This was my second cruise, first was back in September 2006 on the Glory. I live in Orlando, Florida.
Just got off the Inspiration on Monday and had a great time! I'll try not to bore you, but sometimes I do get wordy.
We got to the port at 9:30am (drove in from Orlando) and were the 1st ones in the Parking Garage. The cost is $12.00 a day and it took us all of 5 minutes to get from the garage to where you need to check in. They opened the doors at 10:30 and checking in was a breeze. There is a sitting area after you check in and they give you a line number, which they started to call at 11:30. We were on the ship and eating lunch by 11:45!
After being on the Glory in Sept., I thought a smaller ship would be confining, but I was pleasantly surprised! There were over 2,000 people (plus the staff) on board and I can honestly say that it NEVER felt crowded. We never had problems finding deck chairs or tables to eat at. The weather was overcast for most of the cruise, so maybe more people stayed inside, but that was fine for us! My DD (12) practically lived in the pool and Jacuzzi. I even went down the slide with her a few times (it does drop you off into the pool) and it is salt water. The Jacuzzi on the Lido deck was not always hot, but it was always packed! They had an Adult Only Jacuzzi, but it was never enforced. The waiters were always there when you needed them (sometimes a little overbearing) but we had a favorite by the first day. He always addressed us by our 1st name and always had a smile! A bucket of Heineken was around $18 for 4 cans. Didn't buy any Foo-Foo drinks this time, but they were always plenty to be had and every day there was a new special for $7.95 ($6.95 for refills).
We ate in the Mardi gras dining room and had George the Greek as out Maitre D (Ompa)! Hands down..he was the best! He made it over to our table every night and we were happy to put money in the envelope at the end of the cruise (tips are not included in your $10 a day for him). Our waiter Ibraham was incredible as well. Can't say much about his Asst. though, never got tea the last 2 nights, even though we had it each night before. The food was wonderful. Not always as hot as I would like it, but the asparagus soup was my DD favorite (the pumpkin soup was mine). Steaks were served either well done or rare (which is how I liked them). The lobster tail was soft and buttery and the prime rib was wonderful. The only thing I did not like (as well as everyone at our table that ordered it) was the Château Briand (spelling?). It was over cooked and very tough. Our favorite dessert was the Chocolate Melting Cake, which was on the menu every night..yummmm. My mom who is a diabetic enjoyed the sugar free desserts.
The room was large enough for my DS (24 years old) and I. The shower actually seemed bigger than the one on the Glory. I brought binder clips for the shower and never had the curtain stick to our bodies. The water was always hot (watch out though as it can be scolding). There are no clocks in the room, so you may want to bring your own. There was a little gift basket with shavers, toothpaste, lotion and even a book to read! There were also 2 bath robes in the room but no hair dryer. We had an inside room on the main deck and they had a faux window with curtains. Being a little claustrophobic, I did not have any problems at all. Our steward always had a smile and made all the cute little towel animals (and yes, I did take pictures..lol). Room service was hit or miss. We ordered breakfast the first morning and it never came. Ordered ice tea and never got sugar or anything with it. The brownies were to die for! There was plenty of storage space for your clothes, a dresser with 4 small drawers and 2 places to hang up your clothes (plenty of hangers) and a closet with 4 large cubby holes. There is only (1) 110 outlet but I brought along an extension cord (used it to charge Ipod, phones, etc.). The bedding was wonderful..down pillows and comforter. My mom thought the comforter was a little heavy, but I loved it.
We went to most of the shows and they were entertaining. The best show was at the end when all the Camp Carnival kids sang Christmas songs (way to go Rachael!). There was even a surprise visit from Santa! The adult shows were, in my opinion, not that adult, a few bad words, but not vulgar. There were always plenty of seats in the show lounges. The Cruise Director, again. in my opinion, was just OK. We only saw him during the shows and he didn't seem like he was having much fun. He acted like everything was scripted. After seeing Mark Price on the Glory, I guess we were spoiled. My son won over $400 playing Black Jack and I was up $120 playing the slots (started out with $5.00 on quarters) but came home with $50..lol
My DD (12) signed up for Camp Carnival but never attended; evidently, neither did anyone else her age. She showed up at the Disco when it was reserved for their age group and the only person there was the Camp Carnival Counselor. She said it was pretty much like that the whole cruise. Our friends had their DD (6) and she had so much fun, she always wanted to be there! The rooms for them to play in were pretty small though.
They had the usual deck games, Hairy Chest (DS wore a fake Austin Powers chest hair..lol), Fear Factor (guys booted me off first because they thought I was a threat!lol), Ice Carving, etc. The Deck Party was a bust, due to rain. It was pretty overcast most of the cruise, but the sun did peak out a few times.
Our port was in Cozumel and we (10 of us) took a taxi to Paradise Beach for $37.00. When you first get off the ship, there are taxi drivers standing there and the first one said it would be $15 a person! On the way back from Paradise, we only paid $36. The usual price is $12 for 4 people. Paradise Beach was just that, Paradise! We were one of the first people there and got our chairs and umbrellas (free). They sell a wrist band for $9.00 which includes all the water activities (trampoline, iceberg, kayaks, and snorkel equipment). I got my DD's hair braided and it was only $25 for ½ her head. It even included beautiful beads. I surprised my mom with a 30 minute massage (right near the beach) for $1 a minute. She said she felt like a wet noodle when done! They serve you right on the beach and we had a couple of buckets of Sol Beer (5 for $14) and the best guacamole and salsa with chips around! The servers got everyone excited when they walked around with a bottle of what tasted like a Bahama Mama and they poured it into your mouth until you said give! The sun actually came out just as we got there and started to rain when we got back to the ship, perfect timing! We went to Senor Frogs and had a blast. There was a live band, a person that walks around and makes balloon hats for everyone. It was definitely a party atmosphere. Next time I go, I would love to stay overnight! Carlos and Charlie's was right next door, though we never made it there.
When it was time to go, we decided to check our baggage, as we were not in a big hurry to get off. We got up at 7am, ate breakfast in the dining room and was off the ship 9am. Easy as pie. There were no long lines, customs was a breeze and our luggage was downstairs, sorted by the floor you were on and your color tag. We paid the porter to take our bags to the car and we were on our way.
I would say overall, I would give this ship a B+. The only negative thing I can say is the people at the Purser's Desk are VERY unfriendly. We hated going to them for anything because they always acted like they were being bothered. I went the last day and asked for the Photo Release Slip (photographer said we had to get it from the Purser, the Purser said we had to get it from the photographer) and you would have thought I was asking to drive the ship. Of course, I never did receive it after being promised it would be delivered to my room.
The ship itself is beautiful! Every where you looked people were cleaning, and seemed happy to be there. I have the capers scanned and plenty of pictures to share. I am going to try and figure out how to add them here, if I can't, you are more than welcome to email me at cbirdsong@casham and I will be happy to answer and questions you have and share my pictures.