Sail Date: September 2014
We went on Carnival Inspiration to celebrate our one year anniversary. We based which ship we went on from the reviews on cruise critic and we made the right choice. The crew was excellent and friendly and the ship was always clean. While ... Read More
We went on Carnival Inspiration to celebrate our one year anniversary. We based which ship we went on from the reviews on cruise critic and we made the right choice. The crew was excellent and friendly and the ship was always clean. While it is an older ship, evident in the decor, the crew does make the best with what they have. The comedy shows were very good, better than we would have thought. We actually didn't get a chance to see the shows because we were so busy doing so many other events. The art auction was a great time, and a great way to get free alcohol. Only downsides to the cruise was the number of days and size of the ship. A 4-day cruise is great for a first time when you don't know how a cruise will be, but definitely wish we did longer. Also, since it is an older and smaller ship it was rocked by the seas depending on the weather. The rocking wasn't a big deal, however if you aren't used to it then it will be noticeable. Signing up for Faster to the Fun was the best $50 we have ever spent. Walked right onto the boat when we got there and also walked immediately off the boat at the end. Didn't deal with any lines anywhere. Pros: * Great ports of call. * Amazing crew. * Great activities and entertainment. * Faster to the fun, best investment ever. Cons: * Older ship * Can notice rocking. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We decided to go on this cruise when we were told by Carnival that we had a free cruise due to being Casino Club members. We upgraded our ocean view room to a suite at a discounted rate and decided to go for our Anniversary July 14-18. We ... Read More
We decided to go on this cruise when we were told by Carnival that we had a free cruise due to being Casino Club members. We upgraded our ocean view room to a suite at a discounted rate and decided to go for our Anniversary July 14-18. We went on the Imagination in March with our boys (ages 11-16), and enjoyed the cruise, but the Inspiration was much nicer. We had a wonderful time. This was our 5th cruise with Carnival. It was perfect weather which gave us the opportunity to enjoy the sun. The food was really, really good in the dining room. We learned not to go to the Lido deck for breakfast. Carnival, please improve the quality of your bacon, eggs, sausages etc..at the buffet on the Lido deck, it is just bad. The omelet bar is pretty good, and for lunch the Panini bar and Mongolian food is really good. Our suite was on the Verandah deck was V5. It had a very small balcony but it was nice to go out there. I heard that Carnival will not allow smoking on the balconies anymore this fall so we were a little disappointed to hear that. My husband enjoys a cigar on the balcony and they are already not allowed in the casino. The Comedy Show was pretty good and the Hasbro show was okay. The Casino's slots were tight and we did the Slot tournament which was fun. Catalina Island is beautiful. We went shopping and had a drink at the Avalon Bluewater Grill which we highly recommend. The Seared Scallops were delicious as well as their Bloody Mary and Mai Tai. We stayed on the ship when we were in Ensenada, and really enjoyed being out on the Lido deck catching some rays. Loved this cruise, it was a nice getaway for our Anniversary and the crew was wonderful as always. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We went on a 3 day weekend cruise for a little R&R with friends who have never cruised. This was my 4th weekend cruise on Carnival and my husband has been on a dozen. I told my friends all about the cruise, the great food, the ... Read More
We went on a 3 day weekend cruise for a little R&R with friends who have never cruised. This was my 4th weekend cruise on Carnival and my husband has been on a dozen. I told my friends all about the cruise, the great food, the entertainment, and how fun and relaxing these little cruises are!! It was NOT!! Our first night at dinner, we asked a passing waiter for butter and he literally said he would not get it for us unless our waiter asked him! Our waiter overheard, came over, apologized and went and got the butter himself. The service was extremely slow, we waited about 15 minutes to order and at least another half an hour for our dinner. The food was cafeteria quality! I ordered the brisket and it was cold and as hard as cardboard. Most of the time when we signaled for the waiter, we were told to wait. Second night's dinner, we were meeting our friends in the dining room and they took a bit longer (she's handicapped). The waiter kept coming to the table asking where they were and he seemed quite annoyed. We went ahead and ordered without them. I always look forward to the steak and lobster dinner. Carnival changed the menu so that they are 2 separate entrees, so my husband and I ordered 2 entrees. Our dinner came and they served us the lobster while our prime rib sat on the tray getting cold. We asked if we could have the prime rib with our lobster. Our waiter went to talk to an associate very loudly about it. He came back and told us NO! He said we had to finish our lobster before we could have our prime rib! Needless to say, we rushed through that entree and ate cold prime rib. Our friends joined us, ordered the same and got the same treatment. After dinner, we ordered coffee and was completely ignored 2-3 times! After they finally brought us coffee our requests for refills were ignored several times, but they were quite prompt bringing our cocktails and bill to sign. I noticed the fog horn was blowing all through the day (unfortunately, our cabin was very close to it). It was a clear day, so I assume it was broken?? It also blew ALL NIGHT Saturday night. It kept me awake most of the night, I finally fell asleep counting the second between each blow (3 to 8 seconds, lol). It even woke my husband up and he's a heavy sleeper. One of the highlights of our cruises is the steward. They are usually so friendly and helpful and I love that the room is clean every time we leave. Not this time. We took our drinking glasses with us went we walked around and it was never replaced. We had to hunt him down and ask him for new ones every day (tips). The breakfast menu for the door was not left in our room, we had to call for that too (tips). We didn't get off the ship Sunday, but went to the Lido Deck for lunch, lounge at The Serenity, etc., we were gone for over 4 hours and our room was not cleaned. We ran low on toilet paper, a replacement roll was never placed, we finally ran out and used the boxex of Kleenex. I love cruises and have always been a big advocator. We are planning a family reunion with over 40 people this summer on The Inspiration. Most people have never cruised, I'm thinking it wasn't such a good idea after all! The Inspiration's dining room and service staff needs an overhaul, maybe some friendly people who want to work there. The food was cafeteria quality. I'm sure my friends will probably never take another cruise. I was under the impression Carnival was not doing well and needed the business, but apparently, they are not making any efforts in wanting repeat business.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
My fiancee and I just finished a 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada on Carnival Inspiration. The ship is looking great after its refurb in 2007, and we both commented on how it was far superior to the other fantasy class vessel ... Read More
My fiancee and I just finished a 4 day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada on Carnival Inspiration. The ship is looking great after its refurb in 2007, and we both commented on how it was far superior to the other fantasy class vessel we took out of New Orleans two years ago. We had a nice window cabin on the upper deck amidships. No great shakes. The view was unobstructed, and the cabin was in good shape. I have never had a better shower--the water comes out at 5,000 PSI and it can be anywhere from 32F to 195F. Ok that's exaggerating, but I like my showers lobster boil temperature with as much pressure as possible, and Inspiration delivers. Catalina Island was good fun--we took a semi-submersable tour and saw the giant kelp forests and a huge amount of sea life. Very nice. Had a MASSIVELY overpriced lunch at a trendy cafe. Also nice. Ensenada is a hole; a dirty tourist trap. We took a horseback riding excursion through Carnival, as I wanted to spend as little time in town as possible. Got some great pictures from a ridge above town, overlooking the pacific. Then we spent a little time in town haggling with street vendors over wares created by China for American's Visiting Mexico (TM) Back to the ship--we enjoyed all of the dining venues. and found the quality of the the food to have substantially improved over our last Carnival cruise. There is no added-fee restaurants aboard, which I prefer as it puts a bit more pressure on the MDR to produce quality goods. We didn't see any of the shows (heard rumors they were great) or spend time in the casino. The Adults-only deck aft was nice, but only had one HOT tub (there was another tub, which was, for some reason, tepid). The waterworks area was great fun. Overall, if you want a nice, quick, inexpensive cruise, this is your best bet. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
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: February 2013
Yes, Carnival's Inspiration is an older ship, however maintained quite nicely. I've read a lot of posts and spoken to many experienced cruisers. We really appreciate all of the valuable information, too. That's one of the ... Read More
Yes, Carnival's Inspiration is an older ship, however maintained quite nicely. I've read a lot of posts and spoken to many experienced cruisers. We really appreciate all of the valuable information, too. That's one of the reasons that we chose the 3-Day out of Long Beach. Santa Catalina is a beautiful laid back port along with Ensenada is a small and tranquil... do what you wanna do kind of place. Yes, we went on a couple of tours and then went back to the ship and relaxed. The highlight was the service on board. We could not ask for more. Oh sure, being the in the penthouse was fantastic, but if you can't host a party while having the most exquisite accomodation on the ship, what good is being there. We met many very sociable people and made friends, so we did it... on Formal Night, we had MaryAnne, our Steward help me put together an open house. Had some wine and sodas and some food... just about 15 people and had some music... had a blast !! --- oh, by the way, if you leave your front door open, expect to get some extra people to show up... that's even more fun ! Our waiter's in the main dining room... Jenner et.al. were the best... Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
This is the second time I have taken a 3 night cruise to Ensenada. The first was out of San Diego in 2010, and the most recent was out of Long Beach. We had a nice weekend getaway the first trip out of San Diego, so I figured we'd ... Read More
This is the second time I have taken a 3 night cruise to Ensenada. The first was out of San Diego in 2010, and the most recent was out of Long Beach. We had a nice weekend getaway the first trip out of San Diego, so I figured we'd give it another shot. The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was completely different than when sailing out of San Diego. I've never seen so many non-couples/non-families on a cruise. Many rooms were packed with four guys or four girls, all there for a weekend of boozing. I'm not one to judge, but it certainly made for a not-so-family-friendly weekend. I would have been extremely uncomfortable if I had children with me. Other than the rowdy crowd, the trip had its highs and lows. We checked into a room that had CLEARLY been smoked in, and smoked in often. It was horrible. We tried to make it work, but we couldn't get past the smell. We asked to switch rooms several times, and several times they only offered to "re-clean" the room. We eventually discovered that they were sticking dryer sheets in the vents in hope that it would help to mask the awful smell. Finally, Christina in Guest Services (who was a GREAT help!) found us another room that didn't smell like smoke. Even though it took until 7 pm on our first night to get our room situation taken care of, it was better than the alternative of suffering through such a horrible smelling cabin. The food on the ship was OK. I've sailed Carnival many times before, and I have never been one to talk negatively about the food. This time it was hit or miss. Our first meal on the Lido deck was ice cold. I'm not sure the heat lamps were even on. But our meal that night in the Main Dining Room was great! The ceviche was much, much better than I anticipated. And our service that night was excellent as well. We went to the MDR for lunch on our sea day and had a soggy sandwich and awful service, so it really was just hit or miss for the entire trip. Overall, the service was OK. I felt some people really went the extra mile to offer great service, and others didn't seem to care. That's pretty much par for the course though. I actually liked the decor on the ship. It seemed different than Carnival's other ships. Not as cheesy. The room was not so great. It was small and the bathroom definitely had a sewage-type smell in it. Not bad enough to complain (especially since we had already been saved from the smoke room), but enough to make you uncomfortable about its cleanliness. All in all, I had a pretty good time. But because of the nature of this crowd, and their overall lack of respect for others (i.e. smoking in cabins, screaming in the halls at 3 am, using vulgarity around children, etc), I probably wouldn't take this trip again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
At the last minute we decided to go on the Carnival Inspiration cruise to have a fun romantic weekend trip. We were NOT disappointed. If you don't plan a head and read what is happening on Cruise Critics you might not know what to do. ... Read More
At the last minute we decided to go on the Carnival Inspiration cruise to have a fun romantic weekend trip. We were NOT disappointed. If you don't plan a head and read what is happening on Cruise Critics you might not know what to do. I looked at 130 reviews and it really helped me to figure out the best way to have the most fun with the few days at sea. First of all you need to have the best accommodations possible. We chose to pay the price and get a Grand Suite. It is not as grand as many other cruises but it is still great. As VIP's we were shuttled through embarkation (approximatley 11:30 a.m.), so not to miss anything. We had access to our room at 12:30 AND our luggage was there. For the time that we were in our room, it was always clean I don't even think we met our steward. Which is okay with me because he did a good job. The ship is old but well taken care of. I read reviews that it is like Vegas, but I disagree. It has it's charm. Most of the folks do not know about the Chef's Table. It is to die for. They only have room for 12 people but it is quite the experience. It is extra, but the menu and the knowledge of the chef was amazing. The other fun thing was to take a tour of the ship (again extra), it is something that is not to be missed. The gambling is really fun, I won the Texas Holdem tournament ($500) but did not do as well in the Blackjack Tournament ($20.00 buy in). We went to the two shows that were very entertaining. We missed the lounge shows, as we were in the casino. The food was good, the service really good. We ate only one night in the main dining room, one night pizza and the last night the Chef's Table. I would say that overall all of the other meals, breakfast and lunch were okay. We don't go on cruises to eat. We stayed on the boat when we got to Enseneda, Mexico. We are from California and have been there several times. And with the problems in Mexico, we decided to lay out in the sun and go on the ship tour. All in all, the trip was a lot of fun. The interesting part is that we were celebrating our anniversary and we were outside at the pool and realized that we were on this same ship in 1998 in the Bahama's. Too weird, but made the experience just a little more special. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
This was my first cruise. My husband and I have traveled to Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. We love freedom and adventure. But we decided to try a cruise for our honeymoon since we only had a few days off before returning to ... Read More
This was my first cruise. My husband and I have traveled to Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. We love freedom and adventure. But we decided to try a cruise for our honeymoon since we only had a few days off before returning to work after our wedding. Granted, we probably only paid $800 total for our room with a view and 2 days/3 nights of meals and drinking mojitos by the pool. I expected a little more from Carnival. I'm not one of those travelers that is impossible to please...I always try to enjoy myself and make the best of every situation (trust me...after a trip to India, you learn how to roll with it). Okay, quick review of the main points. 1)CLEANLINESS = water in our sink and shower ran brown for the first 10 minutES and there were black hairs all over the blanket (my husband and I are blonde); 2)FOOD QUALITY = basic casino buffet fare (I was expecting lobster or something unique not grilled tilapia and fried chicken; 3)ATMOSPHERE = the Carnival Inspiration was built in 1996, but I'll be honest..its dated...has an 80s miami vice feel (very much like a flashy casino with blinking neon lights and blasting music in the fine dining room). This cruise seemed more fitting for a family with kids. We were looking for relaxation and romance (dinner for two, laying out by the pool....not being forced to eat dinner with 8 other strangers and literally trying to squeeze in a hot tub with...no exaggeration...30 or 40 kids under 10!!!); 4)CUSTOMER SERVICE = the cabin stewards were very polite, the photographers and pool servers are great, the guest services employee was very helpful...the fine dining room servers were horrible. On our 3rd night, I asked for a glass chardonnay while pointing to it on the menu. The young female waitress opened a bottle and put it in front of me. I politely told her I did not ask for a bottle, but a glass. She became very rude and argued with me in front of everyone at the table for 15 minutes. I finally stood up and said "Enough...I'm finished talking about this with you...can you get a manager?" Now I'm a very shy person and I avoid conflict at all costs, but this waitress really upset and embarrased me. The head waiter apologized and said we would not be charged for the bottle. I was so irritated by this point and everyone at the table was embarrased for having to witness the argument, we left and had pizza at the buffet in our evening attire. When we went to guest services to make a formal complaint, we found out not only had the waitress charged us for the $75 bottle of wine that we did not touch, but 2 extra glasses...mind you we did not eat or drink anything in the dining room nor did we sign for any beverages....Therefore, an employee of Carnival must have forged our signatures...which is the same as stealing money from me! The woman at guest services sincerely apologized and removed all charges from the dinner, so they somewhat redeemed themselves. Very stressful experience. The ship is sub-standard, but its a good, cheap trip for a fun, party cruise or family vacation. Just not the cruise for a romantic trip for two! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This was our 5 cruise to Ensenada and our 6th on Carnival. Being old hat in regards to this cruise destination, we didn't have high expectations, just really wanted to get away for a relaxing weekend...and Carnival Inspiration ... Read More
This was our 5 cruise to Ensenada and our 6th on Carnival. Being old hat in regards to this cruise destination, we didn't have high expectations, just really wanted to get away for a relaxing weekend...and Carnival Inspiration Delivered!!! Embarkation: A total breeze. We showed up around 12:00, the porter grabbed our bags from us right in the parking garage. We walked into the check in area and had a very brief wait in line, got our room keys, took the embarkation picture and we on board moments later. From the time we parked, we were on board less than 30 minutes. Everyone was very friendly and made us feel very welcome. Lunch was served on the lido deck. Mongolian wok station was very good and the line was short and moved quickly. Got access to our room by 1:15, and we were greeted by our stateroom attendant who was nothing but exceptional the entire trip. The ship was much more subdued in colors compared to other Carnival ships we have been on. The overall motif of the ship was really appealing. This was the 1st time we have been on this class of ship where they have completed all the Evolutions of Fun upgrades. The water park is a great addition to this class of ship. The Serenity Deck is also very relaxing and "kid free". The biggest thing that made this a great cruise was the entertainment. All the bands were fantastic! The shows were current and very entertaining. And to top it off the comedians were some of the best we have seen. They were on par or better and ones you find at any comedy club. Short sets but hilarious!!! Food....Carnival has gone to the basics, everything was very tasty and the prime rib was very tender. Only problem was that there was too many good things to choose from. The molten chocolate cake is not to be missed either. Disembarkation: A breeze!!!!! Walked off ship at 7:10...through customs and in the car by 7:25....15 minutes!!! Yes 15 minutes!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the ... Read More
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the Embassy Suites at $93 for Sat and $103 for Sun and found that to be the average in Westport. The Wyndham was more than adequate and nicer than expected for the price. Unfortunately they discontinued the M&M's at the desk. I asked about it and the manager told me it cost on average $5,000 per month to keep M&M's on the front desk. They still have bags, all you have to do is ask. Recommend against the "Stay and Sail" package. The transportation folks will pick-up and drop off at the airport and the cruise port without the package. Save your money. The drivers don't see any of the $ from the package deal anyway, so our party of 6 tipped $30 each way and they were very appreciative. Embarkation: Standard porter haze, they won't let you check your own bag, so porter/tips are part of the deal. I guess $2 isn't too much to ask, I just don't like not having the option. Most of us did the "roll on" option and it was painless. The "Platinum Class" process looked very quick and efficient. The regular folks (us) were in line about 45 minutes. We've have definitely seen less efficient and comfortable operations. The Cruise itself: Ship- adequate, but lacking in many of the modern facilities of the newer ships. The ship only had a small pool and two hot tubs, no "jumbotron" for MNF or movies for the kids and an older somewhat inefficient design for traffic flow. Overall the ship was in decent shape but showed a very hurried dry dock where many of the finishing/cosmetics were rushed or incomplete. The carpet for example was not trimmed properly in areas or was left uneven. This is not a big deal but something that even a casual observer would notice. Our daughter was in the 9-11 year old kids program and quickly bored with the program. They do more babysitting than actual programs. Not terrible though, but anticlimactic after our last cruise on Disney. Food: Hit or miss. The dining room fare vacillated between above average to totally uninspired. The Lobster, prime rib, and chocolate melting cake were all good. The rest was mass produced and lacked inspiration and freshness. The Eggs Benedict had a hard crust every morning on the hollandaise sauce from sitting under the heat lamp. The service was polite but often deplorable. I use the empty water as a metric of service and we had to ask for more water every single meal. The servers are spread very thin and appear harried and undermanned. The days of personal service and building a report with your service staff are apparently over on the big box lines. JMO We never did room service, our daughter enjoyed the pizza and it looked fresh and good. The buffet on the Lido was often overrun with guests loading up on platefuls of medium quality fare. Entertainment: The comedians were fine, not to my taste but my wife laughed at Valerie Storm's show. The Variety show was actually well done. Not to Disney standards but well above the amateurish NCL star crew we saw last year on the Star. Ports: Grand Caymen- Walk outside the fence and book your own excursion, you end up at the same place and in our case the very same boat, at half price or less. Cozumel- We took a taxi to Palancar, I dove a single tank (Columbia, and Palancar gardens) and my wife and daughter snorkled. It wasn't cheap but very relaxed and low key. The dive was first rate ($60) and the snorkel equipment for the girls was $10 each. Mario the beach server was a genuinely nice man that doted over our daughter. Summary: Have fun but manage expectations before time so there are no major disappointments. Carnival is better than we remember but it's still very entry level. The rooms at 185 square feet are better than most and our steward Gabby was first rate. he definitely deserved the extra gratuity. The only negative comment I have about the stateroom was the dirty exterior of the window. Enjoy your vacation! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. We were really surprised at the number of children on this cruise. We were told that of the almost 3,000 passengers on board, 800 were children. We recommend getting to the ship by 1200. Check-in really is a breeze. The cost of parking is about $75. Before you park, drop your bags off and have them delivered to your cabin. When you return from parking, have your passport ready. Expect 15-20 minutes to get through security and checked in. We also recommend bringing as many cases of water on board as you can carry. We didn't know they would let us, but we wished we had. Once you're on board and settled, take a tour around the ship. This is not a huge ship, but one can get lost often enough. Shortly after sailing, you'll have to go through the muster drill. This too is very simply and Carnival does this drill by zones. Once the drill is complete, consider attending the Camp Carnival introduction. This is a free day care service which our daughter actually had fun participating in. They offered a list of daily activities and again, our little really enjoyed this. The food was not so great, but good enough for a cruise. Carnival does not offer open seating which we prefer, but we were lucky enough to sit with a very nice family. I'm not sure why, but Carnival did not have a lot to offer in the form of entertainment. Besides one really good show at the end of our cruise, there really was nothing offered. I mean outside of "Hair Chest" competition, gender wars, music trivia, etc. NCL & RCCL offer great shows. Overall, we would do it again. We didn't expect to be this happy with this cruise, but we were. On a scale of 1-10, we give this cruise a 7.5. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go ... Read More
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go all out and get the Grand Ocean Suite. The ship was nice. The food was good but not outstanding. The ports of call were beautiful and the kids were out of control. After weeks of research we decided to go with Carnival. They had the best price on their 5 day trips to the Western Caribbean and the best price on their Grand Ocean Suites. If we ever go on another cruise the Grand Ocean Suite will be a must! The suite is a great escape when one gets ready to sit back and relax for the evening. You get a large room with a king size bed, sofa sleeper, sitting area, walk in closet, full size bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, large balcony, refrigerator and a nice size LCD TV that had a good choice of cable channels. The suite was an excellent choice! The ship, the Carnival Inspiration, is an older ship that has been kept in good condition. Everything was clean and for the most part up to date. There is only one formal dining room but there is a second dining area that one can get food anytime of the day or night. The food was all good but nothing to brag about. The one formal night in the main dining room they did serve lobster, steak and shrimp. The other nights they had a choice of other meat dishes, fish and chicken. We are not the type to over indulge but I was told before the trip by others that had been on a cruise that you could order as much as you wanted at dinner, this was never offered in the main dining room. In the second, cafeteria style, dining room you can eat as much as you can stand. Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico were both great ports of call. The ports were clean and the water was unbelievable! In Grand Cayman we to a really nice bus tour of the island and in Cozumel we did our own thing with a taxi into the downtown area. The people were all overly friendly and helpful. The only downside to our experience was the parents on our deck who pretty much their kids to run the ship. The parents went off to have their vacation and let their kids do whatever. At night there was running in the halls, yelling, screaming and banging on suite doors. Many calls were made to security but many times nothing could be done because the parents could not be located. One day I'm sure we will again take a cruise. It is a great getaway and a fun experience. We have since found that there are adult only cruises for those who want peace at sea, that will be our next cruise! Here is a link, http://ostrowsky.net/lifestyle.html , to a site where I have posted pictures if you are interested in seeing the Carnival Inspiration. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
I just got back from my first sailing with the Carnival Inspiration. This was also my first experience with Carnival all together. I did this sailing as a part of a group booking with a large group of friends. Now I didn't pick this ... Read More
I just got back from my first sailing with the Carnival Inspiration. This was also my first experience with Carnival all together. I did this sailing as a part of a group booking with a large group of friends. Now I didn't pick this particular cruise and I will admit that was a little skeptical about going on because Carnival has gotten a lot of bad PR lately. I had also read reviews on this site prior to sailing and they were overwhelmingly mixed. As a whole, the trip was a lot of fun because I had a great time with my friends. As for the Carnival Inspiration itself, I'll just say that it was decent.Now I will say that I actually am a pretty easy person to please. You put me in warm weather with a drink in my hands and good friends in company, and it is impossible for me to have a bad time. My only other cruise experience was with the Norwegian Gem, and I had an absolute blast on it. Just great overall satisfaction. The entire time on the Carnival Inspiration, I was struggling to find some of the same great qualities. Here's a break down: The food: Satisfying overall. No complaints here. The waitstaff were extremely friendly and warm. Can't say I didn't like any of the food, but there wasn't a meal where I was blown away.The Layout of the ship: A bit confusing. But of course, you're able to find stuff with trial and error.Just a few gripes:- The drain in our shower was clogged the whole week and filled up the whole time.- A few of the staff members (non-food service) were a bit rude to some of my friends for undeserved reasons.- Lack of entertainment and activities. For a group of 20-somethings, from 8-11 at night there was nothing to do besides the casino. The club was taken over by teens until 11 (I wish they had a separate one for them). There were only a few nights where the cover band played and the area they played wasn't exactly much of a dance area. We also wished there were more nightly game shows/activities for adults).- Pool was too small. The whole week we stayed on the back deck near the slides. My biggest gripe with that is that I wished they had music playing back there on the speakers because there wasn't any at all.- I knew the Inspiration was an older ship, but it didn't handle the motion of the ocean very well. Pretty bouncy.Other than that, it was still a fun time. But as my first Carnival experience, I just think it was a little too kid/family oriented and not that great for 20-somethings. I would say I prefer Norwegian more. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Starting out with the booking 8 months in advance with the Early Saver Plan. I advise everyone who knows they will not be cancelling to go this route. I call several times and checked weekly for changes and got upgrades and obc very ... Read More
Starting out with the booking 8 months in advance with the Early Saver Plan. I advise everyone who knows they will not be cancelling to go this route. I call several times and checked weekly for changes and got upgrades and obc very wonderful. We arrived at port 11 am on Thursday and we checked in very smoothly with no problems we eating by noon. Weather was a big problem and we were delayed by about an hour and a half, but they had us in our rooms before 1 pm and the party started from there. Headed to the Lido deck with drinks in hand and had a great day with the Waite staff which was friendly fun and very energized. Went to check out towels and headed for the hot tubs which were warm (not hot). I headed to our room before dinner and family went to the small dining room with a wine package and the food was hot and I am told very well done. I had room service and it was fast and very nice. After supper we all rejoined to check out some of the ships night life. Had a over 40's dance which we enjoyed and after about 2 hours had to call it a night, but was such a great way to start the cruise. A little about the ship it has 10 decks one pool one buffet large water works area serenity area was small, but had very little trouble finding a chair was quite and very nice 2 hot tubs both different temps, so that was nice as well. Lido deck had 2 hot tubs and pool dance area with life size chest pieces very cool. The fun was non stop on this deck with games and contest and dancing and loud. We stayed on the Empress Deck which is main artery to most everything from gift shop to main elv. to entry bar with piano very relaxing with lots of people milling around. The ship for the most part was very comfortable temperature. The shows we saw were both full of fun and energy great performers and a very pleasant way to spend a little indoor time. Had a great time at the comedy club for the adults very funny. The day at sea was not much different that the first day, spent most of time between the Serenity and Lido deck. Had Breakfast and lunch at the Buffet and it was all good, nothing stood out, but was well prepared with plenty of variety to choose from. Dinner was wonderful we were greeted by name and got hugs from our hostess and she was very funny. We had different companions every night and managed to have a oceanview table every night. They sang and danced during dinner every night and fun was had by all great food. We party and danced after the main show and went to bed to a clean room with a strange looking animal on our bed I think it was an ant eater, but not real sure. Did not see our room staff until the day we left the ship. We woke up in Cozumel. Spent the morning shopping and wondering around on our own very nice way to spend the morning it was very slow pasted no one bother us in the least and all were very friendly. We went to Pasion Isle for the afternoon for a buffet and all you can drink open bar and beach with palm trees water toys and oh by the way they had beds on the beach very odd but very cool. We had chairs under the shade of the palms and played in the water. The only bad thing was the trip back to the ship we sat on the bottom and were soaked and very chilled by the time we got back to the ship. Overall we had a fantastic trip and booked our 2ND cruise on board with 100.00 off price and 100.00 OBC to begin with for 7 days on the Legend. The whole experience was a pleasure stress free and very relaxing. The embarkation was a little long, but that was our fault you get off faster if you choose to self disembark which we did not choose. It took about an hour to get off, but it was very quick with no problems encountered. I would be very happy to go back on the Inspiration and will be doing more Carnival cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Let me preface this review of the Carnival Inspiration with this: We are frequent cruisers, who have only ever cruised with NCL in the past. We have been on 5 past NCL cruises, 4 of which were to the Caribbean, one to New England/Canada. ... Read More
Let me preface this review of the Carnival Inspiration with this: We are frequent cruisers, who have only ever cruised with NCL in the past. We have been on 5 past NCL cruises, 4 of which were to the Caribbean, one to New England/Canada. We took this cruise because we brought 4 of our kids and it was a little cheaper. Well, this was a hard lesson in "you get what you pay for". We will never, ever cruise Carnival again. I was *extremely* disappointed in this cruise. The ship itself was in good shape -- but the decor was so obnoxious. Horrible colors, very loud decor, very cheesy. The food was pretty bad. There were only two dining options for dinner. Either the main dining room -- which was about a 3 out of 5 stars, and the buffet, which was incredibly bad. The "sushi bar" was the size of a small closet and it was just shoved in the middle of a hallway not connected to any other eating areas. It was really odd. I guess I am used to having multiple, GOOD, dining options -- NCL has many different restaurants on their ships. I was shocked that we only had two options for dinner. At lunch they had a burger grill by the pool and a Mongolian stir fry area by the pool. Drinks were good -- but expensive. A cocktail was around $8 each. Smoothies for the kids were $5. I know I sound like a broken record here -- but the entertainment was horrible! On this 5 day cruise, there were 2 shows. That's it. 2 productions. The other three nights they had trivia or bingo in the theater. It was ridiculous. The first night they offered "Shout", which was actually pretty good. The lead female singer has a beautiful voice. There wasn't another show until the last night. And it was so painful to watch, I actually had to leave. The dancers timing was off so badly, it was distracting. Again, with NCL, they had shows EVERY night. Great quality shows, every single night, like Chicago Second City and Cirque. I guess I've been spoiled by NCL. On every NCL ship I've ever been on, the food, entertainment, and overall experience have been wonderful. Carnival was the direct opposite. The best part of the Carnival Inspiration? In my opinion, it was the cabin. The cabin was spacious for two people. There were 3 closets, 5 large shelves in the closet, and 4 drawers on the make-up desk. The bed was comfortable, the bedding was nice. It was actually roomy, and the bathroom wasn't bad at all. The staff on the Carnival Inspiration were very nice. Very gracious, very polite. Everyone smiled and were very accommodating. The Circle C club for 12-14 year olds and Camp Carnival for 7-11 year olds was pretty good. Our kids (ages 14, 11, 9, and 7) seemed to have a good time. They entertained themselves swimming or they would ask to go back to the organized kids activities, which we took as a good sign. To sum it up, you get what you pay for. The clientele on Carnival leaves something to be desired. In 6 years of cruising, I've never had to call security. I had to call them twice because of loud, obnoxious, drunken idiots in the cabin next to us. You pay cheap prices, you get cheap quality. Definitely NOT recommended.Let me preface this review of the Carnival Inspiration with this: We are frequent cruisers, who have only ever cruised with NCL in the past. We have been on 5 past NCL cruises, 4 of which were to the Caribbean, one to New England/Canada. We took this cruise because we brought 4 of our kids and it was a little cheaper. Well, this was a hard lesson in "you get what you pay for". We will never, ever cruise Carnival again. I was *extremely* disappointed in this cruise. The ship itself was in good shape -- but the decor was so obnoxious. Horrible colors, very loud decor, very cheesy. The food was pretty bad. There were only two dining options for dinner. Either the main dining room -- which was about a 3 out of 5 stars, and the buffet, which was incredibly bad. The "sushi bar" was the size of a small closet and it was just shoved in the middle of a hallway not connected to any other eating areas. It was really odd. I guess I am used to having multiple, GOOD, dining options -- NCL has many different restaurants on their ships. I was shocked that we only had two options for dinner. At lunch they had a burger grill by the pool and a Mongolian stir fry area by the pool. Drinks were good -- but expensive. A cocktail was around $8 each. Smoothies for the kids were $5. I know I sound like a broken record here -- but the entertainment was horrible! On this 5 day cruise, there were 2 shows. That's it. 2 productions. The other three nights they had trivia or bingo in the theater. It was ridiculous. The first night they offered "Shout", which was actually pretty good. The lead female singer has a beautiful voice. There wasn't another show until the last night. And it was so painful to watch, I actually had to leave. The dancers timing was off so badly, it was distracting. Again, with NCL, they had shows EVERY night. Great quality shows, every single night, like Chicago Second City and Cirque. I guess I've been spoiled by NCL. On every NCL ship I've ever been on, the food, entertainment, and overall experience have been wonderful. Carnival was the direct opposite. The best part of the Carnival Inspiration? In my opinion, it was the cabin. The cabin was spacious for two people. There were 3 closets, 5 large shelves in the closet, and 4 drawers on the make-up desk. The bed was comfortable, the bedding was nice. It was actually roomy, and the bathroom wasn't bad at all. The staff on the Carnival Inspiration were very nice. Very gracious, very polite. Everyone smiled and were very accommodating. The Circle C club for 12-14 year olds and Camp Carnival for 7-11 year olds was pretty good. Our kids (ages 14, 11, 9, and 7) seemed to have a good time. They entertained themselves swimming or they would ask to go back to the organized kids activities, which we took as a good sign. To sum it up, you get what you pay for. The clientele on Carnival leaves something to be desired. In 6 years of cruising, I've never had to call security. I had to call them twice because of loud, obnoxious, drunken idiots in the cabin next to us. You pay cheap prices, you get cheap quality. Definitely NOT recommended. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
This review is going to be lengthy, but also detailed and accurate. Quick background - Male 32 cruising with my fiance who is 30. We have both been on 4 previous cruises, all with Royal Caribbean, all of which were 7 day to the ... Read More
This review is going to be lengthy, but also detailed and accurate. Quick background - Male 32 cruising with my fiance who is 30. We have both been on 4 previous cruises, all with Royal Caribbean, all of which were 7 day to the Caribbean, both East and West. A friend of mine had booked this cruise for his family. He is brand loyal to Carnival. We were invited to tag along, and since we had the time and money, decided to join him and try out carnival for the first time. It also ended up being our last time on Carnival, as I will not cruise with that line again. Inspiration is a smaller, older ship. The smallest ship we had previously sailed on (Mariner of the Seas) was about twice the size of this ship. We have also been on Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, all three of which were all the worlds largest at the time we sailed them, with Oasis still holding that honor. I knew the ship was small, and a bit outdated, so I had based my expectations on that info. I had a very open mind while boarding, and was hoping to enjoy myself no matter the circumstances. First Impressions: -From the outside, its very easy to see what this ship is missing - balcony rooms. You can see from the outside it seems as if there are only about 20 balcony rooms on each side of the ship. Turns out, there are actually only 28 TOTAL balcony rooms out of the 1000+ staterooms on this ship. Very dissapointing, as we have always sailed RCCL on a class of ship with a majority of exterior staterooms having a balcony. -From the inside, the decor looks like its straight out of the mid 80s. This ship was built in 1996 and refurbished in 2007. I can't for the life of me understand how the decor is so outdated. -The ship itself is small, but I was hoping that could be a benefit as a smaller ship would have less guests, and I was hoping for shorter lines and less crowds. We could only hope, right? Stateroom: We ended up with an exterior oceanview room. This is the first time we have cruised without a balcony, and even though we would miss our balcony, the room was actually acceptable. It was spacious, and although its only update seemed to be the small flat screen tv, it was clean and got the job done. The bathroom was also ok, although our toilet seemed to get clogged way too often. A plumber came by once to take care of it, but he only fixed it for a day. Our stateroom attendant was nice, and seemed to keep things in order, however it actually took until the 2nd night on a 5 day cruise for us to actually see him. We are used to them finding us and introducing themselves, but no matter, he did an acceptable job. Food: This is where the real dissapointment hit. My fiance and I are not BIG eaters, however we do enjoy good food. We often go out for upscale dinners at area restaurants and enjoy eating well. This ship had no specialty restaurants. You basically have 2 options, the buffet or the dining room. -Breakfast: We had breakfast every day in the Brasserie, which is the indoor buffet at the back of the ship, on the Lido deck. The lines were long, the food was cafeteria grade, and most of the time it was either gone or cold. The scrambled eggs were runny, the french toast/waffles/pancakes pans always seemed to be empty, there was a worker serving you bacon (you were seriously alloted only 2-3 pieces) and most of the time that was about empty too. There were 2 straight days where the syrup was empty. The food was borderline horrible, and most of the time, there wasn't enough to go around. Most of the time the lines were so long because people were holding up the lines to WAIT for them to go refill something that always seemed to be empty. There was always plenty of seating in the Brasserie, probably because no one wanted to eat in there. The fresh fruit was hit or miss, sometimes unripe, sometimes overripe, sometimes just plain bad. There was always boxed cereal and cartons of milk, but I didn't really plan on eating cold cereal all cruise long. Also, the servers in the Brasserie didn't seem very happy about doing thier jobs. Most of them seemed incompetent and not friendly. This turned out to be a common theme on Inspiration. -Lunch: We had a little more luck with lunch, but only because they were cooking things that were hard to screw up. The Brasserie has a small salad bar, which was marginal, but in a pinch could get the job done. There is a small sandwich making station, which I used once and had a decent grilled ruben. The poolside grill was ok, with burgers, hotdogs, nachos and some cold salads. Also, there is a mongolian grill, where you pick your ingredients, and they stir fry it up for you in a large wok to order. We tried it once, it was ok. As with breakfast, most of the food seemed to be on par with a cafeteria somewhere, with the only exceptions being the made-to-order sandwich station and mongolian grill wok station. -Dinner: We ate in the main dining room 4 of the 5 nights. We were dissapointed with almomst everything. The highlight of this experience was our dining room staff. We lucked out and ended up with a very good Waiter named Felix and a very good assistant waiter named Waldondo (or something). The food was banquet food at best, and was usually bland, luke warm, and dated (as far as creativity and presentation). There was one exception...they are offering a made-to-order Filet Mignon for an $18 charge. My fiance and I both ordered it one night, and it was the best extra $36 I had spent on the cruise. My steak was cooked perfectly and was very tender (unlike almost everything else on the regular menu). The sides it came with were very bland and unimaginative, but the filet itself was great. -Dessert: The dessert selection in both the Brasserie for lunch and dinner and the Main Dining Room for dinner was not good. I don't have much to say about it. You could always order a scoop or 2 of vanilla ice cream, but besides that, there wasn't much to offer. The after dinner coffee was good. That's about it. Food Overall was a huge dissapointment. The selection in both the buffet and main dining room was weak. The quality of the food in both areas was weak. If you were someone who thought this food was good, you have either never been to a nice restaurant, or have not cruised on a newer RCCL ship. Thier food is above and beyond in both quality and seclection compared to the fare on Carnival Inspiration. Pool Area: I understand this ship is small, but I was floored at how small the pool area was, and by how few chairs there are on the pool deck. There was never anywhere to sit. This ship has 1 small pool on deck ten, along with 2 whirlpool jacuzzi's. Both the pool and the hottubs were always mobbed with kids. There seemed to be about 100 chairs for 2000 guests. One morning I got up at 7:30 to go and 'reserve' a couple of deck chairs by the pool - they were already all taken. I have been on a cruise ship with over 6000 passengers before, and have been able to find a deck chair in the sun by the pool - not on Inspiration. Bar Staff: Once again, dissapointing. I visited most of the bars on the ship, and with a few exceptions, most were horrible when it came to service. There were many occasions when I was the ONLY customer standing at the bar, and had to wait 2-3 minutes for a bartender to come over and ask me for my order. On more than one occasion I would stand there and watch 2 bartenders talk to each other for 90 seconds while ignoring me as a customer. When they did finally get around to taking my order, they were far from friendly. Thier attitude ranged from 'not giving a shit' all the way up to 'actually being bothered' by having to pop the top on a bud light bottle or make a margarita. Considering the steep drink prices, I would expect a smile and quick service. I never found that on Inspiration. Entertainment Staff: Wow, just wow. After returning from my cruise and reading some others reviews, I understand this ship is a 'training ship' for Carnival. I could not believe how pitiful the level of the entertainment staff was. It really seemed to me as if it was thier first ever cruise. The Cruise Director (Danny Giriducci) was non-existent. I saw him one time at the welcome aboard show and never once saw him for the remainder of the cruise. His ACD was friendly, but highly unpolished and unorganized. There seemed to be 3 others on the entertainment staff who moved about the ship hosting trivia, shows, contests, etc and they were all pitiful. Ben may have been the most boring human being I have ever met. I cannot for the life of me figure out how or why he is working as an entertainment host of a cruise ship. Sam is funny (mainly because of his British accent and physical comedy) but is unorganized and generally lost when it comes to getting his job done. Last but not least is Lee...boring, condescending and overall douchey. He is miserable at his job. My level of dissapointment was heightened by the bad weather on both 'at sea' days. The weather was not Carnival's fault of course, but it forced us to find other things to do than lay by the pool. I experienced more trivia, bingo, and contests on this ship than usual and all of it was either boring, stupid, or downright disasterous. The comics were both funny, but seeing as how they probably aren't actually staff of Carnival, Im not even sure I can give them points for that. Casino Staff: I have some good points and bad points about the casino. I am a gambler at heart, and usually book a vacation destination which includes some aspect of gambling (Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Cruises, Aruba, Atlatis, etc). I have a ton of experience in casinos and have seen just about anything and everything. My first impression of the casino was good. For a small ship, the casino was adequate. I like the craps table, and that is where I spent most of my time. As on most cruises, the table fluctuated between having no one on it, and being somewhat busy. The first night I spent about 4-5 hours on the craps table after dinner. I noticed the craps table crew giving players a hard time about everything. Don't tap the dice, don't rub the dice, don't toss them too hard, don't toss them too soft, you lobbed them too high, you are taking too long, etc, etc, etc. It was absurd. I have an understanding of casino operations, and I realize there are procedures in place, and policies that must be followed. However, the attitudes and behaviors of the craps table staff was out of line. It was everyone from the dealers to the stick man, to the box man, and even the pit boss. After listening to this for a good 2 hours, I expressed my displeasure to the box man at our table. Instead of listening and being apologetic, he actually became defensive and aggressive. I couldn't believe this type of behavior was acceptable. They promote this as the line of FUN ships. I promise you, the level of general unfriendly-ness displayed by the casino staff was making this experience NOT FUN for everyone, even the most seasons casino veteran. I took my complaints over to the pit boss, who listened to my rant quietly, told me he understood, and offered to buy me a beer. I declined and instead decided to end my business relationship with the craps crew for the evening. It was quite easy to see that most of the other craps table participants shared my opinion about how absurd the attitudes of the staff was. It was 100% unacceptable. Overall, this cruise is a disaster. I was not thrilled by the small ship, but I would have easily overlooked it, if the food was good, the service was good, the entertainment was ok, and there was places to sit around the pool. Unfortunately all of those things were a failure. I had initially thought Carnival was more of a party atmosphere type cruiseline, but as other reviewers have stated, its more like the Wal-Mart of cruising. If you are looking for a cruise on a budget, go for it, but be ready for dissapointment. Next time, I will go back to Royal Caribbean and spend 7 days on a large ship with good food and great service. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
OK, so I'm new to writing reviews, but I'm not new to cruising. This last sailing on Carnival's Inspiration was our 4th cruise, our first and third on RCI, our second on Disney. When we decided to celebrate our 20th ... Read More
OK, so I'm new to writing reviews, but I'm not new to cruising. This last sailing on Carnival's Inspiration was our 4th cruise, our first and third on RCI, our second on Disney. When we decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary by taking a cruise, we went in looking for a very inexpensive trip that also fit our schedule. This cruise was preceded by a week in Disney World with our 10-year old whom we shipped off to the grandparents so that we could have some mommy and daddy anniversary time. From the start, we had very low expectations as this was a Carnival cruise and we were somewhat snobbish. At each point we were met with smiles from the crew, especially the check-in staff. Once on board, we went right to our cabin, a Main deck midships interior stateroom that had a lot more room than I expected. It was well ventilated and unless someone walked by with a loud voice or heavy footsteps, we could not hear anything in the hallway. Here are our observations, cheers and jeers: The ship: Time for redecoration, Carnival. Dated is the best word I could use to describe the Inspiration's New Orleans themed decor. And who decides what gets shown on TV? The major networks were represented by Denver affiliates. Denver? We're in the Western Caribbean. Obviously, if you're in your cabin, you're not spending money in the bar; a place where the ship wants you to be. But for a ship with an east coast route that on our cruise seemed to be populated by mostly Floridians and east coasters, I would have expected something more Eastern. Oh, and if you're a ship nerd, take the behind the scenes tour. It was great seeing the crew areas, bridge, and engine control room. It really tied things together for me. The mostly Italian crew was so proud to be a part of this ship's operations that it showed in the way they did their presentations. Lastly, during this tour, it was revealed that the Inspiration is a training ship, most of the cruise staff works here to then be relocated to other ships. While it showed occasionally, it wasn't obvious. The food: with few exceptions, the food at the buffet was OK, not spectacular, but edible and filling. The only problem I had was the fried chicken - I tried picking pieces that were not too overcooked, but I was left very dry. In the Mardi Gras dining room, things were very different. Everything was well displayed, well cooked and with only one exception tasted very good. The exception was a lobster bisque that was not prepared to my liking. Otherwise, I looked forward to our dinners. One observation: we took the Your Time dining option which allowed us to show up at the dining room anytime we wished. Of the five dinners, only once were we seated immediately and that was at a time in between the early and late seatings. We were given a pager and told to wait for each of the other four dinners. The waits were not long, I think the longest we waited was about 15 minutes, but the first time we came to dinner and given a pager was somewhat surprising. The service: Our cabin steward was very attentive even though we met him late on our first night. Our cabin was always clean and our bed was always turned down at night with chocolate mints and the next day's cruise newsletter. Our ice bucket was always filled (something that I remember I needed to remind our steward of during our Disney cruise). This was one area where our expectations were exceeded. Because we ate a different times, we had different dining staff each time, however, I think because we were there at different times, we had unusually long waits for our orders to be taken, for food to be delivered, and for bar orders to be filled. Again, something to watch for if you take the Your Time option. All other staff and crew that we interacted with were otherwise OK, the cruise director was very personable, the assistant cruise staffers were typically corny. The itinerary: We had never been to Mexico nor the western Caribbean before so we would be experiencing new places. Grand Cayman, our first port, was very pretty. We selected on board, the Best of Grand Cayman tour, a bus tour with stops at a beach, a turtle farm, the Tortuga Cake store, and Hell, about three hours in total. We found Grand Cayman very pleasant and the Turtle farm a very interesting place to stop. Tendering wasn't a problem, but for the folks behind us in line there was a delay while the tender needed to change positions and then accommodate a handicapped girl. Be forewarned: the tenders are not wheelchair accessible and there can be large gaps between the tender and the ship's ladder. The crew did a commendable job with the young lady, but, it would seem to me there's got to be a better way to accommodate wheelchair bound guests. Our second port was Cozumel and our tour was a 7 hour trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. While this was a very hot day, our tour bus was air conditioned and we were never uncomfortable until we returned to the bus after walking the ruins. Again, be forewarned: much of this tour was travel, ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen, bus from Playa to the ruins. The star of our tour was Tour Guide Juan, a Mayan descendant who gave us the best history lecture I've ever had. He talked almost 4 hours straight, but it was not idle chatter. I would recommend this tour to anyone and if there's a way to get on Juan's bus, fight for that spot. The disappointment: After walking around the ruins in the Mexican heat, we really didn't want more heat. A day at sea was our last full day of the cruise and we didn't want to spend it outside on deck. We were dismayed to find that there were no truly comfortable reading locations anywhere indoors. There was a library and the internet area, but none of these places had anywhere one could recline and put one's feet up to read or simply snooze. We wound up spending many hours in the buffet, but a booth there was just not that comfortable. The surprise: We came into Cozumel near 11 am and before we docked, the cruise staff wanted the tour groups to organize early. We arrived in one of the lounges and sat facing a set of windows. As I was looking out the window, I saw that we were docking near another, larger ship. It was the Oasis of the Seas, RCI's monster leviathan. How the Oasis stays upright I'll never know and how sea captains of other ships don't get a case of ship envy is beyond me, but, in a word WOW. The other ships I've been on were certainly bigger than the Inspiration, but, none compare in sheer size or visual impact. Anyway, this would be a cruise line I would travel again but I would definitely not go to Mexico in August. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding ... Read More
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary with Carnival and we had a blast! There were so many options for us to choose from. Sky was the limit depending on if we wanted to party or have a romantic evening. There are lots of activities on the ship as well as wonderful excursions to choose from. There is no need to be bored when cruising with Carnival unless you lack imagination and initiative. The Lido deck was one of my favorite destinations. There was always some type of activity going on there (i.e. Hairy Chest competition, various battle of the sexes games, group cha-cha slide, etc...) The cleanliness of our cabin and the ship as a whole was impressive. You definitely saw the pride that the staff had in insuring that the ship always had its best foot forward. The food was surprisingly yummy. No, it wasn't 5 star cuisine but it was definitely a step or two above the cafeteria descriptions that I've seen in previous posts. The weather for each port (Cozumel and Grand Cayman) was warm, beautiful and sunny. However, the weather leaving Tampa was not ideal and nor was the weather ideal for our return. The water was a bit rough and we became ill. The staff was attentive in providing us with ginger ale and medication for motion sickness. Again, no one has control over the weather but Carnival did a great job in making sure that its passengers were well taken care off. I can't emphasize enough about the staff and its dedication. I must also echo other posters who mentioned the chocolate melting cake. It was outstanding! All chocolate lovers must at least try it once! All in all, my husband and I had a fantastic time and we would definitely cruise with Carnival again. Kudos to Skip and Matt and the rest of the Carnival team. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his ... Read More
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his very first cruise. We decided to escape the cold, and head to a warm location to see each other. When I started researching trips,I originally looked at ground beach vacations. I went to AAA as well as a local travel agent, but nothing compared to the price I found online for the 5 day Carnival cruise on the Inspiration. We booked in early October and began our countdown. We flew into Tampa a day early to make sure if we had to deal with snow delays in our hometowns we would be covered. Luckily no weather issues delayed us, and we arrived in Tampa and checked into the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Tampa. It was awesome with a really nice shopping plaza attached with lots of restaurants and nightlife.Our hotel was $99 a night and had a free shuttle from the airport. We did have to pay for our transportation to the cruise terminal which was a $20 taxi ride. We loved having a relaxed start to our vacation and even purchased 2 bottles of wine at the Grape wine store located right by our hotel and carried them on to the ship, since you are allowed 1 bottle (150 ml.) per person. We had dinner at Aqua Knox a really nice seafood restaurant in the Westin Hotel. Very elegant and nice. Embarkation was a breeze. We checked our luggage at the curb, and walked right on at 12 noon, easy as anything. The weather was a little rainy,but we ate lunch on the Lido deck and went and checked out the ship. We found it to be spotlessly clean and very nicely refurbished. The staff was always painting or cleaning endlessly and it was reflected by the awesome condition of the ship. Our cabin on the Main deck (M48) was roomy and spotless as well. Our cabin steward Lino, was always available and eager to please. Our room was an outside room with a window, and was great for watching when we pulled in and out or our ports and to see if it was sunny on those fun days at sea...luckily it was!!! Our first night we ate dinner in our assigned Mardi Gra Dining Room...and Aslam, our waiter was amazing. We also had a wonderful family next to us, with their two very beautiful daughters and a couple from Atlanta, who were also very nice. We always had a great time at dinner with our new friends. We loved the chocolate melting cake and all the appetizers and main dished...the food was fantastic every evening. On our first fun day at sea, it was also our first formal night. My boyfriend rented a tux from Carnival, which was very nice, and fit perfectly. With his 6'4" build, he looked amazing...not to mention hot. I wore a long formal gown, and was so excited about this evening. I had no idea that my boyfriend was about to become my fiance when he proposed to me on the top deck, looking out onto the ocean. It was so romantic, and the moon sparkled off my gorgeous diamond that he placed on my finger. It was very romantic and the perfect evening. That evening, we attended the musical show, which we found to be awesome. The costumes, choreography, and the overall performance entertained us above our expectations. The late night comedian was also very funny and enjoyable. Our first port was Grand Cayman, where I had pre-booked a private tour through Moby Dick Tours. They met us at the gate once we were tendered off the ship, and we were on our way to swim with the stingrays and snorkel on a coral reef. The tour was $40. per person compared to the $100. Carnival tour that was the same. It was also way less crowded. We had a great time and my fiance LOVED the stingrays!!! That afternoon we were back on the ship at 2:30 pm and relaxed before heading to dinner. Another great day. Our second port in Cozumel, Mexico was a lot more relaxed and more on our own. We had the most amazing day at Chanknaab Park, snorkeling, walking through the botanical gardens, eating lunch at the restaurant on the beach, swimming in the beautiful pool, and sipping exotic drinks out of decorated pineapples. It was an awesome and romantic day!!! We brought 2 boxes of Cheerios from on the ship and fed the fish while snorkeling. We brought underwater cameras from home to capture this feeding frenzy, which was cool, but a little freaky, being in the middle of a huge bunch of fish that were anything but shy. We also snorkeled up to the fence where the dolphins were kept for the swimming with dolphins tour. As we tried to see the dolphins, we noticed they were there on the other side of the fence trying to see us!!! We weren't sure who was more interested in who??? We would highly recommend Chankanaab if you are looking for a relaxing day on the beach that you can do on your own. The taxi to the park was $10 each way for 2, and $19. to enter the park. Drinks were cheaper than on the ship!!! It was a wonderful day. We also had our pictures taken with 2 iguanas and 2 macaws that we got to hold ($10, but really cool). The macaw on my head was biting my fiance's ear in the photo...great memories!!! After the sun started to cool, we headed back to the cruise terminal for a little shopping and a beer at one of the bars right on the water, before heading back on board at 7:30 pm. We cleaned up and headed o dinner, which was our 8:15 pm late seating. Another perfect day!!! Our last fun day at sea was a little cloudy and chilly to start out, but warmed up and the sun peaked out between the clouds. We brought our bathrobes down to the pool for those chilly cloudy moments, which worked out great. That day at 11 am they had a talk about disembarkation. I went, but it was on the Carnival channel the next day, so wasn't really necessary to waste an hour, even though the cruise director, Skippy did make it fun as well as informative. I can't say enough about the staff in general...they were all awesome. That night we went to the dining room for dinner again, and said goodbye to our friends. We also purchased our last photo in the gallery, and found that on the last day you get 4 free wallets per 8x10. They are $21.99 each, and since we were celebrating our new engagement, we purchased quite a few...I wish I had known about the wallets special if we had waited until the last night. The photographs were very nice...and one in particular took some awesome engagement pictured with my fiance down on one knee...and me looking surprised and happy. It is something I will cherish forever. That night the show was a Latin musical...again, very entertaining. Our last day, which was the day we disembarked, we had decided to check our luggage the night before, leaving it out in the hall for pick up before 11 pm, and have a relaxing morning before heading off the ship. We had breakfast, and went smoothly and quickly through customs which was effortless. It was then that we walked around the terminal in Tampa, and by chance ran into our captain from the Inspiration and had our photo taken with him. We never once saw him on the ship...but funny we ran into him after our cruise. He was a very nice man, and didn't mind being photographed with us. All in all...we had a perfect cruise...romantic, fun, relaxing, and just perfect. Thank you Carnival, you really are the Fun Ship and so much more. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
For reference, I'm a 53 y/o health-care exec who had never cruised before, and wanted a medium length cruise for starters. The 5-day Tampa itinerary was perfect for us, and the sole reason we chose the Carnival Inspiration. The ... Read More
For reference, I'm a 53 y/o health-care exec who had never cruised before, and wanted a medium length cruise for starters. The 5-day Tampa itinerary was perfect for us, and the sole reason we chose the Carnival Inspiration. The niceties. Food was good, not great, desserts {with the exception of the chocolate melting cake) were all pre-processed hospital-ish cafeteria fare and quite disappointing, but the service is outstanding. Now for the things I wish I'd known: 1) Carnival has absolutely no contingency plans for bad weather. The ship's arrival was delayed ~6 hours, and 2,000 people were sent to "find something to do" until the ship arrived. A generous $15 credit {sarcasm} was added to each person's bill to cover the $50 spent on two meals (if you could find an open restaurant) and entertainment during the 6+ hours in Tampa. Thankfully, the weather cooperated. 2) This ship is certainly ~not~ the one on which the brochure, and marketing video were made, and is also not a ship for discriminating cruisers. If you're offended by smokers, people of different races, disabilities, languages, sizes, cultures, this is not the cruise for you. It reminded me more of a tail-gate party outside a football stadium. Routinely, folks would light up in non-smoking areas, blow smoke any which way, and dump butts indiscriminately. Folks who'd eaten themselves into a disabled condition would blow their scooter horns to get to the front of the cafeteria line. Despite the crew's efforts, garbage was simply dropped every and anywhere, and those who don't hold their liquor well were always around to remind you that the drinking age should be around 50. 3) Carnival has no contingency plans made for itinerary changes. Due to the late start, the ports of call, and time off ship were altered. Most pre-booked excursions went off without a hitch, but when folks returned famished to the ship a couple of hours off schedule, the buffet was already closed!? Evidently no one told the dining staff. 4) Most of the employees are indentured servants who've signed a 6-10 month contract. They do one heck of a job, but you can't help feel badly when drunk, spoiled Americans (see #2) constantly berate and demand more from them with very little gratitude. But anything must be better than dumpster diving in Manila or selling one's self in Thailand {sarcasm} 5) The shows are entertaining, and if you're not amused, the cruise directors are there to constantly remind you that you indeed are "having a great time." 6) I'm a very light sleeper, so the rocking and rolling of the ship kept awakening me. If that didn't do the trick, the sound from the late shows at the Paris Lounge, or the drunks returning from where-ever would suffice to keep me awake. 7) Drinks is the real money-maker on this ship. The only freebies were tea and lemonade, and those machines were routinely empty or out of order. To amend, every 3 to 4 minutes, a wait staff would attempt to sell you some type of non-free drink, even if you'd told them "no" the first 30 times they asked. If you bought alcohol off-ship, they'd confiscate it on your return, promising to "safe keep" it for you until debarkation. 8) There is no way to adjust the temperature in the cabins. The only option was to adjust the opening of the A/C vent. 9) For a person who doesn't drink, gamble, sit in the sun or eat until I barf, the selection of activities was pretty meager. The only TV channels were from Denver!? so I became a fan of the map channel and became an expert at tracking the ship's position, speed and heading. 10) Again, (see #1) Carnival has no contingency plans for bad weather, and the debarkation process was a cluster-****. High winds kept us doing figure-eights in the Caribbean (compliments of the map channel) for 3 extra hours. We were promised that passengers with travel "issues" would be the first to disembark, but were not. I explained our flight dilemma to the 'guard' and was told you'll have no problem making your flight. As soon as the ship touched the dock, and the 3 missing non-US citizens were found, delaying the process another hour (perhaps announcements in their native languages would have helped), VIP passengers were allowed to disembark. Mass mayhem then ensued on the levels surrounding the gangway; no one from Carnival did a thing or said a word. We (of course) missed our flight home, but did catch a later flight. The later connection flight was booked solid, so we ended up renting a car and driving 7.5 hours from Detroit to our home in Upstate NY through a snow storm. Good times! Did I enjoy myself? Absolutely. Would I go again? Absolutely not. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again ... Read More
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again for an anniversary trip :). We decided to go this time from Tampa. We drove down the day before the cruise and stayed at the Laquinta Inn across from Busch Gardens. Very clean and safe feeling room! Some of the other establishments closer to the port had topless bars and gentlemen's clubs right next door, so we stayed about 15 minutes out. Embarkation Day: We arrived at the port at about 12:45, gave our checked bags to the porter, parked our car ($75 for the week), grabbed our carry-on bags and headed down to get in line. Getting on the boat was an easy process. We had our passports and documentation in-hand and ready to go. *TRAVEL TIP: ONE OF THOSE PASSPORT HOLDERS YOU CAN PUT AROUND YOUR NECK IS A LIFESAVER! When we got on the boat, our rooms were already ready, so we went straight there to drop off our carry-ons and check out our room. We had an interior room: it was the perfect size, very clean and comfortable. After checking it out, we headed up to Lido to grab a bite to eat. We got our food and went out on the deck to eat. The view from there was even amazing! Looking out over Tampa, a slight breeze blowing through my hair, was absolute bliss! I had grilled tuscan chicken, fruit and some yogurt...it was great! (I am dieting, and I had heard from several people that it is impossible to go on a cruise and not gain weight...I am happy to report that this is false...with good food choices and taking the stairs, you can LOSE weight. I didn't even use the gym, just the stairs instead of the elevator.) Our bellies full, we explored the ship and proceeded to the front of the ship to watch as we set sail. There was a lot to see...we passed an airstrip, a beautiful little lighthouse, and even went under a bridge!! (Awesome sight...it looks like the ship won't be able to go under, but it does with about 6ft of clearance.) We spent the rest of the night wandering around, hand-in-hand, exploring the ship. Dinner was great! We were seated with a couple our age on their honeymoon. They were really sweet! We ended up hanging out with them after dinner several nights of the cruise. Speaking of Dinner, it was fabulous!! Our waiters were Antonio and Jimmy. They kept us laughing, were very attentive, and knew us by name. As a matter of fact, they became our friends and even cheered me on when I was in the Talent Show. The "Super-charged" Maitre D, Joseph, was very nice and entertaining. They did a little show and dance every night and we loved it! We even got up and joined them at times. The second day, we got up early and had room service brought down. Some coffee, salmon and fruit. Love it! We did the scavenger hunt, went to a shopping and shore excursion talk, browsed the shops, rode the glass elevator, and so much more. Just being there with my hubby with no schedule, knowing we had the rest of the week to be together, was such a wonderful feeling. The third day was our anniversary. It was also Grand Cayman port day. We went horseback riding, which we booked ourselves online. It was great! We rode along the beach and backroads on horseback as we took in the tropical air and warming sun. We found a HUGE shell that we stopped and picked up. After that, we went back into town and walked to Eden Rock to snorkel. It was beautiful! Crystal-clear water, lots of fish and coral, and you can see the cruise ships in the background. We reluctantly went back to the ship and got onboard. The tender boat was a little rocky, as there was a storm rolling in. I had ingested a little salt water, so I felt a little queasy, but I was fine after boarding and drinking some water. We outran the storm, and the weather was perfect the rest of the time. The fourth day was Cozumel. We also went there on our anniversary cruise, so this place was special. We took pictures in some of the same places, did some shopping and then took a cab to Chankanaab Park, where we went swimming with the dolphins. It was magical! They pushed you, pulled you, gave you a kiss, danced, jumped, and let you hold it like a baby! Also at Chankanaab Park is snorkeling, snuba, hair wraps, shopping and lots more. After leaving here, we took a cab and went downtown. *TRAVEL TIP: UNLESS YOU INTEND ON SPENDING ABOUT AN HOUR AT A RUG STORE LISTENING TO THEM TRY AND SELL YOU A RUG, DON'T USE THE CAB COUPON FOR FREE FARE FOR VISITING GALLERY ISTANBUL!! ITS NOT WORTH IT UNLESS YOU WANT TO BUY ONE. THEY WERE PUSHY, AND WE WILL JUST PAY THE $7 CAB FEE NEXT TIME! We did some more shopping, DH bought a hammock and a rose for me :)We watched sunset...stunningly gorgeous!* YET ANOTHER TIP: WEAR BUG SPRAY!! We were eaten alive as soon as dusk arrived. We made a mad dash from store to store trying to find bug spray, and finally got some in the pharmacy. It was pretty funny in hindsight, not so much at the time :) I was in the Carnival Talent Show that night, which was a blast! I made lots of friends, and got to be "famous" for the rest of the cruise. Lots of fun! The fifth day was a fun day at sea. The weather was perfect. We did a lot of the onboard activities, got into the hot tub and hung out on the serenity deck. We did another scavenger hunt, this time digital, and came in second place. We got on our swim attire and went down the waterslide over and over like a couple of kids! Great times... The sixth day found us back in Tampa. We woke up early, went up to the top deck and watched the sunrise. It was so pretty! Then, we went down to the main dining room and had breakfast. It was good, and as I looked out the window into the bay, I wished we could just stay forever. I didn't want to go home! We gathered our things and went through customs(very easy). When we got home, I could still feel the ocean breeze and hear the rythmn of the music from the ship. I couldn't help but smile as the thoughts of the past week filled my mind. I told my Mom and Dad and several other family members about the wonderful time we had, and convinced them all to go back with us...We are currently planning our next cruise! :) Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Background Information Previous cruiser (12), this was 10th on Carnival - first cruise as Platinum Guest and 5th cruise on the Inspiration. I am 66, retired, wife is 56, we are recently married, this was our honeymoon cruise. We ... Read More
Background Information Previous cruiser (12), this was 10th on Carnival - first cruise as Platinum Guest and 5th cruise on the Inspiration. I am 66, retired, wife is 56, we are recently married, this was our honeymoon cruise. We live in North Port, Florida, only hours away from major cruise ports in Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Tampa. Travel To Port of Embarkation It's an easy drive from our home to the Port of Tampa, right up I-75, then I-275 over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Actually drove up the night before the cruise, eliminating any delays or unforeseen circumstances on cruise day. As an experienced cruiser, and having cruised out of Tampa many times, we arrived around 10 a.m., parked in the parking garage two blocks away, for which I was charged $56.00. Then, an easy walk to the terminal with our luggage. *Note - there is a sign at the garage that says "check your luggage first, and then park your car." I wouldn't recommend this, as you can have traffic problems getting to the curb with your vehicle, many people arriving, many still disembarking, typical pre & post cruise congestion. I find it much easier to park first and then walk the luggage over. Thank heaven for wheels on those suitcases. Although the official Carnival information advises you to arrive after 1:30pm, in reality the terminal opens for check-in at 10:30a.m. Checked the bags with the curbside porter, showed our funpass and photo ID, and we proceeded smoothly into the terminal. Another advantage of checking in early is that you simply beat the crowds. As we were Platinum Status, we proceeded promptly to VIP check-in, and in a few minutes were seated to wait for boarding to begin. There were two wedding parties which were boarded first, then all the VIPs were allowed to board, around 11:30 a.m. We proceeded to the Brasserie Lounge on the Lido deck for a nice leisurely lunch, then toured the ship until we could get into our stateroom at 1:30 p.m. Hotel Info We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Rocky Point Drive, (it's actually very close to the TPA airport), dinner at Bahama Breeze Restaurant which is adjacent to the hotel, simply walk next door and you're there. The hotel is located about 8 miles from the Port of Tampa, which makes for a leisurely drive to the Port on cruise day. I firmly believe that staying overnight near the port before cruise day eliminates any potential travel problems on embarkation day and contributes to more stress-free check-in experience. Stateroom We were on the Empress deck, Cabin E50. A typical ocean view cabin on the Inspiration, it was only about fifty feet from the lobby bar, purser's desk, and shore excursion desk. Although we were near the front of the ship, walking aft for dining or to lunch in the Brasserie lounge was not an issue. Nothing is really too far away on this ship. I had pre-purchased a dozen red roses for my bride, as well as "Happy Honeymoon" decorations, online through Carnival. Everything was there as ordered, the cabin was beautifully decorated, and my new bride was thoroughly impressed. Our cabin steward was Elio - what a jewel this man was. He was openly friendly and talkative, very helpful, and our room was always promptly cleaned each day. If you cruise aboard the Inspiration, you will be fortunate to have this man as your cabin steward. Ship Info Living in Florida, and Tampa being only an hour and twenty minutes away, I must admit to gravitating to the Inspiration many times. It's 4 & 5 day itineraries make for such affordable getaways and it's such an easy drive from where I live to the Port of Tampa. The Inspiration, although one of Carnival's older ships, has been well maintained, and continues to provide a wonderful and relaxed environment for cruising. Having been refurbished in September of 2007, everything is updated, new furniture, decorations, and especially the bathrooms in the cabins, all new and updated. Overall, a great ship and I've always enjoyed cruising on this vessel, even now planning our next one aboard this ship. I have cruised on the Inspiration three times before it was refurbished, and twice since the upgrade. Dining Someone in the Carnival dining room assignment hierarchy must have picked up on the fact that this was our "honeymoon" cruise, because we were assigned table 371 in the Carnivale dining room, (aft) we had late seating at 8:15p.m. It was a nice table for two, against the rail on the elevated portion of the dining room, overlooking the starboard side windows, with additional tables below our level between us and the windows. Our table was nice and private and would have been a great romantic experience except for the fact that our waiter also had two huge tables of ten people each. Because of the necessity of taking care of those two tables as well as us, we had to wait for what I consider unacceptable amounts of times between courses. For example, we would be served our soup, then 25 minutes later, the salad, then 30 minutes later the main course. We watched many other tables around us finish their meals and have their dessert and were up and gone before we even got our salad. I attribute this simply to the fact that our waiter just had too many people to take care of. My previous dining experiences on Carnival have all been good ones, so I consider this to be just one of those things that happen occasionally. (We did discuss changing our table, but we liked the small intimate arrangement and wanted to stay with it.) I would not give our overall dining situation a bad review because of this singular situation, but the slow service was so bad that on the last night of the cruise, we finally gave up on the dining room, and decided to have dinner in the Brasserie Lounge which was much more relaxing, food was fresh, and we enjoyed not having to wait between our courses. Overall the food was excellent, well-prepared. I did opt for the "pan-fried grouper" one night, which came out, cold, dry, and pretty much tasteless. Just a bad choice on my part, the other main courses were all very good. All things considered, the Carnival dining room experience is still a very good one. Service Except for our minor fluke experience in the dining room, Carnival's service overall was typically friendly, courteous, and at all times helpful. Crew members and service personnel were very nice, very friendly, very welcoming. I have found this to be a standard on all of my cruises aboard Carnival, and this particular cruise was no exception. This cruise was sold out (approx. 2000+ guests) so there were lots of people on board, quite a few children, and many teen-agers aboard, and there were a couple of incidents worth noting. Once, I saw two young boys repeatedly ringing the bell on the pizza counter to the point of obnoxiousness. Soon, a ship's officer (white uniform) appeared and gave them a sound scolding - you have to wonder, where were the parents? But kudos to this officer for actually doing something about it. On our second night out, we were awakened by rowdy guests in the hallway around 3 a.m. - sounded like teenagers partying down, lots of yelling, shouting and general horseplay. We mostly tried to ignore it and eventually went back to sleep. When the same thing happened on a subsequent night however, I called the Guest Services number, and was informed that they would take care of it. Soon, the noise stopped and to the credit of the security officers, we never heard that kind of disruption again. As this was my first cruise as a Platinum Guest, I want to comment on that aspect in particular; There was a letter in our cabin when we arrived, welcoming us as Platinum Guests, and describing the complimentary amenities, such as Personalized Stationery, Petit Fours delivered to our stateroom one evening, a special Carnival Logo item, along with guaranteed dining times, complimentary entrance to the Blackjack or Slot Tournament, complimentary arcade tokens, an exclusive "behind the scenes" tour of the galley, complimentary wash and fold laundry service, and last but not least, priority debarkation. The personalized stationery was in the desk - but who writes real paper letters anymore? The Petit Fours were delivered without warning one night just before dinner - and consisted mostly of small sugary items, small pieces of cake that looked as if they had been cut out with a cookie cutter, and some other small pastry items. They were all pretty unappetizing. We never touched them because they looked so dry and unappealing. We also did not take advantage of the casino benefit or arcade tokens, didn't use the Spa or the laundry service, or take the galley tour, so can't comment on those either. We returned to our cabin one afternoon, and were surprised to find a huge chocolate cake with "Bon Voyage" written across it, along with a note from the staff telling us the "special Carnival Logo items" had not arrived, so they were giving us a cake instead. (I think we were supposed to get a keychain or something.) Oh, well, can't blame them for trying to do something. But not being "sugar" people, we never touched the cake, but lo and behold, the next day another cake was delivered to our cabin along with another apologetic note! We carefully put both cakes in the passageway outside our cabin along with the unappetizing "Petit Fours," and at some point they all thankfully disappeared. Although it may seem strange that I see this as a "positive" experience, I actually do, because it means that somewhere, someone was actually paying attention to their Platinum Guests and at least trying to step up to the plate (no pun intended!) in living up to their promised Platinum Guest benefits. There were however, three other specific elements of Platinum status that actually had substance (as far as I am concerned) and that were meaningful to us; First, there was VIP check-in - instead of going to the "mass" check-in counter, we were directed to a smaller desk in a separate enclosed area, where a Carnival specialist verified our documentation, and gave us our Sail & Sign cards. Afterwards, we would normally be escorted to a separate VIP waiting area, although for this cruise that particular area was occupied by those two huge wedding parties. But to Carnival's credit, they kept all the VIPs together, an assigned agent continually brooding over us like a mother hen, and after the wedding guests and such were all on board, the VIP group was led aboard by a Carnival representative. So this is a really nice perk, you get to have lunch before the crowd hits, explore the ship ahead of the crowds, etc. Secondly, because we were Platinum Guests, our luggage tags had "VIP" on them, which provides for expedited handling. When we arrived at our cabin at 1:30 p.m. our luggage was waiting for us! This is something I have never experienced before, (my first thought was that it belonged to the previous guests) and I can say without reservation, this is a very nice perk. On previous cruises, sometimes the luggage didn't show up until after dinnertime, so this was quite a pleasant surprise. Thirdly - there was priority debarkation. On the last sea day, a letter was delivered to our cabin, inviting us to participate in "Priority Concierge Club Debarkation Service." You could either opt for the "self-assist" debarkation method, or the "check-in luggage" method. As we were in no hurry to leave the ship, we opted for the latter. We replaced our old luggage tags with the silver Concierge Club luggage tags provided for us, and put our luggage out in the passageway around 9pm. (You have until 11pm) On debarkation day, we were directed to go to the Shakespeare Library on deck 8 at 8:45a.m. As we were pretty much pre-packed because of having already checked our luggage, we slept in, said good-bye to our wonderful cabin steward, and then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the Brasserie Lounge. We arrived at the library at the appointed time, along with perhaps 50-60 other Platinum guests. A Carnival representative was there promptly at 8:45 to tell us that as soon as they received clearance, we would be escorted off the ship. The "self-assist" people debarked first, around 7:45, (this took the better part of an hour or so) and everything seemed to go smoothly. From my vantage point in the Library, I could see the guests leaving through two security stations on the Empress deck, and everything seemed to proceed smoothly. It was orderly and quiet, and there was never a back up into the stairwells and elevators like I have seen on some previous cruises. We were allowed to leave approximately 9a.m., and were escorted off the ship by a Carnival representative, and once in the terminal, were directed to collect our luggage from the "Concierge Club" staging area. All in all, this was nicely done, and as VIPs, we were essentially the first group (among those who had checked luggage) off the ship. (On a minor note - one of our bags was not in the Concierge Club area - so we had to flag down a Carnival rep who was very helpful in assisting me in locating the missing piece which had mistakenly ended up in the mass luggage from our deck. But this was a very minor event as far as I am concerned, and overall, Carnival did a really nice job with the priority debarkation) Port & Shore Excursions In Cozumel, we opted for the Ultimate Beach Adventure, purchased online before the cruise. We were met promptly at the pier at 9 a.m., left on time with about 20 other guests, for the 40-minute ride to the south end of the island to get to Crystal Beach which is located in Punta Sur Ecological Park. Our tour guide was "Felipe," very cordial and friendly, along with several other assistants, and a tour photographer. Once there, you could snorkel or use the kayaks, however those two activities were very structured and organized - you had to go with the group. Way too structured for me and my bride, so we simply stayed on the beach, swam a little, walked along the shore, and just relaxed. We were served a nice tropical lunch, barbequed chicken, rice, salad, guacamole & chips, fruit, water and fruit juice furnished as well. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and if you wanted shade you could go inside the luncheon area. We also had the opportunity to purchase photos on a CD (which we did), then a 40-minute boat ride back to the pier, arriving around 2p.m. This approximate 5-hour tour was just right, leaving us time to get cleaned up, and go back to the pier for a little souvenir shopping. It was a nice relaxing excursion, and we just might do this one again. (A reminder, bring some cash if you want beer, purchase photos, and of course for the tip - there was no pressure, but you do have the opportunity to tip if you want to.) Disembarkation Overall, very nicely handled by Carnival, very smooth. I have been on previous cruises before the current zone/color system was instituted, and it was an absolute nightmare. Carnival has truly put some effort into revamping this entire procedure, and now, all you essentially have to do is have some breakfast and wait for your area to be called. Unless of course, you opt for "self-assist" - but being retired and in no hurry, I don't typically use that method, although it works well for a lot of people. If you opt for self-assist you must have at least one hand free in order to grasp the hand rail on the escalators in the terminal, otherwise you will be directed to the elevators where there is usually a line. Summary You should be able to tell from this review that I am a confirmed Carnival "happy camper!" After ten cruises on Carnival, I have experienced nothing less than professional, friendly, and courteous treatment on each and every cruise. (I don't consider the minor issue in the dining room or with the misplaced luggage to be "cruise-killers," but then we are pretty flexible people and what bothers some people just doesn't bother us.) Although there have been minor bumps along the road in some of our cruise experiences, none of them has dampened our enthusiasm for Carnival. We have discovered that much of your treatment from cruise crewmembers and staff depends on your own attitude. Believe me I have watched some genuine idiot exchanges between unhappy and often impolite and downright rude guests and some of the Carnival staff, however this has not been the case for us. Always worthy of note on any cruise out of Tampa is the spectacularly photogenic and exciting cruise from the dock, along the Tampa ship channel, until finally passing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge approximately 2 ½ hours after sailing time. It is truly a sight to behold, a genuine Kodak moment, as the ship majestically glides beneath the bridge span and heads into the sunset and the waters of the open Gulf of Mexico. According to Wikipedia, The Travel Channel rated the Sunshine Skyway #3 in its special on the "Top 10 Bridges" in the World, and the bridge is considered the "flag bridge" of the State of Florida (*Note - if you have early dining seating you will miss the bridge passing - it's best experienced from the outside upper decks. Our solution? - late seating, or just do the Brassserie for dinner first night out.) For you stalwart photographers or sightseers, the ship passes under the bridge around 3 a.m. on the return leg. Like most cruises, even though the ship was full, you could always find places to hang out away from the crowd. We never found serving lines too long, we could always find a lounge chair, a table for lunch, or a quiet place to read a book. Will we cruise Carnival again? Well, we already have a cruise booked for next year on the Liberty! Of course, in the meantime, there is always the Inspiration...so close... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
My husband and I were on the Sept 22nd cruise out of Tampa, FL. We live near Tampa so we arrived early (10am) and instantly someone was there taking our luggage. We parked our car in the parking garage and it was well taken care of there. ... Read More
My husband and I were on the Sept 22nd cruise out of Tampa, FL. We live near Tampa so we arrived early (10am) and instantly someone was there taking our luggage. We parked our car in the parking garage and it was well taken care of there. We were there for a wedding, so as soon as the ship was cleared by customs we were one of three wedding groups on the ship before anyone else. Because of this we didn't have to fight the crowds. They did a quick wedding rehearsal while all the wedding attendees wandered the practically deserted ship. Lucky for us the Brassiere WAS serving, so even though we were going to attend a reception, we all loaded up on food beforehand. The wedding was wonderful and afterwards there was a reception in one of the dance clubs. The food was good at the reception and it was open bar so perhaps most of us had a bit much to drink before we even left port. After the noncruising wedding guests left the ship we went to our cabin and got ready for the muster drill. We were in U20, and I was worried about being near the front of the ship, but I actually ended up liking it up there. It was quiet because not a lot of people passed our way, and our steward was great. We had a bottle of champange and chocolate covered strawberries in the room because we were in the wedding party. The cabin was bigger then I expected, but we really didn't spend much time in it so it wasn't our big priority. I think it would be a waste of money if we would have gotten an exterior room. If your fairly active and like to be on the go, take my advice... save the money... get an inside cabin. After enjoying and wandering the ship at bit it was time for dinner. Our party opted for the 6pm dining so I was a little disappointed that I missed the ship going under the Sunshine Skyway. However we were sitting with the sailing wedding guests and newly married couple, so we couldn't bail on them. The food on the ship was excellent. I wasn't always thrilled with the choices in the Brassiere buffet, but I always enjoyed dinner in the dining room. The pizza bar was decent, and I never actually got the sushi bar when it was opened. If it was 24 hours I would have been eating a lot of sushi... The next day was a Day at Sea. My husband made it his mission to obtain as many 24ct. gold plastic pieces of ship on a stick as possible. Needless to say we participated in every trivia, beanbag toss, minigolfing, misc. game possible. I think we only won one of the trivia games this day because there was some super trivia freaks on the cruise. In the afternoon we dragged our friends that just got married and their parents to the Love and Marriage game show in the Paris lounge. Because they were the couple that had been married the least amount of time they ended up being one of the couples chosen to participate. Because the brides parents were married the most amount of time in the room they were ironically also chosen. Needless to say the game was HILARIOUS, and a must see event. On a negative, we, the newlyweds, and their parents purchased a copy of the DVD of the game, and ended up with a DVD of the game from a previous cruise. Although all parties have complained about it Carnival didn't make any moves to rectify the situation as far as I know. We really didn't push it or make a phone call, and pretty much figured that they probably already disposed of the game from the cruise we were on. Our first port of call was Grand Cayman. I really wanted to go to Stingray City but the hubby just wanted to explore the area.... so he won. It's a quaint place and we spent a bit more money then we planned on but had a good time. Hubby tried on a $20,000 Rolex and I had to draw the line! The second day was Cozumel. The husband saw how disappointed I was about Stingray city so he surprised me with two tickets to the Stingray encouter in Cozumel. I was a little disappointed at first because it didn't look like much and was right along the coast, but it was actually a ton of fun, and no worries because the stingrays all had their stingers cut. It was all enclosed in a very large netted area and we got to snorkle around with them and feed them for quite awhile! After our awesome adventure, which we spent quite a bit on the photos of, the husband went back to the ship to win his silly trophy for the day, and I went souvenir shopping. Word to the wise, don't shop in the plaza right off the port. I was stupid and bought a few things there, and found them soooo much cheaper when I walked out into the streets. Even though the streets seemed really shady, it was worth saving the money. I was a little sad we didn't go to Carlos and Charlies and that is a spot I will DEFINATELY being doing on my next cruise! Our last day at sea was a relaxing fun day. We spent most of it by the pool with our friends drinking out of smoke stacks and carved coconuts. My crazy husband even entered the hairy chest competition and got another trophy (for a grand total of 4). The hairy chest competition was HILARIOUS, and I am soooo disappointed I didn't have my camera!!! That day we also did the art auction. We ended up going a bit overboard and won three different pictures. We got them all framed and when they were delivered they were perfect. It was a lot of money to spend but we really love our pictures. Debarkation was crowded but swift, and I learned a packing lesson. From now on I need to have one hand free when walking with my luggage so I could take the escalator and not have to wait for the elevator. (they actually MAKE you wait and take the elevator for safety) I personally cannot WAIT for my next Carnival cruise now! It was so much fun! We actually are already planning our next one right now! Please don't be turned off by negative reviews of this ship... as with anything... it's what you make of it! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
I am 33 and my gf is 31. We are from NE Oklahoma and we left on Sunday Sep, 7th (a day early) and flew out of Tulsa to Tampa. We had a room booked at La Quinta about a mile from the airport, with one call from the baggage area they picked ... Read More
I am 33 and my gf is 31. We are from NE Oklahoma and we left on Sunday Sep, 7th (a day early) and flew out of Tulsa to Tampa. We had a room booked at La Quinta about a mile from the airport, with one call from the baggage area they picked us up. The driver was very friendly and the hotel was ok. It was far from a five star but I was just looking for something close to the airport with a fair rate. I purchased Carnival's transportation to and from the airport so we had the hotel take us back to the airport which was complimentary so that was good. I did not realize that the hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise terminal and it was cheaper. Had I known that I would have went with them but oh well, lesson learned. Ok so now that was all the pre-cruise. What I want to do is try to answer questions many have before taking this cruise and make it objective as possible. I read review after review with nothing but pure opinions and letting their personality take over. It does seem that certain types of personalities do enjoy the cruise very much and others do not. You may want to read several reviews written by people that seem to convey your same type of characteristics. This may help, I am not sure however, lol. I will admit I had a great time and nothing really upset me and things that did I overlooked them quickly and maintained my positive cruising outlook. But that is just me, I am not one to stare at every part of the ship looking for cracks and rust spots. Ok so we arrive at the airport baggage area and immediately spotted carnival representatives because they were wearing name tags and dressed in carnival attire. The gentleman smiled, asked me for my receipt, showed me where to wait and told me and my gf to have a great time. We waited for about 20 minutes and the big Mears bus arrived. We loaded up and went to another area of the airport and picked up more people. The bus was totally full and in fact one person extra. The bus driver then began to drive to the port, explaining sights along the way and giving us some information on what to expect when we arrive at the peer and how to embark quickly. The porters took our bags and off we went into security. Same security as in the airports, except I don't think we had to take our shoes off. Oh let's see, I think we got to the port about 1230. So we began to walk to the area where you get your sail and sign card and all and everyone was handed a little survey asking if we had any signs of swine flu. I checked every box yes and I wasn't allowed on the ship so here is the end of my review. I will remember next time not to joke so much, lol. Totally just kidding. So we got in line and it took about 15 minutes to be waited by a lady behind the counter. There were so many people working back there that it didn't take long. At least to me 15 minutes isn't long. I would say no more than ten minutes with the clerk then we were told a number and to start boarding the ship when they called it. It was 5 minutes and we handed someone our sail and sign card for confirmation then we walked almost onto the ship but we stopped at a place where they asked if they could take our picture with a backdrop of the ship. Then we got on the ship. So now on the ship, we were told it would be about 130 when we could go to our stateroom but there were buffets to get some lunch. We went and got a burger and some fries, there were other items to choose from such as hot dogs and all kinds of food. Then there was a choice of water, tea or lemonade to drink. We ate and then went around and took some pictures of the bay and the city and some of our ship. While we were doing that a carnival photographer came and took our picture. All the pictures they take of you are available on the promenade deck by the casino. We did eventually buy a couple of pictures and frames which came to 45 dollars approximately. There are different frames at different prices. Ok so when 130 hit we did go check out the room. This was my third cruise, my gf first. It was the same size as the other two I had been on, but she wasn't expecting it to be smaller than a hotel room. We did not like the temperature in the room, we always felt it was a little bit warm. I asked a few other couples I had met throughout the cruise and they didn't have any problems. I really think since me and her are hotblooded and overweight we don't cool down as quick. We wear shorts further into the fall than many others. If we would have spent more time in the room than to just relax and sleep, I would have been more upset. The first two cruise I took were inside cabins, this one was an ocean view. I will never cruise without at least a window again. It was nice being able to look out, and one time it stormed and the lightning across the water was something me and my gf enjoyed watching. The weather in Oklahoma had begun cooling down so we were getting beat down with the southern heat. There is one pool on the ship, I do not know the dimensions. At times where it was really hot, the pool was full with everyone just being able to stand in one spot. There is no pool with the slides or with the other portion of the water works. There is about 4 flights of stairs to get to the slide that winds around a few times. They also have two racing slides that is one deck high. I had fun on the racing slides and the swirly slide. There was always pizza available since it is 24 hour, along with the ice cream. There is a deli by the pizza stand that is open until 11 pm. The room service is also 24 hours. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich each night on my cruise. About 3 times they did not get the order exactly right, like not getting pretzels instead of chips or only one tea when ordered two. We went to the mardi gras dining room each night. There were about 6 selections of meat each night. Two I believe were the same each night. There were several starters each night and several different desserts offered each night. On the captains gala night, lobster was offered and so was prime rib. Every night I had the warm chocolate melting cake and most often the people I ate with ordered that as well. We opted for the anytime dining. We went down at a different time each night and were seated almost immediately except for the first night when we waited about 20 minutes for a table for two. The table for two people are spread about a foot apart from the table for four people. For the casino, there were about 50 or more slots. About 10 tables in all as well. I am totally throwing a guess at these numbers but you can kinda get the idea here. The casino is on the promenade with several bars. My gf sang karaoke 3 nights and she was totally a star in her mind and it was great for her to have such a great time singing. There were many people singing and just getting up and acting funny. There was not an hour or half hour where there wasn't some kind of activity offered somewhere on the ship. We did a salsa class where we got to learn a little salsa dance, we actually all got to get on stage and do it. Other activities included ice carving session where you could watch someone carve something out of a block of ice, they had a hairy chest contest, bingo several times and a drawing to win a free cruise. For 20 tickets it was 20 dollars to enter the raffle. Each time there was a bingo session, one card was offered for 10 dollars or a 3 card sheet for twenty dollars. There was a broadway style show that included dancing and singing and some humor. There was a comedian, we watched the pg13 version but didn't go see him when he did his R version. I laughed several times and it was often you could hear the audience laugh as a group. On debarkation day we got up at 6 and about 7 we went up to the Lido deck and had breakfast. About 745 they announced that self assist would begin soon. Me and Kandace went down to our room and gathered our things. At about 8 we preceded to leave the ship, we had to give our sail and sign card to a staff and they put it in a machine and then gave it back. We were allowed to go down the escalator because we had a free hand to grip the escalator. People that had their hands full or could not put a free hand on the rail had to wait for the elevator. We were off the ship by 820. We got to the airport so soon we were able to fly out at 955am instead of our scheduled flight that was going to leave at 430pm (long story). We got back into Tulsa like at 300. Now for the subjective area of my review (yeah I know I slipped at times in my review). We had a wonderful time, we met great people from the cruise critic roll call and they were an absolute delight. It made the experience even that much better. I enjoyed all the activities and all the food. Taking the tender to Grand Cayman stinks and is not for the impatient. We were shuffled around although we had an early excursion, but it wasn't booked with carnival. Carnival booked excursions were allowed to leave the ship first. I am not going to write about the ports and all. You can always write me and ask if you would like. I did love the stingray tour I did and all the people we did it with. WOW what a great time. I can't wait to go on the Conquest next year. Read Less
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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