To be perfectly honest, I boarded this cruise feeling slightly apprehensive about the food. I anticipated the worst of tasteless, unhealthy commercial banqueting food and, given that this is an older ship, knew that there were no real “speciality”, extra-charge, restaurants available should I need to escape the awfulness of the main dining room.
I was wrong.
The food was, almost all, fresh, tasty and well prepared - at least it was when I made sensible choices.
Dinner in Main Dining Room took a night to get the hang of - portions are actually small, particularly of side orders, but the staff will cheerfully bring you multiple dishes. My first night dinner was shrimps in cocktail sauce which, to be fair, weren’t the best, followed by a perfectly fine blackened mahi-mahi and then Carnival’s excellent signature dessert - chocolate melting cake.
Unlike most Carnival ships, there is no separate steakhouse on the Triumph, however, a selection of items from the steakhouse menu are always available on the Main Dining Room menu for a small extra charge. The surf and turf was outstanding.
As a bonus, on some nights, the waiters in the main dining room will suddenly put on a choreographed song and dance number. I want to hate this, but it was actually fun.
Carnival makes a big deal of their Sea Day Brunch and I found that it could either be great or terrifying - the choice is yours. On the first sea day, I ordered sensibly, avoiding the “desserts for breakfast” items that some Americans are so fond of. Caesar salad was tasty and crisp, the huevos rancheros were tasty and a macaroni cheese topped with fried chicken (stop judging me!) was decent. On the downside, the bar service seemed to be having some sort of meltdown, much to the mortification of my waiter. A Bloody Mary took a full hour to arrive then, after the meal, it took a further 25 minutes for the bar bill to arrive.
On the second sea day I decided to go native at brunch. Cheerio-coated French toast had the texture and taste of raw evil.
I’m not a massive fan of buffets, but, in the name of research, had a couple of runs at it. The food is fine, if underwhelming. The dessert options are not particularly appealing, while breakfast is entirely as expected, as well as very busy, if efficient.
The most hyped eating venue on most Carnival ships is Guy’s Burger Joint, a brand tie-up with Food Network star, Guy Fieri. Does it live up to the hype or justify the, often, huge lines? Nope. That being said, I frequently saw it open with no line and it is a very well put together burger. Other reviews make a lot of play about the “incredible” Toppings Bar - it’s a selection of sauces and pickles - you’ve probably got a larger selection of open jars lurking in the depths of your fridge.
Blue Iguana Cafe serves burritos, tacos and salads. Again, it is serviceable but not great - you wouldn’t go two minutes out of your way to eat there if it was on land.
Finally, The Seafood Shack, is a recent addition to Triumph, offering a variety of fish and shellfish for an extra charge. Their lobster roll arrived and looked as if it had been drowned in too much mayonnaise, but, was actually very good - well worth the extra few dollars. The accompanying fries were also excellent. Later in the cruise I tried the mixed fried fish - that was less successful.