For clarification purposes my wife and I have 20+ cruises and are in our early 50's, we have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL as well as a few older lines. Our Easter week cruise on the Inspiration was excellent and we had a good time. I do not inflate scores so a 3 was good a 4 great and a 5 one of the best. After 20 or so cruises you have certain expectations and for the most part all lines meet these expectations, occasionally they exceed them, and of course at times they don't meet them.
Our embarkation in Tampa was great. We had spent the night in Ocala, driving down from NC on Good Friday. We stayed at the Best Western, which we had booked on Priceline for a $40 total fee, much cheaper then anything in Tampa and about 80 mile drive away. The hotel was great as was the heavy continental breakfast. We left Ocala around 9 am and got to the port around 10:30am. A little earlier then we hoped but we had seen a lot of traffic the day before and we wanted to get a jump on it. We parked at the pier and it was $60 for the 5 nights, and literally a 5-minute walk from the ship to our car. We often stay at a hotel that offers park and cruise but we wanted to get a early start at the end of the cruise so we opted to park at the pier. It's easy to eat up 45 minutes waiting for shuttles to fill and travel time so our 5 minutes saved us considerable time.
We got thru the check in early and had to wait until 11:30 to board the ship. We immediately went and ate, then proceeded to the pool. We wear our swimsuits under our shorts so the change is easy and we were among the first to enjoy the sun. This cruise was a spring break cruise and we were sure we'd see many kids coming aboard and we were not surprised. We were told there were 2600 people on this cruise that lists 2000 as capacity, and over 1000 were minors. That said they were fine for the most part, the exception to this was the pool area where anarchy ruled. The pool had way to many people in it, jumping wildly with no real supervision. Kids running in the wet splash zone looked like an accident waiting to happen, but in truth I never saw one. There were many children making use of the hot tubs and the slides and adults were seemingly banished from their use. No problem for us but it might be for some. The pool calypso band was quite good and did most of the old standbys.
We found the food in the buffet area to be ok, very similar to the Golden Corral, plentiful but nothing especially superb. The carving board slicers have mastered the art of the very thinly sliced roast, but not being shy, I just inform them I would like several slices and the happily accommodate. I can't say I enjoyed the atmosphere of the buffet whose purple tubes remind me of an X-files dream, but even with the large number of guest the always was a seat. The deli was a big hit with me with the turkey on a country roll lightly toasted being our favorite. After numerous Carnival cruises I have determined that the Lemonade on the buffet does not sit well with parts of my anatomy and I swear I will never drink it again. The burn is unending by the second day. Was not impressed with the pizza although I did get it several nights as a late night snack. The chili and cheese over the chips with salsa and sour cream, lettuces jalapenos was a a great afternoon snack.
The food in the Carnivale dining room was quite good. I am strictly a beef man and with the exception of the flat iron steak all the beefs were good. My wife eats a greater variety and she enjoyed all the fish and lobster, especially enjoying the grouper. The soups were good especially the cream ones, and the appetizers were good as well. Our waiter Denton and his helper were fantastic and we enjoyed our third cruise with the supercharged maitre-d Joseph. Joseph has been the best maitre-d we have experienced, he keeps it fun and he seems to be able to time the "show" such that the guest is not kept waiting for the next course. Of course Denton had a lot to do with this as well.
We were not as happy with the lounge entertainment; in fact we found it very disappointing. Usually we find a venue we can enjoy sitting in but we were not able to on this sailing. We ended up spending most of our lounge time in the karaoke bar where some of our fellow guests were more entertaining then the paid help.
The shows were good and we were happy to see the comedian Hank Mcauley, he was very funny and his late night show was funny without being lewd. The Vegas style show was good and the dancers were great, we were not impressed with the Latin show. The highlight of the entertainment came from our fellow guest on talent night. Really good, and while there were no Sarah Boyles there were still a couple of "oh my gosh" moments. Our cruise director Skip was very good and kept us chuckling on a regular basis.
In the Caymans we snorkeled right near the pier. We walked to the left til we came to a small beach area next to the Burger King and swam several hundred yards out to a reef we had read about. It was quite good and several boats carrying other snorkelers who had paid excursions came to the same reef. If you are not a strong swimmer this is not a good place as there are no fish til you get to the reef.
In Cozumel we taxied to the money bar restaurant and spent the day at this site. We were able to snorkel and beers were $1.50. This was good, not great snorkeling with an easy access with an $8 taxi ride. We would go back.
Our room was nice, an inside, and our steward kept us in towel animals and the room clean. I have decided I will bring my own aloe infused toilet paper from here on. Lemonade ooohhh
One negative for us was the lack of any form of Easter service on the ship. While I can see where cutbacks limit how many free rooms they would want to offer pastors/priests I would have liked to see at least an inquiry to see if a guest who might want to lead a short prayer service on the holiest of Christian days.