Pre-Cruise -- We drove down to Miami from Jacksonville on Friday, we arrived in Miami around 2:30 PM and checked into the Radisson downtown that I had booked on Priceline. The hotel was clean and the room was satisfactory for a nights stay. One warning though, you have to pay to park at the hotel either by valet ($25 a day) or the parking garage which charges by the hour up to a maximum of $20 for a day. However if you leave the garage you pay each time you come and go and your time starts over each time you leave. We used the valet parking since you could come and go as you please for the one price and drove down to the Bayside Market for dinner. We ate at Bubba Gumps, my recommendation here is DONT! My daughter and I both ordered fried shrimp and the shrimp were only partially peeled and very greasy.
Embarkation -- We arose early and ate breakfast across the street from the hotel at Burger King (I know not exciting). We arrived at the port around 10:00 AM and were parked and in line by 10:30. The embarkation process went very smoothly and after a brief wait in what I call the holding pen we were on our way. We were onboard by 11:30 and after dropping our carryon luggage at our cabin (8331) and meeting Ketut our room steward we were on our way aft to the Lido Deck New World Pool and Bar. This is where the Pizzeria and Grill are located also and we had lunch here and our first DOD. This is a great place for a meet and greet since it is not that large of an area and this is where we met Melre and JLCGA from our roll call. This is also where our DD met her first friend and these two stuck together the rest of the week.
We were assigned 6:15 dining in the London Upper Dining Room where we met our table mates for the week. We were hoping for another family with a child around our DDs age (10) but it was not to be. However we enjoyed the company each night and our waiter Inonyan from Indonesia was absolutely wonderful and doted on our DD. We ate every night in the dining room with the exception of one.
Sunday Sea Day -- We ordered room service for breakfast by placing our order on our door the night before for breakfast and it arrived promptly at the time requested. DW went to check out the gym and DD and I headed for the pool deck. After walking around for about 15 minutes I finally pulled two chairs off of a stack and wedged my way into a spot. This would be the order of the week, it was very difficult all week to find deck chairs no matter where on the ship.
This was a fairly uneventful day, I stopped by the casino and made my daily donation. This was also the first formal night and the Captains Cocktail party in the Rio Lounge. I ordered Prime Rib and Lobster this night, which was delicious. After dinner we attended the show in the Rome Lounge called Wonderful World. It was a very good show and the dancers and singers were wonderful.
Monday Cozumel -- Here is where we had our only major problem of the week. We had booked a private excursion with Roswitha Flury for a three stop snorkel tour. We went to the Rome Lounge as instructed and told the staff that we had a private excursion booked in Cozumel. We were told to sit on the right side of the lounge and if there were room on the first tender they would get us on. A short time later we were told to move to the other side and that there was room for us. We boarded the tender and after about a 10 minute wait we pulled away from the ship and headed the opposite direction from Cozumel. I stopped one of the tender workers and asked where we were going, he stated Playa Del Carmen the mainland. I told him that we were going to Cozumel and he stated not on this tender. At no point while we were waiting in the Rome Lounge did any of the staff mention that the first tender was going to the mainland.
I asked if the tender would take us back to the ship and was told no. We would have to walk to another pier and pay our way to Cozumel on a ferry. Needless to say I was not happy, but I did not take it out on the tender workers. After arriving on the mainland we took a taxi to the other pier and barely made it on the ferry (we would have had to wait an hour until it returned). It took approximately 30 minutes to get back over to Cozumel. We grabbed the first taxi and he rushed us to the marina for our excursion.
Luckily Rosi waited on us and after introductions we were on our way with one other couple (only 5 of us total). Rosi took us on a 30 minute boat ride to the south end of the island for our first stop. The water was about 10 feet deep here and Rosi worked with our DD since she had never snorkeled before. We made two more stops for a total of three with each deeper than the previous. We saw a wide variety of fish and also some sea turtles and a beautiful eagle ray. I give Rosi my highest recommendation. She was great and her crew worked to make this a very enjoyable day.
Upon returning to the ship I went straight to the Pursers desk and told them of our predicament. I remained calm throughout the process and provided my ferry tickets. I was informed that they would look into it and would let me know later in the evening.
Tonight the show in the Rome Lounge was a hypnotist named Asad Mecci. The show was very entertaining, however it was obvious that some of the people on stage were just going through the motions.
Tuesday Sea Day -- Another enjoyable day at sea. I did not hear from the Pursers Desk by late morning so I stopped by again and was told that a credit was being placed on my S&S account for the extra expense that was incurred and an apology was given. Another donation was made at the casino and I attempted to make the Slot tournament, the keyword here is attempted. Another great dinner tonight.
Tonights entertainment in the Rome Lounge was Kevin and Caruso, New Wave Magic. These guys put on a very good show also. My DD actually went to the early show with us and then again to the late show with her new friends.
Wednesday Grand Cayman -- I awoke early enough to see a beautiful sunrise and watch as we pulled into George Town. We were downstairs promptly on time and made the first tender into George Town. Upon arriving in town we found that most of the shops do not open until 8:00 so we just walked around downtown to familiarize ourselves with where everything was. We met Sotos at 8:30 at the appointed place and our driver was Randy Soto. We booked this excursion privately through Sotos website for $35 per person and it was worth every penny. There were approximately 25 people on the tour, several of which had booked as a result of our Roll Call. It took about 30 minutes to get to the first stop which was snorkeling at the Coral Gardens, lots of beautiful fish here and we even saw a moray eel. After about 30- 40 minutes of snorkeling everyone got back aboard the boat and we made the short trip to Stingray City.
Both Randy and his assistant got in the water here and both held stingrays for everyone to hold and pet and take as many photos as you wanted. This was an awesome experience that everyone should try at least once in their lives. The boat was very clean and everyone had a shaded seat for the ride. There was a bathroom onboard as well as fresh water and fruit punch. Getting in and out of the boat was easy also with sloping ladders on both sides at the rear of the boat. Sotos did a great job.
The Guest Talent Show was tonight, but we did not attend.
Thursday Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Again we were up early and got a beautiful picture of the sunrise as we were pulling into Ocho Rios. We were the very first ones off the ship this morning, but that was a mistake because we arrived into port an hour earlier than planned at 7:00 and no one was prepared for the early arrival. We were booked with Peat Taylor for our tour here. After everyone was aboard the air conditioned bus we were on our way to Dunns River Falls. Along the way Peats son ONeill gave us history of the island and pointed out sights along the way. The great thing about booking with Peat is that we were in one of the very first groups at the Falls and started our climb early without the large crowds. Climbing the Falls was an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life and man was the water cold.
After the Falls you have to work your way through a market to get to the exit. There is no other way out, so we picked our way through and did not make any purchases here. From here Peat drove the bus and we made our up to Fern Gully the rain forest. This was very beautiful and again Peat was giving us Jamaica history and singing to us. On the other side of Fern Gully Peat stopped at a kindergarten where we donated some school supplies that my daughter had collected. After this stop we made our to Wassi Art Pottery. We were given a free tour of the studio and we purchased several pieces to bring home.
From here Peat took us to The Ruins restaurant for lunch. For $15 you get all you can eat and drink including Red Stripes! We sampled a little bit of everything and the jerk chicken and pork was delicious. They have a beautiful waterfall and gardens at the restaurant. After lunch we were dropped downtown so that my DD could have her hair braided and I could do some shopping. This is where I purchased my Blue Mountain coffee for $18 a pound. After all of this it was time to return to the ship and Peat dropped us right at the pier. The cost of the tour with Peat Taylor was $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under and included entrance into Dunns River Falls.
This was the second formal night and again dinner was great. We went to the Century Cafe show after dinner in the Rome Lounge and it was good. This is also the night for the late night party at Camp Carnival for the 9 11 year olds. The cost was $26 and it went from 10:00 PM until 3:30 AM, our DD had a blast. We attended the late night adults only comedy show with Happy Cole. It was raunchy and funny.
Friday Sea Day -- Another fun day at sea, this was the only day the entire cruise that we got any rain and it was a brief shower that passed in around an hour or so. Dinner in the dining room tonight was again wonderful and we attended the Dai Andrews Sword Swallowing and the Happy Cole clean show. Off to pack and make sure that we could self disembark.
Saturday Disembarkation -- A sad day as it was all over. We did use the self disembark and it took approximately an hour to get off the ship and clear customs. We were I95 by 8:00 AM.
General Observations -- All in all a great cruise and we plan on sailing the Triumph again for the Eastern leg. We only ate breakfast once in the dining room and all of our lunches were either on the Lido deck or in port. Each day there was a different theme for lunch... Sunday: Indian, Monday: Caribbean, Tuesday: Greek, Wednesday: French, Thursday: Mexican and Friday: American. We enjoyed all of them and there was a large variety. We also tried the Hong Kong Noodle Co. and the sandwich line and both were good. The staff seemed to always be cleaning and polishing and were very attentive to the guests. Also I noticed a very strong security presence on this cruise which was very reassuring.