• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

First Time Cruise on Carnival Triumph in April

#1
My wife’s company has bought all of the employees a cruise with their spouses. It will be a Carnival 4 day cruise leaving out of Galveston in April with one stop in Cozumel. It looks like it will be the Carnival Triumph. As we have never been on a cruise before I was hoping I could get some advice. First it leaves Thursday afternoon at 4 and we are planning on driving to Galveston Wednesday and staying at a local hotel which offers free transportation to the cruise and free parking while we are gone. Has anyone had good/bad experiences with this? We thought we would board early about noon when they first open to get on the ship as early as possible and get settled in. We hope to have a minimum of luggage for a 4 day cruise in basically warm weather (should we bring beach towels for the pool?) The cabin they will be providing for us is an ocean view. Is it usually worth upgrading to a balcony? I know there are many different kinds of rooms on numerous floors and while I don’t think we would be willing to pay another 500 per person to upgrade I think we would be willing to do something. Any idea on how much more we would have to spend? Is there a particular spot on the ship we want our room to be (or more importantly a place we do not want it to be? I have heard some floors are too close the main areas of the ship like the casino and can be loud at night.) to be the quietest and nicest? A particular floor or special type of cabin? Having heard about food I want to make sure I try and preplan as much as possible to get what we really like. I have read it is usually best to eat in the main dining rooms? Better to choose the late dinner time if possible? Better to stick to certain foods ie. steak rather than seafood or vice versa? Better to eat breakfast in the sit down restaurant than the buffet? My understanding is that you can basically snack anytime you want anywhere you find food on the ship as well. We are not big drinkers so I doubt we will run up much of a tab for liquor but I have been told there may be a soda/coffee card we can purchase? Worth it? Does this cruise offer upgraded dining for a price? Is it worth it?
For Cozumel, we like to shop and were thinking of just going downtown for a relaxing few hours. Is there anything better we have to do? Cannot miss? Is there anywhere in particular that will allow us to get the best local shopping at a good price and a nice relaxing lunch where we don’t have to worry about it being too local (getting sick is not something I am willing to chance.)
Lots of time on the ship with only one port, is it really easy to fill up the time? I have heard it may be hard to get a chaise by the pool and just read as everyone goes out there real early. Any suggestions?
I have heard that tipping is now included but I guess some people tip beyond that for great service?
That’s all I can think of for now. Any other special tips or advice is appreciated.
Thanks again for any help or suggestions.
 

Mbandy

Well-Known Member
#2
I just saw your post this morning. Sorry no one has replied yet. It sounds to me like you have done your research very well. Most everything you said is spot on. I have been to Cozumel 11 times so I will post more later with some suggestions. (On the iPhone app right now).

Not sure when the Triumph will be coming back in to service. Do you know if your cruise will be affected?

I'll post more on Cozumel tonight when I get home.
 
#3
Michael,

Thank you. As of right now we are being told that our cruise will be the first one back for Triumph in mid April. However, I do not really believe this yet. I am of the opinion that Carnival is going to need to do a whole lot more than they originally thought. This is no longer a question of fixing the engine fire situation. News of raw sewage leaking from the walls tells me that nothing short of a complete overhaul of the ship removing every wall and floor will do to get this ship back in service. I am sure they do not want to do this and I am sure this is going to be a financial ruin for the company but they do have deep pockets and I can't imagine they are willing to risk their future to get this boat back out too quickly. My thought is that they will finish an examination of the entire ship in the next few days and that they will then announce that the ship is cancelled indefinitely. Were I running the show I would take it off the line for a good year or more, send it to europe to be outfitted from scratch, change the name, etc. I dont doubt that if we do cruise in mid April, when we get back there will be tons of reporters waiting to interview us. If the cruise is not perfect, if there is one small chance that they did not clean and sterilize every inch of the ship, Carnival will be in for very big trouble and I can't imagine that they would be willing to risk this.
Having said that, most in our party are of the opinion that if they can get it cleaned, this will be the best cruise ever and they will be falling over themselves to make our cruise as perfect as possible including many freebies not ordinarily offered. Who really knows. For now, we are trying to make some backup plans but as of today at least, we are not able to get our money back so we are still on.
Woofa
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Reports of raw sewage leaking from the walls is probably and extreme exaggeration, some areas with soggy carpets, probably. You would be surprised what can be done in a 30 day drydock and isn't a matter of IF they can get it cleaned, they will get it cleaned and it won't sail unless it is cleared by CDC. Keep in mind that the whole ship was not affected, only areas. Those areas will be priority, cleaning, replacing, doing whatever necessary, other areas will be cleaned and sanitized. United States has some excellent drydock facilities and keep in mind they are capable of completely rebuilding sections of a ship, this is just minor repair to them. They will already be working on it as it is being towed to drydock. And there will be plenty of people onboard once it is in drydock each working in their respective areas all at the same time, it is actually very interesting to see how well orchestrated and smooth a refurbish proceeds. Looks like Triumph was last drydocked the end of 2011 so this would be a little early for a refurb but they very well may do it under the circumstances .

Any added amenities will most likely be in the form of onboard credits, per passenger or per stateroom, if your sail date was changed or you were inconvenienced in other ways but don't expect free flowing bars and lavish gifts, that's not the way they work. Food will be the same menu that would normally be served and it will be as good as it always is, and a good crew normally trips over itself anyway, I have had some of the best funnest cabin stewards ever on Carnival.

Just go with an open mind, expect what you paid for and appreciate whatever comes down on top of that and you will have a great time. No such thing as a bad cruise, some are just better than others.

To address some questions from your first post. Michael can give you a great rundown on Coz. It has been several years since I have been there so not much help on that.

We hope to have a minimum of luggage for a 4 day cruise in basically warm weather (should we bring beach towels for the pool?)
We travel with 21in carry-ons for a 7 day so for 4 days you will have plenty of room. One formal night, pantsuit for the wife, slacks
and sport coat for you, rest short sleeve shirts, shorts and a pair of slacks for the non formal nights, throw in a few pieces of underwear
and your good to go.
Beach Towels will be provided, either on deck or in your cabin, if they are in your cabin, DON'T loose one, you'll buy it, leave it on the floor in the
bathroom with the rest of your towels, your cabin steward will replace it with a fresh one. If they are on deck there will be a hamper to dump them
in when your done with them.

Is it usually worth upgrading to a balcony? I know there are many different kinds of rooms on numerous floors and while I don’t think we would be willing to pay another 500 per person to upgrade I think we would be willing to do something.
If the price is right it is always worth upgrading in the Caribbean. If this package was handled through a travel agent, contact them and see what they can do. If you go for a suite ya, it could be 500pp but if you just go for a balcony you will get about the same cabin you would get with an outside, it will just have a hole in the wall and could be as low as 100-150pp, again if there is a travel agent of record that is your path, if not then you can contact Carnival Customer Service directly, Michael can probably give you best advice on that, he is a Travel Agent.

As far as location, stay away from under the disco, or the kitchen, casino us usually no big problem, first deck under the lido can get noise at night when the deck crew straightens all the deck chairs and if they stack them it will be a little noisy in the morning when they unstack them, but this usually doesn't last long, stay away from the bow unless you like roller coasters, it can get a little bouncy sometimes. Aft cabins are usually cool and mostly a smooth ride, best cabins for a good ride will be mid ship, so if you go for a balcony go with mid ship, lowest balcony deck for the best ride. I have never been on the Triumph so can't get specific as far as prime real estate, my comments are based on general recommendations that would work on any ship.

Having heard about food I want to make sure I try and preplan as much as possible to get what we really like. I have read it is usually best to eat in the main dining rooms? Better to choose the late dinner time if possible? Better to stick to certain foods ie. steak rather than seafood or vice versa? Better to eat breakfast in the sit down restaurant than the buffet? My understanding is that you can basically snack anytime you want anywhere you find food on the ship as well. We are not big drinkers so I doubt we will run up much of a tab for liquor but I have been told there may be a soda/coffee card we can purchase? Worth it? Does this cruise offer upgraded dining for a price? Is it worth it?
First, you won't starve. That said, we do personal choice style dining but that is not for everybody. Being your first cruise, main room, late seating would be a good choice, but that choice should have been made when you booked the cruise, go up to Carnival's site, set up an account and see where you are with your booking. Seafood usually works, but don't be afraid to experiment, you can always just order another dinner if you don't like the one you get. Steaks in the main room are iffy, especially if you like them a certain way, I never order a steak in the dining room. Specialty restaurant will usually be 15-20 charge and the food is cooked to order so if you like a rare steak that's the way you get it, it is usually always worth it, but make your reservation as soon as possible after you get onboard, formal night usually fills up first. Main room breakfast, don't know, we always eat breakfast in the buffet no matter what ship we are on, just easier. Lunch usually starts around 11 and goes till 2 or 3 so there is always something to snack on.

I have heard that tipping is now included but I guess some people tip beyond that for great service?
Bar tips are added to the tab when you get the drink, soft drinks are considered bar, 15%. We usually tip the
cabin steward extra if they have done a good job, and they usually do, for a 4 night I would tip 20-30
depending on how I felt the service was. Usually tip the specialty restaurant waiter extra as well.
Main dining? your call, really depends on the service but remember you have a waiter and a busperson
so I would guess 10 and 5 if they were good but then we do personal choice so we see a different waiter every
night and I usually keep a 5 in my pocket for a good waiter. Keep in mind, you actually have already tipped
these people so the extra is for the going above and beyond.
 

Gayle V

Cruiser's Compass Editor
#5
Hello Woofa, Welcome to Cruise Addicts.

How exciting to be going on your first cruise. I had no idea how hooked I was going to be, on cruising, when we booked out first one. Best idea we ever had. I'm sure you will love it. And how amazing to be treated by your wife's company. Do they need any new employees ? :)

You've got good info above from bob and Michael, about the ship repairs, so I'll just say that I agree. I have not doubt that the Triumph will be just fine when they're done with her, and it likely won't take ages, but whether or not it's in time for your dates, is what you have to worry about. I do hope it goes well for your plans.

About your questions:

About the park-n-cruise hotel: Well we've never done it, but I've read about others on these cruise boards doing it all the time, so it seems to be a fairly popular option. I've never heard a negative story about it so far. The one caveat seems to be that the parking areas at the hotels are not fenced or guarded like some (not all) long term parking lots would be. Still I figure the car is as safe there while you are gone, as it is while you stay in the hotel.

We thought we would board early about noon when they first open to get on the ship as early as possible and get settled in. Well, you need to check Carnival's web page, for the actual time boarding is supposed to start. The listed time is not often as early as "noon". The usual stated time is 1:30. That's not to say that you won't be able to get on before noon.. Just be aware, that you may have to wait till later. Lots of cruisers are just so eager to get on board that they are happy to wait in the line. Happier still on the occasions that debarking the previous passengers, and cleaning up goes extra fast, and boarding is started early.

Is it worth upgrading to a balcony? Any idea on how much more we would have to spend? I always say that a balcony is worth every penny, but that being said you can have a wonderful vacation with a less expensive cabin. We certainly got totally addicted to cruising while booking only "insides" for our first several cruise. If you can afford it, and it isn't a hardship financially, do it. As for how much it costs, you should go to Carnival web page and play like you are booking a cabin for your particular cruise and week, find out the cost of the specific cabin category you are in and compare that to the category you want. (Look at your booking confirmation for something that say your in an "4b" or "7c" not just "oceanview". The different designations of balcony cabins can vary a lot. That comparison should give an idea of the difference. But to know for sure, you have to ask the booking TA.

Having heard about food I want to make sure I try and preplan as much as possible to get what we really like. I have read it is usually best to eat in the main dining rooms? Better to choose the late dinner time if possible? Better to stick to certain foods ie. steak rather than seafood or vice versa? Better to eat breakfast in the sit down restaurant than the buffet?

About the food: There's not really all that much need to pre plan things with food on the Triumph. She does have a specialty restaurant, that you might want to try, but we don't usually bother, except for a rare special occasions. If you really want to, you can reserve that on the web site. I just usually think "Why pay an extra $20 per person for a meal when you've already paid for a very nice meal in the dining room."

And yes, definitely have at least your dinners in the dining room. It would be such a shame to miss that. We try to get to the dinning room for breakfast about once per cruise, just for the Eggs Benedict, (not usually served in the buffet) but aside from than we like the lido buffet for breakfast and lunch. It's just more flexible, considering we are doing so much during the day, and the dining room takes time.

As for choosing early or late seating, or anytime. Well that totally depends on you. What time do you usually eat your dinners? When we were on the Triumph they had staggered early and late times. Early was either 6:00pm and 6:15. and Late was something like 8:00pm and 8:30pm. Eight is too late for us, so we always pick "early". We didn't like the "Anytime", the once that we tried it. Actually managed to get moved to early seating after a few days of "anytime" (Changing like that is not usually possible, so don't count on it. ) Other's say they have no problem with it, but we didn't like having to either make reservations or having to wait in line to be seated. I've always thought the personal service you get from main dining room waiters who know you, and not having to bother with reservations, and the no waiting in line are all part of what I like about cruising. Also, if you stay with the assigned dinner times (choose either early or late) you don't have to worry about being able to see the evening shows. When you go to anytime dinner, you have to be sure you're allowing enough time to finish dinner either before the show starts, or wait to eat after the early show is done. With the assigned times, they plan for that, for you.
 
Last edited:

Gayle V

Cruiser's Compass Editor
#6
(Found a few more minutes to answer a bit more for you:)

My understanding is that you can basically snack anytime you want anywhere you find food on the ship as well. We are not big drinkers so I doubt we will run up much of a tab for liquor but I have been told there may be a soda/coffee card we can purchase? Worth it? Does this cruise offer upgraded dining for a price? Is it worth it? Eating in the specialty restaurant is the only real upgrade dining. And as a once during my cruise, special meal, I think worth it. But for me, I could never eat like that everyday, Way to much food, and takes quite a long time. And a totally unnecessary expense.

Aside from that, food that you pay for would include soda drinks, the specialty coffees, and liquor. And if I'm remembering correctly there's a little shop that has the special coffees that you pay for, you may have to pay for the fancy pastries they have there. (Sorry my memory is vague. On one ship we sailed, the pastry shop had free pastry and pay-for coffee. On another ship it was the coffee that was free, and pastry you paid for . Ask at the counter.)

They do sell a all you can drink soda card. It's a per day cost of about seven dollar a day. If they've introduced an all you can drink coffee card I haven't heard about it yet.

I have heard that tipping is now included but I guess some people tip beyond that for great service?

Usually tipping is NOT included in the cost of your cruise. It is possible that your wife's employer has "pre-paid" the standard tip for you. You really have to find that out for sure. Some people choose to pay the tips with their cruise fare, just to have it out of the way. Otherwise the standard tip is automatically added to onboard cabin bill. About $11 per person, per day. If you get exceptional good service you can always increase that by adding to it on your account or, (we prefer ) just give them a little extra cash on the last evening of the ship. Go with your feelings on the matter.


For Cozumel, we like to shop and were thinking of just going downtown for a relaxing few hours. Is there anything better we have to do? Cannot miss? Is there anywhere in particular that will allow us to get the best local shopping at a good price and a nice relaxing lunch where we don’t have to worry about it being too local (getting sick is not something I am willing to chance.)

For Cozumel, it's a great shopping port. Especially if you're looking for silver. And a great place to have lunch is Poncho's Backyard. We've been there three times. Great quacamole and amazing Marguaritas. As for getting sick, Cozumel is an island not like mainland Mexico. Their water is clean. If you take an excursion to mainland, like going to Tulum, then be more careful. As for the fresh foods on Cozumel, ( Supposedly if you can't drink the water, you need to be wary of fresh foods too.) ....well, I don't know. If the concern is because of the water the fruit was washed in, then no worry. But if it's the food itself, well all I can offer is that I've eaten fresh fruits every time I've been to Coz. So far so good. There are no guarantees.

Any other special tips or advice is appreciated. Well let me point out the links to the Cruiser's Compass in my signature. (Click right under my little Eeyore) You can likely skip parts about booking a cruise, but the other pages may be of interest.
 
Last edited: