August 2014 - Carnival Triumph to Caribbean - Western
This was my family's first cruise and I was very pleased with the experience. Before I went I read a lot of negative reviews so I was very apprehensive but we had a very positive experience.
The cabins are an adequate size. A lot of people were complaining about the size and while they weren't exactly spacious they were satisfactory especially considering that we didn't spend much time there. The beds were very comfortable and our steward Richard was extremely attentive to our every need. He brought us ice, cleaned the cabin and brought fresh towels twice a day. He was pleasant and greeted us each day by name.
The food was amazingly plentiful. There was almost too much food and there was an option to eat 24 hours a day. The burgers were by far the best meal option on the boat. The tacos were also pretty good. The buffet food was just ok - the lines were pretty long but I did like that they serve it in small portioned containers so that it is always fresh. Desert at the buffet was not good - the cakes were obviously frozen and thawed so I don't recommend that. The chocolate bar was offered one day and was all right - about the quality of a Golden Corral if you get my drift.
The activities were a lot of fun although being our first cruise it took us a day to get oriented with the Fun Times schedule that told us what events were planned. The comedy shows were very good, but that was pretty much the extent of evening entertainment other than the dance club.
The fine dining was way over rated. The food was hit or miss. Lobster night was great but the fish and shrimp were processed and of a lower quality than Long John Silver. Our wait staff seemed awesomr the first night -- but as the cruise progressed they became very snotty and uncooperative. The service int he dining room was beyond slow and each night dinner took almost two hours and was followed by "entertainment" - where everyone gets up and spins their dinner napkins or does the chicken dance or la macerena. This isn't a custom in normal fine dining establishments and I could have skipped it all together. ONe evening my son was motion sick and had requested a take out plate so he could go eat in the room. Our waiter (Big G) just looked at him as if he was speaking a different language and walked away. So we asked the waitress (Rosemary) and she explained " we don't do that bc the food would get cold" really ? no sh1#...he wants to eat it now but not in a room full of chicken dancing fools. We explained that he was feeling ill and still - they would not allow him to take it out of the dining room - even though we can take buffet food and pizza and be provided room service. And it isn't their policy bc I saw someone else taking their food to go. The wait staff was just uncooperative and they were too buy doing the chicken dance to respond to our request. The one thing they DID so well, was provide me with a birthday cake (for $20) on my birthday. The waiter arranged it and worked with my kids to present me with the presents as well.
The martini bar was surprisingly good. They do a martini tasting for happy hour that I recommend. It cost $16 for 5 mini martinis and was served with a little bartender flair by Marco from Croatia who was fascinating and insightful with his conversation.
The Lido deck poolside was a floating party every day and was the highlight of our trip. COntests, movies lots of drinks flowing. The wait staff was in no hurry but the drinks were good and music really set the mood. There is a guitar player every afternoon that takes requests. The pools are ridiculously small and they decided to paint the largest on one of our days but fortunately it was a day in port so I guess that was the best option and there are two other pools as well as a "hot" (warmish) tub and slide.
The spa services are generally overpriced although they had a special the last day so my family purchased a packaged for my birthday. The esthetician was cold and stiff at first until I started to talk to her and ask about HER. Se seemed to warm up a bit after that and the treatments were adequate.
We booked an excursion to Chichanitza and the tour guides were very knowledgeable and passionate about their culture. Be aware though it was a 2 hour drive each way and we barely made it back in time to embark.
Our day in Cozumel we chose NOT to book a tour and instead paid a cabbie $14 American to take us to Paradise Beach. That was an utterly amazing venture in a beautiful setting. Beers were reasonable and a $4 per person entry fee allowed us to use the facilities. There was supposed to be a $10 per person minimum purchase but one I got out to the beach and ordered a bucket of beers,,,they never charged me more than that.
All in all - it was a great experience for the money and I would go again.