December 2014 - Carnival Triumph to Caribbean - Western
First off, this was our first extended cruise, so we had to learn all the ropes. The Carnival staff were amazing, despite what appeared to be grueling schedules. They were all friendly, responsive and professional in every way. The interior cabin was larger and more comfortable than expected. Shipboard activities are so abundant that you end up having to miss a lot because of scheduling conflicts. The major shows are wonderful. The performers really deserve a lot of credit for performing dual shows ever night and being able to perform on a constantly moving stage. The standard fare around the ship is extremely varied and pretty good. The over-abundance of food is mind boggling. You can literally eat all you possibly can around the clock. Cruising is not for dieters! I do have one scathing comment for cruisers. It is shocking how many people pile their plates and then just nibble it and walk away. The amount of wasted food is unbelievable.
As far as excursions - Cozumel was great. We took the jeep and snorkeling tour which we booked through the Carnival site at ShoreExcursionGroups.com. The ship docked at the international pier instead of the Carnival pier - maybe because we had a fog delay leaving Galveston? Anyway, we were late getting to the tour location and it had already left. They gave us a private guide and we completed the full tour (maybe because I purchased the insurance?) - We had a blast. Marco was the perfect guide. Two warnings - bone up on your std transmission driving and be aware the reef is a long way offshore (both ways) - you will get a good workout. Progreso offers nothing unless you want to drive hours to see Mayan ruins. If you get outside the tight little Cruise'rs area, the shops will not take US dollars and you cannot get change at a bank without a passport! You are constantly hounded by people selling their junk - even on the beach, which is nothing special. Visit the port shops and/or stay on the boat.
The assigned seating for dinner is a bit of a drag - especially if you have the late seating. We were fairly lucky and got on well with our table, but I can see where that might not be the case. The food here was mostly very good - especially considering the amount of people being fed. The main issue was over-cooking the fish a bit. The wait staff were excellent.
Final notes: Be prepared -It is freezing in most of the areas on the ship. The only room control is a slider on the air vent. Smoking is allowed in the casino area. Unfortunately one of the main band and activity stages is within the smoke zone. Plus the most convenient way to the lower rear of the ship runs through this area. If you have any question about your sea legs - prepare well for the trip with whatever you need. We never actually got sick, but we both felt it the entire cruise. My wife got pills on board. I just pushed through, but it effected me to where I did not drink after day 2 - saved me a lot of money...but dampened the party spirit a bit. You may actually find yourself wanting to eat to make your stomach feel better. Sinus issues were also elevated on the ship. The really funny thing is that I did not feel well for several days after the cruise. I don't know if there was a relation or not... Also, It takes longer to get on and off the ship than you may imagine. Leave yourself time in the ports, especially back in Galveston, where it was almost 11 am before we got off the ship. Finally, a word about the drink packages. The soda package is a pretty good deal - but be aware that there is free water, tea, lemonade and coffee in the food court. The alcohol package makes no sense at all though. It is $50 each day for the duration of the cruise - even on excursion days - and get this - both people in a cabin have to order it! What if one of you does not drink? Besides what is the point? There is a 15 drink a day limit. What does Carnival care if the drinks are split by a couple? Is it not better to have two people drink the 15 drinks, rather than have one slobbering drunk? I think it forces people to drink to much to try and cover there investment. Carnival you should re-evaluate this policy.
All in all, we will probably try another cruise in the future - not wasting time in Progreso... We had some fun and learned some things. Cruising is not cheap, but it is cheaper than the All Inclusives , or anything else foreign because of plane fairs...Our actual rating is 3.75 - 3.5 for me, 4 for my wife. So, give it a try and have some fun.