232 Carnival Inspiration Cruise Reviews

We just returned from the Inspiration ... first cruise with Carnival. My only other experience was on the Disney Wonder (wonderful!), so you will see I really am a newbie, and this review is written in the hopes it will be useful to others ... Read More
We just returned from the Inspiration ... first cruise with Carnival. My only other experience was on the Disney Wonder (wonderful!), so you will see I really am a newbie, and this review is written in the hopes it will be useful to others who are considering a first cruise. We learned much from the shared experiences of others, so I hope this will be helpful to someone else. We found the ship to be in fine condition. Certainly there were some areas showing minor wear and tear, but we always saw crew members cleaning, polishing, painting, etc. No odors were apparent to me either. Our stateroom, E-31, was on a very convenient deck and was always well kept by our steward. He made some awesome towel animals also! The one surprise with the stateroom was the bed situation ... we were a bit concerned when we arrived, as there was my husband, myself, my 17 year old daughter and 13 year old son ... and only the queen bed and a bed that folded from the ceiling. The steward brought in a cot, which was very low to the ground, and too short for my son. My five foot four daughter was comfortable, however, if you had two teenage boys it might be a problem. We thought the food was good -- too good! As others have said, the pizza and the deli sandwiches were both very good, and we enjoyed both the buffet and dining room offerings. Our server, Monalisa, was really nice and very accommodating. We enjoyed talking with her about her experiences on the ship ... she deserves every bit (and more) of the gratuity. I thought the entertainment varied from very good (SHOUT) to lame (game shows). The casino was always smokey and we weren't winning, so I limited my trips there. I do have to say I didn't think the planned activities were all that great -- but hairy chest contests, knobby knees contests, expensive BINGO aren't really my style. We had beautiful weather until the last day, the sailing was quite smooth. My kids were disappointed there were so few kids on board, which may have been because we were a couple weeks ahead of school vacation week. We did Soto's trip to Stingray City and it was great. We didn't do an excursion in Cozumel, although I wish we did. We spoke to others who had negative experiences with the tour to Tulum -- too hot, too long -- and also to a couple that loved the Xcaret Park tour. Now, for some unsolicited advice: 1. If you can afford it, get a stateroom with a window. Daylight is nice. 2. Keep your camera with you at all times. You never know when your brother will end up in the knobby knees contest. 3. Bring clothes for formal night -- you might think you don't want to go, but you'll wish you did the following day. And, that's the night they serve lobster. 4. Don't worry about how much you're eating ... you'll find you only go crazy the first couple days, then you'll naturally slow down consumption! 5. Plan an excursion for each port ... it's nice to get off the boat. If you get off and walk around, you'll probably be disappointed in the experience -- lots of poverty in Cozumel, and we had the same experience in Nassau a couple years ago. Arrange to see/do SOMETHING and you'll feel you've gotten more out of your port visit. 6. Have your picture taken at every opportunity ... it doesn't cost to have the picture taken (only if you buy) and you just might see one or two you really love. In summary, this trip cost a lot less than cruising on Disney ... and I did love that trip! For the money, Carnival is an excellent value! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
First, embarkation! The best I have EVER experienced!! I arrived at the port at 12 noon, walked right up to the desk, no lines, as smooth as silk! Great! Took about 5 minutes, amazing. Well done Carnival on that! My last cruise was with ... Read More
First, embarkation! The best I have EVER experienced!! I arrived at the port at 12 noon, walked right up to the desk, no lines, as smooth as silk! Great! Took about 5 minutes, amazing. Well done Carnival on that! My last cruise was with HAL and it took over 2 hours! You were greeted with free champagne, as much as you wished for, and I have to say, I love champagne, and this was actually pretty palatable too -- pretty decent stuff! I was alone so felt a little self conscious, but after a few glasses of champagne I felt more comfortable. LOL My luggage was already in my cabin so I quickly unpacked before the lifeboat drill. Asked my cabin steward to make sure to keep my ice bucket full as I had brought some champagne. It was a New Year's Cruise! First evening at dinner was not the best. My table mates were not the friendliest ... 2 couples and 3 single people. I was put off because the "social graces" for eating were somewhat gross .... slurping of soup and starting before everyone had received their plate, etc..sorry, am I a snob? I felt uncomfortable and unfortunately my food was not the best. I had the sweet and sour shrimp, with soggy batter ... not tasty. Anyway, I decided to forego dessert and got away as soon as I could. I met up with a couple of guys that were travelling together and they invited me to join them at their table the following night, which I did ... again, not the best experience ... they all chatted amongst themselves as they were from the same area of USA, so I felt left out. Never mind ... the Lido deck next time! Oh, and I must not forget the best lunch I had there ... the Indian cuisine ... it was delicious. The deli bar was good too. I think there could have been more choices at the salad bar, that was disappointing. It is difficult when you are travelling as a single female and also you don't want to offend the "creepy" people that are obviously looking for a cruise fling, so I kept aware and kept to myself while having a nice time. The onboard entertainment was average, keep away from the piano bar. Tim the singer and his wife .... ugh ... not the best. The Filipino band in the lounge were superb, very talented. I actually didn't go to the singles night or disco ... maybe next time. I really didn't notice the decor too much. There were some areas that needed revamping, like graffiti in the elevator, and some carpet stains, but not of major importance to me. New Year's Eve on deck was a lot of fun, lots of free flowing champagne again, with the countdown and a big screen of Times Square to look at also. Great atmosphere, but I felt somewhat sad as I was alone. It was mainly couples on board. In fact this was the first cruise I had been on with the majority in 30-40 age group, which I am, so this was great! The only port we were going to was Cozumel, so after docking on New Year's Day, with surprisingly no hangover, I went off and did the Royal Dolphin Swim at Chankanaab (sp?) park, and I have to say that was the highlight of my trip ... a truly wonderful experience for me! I loved it! I went to Fat Tuesdays and then downtown to Carlos and Charlies and had a great night, met a nice couple that I hung out with. I was in cabin E88 which was midship just down the hallway from the atrium. It was quiet ... yes, I was surprised. Although an inside cabin, it was adequate. My only major complaint was that the A/C could not be turned off. It was freezing at night, and I had to get extra blankets ... Oh, and the blankets could do with upgrades! To summarize, I had a nice time, and would do it again. The ship was in better shape than many reports I had read ... My next cruise I will have my mother with me ... the Miracle in June! Yay! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
This was my 3rd CARNIVAL Cruise, and my second on a "Fantasy" class ship, having sailed on the sister ship Fascination a year earlier. While Fascination's legendary mannequins were a thing of the past by the time I sailed, I ... Read More
This was my 3rd CARNIVAL Cruise, and my second on a "Fantasy" class ship, having sailed on the sister ship Fascination a year earlier. While Fascination's legendary mannequins were a thing of the past by the time I sailed, I can only hope that the Inspiration's gaudy and bizarre decor is the line's most extreme. While the cabin decks on all Fantasy ships are identical (orange, if that's your thing), the public decks are borderline obscene in their decor. The Lido deck buffet restaurant is outfitted with swirling purple pipes that are capped with what look like orange Tiffany lamp shades - sort of Captain Nemo meets Guys & Dolls. The Candlelight Lounge makes no attempt to replicate actual candles, but instead presents odd geometric arrangements of electric candles with blinding unflickering bulbs. The dining rooms are a little less garish, but still hardly conducive to a peaceful meal. If the decor in the dining rooms doesn't put you off, the blaringly loud Muzak will do the trick. The trademark atrium was without it's huge metallic sculpture I saw in photos, so at least there was a brief respite from the visual assault. The theatre's art nouveaux design got way out of hand, carried through to the carpets and stage draperies. Horrors. In brief, the ship is a floating "Salvador Dali Meets Las Vegas" style nightmare. But wait - that's just the surface. And you know what they say - "Scratch the surface..." Speaking of scratches, the ship seemed full of them! My cabin closet doors, drawers, sinks, floor and the corridor walls, too! I didn't see the usual "water stained carpets" (though I stopped looking -- too busy being appalled at the decor). This 1996 vessel is starting to show its age and the creaking is not just from the rocking of the ship. My aft inside stateroom on U Deck (a lateral upgrade) was very pitchy and in port one could hear all the mechanics of loading and unloading through the thin walls. The dining rooms (located just above) were also pitchy even in the calmest seas. Bravo to CARNIVAL for keeping the tourism going in devastated Grand Cayman, where hurricane ravages are as appalling as the decor onboard. The island's usual pleasures are visually diminished but remain enjoyable. I did the Island Tour to Hell and the Turtle Farm , but many found fun in swimming with the Stingrays, another island draw. Cozumel was what you make of it - as usual. If you don't like drinking, diving or diamonds -- head to the mainland for access to Xcarta or Tulum, both within a short trip. Carnival's Shore Excursions are wildly over-priced (do the math -- you'll be shocked) but it beats trying to configure the connections on your own -- and the comforts (while minimal) were most welcome. CARNIVAL's greatest scam is their "professional shopper" who does little more than endlessly urge you to visit "Carnival" approved stores with coupons, giveaways and other such nonsense. If you are just visiting for some trinkets and souvenirs, skip her idiotic talk. This particular gal was a regular "Mrs. Malaprop" mispronouncing words left and right in addition to scaring you to spend a single peso she didn't approve of. CARNIVAL's other great scam is their Art Auction. Skip it! They'll tell you they have actual Renoirs on board. Sure ya do. ;-) Lenny Renoir from Queens. FOOD was Carnival standard -- better than average but never memorable. Don't be shy about asking the waiter to manipulate the menu for you. Have two entrees or three soups if it suits you. They always serve Lobster AND Prime Rib the same night and I ALWAYS order both. Ice cream here was always served half-melted so keep to the other confections, which were tasty. On the Lido deck, FOOD service is to be commended for adding chicken and baguettes to the burger stands -- so you can make yourself a chicken breast sandwich if you don't want to leave poolside. The Lido lunch usually features a "Taste of Nations" which -- considering the multi-cultural staff -- is a good bet. The Indian and Caribbean were tops. Most baking is done onboard, which limits selection but keeps freshness paramount. Sorry to say, but the ENTERTAINMENT was just rubbish. One show -- something Latin - was just horrible and the other (SHOUT) was like a dreadful off-strip Vegas act. The recipe for Carnival is a male and female singer and assorted dancer/lip-synchers. Although Carnival is one of the few to still use live bands onstage, they supplement heavily with click tracks and vocal beds. A hasty Christmas Show would have been a bust had it not been for the kids of Camp Carnival, who boosted the affair's sentimental appeal considerably. Two comics did both PG and R rated shows and were funny diversions. Much better than the flame jugglers -- who were really sad. Cruise Director Lenny Halliday is a Carnival vet and suffice it to say, he has it down. The entertainment "hosts" were both bored 20-somethings -- one from Alabama and the other Scotland so we understood virtually nothing except for their dulled, barely-tolerant facial expressions. CASINO slots are tight and the machines are at least ten years old. The regular Bingo games could be livened up a bit by the staff -- they are starting to feel like what they really are -- perfunctory CARNIVAL money-makers. This 5-night cruise is a great value for money and terrific if your initial expectations are low and you can ignore Carnival's version of "fun" and provide your own. If you are relying solely on your "fun ship" to have a good time, however, you may be in for a let-down. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
We booked this cruise shortly after returning from another one on the Elation. We had such a great time that we could not wait for another one. Let me preface this review with we had a great time on this cruise. Although this was the ... Read More
We booked this cruise shortly after returning from another one on the Elation. We had such a great time that we could not wait for another one. Let me preface this review with we had a great time on this cruise. Although this was the vacation from hell in many aspects, we had fun and would do it again. Let me start by giving you a brief history of booking this vacation. We originally booked on the Paradise for a 7 day 4 port trip. A couple of weeks later, Carnival cancelled this trip. We rebooked on the Inspiration leaving the latter part of September. A month later, this itinerary was cancelled. We rebooked again on another itinerary but had to cancel because of work schedules of some of our group. We learned that the Inspiration was available with the same itinerary that we wanted, just a week earlier, so we booked that one. During this whole ordeal, our travel agent was awesome and took care of all the details including switching flights and such. In speaking with the travel agent, she told us many times that this was very uncharacteristic of Carnival to change so much. You also need to understand that there was a large group of us travelling together. The majority of us work together in a small Police Department. It was very difficult for us to arrange our schedules to be able to take this trip. After several months of frustration and switching around several of us wrote letters to Carnival voicing our frustrations. To this day Carnival has not acknowledged our complaints. Our travel agent spoke with her Carnival Rep several times about the problems we were having. The Rep would not call her back and was not very helpful. Let me skip to the actual cruise and I'll let you know how this all turned out in the end. EMBARKATION: We arrived in Tampa after flying all night from Las Vegas. We had to hang out in the airport several hours until the Carnival Representatives arrived. This was not so bad because we were all excited to get on the boat. We arranged our transfers to the ship through Carnival. This worked out great. We arrived at the pier at about noon. We were in about the second group called to get on the ship. We only waited maybe 30 minutes from the time we arrived until we were on the ship. This was very painless. IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP: When we walked on to the ship we were greeted by the ugliest statue that I have ever seen in the atrium. This actually became a point of humor with our group throughout the week. The decor of the ship was kind of like a cheesy Vegas casino. There are a lot of purple and green neon lights. I only have one other cruise experience to compare this with. I was very disappointed with the gaudy appearance of this ship. We were also on the last cruise before the ship was sent to dry dock to be refurbished. It was in need of an overhaul. CABIN: We were in Cabin E29. This was an inside cabin on the Empress Deck. There was ample space for clothes and storage. We had our beds pushed together to make one big one. The beds are not very comfortable. The cabin was clean and the shower was nice. It is big enough to move around in and the water pressure was good. Our cabin Steward was George. He came and introduced himself soon after we got there. We had high expectations of George because he seemed so nice and attentive. During the course of the week there was one day when our room was never made up. We also only received towel animals on three of the seven nights. We only received candy on our pillow three nights. This stuff isn't that big of a deal, except for the fact it is the little things like that that impressed us so much on our last cruise. Overall the cabin was comfortable. We were just a little disappointed with the level of service. FOOD: Overall the food was great. It is always the same things served in the Brasserie for breakfast. The food is basically buffet quality. We ate lunch in the Brasserie for the most part. Actually we ate so much food that the meals just kind of ran together. The hamburgers on the Lido deck were great as was the pizza. I grew quite fond of the goat cheese pizza. The other bonus of the Brasserie was the 24 hour ice cream and hot chocolate. We spent every night there with our friends wondering what we were going to do without it when we got home. The main dining room was good. We ate dinner there every night. I'm not sure what happened to the regular waiter. Our waiter was a "pool waiter". He had been recruited to work in the main dining room for some reason. He had no personality and did not understand English very well. It seemed like our water glasses were always empty and we never got bread on a couple of nights. Again this is a small detail, but it was starting to add up. HURRICANE IVAN: Now is a good time to mention that this cruise took place during Hurricane Ivan. From the time we left the port we were unsure of what our actual itinerary was going to be. We spent a couple of days circling in the Gulf of Mexico trying to avoid the storm. The water was rough. We had 8-10 foot waves. That boat was rockin and a rollin. The curtain on the stage would sway about 8 feet. There were people smashing in to walls while trying to walk down the hall all over the place. Not to mention all of the "sick buckets" sitting outside of the doors in the hallways. There were also several instances of people getting sick in the hallways. I felt bad for the cleaning people who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep things cleaned up. Our itinerary called for us to stop in Grand Cayman. Unfortunately Cayman was wiped out on the day we were supposed to be there. Instead they informed us that we would attempt to stop in Progresso, Mexico. At 1:00 AM when we went to bed they were saying that the storm had shifted and we would not be going to Progresso. When we woke up in the morning we were docked in Progresso. ENTERTAINMENT: The comedians were all hilarious. There was one night that there was a juggler. He deserves hazard pay for juggling fire and such with the boat rocking as bad as it was. He did a great job for having to run all over the stage to keep his balance. The Karaoke Bar was a lot of fun. I have to apologize again to the late John Denver for what we did to one of his songs. The shows and games were well organized and a lot of fun to watch and participate in. Progresso MEXICO: We were bummed to be in Progresso. We had been there before and weren't impressed. The pier in Progresso is about 5 miles off shore. You have to ride the shuttle bus across a narrow causeway to get to shore. The roadway actually sits about 15 feet above the ocean, (this will be important in a minute). We are not fans of the shore tours on the ship. We learned from the first cruise that you can book the same stuff on shore for a lot less money and a lot fewer people. We went to the flea market in the center of town. From there we took a $2 city tour on a double decker bus. You have to be careful because the power lines and trees are not very high. If you are sitting on the top level get ready to duck a lot. After the tour, which takes about 20 minutes and shows you places to spend you money, we walked around the downtown area. There was one establishment with half naked dancing girls out front. A man was offering to let you have sex with his sister if you would come in and drink. We declined the offer. When we first got to shore, the weather was beautiful. As we were hanging out we could see a black wall of storm coming across the ocean. Apparently Ivan had changed courses again and decided to hit Progresso after all. We ran back to the shuttle bus area, along with everyone else that was there. When we were driving back out to the ship on the causeway, the waves from the ocean were hitting the side of our bus, (remember the 15 feet). When we reached the port, the wind was about 70 MPH with buckets of rain hitting us. I never thought about it but hurricanes are warm. I felt like a guy from the Weather Channel only without the microphone. Progresso is not a very god port to visit unless you are interested is visiting Mayan ruins. Chitzen Itza is nearby. As far as the city goes, it is dirty and poor. It is typical Mexico. COZUMEL: We love Cozumel. We are avid scuba divers. It is hard to beat Cozumel for the diving. The water is clear and warm and there are plenty of creatures to look at. We always book our dive trips with Victor Casanova of Wildcat Divers. We did a two tank dive with equipment rentals for about $60.00 each. There were only the four of us in our group with the boat to ourselves. The ship charges about $189.00 each to dive with about 50 other people. I would highly recommend Victor and his crew for Cozumel diving. After our dives we took a cab in to town to shop a little. Our cabbie tried to go the wrong way on a one way street and nearly got us in to a fight. I love Mexican cabs, they are better than a carnival ride. We made it back to the boat in time for a nap and shower before dinner. BELIZE: We love Belize as well. We had been on the cave tubing expedition before and loved it. We took all of our friends cave tubing. We got off the boat and found a guide by the name of Joel. We talked him down to $60.00 each instead of $65. Remember that the ship charges $90. We drove to the park where the cave system is in a newer 15 passenger van. We had a great time hiking through the jungle and floating down the river. They give you an old inner tube and a beat up miner headlight. It is a lot of fun and an easy hike. It was nice to be in a small group with our guide. He pointed out many interesting plants and critters in the jungle. When we finished the river trip we took a tour of Belize City with Joel. We were back to the port in plenty of time to catch the tender back to the boat. I should mention that last time I was in Belize I ate lunch at a little restaurant in the jungle. I became deathly ill. This time I didn't eat anything off the ship and stayed healthy. They are very proud of having a safe water supply in Belize. I'm not sure what made me sick but it wasn't worth the risk for me to eat or drink anything. COSTA MAYA: This was our favorite port. I spent a lot of time on Cruise Critic researching this port. The port area is a tourist trap that caters to the cruise ships. The thing to do is catch a cab to the fishing village of Majahual, about 10 minutes away. I can't say enough good about this place. This is a great place to relax and have some beach time. There are a lot of little shacks and tents along the main drag selling the usual jewelry and Mexican trinkets. These people are very good to barter with. I even had a guy offer to sell me some marijuana. I failed to mention to him that I was a cop and my buddy that I was with was the prosecutor. We just smiled and turned him down. We got drinks at a little bar on the beach. I can't remember the name of the place but it had rope swings hanging from the top to sit on. There were plenty of beach chairs spread along the beach to relax in. There is a barrier reef about 200 yards off shore so that the beach is very protected. The water is only about 3-4 feet deep all the way to the reef. This is a great place to swim and just relax. There are massage tables set up along the beach. They offer $20 for 30 minutes for a full body massage. We went over there a little later in the day when business was a little slow and got 45 minutes for $20.00. That was great, the water lapping up under the table and the whole beach thing. It felt like I was the star of a Corona commercial. We loved Costa Maya and would love to go back. We had some friends take a cab to the Mayan Ruins that are nearby. They loved it and said that the ruins were more spectacular than any others that they have visited. DEBARKATION: This was smooth. It didn't take us long to get off the ship. SUMMERY: Overall this was a great week. We were bummed that we had to trade Cayman for Progresso. We were a little disappointed at the service on the ship. It seemed like wherever you went the ship's crew was talking about their upcoming vacations. There were members of the ship's crew hanging out in all of the clubs and bars, as well as eating in the restaurants. I'm sure that you get a little stir crazy working on the ship for that long, but it just seemed a little bit unprofessional for the crew to be acting that way. I think that the crew cared more about going on their vacations than providing the usual service. The frustrating part of it was that I paid full price to go on this cruise but received about half the service that would normally be provided. One thing that I forgot to mention was the internet service. My wife is taking some online classes and was required to log on to the internet every day. The manager of the internet cafe had no idea what he was doing. He did not even know how to print a page. I had to show him how to make the program work. There was one day when the whole internet went down and was not fixed until the next day. This caused my wife to miss a class. On the last day of the cruise the internet was supposed to be available until we had to disembark. They stated that they weren't going to sell any additional minutes but if you had time remaining on your plan you could use it until disembarkation. They closed the internet cafe the night before and told us that it didn't matter if we had minutes left or not. The manager said that he was going off duty and the service was to be closed. He then shut off the computers and left. There was one more little disappointing sidenote. When we arrived home, our travel agent called to see how things went. I told her about it. She asked how our upgrades and gift baskets were. I told her that we didn't get any upgrades or gift basket. She told me that she had been told by her Carnival Rep that there was a 99% chance that we would have our cabins upgraded and that there would for sure be a gift basket and champagne in our rooms upon our arrival. This was to make up for all of the trouble in scheduling in the first place. She told me that she didn't tell us what the rep said just in case Carnival screwed up again. Apparently the message never got passed on. I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. Carnival is not the fanciest ship on the water. For the price I believe that the usual Carnival Cruise is the best value out there. Unfortunately this was not the greatest experience for us, but like I said, it was a lot better than being at work. We are in the process of booking another cruise. I think that we will try a different cruise line this time to see if we have better luck. We may sail with Carnival again and we may not. I think that you can make of it what you want. We were able to spend a week in a beautiful part of the world with some of our best friends. It doesn't get much better than that. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
May 23 - Day 1 - Port and leaving Carnival - The land of the Lines First, I need to mention that this my third cruise. The first was on a Carnival ship 18 years ago on my honeymoon (just my wife, Jane, and I). The second was Feb of 2003 ... Read More
May 23 - Day 1 - Port and leaving Carnival - The land of the Lines First, I need to mention that this my third cruise. The first was on a Carnival ship 18 years ago on my honeymoon (just my wife, Jane, and I). The second was Feb of 2003 on the Disney Magic (entire family, me, Jane, Mary (now 13) and Will (now 12)). This was on the Carnival Inspiration out of Tampa. Our reservation was for an Outside View guarantee cabin. The first Carnival was okay but did not leave us thrilled so that was why there was not a repeat for 18 years. The Disney cruise was incredible and left us all definitely wanting more, thus this cruise. I tell you this so you will know that my comments are colored by my Disney cruise and the excellence there. PORT and EMBARKATION - This was not good at all. The port seemed to handle the traffic okay in terms of getting cars in and letting them unload while porters were right there to take your bags to customs. The porter handled our guaranteed cabin status well and got our cabin number . Jane then went to park the van. She tells me the parking garage, across the street from the port, was a nightmare to navigate with plenty of dead ends. Payment for parking was paid at the time of driving in. It was $10 per day. We were not allowed out of the loading area and into the building until all those listed on our ticket (all 4 of us) were present. Understandable security. There was a mob of people. Once we got into the building, we had to wait in a line to be allowed up the escalator to the security area. I can understand they wanted to limit the flow and it was not a long wait. When we got up the escalator, there was another cattle-line type waiting line for the security checkpoints. Okay, I could wait. We finally got through but I was surprised by how the personnel would seemingly open and close sections of the line with no apparent rhyme or reason (not based on flow) and start and stop the check points. We got through that and rounded the corner for check-in and, no surprise now, another line. We figured we would not have a problem because we did the on-line registration (Funpass) so all we needed was to have our documentation checked and we would be on-board. Well, there were 2 cattle-line style lines, many many people deep, composed of nothing but people who had done Funpass. The people who had not registered seemed to have a much shorter line. I asked someone from Carnival about it and was told that "yeah, their line is shorter but we put the newest people there to handle them and the new people have to enter all of the information into the computer so it takes them a long time with each one." The wisdom of putting the newest people with the most complex work is something that should have warned me for the entire process but still, we continued and waited through the long line. Finally got to the desk and got checked in (pretty quick and simple so I don't know why it took everyone else so long..) and were given a "boarding group" number. We were in group 17. We heard them call for boarding group 14 and it was taking quite a while because groups. You see, each group was another line that would have to go through another security checkpoint. Now you are beginning to see why I called this the Land of the Lines. I asked a worker (who worked for Carnival and not just the Tampa port) whether this was just Carnival, just the Tampa port or if today was an odd day. He smiled and said it was Carnival. He told me that the company that owns Carnival also owns Princess and several other cruise lines and each does boarding in a different way. He said he had been on several other cruise lines and he thought the Carnival method of infinite lines was about the worst he had seen and even asked me to complain about it since he thought it should change. Let that speak for itself. ON-BOARD AND OUR CABIN - We got on board and worked out way to our cabin. Hard to describe. It was 100% better than our first Carnival cruise back 18 years ago (but everything was) and it was not as good as the Disney cruise. Decks and elevators are not as convenient or clear but neither are they that bad when judged on their own. The same is true of our cabin unfortunately. We had an outside view cabin on the Main Deck (well worth what we paid for it so I do recommend guarantee cabin - this ended up being a sold out ship so we were not upgraded). The cabin was like you see in the picture. We had twin beds with a bunk that came out of the wall and then they put a cot on the floor against one wall. Most of the cabin was taken up with beds. We asked our cabin steward about making a bigger bed with the twin beds for my wife and I but as he showed us the alternative arrangements, it was obvious we had more room sleeping in twins (and since the kids were in the same room, it was acceptable). There was a small vanity/desk with 4 drawers that were about 5 inches deep each. There was a wardrobe type closet that had good hanger space and about 5 shelves evenly spaced on the other side. Most of our clothes did fit into nooks and crannies throughout the cabin once we unpacked but any space-saver ideas are useful. There are reading lights over each bed area. Our cabin steward (Joachim) was terrific and kept wanting to make things better. There was water and soft drinks on the desk but thanks to notes I read on the boards, I knew to stop the kids before they drank the $2.50 sodas. The beds were comfortable. We had a problem in that our cabin was very hot but they did address the problem and tried to increase the cooling so I cannot complain about that. The bathroom was big enough and had a shower. There was the usual assortment of "goodies" like soap, shampoo, etc. as well as some other freebies like toothbrushes and razors. The bathroom was surprisingly large, all things considered. Pleased with the bathroom but did like Disney's separate toilet and shower. We were toward the rear (aft) of the ship. That was good in that we were near the elevators to the dining room and the Lido deck casual dining area (Brasserie). It was bad in that the main showroom (Paris Lounge) was in the front of the ship and the debarkation areas were in the front, or occasionally when things were crowded, the mid-ship. Overall, I would select either mid-ship or the rear. DINING ROOM (late seating - Carnivale Dining Room) We had a table for 8 by the window. We had another couple and their children with us for dinner and they were quite nice. If Carnival puts any effort into selecting dinner companions, then they did pretty good. Our tablemates had a boy and a girl, although they were younger than our children. Quite compatible and dinner conversation was fun and interesting. The first time we cruised, each night had a different theme and the waiters dressed differently each night to match the theme. Disney had us changing dining rooms each night. Now, Carnival apparently uses the same dining room and each night the wait staff wears more formal suit or vest attire although the menu does change (but not to a theme). The Waiter and Assistant waiter were excellent for the most part and did a very good job of accommodating special requests and questions. They delivered the food quickly and were very pleasant. After the first night, the Wait staff did a little "show" each night, either singing to everyone in Italian to dancing through the dining room at the time of dessert. Very entertaining. The food overall was rather bland and portions were average or smaller. Portion size was no problem since we could always order another one if we were still hungry but more spice or flavor would have been a plus. However, my DW prefers less spicy food and thought everything was good so it is probably a matter of taste (pardon the pun). In comparison, our first Carnival cruise 18 years ago had less choices but better tasting food and fun themes. The Disney cruise had better tasting food. Disney pizza and the buffet dining room were far better. As for the wait staff, on every cruise it was clear they did their very best and worked as hard as possible so I can never complain about that. CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET - As mentioned on the board, at 5:00 in front of the pizzeria, some of the people on the Cruise Critic message board Roll Call thread met. There was me and my kids, FloridaJourneyGirl, Canadian-Cruises and NittanyLion. It was nice to meet the others and I am sorry that more people who signed the roll call did not chose to meet. We all saw each other many other times throughout the cruise, especially on excursions, and it is always nice to have someone to speak to. I encourage everyone to have or attend a meet and greet. TUESDAY - Grand Cayman - Sting Ray City Excursion with Soto's - On Monday we anchored at the Grand Caymans. We were to meet Soto's at 8:45-9:15 and we boarded at tender at 8:15. We sat in the tender waiting as it slowly loaded. Although we were far from the first on the tender, they kept taking in people and we did not make it to the shore until about 8:45. Finding the meeting spot was easy and we saw our Cruise Critic friends there while we all waited (apparently Soto's is the excursion of choice, for good reason). The van arrived and took us to the Soto's office located on a canal and behind which the boats were located. We paid our balances, got our fins and masks and got on board the boat. There were 2 boats but the one we were on was most like a pontoon boat. That means it was an open deck with a railing around it and a partial roof and a driving console in the center. There was a bathroom/changing room on board. There was a cooler with water and one with lemonade along with cups. The coolers were like the ones you see on the sidelines at football games and they kept the water and lemonade very cool. Our "Captain" was Willie and his mate was Earl (or Errol, I was not sure how to spell it). Willie told us a lot about the island and the real estate values (and we saw where Michael Jordan used to have a house) as we went out to the first dive spot, called the Aquarium. It was incredible! There were fish everywhere. The water was crystal clear and although the water was cool at first, it quickly felt fine and we got the hang of how to snorkel after only swallowing 20-30 gallons of seawater. Thank heavens for the lemonade to help but the taste. The next stop was close to the drop off. As close as I can remember it (in other words, please don't flame me if I misstate some small fact or type of formation), Grand Cayman is a horseshoe shaped island and the middle portion is like a bay about 15 feet deep mostly. Where that "bay" ends, there is a reef all along the edge and then it drops to about 6000 feet in an almost sheer wall. There are some gaps in the reef where current "sucks" water through the reef and out into the big ocean and our guides were kind enough to warn us that if we got in such a current, the sharks and such would be waiting for us on the other side. We stayed close to the boat! This was also an incredible area. All types of other fish were present and Earl was able to coax a moray eel out of the rocks and let everyone see it while he made sure it did not bother us. Here, the bottom was very shallow and often the coral rose to the surface or within a foot of the surface so it was an excellent place to snorkel. We were all really thrilled and could not wait for the grand finale. We went to Stingray City. This is so hard to explain until you have seen it. It is a very sandy bottomed "sandbar" close to the bottom ocean end of the horseshoe and there are lots of stingrays. There are also lots of other tour boats but it causes NO problems. This is a big enough area and the boats basically park in a circle. Here is where Willie and Earl really shined. They were wonderful throughout but they were out of the boat and in the water making sure everyone got to hold a stingray (yes, hold), pet a stingray and feed a stingray. First, they gave a wonderful lecture about the stingrays and how to touch, pet and hold them. They demonstrated that the stingrays are safe. The spike starts about the last 2/3 of the tail and points back to the body so for one to sting, it has to sting back over its body. They cannot accidentally bump you and sting you or things like that. The stingrays seems very used to people and showed no fear or reluctance to the presence of all the people. They also did not appear to mind being held or touched. I have no idea whether they liked it or not, but they sure never tried to avoid it or rush away. Feeding the rays was impossible to describe so I will just say that it was very fun. Willie and Earl would sneak up behind people and brush them with the rays or hold the stingray up and have it spit at people. Again, although it may sound rough with the rays, there was no sign the rays disliked it. I never realized the rays had bulbous eyes on the top like an alligator and holding a ray in your arms as you stare it in the eye is just a neat experience. I cannot say enough good things about the Soto tour. This was as good as it could have been. There were life jackets for those who needed them. The crew was very attentive and great with kids. We saw some other tour boats, and especially the ship tours in their giant boats (who did not stop but twice whereas we got an extra stop) and I know they did not get the special attention we got even though they paid twice as much or more. If you only do one excursion, do this one! I could not believe how great it was and how much all of my family liked it. I am not a big spender (my wife says I am cheap) but this was a terrific bang for the buck that went unmatched on the cruise. I would love to do this one again some time. Biggest regret about the Grand Caymans was that as soon as we got back from the tour, it was time to re-board the ship so we never got to shop in Grand Cayman. The few Grand Cayman people we saw were very nice and I would love to have had more time here. Overall, this started our cruise on a wonderful note and we could not wait for the other stops in Costa Maya, counsel and Belize. WEDNESDAY - COSTA MAYA - Golf Carts and Majahual Next we went to Costa Maya. Apparently this is a created port where a dock and a shopping village was built especially for cruise ships. About 2 miles away is a small fishing village named Majahual. The placement of the new port so near the fishing village was a missed blessing. From reading other posts and talking to the people, it appears that the village had changed it tone and is becoming much more tourist oriented than fishing now. The shopping village at the end of the pier is quite nice and modern looking. Big pool and good place but obviously created. From reading posts, we heard about the needs of the schools in Majahual and so we had purchased and packed a lot of school supplies to take to the children. We were looking forward to that. We originally planned to catch a taxi to the village (no desire to walk that far carrying the supplies) but we saw that there was gasoline powered golf carts available for rent for $15 per hour (including fuel). The carts held four people and we thought it would be more fun but we had no idea how right that decision would be. We had a blast driving the paved road then turning off onto the dirt road that lead to Majahual. Until we got back to the main highway, we saw no more pavement and the roads, though well used, were in poor condition. Still, that was part of the fun. Riding into Majahual, we passed beautiful beach areas. We went straight there and did not stop in the shopping village so we were one of the first from our ship to go. Majahual had not gotten going really good yet but the day was already very hot and the people were setting up booths and tables on the side of the dirt path kindly called a road. There were taxi stands, horse rentals, 4 wheeler rentals, $20 massages, jewelry and all types of souvenirs. We got onto the block behind the waterfront road onto a much rougher road and kept looking for the school. Passed a police station and some of the police were outside so we asked one who spoke English and were able to get our question across enough for him to give us directions (just got down the beach road to almost the end of the town and it is across from the beach and impossible to miss). The children were outside in the fenced area playing. They were wearing uniforms. When we walked up, we asked for the teacher and she came over quickly. She did not speak English but called over a little girl named Bebe who spoke English very well and Bebe translated. We told her we had some supplies for the children and started to hand them to the teacher but she asked (through Bebe) that we come inside and give them to the children. So we went in as she gathered the children. The classroom was very clean and the children were very well-behaved. We gave them each item and then told them where we were from. They were appreciative and it made us feel very special to see how happy it made them (as well as remind us how well we have it living in America although our schools are not nearly so well-behaved). Feeling happy for having done something nice, we proceeded back through the town to shop. We bought a few things from the roadside booths and shops. Be aware that the vendors call out to passersby and if you touch anything, they take it as an invitation to start trying to sell it to you. Barter is a key term to know and if you do not like to barter, do not expect any good deal. It was not unusual for a vendor to say something costs $17 and then end up selling it to us for $3. This was true in Majahual and back in the shopping village. According to the ship, it is not a good idea to buy jewelry from Costa Maya and it is better to wait for counsel. Those who did excursions on Costa Maya had fun but I don't know any specifics and I had a fun time just renting our golf cart and visiting the fishing village. YMMV (Your mileage may vary). THURSDAY - Cozumel- Paradise Beach and Shopping From the boards, we planned to go to Paradise Beach. I took Twizzlers hoping to see Paradise Beach Tom and give him some. I was also looking forward to the $30 massage and all of the good things we had read about PB. The walk from the ship to the taxis is quite long. First, you walk down the pier. At the end of the pier, you go into a long corridor of duty free shopping that has lots of things and seems to never end. When you emerge, you are in a shopping village that you have to go through to get to the outside and taxis. We intended to take a taxi but checking out prices for taxi to and from PB, to and from downtown, etc., we decided it would be about as cheap, and probably more fun, to rent a car. It was $44 to rent an OLD VW bug convertible with unlimited mileage. The bug was manual transmission, had turn signals and that is about it. But, it was another source of fun. There was no radio, AC or any other accessory. The truck did have an outside lock on it so it made a pretty safe place to leave things while shopping. We bought the $0 deductible insurance for $25 which may or may not have been a good thing but it was a risk I felt worth doing and I don't regret. We got to PB and it was beautiful. There were about 15-20 other people there other than staff and the pictures of it are accurate. Very peaceful and tranquil. I headed straight for the massage table while the wife and kids headed for the water. That is where my good time went astray. After standing at the massage tent for a minute or so, and noticing that the girl sitting in the neighboring hair braid booth was notably ignoring me, I finally did the "ahem" thing and got her attention to ask about a massage. She finally said that the person who does the massages would be there in about 10 minutes. No problemo I figured so I went back to the shade to wait. About 10 minutes later, no massage person so I asked the female bartender about it. She said the message person was getting ready and would be out in about 10 minutes. Okay, I could wait. About 10 minutes later, I asked again and someone who appeared to be a manager or the boss, said that she should be ready in about 10 more minutes so I told him where I would be standing and asked him to let me know. He was nice and said he would. About 15 minutes later, I went to find him again and he said, oh, she just got here and should be out within 10 minutes. Aha, I thought, now we are cooking. More than 10 more minutes later, he said he would go and check on her. More time passed and finally out comes a woman who heads to the massage tent. I headed over there and she said she needed to get some towels and things set up so please come back in about (you guessed it) 10 minutes. I was angry at this time since had I known it was going to be more than an hour of waiting, I would have gone swimming with my family, put on my suntan lotion (which I had deliberately not done in order to avoid interfering with the massage) or done something else. My family was having a good time with the kayaks, iceberg, trampoline, etc. while I stood on the shore waiting for my 10 minutes to end. Finally I did get the massage and it was not a very good one. She was very rough and it hurt more than it relaxed. She talked to many other staff or patrons who passed by rather than pay attention to the massage and I was completely unsatisfied. Still, I paid as agreed and figured there was no need to say anything about it because I did not think she would give a whit. It was lunch time so we had decided we would eat off of the ship and eat at Paradise Beach since we had been able to see the menu on-line and the reviews of the food had been so good. It was okay, and that is the best I can say. Soft drinks for $2 served in small styrofoam cups with full charge for refills (and with kids, you end up having to buy a lot of those). I ordered a Margarita and it was changed by the waiter into a frozen version (which cost more) without my knowledge but it was very good. When paying $6.50 for a drink, one of PB Tom's 2-for-1 coupons would have been really nice. The salsa was different from what we are used to in the states since it was not a liquid. It was chunks of tomatoes, onions, etc. and there was almost no liquid to it. It was okay, just very different than what we thought it would be. The portions were also average to less than average. My son had chicken quesadillas and those were terrific. I had tacos and they were small and did not have a lot of flavor. After getting the bill, it was still going to be about 15 minutes before they said PB Tom was to arrive but I had learned that apparently Cozumel time and my time do not match. It was a pretty place and my kids enjoyed swimming there but I will not be back. I did leave the Twizzlers for PB Tom though because I appreciate all of his comments on the boards and wish I had gotten to see him. Then we started touring Cozumel island in our Bug. We had a blast driving down little side roads and seeing what we could find. Finally decided to go back into the city to shop. That was a fun experience as we tried to find our way around and find a parking place. There is a lot of street construction going on but we found a good spot. There are TONS of places to shop in Cozumel. Just as in Costa Maya, the price quoted is seldom the real price so bargain, bargain, bargain. We bought some good things, bargained a lot and walked a lot. I was thankful when we found a McDonalds and got to order something from the 10 Peso menu! Although Cozumel was okay and we spent far too much money there, the family agreed it was probably the least enjoyable port of call and we were anxious to get back on board and rest. FRIDAY - BELIZE - Coral Breezes Cave Tubing Belize is an awesome place. Without going through a long description of the people, culture and history, it is neat that they are a stable democracy in Central America, have only 1 prison in the country and that hold only about 850 (most common crime is drugs) and are a blend of at least 6 different cultures. They have Mayans, Spanish, English, African, Chinese, Middle Easterners and Mennonites (yes, those Mennonites, the ones similar to the Amish). They speak many different languages but the official language is English. They speak Creole (not New Orleans Creole) to each other but everyone knows English and they have above a 90% literacy rate with everyone having access to electricity and potable water. Lots of great things to say about the country and the culture but I will move on. We had to tender in since it is so shallow around Belize. Tender was by fast tender boats and was entertaining. There is not much at the Belize port but we had booked a tour with Coral Breezes prior to the cruise. Our guide, and the owner of the tour company since apparently Coral Breezes is just a booking agent and not the name of the tour (tour is Wet N Wild), was Marvin. He was a native Belizean and very nice. There was another family of 4 on the tour and we all loaded into his 13 passenger van for a trip to the park and a lot of very interesting history and facts. I could go on and on about that but I will spare you except to say that I was fascinated and really enjoyed learning all about it. This is important. ALL of the cave tubing tours go to the same park to start. This is not a park like you think of in the US. First we turned off a paved road and only a dirt road (covered with loose rock and calling it a road is again, being kind). Quite a bumpy trip for about 10 minutes (maybe more in American minutes but I was still on Cozumel time ). We passed cashew trees and I learned that they grow on a tree (not a bush like peanuts) and are poisonous until roasted. We got to the park and there were a lot of other people there. Remember, all tours, even the ones from the ship, have to come to this same place to park and pick up their tubes. Beside the start of the trail, there is an outdoor snack stand that serves meals. This is where any tour that includes food will be getting their lunch (more later about that). So all of the tours are about the same except price and except that ship tours and a few others start at a lower cave rather than taking you to the higher caves (we passed through the lower caves on our way back but the ship cruises never get to float through the higher cave). Think price and find the best value. There were life vests freely available and Marvin made sure everyone who wanted one or thought they may want one had a chance to get it. Everything we wanted to keep dry was locked in the van. We took only what we wanted to get wet and carried our tube. An innertube is light at first but trust me, after carrying it through the rain forest for a while, it gets heavy! The walk through the rain forest is very enlightening and fun until you are very tired. Marvin pointed out many trees that are useful and medicinal. He let us taste many things (leaves, fruit, etc.) and stuck his hand into a termite nest to get plenty of termites for us to take pictures. The ship guides did not stop during the rain forest walk according to our fellow passengers later. Other guides were stopping so obviously some guides stop, some don't. Marvin was very good and I liked learning. We saw lizards, termites, a tarantula, oro pendulum birds and all types of other things. The size of the palm fronds amazed me. I wish there had been a few water fountains ! We passed a split in the path where Marvin later told me the ship tours and some others enter the river but we kept climbing. After the walk, we arrived at the pool where we would enter the water. Marvin started it off by climbing up on some rocks and doing a nice flip into the water. We had waded through the water at the start of the walk so we knew it was cold but at this point, we were all ready for anything cool. Most of us got in carefully but pretty soon, most had climbed out to climb up on the rocks and do flips and somersaults back into the water. Many pictures were taken and it was very refreshing and welcome. Another group was coming up so we gathered our tubes and headlights and started floating. Again, words cannot do it justice. The caves are beautiful and the float is very relaxing and refreshing. I feel bad for those who start their float lower in the river because they really did miss some beautiful things. You walk through one cave near the start (and we saw fruit bats!) then you float through 2 caves on the way down. You could count the 2 caves as more than 2 since there are breaks in them but I counted each one as a continuous cave. We saw the tour groups from the ship getting in at the lower cave then after that cave, they got out rather than continue to float further down the river. The further floating was fun but I got on the wrong side of a turn and ended up on some rocks, and bounced off a sharp root. That was not fun. I was also disappointed when I had a go back to recover my son, who was making himself go slowly and ended up blending with another group behind us, and Marvin did not wait on us or check on us. He was waiting at the very end but I wish he had shown some notice or concern when we got separated from the rest of our group and did not catch right back up. To be fair, several groups, including a large cruise ship group, had blended with ours so perhaps he did not notice. It is a minor thing but it did disappoint me. After making it to the end, we carried our tubes the blessedly short distance back to the entrance and returned the tubes. We changed into dry clothes if we wanted and because time was running short to return to the ship, we decided to take our lunches with us on the van and eat as we rode back. The juice we got with the lunches was great. We also bought a Diet Coke (called Coca Cola Light) for each of us since we had worked up a good thirst but I would have loved more of that juice. The lunch included BBQ, beans and rice, BBQ beans, salad like coleslaw, a piece of fried plantain, terrific garlic bread and a huge banana nut bread muffin. It was included with our tour but was also available separately for $5. It was an uneventful ride back and a pleasant lunch for a group of tired people. Back at the Belize port, there was a long line for the tenders. It was late in the day so such a line is to be expected. The line moved thankfully fast as the crew was loading the fast tenders as quickly as possible and sending them on their way. We were awfully glad we had late seating dinner since we all needed the nap we took at that point. Thanks Marvin for a good time! FUN DAYS AT SEA (MONDAY AND SATURDAY) These were travel days while the ship is at sea and it is mostly on ship time. Sleeping, swimming in the pool, eating, spa, etc. are what was available and we did most of it (except the spa). Although the items on the ship in the Galleria are reasonably priced, the spa things seemed very expensive. I will also mention that we purchased a Fountain Fun Card that gave us free soft drinks during the cruise and I think that was a good thing. I was disappointed that there was no movie theatre, even though there were movies on TV that showed at different times. I prefer a movie theatre environment and on the one day they used one of the lounges as a movie theatre (showing LOTR 3), it was at noon on the Belize day so we did not get to see it. SUMMARY Well, that is a report on our cruise trip. It was fun even though we were disappointed in some aspects. Highlights include Soto's Stingray City tour, Belize Cave Tubing with Coral Breezes, taking supplies to the Majahual children, riding around in a golf cart in Costa Maya and, of course, the smiling and happy crew on the ship. Low points would include Paradise Beach (because of the massage problem and other things described above), the size of the cabin, the quality of the food and some of the less than pleasant Carnival personnel and policies (Cruise Director Steve and his sidekick Marcus were mainly annoying and I already discussed Carnival's seemingly endless love of creating long, slow-moving lines). Would I cruise again? Definitely. Would I use Carnival? Probably not unless it was a lot cheaper than Disney. I will try to pass along of the most important lessons I learned about cruising. IMPORTANT NOTES (based on things I wondered about and would like to have known)- There is only one outlet. Bring a power strip. The outlet is a 3 prong so need for an adapter. An over-the-door shoe hanger was VERY handy since it lets you use the back of the closet door for holding things that will fit into those pouches. Fountain Fun cards for adults are approx $11 per day of the cruise (7 day for us) and then they will add on a charge for gratuities. Regular glasses of soda are $1 each so do your own math to see which is a better buy. Soto's Stingray tour in Grand Cayman is incredible and at $24 per person cannot be beat. In Costa Maya, spend $15 and rent a golf cart rather than take a taxi. Visit Majahual and take some things to the children. You'll be glad you did. The packing lists available elsewhere on the boards are very helpful for listing things like clothes pins, highlighter, etc. Read them. Be sure you bring a clock and hairdryer since there are none in your room. Buy cheap underwater cameras at Wal-mart or similar stores rather than buy on the ship (twice as expensive) or at the start of tours (saw 3 times as much) and don't buy a special underwater camera if you don't already have one. In Belize, all cave tubing tours go to the same place. Independent tours take you to more caves. Base your decision on price of the tour. I would use Coral Breezes again. If you have a question, I would be happy to try to answer it. Just e-mail me directly at wtgjunk@NOSPAMhotmail.com (take out of the NOSPAM part which is there to slow down e-mail harvesting programs). ENJOY YOUR CRUISE! Tommy Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
This had been so helpful to me that I will try to do for you also. Background: Myself (mother) and daughters, 21 and 18 went on Spring Break cruise. Here's our thoughts... Don't book from Expedia - go directly to Carnival and ... Read More
This had been so helpful to me that I will try to do for you also. Background: Myself (mother) and daughters, 21 and 18 went on Spring Break cruise. Here's our thoughts... Don't book from Expedia - go directly to Carnival and the airlines and book your arrangements. This would have saved me about $100. Now about the cruise. The ship could use a renovation - things looked a little worn. Not enough to complain about, but Carnival needs to do something. We signed up for the late dinner - 8:30 - and was glad we did. It gave us the full day for our activities without the hassle of being rushed. Plus we were able to go directly to the show. The food was very good, not excellent, but good. We definitely didn't go hungry. And because we always are watching our weight - we found plenty of low calorie options. For instance, breakfast had a lot of fruit and yogurt. Lunch had great salads and for dinner, we just went for it. We wanted more vegetables for dinner - as soon as our waiter knew that, he had fresh veggies and lemons every night. Also, we bought bottles of wine which they stored for us every evening and then brought it to the table for us the next evening to finish. The other shows, movies, things to do were fine. Only complaint was that there were no deck chairs on the side of the ship to get away from the sun but still be outside. Now for the trips. They are expensive. I booked online the Cozumel Swimming with the Dolphins (do it!) and in Belize, the tubing in the Caves. I booked thru Action Belize (they have a web site) and they did an ok job. In other words, we did exactly what the cruise ship people did, just a little differently. Cost of signing up ahead of time is exactly half of what you pay on the boat. When at port, I just hired a taxi to get us there - still saving more money than on the ship. Next, travel with a lot of cash - we were able to negotiate with real green dollars in hand. Shopping is the best in the Caymens - we bought designer purses, pearls, cologne and makeup. In Mexico is where we negotiated. email me if you have any questions...we had a lot of fun, it was worth the money paid. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Just got back from our 7 day cruise out of Tampa on the Inspiration. We got to the port early and had several hours to kill. We were told we could most likely get on the ship around 11:00 a.m., so we arrived early. Don't waste your ... Read More
Just got back from our 7 day cruise out of Tampa on the Inspiration. We got to the port early and had several hours to kill. We were told we could most likely get on the ship around 11:00 a.m., so we arrived early. Don't waste your time. They weren't even done unloading the ship until almost 1:00 p.m. We went to the aquarium which is right next to the pier. I think it cost around $15 per person. It was interesting. We were told it takes an average of 3 hours to go through, it took us about an hour. It is very nice though, kids would really enjoy it. On the ship: I was very hesitant about the ship prior to boarding because I had read so many negative comments about it on this website and others. I had tried to keep an open mind about it going in. We went immediately up to our cabin which was suppose to be a nice suite. We were a category 11. We walked in and were extremely disappointed. The cabin was very tiny. The floors were stained terribly. The balcony was extremely small compared to the Destiny also. Our mattress had safety pins holding it together. Just imagine if one came undone in the middle of the night!! OUCH!!! We towards the very front of the ship and could see right into the captain's area. Also, everyone on the deck on the front of the ship could look right into our cabin, and believe me every single one did. They would also feel it was their duty to try to start a conversation with you. Find and dandy, but we were on the cruise for our anniversary and wanted the deck for some quit, romantic, alone time-WRONG! Being at the front of ship was also very WINDY! On past cruises we were able to leave our balcony door open at night to listen to the ocean. It was way too windy and everyone was way too nosy to do that this time. The muster-drill took forever this time also-way over an hour. We couldn't watch the shore as the ship pulled away and there was no bon voyage party to speak of. Dinner was ok. Our wait staff was EXCELLENT!! We had Veronica from Bulgaria I believe. She was very efficient and nice. Our cabin steward was also wonderful. She went out of her way to take care of us. The overall service was very good. Really, my only complaint about the ship itself, is the ship itself. It needs to be retired. It is showing massive wear and tear. Carnival should give people better rates if you're cruising on the older, run-down ships, not the same price for a suite on the old ship as you would pay for a suite on one of their new ships. The shows: Feel free to miss them. The only semi-decent one was Shout, on the last formal night. The lead female singer is terrible and stuck in the 80's I think. Speaking of stuck in the 80's, for anyone who knows what a mullet is, I've never seen so many mullet hair-dos in my life as I did on the ship. Also, 90% of the people on the ship were about 75+ years old. We did meet some fun middle-aged Brits at dinner that we enjoyed conversing and dining with though, and a few fun New-Yorkers. The ports: Grand Cayman-Beautiful as ever. We booked a private tour on a catamaran that took us to stingray city, Coral Gardens, and the Barrier Reef. Not much time with the stingrays this time. Also, since we were there last (in 1999), there are about 10 times as many boats that head to stingray city, so it is extremely packed. Snorkeling was nice, except for getting kicked in the head by out of control kids. Costa Maya-We went to the ChocChoben Ruins. They were outstanding. There are several pyramids and other ruins. They were just discovered in 1972. You feel like you're in an Indiana Jones movie when you're walking around. There are some fun little shops on the pier, a swimming pool, beach, and lots of restaurants, but kinda spendy though, we had 4 drinks, nachos, and a couple tacos and it was almost $50. Cozumel-We went to Chakkanab Park. It's about a 5 min cab ride and costs about $12 to get there. It's one of the best beaches I've ever been to and great snorkeling. There are also little ruins and a rainforest you can walk through. You can rent snorkel or scuba gear there, shop, and get drinks in a pineapple, which we drank, a lot of! Then we went back to the ship and changed and took a cab to Carlos and Charlies. For those of you who do not know, it is THE hot spot. Very fun and out of control! We got there just as the congo line was starting for all the cruise people. You get a free shot of tequila about every 10 feet in line, and get about 10 shots before you're done. Then we drank the giant hurricane drinks (several) and danced on the stage! It's a pretty out of control place, but a lot of fun! Don't forget to ask for a shot from one of the girls blowing the whistle, I'll let you find out what they do to you (guy or girl)! Belize: This was a very poor, but beautiful place. We did a private excursion for the cave tubing through X-treme Cave Tubing. It was great. The jungle hike (approx. 1 hr) prior to tubing was beautiful and the caves are phenomenal. Caution though, you do have to work quite a bit in the water or you could get caught up in rapids. There is a lot of paddling required. Also there are giant spiders! My husband waited to tell me about the swimming spiders until we were done! Fun day at sea: Packed up, did some shopping. It was kind of chilly as we got closer to FL. Debarkation: Sucked. It took way longer than it should have, but we were waiting for the lost French people to go through customs before the U.S. citizens and the rest of the ship could get off. Overall, you need to look at the reason you are going on a cruise-for the destinations. If you're just going for the ship itself, don't take this cruise ship. We have always been satisfied with other Carnival ships, but this one is definitely getting tired. Destination wise-it's the best. These 4 ports were wonderful. I hope I haven't discouraged anyone from their upcoming cruise. You will still have fun and make many memories that will last a life time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
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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