June 2015 - Carnival Triumph to Caribbean - Western
This was my 8th cruise, but my first with Carnival and my wife's first altogether. The ship was [generally] clean, the food was good enough [the 24hr pizza kitchen was the obvious stand-out!] and it was a generally good time.
That said, I don't recommend this cruise.
Our first struggle with this trip was the amount of selling that occurs once you are on board. It is clear that Carnival recognizes a captive audience when it sees one! From forced photographs to food upgrades at dinner or "Used Rolex Fire Sales!!!" announced via loudspeaker in the early hours an otherwise relaxing morning, the sales pitches are truly non-stop.
Another negative was our stop in Progreso - everyone I spoke to agreed that we would have been better off with another sea day! I understand the 5 day cruise only has so many miles it can cover, but Progreso should be scratched from the dance card. It did not feel safe, was full of pan-handlers, and barely had the infrastructure to support a ship's worth of people in its dilapidated beachside eateries. The locals there were friendly enough and we enjoyed stretching our legs [I guess...], my group agreed that we would likely stay on the ship if we were ever to port there again.
Finally, we felt that the ship was overcrowded and very much had a "you get what you pay for" vibe throughout. The staff was friendly though mostly unhelpful [we were told incorrect days and times for the women's world cup by the sports bar staff and missed games because of it], towels were scarce, heavy drinking encouraged, etc etc. I could go on, but I think you get it. :)
I appreciate Carnival's efforts in giving people a fun and affordable vacation, and truth be told, this is probably a good option if you are set on a cruise and don't have much budget to work with. But my advice? Spend your money on a resort package, or save for an extra season to get on a nicer cruise line. You won't be sorry!