This was my second cruise on the Inspiration in 3 years. The ship was renovated before our sailing this time and we did notice some great changes, but I don't want to get ahead of myself!
There were (4) of us woman, one who had never cruised before. We drove from Orlando to Tampa the morning of the cruise without incident. We arrived at the port by 11am, dropped our luggage off (tipped the porter $1 a bag) and self parked for $15 a day. 2 of us went into the regular line and 2 went through VIP. We both ended up checking in around the same time. Because we were together, they actually let us "non-VIP" get on the ship with our VIP friend..whoohoo, nice way to start our trip!! We were told our itinerary was going to change, due to the storms in Mexico, but before we set sail, it was changed back..Grand Cayman & Cozumel, here we come!
The food buffet was your typical standard food choices and we were able to find seats without any problems at all. Went to buy my soda card and my DOD (Drink of the Day) card and found out they no longer have the DOD Card..booo!! I really liked that the last 2 cruises we went on. We were able to get into our rooms by 1:30 and found 1 out of 2 bags had arrived. Didn't get the 2nd bag until after 4pm, probably because I and 2 of my friends received the dreaded nasty letter, stating they took my liquor (even though it was in clear bottles). We did get on the ship with a bottle of wine a piece and my VIP friends got ALL her liquor through??
The dreaded Life Boat Drill was not dreaded at all! We got to go into the showroom (without having to bring our life vests), watch the presentation on stage and then walked to where the lifeboat was located and we were done! This keeps getting better and better! Still had plenty of time to grab a drink and make our way to the Funnel Deck to see the ship pass beneath the Tampa Bay Bridge..it's absolutely amazing..it really looks like it won't fit under and does with inches to spare!
I'm getting a little wordy, so will condense what I can:
Rooms - Even though they are only 185 sq ft., there is plenty of room! There was plenty of closet space and drawers/shelves for 2 people's clothes. The bathroom is defiantly smaller than the large ships, so make sure you bring an over the door organizer, it will make a big difference! There is no blow dryer or refrigerator in the room and only (1) plug (make sure you bring an extension cord). The room was freezing most nights (I loved it!) and there was an extra blanket in the closet and a way to turn the air down in the room (on the ceiling/never knew that). Our Room Steward "Melinda" was fantastic!! She took very good care of us and kept our wine on ice at all times! Pillows and bed sheets/comforter were very soft/comfortable! A small container that held toothpaste, 2 different razors, floss pics and some lotion were included, as well as shampoo and body wash in the shower (not recommended..very drying). The rooms also included (2) bathrobes (ours was missing one and brought right away). There was a small flat screen TV that played movies all day and information regarding past/present events on the ship. I was a little disappointed that they no longer had the program on the TV where you could check your Sail & Sign Account or what was for dinner that night. We did get a mini bill 2 nights before our cruise ended and then another one the morning we arrived back home.
Food - We ate at the buffet for lunch (standard type food), pizzeria is 24 hours and they make the best Caesar salad (ask for chicken to be added)..yumm! Ice cream was also 24 hours (never tried it, but I saw LOT'S of people eating it at all times of the day and night! Sushi is served on the Promenade Deck from 5:00pm-8:15pm, every day, except formal night (we found that out the hard way)..lol. It always tasted fresh and they also serve Saki for an extra charge (not sure because we never tried it).
Dining Room - Here's where I was the most disappointed! We had a great table and great table mates, but our server(s) were the worst I have ever experienced in all my cruises. We were always the first to get there and the last to leave, even though our food was served sometimes 2 (hot) things at a time. We would end up piling up our plates to make room for the food being delivered and when we asked for them to be removed, it fell on deaf ears most times. One of my meals was served Ice Cold (after watching it sit on a table for 15 minutes before being served to us). When asked why I didn't eat it, I told him it was ice cold (again fell on deaf ears). Even one of our desserts (Tiramisu) was served FROZEN. When he asked why none of us ate it, we told him it was frozen all the way through (stabbing it with a fork for effect), he just walked away, and we thought he went to get us other ones but he never came back. This happened off and on the whole cruise, not only to us, but the other couples at our table. OK..enough about that! I was amazed at the amount of people who wore jeans or shirts every day to the dining room..such a shame.
Cozumel - All four of us went to Nachi Cocum and had the time of our lives! $49.00, all inclusive, (appetizer, entrEe, dessert, alcohol, etc). The taxi over cost $15.00 for 4 people (we talked them down to $12, but ended up giving him $1 a piece tip). We arrived at 11am and stayed and drank until 4:30. The weather was a little overcast, but we still managed to get some sun. We ended up spending the whole day in the fresh water pool (right next to the pool bar) and only ventured into the ocean for a quick dip (just so I could say I did..lol). The water was a little cloudy, but the storm had just come through the day before. There was always someone cleaning ever where you looked! Bathrooms were very clean as well. We ate wings, nachos, guacamole (delicious), shrimp, rive, veggies, fajitas, etc. Everything was delicious! Drinks were flowing non-stop! Lot's of different Foo-Foo drinks (try Sex In The Pool), people were doing shots of tequila and drinking beer, etc. We did end up tipping our server and bar tender $5 each a piece because they did such a great job! I do know they have parasailing, snorkeling, etc. for an extra charge, l but we were not interested in that this time. I did rent a mat for my beach chair $9 but never used it..lol, since I spent the whole day in the pool!
Grand Cayman - The water was pretty choppy, due to the storm coming through earlier, and Carnival actually cancelled their Swim with the Stingrays/Snorkel excursion because of it. 2 of us did find a local boat that did go out and they had a great time. They said the water was pretty choppy though! My friend Linda and I did a tour of the island via a local driver for $15 apiece. We were teamed up with (8) other people in an air conditioned van and we went to Hell (tourist trap that sells things like bumper stickers "I've been to Hell & Back:, etc. a post office where you can get you post card stamped from hell, Tortola Rum Factory (got kind of smashed on free rum and rum cake), saw the Governor Mansion and spent a few minutes at the Turtle Farm ($12 fee for that if you want to go in) or right across the street they had swimming with the dolphins and we got to watch other cruise passengers interact and swim with them (I think the cost of that was $85.00?).
Entertainment - The entire staff of cruise director, assistant director, etc., did a great job of entertaining the passengers! Kudos's to "Princess Alex" who was by far one of the best entertainers/directors on the ship! We did not watch any of the normal pool activities (we were enjoying the adult Serenity Deck too much), but did win a few medallions for trivia and a 24K Plastic Ship on A Stick for Music Trivia!
Speaking of the Adult Serenity Deck..lol..we loved it, especially the call button..you pushed a little button next to your chair and ta-da..up appears a server taking your drink order..cool! The cushion mats need to be changed as they do not stay on very well and slip when you sit on them, but they beat the hard plastic ones on the lido deck! My only wish would be a pool for the adults. There are (2) hot tubs (one was hot, the other tepid at best) in the Serenity Deck area and were always crowded, but heck..that's half the fun!
Getting off the ship was painless..due to our friends VIP status, we were again able to "latch" onto her and we were told to go into the library and we would leave from there. Seems like a lot of people got off before we were finally called, but again, we were not in that big of a hurry!! Went downstairs and retrieved our luggage and paid a porter to bring it to our car ($2 a bag) and we were on our way back home!
Side Note: I was the only one that got any of her liquor back as it was unopened. It was delivered to my room the last night of the cruise. All in all a great getaway with some great friends, met more friends on the ship and will hopefully be traveling with them again in the future!!