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Western Caribbean
Sept. 2-9, 2006

By Mary & Vincent Finelli

When the best laid plans "Of Mice and Men" go awry, then make the best of it and try, try again. Last Carnival Triumph cruise was meant to reconnect with the courteous Captain Francesco La Fauci, who has been with Carnival Cruise Lines since 1983. He has served on Carnival's first ship the Mardi Gras and most of the rest of its fleet. Unfortunately, on our last Triumph cruise, he debarked the same day we embarked. However, this time we all managed to spend a great week on board simultaneously.

We are partial to the Triumph because, in our opinion, it is one of architect Joseph Farcus's best decorated ships. The world theme is brought to life in a most elegant manner. The awe inspiring depiction of a bronze globe on the ceiling of the Lobby Bar Deck 3 is a beautiful portrayal of our planet Earth. There is repetition of this globe several times on the ceiling of the World's Way on Deck 5. In this same promenade, on the walls are eight of Venetian sculptor Luciano Vistosi's colorful glass murals titled the "Continents" They are designed in triple layers to add a 3D effect to the sparkling glass. Maestro Vistosi was born in Murano, Italy, the heart of Italian glass making and his work reflects his love of the medium. It is uncommon to find such clear brilliance of color as that conjured up by Venetian masters. Of the many ships we have sailed on in the last fifty years, the Triumph now holds fond memories for us. We anticipated a happy cruise among old friends and we more than realized that anticipation.

The Port of Miami is sometimes a hassle because of traffic, but this Saturday morning at eleven there was not much traffic and port access was simple. We were greeted curb side by ship's staff and helped with the wheelchair. We were through security quickly and in our mini suite by 11:15am. Sail & Sign cards were not yet available, but we could leave our luggage and go off to the South Beach Buffet at noon. Which, by the way, was rare roast beef and a multitude of chicken, fish and vegetable side dishes. Enjoy!

We have published two other reviews on the Carnival Triumph in 2001 and 2006. She was made in the Fincantieri Shipyards of Monfalcone Italy and is a sister ship to Carnival Destiny and Carnival Victory. The Triumph is 101.509 tons, 893 feet long, with a beam of 116 feet and a draft of 27 feet. Guest capacity is 2,758 and a crew of 1,100 provides a nice guest to crew ratio. Her 14 decks and the distinctive red, white and blue whale tail funnel are indicative of Carnival Cruise Ships, and make her easily spotted in port. Her crew takes the lead of Captain La Fauci: they are highly competent, friendly and appealing. The overall ambiance is one of cordial approachability. We took a short walk with Captain La Fauci during which he attended three functions, shook hands and had his picture taken with many guests. There is also the Welcome On board Cocktail Party during which he may be shaking hands with over 2,000 cruisers. It may be bruising, but it is all in a day's work to this navigator.

Carnival began its Cruise Line in 1972, just about when the era of the grand Transatlantic Ocean Liners ended. The Italian Lines provided Carnival with an abundance of highly trained, experienced Captains, Staff Captains, Engineers and Senior Officers. Since those early days, it has become a tradition that most of the Captains and Senior Crew members of the Carnival Cruise Lines are Italian. On the Triumph the Staff Captain is the genteel Rosario Vasta and Chief Engineer is Camillo Russo. Hotel Director Henry D'Roza (Australia) is an old acquaintance of ours, who is planning to write the book on Hotel Management with an emphasis on the cross cultural aspects of multinational staffs. Sounds like a good Ph.D. subject to us.

There is no need for another deck by deck description of the Triumph, rather we want to emphasize a few areas of this floating home away from home. Since we were on board during the second week of the U.S. Tennis Open, we spent sometime at the Olympic Sports Bar Deck 5. Sandwiched between the Shops on Board and the Club Monaco Casino, it is a bit secluded. The unique chairs with leather ball motifs are quite comfortable enough to watch both Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick win their quarter finals matches just before satellite TV was lost midweek, then the signal was regained late Thursday just in time for the semifinals.

Another unique area is on Deck 4 going aft from the London Dining Room past the Card Room and the Internet Cafe toward the Oxford Bar. There is a wonderful corridor, distinctly English Library looking with bookcase lined walls interspersed with paintings of royals. Then, at the end, passengers find the tastefully decorated Oxford Bar. In keeping with the world theme, Mr. Farcus has created another promenade on Deck 5, the World's Way, from the Rome Theater forward going aft through the Triumph Shops, Club Monaco, the World's Bar, the Vienna Cafe, the Hollywood Dance Club, the California Wine Bar, the World's Hall, the Big Easy (New Orleans Jazz Club), the Venezia Lounge to the Club Rio. Stroll along this multi cultural extravaganza and experience flavors of the music world too. The most popular area of the ship remains Deck 9 Lido with the Continental Pool/Bar and stage near the food venues.

Deck 9 has the South Beach Club where the Grand Buffet, the Hong Kong Noodle Company, the N.Y. Deli, the Pizzeria Napoli and the Coney Island Grille are located. The food on board is under the direction of Senior Executive Chef Johann (Hans) Holzfeind (Austria). We had his Weiner Snitzel before we met him and we were blown away. He told us what a pleasure it is to cook for us. We believe what a pleasure it is to HAVE him cook for us! This modest man produced some of the finest food afloat... His Paella was "extraordinaire". He told us of the Carnival Program which trains chefs in France at George Blanc's restaurants and schools. Carnival has made great strides in upgrading its food offerings and we appreciate it.

We had early seating in the balcony of the London Dining Room and were deftly served by our Waiter Clyde and his Assistant Franklin. Appetizers were light and varied: fresh fruits, shrimp cocktail, etc. Soups are either hot or cold: from light bouillon to creamy chowders or hearty bean soups. Entrees are abundant including meats (chicken, steak, filet mignon, spring lamb) and fish of several varieties cooked deliciously (roughy, pan seared with lemon, or a fisherman's platter of delicately battered shrimp, scallops and filets). Excellent! Desserts were exquisitely prepared and diverse: Pears William (Bartlett pears poached in wine sauce) and several souffles (chocolate and Grand Marnier) or flourless cakes of melted chocolate. Maybe some of the fruit and cheese platters would be the perfect end to a meal.

Chief Maitre D' Manuel and Maitre D' Riccardo run festive Dining Rooms, and the Hostess Monika keeps everything humming. All of this comes under the watchful eyes of the Hotel Director Henry D'Roza. We dined with Captain La Fauci on formal night and on Thursday evening in the Crew's Dining Room on Deck "0". Cruise Director Paul Santley and entertainer Eddie Capone (the Godfather of Comedy) were there and kept everyone laughing. We were brought to tears by Eddie's Spelling Bee joke on the word "Mississippi". Bread on board is quite good, but cooked American style--very soft. We kept asking for darker, more cooked rolls and by the end of the cruise we had excellent crusty ones.

Our Mini Suite #7274 on Empress Deck 7 is situated near the elevators. It was quite handy for us, since it was just a few steps to the front elevators and the Rome Theater or the London Dining Room. When entering, on the right is a mirrored wall, then a long mango colored leather sofa, a granite coffee table, an end table and an upholstered barrel chair. When entering on the left there is a granite bar with TV, refrigerator, and a personal safe. Turn left again and there is a lady's dressing room with a lighted vanity/desk with several handy drawers. On the right is the granite and tile bathroom. There are double mirrored deep medicine chests with many shelves, a large sink and an oversized bath tub with both shower and Jacuzzi. We still feel that more wheelchair accessible cabins should be made available in every category and located near the elevators. The entrance hall was too narrow for wheelchairs, thus, we sacrificed a wheelchair accessible stateroom for a mini suite near t he elevator. This compromise is not necessary on other lines like Princess and Royal Caribbean which place wheelchair accessible cabins near elevators.

On the bedroom wall there is a large bureau and another double armoire. The king size bed is flanked by end table cabinets and two reading lamps. The room design is reminiscent of the Costa Lines. The far wall is all windows and a door to the balcony on which were two chairs, a low chaise and a table. Our very efficient Stewardess Anka added a chaise lounge for Vincent. Our every need was anticipated by Anka, and she made our cruise restful.

There are two Las Vegas style revues "Wonderful World" and "Century Café" which are both well worth seeing. The featured performers include the astounding magic of Kevin & Caruso. For sheer enjoyment don't miss either of Eddie Capone's Comedy routines, an early family show with the Triumph Orchestra and a late night adult show. Laugh! It is healthy for you. The last night on board the show is "Carnival Legends" where fellow guests perform on stage, with the Triumph Orchestra, singers and dancers, by impersonating such famous stars as the following: Madonna, Presley, Sinatra, etc. There are also all the usual activities on board: Bingo, Slot Tournaments, Pool activities, Trivia (where Vincent won 1st prize--A Ship on a Stick!). Camp Carnival is for cruisers 0-14 years and Club 02 is for those 15-17 years. On this cruise there were over 300 Venezuelan girls on their "Quince" party. These young ladies were both playful and pleasant. There were over thirty of them seated near us in the dining room. There was fun for all ages on board.

Debarkation began at 8:30am when the ship was cleared by the authorities. We had assistance from our cabin with the wheelchair all the way through Passport check, baggage collection, and customs. Wheelchair travelers were given VIP tags and our luggage was easily located. Henry D'Roza assigned special staff to assist the special needs group off the ship and this was greatly appreciated.


  • 9-2-06 Miami, Florida Depart 4:00pm

  • 9-3-06 Sea Day

  • 9-4-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:00am Depart 10:00pm

  • 9-5-06 Sea Day

  • 9-6-06 Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:30pm

  • 9-7-06 Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 3:30pm

  • 9-8-06 Sea Day

  • 9-9-06 Miami, Florida Arrive 7:00am

This was our third cruise on the Triumph and the seventh on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship. As we stated before, our cruises on Carnival ships are getting better mainly because the cuisine has definitely improved and we have learned what to expect on these cruises and how to make the most of them. Both of us suffer from limited mobility, especially Vincent who requires a wheelchair when going a significant distance; thus we bring with us a companion chair, which he can use on board. Especially on these modern mega ships, it is important for us to book a centrally located cabin, possibly close by the elevators, so that we minimize the effort of getting to the dining room, theater, lobby and other interesting places we wish to visit. The last few cruises on Carnival or Costa ships, we did have wheelchair accessible cabins, but they were located far away from the elevators and the center of the ship, thus requiring unnecessary stress on both of us. On this cruise we opted for a mini suite more centrally located and closer to the elevators, but we had to give up the c onvenience and facilities available in the wheelchair accessible cabins, such as larger shower with safety hand rails and a wider access door to the cabin. We have made this criticism before, but it seems to have landed on deaf ears. We wish to get the attention of those responsible for the designing and planning of new ships to take in consideration the needs of handicapped passengers by positioning clusters of wheelchair accessible cabins in all categories, centrally located and nearby elevators.

We have enjoyed cruising on this ship and we plan to have many more cruises on Carnival Ships, but we hope that someday on some newer ship we'll be able to book a centrally located wheelchair accessible cabin just like those we can get on Princess or Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. We have booked six more cruises for the next few months: Sept. 23rd on the Caribbean Princess, Oct. 15th on the Freedom of the Seas, Nov. 8th on the Carnival Legend, Nov.26 on the Norwegian Jewel, Dec. 9th on the Queen Mary II and Jan. 20th on the Voyager of the Seas. 

Happy Cruising! 

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