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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Carnival Cruise Line

MS Carnival Triumph

Rating: Four Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Carnival Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1999
Length / Tonnage: 893 / 101,353
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 1,321 / 2,642
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Year-round East and West Caribbean out of Miami

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor, and Christopher E. Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

Like her sisters, CARNIVAL DESTINY and CARNIVAL VICTORY, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH can trace her bloodline back to her former fleetmate TROPICALE, a ship less than a third the size. That being said, novice, experienced cruise traveler or cruise addict, it is imperative to approach Carnival's new ships with an air of insouciant innocence, because these ships incorporate architectural, aesthetic and decorative whimsy that originate in the world of fantasy and are brought to realization by the talents of men and women too.

Yes, it is very true that we like Carnival's giant ships. The TRIUMPH, now nearly dwarfed by her monster-sized competitor for vacationers' bucks VOYAGER OF THE SEAS, deserves a very long look. Everything about the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH is big, the word "oversized" hardly suffices. Just look at her dimensions as printed in Carnival's brochures. 893 feet long, a near record beam of 116 feet (the QUEEN MARY was two feet wider)...and without being cute about it, the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH's extreme beam at Lido Deck is 125 feet...meaning that at the extreme width on that deck, she overhangs others by 4 and a half feet on either side...and with that gross tonnage of 101,353 with a crew of at least 1,100 men and women to look after her passengers, the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH is more than a milepost in the development of cruise ships. She may well be a model for cruise ships of all sizes still to come.

No matter what it is you like in a cruise ship, you're going to find it here. We would be happy to sail in the TRIUMPH for her gym and spa facilities, and upper end cabins and suites alone...there are an awful lot of suites as well as hundreds of standard cabins with balconies.....impressive because we're not talking luxury line here....this ship is from a company that charges realistic rates...a ship where balcony cabins outnumber cabins without balconies. Naturally, a ship this large would have plenty more reasons for anyone who is neither a gym rat frustrated by the 98pound weakling gyms found on most ships, or a cabin diva....and if you've read enough of Goldberg's reviews, you know he's both....to like the TRIUMPH.

Simply put, for all the hype in all the cruise brochures in all the world, nobody has topped the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH and her sisters and even though bigger ships have come down the ways...ships like Princess's curiously shaped GRAND PRINCESS whose overhanging disco at the stern makes her look in profile like an enormous shopping cart to some, as well as that RCI ship we mentioned above, and even her own slightly larger sisters, nobody is going to top the DESTINY class vessels. Quite a claim from crusty old travel writers and maritime historians that we are, but if you like or if you don't like, we can substantiate that claim for you. With but some of the glow in the dark, ever changing color fiber optic thrills of the ECSTASY to please die-hard, party-hardy fans, the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH has been designed, built, fitted, yea conceived to impress not just us and not just you, but everybody. Three full decks of public rooms, and yet we got no sense of being lost in an airport terminal, for there are enough facilities to constantly keep our attention, invite our attention, or welcome us to a take a seat, if not bid us to a dance floor. And we don't know of many other ships that can do that. This monster ship has everything.... most importantly, she has more quiet places where you can head to avoid or ignore the tumult and hubbub of cruise life aboard a ship that can carry more than 3,200 passengers at a time. People watching might keep you busy for a whole week.

Public Areas
Take one of the eighteen elevators and start your tour on Lobby Deck, deck 3. Sooner or later, if not within your first fifteen minutes on board, you will find yourself somewhere on this deck. So go forward and have a look at the Rome Lounge...it's the ship's show lounge (all of it is a non-smoking area ), and it soars three decks high. Never mind that its 1,500 seats is actually one third the seating capacity of New York's Metropolitan Opera House.. keep in mind that the Rome Lounge, like the Met, has a revolving stage and production shows that you'll see here certainly give any shore-side theater a run for the money. And need we remind you that Carnival's musicians and sound systems are unrivaled. Well, since it's probably daylight while you are having your first look around this extraordinary vessel, whose interiors are really shown to best advantage at night....because during daylight hours, most people prefer to lie in a deck chair, sawing ZZZZZZs and catching rays while the liner is at sea...or to be ashore during daylight port calls....you're going to have to do this tour for yourself. Meanwhile, before you have the chance to come back and see how this beauty looks under the stars, start your tour midships on Lobby Deck. It's called Capitol Lobby, with its Capitol Bar, but we will always think of it as the lobby bar. Located on the lowest level of the Rotunda, one of the best places to perch and watch people is from any barstool here.

There are ten bars onboard, from the easy to spot Capitol Bar to the All Star Bar...to the California Wine Bar, you can get strong drink from 9am through 4am somewhere on board this magnificent liner. The Continent and the New World Bars are both swim-up, and both are open very late. Cabaret fans are always drawn to the Big Easy Bar at night...a small room, it features entertainment by a talented pianist. This room may be the perfect spot for a budding romance. Where you will rarely find either of us is in the Club Rio Lounge...though it's a beautiful room, its resident musicians are well versed in the two kinds of music Goldberg just cannot abide....country AND western! And we're not much for gambling, but we think there are 1000 slot machines in the casino....no we lie, we think the real number is 322....anyway, would you be surprised to learn that this was, if not still IS the largest casino afloat. Gaming tables...you name it, they've got it...21, craps, roulette and every now and then a few other specialty games. And if you work up a thirst while in the casino, there's a different bar at either end. Teens seem to be captivated by the electronic gewgaws in their club, the Virtual World. The childrens club, Camp Carnival, has a wide variety of activities for kids, not to mention special children's menus and a "Fountain Fun Card" godd for unlimited soft drink purchases during the cruise....provided you are under 21 years old. There is also nightly baby sitting services, from 10pm to 3am, at a moderate cost. Everyone really is well looked after on this ship. You may notice that Goldberg doesn't drink and he doesn't gamble...He likes a nice cabin and he likes to work out, and he likes to shop almost as much as he likes to eat....and he likes the arrangements and layouts of the TRIUMPH's shops, unobtrusively flanking the Rotunda on Deck 5. No in your face shopping here, we're glad to say.

The disco has 677 video screens and we hope you are paying attention because every now and again, you are the star. The sound and light show Carnival puts on in the Point After Club is little short of spectacular. And that's not all of the public rooms....there is so much to this ship, you are just going to have to take a trip in her and see for yourselves.

Time spent outdoors....fun in the sun, we've heard it said....the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH is sure to impress you with the most amazing tiered outdoor entertainment complex so far fitted onto a ship. It spans four decks and includes four swimming pools, seven whirlpools, two swim up bars, and of course, that Carnival favorite, a spiral water slide.....this one is 200 feet long.

This is a tremendous ship, and she is happy to cater to tremendous crowds of hungry people. They are thirsty, too, and the TRIUMPH uses enough juice, coffee and tea to fill her swimming pool three times over!!! Carnival Cruise Lines easily spends $230,000 for food on a one week cruise for the population of this floating city. Pity the ship's poor lone resident chicken....CARNIVAL TRIUMPH's galleys use more than 48,000 eggs a week. Don't let that 3,200 passenger capacity figure scare you. The ship's food department outnumbers total crew on most ships the world over. With 112 cooks, 168 utility and support staff, and 240 dining room personnel, no less than 520 crew members dedicate their working lives to feeding you. Think about it....using a good 7,200 plates per seating, which means there's a plate leaving the galley every half second, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH's kitchens serve 1800 entrees in under 20 minutes....inch for inch, the ship's galleys cost more than her engine room and also outweighs her machinery. Don't expect caviar....you're not paying for it here, and Carnival is cooking for the broadest base of American and international palates...and while their cuisine does not always thrill, it is impossible to go hungry here, because there will always be something you like...and don't be shy about asking for something else if you didn't like what you got. What might surprise you is how friendly and accommodating Carnival food personnel are, but then again, every time we either sail or visit a Carnival ship,we get the feeling the home office has been passing out rations of happy pills because everyone on board seems to be such nice, friendly people.

That said, let me tell you about where you are going to eat. Behind the Flagship Hall is The entrance to duplex London Dining Room.You'd never guess that 706 customers can be served in here at a single sitting, because this room has been so cleverly designed and with its entrances at either end on both decks, it's so devoid of crowds waiting to enter or exit, that the room manages to feel intimate...almost cozy. Musicians gather on the bandstand on the upper level and with soft sounds serenade diners during dinner....and other musicians on board play in the spectacular Paris Dining Room, the 1,114 seat restaurant aft on both Deck 3 and 4. Of course, Carnival waiters singing and dancing talents are still part of the show. We don't much like it, but you might. Don't ask me which dining room is better, because they are both great...don't ask me which dining room we would ask to assigned to for dinner...if we tell you, you might all try to grab our favorite table. Don't forget, there' s no point in asking your waiter to bring an ashtray...because Carnival dining rooms are all no smoking. Tables for two are so limited in number that Carnival tries to limit their occupancy to honeymooners only. Carnival really does want you to have fun and to mingle and meet people, and though breaking bread with strangers can be daunting, you won't stay strangers much longer than your first hellos.

Beyond these two impressive dining rooms, the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH can seat 1,252 people at a time in their version of a lido restaurant. In the duplex Sun and Sea Restaurant, the atmosphere is more casual....and if this alternative to eating in the dining room or chowing down in the solitary confines of your cabin were not enough, the Sun and Sea Restaurant complex goes on to include several serving stations....one of them has pizza (available 24 hours a day), another grilled specialities...but all food is taken from buffets. Sun and Sea is open for all meals, as well as a late supper. Speaking of latesupper, you can eat three times late at night....four if you cal for room service. Because Sun and Sea is located between two of her three swimming pools, and it is just a short flight away from acres of open deck space above, the chances are mighty high that you are going to eat here a lot, if not eat a lot in here.

Still not satisfied? Though there is a nominal charge for it, there are tasty pastries to be had at sidewalk Café on the Way located just off TRIUMPH's Way on Deck 5.

Any ship that can comfortably accommodate 3,200 passengers needs to have a lot of cabins, and the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH does. And on as many as seven different decks, she has 1,321 rooms. That gives her a double occupancy of 2,642 which means, of course, those other 600 passengers are sleeping in upper berths and/or sofa beds. Taking their cues from the FANTASY class ships' cabins to develop the private quarters on this new ship, Carnival has arranged these hundreds and hundreds of cabins into the same twelve easy to understand categories it has always used....unlike their competition out in Los Angeles who, so desperately hungry for a buck, have set up THIRTY-FIVE different cabin categories for their GRAND PRINCESS.

Don't forget, almost all of the standard cabins are the same size, and fitted with all the same amenities, the difference in price is a result of the three most important factors in the real estate biz¼location, location, location! And while we are on that subject, Carnival suffers no delusions of grandeur, unlike the folks out west, so there is no need to mortgage the homestead or dip into the baby's college fund to enable yourselves to take a cruise on the TRIUMPH. We won't bore you with details of every cabin type...but must tell you that the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH's cabins have been furnished with a lot more soft fabrics and softer, attractive color schemes than cabins in earlier Carnival vessels. You will want to know that the overriding majority of cabins in every category from 4 through 12 have two beds that are convertible to a king.

Never mind that most of these rooms have a small sitting area...432 cabins have private balconies...16 rooms on Spa Deck have floor to ceiling windows. But okay, we give...confess...this ship has 40 suites with balcony and 8 penthouse suites with large balconies...and the décor in all of these is quite pretty. The three lowest grades have Carnival traditional one lower bed with one upper...in categories 1 and 2...and1 lower and an upper or 1 lower and a convertible sofa in some category 3s....these moderately priced digs make dandy singles. And yes, there is plenty of storage space for a one week cruise....and110 volt AC outlets in the cabins means you can use your hairdryer. Carnival has not left interactive technology on the dock...quite popular for those few minutes you are going to be in your cabin when not sleeping is fun vision, which besides allowing you to order pay per view movies, provides you with all kinds of fun and games and information options.

Who Goes
EVERYBODY who likes cruises ought to cruise with the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH at least once. A typical passenger load includes a pretty fair cross section of the bulk of America's people. More clean cut and well scrubbed than you might think, and a lot younger than you will find most anywhere else, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH can and does appeal to any age group from cradle to grave.

Is the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH really perfect for everyone? Theoretically, yes....but practically, no. This is not a ship for you if you need the quiet ambience of a retirement home, the soothing confines of the nave of the Cathedral of Notre Dame...it's also probably not the ship for the insecure who need to be front and center, the star attraction among cruise passengers...because very few people are likely to be noticed for long here.This does not mean that you won't get good service, because you will...but don't expect this crew of over 1000 to remember your name. Nor is it for anyone demanding a high level of constant personal service and attention. Other ships in Carnival's extended family would be better choices for someone seeking that.

As the brochure says, the TRIUMPH is a destination unto herself, but on her Caribbean seven day cruises, she does stop at interesting ports. Through the spring, she sails on Sundays alternating on Western and Eastern Caribbean routes....to the west she visits Playa Del Carmen/Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios, while She sails every other Sunday from Miami for the eastern trip to San Juan, St. Croix and St. Thomas.

If you still don't think Carnival's got the fun, you would be wrong....and if the other ships in this amazing fleet aren't for you....and we guess there are some people out there who wouldn't like them....you need to check out the TRIUMPH. Enough said.

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