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Carnival Triumph April 14 Review (long, with pictures)
I posted a mini-review when I got back, but finally have my pictures in order so I can post my long review. I'll probably post throughout the week, I only have a day done.
I will post pictures here, but more are available at my blog. It isn't monetized, so I have no interest in you going over there. Just a place to get more pics.
It just takes too long to put them ALL over here. The narrative will be the same.
Visit here for a few more photos: http://skittl1321.blogspot.com/2012/...pril-14th.html (Edit to add, Oh! I lied. I can just copy and paste them... All the photos are here. But the captioning kind of makes some things seem a bit weird. I'll keep that in mind when I write the blog for the next day. Bear with me here.)
We left Austin at 7:15 and headed towards Galveston. Even without speeding (we were going 60 most of the time because we couldn’t ever find a speed limit sign, later we found out it is a 70 zone- don’t worry, we stayed in the right lane, and no one ever seemed to be stuck behind us) we were making great time, so we stopped in Katy for some Whataburger. I sure miss it in Iowa. My nostalgia was bigger than my stomach, as I could barely finish a breakfast taquito, and I had ordered two! Then we continued the drive” $4.50 in tolls later, we were in Galveston around 11:15. Not the prettiest port in the world... Lighthouse parking was easy to find, and I won “first to spot the whale tail”! (You can tell this is a drive-in port, as there were people everywhere with signs trying to lure you into the parking lot. Lighthouse was very easy- we pulled in, they took our bags from the trunk to the bus, we didn’t wait for anyone (just us on the bus) and they took us to the Triumph, and got our bags off the bus for us. A porter took our bag (shocked we just had one) and pointed us in the right direction to check in. (I loved the floral shirts all the porters wore.) We booked online, so parking was only $35 for the entire week. We tipped the driver, but there was no pressure or hands out to do so! Not the first view of the whale tail, but I have no pictures for this part of the story!
Check in was a BREEZE. Short line for ID check, short line for security, quick beverage check (person in front of us had 3 water bottles make it through and one get taken for “not bubbling the same when shaken. That said- she didn’t notice our 12-pack had been doctored. Although we weren’t smuggling beer, Kevin had put Ginger Ale in the bottom row and glued it back together just to make it easier to carry. They poked open the perforation, but didn’t notice it had been opened. So that may have worked with beer…) Then it was upstairs to get sign and sale cards. It was about 11:45 and we expected to board at 12:30, but the signs said now embarking zones 1-43- so we hoped right on the ship. This was actually the slowest part, as we got behind a person pushing a woman in a wheelchair up the ramps…. Next thing we knew, we were up on the Lido deck and it wasn’t quite noon yet!
Girls only cruise shirts. And Paul- the sole man in the group.
We didn’t go get food right away, but instead met some new friends and chatted (we only saw them briefly during the cruise), and hung out in the sun- got a little burned on my forehead, despite sunscreen. There was no live band- but the DJ was fantastic. It wasn't too crowded up there, and I really enjoyed being outside. Rooms were opened at 1:30, where we went and settled our carry ons and to our shock received our bag at about 1:40! The port of Galveston is quick.
Because this was a shorter cruise we got the balcony. Per day, I think this cruise was our most expensive actually, but we've always done 8 day cruises before. It was nice to have the balcony again, but I am just as happy in an oceanview.
Then we went up to the Lido for lemonade (YUM!) and our first pizza and ice cream of the cruise (yum again!) I tried another Caesar salad, as the one on the spirit was too fishy. Cruise Critic told me I must have got a dud, so I gave it another chance- verdict: too fishy.
Then, we wandered around the ship. Kevin didn't get many pictures of the ship. I'm not sure why- he tells me it is because he was worn out from chatting on the Lido deck.
Some art near the wine bar Oystered ceiling in the piano bar Ghetto Map of our course. This is one area the ship showed its age. Hanging out on the balcony for sail away. You can tell it is a little chilly- I have socks on.
So then we unpacked, got some excellent sushi. We really enjoyed the sushi on the Triumph. It was fresh with good fish. I remember it being "weird" on the Spirit- obscure vegetables stuffed into rice. Here it still had a different take, but things we recognized. We really enjoyed it this trip, and got it every opportunity, except one.
Sushi for two.
Oh, but there was a hair on the plate. That was gross. Then we headed to the bar for sports trivia. That did not go so well, but was great fun. We usually avoid the sports bar, but there was not too much smoking on this ship. It is right by the smoking area of the casino, but we still went to sports trivia frequently.
This man did songs in the lobby each day. He was fabulous. He sang in all kinds of accents- the first time we heard him it was doing Johnny Cash- and we both thought "I need to see what that man looks like". It was such a funny twang.
We ate dinner at about 6:15- super quick service, and very good food. The maitre’d is hysterical. He first started by welcoming us to the London dining room noting that the other “sucks” – then laughing and saying “they are pretty much the same” He then introduced his staff, finishing up with himself and saying “I’m from Dallas Texas” to huge applause- then he says “no not really, I’m from Transylvania, but no one claps for that.” Finally he informed us that no “motherbeaters” are allowed for formal night and got corrected to wifebeater and said “eh, I knew it had to do with domestic violence”. Sure, jokes he does every week- but they were funny. Didja- Ceviche Spa menu fruit plate Can't recall what this dish was, the table beside us was suprised to see it had pasta. It was in the menu as a chicken dish.
Plate one of Indian Vegetarian Dish. Love it all except the "pickle". Way too sour. Plate two of the Indian Vegetarian Dish. Was very yummy, but not really 'hot'. Warm chocolate melting cake and cappuccino! Up next was movie trivia, where we did well, but the couple behind us did better. I think this may have been when Kevin turned around to them and said that if they are frequent trivia players they should meet up with us the next day for Progressive Trivia. And they did More on that later.
Next was Karaoke, and it was surprisingly uncrowded so I actually sang: Jolene. I sing faster than Dolly (probably because she can hold the notes) so I kept getting ahead. The crowd was probably pleased I didn’t sing another song! There were more bad singers than good though, so it was fun. (It was also very uncrowded with almost no wait to sing!)
Kevin and I also brought card games to play and I kicked butt in Monopoly cards. He wasn't very happy about that, but I can't help it that I have really good luck (and strategy?) We played a few more times, but not much, as I kept winning and he wasn't enjoying that. Cruises are about being happy and having fun.
Then we went to game show mania where we met the couple from movie trivia. It was awful- hard to hear any of the sound bites and they were out of date. I went up for the third game, and did TERRIBLY. The guy playing on my right rang my buzzer for me! On something I had no clue about. So I did the same for him on the next question before they played it! Unfortunately, I did not get any right…
Kevin went up on the next round, and he did just as badly as I did (we both played the “quick” games…we’ll blame that, fewer questions. Surely we would have gotten some right in a long game...).
BUT you get medals for playing- so we are proud owners of Carnival medals. Our cruise goal was a ship on a stick, and if we didn't make it- we would be pleased with this.
Our new friends then went with us to listen to Karaoke, then we went to the welcome aboard show (same as always, not fantastic), and called it a night. The cruise director is pretty funny. His best joke "What happens on a cruise..." Audience: Stays on a cruise!!!!! Cruise director: "Shows up on youtube two days later."
The ship is moving a good amount- enough that everyone with a microphone at the show mentioned it, but it doesn’t feel that bad, at least not yet.
Minor complaint of the day: Our hallway smells like sweat. Yuck.
Ceasar's salad on the Triumph, we thought it was too fishy in Oct & in Dec. But have loved it on every other ship...
__________________ Fut 20T4/15Cz 21T5/15Cz 22T6/15Pro Cz 23Fr6/15Jam GC Cz 24Fr7/15KW FP Nass 25T1/16G Cay Aruba Bonaire Grenada Martinique St Maarten San Juan 26T1/16B2B St Thomas St Kitts St Maarten Antigua G Turk Half Moon Cay
This sea day was fantastic! We had so much fun. Didn't take many pictures though- too busy playing trivia!
Woke up and had breakfast on the Lido. No trays, but plates are huge. It is like eating off of a hub cap.
Went to movie trivia and the questions had nothing to do with movies for the most part… Fun, but we didn’t do too great (Kevin may have been top 3?) The host was “Irish Bob” and he ended up doing a lot of the trivia with him. We later found out he usually does all the trivia, but he had some other duties this week, so the girls had been helping out. Since we liked all three of them, I was happy that they all traded around. It wouldn’t have been as fun with just one trivia host all week.
After playing Monopoly yesterday, today's game of choice was Quiddler, and Kevin consistently kicked my butt. I still love the game though.
Next up, we played Scattegories. Slighly different rules. She names a single category and letter and you write down 3 things. This was A LOT of fun, and I actually won with 24 unique answers, but didn’t get “the win” because a guy claimed to have 31 things- BUT it was 31 between his and his wife’s cards, and they had played separately! (So instead of writing three things down, between the two of them they wrote six.) He said he only took 3 from each, but of course, he decided on which three AFTER hearing what others had. Boo! I was sad, but didn’t say anything.
Then, due to a crying baby next to us, we wandered for a bit, bought Kevin some gin and scotch from the shops, and came back for “On Your Mark, Get Set, Draw” this was a lot of fun, and our team won (the other team had a girl who was amazing in the quick fire round!) sadly, no Ship on a Stick (SOS) because it was two large teams, but it was a lot of fun!
Our room was on deck 8, and I felt that we did NOTHING but climb stairs the whole time. This picture illustrates what I look like (exaggeration...) after coming up from Deck 3...again... It really illustrated to me we are better off in steerage! We spent all our time on Deck 3, 4, and 5.
Next, we went to lunch where I had THE BEST California roll, and a good vegetable fajita thing. Kevin had carribean pepper pot soup and a crab/shrimp baguette sandwich. We sat a large table with 9. The woman next to Kevin had no idea what a California roll was, but ordered it anyway, and refused to try it when it came, poking at it a bit while we explained what it was, but never even giving it a small bite. Then, her steak salad came out and she didn’t even try it either, she said she expected a steak and then disappeared, presumably to the Lido deck. Her friend said “she’s a picky eater” – must be, as she turned things down without even tasting them… (The steak salad had some slices of beef on it. Not sure what she expected...) Already, we fell down on the job, forgetting to take pictures of the main courses.
After that, we went to find out how much the wine tasting costs and it was a reasonable $10 but they wouldn’t let me sit with Kevin without paying. I don’t drink, so we didn’t go in. Instead, we went back to the room where I took a nap and Kevin read on the balcony. At tea time, I was still full from lunch, so we skipped it, and then when I woke up, Kevin was asleep so we missed Last Man Standing Trivia- we caught the tail end and the questions were SO much easier than on the Freedom… he would have rocked it. The ocean was gorgeous!
Next up was progressive Trivia where we met up with friends from yesterday and new friends from the drawing game today to form team LA ARIA (Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa). We did really well, though sadly talked ourselves out of two answers. I think we were in second place, but no SOS was given out for the individual rounds of progressive trivia (also different on the Freedom- as that was how we won ours!) I was joking with the trivia hostess about not being allowed to be overly competitive and said something about how I was “cheated out of my SOS in scattegories” (NOT complaining, at ALL) and she went over and gave me one, and said I earned it. I felt SO BAD. That was not my intention AT ALL. I tried to give it back to her, but she told me to keep it. So, I did win one after all.
Then, the pack of us went over to sports trivia where we all did okay – sports trivia is hard! (we got 10, others I think got 12) chatted for quite some time and went our separate ways.
Next up was dinner. I wore my new dress (love it!) and we had the “alligator” fritters (no alligator, he said it was conch) and stuffed mushrooms. I ate Indian again (thought about lobster but changed my mind) and the portion is just TOO big and Kevin had a fish dish. We shared bitter and blanc for dessert and it tasted like a warm cookie. The “show” was excellent- That’s Amore as always, but just a single singer featured and he was FABULOUS. Possibly better than the show singer, actually. The rest of the waiters just sang back up at the very end.
We spent a few minutes watching Karaoke (girl from yesterday did Proud Mary again- it is apparently her signature) but the sound system hurt our ears (not the singers, at least not yet…) so we wandered a bit and went to the “Wonderful World” show. There was one part that went on a little too long, but overall it was one of the best shows Carnival has done. I don’t know if it is because of the movement, or the wear and tear on the dancers, but Carnival dancers do way too much promenading, and not enough dancing. There are moments that you can see in their movement that they are really really talented dancers, and the positions on the ship are so competitive, that I know they are- but the shows just don’t show it. That said, one man did ala seconde turns, and the girls had a few moments to show off, but no virtuoso moves L There were two parts where they weren’t in character shoes – which I think may be a first for Carnival… they wore jazz shoes and what I think are called ghillies for Irish dance (set to fake taps). The singers were good (the man maybe a little hoarse, and the woman hit one bad note in Time to say Goodbye at the end- ouch). Honestly, Time to Say Goodbye is a really really ambitious choice for a show that requires a ‘pop’ performer. So good on them. The costuming was also great.
After the production show, we headed to bed. Progresso in the morning! And Chef's table tomorrow night!
Upcoming: Navigator of the Seas March 2014
RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas August 2007
Carnival Ecstasy May 2008
RCCL Mariner of the Seas August 2008
Carnival Ecstasy October 2009
Carnival Conquest July 2011
Carnival Triumph May 2012
RCCL Mariner of the Seas March 2013
Loving your review! Looking forward to reading more!
1/8/15 Eurodam (Smooth Jazz Cruise)
11/8/14 Breeze (Feelin' the Breeze Part 2)
1/12/14 Eurodam (Smooth Jazz Cruise)
10/10/13 Victory B2B (Victory is Mine)
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12/4/11 Miracle (x-mas on the beach)
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11/08 Westerdam (Dave Koz & Friends)
2008 Caribbean Princess
2002 Costa Cruise Line
We woke up about 6:00 and were still at sea, pulling into Progresso. Most ports you wake up already there, so it was fun to watch the process of them docking
We got showered and stuff and room service arrived at the requested time around 6:40. We had melons, cereal, and toast. I think I prefer this to the Lido deck breakfast, even though I enjoyed the "fried diced" (potatoes). I still get the same cereal, but I'm less likely to 'splurge' on things like pancakes (since they aren't available).
We then went out onto the balcony to wait for the announcement we could leave the ship (expected around 8:00, our tour met at 8:30). Sitting out, and wandering around our room, we never heard the announcement, and Kevin eventually said “people are leaving the ship”, so we went down and left too. Very weird. I've never not heard an announcement to either NOT go down to deck 0 yet, or that we were cleared to leave the ship. The same thing happened the next day though- so they must not make these announcements.
Our tour tickets said to bring a bottle of water, so we found a vendor selling some and bought two bottles for $4. The price wasn’t much cheaper than the giant bottle on the ship, but I didn’t want to carry a giant bottle. Then we got in line for the excursion. We went through Carnival to the Uxmal Ruins. I selected this because it was not much more expensive than AutoProgresso, and I heard you got more time there. I didn’t meet anyone who took AutoProgresso, so I don’t know. I wouldn’t warn anyone off of them though, because the online reviews are great, but we were very happy with the Carnival tour. It was only one busload, so it was not a crowded tour at all.
Of course, while we were boarding the bus they handed us a bottle of water. Grr! I knew that would happen. We also got our snack bag, and the vegetarian snack I requested the previous day at the shore excursion desk was not there. I told them it was not a problem, but they said they would provide me something at the ruins. I felt bad about this, but he said his company said he had to. (Plus there was another couple who had requested them, and I think they may have actually wanted them.)
The bus was fine- comfortable seats, with seat belts, and a toilet for “number one emergencies”- no one used it. It was air conditioned, clean, and comfortable. The seat rests had paper over them for sanitary reasons- and could be changed for each new person. They weren’t wrinkly when we got on, so I assume they actually were new. Very nice touch, since the seats are cloth.
The bus ride was about 90 minutes, and very safe. Except on the pier (where you can’t see the road to the side! Only water) there was no time I felt unsafe on the bus- our driver did a very good job, and the roads were smooth. The tour guide, Carlos, gave us a some information about the area and a little bit about the Mayans, but he did a bit too long of a sales pitch on Mayan Calendars as the “best souvenir”, however, there was no pressure to buy- I think 5 people did. (He said all the other typical souvenirs are not from Yucatan, the state). He also told us a bit about Quintana roo, the state Cozumel is in. He told us we picked the best excursion (of course!) because we were in the gulf and the beaches are not so good, and Cozumel is in the Caribbean and the beaches are great, so we should go to a beach tomorrow. Then, he told us we could take a siesta and he would wake us up as we got closer.
This picture is of the MaSeCa plant. Kevin uses this when he makes tamales He also took a photo of a Walmart. That made me laugh because when we got back the Walmart-Mexico bribery scandal had just broke.
At the ruins we switched guides to Patricio who knew more about the Mayan culture. We had about an hour and a half of a guided tour of the ruins, and learned a lot about them, the symbolism, and how the Mayan people still exist- they just left their cities.
Some pictures: The Pyramid of the Magician. If you stand in front of it and clap, it chirps like a bird...
These are faces. I didn't take good notes about what things symbolize though. This picture is to illustrate how high the step height is. Mayans weren't really tall- the process of restoration has added height, since we use mortar, and they did not.
Uxmal is said to be one of the most beautiful (in terms of ornate decoration) Mayan sites. A Mayan Ball court. Much of what we know about the Mayan ball game (played to 1 point, using only the shoulders, elbows, and I think knees) comes from the Chichen Itza site, which has much larger ball courts. There are drawings that show a team captain (unclear whether it was the winner or loser) being beheaded (unclear whether it was symbolic or literal!)
Then, we had an hour and a half to roam on our own. We climbed up the Grand Pyramid and got a wonderful view. We counted and it had only 63 steps, but they were all double size, so it was quite the climb (for me- kids were just running up). I took them 5 at a time, and was up quicker than I expected. It was so windy, going down was a little scary.
But it was worth the climb:
I was tired by this point so my husband walked up the stairs to the Palace of the Governor, but I did not. It was absolutely beautiful, and all the carving was so intricate. Uxmal is apparently considered the most beautiful of the Mayan Ruins, though Chichen Itza holds more significance as a religious center.
On site, there is a fabulous restaurant. It is aptly named, so that all languages can understand
It was not inexpensive, but items were reasonably priced for a meal out.
After this, we went over to a restaurant where we had wonderful (but not too hot, despite frequent warnings) habenero salsa, some guacamole (too much lime for me) and panuchos- a traditional Yucatan dish. I didn’t eat them, as I wasn’t that hungry, and had turned down meat earlier in the day (because I knew it would be ham, so I figured I should stick with the vegetarian identity). My vegetarian snack also appeared, and we saved it for the bus- a cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce. If I hadn’t just eaten guacamole it would have been excellent, honestly. We also got to go watch the woman who works for the restaurant make tortillas- corn tortillas are pressed by hand, which she was doing, while flour tortillas are rolled.
Back on the bus, everyone ate their snack bags- ham and cheese sandwiches (although one called it “ham”), a banana, and some cookie type things. I actually did eat most of my vegetarian sandwich, my husband did not break into the ham and cheese, we shared a banana (really good fruit! Very flavorful- I think they are out of season right now, because ours have been bland in Iowa), and ate the cookies. It was a decent snack, but I think the tour would go just as well to say water provided, there will be an opportunity to purchase food. Most people bought local food.
The ride back home was mostly quiet, and we all chatted. The tour guides asked us all to tell our friends the Yucatan was safe, and to recommend the tour, which I do. They did mention they take tips (and share them, so no need to tip everyone), but there was no bullying or pressuring to tip them. We were not given comment cards to fill out.
We got back to the ship at about 2:30, and looked around the shops for just a moment and then boarded. We got cleaned up, and set to watch pier runners 3:30 was the all back on board time. Well that time came and there were TONS of people on the pier, no sense of urgency at all. Push back was supposed to be at 4:00, but there were still lots of people, no one running, that’s for sure. We had to go to progressive trivia by 4:30, so we never saw if the last people came running in.
The past guest party was scheduled for 4:00 (I think), so we stopped by there first. I was disappointed that the caprese-salad style crustini had mayonaise on them. I didn't enjoy this party as much as on the Freedom because of that. I tried a blue margarita, but it was too strong. I switched to the fruit punch which I LOVE!!! Kevin drank my blue drink, the amaretto sour pictured, and I think a third drink. Not bad for about 15 minutes!
Progressive trivia was fun as always- we are so grateful we met such a great group of people. We skipped sushi because we had Chef’s table planned. That was hard to do, because the sushi has been so good this trip. After progressive, we wandered over to sports trivia where there was finally a figure skating question! (I missed one because I didn’t hear the question fully- so mad about that! and the other I got) Kevin won the round! Woo!
He got a medal and a ship on a stick! Woo! (Bob told me I should get a medal too since we played together, but he'd have to "owe" me. I didn't ask for it later.)
Then we went back to the room to get dressed for Chef’s table. We didn’t have to dress nicely, but they requested no t-shirts, no heels, and if possible closed toe shoes (two women did wear flip flops.)
I'm putting together my Chef's table post now. That was amazing! Lots of pictures...