’14 Cruise


Triumph in May

In February of this year I received a letter from Carnival Cruise Lines informing me that as part of a past guest program I was being given a free cruise. The cruise lengths ranged from 3-9 days, and there were several ports/ships available to choose from. My friend Chris Sharp and his family invited me on my first cruise, so I thought it would be nice to return the gesture and invite him as well as Jason Kolter, a mutual friend of ours. We settled on a May 1-5, 2014 cruise on the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston. I guess Carnival rewarded me for the ones of dollars I spend in the casino. Whatever the case, free cruise! For a nominal price we were able to upgrade to a balcony, stateroom 8259, starboard side.
The cruise is now over, these are the highlights I remember.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday Pictures 1
Thursday Pictures 2

Chris drove us down in his in-laws jeep, so we were riding in style! We parked across the street from the cruise terminal in Galveston at Galveston Park N Cruise. This was the third time I have used them, the people there are nice and it is really convenient! You park your car and walk across the street.
Carnival has a program called Faster to the Fun where you get priority boarding and stateroom access. It looked like the $49.99 it cost for Faster to the Fun was going to be a bust as we were held up in line by the governor of some Rotary Club and his wife (they had a convention on the same cruise as us). Evidently someone didn’t get the memo that you need ids and boarding passes to get through security. Hopefully this guy isn’t in charge of anything past choosing the food for Rotary Club functions. I saw people getting through the regular lines faster as we were held up a good ten minutes by this couple. Finally we were onto the metal detectors, then up a separate elevator for the Diamond/Platinum/Faster to the Fun line. We walked right up to the counter and had our Sail and Sign Cards within five minutes. Seeing the lines in the regular boarding section, the cost for Faster to the Fun was worth it! We pretty much only stopped walking at the security checkpoint, and to take our group boarding picture. Then we walked the winding path onto the Triumph a little before noon. As part of the Faster to the Fun, our cabin was ready. Again money well spent. We took a few minutes to store our bags, and determine that we were short a bed. There were two twin beds, and a love seat. Our room steward Linda brought a foldout bed that evening. Jason slept on it.

 

For lunch we headed one deck up from our deck 8, to the Lido deck on 9. I think we all had a Guy’s Burger. They are really good, and I had one every day during the cruise except for the port day in Cozumel. After lunch, we explored the ship a little and went back to the cabin and waited for the safety drill at 3:30, the sail away from Galveston.

We had an early dinner time of 6PM in the Paris Dining Room, table 539. Gerald was the head waiter, Wardrika the assistant. I hope I spelled his name right! We were at a table with lady I am guessing to be in her late 60’s named Bonnie and a group of four ladies (three from Oklahoma, one from San Angelo, Texas) I am guessing their ages to range from 34-60. I don’t remember all of their names, but there was Tabitha and Carrie (I think!) We had one open seat for a person that never showed. We were crammed at a round table and I was kind of cramped every night for elbow and leg room. I think everyone else was too, because Gerald made us keep the empty chair the first two nights. The last two nights, the ladies moved the chair out of the way. Go ladies!

After dinner and a grand reunion with Warm Chocolate melting cake for dessert, we went to the Rome lounge for the Welcome Aboard Show with the cruise director Jenn. The show had been going on for 10-15 minutes, but we caught most of it. Jenn is a friendly person we saw all over the ship during the cruise. She has the great wit Brits are known for.


After dinner, I think we walked around the ship for a but, I ended up in bed by 11 PM and had a great night’s sleep! I know lame, but this was my sixth cruise, fifth Carnival Ship. I pick my shots now as to what I stay up late for. If Kate Upton had been on the ship and wanted me to lay on the Lido deck in a deck chair and look at the stars all night, I would have, but Kate wasn’t there, and no other woman wanted to star gaze, at least not with me, sleep was the next best thing available.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Pictures
Sunset

Friday Cruising towards Cozumel

For breakfast I had a burrito from the Blue Iguana burrito bar, I was going to have pizza for breakfast, but I guess something was wrong with the oven. Believe it or not, I only had one piece of pizza the entire cruise!
After breakfast, Chris, Jason and I went to trivia on the Promenade Deck held mid ship at the Casino Bar.
Collectively, we won three rounds of trivia, bringing home three 24 ½ karat gold plastic ships on a stick!

The entertainment staff who hosted the trivia sessions was all a lot of fun, Keeley from England who hosted Cartoon Theme Song Trivia, Steven from Atlanta with Movie Theme Trivia, Irish Bob hosted a trivia session too, I just don’t recall which one it was. Irish Bob is from; you guessed it, Ireland, or Norway if he was telling the truth at Liar’s club. Jason talked to Keeley about trading in five of the trophies for a bottle of champagne. We never made it to five though, so no champagne. Another guy from the entertainment staff hosted Who Am I Trivia, but I didn’t catch his name. He reminded me of Spicoli from Fast times at Ridgemont High.
Before dinner, out on the balcony I set up the GoPro on a 30 second time lapse to see if I could capture the sunset
It was Elegant Night in the dining room. I think we all wore khakis and a polo shirt. We’re very formal. After dinner we went for the show in the Rome Lounge called “Wonderful World”, it was decent. From there we went to the 10:15 adult comedy session with John Rathbone. He was pretty good, my biggest complaint with the comedy sessions is the same one I have from the last several cruises, the lounge at the back of the ship is usually overcrowded. We ended up standing, so the set might have been funnier if I hadn’t been thinking about how they should move the late night comedy shows to the big lounge. However, it doesn’t seem to be a concern to Carnival, so guess I am in the minority. The two cruises before this one; I skipped all of the comedy shows from previous experiences with waiting in line to see the comedians.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturday Pictures

Snorkeling

This was our port day in Cozumel. Rather than go on a planned excursion, we took a cab to The Money Bar, not before I took a picture with a beautiful mermaid!

The Money Bar is a cool place, it has a beautiful view and a lot of snorkeling excursion boats actually pull right up in front. Jason and I snorkeled, while Chris tested the cerveza consistency.


Snorkeling Cozumel

 

Margaritaville
After snorkeling at The Money Bar in Cozumel, we headed to Margaritaville for lunch. It was raining, so not much was going on outside, but we were quickly seated inside. Lola was our server. My friends Chris, Jason, and myself made quick work of the Volcano Nachos. They were excellent! I also had the chicken quesadillas which were also excellent! Since there was only one cruise ship in port, from hence we came, the Carnival Triumph, there was a sparse crowd, but the atmosphere was still a lot of fun. The balloon guy made us all some great balloon creatures and animals. I am not sure what mine was, but it was about four feet tall and made the walk up the stairs to the restroom a fun challenge. Jason had an awesome balloon parrot that he wore on his shoulder back to the ship. I have visited the Margaritaville in Key West twice, and the one in New Orleans once. The service was good at those locations, but I have to say Lola is the best server I have had; she was very friendly and provided excellent service!

I tried to get a picture of the outside of the car, but she pulled off too quickly. I bought some bamboo socks at the Caraloha store, then some trinkets in the Ron Jon store, and then it was back to the ship for a shower!

After dinner we went to Big Screen Trivia hosted by Keeley, we didn’t win. Then we went to Battle of the Sexes hosted by Irish Bob, the men lost, but I have figured out that it is always rigged for the men to lose. Although the attractive blonde who had to clinch a coin with her butt cheeks (through her dress) and drop it in a cup, was not a bad way to lose. She can win anytime! I didn’t have my camera at the ready, but she was hot!
Next up was The Liar’s Club. The scenario is this, comedian Tom Foss, Irish Bob, Kevin a dancer, Gumby the assistant cruise director all get asked the meaning of an obscure word. It was hosted by the cruise director Jen. It was like Balderdash. Only one person had the correct definition, and the audience voted on the choice by applause. Tom Foss worked in a reference to working at Wal-Mart in all of his answers, Irish Bob worked in a reference to living in Ireland, but being from Norway, I think Kevin’s answers reference his country of Canada, and Gumby (real name Greg) started each answer with “I like to travel a lot, has anyone been to South Africa?” The Liar’s club was one of the funniest things I saw on the cruise. I really enjoyed it! Later that night was the deck party, but we went back to the cabin and watched part of it from the Lido deck channel. Then we watched five minutes of Saturday Night Live, which is five minutes more of SNL that I have seen in a couple of years. And I fell asleep.

GoPro Cruising from Cozumel to Galveston

Sunday, May 4, 2014
Sunday Pictures

I set the GoPro up and did a time lapse of the sunrise

After sitting through a few rounds of trivia which was hosted by Steven,

 

I went to Jen and Gumby’s Q&A live show in the Rome Lounge. It was broadcast on a channel on a ship, hence the live part. After asking several trivia questions, one of being Gumby’s real name (Greg) , they both answered questions about working on a ship.

I went to these on previous cruises on the Carnival Magic, which was hosted by the cruise director James Charlton. I am always interested in the crew perspective of working on a ship, and wonder if I could do it.
I met back up with Chris and Jason, we went and had lunch in the Paris Dining Room.

After lunch was the Hairy Chest Contest

 

Then was the Game of Love, think Newlywed Game

Carnival Triumph-The Game of Love with Cruise Director Jenn

Carnival Triumph Dancer teaching Thriller Dance

We had our last supper with our table mates.

Carnival Triumph-Paris DR Waiters-Simply the Best

Carnival Triumph-Paris Dining Room Singing Waiters,Leaving a Fun Ship

Carnival Triumph-Paris Dining Room Dancing Waiters, Macarena

Carnival Triumph-Paris Dining Room Waiters, Happy Birthday Jason

Carnival Triumph Singer-If You’re Gonna Play In Texas

Carnival Triumph Singer-Beaches of Cheyenne

Then I went to see if I won an Invicta watch in the gift shop raffle, I did not, but did participate in getting a bunch of people in a confined space.
We went to “The Big Easy” in the Rome Lounge, and ended up leaving it about ten minutes early so we could get a seat for the comedy show. We still would have had a hard time getting seats, but our tablemates were there and had a good spot. It gave us a chance to talk to them more.

Carnival Triumph-Irish Bob 1

Carnival Triumph-Irish Bob 2

Once again, the comedy shows seem to have horrible logistical planning. It is a cruise; you shouldn’t have to rush around to make it to shows. Saturday night was relatively quiet as far as activities, the comedy shows or “The Big Easy could have been moved to Saturday, just my opinion!

Monday, May 5, 2014
Monday Pictures

The cruise is over, time to go home wherever that is, and start planning the next one.

It was a great cruise, with two good friends. With losing Mom in March, it has been a rough year so far, Jason lost his Dad a few weeks ago. I tried not to think about Mom too much, not out of disrespect, but so that I wouldn’t bring myself down during the cruise. However, during the last day, I thought about her a lot, especially when I sat out on the balcony and watched the sunrise and sunset. Mom loved doing that kind of stuff. I think with the two trips I took after her funeral, my mind was in trip planning mode and I had a built in diversion. The trips/diversions are over now, and “normal” life is here. It seems like with every trip I take, I question what I am coming back to. Whatever that may be, hopefully I will find out in my lifetime, until then my soul is out on the ocean floating in a cruise ship.