4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
My husband and I have done this itinerary with Carnival before and decided to do it again. We just love cruising and love Carnival. Everything is easy going, fun, and relaxing. Ship: easy to get around, we really enjoy the water slides ... Read More
My husband and I have done this itinerary with Carnival before and decided to do it again. We just love cruising and love Carnival. Everything is easy going, fun, and relaxing. Ship: easy to get around, we really enjoy the water slides (even though we are adults with no kids!), food and drinks are available everywhere. The 1st day the pool was out of service, and it was actually REALLY hot, so we were kinda disappointed (especially since we purchased the faster to the fun and got on early). BUT it wasn't that big of a deal, plenty of other things to go see and do. :) Also, some bathrooms did not work, but they eventually got it fixed. My point is, things don't always go as planned, but they work really hard to get it back to working. Cabin: we had a porthole cabin. It was nice because the porthole gives a little shelf to store stuff = MORE SPACE! But the rest was just as any other room we have stayed in (window/no window). LOL, our toilet seat broke one day. But our steward replaced it right away and was super cool about it. Dining: everything was good. Food wasn't amaaazing always, but it was always good. Lots of options. And of course, the molten chocolate cake never disappoints. This was the 1st time we had "your time dining", and we won't do this again. There is less organization going this route, so be prepared to wait. One time we were sat and had to wait about 15 minutes till others were sat until we could even start ordering. They like to get the whole section ordered at the same time. Entertainment & Activities: We did our usual stuff, casino, trivia, mini golf, pool, comedy shows, karaoke and as usual they are all amazing and fun. BUT the funnest thing we did this time was the late night "Adult" scavenger hunt. This was the 1st time we saw it on a cruise and had a hilariously fun night. If you see it in your schedule, DO IT! :D Service: no complaints. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. Take some time to talk to the staff, especially your room stewards. They remembered our name right when we were on board! Ports & Shore Excursions: Ensenada ... we didn't do any planned excursions. There is some shopping right when you get off the boat. You can get some trinkets, jewelry, etc. You can also sit down there and have a beer or drinks. We ended up getting on a bus, which was $4 roundtrip/each of us. Just keep your ticket to get back on the bus. Dropped us off in the shopping area, near Papas n Beer. Walked around, had some food, drinks, shopped. No kids were with us, but I really want to take my niece sometime soon. :) But there were plenty of kids on the ship, tons in the pool. But it is all good. For this cruise, we purchased the "Faster to the Fun" for ~$40 (it's good for anyone in your cabin). We got to get on board early, our room was ready (we got to the port around 12), there was absolutely no line at this time, flew by security, scanned bags, walked up and onto the ship! Literally less than 20 minutes. But the reason we purchased it was because I had to go to work the day we got back. It was GREAT!!! We had a special waiting area which had some pastries, coffee, water, juice. And we got to get off the ship 1st, again no line, no waiting! Definitely, the way to go. You also get priority at the ports, but we didn't use it then. We will definitely go again. We've been on about 5 Carnival Cruises now. We want to try others, but for now we're sticking with Carnival! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This is the first cruise for my husband and I. Because there was no phone or internet service readily available, it forced us to unwind and relax that we otherwise would not have done. I appreciated that actually. My husband unfortunately ... Read More
This is the first cruise for my husband and I. Because there was no phone or internet service readily available, it forced us to unwind and relax that we otherwise would not have done. I appreciated that actually. My husband unfortunately has stage 4 cancer and is not as mobile as he used to be. He doesn't like to draw attention to this so he uses no aides. The elevators not always going to the desired floor, but needing to go up a floor and then going to a different area to go back down was hard on him. If that could have been marked clearer it would have been helpful. The best part of the cruise for us was the delightful 2 people that assisted in the carnival dinning room. I can not say enough good about Dejan (I hope that is spelled correctly) and Yves. He and she, respectfully, was so kind and courteous. They are the memory I brought home with me. I actually wish I could have brought them home!! I enjoyed the craft portion of the day. I did not get the name of the girl who made the valentine cards, but she was amazing. She deserves special recognition. and the bubble of fun with the Aussie or British accent in the quilt a bear. She is the perfect personality for the public. Too bad that can't be bottled up and sold. I would really love to take this trip again. Dejon/Dejan asked me if I would be back. I told him no. This is because I doubt my husband will live much longer. However, if luck falls on my path, I truly would like to return. Especially if my favorite waiter is there. We was invited to come with a group of about 24, called the Lovers Holiday. BTW. Food was fabulous everywhere.. Especially the dinning room Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We booked a sxuite since I need a balcony and this is an older ship and only suites have balconies. We had a blast we went with 3 other couples.The food was fine in the dining room if you didn't something you just ordered something ... Read More
We booked a sxuite since I need a balcony and this is an older ship and only suites have balconies. We had a blast we went with 3 other couples.The food was fine in the dining room if you didn't something you just ordered something else. Sure it's not Ruth Chris but never had a bad meal and the molten cake is always a yummy desert. Our dinning staff Priyesh, Sheena, and Jordeesh always made our dining experience a joy! The best bar on the boat is the Alchemy Bar it is in front of the theater on the top portion. We called it the foo foo bar they don't have beer but the best mixed drinks!! Katie, Michelle, Zolton and bar manager Marin always went above and beyond!! We also booked a tour with Valley Girl tours in Ensenada I didn't want to get off the boat at first but found another person's post who was sailing on the same cruise and they mentioned wine tasting in Guadalupe Valley. A a was our tour guide and even though we had some issues with things being closed on New Years day she gave us the best tour!! I asked to see the best brewery and best winery since we had both beer and wine drinkers and an authentic Mexican lunch and she met those needs for sure I would highly recommend her!! All in all it was a fun time and I chat see why people would complain!! The comedian on the boat was hilarious! It is an inexpensive fun time in my eyes!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
Chose this cruise mostly due to restrictions on time. Only had Friday through Monday available. Starting out on a cold windy rainy day was our of our control. Luckily Carnival let us on ahead of our scheduled time, hopefully this let some ... Read More
Chose this cruise mostly due to restrictions on time. Only had Friday through Monday available. Starting out on a cold windy rainy day was our of our control. Luckily Carnival let us on ahead of our scheduled time, hopefully this let some others in early missing when the rain started. The dining was wonderful. Due to the late embarkation (purely caused by weather, not the cruise line) first dinner was random seating. I asked that night if we could be switched to a table for just two. The next morning there was a not slipped under out door stating our wish had been granted. After looking around more in the dining room I was amazed they were able to grant that since there weren't many tables for only two, The service in our room was just perfect. Couldn't have been any better. We hadn't planned on a shore excursion yet left the ship anyways since there were was a place to shop right next to the ship. Tom D. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have cruised on several lines including Carnival over the years. Wife and I wanted to try a shorter trip close to home to Catalina Island and Ensenada. Before booking we closely looked at reviews about this exact cruise. It funny that ... Read More
We have cruised on several lines including Carnival over the years. Wife and I wanted to try a shorter trip close to home to Catalina Island and Ensenada. Before booking we closely looked at reviews about this exact cruise. It funny that some people have a great time with maybe minor issue or two, but other people have nothing to say but bad things while on board. This trip was way beyond my expectations. We got boarded and debarked on the Inspiration quicker than any other cruise. We were in our cabin at 12:30pm with our luggage in the cabin. Our cabin steward KEVIN was the best. The food was all good, entertainment great , and the service from every person on the ship was fantastic. There weren't many kids on board and didn't see one person out of control. The ship was clean and didn't smell as people have mentioned. The bed was great and the shower was actually big. The ac was the best I had in any cabin. I guess it all comes down to what kind of attitude you have when going on a cruise. Either be positive, go with the flow, and have fun or be grumpy and have a bad attitude and bitch about everything. Not one person did I hear complain about anything. And we met some fine couples that we will be in touch for a long time. Great job Carnival Inspiration and keep up the great work. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Sailed the Inspiration as a getaway for my wife and I as we had been apart due to work for a couple of months. Wrote to John Heald (who gets bashed here way to often), asked if he could help with the MaitreD in getting us a table for 2 as ... Read More
Sailed the Inspiration as a getaway for my wife and I as we had been apart due to work for a couple of months. Wrote to John Heald (who gets bashed here way to often), asked if he could help with the MaitreD in getting us a table for 2 as we did not want to share our time with others as we had not seen each other in a long time. We had a great Table for 2 as requested when we arrived first night in the MDR!! Thanks John!! The Ship was decked out in Christmas festive attire :-) and looked awesome - for being an older ship I thought it was in awesome shape and the crew obviously took good care of it as evidenced later by all the attention to detail the crew provided at every turn. All the bar staff, deck hands and the entire crew were always happy to help and in a good cheerful mood! I thoroughly enjoyed being able to just take it easy this cruise - not rushing from one island to the next and the next excursion as I / we have done in the past. We went to the MDR every day for breakfast - after having coffee in the cabin :-) and then took our time on Catalina ( just took a trolley around town and strolled) and did the same in Ensenada where we after B'fast just took a cab to La Bufadora on our own ($40 RT for 2, and he waited for us 1.5 hrs (Paid on the return trip) ) MDR Staff FANTASTIC - Head Waiter Noel - what a hoot - and his whole team was very very attentive right down to knowing after the first night my DW drinks her H2O w Lemons so there was a plate of them every evening!! Overall it was a great cruise, loved the sea day - they actually just drifted for the whole day - a first for me - and the staff was great, atmosphere was relaxing - exactly what the Dr ordered! Thanks Carnival!! Another Job Well Done! Be back in April to do a 9 day Eastern Caribbean!! Read Less
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
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: 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
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: 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: 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
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: 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: 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
Sail Date: March 2009
Embarkation: My first cruise last year (on Carnival Fascination) was very hectic from getting from the airport to the cruise terminal with a late flight. My husband and I made sure we arrived a day early and this made everything so much ... Read More
Embarkation: My first cruise last year (on Carnival Fascination) was very hectic from getting from the airport to the cruise terminal with a late flight. My husband and I made sure we arrived a day early and this made everything so much easier! We rented a car with Alamo and they transport you to the cruise terminal and back to the airport free of charge if you rent a car with them and were very friendly. When we arrived at port, they took our luggage and we went through the line in a blink of an eye! I don't know why the Miami port was much slower, maybe because we got there later, but we were on the ship within a half hour and the staff was ultra friendly and helpful. Leaving Port: It was great to walk around the ship and view all the restaurants around the port and was really cool going under the Skyway bridge (took awhile to get there though, so just hang out and when you get closer go up top for pictures). On this day you pretty much eat lunch, explore the ship and get used to everything, unpack, etc. Day 1 (Fun Day at Sea): We just relaxed all day by the pool. Went to Captain's party since it was formal night, free champagne, wine and a cocktail. Took formal pictures (they really get you on this...no matter what package you want, you have to pay $21.99 for each picture, then you add on packages and frames). I recommend have fun taking pictures with different scenes and then pick one or two pictures that you like best. For 1 picture, a digital file and a frame it was $40. Lobster in Carnivale Dining Room was fantastic! Day 2 (Grand Cayman): We were on a budget and learned not to book excursions on the cruise ship if you are frugal. There were taxis waiting right at port ($10 for 2 people for 7 mile beach). Taxi took us up to little bar/restaurant towards the end of 7 mile beach. The beach is free and public so you don't have to go to a specific place! We laid out for awhile, used the free rest rooms and walked all the way back to port. If you are adventurous and do not have small children I highly recommend walking back. On our walk we got to see all the different resorts/condos, there were jet skis and catamarans right on the beach for you to rent. I stopped to swim during the walk and the water was gorgeous! Some parts of the beach are rocky with coral and some parts are like a swimming pool with sand. Best swimming in the ocean I've ever done! No waves at all, very calm. The stores in port aren't anything special. We did find a cool glass blowing shop on our walk back closer to port, but every place else seemed cheesy or too expensive. We went back to the ship for lunch taking the tenders which ran constantly so you never had to wait. Total spent at Grand Cayman: $10 Day 3 (Cozumel): Cozumel had a nicer looking port compared to Cayman with lots of shops and restaurants. We walked right off the ship, avoiding getting our picture taken and caught a $10 taxi to Chankanaab National Park. Again, we went out on our own which we liked because you aren't rushed on time constraints. I had printed out coupons online to save $2 a person off admission, but our taxi driver gave us a coupon for $28 a person, included park admission, snorkel gear, 2 free drinks and a t-shirt (awesome deal!). People in park were very friendly and park was well organized, looked like they were building more stuff. They had a botanical garden trail, Mayan ruin replica trail, swimming with the dolphins and pool (for extra fee), snorkeling, restaurants, bathrooms, showers, beach chairs, hammocks...everything you need. The lagoon and gardens were beautiful and it was fun seeing the plant and wildlife. Snorkeling was awesome! There are Mayan ruins, canons, and a statue of Jesus and Mary in the water that you have to find. Water was a little rough...my husband rented a life jacket for $5 extra since he isn't a good swimmer and was fine. Jesus statue was a little creepy, but snorkeling was great, lots of fish! Slippery getting in and out of water on rocks. Ate at restaurant, good food with outdoor kitchen. I had Quesadillas and husband has hamburger. Total cost: $20 for couple round trip transportation, $56 per couple park admission (including admission, snorkel gear, 2 drinks,and 2 t-shirts), $5 life jacket, $22 with tip for lunch with 4 drinks and 2 meals), so $103...not bad considering cruise excursion prices and what they include. Overall, we were treated like celebrities the whole cruise. Our steward knew our names, our dining staff knew our names and what we wanted to drink every night, the bar staff at the pool remembered us, and the George the Greek at dinner personally greeted us every night and arranged so that our friends could dine at our table. The magic show and newlyweds show were hilarious! The one comedian we saw, we didn't care for and the shows seemed too cheesy and a little outdated. Skip and Henny the Cruise Director and assistant kept the crowd going all the time. We participated in the St. Patrick's day party on deck and loved the live music everywhere. The food was always good and plentiful all day at 3 different locations plus a 24 sandwich and pizza bar and room service free of charge. We liked having our gratuities included in the bill and learned that the crew only gets paid off of gratuities. We took a galley tour of the main dining hall kitchen which was fun. The only down sides were that there were a lot of children always in the hot tub and splashing in the pool. I did use the waterslide and got stuck half way down, but if you are heavier than 120lbs you should have a smoother ride. Not too many spring break college students and those that were there were more behaved than the children with non existent parents. Since we had cruise before we were automatically upgraded by Carnival to an ocean view stateroom and got pins and a special invitation to attend an event exclusively for previous cruises with free alcohol and snacks. Can't wait to cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
Background: 12th & 13th cruise with Carnival. (Platinum) DH 56, myself 50. Love cruising with Carnival, No such thing as a "bad" cruise. This was the smallest ship we have ever sailed and we were a bit worried about not ... Read More
Background: 12th & 13th cruise with Carnival. (Platinum) DH 56, myself 50. Love cruising with Carnival, No such thing as a "bad" cruise. This was the smallest ship we have ever sailed and we were a bit worried about not having a balcony. It ended up being fine and not as big an issue as we thought it might be. We did miss having a balcony but the ships public areas were fine and we found plenty of quiet space to enjoy. This was also the shortest cruise we have ever booked so we did a B2B to make it meet our needs. Having to fly to a port we always try to get the most for our airline dollars and sail for at least a week. This B2B gave us 9 nights by doing the 5 day followed by the 4 day. We flew into St. Pete airport the day before we sailed, stayed at the airport Holiday Inn select. Very nice and only $110. We took the motel shuttle to the Tampa airport in the morning and then we took a cab from the Tampa airport to the pier for $25. Carnival doesn't offer a shuttle from St. Pete airport to the pier. We arrived about 11am and we were on board and enjoying lunch on Lido by noon. There were three wedding parties that boarded first followed by Platinum guests. 5day sailed from Tampa to Grand Cayman to Cozumel, back to Tampa. Followed by the 4 day, Tampa to Cozumel and back to Tampa. We have done B2B in the past and love the extra time on board ship. We never change rooms so it is extra nice not to have to pack up our things mid cruise to move to a different room. The Inspiration was a very nice ship, very clean and well maintained. Crew is super friendly and goes out of their way to make you feel welcome. We missed having a super club but the food in the main dining room was exceptionally good on this cruise. Very well seasoned and not at all bland. Room: Smaller than we are used to with not balcony but still fine over all. The bathroom set up actually seemed more spacious and we liked the bathroom better than on the larger ships. Our room steward was Erickson and he had our names and schedule down by the second day. Never once interrupted us or failed to service our room perfectly. Food: Better seasoned on this ship. We had late seating in the Mardi Gras dining room with "Super charged Joseph". Best maitre'd we have ever had. Very friendly and helpful. Seems to really enjoy his job and take pride in his staff. The first leg of our cruise our servers were Edmound and Romel. Perfect service, super friendly, very very good at their jobs. We always dine in the main dining room for our evening meal. The food is always hot and quite good. This is a very important part of our cruise experience. We also enjoy the waiters and getting to know them. Sadly we were unable to keep the same table for our second leg due to a Verizon group of 400 people that had reserved the area we sat in for the first week. We had to change tables for our four day and our servers were not of the same caliber the second leg. They were o.k. but not as good as Edmound and Romel. I tried the Bitter and Blanc for the first time on this cruise, yum. I may have a new favorite dessert. It was amazing. Pool areas: There is only one pool on this ship which seemed odd to us. The five day there were not as many children so the one pool area was fine. The four day had a lot more children so we didn't stay by the pool much. It was a bit overun with splashing/screaming 10 year olds. The adults only area was quite nice with very comfortable looking chairs and two hot tubs. The area is non-smoking so we never used it. Seems to me they could make an area of it smoking as it is open air and adults only so there is no reason it couldn't accommodate all the adults on board. Shows: The main shows were very well done and we enjoyed Shout both times it was offered. The adult comic was pretty good. We don't attend the other shows. Casino: TIGHT! They have an o.k. selection of machines but they are beyond tight. Couldn't hit a darn thing in 9 days. Worst we have ever done on any ship. DH did come in second in the blackjack tournament. Casino host is a very nice man. Ports: Shopped in Grand Cayman, stayed on board and spent the day by the pool on our first stop in Cozumel, second stop in Cozumel we spent the day at Nachi Cocum. Amazing day. Great food, unlimited drinks, great pool area with a hot tub, nice beach and very good service. $15 taxi ride from the port. We will go back to Nachi any chance we get. It was a great day at the beach. On-board shops: Much less selection than we are used to and very few items to choose from for items to take home to the grandkids. For the first time ever we didn't have to get off the ship to go thru immigration when we returned to Tampa after the first leg of our B2B? It seemed odd and must be a new way of doing it as most of the crew was confused as well. The pursers desk issued us our new sign & sail cards and told us we didn't need to get off. We walked around to take pictures of the ship while we were the only guests on board. Each time we would encounter a crew member they would tell us we needed to exit the ship. We would explain that we were doing a B2B and were told we didn't need to get off, they would then tell us that we did need to get off and then we would be allowed back on first. It was getting comical after three or four conversations so we just ignored them and went on our way around the ship taking pictures. Of course because we didn't get off no one thought to take our credit card information or our picture for the second leg of the cruise. The first time we went to use our sign & sail for a purchase it was denied and when we tired to exit the ship in Cozumel it set off an alarm and we had to have our picture taken for security. No big deal really, I think it is a new procedure and they don't have all the bugs worked out yet. Overall a great cruise. We would book an oceanview room again on a small ship such as the Inspiration. We still enjoy having a balcony and will always book one when available. We just don't pay extra for a suite to get a balcony. Looking forward to #14 on the Miracle in November. Booked the local super shuttle back to St.Pete airport for $36 total after we arrived back in port. Very easy and quite quick. We booked it at the office right beside the cruise check in area. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Review of Carnival Inspiration 1/12/09 * * * P R E P A R A T I O N I N F O R M A T I O N * * * E-Docs vs Mail Docs: This is really a matter of personal preference, but since we had an experience with both types of travel ... Read More
Review of Carnival Inspiration 1/12/09 * * * P R E P A R A T I O N I N F O R M A T I O N * * * E-Docs vs Mail Docs: This is really a matter of personal preference, but since we had an experience with both types of travel documentation, I'll give my input. We got antsy 25 days out from the cruise and downloaded E-docs, but the mail docs must have been on the way, because they still came a few days later. There is really no difference between the docs, except for the cute little folder they come in in the mail. If it's your first cruise, I say get the mail docs, it's kind of a souvenir. Otherwise, the E-docs are fine. One thing, however: We found the luggage tag stickers that came in the mail to be easier to deal with than folding paper luggage tags from the printer. If you get E-docs, I'd suggest printing them onto Avery labels or cardstock. Bringing Liquor on Board: I know people are asking about this all the time, and I'm not prepared to launch a debate on the matter, only telling you what I learned on my cruise. We brought 3 32-ounce rum runner flasks, and were extremely pleased with their performance. No leaks, no discovery, no confiscation. We left them out in the open in our cabin with no problems. I also spoke to a few people on board that had put glass bottles of liquor in their luggage and also reported no problems, so really, don't worry about being caught with rum runners. I can also tell you that everyone I spoke to who brought their own liquor (myself included) was still spending an awful lot of money in the bars on board. Packing and Carryons: As far as luggage goes, I'd say one checked suitcase and one carryon-size suitcase with clothes, shoes, bath amenities etc. is more than enough for 2 people on a 5-day cruise. However, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes, or bring it directly on board with you in a purse or carryon. You won't be able to go into your cabins until 1:30 at the earliest, and likely won't get your luggage before 5:00 pm. Between boarding and getting your luggage, the pools were completely empty, and this was pretty much the only time during the whole cruise where this was so, so if you want a nice private swim bring your suit on board with you. * * * EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION * * * Priority Embarkation: Since we had booked a suite, we got priority embarkation, and I have to say we enjoyed it. Rather than waiting in a long line to check in, we sat down at a desk, and were escorted over to a separate waiting area. They called it a VIP Lounge, but really it was just a little alcove with hard metal chairs. Still, we were first on board, which was very nice. At 11:30 we were boarded, and at 11:45 we had lunch and a Fun Ship Special. I should say, as many others have, that the VIP treatment ends with priority embark/debark. If you're looking for special treatment for booking a suit, don't book Carnival. We really had no expectations of special treatment, so it was fine by us, but we met a complainer or two who thought otherwise, so just be aware. Priority Debarkation: I thought we wouldn't like this part, since I was certainly not eager to leave the boat, but all the lounges and pools were closed, and we had to leave our staterooms by 8:45. Considering this, once we had eaten breakfast, there wasn't much to do, so as it turned out we were glad to be in Zone 1 (out of 26!) Security Check-In: We had a little adventure at the airport with TSA because of my fiancE's CPAP machine, so we were expecting a similar hassle going through Carnival's checkpoint, but we had none. The line moved quickly, and there were no mishaps, except that they made me throw away my nearly-full water bottle ;) * * * THE BOAT * * * Size: This was our first cruise, and at first we were awed by the size of the boat, but as the cruise went on, and we saw it docked next to newer, larger ships, we did start to notice that the Inspiration is on the small side for cruise ships. However, I didn't really see this as much of a drawback. We spoke to some people who had cruised Carnival's larger ships, and they said there was actually more to do on Fantasy-class boats than on some of the newer ships that had not yet received the Evolutions of Fun upgrades, but were not new enough to contain all these features built into them from the start. The lounges were small, but there were quite a few of them, and none of them ever seemed too crowded to me. Age and DEcor: Overall, the ship did not look old. It was kept very clean, and there were a lot of interesting touches to the dEcor. In a few places, it was a little much, but overall we found it tasteful enough. The Grand Atrium was really cool, but it was not fun to navigate when the ship was in rough seas and we were drunk to boot. The bright neon lights and mirrored walls do not agree with copious alcohol consumption or motion sickness. If you looked closely at some parts of the boat, particularly near the windows, you could start to see the ship's age, but we weren't bothered by it. The Lounges and Bars: There were numerous places to buy a drink, that's for sure. Even if you weren't at one of the many bars, lunges, or buffets, there were bar waiters in just about every public area at all times. Each lounge had its own theme and unique dEcor, and we thought it was just very cool overall. Our favorites were the Rock n Roll disco (actually rather tacky as far as dEcor went, but the place to be after midnight) and the Rhapsody in Blue piano lounge. The piano entertainer was very good, and the atmosphere in the piano bar was fun. The dEcor wasn't bad, either. I liked the round bar with piano keys all around the edge of it! We also spent a good deal of time at the Violins bar, because it was right on the main thoroughfare and had TV screens within sight. The Casino: Don't bother, really. If you came on the ship strictly to gamble, I expect you'll have a decent enough time doing so, but at that point why not just go to Vegas? We played the slots a little, and the fiancE considered joining a game of Craps, but we didn't see anyone getting much of a payout, anywhere. We've been to Vegas, and while the slots in Vegas always take your money in the end, you get little wins a lot more often there, so that it at least feels like you're winning, and you can keep playing for longer. I honestly felt like the machines in board were just eating my money, and the selection of games wasn't really any fun, either. Now, I know the slots don't pay out, but I sort of enjoyed playing them in Vegas. It turns out, it makes a huge difference when sitting there on that little machine is getting you free drinks whenever the waitress walks by. Without that incentive, I didn't see the point. We did win $50 on a quarter-flipping machine, but we put $30 into it, so it's a net gain of $20. We saw a woman before us trying to win the same bundle of 50 $1's, and she must have put over a hundred dollars into the machine before giving up. The Lido Deck: The setup of the Lido deck was really nice. The pool and hot tubs were in the center, with bars at one end and a hamburger/hot dug type buffet at the other end. You could really just kill a whole day there, if the weather was nice. The one complaint we both had about the Lido deck was that the bars never seemed to be open. The one on the port side was almost always closed, and the other one closed pretty early at night, I'm thinking it was before 8:00 pm. I think at least one bar should stay open as long as the pool and hot tubs are open. Waterworks and Serenity: Well, the Waterworks park looked really, really cool. I couldn't wait to go down that slide, grown-up or no. However, I sadly did not get the chance. During our cruise, winds were pretty high, so the water park was closed all the time except for when we were docked. Since I had shore excursions booked for the time we were docked, I never had the chance to try out the waterslide. Next time, I'm making it a priority! As for the Serenity area, it was a lot smaller than I'd expected. There were two hot tubs and perhaps 20 deck chairs. They were very strict about signing out towels in this area, so I'd suggest bringing your own down from your room, especially since you had to wait around for the Towel Lady (lol) to come back if you decided to sign one in or out while she was on break. It was hard to find time when there was room in the tubs, until we wandered down during the early dinner seating once and found them next to abandoned. The tubs on the Serenity deck were not filled as high as the ones on the Lido deck, but there weren't any kids in them, so it kind of balances out. My one major suggestion for the Serenity area: A bar! Even a rolling cart selling beers, anything! There were one or two bar servers that came onto the deck every now and then, but I don't think there was enough drink service in this area compared to other areas of the ship. The Staterooms: We had a Category 11 suite, and the first thing I need to say is this: We will never, ever book a room on the Verandah deck again. We had fairly high winds on our cruise, and it was hard to walk on that deck. I almost never get motion sickness, but by the last sea day I was taking Bonine just like everybody else. That said, the room was very nice. It was smaller than a hotel room, as expected, but a good size for the two of us, and we could have had 2 or 3 guests in there comfortably for a cocktail if we'd chosen to. The balcony was very small, to the point where it wasn't really comfortable to sit out on it. The two little chairs were faced sideways, and I'm not entirely sure they could have faced frontward with people sitting in them. It was also extremely windy on our balcony, because of the height. As for the dEcor, we found the rooms quite tasteful, and very comfortable. Really, our only complaint about the room was the location, and we had ignorantly picked that specific stateroom, so it's our fault. The bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept on, and I can't be the first to think so, because on the second to last day they delivered an order form so you could buy the same kind of bed for your home! Another thing we really liked about the stateroom was the location of the light switches. Each light had a switch in the normal place you'd look for one (by the doorway, etc) and a second switch right above the bed, near where your head would rest. No stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch! We also walked through the hallways on other decks and peeked into open stateroom doors. The penthouse suites looked very nice. From the outside, you could see the difference in balcony size, and on the inside I could easily see a family of four, five, or possibly even six with small children, being comfortable in that stateroom. The outside rooms looked decent too, and since we didn't make much use of our little balcony, we will probably book an outside stateroom on the Upper or Empress deck the next time we book a Fantasy-class ship. I don't think I'd bother with the Penthouse Suite on this class, even though it looked nice, because you could get a very nice oversized-balcony stateroom on a newer ship for the same price, or even a bit less, from what I saw on carnival.com. As for the Interior staterooms, I don't think I'd book one. They looked nice and clean, but so small, and with no window! I realize you don't spend too much time in your cabin usually, but I think the ideal room is somewhere between Interior and Cat 12. * * * THE CRUISE EXPERIENCE * * * Shows: The Love and Marriage show was, in a word, hilarious. I don't want to spoil it, since I think the format is pretty similar from cruise to cruise, but I'd definitely go and see it. There were a few information seminars held in the main showroom, like the shore excursions talk and the debarkation talk, and while you'd think these would be boring, they weren't too bad. The Cruise Director (FelipE) did a great job and had a lot of jokes and anecdotes to lighten the mood. As far as the "Vegas-style shows" went, they were pretty entertaining. You could tell that the performers were all excited to be there and were working hard, and overall it was enjoyable. However, I do need to say that if you've seen real Las Vegas shows in the city itself, you might be disappointed. Neither of the shows I saw on board really had any kind of storyline, unlike the shows I've seen in Vegas. The choreography was simpler, there weren't really any crazy stunts like in Vegas, and the dancers never seemed to be quite in sync with each other. It's a far cry from an actual Vegas show, but like with the casino: If you're looking for Vegas, then go to Vegas. The ship had its own thing going, a little more whimsical and a lot more family friendly, and once I started to take the ship's entertainment for what it was and not for a Vegas imitation, I found I enjoyed myself a lot more. We also enjoyed both comedians. They were both funny, both drew the audience in a lot. Eating & Drinking: Food, food, food. It was everywhere on this ship! On the Lido deck there were three separate buffets. Outside, there was the Poolside Grill, which served hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, nachos, French fries, onion rings, etc. Inside, there was the Rotisserie, which usually had two entrEe choices (chicken, turkey, ham, roast, etc) and a number of side items to choose from, as well as the Taste of Nations buffet, which showcased a different cuisine every day. I'd have to say Italian day was my favorite. If you need more options, of course, there's the Deli and the 24-hour pizzeria. We tried all the buffets, and we went to the formal dinner every night but the last. The food was excellent, everywhere. I ordered a few things I wasn't sure about, and liked some and disliked some. The great thing is, if you order something and don't like it, you can just order something else. I usually preferred the buffet food to the dining room food, but my fiancE said the opposite, so it's all a matter of personal preference. The deli does make a great grilled cheese ;) I won't be the first to say it: The chocolate melting cake is AMAZING. As far as drinking goes, I've already covered that there are bar servers everywhere. Any of the bars you go to have the same menu, so it's really just a matter of which one's closest to you. We noticed that the Drink of the Day offerings, by default, were fairly weakly mixed, but we tipped an additional dollar on top of the default tip for every drink we ordered, so once the waiter or bartender got to know us, we got progressively stronger drinks. They do have an offering on board where you can pre-pay for your DOD's and get a 20% discount, and I'd recommend taking advantage of it. It's $23 for 5 drinks, and we found it to be well worth it. We bought 2 punch cards, and drank all 10 drinks (I personally had eight of them ;) ) They also make a good Long Island Iced Tea on board. We did not buy a Fountain Fun Card (why do they call it that when there are no drink fountains, only cans??) and didn't regret the decision. Iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea, and water were always free and satisfied us. They also had a few different kinds of juice at breakfast time. If you have children or don't drink alcohol, a soda card might be good, but otherwise it didn't seem worth it. On the rare occasion we wanted a soda, we just bought a can for around $2. The Dining Room Experience: Definitely go to the main dining room if you're not doing anything else. Our servers were friendly and quick, and the little shows and activities they had at the end of the meal were fun. We were in the Mardi Gras dining room, with Wilson as the MD. (House reference not intended ;) ). We had no complaints about him, but we were regaled with many praises for George the Greek in the Carnivale, so if we sail the Inspiration again, we'll probably request a dining room change, just to see what it's all about. Our dining companions both at dinner and at the open seating breakfast were great. We enjoyed the conversation, and thought they matched the dinner seatings up really well. If for no other reason, go the DR for that chocolate melting cake. Night Life: We went to the Rock and Roll disco every night but the first. We had a great time. I'd say the best time slot is 12am to 2am. Dance music, drinking, plenty of cozy little lounge tables... what more could you need? We really enjoyed going here every night, first watching all the dancers (and there were some entertaining ones!) and then, having gotten progressively more intoxicated, dancing ourselves. Ship Staff: The entire crew was amazing. Seriously, nothing but praises from us. Our dining staff was great, all of the waiters and servers were great, entertainers were great, the cruise director was a lot of fun (FelipE for Captain! ;) ), our room steward was attentive and nice, and we loved the Towel Animals! We didn't want for anything on board, there was always someone taking care of it before we could ask. The ship was kept sparkling clean all the time, and the tables were cleared lightening fast. Overall Experience: We had the most amazing time. Despite choppy seas and high winds, it was the absolute best vacation we have ever taken, and we cannot wait to cruise Carnival again. While I'm sure we will book a Fantasy-class again, we're really looking at trying to sail on the Dream early next year. Cruising is for us, from this point forth! Anyone considering a cruise on Carnival, or the Inspiration in particular, go for it! You won't be disappointed! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Living in New York City can be really exciting, but after a while you need a vacation. In 2008 (my first vacation in over 5 years) my girlfriend and I decided that this vacation was going to come in the form of a cruise. After looking at ... Read More
Living in New York City can be really exciting, but after a while you need a vacation. In 2008 (my first vacation in over 5 years) my girlfriend and I decided that this vacation was going to come in the form of a cruise. After looking at multiple reviews and comparing cruise lines for quality, rate, and overall experience, we settled on the Carnival Inspiration. Upon arrival in Tampa, we looked for a taxi stand to get to the Pier (we opted not to go with Carnival's shuttle service). $25 and a pleasant taxi ride later, we arrived at the Tampa Port Authority. We got out of the cab and were immediately greeted by someone who took our bags and informed us where to go and how to proceed. - Embarkation: Overall this was a relatively quick and painless procedure. We went into the Port Authority and were immediately greeted with a long and twisting line that had to extend at least 150 feet from the starting point before twisting back around 3 times. Much to my amazement, we were only in line for about 15-20 minutes before we got to the counter to check-in. After showing our Passports and our Documentation, we were assigned a number (16 if I remember correctly) and went to sit in the waiting area and take in the views of the ship. We were called to board about 20 minutes later and after quickly making our way through the metal detectors, we were on the ship. - Upon entering the ship, you find yourself immediately in the Atrium. While not the pinnacle of elegant dEcor, the Atrium does impress with the sheer fact that it is 6 stories tall (if I remember correctly) and leads to a glass ceiling overlooking the bright blue sky. After being informed that the cabins would not be available until 1pm (it was around 11:30am at this point) my girlfriend and I made our way to the lido deck restaurant for lunch. The food on the lido deck was not bad, but definitely nothing to write home about. It was your typical buffet style fare including sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza, frozen yogurt, a salad bar, and a couple of hot dishes. It sufficed for lunch and my girlfriend and I loaded our plates, indulged in our first of many high-calorie meals, and made our way to our cabin. - Cabin: While I have read some horror stories about luggage taking hours to get to the staterooms, we had the good fortune of having both of our bags waiting for us when we arrived. Upon entering the room, we were pleasantly surprised at the size. While not a place you would want to spend exorbitant amounts of time in, it was definitely comfortable and spacious enough to meet the needs of a 5 day vacation. The room was very clean and I was pleased to find that, despite the fact that we booked a porthole room instead of a full window, we had a decent view. Waiting for us was not only the daily schedule, but a wealth of information on the ship, the ports of call, and all excursions offered. After dropping off the luggage and settling in a little, it was off to explore the ship. - Upon preliminary inspection of the ship, everything seemed pretty clean and well attended to. The library was very cozy, with dark wood tones and dim lighting, and very inviting (although this first excursion to the library would end up being our last). Moving our way up, we took a quick walk through the Promenade deck. One of the few critical things I have to say about this ship could be found on the Promenade deck in the photo area. Every time we walked through this area (and it was necessary many times as a lot of the ships activities, shops, and entertainment are located on that deck), without fail, it would smell like a combination of Sulfur Dioxide and Methane (commonly referred to as a "fart" smell). I would plead insanity had my observation not been confirmed by my girlfriend and other passengers aboard. Thankfully the smell was only relegated to that one area and once you passed through the archway next to the sushi stand, you were greeted by much more pleasant scents. We were then introduced to the person who I would say was one of the best Carnival employees ever: our Cruise Director Felipe Cuoto. He is not only an incredible cruise director who was friendly to guests and attentive to any questions, but he was a genuinely good guy and bought me and my girlfriend a drink when we approached him before a show one night. To Carnival: He is by far one our your best assets, do not lose this guy. After a little more exploration, it was time for our first dinner in the Mardi Gras Dining Room. - Dining: I can't speak for the Carnivale Dining Room, but the Mardi Grad Dining Room was an excellent experience all-around. We waited in line for about 20 minutes before we were seated. Upon entry to the Dining room, we were greeted by the Maitre'D: George the Greek. He was an excellent source of entertainment and keep a very attentive, nice, and most importantly, consistent staff. We had Edguardo as our main waiter and Desi as our assistant waiter. Both were not only excellent at their jobs, but were also great people. It was nice to be able to joke around with them and have them joke back. The food in the Dining Room was pretty good. It was by no means the finest in five star cuisine, but was not shabby at all. The lobster tail was especially tasty on the formal night. We didn't feel rushed and were always attended to if we needed anything. - Ports of Call: Our first port of call was Georgetown, Cayman Islands. This was by far the better of the two ports. We boarded our tender and were off to the dock. The tender ride was very relaxing, gave a great view of the island, and was only about 5 minutes from boat to shore. We got off at the dock and were brought through customs to the pier. We waited for about 30 minutes for our snorkeling tour to begin. We boarded the boat and were brought to two great locations (a coral reef and a shipwreck) that lasted about 2 ½ hours. The tour guides were very informative and very friendly. We had about 2 hours left after to tour ended in which we ate at a great seaside restaurant recommended to us by our snorkeling tour guides. It was the first time I got to taste both turtle and conch, and I would highly recommend both. We reboarded the ship and were on our way to Cozumel. Our arrival in Cozumel was not a grand as that of Grand Cayman as it was raining, but I can't really fault Carnival for that. We decided to not purchase an excursion from Carnival for Cozumel. We attempted to walk from Puerta Maya (where we docked) to downtown which was almost a 1 ¼ hour walk. DO NOT WALK THIS IF THE WEATHER IS BAD. My girlfriend and I were soaking by the time we got downtown which made the rest of that outing somewhat miserable. Lets move on to a more positive note: the entertainment. - Entertainment: The Welcome Aboard show was a great introduction to the staff and the main theater. While I didn't partake in the vegas style shows (as I have a lot of performance experience and genuinely hate this type of show) I did see two comedy shows, both of which were great. My first impression of the main comedian was that he was overall completely melancholy and lackluster. Much to my surprise, he turned out to be extremely funny in his late-night special. Definitely don't go by first impressions when it comes to comedy. There were cocktail waiters and waitresses constantly bringing you drinks which was a nice touch at a comedy show. My only wish is that the show would have lasted a little longer! The final thing worth talking about is the debarkation process. This also went very smoothly and without any hinges. We opted to take our luggage off with us, and I'm very glad we did. At 7:45am, they announced that those passengers carrying off their luggage could begin debarkation. We took our bags and left our room. We walked up to the Atrium and grabbed a spot in line. I took a few minutes to thank Felipe for a great vacation and within 5 minutes we were off the ship and getting a taxi to the airport. Overall this cruise was a fantastic experience. Even now I am starting to plan another cruise on the Carnival Miracle for September. I would highly recommend this ship to anyone who seeks a great cruising experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the ... Read More
This was my very first cruise back in 1997. I noticed that they didn't show the port we embarked at which was Puerto Rico nor was they year available but I was determined to see St. Lucia's Marigot Bay where they filmed the 1960's version of 'Dr. Dolittle' with Rex Harrison (after attending 6 yrs of vet med and dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 5 and when the movie came out...I was about 7 and knew it would be a veterinarian because of it lol.) We drove from New Orleans to Miami to visit family before we fly to Puerto Rico to board. This went well enough but living in Vegas for a year...my first impression was that it was as gaudy as the casinos :P No matter. It was about the ports of call and although I felt like a kindergartener getting off a bus for a field trip...I was pleased by all the different places you could see in a 1 or 2 weeks on these things! As bikers, we are used to a lot of freedom so being cramped in what we called a sardine can and having to dine at the same place at a certain time didn't appeal to us. Nor having to come in from play at certain times but all in all...the trip to St. Lucia with its Pitons, Harley rentals in Guadeloupe, and the spice island of Grenada (which also had a vet med there) was worth it (we didn't care for the us virgin islands or other places...we are rain forest, hiking trails, waterfall buffs. I had a beach house anyway so laying on a beach wasn't a vacation to me at that time). I didn't cruise again until last year. Twice. Now it will be twice this year! I am gaining more knowledge on how to use the ship's facilities, book my own excursions if they are sold out or have nothing appealing, make sure we are in a large balcony at minimum, and dining alternatives (although the busy carpeting is an eye sore lol) and realizing the value of these types of vacations!!!! You can't stay at the holiday inn down the road and eat at fast food joints for these prices!! And really....although bikers will say that it is all about the journey....sometimes I'd prefer to dig the destinations :))))) All in all...I wish I did these cruises more when I was younger. I am partial to carnival because of the king bed and a bit larger rooms but would like to try other ships. I believe for the value though...I'll always be loyal to Carnival :) Looking back now that I am older and wiser now Read Less
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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