This was the shortest cruise out of the four that we sailed with Carnival. We had done Elation for a week-long sailing in the Caribbean, an 8-day pre-augural cruise out of Genoa to Dover on the Splendor, and a 12-day Baltic cruise on the Splendor. Our experience were always positive and we enjoyed our cruises each time so we were excited to be back on a Carniavl ship again. For some reasons this cruise did not meet our expectation in several areas.
We live in the L.A. area, but decided to spend the night before at the Hotel Maya near the port which provided free parking for the duration of the cruise (with the Carnival code). The hotel shuttle dropped us off at the terminal at around 10:30 per our request. The check-in counters were pretty empty, no lines, no hassle. Then, it was the long wait to get on board. At 12pm passengers were still disembarking and the lines waiting to board got longer and longer. Having the "zone 1" pass, we finally boarded at around 1pm. Our cabin was ready, so we dropped off our carry-ons and went up to the buffet for lunch. Food was OK, the line for the Mongolian Wok and the grill were both very long. I must say that the burgers were very good and the roastisserie chicken was excellent. We had most of our breakfast and lunches at the buffet and the food seemed to be decent. It was just the lines that can be irratating. We loved the goat cheese and mushroom pizza and willingly waited 10 minutes for a freshly baked one.
We had an oceanview cabin on the upper deck in the back of port side. Room was fine for the three of us with a pullman on one side. I had to duck when I needed to go to my side of the bed when the pullman was down. Our cabin steward cleaned the cabin nicely and brought us bathrobes and bucket of ice when requested on the first day. Towel animals were done every evening. The safe didn't work and not sure what the problem was but we figured no big deal for just a few days.
Dinner was early seating at the Carnivale and service was fine. Our waiter was really good, but service was slow because he was doing everything himself with very little help from the other two. Food was decent but a tad dropped in quality. Most dessert items came out half melted probably because of sitting around too long in the kitchen. Our table was always the last to finish and we felt rushed at the end of each meal. Had the kid's banana split for dessert on the last night and it was great!
We were eager to try out their Sea Day Brunch and we had no problem getting a table at around 9:30am. Food was great but the service was really poor. We are low maintainence and easy to pleased but I had to make a complaint to the manager after this meal. Since we ordered multiple dishes, our server just HANDED me another plate of food as I was still working on my previous dish and left me holding the new plate with no where to put it down. So I had to scraped the food from the second plate onto my first plate and stacked the plates together to save space. When he came to collect the plates later on, he just stood across the table and said, "Miss!" and signaled me to hand him the plates. What the... ?! Having been on more than 10 cruises with different cruise lines, I have never had that before and it really left a bad taste in my mouth. Later on, as I was talking to another passenger, she also told me that she had a terrible time at the brunch and she filed a complaint at guest relations.
We did not go to any of the show and did not play at the casino, so no comments in those areas. We did played a little bit of golf on sea day and it was fun!
Debarkation took forever and I believe it was not the fault of Carnival, but the problem with the US Immigration. They only had 4 counters operating for the 2,000 passengers which caused the delay in debarking. It was close to 12:00 noon when we finally went through immigration and got our luggage to leave.
This cruise was just a little getaway from our busy daily life and we did not let the negatives ruin our well-deserved vacation. All and all we had a good time cruising on the Inspiration even though it was not as perfect as our previous Carnival cruises. Will we cruise Carnival again? Well, maybe, but it will not be our first choice.