11 Carnival Inspiration Holiday Cruise Reviews

Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival ... Read More
Having just come off a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in a suite aboard the Norwegian Star, I wasn't expecting much from our 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in an ocean view cabin on one of the oldest ships in the Carnival fleet. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the cruise. We spent the night at the Residence Inn downtown which is about a mile to the cruise terminal. There is a free bus which stops at the hotel and it took us into downtown Long Beach and we walked over to Enterprise Rental car on Ocean and the following day we returned the car and they dropped us off at the cruise terminal. Residence Inn doesn't provide a shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. The free bus doesn't stop at the Residence inn on the way back. Take the bus all the way to the Queen Mary stop (end of line) and catch the next bus (or the same bus a few minutes later) heading back towards Long Beach. I recommend staying the night on the Queen Mary as it is right next door to the Carnival cruise ship terminal. My wife was extremely bothered by the outdated decor (especially the atrium) but I didn't mind one bit. The food, even in the buffet, was very good and met all of my expectations (except for the sea day brunch). The meal choices were excellent except for one night when the selections for dinner was poor. The Christmas dinner printed on a special menu was very nice but I absolutely HATE the sea day brunch because you have to use the same menu for breakfast and lunch and select from the lousy offerings. I tend to wake up early and have an early breakfast and lunch at noon so having the same menu for both breakfast and lunch is boring. One of the best things about the ship is the fantastic water pressure-it was the best shower I've had in years due to the low flow showerheads found in most homes. Embarkation was managed quite nicely by Carnival at Long Beach. We were aboard with a minimum of fuss and delay and even received our bags within a hour. Disembarkation took a bit longer but still nicely managed. The line for American citizens went much faster than the line for non U.S. citizens so I was happy about that. As far as entertainment goes, I don't know how Carnival managed to find the worst comedian in the world-whoever hired him needs to be fired. The other comedian was very funny and made up for the worst comedian in the world. Catalina and Ensenada are excellent ports. Catalina is clean and safe and it was a pleasure to be able to buy a copy of the New York Times and the L.A. Times after having spent a week at sea on my cruise the week before. Getting simple Chinese food at Mr. Mings was a good antidote to the rich, cruiseship cuisine. We travelled overnight and arrived in Ensenada the following morning. Ensenada is walkable and easily managed in one day. I recommend getting off the ship as early as possible and walking along Lopez Mateo before all of the hawkers wake up (the hawkers are bad in this town especially close to Hussong's cantina and Papas and Beer) Going to the fish market is a fascinating experience to see what kind of seafood is caught locally. Going to Mexican supermarkets simply to browse and buy drinks is also an interesting experience. I met one Mexican guy at the supermarket who had lived in L.A. for 27 years before he was deported and he told me about how hard it was to make a living in Mexico where the average daily wage is $8/day when he made that much money per hour back in the United States. We left Ensenada that night and went about 1 mph back to Long Beach and spent an entire day at sea before arriving the following morning. We caught a Carnival sponsored bus back to LAX for $30/person. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed out of Long Beach on September 20. We booked an interior cabin at the last minute. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM, and were on board by 1 PM. Great service there. We were booked on the Empress Deck (deck 7). This was ... Read More
We sailed out of Long Beach on September 20. We booked an interior cabin at the last minute. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM, and were on board by 1 PM. Great service there. We were booked on the Empress Deck (deck 7). This was convenient, as only one floor up to dining room, and three to lido deck where we found the buffet, and the pools etc. The service there was excellent. While my wife and I aren't big drinkers, we were approached for drinks by waiters regularly. There wasn't any pressure to drink, and they were friendly, and accepted this easily. We met our cabin steward, Roderick. He was friendly, and throughout the weekend, was able to provide great service. In the main dining room again, we had outstanding service. My wife has severe food allergies, and the crew was extremely attentive, providing us with the next night's menu, and recommendations for her. We took an excursion to the Wineries of Ensenada. This was a great tour. We had a sea day, that was totally relaxing. The shows were average, but enjoyable. You should be aware that for a weekend cruise this is a "party boat" with a lot of young people, doing stags and stagettes etc. We saw some loud and rowdy behaviour, but nothing that caused concern at all for us. The ship is also a fair bit smaller than many out there today, so there aren't as many amenities as you are perhaps used to. We were stuck with lousy weather, but obviously this was out of control for Carnival. All in all we had a great time, and for a weekend away, I'd do it again. I should say that in the past we have sailed with Princess. This has spoiled us for some of the nicer parts of cruising. You do pay a little more with them, but the experience is a little nicer. For a longer cruise, I would go with Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We just got back yesterday from a four day cruise on the Inspiration. We had read a very favorable yet insightful review from a travel agent so we really didn't have high or low expectations of this boat. As, I mentioned in my tag ... Read More
We just got back yesterday from a four day cruise on the Inspiration. We had read a very favorable yet insightful review from a travel agent so we really didn't have high or low expectations of this boat. As, I mentioned in my tag line; a vacation is what you make it. We were down in the Riviera deck in what I like to call steerage. The biggest downside to being on the lowest and rear part of the boat was feeling the motion of the ocean even more that being mid-ship. We were also more prone to hearing the rumbling of the ship's motors which can wake you up very early on any day the ship gets into port. Let's talk about the food. Many people hear about this ship's or that ship's great food and then come expecting some vision of what someone else has said. This was my 7th cruise and I can honestly say that food wise, I was not only not disappointed,, I was also pleasantly surprised. The Lido deck has the usual fare for breakfast with home fried potatoes, pancakes and such. The best food on this deck came in the afternoons with the Mongolian grill where one can assemble the noodles and vegetables on your own and then hand the plate over to the cook who adds the choice of beef, chicken, or salmon as well as the sauces to either have a bland dish or a spicy one to your taste. The same deck also houses a pizza place that seemed to be open all day and night as well as a Deli area where one can order a carver sandwich either hot or cold on freshly bakes bread. We had read about an all you can eat sushi bar which we never found except for one night in the heart of the The Brasserie on the Lido deck. The sushi was good but nothing to write home about. They have the basic California rolls and spicy tuna. Desserts varied from good to great. My daughter really liked the ever present ice cream dispenser that is on even at breakfast time. We were assigned to the Carnivale dining room where the waiters did their best to serve and bring the food up as soon as they could. Here is where we learned a little morsel of experience. If you show up early and your order gets into the kitchen early, then you will be eating within a half hour. If you show up just 15 to 20 minutes late, your food orders will arrive behind some 250 previous requests and you will not get your entree until an hour later. I recommend you try the Pan Steak and be sure the not miss out on the lobster. For dessert, the melted chocolate cake is not to be missed. We had three small children in our group and they mostly had the chicken nuggets and french fries they desired at every meal. They were happy campers and were always served first to keep them occupied. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout the day and night. Catalina: This is a very small island with a limited amount of things to do there except for shopping, eating expensive lunches,renting golf carts or bicycles for land lovers and many other water based activities which for several in our group (of which there were 27)parasailing. We tried going for zip lining but although it is talked about on the ship's itinerary, it is not offered through the ship's excursion offerings. We made it on shore at about 10:00 am and the spots were already sold out for the day. In Ensenada our group booked one of the offered excursions for renting ATVs. They were a lot of fun but very expensive. One can do it for less than half once you get to town. Remember that the cruise line gets anywhere from 45% to 50% of the fee. A large part of our group got talked into a Buffadora/shopping/horseback riding excursion for $35.00 each and they had a great time for a great price. I think the ship charged $35.00 just for the Buffadora. One can easily walk to the center of town in ten minutes. They have a shuttle that charges $2.00 to take you there and $1.00 to get you back to the boat. I think the price reflects the idea that one figures out how close it is when you take the two block ride from the boat. Don't worry about having a passport since Baja Mexico really only requires that you have a driver's license or state issued ID to get back in. None of that is ever clear in any of the written stuff about going to Ensenada. Really your room key is all they checked when we got back on the boat.(here is the legal disclaimer- I'm not an expert-just our experience, but that's all we had to show) The day at sea was a bit of a disappointment since the whole cruise seems to wind down a bit. For two nights in a row the cruise director made a very vague excuse as to why they could not have the Latin Fiesta show. They had an impromptu show which I had to get up and leave because neither the band or the singers seemed to have any enthusiasm for what they were presenting. It was odd really. There was a music show the next night of which I attended the last part with music from the 60s and 70s which was geared for my generation but which I think might've left the kids a bit bored. This seemed to be the week for families. There were lots of them and lots of kids. If folks in their 20s and 30s is what you were hoping for, go in the summer and you will see nothing but that and lots of crazy drinking games and that sort of stuff of which we saw nothing of this trip. That made it really better for us. Lets talk about the rooms. They are small, but larger than they used to be. Yes the showers are not much bigger than one found on an RV but one doesn't spend a lot of time there. The beds were very comfortable and the pillows a bit too thick (I always pack my own). The hallways on the Riviera deck smelled like a city dump on a couple of occasions. I think someone left a vent open on the massive trash bin they must have on the boat. Folks tend to throw away about half of what they serve themselves so you will see a ton of waste. I understand it is fed to the fishes. We brought our own large group but met a lots of folks which were rather nice people and had a ton of fun. Warning!: People don't look at all the young skinny blonde models you see on all the advertisements and brochures. But then again, neither do I, nor most people. And yes there are people who fit themselves into swimsuits that show more than they should. But enjoy the sea and the boat and all it has to offer and you will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have ... Read More
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have been summer cruises - June and July - on either Carnival, Disney or Celebrity. We booked this cruise because there was no airfare required, it was the week before Christmas and we though a nice pre-Christmas get away would be relaxing. Because we had taken a big family trip over the summer - Carnival Dream cruise followed by one week in Disneyworld we booked an inside cabin for the 4 of us. Mom, dad and two teenagers age 13 & 15. Usually the kids sleep and that is it in the cabin. My husband and I usually hang out at various times throughout the day on previous cruises on the balconies so this would be a new experience for us in an inside room. Embarkation was a disaster but I don't know who was to blame for this. The computer system they use to check you in was not working at all. : ( Everything had to be done manually which resulted in long lines and longer waits. From the time we arrived in the parking lot until the time we boarded the ship it was 1 1/2 hours which is not normal for this port. Once we were on the ship we were greeted by Welcomes from many crew members and directions to get to the buffet for lunch, which is where we headed. After lunch the rooms were opened so we headed down to our room. We knew an interior would be a different experience for our family - we usually book balconies and only a couple times an ocean view room and this was an interior on the bottom deck midship. The room was very clean, had more than enough storage space to place our clothes and suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. We met Raul our room-steward who was great. We ran into him a few times during the cruise and the room was always clean, ice in the bucket and clean towels in the bathroom even though we hung the used ones up to save water. No complaints here. We explored the ship, got our bearings and then were ready for the muster drill. Ours was initially inside in the Rock and Roll Lounge and after discussing what to do we were all walked out to the life boats 'just in case'. Dining - We had anytime dining and the first night was the only night we had to wait for a table. We received a beeper and went to the library to wait. Our dining room was the Mardi Gras. After about 20 minutes we received our table. The remaining three nights we arrived about the same time however were seated immediately. Overall the food is fine. Not 5 Star but adequate for our family and always arrived hot and with attentive servers. We had breakfast on the lido deck buffet and lunch daily here as well. The lines moved a bit slow and the selection of hot items was just OK. There was a nice salad bar daily, deli sandwiches made fresh for you and a pizza bar opened 24 hours. The desserts in the buffet was just adequate and that allowed me to skip dessert at lunch. We did not use room service or eat in any other venue so I can only comment on the buffets and MDR. Shows - The first night we did not attend any welcome shows. We were tired and in bed by 9 PM! The second night and 4th night we attended the shows in the Paris Lounge with the dancers and singers. They were the usual Carnival shows, well done and with a million and one costume changes. The final day - our sea day - there was a children's holiday show where the kids on board could participate with the dancers and singers, it snowed on the stage and Santa came for a quick visit. Spa and Casino - walked through them but did not utilize any services here. Pools - it was cold so very few people were in them. No chair hogs this trip!Kids clubs - 13 year old daughter participated in Circle C and 15 year old son participated in Club 02. Both met other kids in their age range and enjoyed some activities on board. The kids programs on port days however don't open until after 3 PM for Catalina. Various activities were offered - Wii, scavenger hunt, trivia, karaoke, and more. Both kids received a cute t-shirt that their new friends signed. They enjoyed spending time with other kids vs. being stuck with their parents. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
EMBARKATION: Easy peasy. We got there around 2pm - carried on our luggage. No fuss, no lines. Went straight to our room. Unpacked a little, grabbed our Fun Times and toured the ship. FOOD: Ate at the poolside grill - food was a huge ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Easy peasy. We got there around 2pm - carried on our luggage. No fuss, no lines. Went straight to our room. Unpacked a little, grabbed our Fun Times and toured the ship. FOOD: Ate at the poolside grill - food was a huge improvement from the Carnival Paradise. I'm talking 200%. Granted my cruise experience is limited to Carnival but this was my 2nd cruise and the Paradise had awful food. The Inspiration had a huge assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. I ate pretty healthy all weekend. Our dining assignment was the Mardi Gras room. We switched tables the 1st night and ended up with a great group. I skipped Elegant night in lieu of sleeping off a bad hangover. Ate all of our meals in the dining room, everything was fresh and carefully prepared. Service was professional and efficient. It was such a different cruising experience from our first cruise. PASSENGERS: Since this was a Christmas cruise not everyone was here for Christmas. I'd say 80% of the passengers were Indian and Chinese. It made for a very pleasant time on board because many of the Indian women dressed so beautifully for Elegant night. Their saris and beaded dresses were exquisite. One thing I noticed is Indian and Chinese men do not step aside for women like American men. I found myself in an elevator with Indian or Chinese men and having a bit of an awkward tussle to get out of the doors first. Oh well, lesson learned. Again, lines were 4-5 people deep. The entire ship was decorated inside with festive wreaths and Christmas trees. Very tasteful. Nothing offensive. The Inspiration had a Channukah celebration too - there were quite a few Jewish families on board as well. Nice mix. Didn't see too many Americans but it worked out really good because there were so many families on board, the entire ship was asleep by like 9 am. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did La Bufadora. We paid for it in Mexico and got stuck on a really ghetto tour bus. The driver "Yoshiro" was NOT Asian, he was a US citizen that married a Mexican chick and moved to Ensenada. He was latino but... born in LA. It showed. He was very distant and L-O-S-T. We stopped at the fricking gas station to get gas! Somehow we ended up on a bus where 9 of the 15 passengers wanted to go horseback riding AND to La Bufadora. It sucked. He couldn't figure out if he wanted to drive the Blowhole people up the hill first or drop off the horseback people, drive up the hill and come back and drive again. We ended up dropping off the horse riders and then going to the Blowhole and getting an extra hour up there. I got ripped off at Habana Banana AGAIN and wound up running back to the tour bus, 15 minutes late. Agh. CARNIVAL INSPIRATION CREW: Great people! Always cheerful, always friendly. At least on Main deck they did! Everything was clean, clean, clean. I smelled bleach all the time. I love that. The Empress deck midship was kinda sewer smelly though. I will continue to book Main deck mid or aft. There is no more tipping the stewards or maitre 'd. No aggressive sales pitches for photos or drink. It was nice. ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were really good. The comedy was bland, both adult and family. The comedians couldn't find their rhythm because I truly believe the audience didn't "get" their jokes. Wrong demographics and it drained their energy. I left both shows about 10 minutes into their acts because it just was not funny. The clubs weren't fun either because there didn't seem to be enough young adults on board. Again, 80% of the ship was in bed by 9pm. The casinos were jumping though. Bingo was toned down, so were the raffles. I don't know why but everyone seemed really relaxed and the energy was at a very low decibel. Aside from the Christmas decorations on board (and my door) it didn't feel like Christmas. There was tasteful Christmas music playing all over that I really enjoyed. OVERALL: I had a great time. I am disappointed that the Inspiration only goes to Ensenada and not Cabo but I'm definitely going to book again in 2012. :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Our family of four decided to spend Christmas on a three day cruise this year. Our son would have just turned 21 and it would be the first time he could enjoy a DOD! Although it was quite expensive we booked a Grand Suite as our Christmas ... Read More
Our family of four decided to spend Christmas on a three day cruise this year. Our son would have just turned 21 and it would be the first time he could enjoy a DOD! Although it was quite expensive we booked a Grand Suite as our Christmas present to the family. About a week or two prior to our cruise I was contacted by Carnival and asked if we would like to upgrade to the Owners Suite after some discussion we went for it, after all it was Christmas and it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We arrived at the port early, who can wait to get on the ship? Because the owners suites aren't on all of the ships the VIP area was having trouble printing our key cards. After several attempt the agent we were working with escorted us onto the ship and made sure the keys were printed and that we set. She was very pleasant and went out of her way to help us. Just what I have come to expect from Carnival. Once we got on the ship we went to our suite and were blown away. It was so much more than we had expected. We had a seating area with a couch that made into a double bed and chairs that made into a single bed, this made the kids happy since they wouldn't need to share a bed. The bed room was also quite large with a flat screen T.V. and a recliner as well as a large bed. There was a walk-in closet with plenty of hangers, two sinks in the vanity area and a jacuzzi tub and toilet in a separate room, and lots of power outlets!!! We were very happy we had splurged for this special cruise. Mark our steward was very pleasant and efficient making sure we had everything we needed. We had lunch from the deli and then spent sometime wandering the ship. We had chosen the anytime dinning for this cruise, it would be our first experience with anytime dinning. The first night our waiter introduced himself to us and was friendly and helpful and the bar service was good although the food selections were disappointing as were the portions. The next morning we decided to eat on the Lido deck, our son had been looking forward to the omelet station. We then got ready and headed into Ensenada where did a little shopping, had a few drinks and some lunch then headed back to the ship. That night was formal night, so we all got ready and headed down to the dinning room. Unfortunately the service wasn't what it had been the previous night I have no idea what our servers name was, or who was supposed to be her assistant waiter. I felt like I was more of a responsibility than I was a guest, although I could see she was quite busy, that isn't an excuse for rudeness. I was disappointed in the food also, if the lobsters get any smaller they will need to call them Langostinos! My daughter and I went to the 10:00 pm comedy show which we enjoyed, she went on to the casino and I went back to our room. Christmas morning after seeing what Santa had brought we had breakfast in the dinning room. Once again we received the wonderful service we are used to on Carnival our waiter and his assistant both introduced themselves wishing us a Merry Christmas. We had a full table that morning and really enjoyed our fellow guests and our servers. We spent Christmas day relaxing and enjoying our family, my daughter and I went to the sauna. We decided to order room service for lunch, after calling in the order we waited well over an hour before I called to see what the problem was, it was another 20 minutes before our food arrived. It would have been nice if when I placed our order they had mentioned that they were backed up and it was going to take along time. Dinner that night was even worse than the previous night, the service was slow, the portions were small and the quality was poor, my husbands Filet was over cooked and not even the size of a hockey puck. The only bright spot in our evening was our hostess,she was friendly and made us feel welcome as we waited for our food we watched as she sat other guest making them feel just as welcome has she had made us. Our last night on the ship was spent packing our bags and cashing out our players bank, the kids went back to the comedy club and my DH and I relaxed in the cabin, we spent a lot more time in our cabin since it was so nice. The next morning we once again went to the Dining room for breakfast, this time we were seated at a table by ourselves, the dining room wasn't overly busy but the service was worse than ever. After waiting over 20 minutes for our orange juice, which was sitting at the serves counter, my husband requested it again and was told by the server that we were the fourth table and he would get to us. I waited tables for years and often had up to six tables at a time, there is no excuse for taking that long to pour juice, and you never talk back to a guest, you apologize and do what the ask. It may not sound like it but I am a loyal Carnival Cruiser, it is the only cruise line I have ever cruised with. One of the reasons I love Carnival is that they have such wonderful crews. Even this cruise, other than in the dinning room, everyone was great, very friendly and helpful. I don't know if it was the anytime dining that was the problem or what but I was very disappointed in the wait staff. As for the food, over the years it seems to have gone down hill the portions and the quality aren't what they used to be. Not only do they need to have new items but they need to be quality items. We tried the alligator fritters, there was meat in them? they were more like hush puppies. I am afraid that if Carnival doesn't improve the quality of the food in the dining rooms it will start to loose guests. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was a winter get away for my husband and I. Being that we live in Michigan we like to cruise Jan/Feb. I did take some pics but not enough to post. If you have any specific questions please let me know. Saturday Jaurary 29th 2011 ... Read More
This was a winter get away for my husband and I. Being that we live in Michigan we like to cruise Jan/Feb. I did take some pics but not enough to post. If you have any specific questions please let me know. Saturday Jaurary 29th 2011 Myself 56 and DH 61 headed to the airport around 6:30am for Delta flight that left Detroit at 8:40am headed for Tampa. I had pre printed boarding passes along with purchasing one checked bag on line, saved $2 yippee!! Once at the gate we checked if the flight was full, hoping to take a bump but no luck. Flight boarded at 8am. The flight was about 2 hours and this plane had little monitors in the backs of the seats so got to watch CNN, Food network along with many other show. Just need your own earbuds or you can purchase. I had mine from my I pod so worked well. We were served drink/snack en route. Landed in Tampa early at 11:15am. Proceeded to pick up bags and then walked across the street to rental car area. I had pre booked a two day rental thru Dollar for $55.47 with AAA discount, about $20 less than competitors. We were given a Chevy Malibu (midsize). I had brought our Garmin GPS from home, so plugged in address and we were on our way. It was sort of neat driving over the Sunshine Skyway bridge realizing we would be passing under it in just a few days. Around 1pm we stoppyed at Applebee's in Bradenton-this location offered half off appetizers and 2 for one drinks if you ate at the bar. My DH and I split the Chicken Wontons, Boneless Chicken wings and Spinach Artichoke dip-all excellent. We had 2 for 1 beers (pints), 2 each and our bill came to $16. Amy at the bar was wonderful. With full bellies we continued on our way. We arrived in Marco Island at 3:30pm-had a great visit with our friend a former Michigander whom we used to boat with. Around 7pm we headed out for dinner. We went to Cocomo's in town. All of us had some sort of grouper dinner-2 blackened and 1 grouper francaise-it had capers, white wine, scallions but lacked taste. Entrees were about $20. Beer special at $1.99 for a pint. Headed back to our home for the next couple of days. Visited for a while and then off to bed Sunday January 23, 2011. Up around 7am. Relaxed as we drank coffee and planned our day. Our host was very familiar with Marco Island so around 11am took us on a tour of the island. Many beautiful homes-even got to see Shania Twain's house which is currently up for sale. We were getting hungry and decided on stopping at Stan's in Goodland. I had read quite a bit about it on Trip Advisor. It is only open on Sunday. The weather was getting nice (now 60 and sunny) so we chose a table outside. Mixed drinks aren't cheap for the size at $7, beers were $4. We ordered chicken strip basket $9 with fries and slaw, DH had clam chowder $4 (he said it was so so) We people watched while having lunch. Many bikers stop here. On site is a boutique-jewelery, clothes, trinkets. There also is a fresh produce market. We didn't see Stan during our visit. The do have a live band which was just setting up around 1pm. From Stan's we drove to Alligator Alley and Everglade city. We turned down one road and saw may gators. Our friend told us that in warm weather there would be gators all up and down the road. The ones we saw were all in the swamp area. From there we headed back to Marco to put our dinner in the oven. About 4p we headed to the beach on the gulf shore. It was quite windy but still sunny. It felt great to us Michiganders. We walked a few miles and collected a variety of shells and some of the pure white sugar sand. Stopped at Winn Dixie on the way back to pick up some items for dinner and our two bottles of wine to take on board (750ml per bottle). After a wonderful dinner we got our suitcases in order. We put our cruise tags on our cases-I had covered the tags with clear stapping tape, punched a hole in each end then secured with snall zip ties. We programed the airport address into the Garmin ready for our return trip in the AM. Monday January 24 2011 Up around 6am. We showered and did final packing. My DH went to load the car and couldn't find the car keys. We searched every where without luck. I called Dollar rental customer service and spoke to a very nice lady. She understood our concern as I told her we didn't want to miss the boat. She was going to check out a variety of options and call us back. No sooner did I hang up the phone with Dollar my DH annouced he had 'found' the keys. They were deep down in his sweatshirt pocket. Crisis averted I call Dollar back and cancelled and further assistance. By 7:30am we were on our way back to Tampa. We were glad we allowed extra time. It was sunny and around 57 degrees when we started on our way. Our drive back to Tampa airport was very uneventful. We stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and then again to fill up the gas tank. We stopped at a 7/11 station just outside Tampa and it was $3.05 per gallon. We made it back to the airport car rental drop off around 10:45am. Very well marked and easy to find. We checked the car back in, given our receipt and we were on our way. We waited in the Dollar/Thrifty office for about 10 minutes for the complimentary shuttle to arrive to take us to the pier. The van can hold 7-8 passegers at a time. Vern, the driver was quite a character. It took about 15 minutes to get to the pier. Vern told us where he would pick us up following the cruise (saved paying for transfers/taxi) and return us to the airport to catch our flights home. Arrived at the port and tipped Vern $5. Ship porter picked up our bags as we unloaded them from the van, tipped $1 per bag. We got processed in very quickly. We were in zone 15 and only had to wait 10 minutes or so till allowed on the ship. We were on the Lido deck having lunch by 12:15pm-very efficient. The Lido restaurant was very busy but to be expected. I opted for a sandwich from the deli, salad and fruit-trying to keep it light. DH had Capricosa pizza and said it was good. We sat out on the back area of deck 10 that over looks the serenity deck. Once done with lunch we went on a short tour of the ship. Being that we had been on the Imagination many years ago we had an idea of the layout. The water slides were open but the pool/hot tubs on the lido deck were closed. The hot tubs on the serenity deck were open. We relaxed on the serenity deck, watching all the items being loaded onto the ship. Around 1:30pm we headed to check out our room. We had an inside cabin on the Riviera deck -R 214. We found the room quite comfortable-twin beds that were pushed together. Desk/vanity with 4 drawers under along with stool. 3 closets 2 for hanging and 1 with shelves/safe. Bathroom good size toilet on left, shower on right-nice heavy curtain. No luggage yet so we explored. Around 3:15pm we had the muster drill. We had muster station D so met in the Rock N Roll lounge on the promenade deck. They review how to put on a lift jacket and then had us all walk up a deck to where our life boats are. Very painless. Those with disabilities have a separate meeting area. Around 4:15pm we started to pull away from the dock and then make our way down towards the Sunshine skyway bridge. It was still quite sunny and pleasant to hand out on deck. By 5:30pm I found that all 3 pieces of our luggage had made it to our room. I opened them and found that our powere stip was removed-a note left saying that it would be returned when we arrived back in Tampa on the 29th. I had also packed a 32oz rum runner with vodka-unfortunately it was gone and wouldn't be returned. I am sure some of the crew are having a party somewhere. We have used rum runners many times in the past without problems, but it seems that the cruise lines is definitely doing a more thorought seach. There was definite evidence that they were very thorough going thru the luggage. Oh well, not going to let that ruin our trip. About 5:45pm went to deck 9 by the casino and had sushi. My DH and I split a large Fosters can 25 oz for $6.75 enough for 2 glasses. We went up on deck and found we were still a ways from the Sunshine bridge. it was quite dark already, so opted not to stay on deck. Returned to the cabin, I took a shower and found the water very hot. While I was in the shower DH said the cabin steward and assistant came around and introduced themselves-wish I would have met them as didn't see them the entire cruise although room was spotless. Around 7:30pm stopped by casino to get sign and sail card punched and attached to a lariat. Ended up donating some money. The casino is on the small side but a good variety of machines-1 cent, 2 cent, 25 cents, dollar. Went to dinner. Table 315 in the Carnivale dining room (aft). Ended up by the window at a table to 10. Only 1 other couple showed up, Brenda and Tom from New Hampshire, very nice. Good conversation. Waiter Luis and assistant Adam-up front I told Luis that I like my food hot-he delivered as requested. I had the fried shrimp and fruit for starter, the chicken a la Grecque for entree-very good, like a chicken breast with pesto on a bed of rigatoni with tomoatoes, olives and artichoke hearts. DH had tilapia and ribs-he wasn't really impressed with either. Headed back to the casino after dinner (see a pattern?) Waited until 10:10pm and then headed to the Welcome aboard show in the Paris lounge-found dancers and singers very good. CD Paul Santley was very entertaining. Got a taste of 2 comediennes who will perform later in the week. Stopped by the casino and ended up winning $1400 so well ahead for the day. Got our first towel animal. Headed to bed around midnight with smooth waters and sea day tomorrow. Before we went to bed we hung our room service tag on the door-like to have coffee as we are getting ready. More to follow Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Wow, there was a cold snap in Tampa over Christmas and couldn't wait to be headed south! We boarded the Inspiration at 11:30 on Monday, Dec. 27 and lunch was already being served on the Lido Deck. We were in Tampa the previous night, ... Read More
Wow, there was a cold snap in Tampa over Christmas and couldn't wait to be headed south! We boarded the Inspiration at 11:30 on Monday, Dec. 27 and lunch was already being served on the Lido Deck. We were in Tampa the previous night, so arrived at the dock earlier that if we had purchased airline tickets through Carnival. Our stateroom was ready at 1:30 as promised. We were greeted immediately by our steward, Arnold, and were made to feel that if there was anything we needed, he was there to assist us. Dinners in the dining room were wonderful, we ate in the Mardi Gras dining room with "Your Time" option. That was far better than an assigned seating, at least for us. We were traveling with our son and daughter-in-law and "your time" accommodated our daily schedules. Our maitre'd was Yusef, and the best waiter in the world: Bonijan!! One night we skipped the dining room in favor of the Brasserie on Lido Deck, which I regret. I preferred the dining room and the service we received there. Also, although it was stated that no beach flip-flops were allowed in the dining room, I was surprised to see that this was not enforced. Oh well.....The dining room was especially busy on New Year's Eve, but the waitstaff supplied us with horns and hats, which added to the festivities. The comedy show on New Year's Eve was good, albeit too short (30 minutes). My only complaint about the ship was that we were unable to find any deck chairs. Apparently one has to arrive on deck at 7:00 a.m. and place towels over the chairs to ensure a spot. That's ok.....we found four on the top deck where the water slide was, and the splashing was pleasant sitting under the (delightfully) hot sun! The seas were a little rocky and my husband, son and daughter-in-law were a little seasick part of the time, but nothing Carnival could do about that. When we disembarked yesterday morning, everything was smooth and orderly, no long lines. We waited in the Paris Lounge after eating breakfast on the Lido Deck; on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm giving this cruise a 9, because nothing's perfect! We've already paid $100 towards our next Carnival cruise, we're that happy with them. In Grand Cayman, we hired a local to take us to Hell and a short tour around the island for $15. Unfortunately, they have small buses that they fill us before leaving - we waited in our bus for almost 45 minutes! Hell is nothing to visit for more than a brief stop for postcards to mail. We wish we would have had some more time on the island, though. The ship shopper/advisor had some good recommendations, although I'd suggest that you read some of the cruise blogs for opinions on some of the shops the Carnival recommends. We had good experiences in Georgetown with shopping. On Cozumel, we opted for the Carnival "Mayan Ruins of Tulum" tour (7 hours). It was fantastic! Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, we had plenty of time to wander around by ourselves. They mention that you can go to the beach while you're there - be advised that you have to climb down many, many steps to get down to the beach and then have to climb back up all those steps! The light snack was a bag of chips and Japanese (!) peanuts, bottle of water. The driver had cold towels waiting for us at the bus, to wipe our hands and faces off - that was a nice treat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
If you are someone with low expectations then this cruise line may be ok. Never imagined that my christmas would be ruined this way. Let alone my relationship. I was looking for something really wonderful for my first cruise ... Read More
If you are someone with low expectations then this cruise line may be ok. Never imagined that my christmas would be ruined this way. Let alone my relationship. I was looking for something really wonderful for my first cruise experience so I found something for a little over 1200 dollars. It was the biggest waste of my money. first I will start with the good points: -nice ship -really spacey and beautiful room -ports of call (grand cayman and cozumel were fantastic) -didn't feel crowded eventhough it was a full ship heres the bad stuff: -first and foremost the food: I was expecting something decent because I have heard nothing but raving and ranting about the food. it was stale and disgusting and I did not have one thing that didn't taste like day old cafeteria food. This is completely unacceptable. A decent meal is not hard to achieve and shouldn't be on a cruise so expensive. It was not even to the quality of crappy fast food you can get at wendys. Me and my boyfriend are young and really not hard to please.. but my health suffered from all the bad food that I forced myself to swallow. - customer service: Nobody knew what was going on besides the information people and even they had a little confusion. Though it was nice to have people from all around the world (I myself am colombian and love to be around people from different countries), A lot of them spoke little english and were hard to understand. Not one person understood one thing I asked or could carry on a simple request. -Waiter- the waiter was lifeless, not friendly and barely spoke to us. Came over once to check on us if we got lucky that night. The maitre d was nowhere to be seen. -shows and entertainment: Not appropriate for all ages. They had very boring events and then some that were a bit "too" much. Very corny and cheesy contests that were tacky and not entertaining in the least bit. I did not pay 1200 dollars to see harry chests, absolutely ridiculous. Not one event captured our interest or made us happy. Once again I stress upon you that we are not hard to please and on sea days we were miserable. -time in ports of call- we were in grand cayman (the most beautiful place) for barely 2 hours, had lunch and then we were almost late getting back to the ship. what a waste. in cozumel we were there longer but stayed the bare minimum because everything closed down at 4 so the experience was shortened as well. I do have to say that getting off that horrendous ship of annoying employees made those 2-3 hours feel like heaven. Not sure if I am allowed to say this on here but I feel cheated. I feel ripped off and these people took a grab at my money any chance they could... to communicate with someone, to get help, to have a friendly person to talk to. No courteousness whatsoever. I intend to let everyone know what a crap cruise line this is. Please go with someone else. I may never cruise again. They knew nothing about dealing with someone who had diabetes (such as myself) and I am in the process of suing them for ruining my christmas eve. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the ... Read More
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the cruise dropped TWICE. The first I feel was due to the economy and the second to fill the ship. The first time our cruise was not paid off yet and Carnival was kind enough to adjust our price. The second time our cruise was paid in full and Carnival was kind enough to give us an onboard credit for the difference. Later, Carnival dropped the fuel surcharge and gave us onboard credit for that. It would be an understatement to say that Carnival and our agent were very accommodating with our booking. Please note that you must keep up with the price of your cruise and call and ASK for the discount/credit - it DOES NOT happen automatically (except for the fuel surcharge)! Airport to Cruiseport taxi was just $24. Embarkation - We arrived Christmas Day and were the second family there and only waited about 20 minutes before we were shuffled through and awaiting to board. We were on the ship about 30 minutes later. This was a great experience compared to past experience. The Inspiration - My first impression was very clean and well maintained! We do not drink but still found the "welcome aboard" complimentary glasses of champagne a nice jester but eventually got tired of saying "no thank you" due to the many, many offers. We walk around the ship to get oriented and I suggest everyone do the same. You are not able to walk front to aft on most levels/floors so learning the maze if very helpful. Stateroom - Our cabin was roomy even with 2 kids (14 & 10). The beds were very comfortable! Bathroom was basic and watch out because the hot water is HOT! Sometimes we could not mix enough cold water in. Our cabin was ALWAYS well taken care of. The towel animals prompted me and my daughter to go to the demonstration on how to fold them. Room service was prompt and tasty. Food - We ate most breakfast and lunch meals at the buffet and found it quite pleasing. We did eat one breakfast in the dining room and the Eggs Benedict was awesome! For the evening meals we ate in the dining room. We sat with the most amazing family from Virginia! We couldn't wait each night to get to see them again! We know we will see them again some time down the road! OK back to the food. The dinner meals were delicious! Everything prepared nicely. The appetizers were all great. Main dishes were hard to choose from so I ordered two and the waitress was happy to bring both (she was very kind, informative and delightful!). On lobster night my son ate two entire meals. The Chocolate Melting Cake is the ultimate dessert! It is hard to order anything else, but try them all. If you want to see how challenging it is to feed over 2,000 three meals a day take the Galley Tour. (It should be mandatory for those that discredit the food in their reviews!). This ship has a FREE sushi bar that opens around 5:30 pm each afternoon. Get there early - the line gets long quick but it's worth the wait! Entertainment - Maybe not Vegas quality but you are not paying $100 a ticket. The singers were very talented as were the dancers. The orchestra put out a big band sound with only 8-10 musicians. The shows were put together well. The magician was good and the comedian was even better. We did not attend the late version of the comedian and appreciated the Cruise Director's warning that it was not appropriate for kids. Karaoke was fun. Trivia was also. For the kids - AWESOME! The ship offers many things for kids and it looked like all the kids were enjoying them! (This cruise has a lot of kids onboard so if this is something you don't care for - find another cruise) Formal Night - We had the onboard credit so we rented tuxedos for me and my son. If you do this, do it online before you go or first thing on the ship. There inventory is small and they may run out of your size. We met the captain and went to the dining room where just like every night Wilson (our Maitre' d) welcomed us. Cozumel - This was the second cruise to Cozumel for the wife and I so we were able to plan our visit better. We went to Chankanaab National Park and snorkeled. I have heard there are better places off shore to snorkel but this was our first time and this place was perfect for us. Beautiful fish, some nice coral reef and other things to do inside the park also. The taxi was $10 and admission was $49 for the four of us. Snorkel gear and life vest were $15 each to rent. We returned to the ship for a late lunch and then in to town for shopping. We had experienced the hounding of the store workers last trip so this was short and again unpleasant. So we went back to the pier and bought our stuff then got back on the ship. Disembarkation- Very quick and easy! Do the one where you take your own luggage! Show up early as they start before the time given. In summary, we had a great time! This is a 3 star cruise ship and you cannot expect it to compare with a 5 star. For the price this is an AWESOME cruise, do not hesitate to book this cruise. I found it to be nothing like some of the negative comments in a few of the previous reviews. If I had to complain about anything it would be the constant solicitation of having your picture taken. A simple "no thank you" took care of each. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.1
Rates 2.0 4.3

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