Sail Date: August 2008
August 7-11, 2008. Adults 6th cruise, kids 2nd. Kids hated the Disney cruise - too old. So, we wanted to give them another try at enjoying cruising. Got connecting cabins, they loved this, made them feel very independent, they are 16 and ... Read More
August 7-11, 2008. Adults 6th cruise, kids 2nd. Kids hated the Disney cruise - too old. So, we wanted to give them another try at enjoying cruising. Got connecting cabins, they loved this, made them feel very independent, they are 16 and 12. We did purchase 4 walkie talkies beforehand, so we were always in touch w/them, as the walkie talkies worked through the entire cruise. First day was exploring the ship, and our first dinner. They matched us w/another 16 year old girl, and all three kids bolted after dinner, for fun around the ship. They seemed to enjoy this free time very much, since neither of my kids were interested in the club activities. 16 year old is shy, and 12 year old felt too confined by the clubs, wanted to be independent. With walkie talkies, we were fine w/all this, and enjoyed casino and bars together as a couple, and not being Mom and Dad! Second day was at sea. I pampered the 16 year old w/a mani-pedi. The spa messed it up, only gave her a pedi w/no french tips. When I called them, they refunded me. However, they did charge me an adult price for the pedi when she qualified for a teen price. I will deal w/this through email and see if I get refunded. All cruises are about double the cost of any treatment you could get at home, so I do them at home. Don't need relaxing when I'm already relaxing on a cruise! 12 year old got a little bored this day, and wanted to hang out alone in the cabin, once he got to this for a while, he was fine again. Skipped the fancy dinner that night, and thought it was a poor idea to have the midnight buffet that night, when the next day was cozumel and shore excursions. Seems like they could have matched that w/an at sea the next day. Food - Adequate. It was what I expected, nothing more or less. Typical Carnival food, only a few things stood out - Talapia at dinner, Snapper at casual dinner, Crab Cakes at dinner - ordered a second one! Service - dull. No one really interacted w/us, wait staff didn't even tell us what events were going on that night, or what meals would be the next day. Cozumel - we all loved the Atlantis Submarine. My husband dives, so it was not so exciting for him, but since the kids loved it so much, he enjoyed it too! It was a really great family day. Mexican cab rides are scary, but I had this experience before, so was ready for it. Shopping has very aggressive sales people. I don't care for that at all, but have learned not to look them in the eye, or they hound you even more. I basically did souvenir shopping in a "junk" shop, really getting everything I wanted to get. The second at sea day, we spent sleeping in after cozumel. My kids loved room service, and the freedom we gave them to order whatever they wanted. Had breakfast in room each morning, and kids had room service throughout the trip. I left them some $1 to tip with. The afternoon, we looked at photos, but no ship we have ever been on has a good way to find your photos, so we just went with the one from Atlantis of the four of us, and the camera we brought. Bought some alcohol on the ship, as the price was half what I spend at home. Of course, didn't save anything, as I bought 2 bottles! Disembarking was VERY smooth, as was Embarkation. Carnival REALLY has this down. OVERALL - For my husband and me, this was an average-type cruise. We want to try a newer, upgraded ship next time, as we have done several ships and lines in this class. For the kids, they really enjoyed it, and I think they would both do it again. Hope this helps! J.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
This is our second cruise on the Carnival Inspiration, but this time we took family and friends for a total party of 10. Eight of us occupied four 1A cabins on upper deck and two had a penthouse suite, also on upper deck. We ... Read More
This is our second cruise on the Carnival Inspiration, but this time we took family and friends for a total party of 10. Eight of us occupied four 1A cabins on upper deck and two had a penthouse suite, also on upper deck. We originally booked this cruise on the Fantasy but they canceled it do to an extended dry dock. We were able to keep our same rates and book the Inspiration, even on a holiday weekend (meaning fewer missed school days). We also were refunded part of the gas surcharge b/c we originally booked the Fantasy before Carnival started charging for gas. Total price per person w/all taxes and surcharges? $310...$62/night! We were also refunded $25/person for port fees for Key West, so I guess technically it worked out to $57/night. Embarkation: SLOW! My MIL and FIL were directed to VIP checkin. Most of our party had not completed the online funpass, and one person was a last minute sub so we had a lot of paperwork to complete. It was extremely time consuming but our "checker inner" was very patient and sweet. DH has a fuse like a ticking time bomb so it took several hours afterwards to get him calmed down. All in all it took close to 40 minutes to check the 8 of us in. And we still had to "rearrange" our room assignments which meant waiting in line at the pursers desk for another hour. Gustav was brewing in the gulf so our first port (and the one we were looking forward to the most), Grand Cayman, had been changed to Key West. However, after attempting to skirt Gustav, the captain canceled our first port stop all together. Cabins: Our cabins were nice and arranged well. We got a lot of space for a minimal cost and no one seemed to mind dealing with bunks. Our main complaint was the stewards. One night they didn't show up to do turn down service until 9:30pm. Between me and my kids, we had two cabins so I attempted to move to the other cabin while they pulled the bunk down but another steward showed up and basically kicked us out of the room..in my pjs! It was irritating. My mom asked for ice several times, along with a tip and her chest was only filled once. This is the first time we didn't leave an extra tip for our steward. I honestly believe, that b/c these are the lowest category room on the ship, that they must train new stewards on them. And the fact that our beds were never made till after lunch tells me we were last on the list to get done everyday. We also noticed that sewer smell in the hallway. It was ONLY in the center hallway where the aft 1A rooms are. I never noticed it in the rest of the ship and I rarely noticed it in the rooms themselves. My Mil's penthouse suite was beautiful. Very large with tons of space. We hung out with them in their room quite a bit. They also raved how good their butler was. Food: Very good as usual. Heard very few complaints from my group. The warm melting chocolate cake was a huge hit for several. Our waiter, Joseph, was OUTSTANDING. All 10 of were at one round table and he did a beautiful job at handling everyone's requests. Several people in my party ordered multiple shrimp cocktails every night so he just started their order by asking how many they wanted. As for the buffet, always found plenty of seating. Entertainment: Both comedians are VERY funny..my mom regrets sleeping thru the first one. We really didn't go to many shows. We hit Karaoke, dancing on the deck, towel folding, bingo, scavenger hunt, the newlywed show, and the ice carving demonstration. My group really did have a great time..their only complaint being that so many of the activities were scheduled so close together that you couldn't do them all. I was extremely disappointed there was no past guest party. The ship: very clean. didn't have the sail away litter and debris that we saw with our last trip on this ship. The renovations are very nice. DH was disappointed with them as he said the slides were a waste of space and the pool to small. I kept telling him that even without the slides, the new pool is no smaller than the previous one. My mom tried the adults only deck but said it wasn't to her taste. She said their was no breeze and no Caribbean music. Her and her best friend pretty much baked on the top deck...but she paid for that later :) Port: Or only port was Cozumel due to Gustav. We were, of course, immediately accosted by people offering tours and taxi rides. We wanted to go to Paradise Beach. We approached a man to inquire about a van ride for our group who promptly informed us that Paradise beach is not very nice today b/c of turbulent "mucky" water. He offered to take us to another beach and throw in a free entrance fee or some such package deal. We told him we would think about it. We had a moment of panic, not sure if we should go to PB after all. DH walked into a cruise tour office that sells tours strictly to the cruise lines (as in not on an individual basis, as in they could not sell to us, as in any advice or recommendations they gave were not motivated by profit b/c there was none to made). We were considering Chakanaab instead and they informed DH that they share the same beach and if the water was mucky at one, it would be at the other BUT that he had heard no such thing and that the man who had told us so was likely only trying to get us to go to a beach where he has a business arrangement. So we headed downstairs to the taxi line and squeezed 9 people into 2 cabs (FIL decided to stay on board). Total cost was $30 + tip. At PB the water was BEAUTIFUL and clear. Later in the day as the tide changed there was some seaweed...but what do you expect. Its the ocean for crying out loud, not a swimming pool. Our waiter took money up for our wristbands but took nearly an hour getting them to us. I'm not sure what happened but we had another moment of panic thinking an impostor had shown up to take our money and run. I guess we're just a bunch of nervous Nelly's. Service was great! We had lots of free shots. We ordered several yard drinks, buckets of bears, nachos, and quesadillas. I think our total with generous tip was something like $120..much less than I was expecting. We took a van taxi back for $32 + tip and did some shopping before returning to the ship. Disembarkation: Very smooth. We were permitted to disembark VIP with our MIL/FIL. The only thing I found strange was the handicap disembarkation. VIP disembarked first which I think was inappropriate and the crew was announcing to those waiting to disembark that required wheelchairs (many with their own..unquestionably disabled), that only one family member could priority disembark with them and that the rest would have to leave when their color category was announced. I realize that some families may be trying to take advantage but that is just DUMB! You only have to fill out ONE claims form per group and your entire group is processed through customs TOGETHER, so why would Carnival split the parties up? I'm hoping that this was just an isolated incident and that the crew member just didn't know better. Overall we had a great time and our family is hooked on cruising now. I would have given this trip 4 stars if our stewards had taken better care of us. However, a family & friends cruise is exhausting! Its so tiring playing host/hostess to a bunch of newbies! DH and I are very much looking forward to our 9 day S. Caribbean cruise with just the kids this March. Would I go a third time? Most definitely if the price was right. I would just consider very carefully whether or not the 1A rooms are worth the savings. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
This was my third time on this ship....Not because of it's greatness, but because of convenience....For a quick 4 day cruise for locals in the Tampa area other areas of Florida, I find it to be a great value...but, if you must spend ... Read More
This was my third time on this ship....Not because of it's greatness, but because of convenience....For a quick 4 day cruise for locals in the Tampa area other areas of Florida, I find it to be a great value...but, if you must spend money to reach port...try another ship out of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale...There is quite a bit of entertainment...service was less than fantastic and the food was disappointing...nevertheless, it served its purpose by allowing rest and relaxation...For those that like to work out, it has a GREAT gym with new equipment.....read more about the art auctions below...I went with my 13 year old daughter. She had a great time with Circle "C". They have activities on board exclusive for multiple age groups...Camp Carnival for the little ones...Circle C for 12-14 and Club O for 15-17....From what I can tell, kids have a great time on this cruise..and parents really enjoy the effort Carnival makes to keep the kids entertained. However, for the 12-14 age group Carnival allows them to come and go as they please. This was my first time cruising with my daughter and I regret not getting a long range walkie talkie....I spent too much time worried and looking for my daughter. If your teens are always where they say they will be, then you are lucky..for those of us not so lucky, I suggest GETTING A WALKIE TALKIE before you go on the cruise...it will ensure you have a good time as well as your teen. If you are a cruise novice, they have art auctions on board..put on by Park West (google them)...I had looked them up a while back and did not find good things....Please see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/arts/design/16crui.html?incamp=article_popular I figured as much by watching the auctions...it is a fun time, by my suggestion is not to bid on anything over 150 bucks...what you will be buying won't even be worth that, but if you really like it and plan to hang it on your wall..who cares???? The auctioneer is quick to tell you they have never had to issue a refund due to authenticity....According to New York Times above, they have had to issue refunds due to gross misrepresentations of value....a difference in terminology..... BUYER BEWARE Shore Excursion: We took a great shore excursion to Xcaret...it is a beautiful eco-archeological park....you must wear biodegradable sun-block not to hurt the sea life and it is for purchase there. I would suggest buying some here before you go at a health store...it was 29.00 at the park.... If you go when it is hot...it is a fantastic swim in the beautiful underground river there...beautiful and refreshing on a hot day..though, it will take a Floridian a bit to get used to the frigid water...... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Embarkation in Tampa was a breeze. People were very friendly & helpful. We boarded before noon & went straight to the Lido deck for lunch, where we met other family members. The weather was perfect. We went to our cabin after 1:30 ... Read More
Embarkation in Tampa was a breeze. People were very friendly & helpful. We boarded before noon & went straight to the Lido deck for lunch, where we met other family members. The weather was perfect. We went to our cabin after 1:30 and were a little disappointed. Although it had been refurbished, the room was very hot & stuffy & had a slightly unpleasant odor. We adjusted the air to the coolest possible setting, but it remained warm & stuffy throughout the cruise. The pictures we saw on the website showed 2 twin beds, but ours was in a king configuration, which seemed to give no room at all to walk around the bed. We cruised with a group of 20 and none of us was offered the option of twin beds. If the twin bed option is not something Carnival wants to offer, maybe they should consider smaller queen beds. Shortly after we left port, we turned around for a medical emergency and lost both of our engines at that time. One of the engines was resurrected, but because we had to cruise at a slower pace, our scheduled stop at Grand Cayman was cancelled, and our stop at Cozumel was rescheduled for the following day at a different time. Each person was given a $50 onboard credit, but it made for an awful lot of "fun days at sea"(aka BINGO ad infinitum!) The menu was interesting, the soups and desserts were delicious, but the meats for the most part were fairly tough. Toward the end of the cruise, they had run out of some staples like skim milk. Our group had a 7 year old who didn't participate in the camp carnival program, a 12 year old & 13 year old who participated in Circle C on the few occasions it was offered, and a 16 year old who participated in the O2 club. Overall, we were disappointed in the lack of activities for the 12 & 13 year old, given that it was spring break and there were over 700 kids on board. The ice cream & yogurt machines were frequently "temporarily out of service" and being worked on, so much so, that it became a standing joke that if they couldn't even keep those machines working, we didn't stand a chance of them getting the engine fixed! Overall, the staff was friendly & helpful, although we never did get enough ice in our ice bucket & were limited to 1 partial bucket a day. We also had to wait until the evening of the second day for a sharps container, despite all the forms we filled out prior to the cruise, that was confirmed by a follow up phone call from the special needs department. This was our 5th cruise & our 1st Carnival cruise. Sad to say, Carnival did not compare with experiences and accommodations we had on Royal Caribbean & Celebrity. I would rate them as "average." We are not planning on booking another Carnival cruise at this time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
My wife and I are from Toronto and were having a week getaway from our three boys. We are both 30 and enjoy the value of cruising. Arrived a couple days earlier to check out the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training game and Leafs vs ... Read More
My wife and I are from Toronto and were having a week getaway from our three boys. We are both 30 and enjoy the value of cruising. Arrived a couple days earlier to check out the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training game and Leafs vs Lightning hockey game. Arrived the day of cruise around noon and found that many people were already there. Boarding was swift and easy. No problems with our carry-on bottles of wine. We headed up for lunch on Lido deck and sat outside overlooking the harbor. We didn't like the buffet on Royal and likewise didn't really enjoy this either. But it is food, and if you are hungry, anything will do. The decor of the ship is old and tacky. They say it is 12 years old but the Atrium looks like something from the 70's. After lunch, went the hottub and pool. Really enjoyed chilling out here until the room was ready. We got our luggage around 3pm. Oceanview stateroom was nice and spacious. Bathroom was very large with plenty of room in shower. We immediately rearranged the bed though so that we were facing the window and TV. Later, our room attendant said she would have done it for us. Wife had a throat infection for the past three days, so she took some medicine and went to sleep early the first night. We were approaching the bridge out of Tampa Bay so I went to the Front of the ship to check it out. This is a must see! Especially during this time of year when the sun is setting at exactly the same time as we pass under the bridge. (BEST SIGHT OF THE CRUISE) After this I went to the Candlelight Lounge and sang a bunch of songs. If anyone is reading this from that cruise.... I am Mike S. Had alot of fun. Anyway the rest of the cruise basically breaks down like this: Inspiration is very casual... people wearing bathing suits and robes in the buffet area... jeans and Tshirts in the dining rooms and crew is friendly but not overly accommodating. The demographics was younger. If you are looking for high service, lots of class and FINE dining... don't take this cruise. If you are looking for carefree relaxation, not alot of rules, partying and ok grub, this is the cruise for you. Comedians were not funny and cruise director was not very fun. Grand Cayman was hot and Seven Mile beach was nice to soak up sun and snorkel. Cost $5 each for travel from terminal to beach. Both ways. Calica was typical Mexican area with relentlessly pushy vendors, beautiful water, hot sun and cheap Coronas. Overall Summary: Probably would have enjoyed the cruise more if it was our first time. But now we always are expecting service and quality of food that Royal Caribbean gave us on our first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We booked this cruise as a late summer vacation because our 14 and 16 yr-old children had so enjoyed a Princess cruise we took over last Christmas. Our pocketbook was a little stretched so this was the longest cruise we could afford. We ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a late summer vacation because our 14 and 16 yr-old children had so enjoyed a Princess cruise we took over last Christmas. Our pocketbook was a little stretched so this was the longest cruise we could afford. We had been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, and NCL before so we thought we would give Carnival a try. We departed from Tampa after a short 2 1/2 drive from our home. Embarkation: We used the valet service for an extra $15 which we read was worth it (it was). Embarkation was a breeze- we arrived at 11:30 and hardly had to wait in line at all. Since we were carrying some of our luggage (garment bag with formal clothes, etc), we had to wait until 1:30 to go to our room. We made our way to the Lido deck to have lunch at the Lido cafe (an extension of the Brasserie buffet). The food was passable but this was when we were first introduced to the "special drink" hard sell. Every 3-5 minutes a waiter would come by asking us if we wanted a "special drink". We are not drinkers and my 16 and 14 yr-old kids were, of course, not either. It got so bad that we had to develop a defensive technique to fend them off before they got a chance to ask us. Either my wife or I would put up the universal "stop" sign each time a waiter would drift into our area. This was the beginning of the intrusions into what we had hoped was going to be a pleasant cruise. We got to our room and deposited our carry on luggage. Our dropped off luggage arrived much earlier than I had expected, around 2:30. This was a pleasant surprise. Our stateroom: We had decided to stay in one room as the Inspiration has a category of room with a king sized bed and two drop down single berths. I was a little worried that this would make the room very cramped but it turned out to be very reasonable. Whenever the kids needed to sit out of the way, they would pull down the bunks and sit in them. I did bump my head a couple times during the night but it wasn't too bad. The bathroom was bigger than I had expected and the shower was much bigger than the room we had on the Princess cruise. We always book inside cabins simply because we don't expect to stay in them very much. There was enough room to unpack two adults and two teenagers with some room left over. The room and the overall decor of the ship is showing its age but I understand the Inspiration will be going through an overhaul this fall. We had expected that the room would have a refrigerator but it didn't. We started to panic a little as my daughter's bleeding disorder medicine has to be refrigerated. It is very, very expensive (cost more than the price of the cruise). Had we been forced to stay without a refrigerator, we would have had to leave the ship. After some initial confusion, the purser and room service came through with a small refrigerator that did the job. We were very thankful for the help, but really, refrigerators should be standard. Leaving Tampa: It seemed to take forever to get through the lifeboat drill and depart. We had decided to take the early seating at dinner but had we known it was going to be at 5:45, we might have done differently. The early seatings are staggered between the two main dining rooms- the Carnivale (5:45) and the Mardi Gras (6:15). 6:15 might not have been as bad as 5:45. We sat at a table with another couple with two teenage kids. They were very pleasant and we immensely enjoyed their company during the cruise. Passing under the Sunshine Skyway was an awesome experience as well, although it occurred when we were sitting at dinner. Meals: The Inspiration has the usual buffet style eaterie called the Brasserie. Most times the food was pretty good. I would rate it better than the Princess cruise buffet but possibly only because on the Princess ship they were taking sanitation precautions and wouldn't let you serve yourself. The Brasserie is very cramped and it is difficult to get around when full. The service was good, though, and the 24-hr pizzeria in the back was very good. Except for the one morning we landed at Grand Cayman and had to get off the boat at the crack of dawn, we ate in the Mardi Gras restaurant. It was ok for breakfast, but the food was rather bland. We had hoped that dinner would be of the same grand quality as Princess but were disappointed on some nights. Our waitress, Jana, was excellent, and she took good care of us. We didn't see our assistant waiter, Lazlo, as much as I expected. It seems that the assistant waiters are spread out over more tables than the head waiters. More intrusions into our peaceful cruise occurred at each dinner. Our maitre' D, George, for some reason felt the need to interrupt every meal with some silly game or announcement, including coaxing us to dance to the Macarena or some other silly dance. My wife and I were flabbergasted that what should've been a pleasant and peaceful dining experience where we could talk about the day's events to our tablemates would be so surreptitiously interrupted every night. Honestly, we felt like not going to dinner just to avoid the intrusions. The food itself was better than I expected and the warm melting chocolate cake was to die for. For all the parading and silliness the wait staff was forced to do throughout the week, I was surprised not to see the baked Alaska parade on the final night. This seemed to be a tradition on the other cruise lines we had been on. Drinks: We decided to forego the daily soda sign up that we had done on previous cruises. It seems awful expensive to spend $5 per day per person for the occasional soda. We took an empty suitcase (to bring back souvenirs) and packed a case of waters that lasted us the entire cruise. Entertainment: We didn't go to the sailaway production, but regretted it later given the dearth of entertainment on this ship. We were very disappointed in the entertainment overall. One night there was a combination magician and comedian, both of which were uninspiring. The same comedian performed a night later at an R-rated presentation. That was a little better than the "clean" comedy but was still pretty amateur. The two production numbers we saw were very good. We enjoyed the dancers and the two singers were good. I guess I was expecting more so I was disappointed. On the Princess cruise there were options about what entertainment you saw each night, either a production show or a comedian or magician in the lounge theater. On the Inspiration, there were not really any choices. If there was a production show, that was the only choice and every one went, so finding seats required that you get to the Paris Lounge at least 45 minutes before the show where you would have endure one of the neverending bingo games the ship seemed to run. And even during the shows you had to endure the endless waiters walking in front of you trying to get you to buy drinks. During the "fun" days at sea, there was very little to do unless you like sitting by the pool and drinking all day. There were a few trivia games every once in a while but they often were held in the bar areas where the people there to drink would spoil the game. There was something called "Karaoke Craziness" in the lounge at night but it turned out to be nothing more than a place where teenagers went to make fools of themselves trying to sing songs with dirty words in them. The last "fun" day at sea we spent most of the day playing cards with our kids- we could've done that at home without paying the expense of a cruise. We did hit the casino a couple times. My wife likes to play Roulette but the ship only opened one of the two roulette tables and it was too crowded to play most times. The other games there were about the same as any ship casino. Teen club: Although we had two teenagers with us, they decided not to partake in the Club O2 activities. I heard that they were pretty good, but have no first hand knowledge. The ports: Grand Cayman- We had been to Grand Cayman twice before- once on our honeymoon and once on a NCL cruise 20 years ago. So much has changed- I expect a lot of it due to Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It used to be a very quaint place to go with unique shops and a neat waterfront area. Now it looks like any other Caribbean port city. Tacky tourist shops line the waterfront street in St. George. We took the on shore snorkeling excursion because we wanted our kids to experience the great snorkeling in Grand Cayman. That part didn't disappoint us at all. Grand Cayman is still one of the best snorkeling/scuba diving locations. We were worried about debarkation from the ship given that we were only in port from 7:30 to 1. I have to give Carnival a lot of credit here. They really excelled in this department. We all met in the Paris lounge and the crew walked us directly on to the tender. There was no waiting in line or colored tickets like RCL and Princess do. We thoroughly enjoyed the snorkeling but were very rushed trying to go through the shops to catch the last tender back. It's really a shame that the ship stays such a little time here. Calica- Calica is a quarry. There are some shopping tents outside the dock but we had heard not to shop there as they were more expensive than in Playa Del Carmen. We took the Tuluum Express shore excursion. We wanted the kids to experience Tuluum as we had 20 years before. Alex our tour guide was awesome and the experience, despite the oppressive heat, we excellent. I was disappointed that the main temple stairs had been closed off as I distinctly recall climbing those stairs 20 years before. They had also closed off the beach area for some reason. At any rate, it was too hot to spend much time there. My wife and kids spent most of their time in the literally hundreds of shops at the Tuluum entrance. After hearing our dinnermates adventures on their shore excursion, we sort of wished we had done something different. It was an ok excursion but if you go to Calica, take advantage of the snorkeling in the Cenotes or tours to Xel Ha. In the afternoon we went into Playa Del Carmen. Once thing to note- if you do take the Tuluum Express, they take you into Playa Del Carmen for free in the afternoon. You have to get a taxi back but at least that's $10 bucks you don't have to spend. Playa Del Carmen was like one continuous street of shops with similar stuff that was at the Tuluum shops and at Calica. Its like one company owns all of these shops and they all sell the same stuff. They all would haggle with you so you could get some good deals. I was surprise that the price of silver was so much higher than I expected. Even haggling couldn't reduce it enough for me. Debarkation: Debarkation was a snap since we used the valet service. Since we weren't in a hurry we had a leisurely breakfast in the Mardi Gras dining room, then made our way off the ship around 9. Again, we didn't have to stand in line hardly at all as Carnival really has their act together on how to get a lot of people off of the ship. Summary: If you like to drink, party, and lay around the pool, this is the cruise for you. I was pleased with the stateroom and room steward, the food for the most part (except for the nightly dinner interruptions), with the dinner wait service, and with the production shows. I was very disappointed with the lack of entertainment at night on the nights there were no production shows. I was disappointed with the amount of "pushing" of special drinks and drinks in general. I was disappointed that we spent so little time in Grand Cayman. We will stick with RCL or Princess in the future, though, because of the more pleasant cruises we have had with them. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
A little background about us. My husband and I are in our late 30's. I had cruised Premier Cruise Lines 13 years ago so this was technically my second cruise. My husband and I brought my 2 and 6 year sons. Our cruise was completely ... Read More
A little background about us. My husband and I are in our late 30's. I had cruised Premier Cruise Lines 13 years ago so this was technically my second cruise. My husband and I brought my 2 and 6 year sons. Our cruise was completely filled but I never noticed it was "crazy" crowded except at the pool, some dining rooms at popular times, and de-embarkation. This cruise was actually a gift for my husband and I and I think if I had paid, I would have been a little harsher. We found the embarkation process not bad. There were lines but we found they went pretty quickly and the employees seemed to have a system that worked. We checked in at about 1:30pm and our rooms were ready so we able to go right to our cabins. As I had read in some past reviews, the ship was older and was slightly dated, but aren't all ships supposed to be a little over-the-top and a little tacky? Everything was clean, if a LITTLE worn. I found our cabins to be fairly roomy, especially the bathroom. Again, you could tell this was not a new ship (slight crumbling around window, cracked tiles in shower, etc) but I didn't feel anything was neglected. My husband and I each had a 6B Oceanview cabin and kept one child each. Adjoining cabins would have been nice but according to deck plans we couldn't find any on this ship. CABIN PROS: Nice large windows, great linens, blankets, towels, pillows, nice size bathrooms, good size cabins, nice robes provided. Reading lights for each bed were great. Safes in each cabin for valuables. CONS: The TV was terrible, very grainy and dark in one room, a little better in my husband's cabin. The curtains in my stateroom didn't quite reach the bottom of the window so light would shine in your eyes at daybreak if you didn't put towels or pillows as shades. My husband as I disagree on the steward service. From my last cruise, I remember being out of my cabin and coming back to an immaculately make room. EVERYTHING was straightened up. Now I don't expect a maid to clean up after me, but I would have liked to have seen more than my bed made and towels replenished. My husband said his room was usually straightened out. The stewards and cleaning crew always had a presence and you could always see their cards in the hallway, usually right outside my cabin. When you check-in you are issued "Sign and Sail" cards that act as cabin keys/charge cards. They are very handy as I don't like to carry cash. One big pet peeve of mine is that all beverages have a 15% gratuity charge added. While tea, juices, coffee, and milk are free. You have to pay for sodas. My husband bought a "Fountain Fun Card" for about $7/day as he is a big soda drinker and we figured it would be cheaper than the $1.75 plus gratuity for his drinks. Plus getting sodas required you to go to a bartender or bar waiter which is NOT convenient. We aren't big drinkers but I did have a drink or two and found them to be a little pricey but not expensive ($6.95). Carnival also charges $10/day per person for tips for room steward, waiters, etc. You can go to the Purser's desk and remove the charge and tip the staff as you would like. This, of course, does not include tipping room service or the Maitre'D. I did try to tip a casino attendant who assisted me, but she politely declined. I found that employees, who were getting their tips automatically, weren't putting forth as much effort as the ones who weren't being tipped. Example, bartenders or waiters were acceptable, but many of the people who picked up plates or filled your juice glasses were the friendliest. After checking out our cabins we went to the pool deck to get some lunch. There are 4 main places to eat. The first is the Brasserie. It is a casual dining room open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that includes a pizza counter, a sandwich counter (omelet station in the AM), salad bar (fruit bar in the AM), and 2 buffet lines. There were odd times during the day when they didn't have food on the buffet but the sandwich and pizza stations seemed to always be open. One line usually had standard lunch fair (carving station, pasta station, main and side dishes) the other side would have a specialty cuisine such as French, Indian, Caribbean, etc). We probably ate here the most because our youngest didn't have the patience for the main dining room and my husband likes pretty basic food, no escargot for him. I would say the food was definitely mediocre. Not bad, but nothing mind blowing either. There was an ice cream machine that was popular with everyone. The staff however, was VERY friendly here and was always there to help. PROS: Friendly staff, variety of food, open seating. CONS: Mediocre food, lines/not able to find a table at popular eating times. Going to bar to buy sodas. At some lunch buffets, aside from the ice cream, the only desert was one variety of "diet" cake. The second choice is the grill/buffet on the pool deck. They are open for lunch from about 11am to 6 pm for hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, macaroni/potato salad on one side of the buffet. The other side of the buffet had the same food as the Brasserie. The hamburgers were pretty tasty but you can only eat so many. PROS: Convenient, especially if you were on the pool deck. CONS: Going to bar to buy sodas. The third choice was the one of the two Main Dining Rooms (Mardi Gras or Carnivale). We had the 6:15 seating in the Mardi Gras Dining Room. We didn't eat breakfast or lunch in the Dining Room at all, but we had dinner three times. However, I reviewed the menu almost daily and found it interesting but resistible. The dress code is resort casual (no shorts or tank tops) but this was not enforced by some of the young men eating. We were seated at a table for 8 with some other family members on the cruise but our table was full only on the first night of the cruise. Since you may not get your luggage until 4 hours after you sail, the dress code is not applicable. REVIEW: I found the dining experience disappointing. The food (especially the meat) was just OK, and our waiter would never ask for our drink order, so if you forgot you may have to wait for awhile. The salads were fairly generic. I was very excited describing how the Baked Alaska is set on fire to my 6 year old. Imagine our disappointment when a slice of ice cream with a brown tinged meringue was delivered. Overall, there was not a lot of fanfare. The staff was nice and our food arrived quickly. PROS: Upscale menu with a lot of variety. Fast service. CONS: Mediocre food, none of the fanfare I expected. Tracking down bar waiter for sodas. The midnight buffet extravaganza was a Mexican buffet that I can't review as we didn't attend. Our fourth dining choice was cabin service. We ordered cabin service three times from a limited sandwich/salad menu. Service was fairly quickly, but mustard was put on my roast beef and brie baguette which was not on the menu or I would have ordered it without it. We found out, unfortunately after we ordered that it is "customary" to tip the person who delivered it. While this may seem like common sense in hindsight, there was no spot for a tip on the receipt which acknowledged you got your order. PROS: Convenience of 24 hr dining and fairly quick delivery. In room beverages were same price as bar sodas. CONS: Limited menu and additional tipping required. Obviously a major income source for Carnival is their photo offerings. Even before you get on the ship you are posed for photographs with your group. This continues throughout the cruise in the main dining room, about 10 formal night photo backgrounds, at every port, and at the shows. The cost was about $8 for a 5X7, so not bad but I imagine it could really add up. On our second cruise day, a day at sea, we realized that we may have some problems with keeping our boys and ourselves entertained. As common with cruise ships, the small main pool, was salt water, which neither of my boy was a fan of. Nice water slide. Also, you literally couldn't go 5 seconds without a kid jumping in and drenching your face. It was VERY crowded and/or the pool was too small. As no swim diapers or non-potty trained children are allowed in the main pool, I asked the towel attendant if there was a pool for my 2 yr old. She directed me to the kiddie pool in the back. There was no one there but also had the no swim diaper sign. The sign claims it was US Dept of Health rule but at Disney pools swim diapers are allowed and I'd be shocked if they would break such a rule. We decided to get in anyway. Even though the pool was only 1 1/2 feet deep and maybe 10 feet wide, it had major sloshing from being at the back of the boat. My son couldn't even stand without being knocked over by a wave. A cruise employee came shortly after and told me that the swim diaper wasn't allowed. I explained the attendant had sent us but he said that my son could come back in the pool without the diaper in this bathing suit. This still makes no sense to me. But he assured me we didn't have to leave if we removed the swim diaper?! My older son loved the jacuzzi, but on such a hot day, I didn't like him staying in too long. The pool got too crowded so we all headed back to the cabins. My 6 year old was only interested in the kids program, Camp Carnival, at video game time so we decided that we'd try it out the next day. This turned out to be really the only thing for children to do on the cruise besides swim. I really felt like there was nothing for children to aside from those 2 things. They didn't even sell kids books, crayons, etc. in the shops, just some Carnival Cruise ship boats and a Carnival Cruise playset. Since my 2 yr old would never go for being dropped off with strangers, we were limited in terms of activities we could participate in. This of course was not the cruise lines fault but I think an indoor or even outdoor playground for toddlers would be a welcome addition for parents who want activities with their children. They could easily take one of the MANY bars and convert it. My older son did go to Camp Carnival 3 times over the course of the cruise, during the video game time mostly, but he enjoyed it and said the counselors were nice. A nice feature is you can rent Game Boys for $25 for the whole cruise. Even my husband and I discussed what we would do if it was just the 2 of us and we still felt like there would have been a lot of "bored" time since we aren't big drinkers or sun worshippers. We did hit the casino several times and won a little, lost more, won some, lost more, but I think that is typical of any casino. Again, it would be great to have more activities going on, especially on port days. On our port day at Grand Cayman, we didn't wait very long for a tender but we waited for a couple of hours before departing so I think we missed the big crowds. We walked around did some shopping but frankly, it was so hot; we headed back after a couple of hours. We didn't do any excursions, except my son and father-in-law did the Atlantis submarine. They enjoyed it but got bored quickly as young children are prone to do. On Calica, we signed up for the Muyil Ruins and Jungle trek. While it is true what they say about Calico being a quarry, I liked not using the tenders and didn't mind the lack of scenery. We boarded, new looking, clean, air-conditioned mini-buses with our guide and were off. I was a little of a nervous wreck as we didn't have seat belts much less a car seat for my 2 year old. Our guide was informed and spoke decent English. We stopped at a store for shopping and clean restrooms. I'm sure someone was getting kickbacks to stop at that store, but in fairness it was the nicest, cleanest one I saw. It took us about 40 minutes to get to the ruins. The only recommendation from the excursion documentation was to bring sunscreen and comfortable shoes. I had done some research and discovered that this location in Mexico is a malaria risk and decided that insect repellent diligently worn should be enough for the 2 hours we would be outside. Unfortunately, no one else in our tour knew about the mosquitoes (which I feel insect repellent should have been mandatory) and you could see the swarms and see 5 or 6 mosquitoes on each person's leg. We shared out limited supply of insect repellent wipes, which people gladly took. I don't think most people were able to really enjoy the tour or even listen to the guide due to constantly swatting their legs for bugs. After the 3 or 4 Mayan buildings, which were very interesting, we trekked through a "jungle" area to the Muyil Lagoon where, thank God, our buses and cold bottled water was waiting. The sites on this excursion were worth seeing. I could have done without the trek in the unbearable heat. As for de-embarkation, being warned that this was a long arduous process. The announcements advised us to stay out of the lobby area until general de-embarkation was called. However, our cabin steward kicked us out of the room to clean it before they announced we could get off the ship. So we sat on the floor of the elevator lobby and waited as you couldn't even get out of the elevator on the de-embarkation level due to the crowds. Once we were off the ship, it was pretty easy to get our luggage and customs walked us right through. Overall, I would say the PROS of this cruise were: nice cabins, relaxing atmosphere, mostly friendly staff, Camp Carnival was a step in the right direction for children. CONS: Lack luster food, not enough adult or non-Camp Carnival kid activities, didn't like soda situation or automatic gratuity. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was my first Carnival cruise, but my 2nd cruise overall. My first cruise was with Celebrity cruise lines((which is fabulous PS)). I realize Carnival is the most popular cruise line in the world, because they are known to be party ... Read More
This was my first Carnival cruise, but my 2nd cruise overall. My first cruise was with Celebrity cruise lines((which is fabulous PS)). I realize Carnival is the most popular cruise line in the world, because they are known to be party boats, and have good rates as far as booking a cruise is concerned. However I felt this cruise was WAY too rowdy for my liking, and I am 21 years old. I thought there were way too many kids running around, and there was NO control over them what-so-ever. The entertainment in the Paris Lounge was lacking. The 2nd to last night there was a passenger talent show, which was absolutely terrible. I didn't pay to have guests entertain me. I felt there could have been more cabaret like shows, instead of guests entertaining guests kind of shows. The ports of call ((Grand Cayman & Calica, Mexico)) were wonderful. They were both absolutely beautiful places. I did however feel like we had no time in the Grand Cayman's. My mom, sister & I decided not to do an excursion, but instead shop that day. Because the Cayman's are 1 hour behind ships time, when we arrived all the shops were closed so there was no sense in leaving the boat if you weren't doing an excursion. In Calica we went to XCaret park, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was only a 10 minute drive by bus. There is a website you can google for more information, but it is absolutely beautiful. It is $59 per person for entry. It is however worth every single penny! I swam with the dolphins which is an extra fee, but that was also WELL worth the money. there are other activities you can however do for free. we also didn't have much time in port to do every activity in XCaret, as they say you can't do it in one day. The wait staff in the dining room exceeded my expectations. They all come from different countries, I noticed a lot of them were from Indonesia. And they couldn't have been any more nice if they tried. They were absolutely wonderful. All the stateroom staff were so nice and greeting as well. Every person you asked for information was very helpful in making sure you had everything you needed. The food wasn't the best food out there, but it was pretty good. There was one night we skipped dinner, because the menu didn't look appealing. It is nice that all your food is included, so it was easy for us to go up to the Lido Deck and eat in the buffet room, where you can get panini sandwiches, pizza until 4 AM, and many delicious desserts..just to name a few things. The pool deck was a little crazy, I just layed out..I didn't use the main pool w/ the water slide((extra bonus for the kids)). There is a smaller pool towards the back of the boat a lot of people probably didn't know was there, and if you want some peace a quiet it's nice to sit back there instead. The room we had was an ocean view, on the bottom deck toward the back of the boat. We booked our cruise a week before departure, so it was cutting it close. Our room was plenty big enough for 3 people, there was a bunk bed style bed for sleeping and one by the window. It was plenty big enough for 3 people. That was a plus about the room. The ship I noticed was always clean, you would always see someone cleaning everything from the glass to the elevators. I however did not enjoy that there was smoking allowed on board. You are allowed to smoke in the casino, which I think should be prohibited. I am 21 so I did gamble a few nights, and I had a hard time sitting in there not only because it was gross, but because I have asthma. I think there should have been designated areas OUTSIDE for smoking. it is a HUGE fire hazard to be smoking inside on a ship in the middle of the ocean. that is not a smart move on Carnival's part. My overall experience with Carnival was okay. I would probably not use them again, and if I did I would try and use one of their newer vessels. There is a lot of room for improvement with them, and I hope they continue to improve in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
The Inspiration is a medium-size ship providing a medium-nice experience. Wonderful exceptions were the high-energy shows in the Paris lounge and a variety of activities at all times of the day. DH and I are 50+, taking our fifth Carnival ... Read More
The Inspiration is a medium-size ship providing a medium-nice experience. Wonderful exceptions were the high-energy shows in the Paris lounge and a variety of activities at all times of the day. DH and I are 50+, taking our fifth Carnival cruise, no kids this time (it's before college Spring Breaks). We snuck away on this four-day just for a break. Driving from Orlando, we went from home to ship in just a couple of hours. Embarkation was a breeze, with staff at every turn to direct us on toward the next staff member as lines were forming. DH dropped me and parked the car. I went through the line and had to let other people go ahead of me, because the line was shorter than the car-parking process! Very smooth. Our room was ready when we arrived, ocean-view on Empress deck. After some people-watching we went to the lifejacket drill and then stayed in the Candlelight Lounge to watch the sailaway. It took almost two hours to navigate the channels and reach the open water just after a beautiful sunset. We opened the casino and made appropriate donations. There are about 15 slots with 1 cent/2 cents/5 cents options. After playing the pennies for a while I switched to nickels. Not a good move. Went back to the pennies pretty quickly. We had late seating dinner at a table for 8 in the dining room hosted by maitre'd "George the Greek." Opa! Only one other couple the first night, but they were so much fun we didn't even notice the empty seats. A second couple arrived for dinner Friday and Saturday night and we all had a blast. Formal night brought prime rib and a lobster tail (we felt free to indulge in both). They were very, very good but overall, we were disappointed in the quality of the food. I had a filet mignon one night and chateaubriand another night that were just not tender or flavorful. Not important enough to send back, just medium-quality. DH sampled the sushi one night and said it was good. It's served behind the bar outside the casino. Breakfasts and lunches were fine. Cozumel was our only port. We were fortunate to dock (another cruise was tendering in), and the dock is downtown (used to be a $6 taxi ride away before the hurricane). The excursion to a show featuring Mexican folkloric dancers was canceled, so we just walked around. Made it all the way down the main street to Pancho's Backyard for a fresh, authentic, tasty lunch and live music. That required a taxi back to Carlos and Charlie's, which was hopping even at 2:30 in the afternoon. I understand some passengers visited them a little too long and missed the ship, as reported by Empress hall-mates who just made the gangway in time. Carlos & Charlie's is directly across from where the dock is now, and instead of staggering across the busy street you take an escalator up, a pedestrian bridge over, an escalator down, and you can even ride in a pedi-cab (for just a gratuity) down the dock and out to the ship. We enjoyed some trivia games with various social-staff members. The art auction was particularly interesting because of the variety of artwork and a range of prices. DH slipped his leash Sunday and purchased three pieces while I was napping. No more naps. Risa the Cruise Director was lively and polished and very easy to respond to; we thought she was one of the better CDs we have seen. She hosted the musical shows each night and introduced the comedians Saturday. We had enjoyed Happy Cole on another cruise and he was just as good on the Inspiration - both the family show and the adult show. We were picked to be on the Newlywed/Not-so-newlywed Game with two other couples. One married 3 months, us almost 30 years, one married 55 years. The wife in that latter couple had just won Fear Factor that afternoon and they were all terrific to meet and get to know a little. If you've never seen this show, it gets a little spicy and (therefore) hilarious. We were quick to buy the DVD but now realize there is no one we can show it to! They awarded prizes to all of us and it was just a hoot. Now for some less-than-positive experiences. The service problems did color our overall impressions. First, I found that many areas including our whole room had a slight sewery smell. I was told it was the water source. I also found very few comfortable armchairs or sofas to just sit and talk with people. The meeting-room style chairs on Promenade are uncomfortable, and the benches in the windows are okay to perch on but have no backs. The showroom's couch-style seating has a back that is far too low to provide any support. Next, the "casino bank" feature of the Sign'n'Sail card ate my positive balance Friday night. In September, we used this without flaw on the Carnival Glory: it allows you to insert your card and upload your slot machine balance to your room card. Well, I uploaded it, then I changed my PIN just for increased security, and I went back to use it that night and poof! The balance had disappeared. The casino host courteously offered me a small amount, but was adamant that no more would be added. He pulled computer records that showed my card in a certain machine, but no record of uploading the balance. Strangely, my record was missing another chunk of play, and after being distressed for 24 hours I finally wrote a short letter documenting the situation Saturday evening, after Cozumel. Be aware that the Pursers will refer it to the Casino for resolution, not take it upon themselves to investigate and solve! Anyway, no response overnight, so DH went to talk to the casino manager and arranged a resolution Sunday morning, the final day at sea. We did return to the casino, using cash, but vowed never to save our winnings to the card again. In the category of "raise your hand if you're not here," we were charged on the last night for $12 worth of water, category "in-room beverage." Apparently big bottles of water are supposed to be in your room. We had one warm can of Sprite sitting on the desk the whole cruise, but never saw any waters. So, when the charge appeared on the bill overnight, we had no clue what it was for. That last morning, we waited 45 minutes to speak to the Purser to remove the charge. Their system was so busy she invited us to just leave and they would take care of it. That was not acceptable to us! Thank you, Leticia, Assistant Purser, for taking care of us. She worked some kind of magic and supplied a printout showing no charges for the non-existent water. Debarkation was a cattle-call, no calling in order by luggage-tag colors as on larger ships. Thank goodness we were in line at the Purser's Desk and didn't have to stand in line for debarkation!?! As one of the last 18 people off the ship, we walked right off. A courteous porter met us, took our luggage to the parking garage entrance, and we were off to Orlando after a relaxing long weekend. The 4-day and 5-day itineraries alternate on this ship, and we felt the Thursday afternoon-Monday morning 4-day, with two days at sea and a day in Cozumel, was perfect for us. Tampa was an easy port to travel from. This 10-year-old ship is clean, but it's not "over the top" like newer ships. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
The embarkation went very smoothly. Since we had a suite for a cabin, we received VIP treatment and were basically sent to the head of the line for most of the areas that have to be done to board a ship. To me this was a great bonus for ... Read More
The embarkation went very smoothly. Since we had a suite for a cabin, we received VIP treatment and were basically sent to the head of the line for most of the areas that have to be done to board a ship. To me this was a great bonus for upgrading to this level. Our cabin, V2 is the first cabin on the port side, right behind the observation deck on the level. This created a bit of a nuisance in that the steps leading up to the deck is right by the balcony. One could touch people on the steps. The next room back would have been a better choice for a cabin. The room was of a nice size and was in overall good shape, as was the rest of the ship. The Inspiration was a much nicer vessel than the Sensation we travelled on in 2004. There was a problem with one of the room keys and the staff at the purser's desk was a bit rude saying that it was probably my money clip that demagnetized the card. A day later the card again had to be re-programmed and this was also handled in a slightly less than friendly manner. There is one quirk that we as well as others noticed on this ship. There are certain areas that cannot be easily gotten to - even if they are on the same levels. We had to go up a level to go across a part of the ship and then drop down to get to our dining room. This took a day or two to get used to. We had the late dining time in the Carnivalle dining room. Outside of the difficulty getting to the dining room which is in the aft section of the ship from our forward cabin, there were no major complaints with the food or service. The menu was the typical menu that we have had on all of our cruises. About the only thing out of the ordinary was the Caesar salad - it was just plain bad. It was watery and had a bit too much of the anchovy taste for some. I tried it a second night and was disappointed again. There was a dessert that everyone seemed to love - a chocolate melting cake. The staff were for the most part very helpful and the entertainment part of their work was okay. I was expecting a bit more on New Year's Eve from them but it seemed like they wanted us out of the dining room so they could do something else. The buffets on the Lido deck were of a good standard. The breakfast and lunch buffets were very good and were a better choice than the open seating in the dining room. The entertainment on the ship was passable. There was one dance couple that was above average while the rest of the acts were at best average for a cruise ship. The room stewards did a great job in cleaning the rooms without being noticed. What more can one ask for. If they do their job correctly, they aren't noticed. And this crew did their job in just this way. The activities for New Year's Eve were okay. Maybe my expectations were too great of what could happen on a ship for this occasion. Plus having New Years eve on the night before de-embarking wasn't the best option. Having to have your luggage in the hall by 11:00 PM and New Years happening an hour later was a bit of a drag. Leaving the ship was a complete disaster. They announced at 7:30 that those wishing to carry their own luggage off could begin. And this dragged on and on. They announced at one point that in 10 minutes this would be closed. 30 minutes later they were still allowing these people to meander off the boat. Unlike the other Carnival cruise we took, there was no order for the rest of the boat to leave. It was just everyone else leaving at once. This caused for a bottleneck and mass confusion of people trying to get to the same location at the same time. Overall this cruise was average. Or should I say that it met expectations. The cruise director mentioned that by saying that a cruise "met expectations" that this was a failing mark on the comment cards. He practically begged people to use "exceeded expectations". Well, sometimes, things just meet expectations and this one at its best did just that. Not great but not bad. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Embarkation/Debarkation was easy. Ship was clean but I found it be very Las Vegas and from the decor did not really understand what the theme of the ship was. In my opinion, it is due for some updating. First night-out the seas a little ... Read More
Embarkation/Debarkation was easy. Ship was clean but I found it be very Las Vegas and from the decor did not really understand what the theme of the ship was. In my opinion, it is due for some updating. First night-out the seas a little rough so made it an early night. Beds and rooms very comfortable and clean. Loved that they turned down the bed every night. First day at sea was very windy. We found there was not much to do on the ship as the daytime entertainment is somewhat amateurish. Did go to the newly wed game, it was funny. Ship has 2 late night comedians - 1st was very funny, 2nd was boring. Loved Grand Cayman but time too short. Enjoyed Stingray Bay and highly recommend Soto private tours. Only 25 on tours instead of 60 thru ship. Cozumel - enjoyed ATV in jungle which was fun. Would recommend tour but book a tour that stops at beaches. Ours didn't. Cozumel had hit by hurricane and sad to see. Buffet was okay with a decent variety of foods. Fine dining was terrible but actually became quite funny as our table compared who's plate tasted the worst. Enjoyed the piano bar and only took in the last show which was very good. Met lots of nice folks but also met some folks in need of some marital counseling, which is something we really did not want any part of. Not carnivals fault. We enjoy our trip but would not cruise with carnival again. The ship was too Las Vegas for me and I did not enjoy the long rides between ports and short visits to the island. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
Many other reviewers have described the ins and outs of boarding and what to bring and some very helpful information that you should pay attention to and take to heart. So I wont repeat their reviews here. Cruise 12/5/05. Both ports of ... Read More
Many other reviewers have described the ins and outs of boarding and what to bring and some very helpful information that you should pay attention to and take to heart. So I wont repeat their reviews here. Cruise 12/5/05. Both ports of call Cayman and Cozumel were reduced. At Cayman, 9 to 1 and Cozumel, 9 to 5. That is we had to be on the 1 pm tender from Cayman and the 5 PM tender from Cozumel. This was too short for both stops. Do not miss the last tender. 5 people missed it at Cayman and I spoke to 2 of them. They were charged 500.00 for their tardiness. This was our first cruise and before we left I read lots of reviews and I think it is time for a reality check. The ship looks fine, the service is good and even with 2,200 people on board, most times it didnt seem over crowded. There was a good variety of music and entertainment& however to call the food great or the service excellent is a gross exaggerate. If you have never been cruising before do not go with high expectations. If anyone thinks the food on this ship was excellent, then they need to eat out somewhere other than Dennys. Breakfast was eatable, lunch was fine, dinner was fine, but there wasnt one meal on that ship as good as an Outback (and I do not consider Outback the height of fine dining). I do not mean that we did not have a good time. We ate, drank, danced, hot tubbed, gambled, met great people, participated in a few ship board activities, watched some shows and enjoyed some quality quiet times under the stars. The shopping on board was very good. The prices were excellent. I was surprised that they were so low. Souvenirs, booze, jewelry, cigarettes, clothing, were all fairly priced. I might even say that there were some real bargains. Overall, the trip was OK. But thats all it was, OK. Why people feel the need to build it up to the greatest vacation, I have no idea. I think they need to travel more. I do have some problems with the trip and I do not know if they are common throughout the industry. We booked a Snorkel and Stingray trip on board (because of the reduced time in Cayman we were afraid we might miss the boat) It costs 65.00 each. As we stood in line at the dock, more than one salesman walked by our line of 200 or so with signs advertising the same trip for 40.00 each. I dont mind a mark up, but 25.00 each!! Whenever you enter or leave the ship you are required to present your Sea and Sail card to be swiped through a machine by a crewman to verify that you are you. If you book your excursion on board, you are told to meet at the Paris lounge at a specific time and then without an explanation or directions, are told to follow a crewman. This person leads you across the lobby, down 5 flights of steps and into a long line on to a tender. My wife has a problem with stairs and if they had taken the time to tell us where we were going, she could have taken the elevator and met the group on the exit deck. 2 lines are formed, the cards swiped and off we went. However when reentering the ship, only one line was open so just imagine 3 tenders with 200 people each lined up as you shuffle one by one into the ship. It was ridiculous. At Cozumel it was even worst. Those tenders held 400 people. It had to have taken us at least 45 minutes to get back on board. I have read other reviews where someone complained about the horse racing payouts, but I am surprised that I havent read anything about the Bingo games or Casino tournaments. Bingo costs 10.00 per card or 3 for 20.00. They ran at least 3 bingo games during our 5 day cruise. Each time there were at least 800 to 900 people playing. Now even if everyone there only bought 1 card at 10.00. That equals a minimum of 8,000.00, the total payout was about 1,500.00 for a minimum profit of 6,500.00 per game. 3 games means a minimum profit of over 20,000.00. The Casino tournaments, both Blackjack and Slot machines. You pay 20.00 to participate, the top ten go into a playoff and the winner gets 500.00. At the two I watched, each had over 80 people. Thats 1,600.00 in, 500.00 out. Now I do not blame them for making a profit, but (and this is just an estimate) Carnival had to have raked in over 30,000.00 and that is a low estimate. Now regarding all the exciting things to do onboard. Well.. 900 people on the Lido deck get to watch a limited number of people participate in various activities, like Fear Factor, Alligator wrestling and the like. There are 3 ping pong tables, a game room arcade, the casino, a basketball court, etc. but just imagine 2,200 people and think about how often you could gain access to these entertainment items. If watching other people do things is your idea of Lots to Do, then you will have a great time. I think that cruising is OK. It is not the greatest thing going, it is not the height of travel experience. I do not like lines. I do not like others in control of my schedule and I really do not like the over-the-top hype that passes for reviews. Try a cruise, but do so with realistic expectations. Consider it about on the level of a Pocono resort weekend. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
I was on the 5 Day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Hurricane Wilma, however, was forming near the Caymans so we were diverted to Costa Maya. The embarkation was nearly flawless, hardly any lines and was on the boat around noon. The ... Read More
I was on the 5 Day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Hurricane Wilma, however, was forming near the Caymans so we were diverted to Costa Maya. The embarkation was nearly flawless, hardly any lines and was on the boat around noon. The only hitch is that the rooms weren't ready till 1:30 and that the buffet wasn't ready when we arrived in the Brassier buffet area. The public areas were OK, the public bathrooms were unkept from time to time. Also the way the ship is designed, sometimes you had to go up a level, go across, and go back down that level. Our cabin service was flawless, we had 3 ppl in that room and it was a chore for them. The dining area is where we had problems. We had a waiter who was not flexible with our requests. One of our table mates was hard of hearing, so we decided to move closer after the Starters. This unexpected move apparently was not welcomed from our waiter. There was another couple next to us that was arguing and swearing. We told the Maitre D' about it, but nothing was done, even though he insisted they were here to exceed my expectations. The food was fair at best, the Beef Wellington was horrible. The pool area was usually full of kids and even the Adult only hot tubs had children in them. The water slide was fun though. Costa Maya was a nice stop, there was a welcome area with shops and a public pool. We went to the fisherman's village and had something to eat and drink. Cozumel was Cozumel, been there 2X before and there is something for everyone. I heard that Paradise island was a great excursion from a number of people. Overall the ship was fair. I wouldn't go back on it. It had too many kids on it and I'm used to ships with separate areas for those children. However, it is a great trip for those with big families on a tight budget. Expect a more unrefined atmosphere than other ships. Hardly anyone in tuxedos, myself included. I didn't think I should spend $120 to rent a tux for one formal night. Suit and tie was just fine. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
Feel this is worse trip ever. First time cruise taken with wife and and our 2 daughters ages 13 & 14. The cruise wasn't all that terrible we had some really good times, also the views and food and waitstaff were great but ... Read More
Feel this is worse trip ever. First time cruise taken with wife and and our 2 daughters ages 13 & 14. The cruise wasn't all that terrible we had some really good times, also the views and food and waitstaff were great but let's get onto the reasons I feel we didn't get what we paid for: 1.) Our shuttle takes us to the Port of Tampa and a porter comes out takes our luggage and another couple that shared the shuttles luggage and instead of giving us the chance to get out a tip for him or asking politely he says" i'm responsible to get your stuff on this ship, and this is the last time you'll see me!" I felt that if we didn't get our money to him pronto our stuff would be thrown in the bay. 2.) Boarding the ship was a breeze and everything is going great! The drinks are coming and all is well until that night. Our room steward turns down the bunk beds for our daughters and turns the blanket's down on our beds but doesn't push them together to make the double bed for my wife and I. No big deal i'm not gonna bother the busy guy to just move the bed I can do that myself. Well I move the bed and underneath we find dirty socks, dirty women's underwear, a used condom, knife, fork, spoon, plate, food crumbs and wrappers. So at this point I call for our room steward, he comes in shakes his head and says " I don't have time for this shit!" he does pick everything up by his bare hands and has another guy comes in and vacuums the room. All is well. 3.) The room is pretty worn but it will do. The next morning we shower and all and on the bathroom wall is a sign that says if you are going to reuse your washcloth and/or towel hang them up and if you want them replaced leave them on bathroom floor. We left a pile on the floor and went out for the day. came back and room is picked up but the towels and washcloths that were on the floor have been picked up and thrown in our closet. We complain to the person at the information desk and they said they would take care of it. 4.) well the rest of the trip the room for the most part is cleaned and picked up except for any glasses (not the souvenir type) we may brought back to the room with soda or juice in them were all left on the desk until we set them out in the hall. I don't know if that is the practice but I thought they would have been removed when they cleaned. 5.) we booked the Xcarat and dolphin swim excursion at Play del Carma through Carnival and says we would enjoy 7 fun filled hours and we were lucky to be there maybe 4 hrs tops. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
This was our first ever cruise. Overall, we feel cruising is a fairly good deal for your $. We did enjoy ourselves on the Inspiration. However, we did find the focus to be all on drinking and gambling. Since we do neither, we got bored ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise. Overall, we feel cruising is a fairly good deal for your $. We did enjoy ourselves on the Inspiration. However, we did find the focus to be all on drinking and gambling. Since we do neither, we got bored with the ship's focus on this through entertainment, events, and functions. The shows were quite good, the food was excellent, the service was good. However, with 3 long days at sea, my husband and I found ourselves wandering the ship a lot bored and wished we'd had more time in port. Others seemed to be enjoying themselves, drunk and staggering around the boat dropping loads of $ off their "sign and sail" cards. I would imagine they were shocked by their tab by the last day. Advice we'd give: Pack your own snorkeling gear so you don't have to bother renting it and waiting in line at ports. Don't book excursions off of Carnival. There are lots of vendors awaiting you at each port and they are always about half of what Carnival charges. Cozumel was a dream. We loved the snorkeling there, and I swam with 4 dolphins at the Chankanaab National Park for $125. It is $180 through Carnival. You must take a cab to get anywhere and the rides range from $8-$10 from our experience. The cab drivers drive very fast and are all over the road. Its a bit scary. The cruise line staff stressed not to rent mopeds and after seeing how close we nearly clipped a few moped drivers, I can see how dangerous it is there. Cayman was a disappointment, but StingRay City is really a neat experience which made it more fun. My husband and I ate in the formal dining room each night at our assigned time of 6:15. It was excellent gourmet meals (Escargot, Lobster, Filet Mignon, and many choices). We always over ate! There were midnight buffets too. We also ate often in the Brassiere for quick meals since lines on the LIDO deck were often too long for us. The food everywhere was good. I was disappointed to find that not everything can be ordered for room services (as my Carnival agent had told me). For example, the only breakfast you can order has to be "cold." No hot foods for breakfast - room service. Room service was very fast though and it is inclusive, no extra charge. Room Stewards cleaned our room two times a day. We rarely saw them. We did get the towel animals, but not every night like some. The ship is full of photographers who take your formal portraits constantly. We were photographed 7 times with different backdrops. You could have doubled that number. The photos are $20 for an 8x10 and they have a photo gallery where you go and view them. The last night we dressed up in the "wild west" type get-ups and enjoyed that. We only bought one photo, but if we were there with a big group it would be a great way to get family photos and not pay the usual sitting fees of a studio. No cost for photos other than the prints themselves. There were weddings and honeymooners on the ship and we watched them be photographed too. The photographers are pretty good from the prints we saw. You can have your film developed on the ship for $6.95 a roll (overnight). I ended up paying more at CVS in Tampa, so that's a good deal. The rooms are small. We had an Ocean View. I was glad to be able to see out. We watched the waves when we were in the room, saw the stars at night, and saw our ship come into ports through our window. I think we'd be claustrophobic without a window. The suites looked especially nice with their balconies, but most avoided much time in their rooms. Its just too small to be in there long. But, it served its purpose. It feels like a cheap motel room. The bed was comfortable though and the pillows were soft and good quality. The showers are very hot, more hot than cold water. The toilets worked fine, but ship toilets are incredibly loud! You lock up all your valuables and $ in a safe that works well and use your sign and sail card to buy anything on the ship and it serves as your room key. We didn't buy much but somehow racked up $333.00 on our card! Its easy to do. The ship's gift shops are very reasonable and I found the ports, even Mexico, a bit expensive from what I had experienced in other Mexican cities, so I ended up buying some souvenirs on the ship instead. They have good sales the last night too. Things we didn't expect!........the ship rocked significantly and we had to pop our motion sickness pills every 8 hours the whole week. We were ok with the pills though. I guess it is "high seas," after May and the ship was really going up and down. Even in the theatre at night the ship's staff commented on it. I didn't see a lot of people sick though so it wasn't as bad as some cruises I've heard. The ship is so massive you'd never think you could feel the waves as much as we did. The weight/exercise room is not much. We worked out twice but they use those air pressure machines and they are not great if you are used to lifting weights regularly. Running on the treadmill is a challenge when the room is rocking side to side also. Most of the services in the "spa" are at a cost and we didn't do any massages or use the barber/hairstyles. You can even have your teeth bleached on the ship! The pools are a big disappointment in size and salt water. Most only used them to cool off, if that. The Karaoke bar was really entertaining each night and we often visited it after the late show (8:45 pm). We won't cruise Carnival again due to all the juvenile - college - like emphasis on "PARTY MAN!".....but may cruise again with our children. I would certainly NOT want my children or especially teens to be around this cruise line and their constant remarks about getting drunk..it was ridiculous. We enjoyed ourselves despite this and avoided some of the groups that were loud and obnoxious by finding quieter spots to enjoy the deck on the boat by day. The ship itself is older and somewhat gaudy, but it wasn't terrible. IT is quite clean and well maintained. Most the staff were friendly, but you could tell they were sick of being around all these happy cruisers by the end of the week....especially those serving in the buffet bars. The waiters in the formal dining room were excellent and always friendly. We met a few other couples at our table and enjoyed our conversations with them. Surprisingly, the majority of the cruisers were from Florida and many of those were from Tampa. (our port location). Embarkation, and Debarkation were a piece of cake and took very little time, as long as you listen to instructions, have all your ID and forms completed. We were off the boat by 8:30 am in Tampa and picked up by friends. It was a good time for my husband and I, we'll just find a different cruise line next time and hope it is a bit classier. We'll never forget the clear, blue green waters of the Caribbean and the sights we saw snorkeling (eel, lobster, lots of colorful fish, coral - although much of it dying, and of course - swimming with the dolphins!). Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
First of all let me say that I've been on 7 cruises and 5 of them have been on Carnival. It's been about 5 years since my last carnival cruise before Inspiration. Embarkation was great, we arrived about 10:45 and if your driving ... Read More
First of all let me say that I've been on 7 cruises and 5 of them have been on Carnival. It's been about 5 years since my last carnival cruise before Inspiration. Embarkation was great, we arrived about 10:45 and if your driving I would say that the valet parking is a must do, it's only $10.00 extra well worth it. We unloaded there at the dock and paid for the parking and were off. We went in side and there was a small line waiting to go upstairs. About 11:00 we were off and went upstairs for the check-in. We got to use the skippers club check-in, no big deal, but no waiting. We checked in and got our S/S cards an went to a holding area and by 11:30 we were on the ship. We got on and went to look for our room. Not ready yet, but we looked at it anyway. We then went to the lido deck to eat lunch and it was very good. By the time we were done our room was ready. Like I said before I've been on Carnival, and I was a little disappointed in the cabin (suite). Just not what I expected. The first night at sea that was the roughest night I have ever felt on a cruise, now I know that's not the fault of the ship, but I was wondering if the ship was having problem it was moving so much. It didn't bother my wife and I, but a lot of people were sick that night. The rest of the cruise was smooth sailing. Grand Caymen This place is starting to be my least favorite port. We got there and they almost didn't let us tender in, but waited about 2 hours and said ok. luckily we didn't have a tour booked. Needless to say we got in town about 11:30 as they let everyone with a tour booked off first. So we had to be back on ship by 1:30 so we didn't have anytime to do anything but buy a couple of tee's and get back. Cozumel Always my most favorite, what can I say? Pancho's Backyard is a great place for a drink and a great meal. On board I was very unhappy with the atmosphere on the pool deck. There is almost no music to speak of, we they played the played about 1 or two songs and then they would break for an hour. Come on Carnival. The pool games were little to nothing,(bellyflop contest, hairychest, fearfactor) the social host were horrible. The best time we had was in the Avant Garde bar were these four Asian guys were playing old rock-n-roll. Now I'll tell you they were great. We spent the next two night listening to them. If you go be sure and look for them. They were call "Music Network"... Awesome.... Gambling I played some of all of it and only thing I had some success was on 3 card poker, won about 250.00. All the slots seem to be tight, except the last night a lot of people were hitting some money, even my wife. One thing that really got me steamed was you couldn't get hot full breakfast for room service, only cold stuff like muffins and danish. Don't get me wrong we had a great time and I WILL cruise again, but we are going back to Royal CL. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
As I read all of the reviews I could prior to our cruise, I thought I should submit one of my own in hopes of helping someone else. We traveled with two children, ages 14 and 12. Our concern prior to sailing was that there would be other ... Read More
As I read all of the reviews I could prior to our cruise, I thought I should submit one of my own in hopes of helping someone else. We traveled with two children, ages 14 and 12. Our concern prior to sailing was that there would be other kids on the ship for ours to pal around with. Fortunately, my kids each met other kids the same age on the first night. The ship had a get-together for Camp Carnival where you sign up. It was based on their ages and met in different places depending on their ages. Our kids were in the 12-14 year group and met in the teen room. I would recommend going to this the first night. They met a few kids and had get to know activities and went for ice cream and it really helped them meet others. We sailed on the Carnival Inspiration, 5 nights, to Cayman Islands and Cozumel, out of Tampa. We chose this cruise as it was the first for the kids and we had to take them out of school. My husband and I had previously sailed on a Princess cruise that was 7 nights and we thought it would be too long for the kids. We had relatives in Tampa so they delivered us to the ship around 1 p.m. The line was very long, it seemed to take forever to get on the ship. Our baggage was delivered to our rooms quickly. We had a quad even though our kids are almost adult size. It worked out OK although it was a little cramped. I though they put the wall beds back up during the day, but they stayed down the entire time. Perhaps if we had asked, they would have put them up for us. I took a power strip, as I had read in other reviews, and it was very useful. Also, I took an over the door shoe rack for misc. stuff and that was very useful. We had a room with a window, but where we were located, the window was filthy the whole time so it was not the best view. The shower was actually bigger than ours on Princess. The ship was nice, the food was not nearly as good as Princess. We ate on Lido deck for all meals except dinner which we ate in the dining room. Dinner was good, small portions but we weren't very hungry anyway. Lido deck food was not good at all. Breakfast was the same every day. The line for omelets was very long as it was the best choice. Overall, I would rate the food as the worst part of the trip. The kids liked the ice cream machine and the pizzeria. The pizza was very good and available 24 hours. We booked our excursions ahead of time through private island companies. Cayman Island we did the Soto's cruises. They were very good. They picked us up at the ship dock and delivered us back afterward, included in the price. The price was half the price of what the ship excursion was, and our boat only had 13 people on it! We did snorkeling on a reef and Stingray City. Soto's were very good. The only thing, they said they water and lemonade on the boat, but it was not bottled, so we did not dare to drink it. Take your own. Do a search for Soto's cruises and you will find it. Cozumel we did snorkeling on 2 reefs on a 54 ft. catamaran with Island Marketing Ltd. They were excellent. We had to take a taxi to a resort,$15 each way, and they picked us up at the dock. Our only problem was that we changed into Central time and did now know it and we waited forever at the dock and thought they forgot us, but really they were right on time. They were the best part of our trip, the kids even agreed. The snorkeling was excellent and they were very professional. Afterward we had Coronas (spelling?) and margaritas -- as many as you want. Their water was safe, ice cubes too. Remember to take cash. Even though we reserved our excursions with credit cards, when we actually got there, they wanted paid in cash. They will tell you this ahead of time also in e-mails. I hope this is useful to anyone planning a cruise on this ship. Overall it was good for us as we took the kids and it worked nicely, but don't get excited about the food or you will be very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We set sail on the Inspiration 12-11-04. Leaving the harbor, we saw Christmas lights decorating yachts beginning a parade. This was our first Carnival cruise and our impressions were very mixed. The food and service in the dining room for ... Read More
We set sail on the Inspiration 12-11-04. Leaving the harbor, we saw Christmas lights decorating yachts beginning a parade. This was our first Carnival cruise and our impressions were very mixed. The food and service in the dining room for dinner were excellent. The dining room menu and food at lunch were poor. The Brasserie buffet, decorated with ugly purple worms, had an excellent breakfast. The lunch buffet items were fair at best, but they had excellent hot sandwich and pizza stations. The desserts were fine, but I think that the ice cream machine got the most use. The Camp Carnival program for kids was good and our kids enjoyed it. The counselors were competent and caring. By comparison, however, our kids thought that both Princess's and Royal Caribbean's children's programs were a little better. The Inspiration had a nice kid's pool and play area, but the pool temperature was cold; not exactly inviting for children. Children under 48" could not use the main pool waterslide. The cruise director, Lenny, was humorous and personable. The evening entertainment consisting of a couple of production shows, a fat comedian telling "fat" jokes, and a magician/bolero act were quite good and entertaining. Our favorite show was an afternoon Christmas show complete with an appearance of Santa Claus. Carnival advertises that it has large cabins, and it does, but I didn't think that the extra space was put to any good use. The cabin decor was not to our taste with orange being the main color. Our cabin steward, Thomas, did an excellent job of keeping our cabin clean and tidy. One bad thing in the room was the TV programming. There was no cartoon channel for the kids, and the programming was canned and repeated every day. The worst thing, however, was that the smell of cigarette smoke seemed to come into our cabin every morning, and pervaded the halls and public rooms and areas of the ship other than the theater and dining room. The daily program of activities for the daytime hours had hardly anything of interest to us. If you like to spend your time in one of the bar lounges, gamble, play Bingo, smoke or sit by the pool and read a book, then this is the ship for you. The main pool area is small, and the slide splash pool takes up half of the pool area, leaving not much room to swim. The slide is fun if you are tall enough to use it. There are two Jacuzzis. We were told that a forward pool was for crew use. The ports of call were Grand Cayman, where we took a boat out to Stingray City, and Cozumel where we shopped in and near the port. Carnival docks at the pier furthest from town in Cozumel but closest to the beach and snorkel areas south of town. There is a nice selection of stores in the port and just outside the port such that you probably don't need to go into town if all you want to buy is some souvenirs. There are car and scooter rental facilities both in and near the pier. As you can probably tell by now, the Inspiration wasn't our idea of a "fun ship" but it had its good points. The ports were great and the food, entertainment and service were better than I expected. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
It's the K mart brand for cruisin'. If it's your first cruise ever, you probably won't be disappointed, but having cruised more luxurious lines, my family, including the young teens, was mildly disappointed overall. ... Read More
It's the K mart brand for cruisin'. If it's your first cruise ever, you probably won't be disappointed, but having cruised more luxurious lines, my family, including the young teens, was mildly disappointed overall. First impressions tend to last, and our impression of the terminal prior to embarkation was poor. It's dirty and not well decorated. Seating was just a step above folding chairs. However, staff was courteous and efficient. Upon arrival in the main atrium, I was surprised at "dirty" brass and graffiti etched into the elevator doors. Lunch was being served on the Lido deck. The Brassiere grill on the Lido deck is hideously decorated with extremely large purple tentacles, and all stainless steel needed a good polishing. Our staterooms (inside cabins) weren't bad -- just worn with faded bedding, marred walls and scratched doors, but were clean. Many of the metal trimmings throughout the ship were dented. Our steward was friendly and attentive. The towel animals were delightful. The service at dinner was abysmal with the head waiter never explaining the day's entrees and rushing through the ordering process. It was at least 30 minutes before I was offered a beverage at our first dinner. When I complained, I was told that the bar waiter was there, but I wasn't paying attention -- ouch! That blew their tip! The pools were closed most of the trip. The child's pool was never opened due to "technical" problems, but it was probably for the best since it was very dirty and showed visible rust around the edges. I never did see the water slide at the main pool open. The shows were pretty entertaining, but a guest talent show was included as a "major" show one night instead of a professional one. Camp Carnival was delightful for our toddler, but the activities were few and disappointing for our 12 and 14 year olds. Casino tournaments and Bingo were plenty, but the prize jackpots were small ($100-$500) considering the number of players at $20 entry fees. And don't expect complimentary drinks while gambling regardless of your wagers. Causal dress at dinner was considered blue jeans and belly shirts. The food in the main dining rooms was pretty good with a selection for all tastes, but food in the "cafeteria" was often cold, tables weren't cleaned quickly enough and silverware and linen napkins were worn. Watch out for the automatic gratuity billing -- it includes gratuities for "cafeteria" and snack bar personnel -- what's next, "tip jars?" Some of the public areas were beautiful, but considering this ship just got out of dry dock, I was surprised at the overall appearance of the ship. Don't let this review be a deterrent to taking a Carnival cruise. There were some definite highlights. Lenny, our CD, was entertaining and witty. Cozumel was an enjoyable port of call. Unfortunately, rough seas prevented us from getting to Grand Cayman. If you book early (we paid $600 pp compared to many guests who paid $900 for the same cabin category), you'll pay quite a bit less compared to other cruise lines. Just don't set your expectations too high. Like the title of the review, you'll get K mart quality -- remember, the Blue Light specials? Also, customer service ranks about as high as what you'd get at the customer service counter at your local discount chain -- hit or miss. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
We went on this trip as our honeymoon and were mostly happy with the cruise. The ship is a little overboard in the decorating department. It has a very Casio meets Mardi Gras theme. It was also a little dark inside. Our cabin was awesome ... Read More
We went on this trip as our honeymoon and were mostly happy with the cruise. The ship is a little overboard in the decorating department. It has a very Casio meets Mardi Gras theme. It was also a little dark inside. Our cabin was awesome we booked a suite with a balcony and were very pleased with all the storage space and size of the bathroom. Our cabin steward was very friendly and did a fantastic job. The balcony left a little to be desired, a life boat obstructed most of the view. The activities offered left much to be desired. It seemed all there was to be offered was bingo and the art auctions. There we NO mixers or special offerings for honeymooners or young couples. The first night they did have a singles party, but it did not seem that many attended. I honestly got bored on our days at sea. I found myself wondering about looking for things to keep busy. They had a good movie selection on the cruise television network, but I did not come all that way to watch a movie in my cabin. I wish they would have had more cultural talks or hands on demonstrations for those of us who stayed away from the pool areas. The nightly shows were ok, but there was too much emphasis on the singers, who were really not all that good. The food was very good. We had a blast in the dining room for dinner, but we thought the Brassiere left something to be desired. We always had to wait in line and had trouble finding a place to sit. Breakfast was always the same food. We got tired of it. Grand Cayman was still very torn up from the hurricanes and we went to Stingray city to pet the rays. This was very cool. We were docked for such a short period of time that we really didn't have any time after the excursion to look around and shop. Cozumel was fun. It really helped that we were there all day. We shopped in the morning and then went on the catamaran/snorkeling/ beach excursion. This was awesome. The crew of the Fury were very fun and made the trip very festive. The snorkeling left something to be desired. There were lots of fish, but not too much coral. After the trip we shopped a little more. Be sure to haggle with the vendors. Overall we had a very good time, but the staff did nothing to make us feel special about our honeymoon. We chose to cruise to get that extra attention and didn't get it through Carnival. When I sailed Royal Caribbean they did a much better job of going the extra mile to recognize special occasions. Next time we will not be choosing Carnival. They are supposed to the the "Fun Ship." I thought they were the dull ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
Salutations! I just wanted to comment on my and my husband's experience aboard this wretched "Hole" that Carnival calls a "World Class "Fun Ship." Indeed Not!!! Embarkation was pure Hell, we arrived to the ... Read More
Salutations! I just wanted to comment on my and my husband's experience aboard this wretched "Hole" that Carnival calls a "World Class "Fun Ship." Indeed Not!!! Embarkation was pure Hell, we arrived to the terminal early, expected to board early.....Wrong!!! We ended up waiting in hour long lines just to go through all of the security and as all of the other odds and ends of processing! I was becoming quite bored and anxious to board "Our Lovely Fun Ship" LOL. Considering that this is our first cruise and our second Honeymoon...plus not to mention, we booked in advance so that the cruise is scheduled around my birthday!! Well when we finally boarded, we then went straight up to our Ahem...lovely stateroom,only to find that bloody Carnival is still stuck in the Psychedelic 60's theme!!! Our cabin was an Oceanview, and the decor was horrible!! Puke burnt orange walls, the carpet was worn and smelled foul, our closet doors would get continuously stuck and you had to pull on the handle to get the bloody thing to open! Plus not to mention...the stupid stool by the looking glass was very uncomfortable, and the little drawer would also get stuck as well. The luggage attendants took forever to bring up our luggage...and about maybe ten minutes before we set sail, they finally bring our luggage. Next thing I know, is that we hear the Cruise Director come on the PA system announcing for all guests to muster for some lifeboat drill.....did not even have time to unpack our things, but instead we are wearing silly lifejackets that are to tight around our necks for at least 30 minutes of the drill...going to our muster station. The entire ship is becoming somewhat out of date...the entire decor is that of the '70's and is very ugly...I have never seen anything so idiotic in my entire life! LOL Our steward, who is from India...was always on top of things, he kept our room to the fullest of potential.....even the animal towel "sculptures" were unique. He even knew our names and was constantly checking if we ever needed anything.....basically the Crew/Waitstaff was very friendly and somewhat up to par...with quick service. However though, the security could be a little bit better!!! I have never seen sooo many friggen unsupervised little kids that were causing havoc on every deck to the bloody teens out of control as well!!! Carnival has a BIIIIIG Alcohol Problem that is integrated with the teens illegally getting served underage from ALL of the ship's bars to the teens sneaking liquor up to the cabins....I witnessed one time that a few teens were purchasing alcohol at the Tax Free Liquor shop with their Sail&Sign Accounts!!!!!The attendant did not even card them!!! I'm very disgusted that bloody Carnival does not crack down on these problems and they do not even keep to their *Policies!!!" of enforcing these rules...esp. of holding the parents responsible for their kids actions!! I am also tired of waiting forever for the elevators to come to your deck...these kids love to play..Elevator hop, or pushing every button inside and then when the elevator reaches the level..they run out and then do it again elsewhere. The photographers are not that bad...a little bit pushy if you do not want your picture taken. The Captain's Cocktail Formal now, was a blast....the drinks were ok..considering that most of the wine was indeed..cheap!! LOL My husband and myself met our Captain for the Inspiration...Angelo Loss, very friendly as well as his crew...but *not all there sometimes*! One time on the fourth day of our cruise..out at sea, it started to rain, going out to Costa Maya. He sailed right through the bloody rain and did not sail around it...talk about bonkers for you!! We also DID NOT GO TO COZUMEL!!!! OR TO GRAND CAYMAN!The last minute, they tell us that Cozumel was cancelled..and when I demanded why, they told us that Cozumel was hit by the hurricane just like the Grand Caymans....Cozumel was NOT hit by the hurricane!! ARRRGGHHH!! So we ended up going to this little *hole* called Calica and another little hole called Progresso....soo to make up, we did the shore excursions which were a lot of fun...but not of what I and my hubby had expected!!! In Progresso..we did the Corona Beach Party...was a blast, but cheap looking drinks, in paper cups!! and 6 oz. Coronas!! The beach sucked though...all seaweed and rocks everywhere. We were also docked with the Elation at the same time...Inspiration's sister ship!! and most likely the same hole as with ours..The Inspiration. The bus that we took.....was a *trip* we were crammed in tight on this little flimsy double decker bus...the transmission almost blows out.....our guide then decides to play tour guide and drive us around hole Progresso for at least 30 min. taking up our *party* time!!!!I must say...I smelled some ahem...*interesting smells in Progresso*!!! Barffff!!!! We only have an hour on the beach party!!! and were back on board before we even know it!!! All of the ports of call.....were hurry hurry hurry!!!!!!!! not enough time to do anything! Why that our lovely Captain could not take us as a courtesy port to like Cancun or to Barbados to make up for the awful ports is beyond me....I mean he *IS* the Captain of the vessel!!! The onboard activities were very lame...and not enough of them for us adults here. The shows were also very lame!...not enough creativity into the planning of these shows!! I want the symphony, the opera, and the ballet, Broadway plays and musicals!! Nooo not on Carnival!! Just these cheap mocks of these Broadway musicals and Vegas style shows. All of the performers were mostly amateurish and not very professional. The food to was very in poor quality!!!! The buffets were never really much healthy...and ughhhh!! used soo much darn cooking grease for the breakfast meals as well as just about everything else!! The pizza buffet in the Brassierie was really good and they keep it fresh daily!! Our dining room was the Mardi Gras...and I expected to be seated as *table for two* here!! No..they seat you with four other strangers that you don't have the slightest clue of...and it is a very awkward feeling....soo much for our Honeymoon to dine alone!!!!! The food was terrible as usual...but at least our waiter was always on top of seeing that if we needed anything!! So did out maitre 'd. The pools were, I will Warn You....for first cruisers!! ARE SALT WATER!!!!!!! WHAT IS THAT?? I have never heard of this idea, saltwater pools on a cruise ship!!!!??? I found this little incident out the *hard* way!! OUCH!!! You would expect chlorinated pools on these well world class cruise lines, not this mess!! The hot tubs are also saltwater regulated....hmmmm is Carnival on a BUDGET Here?? It looks like it!! LOL. The water slide never worked since we boarded, and on the fourth day of our cruise, after so many complaints from the other guests....they finally repaired the slide!!! Well I could go on about our cruise for days...but I'm going to keep it to all of the problems that we faced on board!! The paint toward the front of the ship and off to the side.....was peeling off as we were sailing!!!! and I noticed it when we took out tender to Belize City!! Then the crew was painting the lifeboats, and the fumes were so strong that you would get a migraine just walking by!! Carnival informed us that our ship was in dry dock before our cruise undergoing repairs....we were so wrong!! I recommend that you do not take Carnival!!!!! Our next cruise will be with RCI, they are so much BETTER!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
Week of July 4th First time on Carnival... have sailed Celebrity from Baltimore last year... part of an annual family vacation. (This review may have a lot of "food complaints" included... but when you take a cruise, you ... Read More
Week of July 4th First time on Carnival... have sailed Celebrity from Baltimore last year... part of an annual family vacation. (This review may have a lot of "food complaints" included... but when you take a cruise, you expect a high-level of performance in this area!) Embarkation went smoothly... even with having to pick up all the tickets on site... since we booked two staterooms just one week prior.  We arrived at the port approximately 12:30PM from Tampa International... and using the Bay Shuttle service proved to be a smart choice for the five of us... since it would have taken two taxis or a long wait for the Carnival-provided bus to fill up!)  The baggage porter was extremely helpful, indicated which room assignments and color tags required (he provided them)... one of our rooms was a "guarantee"... so we were not aware of the assignment until arrival. The ship was fully booked... so there was no chance to purchase a stateroom upgrade... :-( We had signed up for all of the shore excursions as soon as we boarded the ship... the tickets were delivered to our stateroom that evening... as promised.  (If you sign up on the first day, there's a raffle that occurs that evening... and if your order form is selected, all the excursions ordered are free!  With five of us going on four sets of excursions, this could have been a windfall!) General positive comments... - Our stateroom steward (Eusebio) was excellent!  He was truly on top of things... keeping the room always in order, and fully supplied with fresh towels. - The excursions that we had selected were great... Mayan Ruins (Costa Maya and Belize), Jungle Boat (Belize), Stingray City (Cayman), Hell and back (Cayman), and Horseback Riding (Cozumel)... all the tour guides that we had "knew their stuff", and were very personable. - Our Dining Room waitstaff were also very much on top of things... after the first night (more later)... - The staterooms exceeded expectations... one inside and one outside... General "not-so-positive" comments... - The first night in the dining room (early seating 5:45PM - Carnivale Room), we felt like we were being rushed from start to finish... and every evening, the lighting would signal the waitstaff to perform some type of brief strained show!  (If I ever hear the Macarena again, I'll explode! - Dining Room, Lido Deck, Show... arghh!) - The food preparation was inconsistent in quality.  Some of the deserts were good, but overall... bad experience. - Carnival's top menu items were terrible... prime rib, lobster, filet mignon... I am NOT going out of my way to criticize! - The waitstaff tried on a number of occasions to remedy the situation, but it almost always went from bad to worse... - Lobster was hit and miss (undercooked, overcooked, then finally one edible piece!) - I am convinced that the quality of their meat purchases is sub-par vs. it all being the "cook's fault". - Most of the deserts appeared to have gelatin in most of their recipes! (Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pie are not supposed to jiggle!) - Many of the hallways had a "funky" odor... nauseating... and on some decks, the carpets were either stained and/or threadbare. - The Brasserie Buffet (Lido Deck) was very unorganized for a shipful of 2000+ people... and the floors were dangerous to walk when wet. - There were way too many flies (insects) in the eating area... and the temperature of the facility was fairly warm for an air-conditioned room. - The ship announcements were extremely difficult to listen to... since they did not appear to use all of the PA system. - We had expected to hear a bit more from the Captain throughout the cruise (since Celebrity is what we're basing the communication level on)... but he was rarely heard from... a few cameo appearances. - We were very disappointed in the quality of the various shows...     - One of the main performances, Shout, was a poor production (i.e. very disjointed musical periods) that included two stars that were miscast for this type of show.  (The accent for one of them was too distracting... since these were mostly American R&R classics!)     - Two of the comic acts were not that amusing... a magician/comedienne (not funny) and a comedian that tones down his act during prime time... (he may be good at the adult show). - The Bingo Board lights were out on two spaces... this may be a nit, but they were aware of the problem all week... and didn't fix it! - Many of the common areas had dented fixtures and/or cracked mirrors... yes, I understand that it's an old ship! In general, the best parts of the cruise were some of the key crew... dining room waitstaff and stateroom steward. I could not recommend this cruise line/vessel class based on the above... the ports of call are served by numerous other lines... and I would find it hard to believe that we were the only group that felt this way on this trip... That's it for now... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
I have been on 4 other cruise lines but chose Carnival for this particular cruise because I was travelling with my 20 year old daughter. Having heard Carnival's reputation as "one big party" I thought it would really appeal ... Read More
I have been on 4 other cruise lines but chose Carnival for this particular cruise because I was travelling with my 20 year old daughter. Having heard Carnival's reputation as "one big party" I thought it would really appeal to her. That was a mistake! The trip started out perfect, we left Toronto at 11:30am Sunday and arrived in Tampa, collected our luggage and the Carnival Rep at the airport had us on the bus and to the Port in less than half an hour. It was 3:00PM, no line up and we were on the ship and in our stateroom in less than 10 minutes, our luggage arrived a few minutes later. In all the cruises I've been on I have never gotten my luggage that quickly. I had requested early seating but soon found out that that was a request only, I booked this cruise a year ago so I don't understand why it was a request only, it should be first request first serve. Spoke to the Maitre D, he did manage to arrange first seating. We only went to the dining room twice. In my opinion there was not much of a selection, perhaps I'm spoiled by RCL and Celebrity, but Carnival only had 2 kinds of salads, garden and Caesar, one soup and a choice of 3 entrees, none of which I enjoyed (other than the lobster). We went to the Brasserie for 5 nights, again, not much of a selection for a buffet, a quarter of the selection that other lines have. 2 things carnival does do well, cinnamon buns, absolutely delicious and hamburgers, served at both lunch and supper in the Brasserie they must have had a 1/4 pound of hamburger in them, excellent. Room service was ok if you wanted a light sandwich or continental breakfast again, not even close to the selection of other lines. The ship itself is 7 years old and really showing its age, the carpets were stained and tattered and just showing its age in general. Ports of call were very good, my daughter swam with the sting rays in Grand Cayman the ship excursion was $69 US we paid $35 each on the pier. You can touch them, pet them, feed them swim with them, I've been on many tours, it was the best. Costa Maya, not really a place, it looks like someone made a port in a mexican seaside village and invited the cruise ships in, I found out all the little shops in the port mall are owned by a cruise ship consortium and the vendors rent space. Cozumel is beautiful, we shopped had lunch at Carlos N Charlies and then hit the beach. Very strong undertow, I was walking along the beach when a wave hit me and pulled me right in, it took a few minutes to get out, minus my bathing suit top. Belize is very charming, we went to the Mayan ruins and rainforest tour. $80 US on the ship, we paid $40 on the pier. Our guide Manny spoke excellent english and gave us a wonderful tour, he grew up in the village near the ruins and told us that as a child he and his friends played in the tombs, he said they didn't understand what it meant when the archaeologists arrived to explore. I've seen many ruins, these were by far the most impressive. It is a 25 minute tender from ship to shore, you can barely see Belize from were the ship anchors. I didn't see any of the shows, my daughter said they were ok. The drinking age is 21, however they did serve her in some of the lounges. I never saw the room steward despite paging her on numerous occasions. We were not able to control the room temperature so we requested extra blankets, we never did get them. We sent laundry to the cleaners and were told it would be back the same day by 7:00pm, 3 days later I had to fight with the pursers desk to get it back. Minus a pair of pants. Eventually we gave up trying to find them, I thought rather than argue I would hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. They automatically deducted gratuities, I adjusted to $ .00! I know these people depend on tips and I normally give more for good service, in this case I feel it was not deserved. The worst of the trip was on our final day, we were told that if we weren't in the lineup to get our passports bach by 10:00am we would be charged $250.00 US, we were there on time, waited in line almost 2 hours to get our passports and were then sent to a lounge to await our color being called to disembark, at 12:30 we were called. Got our luggage and boarded the bus. There was a couple on the bus who had a 1:30 flight, when they asked the Carnival rep if they would make it he said, "no problem" we got to the airport and were made to sit on the bus for half an hour. The young couple finally went to the front of the bus and asked if they could get off to make the flight and were told no. None of us got off until after 1:00, the last I heard that couple were being given the run around. That same rep refused to open the luggage hold because someone had "given him a hard time" he made us wait 10 minutes, before opening the cargo hold. I would not recommend Carnival, its no the worst vacation I've ever had, but all the other cruise lines I've been on are much more upscale, why pay the same amount of money, when you can get so much better elsewhere. Read Less
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 2.0 0.0

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