Sail Date: June 2010
Embarkation: The embarkation process went really smoothly. The Port of Tampa is larger than other ports that we have been to, and things seem to run well there. We had our fun passes, boarding tickets, driver's licenses, and birth ... Read More
Embarkation: The embarkation process went really smoothly. The Port of Tampa is larger than other ports that we have been to, and things seem to run well there. We had our fun passes, boarding tickets, driver's licenses, and birth certificates ready when we arrived. Public Rooms: The public rooms were clean. The decor is "artistic"...hence the name Inspiration. Cabin: The space was smaller than a hotel room, but was plenty for the two of us. We were able to put all of our clothes in the closet and drawers. The steward kept the cabin clean, and made us cute towel animals. :) Dining: I think that the dining experience is our favorite part of cruising. We were treated special each night and were entertained by the wait staff. The food was good, and we even tried things that we would not eat at home! Of course, we LOVE the chocolate melting cake, so we had that for dessert every night. Entertainment: The entertainment was good...not FABULOUS, but definitely enjoyable. There were 2 different comedians, and they were both funny. We went to the adults only show for one of them...don't go if you are offended by sexual comments or foul language. We were not offended, but I did hear some people behind us that were saying "oh, MY." The talent sow was fun too and there was some great acts. Service: The service was great. The only complaint that I have is that people that are Non-drinkers are driven half crazy by being asked, "would you like a drink" 50 times a day...however, if you are a drinker, I am sure that you are glad that the staff is so anxious to get you a drink. Shore Excursions: We did the Reef & Rays in Grand Cayman, and it was a lot of fun. The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. They took us to snorkel at the reef first, and then we went to Stingray City to snorkel. In Cozumel, we did the Mayan Ruins & Beach excursion. The guide, Moises ("MOY") was great. He is part Mayan, and was able to share some really cool history about the site. It was VERY hot and the mosquitos will eat you alive if you don't use bug spray. When we went to the beach there was a little bar and restaurant area. We ordered some nachos, and the salsa was the best that we had ever eaten. We enjoyed both of these excursions, and would recommend them to others. We had a great time on this cruise. This was our first vacation without our children, and we stayed busy (never even had time to miss the kids..LOL) This was our second cruise, and we will definitely cruise with Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Let me tell you about the cruise that almost wasn't. I was given a cruise for Mother's Day, I didn't want to seem ungreatful so I accepted this gift. Little be known to anyone else that I have a fear of flying and an even ... Read More
Let me tell you about the cruise that almost wasn't. I was given a cruise for Mother's Day, I didn't want to seem ungreatful so I accepted this gift. Little be known to anyone else that I have a fear of flying and an even greater fear of water. I have never even been in a swimming pool. I only had 45 days to plan and get my nervers together for this expedition. I was now ready to go, bags packed, passport tucked away, and off I went. I got through the airport okay, I made the flight just fine, it wasn't at all as I thought it would be, I sat by the window on the way home and could't look away. I flew Delta and it was a beautiful experience. I arrived in Tampa and got a shared taxi to the ship. The moment I stepped on board I felt extremely comfortable. The crew members were very helpful in directing passengers to their cabins. Once in my cabin I had only a short wait for my luggage. The cabin stewards name was UTEN, he was very friendly and informative, explaining to me about the beverages and the fun pack phamphlets that were placed in the cabin, through the entire cruise my cabin was always neat, clean, with towel animals on the bed in the evenings and chocolates, but the kicker was to walk into the cabin at night and Ten would have the light over the bed on which gave the cabin its cozy atmosphere. Hat's off to you TEN. The lunch buffet was marvelous, the crew members were so polite and friendly, remind you that this was my first cruise and I did not know what to expect. The food was great, and the entertainment by the pool was fantastic. There was so much to do and see on board. The only trouble I had was deciding what to do first, second and third, which is how I planned each day. Back to the entertainment for a moment, The crew members that would run different events were extraordinary, meaning, that these were people who would take a group of perfect strangers and have them intermingle, and have fun, while entertaining others. Double Hats Off to the entertainment crew, the music and dancing was also superb. Then there was the dinner in the Mardi Gras dinning room. What can I say, you guys out done yourselves there. The food was out of this world. The entertainment was astronomical, I still would like to know how the dinning staff can muster so much energy after working so hard all day. You guys should be commended. I had trouble seeing my menu and a waiter a Mr. jon Williams noticed that I was straining to see and he took my menu and read it for me and I thought that was so kind and thoughtful triple Hats of to you Mr. Williams. This cruise was inspirational to me in so many ways, I overcame my fear of flying, and fear of drowning all in one setting. I met some of the most extraordinary people on board the Carnival Inspiration, I have been so blessed to have had my first cruise on this ship, I was so overwhelm at the kindness and caring of the crew members, This cruise taught me to live, don't be afraid to try new experiences, and to expect great things always, and when things don't seem so great, make them great. The most important thing I think that I accomplished on this cruise is that I got to know me. Also, I decided that one cruise is definitely not enough, I heard that carnival has so many ships and my new goal for vacationing is to see and sail on them all. I still have time left, so I think I will live!!!!!!!!! Thank you Carnival Inspiration for the great Inspiration. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
As a first time cruise I'd have to say this was the probably the best vacation we've had ever. There was a group of 22 of us and boy were we in for some hella fun. Starting off with EMBARKATION: We drove down from Atlanta the ... Read More
As a first time cruise I'd have to say this was the probably the best vacation we've had ever. There was a group of 22 of us and boy were we in for some hella fun. Starting off with EMBARKATION: We drove down from Atlanta the day prior and stayed at the Sheraton on Cypress. Very beautiful hotel. Ended up getting our rooms at no charge due to filthy bathrooms otherwise rooms were absolutely gorgeous. The next day packed up and headed to eat then drove to port. Little did we know there were several entrances to get into port and ended up getting lost. (GPS did not take us directly in the correct entrance) We ended up almost missing the EMBARKATION literally by 3 minutes as we did not arrive into the correct entrance until 3:27. (You have to board by 3:30) Anyhoo..valet parked for $80 and headed in....there were no lines whatsoever and we made it through embarkation smoothly. ONBOARD: We headed straight to the Lido deck, tons and tons of people onboard hanging out chillin' and drinkin' the DOD's and plenty of entertainment. Everyone was just happy to be there and was just having a great time. Went to the front of the boat...watched the boat go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Everyone was SOOO amazed at this boat passing under this bridge. I have to admit it was pretty neat seeing that it looked like we were going to crash right into. I believe it clears 12FT from the top. After the ooohhhssss and aahhhhsss we headed to the check on our luggage which arrived by 7:30ish everything packed was there. What a relief :) Met our steward Edward...the nicest most sweetest person EVER! He accomodated us the entire cruise. Really enjoyed his presence and everything he did for us. Dinner every evening was at 8. I have to say the food was absolutely wonderful! The prime rib and lobster tail on elegant night was mouthwatering. The prime rib just melts in your mouth. I also tried the black tiger shrimp....very good! The warm melting chocolate cake was good..Not excellent but good. GRAND CAYMAN: We missed it. Had too much fun from the night before at the Rock and Roll Club and didn't wake til 1:00 p.m. COZUMEL: Oh My. Where do I start? This was the BEST day ever! We took a taxi($4/each way per person) to a private excursion called Nachi Cocum which is about 20 minutes from port and had the most awesome time ever. We parasailed for $60/person and had unlimited drinks and a three course meal for $49/person. What a GREAT deal! The water was absolutely gorgeous and met some really greet people to hangout with. All I can say, if you go to Nachi, Joseph was an AMAZING waiter! And the banana daiquiris were absolutely delicious! Remainder of the trip was a ton of fun and but the last day was sad. We had met some really great people from all over the world....and we had the times of our lives. BUT we have booked another cruise and will be sailing away on the Carnival Victory in May 2011. Sooo excited! But def know that the Inspiration is definitely worth your while. Hey you're on vacation! Make the most of it :) Chowwwww Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
This cruise was great, non-stop partying. When we first arrived on the boat, everyone was already in the pool on the lido deck. The staff on the ship was excellent, the waiters and room attendants. The waiters even provide entertainment at ... Read More
This cruise was great, non-stop partying. When we first arrived on the boat, everyone was already in the pool on the lido deck. The staff on the ship was excellent, the waiters and room attendants. The waiters even provide entertainment at dinner. Our room attendant introduced himself to us the first day we were there. There were many activities on the boat for nighttime and during the two full days at sea. Some things we went to on the boat were the shows held in the Paris Lounge every evening and the 18 and older comedy acts. We also went to towel folding class, the galley tour- was excellent highly recommend it, it was a tour of the kitchen. We also went to the mock versions of the newlywed show and jeopardy were guests participated. The cruise director Paul was hilarious. There was a lot of entertainment provided throughout the day on the lido deck- many contests and music. We were assigned to the Mardi Gras dining room and ate there as much as we could. The food was excellent, and if you happened to not like something, you could always ask for another dish. We tried to go there for lunch as much as possible too instead of the buffet. At night, we went to the shows and the dance clubs. There was so much to do and it made the vacation easy because everything, meals and entertainment were all planned out. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
We are in our mid 40s and early 50s and love cruising on Carnival most of all. Sometime the kids (21 and 24) join us but not this time. We always eat in the dining room when possible and have the late seating for dinner. EMBARKATION ... Read More
We are in our mid 40s and early 50s and love cruising on Carnival most of all. Sometime the kids (21 and 24) join us but not this time. We always eat in the dining room when possible and have the late seating for dinner. EMBARKATION & DEBARKATION Embarkation and debarkation is easy and quick at Port Tampa and a big reason we enjoy this port. It also helps that it is 20 minutes from home. With Channel Side and the Florida Aquarium as neighbors Port Tampa is very pretty, clean and cheerful. Port personnel are very nice and accommodating. We arrived at the port at 10:30am and were on board by 11:15am. We do have VIP status and get express embarkation and debarkation which makes it even easier and faster. DINING - The BEST things about this cruise was Yusuf, our Maitre Di. We had sailed with him on our last 2 cruises. He remembered us and could even tell us what table we had on our last cruise. They probably have all that on record but that doesn't matter. He made us feel special by stopping by every evening. The food on the ship was very good - not great - but very good. We ate breakfast and lunch everyday (except for lunch on port day) in the dining room as we like to be waited on. Our waiters for all meals were great. Our dinner waiters John and Mirza were, as we've found on every Carnival cruise, very friendly and good at their jobs. SHIP & CABIN - The ship was extremely easy to navigate. DEcor was typical Carnival which we like because of the bright colors and festive feel. I loved the red/green/blue lights circling the atrium on each deck. We really liked that to get from bow to stern you did not have to go through the casino on the Promenade Deck. You went passed it but didn't have to go through it and deal with the smoke. With no balconies on this ship we had an ocean view. I missed having a balcony, refrigerator and hair dryer on this ship. Our cabin was fine for the 2 of us and stewards (Arnold, Ari and Marketa) were amazing, always available and accommodating. Ask for something, blink and it was there. We had a lot of fun with them. ENTERTAINMENT -The Welcome Aboard show was OK. The crew shows - Shout (2nd night) and Fiesta Latina (4th night) - were actually very good. The 2nd night - magician (Mark Miller) was great and we wished his show had been longer. Diane Ford was hilarious on night 2 so we went to her R rated show the last evening. I don't think I have ever laughed so much. We really didn't care for Kenny Miller - just not our style of funny. I also really enjoyed Sin the dining room magician...still don't know how did those tricks. EMBARKATION DAY We went to the Lido deck purchased a soda card for my husband and then on to lunch. After lunch we made our way to the excursion desk to inquire about the Behind the Fun tour. (More on this tour later.) Since this was our first time on a Fantasy Class we did some exploring. By 1:30pm we were in our cabin and had met our cabin steward, Arnold. I went to the Spa tour and got some great discounts and entered the $500 drawing. At 3:30pm it was time for the safety talk (used to be a muster drill). We relaxed and unpacked until about 5:00 then back to the Spa for the drawing (didn't win). Around 5:45 we went to the bow of the ship to watch as the Inspiration went under the Sunshine Skyway bridge - according to the captain there is only 9 to 15 meters clearance under the bridge. It looks a lot closer than that. Then it was back to the cabin to dress for dinner in the Mardi Gras dining room. SEA DAYS This was a relaxation cruise for us and we just wanted to take it easy with no schedules. Therefore many of you may find what we did boring so I'll mention that there is something to do all the time. There are the usual Lido pool games and BINGO as well as some other trivia games. There are dance lessons and more kinds of music than I had seen on other ships. I have a thing for steel drums so I particularly like the Calypso Music by the pool area. There's a water slide, miniature golf, a driving cage and a jogging track on deck 14. Almost all Carnival ships offer the Family Beary Cuddly (similar to Build-a-Bear). I do this every cruise and name the stuffed animal after the ship. It's an inexpensive fun souvenir. We enjoyed most of the afternoons on the Serenity (adults only) deck, reading, having a few drinks and enjoying the hot tub. Very quiet and relaxing. COZUMEL This was our only port this cruise and since we had been there a few times before we chose to stay on board. On past cruises we gone horseback riding, to Paradise Beach, Sea Trek and rented a car to explore on our own. All of those were great. I did go into the port area by myself to pick up a couple gifts. I won't do that again as I felt like an easy target and it seemed those trying to get you into the shops were even more aggressive since I was alone. I got what I needed and was back on the ship in an hour. I had booked the Seaweed Detox and full body massage for 2:00pm and it was amazing. You get great discounts when you book spa treatments on port days. BEHIND THE FUN TOUR This is a tour of almost the entire ship, lasts about 3 hours and your have to climb a lot of stairs but it was fascinating. I don't want tell you too much about this but if you have never done this, do yourself a favor and do it on any Carnival ship (don't know if other cruise lines do it). The cost is $55 for Fantasy class and $99 for Spirit class ships. There is very very very limited space on this tour so book it as soon as you can. You get lots of goodies as well. IN CONCLUSION We really liked the ship, the food, and the atmosphere of the Carnival Inspiration. Mostly we liked the staff and crew and will sail on the Inspiration again. We had one negative the entire cruise which was about getting sodas brought to the dining table in the can. He asked the bar waiter to just bring him the Coke in a can and was told it was against the rules but he would do it anyway. Unfortunately, he was told by the bar manager on evening 3 that he could no longer accommodate this. We were devastated that we may have gotten this guy in trouble and all he was doing was trying to make a passenger happy. We spoke to the assistant Maitre Di on duty. He said he would personally handle it and not to worry. The next evening there was a can of Coke on our table before we were even seated. Another reason we like Carnival - any problem we've ever had has been addressed immediately and to our satisfaction. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
I was just on Carnival Inspiration from 4/10/10 until 4/15/10. I haven't been on a Carnival cruise since 1997 & after the last 5 nights I am wondering "why not???" I was very impressed with the Inspiration. I went with ... Read More
I was just on Carnival Inspiration from 4/10/10 until 4/15/10. I haven't been on a Carnival cruise since 1997 & after the last 5 nights I am wondering "why not???" I was very impressed with the Inspiration. I went with a friend & our cabin was on the Upper deck with an oceanview window. We had plenty of cabin space and closet space. Absolutely loved the cruise director, Paul Santley. He delivers jokes very, very well and is quite charming at the same time. I also enjoyed the activities team of Matt and Tic Tac. I think I could listen to Matt talk all day. :) They did a great job at getting people involved in the games & activities. It was a lot of fun & very entertaining. Jerry...the Filipino guitar player/singer was amazing. Where he gets that singing voice, I'll never know.....he's outstanding. I also enjoyed the other Matt...guitar player/singer that was by the dining rooms providing entertainment before/after dinner. I felt the dancers/shows lacked a little bit although I give them an A for effort. There were 2 that were outstanding though - don't know their names, but they are incredible. The dance show on the last night - the latin theme - was excellent. Grand Cayman was beautiful...did the Reefs & Rays snorkel excursion. It's the first time I ever used a snorkel outside of a swimming pool. Swimming with the sting rays was a bit scary, but at the same time pretty cool. Well worth the $44. I wasn't all that impressed with Cozumel. The vendors were a bit pushy, which is understandable...but also annoying. Had a drink at Senor Frogs...fun place, but again...pushy. Also stopped by Fat Tuesdays for some chips & nachos and a shot of tequila. Much better atmosphere than Senor Frogs. We had a full ship of 2600 guests & even with it being that crowded, everything seemed to run smoothly. I had a wonderful cabin steward who introduced himself to us right away & even accommodated my request for a fan in the room. I will definitely be cruising again with Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Let me start by saying that me and my wife are first time cruisers, thirty somethings with two kids traveling under the age of 5, frequent travelers and also Canadian. We booked this trip in particular because of the ports of call, cost ... Read More
Let me start by saying that me and my wife are first time cruisers, thirty somethings with two kids traveling under the age of 5, frequent travelers and also Canadian. We booked this trip in particular because of the ports of call, cost and because we were told Carnival Cruise lines is good for people with kids. Ship: While the ship is older and the decor somewhat tacky I never felt dissapointed with the ship itself. It had all the features we wanted, overall it was very clean and the staff was always very helpful and always said hi. There seemed to always be a bar or washroom nearby and overall was easy to navigate. The pool area in the middle was nice but not somewhere we wanted to be, it was always occupied by college kids and singles and since we had our kids the top deck with the splash pad was our hang out. The splash pad and waterslide area is great for kids and my two had a blast. We would just sit out on the chairs and let our kids play. Our two year old would play in the splash pad and our four year old would go up and down about 40 times a day on the smaller water slides, we never felt like the kids were not safe and it was nice to allow us to relax as well. Only negative about the ship is sometimes it was difficult to get to one part of the ship due to all of the elevators not going to all of the floors. Depending on which side of the hallway you were on or which end of the boat you would have to work out a different combination between elevators and stairs to get to where you wanted. Sometimes the elevators took a while to get to you and it was easier to take the stairs but after a few days it became easier to navigate. Room: Let me say that overall I'm very pleased with our experience. We booked a suite with balcony because we knew our kids would be in bed early and we didn't want to feel trapped in our rooms, by going with a balcony we would have somewhere to go if we wanted to have a drink without leaving our room. It was so worth it and I would recommend the upgrade not only to people with kids but anyone in general. We traveled with other couples who had kids and they would come over to our room at night to party and bring their kids, there was plenty of room for all. One night we had 6 adults on the balcony and 6 kids in the room and there was lots of room for more. The suite was very clean overall and if it got dirty the staff was there to clean it twice a day. They always seemed to know the perfect time to come in and out. They would clean it in the morning when we went for breakfest (8-10ish) and then while we were at dinner (6-7ish). The room was very spacious with lots of storage for clothes, etc. There was a TV, fridge, king size bed, pull out couch (double bed for kids), chairs, desk, walk in closet and good size bathroom with whirlpool tub. Their was (2) large windows and the balcony had two chairs and a table. Since we had kids we were concerned with the railing on the balcony but it turned out to be very safe and completely enclosed. My kids would have to climb up on a chair to get over if they wanted too. Again very worth the price, wouldn't go any other way especially after seeing the other rooms first hand. Food: This should be easy. Food was very good. We had buffet breakfest and lunch everyday. You could order from a menu at certain restaurants but why bother? They had 24 hour pizza and fresh grilled sandwiches which we ate quite a bit (especially the kids). We had the early dinner in the Carnivale dining room and we very much enjoyed ourselves. The waiters were great, very courteous and entertaining...especially when they would take 5 minutes out during dinner and all put on a show for us. The menu was pretty good, always changing and seemed to have something for everyone. While certain menu items stayed the same the main apps and entrees changed daily. I ordered two apps, two entrees and two deserts every night! Why not, it's what you paid for right? Best dinner was the lobster and shrimp on formal night...I also ordered the prime rib which was very good that night as well. Another night I had the rack of lamb and was very pleased with it as well. Everyone always talks about the melting cake and I have to say that was good also...in fact had one every night. For the kids what was really nice was they came out with their meals first and really fast, so if you have little ones and can appreciate their attention span having it come out right away makes things easier. We also tried the sushi bar, late night buffets and pizza and all were good. Sometimes lineups were long but really all in all not that bad. Alcohol: I chose to bring wine on board since you are allowed one bottle per person. Our friends don't drink so they brought some for me as well. I was able to have wine with dinner every night and when I wanted to bought drinks during the day. All and all not that expensive. Bar tenders were always generous with shots and prices were around 5 dollars per mixed drink, 7.50 for the special of the day. Beer was 5 bucks and you could get a bucket with 4 beers for a good price. I only ever got charged a corkage fee once for dinner...the wait staff was great. I bought the pop card for 36 dollars and used that a lot too but in hind sight would probably not do that again since my kids don't drink a lot of pop and there was always lemonade and juice available in the restaurants if you wanted it. Shore: We really enjoyed the Grand Cayman!! You have to take a boat to get off the cruise and the only thing I didn't like about this process was that we were stuck in a hallway for about 20 minutes in line trying to get off. But once things got moving the line moved quick. I should also mention that with the suite we had VIP status and priority boarding and unboarding. The only thing that was good for was getting on at embarkcation...on the shore excursions it didn't mean anything so that was a bummer. I found the Grand Cayman to be clean, courteous, a very distinct British presence, expensive at times but very beautiful. We also found it to be very safe. We rented a car and had a blast driving around the island finding hidden gem beaches. Tip...Rum Point...heaven on earth. About a 45 minute drive from Georgetown but so worth it. Our friends did an excursion to the turtle farm but at the end of the day had no time for the beach since the amount of time spent at this port was short. I would recommend renting a car and beaching it! Never once felt unsafe or nervous about venturing out on our own. Car was relatively cheap given the expensive nature of the island. Whole excursion including gas was only $70 US compared to $40 per person for some of the prepaid excursions. After we were back on the boat our friends were commenting on how they had wished they had done what we did. My only beef about Grand Cayman...not enough time here!!! I could live there it was so nice. This cruise should put more time on the Cayman islands instead of Cozumel. Oh yes one more thing. In Grand Cayman they use RHD cars and drive on the opposite side of the road so that was a little hard to adjust too but made for some good laughs between me and my wife and my kids. Cozumel was nice too don't get me wrong but something about the feeling on the Caymans as opposed to Mexico. We did almost the exact same thing in Cozumel, we rented a Jeep and drove around the island looking for a beach. San Miguel is a lot busier and dirtier then Georgetown by contrast and so we were left with a lot more nervousnous and un safe feelings then in Grand Cayman. I travel to Mexico quite a bit for work so I was pretty comfortable but my wife was not as much. I also wouldn't be as inclined to just stop and go into a shop or restaurant as I would have in the Caymans. We drove to the other side of the island and found a lovely public beach that we ended up having all to ourselves...Punta Morena. The day we were there it was very windy but turned out to be an excellent experience....we laid out on the beach all day and had it all to ourselves. Our friends again purchased an excursion to go into town and they didn't end up with any beach time. I felt this was the key to us enjoying the most out of the islands. Having good R&R beach time as well as the adventure of renting a car and driving around. We still had plenty of time for shopping. Because Cozumel was a longer day we went in early and turned back the Jeep. We spent the next couple of hours shopping by the pier which is clearly setup for cruise travelers. All and all a good stop but made better I think by our adventure. Camp Carnival: We used this service a couple of times on the trip to get some alone time and all in all I was fairly pleased. It's very safe and they give you a cell phone to keep on you at all times incase of an emergency with your kids. Only beef I had with this service was because our kids were younger it seemed like we could only leave our kids for an hour at a time. They would open at 10 for example and you have to pick them up at 11:45. Then not drop them back off until 2. Like I said overall I'm fairly pleased but would have liked a bit more time to work with. Special Note for Canadians and VIP guests: For Canadians. When leaving plan on being at immigration on the boat early. What you are not told is that prior to getting off the ship all non us citizens have to go through immigration on the boat the morning off. Since we were a family of four all of us needed to be present with ID at 6:45 am. We should up early and it was a good thing. The line was huge and had we have showed up late we would have been waiting for a long time. VIPs who are not US citizens. Take note that you will not be given special treatment getting off the boat. It helps when getting on but getting off it does not. All US citizens who choose to carry off their own luggage get first preference in getting off. It seemed like to us we should have been able to go first being VIP but all people who want to carry off their own bags are given priority. After the boat docks at 8:00 it took an hour to get off, not a whole lot of time but after being up and at immigration for 6:30 we were ready to go and felt like most of the morning we were waiting around to get off. Only complaint would be that since we had VIP treatment it should have accounted for more on disembarkation. Anyway, all in all very pleased with our cruise experience and all of us enjoyed it. Would I go on a cruise again? Not sure...I'm a frequent resort go'er and wanted to try a cruise for the food and ports of call. Both me and my wife agree if we did it again it would be if it hit a lot of ports...like say the Eastern Caribbean. We only ever got sea sick on the first night and the last because the waves were high in Florida (their weather has been horrible) other then that it was calm all the way through. It has taken us three days to get rid of the rocking motion from being on the boat and that is hard to get use to. So in the end I would probably resort it next time...I'm a beach bum...but would consider a cruise like I said if it hit multiple ports. Overall pleased with Carnival and pleased with my decision to go on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
The Carnival Inspiration sails from the port in Tampa, Fl. I had never been there before. The traffic was confusing because of road construction and even my Garmin got me lost. I was going to park my car myself after dropping off my bags, ... Read More
The Carnival Inspiration sails from the port in Tampa, Fl. I had never been there before. The traffic was confusing because of road construction and even my Garmin got me lost. I was going to park my car myself after dropping off my bags, but ended up overwhelmed and used the valet service for my car because of all the confusion. I had booked through the Cruise Line. The operator was very helpful and informative and she made many recommendations that helped a lot. My mother and sister were meeting me on the ship. We had reserved a balcony suite and ended up on the 11th deck. After dropping off my car and checking in my bags, I entered the check in area. I had thought the VIP on my check in paperwork was a logo of some kind and it was a surprise to find out it really meant VIP! After the customs scan, there was special check in and treatment. The pocket sized deck plan helped with the confusion of finding the way around the ship. We still got mixed up but then so did everyone else. We had early seating. Our waiters were great and the food was wonderful. The other food area times were posted and always had an assortment of things to eat. The suite was clean, the beds were great, and there was plenty of space for the 3 of us. I think it would have pushed to have 4 adults in the room though. The balcony was narrow and held 2 chairs and a small table. As little as we were in the room, it was plenty. There were plenty of TV channels but the only one we really had on was the one with the ships position. There was plenty to do from doing nothing to being busy every moment, every day for every age group. I was even able to stuff a bear for myself! We were fortunate enough to be able to go on the behind the cruise tour of the ship. It was a wonderful experience and would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity. The only drawback was the hot tubs were down most of the cruise. The thing that impressed me the most was the way the crew related to the passengers. I have never been around so many pleasant people. No matter what happened, the crew was helpful, smiling, and went out of their way to assist. I would recommend Carnival for a first cruise for any new sailor. Having lived in other countries, Cozumel was the typical tourist industry island. They were not shy in letting us know that we were their main source of income. We took the "see the island and shopping tour". It lasted 5 hours and we only had 1 small 15 min. stop at a snack shop that only had coconut meat, pineapple, and watermelon. If we had not taken bottled water with us, it would have been very difficult. Way too long with no real food choices. The tour guide was nice and the bus was clean and well kept. We could have had more time with the shopping part. My sister liked the Tequila factory tour though......never knew there were so many flavors of tequila. It was a good way to see the island for a first time tourist. If I would go again, I would choose another way to see the island. If you need to take medications with food on a strict schedule I would think twice about taking this tour. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2010
I'll start off by saying, as with all of my vacations, I did a ton of research when choosing our spring cruise this year. I read review after review here on Cruise Critic, and can safely say that any bad review is from someone that ... Read More
I'll start off by saying, as with all of my vacations, I did a ton of research when choosing our spring cruise this year. I read review after review here on Cruise Critic, and can safely say that any bad review is from someone that you just can't please. My husband and I are pretty much "go with the flow" type of people, and small stuff just doesn't bother us. One bad food item (not that we had any on this trip) or a long wait for an elevator is NOT going to rain on our parade. You can tell the bad reviewers are just people who set the bar way higher than it should be. If you go on a cruise, whether it be on Carnival, Royal or Disney, you should expect bumps in the road (I mean, come on...you are on a large ship with thousands of other people), but know that they aren't going to ruin your good time. Vacations are meant to take your mind off of the day to day struggles...so let that happen!!!! We live in Lakeland, which is only 35 minutes away from the port. We arrived at the Tampa port around 11am and were on the ship by 12. This is my 3rd time sailing from Tampa, and every time embarkation has been a breeze. We went straight up to the Lido deck and enjoyed our first vacation lunch while looking over beautiful Channelside at the Port of Tampa. We were in our room by 1:30, and had plenty of space in our inside cabin, even with 4 adults. The muster drill is super easy these days since you no longer have to tote around and wear those bulky life jackets. Once we set sail, we ran upstairs to watch. My SIL still swears that she saw a shark jump out of the water, but none of us saw it thanks to a kid who decided to try and climb a slopey thing and fell at the exact same moment. We did see something going back into the water, but I guess we'll never really know. We especially enjoyed seeing the ship go under the Skyway Bridge...absolutely breathtaking! Dinner for us was at 8:15 every night, and we had great meals every night. My sister in law and her boyfriend are both 18, and they really surprised us with their willingness to try new things. Almost every thing they tried they loved, and the rare items that they didn't, our waiter (Claude) hurried to get them something that they did like. He was amazing and so was his assistant...TEQUILA!!! :-) We had breakfast in the restaurant three times and on the Lido desk twice. I prefer the restaurant since the lines can be a bit much first thing in the morning. Our first fun day at sea consisted of us doing some trivia games, lounging out in the sun for a few minutes, playing in the casino some and getting ready for our formal Captain's dinner. I was a little disappointed that they no longer do the Captain's party with the free drinks and appetizers, but they do offer a Happy Hour special with all drinks being $1 off. We got all dolled up and went down to take pictures at all of Carnival's great portrait settings. My sis in law wanted a formal pic of her and her BF and after going to about 10 different settings, she was able to pick out the cream of the crop. Three of us ordered the lobster and shrimp for dinner, and my SIL ordered the steak. After seeing our lobster, she wanted one as well, and our waiter jumped on that for her. The lobsters are on the smaller side but you can have as many as you want...not bad if you ask me. The last fun day at sea we took in the newlywed game, which was hilarious. We also hung out in the casino for a little bit. We didn't hit anything big, but did wind up spending a few hours there for only $20. We played Bingo and never won. Such a suckers game. Haha! We chose to take our own luggage off the ship, which was great. We called the front desk the night before and confirmed that we had to be out of our rooms by 9am, which is so much better than the 7:30am that it used to be. We got up around 7, went to breakfast in the dining room and then headed back to gather up our belongings. We made our way up to deck 6 to wait and once deck 5 was called (we were actually on deck 4) we got in line and headed off the ship. It took about 10 minutes to get through the line and down to customs, and about 10 minutes waiting through that line. We had family pick us up (so we didn't have to pay those ridiculous parking charges) and we were back in the car by 9am. All in all, one of the best cruises we've been on! Highlights: dinner, Carlos n Charlies Beach Club and the employees of Carnival. We never came across any employee that wasn't all smiles and full of "How are you doing's". Anyone who says they experienced a rude employee must be confused. People seem to forget that some of the employees don't speak good English, and tend to shy away. It's probably extremely frustrating for them to get involved in a conversation where neither party understands the other one. So the way they avoid this is to shy away from guests. I can't say I blame them. :-) Oh, and the cruise director and his staff were awesome! Very funny and kept us laughing all the time. "Come on Matt!" :-) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was my 2nd cruise and my husbands 1st cruise. My son and his girlfriend have cruised on Carnival 3 other times. My son and his girlfriend flew into Tampa Friday night and stayed at the Sheraton Suites Tampa Westport. Really nice ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise and my husbands 1st cruise. My son and his girlfriend have cruised on Carnival 3 other times. My son and his girlfriend flew into Tampa Friday night and stayed at the Sheraton Suites Tampa Westport. Really nice hotel! Got it for $76. Drove to Port of Tampa and stopped at Valet. Porter took our bags and valet took our car. Walked into terminal at 11:30 and we were on the Lido deck at noon. Had a hamburger, put on our bathing suits and relaxed on the lounge chairs by the pool. Had a few drinks and then went up to our room at 1:30. We had an ocean view on the Upper Floor right next to the Grand Suites. The room was clean and comfy and roomy. Our steward, Alfred, came and introduced himself and took care of us all week. Exceptional service! I went up to the top deck a little after 6pm to view the ship going under the bridge. All I can say is that is was an awesome memorable experience!! We had Your Time Dining (YTD) confirmed. (Our son was confirmed in the Carnivale dining room and waitlisted for YTD) Went up to talk to Joseph in the Mardi Gras Dining Room and poof, no problem changing them to YTD! First night dinner was so much fun! Went around 7:30pm and waited 5 minutes for a table. The guys had the steak and loved it - I had the pasta and loved it. Then, I had the chocolate melting cake for dessert and I was hooked. The wait staff was excellent! The ship was rocking and rolling the first night. Heard that half of the passengers were sick. (I did not get sick the entire cruise and did not take any medication - yippie!) We spent Sunday at the Lido pool. Walked around the ship to familiarize ourselves. All of the whirlpools are closed for maintenance. Had fun poolside. Entered the Mixologist contest. Made my "Shake Your Rumba" drink, but lost out to "Blue Paradise" which was actually really good! They show the video non-stop for the rest of the cruise ~ oh my goodness - I did not know that when I was mixing my drink shaking my rumba!!!!! Elegant night tonight. I did not like my lobster - but the guys loved their steak. Grand Cayman on Monday - beautiful! Took a taxi to Sea Grape and walked over to the Ritz. Chatebreand for dinner - nobody liked it. But the salads and dessert were great! Hit the casino - oh my goodness. That darn sign and sail card - I kept pressing the button for "add more funds"...... Cozumel on Tuesday. We rented a jeep from Avis for $55 + $30 for full insurance (did not want to take any chances) and went exploring on our own. Drove around the island and stopped at magnificent beaches. Then went to Paradise Beach for some Dos Equis and Guacamole. It was a great day! Woke up to rain on Wednesday. Then the sun came out between 1-3 and then rained again. We still had fun. The ribs for dinner were so yummy!!!!!! I had purchased Behind the Fun Tour tickets on the first day and My DH and son went on it. They said it was great! But be careful, my son sprained his ankle coming down some stairs in the engine room - think of the big guy on the Blind Side and that is my son....oh well - he just had a few more drinks of the day and some ice. He'll go to the doctor when he returns home. By the way - did you know that the medical center closes during certain times of the day??? They did give me a bandage wrap for the ankle (only charged $2.00)... Went to the Fiesta show and enjoyed it. Went to the R-rated comedy show, and boy it was r-rated! The ship was rocking and rolling tonight so went to the casino, dropped a few more "not real money"...and then went to bed. We decided to carry our own bags off. Went to Mardis Gras Dining Room for a quiet breakfast at 7:45am. Came back to our room at 8:30am on level 6 and walked up the stairs to level 7 and debarked in about 10 minutes. By the way - we had room service for coffee and danish every morning, and also went to the Mardis Gras Restaurant 2 times for breakfast. Excellent. I had the Eggs Benedict (with the sauce on the side). My husband loved his omelette. Went for lunch in the Mardis Gras dining room 3 times and had a nice salad and some pasta. Very good. The Brasserie had some great desserts! The Serenity lounge looked nice and relaxing but only went once. I already had a drink in my hand so I don't know how the service was. I went on the water slide twice and had a blast! This was Spring Break season - and there were tons of high schoolers and college kids but they were fun and well-behaved. During embarkation, I had 2 bottles of wine in my carry on and it went thru x-ray with no questions and no issues. I did not carry on any extra liquor. The bartenders were fun and we did not have to wait. All in all we had a great time on this ship. She is older, but she is charming and clean. The staff was exceptional. Many were calling us by name after the first night. (They called me Mrs. Patricia). Joseph - Our Super Charged Matre Di was a delight! He called us by name every evening, and took us by the hand and came to our table. Very sweet. We came home Happy....... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We booked this cruise using Carnival Master Card Points. I had been saving points for a couple years and had read various perspectives on using the points. Finally, I could wait no longer and took the plunge. After all the negative vibes ... Read More
We booked this cruise using Carnival Master Card Points. I had been saving points for a couple years and had read various perspectives on using the points. Finally, I could wait no longer and took the plunge. After all the negative vibes about doing this it was a very pleasant and easy experience. I simply looked at the website to figure what I had enough points for, called the 800 number and booked the cruise. No hassles, no problems, they even told me I had enough points to upgrade from what I had planned. All I paid were taxes and gratuities. This was our fourth cruise. After alot of comparison shopping I determined you cannot beat the value of Carnival. We are "approaching" senior status, so it was just the two of us. We left Atlanta after work Friday, spent the night in south Georgia and arrived in Tampa Saturday about 12:30, parked and boarded. It was raining and I am not a big one for valet parking but for an extra $15.00 it was worth it. We checked our bags at the curb, the valet drove our car to the parking deck and we waited in line about 30 minutes to board. Smooth and effortless. We boarded the ship about 1:00 and were able to go straight to our stateroom. I would like to add that upon return we got a porter, zipped through the "porter" line at customs, he took our bags to the parking deck and knew just who to talk to so that when we reached the fourth floor where our car was parked it was there waiting for us. We were off the ship, had our bags and pulled out of the parking lot in about 20 to 25 minutes. The cruise certainly exceeded our expectations for this ship. I read some reviews and I wonder what people are expecting. I feel Carnival offers one of the best values in the vacation industry. Our ocean view was clean and comfortable. Our steward Arnold was there whenever we needed something with a smile on his face and ready to help. Food was good, not Ruth's Chris but for the amount of food they put out in a short time it was pretty darn good. Our server's AnaLyn and Mohammad were fantastic with the best attitudes ever! The maitre d "Supercharged" Joseph made the dining experience very entertaining with his nightly "It's showtime!" We did the sting ray tour with Moby Dick Tours on Grand Cayman and if you have never done this I highly recommend it. Fascinating at a beautiful sand bar and reef area. This cost $40.00 per person and it is definitely one of the best 40 bucks we have ever spent. At Cozumel we just got off the ship, had lunch and margaritas at the Three Amigo's and did a little shopping. Beautiful weather after a cold, wet winter in Atlanta. Entertainment on the ship was great. Cruise director Skip and Assistant Matt kept everyone entertained. If someone was bored on this cruise they have no one to blame but themselves! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding ... Read More
I haven't cruised with Carnival in over 10 years. I must admit that I wasn't impressed a decade ago but decided to give Carnival another try. I'm so happy that I did! My husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary with Carnival and we had a blast! There were so many options for us to choose from. Sky was the limit depending on if we wanted to party or have a romantic evening. There are lots of activities on the ship as well as wonderful excursions to choose from. There is no need to be bored when cruising with Carnival unless you lack imagination and initiative. The Lido deck was one of my favorite destinations. There was always some type of activity going on there (i.e. Hairy Chest competition, various battle of the sexes games, group cha-cha slide, etc...) The cleanliness of our cabin and the ship as a whole was impressive. You definitely saw the pride that the staff had in insuring that the ship always had its best foot forward. The food was surprisingly yummy. No, it wasn't 5 star cuisine but it was definitely a step or two above the cafeteria descriptions that I've seen in previous posts. The weather for each port (Cozumel and Grand Cayman) was warm, beautiful and sunny. However, the weather leaving Tampa was not ideal and nor was the weather ideal for our return. The water was a bit rough and we became ill. The staff was attentive in providing us with ginger ale and medication for motion sickness. Again, no one has control over the weather but Carnival did a great job in making sure that its passengers were well taken care off. I can't emphasize enough about the staff and its dedication. I must also echo other posters who mentioned the chocolate melting cake. It was outstanding! All chocolate lovers must at least try it once! All in all, my husband and I had a fantastic time and we would definitely cruise with Carnival again. Kudos to Skip and Matt and the rest of the Carnival team. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This cruise would be my third and my cabinmates fourth. My other two friends had never been before and were anxious to go. After telling them everything I knew the only thing left was to actually experience it. I hate to fly so we drove ... Read More
This cruise would be my third and my cabinmates fourth. My other two friends had never been before and were anxious to go. After telling them everything I knew the only thing left was to actually experience it. I hate to fly so we drove from to Tampa from St. Louis. I take several roadtrips a year so I drive 300 miles in a blink, so with a driving partner the trip was speedy. We arrived a couple of hours later than I wanted but we still made it by noon. I had never been to the Tampa port before, and despite a seperate parking structure across the street from the terminal, it was no hassle. Embarkation was a breeze. Had not one of my friends had a runny nose that needed to be checked by a doctor, we would have been on the boat in less than 15 minutes from walking in the door. By far the fastest ever because Im used to 1 hour +. We were eating on the Lido deck by 1245 and to our rooms to crash by 130. I have only been on fantasy class ships Sensation and Fantasy and despite bad reviews this ship was the nicest to me. Definitely clean and not tacky purple like the other ones. Our cabin was kept in immaculate condition everyday, no complaints whatsover. The dining room service in the Mardi Gras room left a little more to be desired. The food was excelIent but was slow coming out, maybe because our group averaged 2.5 entrees a piece! I had top notch service on my first two cruises and perhaps was spoiled. Our server Sergio was definitely nice but he reminded me of typical american dining with no pizzazz (sp). I was spoiled by tricks and such but none of that here. As far as the Lido deck food, is was nothing special and pretty much what is expected. The sushi was excellent. Room service was great also. Im easy to please and I had no complaints about this cruise even if I thought long and hard. I was greeted by a smiling face everywhere I went by the staff. As far as debarkation is was as smooth as could be. Apparently a few non american passengers held up the show for everyone, but once we were called we were on our way fast! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Hi everyone; We just needed a short break from our cold winter. We wanted to do the five night on the Destiny out of Miami, but settled on this cruise. This was our first cruise out of Tampa. We flew down the day before, 1/23/11 and ... Read More
Hi everyone; We just needed a short break from our cold winter. We wanted to do the five night on the Destiny out of Miami, but settled on this cruise. This was our first cruise out of Tampa. We flew down the day before, 1/23/11 and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Rocky Point in Tampa. We got a nice cruise package that included airport pickup, transfer to the ship and a return transfer from the ship to the airport. The transfers all went well! We are VIP's w/Carnival and the Tampa port has a VIP area but it is not as easy to use as the one in Miami. We enjoyed the easier boarding and were on board in just a few minutes. The VIP area is two or three flights up from the ground floor and the terminal was very full when we got there. We purchased a nice mid-ship cabin in Main deck. The cabin was fine and like all others on Fantasy size ships. There is lots of room for storage and our cabin steward kept the cabin clean and well stocked w/ice. We had late seating in the dining room. We were in the Carnivale dining seated at a table w/three ladies who we enjoyed seeing over the whole cruise. They were just such nice older ladies enjoying there cruise break. We have been in touch w/them and hope to fly down and see them next spring? The meals were just excellent! We had heard some bad things about the food but we enjoyed all the meals. The buffet was nice and we enjoyed the 24 hour pizza and ice cream bar. We had drinks at night and they were fine. They were a little more costly but not what we call over priced. The overall service was just excellent! We were off the ship on 1/29/11 at just before 9AM and were at the airport before 10:00AM. Overall we rated this cruise as a 8+ out of 10! Very pleased. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his ... Read More
I will start with a little background...I am from Strongsville, Ohio and am 46 years old. This was my third cruise...the other two being Carnival's Triumph and Destiny. My boyfriend is 52 and lives in Denver, Colorado, this was his very first cruise. We decided to escape the cold, and head to a warm location to see each other. When I started researching trips,I originally looked at ground beach vacations. I went to AAA as well as a local travel agent, but nothing compared to the price I found online for the 5 day Carnival cruise on the Inspiration. We booked in early October and began our countdown. We flew into Tampa a day early to make sure if we had to deal with snow delays in our hometowns we would be covered. Luckily no weather issues delayed us, and we arrived in Tampa and checked into the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Tampa. It was awesome with a really nice shopping plaza attached with lots of restaurants and nightlife.Our hotel was $99 a night and had a free shuttle from the airport. We did have to pay for our transportation to the cruise terminal which was a $20 taxi ride. We loved having a relaxed start to our vacation and even purchased 2 bottles of wine at the Grape wine store located right by our hotel and carried them on to the ship, since you are allowed 1 bottle (150 ml.) per person. We had dinner at Aqua Knox a really nice seafood restaurant in the Westin Hotel. Very elegant and nice. Embarkation was a breeze. We checked our luggage at the curb, and walked right on at 12 noon, easy as anything. The weather was a little rainy,but we ate lunch on the Lido deck and went and checked out the ship. We found it to be spotlessly clean and very nicely refurbished. The staff was always painting or cleaning endlessly and it was reflected by the awesome condition of the ship. Our cabin on the Main deck (M48) was roomy and spotless as well. Our cabin steward Lino, was always available and eager to please. Our room was an outside room with a window, and was great for watching when we pulled in and out or our ports and to see if it was sunny on those fun days at sea...luckily it was!!! Our first night we ate dinner in our assigned Mardi Gra Dining Room...and Aslam, our waiter was amazing. We also had a wonderful family next to us, with their two very beautiful daughters and a couple from Atlanta, who were also very nice. We always had a great time at dinner with our new friends. We loved the chocolate melting cake and all the appetizers and main dished...the food was fantastic every evening. On our first fun day at sea, it was also our first formal night. My boyfriend rented a tux from Carnival, which was very nice, and fit perfectly. With his 6'4" build, he looked amazing...not to mention hot. I wore a long formal gown, and was so excited about this evening. I had no idea that my boyfriend was about to become my fiance when he proposed to me on the top deck, looking out onto the ocean. It was so romantic, and the moon sparkled off my gorgeous diamond that he placed on my finger. It was very romantic and the perfect evening. That evening, we attended the musical show, which we found to be awesome. The costumes, choreography, and the overall performance entertained us above our expectations. The late night comedian was also very funny and enjoyable. Our first port was Grand Cayman, where I had pre-booked a private tour through Moby Dick Tours. They met us at the gate once we were tendered off the ship, and we were on our way to swim with the stingrays and snorkel on a coral reef. The tour was $40. per person compared to the $100. Carnival tour that was the same. It was also way less crowded. We had a great time and my fiance LOVED the stingrays!!! That afternoon we were back on the ship at 2:30 pm and relaxed before heading to dinner. Another great day. Our second port in Cozumel, Mexico was a lot more relaxed and more on our own. We had the most amazing day at Chanknaab Park, snorkeling, walking through the botanical gardens, eating lunch at the restaurant on the beach, swimming in the beautiful pool, and sipping exotic drinks out of decorated pineapples. It was an awesome and romantic day!!! We brought 2 boxes of Cheerios from on the ship and fed the fish while snorkeling. We brought underwater cameras from home to capture this feeding frenzy, which was cool, but a little freaky, being in the middle of a huge bunch of fish that were anything but shy. We also snorkeled up to the fence where the dolphins were kept for the swimming with dolphins tour. As we tried to see the dolphins, we noticed they were there on the other side of the fence trying to see us!!! We weren't sure who was more interested in who??? We would highly recommend Chankanaab if you are looking for a relaxing day on the beach that you can do on your own. The taxi to the park was $10 each way for 2, and $19. to enter the park. Drinks were cheaper than on the ship!!! It was a wonderful day. We also had our pictures taken with 2 iguanas and 2 macaws that we got to hold ($10, but really cool). The macaw on my head was biting my fiance's ear in the photo...great memories!!! After the sun started to cool, we headed back to the cruise terminal for a little shopping and a beer at one of the bars right on the water, before heading back on board at 7:30 pm. We cleaned up and headed o dinner, which was our 8:15 pm late seating. Another perfect day!!! Our last fun day at sea was a little cloudy and chilly to start out, but warmed up and the sun peaked out between the clouds. We brought our bathrobes down to the pool for those chilly cloudy moments, which worked out great. That day at 11 am they had a talk about disembarkation. I went, but it was on the Carnival channel the next day, so wasn't really necessary to waste an hour, even though the cruise director, Skippy did make it fun as well as informative. I can't say enough about the staff in general...they were all awesome. That night we went to the dining room for dinner again, and said goodbye to our friends. We also purchased our last photo in the gallery, and found that on the last day you get 4 free wallets per 8x10. They are $21.99 each, and since we were celebrating our new engagement, we purchased quite a few...I wish I had known about the wallets special if we had waited until the last night. The photographs were very nice...and one in particular took some awesome engagement pictured with my fiance down on one knee...and me looking surprised and happy. It is something I will cherish forever. That night the show was a Latin musical...again, very entertaining. Our last day, which was the day we disembarked, we had decided to check our luggage the night before, leaving it out in the hall for pick up before 11 pm, and have a relaxing morning before heading off the ship. We had breakfast, and went smoothly and quickly through customs which was effortless. It was then that we walked around the terminal in Tampa, and by chance ran into our captain from the Inspiration and had our photo taken with him. We never once saw him on the ship...but funny we ran into him after our cruise. He was a very nice man, and didn't mind being photographed with us. All in all...we had a perfect cruise...romantic, fun, relaxing, and just perfect. Thank you Carnival, you really are the Fun Ship and so much more. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
The Inspiration is a beautiful well maintained ship full of the nicest most gracious staff I could ever want. Well to be honest every Carnival employee I have ever come in contact with has been amazing. I don't know how they find ... Read More
The Inspiration is a beautiful well maintained ship full of the nicest most gracious staff I could ever want. Well to be honest every Carnival employee I have ever come in contact with has been amazing. I don't know how they find these folks but I have noticed there aren't many from the US of A. Strange how that works out. OK, My sister and me sailed on the Holiday out of Mobile 2-3 years back, she was a grand old gal, the staff was amazing, but she didn't have the glitz I expected,(Love Boat,old movies etc). The Inspiration has glitz to spare with out making me feel like poor relation. We flew down to Tampa me from Montgomery AL and Sharon from So. Bend IN thru Atlanta GA and were delayed for 14 hours in various airports. We arrived at the La Quinta Inn Tampa Bay Airport at 4AM, with out my bag, which stayed in Atlanta. If you can avoid Atlanta, trust me do that. The people at the La Quinta were wonderful. If I had a pocket full of hundred dollar bills I couldn't have paid for a better place to stay. Ship information, soo nice, perfect vacation, plenty to do every minute if you want or do nothing in many nice places. Start your day with the gym at 6AM exercise till the pool opens at 8AM or start with coffee and danish at 630AM, you can breakfast till 1200, lunch 11AM till 3PM have coffee and tea and pizza till the sushi bar opens at 5PM and eat your way thru the dining room, the cafeteria style Brasserie Grill, late night buffet and finish with a pizza. When you aren't eating you can drink, play trivia, gamble, play bridge,bingo,laser tag, mini golf,go to shows, seminars on art, diamonds and other pretties. Have your picture taken , your feet rubbed, shop, get a hair cut. Are you ready for a clean straightened cabin with a shiny bright bathroom, a comfy bed turned down with a TV to watch,room service to call, wake up calls when ever you want. AND that's just the first day. The Grand Cayman stop was way to short, we got off on a tender (little boat)about 9AM and had to be back at 2PM Beautiful island, I want to go back. Next stop, Cozumel. If you land at Puerta Langosta like we did on our first trip you will be cheated out of a great experience. ASK which pier the ship uses before you book! We landed at Puerta Maya this time and shopped, what a difference! You can still go to the dolphins and stingrays etc. but I can't stress it enough, Puerta Maya is a nice clean tourist friendly port Puerta Langosta is a lot like Tijuana. We were diamond shopping, at least one of us was and we had both been to the talks given by """"ADAM the shopping specialist"""". He is the but, in this review. HE SAID AT LEAST 6 TIMES IN THE DIAMOND AND GEM STONE TALKS (we attended 2 and got VIP cards for Diamonds International) THAT IF YOU BOUGHT A LOOSE STONE THERE WOULD BE NO TAX OR IMPORT DUTY (so far true 100%)AND IF YOU HAD THAT STONE MOUNTED AT THE STORE WHERE YOU BOUGHT IT CUSTOMS WOULD STILL CONSIDER IT A LOOSE STONE! >>>>>>> WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! Once it is mounted it is no longer duty free. The duty is 3% or 6% depending on the value of the stone PLUS the mounting which was never duty free. If you have enough duty free allowance at 800$ per person in your family with the same last name traveling with you, theoretically you could bring back a good size stone mounted duty free, say you and spouse + your 3 kids under 16 with you and no one buys anything on or off the ship, you could bring back 4000$ worth of bling. But, remember the customs folks don't come on board until you've spent all your vacation money and if you have listened to ADAM you could get a nasty surprise. If you take this cruise, relax, don't sweat the small stuff, the weather will clear, your bags will arrive, there's plenty of food and booze and sun and deck chairs for everybody Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We sailed out of Tampa, which has become our favorite port to get in and out of! We drove over from Orlando, after spending a week doing Disney. It was time to relax! My husband and I had one suite, and my son, daughter-in-law and 2 1/2 yr ... Read More
We sailed out of Tampa, which has become our favorite port to get in and out of! We drove over from Orlando, after spending a week doing Disney. It was time to relax! My husband and I had one suite, and my son, daughter-in-law and 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter had the one next door. Connecting rooms would've been nice, but this worked, with having a baby monitor along. Our balconies were the smallest we've ever had, but mostly we just wanted to stand at our railing and look at the wonderful views, so we adjusted. The beds in our cabins were great! Even the pillows were wonderful! This was our first time with using Camp Carnival, and I have to say our granddaughter loved it! She only went to it in the evenings, but it was the highlight of her cruise. Well, excepting getting to dance onstage at the farewell party in the theatre! The food on the Inspiration was really good! Even the buffets were better than many other cruises we've been on. But my favorite was ordering BLT's from room service! None of the lunch menus had BLT's, and it wasn't offered at the deli, either. Elegant night my husband had 2 plates of lobster and shrimp, so he was quite pleased! And all of us enjoyed the fabulous chocolate melting cake! I order mine with sugar-free ice cream to keep the calories down! ;-) We had been to both ports before so we didn't do much in either one. We did visit the turtle farm in Cayman for the first time and were impressed! I would go there again. But for relaxation there is nothing like a day at sea. I love them and having a cruise with 2 ports and 2 days at sea was great! Disembarkation was a breeze, but then that is a great benefit of booking a suite! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We are in our early 50's and have cruised with Carnival several times. This cruise was simply planned as a "relaxation" vacation, as we have been to the ports of call before. And that is exactly what we did - relax! The ... Read More
We are in our early 50's and have cruised with Carnival several times. This cruise was simply planned as a "relaxation" vacation, as we have been to the ports of call before. And that is exactly what we did - relax! The cruise was great, but not without shortcomings - but regardless, we had a relaxing and refreshing vacation. I mean, when you let someone else do the cooking, cleaning and driving, while you lay in the sun, how can you go wrong? We have sailed on the Sensation a couple of times before, the exact sister to the Inspiration. I have never seen this class of ships looking better - the dEcor was in pleasing earth tones and looked fresh and clean. The public restrooms were especially well appointed. We dealt with two weather delays. Our ship was late arriving for our embarkation due to fog. We got on about 7 hours later than planned. We hung out in downtown Tampa during our wait. Carnival gave us a $15.00 each credit since we had to purchase lunch on our own. The eventual embarkation went smoothly and our room was ready and waiting for us. They compressed dinner to one sitting at the time of your choice (open seating). That was no problem, as there were no crowds or line-ups anywhere on the ship. (We got the feeling that occupancy was low, as our dining room was half-empty or more every evening. The clubs were nearly deserted at night, which was a bit of a disappointment.) We were delayed on return due to high winds and very rough weather. We did not disembark until 2PM! Again, no problem, as there was plenty of food and drinks available, and the lines were short. Our room attendant was great, cleaning and restocking our room every time we left, even for a short time. We had some problems with our toilet stopping up, but it was always repaired promptly. As usual, the food was between OK to very good. The service in the dining room was far below our previous experiences. Although the dining rooms were half empty (we never had more than 6 at our table that sat 10), it seemed as though they were short staffed. Any out of the ordinary requests were slow in being met. One highlight of the trip was the over-21 adult only "Serenity Deck" (it was exactly as advertised). We were spoiled with the up-graded deck chairs and two hot tubs to choose from. We spent most of the day in Mexico on this deck, getting off just long enough to do a bit of shopping in the Duty Free Shops. We took an excursion to Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. Being from the Gulf Coast of Florida (home of the world's most beautiful beaches), the beach wasn't much, but was not crowded (even with two ships in port), and it did not smell very good - but the water was wonderful and the facilities adequate for clean up. The bus ride there is short. It has been a few years since we have been to Georgetown, and it was showing signs of the sinking economy and recent hurricanes. Another highlight was the entertainment, which exceeded our expectations in most cases. Great high-energy shows and two comedians (Happy Cole was especially hilarious). We found the hospitality crew very friendly, competent, and fun to be around. We also met some great folks of all ages, and made some new friends. For the price point, our cruise was a great value. We enjoyed it very much and hope to go again soon! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
I had heard the rumors about Carnival being a "party" cruise and was a little reluctant to book with them, but when I found a great deal and saw a lot of positive reviews here, I decided to give it a try and I am so glad I did. ... Read More
I had heard the rumors about Carnival being a "party" cruise and was a little reluctant to book with them, but when I found a great deal and saw a lot of positive reviews here, I decided to give it a try and I am so glad I did. We had a fantastic time. We were on the 5 day cruise with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Embarkation and Debarkation both went very smooth. Embarkation we had maybe a 20 minute wait till they called our section but then got right on the ship and went up to the Lido deck for lunch. Debarkation was very fast, walked right out when our number was called, lines moved so fast we never had to wait, luggage was right there and customs was super fast. After being on 3 Royal Caribbean cruises I was not sure how similar or different Carnival would be but they are actually very similar in most everything except their decor. I will have to say that some of the Carnival decor was neon and gaudy to me although some areas were nice, however that did not distract me and my friends from having an awesome time. The food, service, cabins and shows are all about the same on both cruise lines although Carnival had the waiters sing and dance every night in the dining room whereas RCCL only does that on the last night. I had originally had concerns that the service would be lacking due to the gratuity being automatically charged to your account. But the service was great and our waiters and cabin attendant were wonderful. In Grand Cayman we did the Best of Cayman Island tour and I must say while it was a good tour, I felt somewhat rushed thru everything. We only had 45 minutes at the turtle farm and 30 of that was a guided tour to 2 turtle tanks which left only 15 minutes to look around the rest of the place and no time to look in the gift shop. The Rum factory we had 20 minutes but the place was so packed because about 6 other tour buses came at the same time as us that we never got to the counter to sample any rum or rum cakes, the lines were way to long, but I did get to shop and buy rum cakes. At Hell we had 25 minutes which was just enough time to buy some postcards to mail and a shirt and view the lava rocks. But all in all the tour itself was good, the driver took us around to alot of historic places and a couple beaches along 7 mile beach. In Cozumel we shopped on our own and went to an authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch. Had a great time bargaining for a silver bracelet. We watched a lot of the shows and misc. games and things they have during the days and evenings. The love and marriage show was very funny. The ice carving was neat and we took the galley tour and I was very impressed on how clean the kitchen was. We got to go thru when they were starting to make dinner so we could see the different dishes being made, it was great. Matt, the cruise director, was by far the best cruise director we have had, he was awesome and so funny. We really enjoyed this cruise alot and would definitely recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again ... Read More
This was the second cruise for my husband and I. The first was 3 years ago, also aboard a Carnival Ship (the Holiday), for our honeymoon. The first voyage was wonderful, and after 3 years of marriage, we decided we needed to get away again for an anniversary trip :). We decided to go this time from Tampa. We drove down the day before the cruise and stayed at the Laquinta Inn across from Busch Gardens. Very clean and safe feeling room! Some of the other establishments closer to the port had topless bars and gentlemen's clubs right next door, so we stayed about 15 minutes out. Embarkation Day: We arrived at the port at about 12:45, gave our checked bags to the porter, parked our car ($75 for the week), grabbed our carry-on bags and headed down to get in line. Getting on the boat was an easy process. We had our passports and documentation in-hand and ready to go. *TRAVEL TIP: ONE OF THOSE PASSPORT HOLDERS YOU CAN PUT AROUND YOUR NECK IS A LIFESAVER! When we got on the boat, our rooms were already ready, so we went straight there to drop off our carry-ons and check out our room. We had an interior room: it was the perfect size, very clean and comfortable. After checking it out, we headed up to Lido to grab a bite to eat. We got our food and went out on the deck to eat. The view from there was even amazing! Looking out over Tampa, a slight breeze blowing through my hair, was absolute bliss! I had grilled tuscan chicken, fruit and some yogurt...it was great! (I am dieting, and I had heard from several people that it is impossible to go on a cruise and not gain weight...I am happy to report that this is false...with good food choices and taking the stairs, you can LOSE weight. I didn't even use the gym, just the stairs instead of the elevator.) Our bellies full, we explored the ship and proceeded to the front of the ship to watch as we set sail. There was a lot to see...we passed an airstrip, a beautiful little lighthouse, and even went under a bridge!! (Awesome sight...it looks like the ship won't be able to go under, but it does with about 6ft of clearance.) We spent the rest of the night wandering around, hand-in-hand, exploring the ship. Dinner was great! We were seated with a couple our age on their honeymoon. They were really sweet! We ended up hanging out with them after dinner several nights of the cruise. Speaking of Dinner, it was fabulous!! Our waiters were Antonio and Jimmy. They kept us laughing, were very attentive, and knew us by name. As a matter of fact, they became our friends and even cheered me on when I was in the Talent Show. The "Super-charged" Maitre D, Joseph, was very nice and entertaining. They did a little show and dance every night and we loved it! We even got up and joined them at times. The second day, we got up early and had room service brought down. Some coffee, salmon and fruit. Love it! We did the scavenger hunt, went to a shopping and shore excursion talk, browsed the shops, rode the glass elevator, and so much more. Just being there with my hubby with no schedule, knowing we had the rest of the week to be together, was such a wonderful feeling. The third day was our anniversary. It was also Grand Cayman port day. We went horseback riding, which we booked ourselves online. It was great! We rode along the beach and backroads on horseback as we took in the tropical air and warming sun. We found a HUGE shell that we stopped and picked up. After that, we went back into town and walked to Eden Rock to snorkel. It was beautiful! Crystal-clear water, lots of fish and coral, and you can see the cruise ships in the background. We reluctantly went back to the ship and got onboard. The tender boat was a little rocky, as there was a storm rolling in. I had ingested a little salt water, so I felt a little queasy, but I was fine after boarding and drinking some water. We outran the storm, and the weather was perfect the rest of the time. The fourth day was Cozumel. We also went there on our anniversary cruise, so this place was special. We took pictures in some of the same places, did some shopping and then took a cab to Chankanaab Park, where we went swimming with the dolphins. It was magical! They pushed you, pulled you, gave you a kiss, danced, jumped, and let you hold it like a baby! Also at Chankanaab Park is snorkeling, snuba, hair wraps, shopping and lots more. After leaving here, we took a cab and went downtown. *TRAVEL TIP: UNLESS YOU INTEND ON SPENDING ABOUT AN HOUR AT A RUG STORE LISTENING TO THEM TRY AND SELL YOU A RUG, DON'T USE THE CAB COUPON FOR FREE FARE FOR VISITING GALLERY ISTANBUL!! ITS NOT WORTH IT UNLESS YOU WANT TO BUY ONE. THEY WERE PUSHY, AND WE WILL JUST PAY THE $7 CAB FEE NEXT TIME! We did some more shopping, DH bought a hammock and a rose for me :)We watched sunset...stunningly gorgeous!* YET ANOTHER TIP: WEAR BUG SPRAY!! We were eaten alive as soon as dusk arrived. We made a mad dash from store to store trying to find bug spray, and finally got some in the pharmacy. It was pretty funny in hindsight, not so much at the time :) I was in the Carnival Talent Show that night, which was a blast! I made lots of friends, and got to be "famous" for the rest of the cruise. Lots of fun! The fifth day was a fun day at sea. The weather was perfect. We did a lot of the onboard activities, got into the hot tub and hung out on the serenity deck. We did another scavenger hunt, this time digital, and came in second place. We got on our swim attire and went down the waterslide over and over like a couple of kids! Great times... The sixth day found us back in Tampa. We woke up early, went up to the top deck and watched the sunrise. It was so pretty! Then, we went down to the main dining room and had breakfast. It was good, and as I looked out the window into the bay, I wished we could just stay forever. I didn't want to go home! We gathered our things and went through customs(very easy). When we got home, I could still feel the ocean breeze and hear the rythmn of the music from the ship. I couldn't help but smile as the thoughts of the past week filled my mind. I told my Mom and Dad and several other family members about the wonderful time we had, and convinced them all to go back with us...We are currently planning our next cruise! :) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
A little background first. This was my second cruise aboard the Inspiration. The first time was in November 2008 with my wife. Since we had such a great time back then, we decided to bring our kids (ages 12 & 14) and my parents ... Read More
A little background first. This was my second cruise aboard the Inspiration. The first time was in November 2008 with my wife. Since we had such a great time back then, we decided to bring our kids (ages 12 & 14) and my parents along the second time around. We drove down from New Jersey and did a couple of days at Disney prior to the cruise. An excellent way to start any vacation, but that's another story. The embarkation process was very easy. We unloaded our luggage at the terminal, parked across the street in the parking deck and then waited in line for about 20 minutes to get checked in at the terminal. The boarding process consisted of waiting for our boarding number to be called, getting our picture taken and walking on. By 11:45 AM we were on board with food and drink in hand. What more can you ask for? After our meal, we explored the ship, located our dining table, and signed up the kids for the Circle C Club. The rooms were made available by 1:30 pm. Our luggage showed up about an hour or so after that. What made this trip as special as the first was that my wife and I booked our own cabin (E48), with our kids in the adjoining room (E52). I don't think I need to say much more about that. Our cabin was an interior room located just forward of the Grand Atrium. The location was perfect. No noise issues. Actually, we had no issues with our rooms. Our room steward was Erni and she took care of everything, towel animals and all. We had the late seating for dinner (8:15 pm) in the Carnivale Dining Room. Our table for 6 was perfect, though after the second night it became a table of 4. The kids made other plans. George the Greek was our very entertaining Maitre d', OPA! Our servers were James and Putri. Overall, the service and food was excellent. We had the chocolate melting cake every night! Having cruised Carnival before, I must admit that I missed the dining room staff's signature dance number "Hot, Hot, Hot." Who doesn't love a conga line? Apparently the Carnival CEO doesn't. What a buzz kill. Our first day at sea was great, lots of sun and fun. We did the waterslides, soaked up some rays, and discovered Mango daiquiris. Later that night we got dressed up for the Captain's Dinner. It was a very nice affair, but I never saw the Captain. Then again, I wasn't really looking for him. Did I forget to mention there were LOTS of picture opportunities? LOTS! If I had one real complaint, this is it. They took far too many pictures over the course of the cruise. I'm not complaining about the picture stations, because those are optional and we did buy several. I'm talking about the annoying, not so optional picture moments at every meal, off and on at every port, and with various crew members pretending to be a Mexican, a Pirate, a Showgirl, etc... Well maybe the Showgirl one wasn't that bad. Our first port of call was Grand Cayman and the weather was perfect. After getting our passports stamped (a cool turtle stamp), we grabbed a cab and headed to the Royal Palms Beach Club. $4.00 a person for the cab and the beach was free. We snorkeled for hours, soaked up more rays and I got a bucket of ice cold Corona's. Life doesn't get much better than that. The cab ride back proved to be very entertaining. We had a wannabe New York City cab driver who broke nearly every motor vehicle law and then ended our ride with his rendition of a "Bad Man's Prayer." The shopping seemed a little dull after that. Back on ship, we enjoyed our first past guest party in the Paris Lounge. Cruise Director Skip Lyons emceed the party and there were plenty of free cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. It was a nice event. The scary thing here was that I accidentally left my camcorder and camera in the lounge. Thanks to an observant and honest employee, I was reunited with my belongings the next morning. Our second port of call was Cozumel and the weather was NOT so perfect. Hurricane Ida was making her way towards us so the waters started to get a little rough and the rains followed. We had booked the Mayan Ruins of Tulum shore excursion on the mainland, which means you had to take another boat to Playa Del Carmen. Not your 855 ft cruise ship, but something much smaller. Let's just say that some people weren't feeling well. Despite the weather, we really enjoyed the tour, in large part because of our tour guide Carlos. The only downside was that the beach was closed, thanks again to Ida. Our last day at sea was spent trying to get away from Ida. It was so windy that the upper decks and waterslides were closed. We found plenty of other things to do though; a tour of the ships galley, a little blackjack at the casino, and a thorough soaking in the hot tub, just to name a few. We capped of our last night with some sing along in the Violins Bar and dancing in the disco. Our children really enjoyed the Club Circle C program. Their counselor Laura was great. There was always something for them to do; dance parties, scavenger hunts, video games, etc... It was also a great idea getting them the unlimited drink card on the first day. My wife utilized the fitness center everyday and took several exercise classes. She found the fitness equipment more than satisfactory, but felt there was room for improvement with the classes. She also had her hair put in an "up do" at the spa for formal night. She was very happy with it. My last complaint is purely a personal one. Being that we are non-smokers, certain areas of the ship were obviously less enjoyable than others. The two worst areas, in my opinion, were the casino and the piano bar. The piano bar was so bad that we never even ventured in there. It would have been nice to sing along with the piano man. As for the disembarkation, I had no complaints. My post-cruise blues were setting in so nothing really fazed me. At least the weather cooperated. I would highly recommend this ship to anyone. I am already planning my next Carnival cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We are a family of four, myself (48 yo), my husband (47 yo) and DD (11 yo) and DS (8 yo) Here is the run down of our trip: Day 1 - Embarkation at Tampa Arrived at cruise terminal at 10:30 and were checked in by 11 am. Boarded at about ... Read More
We are a family of four, myself (48 yo), my husband (47 yo) and DD (11 yo) and DS (8 yo) Here is the run down of our trip: Day 1 - Embarkation at Tampa Arrived at cruise terminal at 10:30 and were checked in by 11 am. Boarded at about 11:40 am. Once onboard, we headed straight to the buffet. Wandered around ship, acclimating. Got into cabin at about 1 pm. We had an outside, E50, which was tight for four, much tighter than on the larger Carnival ships, but we managed just fine. Got soda cards for DH, DD and DS, along with 3 insulated cups. Watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the in-room TV. Once the pool and water slide opened, we went there. Lounged and read while the kids played. Already had registration forms filled out for Camp Carnival, so we didn't have to stay for the orientation; just dropped off forms. We had late dining reservations. Dinner was in the Carnivale dining room. Our waiter was James and our Ass't was Putri. Our Maitre'd is George the Greek. He's a blast. OPA!!!! Day 2 - Day at Sea I won a trophy in a Word Twist contest during breakfast!! Kids played in pool and in the waterpark. They loved the waterslides, both the curvy, two story slide and the side-by-side racing slides. DH and I lounged and read on the desk. Camp Carnival was fun. DD did Pineapple race and DS did Steal the Bacon. Dinner was Formal night; service was excellent. Day 3 - Grand Cayman I slipped on the desk on the way to breakfast. Feet went right out from under and I slammed head on deck. Had to go to infirmary. No major injury, but I was sore the next day. Did the Caymen Pirate Encounter, which was great. DS and DD both jumped off the top deck of the pirate ship. Went to Guy Harveys for lunch. Fish and Chips were great. Hadn't brought credit card, so we barely had enough to pay (we were actually 20 cents short!) Dinner was good, though one of the people at a table got a pill (white round 234) on his dessert plate. Waiter brought it to head waiters attention. Profuse apologies. Day 4 - Cozumel Went to Nachi Cocom beach club. Gorgeous beach. Once again, were almost short on money. I forgot there were two fees still due, one for the entry fee and one for snorkeling. Incredible day. Wonderful food, great water. Went snorkeling, just the four of us in Glass Bottomed snorkel boat. Saw a sea turtle. Great guides. Could have stayed longer, the snorkeling was to be for 2 hours, but the kids were tired, so headed back to beach. DD and I did banana boat ride. Ran into a nice lady from message board, who got engaged right there, while at Nachi Cocom. Good night in the casino. DD was out until 3:18 am at the Late Night Party. Day 5 - Day at Sea Rain/clouds all day. Lounged around cabin, wandered the ship, ate too much, played some in the casino. DD went out and about to the pool and waterslide with her new friends. Great night in the casino. DD got to watch Mommy and Daddy play blackjack. DH won $55. Day 6 - Debarkation We checked our bags; self assist at Tampa tends to be very slow, since so many folks are local. Our luggage tags were number 9 and we were called in the second group. We were in the car by 9:30 am, pulled into our neighborhood at 10 am. Overall, a wonderful cruise. Don't miss Nachi Cocom, it's fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Debarkation My daughter, who is 30 and a first-time cruiser, and I are from the Tampa area, so we drove to the port and parked in the garage - $14/day. Arrived around 11:15 and were at the Lido buffet eating lunch at noon. Everyone at ... Read More
Debarkation My daughter, who is 30 and a first-time cruiser, and I are from the Tampa area, so we drove to the port and parked in the garage - $14/day. Arrived around 11:15 and were at the Lido buffet eating lunch at noon. Everyone at the terminal had a smile on their face and were happy to help and answer questions. Stateroom We booked an inside stateroom on the Riviera Deck - 4th level. The room is plenty big for two people with lots of closet space. It appeared that the bathroom had been remodeled with nice fixtures and a great blue floor. As always with Carnival, lots of towels. Since this is an older ship, there is no fridge in the room. If you need to keep anything cool, bring a cooler. Your steward will keep it filled with ice during the cruise if you ask. Also -no hair dryer. If you call Customer Service, they will have one brought to your room for the duration of the cruise. TV reception was great and there was a great music station on the TV which played new age music all the time - great for reading. We asked for extra pillows the first day - never saw them -or the steward again. But the room was cleaned twice daily. Tips: Bring an extension cord if you have anything to plug in and I always bring a little night-lite as well. Here's a handy hint. Instead of hunting everywhere for the thermostat and then calling Customer Service - look up in the ceiling. One of the air vents has a little circular dial in the middle with an arrow on it. This is the thermostat for the room. Unless you are traveling with a tall man, be prepared to stand on the chair to adjust it. Entertainment We loved the entertainment in the Paris Lounge. Singers and dancers are as good as on any 7-day cruise I have been on and costumes were fantastic. The comedian was pretty good. The show lounge fills up very quickly so get there at least 15-20 minutes early. Bar service in the lounge was not good - get your drinks at a bar on the way in or you may never be able to order one at the show. It seemed a little chilly in there all the time, so I recommend a sweater. We traveled on Halloween and the night was fantastic! A huge portion of the guests on board had wonderful costumes and there was a parade for two hours on the Promenade deck where we could sit and watch them all. Later, there was a costume contest in the Paris Lounge. It was packed!! Food The Lido buffet is well laid-out. Seating was intimate. Music in the buffet was the same music which always played in the adults-only Serenity area, which is new-age, soft - nice eating music. Breakfast was the same every day, except for a change from hash-brown potatoes to little potato pancakes. Everything else was the same. There is one station where you can get omelets and eggs made to order. The grill area out by the pool always had hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken fingers as well as a complete duplicate of one of the inside food lines. We ate in the Mardi Gras dining room every night - anytime dining. All of the staff were attentive and the food was very good. We sat by ourselves at smaller tables for two. Food highlights: prime rib, St. Louis BBQ ribs, farmers salad, sour dough bread. The famous chocolate warming cake is wonderful but a total indulgence. Daily Activities There is a huge variety of things to do and my daughter and I took advantage of most. We learned how to do the Cha-Cha, country line dancing and swing. We played Bingo; almost won the bean bag toss; played lots of trivia. The casino is bigger and pays better than any other I have seen on the bigger ships. We had lots of pictures taken and actually wound up buying one. The circular lay-out of the picture area is better than any other I have encountered. The Ship I believe this ship was built in 1996, so it is getting along in years and you can tell this in some places. But - everything was clean and as shiny as possible. There are lots of areas, both inside and out, where you can sit and relax without hearing a bunch of loud music or have people coming and going around you. I never felt crowded. Around the pool area, one side of the ship is non-smoking. If you get there early enough in the morning, you can have a table and chairs for the whole day and not have to smell cigarette smoke. Conclusion The crowd was mixed in age and everyone got along well. I don't know how many hundred children were on board, but the camps for the kids keep them out of sight. This is a 4-night cruise, but I would not hesitate taking a 7-night cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Background Information Previous cruiser (12), this was 10th on Carnival - first cruise as Platinum Guest and 5th cruise on the Inspiration. I am 66, retired, wife is 56, we are recently married, this was our honeymoon cruise. We ... Read More
Background Information Previous cruiser (12), this was 10th on Carnival - first cruise as Platinum Guest and 5th cruise on the Inspiration. I am 66, retired, wife is 56, we are recently married, this was our honeymoon cruise. We live in North Port, Florida, only hours away from major cruise ports in Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Tampa. Travel To Port of Embarkation It's an easy drive from our home to the Port of Tampa, right up I-75, then I-275 over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Actually drove up the night before the cruise, eliminating any delays or unforeseen circumstances on cruise day. As an experienced cruiser, and having cruised out of Tampa many times, we arrived around 10 a.m., parked in the parking garage two blocks away, for which I was charged $56.00. Then, an easy walk to the terminal with our luggage. *Note - there is a sign at the garage that says "check your luggage first, and then park your car." I wouldn't recommend this, as you can have traffic problems getting to the curb with your vehicle, many people arriving, many still disembarking, typical pre & post cruise congestion. I find it much easier to park first and then walk the luggage over. Thank heaven for wheels on those suitcases. Although the official Carnival information advises you to arrive after 1:30pm, in reality the terminal opens for check-in at 10:30a.m. Checked the bags with the curbside porter, showed our funpass and photo ID, and we proceeded smoothly into the terminal. Another advantage of checking in early is that you simply beat the crowds. As we were Platinum Status, we proceeded promptly to VIP check-in, and in a few minutes were seated to wait for boarding to begin. There were two wedding parties which were boarded first, then all the VIPs were allowed to board, around 11:30 a.m. We proceeded to the Brasserie Lounge on the Lido deck for a nice leisurely lunch, then toured the ship until we could get into our stateroom at 1:30 p.m. Hotel Info We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Rocky Point Drive, (it's actually very close to the TPA airport), dinner at Bahama Breeze Restaurant which is adjacent to the hotel, simply walk next door and you're there. The hotel is located about 8 miles from the Port of Tampa, which makes for a leisurely drive to the Port on cruise day. I firmly believe that staying overnight near the port before cruise day eliminates any potential travel problems on embarkation day and contributes to more stress-free check-in experience. Stateroom We were on the Empress deck, Cabin E50. A typical ocean view cabin on the Inspiration, it was only about fifty feet from the lobby bar, purser's desk, and shore excursion desk. Although we were near the front of the ship, walking aft for dining or to lunch in the Brasserie lounge was not an issue. Nothing is really too far away on this ship. I had pre-purchased a dozen red roses for my bride, as well as "Happy Honeymoon" decorations, online through Carnival. Everything was there as ordered, the cabin was beautifully decorated, and my new bride was thoroughly impressed. Our cabin steward was Elio - what a jewel this man was. He was openly friendly and talkative, very helpful, and our room was always promptly cleaned each day. If you cruise aboard the Inspiration, you will be fortunate to have this man as your cabin steward. Ship Info Living in Florida, and Tampa being only an hour and twenty minutes away, I must admit to gravitating to the Inspiration many times. It's 4 & 5 day itineraries make for such affordable getaways and it's such an easy drive from where I live to the Port of Tampa. The Inspiration, although one of Carnival's older ships, has been well maintained, and continues to provide a wonderful and relaxed environment for cruising. Having been refurbished in September of 2007, everything is updated, new furniture, decorations, and especially the bathrooms in the cabins, all new and updated. Overall, a great ship and I've always enjoyed cruising on this vessel, even now planning our next one aboard this ship. I have cruised on the Inspiration three times before it was refurbished, and twice since the upgrade. Dining Someone in the Carnival dining room assignment hierarchy must have picked up on the fact that this was our "honeymoon" cruise, because we were assigned table 371 in the Carnivale dining room, (aft) we had late seating at 8:15p.m. It was a nice table for two, against the rail on the elevated portion of the dining room, overlooking the starboard side windows, with additional tables below our level between us and the windows. Our table was nice and private and would have been a great romantic experience except for the fact that our waiter also had two huge tables of ten people each. Because of the necessity of taking care of those two tables as well as us, we had to wait for what I consider unacceptable amounts of times between courses. For example, we would be served our soup, then 25 minutes later, the salad, then 30 minutes later the main course. We watched many other tables around us finish their meals and have their dessert and were up and gone before we even got our salad. I attribute this simply to the fact that our waiter just had too many people to take care of. My previous dining experiences on Carnival have all been good ones, so I consider this to be just one of those things that happen occasionally. (We did discuss changing our table, but we liked the small intimate arrangement and wanted to stay with it.) I would not give our overall dining situation a bad review because of this singular situation, but the slow service was so bad that on the last night of the cruise, we finally gave up on the dining room, and decided to have dinner in the Brasserie Lounge which was much more relaxing, food was fresh, and we enjoyed not having to wait between our courses. Overall the food was excellent, well-prepared. I did opt for the "pan-fried grouper" one night, which came out, cold, dry, and pretty much tasteless. Just a bad choice on my part, the other main courses were all very good. All things considered, the Carnival dining room experience is still a very good one. Service Except for our minor fluke experience in the dining room, Carnival's service overall was typically friendly, courteous, and at all times helpful. Crew members and service personnel were very nice, very friendly, very welcoming. I have found this to be a standard on all of my cruises aboard Carnival, and this particular cruise was no exception. This cruise was sold out (approx. 2000+ guests) so there were lots of people on board, quite a few children, and many teen-agers aboard, and there were a couple of incidents worth noting. Once, I saw two young boys repeatedly ringing the bell on the pizza counter to the point of obnoxiousness. Soon, a ship's officer (white uniform) appeared and gave them a sound scolding - you have to wonder, where were the parents? But kudos to this officer for actually doing something about it. On our second night out, we were awakened by rowdy guests in the hallway around 3 a.m. - sounded like teenagers partying down, lots of yelling, shouting and general horseplay. We mostly tried to ignore it and eventually went back to sleep. When the same thing happened on a subsequent night however, I called the Guest Services number, and was informed that they would take care of it. Soon, the noise stopped and to the credit of the security officers, we never heard that kind of disruption again. As this was my first cruise as a Platinum Guest, I want to comment on that aspect in particular; There was a letter in our cabin when we arrived, welcoming us as Platinum Guests, and describing the complimentary amenities, such as Personalized Stationery, Petit Fours delivered to our stateroom one evening, a special Carnival Logo item, along with guaranteed dining times, complimentary entrance to the Blackjack or Slot Tournament, complimentary arcade tokens, an exclusive "behind the scenes" tour of the galley, complimentary wash and fold laundry service, and last but not least, priority debarkation. The personalized stationery was in the desk - but who writes real paper letters anymore? The Petit Fours were delivered without warning one night just before dinner - and consisted mostly of small sugary items, small pieces of cake that looked as if they had been cut out with a cookie cutter, and some other small pastry items. They were all pretty unappetizing. We never touched them because they looked so dry and unappealing. We also did not take advantage of the casino benefit or arcade tokens, didn't use the Spa or the laundry service, or take the galley tour, so can't comment on those either. We returned to our cabin one afternoon, and were surprised to find a huge chocolate cake with "Bon Voyage" written across it, along with a note from the staff telling us the "special Carnival Logo items" had not arrived, so they were giving us a cake instead. (I think we were supposed to get a keychain or something.) Oh, well, can't blame them for trying to do something. But not being "sugar" people, we never touched the cake, but lo and behold, the next day another cake was delivered to our cabin along with another apologetic note! We carefully put both cakes in the passageway outside our cabin along with the unappetizing "Petit Fours," and at some point they all thankfully disappeared. Although it may seem strange that I see this as a "positive" experience, I actually do, because it means that somewhere, someone was actually paying attention to their Platinum Guests and at least trying to step up to the plate (no pun intended!) in living up to their promised Platinum Guest benefits. There were however, three other specific elements of Platinum status that actually had substance (as far as I am concerned) and that were meaningful to us; First, there was VIP check-in - instead of going to the "mass" check-in counter, we were directed to a smaller desk in a separate enclosed area, where a Carnival specialist verified our documentation, and gave us our Sail & Sign cards. Afterwards, we would normally be escorted to a separate VIP waiting area, although for this cruise that particular area was occupied by those two huge wedding parties. But to Carnival's credit, they kept all the VIPs together, an assigned agent continually brooding over us like a mother hen, and after the wedding guests and such were all on board, the VIP group was led aboard by a Carnival representative. So this is a really nice perk, you get to have lunch before the crowd hits, explore the ship ahead of the crowds, etc. Secondly, because we were Platinum Guests, our luggage tags had "VIP" on them, which provides for expedited handling. When we arrived at our cabin at 1:30 p.m. our luggage was waiting for us! This is something I have never experienced before, (my first thought was that it belonged to the previous guests) and I can say without reservation, this is a very nice perk. On previous cruises, sometimes the luggage didn't show up until after dinnertime, so this was quite a pleasant surprise. Thirdly - there was priority debarkation. On the last sea day, a letter was delivered to our cabin, inviting us to participate in "Priority Concierge Club Debarkation Service." You could either opt for the "self-assist" debarkation method, or the "check-in luggage" method. As we were in no hurry to leave the ship, we opted for the latter. We replaced our old luggage tags with the silver Concierge Club luggage tags provided for us, and put our luggage out in the passageway around 9pm. (You have until 11pm) On debarkation day, we were directed to go to the Shakespeare Library on deck 8 at 8:45a.m. As we were pretty much pre-packed because of having already checked our luggage, we slept in, said good-bye to our wonderful cabin steward, and then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the Brasserie Lounge. We arrived at the library at the appointed time, along with perhaps 50-60 other Platinum guests. A Carnival representative was there promptly at 8:45 to tell us that as soon as they received clearance, we would be escorted off the ship. The "self-assist" people debarked first, around 7:45, (this took the better part of an hour or so) and everything seemed to go smoothly. From my vantage point in the Library, I could see the guests leaving through two security stations on the Empress deck, and everything seemed to proceed smoothly. It was orderly and quiet, and there was never a back up into the stairwells and elevators like I have seen on some previous cruises. We were allowed to leave approximately 9a.m., and were escorted off the ship by a Carnival representative, and once in the terminal, were directed to collect our luggage from the "Concierge Club" staging area. All in all, this was nicely done, and as VIPs, we were essentially the first group (among those who had checked luggage) off the ship. (On a minor note - one of our bags was not in the Concierge Club area - so we had to flag down a Carnival rep who was very helpful in assisting me in locating the missing piece which had mistakenly ended up in the mass luggage from our deck. But this was a very minor event as far as I am concerned, and overall, Carnival did a really nice job with the priority debarkation) Port & Shore Excursions In Cozumel, we opted for the Ultimate Beach Adventure, purchased online before the cruise. We were met promptly at the pier at 9 a.m., left on time with about 20 other guests, for the 40-minute ride to the south end of the island to get to Crystal Beach which is located in Punta Sur Ecological Park. Our tour guide was "Felipe," very cordial and friendly, along with several other assistants, and a tour photographer. Once there, you could snorkel or use the kayaks, however those two activities were very structured and organized - you had to go with the group. Way too structured for me and my bride, so we simply stayed on the beach, swam a little, walked along the shore, and just relaxed. We were served a nice tropical lunch, barbequed chicken, rice, salad, guacamole & chips, fruit, water and fruit juice furnished as well. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and if you wanted shade you could go inside the luncheon area. We also had the opportunity to purchase photos on a CD (which we did), then a 40-minute boat ride back to the pier, arriving around 2p.m. This approximate 5-hour tour was just right, leaving us time to get cleaned up, and go back to the pier for a little souvenir shopping. It was a nice relaxing excursion, and we just might do this one again. (A reminder, bring some cash if you want beer, purchase photos, and of course for the tip - there was no pressure, but you do have the opportunity to tip if you want to.) Disembarkation Overall, very nicely handled by Carnival, very smooth. I have been on previous cruises before the current zone/color system was instituted, and it was an absolute nightmare. Carnival has truly put some effort into revamping this entire procedure, and now, all you essentially have to do is have some breakfast and wait for your area to be called. Unless of course, you opt for "self-assist" - but being retired and in no hurry, I don't typically use that method, although it works well for a lot of people. If you opt for self-assist you must have at least one hand free in order to grasp the hand rail on the escalators in the terminal, otherwise you will be directed to the elevators where there is usually a line. Summary You should be able to tell from this review that I am a confirmed Carnival "happy camper!" After ten cruises on Carnival, I have experienced nothing less than professional, friendly, and courteous treatment on each and every cruise. (I don't consider the minor issue in the dining room or with the misplaced luggage to be "cruise-killers," but then we are pretty flexible people and what bothers some people just doesn't bother us.) Although there have been minor bumps along the road in some of our cruise experiences, none of them has dampened our enthusiasm for Carnival. We have discovered that much of your treatment from cruise crewmembers and staff depends on your own attitude. Believe me I have watched some genuine idiot exchanges between unhappy and often impolite and downright rude guests and some of the Carnival staff, however this has not been the case for us. Always worthy of note on any cruise out of Tampa is the spectacularly photogenic and exciting cruise from the dock, along the Tampa ship channel, until finally passing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge approximately 2 ½ hours after sailing time. It is truly a sight to behold, a genuine Kodak moment, as the ship majestically glides beneath the bridge span and heads into the sunset and the waters of the open Gulf of Mexico. According to Wikipedia, The Travel Channel rated the Sunshine Skyway #3 in its special on the "Top 10 Bridges" in the World, and the bridge is considered the "flag bridge" of the State of Florida (*Note - if you have early dining seating you will miss the bridge passing - it's best experienced from the outside upper decks. Our solution? - late seating, or just do the Brassserie for dinner first night out.) For you stalwart photographers or sightseers, the ship passes under the bridge around 3 a.m. on the return leg. Like most cruises, even though the ship was full, you could always find places to hang out away from the crowd. We never found serving lines too long, we could always find a lounge chair, a table for lunch, or a quiet place to read a book. Will we cruise Carnival again? Well, we already have a cruise booked for next year on the Liberty! Of course, in the meantime, there is always the Inspiration...so close... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
We just recently returned from our family vacation aboard Carnival Inspiration - a 5 night cruise with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Carnival is a wonderful family cruise line, catering to the needs of every age group. Going during ... Read More
We just recently returned from our family vacation aboard Carnival Inspiration - a 5 night cruise with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Carnival is a wonderful family cruise line, catering to the needs of every age group. Going during fall break (10/19/09-10/24/09) meant the kids had other kids to pal around with, however, not so many that "clicks" were formed. According to the cruise director, the number of kids drop to half that of summer and spring breaks -which worked out perfectly for adults and kids alike! We drove down to Tampa, FL on Sunday the 18th and stayed at the Chase Suites Hotel. We purchased the cruise package which allowed us to leave our vehicle on their property during the cruise. The hotel took us to the port and picked us up as well. We received a room with two queen beds and a pull out from the couch which accommodated all five of us nicely. The Chase Suites are not within walking distance to anything; however, they do have a mini basketball and tennis courts along with a pool. We drove to dinner, then came back and played HORSE on the basketball court with the kids. Then it was time to watch Sunday night football, relax, and go to sleep. Embarkation went smoothly and we were on the ship in no time enjoying the lunch buffet on the Lido deck. During our time on board we enjoyed putt-putt golf, ping pong tournaments, Latin dance classes, and much more. This particular cruise had a Halloween party. We did not bring costumes, but it was fun watching those that did. Although we did not see the kids much during the day and night, we always met for dinner and sometimes one out of the three kids would go to breakfast with us! At dinner we had some good meals and some GREAT meals. The lobster & shrimp on elegant night was delicious - not to mention the Bitter and Blanc. Oh my - if you have never tried this chocolate bread pudding you have missed a small part of heaven. The short ribs, lamb chops, and lasagna were also wonderful. The Chateaubriand w/ bEarnaise sauce was really the only disappointment at dinner - so an all around culinary delight! A "Shout Out" to Luis and Eduardo who saw to our every need in the Mardi Gras dinning room. Our room steward was Jerry; he kept everything neat and tidy. He greeted us by name every day and always kept a wonderful smile on his face. All the Carnival employees we came in contact with were wonderful - from the cruise director Skip, to the casino host, to the guy washing down the rails! We had two ports of call - Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We did not get off the boat in Grand Cayman (raining), but we did have an excursion in Cozumel. I found many recommendations for a private beach called Nachi Cocom on the Cruise Critic boards. I booked a reservation on-line prior to leaving for the cruise along with a massage for my husband. The beach limits the number of people to 100 per day and for our stay there were only 30-40 people there - it was heaven! Included in the $49 price (adult) and approx. $29 (kids) was unlimited beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a three course meal (adults) or two course meal (children). We had nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and fried chicken tacos. The food was quite good. They have a fresh water pool right on the beach which had a swim-up bar. The kids loved this (so did my husband) and we ended up spending most of our time in the pool! There was a Jacuzzi right beside the pool for adults only which felt really good. This place was worth it! Debarkation was fairly stress free - it would have been completely stress free if people would have waited for their deck to be called for self-debarkation - like they were asked to do - but there is always going to be those who don't listen or frankly just don't care. Overall it was a wonderful fall get-a-way! Going in October was a nice change in terms of crowd control and kid overload - give it a try! Read Less
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.1
Rates 2.0 4.3

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