Sail Date: November 2011
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the ... Read More
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the Embassy Suites at $93 for Sat and $103 for Sun and found that to be the average in Westport. The Wyndham was more than adequate and nicer than expected for the price. Unfortunately they discontinued the M&M's at the desk. I asked about it and the manager told me it cost on average $5,000 per month to keep M&M's on the front desk. They still have bags, all you have to do is ask. Recommend against the "Stay and Sail" package. The transportation folks will pick-up and drop off at the airport and the cruise port without the package. Save your money. The drivers don't see any of the $ from the package deal anyway, so our party of 6 tipped $30 each way and they were very appreciative. Embarkation: Standard porter haze, they won't let you check your own bag, so porter/tips are part of the deal. I guess $2 isn't too much to ask, I just don't like not having the option. Most of us did the "roll on" option and it was painless. The "Platinum Class" process looked very quick and efficient. The regular folks (us) were in line about 45 minutes. We've have definitely seen less efficient and comfortable operations. The Cruise itself: Ship- adequate, but lacking in many of the modern facilities of the newer ships. The ship only had a small pool and two hot tubs, no "jumbotron" for MNF or movies for the kids and an older somewhat inefficient design for traffic flow. Overall the ship was in decent shape but showed a very hurried dry dock where many of the finishing/cosmetics were rushed or incomplete. The carpet for example was not trimmed properly in areas or was left uneven. This is not a big deal but something that even a casual observer would notice. Our daughter was in the 9-11 year old kids program and quickly bored with the program. They do more babysitting than actual programs. Not terrible though, but anticlimactic after our last cruise on Disney. Food: Hit or miss. The dining room fare vacillated between above average to totally uninspired. The Lobster, prime rib, and chocolate melting cake were all good. The rest was mass produced and lacked inspiration and freshness. The Eggs Benedict had a hard crust every morning on the hollandaise sauce from sitting under the heat lamp. The service was polite but often deplorable. I use the empty water as a metric of service and we had to ask for more water every single meal. The servers are spread very thin and appear harried and undermanned. The days of personal service and building a report with your service staff are apparently over on the big box lines. JMO We never did room service, our daughter enjoyed the pizza and it looked fresh and good. The buffet on the Lido was often overrun with guests loading up on platefuls of medium quality fare. Entertainment: The comedians were fine, not to my taste but my wife laughed at Valerie Storm's show. The Variety show was actually well done. Not to Disney standards but well above the amateurish NCL star crew we saw last year on the Star. Ports: Grand Caymen- Walk outside the fence and book your own excursion, you end up at the same place and in our case the very same boat, at half price or less. Cozumel- We took a taxi to Palancar, I dove a single tank (Columbia, and Palancar gardens) and my wife and daughter snorkled. It wasn't cheap but very relaxed and low key. The dive was first rate ($60) and the snorkel equipment for the girls was $10 each. Mario the beach server was a genuinely nice man that doted over our daughter. Summary: Have fun but manage expectations before time so there are no major disappointments. Carnival is better than we remember but it's still very entry level. The rooms at 185 square feet are better than most and our steward Gabby was first rate. he definitely deserved the extra gratuity. The only negative comment I have about the stateroom was the dirty exterior of the window. Enjoy your vacation! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. We were really surprised at the number of children on this cruise. We were told that of the almost 3,000 passengers on board, 800 were children. We recommend getting to the ship by 1200. Check-in really is a breeze. The cost of parking is about $75. Before you park, drop your bags off and have them delivered to your cabin. When you return from parking, have your passport ready. Expect 15-20 minutes to get through security and checked in. We also recommend bringing as many cases of water on board as you can carry. We didn't know they would let us, but we wished we had. Once you're on board and settled, take a tour around the ship. This is not a huge ship, but one can get lost often enough. Shortly after sailing, you'll have to go through the muster drill. This too is very simply and Carnival does this drill by zones. Once the drill is complete, consider attending the Camp Carnival introduction. This is a free day care service which our daughter actually had fun participating in. They offered a list of daily activities and again, our little really enjoyed this. The food was not so great, but good enough for a cruise. Carnival does not offer open seating which we prefer, but we were lucky enough to sit with a very nice family. I'm not sure why, but Carnival did not have a lot to offer in the form of entertainment. Besides one really good show at the end of our cruise, there really was nothing offered. I mean outside of "Hair Chest" competition, gender wars, music trivia, etc. NCL & RCCL offer great shows. Overall, we would do it again. We didn't expect to be this happy with this cruise, but we were. On a scale of 1-10, we give this cruise a 7.5. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go ... Read More
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go all out and get the Grand Ocean Suite. The ship was nice. The food was good but not outstanding. The ports of call were beautiful and the kids were out of control. After weeks of research we decided to go with Carnival. They had the best price on their 5 day trips to the Western Caribbean and the best price on their Grand Ocean Suites. If we ever go on another cruise the Grand Ocean Suite will be a must! The suite is a great escape when one gets ready to sit back and relax for the evening. You get a large room with a king size bed, sofa sleeper, sitting area, walk in closet, full size bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, large balcony, refrigerator and a nice size LCD TV that had a good choice of cable channels. The suite was an excellent choice! The ship, the Carnival Inspiration, is an older ship that has been kept in good condition. Everything was clean and for the most part up to date. There is only one formal dining room but there is a second dining area that one can get food anytime of the day or night. The food was all good but nothing to brag about. The one formal night in the main dining room they did serve lobster, steak and shrimp. The other nights they had a choice of other meat dishes, fish and chicken. We are not the type to over indulge but I was told before the trip by others that had been on a cruise that you could order as much as you wanted at dinner, this was never offered in the main dining room. In the second, cafeteria style, dining room you can eat as much as you can stand. Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico were both great ports of call. The ports were clean and the water was unbelievable! In Grand Cayman we to a really nice bus tour of the island and in Cozumel we did our own thing with a taxi into the downtown area. The people were all overly friendly and helpful. The only downside to our experience was the parents on our deck who pretty much their kids to run the ship. The parents went off to have their vacation and let their kids do whatever. At night there was running in the halls, yelling, screaming and banging on suite doors. Many calls were made to security but many times nothing could be done because the parents could not be located. One day I'm sure we will again take a cruise. It is a great getaway and a fun experience. We have since found that there are adult only cruises for those who want peace at sea, that will be our next cruise! Here is a link, , 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: January 2011
This review is going to be lengthy, but also detailed and accurate. Quick background - Male 32 cruising with my fiance who is 30. We have both been on 4 previous cruises, all with Royal Caribbean, all of which were 7 day to the ... Read More
This review is going to be lengthy, but also detailed and accurate. Quick background - Male 32 cruising with my fiance who is 30. We have both been on 4 previous cruises, all with Royal Caribbean, all of which were 7 day to the Caribbean, both East and West. A friend of mine had booked this cruise for his family. He is brand loyal to Carnival. We were invited to tag along, and since we had the time and money, decided to join him and try out carnival for the first time. It also ended up being our last time on Carnival, as I will not cruise with that line again. Inspiration is a smaller, older ship. The smallest ship we had previously sailed on (Mariner of the Seas) was about twice the size of this ship. We have also been on Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, all three of which were all the worlds largest at the time we sailed them, with Oasis still holding that honor. I knew the ship was small, and a bit outdated, so I had based my expectations on that info. I had a very open mind while boarding, and was hoping to enjoy myself no matter the circumstances. First Impressions: -From the outside, its very easy to see what this ship is missing - balcony rooms. You can see from the outside it seems as if there are only about 20 balcony rooms on each side of the ship. Turns out, there are actually only 28 TOTAL balcony rooms out of the 1000+ staterooms on this ship. Very dissapointing, as we have always sailed RCCL on a class of ship with a majority of exterior staterooms having a balcony. -From the inside, the decor looks like its straight out of the mid 80s. This ship was built in 1996 and refurbished in 2007. I can't for the life of me understand how the decor is so outdated. -The ship itself is small, but I was hoping that could be a benefit as a smaller ship would have less guests, and I was hoping for shorter lines and less crowds. We could only hope, right? Stateroom: We ended up with an exterior oceanview room. This is the first time we have cruised without a balcony, and even though we would miss our balcony, the room was actually acceptable. It was spacious, and although its only update seemed to be the small flat screen tv, it was clean and got the job done. The bathroom was also ok, although our toilet seemed to get clogged way too often. A plumber came by once to take care of it, but he only fixed it for a day. Our stateroom attendant was nice, and seemed to keep things in order, however it actually took until the 2nd night on a 5 day cruise for us to actually see him. We are used to them finding us and introducing themselves, but no matter, he did an acceptable job. Food: This is where the real dissapointment hit. My fiance and I are not BIG eaters, however we do enjoy good food. We often go out for upscale dinners at area restaurants and enjoy eating well. This ship had no specialty restaurants. You basically have 2 options, the buffet or the dining room. -Breakfast: We had breakfast every day in the Brasserie, which is the indoor buffet at the back of the ship, on the Lido deck. The lines were long, the food was cafeteria grade, and most of the time it was either gone or cold. The scrambled eggs were runny, the french toast/waffles/pancakes pans always seemed to be empty, there was a worker serving you bacon (you were seriously alloted only 2-3 pieces) and most of the time that was about empty too. There were 2 straight days where the syrup was empty. The food was borderline horrible, and most of the time, there wasn't enough to go around. Most of the time the lines were so long because people were holding up the lines to WAIT for them to go refill something that always seemed to be empty. There was always plenty of seating in the Brasserie, probably because no one wanted to eat in there. The fresh fruit was hit or miss, sometimes unripe, sometimes overripe, sometimes just plain bad. There was always boxed cereal and cartons of milk, but I didn't really plan on eating cold cereal all cruise long. Also, the servers in the Brasserie didn't seem very happy about doing thier jobs. Most of them seemed incompetent and not friendly. This turned out to be a common theme on Inspiration. -Lunch: We had a little more luck with lunch, but only because they were cooking things that were hard to screw up. The Brasserie has a small salad bar, which was marginal, but in a pinch could get the job done. There is a small sandwich making station, which I used once and had a decent grilled ruben. The poolside grill was ok, with burgers, hotdogs, nachos and some cold salads. Also, there is a mongolian grill, where you pick your ingredients, and they stir fry it up for you in a large wok to order. We tried it once, it was ok. As with breakfast, most of the food seemed to be on par with a cafeteria somewhere, with the only exceptions being the made-to-order sandwich station and mongolian grill wok station. -Dinner: We ate in the main dining room 4 of the 5 nights. We were dissapointed with almomst everything. The highlight of this experience was our dining room staff. We lucked out and ended up with a very good Waiter named Felix and a very good assistant waiter named Waldondo (or something). The food was banquet food at best, and was usually bland, luke warm, and dated (as far as creativity and presentation). There was one exception...they are offering a made-to-order Filet Mignon for an $18 charge. My fiance and I both ordered it one night, and it was the best extra $36 I had spent on the cruise. My steak was cooked perfectly and was very tender (unlike almost everything else on the regular menu). The sides it came with were very bland and unimaginative, but the filet itself was great. -Dessert: The dessert selection in both the Brasserie for lunch and dinner and the Main Dining Room for dinner was not good. I don't have much to say about it. You could always order a scoop or 2 of vanilla ice cream, but besides that, there wasn't much to offer. The after dinner coffee was good. That's about it. Food Overall was a huge dissapointment. The selection in both the buffet and main dining room was weak. The quality of the food in both areas was weak. If you were someone who thought this food was good, you have either never been to a nice restaurant, or have not cruised on a newer RCCL ship. Thier food is above and beyond in both quality and seclection compared to the fare on Carnival Inspiration. Pool Area: I understand this ship is small, but I was floored at how small the pool area was, and by how few chairs there are on the pool deck. There was never anywhere to sit. This ship has 1 small pool on deck ten, along with 2 whirlpool jacuzzi's. Both the pool and the hottubs were always mobbed with kids. There seemed to be about 100 chairs for 2000 guests. One morning I got up at 7:30 to go and 'reserve' a couple of deck chairs by the pool - they were already all taken. I have been on a cruise ship with over 6000 passengers before, and have been able to find a deck chair in the sun by the pool - not on Inspiration. Bar Staff: Once again, dissapointing. I visited most of the bars on the ship, and with a few exceptions, most were horrible when it came to service. There were many occasions when I was the ONLY customer standing at the bar, and had to wait 2-3 minutes for a bartender to come over and ask me for my order. On more than one occasion I would stand there and watch 2 bartenders talk to each other for 90 seconds while ignoring me as a customer. When they did finally get around to taking my order, they were far from friendly. Thier attitude ranged from 'not giving a shit' all the way up to 'actually being bothered' by having to pop the top on a bud light bottle or make a margarita. Considering the steep drink prices, I would expect a smile and quick service. I never found that on Inspiration. Entertainment Staff: Wow, just wow. After returning from my cruise and reading some others reviews, I understand this ship is a 'training ship' for Carnival. I could not believe how pitiful the level of the entertainment staff was. It really seemed to me as if it was thier first ever cruise. The Cruise Director (Danny Giriducci) was non-existent. I saw him one time at the welcome aboard show and never once saw him for the remainder of the cruise. His ACD was friendly, but highly unpolished and unorganized. There seemed to be 3 others on the entertainment staff who moved about the ship hosting trivia, shows, contests, etc and they were all pitiful. Ben may have been the most boring human being I have ever met. I cannot for the life of me figure out how or why he is working as an entertainment host of a cruise ship. Sam is funny (mainly because of his British accent and physical comedy) but is unorganized and generally lost when it comes to getting his job done. Last but not least is Lee...boring, condescending and overall douchey. He is miserable at his job. My level of dissapointment was heightened by the bad weather on both 'at sea' days. The weather was not Carnival's fault of course, but it forced us to find other things to do than lay by the pool. I experienced more trivia, bingo, and contests on this ship than usual and all of it was either boring, stupid, or downright disasterous. The comics were both funny, but seeing as how they probably aren't actually staff of Carnival, Im not even sure I can give them points for that. Casino Staff: I have some good points and bad points about the casino. I am a gambler at heart, and usually book a vacation destination which includes some aspect of gambling (Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Cruises, Aruba, Atlatis, etc). I have a ton of experience in casinos and have seen just about anything and everything. My first impression of the casino was good. For a small ship, the casino was adequate. I like the craps table, and that is where I spent most of my time. As on most cruises, the table fluctuated between having no one on it, and being somewhat busy. The first night I spent about 4-5 hours on the craps table after dinner. I noticed the craps table crew giving players a hard time about everything. Don't tap the dice, don't rub the dice, don't toss them too hard, don't toss them too soft, you lobbed them too high, you are taking too long, etc, etc, etc. It was absurd. I have an understanding of casino operations, and I realize there are procedures in place, and policies that must be followed. However, the attitudes and behaviors of the craps table staff was out of line. It was everyone from the dealers to the stick man, to the box man, and even the pit boss. After listening to this for a good 2 hours, I expressed my displeasure to the box man at our table. Instead of listening and being apologetic, he actually became defensive and aggressive. I couldn't believe this type of behavior was acceptable. They promote this as the line of FUN ships. I promise you, the level of general unfriendly-ness displayed by the casino staff was making this experience NOT FUN for everyone, even the most seasons casino veteran. I took my complaints over to the pit boss, who listened to my rant quietly, told me he understood, and offered to buy me a beer. I declined and instead decided to end my business relationship with the craps crew for the evening. It was quite easy to see that most of the other craps table participants shared my opinion about how absurd the attitudes of the staff was. It was 100% unacceptable. Overall, this cruise is a disaster. I was not thrilled by the small ship, but I would have easily overlooked it, if the food was good, the service was good, the entertainment was ok, and there was places to sit around the pool. Unfortunately all of those things were a failure. I had initially thought Carnival was more of a party atmosphere type cruiseline, but as other reviewers have stated, its more like the Wal-Mart of cruising. If you are looking for a cruise on a budget, go for it, but be ready for dissapointment. Next time, I will go back to Royal Caribbean and spend 7 days on a large ship with good food and great service. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
OK, so I'm new to writing reviews, but I'm not new to cruising. This last sailing on Carnival's Inspiration was our 4th cruise, our first and third on RCI, our second on Disney. When we decided to celebrate our 20th ... Read More
OK, so I'm new to writing reviews, but I'm not new to cruising. This last sailing on Carnival's Inspiration was our 4th cruise, our first and third on RCI, our second on Disney. When we decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary by taking a cruise, we went in looking for a very inexpensive trip that also fit our schedule. This cruise was preceded by a week in Disney World with our 10-year old whom we shipped off to the grandparents so that we could have some mommy and daddy anniversary time. From the start, we had very low expectations as this was a Carnival cruise and we were somewhat snobbish. At each point we were met with smiles from the crew, especially the check-in staff. Once on board, we went right to our cabin, a Main deck midships interior stateroom that had a lot more room than I expected. It was well ventilated and unless someone walked by with a loud voice or heavy footsteps, we could not hear anything in the hallway. Here are our observations, cheers and jeers: The ship: Time for redecoration, Carnival. Dated is the best word I could use to describe the Inspiration's New Orleans themed decor. And who decides what gets shown on TV? The major networks were represented by Denver affiliates. Denver? We're in the Western Caribbean. Obviously, if you're in your cabin, you're not spending money in the bar; a place where the ship wants you to be. But for a ship with an east coast route that on our cruise seemed to be populated by mostly Floridians and east coasters, I would have expected something more Eastern. Oh, and if you're a ship nerd, take the behind the scenes tour. It was great seeing the crew areas, bridge, and engine control room. It really tied things together for me. The mostly Italian crew was so proud to be a part of this ship's operations that it showed in the way they did their presentations. Lastly, during this tour, it was revealed that the Inspiration is a training ship, most of the cruise staff works here to then be relocated to other ships. While it showed occasionally, it wasn't obvious. The food: with few exceptions, the food at the buffet was OK, not spectacular, but edible and filling. The only problem I had was the fried chicken - I tried picking pieces that were not too overcooked, but I was left very dry. In the Mardi Gras dining room, things were very different. Everything was well displayed, well cooked and with only one exception tasted very good. The exception was a lobster bisque that was not prepared to my liking. Otherwise, I looked forward to our dinners. One observation: we took the Your Time dining option which allowed us to show up at the dining room anytime we wished. Of the five dinners, only once were we seated immediately and that was at a time in between the early and late seatings. We were given a pager and told to wait for each of the other four dinners. The waits were not long, I think the longest we waited was about 15 minutes, but the first time we came to dinner and given a pager was somewhat surprising. The service: Our cabin steward was very attentive even though we met him late on our first night. Our cabin was always clean and our bed was always turned down at night with chocolate mints and the next day's cruise newsletter. Our ice bucket was always filled (something that I remember I needed to remind our steward of during our Disney cruise). This was one area where our expectations were exceeded. Because we ate a different times, we had different dining staff each time, however, I think because we were there at different times, we had unusually long waits for our orders to be taken, for food to be delivered, and for bar orders to be filled. Again, something to watch for if you take the Your Time option. All other staff and crew that we interacted with were otherwise OK, the cruise director was very personable, the assistant cruise staffers were typically corny. The itinerary: We had never been to Mexico nor the western Caribbean before so we would be experiencing new places. Grand Cayman, our first port, was very pretty. We selected on board, the Best of Grand Cayman tour, a bus tour with stops at a beach, a turtle farm, the Tortuga Cake store, and Hell, about three hours in total. We found Grand Cayman very pleasant and the Turtle farm a very interesting place to stop. Tendering wasn't a problem, but for the folks behind us in line there was a delay while the tender needed to change positions and then accommodate a handicapped girl. Be forewarned: the tenders are not wheelchair accessible and there can be large gaps between the tender and the ship's ladder. The crew did a commendable job with the young lady, but, it would seem to me there's got to be a better way to accommodate wheelchair bound guests. Our second port was Cozumel and our tour was a 7 hour trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. While this was a very hot day, our tour bus was air conditioned and we were never uncomfortable until we returned to the bus after walking the ruins. Again, be forewarned: much of this tour was travel, ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen, bus from Playa to the ruins. The star of our tour was Tour Guide Juan, a Mayan descendant who gave us the best history lecture I've ever had. He talked almost 4 hours straight, but it was not idle chatter. I would recommend this tour to anyone and if there's a way to get on Juan's bus, fight for that spot. The disappointment: After walking around the ruins in the Mexican heat, we really didn't want more heat. A day at sea was our last full day of the cruise and we didn't want to spend it outside on deck. We were dismayed to find that there were no truly comfortable reading locations anywhere indoors. There was a library and the internet area, but none of these places had anywhere one could recline and put one's feet up to read or simply snooze. We wound up spending many hours in the buffet, but a booth there was just not that comfortable. The surprise: We came into Cozumel near 11 am and before we docked, the cruise staff wanted the tour groups to organize early. We arrived in one of the lounges and sat facing a set of windows. As I was looking out the window, I saw that we were docking near another, larger ship. It was the Oasis of the Seas, RCI's monster leviathan. How the Oasis stays upright I'll never know and how sea captains of other ships don't get a case of ship envy is beyond me, but, in a word WOW. The other ships I've been on were certainly bigger than the Inspiration, but, none compare in sheer size or visual impact. Anyway, this would be a cruise line I would travel again but I would definitely not go to Mexico in August. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding ... Read More
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary with Carnival and we had a blast! There were so many options for us to choose from. Sky was the limit depending on if we wanted to party or have a romantic evening. There are lots of activities on the ship as well as wonderful excursions to choose from. There is no need to be bored when cruising with Carnival unless you lack imagination and initiative. The Lido deck was one of my favorite destinations. There was always some type of activity going on there (i.e. Hairy Chest competition, various battle of the sexes games, group cha-cha slide, etc...) The cleanliness of our cabin and the ship as a whole was impressive. You definitely saw the pride that the staff had in insuring that the ship always had its best foot forward. The food was surprisingly yummy. No, it wasn't 5 star cuisine but it was definitely a step or two above the cafeteria descriptions that I've seen in previous posts. The weather for each port (Cozumel and Grand Cayman) was warm, beautiful and sunny. However, the weather leaving Tampa was not ideal and nor was the weather ideal for our return. The water was a bit rough and we became ill. The staff was attentive in providing us with ginger ale and medication for motion sickness. Again, no one has control over the weather but Carnival did a great job in making sure that its passengers were well taken care off. I can't emphasize enough about the staff and its dedication. I must also echo other posters who mentioned the chocolate melting cake. It was outstanding! All chocolate lovers must at least try it once! All in all, my husband and I had a fantastic time and we would definitely cruise with Carnival again. Kudos to Skip and Matt and the rest of the Carnival team. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his ... Read More
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his very first cruise. We decided to escape the cold, and head to a warm location to see each other. When I started researching trips,I originally looked at ground beach vacations. I went to AAA as well as a local travel agent, but nothing compared to the price I found online for the 5 day Carnival cruise on the Inspiration. We booked in early October and began our countdown. We flew into Tampa a day early to make sure if we had to deal with snow delays in our hometowns we would be covered. Luckily no weather issues delayed us, and we arrived in Tampa and checked into the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Tampa. It was awesome with a really nice shopping plaza attached with lots of restaurants and nightlife.Our hotel was $99 a night and had a free shuttle from the airport. We did have to pay for our transportation to the cruise terminal which was a $20 taxi ride. We loved having a relaxed start to our vacation and even purchased 2 bottles of wine at the Grape wine store located right by our hotel and carried them on to the ship, since you are allowed 1 bottle (150 ml.) per person. We had dinner at Aqua Knox a really nice seafood restaurant in the Westin Hotel. Very elegant and nice. Embarkation was a breeze. We checked our luggage at the curb, and walked right on at 12 noon, easy as anything. The weather was a little rainy,but we ate lunch on the Lido deck and went and checked out the ship. We found it to be spotlessly clean and very nicely refurbished. The staff was always painting or cleaning endlessly and it was reflected by the awesome condition of the ship. Our cabin on the Main deck (M48) was roomy and spotless as well. Our cabin steward Lino, was always available and eager to please. Our room was an outside room with a window, and was great for watching when we pulled in and out or our ports and to see if it was sunny on those fun days at sea...luckily it was!!! Our first night we ate dinner in our assigned Mardi Gra Dining Room...and Aslam, our waiter was amazing. We also had a wonderful family next to us, with their two very beautiful daughters and a couple from Atlanta, who were also very nice. We always had a great time at dinner with our new friends. We loved the chocolate melting cake and all the appetizers and main dished...the food was fantastic every evening. On our first fun day at sea, it was also our first formal night. My boyfriend rented a tux from Carnival, which was very nice, and fit perfectly. With his 6'4" build, he looked amazing...not to mention hot. I wore a long formal gown, and was so excited about this evening. I had no idea that my boyfriend was about to become my fiance when he proposed to me on the top deck, looking out onto the ocean. It was so romantic, and the moon sparkled off my gorgeous diamond that he placed on my finger. It was very romantic and the perfect evening. That evening, we attended the musical show, which we found to be awesome. The costumes, choreography, and the overall performance entertained us above our expectations. The late night comedian was also very funny and enjoyable. Our first port was Grand Cayman, where I had pre-booked a private tour through Moby Dick Tours. They met us at the gate once we were tendered off the ship, and we were on our way to swim with the stingrays and snorkel on a coral reef. The tour was $40. per person compared to the $100. Carnival tour that was the same. It was also way less crowded. We had a great time and my fiance LOVED the stingrays!!! That afternoon we were back on the ship at 2:30 pm and relaxed before heading to dinner. Another great day. Our second port in Cozumel, Mexico was a lot more relaxed and more on our own. We had the most amazing day at Chanknaab Park, snorkeling, walking through the botanical gardens, eating lunch at the restaurant on the beach, swimming in the beautiful pool, and sipping exotic drinks out of decorated pineapples. It was an awesome and romantic day!!! We brought 2 boxes of Cheerios from on the ship and fed the fish while snorkeling. We brought underwater cameras from home to capture this feeding frenzy, which was cool, but a little freaky, being in the middle of a huge bunch of fish that were anything but shy. We also snorkeled up to the fence where the dolphins were kept for the swimming with dolphins tour. As we tried to see the dolphins, we noticed they were there on the other side of the fence trying to see us!!! We weren't sure who was more interested in who??? We would highly recommend Chankanaab if you are looking for a relaxing day on the beach that you can do on your own. The taxi to the park was $10 each way for 2, and $19. to enter the park. Drinks were cheaper than on the ship!!! It was a wonderful day. We also had our pictures taken with 2 iguanas and 2 macaws that we got to hold ($10, but really cool). The macaw on my head was biting my fiance's ear in the photo...great memories!!! After the sun started to cool, we headed back to the cruise terminal for a little shopping and a beer at one of the bars right on the water, before heading back on board at 7:30 pm. We cleaned up and headed o dinner, which was our 8:15 pm late seating. Another perfect day!!! Our last fun day at sea was a little cloudy and chilly to start out, but warmed up and the sun peaked out between the clouds. We brought our bathrobes down to the pool for those chilly cloudy moments, which worked out great. That day at 11 am they had a talk about disembarkation. I went, but it was on the Carnival channel the next day, so wasn't really necessary to waste an hour, even though the cruise director, Skippy did make it fun as well as informative. I can't say enough about the staff in general...they were all awesome. That night we went to the dining room for dinner again, and said goodbye to our friends. We also purchased our last photo in the gallery, and found that on the last day you get 4 free wallets per 8x10. They are $21.99 each, and since we were celebrating our new engagement, we purchased quite a few...I wish I had known about the wallets special if we had waited until the last night. The photographs were very nice...and one in particular took some awesome engagement pictured with my fiance down on one knee...and me looking surprised and happy. It is something I will cherish forever. That night the show was a Latin musical...again, very entertaining. Our last day, which was the day we disembarked, we had decided to check our luggage the night before, leaving it out in the hall for pick up before 11 pm, and have a relaxing morning before heading off the ship. We had breakfast, and went smoothly and quickly through customs which was effortless. It was then that we walked around the terminal in Tampa, and by chance ran into our captain from the Inspiration and had our photo taken with him. We never once saw him on the ship...but funny we ran into him after our cruise. He was a very nice man, and didn't mind being photographed with us. All in all...we had a perfect cruise...romantic, fun, relaxing, and just perfect. Thank you Carnival, you really are the Fun Ship and so much more. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
For reference, I'm a 53 y/o health-care exec who had never cruised before, and wanted a medium length cruise for starters. The 5-day Tampa itinerary was perfect for us, and the sole reason we chose the Carnival Inspiration. The ... Read More
For reference, I'm a 53 y/o health-care exec who had never cruised before, and wanted a medium length cruise for starters. The 5-day Tampa itinerary was perfect for us, and the sole reason we chose the Carnival Inspiration. The niceties. Food was good, not great, desserts {with the exception of the chocolate melting cake) were all pre-processed hospital-ish cafeteria fare and quite disappointing, but the service is outstanding. Now for the things I wish I'd known: 1) Carnival has absolutely no contingency plans for bad weather. The ship's arrival was delayed ~6 hours, and 2,000 people were sent to "find something to do" until the ship arrived. A generous $15 credit {sarcasm} was added to each person's bill to cover the $50 spent on two meals (if you could find an open restaurant) and entertainment during the 6+ hours in Tampa. Thankfully, the weather cooperated. 2) This ship is certainly ~not~ the one on which the brochure, and marketing video were made, and is also not a ship for discriminating cruisers. If you're offended by smokers, people of different races, disabilities, languages, sizes, cultures, this is not the cruise for you. It reminded me more of a tail-gate party outside a football stadium. Routinely, folks would light up in non-smoking areas, blow smoke any which way, and dump butts indiscriminately. Folks who'd eaten themselves into a disabled condition would blow their scooter horns to get to the front of the cafeteria line. Despite the crew's efforts, garbage was simply dropped every and anywhere, and those who don't hold their liquor well were always around to remind you that the drinking age should be around 50. 3) Carnival has no contingency plans made for itinerary changes. Due to the late start, the ports of call, and time off ship were altered. Most pre-booked excursions went off without a hitch, but when folks returned famished to the ship a couple of hours off schedule, the buffet was already closed!? Evidently no one told the dining staff. 4) Most of the employees are indentured servants who've signed a 6-10 month contract. They do one heck of a job, but you can't help feel badly when drunk, spoiled Americans (see #2) constantly berate and demand more from them with very little gratitude. But anything must be better than dumpster diving in Manila or selling one's self in Thailand {sarcasm} 5) The shows are entertaining, and if you're not amused, the cruise directors are there to constantly remind you that you indeed are "having a great time." 6) I'm a very light sleeper, so the rocking and rolling of the ship kept awakening me. If that didn't do the trick, the sound from the late shows at the Paris Lounge, or the drunks returning from where-ever would suffice to keep me awake. 7) Drinks is the real money-maker on this ship. The only freebies were tea and lemonade, and those machines were routinely empty or out of order. To amend, every 3 to 4 minutes, a wait staff would attempt to sell you some type of non-free drink, even if you'd told them "no" the first 30 times they asked. If you bought alcohol off-ship, they'd confiscate it on your return, promising to "safe keep" it for you until debarkation. 8) There is no way to adjust the temperature in the cabins. The only option was to adjust the opening of the A/C vent. 9) For a person who doesn't drink, gamble, sit in the sun or eat until I barf, the selection of activities was pretty meager. The only TV channels were from Denver!? so I became a fan of the map channel and became an expert at tracking the ship's position, speed and heading. 10) Again, (see #1) Carnival has no contingency plans for bad weather, and the debarkation process was a cluster-****. High winds kept us doing figure-eights in the Caribbean (compliments of the map channel) for 3 extra hours. We were promised that passengers with travel "issues" would be the first to disembark, but were not. I explained our flight dilemma to the 'guard' and was told you'll have no problem making your flight. As soon as the ship touched the dock, and the 3 missing non-US citizens were found, delaying the process another hour (perhaps announcements in their native languages would have helped), VIP passengers were allowed to disembark. Mass mayhem then ensued on the levels surrounding the gangway; no one from Carnival did a thing or said a word. We (of course) missed our flight home, but did catch a later flight. The later connection flight was booked solid, so we ended up renting a car and driving 7.5 hours from Detroit to our home in Upstate NY through a snow storm. Good times! Did I enjoy myself? Absolutely. Would I go again? Absolutely not. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again ... Read More
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again for an anniversary trip :). We decided to go this time from Tampa. We drove down the day before the cruise and stayed at the Laquinta Inn across from Busch Gardens. Very clean and safe feeling room! Some of the other establishments closer to the port had topless bars and gentlemen's clubs right next door, so we stayed about 15 minutes out. Embarkation Day: We arrived at the port at about 12:45, gave our checked bags to the porter, parked our car ($75 for the week), grabbed our carry-on bags and headed down to get in line. Getting on the boat was an easy process. We had our passports and documentation in-hand and ready to go. *TRAVEL TIP: ONE OF THOSE PASSPORT HOLDERS YOU CAN PUT AROUND YOUR NECK IS A LIFESAVER! When we got on the boat, our rooms were already ready, so we went straight there to drop off our carry-ons and check out our room. We had an interior room: it was the perfect size, very clean and comfortable. After checking it out, we headed up to Lido to grab a bite to eat. We got our food and went out on the deck to eat. The view from there was even amazing! Looking out over Tampa, a slight breeze blowing through my hair, was absolute bliss! I had grilled tuscan chicken, fruit and some 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 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 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: April 2009
The Inspiration was my first cruise ship so I don't have another one to compare it to.   So, everyone may have had a different experience and opinion but I will be as honest as I can possibly be.  This was a special anniversary ... Read More
The Inspiration was my first cruise ship so I don't have another one to compare it to.   So, everyone may have had a different experience and opinion but I will be as honest as I can possibly be.  This was a special anniversary cruise for my husband and I.  Leaving from Tampa on 04/25/09 to ports of call in Grand Cayman & Cozumel and returning to Tampa on 04/30/09.The ship only has one small swimming pool, which is most of the time a very congested area.  The water to the slides sometimes got cut off & was very disappointing for the children.  It was said to be too windy and for the bigger slide I can understand but not the smaller slides or water park area.  Most of the time we didn't have a problem finding a chair unless it was around the congested pool area. Be very careful about buying drinks due to they are very expensive.  A funship drink of the day is $6.95 w/a souvenir plastic glass to keep.  If you have the glass refilled it is $5.95, which I did not know & now have collection of about 12 glasses.  A 16 oz Bud Lite is $4.75 and don't forget the 15% gratuity unless otherwise indicated, which is another thing I learned.....after the fact.  We left $100 for gratuity when closing our "sail and sign" account and was unaware that some of it was going to our bar server, when we had already tipped them 15% after each service.The casino is fun but if you double your money in one sitting....walk away with it or you will end up losing it.  The slots are basically a waste and don't hit for much.  The disco club was alot of fun and the karaoke lounge was also pretty good.  The comedy club was good even though our comedian wasn't very funny.  It's all a matter of your sense of humor I guess.  The food was better than I expected, especially the dinner.  You can get two of everything, so order up if there is something you especially like.  The staff are really fun to watch dance & sing.  And they work very hard to take good care of you.  The Maitre D is also a fun spotlight.  The burgers on the Lido deck are pretty good and there are variety of different buffets on different days.  The tea, juice, & milk are free but soda is not.  If you must drink soda I would recommend buying a fountain card & get as much as you want.  Or take a small soft travel cooler w/as many as it will hold.  There is also only Coca~Cola products on board.  There is was a 24 hr pizza and soft serve ice cream bar.  And also, room service is free.There was a charge to play bingo, which I thought should be free.  There are lots & lots of photo opportunities with no obligation to buy.  Around $22 for an 8x10.The steward always kept our room nice and clean.  Fresh linens, bath & beach towels.  They never bothered anything of mine but they tidied it all up.  There were cute towel animals w/chocolates on our bed when we would come in from a long night.  Always read your Carnival caper to see what activities are planned for the following day.  We were one of the first cruises that the Cozumel port of call got cancelled due to the Swine flu epidemic.  There was no back-up plan for another port of call on behalf of Carnival, the captain or upper mgmt.  Everyone was fine with their decision to not go to Mexico for our safety, & everyone understood that.  They gave $20 back (of our own money) for our government fees and taxes for Cozumel.  But there was no compensation or another port of call from Carnival itself.  There wasn't a free drink or even a free bingo card.  Nothing.  Instead of going somewhere else we were at sea and slowly heading back toward Tampa.  The stabilizers were out on the ship and it was a pretty rocky ride.  I was told by everyone that "I would never know I was on a boat" but I very much did.  Since the ship was going so slow to kill the time to get back to Tampa, it was riding each & every wave in the rough & rocky sea.  There was plenty of time on Carnival's behalf to make a decision to either stay in Grand Cayman or find another port of call.  They knew of the high risk Swine flu epidemic in Mexico but chose to make the decision 9 hrs later.   By then it was too late to go back to Grand Cayman but there were other ports of call to go to.  A letter was slipped under our door at 11pm, when alot of families are already asleep.  They made a vague announcement throughout the ship but if you were asleep or at the disco or casino you couldn't really hear it.  There was a hush~hush impromptu meeting the following day for the overwhelming amount of upset passengers.  I wanted to scream...then cry, because the only thing Carnival would do was keep us at sea & go slowly back toward Tampa.  I knew I couldn't get my children the shell souvenirs I promised them.  And I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach, that I let them down, & thats all they asked for were...some simple seashells.  Shells on the beach that we found matter how big or small...& I knew we weren't going to have an opportunity to find any.  We live in TN and I knew once we were back in Tampa we would be shuttled away straight to the airport.  And Carnival could've cared less.  Everyone was stuck on THEIR boat spending money.  Buying THEIR souvenirs, THEIR pictures, THEIR drinks, THEIR bingo cards & needless to say, everyone gambling in THEIR casino.  Carnival made a killing by having everyone stuck on the ship instead of spending their money at some port of call.  In the end, we spent over $700 including the $100 gratuity & I left with a bitter attitude.  I felt like cattle being prodded through debarkation.  And Carnival preparing for the next new load to embark.  Chop Chop...Smiles on everyones faces!!!!!!everyone.....except the the shafted passengers.     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 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 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 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
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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