Sail Date: April 2010
Background: This was our first Carnival Cruise....have over the years cruised twice on Holland America, and once each on Princess and NCL. Bottom line up front - While this was not our best cruise experience, we would not shy away from ... Read More
Background: This was our first Carnival Cruise....have over the years cruised twice on Holland America, and once each on Princess and NCL. Bottom line up front - While this was not our best cruise experience, we would not shy away from another Carnival cruise. I might also add that while we enjoy cruising, we're not cruise-only travelers. What we do enjoy, is "VACATIONING" and refuse to get too upset about anything when all that fun is available. Twice as much money and half as many clothes - A moniker my niece, who was in the travel business for years has tried valiantly to teach me...and I may be finally getting the hang of it. We made these reservations back in Oct/Nov timeframe so one would think that when the time came, we'd be ready - NOT! It seems my wife decided the week before to come down with a mean case of pneumonia and it then became a last minute decision of whether to attempt to go or to make an insurance claim and postpone it to a later date. The latter is what we felt was the smart move, but we'd also planned to take our 14 year old granddaughter along (on her Spring break) and rather than disappoint her and also knowing that rescheduling anything with a 14 yr old is much worse than going ahead and going (even being weak from having been sick) we proceeded. Travel and Embarkation: We traveled by car from Northern Alabama, picking up the granddaughter when school was out, and spending the night in Tallahassee. The morning commute into Tampa put us dockside about 1pm. I used the valet parking for $85 and we proceeded immediately with the embarkation process - took about an hour all total, I guess, to get to our Upper Deck Oceanview cabin and after dropping our carry-on's and storing our safe goodies, we then headed out for a late lunch on the lido deck. The safety briefing on Carnival was pretty blah and afterwards, my wife collapsed in the cabin for a much needed siesta while granddaughter and I roamed the ship for a bit then found a great spot near the front to watch the departure process - unfortunately, our dinner hour arrived before we made it under the bridge but they did call attention to this while we were eating. The ship was full and the crew did a great job in trying to keep it clean - public restrooms, however, need more attention than they were given :>( Overall Service was excellent and we met many smiling faces. We had an excellent Cabin Attendant "Eduard" and great Dining Room servers, John and Mirza. I know, I know - get to the good stuff - no one cares about all these details (ha)....ok, so I've already said Embarkation was a piece of cake and speaking of cake, lets talk about real serious stuff - FOOD.... Lido Deck Buffet: We took several meals at the various buffet stations on the Lido deck and overall I'd say it was pretty average buffet food. The breakfast omelet bar near the pool area was the best spot (on the whole ship) for breakfast. That's also the location where you could get Hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. The sandwich bar was excellent even though I could never understand what the guy was asking...ergo, I'd grunt and point (ha)....and I also found the 24 hour pizza kitchen to be top notch (and this is from a guy who eats very little pizza). I do, however, love salads and found the salad bar to be quite good as well. Only one other comment about food in the lido, the sugar cookies were excellent on days 1 and 2 but only average the rest of the week - different batch I guess, but the chocolate chip cookies were awesome all week long (as you perhaps have concluded, I may not eat much pizza but I do LIKE my cookies). Dining Room - We had the 6pm seating in the Mardi Gras dining room and also ate breakfast there on two mornings. I don't recommend the breakfast for food quality as I think the lido was just as good (and if you had the omelet, it was better) - however, eating in a calm relaxed location and making new friends was delightful. Evening dinners (we had four - didn't make it back from Cozumel in time for dinner) were good. Lobster and shrimp were good (hard to mess up these signature dishes) and the BBQ ribs on the first night are a must. I also ate my fill of the Chocolate Melting Cake which was by far the best dessert selection every evening. As for the rest, nothing really stands out - all were ok. Entertainment: While the overall entertainment on the Inspiration was somewhat ho-hum, the Inspiration entertainment department we found to be top notch. The cruise director, Paul, was older than on any previous cruise experience but was easy to listen to and came well equipped with a good joke set. His primary assistants, Matt and TicTac, were extremely efficient extraordinarily good at keeping things going while also having a great time - what bundles of energy they were. I also opted to take the "Behind the Fun" shipboard excursion the last sea day and very much enjoyed meeting and talking with the Lighting director and the Lead Dancer of the Dance Troop - nice folks who loved talking about their jobs. Overall, I'd have to say that was the best part of this excursion (by the way, a three hour tour of the ship) - every place we went from the Laundry to the Galleys to the Bridge, the people giving the briefing were outstanding and from outward appearances, really enjoy their jobs. We saw most all of the evening shows to include the Adults only comedy acts (one of which was excellent - Dean Gaines, the other comedian was just plain vulgar - not funny at all - can't even remember his name but I wouldn't see him again if you paid me). As for the singers and dancers, they were good, not great but the two featured dancers were superb. Off Ship Excursions at Grand Cayman and Cozumel: We opted to contract with off-the-ship company at both locations choosing Moby Dick at Grand Cayman for an absolutely fantastic snorkeling experience followed up by a great time feeding and playing with the Sting Rays. My granddaughter got the hang of holding the Rays and actually held one for over 15 minutes - got some great pics. In Cozumel we spent the day at Nachi Cocom - an absolutely great "all-inclusive" beach resort....Food and drinks were great and plentiful...pool had a swim up bar and the beach was very clean. Carlos was our waiter and was for the most part relatively easy to track down when I needed him. They only take a maximum of 100 people a day and with four ships in the harbor they were near capacity - but even so, it was like we were the only ones there. We also had arranged to go parasailing - a first for the granddaughter - she LOVED it and was still talking about it when we dropped her at home late on Thursday. Other Areas of Interest: The Inspiration entertainment crew did a great job of keeping everything moving on sea days....don't miss the "battle of the sexes" or the "not so newlywed" games. We also enjoyed the variety of trivia contests and made some great friends during these events as well. My wife did dabble a bit at the Casino but did not win. She tried twice to get in the slot tourney finals to no avail - just wasn't her day. The Granddaughter participated all week long in Circle C events - she met several kids her age on the first evening and was on the go all week long. I asked her the last night if she thought she could do a 12 day cruise (it came up as dinner conversation) and she said, "Oh Yeah". Her comment after day one was "I can't believe I only have 4 days left." Lastly, the Adults Only "Serenity" lounge area at the back of the ship was great - wish we had been able to use it more. Disembarkation: We came, we went, we had a great time, we came home and got off. Yep, had to stand in line for a bit - so what....We had breakfast in the Dining Room and picked up our luggage in the cabin around 8:15 and waited for the Disembarkation announcement while standing in line on Deck 7 - Once they made the announcement, we moved out relatively quickly and had picked up our vehicle and was leaving the city by 9:15 or so. The one "negative" if you will about Carnival (and pretty much for all the cruise lines) is that they get so carried away taking pictures. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Flew to tampa the morning of the cruise, direct flight on southwest. Got to tampa around 10:20am, took a cab from the airport ($25 for 5 people) straight to the port. Got checked-in pretty quickly and waited for our zone to be called. Was ... Read More
Flew to tampa the morning of the cruise, direct flight on southwest. Got to tampa around 10:20am, took a cab from the airport ($25 for 5 people) straight to the port. Got checked-in pretty quickly and waited for our zone to be called. Was on the ship by around 12:30 at the latest. Had buffet lunch and tried walking around to get oriented to the ship some. We had the early dinner seating, 6pm. Dinner was good, not great. Melting cake was awesome of course. day 2, first sea day: Buffet breakfast and lunch, didn't get out to look for chairs early enough the ship was pretty full. Didn't really seem to be much chair hogging going on, just a full ship, and everyone was out in the sun because it was a beautiful day. We decided to just sit in the wooden raised area in the middle of the water works and let DS play in the splash area. A nice couple ended up getting up and coming up to us to offer us their chairs in the front row because they were leaving. All of the adults did all the slides and loved them. This was "elegant night" lobster was great according to DH, I had prime rib, also great. Our waiter was bringing out extra lobster until everyone at the table was stuffed. Port days reviewed below day 5 2nd sea day: We were prepared to get out and claim our chairs early but it was raining. Mostly walked around the ship taking part in a few activities. Overview: buffets were decent, not much different than I would expect from any buffet. Pretty wide selection though. Never tried room service. Didn't go to very many shows, the ones we went to were pretty good. Ate a sit down breakfast one morning also good. Dinners were good, not the best I've had on a cruise but good. I felt the staff to be very accommodating to traveling with a 1 year old. Cabin was roomier than I expected even with a crib. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We've been on a number of Carnival cruises, but this was the time our family came along (2 year old, 5 year old, grandma and aunt). This is also the first cruise we have been on in about 6 years. On the plus side, the activities we ... Read More
We've been on a number of Carnival cruises, but this was the time our family came along (2 year old, 5 year old, grandma and aunt). This is also the first cruise we have been on in about 6 years. On the plus side, the activities we participated in were lots of fun, and the Camp Carnival seemed to thrill the kids and give us some free time. The formal dining was very good, the fellow passengers were great shipmates. Although our room was the smallest we've ever had, the layout was ingenious for 4 people to sleep well and to adjoin another cabin. The bathrooms were well designed and our cabin steward was very attentive and responsive to us and our grandma's handicapped needs (we were not in a handicapped room, but the shower was easy for a semi-ambulatory person). The main issue we had with the cruise was that some of the main attractions of the ship did not function throughout the cruise, namely the water park and the hot tubs. It was not Carnival's fault that the entire trip was breezy and chilly, but none of the on board hot tubs was filled the entire cruise. This left the pool the only water activity, which our goofy kids of course wanted to go in. It would have been so much better to let them slide and wade in the water park without having to endure a cold pool. Crew members could only tell us they couldn't get the chlorine balance right to run the water park, and the hot tubs all had signs that they were having maintenance done. Some of the activities we showed up to participate in also just didn't happen. Every time, the activity was specifically listed in the "Fun Times" (formerly "Carnival Capers") schedule, but didn't happen with no attempt at explanation or apology. We showed up on the cold Lido deck for the TV show music trivia that never happened, the "Carnival Millionaire" game show also never occurred without explanation. The second part of a two-part trivia game was canceled, despite continued assurances that "if you're behind on points, you may still win because tomorrow is double the points" (we won the first day, so this is not just sour grapes). We also went to a 7 am morning stretch class that was listed in the "Fun Times" schedule but, we later learned, not in the spa schedule. The instructor ultimately appeared to let us know there was not a class, but it would have been nice if he had just given the class since a group had already assembled. His reaction when we told him that the class was listed in the daily "Fun Times" was to say, "Probably" and show us a "revised" spa schedule that showed there were no organized classes that day. Not sure what he had to do that was so pressing that he couldn't just run the class, since several people took the trouble to show up. There were other little cancellations like this that made us wonder why the activities staff would list these events and then just choose not to do them. Either don't list them at all, or list them and commit. It was still a good cruise, but it could have been fantastic with everything working. In the future I would look for a longer cruise on a newer, larger ship, and I would pay a little extra for a larger or a balcony room. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was my 5 cruise with Carnival. I have been on the Tropical, Glory, Valor, Splendor and this one Inspiration. I had a wondeful time in Cozmel Mexico, went to a lovely beach. I wish there was more then one port of call. The night club ... Read More
This was my 5 cruise with Carnival. I have been on the Tropical, Glory, Valor, Splendor and this one Inspiration. I had a wondeful time in Cozmel Mexico, went to a lovely beach. I wish there was more then one port of call. The night club had Fantastic music(most fun). Casino not all that, not like I gamble a lot even won money, but not pleased with casino. Very dirty, no one came around to serve drinks, not very friendly atmoshere like the rest of the other ships I've been on. Food was great on lido deck,buffet area and deli. Dinning room which we had open dinning was not as good, food took for ever and the two times we did eat in dinning room they always forgot someones meal. Had to share even when waiter came back, still no food. I guess that's why we only went 2 times. Room service excellent! No matter how long the wait, food was awsome. I think the room service made out like a bandit on tips. lol. I had a great time with my group, and meet a lot of people that were down to earth fun people. That's what I like about cruising meeting new people. Overall it was great! But, not to friendly as I am use to for the staff. It seemed only the ones that were in the entertainment area made it fun. I know my Mom paid for the cruise, but all in all, the ship was great, food was great, entertainment was great. Staff in dining room, casino, spa, needs the stick removed from their butt. Not sure my Mom was real happy with the ship. The group and other cruiser yes. Paying for 4 people-- that is a lot of money to be dissapointed since this is her 11th cruise. Buy the way we were VIP! did not seem any diffrent to me to have to pay for. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
Well let me start by saying my DW and I have been on over 25 previous cruises including Carnival, NCL, RCCL, HAL, and a couple of small lines. We are in our young 50's and consider ourselves independent travelers. We have found ... Read More
Well let me start by saying my DW and I have been on over 25 previous cruises including Carnival, NCL, RCCL, HAL, and a couple of small lines. We are in our young 50's and consider ourselves independent travelers. We have found reasons to like and dislike all of the cruise lines for various reasons and our tastes. Generalizations can always be tough but some of our impressions are Carnival is less elegant but more fun, we love NCL's freestyle dining but the service was weaker, HAL has great service, elegance, and food but an older crowd, and RCCL has ok food but excellent entertaining shows. We tend to like smaller more intimate ships but have had great fun on bigger ships as well. That said here goes on the 1-25-2010 sailing of the Inspiration. We picked this ship specifically for its Tampa embarkation port, this is a doable drive for us and we save a lot in airfares often associated with southern Florida ports. We like the fact that Grand Cayman and Cozumel were to be our two ports. We have been to both of these two ports numerous times and always have a great time for a small amount of expense. We drove most of the way down the previous night and stayed at the La Quinta Inn at Jacksonville Florida, Butler Boulevard. The hotel was very nice, not very old, and the staff helpful. We had a very nice free breakfast the next morning and left for Tampa. We parked at the port and it was $75 for the 5 nights. It is a block to the terminal where you can drop off your bags. We arrived at the port at 12 and within 45 minutes we took our obligatory pictures and were heading up the gangway. Being onboard early there were lines at the welcome buffet but they were short and manageable, we would find this would usually be the case. The buffets were ok, and at times quite good, the lines moved well however even though the ship was full, (2600). We did enjoy the deli and in particular the turkey on country roll slightly toasted. The roasts on the buffet were usually nice and medium rare, and the gravy's were outstanding. The morning bacon was not good at all however...very greasy. We found the ship to be old in age and style but in very good condition. There was one major pool maybe 12 x 18 and a major slide area at the back of the ship. There was a small area reserved for adults aft that housed a couple of hot tubs. The food on the ship was good, sometimes great. We have found that we always have had a particular item better somewhere else, but only on a cruise ship do we get day in and day out the variety. We sat a large table with a great friends and rotated to have different elbow mates for each night. Appetizers were very good as were deserts, main meals good on most nights but for me the 3rd nights menu needs some work. We booked early saver and got a inexpensive inside room, fantastic price and loved the size. The room was kept spotless and the bathroom was reasonable size and felt especially clean with the new floors. The bed was great and the flat screen TV came in well. The seas were medium, and several people got quite queasy for a day or two but were fine after that. In the ports we always do our own thing, and this was no exception. In the Caymans we snorkel right near the tender port, it is a sight often visited by boats but we just swim from shore. this time we brought several new snorkelers with us and enjoyed the sight even more through their eyes. This ends up being a virtually free excursion for us as we walk to the spot and we have our own gear. Cozumel hasn't changed much since the repairs from the last major hurricane, but we did notice increased sea life in our usual spot. A small bar called the Money Bar is adjacent to the spot and we snorkel, lounge at the few chairs having a $1.50 beer while warming back up for another go at snorkeling. It is an $8 taxi ride for 2 each way and we get chips and salsa and a number of Dos XX and the bar bill is never more then $30 for the day. There are lockers available for $2 and rental gear as well We found ourselves to be very lucky in that there were 2 large groups on board, the Bell Buckle bluegrass tour, a number of bands entertaining bluegrass followers whose jamming sessions were great and caused me to miss a number of ship shows. These bands were great and being a enthusiast myself were very entertaining for me. Also onboard was CWB, a beach music band and its followers who gave 2 concerts during the week which I thoroughly enjoyed as well. These 2 groups made this cruise one of our most memorable. We did get to the comedians and they were both very good, and although we had seen one of them previously we still found him funny. The only lounge entertainer worth mentioning was "Jerry" the guitar player who was mostly on the promenade lounge. By the end of the week he had quite a following with a number of guests saying they were Jerry groupies. Getting off the ship was a breeze as we literally walked our bags off our floor within 35 minutes of being cleared by customs. All in all we had a very good time and I would do this cruise again, in fact this was our second trip on the ship and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We had no clue what we were in for..but i planned it a year in advanced..since it was christmas ..we got the best room on the boat...so they say...the beds are not as great as they descibe..our room was somewhat dirty..4 the 4 nights i ... Read More
We had no clue what we were in for..but i planned it a year in advanced..since it was christmas ..we got the best room on the boat...so they say...the beds are not as great as they descibe..our room was somewhat dirty..4 the 4 nights i looked at some soda that was spilled down a cabinet that was half wiped off...the water comes out shower pipes brown....the bathroom reminds me of a rv camper...beside that...the room is okay..as much as i paid..u think u could get a free soda...or water but no..its all extra...for a christmas cruise ..it didnt feel every holiday..good luck if ur a smoker...not many places u can smoke to relax...they didnt have the slides open for kids so the hot tubs and pool was all kids...some of the personal were moody..and not every helpful...but thats about all i can complain about...because nothing is prefect....it is a old boat..but there making improvments...the room service was the best ever..super fast and the food is soooo good..they do have something to do for everybody..but if ur a reader bring a good book... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Carnival Inspiration 12/10/09 - 12/14/09 Cruise Information: Cruise Director: Josh Waitzman Cabin: R108 OceanView Mardi Gras Dining Room - Late Seating Waiters: Mohammed (Philippines) and Milan (Croatia) Maitre D': ... Read More
Carnival Inspiration 12/10/09 - 12/14/09 Cruise Information: Cruise Director: Josh Waitzman Cabin: R108 OceanView Mardi Gras Dining Room - Late Seating Waiters: Mohammed (Philippines) and Milan (Croatia) Maitre D': George the Greek Travellers: My wife and me (no children) Embarkation: Living in Tampa, makes that port a great choice for cruises since you can look for deals, knowing you won't have to also look for suitable airfare. We live about a 20 minute drive from the port and parked the car in the nearby garage by 12:15, expecting we would be onboard by 2PM. As we were headed to the parking garage elevators, we met a couple who told us that the ship wasn't even in port yet and there was no boarding estimate. They were checking people in so we headed inside to do that. Checked our bags with a curbside porter and by 1:30 we had made it to the desk. However, no Sail and Sign cards were issued since the previous cruise hadn't arrived yet. We were told to come back around 4PM and they would probably be boarding. We headed to Bennigan's which is located in the Channelside shopping area. That place was crowded from many other passengers being in the same situation. They didn't have adequate staff because normally the lunchtime crowd on a cruise day isn't that big. Luckily my wife had brought the cribbage board, so we had a nice lunch , played cards and had a few beers. At 4:30, we headed over to the port and encountered a long line which wasn't moving - plus it was cold and rainy. I checked with one of the Carnival staff who said they would begin the boarding process by 5PM. We headed back to Channelside to stay dry, and when we came back at 5PM the line was starting to move. Took awhile, but we were onboard by 6:30 with Sign and Sail cards. They handed out a letter to passengers at this time indicating the situation and that we would get a $15 on board credit since we had to buy our own lunch. I really didn't expect anything, so I thought this was a nice gesture by Carnival since they didn't have to give us anything. When we got onboard, they handed out cards indicating that the Mardi Gras dining room would be open seating starting at 8PM. We unpacked a little in our cabin and then headed to the dining room. Thursday Night: I guess we technically had "Your Time" dining the first night - as did the entire ship. And it worked fine. We were seated at a "10 round" with other couples. The highlight of the meal was the smoked duck appetizer. It had some Thai-style noodles. Deliciousness. After dinner, we headed to the Welcome Aboard show. The singers and dancers were not very good. Kenny Miller was the comedian and he wasn't very funny. Afterwards, we headed to the piano bar (Rhapsody in Blue). Barry is the piano guy - and we didn't like his style. He didn't play the piano much spending more time playing music from his CD player and changing hats. Plus, why is the piano bar the smokiest public lounge on the ship? There has to be better equipment for "eating" smoke. Hurt our eyes after awhile so by midnight, we were tired (and smoky) and headed to our cabin. Friday - First Sea Day/Formal Night We left out the room service breakfast card the night before and our breakfast and coffee were delivered by 8AM as we had asked. Very delicious smoked salmon, cream cheese and bagels. Did this every morning except debarkation and it worked perfectly. After a leisurely morning, we headed to the Safety Briefing which for us was the Paris Lounge. I can confirm they have changed the procedure. You no longer have to bring your lifejacket. It lasted about 30 minutes. Then to the Violins bar to catch the daily special of mimosas and bloody marys ($4.75) and then something called "Match Game" which was similar to the 70's game show. The "contestant" they picked had some strange answers - but it was fun. Then we headed up by the pool to catch some deck games. It was a twist on musical chairs with a scavenger hunt which I hadn't seen before. Started with 10 contestants and nine chairs. The assistant cruise director Matt would call out an item that they had to find and then return back to the chairs. Such things as a baby's picture and a piece of fruit. And some more spicy items like three bikini tops and men's swim trunks. It was funny to see how quickly men and women were willing to provide these!! I think this is like the "Quest" game they have on longer cruises. Later they had the Hairy Chest contest which was entertaining. 3PM we headed to the Love and Marriage show which was funny. My only complaint is that I wish they would mix up the questions. On Freedom, Valor and Inspiration they had 90% of the exact same questions. Now, they can lead to funny and unexpected responses, however I think they should be a little more creative. Mix it up a little and have the audience submit some questions. After this we headed to one of our favorite sea day activities: Afternoon Tea. And it was really great. We thought that the pastry quality had been greatly improved since our last trip on Inspiration and Valor. Prior to dinner they had the Captain's Celebration along the Promenade. We only overheard the introduction in the Atrium so can't provide much feedback on the actual event. A meet and greet with the Captain isn't a reason I go on a cruise. They did announce $1.00 off all drinks from 5PM - 8PM. It was formal dinner tonight. And we met our great tablemates. Best we have ever had. Both first-time cruisers and my wife and I enjoyed helping them "learn the ropes". Prime Rib and lobster were on the menu and that is what I ordered. It was very tasty and had great service from the waiters. After dinner we went to the late night comedy show with Kenny Miller. It was worse than the PG-rated on Thursday. Kenny told the audience he has been doing this for 17+ years. It might be time for a career change. We didn't go to the main show "Shout" as it conflicted with the comedy. A little time at the casino and it was off to our cabin. Saturday - Cozumel We had a late morning excursion called the Amazing Race, so we enjoyed our leisurely room service breakfast then went to the pier. My wife and I were going through every thing we needed to leave the ship: Sail and Sign, photo id, money, credit card and water. We met with the excursion representatives on the pier and the first thing they ask us? Do you have your tickets? Guess what? We didn't. But it was easily remedied by the Carnival excursion representative who straightened it out. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to take this excursion. All I will say is that if you are a fan of the show, it pays great homage to it. Interesting clues and you definitely spend a good bit of time going back and forth around downtown Cozumel. Afterwards, we had a nice leisurely lunch of beef and pork tacos along with some delicious Cerveza Special (dark beer). So cheap - it was $25 US for both of us. Six tacos and six beers. And the best guacamole I have had. Did a little more shopping and picked up a nice bottle of white tequila. We kept looking for a special almond tequila we had found last time we were in Cozumel. We found one that was very close but more than we wanted to spend. So a taxi back to the International Pier, a little more shopping and browsing and then walked back to the ship. We went to the pool to cool off before getting ready for dinner. Before dinner, we tried the sushi and it was very good. After dinner, we went to the Variety Show with our tablemates. A marginally talented magician named Mark Miller and a very funny comedian named Diane Ford. Then to karaoke. Very fun and both of the men were great singers. I sang "Leroy Brown" pretty well - it is always a crowd pleaser. Sunday - Sea Day Once again, room service breakfast. It really spoils you but a great way to start the day rather than fighting the crowds at the buffet. We were told there was a "mandatory" Debarkation talk at 11AM. Normally, we wouldn't go, but they said some of the rules in Tampa had changed - so we decided we best go. Well, it was a complete waste of time. The first 20 minutes were about today's events, comment cards and gratuities. The cruise director spent a lot of time talking about how important it was to mark "Exceeded Expectations". Then finally about 5 minutes on customs forms - and SURPRISE - there was nothing new from what we had seen on past cruises. This will be the last debarkation talk we go to. Needing a drink, we headed to Violins bar for the daily mimosa and bloody mary special. Then to the pool for something called the Extreme Lido Challenge. I originally thought this was going to be like something they had on Valor called Survivor challenge, but it ended up being some TV show music trivia. We arrived a little late, so maybe they had to cancel the original activity. We stayed poolside for the rest of the afternoon, then headed to the Fun Farewell Party at 5PM. This is the "replacement" for the captain's cocktail hour. And we liked it a lot. They had the regular show band playing with a great singer we hadn't seen before. It was too bad they didn't play other places around the ship. The free cocktails were flowing and the waiters would automatically bring you another cocktail when your first was getting low - at least for the first 20 minutes. After that, our row seemed to get skipped and we had to ask the waiters to come. But it didn't detract from the event. We enjoyed it. It wasn't very crowded. Dinner tonight was "American". Had the two best entrees of the cruise: Veal Parm and Short Ribs. We went with our tablemates again to karaoke. Didn't sing this time as all the slots were full by the time we got there. And that rolled into the 11:15PM late night comedy with Diane Ford who was extremely funny. She had some great jokes - unfortunately nothing I can post in a public review. Had a drink at the Violins bar and then headed to the cabin. Monday - Debarkation day Our expected arrival was 7:15AM. During the night my wife and I were awoken by a loud clanking noise, but went back to sleep. Later, I looked out our window about 6AM and couldn't see anything it was so foggy. And we weren't moving. We had programmed the phone for a 7AM wakeup call so I went back to sleep. Then at 7AM looked out again and it was the same - foggy and we weren't moving. It was clear we had been fogged in and that the loud noise we heard during the night was probably the anchor being dropped. There were no announcements or anything on the TV channels confirming, but it was obvious that we were going to have a late arrival. Just a matter of how late. We had planned to go to the dining room today so that is where we headed. Around 8AM, the cruise director confirmed that we were stopped because the port of Tampa had been closed due to heavy fog. So now we got to experience both sides of this kind of delay. We weren't given any ETAs so we had a leisurely breakfast of eggs benedict. Tasty - but next time I will remember to get the hollandaise on the side since it was a bit crusted when it was brought to the table. We headed back to the cabin to get everything packed so we'd be ready if we had to vacate the cabins and wait elsewhere. Around 10AM, another accouncement was made that the port was still closed, and that once we did head into port, it would take approximately 4 hours to get there. Shortly afterwards, I looked at the TV screen "ship" channel and saw that the speed was increasing. 0.2 knots, 0.4 knots, 1 knot. Yeah!! We were moving. We decided to head up towards the Violins bar and play some cribbage while we waited. And they would be serving lunch in Lido starting at 11AM. So after a couple of games, we grabbed some lunch, then headed back to Violins for more cribbage. At 12:30, they asked everyone to vacate their cabins by 1:30. So my wife stayed to hold our prime window seat location, and I went to grab our luggage from the cabin. Then we got a new ETA of 3PM to be docked. We did self disembark and were off the ship and through customs by 4:30. Home by 5PM. Overall, Carnival handled this very well. The cruise director had continual updates throughout. The only thing I would have changed is to have more updates on the TV. They have about 5 channels dedicated to the cruise. You would think one of them could have a screen indicating the status of the ship instead of replaying the Hairy Chest contest. Overall Rating: B+ Dining Room: A Food Quality: A+ Musical Shows: D Musical Entertainment Around Ship: B Comedians/Variety: B- Value: A Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Our cruise was a much needed trip for my husband and me.We have been working so much so it was needed rest. So this year we made sure to book my first cruise (his 2nd). I was recommended Carnival through a friend and booking was easy and ... Read More
Our cruise was a much needed trip for my husband and me.We have been working so much so it was needed rest. So this year we made sure to book my first cruise (his 2nd). I was recommended Carnival through a friend and booking was easy and painless. My rep even called a few days before to see if I had any last minute questions. (that to me is a nice touch) Embarkation/Dembarkation- takes about 1hr to get on the boat. Be patient you have security and all the same as if traveling on a plane. We did everything online, so when we got to the desk it was 1,2,3. Then we were on the boat. The first day of course is a little crazy, so just relax. The lines are a little longer at the buffet (we got on around 1:30) because everyone is heading straight there to eat. Rooms don't become available until after 1:30..so we ate and headed to the room. Dembarkation is about an hr long too. We did self assist and we were off the boat by 9:15am. (highly recommend it) It's called by decks so next time we are moving up a few decks. Process was also painless just patience of course. Rooms- Being my first time I wanted a view so we got an oceanview stateroom. Rooms are clean and exactly what we expected. The view is great..pillows and mattress not so much but hey nothing is ever like home. The room stewards make your bed and turn them down for you and that to me is awesome. Fresh towels and bathroom cleaned everyday. Kinda of wish I was on a higher deck because we felt some vibration (we were in the Riviera deck). Only problem only one outlet for your room and just my luck on captains nite my hairdryer must of been a little to strong because the electrician had to reset it. First day at sea- Weather was awesome but the pool gets super crowded so get up early. Unfortunately so does the adult serenity deck. We ended up by the water park..which was a little noisier but great time for laying out. The food is awesome. Hey for being at sea those servers and stateroom stewards do everything possible to accommodate your needs. Food was good not great but there was so many options that you could find something that made you happy. We went to the gym and it has a great view and I loved the steam room. Explore the ships.There are lots of activities but really we were there to relax so it was nice to lounge and read and find spots on the boat to relax.. sushi bar is great plus on this trip.. Last day of Sea-Overall the trip was excellent. Food was good, service was great. Shows there was something for everyone. Some shows were that great but the comedy ones were good. There is something for everyone you just need to look on the daily cruise agenda to see what you want to do. (delivered the nite before by your cabin steward) Dining throughout the entire trip is awesome. Go to the main dining for dinner. The servers are friendly, fast and very knowledgeable. (Much love to Anthony and Michael for taking care of us) They would remind of staying with ship time and all the little extra TLC kind of things you like. They remembered our little favorites such as cappuccino or milk with dessert. (Our table we were one or the other it so cute)The laugh with you and celebrate all special occasions and its nice to watch them dance too. Entertainment- Comedy shows were funny. Paris lounge has weird layout..so best seats are the bottom floor. The other shows were ok..not to impressed with the latin show found it to be a little bland but to each their own. Lots of activities from trivia, scavenger hunts, Karaoke. Only annoying thing I can say is that they will stick a camera in your face as much as they can to take pictures..wow never saw anything like it. Even when eating.. Pricey too. Overall I really enjoyed it and was just a great first experience. Well go again on a cruise it was a great vacation. Thanks to all those hard workers who pick up after us and really just cater to our every need. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Even though I have cruised before my family has not. So I was so pleased with this first choice.  I have never been on Carnival cruises before.  I thought I might hate too many kids running around, but it turned out to be quite fun and ... Read More
Even though I have cruised before my family has not. So I was so pleased with this first choice.  I have never been on Carnival cruises before.  I thought I might hate too many kids running around, but it turned out to be quite fun and enjoyable.  My ten and twelve year old were upset at leaving by the end of the trip.The music on the Lido deck was wayyyyyy too loud!! I've heard the same responses from other people from other ships on the Lido decks.  I guess Carnival wants their guests to leave deaf.  This is the pool area and people are trying to relax during the day so loud electrical guitars just made me angry.  There wasn't even any steel drum Caribbean music which I would have been happy with if it was loud.  But they music they did play was unbarable some times.  PLEASE TAKE NOTE CARNIVAL music on LIDO DECK should be MODERATE! Not blasting loud!!Other than that it was incredibly wonderful.  The programs for my daughters were lovely, and my girls had a wonderful time! (That's a big plus for parents!!!)  We don't want to hear that kids hated it, we picked this cruise line because we can get a break too!!!!The shows were fantastic even for a smaller ship! For the most part every one was attentive to our needs.  Those people working on the rooms are a wonder! They were always trying to keep everything clean and fantastic!  Love the animal towels!Adults take note there is only one pool on this ship so if you want more than one pick another ship because by the noon hour it is packed and crowded on deck. We managed to do other things (there was so much to do!).Inspiration is a lovely break, but too short we really wanted to stay longer the crew was great except for the Lido deck drink servers at the front.  There were two ladies that were constantly miserable serving drinks.  guess I can't blame them it was 100 with humidity, but then again, if you don't like your job leave it!! No ones holding you hostage.  carnival expects you to be of a certain standard and now so do I!!!!  I will cruise with Carnival again.  Most likely Conquest, Valor or the new Dreambut remember...THE BIGGE RTHE SHIP THE MORE PEOPLE ON IT!  So just because it's bigger doesnot mean it's better.  Just more people to fight for things with!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
This is our third cruise with Carnival Cruise Line.First on the Inspiration.We sailed out of Tampa on June 15,2009.We got on boat quite smoothly.We went straight to our cabin to check it out.We knew it was going to be small and it was.Then ... Read More
This is our third cruise with Carnival Cruise Line.First on the Inspiration.We sailed out of Tampa on June 15,2009.We got on boat quite smoothly.We went straight to our cabin to check it out.We knew it was going to be small and it was.Then off the Lido deck for burgers.Then we had our safety drill.The drill lasted quite awhile(I don't even want think about it being a real crisi).We had an inside cabin with 5 people.In the past we have all had only one cabin.It had 2 beds together and 2 bunk beds.A rollerway was offered but refused due to we wouldn't have had any  floor space at all.(Thank goodness we aren't big people).The cabin was tiny for all of us.Of course that is our fault we didn't book two cabins.We wanted 2 cabins but were late booking and there was no 2 cabins near or on same deck.The bathroom smelled even after cleaning.I swore if I went by a store I was going to buy a can of Lysol.Never did.I used perfume to cover smell.Our cabin was quiet except when porting it made the vibration noise.We were in E247 AFT.We had easy access to dining area which was right above us.I was more comfortable for the kids to run up stairs to eat instead of all the way across the ship.The faucets in shower got too hot and was hard to control temp.So my youngest daughter used cold water,which was luke warm.There were 2 dispensers in shower stall one for shampoo and other for bodywash.Neither was labeled.I used my own.The temperature of our cabin was comfortable. Monday - We hung out in our cabin and the kids were attached to the dining room.They took adavntage of all the ice cream and pizza!Tuesday we laid out in sun and the kids played on water slide.We had formal dining night.Cruise passengers were very casual.I have seen others on formal nights on other ships all elegant.I didn't mind casual though.We were im Madi Gras dining room table 179.Our table was for a party of 10.We chose this table to meet other people.Our dinner was nice we had lobster and for dessert we had the chocolate melting cake which was to die for! Our waiter was quiet and seemed tired.That was okay though.I can't imagine doing his job over and over for months without a break.His assisant whom was from Haiti was pleasant and smiling.Very friendly! Then off to the Welcome Aboard show.Very crowded.There was no seats.Passengers were saving seats while there remaining party was out having a good time.I really think Carnival should at least put an effort to announce that there should be no saving seats.There is only one pool and was always crowded.The water slide lines seemed to move along nicely.They have I think 3 hot tubs.There is a Serenity Deck in back of ship where kids are not allowed.It played soothing music.People seemed to enjoy it.It just wasn't for us.I enjoyed hearing the reggae band on the Lido deck.First day in Cayman Islands we went to Beachswain Beach Turlte Farm.We went on our own via taxi instead of booking through Carnival.They charge a fortune to book a excursion. We caught the public taxi for $2 a person(Taxis are higher).Of course on the bus the driver picks up and lets passengers off along the way.Which didn't take that long.The admission was expensive $45 adult and $30 for children.You had an option to buy whole park or pay a smaller fee to just feed the turtles.We bought the whole park.I figured we probably won't ever go there again and what the heck! I am so glad we paid for whole park.They have snorkeling and with gear provided.They have shark feeding, a bird santuary where you can feed the birds, a nature trail and an awesome lagoon style pool with a waterfall.They have plenty of lifeguards surrounding the pool and snorkleing area.This is a must if you like turtles.They had tanks everywhere and you could pick them up.They ranged from small to medium ones to hold.We bought some food and fed the turtles.They love to eat.This place most of all is CLEAN! There was no smells or litter anywhere.They have a bar and grill that has the best conch fritters.Quite pricey for 5 though.It was worth it.This place had a nice gift shop too!I highly recommend this excursion.Second day back to Cayman islands we went to beach via public bus.We got out at Calico Jacks.They have a bar, showers and restrooms right there.They also have food and hair braiding. Also rentals were available for water sports.We played in water and headed back to Georgetown to shop.We went to theTortuga shop and sampled all of the cakes.We could not decide which one was our favorite so we got the variety pack.They have the best meat pies there too! We were too late to purchase rum.It had to be bought 1 hour before ship sails(The ship didn't have any Tortuga rum onboard.There selection wasn't great.I think maybe because the Mexico stop was suspended due to the Swine Flu.There was no Cruzan rum either).We went to Margaritaville and let the kids go down there water slide a few times.I felt bad not eating there and letting the kids do the slide.The Carnival Inspiration music is from disco times.The shows are good! Just remember grab a seat before there is none.Overall this cruise was better than expected to be after reading the reviews there weren't many +'s about the inspiration.The passengers appeared to be with other family members.Didn't see alot of drunk people as noted in other reviews.It's June and school's out and the kids I saw seemed well behaved or either at a Carnival activity.I guess if you go during March you run the risk of being with a bunch of Spring Breakers.Of Course that's there time to party.Hope this helps.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Getting onto the boat was stress free. We waited in line for about 15 minutes, to get our fun pass. To my surprise we were made to pay the total tip charge before we were able to put personal spending money on the card. if u pay with CC, ... Read More
Getting onto the boat was stress free. We waited in line for about 15 minutes, to get our fun pass. To my surprise we were made to pay the total tip charge before we were able to put personal spending money on the card. if u pay with CC, at the end of your cruise u don't need to close out your acct. they do it for u, buy if u pay cash its your response. to close out your bal at the end of the cruise. The ship was clean. It takes a while to get use to where u r going, but u get the hang of it. Got a lil sea sick, nothing that kept me in my room, but I felt dizzy and nau. at times...so pop a dramamine if your not used to cruises, which the customer service desk gives u them free...The food was good...I expected more, since all u hear (or at least me) were people telling me the food was WONDERFUL...It wasn't wonderful, but it was good...Def. alot of food, ALL THE TIME...The 24 hour pizza and ice cream bars were nice...Drinks were overly price but i didn't expect them not to be..a can of soda is 1.95, i bought a BBC (its like a mix of pina colada and bananas)..very good and that was about $10...but they have a soda card, which is $20 for the whole cruise and since I traveled with my 2 children, it was well worth it. u get tea, water, OJ, lemonade and coffee free...I saw two shows, they were good..now its no Vegas show but its nice...I went during springs break so let me tell u there were KIDS EVERYWHERE...from what the employees said, 50 percent of the people on the cruise where under 18..so that was about 1000 children..now since this was a trip that i planned with my children, it was great for them. They made lots of friends but if u are looking for a quite getaway with your honey, then no way!!!!..but again, it was during spring break..When I got back home, I asked other friends who had been on the same cruise but on a different month..and they said that there was not alot of children on the boat...Camp carnival was good..my girls liked it..my lil one (4years old) more then the big one (10 years old)..but if your looking to spend the whole day alone..u will be disappointed..Camp carnival only keeps them for about 2 to 4 hours at a time..they have late nights and special activities for them but that is extra $$$..the late nights starting at 10pm to 3am..and its 6/hour..There were plenty of things to do on the cruise, so u will not be bored...We went to Cozumel, Mexico and did the beach excursion...take my advise don't do the deluxe, its a waste...the food was not all that great..besides u can order from the cash bar....we ate a big breakfast before we got off the boat and it held us over till we got back on...the beach was nice...it had plenty of things to do..and with just the regular excur..we got unlimited alcoholic drinks...we took a taxi from the port and the taxi drivers knew exactly where to take us. They were very nice...We did some shopping before and after the excursion..thats were i spent most of my money..the port had alot of nice stores...Cozumel was not the nicest place as far as beautiful..lots of trees..im sure other parts of mexico are beautiful though..getting back on the boat was not a problem. The captain dinner was nice..lots of photo opps. the food in the dinning area was good, service was great too...so all and all, I would recommend this cruise...the only thing i will do on my next cruise different, is to make sure I take dramamine BEFORE I get on the cruise...other then that u will have a good time.... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
For clarification purposes my wife and I have 20+ cruises and are in our early 50's, we have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL as well as a few older lines. Our Easter week cruise on the Inspiration was excellent and ... Read More
For clarification purposes my wife and I have 20+ cruises and are in our early 50's, we have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL as well as a few older lines. Our Easter week cruise on the Inspiration was excellent and we had a good time. I do not inflate scores so a 3 was good a 4 great and a 5 one of the best. After 20 or so cruises you have certain expectations and for the most part all lines meet these expectations, occasionally they exceed them, and of course at times they don't meet them. Our embarkation in Tampa was great. We had spent the night in Ocala, driving down from NC on Good Friday. We stayed at the Best Western, which we had booked on Priceline for a $40 total fee, much cheaper then anything in Tampa and about 80 mile drive away. The hotel was great as was the heavy continental breakfast. We left Ocala around 9 am and got to the port around 10:30am. A little earlier then we hoped but we had seen a lot of traffic the day before and we wanted to get a jump on it. We parked at the pier and it was $60 for the 5 nights, and literally a 5-minute walk from the ship to our car. We often stay at a hotel that offers park and cruise but we wanted to get a early start at the end of the cruise so we opted to park at the pier. It's easy to eat up 45 minutes waiting for shuttles to fill and travel time so our 5 minutes saved us considerable time. We got thru the check in early and had to wait until 11:30 to board the ship. We immediately went and ate, then proceeded to the pool. We wear our swimsuits under our shorts so the change is easy and we were among the first to enjoy the sun. This cruise was a spring break cruise and we were sure we'd see many kids coming aboard and we were not surprised. We were told there were 2600 people on this cruise that lists 2000 as capacity, and over 1000 were minors. That said they were fine for the most part, the exception to this was the pool area where anarchy ruled. The pool had way to many people in it, jumping wildly with no real supervision. Kids running in the wet splash zone looked like an accident waiting to happen, but in truth I never saw one. There were many children making use of the hot tubs and the slides and adults were seemingly banished from their use. No problem for us but it might be for some. The pool calypso band was quite good and did most of the old standbys. We found the food in the buffet area to be ok, very similar to the Golden Corral, plentiful but nothing especially superb. The carving board slicers have mastered the art of the very thinly sliced roast, but not being shy, I just inform them I would like several slices and the happily accommodate. I can't say I enjoyed the atmosphere of the buffet whose purple tubes remind me of an X-files dream, but even with the large number of guest the always was a seat. The deli was a big hit with me with the turkey on a country roll lightly toasted being our favorite. After numerous Carnival cruises I have determined that the Lemonade on the buffet does not sit well with parts of my anatomy and I swear I will never drink it again. The burn is unending by the second day. Was not impressed with the pizza although I did get it several nights as a late night snack. The chili and cheese over the chips with salsa and sour cream, lettuces jalapenos was a a great afternoon snack. The food in the Carnivale dining room was quite good. I am strictly a beef man and with the exception of the flat iron steak all the beefs were good. My wife eats a greater variety and she enjoyed all the fish and lobster, especially enjoying the grouper. The soups were good especially the cream ones, and the appetizers were good as well. Our waiter Denton and his helper were fantastic and we enjoyed our third cruise with the supercharged maitre-d Joseph. Joseph has been the best maitre-d we have experienced, he keeps it fun and he seems to be able to time the "show" such that the guest is not kept waiting for the next course. Of course Denton had a lot to do with this as well. We were not as happy with the lounge entertainment; in fact we found it very disappointing. Usually we find a venue we can enjoy sitting in but we were not able to on this sailing. We ended up spending most of our lounge time in the karaoke bar where some of our fellow guests were more entertaining then the paid help. The shows were good and we were happy to see the comedian Hank Mcauley, he was very funny and his late night show was funny without being lewd. The Vegas style show was good and the dancers were great, we were not impressed with the Latin show. The highlight of the entertainment came from our fellow guest on talent night. Really good, and while there were no Sarah Boyles there were still a couple of "oh my gosh" moments. Our cruise director Skip was very good and kept us chuckling on a regular basis. In the Caymans we snorkeled right near the pier. We walked to the left til we came to a small beach area next to the Burger King and swam several hundred yards out to a reef we had read about. It was quite good and several boats carrying other snorkelers who had paid excursions came to the same reef. If you are not a strong swimmer this is not a good place as there are no fish til you get to the reef. In Cozumel we taxied to the money bar restaurant and spent the day at this site. We were able to snorkel and beers were $1.50. This was good, not great snorkeling with an easy access with an $8 taxi ride. We would go back. Our room was nice, an inside, and our steward kept us in towel animals and the room clean. I have decided I will bring my own aloe infused toilet paper from here on. Lemonade ooohhh One negative for us was the lack of any form of Easter service on the ship. While I can see where cutbacks limit how many free rooms they would want to offer pastors/priests I would have liked to see at least an inquiry to see if a guest who might want to lead a short prayer service on the holiest of Christian days. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
This was my 3rd cruise on Carnival, and this time, we decided to take a shorter cruise, and see how it was. The Carnival Inspiration is a nice ship, although I found it "harder" to locate some of the areas that were on ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise on Carnival, and this time, we decided to take a shorter cruise, and see how it was. The Carnival Inspiration is a nice ship, although I found it "harder" to locate some of the areas that were on different floors. I found myself walking from one end of the ship to the other, just to get to some of the areas. We had a window room and it was nice, but I notice there was not a full length mirror, which I was used to see before. Perhaps this is only on the larger ships. We did have a nice bath towel waiting for us in the closet. There is NO hair blower, so if you need one, bring it. The colors on the ship were nice, and not gaudy like I have seen on other ships. One thing I did not like is they had some type of sign/designation in front of the elevators, and it must have stood for the deck#, but this I did not like. The other carnival ships had the deck # on the floor in front of the elevators, which made it handy. I had to look at the "full" deck plan by the elevator to see what floor I was on. On the elevators, it had A,B,C, etc. instead of #'s. You really had to look hard at these A, B, C's to see what was on those floors. They have a small Serenity area, and some of it is covered, and the other part was open if you wanted to be in the sun. We were in the Carnival dining room with a late seating. Our waiter, Eha (instead of HE HA), and his helper Tutty were really nice and helpful with the 10 of us. There was only one night that I really didn't find anything on the menu that I didn't like. Years before we were able to "request" something else, but that is no longer, unless it is just on the Inspiration. They have 24 hour pizza, if you wish. The deli had some good sandwiches, and the buffet line generally had changes every day. The last day they had some nice desserts. We attended the Love & Marriage show, and it was funny, but it is really for "adults" and they let you know that ahead of time, before they start. They have a nice miniature golf and basketball area at the top. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
The ship does not look its age. Tampa port is such an easy process both embark and disembark. Our Inside Guar. turned out to be on the Upper deck forward...nice quiet location..not much foot traffic up there. The lack of a fridge was a ... Read More
The ship does not look its age. Tampa port is such an easy process both embark and disembark. Our Inside Guar. turned out to be on the Upper deck forward...nice quiet location..not much foot traffic up there. The lack of a fridge was a disappointment..but our Steward kept us in plenty of ice for our Cokes..so all was fine. The food was average...the service was remarkably efficient. The only stand-outs were the wild mushroom soup and the lasagna. The quality of their beef could be improved. The "Shout" show is very good...Male vocalist is outstanding and the costume changes and choice of songs were great. Choreography was smooth..we thought it superior to any 'revue' we've seen on a ship in the past three years. The Paris Lounge itself has many seats behind poles which make choosing a 'good seat' a challenge, esp when they run bingo right up until show time! The Magician and Comedian on the second night were very good also. Our main purpose was to play in the casino and we were pleasantly surprised to find a letter in our stateroom on our first day welcoming us back to Ocean Players Club. We were given a free drink and 500 pts as an advance which was a nice gesture and much appreciated. (On several past cruises I had emailed the Casino Host prior to our departure and never received ANYTHING so we were grateful) We had a good time in the casino and spent many nights 'playing with their money'. We didn't use the pool or hot tubs but the pool seemed small and crowded. We didn't do any excursions in either port because we've been to both many times. All in all a good cruise for the $ and will cruise Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
I was invited by my Mom to join her on a cruise about 8 months prior to the cruise date and of course my answer to her was, but Mom, you know I get seasick. She assured me that I would will be fine cause the ships are so big you'll ... Read More
I was invited by my Mom to join her on a cruise about 8 months prior to the cruise date and of course my answer to her was, but Mom, you know I get seasick. She assured me that I would will be fine cause the ships are so big you'll never know you on the water. I have never been on a cruise ship and was excited to start my adventure. I flew from Anchorage Alaska to Tampa and spent a few days in the city before the cruise (to recoup from my long flight). Once at port for Embarkation, I was amazed at the size of the Inspiration. I've seen cruise ships, but never this close. A group of us took a bus to port (baggage was taken care of once we arrived at port) and the process to board the ship was a breeze. Once on board, I was excited to explore the ship and get my bearings (which still took a few days). Thank goodness for the little pocket size ship deck plan they gave you to find your way around. (Or Mom and I would still be lost). I was impressed how clean and new the Inspiration looked. We went to check out our room and to my surprise the room was a decent size. We had a window stateroom with two twin beds and there was plenty of closet space for both of us. However when we opened the bathroom door there was a smell of sewage. I told our room steward about it and he took care of the problem as soon as we left the room to go back on deck. Once we left Tampa we went back to our room to freshen up for dinner and our luggage had arrived (excellent service). Our room steward took care of the bathroom smell and checked in on use to make sure if we needed anything else. We dined in the formal dining room every night except for one night when we were late coming back from one of our ports. All I can say is the food on the Inspiration was excellent. The formal dining room had a different menu every night (but had a few same favorites as well). The desserts were awesome and all I can say is you cannot go hungry on these ships. We usually ate at the buffet for breakfast and/or lunch. All the people that worked on the ship that we encountered we so nice and pleasant to talk too. We went the the shows every night and I was impressed with the talent. I also enjoyed getting the Carnival Capers newspaper every night that listed all the activities for the next day. We stopped in Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel and needless to say the stops were not long enough. I wasn't too impressed with Cozumel, but thought Grand Cayman was a beautiful island. We did shopping excursion on both islands, and wished we could have scheduled another excursion at both....well just gives me an excuse to go back to the Grand Cayman Island. Even though the weather on the trip was mostly cloudy, we still had a wonderful time and I'm glad my first cruise was with Carnival! The Inspiration had something for everyone and when we returned to Tampa, I could have spent another 5 days on that ship!! Looking forward to my next cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the ... Read More
Planning - We started planning this vacation about mid-year. After comparing the price of holiday time cruises for a couple of weeks it led us to this cruise due to value. After booking via an internet agency in July, the price of the cruise dropped TWICE. The first I feel was due to the economy and the second to fill the ship. The first time our cruise was not paid off yet and Carnival was kind enough to adjust our price. The second time our cruise was paid in full and Carnival was kind enough to give us an onboard credit for the difference. Later, Carnival dropped the fuel surcharge and gave us onboard credit for that. It would be an understatement to say that Carnival and our agent were very accommodating with our booking. Please note that you must keep up with the price of your cruise and call and ASK for the discount/credit - it DOES NOT happen automatically (except for the fuel surcharge)! Airport to Cruiseport taxi was just $24. Embarkation - We arrived Christmas Day and were the second family there and only waited about 20 minutes before we were shuffled through and awaiting to board. We were on the ship about 30 minutes later. This was a great experience compared to past experience. The Inspiration - My first impression was very clean and well maintained! We do not drink but still found the "welcome aboard" complimentary glasses of champagne a nice jester but eventually got tired of saying "no thank you" due to the many, many offers. We walk around the ship to get oriented and I suggest everyone do the same. You are not able to walk front to aft on most levels/floors so learning the maze if very helpful. Stateroom - Our cabin was roomy even with 2 kids (14 & 10). The beds were very comfortable! Bathroom was basic and watch out because the hot water is HOT! Sometimes we could not mix enough cold water in. Our cabin was ALWAYS well taken care of. The towel animals prompted me and my daughter to go to the demonstration on how to fold them. Room service was prompt and tasty. Food - We ate most breakfast and lunch meals at the buffet and found it quite pleasing. We did eat one breakfast in the dining room and the Eggs Benedict was awesome! For the evening meals we ate in the dining room. We sat with the most amazing family from Virginia! We couldn't wait each night to get to see them again! We know we will see them again some time down the road! OK back to the food. The dinner meals were delicious! Everything prepared nicely. The appetizers were all great. Main dishes were hard to choose from so I ordered two and the waitress was happy to bring both (she was very kind, informative and delightful!). On lobster night my son ate two entire meals. The Chocolate Melting Cake is the ultimate dessert! It is hard to order anything else, but try them all. If you want to see how challenging it is to feed over 2,000 three meals a day take the Galley Tour. (It should be mandatory for those that discredit the food in their reviews!). This ship has a FREE sushi bar that opens around 5:30 pm each afternoon. Get there early - the line gets long quick but it's worth the wait! Entertainment - Maybe not Vegas quality but you are not paying $100 a ticket. The singers were very talented as were the dancers. The orchestra put out a big band sound with only 8-10 musicians. The shows were put together well. The magician was good and the comedian was even better. We did not attend the late version of the comedian and appreciated the Cruise Director's warning that it was not appropriate for kids. Karaoke was fun. Trivia was also. For the kids - AWESOME! The ship offers many things for kids and it looked like all the kids were enjoying them! (This cruise has a lot of kids onboard so if this is something you don't care for - find another cruise) Formal Night - We had the onboard credit so we rented tuxedos for me and my son. If you do this, do it online before you go or first thing on the ship. There inventory is small and they may run out of your size. We met the captain and went to the dining room where just like every night Wilson (our Maitre' d) welcomed us. Cozumel - This was the second cruise to Cozumel for the wife and I so we were able to plan our visit better. We went to Chankanaab National Park and snorkeled. I have heard there are better places off shore to snorkel but this was our first time and this place was perfect for us. Beautiful fish, some nice coral reef and other things to do inside the park also. The taxi was $10 and admission was $49 for the four of us. Snorkel gear and life vest were $15 each to rent. We returned to the ship for a late lunch and then in to town for shopping. We had experienced the hounding of the store workers last trip so this was short and again unpleasant. So we went back to the pier and bought our stuff then got back on the ship. Disembarkation- Very quick and easy! Do the one where you take your own luggage! Show up early as they start before the time given. In summary, we had a great time! This is a 3 star cruise ship and you cannot expect it to compare with a 5 star. For the price this is an AWESOME cruise, do not hesitate to book this cruise. I found it to be nothing like some of the negative comments in a few of the previous reviews. If I had to complain about anything it would be the constant solicitation of having your picture taken. A simple "no thank you" took care of each. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
This was a first cruise for my boyfriend and I. We've both been just about everywhere and we wanted to do something different that neither of us had done before. We're regulars in Vegas and wanted something "out of the ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my boyfriend and I. We've both been just about everywhere and we wanted to do something different that neither of us had done before. We're regulars in Vegas and wanted something "out of the norm" so we booked a 4 day cruise, just to see if we liked the idea of cruising. My grandma, aunt, and her two kids heard about us going and booked right along with us on the same cruise. EMBARKATION: I didn't know what to expect being a first cruise but we arrived at 11AM, valet took the bags and we walked up to the 2nd floor check in at the Port of Tampa. Check-in took about 15 minutes. We then waited about 15 more minutes to get boarded onto the boat - on the boat by 11:30. The first thing we did was walked up to the Lido deck and had a hamburger and hot dog lunch. The food was better than I thought it would be. It was a little crowded but expected as this was really the only thing open on the boat. After the lunch we were off to explore. ROOM: We booked straight through Carnival and did the Oceanview Guarantee. I was worried about this because I didn't know where our room was going to be. Lo and behold we ended up on the Upper deck in room U22. It was in the front of the boat. We were traveling with my grandma, my aunt, and her two kids, they were in a separate room on the same floor. We had a king bed, which was very very comfortable, a little bathroom with all the necessities and our room came with robes, which we wore a lot. Our steward was very good, providing us with turn down service and little towel animals every night - something neither of us are used too. DAY 1: Left the port right at 4PM. That night we had dinner in the Carnivale dining room. I can't remember our server's name for the life of me but they were both awesome. We got sat at a table with the rest of my family. Good thing, I didn't want to end up at a table with people I didn't know. The food in the dining room was great. I had chicken and the chocolate melting cake for dessert. The red potatoes were top notch. After dinner we walked around just exploring the boat, sat out in the Serenity area for a while which was awesome and watched the sunset. That night we ended up going to bed around 12 - the Dramamine we taken earlier kicked our butts. DAY 2 - Fun Day at Sea Got up early this morning and room service breakfast (just because room service was free and once again, something We're not used to getting). I had cereal and toast, the boyfriend had salmon which he said was awesome. Walked around the boat that morning exploring. Ended up playing Uno in the library until it closed then moved our game to the Promenade. The decor on the promenade is golds and blues, we had an ongoing joke that it looked like a Persian nightclub. We spent a lot of time here people watching and just hanging out relaxing. We played ping pong up by the pool, (the pool stays VERY crowded on sea days) and that night we played putt putt on the top deck. Had dinner at the buffet that night (opted out of the Capt. Dinner.) The 24-hour pizza is really good. Day 3 - Cozumel We woke up at 7AM this day - Docked at 8AM. As soon as the boat docked we were off. Took a cab ride to the San Gervasio Ruins which was awesome! Pay the extra for the bug spray though, there are mosquitos everywhere!! After that we took a cab ride to Mr. Sanchos Beach. That place is so fun. There is a freshwater swimming pool, bar, and a little flea market. The water there is so beautiful. It was overcast that day but when the sun shined on the water (for a whole 5 mins) it was beautiful. After relaxing at the beach we took a cab ride to San Miguel to meet the family for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. I love that place. It's so small but the food was very good. From there we walked around and did some shopping in downtown San Miguel. NOTE: Don't shop at the main plaza on the waterfront!! Go 2 or 3 streets back and shop there. Same items, cheaper prices. (So cheap It's almost free!) After the shopping, we walked to Senor Frogs. That place is awesome!! I got in the conga line for free tequila shots. They had drink specials all day. Stayed there for about an hour then back on the boat....we left Cozumel at 6PM sharp. That night we had room service for dinner, we were both tired. Then we left and walked down to the casino. THE DRINKS IN THE CASINO ARE NOT FREE. I thought they were free (I'm used to Vegas). But come to find out, after the drinks were delivered I was charged for them. I didn't spend to much money in the casino for this fact and the roulette dealer was rude. I'm just to spoiled with Vegas to sit there. The roulette table said Minimum bets were $1 - I laid $3 in chips on red and the dealer made it CLEAR in front of everyone at the table that the minimum bet was $5. I felt like an idiot so I doubled my money at the table and walked out. Sat at Violins bar and drank until about 1AM then hit the room. Day 4 - Fun Day at Sea Woke up early this morning, went and had breakfast at the buffet. The food was good. Stay away from the "scrambled" eggs though. They're powdered and gross. Opt for a made to order cheese omelet. This day we walked up to the top decks and explored the spa. The steam rooms and sauna are free which was awesome. I sat in the sauna for about 20 minutes just relaxing. Had lunch in the Mardi Gras dining room - food there was very good. Had dinner in the Carnivale dining room - I had the flat iron steak with red potatoes and both were awesome! As the sunset the boyfriend and I took our drinks and went to the Serenity adults only area in the back of the boat. The chairs there are padded and I could've slept out there it was so relaxing. After this we went to the Chopin Lounge, had a cigar, then caught some karaoke in the Candlelight lounge. Sat there for about an hour then walked to Avant Garde lounge and caught a band playing. Very very good stuff. Had a lot of fun this night. The next morning we woke at 7AM and were off the boat by 8AM. We did the self assist luggage. I think we agreed next time we'll do the valet. All and all this was a very fun experience as neither of us have ever been on a cruise and had never been to Mexico. We picked the 4 day cruise just as a "test" cruise to see if we like cruising. We did very much!! Although We're not going to make this our primary way of vacationing, We're already planning another one for September next year on the Carnival Freedom. I think we'll use cruising as a "secondary late in the year" vacation. We usually take one big vacation a year and a second little one. Cruising will be that 2nd one. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
This was my fourth cruise and my mother's second. My reasons for choosing Carnival Inspiration were the ship's recent renovation, the four day itinerary and the convenience of flying on Southwest from Chicago to Tampa. As ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise and my mother's second. My reasons for choosing Carnival Inspiration were the ship's recent renovation, the four day itinerary and the convenience of flying on Southwest from Chicago to Tampa. As always, we flew down a night early and took a taxi to the Hyatt Tampa Downtown. The airport was about 15-20 minutes from the hotel and it cost us $37 for the taxi. The Hyatt sells Starbuck's coffee along with some basic items for breakfast and lunch including fruit, cereal, bagels, sandwiches, etc. (Buy your water here; a regular bottle of water in your room is $5!) There is a full service restaurant and a small bar outside of the restaurant. The pool is located on the 5th floor of the hotel where there is a very nice sun deck and hot tub along with what appeared to be a well equipped workout room. Blue One Shuttle is used to transport guests to and from the airport but they are only available until 10:00 p.m. which is why we took a taxi when we arrived. The port is only about five minutes from the hotel but they do not offer complimentary shuttle service. We used Blue One which cost $6 for the two of us. You cannot walk to the port from the hotel. We arrived at the Port of Tampa about 10:30, handed off our bags to the porter and were inside, checked in and waiting to board by 11:00. It took about 45 minutes to get on the ship and once on board, we headed to the Lido deck for our first foofy drink and lunch. Our cabin was not available until 1:30. One of the first things I noticed about this ship was that the employees were really friendly! There is nothing I love more than friendly cruise ship employees and this ship has them by the boatload - no pun intended! From the first bartender to the destination shopping specialist, I truly enjoyed my interactions with these people. Our cabin steward was Candice from South Africa and she was excellent. She made sure that we were well taken care of, towel animals and all! Risa Barnes was our cruise director and believe everything you read about her - she is awesome! Felipe is Risa's assistant and was very entertaining. In the Carnivale dining room, we were lucky enough to have George the Greek (Opa!) as our Maitre'd. Our head waiter was Stephen from the Philippines and Fritz, his assistant. The last person we had a lot of interaction with was Darin, the shopping specialist. We went to his presentation on the stores of Cozumel, which was very informative. After making some purchases, he helped us with the Carnival 30 day guarantee forms. After the cruise, we ran into Darin in Tampa and he took 15 minutes out of his day off to talk to us about himself, the cruise, our past cruises, etc. I have never encountered friendliness on this level from cruise employees and it capped off a really good vacation. The second thing I noticed is that the food is better than the last two Carnival ships I was on. I also thought the Lido buffet, the Brasserie, was laid out very well with the hot dogs and burgers at the back of the pool area and a juice bar. Inside the buffet, stations on either side of the entrance featured hot items. In the middle of the buffet were two salad bar stations and right behind this was the deli that also served as the omelet station for breakfast. Sandwiched between the salad bar stations is the 24 hour ice cream and on the other side, in front of the deli was potato chips, pickles, pickled carrots and veggies, fruit, etc. Off to the right, at the back of the restaurant is the pizza station. On either side of the salad stations are the dessert stations, and finally there were two coffee & juice stations at the front of the restaurant. There was something for everyone at any time of the day. We had an ocean view cabin on the Upper Deck which was large enough for two with the beds laid out in an "L" shape. I love the new flat screen TV's as it frees up more space for your things. There was plenty of storage in the closets, although we did bring a shoe bag to hang over the bathroom door to hold all of our toiletries. The bathroom was shiny clean and was always spotless. I noticed the toilet was a little worn out so I guess they didn't change those out during the renovations. What I was surprised at was the lack of cleanliness in the outdoor public areas. The decks were not that clean and there were always a lot of dirty tables whenever I was searching for a one. The Serenity deck was also a bit dirty and worn. The cushions on the lounge chairs were tattered with stuffing coming out of some of them. There were cigarette butts on the deck and dirty glasses and tables. Lastly, the public bathrooms were disgusting! I just don't understand why people think it is ok to leave a public space so dirty! With that being said, I don't think there are enough employees assigned to clean these areas. I do have to say that I feel sorry for those who are assigned to clean up after these people. It's truly frustrating to see the mess people leave behind. My only other complaint about the ship was I kept getting lost! It was very hard to find our way around and I never did find a map of the ship. But being the optimist that I am, I probably didn't gain as much weight from all the wandering around that I did! We did manage to find our way to the observation decks at the front of the ship during sail away. This was a great place to take pictures of the sunset and a great place to check out the stars at night. When you go up to the miniature golf area, keep going all the way forward and you will find the observation deck. Go down one flight of stairs to the Verandah deck and go through the hallway of cabins leading to the front of the ship. There is another observation deck there which is just below the one in front of the mini golf. Embarkation Day - We spent the day checking out the ship, eating lunch at the Lido, meeting our cabin steward, meeting up with our CC roll call, the obligatory muster drill and waiting for the highlight of the sailing; going under the bridge with inches to spare! After you leave Tampa, you sail through the bay for about two and a half hours until you reach this bridge that the ship barely fits under. (I never found out the name!) Once underneath, everyone cheers. I assume this symbolizes the start to our ocean sailing, or maybe, two and a half hours later, they are just liquored up and ready to party! Whatever the case, it was great fun to watch the approach and the "squeeze" under the bridge. From there, it was time to get ready for dinner in the Carnival dining room and then on to the Welcome Aboard show which was ok. The comedian was hilarious though! The layout of the theater is horrible though. The seats sit very low so you can't see that well over the chairs in front of you and there are poles scattered throughout the theater that you have to look around to see the stage. Unless you are down on the main level, there are very few good seats in the house. Sea Day #1 - We went to the shopping seminar and then spent the rest of our morning lying out at Waterworks, which we loved! The Lido pool is small, so it's hard to get a chair there. The Serenity deck is even smaller and people laid out all day long there - you had to stalk the chairs to get one! But at Waterworks, which is one deck up from the Lido deck, we had no problem finding chairs. When it got too hot, we ran over to one of the large sprinklers and cooled ourselves off. The slides looked like a lot of fun but I never got to try them. There were just as many adults as there were kids in this park and I think everyone who was up there really enjoyed the space. In the afternoon, we managed to get some space down on Serenity and over the course of a few hours, stalked our way to some chairs under umbrellas. It was so hot down there and with only hot tubs to go in, there really was no way to cool down. Carnival either needs to install a pool back there or turn one of the hot tubs into a cool tub! They also have an area that is like a cabana that could really benefit from the installation of some outdoor ceiling fans. The thing I did enjoy about the area was the music they piped in which was a cross between new age and spa music. It was very relaxing and you could also hear it when you sat outside at the Lido buffet seating. In the evening, we went to see the show Shout. We really enjoyed the show and it was much better than the welcome show. Since this evening was "cruise elegant" we opted to eat dinner in the buffet. Carnival calls it their casual dining option and makes it look fancy in pictures, but really, it's just a limited buffet. It was Caribbean Cuisine night but I ended up with turkey and salad. Dessert was ice cream and a piece of chocolate cake. It's slim pickings because everyone else is eating surf and turf but for those of us who opted not to dress up, it really wasn't a big deal. I'd say there were about 20 of us in the buffet, so I understand why they wouldn't set out a big spread. Cozumel - We docked at Punta Langosta which is a nice set up for the cruise ships. The area has a two level mall where you can shop, catch a taxi or head down to the main street which takes you to the downtown area. If you are able, you can easily walk the downtown area and back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. Be careful of the jewelry stores here at Punta Langosta. They were trying to sell blue topaz as aquamarine. Knowing what we know of aquamarine, we quickly left those stores behind. There are some good stores for souvenirs though. We opted to spend the day shopping and sightseeing on our own. We ate lunch at Palmeras, which is an open air restaurant and is recommend by Carnival. The food was very good and cost $40 for chips and pico de gallo, two chicken taco dinners and two large margaritas plus tip. As we shopped our way through Cozumel, I made two stops at Fat Tuesdays for some very large Banana Banshees. Yum! We also grabbed a horse and carriage for $40 and we were taken down to the public beach and back through downtown Cozumel. The driver then took us through the residential area and pointed out houses and offered some tidbits about the area's residents. He also took us to an old church where we were able to get out and take pictures. After that, it was back to Punta Langosta where we did a little more shopping and went to Senor Frogs. A yard of a green froggy drink, a yard of strawberry margarita, some balloon hats, a shot of Sex on the Beach and we were partying. After Senor Frogs, we stumbled back to the ship and hit our cabin where I promptly fell asleep for the next 14 hours! Mom went up on deck for the sail away and as we were pulling away, some people were running to catch the ship. The ship pulled back in for the group and then we were on our way. We found out later that four others weren't so lucky and never made it back to the ship. Last I heard, two of them ended up on Imagination, which was in port with us, and were headed to Miami. Sea Day #2 - We spent the morning hours back up on the Waterworks deck, the afternoon checking out the last day sales in the on-board stores and enrolling our Cozumel purchases in Carnival's guarantee program. We also did the galley tour which was interesting to see how they keep up with us hungry cruisers. The evening was spent with Mom winning $20 in the casino on a quarter slot machine and me breaking even on a penny machine. Dinner was back in the Carnivale dining room with a yummy Baked Alaska for dessert. Then it was off to pack our suitcases and set them outside our door for the luggage pick up. Disembarkation - We waited in the buffet until our number was called and made our way off the ship about 9:30-10:00. We found our luggage right away and made it through customs all in a matter of about 15 minutes! This was by far the easiest disembarkation I have ever been through. Not realizing how easy it was going to be, I had booked us on a late afternoon flight which meant we had a few hours to kill before we had to be at the airport. We were able to leave our luggage at the port authority office and at the same time, arranged for Blue One shuttle to take us to the airport at a discounted rate - it was $9 per person. We also bought discounted tickets to the aquarium, which is across the street from the port office. The aquarium is small which meant we made it through the exhibits in about an hour. From there, we wandered around Channelside which is mostly restaurants. We lunched at Hooters and were on our way to the airport by 12:30. It took about 15 minutes to get to the airport from the port area. Some final thoughts – I did not use the spa on this cruise, so I can’t comment on this area of the ship. There was a Florida radio show on board that was broadcasting from Margaritaville while we were in Cozumel. They brought a huge following and they were very loud and sometimes rude. The ship’s employees kept apologizing for their behavior and except for not being able to carry on a normal conversation at dinner, they really didn’t affect our trip. There were about 150 kids on board although we hardly noticed them. Interestingly enough, they hung out more at the Lido pool than at Waterworks. Even more interesting, most of them were better behaved than the radio show’s group! We tried the sushi bar which was really good. I never ordered anything at the coffee bar except a bottle of water, so I can’t comment on the specialty coffee. We really like sailing with Carnival as they continue to provide the type of vacation and service that my family and I have come to expect and enjoy. Are there things that can be improved upon? Of course! Will it stop me from cruising with Carnival? Never! I always say a cruise is what YOU make of it. If I’m going to worry about the small stuff, I might as well stay home and go to work! Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
We, (my husband and I aged 56 and 55) originally booked the NCL Jewel cruise because of the itinerary. We have previously sailed on the QE2 and so were unsure how "Freestyle" cruising would suit us. From Heathrow to Istanbul ... Read More
We, (my husband and I aged 56 and 55) originally booked the NCL Jewel cruise because of the itinerary. We have previously sailed on the QE2 and so were unsure how "Freestyle" cruising would suit us. From Heathrow to Istanbul (remind me never to fly from HR again!) we docked at Izmir for Ephesus, Dubrovnik, Venice, Naples, Rome and Barcelona. We flew back to the UK from Barcelona. First impressions were good - the ship looked colorful and huge. Embarkation was fine and our cabin (inside on deck 9) though quite small, was adequate and clean. The bed was comfortable and suited us although we had to request additional softer pillows. The shower was powerful and spacious and although other critiques had said the hairdryers on the ship were powerful, I was not convinced they would be - I thought they would be those silly little piped in dyers you get in some hotel rooms. However, the dryer was great - almost professional!! Small things make me happy...... There was also a launderette on our floor and I think, a couple more dotted about on the ship. Four quarters for soap powder and then free use of washing machine and dryer - there were also 2 x irons and boards. The laundry rooms are small and always busy - pick a shore day to use. Customer base ranged from families - there were quite a few teenagers and a couple of dozen younger children - to couples of all ages. I was really quite surprised by the average age profile - younger than I expected. There seemed to be many different nationalities on board but mainly Americans and Brits. Lounges and bars - Bar City was a nice place for pre dinner drinks. Quiet and in a position to watch the comings and goings of our fellow passengers. It got a bit more busy after dinner and when the shows were finished. Never went to Fizz, the Karaoke bar but the Star Bar was OK. The Spinnaker lounge seemed to be where it all happened later in the evening. We went a couple of times and enjoyed the 60's music night. Entertainment - We never went to the theater to see the shows. Not our kind of thing - reports ranged from excellent to abysmal - personal taste I suppose. The individual entertainers and bands dotted around the ship in other lounges were professional and very good. Restaurants - There's always more to restaurants than the food but the main free restaurants, Tsars Palace and Azura were fine. Tsars was impressive in a Hollywood sort of way - lots of glitz, big and noisy. Azura was more contemporary, smaller and noisy. We tried a few of the optional restaurants. I felt The Bistro was pretentious, nicely fitted but kidding itself on that it was a quality restaurant. Cagney's - we had the best steak ever there and went back a second time. Sushi was good and the chefs were happy to advise. Teppanyaki, the Japanese restaurant is worth a visit to enjoy the entertainment provided by the chefs. Mama's Italian place always seemed to be busy but we managed to get in one night and it was disappointing. We couldn't get in the main restaurant and so sat on the deck outside at what was The Great Outdoors through the day so maybe we didn't get the full experience and atmosphere. Speaking of The Great Outdoors - it was, for us, the best place for lunch and/or afternoon tea. The Food - apart from Cagney's, Teppanyaki and Sushi, was average - up-market canteen food, which is not a bad thing necessarily - they are catering for thousands of people after all but don't expect haute cuisine. Most of the food was pre-processed - for instance in the majority of the restaurants, all the chicken, veal, lamb, steaks etc came with those stripes on them that are supposed to be barbecue grill marks. Yeah right. I was looking forward to some great puddings - New York cheesecake etc, again all was pre-prepared and the cheesecake was like marshmallow with sponge base. - not my taste. However, all were nicely presented with drizzles of coulis and flakes of chocolate. Breakfast, however, in The Garden Cafe was superb. Lots of fresh fruit, cereals, freshly made to order omelets, waffles, pastries, bacon, sausages, hash browns, beans, cream cheese, pickled herring. You say it, the buffet probably had it. Something for everyone and well set out. SHORE EXCURSIONS - There was also a Shore Excursion desk next to the Reception desk and intermittently open, which was fine if you wanted to purchase one of the ship's excursion which NCL was anxious to sell. If you wanted to do your own things at a port - forget the Shore Excursion desk. In many cases you would get misinformation. One example of this was Venice. Elsewhere on the Internet, I had found that a shuttle bus was offered to take you from the pier to/from Piazela Roma (saving a 20 minute walk). On enquiring about this, I was told one had to walk. In fact there was a shuttle bus. We used it 3 times and had to walk on the 4th occasion because the shuttle-bus stopped running after 5:30pm. Check with the bus-driver when the last one leaves or ask at an information desk at the pier. In Venice, NCL arranged for a shuttle boat from the ship to Piazza San Marco at a cost of $25 for unlimited use. This was not useful to us as we wanted to go other places. Further, other cruise lines offered a free boat shuttle! However, if you could find the right person at the reception desk, you could get useful information with maps, directions and general information. My impression was that NCL was very poor in supporting any shore activity that did not make money for them! The NCL arranged shore excursion were of pretty good quality but quite expensive. We and our kids took several but not always the same ones. The tour guides were nearly all locals which enhanced their knowledge, However, in many cases, their command of English and local accent made them difficult to understand. We selected our excursions based on whether or not it would be easy to do our own thing and do it reliably enough to make sure one returned to the ship on time. In Istanbul we had already stayed an extra night in a hotel (Avicenna, one block from the Blue Mosque and highly recommended) to make sure there was time to react to any lost baggage (there wasn't any lost baggage) and also because doing so was less than half the cost of NCL arranged pre-cruise (and post cruise arrangements). We used a local tour operator. Our itinerary allowed us to visit more sights in less time than NCL could offer. We also took a cruise on the Bosphorous. In Izmir, we took the Ephesus and the Virgin Mary tour. We had an excellent lunch in a small restaurant by the Temple of Artemis. For Izmir we used the same tour operator as we did for Istanbul. We were very impressed with the services provided. You can email this company at ephesustours@yahoo.com Athens - we used Spiros from www.athenstaxi.net He is very reasonable...around 200 euro for up to 4 people for a full day tour. In Dubrovnik we took the Croation Riviera Tour. Light lunch in a quaint country setting and a glimpse of breathtaking views in the country around. Dubrovnik is a beautiful city that has been completely restored following the siege in 1993 by the Bosnians. Dubrovnik was the only port that required "Tendering" - boat from ship to shore. In Venice we did our own thing. Our kids took the Murano/Burano tour on the 2nd day and enjoyed seeing the glass factory. They nearly got left behind while engaged in negotiating the price of a piece of glass! We experienced a temporary set-back when all of about 5 ATM machines we tried on Sunday evening were out of money! Our kids took the Capri/Sorrento/Pompeii 10 hour tour seeing a lot more than one could probably accomplish by oneself. We chose to do Capri on our own using the same Hydrofoil that the Taste of Capri tour used at much less cost. We visited Anacapri, Villa San Michele, Gardens of Augustus and had a nice pizza lunch in a restaurant with a beautiful view. The 3:25pm Hydrofoil from Capri gets back at 4:05pm, providing plenty of safety factor to make sure one is back before the 7:00pm sailing from Naples. From Civitavecchia, our kids took the Vatican Tour and we did our own thing. We were ready to get off the ship when it docked at 7:00am. NCL is required to provide shuttle busses to the port entrance from which there is about a 15 min walk to Civitavecchia railroad station. We missed a 7:38 train but caught an 8:08 train to Rome, arriving 9:40. The train fare is 4.10 euros one way per person. A little after 10, we took the #110 double-decker sight seeing bus to Piazza San Pietro (The Vatican). The bus offers an wonderful overview of the city providing earphones on which one can hear commentaries in various languages including English (though rather brief) about each site. The whole route takes 2 hours! One can hop on and off at any stop. The cost is 13 euros per person (An earlier blog reported problems with lining up for tickets and buses arriving full. I think this has been eliminated as tickets are purchased on the bus and they dispatch the bus from Piazza Cinquecento in front of the Roma Termini before each bus is full.) There was a line all around the Piazza with people waiting for the Basilica security check! Previously I had booked a Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel tour with Odyssey tours (http://www.odyssey-tours.com/tours/museum.asp). We were led through the museum and the Sistine chapel by Erin, their tour guide, who is a Texan studying in Rome. She is an excellent tour guide and speaker! After visiting the chapel and the Basilica, we had time to visit the Trevi fountain and return to the Termini station to catch the 5:00 reserved seat EuroStar Express arriving Civitavecchia on time at 5:40. (Note that I reserved the seats with Trenitalia on-line! The cost was 14 euros per person for the reserved 1st class seat. This is 3 times the regular 2nd class fare. Whether it is worth is a matter of personal taste! We felt somewhat out of place surrounded by Italian businessmen in expensive suits! Being on this train is like traveling by air. They serve free pop and peanuts.) Most of the other Jewel passengers that went to Rome by train came back on the 4:30pm commuter train arriving at Civitavecchia at about the same time we did! We were in plenty of time for the 8:00pm sailing but got drenched by a thundershower walking back to the port entrance and waiting for the shuttle bus. It is interesting to compare our tour with the NCL 9 1/2hour tour taken by the kids. They arrived at the Vatican at about 9:15 and had to wait in the security check line for the Vatican Museum for 75mins. We arrived at the Vatican at about 11:15 after an hour on the #110 tour bus, and stood in the security check line for the Vatican Museum at 12:00pm for 20 minutes. The kids had a good tour-guide, but he was difficult to understand. Our Texan guide was terrific. The tours of the Museum and the Chapel each lasted about 2 hours total, not counting security line time and the Basilica tour. After spending an hour and half in a hotel for lunch (much too long), the kids saw Rome briefly and had a quick stop at the Coliseum and a brief tour of Rome on the NCL bus. We all or course enjoyed the Sistine Chapel and were not rushed though it! Our tour and transportation cost each was $80 plus $7 snack and the kids tour cost $185 each. CONCLUSION No ship is perfect. NCL provides a good cruising experience provided you are willing to work around the restaurant issues. We like the free-style concept. NCL keep things very "ship-shape". NCL costs are somewhat lower than the competition. The itinerary was excellent. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
Hello fellow cruisers! Let's see...first off, I am a 26 year old female and my boyfriend is 27, University of Tampa grads! We are both travel agents and this was our 6th cruise, our 3rd on Carnival. We've cruised with Princess, ... Read More
Hello fellow cruisers! Let's see...first off, I am a 26 year old female and my boyfriend is 27, University of Tampa grads! We are both travel agents and this was our 6th cruise, our 3rd on Carnival. We've cruised with Princess, Carnival, and Norwegian. We are both pretty laid back and really enjoy cruising. In my opinion, there really is no such thing as a bad cruise....some are just better than others. We took this cruise as a mini family reunion/birthday cruise and there were 9 passengers total in our group. Our trip was the 4 night cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. Here's my summary of our vacation experience... Embarkation We live in Downtown Tampa/channelside and walked directly to the cruise ship, so I did not experience any hotels, shuttles, or parking situations. We arrived at the port around 11:45 and were on the ship by about 12:30. Lines were not too long, just average wait time of about 30 minutes altogether. Check in was fairly smooth. Make sure you have your passport, ID, FunPass, and debit/credit card out and ready to go! The ship We took our very first cruise on the Inspiration in February 2006, so we were curious to see the results of the refurbishment. The new addition of the water slides is nice, and the yellow and blue tube slide is very fun, even for adults! The pool area was also redone, unfortunately it is VERY small and fully occupied during most times. If you want to swim in peace and cool off, I recommend getting up early and going at 8:00am on the last sea day. It's so nice to see the sun come out and the deck is almost empty because everyone is at breakfast or sleeping to recover from Cozumel the day before. For the most part, the ship is clean and looks modern. It was built in 1996, so of course it is small and isn't going to look brand new. I did notice the Inspiration does rock around more than the newer ships, but nothing too dramatic. Make sure you watch the ship's tail go under the Sunshine Skyway bridge around 6:30pm. Very cool! Cabins Our cabins were all oceanviews on the Main Deck on the very back end of the ship. M262, M260, and M258, and M245 (on the side). It was large enough for two people and had good storage space. Three adults is a little too tight. I liked having the safe to lock up valuables, but there is no refrigerator like most of the newer ships have. I guess I am getting spoiled by the big boats! The bathroom was average sized with a fairly roomy shower. Not alot of storage space above the sink, but we managed okay. I thought that the beds were fine and I slept great. I loved my bed turned down with towel animals and chocolate at night. New flat screen tv's have also been added. Shampoo and body wash is provided, but no conditioner. Just two small complaints about the cabin.....there is one plug for the whole room, and my hairdryer and camera charger would not fit because of its odd location. So if you have a larger plug, you might want to bring a power strip to accommodate it. Also, our door had a tendency to rattle very often during sailing. Maybe it was because we were in the back, but it sounded like someone was always knocking on our door. Nothing major though, I got used to it. Our cabin was always kept clean with fresh towels. Food Everyone looks forward to good food on cruise ships! I must say that the food was only good, not great. To be honest, I think that the 4 night cruise gets skimped on the food a little bit. I just cruised the Carnival Legend in May 2008 and was very impressed with the exceptional service and food. The Inspiration's food had little variety and the quality was average. I did enjoy the warm chocolate melting cake, the sandwich counter, and the salad bar. I'm not a steak eater, but our group said that the steak was good the first two nights and not so good the last two nights. The pizza was decent, and the 24 hour ice cream was a yummy midnight snack. The Grand Buffet was disappointing. Long lines and the food was very "picked through". Crowding Although the Inspiration is nicely refurbished, I felt kind of crowded on this ship. The pool and deck chairs were usually full, and there was almost always a line for food on the Lido deck. Serenity area for adults was full. It was very tough to find a table to eat at during lunchtime. This may not sound nice, but I did notice that there were alot of rude people on this cruise. Maybe it was because of the short length or extra kids on the cruise during summer, but it seemed like some passengers left their manners at home. Several times, I saw people deliberately cutting in line for food and drinks, sneezing and coughing near the outdoor grill food, wearing soaking wet swimsuits inside the dining area, refilling their dirty drink cups, or not washing hands. I'm all about having a good time, but a little politeness goes a long way. Ports Our ship had one stop in Cozumel, Mexico. This was my 4th time visiting there, so I skipped the shopping and walking around the port. Lots and lots of salespeople pushing you to buy stuff. Once you've seen a few shops, they're all pretty similar. Tip: If you like beer, most stores sell bottles of Dos Equis or Sol for only $1. Drink while you shop! We rented a Jeep Wrangler for $60 for the day and drove all the way around the island. We stopped at the back end to have lunch and a beer on the beach. Beautiful scenery and beaches, but overall the island is very poor. Casino I'm not a regular gambler, but I do like to play some craps occasionally. Unfortunately, the craps table had a $10 minimum so nobody was playing. From what I've seen, Norwegian has the best casinos at sea. Miscellaneous Ping pong was alot of fun! First night comedy show with Kenny Miller was enjoyable (not the r-rated show). We loved the dance show at the Paris Lounge. New pool deck chairs are great. Carnival's juice selection is good...i love the fruit punch! Overall The Carnival Inspiration is great getaway cruise! The food, ship condition, and onboard activities are not excellent, but it's a fun short cruise or great for first-timers who want to try cruising for a low price. If you're looking for something more upscale, I would recommend Princess cruises or the Carnival Legend 7 day cruise. Thanks for reading and happy cruising! Ainsley Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
August 11 - 16, 2008 We had a family group of 15 and had booked the cruise well in advance. In fact our original cruise was to leave from Jacksonville, FL. But 6 months after we booked it, Carnival pulled the ship as it was too old to ... Read More
August 11 - 16, 2008 We had a family group of 15 and had booked the cruise well in advance. In fact our original cruise was to leave from Jacksonville, FL. But 6 months after we booked it, Carnival pulled the ship as it was too old to be repaired. Since we were on a tight budget-we had three high school graduates going to college in the fall, we chose the Inspiration out of Tampa and argued for the prices that were in effect when we originally booked. And Carnival cooperated. It still meant more expense as with Jacksonville we could drive easily, but Tampa meant two nights on the road, and when gas prices skyrocketed we all ended up flying instead. PRE-CRUISE: We managed to come in on 5 different flights, from 4 different airports. Two groups stayed locally at the Comfort Inn Airport. The accommodations were merely adequate; my sister's air conditioner quit in the middle of the night and my husband's tv "blew"—popping sound and smoke. Otherwise they said it was comfortable. The reservation desk recommended their Port of Tampa package, which was only $10 more per room. I had arranged for us all to meet at the port around 12:00; however, my family was unable to get a shuttle from the hotel until almost 1:00, and they were spitting mad. Since I had the Fun Passes for their rooms, I had to sit and wait for them, while the rest got to board.(I should have given everyone their own copy of the Fun Pass). Since check-out is 11:00 I would recommend a cab. They would have called a cab if they had known the shuttle was going to be that late—they had to sit in the lobby to wait—were not even offered extended check-out. EMBARKATION at Tampa: Despite my having to wait, it was fairly easy to drop off passengers and luggage. There were officials directing traffic to keep it moving nicely, even with large buses of people. While we had nice porters, those coming on the shuttle were not treated as kindly. They had never cruised before, and had no idea that the porters were there to help with the luggage, and the porters yelled at them to leave their luggage. There was almost no wait outside the terminal, but Disney- like lines inside, that moved just as efficiently. ROOMS: I was told when I paid the deposit for 4 rooms that they would be linked together and thus near each other. We paid for the least expensive inside guarantee and ended up on the Main deck. However, my room was a small one (M299) for four people which I had expected after reading about it on a cruise website. I have a black and blue arm to prove it—the room steward never bothered with the two ladders for the bunks, as there would have been no floor space at all, and the entry hallway was very narrow. Two of our rooms were on the starboard, aft, near the elevator, and one was on the port side near the elevator—fairly close, but the 4th room was down near the midship elevator (the elevator to nowhere for my 80 year old motheryou have to go up, over and down to get into the dining room, and it doesn't go up to the Lido deck) It also was an odd room. You can tell from the deck floor plan that it would be different. It did not have the closets in the entryway but across the room. It was very open and would be nice for two people who didn't need the beds put together. However, we had a rollaway and there was a white pole in the middle of the room. It was two nights before the steward stopped putting the mattress facing into the pole. We had cruised on the Victory, and were disappointed in the rooms on this ship as we had expected them to be more like the Victory. However, the tvs were very nice, and there was plenty of storage. Our stewards were never seen after the first night, which I guess is a good thing, unless you needed them. HOSPITALITY/SERVICE: The staff was exceptionally friendly—it didn't matter if it was your assigned waiter or someone on the cleaning staff. When we were hanging out waiting to disembarkwe were in no hurrythe waiters readily posed for pictures with my nephews. My mother can walk but has difficulty with steps and long distances. They let us use a wheelchair for Cozumel, with a deposit to Sign and Sail card, as the pier is extremely long. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the dining room staff—for a large group I think designated seating is the way to go. No matter what we were doing, we knew when and where to meet for dinner. And we were seated at one long table, and two smaller ones across the aisle. I don't think I had ever seen my sister sit down and eat with all four of her boys. We did give our wait staff extra tips. FOOD: The food was what I had expected. Not many things were exceptionally delicious (chocolate melting cake excepted), but nothing was terrible. Dinner portions were small, but since you could order more it shouldn't have been a problem—however, some of our group were afraid to ask for more. An advantage of the dining room for meals is that you do eat less. The buffet dining room was very good for lunch and breakfast, and the kids liked having pizza and ice cream 24/7. We did not like the coffee served with dinner, although at breakfast on the Lido deck it was fine. We figured they want you to go to their cafe and pay for better coffee. SPA: Did not use, went to opening "raffle" advertising their services but they didn't give a tour, and the "talk" was in a room that was too crowded. GYM: I went to the free morning stretch class, and my daughter used the equipment. Although crowded the first few days, it dwindled through the week. They charge extra for Yoga and Pilates. I think they should offer trial, short classes for free because some people may want to try but don't want to spend the money if they are afraid they won't like it. POOL: If you enjoy a pool, this ship is not for you, unless you are an early riser. There is only one pool and after 11 it is standing room only. The kids did not care for the water park, as it was crowded, and they said it was too hot to wait in the lines. I was in the pool several mornings before 10 and it was fine for me. I then took part in some of the activities—ping pong tournament, dance classes. ACTIVITIES: Our group participated in quite a few activities. One of my nephews won the ping pong tournament and my brother in law won the putt putt one. Another nephew was in the Hairy Chest competition—however we were embarrassed for him, as it wasn't just a matter of baring his chest—they had to dance, act like an animal, and allow women judges to fondle them. My one daughter and nephew hit the casino a few times. My daughter came out ahead, but my nephew did not. CHILDREN ACTIVITIES: My nephews (8 and 12) took part in Camp Carnival for some activities and enjoyed it. OLDER TEENS/YOUNG ADULT: My older teens complained that it was difficult for them to meet others.(too old for Carnival groups, too young to drink) My daughter who was 22 said she would probably choose another cruise line—she said there were mostly families or partiers and she said she didn't meet anyone her age who was unattached. (Suggest that Carnival have a mixer for an hour or so the first night for young singles to mingle. These are their future paying guests, so I think they should try to find someway to cater to them besides expecting them to meet up in the lounges.) ENTERTAINMENT: About what I expected, similar to what was on the Victory. There are very few good seats in the Paris Lounge however. Adults in my group were disappointed in the magician/comedian acts, as their humor, while maybe toned down for families, were still full of sexual innuendos. The older teens were also not impressed with the adult comedy club. EXCURSIONS: We booked one privately—with a large group it was easier than messing with Carnival's website, not to mention cheaper. We used Capt Marvin's in Grand Cayman and everyone really enjoyed the trip to Stingray City and another snorkeling stop. We were not impressed with the port area—it was too hot to shop, and it was relatively expensive. The tenders ran very efficiently, but don't wait until close to the last tender as there are long lines in the hot sun. For Cozumel, the older kids and my husband went to the Adventure Park Zipline, Climbing Towers, Snorkeling Excursion. They enjoyed it but felt it could have been organized a bit better. The rest of us took our chances on finding a beach. A man with a sign advertising tours with a van which held 14 caught our attention. He described his tour of the city and park, and then we would go to a beach club and enjoy a pool, and beach and snorkeling. We paid $25 each and the guide was excellent. We told him what our kids were doing, and he said there were climbing towers near where we were going. The beach club was nice—but near a hotel that never reopened after the two hurricanes went through several years ago. When we went to get our snorkel equipment, there were snorkels laid out labeled Adventure Park. Lo and behold our kids ended up at the very same beach. Shopping was good around the port. DISEMBARKATION: We were in no hurry to leave as we all had late flights. We hung out in the buffet area as long as possible, and then went down and requested wheelchair help. A porter helped us find our luggage and then took us to the area where we could store the luggage for the day (for a fee, until 4:00). There are a few stores and restaurants in the area as well as the aquarium. We decided on nice lunch (we had 4 August birthdays) and the IMAX movie. I had planned the whole trip, including booking 3 different sets of flights on 3 different days, so it was nice that my sister took care of getting us a shuttle to the airport. I think everyone enjoyed the cruise. There were 6 of us who had never cruised before. My one sister said she got claustrophobic in the inside cabin, and would probably choose an ocean view or balcony the next time. Booking early and getting guaranteed cabins were good for us, as we were lucky enough to avoid the fuel charges, and later rates were much higher. Two new cruisers were surprised how they felt they were "nickled and dimed to death"-with charges for soft drinks, high prices for drinks, expensive bingo, chances for a free cruise, etc. Carnival excursions were also expensive. The rest of us knew what to expect, and overall feel that Carnival cruises are a great value, especially if you skip the extras they charge for Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
This cruise was a 5 night cruise out of Tampa. We sailed to Cozumel, and Grand Cayman with 2 full days at sea. We departed Tampa on Saturday, August 2 and returned Thursday, August 7. It was myself and my 18 year old daughter. Accompanying ... Read More
This cruise was a 5 night cruise out of Tampa. We sailed to Cozumel, and Grand Cayman with 2 full days at sea. We departed Tampa on Saturday, August 2 and returned Thursday, August 7. It was myself and my 18 year old daughter. Accompanying us was my brother and his friend. We were booked in an interior room R9. Riviera deck forward. My brother and his friend were also on Riviera deck, but had a bunk type room just down the hall from us. Arrival: We flew into Tampa and right away got a cab to the port. Cost $25 + tip for 2 of us. We arrived at 10:30 am..so therefore we had to wait a bit to go into the building. WE grabbed a cup of coffee from the coffee shop right next to the pier and browsed in some of the shops. Once inside, things went fairly fast...lines weren't long at this time. We did have to wait once thru all the hooplah as they hadn't started to board the ship yet. Once they opened the doors, it was quick and easy. Once on board we looked around a bit. My daughter is an athlete and runs cross country so she NEEDED to find the gym right away and the outdoor track. We then went to the Lido deck for lunch, and waited for my brother and his friend to get on board. We did spend some time at the main bar in the atrium area while waiting for my brother. This bar had the worst bartenders of anywhere on board in my opinion. I did not spend lots of time in the bars, but did visit them for entertainment and people watching. The 2 bartenders that were usually there were not friendly, no conversation, just did their job and that was it. We did have 3 separate issues with mis-billing, giving our drinks to other people, not giving us the right things...etc. After about the 3rd time using that bar with problems each time..we didn't go back. I'm gonna switch gears here, and just simply describe certain things and places rather than do a day-to-day review. It is hard for me to remember each thing in order. Lido deck: Lots of chairs-although way too close together...you can smell the people to either side of you and quite often touched them as the chairs were literally side-by-side...no leg room in between! Pool: good, clean pool...but definitely not big enough for all the people using it. Once the kids woke up and got in...there was no enjoying it at all. The adults only serenity area was great except for no pool. They do have a hot tub in this area and nice chairs with comfy chair pads on them...and it did appear to stay adults only. The water works area was fun, but it took up way too much room. There was so much WASTED SPACE in this area. Yes the slide were fun for kids and a few adults I saw use it, but although there was tons of kids on this cruise...they didn't seem to use it much. I really felt that another pool was more needed than the water works. Another pool with 1 or 2 small slides would have been utilized much more. Having only the one pool was just not enough for the amount of people. This cruise having sailed in a summer month had quite a few kids on it and it made for a very crowded pool on the Lido deck. FOOD: Lido deck buffet style food was always decent a plentiful. The buffet maitre de guy was always visible as were his staff. They were continuously cleaning, re-filling, and again more cleaning. Pizza shop was good, nothing spectacular, but good. The sub/sandwich spot was also good. The rueben was great! The variety of food each day on the buffet was very good. Always something for everyone. They also always had a burger, hot dog place also. My daughter, being very health conscious was always eating from the fruit and salad bar. She also usually was able to find something from the buffet also. She also called ROOM SERVICE every morning and night to order 2 fruit plates. She was quite ecstatic about this..she loved getting fruit delivered to her room whenever she wanted it. She did say she would have liked more options though in the fruit department. They always had apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and melons. They did have peaches one night..but that was it. She said they really need to have more variety available. She said she also felt that the salad bar needed to have something other than iceberg lettuce available. she was hoping to see spinach, or other green options. As I said, she is a health nut...but she was ok, and could always find something good to eat. AS for me...I am fairly easygoing with food choices. I tried most things...loved some..hated others. Dining room: We had late seating in the Mardi Gras room. This dining room was closest to our room. We were at a table with 2 other families for a total of 11 people. We really enjoyed our table mates...everyone showed up every night for dinner which was nice. (I've been on a cruise before that a group of ladies only cam to dinner one night (formal night), so it made for quite an empty table as it was a 12 person table and the group of ladies were 8 of them, so myself and my friend, and two other young ladies were all that was at the table the other night.) Our dining staff was ok the first night...then our main waiter got sick, so the rest of the cruise we had the 2nd in charge person. She was AWESOME..we felt bad for the original waiter..but were delighted in the change. Her name was OLENA and was from the Ukraine...she was great! Then on the final night, our original waiter came back...we were all so upset, as they moved her somewhere else..well needless to say we had to find her as we all made sure to tip her extra and did not want it to go to the other guy that. Anyway...she was great and attentive and always had recommendations. The food itself was delicious!!!! What more can I say about other than that. Great items on the menu each night..all very good! And of course plenty of it! I myself am a shrimp and steak kind of girl...so I always had something to eat! I was happy. My daughter of course only ate the healthy stuff...fruit plates, fish, chicken, and yet again more fruit plates. It became a joke...because she always ordered a fruit plate for her starter, and then a fruit plate for dessert! DINING ROOM ENTERTAINMENT: the dining room is small compared to other ships I've been on, so therefore the entertainment from staff aspect was simply ok. The usual conga line, macarena dance, and songs. The maitre de was a handsome man, he sounded and and kind of looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger. ENTERTAINMENT: WE went to the shows every night...they were all simply fabulous. My daughter couldn;t believe that you got all this for one price! She really loved the comedy shows, and the dancers. We had 2 late night comedy shows (different comedians)..they were AWESOME. My daughter having just turned 18, loved the fact that she got to see regular adult comedy and not the kiddie stuff. The magician/illusionist was just OK. The CruiseIdol show was ok..there were only 3 acts unfortunately...but they were all Great. God love 'em all for getting up there in front of everyone and performing. BINGO: nope I didn't win..nothing more to say except that it always seemed to not run on time, and always ran into show time. CASINO: nope didn't win here either, but didn;t spend alot. I only myself so much money, and then know when to quit. Once again, the DD being 18 got her first chance and blackjack and slots. She loved Blackjack now. She won a bit, but then lost it. But she had fun. She did always get ID'd whenever we went into the casino..they were almost like vultures whenever she walked in...she does look younger than her years though. CAPPUCCINO AND SWEET SHOP: Great....good service, a little extra cost, but worth it. chocolate covered strawberries and sweets..very good. SUSHI BAR: my daughter had some every night. she said the guy that worked there was great, funny, and friendly. she also said the items on it were awesome. AS for me, I never tried it. AFTERNOON TEA: I stopped here once. It was nice simply sitting, listening to the piano player, and having tea and finger snacks, and reading my book. SHOPS: good shops. Bought the usual souvenir t-shirt (last night sale), and bought myself some perfume. I am one of those people that doesn't take her own perfume on the cruise due to the fact that I stop by the shop and spray myself with a new fragrance each night from the testers in the shop. Then I buy my new favorite on the final night. No sale this time, but still ok priced. My daughter bought a new purse...good deal on it! Jewelry seemed to be abundant as well as alcohol. I didn't buy any, but thought the prices weren't any different than here in Ohio, maybe even more. QUIET PLACES: not enough in my opinion. Outside quiet spots were hard dot find, at least for me. They all seemed to be outside the Lido deck area where the music was always way too loud. After the first day, I tend to tire of the calypso type music, and would prefer to have a quiet place to sit and read and listen to the water. I unfortunately could not find such a place. I know it is possible, I just never found it. ROOM: our room was great. We were in room R9 which is very far forward in the front corner. I had been worried as I have always heard that the noise level in this area is bad due to the anchor and other things. Other than hearing the anchor raise and drop, there were no noise issues. Very quite spot actually and never felt any movement at all. Will probably get in this area again. I love the interior staterooms aboard Carnival. They are quite roomy considering that are the cheapest rooms on board. I refer the darkness of them without the window, so I never feel the need to pay extra for an outside room. I would love to have a balcony sometime though...just can't afford the extra $ for it. Our room steward was Tony. he was awesome. He asked what my schedule was like, and asked if I had any needs or preferences on times for him to come by. The room was always very clean. The amenities basket contained, heartburn chewables, razors, and afew other items. FYI: these were not replaced once taken. Plenty of closet space, and underbed storage. We had brought the very large type of suitcases, and they slid perfectly under the beds. There were 3 closets doors, two were for hanging type stuff and storage in the bottom. the third contained shelves for clothes storage. The desk area had 2 chairs, one in front, and one next to it. It had 3 drawers for storage. More than enough space. My brother had a different experience with his room and steward. They only saw her once, and she never acknowledged them, nor seemed to go out of her way at all. They said the room was ok and clean. The bunks allowed for plenty of space, but the top bunk was SO close to the ceiling that if you turnover in your sleep, you may hit your head or arms and legs when rolling over. They also did not have robes in their rooms, and it took 3 days for them to get them after asking for them..they also had to ask for pool towels, as they weren't in the room either. My room was stocked with both pool towels and Carnival's wonderful robes when we arrived. Each time sailing Carnival, I have slept like a baby. The beds are so comfortable. I have even purchased the pillows for my home. Well worth the money. Before the cruise I had purchased the towel animal book, and a fruit basket for my daughter. They were in the cabin when we arrived, and she was delighted to see her name on them! I was given a Carnival Inspiration pin for my return guest gift, and of course the invite to the past guest reception. SPORTS AREAS: My daughter said that the track definitely needed an enclosure. It was always way too windy to run around it. Other ships sometimes have it surrounded by a see thru enclosure...much better. The gym we loved. Smaller than other ships I've been on, but great equipment and good offered classes. My daughter fell in 'lust' with the Athletic Trainer from Brazil...so needless to say she signed up for a few classes. It was an additional cost of $10 for a couple of them...but it was worth it to her as she enjoyed them. Her and her uncle took a cycling class that they enjoyed also. We never went into the spa, but when walking by it to get to the gym, it always looked clean, and nice. We would have loved to get a couple of spa treatments, but they were way too costly...even when they had the specials going on. Oh well. Putt Putt was cute, but once again it is way too windy up there to do it. PORTS: We went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Getting on and off the boat at each port was easy enough, although the short amount of time in Grand Cayman makes for too many people trying to get off and back on the boat at the same time...a bit too congested at this stop. Cozumel was easy getting on and off. Embarkation...this was the worst part of the cruise. We were in no hurry as our flight home was later in he afternoon, so we chose to let them take our bags, and wait until our number was called. My brother and his friend chose to carry their own bags and were off the boat in no time first thing in the morning. After having opened the doors there was some sort of issue with customs, and they had to stop disembarking. (From my understanding, they had to bring their sniff dogs on board the lower level or something like that)...anyway..things were ok and they started back up. When our number was called we were in line with what seemed like 50 thousand people, and then they started calling other numbers, and then stopped disembarking again, so needless to say , this became a cluster!!! And quite frustrating, as there always seem to be the people, that like to push, cut in line, get rude, complain, etc. They are probably the type of people that when driving, they ride your tail, cut your off, etc. Oh well, cest la vie! Before our number got called we sat in the Lido deck deck buffet area, and head a great breakfast while waiting..so waiting around was just fine with us. Well, this is where I cam complain: While trying to find our bags, I noticed my large duffel type suitcase was gone!!!! After looking all over, and getting help from the port authorities I wound up flying home without my suitcase. I filled out paperwork while at the pier and simply hoped they found it. A couple of days after arriving at home I received aphone call form a man in Florida that had my bag! He said that the porters simply just started grabbing bags and threw them on their carts with out checking anything. So when the family got home, and started unpacking, they realized that they had my bag. Well, Carnival said that I had to pay to ship my bag home, and that they will reimburse me for the cost of shipping...we'll see. I am still waiting for the invoice from UPS to send to Carnival. That has been an issue in itself...frustrating to be exact. I had noticed that the porters are in such a hurry to move people, and make more money in tips, that they don't allow for people to even verify that the stuff they are grabbing is their stuff. This needs to be changed! They just grab and go...no checks and balances in this area at all! Luckily for me, my bag went home with an honest person, and he returned it all in tact to me. Thank you Don! OVERALL: Nice boat! Nothing fancy, but decent. Clean. Simple decor (although the purple things in the Lido buffet dining room are terrible and ugly!) Atrium is small...wish it was bigger and prettier. Staff, decent...some much better than others. Food, delicious! Great shows! Bars...music...ok...too much smoke though..we don't smoke and tended to have to avoid the bars due to many people smoking. Wish the air in the bars was better, so that we could have enjoyed it more. I had hoped that my daughter would meet someone her age that she could go to the clubs with or hang out with...but unfortunately that didn't happen. She was at a disadvantage age wise..as there were many 15-17 somethings, but not many 18-21s. The 12-17 year olds aboard this ship were quite appalling in my opinion. The groups we saw were quite often drunk! and being quite childish and doing things they should not have been doing. A few were seen on the decks into the very wee hours of the morning. I understand that people feel safe allowing their kids to wander the boat, but the behavior we saw all over the boat from a large majority of these kids was awful. We also saw many younger kids ranging in ages 4-10 that were unsupervised and running thru the halls, up and down stairs, loud, obnoxious, etc. I normally cruise while schools are in session, and after being on this summer cruise, I will never go during school breaks again. My brother, and daughter agreed with me on this one. My daughter was hoping to find someone to hang out with, but she said after seeing the way most were acting, she chose to hang out with me. Lucky me...I was afraid I would never see her! She did say that she wants to cruise again (this was her first) and she will bring a friend next time, someone like her, with her same Christian beliefs, and therefore she could enjoy not having to hang out with her old mom the whole time, and would be able to enjoy other activated on the boat, without feeling offended by the unruly behavior that was seen by the other kids her age. As for me, I will stick to cruising while the kids are in school! Just my opinion: people..watch your kids! Just because you are on a boat doesn't mean it is ok the let them have a free for all, and wander all over! And as for the kids that were respectful, and behaving...thank you! I know I saw a few and told them they were being good kids....I hope they remember that. And they were still having fun! So it is possible to be good and have fun all at the same time! Oh yeah, there also was THE rudest woman in the lounge area for one of the late night comedy shows. The room was packed and she refused to sit down or move. She stood in front of the people who were sitting down, and her being a rather large woman she blocked their view of the stage, and when they asked her to please move, she ignored them...this continued for quite some time. The people went and got staff, the cruise director, and others. They all asked her to move also, and she simply stood there as though no one was talking to her. At one point she threatened to kick someones A** if they continued to bother her. Carnival should have removed her from the room, but did not. Security even came and told her to move, but that was it. Ugh!!!! Oh well, we could still hear the comedian. Someone after the show went up to the lady and told her she was the problem with this country, and that she was a disgrace to human kind! Although this may seem harsh, you really needed to have been there to understand this. She was probably THE rudest person I have come across!, and I used to work for the police department, and came across some of the worst people around. Well I want to end this on a good note. I absolutely love Carnival cruise lines, and am already looking to book my next cruise for next spring. I think cruising is such a great way to spend my vacations. For the amount of money you spend, you get so much for your money. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend my money, and a better way to spend time with my family! Carnival cruises have something for everyone....the perfect vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
I read so many member reviews before I took my first cruise on the Inspiration, and I found them so helpful that I wanted to contribute my own insight to those planning their vacation. This will be long, but hopefully useful regarding what ... Read More
I read so many member reviews before I took my first cruise on the Inspiration, and I found them so helpful that I wanted to contribute my own insight to those planning their vacation. This will be long, but hopefully useful regarding what to expect. So let's start with the "hurricane experience"--my biggest fear in booking a trip that ran Aug. 30-Sept. 4. Of course, Gustav was making his way up the Western Gulf, and Hannah was in the East. We were supposed to visit Grand Cayman on Monday and Cozumel on Tuesday, but found out on boarding that we were rescheduled to do Key West on Sunday and Cozumel on Tuesday. The weather wasn't great when we sailed, and was raining by about 4 pm. The captain announced that evening that we had to cancel Key West and would only go to Cozumel---a BIG disappointment given it was our first cruise and we wanted to go to 2 ports. They only refunded us $20 for the missed port, which we felt was a bit pathetic, as did others on the ship! Still, we had the attitude of trying to make the best of it. However, Sunday got VERY rocky on the ship and it was really nasty outside, with huge waves. They actually drilled shutters over the portholes, so I feel bad for anyone who had paid for a porthole view room. I was fine until late afternoon, when I got seasick (luckily, I managed to just sleep a lot and not vomit, though I did miss the formal night). Our cleaning guy said his crew mate was sick, too, so you know it's bad when they are feeling ill! Also, we passed a pile o' puke in a corridor, which nobody cleaned for a long time---ewww. I also heard that some people were walking around the ship vomiting into their bags. They will give you a patch for free, but I heard it was $50 to get a shot to feel better. I fared ok with my sea band bracelets, which I brought just in case and used late Sunday. I guess there were a bunch of activities to keep us occupied indoors, but it was disappointing to be stuck inside because it was raining so hard outside. It's something to consider when planning a cruise during hurricane season, and I don't think that consideration should be taken lightly when planning a vacation, so please do think wisely about your expectations.... Embarkation: This was pretty easy, as straightforward as everyone else says it is. We took a taxi for 2, and it was $30 WITH tip, so it saved us a few dollars compared with paying $15 each to take Carnival's shuttle and then tip the driver--plus there was no wait for others to join us. We arrived at the port at 11:20 am and the line moved very quickly. We were supposed to board at 11:30, but that didn't happen until about noon, though we were group number 8 and were on board by about 12:15. Rooms: Our room was the Empress deck ocean view, and it was roomy enough for 2 people, though we didn't find any extra space under the bed, as people had mentioned we would--there was an extra mattress underneath. Still, even with our 2 suitcases on the floor, we were fine. The beds were extremely comfortable, and the bathroom was roomy enough enough. The showers surprisingly stayed at the perfect temperature (that you can "lock in") the entire shower! My only complaint: On Sunday we didn't leave the room that night, so cleaning crew couldn't get in, and then Monday we were out of our room most of the day, and came back that night at midnight only to find that they never came in at all, so the place was full of dirty towels and half-empty glasses, etc. I called the main desk and they sent a guy who didn't seem happy to have to clean at that hour--and neither were we! He tried to insist they had come to clean that day, but they didn't. In all fairness, our actual cleaning guy was very apologetic the next day and he seemed to make sure he was more attentive after that. Dining: I think opinions widely vary on the food on this ship, and ours were mixed as well. On the one hand, you had plenty of food and variety at all times of the day. If you had a whim for anything, you probably could find it. However, none of the food was very flavorful and it was just about the same quality as a catering hall. We enjoyed the made-to-order omelette every morning (along with a wide array of other options), and it was flavorful and fresh. The burgers were pretty good, too. The salad bar had a nice array of options, too, though I didn't eat much healthy food during the trip--the onion rings and mac n' cheese were too tempting, and I was on vacation! There were lots of dessert options, but none tasted as good as they looked, sadly. The exception, which you probably have heard by now, is the famous Chocolate Melting Cake, which I had every night after dinner--the consistency varied (from brownie-like to soupy), but it was so unbelievably rich and tasty, a perfect dessert to me! We had the late seating for dinner, and it was great because service was quick. We usually got 2 appetizers each. The meals were ok at dinner, and had plenty of options, but nothing was gourmet, that's for sure. I just wished the food was a bit better quality overall on the ship. I will say I've heard the lines could get really long on the ship for the buffet meals, but we never had that problem and found it easy to find seating, etc. The lemonade was pretty good, but very sweet--I think they do that, though, because once the ice melted, it was the perfect drink! I didn't care much for the iced tea, but my friend didn't mind it. The Lido deck/Serenity area: We found seating pretty easily and enjoyed chatting with all those around us. Yes, the pool was small, but it wasn't a big problem. The music could get a bit too loud, though. I'm in my 30s and like live music, but we found it hard to talk over it at times! The band was fun, though and we got our fill of Bob Marley tunes... I am a bit of a wimp about rides and stuff, but the giant water slide was so much fun! A lady in her 70s convinced me that I had to go--I figured if she could enjoy it, I had no reason not to! By the last day, there were more adults on it than kids, so no worries about being shy and acting like a kid. The Serenity area was a nice place to relax without kids, too, though it would have been better if there was an adults-only pool area--it got too hot at times to enjoy the whirlpools. Entertainment: I can't say too much about the shows, as we only attended one--the magician/comedian night. I thought they were rather subpar, but I love Vegas and also live just outside NYC, so I am accustomed to top-notch entertainment quality. We did enjoy the casino. The clubs were ok, too and offered variety so you had options. I played Bingo once and found it expensive and loud, but it offered something different to do! The Staff: Overall, we liked the fact that all the staff were from different countries and found them pleasant, if not overly friendly. I know others have had different encounters, but we weren't too impressed by most of their demeanors. We're pretty outgoing and didn't find the staff too interested in chatting--they were too busy with their duties, I guess. We would have welcomed more interaction and personal attention, to be honest. Cozumel: We were so excited to get off the ship and plan our own excursions, as I'd heard Carnival overcharges for them. I did the dolphin swim, which was walkable from the ship, and was lucky enough to do so with only 3 other women, so it was a really personalized, wonderful experience and a personal thrill of a lifetime! We also asked a local bartender his recommendation for a good beach, and we took a $15 cab ride to a great small FREE beach called Mr. Sanchos, which had a good reasonable outdoor restaurant (great drinks and fajitas/guacamole) and a few shops. My only bad experience was that we got scammed into taking a horseback ride from HELL. I love to ride and was really excited to do so. Avoid a guy selling packages right off the ship next to Starbucks. He lied and said it would be a great ride, and only was charging $40/person....the taxi driver said I was totally scammed once we got there, and I immediately saw why. There was no stable--it was right off the main road about 10 minutes away, and there were about 6 extremely malnourished, sickly horses (one had something oozing from its eye). I had a million mosquito bites as we rode through the jungle, so bring repellant! The guide was nice and he let me gallop as much as I wanted, but we rode through a jungle strewn with trash and went through some extremely poor villages with loose dogs and even some strange asphalt landfill area. Overall, not a scenic ride, and we felt rather uneasy about the experience--it was a good reminder that we were in a foreign country and felt grateful for the good ole' USA. You can get a great ride. I'm told by the way, for cheap at Mr. Sanchos! The shopping also wasn't great in Cozumel--too many tourist shops with the same stuff, and no major good deals, other than on liquor and (depending how good you are at haggling) silver. I bought one nice bracelet for $100 at Mr. Sanchos and thought I might have overpaid, until I saw how much more they were charging in the main shopping area, so try to do your shopping outside that area, if at all possible. Disembarkation: This looked more overwhelming than it was. We did the self-assist option and though there was a long line, we got off within five minutes. It was easy and painless! Overall, Carnival was a great, cost-effective option for trying cruising, but other cruisers told us they had had better quality on other lines such as Royal Caribbean and Princess, so I think we'll try one of them next. We really enjoyed our vacation, and I think it's really what you make of it. Nothing was top-notch quality, but it was relaxing and we were never waiting too long for a drink and had food at our disposal 24/7, plus plenty of activities to keep us busy when desired. If you want gourmet and Ritz-like atmosphere, go elsewhere, but if you are on a budget (as we were) and want a fun ship that has plenty to do, Carnival will give you that. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
Background Information: This was our sixth cruise but our first on Carnival. We normally cruise Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Lines so we had fairly high expectations especially considering Carnival's reputation for being more ... Read More
Background Information: This was our sixth cruise but our first on Carnival. We normally cruise Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Lines so we had fairly high expectations especially considering Carnival's reputation for being more of a basic experience. In some ways we were right but overall we were pleasantly surprised.Ship Info: We sailed on 19 July on Carnival Inspiration. Original itinerary was to be Tampa-day at sea-Grand Cayman-Cozumel-day at sea-Tampa. However, because of Hurricane Dolly, the Captain made the decision on Day 1 to not go to Grand Cayman and instead go to Key West. This was absolutely the right decision since Dolly was right over Grand Cayman. However, I know several people were upset because so many passengers were from Florida and Key West was hardly a new destination for them. Why get on a cruise to visit a location you could easily drive to from home? But like I said, I think the Captain made the right call and his options were pretty limited considering Dolly's position and projected course. The ship itself was pretty much what we expected. Gaudy. When we first walked into the Grand Atrium we thought we had walked into a giant bowling alley or cheap casino. Black carpet with purple, red and blue highlights and extensive neon lighting on every balcony and elevator. Hardly the elegant atmosphere we've experienced on other cruise lines. For us, it left us wondering what was in store for us for the rest of the cruise. The rest of the ship was pretty much the same with some exceptions. Embarkation: Very efficient and smooth. We arrived around 1:30 and there was a line but it moved quickly and efficiently. We had done all the on-line registration items and that seemed to help since everything had already been done. My only beef is the process to drop off luggage from your vehicle. The drop off lanes aren't very big and they only had one lane open so traffic was backed up out to the street. They should have had more drop off lanes open to get traffic moving and not blocking traffic on Channel Street. Activities: We didn't do too many activities since our objective was relaxation. We did go to one show with a magician and comedian and it was pretty good. However, on the last night of the cruise there was an adult comedy show which was held in one of the smaller lounges. Needless to say it was packed to standing room only and with all the noise and commotion of people coming in, trying to find non-existent seats, talking because they couldn't hear and then walking out, we also left after 10 minutes. It just wasn't worth the hassle and I have no idea why they didn't put the show in the larger Paris lounge which could seat hundreds of people compared to several dozens. Service: Very good with one notable exception. Speed of service in the Dining room was amazingly slow. We often waited 20-30 minutes after placing our order to receive our meal. And forget it if you needed to talk to the waiter, or wanted another drink/appetizer/etc.. She was too busy serving the other tables. It was apparent to me that the wait staff was under staffed and couldn't keep up with all the tables they needed to wait. I will commend our waitress when she was there in that she was very nice, friendly and tried to meet our needs, but she was busy trying to keep her head above water let alone asking if I needed a refill on my drink. Otherwise all the other personnel on board were very friendly, helpful and competent. I just wish Carnival would work on the Dining room service. Shore Excursions: We had originally planned to dive in Grand Cayman and then snorkel in Cozumel. Because of the cancellation of the Grand Cayman stop, we wanted to switch our excursions so we could snorkel in Key West and dive in Cozumel. I was very concerned that we would be slapped with huge cancellation fees but Carnival did the right thing and switched our excursions with no fees since it wasn't our fault. Both of our excursions were great, well organized and fun. Key West Snorkeling: I will say the crew of the Fury, our catamaran/snorkeling excursion in Key West, was very professional, but almost to a fault. No smiles, no chatting, little interest. We felt like cattle being shuttled out to the reef and then back. We've done other catamaran/snorkeling excursions and the crews were generally more gregarious and friendly. Cozumel Beginners Diving: I can say our Beginners Diving was our most enjoyable excursion ever. After a brief trip to the dive shop, on the beach, and 30 minutes of instruction we were walking into the water for our dive. We only went out a few hundred yards and only went 30-40 ft deep, but for an introduction it was perfect. The staff was friendly and professional and the dive was scenic. The equipment and fitting wasn't the best, but adequate for our needs. After about 30-40 minutes in the water we walked out, dropped our gear and sat down at the bar, on the beach, for some margaritas and chips. A great end to a great dive. Stateroom: Very good. Always clean and had everything we needed. It was up to par with both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian and had the exact same layout. Our steward was friendly and accommodating and always had the room made up and cleaned when we returned. We never had problems with noise but we were on the Veranda deck (top) so there were fewer cabins and less traffic, especially from kids. Dining: The food was very good. Great presentation, lots of choices and tasted very good. I've already commented on the speed of service but otherwise the food exceeded our expectations. However, there were two things that did detract from our dining experience. The first being the obnoxious tables next to us. Unfortunately we had a large group seated near us that were the epitome of trash who couldn't keep their voices down and their obnoxious behavior to themselves. It was so bad we couldn't hear ourselves talking and needed to yell to ourselves and our waitress if we needed to communicate. It was also apparent the wait staff and the other diners felt the same way but nothing was ever done to stop it. We felt we had found the cruiser Carnival is famous for. Loud, obnoxious, partiers whose single objective is to drink as much as possible during the cruise. The other thing that was disappointing was that the dress code advertised by Carnival was not enforced. All the websites and pamphlets dictate no shorts in the dining room for dinner. This standard was never followed or enforced (especially by the table next to us) and I have no idea why they even pretend to have such a standard. I saw shorts, flip flops, bathing suits, ripped t-shirts, baseball caps at dinner and all within two tables of us. If I were to cruise Carnival again, I wouldn't worry about packing any semi-formal or "Cruise Casual" clothing since you can wear pretty much whatever you want to dinner. Children's Clubs: No idea about the kids clubs since we traveled without our kids but the ship was overrun with children. Even at midnight, there were hundreds of children running around and generally doing what kids do. We're parents of two young children so we were amazed to see toddlers and other children running around so late. Disembarkation: Very good. We have family in Tampa so we didn't need to worry about an airport transfer. So when it was time to get off the ship, we got our luggage, stood in a short line and got off. Quickest and most efficient debarkation we've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
This was our first cruise and we decided to go with Carnival mainly for the price and the ability to leave out of Tampa. Overall the cruise was a good experience and we would like to go on another cruise, although we may try a different ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we decided to go with Carnival mainly for the price and the ability to leave out of Tampa. Overall the cruise was a good experience and we would like to go on another cruise, although we may try a different cruise line. We cruised 7/19/2008-7/24/2008. As the previous poster said, we were diverted from one of our destinations to the Keys due to Hurricane Dolly. Embarkation- No problems, went quickly and smoothly. Cabin-We had an oceanview cabin on the U deck (2nd from the top deck of rooms). I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the room. The closets were also very spacious and easily held our clothes. The bathroom was what we expected, tiny! Activities- We didn't participate in too many activities but did see a few shows. The Newlywed Game was really funny, although when we saw the tape running on the cruise tv channel we realized that a lot of the answers were scripted. We played Bingo one night, didn't win but it was fun. We also saw one of the evening shows...I was not impressed but we have been to Las Vegas quite a few times so perhaps I had too high of expectations. The dancers couldn't really dance and the singers weren't great either. Service-Unlike the other person on that posted on this same cruise, our dinner service was excellent. We had a table for two and were often finished with dinner in under an hour. Our waiters were excellent, friendly and very attentive. Our cabin steward was fabulous, she greeted us by name each time we saw her and the room was always clean. Shore Excursions-We did the jet ski tour of Key West and it was really great! I believe we used the Fury company. The jet ski tour took about 2 hours and was really fun. In Cozumel we swam with dolphins. I love it, my husband wasn't as thrilled. I will agree it is very pricey. We did the dolphin "swim and ride" at dolphinarus. When I booked it mentioned that we would snorkel with the dolphins, this isn't true. You just spread out in your group and the dolphins swim around you as they are trained to do. I was wanting a more natural interaction. Overall though this was a good experience. Watch out if you are fair skinned (like me) they make you wash off all your sunscreen before entering the pool with the dolphins! The sun in Mexico is strong, I got a really bad sunburn because having to take off my sunscreen. Food-Overall the food was good but sometimes I could tell that my dish had been prepared sometime before and had just been sitting. Some meals weren't hot and the salad wasn't cold. I had a pasta dish and the noodles were stuck together. However, the desserts and dishes with meat were good. Be sure to try the Chocolate melting cake..fabulous! Dislikes-Okay, here it is... Decor-The decor on the ship was tacky. I would imagine this kind of decor in a bowling alley. Not impressive at all, it just looked cheap and outdated. Pools-This was a major disappointment. There was only one very small pool for the entire ship. Sure there was the kid slide area and several hot tubs but I really like to swim and it was always packed with people. The music on the lido deck was always blaring also (not that we could get into the pool). The serenity deck was nice but only had hot tubs. Very, very disappointing. Dress Code-The dress code is clearly listed on the website but is not enforced in the dining room. Mildly annoying. Overall, we will cruise again...maybe with Carnival but I would like to see what else is out there! 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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