Flew to Tampa on 8/27 with our grandkids (who had stayed with us since 8/17), and met our daughter and son-in-law. We stayed at the Quorum (now a Wyndham), and got the package which includes R/T transportation from the airport to the hotel, to the cruise port, and back to the airport. After we met at the airport and were driven to the hotel, we all checked in and were driven to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, by the hotel driver, and later picked up by them. It was a nice hotel, although a little dated for my taste. Next morning, were taken to the Tampa Cruise Port, where we had VIP check-in (very nice). It got you in early, and on the ship early. Couldn't go to our room until about 1:30, so we ate at the Lido. After the cruise, we called the hotel, and they picked us up and took us directly to our airline. As far as the cruise itself, let me break it down.
EMBARKATION - This was a breeze. From check-in to being on the ship was less than 1 hour. Very friendly people, and with VIP, you sit down one on one with a representative.
PORTS OF CALL - We took the 7 Mile beach tour on Grand Cayman, and it was delightful. Free soft drink, a lounge chair and an umbrella for two was provided. My daughter, son-in-law, and the kids went on a Banana Boat Ride right up next to the Inspiration. They had a great time with that, snorkeling and swimming. The four of them did the Stingray/Snorkel tour in Cozumel, and there were mixed reviews on that.
DINING - We had fixed early dining in the Mardi Gras restaurant, and were not disappointed. While it seems all steaks come out Medium-Rare, regardless how you ordered it, the food was a pleasant surprise (since we had heard that Carnival food is no match to other cruise lines, and we had previously been on 14 cruises on other lines). The Lido was small, and glitzy. There were long lines for the general food but surprisingly short ones for the pizza and the deli sandwich bar, of which both were very good.
ROOM - We had a GS room, and while big enough there were some drawbacks. There is a pole in the room next to the Queen bed, and if you open the couch for another bed, you could not pass the pole to get into the bed without climbing onto the other bed. Also, there was a whirlpool tub in the bathroom, and if you can't lift you leg up about 3 feet, it became difficult to get in. Also, the handles were just dials to turn, and if you have arthritis, or osteoporosis, you would not be able to turn the dials. This aspect was very annoying as we had a very difficult time turning the shower on and off.
ENTERTAINMENT - The nightly entertainment was just fine - good shows all around. The staff was very good, especially Matt, who was entertaining all by himself.
CAMP CARNIVAL - The 7 year old was enthralled by everything Camp Carnival offered, while the 11 year old enjoyed it, but was more choosy about what she wanted to do, and was around the adults more.
WATER WORKS - The grandkids enjoyed all of the water works, and were the first ones down the slides, when they opened.
SHIP IN GENERAL - It was obvious that this was an older ship, but the crew were always cleaning and polishing her up. There were areas of step-ups, which are not common on the newer ships. It's a little too glitzy for my taste, but I'm sure others enjoyed it.
DISEMBARKATION - Another breeze, once the foreigners checked in downstairs to be cleared by customs. This delayed us at least 1/2 hour, but once our number was called, we got right off, and found our luggage very quickly (quicker than any other cruise). All in all, this was a good cruise, Not the best we've been on, but certainly not the worst. Carnival is known as a Fun Ship and is known for its Family cruises, and this cruise hit that right on the head