passengers will be assigned a table for dinner at one of four seatings; 5:45, 6:30pm, 8:00pm and 8:45pm. In addition to the expanded dining room seatings, the poolside lido eateries will be converted into Seaview Bistros between 6:00pm and 9:00pm each evening, offering buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required.

These ships have two dining rooms (assigned by cabin) with two levels. Those sitting in the open area on the lower level will encounter very high noise levels. Tables on both sides and those located on the balcony are the best by far.

On Destiny, there are a few tables for two but most dine with two or six other people. On Triumph, you'll find over 30 tables for two.

During the daytime, most opted for breakfast and luncheon buffets in the ship’s Lido restaurant, adjacent to the pool. These are sun-filled rooms with wonderful sea views, and you can also dine alfresco. In this area you’ll also find the ships’ pizzeria, with multiple varieties plus Caesar salad served 24 hours per day. There is a very limited room service menu, available 24 hours per day.

Triumph stands out when it comes to top quality nightlife. Triumph's "Wonderful World" is the best production show I've seen at sea. Lavish production numbers with gorgeous costumes and light shows are as good as you’ll find in Las Vegas; the smaller lounges have top-notch acts and music. Don’t miss the singalong piano bar.

These are the first Carnival ships to provide a significant number of cabins with private balconies. But no matter which stateroom you choose, they are all much larger than what is found aboard other ships, although spartan in décor. Standard amenities include Color TV with CNN, ESPN plus movies. Bathrooms are large with shower and room for toiletries. Outside standard cabins are an ample 220 sq. feet and include a leather sofa and coffee table. Inside cabins measure 195 square, feet, many with pull-down berths to accommodate third and fourth passengers – very popular with families and groups of singles. While staterooms with private balconies are a sybaritic delight, interior cabin space is 180 sq. ft. And, in these, there is very poor soundproofing between staterooms: on Carnival Destiny, I could hear the show patter of my neighbor’s TV when it was turned on. There are also 230 sq. foot "family" cabins with connecting doors available near the children's center.

Sports and fitness lovers would be hard pressed to find better ships. The "Nautical Spa" is 15,000-sq. ft. The gym, with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views, has 13 treadmills, eight stair masters, seven stationary bikes, rowing machines, free weights, and hydraulic weight machines. Adjacent is the spa, operated by Steiner’s of London. While every massage beautifying treatment imaginable is available, expect the staff to push the sale of their products aggressively. The jogging deck encircles the smokestack (one lap is 1/11 of a mile). The pool areas are impressive, including a 214 circular water slide. Topless sunbathing is allowed in a secluded section near the main funnel.

While there are two formal nights, most men opt for dark suit instead of tux; jeans aren’t allowed in the dining room. Daytime wear is strictly casual.
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