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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