Family of four-Son 13 Daughter 14.We had Cruised back in 1991/92 with RCCL to Bermuda/Bahamas so were ready to go again and introduce the kids to a cruise vacation. After saving AirMiles for 10 years we had enough to cover our airfare and half of the cruise so were excited to get away from the Toronto winter.Booked in October and started the countdown.
Took the advice of many and planned the travel down a day in advance. If you never listen to anyone else follow this advice. If you don't have a direct flight this is even more important. I won't elaborate but after 15 minutes of plan changes after clearing security the trip down was uneventful and we made it to Holiday Inn Rocky point relieved to be there. Had nice dinner at Bahama Bay next door and got ready for the big day. Hint- if you want to eat at Bahama Bay and it's peak dining times get the phone number ahead of time and call ahead, say at lunch-mid afternoon. They will give you priority seating and it can save you waiting time.
We didn't have the shuttle to port included in our hotel rate because we wanted to be at port by 10:30 so we called a cab for 9:50. Taxi was on Time,we stopped at the West side mall for a few items and still taxi to port was only $32.
Arrived 10:45 ,went through check in and on ship by noon. Went to lido and had nice lunch and fun ship special in glorious sunshine and the holiday was on!
We brought our swim suits in a carry on, changed and watched to rest of the pax line up for food etc.
What a fun bunch we had on this ship. Mostly families and college kids/young adults with a few seniors to round out the mix. If anyone was wondering if the crowd would be a little wild I would say other than a few shouts in the hallways now and then and amusing wobbly college kids the majority were well behaved and I would not hesitate to cruise this time of year again.
We sailed out and were in the dining room for early seating so saw the famous Tampa Bridge sail under from our window side table in the dining room. Carnival selected terrific dining companions for us. A big Hi to our new friends from Iowa and Alabama and these fine folks enhanced our dining experience.
The food was wonderful, did not have one meal that was a dud. Even the hard to serve just right Lobster was as good as could be expected and we know our lobster as we visit Maine frequently and cook our own.The lobster came with shrimp that all at our table commented on regarding how good the shrimp was, almost a smokey,grilled flavour. This was the elegant evening so was also fun to get a little more dressed up.Our waiter Luis was efficient and called us by name soon after our first meal.
The buffet food and deck food was fine too and even though the ship was full with 2600 you could always find a seat inside or out.The kids especially loved the pizza and soft serve ice cream/yogurt and sushi too.The area which could be improved was the coffee both in the dining room and the buffet.The regular brew was just ok but not up to the food standards. I found the dining room cappuccino fine so that's what I ordered all the time
Our stateroom met expectations and the steward kept it in good order when we were not there. The kids were amazed at the towel animals that were created each night.We had an outside view on the M deck midships so felt little motion. Actually the cruise was very smooth and I never heard anyone comment on seasickness.
Overall the ship was in fine shape, the high wear areas such as carpets and exposed varnished outside wood surfaces looked new. I would not hesitate to sail on this class and age of ship again. The ongoing maintenance was very impressive.
Programing was nonstop if you needed to be kept busy and the night shows were first rate.We saw the Welcome aboard show/Shout/Fiesta Latina and found them enjoyable from start to finish. High quality dancing and singing and the show band tight.
Our cruise director Stephanie Meads did a fine job quarterbacking the ship and certainly had a high energy level that kept up with our youthful passengers.
We had our stingray excursion cancelled in Cayman due to winds but we walked to Eden Rock and shore snorkled anyway. Then a little shopping and back on the tender.
I have posted a little more detail on the ports in the port review section following this one.
Sea days went faster than I expected and before I knew it it was the final night and prparing to disembark in the morning. This will go much faster if you pack light. Up at 5:45 as we had to get to the Immegration meeting for Canadians at 6:45. We were out a little after 7:00 so went to breakfst for our last dining room meal. Grabbed our bags for self-debarkation out of our rooms about 9:15 then to the terminal and a Taxi to TPA.
US Airways left early from Tampa and Wahington Regan and got into Buffalo about 15 mins early.
To conclude Carnival Inspiration met or exceeded our expectations and I would not hesitate to book again based on this trip.