870 Carnival Inspiration Cruise Reviews

We had a great cruise on the inspiration!  We left May 4, 2009 and found out a few days before we left that the Cozumel port was now going to be a second day in Grand Cayman!  We were disappointed to not be going to Cozumel but knew it ... Read More
We had a great cruise on the inspiration!  We left May 4, 2009 and found out a few days before we left that the Cozumel port was now going to be a second day in Grand Cayman!  We were disappointed to not be going to Cozumel but knew it was the right decision!  We were hoping to get another port instead of a sea day, and we were happy to be getting a second day in Grand Cayman (now known as Deja Vu Island for the second port day!)  My husband is a scuba diver so he was more than thrilled to be able to dive there twice!Embarkation was fine, we have left from Tampa 4 times now!  We knew the routine!  We had VIP boarding this time, so we were in group one to board!  We have always been onboard eating by 11:30, so we were disappointed to not be able to board until after 12:00!  But the ship had come in a little late that morning and with the whole swine flu thing, things were taking longer!  We had friends with us that were cruising for the first time, so we were sorry that we showed up early like we always do to have to sit and wait for an extra hour!  But it wasn't Carnival's fault, they say not to show up until afternoon anyway!  As soon as we got on, we went to the Serenity deck and got a drink and then went up for lunch!  They now have a few more NON-Smoking areas!  It pleased me, but one in our group wasn't happy until she found a few places where she could smoke!  The serenity area for the over 21 crowd is now a smoke free area and so are the 2 small areas aft Lido deck behind the pizza and Brassies bar area.  I was glad they seemed to be enforcing the smoking areas.The food was great as always!  I even had 2 lobster dinners on Captains night!  They no longer serve appetizers at the captains party but do have the free drinks.  And this enabled me to be able to eat 2 dinners!  We made the dining room breakfast once, it was ok, but I liked the made to order omelettes at the brassies buffet area best.  Lunch we usually had buffet or sandwiches.  They has some chips and salsa and chile and cheese at the lido buffet so I made a chile cheese hot dog and cheese fries!  Had pizza once, it was ok, but not great!  It isn't possible to go hungry on this cruise, even for the pickiest eaters!  We did the galley tour this time and enjoyed it very much!  It is very impressive what they manage to accomplish every night!  The desserts were fabulous too!  I even went to one of the Afternoon Tea's and enjoyed it!  We had Joseph the Supercharged Maitre D and he was great.  We were originally hoping for George the Greek, but he had left the ship.  Joseph was great!  He came to the table every night and remembered you when he saw you.  Out waitstaff was superb!  We never has a problem with the bartender not coming by.  He had our cokes delivered within 30 seconds of us sitting down, every night!  (The $5 tip the first day helped with that!)  And I went to the sushi bar this time too!  I think you had to pay for it last year, but it is included this year!We did get to go to a few shows this time!  They were good.  We had a comedian (Allan Ball who was very good (that is where the DejaVu island came from for our second Grand Cayman day)!  The Shout show was good, but I had heard that it was great so I was a little disappointed, but it was good.  We still enjoyed it!  (OK, time to speed this along!)The pool area was busy, but you could always find a chair or 2 easily.  We were surprised to not see many children at all!  There were over 450 on board and you only ever saw a handful!  We had a smooth cruise with very little rocking.   The waterworks area was still very nice and 2 of us went down the slides!This was our first time in a balcony cabin and it was nice!  The balcony was small, only your knees can fit in between the chair and the railing,  but to be able to sit outside in your robe in the morning with your coffee was wonderful!We didn't realize until 3 days into the cruise that you could now buy drink cards!  I think it was 5 drinks for $23.50!  Better than the $6.95 each we paid!  We know now for next year!  My husband always gets the soda card and drinks cokes the whole cruise.  The iced tea isn't very good;  we were mixing it with the lemonade!Overall a great cruise, and we will go again next year! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Getting onto the boat was stress free. We waited in line for about 15 minutes, to get our fun pass. To my surprise we were made to pay the total tip charge before we were able to put personal spending money on the card. if u pay with CC, ... Read More
Getting onto the boat was stress free. We waited in line for about 15 minutes, to get our fun pass. To my surprise we were made to pay the total tip charge before we were able to put personal spending money on the card. if u pay with CC, at the end of your cruise u don't need to close out your acct. they do it for u, buy if u pay cash its your response. to close out your bal at the end of the cruise. The ship was clean. It takes a while to get use to where u r going, but u get the hang of it. Got a lil sea sick, nothing that kept me in my room, but I felt dizzy and nau. at times...so pop a dramamine if your not used to cruises, which the customer service desk gives u them free...The food was good...I expected more, since all u hear (or at least me) were people telling me the food was WONDERFUL...It wasn't wonderful, but it was good...Def. alot of food, ALL THE TIME...The 24 hour pizza and ice cream bars were nice...Drinks were overly price but i didn't expect them not to be..a can of soda is 1.95, i bought a BBC (its like a mix of pina colada and bananas)..very good and that was about $10...but they have a soda card, which is $20 for the whole cruise and since I traveled with my 2 children, it was well worth it. u get tea, water, OJ, lemonade and coffee free...I saw two shows, they were good..now its no Vegas show but its nice...I went during springs break so let me tell u there were KIDS EVERYWHERE...from what the employees said, 50 percent of the people on the cruise where under 18..so that was about 1000 children..now since this was a trip that i planned with my children, it was great for them. They made lots of friends but if u are looking for a quite getaway with your honey, then no way!!!!..but again, it was during spring break..When I got back home, I asked other friends who had been on the same cruise but on a different month..and they said that there was not alot of children on the boat...Camp carnival was good..my girls liked it..my lil one (4years old) more then the big one (10 years old)..but if your looking to spend the whole day alone..u will be disappointed..Camp carnival only keeps them for about 2 to 4 hours at a time..they have late nights and special activities for them but that is extra $$$..the late nights starting at 10pm to 3am..and its 6/hour..There were plenty of things to do on the cruise, so u will not be bored...We went to Cozumel, Mexico and did the beach excursion...take my advise don't do the deluxe, its a waste...the food was not all that great..besides u can order from the cash bar....we ate a big breakfast before we got off the boat and it held us over till we got back on...the beach was nice...it had plenty of things to do..and with just the regular excur..we got unlimited alcoholic drinks...we took a taxi from the port and the taxi drivers knew exactly where to take us. They were very nice...We did some shopping before and after the excursion..thats were i spent most of my money..the port had alot of nice stores...Cozumel was not the nicest place as far as beautiful..lots of trees..im sure other parts of mexico are beautiful though..getting back on the boat was not a problem. The captain dinner was nice..lots of photo opps. the food in the dinning area was good, service was great too...so all and all, I would recommend this cruise...the only thing i will do on my next cruise different, is to make sure I take dramamine BEFORE I get on the cruise...other then that u will have a good time.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Ok, here goes...first, I will start with the bad news, since there wasn't much. The Carnival kids club staff did not speak English very well, and did not seem to really try to make the kids happy, unless the parents were present in ... Read More
Ok, here goes...first, I will start with the bad news, since there wasn't much. The Carnival kids club staff did not speak English very well, and did not seem to really try to make the kids happy, unless the parents were present in great numbers. We asked my son if he liked this staff better, or the one on RCL better, and he picked RCL. A couple of the counselors on RCL made a genuine effort to make our son feel special, and I just didn't see that on Carnival. Next topic is the layout and/or location of some of the lounges. The Paris lounge is beautiful, HOWEVER, if you don't get there at least 30 minutes before a show to get a good spot, forget about getting a good view. If they had just made the entire area with stadium seating, then everyone would have a good view. Yes, I know, they were trying to create the "lounge" setting, but sometimes you have to give up some looks to appease the masses. Also, the chopin lounge was like walking through a Marlboro cigarette factory on fire, and unfortunately one of the activities I wanted to attend was held there, and because of the smoke, I had to leave. Most of the activities were held at the Violins bar, which was ok, except for the fact you had to watch all of the people walking by from one end of the ship to the other, very distracting. One final down note, the food wasn't all that great. Yes, I know you can't expect 5 star cuisine on a 3 star budget, but come on, we can at least make sure you get at least 2 or 3 wow, that's really good selections at each meal. The dinners in the Carnivale dining room were good, but the maitre D never came to our table to say hello, EVER. Ok, now for the good stuff...our cabin steward was totally awesome, but I never knew who exactly it was. Room was kept spotless, turn down service was great, towel animals were off the hook!! Embarkation was a snap, especially with valet parking, even though it was a fortune, when we got back to the garage, our car was smack dab in front of us, only had to walk about 10 feet inside the garage. All in all, it was a great cruise, better than RCL in a lot of areas(except for the fore-mentioned kids club), and you get a lot for your money. Just wished they would have taken a better look at the logistics when planning smoking areas and places for activities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
For clarification purposes my wife and I have 20+ cruises and are in our early 50's, we have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL as well as a few older lines. Our Easter week cruise on the Inspiration was excellent and ... Read More
For clarification purposes my wife and I have 20+ cruises and are in our early 50's, we have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL as well as a few older lines. Our Easter week cruise on the Inspiration was excellent and we had a good time. I do not inflate scores so a 3 was good a 4 great and a 5 one of the best. After 20 or so cruises you have certain expectations and for the most part all lines meet these expectations, occasionally they exceed them, and of course at times they don't meet them. Our embarkation in Tampa was great. We had spent the night in Ocala, driving down from NC on Good Friday. We stayed at the Best Western, which we had booked on Priceline for a $40 total fee, much cheaper then anything in Tampa and about 80 mile drive away. The hotel was great as was the heavy continental breakfast. We left Ocala around 9 am and got to the port around 10:30am. A little earlier then we hoped but we had seen a lot of traffic the day before and we wanted to get a jump on it. We parked at the pier and it was $60 for the 5 nights, and literally a 5-minute walk from the ship to our car. We often stay at a hotel that offers park and cruise but we wanted to get a early start at the end of the cruise so we opted to park at the pier. It's easy to eat up 45 minutes waiting for shuttles to fill and travel time so our 5 minutes saved us considerable time. We got thru the check in early and had to wait until 11:30 to board the ship. We immediately went and ate, then proceeded to the pool. We wear our swimsuits under our shorts so the change is easy and we were among the first to enjoy the sun. This cruise was a spring break cruise and we were sure we'd see many kids coming aboard and we were not surprised. We were told there were 2600 people on this cruise that lists 2000 as capacity, and over 1000 were minors. That said they were fine for the most part, the exception to this was the pool area where anarchy ruled. The pool had way to many people in it, jumping wildly with no real supervision. Kids running in the wet splash zone looked like an accident waiting to happen, but in truth I never saw one. There were many children making use of the hot tubs and the slides and adults were seemingly banished from their use. No problem for us but it might be for some. The pool calypso band was quite good and did most of the old standbys. We found the food in the buffet area to be ok, very similar to the Golden Corral, plentiful but nothing especially superb. The carving board slicers have mastered the art of the very thinly sliced roast, but not being shy, I just inform them I would like several slices and the happily accommodate. I can't say I enjoyed the atmosphere of the buffet whose purple tubes remind me of an X-files dream, but even with the large number of guest the always was a seat. The deli was a big hit with me with the turkey on a country roll lightly toasted being our favorite. After numerous Carnival cruises I have determined that the Lemonade on the buffet does not sit well with parts of my anatomy and I swear I will never drink it again. The burn is unending by the second day. Was not impressed with the pizza although I did get it several nights as a late night snack. The chili and cheese over the chips with salsa and sour cream, lettuces jalapenos was a a great afternoon snack. The food in the Carnivale dining room was quite good. I am strictly a beef man and with the exception of the flat iron steak all the beefs were good. My wife eats a greater variety and she enjoyed all the fish and lobster, especially enjoying the grouper. The soups were good especially the cream ones, and the appetizers were good as well. Our waiter Denton and his helper were fantastic and we enjoyed our third cruise with the supercharged maitre-d Joseph. Joseph has been the best maitre-d we have experienced, he keeps it fun and he seems to be able to time the "show" such that the guest is not kept waiting for the next course. Of course Denton had a lot to do with this as well. We were not as happy with the lounge entertainment; in fact we found it very disappointing. Usually we find a venue we can enjoy sitting in but we were not able to on this sailing. We ended up spending most of our lounge time in the karaoke bar where some of our fellow guests were more entertaining then the paid help. The shows were good and we were happy to see the comedian Hank Mcauley, he was very funny and his late night show was funny without being lewd. The Vegas style show was good and the dancers were great, we were not impressed with the Latin show. The highlight of the entertainment came from our fellow guest on talent night. Really good, and while there were no Sarah Boyles there were still a couple of "oh my gosh" moments. Our cruise director Skip was very good and kept us chuckling on a regular basis. In the Caymans we snorkeled right near the pier. We walked to the left til we came to a small beach area next to the Burger King and swam several hundred yards out to a reef we had read about. It was quite good and several boats carrying other snorkelers who had paid excursions came to the same reef. If you are not a strong swimmer this is not a good place as there are no fish til you get to the reef. In Cozumel we taxied to the money bar restaurant and spent the day at this site. We were able to snorkel and beers were $1.50. This was good, not great snorkeling with an easy access with an $8 taxi ride. We would go back. Our room was nice, an inside, and our steward kept us in towel animals and the room clean. I have decided I will bring my own aloe infused toilet paper from here on. Lemonade ooohhh One negative for us was the lack of any form of Easter service on the ship. While I can see where cutbacks limit how many free rooms they would want to offer pastors/priests I would have liked to see at least an inquiry to see if a guest who might want to lead a short prayer service on the holiest of Christian days. 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 ourselves...no 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 April 2009
I live in New York, and if you've ever boarded a cruise ship here at the piers then you know its chaotic unless who arrange for vip boarding if theres any. In Tampa (woowhoo!!!)boarding the Carnival Inspiration was so easy, ... Read More
I live in New York, and if you've ever boarded a cruise ship here at the piers then you know its chaotic unless who arrange for vip boarding if theres any. In Tampa (woowhoo!!!)boarding the Carnival Inspiration was so easy, organized, stress free, not difficult at all...With the curb side baggage handlers right at your service once exiting your vehicle making one part of your cruise embarkment the easiest of all...So make sure you tip these guys, for the amount of travelers who plan on boarding this ship in Tampa, they surely keep things moving.. From the Tampa Police to the Customs Police there are very professional and makes your travel feel of ease and safe, very friendly, vigilant but still friendly. Once on board the Carnival Inspiration, it's a ~~Shock & Awe~~ all the way up to the lido deck..Food for days, so make sure you don't eat anything before boarding...If you can handle letting your stomach growl until you board, trust me it's well worth it. (Smile) Non stop entertainment,,The kids have there space and the adults have theres,,,My son is a teenager he met alot of friends while on board, so you know his AOL instant messenger friends list increased once back in NY,,,,,My daughter is 7 and she was with the kiddie group and they have a detailed program for the kids. If your kid never tires, get ready for that BiiiiiG yawn when you pick him or her up. My daughter was able to celebrate her birthday on board. Now i work out and run on a regular, so the weight room is full of what you need to your work on,,,,If you're really into cardio, you most likely will be waiting for the treadmill. You know how it is, all of sudden folks who never work out decide they wanna get on the tread. lol There is a track right over the gym if they want to walk..lol The shows on board are sensational the staff on board make your every day and night full of what a vacation is meant to be...FUN WwooWwhoo!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Our ship departed from Tampa on Monday, April 20th. We arrived late Sunday and lodged at the Best Western on Adamo. Our taxi got us to the ship around noon (departure was at 4 PM), and were able to travel through embark rather quickly. We ... Read More
Our ship departed from Tampa on Monday, April 20th. We arrived late Sunday and lodged at the Best Western on Adamo. Our taxi got us to the ship around noon (departure was at 4 PM), and were able to travel through embark rather quickly. We already had our luggage tagged, and one of the porters gathered up our luggage for us just about as soon as we got out of the taxi. Be sure that as you walk into the terminal that you have your funpass in your hand, along with your passport or passport card, and that will really speed things up. The line was not really that long, so basically the only thing that we had to present to the clerk at the counter was our passport card, funpass, and credit card. That went very quickly, too. We were on the ship a little bit before our cabin opened up at 1:30, so spent a little time looking around. Then dropped off our carry ons in the room and went to the Lido deck for lunch. The elevators moved surprisingly fast, but like another person mentioned, it was difficult to see what floor you were on and to determine where you were going when in the elevator. Our cabin was on the Rivera deck (4th floor) and we had a couple of port holes. The room was much nicer than we had expected. There basically was only one outlet at the mirrored desk, and one in the bathroom. We brought an outlet cube and extension cord which was essential for us. We requested a larger drop cord for my c-pap machine, and was sent one rather quickly (although we had some difficulty in making the person on the phone understanding what we needed and for why). As someone else mentioned, hair dryers are not standard in the cabins, but they will gladly bring one for you to use. My husband called our cabin steward to request one. He was told to "hold on" and then we heard a knock on the door, while he still was holding the phone....yes, the hair dryer had arrived! I would suggest that you bring your own shampoo, though. Their's is gosh-awful!! We usually use room service, but did not on this trip. We ate every night in the Mardi Gras Dining Room, late seating, and our table crew were a delight! The Maitre De was "George the Greek". He came by EVERY night to speak to us, and he is such a lovable character. When we cruised on the Inspiration a couple of years ago, we were in the other dining room (Carnivale) and that Maitre De left no impression as this upon us. Our breakfast and lunch was usually taken in the Brasserie on the Lido deck. We did not try the pizza, although it looked delicious. Oh, and most of the dining room staff work in the Brasserie during the day, in case they look awful familiar to you! We did not book any shore excursions. Most were rather pricey, or not quite what we wanted to do. The tv system was not set up to book your excursions from your room, like other ships. Wireless internet, laptops with wireless, and internet on their computers were available, but we did not use the service this trip. We had such a horrible & costly experience on the Glory last year that we passed this up. My husband was able to use an internet cafe at Grand Cayman for 15 minutes for $2.00, which made him happy. At Grand Cayman we were let off the ship at about 9 and had to start back by 2. Not much time there. We did take one of the local tours offered by a lady named Bonnie. She kept delaying our ride in order to get more fares, which made it even more crowded on the "hot" van. Not much in the way of air conditioning. Then at our last stop, her van overheated, causing us much worry about getting back to the ship in time....but we made it. Hope she's able to upgrade her ride really soon! At Cozumel, we left the ship around 11 and needed to be back around 7:30, with the ship sailing at 8. We mostly went to the jewelry stores with friends. Diamond International had an awesome icee machine with strawberry frozen adult drinks! Don't pass up! We took a taxi into Cozumel for $7 for the group. We ate at Carlos & Charlies, which as always, is not for the faint of heart. We did have a fun time and did not have more than one beer, my husband having 2 frozen drinks and a couple of shooters. Our last full day at sea was really windy and rocky. Only saw the barf bags out in one restroom, though. The day that we arrived back, the crew had many places roped off and were really giving the ship a good cleaning, etc., which was refreshing to see, especially with the breaking news of the swine flu in Mexico and other parts. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was our third cruise, 2nd on Carnival. Embarkation was smooth, quick and organized. We arrived right at noon and were on board in less than one hour. Our stateroom was ready at 1:30 as promised. We had an ocean-view room with a ... Read More
This was our third cruise, 2nd on Carnival. Embarkation was smooth, quick and organized. We arrived right at noon and were on board in less than one hour. Our stateroom was ready at 1:30 as promised. We had an ocean-view room with a large picture window. The state room steward, Yossy, was excellent and provided us with the crib and life vest for our son in reasonable time. The room was much larger than we expected and very clean. We attended early-seating dinner each night in the Carnivale dining room. The staff (Leo and Pieta our waitstaff and Joseph our Maitre 'D) was very accommodating and entertaining. The food was delicious, lots of variety with a few staples that even picky eaters like myself would enjoy. We also made sure to try the food in each restaurant/buffet and they were all very good, there's something for everyone at just about any time of the day. The pool was nice but not as large as we expected. There was a Waterworks area for the kids and it opened on the first day at sea but during our day in Grand Cayman, Cozumel and the second day at sea, the water works sprinklers and fun apparatus for the little kids was not running. I felt bad that there was not much for the little ones to do in the water. You have to be 42" tall to ride the waterslides and the Carnival workers will not let you ride down "double" with your small child. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the outdoor activities. There were plenty of lounge chairs as long as you didn't want to be right next to the main pool, those were always full. There was plenty of entertainment available, indoor and outdoor 24/7. The 1st night only had one show which was a drawback. It was overly crowded and started at 10:15 so our two-year-old just couldn't stay with it, we ended up missing it. We went to the "Shout" stage production which was super. Carnival has a higher quality of singers and dancers than RCL. Camp carnival looked nice, we checked it out at the open house and heard from people we met that the children really enjoyed it. They take 2 year olds, even in diapers but we brought our son to have a family vacation so we kept him with us 24/7. The ports of call were nice. The last day at sea was quite rocky but that's just one of those hit-or-miss kind of things. Our son got very sea sick and made a mess of our bed but the stateroom staff was very diligent about getting it all cleaned up for us quickly. Only drawbacks, length of time in ports of call, Waterworks not available most of the cruise, and we had to repeatedly call our bar staff to our table at dinner and he'd only take drinks orders for half the table then leave... we all kind of laughed at the time but it got frustrating. By the last night, he did much better. Overall a great cruise, lots of wonderful memories!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was my 3rd cruise on Carnival, and this time, we decided to take a shorter cruise, and see how it was. The Carnival Inspiration is a nice ship, although I found it "harder" to locate some of the areas that were on ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise on Carnival, and this time, we decided to take a shorter cruise, and see how it was. The Carnival Inspiration is a nice ship, although I found it "harder" to locate some of the areas that were on different floors. I found myself walking from one end of the ship to the other, just to get to some of the areas. We had a window room and it was nice, but I notice there was not a full length mirror, which I was used to see before. Perhaps this is only on the larger ships. We did have a nice bath towel waiting for us in the closet. There is NO hair blower, so if you need one, bring it. The colors on the ship were nice, and not gaudy like I have seen on other ships. One thing I did not like is they had some type of sign/designation in front of the elevators, and it must have stood for the deck#, but this I did not like. The other carnival ships had the deck # on the floor in front of the elevators, which made it handy. I had to look at the "full" deck plan by the elevator to see what floor I was on. On the elevators, it had A,B,C, etc. instead of #'s. You really had to look hard at these A, B, C's to see what was on those floors. They have a small Serenity area, and some of it is covered, and the other part was open if you wanted to be in the sun. We were in the Carnival dining room with a late seating. Our waiter, Eha (instead of HE HA), and his helper Tutty were really nice and helpful with the 10 of us. There was only one night that I really didn't find anything on the menu that I didn't like. Years before we were able to "request" something else, but that is no longer, unless it is just on the Inspiration. They have 24 hour pizza, if you wish. The deli had some good sandwiches, and the buffet line generally had changes every day. The last day they had some nice desserts. We attended the Love & Marriage show, and it was funny, but it is really for "adults" and they let you know that ahead of time, before they start. They have a nice miniature golf and basketball area at the top. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We're a family of 4 from southern Indiana. My husband and I are mid-40's with 2 daughters, 15 and 13. We also took another 15 yr. old with us. As a teacher, I always look forward to spring break and my kids do as well. We ... Read More
We're a family of 4 from southern Indiana. My husband and I are mid-40's with 2 daughters, 15 and 13. We also took another 15 yr. old with us. As a teacher, I always look forward to spring break and my kids do as well. We originally wanted a quiet trip to Mexico,possibly Cabo san Lucas, but airfare was sky high and the flight took us from Indy to Pittsburgh to Houston before arriving at destination. So with further searching, we found this cruise that embarked from Tampa, making it easy to drive, with a stop in the Caymans and Cozumel, Mexico, plus it fit in our time frame and I had Disney mastercard points to redeem. A word on that; I had 19,000 points which equaled 2 years of at least $800/month on that card. You had to have 25,000 pts to earn a free room, so that was out, so for 10,000 points, you got $75 off. Wow. And at that, there was a $62 reservation fee, so all of my anticipation and spending on this card got me $13! Won't do that again. Port Hotel: We stayed at Hampton Inn and Suites, which is a nice hotel in a kind of off beat location.  It's in the Ybor City historic district and we could see our ship from the window. We got some sun by the pool and used the exercise room treadmill before walkin down the street and having dinner at the Green Iguana restaurant. The girls enjoyed all the buzz, as the street is lined with nightclubs, restaurants,and shops. I'm sure it gets a little wild after dark. We had our free breakfast in the morning before driving over to the port. Embarkation: My husband dropped us off around 11 while he parked and we were herded through the lines. I had the folder with our birth certificates, fast passes, etc..so when he couldn't find us, it was a little stressful. Soon, we were sitting and waiting to embark. The weather was not good though, rainy and a little windy. We all had some kind of backpack/beach bag with our necessities so we could go straight to the pool and wait on our rooms to be ready. When our number was called, we got in line, had our picture taken, and stepped onto the ship. The Ship: We enjoyed it. Having cruised on the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Celebration, this was somewhere in between. It always takes a few days to get your bearings. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the view or have coffee or drinks. We're not big on shows and we ended up going to bed early most nights, other than watching the NCAA final games on the deck one night. We used the exercise room in the mornings, and it was great, running on the treadmills overlooking the ocean. We had saved our chairs with a towel or magazine and that worked out fine. There are plenty of deck chairs, but if you want a good view of the pool activities or the ocean, get there early. The putt putt course was almost impossible to use b/c of the wind on the upper deck, but equipment for that and ping pong was checked alot by the kids. The big slide is something to see, but is actually on the end of the ship, so not part of the main area. Mostly younger kids. Teenagers/Spring Break: We actually ended up having 30 people from our town on this same cruise and they all hung out together most of the time. That was nice b/c they always had something to do or someone to do it with. They weren't crazy about the teen clubs. They complained that nobody would dance and then the boys that were 18 from our town were too old to get in anyway. So nightlife for them consisted of walking around the ship and trying to meet boys. Most teens were trying to get people to buy alcohol for them.Food: It was okay, typical buffett style fare. I liked the grits,bacon, and coffee for breakfast. Enjoyed going through the outside deck line, then eating near the pool by the windows after a workout. My favorite lunch was the pizza station and the spinach/gouda. The big buffet was just too much for me at lunch, with strange combinations like lasagne and some rice dish. Dinner was in the dining room and that's fun. Selecting each course and all you want of it. I liked the lobster and shrimp, shrimp cocktail, soups, and chocolate melting cake. Deck drinks are nice too, when you're hot and thirsty and just want to sit in your chair and read by the pool. Ports of Call: Cayman Islands. We walked to Hard Rock and a few other stores before taking a shuttle to Sea Grape Beach, for like $20 for the 5 of us. My youngest and a friend snorkled, which didn't really amount to much. The rest of us laid on the beach. There was a small bar/grill and a volleyball area.Cozumel-We took a taxi to Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. It was okay, small beach area but you could use the chairs free. The restaurant waiters would come around and give you menus and bring your food to you. It was Mexican food of course and we ate under umbrella tables. There is also a small pool that is part of the restaurant. We were kind of disappointed b/c we didn't see all the beach toys and things that I'd read about in reviews or on their site and the girls didn't find any cute boys there. We found out later the rest of our group had went to Paradise Beach, which was the next one down, about 2 miles down or so and the girls walked down there. We noticed the water toys situated more between the 2 beaches. On the way back, we stopped at Margaritaville, which was a happening place. Taxi drivers not as friendly in Mexico as in the Cayman Islands and we paid more as well. People told me later they got prescription meds over the counter, which I'd wished I knew about beforehand. Rooms: Small, as expected, but okay. We just had to make the best use of our space. I had brought the over the door hanger for toiletries, which is a must, but with 5 people, we had to also live out of our suitcases. I was taking classes for my masters degree and had a final during the cruise so I had brought my laptop, which worked out okay. I purchased minutes the first day and was given a log-in. It probably cost me around $30 for 1 1/2 hrs. of time. Overall: Nice Spring Break getaway. You don't worry as much about your teenagers, b/c you're all there together in this confined environment, but they feel they can get some space and with kids their own age as well. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Our first time cruising with Carnival cruise lines, and probably our last. I was afraid after booking this cruise, that I might have done the wrong thing, and I was right. Ive cruised six other times on other cruise lines and have never ... Read More
Our first time cruising with Carnival cruise lines, and probably our last. I was afraid after booking this cruise, that I might have done the wrong thing, and I was right. Ive cruised six other times on other cruise lines and have never ran across such a chaotic mess. First of all let me say, that the embarkation was just average, I was not impressed. Looking around the terminal I knew we where going to have a less than enjoyable time when I seen the amount of college spring breakers there. Not being surprised at all, I was right on. The first day at sea was a complete mess, no where to sit outside to get some sun and relaxation. The kids where out and out ridiculously drunk and some uncontrollable. That evening noise in the halls, banging on doors using profound language was more than I could take. This went on the whole cruise, in fact they drank so much alcohol that they ran out of some brand named beers. The room was too small, and the walls not insulated very well, you could hear everything. I was not impressed with the ship at all, one pool, and the adult area should have been for the kids, it was so small. Crowded every day, and you had to get up with the roosters if you wanted a chair. Everyone saved chairs, I never had a chair problem on any other cruise line before. The entertainment was so so, the comedian was the only funny thing we seen. The standard marriage game just about done on all ships, not very original. The bingo games where ridiculous, the way they set them up. The food was nothing to write home about. What else can I say, the only thing worth while on the whole trip was the ports we visited, at least you had some peace. All in all, it was the worst cruise Ive been on, and a big waste of money for me. I think Carnival should just turn the ships over to the college kids during the month of March, a spring breakers cruise for kids only. The security on the ship was a joke, they had none or little control of there actions. What a joke. Thats it FOLKS! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I have traveled on Carnival in the past and have not been overwhelmed by the ships amenities. When booking this cruise for our reunion the price, departure port and the timing were more important than the ship or the destination. I was ... Read More
I have traveled on Carnival in the past and have not been overwhelmed by the ships amenities. When booking this cruise for our reunion the price, departure port and the timing were more important than the ship or the destination. I was totally surprised by the whole experience. The Inspiration was refitted in 2007 and it shows. This is not a super star ship but the cabin size, dining rooms, and public rooms were all very clean and well done. The entertainment was excellent, particularly "Shout" and the "Latino Review". The dining room food was very consistent and I enjoyed every meal. The lobster and shrimp was some of the best I have had on a cruise. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck as there was a large balcony right next to it just for adults that had the best cushy recliners on the ship!!! It was wonderful to have this secluded place to read, watch the water, or sit in the hot tubs. The only negative was the noise level was a bit much in the dining room, there was running in the halls at night, and the walls seemed thinner between rooms. BUT it did not detract from our vacation. All of us were on the bottom floor and think if we had gone higher the noise might have been less as those who had cabins with adjoining doors seemed to have more noise. There were a lot of families on this floor and some noise can't be helped. Carnival takes pride in doing what it can to ensure a great vacation and all of our group walked away feeling like we were treated very well and would certainly cruise with Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
The ship does not look its age. Tampa port is such an easy process both embark and disembark. Our Inside Guar. turned out to be on the Upper deck forward...nice quiet location..not much foot traffic up there. The lack of a fridge was a ... Read More
The ship does not look its age. Tampa port is such an easy process both embark and disembark. Our Inside Guar. turned out to be on the Upper deck forward...nice quiet location..not much foot traffic up there. The lack of a fridge was a disappointment..but our Steward kept us in plenty of ice for our Cokes..so all was fine. The food was average...the service was remarkably efficient. The only stand-outs were the wild mushroom soup and the lasagna. The quality of their beef could be improved. The "Shout" show is very good...Male vocalist is outstanding and the costume changes and choice of songs were great. Choreography was smooth..we thought it superior to any 'revue' we've seen on a ship in the past three years. The Paris Lounge itself has many seats behind poles which make choosing a 'good seat' a challenge, esp when they run bingo right up until show time! The Magician and Comedian on the second night were very good also. Our main purpose was to play in the casino and we were pleasantly surprised to find a letter in our stateroom on our first day welcoming us back to Ocean Players Club. We were given a free drink and 500 pts as an advance which was a nice gesture and much appreciated. (On several past cruises I had emailed the Casino Host prior to our departure and never received ANYTHING so we were grateful) We had a good time in the casino and spent many nights 'playing with their money'. We didn't use the pool or hot tubs but the pool seemed small and crowded. We didn't do any excursions in either port because we've been to both many times. All in all a good cruise for the $ and will cruise Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Embarkation: My first cruise last year (on Carnival Fascination) was very hectic from getting from the airport to the cruise terminal with a late flight. My husband and I made sure we arrived a day early and this made everything so much ... Read More
Embarkation: My first cruise last year (on Carnival Fascination) was very hectic from getting from the airport to the cruise terminal with a late flight. My husband and I made sure we arrived a day early and this made everything so much easier! We rented a car with Alamo and they transport you to the cruise terminal and back to the airport free of charge if you rent a car with them and were very friendly. When we arrived at port, they took our luggage and we went through the line in a blink of an eye! I don't know why the Miami port was much slower, maybe because we got there later, but we were on the ship within a half hour and the staff was ultra friendly and helpful. Leaving Port: It was great to walk around the ship and view all the restaurants around the port and was really cool going under the Skyway bridge (took awhile to get there though, so just hang out and when you get closer go up top for pictures). On this day you pretty much eat lunch, explore the ship and get used to everything, unpack, etc. Day 1 (Fun Day at Sea): We just relaxed all day by the pool. Went to Captain's party since it was formal night, free champagne, wine and a cocktail. Took formal pictures (they really get you on this...no matter what package you want, you have to pay $21.99 for each picture, then you add on packages and frames). I recommend have fun taking pictures with different scenes and then pick one or two pictures that you like best. For 1 picture, a digital file and a frame it was $40. Lobster in Carnivale Dining Room was fantastic! Day 2 (Grand Cayman): We were on a budget and learned not to book excursions on the cruise ship if you are frugal. There were taxis waiting right at port ($10 for 2 people for 7 mile beach). Taxi took us up to little bar/restaurant towards the end of 7 mile beach. The beach is free and public so you don't have to go to a specific place! We laid out for awhile, used the free rest rooms and walked all the way back to port. If you are adventurous and do not have small children I highly recommend walking back. On our walk we got to see all the different resorts/condos, there were jet skis and catamarans right on the beach for you to rent. I stopped to swim during the walk and the water was gorgeous! Some parts of the beach are rocky with coral and some parts are like a swimming pool with sand. Best swimming in the ocean I've ever done! No waves at all, very calm. The stores in port aren't anything special. We did find a cool glass blowing shop on our walk back closer to port, but every place else seemed cheesy or too expensive. We went back to the ship for lunch taking the tenders which ran constantly so you never had to wait. Total spent at Grand Cayman: $10 Day 3 (Cozumel): Cozumel had a nicer looking port compared to Cayman with lots of shops and restaurants. We walked right off the ship, avoiding getting our picture taken and caught a $10 taxi to Chankanaab National Park. Again, we went out on our own which we liked because you aren't rushed on time constraints. I had printed out coupons online to save $2 a person off admission, but our taxi driver gave us a coupon for $28 a person, included park admission, snorkel gear, 2 free drinks and a t-shirt (awesome deal!). People in park were very friendly and park was well organized, looked like they were building more stuff. They had a botanical garden trail, Mayan ruin replica trail, swimming with the dolphins and pool (for extra fee), snorkeling, restaurants, bathrooms, showers, beach chairs, hammocks...everything you need. The lagoon and gardens were beautiful and it was fun seeing the plant and wildlife. Snorkeling was awesome! There are Mayan ruins, canons, and a statue of Jesus and Mary in the water that you have to find. Water was a little rough...my husband rented a life jacket for $5 extra since he isn't a good swimmer and was fine. Jesus statue was a little creepy, but snorkeling was great, lots of fish! Slippery getting in and out of water on rocks. Ate at restaurant, good food with outdoor kitchen. I had Quesadillas and husband has hamburger. Total cost: $20 for couple round trip transportation, $56 per couple park admission (including admission, snorkel gear, 2 drinks,and 2 t-shirts), $5 life jacket, $22 with tip for lunch with 4 drinks and 2 meals), so $103...not bad considering cruise excursion prices and what they include. Overall, we were treated like celebrities the whole cruise. Our steward knew our names, our dining staff knew our names and what we wanted to drink every night, the bar staff at the pool remembered us, and the George the Greek at dinner personally greeted us every night and arranged so that our friends could dine at our table. The magic show and newlyweds show were hilarious! The one comedian we saw, we didn't care for and the shows seemed too cheesy and a little outdated. Skip and Henny the Cruise Director and assistant kept the crowd going all the time. We participated in the St. Patrick's day party on deck and loved the live music everywhere. The food was always good and plentiful all day at 3 different locations plus a 24 sandwich and pizza bar and room service free of charge. We liked having our gratuities included in the bill and learned that the crew only gets paid off of gratuities. We took a galley tour of the main dining hall kitchen which was fun. The only down sides were that there were a lot of children always in the hot tub and splashing in the pool. I did use the waterslide and got stuck half way down, but if you are heavier than 120lbs you should have a smoother ride. Not too many spring break college students and those that were there were more behaved than the children with non existent parents. Since we had cruise before we were automatically upgraded by Carnival to an ocean view stateroom and got pins and a special invitation to attend an event exclusively for previous cruises with free alcohol and snacks. Can't wait to cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I want to start off by saying that this review will be completely honest.  I am not the type of person to let a couple of negative things dictate a bad review of a vacation.  I will however put all the negatives in here as well.  ... Read More
I want to start off by saying that this review will be completely honest.  I am not the type of person to let a couple of negative things dictate a bad review of a vacation.  I will however put all the negatives in here as well.  I've cruised carnival 3 times and all 3 ships have been in the same category (Size) so I have alot to compare this cruise to.  My girlfriend and I are in our mid to late 20's.OVERALL FUN ON VACATION: On a scale from 1-10 I give it a 7. I belive Cruises should all be 10 out of 10s. I usually just brush off any little negatives that occur on vacation but way too many happened to me this time to let it go. EMBARKATION: Very easy as usual. Once registered, carnival was sending people up to board ship but further down the terminal, they wouldn't let you on. This caused over crowding and carnival employees constantly yelling (to me though, stuff like this happens. THE SHIPS REFURBISHMENT: Carnival advertises that this ship recently went through a million dollar refurbishment. The only places I noticed the refurbishment was the bathrooms (staterooms and lobby). Wow, they were all super nice. The rest of the ship showed wear and tear everywhere. Floors stained, chipped floors, dents in rails. Another complaint about wear and tear was the railings on the lido deck of the ship. The paint was chipped all over all the bars and it was rusted. Bad. If someone would put their feet up on it, it could cut them and you better hope you've had a tetanus shot. The biggest complaint about wear and tear is that everyday we were on the ship, they had crew painting the exterior of the boat just behind the chairs. All day long we inhaled fumes. Another day they closed one of the lido decks bar (1st thing in the morning)and got out the electrical sander and sanded the bar! IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! This BLEW MY MIND!!!!!! What exactly did carnival do with their million dollar refurbishment if they are doing this now??? STATEROOMS: Typical carnival cruise rooms. Bed was nice as they have better sheets, comforters and flat screens in the room. Bathrooms were redone and nice too. I liked the rooms. FOOD: This was the biggest disappointment of the cruise. One characteristic most people look forward to on the cruise is the good food. The food on this ship was marginal at best. Everyday for lunch my girlfriend and I ate the hamburgers from the lido deck. VERY VERY GOOD. Everything below normal. Dinners were prob a 4-5 out of 10 starts. We actually skipped dinner twice bc the food was below average. All the deserts at lunch were very dry and not very tasteful. I'm not the type of person to just complain to hear myself. ALl other cruise ships Ive been on had WONDERFUL FOOD! The head waiter is supposed to know everyone by name and make friends with each person at the table to increase you dining experience. Our waiter just came, took orders, left and actually acted put out on some requests. ACTIVITIES ON SHIP: It was my girlfriends 1st cruise to every activity was great to her. It seems like carnival doesn't ever change their activities. Every cruise you can expect the same ole Hairy Chest competition, ice carvings, etc. Same everytime. After a while, you start to get bored of it. Some of the usually activities never seem to get old though. The ice carving is always neat bc they do something diff each time. The newly wed game is fun bc everyone has diff answers each time. The shows were good if you like that type of stuff. The comedians seemed funny to everyone. I didn't think they were funny, but everyone else did so I guess majority rules :-) SERENITY DECK: The adults only deck we never used. We went down there 1 day and it was elderly people asleep in all the chairs. CROWD: The cruise dir said that out of the 2,000 guests, 700 were children. Never effected us much as we didn't usually see them. There were alot of spring breakers all over the place drinking. They never got out of control or bothered anyone (To my knowledge) but some people might frown on it. PORTS OF CALL: Grand Cayman - Carnival advertises something like 8am-3pm at this stop. Your not allowed to tender to shore until the time on your ticket which could be anywhere from 8:30am to 10am. Our ticket said not to leave until 9am but we left on the 1st boat and they never cared. All others should do the same! The last tender to go on the boat leaves at 2pm. So you really only have from like 9am-2pm. There are some shops directly across the st from the port. Anything else needs to take a taxi or tour. We did the 7mile beach tour. We paid $30/person. Basically they just put you in a bus and drove 4 miles down the road to a beach. (Other tour companies off the ship would do it for $4 person.) The beach was super nice. Not alot to do though. Cozumel Mexico - Always worried about safety (Esp in mexico) we did the deluxe beach break tour $79/person. TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY AND THEN SOME!!! We had 2 hrs on the port before the tour left so we shopped. There are many store and restaurants right off the boat. VERY SAFE! The beach break tour is all inclusive (open bar, beer and liquor & all day food buffet). This tour takes you to a water park type of a place. EXTREMELY NICE. It has lockers, showers, bathrooms, food to eat,beach chairs, umbrellas, hammocks, pools. Free non motorized water sports (kayaks, rafts, boats, water bikes. They even have a water trampoline and a floating rock climbing wall. VERY COOL. You could even rent jet skis, parasailing etc. BEST TOUR EVER TAKEN ON A CRUISE!!!! Overall my exp was a 7 out of 10 on this cruise. If this would have been my 1st cruise with carnival, I would never go back. I have had 2 great carnival cruises in the past so I know they are capable of much more than what I got. I plan to go on another carnival cruise on a larger ship next time. If I get the same exp with carnival as I did this time, I will start going on Royal Caribbean Cruises. I hope this helps as I was completely honest about everything. I hope you enjoy your cruise and never exp any negatives! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Embarkation! The security line was long, but kept moving. After that, embarkation was very easy.  We went straight to the Lido for lunch.  The purple tubes on the ceiling with oranges ends are very strange.  The orange ends look like ... Read More
Embarkation! The security line was long, but kept moving. After that, embarkation was very easy.  We went straight to the Lido for lunch.  The purple tubes on the ceiling with oranges ends are very strange.  The orange ends look like eyes!  The food was good, nothing spectacular.  DD had pizza, DS & DH had buffet and I had a sandwich.  I tried to get my cold sandwich heated, but the cook said no.  The only cheese options were American and Swiss.  I had a DoD and we walked around the ship.  There were two Dragon boats practicing behind the ship.  We sat on the Serenity deck and watched. We went to our cabin at 1:30.  Nice room, very clean.  Balcony had some sort of oil on the railing and metal - ick.  It got on our clothes before we realized it was there. (Final resolution Carnival cleaned them for free and paid $20 for my shorts when the stain didn't come out.)  We hung out in the cabin until 3:30.  The Muster drill was long!  Our station was outside the casino.  We sat for the briefing, waited and waited, then had to line up 2 by 2 to walk up to the Lido deck.  We lined up on the deck and waited some more.  This was one of the most awkward muster drills I've ever done.  When we were through, it was a mess trying to get off the deck through a small door to the pool area so DH and I stood at the railing and looked at the Channelside shops & restaurants.  I'm sure the people at Channelside enjoyed the "Muster show"!  After the crowd cleared, DH went to the room.  I waited for a bar to re-open and bought a bucket of beer for the sail-away.  The luggage had arrived.  We unpacked.  There was plenty of space in the cabin - didn't really need our shoe holder.  This is the first time since we bought in 2000, that we haven't needed it for extra storage.  The TV was the usual, 1/3 Carnival, 1/3 Denver TV and 1/3 movies.  DH rechargeable electric razor was missing from the side pocket of one of the suitcases (the zipper was partially open when we received it.  We called Guest Services to report it.  Eventually the body or the razor was found and returned to us (gee thanks), but not the head (the part with the blades).  Guest services basically said "Too bad, Carnival is not responsible for luggage problems."  First time this has every happened, it was a little disappointing - especially right after the oil incident (this would be prior to the cleaning). After the drill we stood on our balcony listening to music as we wound through the channel to Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Sky Way bridge.  It was very windy, but in the protected balcony it was nice.  We went up to the Sports deck as we approached the Sunshine Sky Way - man was it ever windy!  We sat inside the glass to watch the ship sail under the bridge.  It's quite a sight.  We left to wander the ship and find some food.  We went to the dining room the first night.  We left when we saw we had been assigned to a table for 40!  OK, it probably wasn't 40, but it was a very large rectangular table.  We had requested a table for 4 - just us.  We went for dinner at the Lido buffet every night after that.  The Lido buffet was slim this first night - maybe to encourage people to go to the dining room.  We actually didn't go to the dining room the entire cruise - first time we've ever done this.  It was actually nice not to have to "get ready" every evening.  One night we made a dinner of Sushi - yum! My DD found club O2 and loved it.  We saw very little of her after that.  DS also made friends but didn't care for the organized activities.  The day at sea was relaxing.  The weather was good.  DH & DS played ping pong.  I watched the pool activities and read my book.  I ran on the jogging track.  Had to dodge the golf balls and mini-golfers!  Made it interesting.  After a shower, I headed to lunch.  Lunch was good.  Nothing stood out.  I ate on the back deck outside the Lido buffet.  That evening, we walked into the show "Shout", but didn't stay.  It seemed to be a random bunch of 50s songs.  We found a TV outside the Karaoke and watched the Amazing Race.  Had a Pina Colada - another yum!  I love how there are people everywhere willing to bring you a drink! Monday was Grand Cayman.  We were doing our own thing so we didn't get off the ship until about 9:30.  Line for the tender was a zoo. The water was a little rough and they had to fill every last seat!  A least the ride was fast.  We took a "tour" bus to the Marriott.  We had to wait until the bus was completely full (about 20 minutes).  The options were Royal Palm ($4 pp) or Marriott ($5pp).  We were told that we would have access to the Marriott facilities and a free drink - sounded like a good deal.  Warning - the Marriott is not open.  What is there is a tiki hut bar and restaurant that is still being built and the beach is small, area is rocky in the water.  Snorkeling was not bad, but the beach was not nearly as nice as other area on Seven mile beach.  A chair was $10-$15 depending on the mood of the guy collecting.  The free drink is rum punch or beer.  A cab is half the price of the tour bus.  Stick with Royal Palm or Sea Grape beach. Tuesday was Cozumel.  I love this port!  We docked, got right off and caught a cab to Chankanaab park - one of my favorite places! Cab driver was very nice.  We paid to get in, but had a $2 coupon ($14pp).  We didn't get any packages, just admission.  We picked out a FREE tiki hut and loungers near the snorkel area and loved the day.  I have several beers (again with the wonderful people bringing drinks!) and they will bring you food too!  Lids had nachos, I had chicken tacos and DH had a burger.  It was a little windy, but a great day!   Taxi back to the ship, cleaned up and went through the port shops (minus DS who left for pizza).  After a few shops, DH went back to the boat with our purchases.  DD and I shopped some more, then stopped for a drink and people watching.  We headed back to the ship just as they had blocked the pier for the other Carnival ship to leave (Holiday maybe?)  After a wait, we walked back down the pier and had another drink.  We learned later that the ship was waiting for 2 missing people.  They finally showed up.  DH got to see them doing the "dash" from our balcony.  Nice that the ship waited.  DD and I watched the drunk people pole dance in the bar (wow).  We headed back after the other ship was out of sight.  I think we had Sushi this night.  We watched the as our ship hit the gulf stream.  Big waves crashing on the hull.  The lights on the ship really illuminated the white of the big waves.  I love balconies!  We went to the casino and tried the slots.  Smoky - bleah.  Hung out up on deck and listened to the band.  Last day, day at sea.  Relaxing was the order of the day.  I spent a lot of the day on the balcony reading and watching the flying fish.  Did some packing here and there.  Bought a few pictures - all were still available even the embarkation photos. Cashed out at the casino and bought some vodka at the liquor store.  Last night at the Lido buffet.  I think this was the turkey and stuffing - pretty good stuffing.  We finished packing and put out our luggage. Debarkation went fairly smooth.  We had to wait for what seemed like a LONG time for all the self-debarking people to leave.  Every time we thought it was done a few more would show up.  Then the ship had to be cleared by customs and the bridge again.  Seemed like a lot of he calls/she calls, but finally they let us off.  We were home by 10am. The Good: Buddy our steward was the best I have ever had!  The jogging track - nice and springy.  The outside eating areas around the Lido.  I love watching the sea while I eat. The Bad:  The bed was already dented in the middle and the hall ways smelled like sewer occasionally.  A lot of chair "reserving" on days at sea - maybe because it's a smaller ship, but it was really hard to find a lounger on sea days. The Ugly:  The busted shaver, plus the oil on the railing was a real damper on the start of our vacation, fortunately Buddy and the ports of call made up for it.  We'll definitely do the Inspiration again - probably spring break 2010.  Good service, good food and a good price! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Arrived in Tampa the day before which was key. Quality Inn Midtown Had a free shuttle to hotel and paid $20.00 for four of us to pier. The hotel was not fancy...clean though and people were extremely nice. Embarkation was a dream. ... Read More
Arrived in Tampa the day before which was key. Quality Inn Midtown Had a free shuttle to hotel and paid $20.00 for four of us to pier. The hotel was not fancy...clean though and people were extremely nice. Embarkation was a dream. Very nice people at port! We arrived at pier 11:15 and were on ship by 11:45 sitting by pool. Wear your bathing suit under your clothes! We were told we could get into room at 1:30 but did not need to or try to. Checked on luggage at 2:30 and it was there waiting for us. We asked for 6:00 dinner but were given 8:00 dinner because we booked in January for February cruise. There was large demand for 6:00 dinner time because of the amount of families on board. Went to see the Maitre'd and he was wonderful! We ate at 8:00 the first night (son was falling asleep on his napkin) and were given 6:00 dinner for the rest of the cruise. Table was wonderful! We were seated with two other families of three each. Children the same age as ours...very thoughtful of George. Very nice people! Our waiters were beyond wonderful! By the second night knew exactly what we liked! Cabin was very clean! Room steward was excellent! Did not see too much of him but he was very pleasant. Learned out habits of when we woke up and were out and room was always clean when we got back! Ice always there. Cabin number was E199...perfect location. Quiet, close to the atrium, one floor down from dinning room, close to stairs. We had a perfect location for the serenity deck! Back stairs led right to it! We would send kids to shower and sneak there for a while. Grand Cayman...been there twice before...always nice! Too short though with the tender. We booked the beach break and were off boat before general debarkation. I believe we were there at 8:00 and off by 8:30. 7 mile beach..sea grape beach...very nice! Margaritaville was a hoot! My daughter loved the slide...check it out. Expensive though! We sat across from pier with a drink and watched people line up for tender. When line got short we hopped on. Cozumel...been there twice before also. One of our favorite places to go! Getting off was easy...off by 11:30. Took the jeep tour to Punta Sur. Jerry and Poncho! Great time! Husband did the snorkel while be sat on beach. Beautiful beach with very few people on it! Snorkel...need to be a good swimmer they go pretty far. One man rides wave runner in case someone needs a tow back and another on boogie board. Saw crocs, light house, and small aztec building. Had mexican food on the beach. We stayed on shore till last minute. Shopped and had drink right until 7:30...almost last people on boat! Boat left at 8:00. Taxi drivers very friendly. Visited Margaritaville Cozumel...no more water trampoline...very pretty though. Two days at sea...enjoyed the pool and slides! Serenity was very peaceful! Lots of pictures taken by photographers! Kids went to kids clubs here and there...both enjoyed them. The 14 year old especially enjoyed Circle C and Casey (I think was here name.) Shows were good. The two comedians were great! We went to the two "R" rated nights...not too raunchy. Laughed alot! Debarkation was fine...waited by pool for our level to be called. Found luggage easily and took shuttle to airport. The ship was beautiful! We were on the Inspiration before the work was done. We loved her then and loved her even more this time! My son loved the slides and mini-golf! Great service all around! No dishes were ever left anywhere...very clean! Would go again in a heart-beat! Great price!!!! Loved the assistant cruise director Henny (don't know how to spell) Bye bye, I said bye bye! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Just off Inspiration. My 4th cruise with Carnival and 1st time cruising for my kids, DD 14y/o, & DS's 12 & 9 y/o. Great relaxation and fun for us all. PRECRUISE: We booked Sheraton Suites Tampa Westshore for 2 nights ... Read More
Just off Inspiration. My 4th cruise with Carnival and 1st time cruising for my kids, DD 14y/o, & DS's 12 & 9 y/o. Great relaxation and fun for us all. PRECRUISE: We booked Sheraton Suites Tampa Westshore for 2 nights precruise. Winning bid $70.00 per night. Hotel had free airport shuttle. Hotel appears to be an old Embassy Suites. Outdated but clean, nice pool, awesome work out area. No continental breakfast, restaurant on site is pricey. Free shuttle to anywhere within a couple miles, we went to International Plaza Mall to eat at Cheesecake Factory, many other nice restaurants, shops, and bars. Took free shuttle back to airport 1 day for car rental to go to beach, cheaper than renting for 2 days. Best part...$10.00 shuttle to Port of Tampa per adult, kids FREE. Shuttle leaves at scheduled time, ours was 11:30am and we needed to sign up for it the day before. EMBARKATION: Arrived at port around 12:00pm took about 20 minutes until we were on board. Lines move fast. Make sure to have those luggage tags on, we saw a lot of people struggling trying to put them on their handles at the last minute. If you get to port early, it is right next to the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Plaza (shops, restaurants, coffee/wifi cafes). Also need FUNPASS and passports/ID documents in hand. Once on board, went for lunch on LIDO deck. Buffet style, varies day to day except for the usual burgers, chicken strips, hotdogs. Room was ready by 1:30pm. We had an outside cabin with 1 upper. I thought it would be much smaller than it was. There actually was plenty of room with 2 twin beds separated, 1 upper, and 1 floor bed. My kids had no problem sleeping.Only seemed crowded when we were all standing in the same spot! Plenty of closet space for all 4 of us. Suitcases all fit easily under bed and I have 1 huge mother suitcase. Highly recommend over door shoe thing. we put all our toiletries, suntan lotion, brushes, misc in them-try to find one that is clear, easy for everyone to see what they need. Also used those hooks that are temporary, the name is failing me at the moment. Just small ones for everyones swimsuit and for sign and sail cards. BRING YOUR OWN LANYARD(can buy a carnival one for about 4-6$ each). I brought 4, went down to pursuers desk and asked someone to just punch holes in them and they did. Or bring your own hole puncher and do not punch over magnetic strip area or on arrow side of card (otherwise you will have to take card off lanyard everytime you need to get into room). These worked great for my kids, they always had it with them and it was safe. Gave kids limit to spend on their cards and honestly I hardly saw them. they were either at the kids camps or on deck. we had post it notes to communicate and meet up points. Always met for lunch and dinner. Boat was clean and in great condition but much smaller after I had lastly been on the Victory. I think it was probably easier for my kids to navigate for their first time and the 5 day itinerary. I would prefer to go back on the bigger boat. Have fun, let loose. We tried so many games, Karaoke, dancing. Activities were great. Sushi bar..excellent. Food in dining room just okay, same with buffet. Did like the convenience and selection at buffet. Room service a nice alternative too, kids loved this. Chocolate Melting Cake in Dining Room was to die for. I miss it already. Mostly smooth sailing, kids and myself did not get seasick at all. Night into Grand Cayman was the most noticeable as far as rocking goes. weather beautiful 68-82 degrees, sometimes a little windy on deck but we had plenty of sun. Water a little cool, warmest in Cozumel, kids swam anyways and loved it. PORTS: Grand Cayman, very high winds with high waves. Needed to be tendered at Scotts Bay instead of Georgetown. I had booked StingRay tour with Moby Dick. Moby Dick staff where there at changed drop off site with news that Stingray City was closed due to the waves/winds, very nice and gave us many alternative sites/tour options. We chose to go to a private small beach (free) just a 1/4 mile walk from where we tendered, recommended by Moby Dicks. Went back to ship for lunch. Cozumel: Our fav port, chose to go to Paradise Beach after doing much research on cruise critic. Taxi to paradise beach was 13.00 for the 4 of us, We all got the 10.00 wristbands for the water toys, 3 water trampolines, water climbing iceberg and huge blowup water slide (this was kids favorite), many floating mattress type things, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, climb a coconut tree all included for the 10.00 user fee. Parasailing, wave runners, hair braiding,massage, henna tattoos extra. Nice beach chairs and umbrellas, menu very good with large portions and reasonable price. showers, changing area, clean bathrooms. Staff exceptional and always making sure we had everything we needed. Only needed to pay for wristbands up front otherwise had tab for everything else and paid at the end. taxi was easy back to dock and then shopped around dock shops/restaurants. debarkation: Self assist easy as good be. Off ship by 9:00am. 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 February 2009
We had an exceptionally wonderful time on our most recent cruise. The ship was very nice and the most of the staff were very friendly and helpful. There was plenty of activities on board ship and plenty of food(which is important to a ... Read More
We had an exceptionally wonderful time on our most recent cruise. The ship was very nice and the most of the staff were very friendly and helpful. There was plenty of activities on board ship and plenty of food(which is important to a teenage boy). I by accident use the sail and sign card to lock the safe-which inactivated the card, but they took care of that within 1/2 hour. While I was at the info desk, some lady was complaining how her bathroom smelled and something else she didn't like-I got the feeling that she was very picky and a little negative, then she also asked for some dramamine and the ship was barely moving! I did see her again later in the week, no complaints so I guess her problem was solved. There was also food available at the buffet and the Lido deck and Ice cream and pizza-24 hours. I never imagined how much a 14 y.o. could eat- first the meal, then a few snacks of pizza and ice cream throughout the day. The breakfast on the Lido Deck was also good-my son enjoyed the omelet station. We had lunch once in the main diningroom, it was very good and they did accommodate a special request of plain pasta for my 8 y.o. Dinner in the diningroom was excellent. Our waiter Joseph was very good as was his helper. They didn't blink an eye when my husband and son ordered two entrees and after the first time my son ordered double sherbert, it came that way for the rest of the cruise. The Maitre De- George the Greek was always there greeting the guests and very personable. The warm chocolate melting cake was to die for. The weather was also warm and not really a problem finding a chair on deck, may want to put your towel on a chair in morning if you want a special spot. The waterslides were alot of fun and the whole family enjoyed them. My kids did not partake of the kids clubs, which some kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. The shows and entertainment were good. Overall, this was a fun cruise with the family, there were alot of kids/teenagers due to the school vacation, but none were too obnoxious. We would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Review of Carnival Inspiration 1/12/09 * * * P R E P A R A T I O N I N F O R M A T I O N * * * E-Docs vs Mail Docs: This is really a matter of personal preference, but since we had an experience with both types of travel ... Read More
Review of Carnival Inspiration 1/12/09 * * * P R E P A R A T I O N I N F O R M A T I O N * * * E-Docs vs Mail Docs: This is really a matter of personal preference, but since we had an experience with both types of travel documentation, I'll give my input. We got antsy 25 days out from the cruise and downloaded E-docs, but the mail docs must have been on the way, because they still came a few days later. There is really no difference between the docs, except for the cute little folder they come in in the mail. If it's your first cruise, I say get the mail docs, it's kind of a souvenir. Otherwise, the E-docs are fine. One thing, however: We found the luggage tag stickers that came in the mail to be easier to deal with than folding paper luggage tags from the printer. If you get E-docs, I'd suggest printing them onto Avery labels or cardstock. Bringing Liquor on Board: I know people are asking about this all the time, and I'm not prepared to launch a debate on the matter, only telling you what I learned on my cruise. We brought 3 32-ounce rum runner flasks, and were extremely pleased with their performance. No leaks, no discovery, no confiscation. We left them out in the open in our cabin with no problems. I also spoke to a few people on board that had put glass bottles of liquor in their luggage and also reported no problems, so really, don't worry about being caught with rum runners. I can also tell you that everyone I spoke to who brought their own liquor (myself included) was still spending an awful lot of money in the bars on board. Packing and Carryons: As far as luggage goes, I'd say one checked suitcase and one carryon-size suitcase with clothes, shoes, bath amenities etc. is more than enough for 2 people on a 5-day cruise. However, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes, or bring it directly on board with you in a purse or carryon. You won't be able to go into your cabins until 1:30 at the earliest, and likely won't get your luggage before 5:00 pm. Between boarding and getting your luggage, the pools were completely empty, and this was pretty much the only time during the whole cruise where this was so, so if you want a nice private swim bring your suit on board with you. * * * EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION * * * Priority Embarkation: Since we had booked a suite, we got priority embarkation, and I have to say we enjoyed it. Rather than waiting in a long line to check in, we sat down at a desk, and were escorted over to a separate waiting area. They called it a VIP Lounge, but really it was just a little alcove with hard metal chairs. Still, we were first on board, which was very nice. At 11:30 we were boarded, and at 11:45 we had lunch and a Fun Ship Special. I should say, as many others have, that the VIP treatment ends with priority embark/debark. If you're looking for special treatment for booking a suit, don't book Carnival. We really had no expectations of special treatment, so it was fine by us, but we met a complainer or two who thought otherwise, so just be aware. Priority Debarkation: I thought we wouldn't like this part, since I was certainly not eager to leave the boat, but all the lounges and pools were closed, and we had to leave our staterooms by 8:45. Considering this, once we had eaten breakfast, there wasn't much to do, so as it turned out we were glad to be in Zone 1 (out of 26!) Security Check-In: We had a little adventure at the airport with TSA because of my fiancE's CPAP machine, so we were expecting a similar hassle going through Carnival's checkpoint, but we had none. The line moved quickly, and there were no mishaps, except that they made me throw away my nearly-full water bottle ;) * * * THE BOAT * * * Size: This was our first cruise, and at first we were awed by the size of the boat, but as the cruise went on, and we saw it docked next to newer, larger ships, we did start to notice that the Inspiration is on the small side for cruise ships. However, I didn't really see this as much of a drawback. We spoke to some people who had cruised Carnival's larger ships, and they said there was actually more to do on Fantasy-class boats than on some of the newer ships that had not yet received the Evolutions of Fun upgrades, but were not new enough to contain all these features built into them from the start. The lounges were small, but there were quite a few of them, and none of them ever seemed too crowded to me. Age and DEcor: Overall, the ship did not look old. It was kept very clean, and there were a lot of interesting touches to the dEcor. In a few places, it was a little much, but overall we found it tasteful enough. The Grand Atrium was really cool, but it was not fun to navigate when the ship was in rough seas and we were drunk to boot. The bright neon lights and mirrored walls do not agree with copious alcohol consumption or motion sickness. If you looked closely at some parts of the boat, particularly near the windows, you could start to see the ship's age, but we weren't bothered by it. The Lounges and Bars: There were numerous places to buy a drink, that's for sure. Even if you weren't at one of the many bars, lunges, or buffets, there were bar waiters in just about every public area at all times. Each lounge had its own theme and unique dEcor, and we thought it was just very cool overall. Our favorites were the Rock n Roll disco (actually rather tacky as far as dEcor went, but the place to be after midnight) and the Rhapsody in Blue piano lounge. The piano entertainer was very good, and the atmosphere in the piano bar was fun. The dEcor wasn't bad, either. I liked the round bar with piano keys all around the edge of it! We also spent a good deal of time at the Violins bar, because it was right on the main thoroughfare and had TV screens within sight. The Casino: Don't bother, really. If you came on the ship strictly to gamble, I expect you'll have a decent enough time doing so, but at that point why not just go to Vegas? We played the slots a little, and the fiancE considered joining a game of Craps, but we didn't see anyone getting much of a payout, anywhere. We've been to Vegas, and while the slots in Vegas always take your money in the end, you get little wins a lot more often there, so that it at least feels like you're winning, and you can keep playing for longer. I honestly felt like the machines in board were just eating my money, and the selection of games wasn't really any fun, either. Now, I know the slots don't pay out, but I sort of enjoyed playing them in Vegas. It turns out, it makes a huge difference when sitting there on that little machine is getting you free drinks whenever the waitress walks by. Without that incentive, I didn't see the point. We did win $50 on a quarter-flipping machine, but we put $30 into it, so it's a net gain of $20. We saw a woman before us trying to win the same bundle of 50 $1's, and she must have put over a hundred dollars into the machine before giving up. The Lido Deck: The setup of the Lido deck was really nice. The pool and hot tubs were in the center, with bars at one end and a hamburger/hot dug type buffet at the other end. You could really just kill a whole day there, if the weather was nice. The one complaint we both had about the Lido deck was that the bars never seemed to be open. The one on the port side was almost always closed, and the other one closed pretty early at night, I'm thinking it was before 8:00 pm. I think at least one bar should stay open as long as the pool and hot tubs are open. Waterworks and Serenity: Well, the Waterworks park looked really, really cool. I couldn't wait to go down that slide, grown-up or no. However, I sadly did not get the chance. During our cruise, winds were pretty high, so the water park was closed all the time except for when we were docked. Since I had shore excursions booked for the time we were docked, I never had the chance to try out the waterslide. Next time, I'm making it a priority! As for the Serenity area, it was a lot smaller than I'd expected. There were two hot tubs and perhaps 20 deck chairs. They were very strict about signing out towels in this area, so I'd suggest bringing your own down from your room, especially since you had to wait around for the Towel Lady (lol) to come back if you decided to sign one in or out while she was on break. It was hard to find time when there was room in the tubs, until we wandered down during the early dinner seating once and found them next to abandoned. The tubs on the Serenity deck were not filled as high as the ones on the Lido deck, but there weren't any kids in them, so it kind of balances out. My one major suggestion for the Serenity area: A bar! Even a rolling cart selling beers, anything! There were one or two bar servers that came onto the deck every now and then, but I don't think there was enough drink service in this area compared to other areas of the ship. The Staterooms: We had a Category 11 suite, and the first thing I need to say is this: We will never, ever book a room on the Verandah deck again. We had fairly high winds on our cruise, and it was hard to walk on that deck. I almost never get motion sickness, but by the last sea day I was taking Bonine just like everybody else. That said, the room was very nice. It was smaller than a hotel room, as expected, but a good size for the two of us, and we could have had 2 or 3 guests in there comfortably for a cocktail if we'd chosen to. The balcony was very small, to the point where it wasn't really comfortable to sit out on it. The two little chairs were faced sideways, and I'm not entirely sure they could have faced frontward with people sitting in them. It was also extremely windy on our balcony, because of the height. As for the dEcor, we found the rooms quite tasteful, and very comfortable. Really, our only complaint about the room was the location, and we had ignorantly picked that specific stateroom, so it's our fault. The bed was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept on, and I can't be the first to think so, because on the second to last day they delivered an order form so you could buy the same kind of bed for your home! Another thing we really liked about the stateroom was the location of the light switches. Each light had a switch in the normal place you'd look for one (by the doorway, etc) and a second switch right above the bed, near where your head would rest. No stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch! We also walked through the hallways on other decks and peeked into open stateroom doors. The penthouse suites looked very nice. From the outside, you could see the difference in balcony size, and on the inside I could easily see a family of four, five, or possibly even six with small children, being comfortable in that stateroom. The outside rooms looked decent too, and since we didn't make much use of our little balcony, we will probably book an outside stateroom on the Upper or Empress deck the next time we book a Fantasy-class ship. I don't think I'd bother with the Penthouse Suite on this class, even though it looked nice, because you could get a very nice oversized-balcony stateroom on a newer ship for the same price, or even a bit less, from what I saw on carnival.com. As for the Interior staterooms, I don't think I'd book one. They looked nice and clean, but so small, and with no window! I realize you don't spend too much time in your cabin usually, but I think the ideal room is somewhere between Interior and Cat 12. * * * THE CRUISE EXPERIENCE * * * Shows: The Love and Marriage show was, in a word, hilarious. I don't want to spoil it, since I think the format is pretty similar from cruise to cruise, but I'd definitely go and see it. There were a few information seminars held in the main showroom, like the shore excursions talk and the debarkation talk, and while you'd think these would be boring, they weren't too bad. The Cruise Director (FelipE) did a great job and had a lot of jokes and anecdotes to lighten the mood. As far as the "Vegas-style shows" went, they were pretty entertaining. You could tell that the performers were all excited to be there and were working hard, and overall it was enjoyable. However, I do need to say that if you've seen real Las Vegas shows in the city itself, you might be disappointed. Neither of the shows I saw on board really had any kind of storyline, unlike the shows I've seen in Vegas. The choreography was simpler, there weren't really any crazy stunts like in Vegas, and the dancers never seemed to be quite in sync with each other. It's a far cry from an actual Vegas show, but like with the casino: If you're looking for Vegas, then go to Vegas. The ship had its own thing going, a little more whimsical and a lot more family friendly, and once I started to take the ship's entertainment for what it was and not for a Vegas imitation, I found I enjoyed myself a lot more. We also enjoyed both comedians. They were both funny, both drew the audience in a lot. Eating & Drinking: Food, food, food. It was everywhere on this ship! On the Lido deck there were three separate buffets. Outside, there was the Poolside Grill, which served hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, nachos, French fries, onion rings, etc. Inside, there was the Rotisserie, which usually had two entrEe choices (chicken, turkey, ham, roast, etc) and a number of side items to choose from, as well as the Taste of Nations buffet, which showcased a different cuisine every day. I'd have to say Italian day was my favorite. If you need more options, of course, there's the Deli and the 24-hour pizzeria. We tried all the buffets, and we went to the formal dinner every night but the last. The food was excellent, everywhere. I ordered a few things I wasn't sure about, and liked some and disliked some. The great thing is, if you order something and don't like it, you can just order something else. I usually preferred the buffet food to the dining room food, but my fiancE said the opposite, so it's all a matter of personal preference. The deli does make a great grilled cheese ;) I won't be the first to say it: The chocolate melting cake is AMAZING. As far as drinking goes, I've already covered that there are bar servers everywhere. Any of the bars you go to have the same menu, so it's really just a matter of which one's closest to you. We noticed that the Drink of the Day offerings, by default, were fairly weakly mixed, but we tipped an additional dollar on top of the default tip for every drink we ordered, so once the waiter or bartender got to know us, we got progressively stronger drinks. They do have an offering on board where you can pre-pay for your DOD's and get a 20% discount, and I'd recommend taking advantage of it. It's $23 for 5 drinks, and we found it to be well worth it. We bought 2 punch cards, and drank all 10 drinks (I personally had eight of them ;) ) They also make a good Long Island Iced Tea on board. We did not buy a Fountain Fun Card (why do they call it that when there are no drink fountains, only cans??) and didn't regret the decision. Iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea, and water were always free and satisfied us. They also had a few different kinds of juice at breakfast time. If you have children or don't drink alcohol, a soda card might be good, but otherwise it didn't seem worth it. On the rare occasion we wanted a soda, we just bought a can for around $2. The Dining Room Experience: Definitely go to the main dining room if you're not doing anything else. Our servers were friendly and quick, and the little shows and activities they had at the end of the meal were fun. We were in the Mardi Gras dining room, with Wilson as the MD. (House reference not intended ;) ). We had no complaints about him, but we were regaled with many praises for George the Greek in the Carnivale, so if we sail the Inspiration again, we'll probably request a dining room change, just to see what it's all about. Our dining companions both at dinner and at the open seating breakfast were great. We enjoyed the conversation, and thought they matched the dinner seatings up really well. If for no other reason, go the DR for that chocolate melting cake. Night Life: We went to the Rock and Roll disco every night but the first. We had a great time. I'd say the best time slot is 12am to 2am. Dance music, drinking, plenty of cozy little lounge tables... what more could you need? We really enjoyed going here every night, first watching all the dancers (and there were some entertaining ones!) and then, having gotten progressively more intoxicated, dancing ourselves. Ship Staff: The entire crew was amazing. Seriously, nothing but praises from us. Our dining staff was great, all of the waiters and servers were great, entertainers were great, the cruise director was a lot of fun (FelipE for Captain! ;) ), our room steward was attentive and nice, and we loved the Towel Animals! We didn't want for anything on board, there was always someone taking care of it before we could ask. The ship was kept sparkling clean all the time, and the tables were cleared lightening fast. Overall Experience: We had the most amazing time. Despite choppy seas and high winds, it was the absolute best vacation we have ever taken, and we cannot wait to cruise Carnival again. While I'm sure we will book a Fantasy-class again, we're really looking at trying to sail on the Dream early next year. Cruising is for us, from this point forth! Anyone considering a cruise on Carnival, or the Inspiration in particular, go for it! You won't be disappointed! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Introduction: This cruise was my twelfth cruise, the tenth with Carnival and fifth on the Inspiration. Our group consisted of me and seven of my friends. We took this cruise for my Bachelor party, and also spent a night in Tampa ... Read More
Introduction: This cruise was my twelfth cruise, the tenth with Carnival and fifth on the Inspiration. Our group consisted of me and seven of my friends. We took this cruise for my Bachelor party, and also spent a night in Tampa before hand. My cabin mate and I had an ocean view room on Upper Deck, number 117. The cruise left on Thursday sailing a four night itinerary to Cozumel and back. My most recent cruise was on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas, so this cruise felt almost like coming home after a stay at a friend's house. Embarkation: This was my first cruise as a Platinum Member, so we got to head to the VIP area for embarkation. The lady had us sit at her desk while she input our information. Then she gave us our cards and escorted us past the line and up to the security picture kiosks. After that we were right on the ship. It went very smoothly, and our friends who went through the regular line were only about 10 minutes behind us. The Ship: Not much changed in the four months since my last cruise on her. Everything was still clean and polished. They completed the "Circle C" room on Atlantic Deck since my last cruise. I did note that on this cruise that I saw a lot less random dirty plates, cups and food items sitting around. I have never fully understood why people feel the need to deposit their dirty dishes in completely inappropriate places. In any case, it seems the crew is either getting better about policing it up, or there were just less of "those people" on our cruise. We did visit the Serenity area regularly, and I was pleased to see the attendant booting out some teens who were loitering. I just can't say enough about how nice it is to have that area with adults' only spas and loungers. Even though it can get very hot back there due to the lack of a breeze, it is still a pleasant place to relax. I also visited the casino, something that I don't usually do. They gave me a free entry into the slot tournament, so I took advantage. I didn't win anything, but it was fun nonetheless. Our Cabin: Our steward kept our room very clean, although I saw less of him than any of the others. My only contact with him was when he stopped in on the second day to have me sign the roster. The location of the cabin was great. Since it was located mid ship, there was virtually no felt motion at all. After having E1 last time during Hurricane Gustav, it was a pleasant change. I did have a couple of minor grievances with the room. This cruise was the first time I ever had the "brown smelly water" issue. It came and went, but there was a detectable foul odor coming from the toilet water and the shower drain. The window also left much to be desired. The inside of it was fine, but the outside really needed a cleaning. I realize that cleaning a ships exterior windows is probably an arduous task, but it really needs to be done every once in awhile to reduce the salty film that builds up. Cozumel: Our only stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. We pulled up to the Puerta Maya pier complex which apparently just opened back up after it was destroyed by a hurricane back in 2005. I did miss the convenient location of the Punta Lagosta pier since it is closer to downtown, but the Playa Mia area is nicer in my opinion. There is a Ron Jon Surf Shop there, a Pancho's Back Yard, a Fat Tuesdays, several shops and small restaurants as well as liquor stores. There is also a sandy area near the water with lounge chairs, although there isn't a beach. We didn't do much in Cozumel, just lunch at Pancho's and then some shopping. After a few hours we went back to the ship and played some mini golf up on deck. As is my usual routine, I perched myself above the ridge to watch sail away. First the Holiday, which was docked next to us, had to pull out. She got about 20 feet away from the pier and stopped. Unbeknownst to me, a female passenger who was late walked up and had spoken to the Carnival staff. Then the Holiday slid back up to the pier and let her on! Never on any of my cruises have I ever seen a cruise ship come back for someone. I suppose all those warnings about not being late are fairly empty. About a half hour later we set sail for Tampa, and it was a smooth ride back. Food: Generally the food was very good on this cruise. I have not been a huge fan of the lido buffet offerings on any of the ships I have sailed on, but it was adequate and plentiful. Since this was more of a "festive" cruise than normal, I only made the main dining room breakfast once. I usually try to eat every breakfast there since it is by leaps and bounds better than the food on the lido deck. Dinners in the main dining room were excellent as usual. I actually thought that the food on this cruise was slightly better than on my last Inspiration cruise. The last night they served some really great appetizers. Crab cakes, caprese salad, onion soup and the standard shrimp cocktail were all on the menu. I had some of each, plus a seafood pasta dish that was fairly good. Elbert and Ana Lyn, our servers, were awesome! Elbert had a joke for us every night, and was really quick with our food. Debarkation: I was given the Concierge Club priority luggage tags for the VIP debarkation, but I did not use them. Party because my friends couldn't use the VIP, but mostly because I am never in any hurry to leave a ship. We slept in until about 8:30 and then got breakfast in the lido buffet. After Fellipe the Cruise Director called all the zone numbers we made our way to the gangway and left the ship. From the time we walked onto the gangway until we were at our car was about twenty minutes. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Background: I'm 31 and my husband is 37. This was our second cruise, our first being the Southern Caribbean on Carnival Destiny. We also took our kids along for their first cruise, ages 12, 7, and 5. Pre Cruise: We stayed at the ... Read More
Background: I'm 31 and my husband is 37. This was our second cruise, our first being the Southern Caribbean on Carnival Destiny. We also took our kids along for their first cruise, ages 12, 7, and 5. Pre Cruise: We stayed at the Chase Suites hotel in Tampa, which is about a 10 minute drive from the airport. We booked a 2 bedroom suite with a kitchen. We booked the "Ship to Shore" package which included transportation from the airport to hotel, hotel to pier, and pier back to the airport for $149 for all 5 of us. When we booked, we were directed to call the hotel when we were at the baggage claim in the airport. We did and they were there to pick us up promptly. Our room was very nice and clean; a step above the typical Holiday Inn experience. Shortly after we arrived, we discovered we had no hot water. I called the front desk and they sent maintenance within 10 minutes. They were unable to fix the hot water heater but they did give us another room. We ate dinner at Bahama Breeze, which is right behind the hotel. The food was really good and the service was excellent. Prices are also reasonable. Price included breakfast and also a 'waffle station' where you could make your own waffles. Other fare included toast, cereal, muffins, and bagels. Cruise Time! Getting on board We took the hotel van to the pier around 10:15am. We arrived at the terminal at about 11am because we had to turn around to pick up some other hotel guests the driver forgot were supposed to be in the van. The check in process in the Tampa port was very organized and efficient. After having checked in at San Juan where chaos reigned, this was a pleasant surprise. The ship had a delay in debarkation, so we did sit for about an hour until we were able to board. We made it on board around 12:00 noon and went up to the Lido deck for lunch until we could access our cabin. Cabins/Steward We booked two 6B connecting cabins on the Riviera deck, R194 and R196. I love that Carnival has included more connecting cabins on their ships. This worked great for us and the kids. Two bathrooms and a lot more space were very handy to have! The cabins were about 15 cabins from the aft. The motion wasn't too bad, but we definitely had vibration a lot of the time. The cabins were typical Carnival oceanview cabins. They were upgraded with the flat panel TVs, but in our cabin, the TV was mounted to the same wall as the head of the bed, which makes no sense. If we wanted to watch TV, we had to lie on the foot of the bed. Our cabin steward was Mohammed. We saw him twice the entire cruise. The only complaint we have is that we did not have ice in our cabins a lot of the time. He'd sometimes fill it in the morning, but never at night. We left a note asking him to please fill the ice, but no luck. However, we did leave a note for an extra beach towel and we had the 5th towel every time we had to exchange them. Of course, we had our towel animals every night. The Ship/Activities/Shows, etc... Inspiration is what she is....an older ship. Besides the elevators desperately needing a facelift, she shows her age well. The crew was constantly out and about wiping railings, cleaning floors, etc... The size of the Fantasy class vs. Destiny was a non-issue. I thought I'd really hate being on a smaller ship, but it really didn't seem that much different. I really thought I'd miss my balcony as well. I did, but it wasn't that bad. Especially since the Chopin Lounge (smoking) was directly 8 floors above us...only a short ride away! ? We noticed a definite vibration issue in the aft areas, including the Carnivale Dining Room, Chopin Lounge, and the Candelight Lounge. The vibration was not a fleeting issue and was present throughout most of the cruise. My Diet Coke vibrated right off the table in the Chopin Lounge before I could catch it, so I know this wasn't just me feeling it. We did notice (and DON'T flame me because I'm not saying anything bad!) that there were quite a few senior citizens on this cruise. Everywhere we turned around, scooters were whizzing past us. This also might explain why I didn't see the typical "casual" dressing in the dining room. Our CD was Felipe Couto. I personally don't take too much notice of the CDs so I have nothing to report except for he was in fact the CD and loves to end every announcement with "woo hoo." We tried to attend the dance show the first night and were (pretty rudely) turned away at the door because there were no seats. We were told we could not stand in the back either. We were told to come back at 10:30pm for the next show but we had two small children who wouldn't make it that late. I find it peculiar that they don't allow enough seats in the lounge/showroom as there are seats for each dinner seating so that everyone can attend. We were pretty miffed about the treatment we received at the door and our daughters were very disappointed as we really hyped the show up to them. We did attend the illusionist (Mark Miller) act and the comedy show the following night. The illusionist was pretty disappointing as he only did two 'tricks' and they weren't even good ones at that. The comedian (the name is slipping my mind...) was pretty good. My kids even enjoyed his act. The shops were decent. The lady in the Formalities shop (Daneta?) was super about helping find a shirt in the right size that my daughter had her heart set on. She had it for us the next day and even gave the girls a piece of candy because they had to wait. Very nice! The casino was terrible to us as always! ? We did not attend karaoke or any other shipboard activities. The kids did do some activities at Camp Carnival and Circle C. My girls loved Camp Carnival. They were in two separate rooms, as they are 7 and 5, but this didn't faze them at all. They spent the majority of the time with us, but did go to the Build a Bear session and spent three hours at Camp one night after dinner, where they colored a backpack, made a turtle, and had their faces painted. The staff at Camp Carnival was wonderful to my girls and really made their vacation even more fun! My 12 year old said Circle C was a flop. Inspiration does have a separate room for Circle C now. He went to a t-shirt coloring session, but everything else was pretty much a video game free-for-all. The activities for this age group are pretty lacking. I do understand that they want to allow the 'older' kids more free time, but a few more organized activities wouldn't hurt. Carnival does allow the 12-14 year old kids to check themselves in and out. Dining Room/Food/Buffet This was the area in which we were disappointed the most. We never expected 5 or even 4 star quality (we have sailed Carnival before), but we had much better food and service in the dining room and on the Lido on our previous cruise. We had early (6pm) seating in the Carnivale Dining Room. George the Greek is now the maitre d in the Carnivale Dining Room vs. Mardi Gras. We heard a lot of "Oompas" but he never stopped at our table once during the whole cruise. We were never greeted at the door either. I fail to see what all the hype is about this maitre d. He was no different than any others and just like the others before him; we did not leave a tip. Our headwaiter (Linden from Guyana) and assistant waiter (Rodel from the Philippines) were pretty good. Rodel got my girls up and dancing doing the Macarena. They were thrilled about getting the special attention. Linden treated our children very nicely and always had a recommendation for that evening's meal ready for us. Our bar waiter, Fitzroy, didn't even show up at our table the first night. The headwaiter had to track him down for us. No matter how many times we told him that I drank the Diet Coke and my husband the regular Coke, he always mixed them up. I'm not complaining; we found it sort of funny. Even our kids got in on the amusement of the 'switcheroo' game. Overall, the food was pretty mediocre. Medium well steaks came out a hair away from mooing themselves off the plate, a grilled salmon came out ice cold and raw, French fries cold, etc... I can honestly say I did not have one main course that was enjoyable. I did enjoy the strawberry bisque as always and also the bing cherry soup. That was a favorite with my kids too. My husband says the lobster and the lamb were OK but nothing rave but the Baked Alaska was pretty good. Dress code wise, I never saw anything terribly offensive. My husband and son were the only ones we saw in tuxes on Elegant Night, but everyone else had at least a tie or a dress on. One night, the people next to us showed up in beach wear (complete with bathing suits and flip flops) but were allowed in. This was on our Cozumel port day, so I'm thinking they got back a bit late. I personally don't care, but I know some of you love to hear about it, so I thought I'd share my observations. ;) The Lido deck buffet and restaurant was NOT an enjoyable experience unless we went up at 9-10pm. Every day at breakfast and lunch, I had to clear a table to sit down. I would bring up 1-2 trays of someone else's dishes and ask for a towel to wipe the table and the staff gave me a towel let me wipe my own table vs. coming over to help me. These were not people busy doing other things either; they were standing behind the little podium or talking to other employees. I did not encounter one member of the Lido staff that could even crack a smile when I said hello. On the rare occasion a thank you was merited, I couldn't even get a "you're welcome" in reply. I watched and counted 5 employees who walked by an ice cream spill (a small mountain...not a tiny spill) and not one of them stopped or came back to clean it up. It was still there when I went back to get some more lemonade an hour later. We really enjoyed the strawberry/chocolate twist frozen yogurt though. It wasn't us who made the mess! LOL We did the Deli once. One time there was a grilled ham and cheese on the menu and my son asked if he could have it not grilled. They said he had to have it grilled and wouldn't give it to him cold. The turkey sandwiches were pretty good. Pizzeria was OK. We had a few long waits (20 minutes + a few times) but the pizza was as expected. Ports of Call/Sea Days 1st day at Sea: It rained and it was pretty chilly. We managed to find things to do indoors and eventually my kids talked me into getting into the pool. We swam for about a half hour and back inside. Grand Cayman: We finally found some sun and warmth that day, although unfortunately we left at 3pm. We took a cab to Royal Palms (Seven Mile Beach) for $4/pp. We did not eat here, but did pick up some drinks. The beach was great, good swimming and not too crowded. After we left the beach, we did some shopping around the area. We stopped at Margaritaville (only for shirts...we had the kids with us!) and the Harley Davidson store, along with a few other shops. Shopping here is a bit pricier than other ports of call, so be warned! ? Cozumel: We arrived to mid 70's temps and cloudy skies in Cozumel. It was also pretty windy. Not great weather, but better than the -50 we left behind in Iowa. The ship docked at Puerta Maya. We booked the Dolphin Encounter at Chankanaab Park directly through Dolphin Discovery. They did not tell us that the time they gave was their local time and not ship time, so we were about an hour early. We let the kids swim for a while before it was our turn with the dolphin. They broke us up into groups and led us into the cages. We all pet, kissed, and shook hands with Louis (our dolphin). They took pictures and video of the encounter. 9 pictures and the DVD cost $95 USD. They were going to give us 6 more pictures for $149 USD but we only purchased the kids' pictures; we left ours behind. We were in the DVD after all. The DVD is pretty good. After the dolphins, we went to Pancho's Backyard for a quick lunch. Two margaritas, three juices, and 4 plates of nachos cost $70 USD. Great food and service, but a bit more than we thought we'd like to spend. The margaritas are STRONG though, so beware. I had to throw half of mine out or I'd have been too drunk to care for the kids! ? We did some shopping around the pier and headed back on board about 5:15pm. 2nd day at sea: Windy, cold, windy, windy, windy....did I say windy? ? All of the upper decks were closed all day long. This day the kids went to Camp Carnival and we just did some walking around. We did go and lose some money in the casino as well. Debarkation This was 100,000 times better than in San Juan. We never self disembark and we were zone 24. We went to the Lido, ate breakfast (actually didn't have to clean my own place this time) and waited. We were called at 9:45am and were completely off the ship by 10:00am. No stampedes and people actually waited for their numbers. Customs was a breeze. Very painless process and for that I was pretty happy! Overall I would just say this cruise was OK. Not a disaster, but nothing to get totally ecstatic over either. The weather was a big downer, but that couldn't be helped and that has no bearing on my thoughts of our experience on Inspiration. We loved both Grand Cayman and Cozumel, although we had less than stellar weather. I had read great reviews of the ship and her crew before I booked so I figured we'd be in for a great time. I can't honestly say I had a great experience. Would I sail Inspiration again? Probably not, unless a crew changeover happened. Wherever the majority of that crew goes, I hope I know so I don't book that ship. Would I book another Carnival cruise? I have one booked now that we'll keep booked, but we might try something else next time. This cruise left a... we won't call it bad, but rather bitter, taste in our mouths for Carnival right now. I still want to try a Spirit Class ship, so there will probably be at least one more Carnival cruise in our future. Would I sail from Tampa again? Definitely! Tampa has it GOING ON when it comes to their Port. It's a great place to visit as well. Friendly people, great scenery...we loved it! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Port of Call, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico Excursions: Ship Wreck & Reef Snorkel at Grand Cayman, Mayan Ruins of Tulum (in Tulum, Mexico...took ferry from Cozumel). First of all, I want to thank our maitre'd, head waiter, ... Read More
Port of Call, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico Excursions: Ship Wreck & Reef Snorkel at Grand Cayman, Mayan Ruins of Tulum (in Tulum, Mexico...took ferry from Cozumel). First of all, I want to thank our maitre'd, head waiter, head room stewart, and the Cardinal Lounge bartenders for their entertainment, brief conversation, birthday wishes, kindness, and expression condolences. While at sea, my husband got an emergency phone call from home that his sick brother took a turn for the worse. The next day was my husband's birthday when another phone call came that his brother died the night before. Days later, I met and thanked our maitre'd for fabulous food and entertainment being a distraction to a difficult week, he expressed his condolences and gave me a big hug. As we were about to disembark, our head room steward made it a point to once again wish my husband Happy Birthday and expressed condolences. He not only remembered our names the whole week but also the birthday and family situation. Cruise versus road trip? A 5-day cruise for two can be cheaper than 5 days on land if paying $80/night for lodging, $27/day for rental car, $70/ day for breakfast/lunch/dinner, and whatever you want to spend on great entertainment. On the cruise you get to eat, drink, swim on-board, hit the hot tub, have fun all day, & hit the shows at night...all 5 nights. Motion sickness: take OTC med with you or wait until on-board and go to medical quarters and grab a few free packets of Meclizine; you'll be glad you did. Money and spending on land: Take all US Dollars $20 bills and smaller. Shops on Grand Cayman Island and in Cozumel and Tulum, Mexico do business in US dollars (USD). Grand Cayman Island gift shop gave change back in USD; not sure if the shops in Mexico did. Grand Cayman traffic: cars are on opposite of road than in US. Look both ways before crossing! Pre-booking: Read all the info on the websites for the TSA, INS, and the cruise line's FAQs page. I'm glad I did. Also read other cruise critic reviews to get a variety of opinions and information. Book cruise through travel agent and get travel insurance to cover trip interruption, cancellation, etc. for covered reasons. Be sure to read the policy. A family member whose serious health is diagnosed after coverage begins might not be considered a "pre-existing condition" . Should the person's health/death force you to cancel your trip, you could be reimbursed for expenses (i.e flight and cruise fare). Illness diagnosed before coverage is "pre-existing condition" and you will likely not be covered. Once cruise is booked, consider flying to city of embarkation (ours was Tampa) a day in advance. Be sure the hotel provides shuttle service to the ship terminal. Get up early the next morning and get to the ship early. You may be able to get on-board earlier than expected then have lunch while waiting for room to be ready. Don't try to save a few dollars by not paying porters to take your bags to your room. Pay them to do it for you. Free your hands up because the room won't be available for a few hours. Go have lunch and tour the ship. After booking, the cruise line will mail you a "FunPass" information booklet for each passenger. It's pretty much spelled out and the print is easier to read on the website. Set up a login account on the cruise line's website, then go to "MyCruise" link. to create your on-board account to give your ATM/credit card information for on-board expenses. Your Sail & Sign card will be issued at the terminal; use it for all on-board expenses including booking excursions; it will forward all your charges to whatever credit/ATM card you designate it to (when creating your on-board account information). Your Sail & Sign card also acts as your room key and ID to board and un board the ship. Once at the terminal, you will need to show your passport and booking ID information. Don't waste your money on a US passport card...presenting those or birth certificates with driver's licenses are a useless idea after June 2009 and passport books will be pretty much the only acceptable legal documentation to re-enter the US by land, air, and sea. Read up on travel information on the TSA and INS websites. Book excursions on-board rather than in advance. If trip or excursion is cancelled, interrupted, or changes are made, it's easier to deal with it if booked through cruise lines while on-board. Another good reason to wait to book once you're on-board is there are a lot more excursions to choose from. Book them right away as they may fill up. I almost had to cancel our entire trip due to a deathly-ill family member before embarking. We would not have been able to recover the cost of the excursions if we booked in advance. Those with excursions booked are first to get off ship. Also, keep in mind many land excursions require a long of walking and may not be wheelchair/walker/cane friendly. Mayan Ruins of Tulum while a splendid tour, can be rocky, a little bit of sandy, soft ground, very hot & humid and a lot of walking.....but worth it! If you think you might be swimming while on your excursion, change into your swimwear before leaving the ship...it will be your only chance. Can experience gusty wind on-board. 30 mph wind gusts were strong at the forward end of the ship. If you're average to smaller build, hang-on tight and stay away from the railing during very windy periods. If at all possible, don't wear hearing aids or loose-fitting glasses up there either. Salty air and humidity could ruin the hearing aids or cause them to fall out. Mine nearly fell off and went overboard. Cameras: When going from inside to outside the shop, film video and snapshot cameras need to be acclimated to the humidity for about 15 minutes before use. Take lens defogger with you everywhere. Our video camera's tape tangled in the camera for a while. We learned that waiting at least 15 minutes helped. Cruise Director show: It's on TV in the room several times a day. Be sure to watch it daily for important information; especially day before debarkation. Room stewards and dinner wait staff: let them introduce themselves and learn your names; it's part of their job. They will impress you with their service and the ability to remember your name after the first day. Their service and friendliness was way above my expectations. Consider tipping them (on your on-board bill) more than what you are charged for their service. Dinners: Dressed nice. Food and service was fabulous Formal Dinner Night: All dinners onboard were so delicious that I felt this particular dinner was over-rated. We saw the pictures on-line and decided our "Sunday-best" would do. Others looked as if they did the same. Adult and kid friendly: an outside lounge area for adults only, indoor lounge for teens only, activity room for the really little kids, and a newer water slide on and kids pool on the upper deck. A casino is on-board also. On-board emergencies: if you hear an urgent call for a specific area/room, unless you are directly affected, do not go check it out. Stay in your room and out of the way. Cell phone calls: contact your cellular service provider to get the rates. Cheaper on land than onboard! Due to a death in the family back home while we were at sea, we used our cell phone quite a bit on-board and on land.. Cleanliness; the ship is impeccably clean. The crew works day and night to keep it clean...including the windows and brass railing of the stair wells. Day 1 (10.06.08): Embarkation. Arrived in Tampa day before this and stayed the night at a hotel; got up early the next morning and took the hotel shuttle to the terminal. You will need to stand in line a while to get your picture taken for your on-board Sail & Sign card which acts as on-board credit card, room access key, and your ID to leave and re-board the ship. Got on-board an hour ahead of schedule. Glad we paid the porters to handle our luggage; it was waiting for us in our stateroom later. Ate lunch on-board then toured the ship. After lunch, we toured the ship on our own then went to forward section of ship on upper exterior deck just below the horn. Watched dolphins jump out of the water just ahead of the ship. Sail & Sign card: must have it with you at all times both on board and on land. It's the only way to get back on the ship and get in your room. Safe box in stateroom: need to designate a plastic card to close it and must use same card to open it. Can't be on-board card or credit/bank card. Try using store shopping rewards card. Emergency drill: a MUST ATTEND. Take life jackets with you. Can be found in the closet in your room. Day 2 (10.07.08): Fun day at sea. Enjoyed the beautiful view of the water from the decks; saw the island of Cuba from a distance. If you enjoy alcoholic drinks, people say they are expensive; I didn't think they cost much more than drinks back home in the US. Keep your drink cups though and re-use them. For your next drink, you'll give you a clean cup and $1.00 off the drink. Went to the formal dinner. Dressed up just a little more than we did all the other nights. I felt the Formal Dinner was over rated. The food was fantastic but not much better than all the other delicious food served day and night. Day 3 (10.08.08): Booked this excursion on board. Went on the Shipwreck & Reef Snorkel excursion. Snorkeling: the water is so salty I didn't need a life jacket to float. Those under a certain age (teens) are required to ear a lifejacket. Snorkel guides provide clean, sanitized snorkel gear. Be sure to closely follow their pre-snorkel instructions. Change into your water-fun clothes on the ship; restrooms on land next to the water aren't the cleanest. Beautiful reefs! Was not impressed with the shipwreck part though. Take a water-proof disposable (or digital) camera. You'll be glad you did. If you drop your mask or camera in the water; it will sink. The water is so clear you can see the bottom. Notify a snorkel staffer and it can be retrieved. Other water excursions: don't put your wallet in your pocket! Leave it somewhere safe like on the snorkel boat. Someone we met lost all his personal cards including his credit & ATM cards, Sail & Sign card and his card to access the safe in the room. If you lose your S&S ID card while on board or land, notify the ship personnel. Day 4 (10.09.08): Booked this excursion on board. Went to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum: Cost includes ferry to mainland, tour bus, tour guide, entrance to ruins, and light snack. Took a ferry ride from Cozumel to mainland of Mexico, then a tour bus about 30 miles into Mexican and was narrated and lead by a tour guide. Don't let him fool you, he spoke English very well. Wear comfortable shoes meant for walking and pack sun screen and insect repellant! Mexican vendors swamp you at the steps of the bus and sell insect repellant among other wares...take your own repellant. Pay the tour guide to get you on the tram, it cost us only $2.00/person. It will get you there and back faster. The first half of the tour takes you along a mosquito-infested trail with dense foliage; but that part doesn't last long. Take snap shot and and video cameras (take the cases too in case of rain)...contrary to the tour book's threat of "Mexican government charges $5.00 to take video footage" we did not experience that. Be prepared to walk a lot and experience very hot temps, humidity & rain. Don't bother buying the $5.00 trash bags from the vendors. Enjoy the rain; it will feel better than the heat and humidity to follow. Day 5 (10.10.08): Fun Day at Sea. Enjoyed the last full day relaxing on the decks and exchanging stories with others about their excursions and other cruising experiences. Photos: Go ahead and have some fun posing. You're not financially obligated unless you want to purchase them later. The photos the staff takes of you onboard are later displayed for your (and everyone else's) viewing and for your purchase. Throughout the week, your photos are posted for your viewing and interest in purchase. This is the best night to pore over all your photos and pick the ones you want to purchase. Cruise Director's show: I watched on TV. Very important to watch, especially for first time cruisers. Very informative. Day 6 (10.11.08) Debarkation Day. Enjoyed eating one last big breakfast onboard. Handle your luggage yourself and you'll get off faster; we did. Consider sharing a taxi to the airport. Taxis to the airport are $25 for up to 4 people. We shared a taxi with another couple from our table. Don't bother calling for a taxi, they'll be at the terminal already waiting for your business! My husband and I were first time cruisers and this website was very informative for us. If you're planning your first cruise, I hope this was loads of helpful information. Talk to others who've been on cruises to get more information; we're glad we did. If you've never been on Carnival Inspiration or haven't been since they remodeled the ship, give it a try and have fun! The service exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
I was invited by my Mom to join her on a cruise about 8 months prior to the cruise date and of course my answer to her was, but Mom, you know I get seasick. She assured me that I would will be fine cause the ships are so big you'll ... Read More
I was invited by my Mom to join her on a cruise about 8 months prior to the cruise date and of course my answer to her was, but Mom, you know I get seasick. She assured me that I would will be fine cause the ships are so big you'll never know you on the water. I have never been on a cruise ship and was excited to start my adventure. I flew from Anchorage Alaska to Tampa and spent a few days in the city before the cruise (to recoup from my long flight). Once at port for Embarkation, I was amazed at the size of the Inspiration. I've seen cruise ships, but never this close. A group of us took a bus to port (baggage was taken care of once we arrived at port) and the process to board the ship was a breeze. Once on board, I was excited to explore the ship and get my bearings (which still took a few days). Thank goodness for the little pocket size ship deck plan they gave you to find your way around. (Or Mom and I would still be lost). I was impressed how clean and new the Inspiration looked. We went to check out our room and to my surprise the room was a decent size. We had a window stateroom with two twin beds and there was plenty of closet space for both of us. However when we opened the bathroom door there was a smell of sewage. I told our room steward about it and he took care of the problem as soon as we left the room to go back on deck. Once we left Tampa we went back to our room to freshen up for dinner and our luggage had arrived (excellent service). Our room steward took care of the bathroom smell and checked in on use to make sure if we needed anything else. We dined in the formal dining room every night except for one night when we were late coming back from one of our ports. All I can say is the food on the Inspiration was excellent. The formal dining room had a different menu every night (but had a few same favorites as well). The desserts were awesome and all I can say is you cannot go hungry on these ships. We usually ate at the buffet for breakfast and/or lunch. All the people that worked on the ship that we encountered we so nice and pleasant to talk too. We went the the shows every night and I was impressed with the talent. I also enjoyed getting the Carnival Capers newspaper every night that listed all the activities for the next day. We stopped in Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel and needless to say the stops were not long enough. I wasn't too impressed with Cozumel, but thought Grand Cayman was a beautiful island. We did shopping excursion on both islands, and wished we could have scheduled another excursion at both....well just gives me an excuse to go back to the Grand Cayman Island. Even though the weather on the trip was mostly cloudy, we still had a wonderful time and I'm glad my first cruise was with Carnival! The Inspiration had something for everyone and when we returned to Tampa, I could have spent another 5 days on that ship!! Looking forward to my next cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
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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