We left home on Friday morning to head to Flint Michigan, which is about a 4-½ hour drive for us. Flew into Tampa via Air Tran at 8:00 p.m. I had the honor of sitting next to Reggie Spencer #80 for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a really nice ... Read More
We left home on Friday morning to head to Flint Michigan, which is about a 4-½ hour drive for us. Flew into Tampa via Air Tran at 8:00 p.m. I had the honor of sitting next to Reggie Spencer #80 for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a really nice guy. He showed me his Rookie Trading Cards and gave me an autograph for a friend of mine who is a huge Dallas Fan. The Best Western Westshore Shuttle picked us up at the airport. I was very pleased with the BW, Westshore. The staff was very nice; the food was good in the Gaspers Bar & Grill although I just had a Cheese Steak Sandwich and French Onion Soup (really good). There was a one-man band playing there who was playing some oldies and he was very good and entertaining. I had read an earlier post from a woman who's college age sons stayed at the BW Westshore and said it was "Okay." I think it was probably due to the older music and the general atmosphere, which was quiet and laid back. Checked out the pool - small but nice. We spent the next day in Clearwater and had a really great time. There were 10 of us total, 5 went on a fishing charter and had a really good time and the other five of us headed for the beach/tiki bars. It was a day well spent. We ate at Crabby Bills for lunch at 11:30 and decided to meet there again for dinner at 5:30 after the fishing charter. We left Crabby Bills at about 8:30 well toasted as the staff there waved Ariverderchi to our gang. Sunday morning we were up and at 'em ready to head to the port. I got a knock on our door and my friend said, "Becky is on the phone for you." I thought it was my office as I work with a Becky, but was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was the one and only bjkeen. It was so nice of Becky to call and wish us Bon Voyage. We arrived the port at 11:30. We breezed through check in and were in group number 2 to board the ship. Everything at the Tampa Pier was very well organized and the staff was very friendly. We were on board by 12:15 or so. It was raining when we had the dreaded drill so we didn't have to parade outside by the lifeboats like we normally do. That was a nice surprise. The food was consistently delicious. The best thing I ate was the Sweet and Sour Prawns. They were great. Our waiter, Mario, asked how I liked them, and I said they were good but all gone and he lickety split brought me some more. We also enjoyed the ribs that were served in the alternative dining restaurant. The staff on the Inspiration was wonderful. Our cabin steward, Ivan was invisible unless we needed something, which we rarely did as he, and his team were so efficient. We also met Kanakwan, a drink waitress in the dining room from Thailand. She was wonderful. Every night after dinner we would go to the lounge above the dining room just to visit with her a little more. On the final night in the dining room she stood by our table and sang the "Bags are packed song." I really felt that she was going to miss us as much as we were going to miss her. (Tear) We spent about three or four different evenings in the Piano Bar with Eric. He is only 22 years old but knows quite a few good Piano Bar songs for his age with the exception of American Pie. We teased him quite a bit about not knowing American Pie; finally he admitted that he just didn't like American Pie. One evening we had the pleasure of listening to Ron play. He really can play the piano. He knew every single song we requested but he wouldn't sing with us. He kept insisting that he sings terrible, (as if we were Superstars). We only went into the Avante Garde Lounge once to listen to the two-person band Chaser. They sounded pretty good but the atmosphere was always lacking. Peeked into the Disco on a couple of occasions and it was rockin' - with dozens of underage kids. They seemed to be having a really good time. There were about 5 billion kids on board okay, maybe not 5 billion but the ship's passenger capacity (double occupancy) is 2000 and there were 2600 passengers on board. We were told that on two different occasions by different staff members and believe it to be true. I had the pleasure of eavesdropping on a conversation between two young girls about 9 or 10 years old while standing in line for pizza one afternoon. The first girl said, "Our cruise is half over, I wish we were just starting it." And the other girl said, "I wish we were on board for 40 days." and then the first girl said I wish we could just stay on here forever, but what would we do when people die there is no cemetery and the other girl said, "We can just throw the bodies overboard." I visited the spa for a haircut and was surprised that it was only $70.00 + tip. Ron from the Philippines did an excellent job. I really enjoyed the whole experience. We have been to Grand Cayman on two different occasions and decided that we would have a leisurely breakfast before tendering to shore. There was an announcement that the seas were to rough for tendering and the ship would move to another location. There were about 1,000 people off the ship at that time. I can't imagine coming out of a shop on shore and seeing the ship sailing away. By the time we reached our new location, we would have only about an hour on shore given the time it takes to tender on and off the island so we decided to just stay on board. In Cozumel we went directly to Chakannab. This was our third visit here and it is always enjoyable. We have only been to one other beach in Cozumel, Playa Sol and we prefer Chakannab due to the snorkeling. We headed to Carlos and Charlie's at about 2:00 and had a wonderful time dancing the next three hours away before heading upstairs to Senior Frogs for a drink. I'm just glad someone in our group had the sense to corral us all out of there and get us back to the ship in the nick of time. We had a good time in New Orleans too. Started out at Pat O'Brien's for a hurricane and stopped at another small bar before arriving at the Krazy Korner which had a great band playing we stopped at another bar with a blues band, can't remember the name. We took a taxi back to the ship, as we didn't want to have to walk through the riverwalk again. On debarkation day, a friend of ours got to listen in on a conversation between an older couple. The lady said, "I want to go somewhere that I can where my bathing suit." Her husband said, "Have you tried the woods?" Our friend of course busted up along with another lady who was obviously listening as she spit her coffee out. We really enjoy the Fantasy class ships; I think it gives you a chance to get to know the staff better. We met Johnny, a great bartender in the back of the ship, who has been with Carnival for 12 years. We visited him every night for at least one nightcap and enjoyable conversation. The Inspiration is a fine ship. I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone. marks01@jamadots.com July 2003 Read Less
We just returned from an awesome 7-day cruise on the Carnival Inspiration. I could write a novel, but I will hit the high points that many people want to know about. Embarkation - Very smooth. They kept the lines moving even though it ... Read More
We just returned from an awesome 7-day cruise on the Carnival Inspiration. I could write a novel, but I will hit the high points that many people want to know about. Embarkation - Very smooth. They kept the lines moving even though it look like one would be standing forever. We had a Category 12 Cabin so we were able to board very quickly. All Category 11 & 12 Cabins are Skipper's Club, and the extra money is definitely worth it! Cabin - Lots of room for us and our 2 kids. Nice balcony for morning coffee or just to watch the world go by. We got some great photos from our balcony. Bathroom was good sized and there was plenty of storage space. Our cabin steward kept the place very clean and left delightful towel animals every evening. Food - It was better than expected! The buffet on the Lido Deck was great for lunches, and you shouldn't miss the Brassiere for the different types of food from different countries, which were served each day. Beautiful salad bar, and yes, the pizza was outstanding! There seemed to be only one guy serving the pizza at all hours, so the service was a little slow, but adequate. Dinner in the dining room was great. A different menu every evening and our waiter was outstanding. He and his lovely assistant knew our tables' drink preferences and these were always readily available, sometimes even waiting on us as we were seated. The maitre 'd was very charming and stopped at every single table every night. Activities/Shore Tours - Plentiful! Read your Carnival Capers and carry it around with you each day. The shows were okay, but don't miss the talent show and bedtime story, it was hilarious! I went for the galley tour and the officer that led us through was in a great hurry. He must not have wanted that particular duty, so it's a good thing I was near the front of the line. The Captain's Cocktail Party was amusing. Don't blink or you'll miss him and the officers! Good appetizers, free drinks. The kids went to a "Coketail Party" in Camp Carnival. Laying around the pool was a favorite for many. Get up early to get your lounge chair! It's packed by 10 am! Also, the pools are salt water. Don't open your eyes! Book your shore tours pretty early and definitely do your research before you go. I booked a tour in Grand Cayman for much less than what the ship's comparable tour cost. Call Tropicana! We had 6 people on our tour and it was very leisurely and relaxing. We had plenty of time to shop afterwards. We bought the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel in Cozumel. FUN! We enjoy sailing, so if you like that activity go for it! They took us to a lovely beach too. Take a cab and go to Carlos and Charlie's if you can, BIG FUN! I wouldn't take kids there in the evening because it looked like it would be a wild place, but early afternoon is good. Good deal on a gold chain and other baubles. In New Orleans we walked around on our own. Margaritaville is on Decatur Street next to the French Market. Every shop seemed to have the same stuff souvenir wise, but some things are cheaper, so shop around a little before you buy. The Spa and Gym was very nice. I had saved up for 2 treatments, but I thought they were a little on the high side. They will try to sell you the very expensive creams and stuff. Running on a treadmill while the ship is moving is a funny experience. I did make good use of the running track on the Sports Deck and found this to be a good choice for exercise as well as taking the stairs all the time. The elevators are really slow, so don't bother to wait! Do buy one or two formal pictures, they are worth it, but don't go crazy. They take a lot of you. The film developing service was nice too. The casino was fun because we did pretty well, and the lounges were okay too. The singers need new music to practice because we heard "Brown Eyed Girl" about 100 times during the week. Service/Crew - There are two bars by the main pool and plenty of wait staff who always made sure you had something cold. The drinks of the day were okay if you like sweet and fruity. If you do beer go for the bucket. Buy your kids a Fountain Card for sodas or you will spend a fortune! This was the BEST value of the cruise, only $20 for each kid. The crew always picked up empty glasses and plates immediately. Tables were bussed quickly and there was always a lot of cleaning and polishing going on throughout. They took a lot of pride in keeping the ship clean. Everyone was very friendly and always spoke in the hallways. Room Service is good too for a quick snack or a continental breakfast. Be very clear if you order over the phone. We got tomato juice instead of orange and were shorted some toast. This was quickly and cheerfully corrected. Camp Carnival - My kids were in the intermediate group and were able to sign themselves in and out. They didn't stay there the whole time every day, but really enjoyed the activities they participated in. I was worried about my kids roaming the ship, but this was not a problem. We did the Late Night Activities once and the counselors walked them back to the cabin. There was only one incident that involved an older child being in the intermediate group by mistake. He didn't care for something that was going on during a treasure hunt and put his hands around a 9 year old's neck and squeezed. The counselors quickly removed him, and security booted him out of Camp Carnival for good. His parents were notified. Most kids on this cruise were well behaved, we didn't see a lot of running about screaming. There was one gang of 13+ kids that were rumored to have thrown a wheelchair and a ping pong table overboard. They were loud but security always had a handle on them. Debarkation - We waited about an hour in a lounge with our tablemates. Again, the Skipper's Club paid off here. We were the first group off the ship. Getting the luggage was okay, they kept your stuff together mostly, except we grabbed the wrong hanging bag and took it all the way over to the airport. Carnival quickly sent ours over and took care of taking the wrong one back. Customs was nothing, they just took our form. The only thing that we wished could have been different was getting a flight home that day. Carnival swore they couldn't find us a flight, which means they waited too long to get a cheap ticket. They put us up in the Airport Marriott, so we made the most of it by laying by the pool with all the other people who couldn't get a flight. I still wouldn't book my own airfare, I would just say no to "Is it okay to fly you out the next day?" We will cruise again in the future and would try Carnival again. It was very relaxing for us and we all had a great time on our Spring Break and 40th birthday! rredick@neo.rr.com July 2003 Read Less
This was our first cruise (my husband and myself), we are 42 years old with no children and WE LOVED IT!!!!! When we arrived in New Orleans we found it to be very organized and everything flowed very smooth. Parking was in a fenced lot ... Read More
This was our first cruise (my husband and myself), we are 42 years old with no children and WE LOVED IT!!!!! When we arrived in New Orleans we found it to be very organized and everything flowed very smooth. Parking was in a fenced lot with a security guard. The cost was $70.00 cash. You drop your luggage off first then go park. We arrived at the terminal around 10:00am. After dropping our luggage and parking we got inside around 10:30am. There was no one in line at this time and the parking lot was empty, but it did fill up quick. We checked in, got our sail and sign cards and then we sat waiting to board for about 1 hour. You then go through the scanners and have your first (of many) picture taken. After that you proceed to the ship and they take your picture for your sail and sign card. Each time you leave the ship and get back on the ship you scan your card and your picture will come up on the computer screen. Make sure you take your sail and sign card every where you go, you will need it all the time!!!! We were finally on the ship!!! It was around 1:00pm. We headed toward our cabin. This ship is big and it will take some time to find your way around. I recommend getting a deck plan map at the information desk and carrying it with you. We used it all week. Just when you know your way around it will be time to go home. We were happy with our cabin, not the biggest cabin but it was plenty of room for the 2 of us. You are not in your cabin that much but to shower, sleep and change clothes. Our cabin was #M109, we had a window and really enjoyed it. There was a good size medicine cabinet in the bathroom and a big closet. The desk/dresser has 4 drawers. We WAY over packed clothes and had plenty of room when we unpacked (you have heard the old saying pack half as many clothes and twice the amount of money, that is VERY true). I would take hangers (the metal kind from the dry cleaners, they take up less space). I did use the over the door organizer in the cabin. I used it for my hair brushes, hair spray, sunscreen (make sure and use the sun screen), anything else that was too big for the medicine cabinet. It kept the clutter off the desk/dresser. After we unpacked our carryon [luggage] we headed out to explore. What a beautiful ship. We found it to be very clean and saw crew cleaning often. We found the pizzeria and ate our first lunch. The pizza and calzone's were great. There also was a buffet lunch available when we got on the ship. This is when we met our first shipmates (Bernard and Norma, we had some fun times with them, we have talked to them since we are home and look forward to a long friendship with them). Take the time to meet people (that's not hard to do), it's a lot of fun talking with different people. The first night for dinner is casual, whatever you wear on the ship is fine. You may not get your luggage before dinner so make sure you have anything you will need like medications,etc or a change of clothes in your carry on bag. We did however get our luggage around 5:00pm. We had the late seating for dinner in the Mardi Gras Dining Room. Our head waiter was George and his dining service team was the best. He/they made our dining experience very memorable. Going to the dining room for dinner is a big part of the cruise. Lots of fun, great food, entertainment and hopefully nice tablemates. If you are not happy with who you are sitting with talk to the Maitre'd he will find you a different table. There is NO reason to stay where you are not happy and having fun. This is your vacation enjoy it!!!! We had a FUN time every night. Every night while you are at dinner your cabin steward will tidy your room and leave you the next day Capers. The Capers tells you everything about the next day's activities. I took a highlighter marker and before going to bed we marked what we wanted to do the next dayl The first full day on the ship is at sea with lots of different things to do. Today you sign up for your excursions. There is a Adventure Talk telling you about the tours in the morning. I would suggest asking your travel agent or Carnival for a list of excursions before you leave so you have some idea what you would like to do. This also gives you the cost so you can budget accordingly. If you decide before the talk what you want to sign up for you can fill out your order forms and drop them off the first night. I think it was after 6:00pm at the information desk. We ate breakfast in the dining room but never did lunch in there. For lunch we ate on the Lido deck at the buffet or at the pizzeria. We brought with us 2 large cups with covers for ice and water. We filled them on the Lido deck every chance we got. We also purchased soda cards/fountain cards, we are BIG soda drinkers so they were worth the money, the cost was $29.95 per person. We never had any problems using them at any of the bars. Tonight is your first formal night. We are not the "dress up" kind of people normally at home but it was well worth getting dressed up and it was alot of fun too. Another day at sea, we relaxed by the pool, took the Galley tour and there are many other things to keep you busy, if you want that. Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica. We did the Ocho Rio's and Dunn's River Falls tour. We had a great time, highly recommend doing the Falls. An experience everyone should have. Jamaica is very poor and the people are very pushy, just say NO Thank You and keep walking. Next port is Grand Cayman. You take tenders in to this port. This is a BEAUTIFUL place. We did the Stingray City and Island Tour. This takes you to the Turtle Farm, then to Hell and then swim with the Stingrays. THIS IS A MUST DO!!! Just an incredible experience. The water is so blue and clear and swimming with the stingrays cannot be described. Make sure to take at least one underwater camera (bring them from home, they are expensive on the ship). After the tour we had some time to shop and walk around the pier area. Also make sure to taste and buy some Tortuga Rum Cakes, out of this world. This is your second formal night with the Gala Buffet at midnight. Worth staying up late for it. Your last port is Cozumel, Mexico. For this excursion we did the Passion Island. Highly recommend this excursion also. You are taken on a bus, then by boat you go to the island. Lunch is included and it's GREAT..the best guacamole I have ever eaten. The soda and alcoholic beverage's are also included. We drank "Passion Islands" all day and let's just say we took a nap when we got back on the ship. This excursion was alot of fun. You can snorkel, swim, have your hair braided, get a henna tattoo, play volleyball, relax in a hammock, walk on the beach, eat and drink. After you get back you do have time to shop in the city. We shopped at the stores right by the port. The midnight buffet tonight is held on the Lido deck under the stars with fun games and dancing in the moonlight. Another fun night. We went to most of the midnight buffets and could ALWAYS find something that was YUMMY!!! One more day at sea. Lots of activities going on all day. We enjoyed the pool, went to the Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed Game (very funny) and played bingo. We did our packing late in the afternoon before dinner, that way you can enjoy your last evening on the ship We did have to buy an expandable suitcase on the ship because we bought more stuff then we thought we would. Next time I will pack 2 extra expandable suitcases (I only packed one this time). You can't do everything but you can do as much or as little as you like. We had a great time and we look forward to our next cruise. If anyone has any questions please ask I will try and answer them as best as I can. We hope everyone enjoys the cruise as much as we did. Happy Cruising, Rthearts@aol.comJune 2002 Read Less
Following is my review of our cruise on the Carnival Inspiration which departed on 1/26 from Tampa. Our first observation was that the Tampa port is very nice. Easy to enter and get around in, and very convenient and clean. Channelside ... Read More
Following is my review of our cruise on the Carnival Inspiration which departed on 1/26 from Tampa. Our first observation was that the Tampa port is very nice. Easy to enter and get around in, and very convenient and clean. Channelside marketplace at the port was great, and we had a nice dinner at Stumps the night before. We moved very quickly through the embarkation process and were onboard in a little over an hour. They seemed to be MUCH more organized here verses Miami. We have been on 2 cruises prior to this, on the Destiny and the Triumph, so we were excited to experience a new style of ship. Our first impression was that it was considerably smaller than the Destiny class (which it is by 30,000 gross tons), but it really felt it to us. That was not bad, just our observation. The Ship / What we liked: We liked the open deck arrangements up on top. We thought the back deck on the top was really great for sunning and viewing, very wide open. Our favorite was small open eating areas to the back of the lido rest, where you could take your breakfast or lunch and eat outside while enjoying the views from the back of the ship. The cruise director, Greg Kneale, was awesome. He was very entertaining and knowledgeable. Our room steward, Daniella from Bulgaria was wonderful. She made the most elaborate towel animals yet. When we first boarded she directed us to always have the sign out on our door handle, "do not disturb" when in, and "please make up my room" when out. It worked wonderfully. Our dining room wait staff were good, and we enjoyed their service, their names were Michael and Leizel. Leizel was particularly friendly. The food was very good. Jeane Claude and Gaby, who performed on 2 or 3 of the nights were wonderful. All of the entertainers were, for that matter. The ship was very clean, and kept up well. The Ship/Observations and things we did not care for: I guess our first observation was that although we liked the Tampa port, we will avoid it in the future due to the cooler temps in the winter (when we cruise). The temps were mid-60's, and it affected our sea days coming and going, which we did expect a little with our last being New Orleans. Our second observation, which is just us and our honest opinion, and it may have been just this particular cruise (as we know each one has different people on it), but this one had a VERY large portion of HEAVY smokers, and for lack of better terms, red-necks who did not care where their smoke went. We have never seen this before, and we were dismayed. Nothing like taking in a fresh breath of sea air while watching a sunset when suddenly a cloud of smoke rolls into your face after someone walks upwind to you. Jeans in the dining room, even on formal nights, and kids everywhere. We were amazed at the kids, mostly 5-12 years old (why on earth they were not in school amazes me), and they let these kids run everywhere. On one particular occasion I witnessed an unattended 10-year-old "lick" the ice cream machine dispenser after he dispensed his ice cream! I just about died! We did not let any of these things ruin our cruise, but I do think that is detracted from our experience by having smoke blown in our face constantly, kids misbehaving and parent-less, and jeans and inappropriate clothes in the dining room. We have never witnessed any of the above on our past cruises, and were quite shocked. On both the Destiny and the Triumph, the smokers that were on their were very conscious about their smoke and respective of where it went, the kids were mostly in Camp Carnival and well behaved when they were not, and the dining rooms maitre'd's hawked the attire in the dining rooms very well. I am not asking for tuxes and formal gowns, but at least some effort would have been nice. Not a big thing, but we noticed a pronounced vibration, like a bent prop or something, throughout the cruise, heavier at some times. We felt in the dining room, and also in our cabin on the Upper Deck. An important note to all: no hair dryers in the rooms! There were on our other cruises, and just by chance I brought ours! We were disappointed in the Lido Rest. food somewhat in comparison to the Destiny and Triumph. They say the ships are uniform in food, but they are not. The variety in the morning was considerably less, and at lunch we really missed the deli and Chinese options. This was our first time with a window cabin, we had an inside on the Destiny and a balcony on the Triumph. The window was ok, but it was dirty from the saltwater spray all of the time, which of course they cannot control, just an observation and something we never thought of. I think we would go for either a balcony whenever possible or an inside, skipping the window. One other note, the mattresses needed to be changed very badly, they are kind of spoon-shaped! Hopefully it will be serviced soon, and they will change the mattresses. The ports: Grand Cayman - This was our second trip to Grand Cayman, and the second time it was gray and windy. All water activities were cancelled. We shopped around, but were disappointed that we could not go on the Captain Marvin's trip we had looked so much forward to. Cozumel - Awesome! We took a cab to Chankanaab park on our own and spent the entire day there. It was gorgeous, sunny, and perfect in every way. We snorkeled, and walked through the botanical gardens, enjoying every moment. The only warning: if you go into the rest. there for lunch, watch your bill. The waiter tried to pull one over on us. He did not present a bill at all, just said $46 American. We thought about it, and it did not seem right. I went up to him at the podium and asked to see a menu and he scurried me back to the table quickly, and said he made a mistake and that the bill was only $36, as he laughed. I said ok, it was still a few dollars high, but I gave him a $100 bill. He brought back 2-20's and 1-10 and 2-1's in change, total change of $52! I called him over, and he started laughing with another waiter and slowly forked over the rest, bit by bit, waiting to see if I was paying attention. It was an experience! I bet he makes a good extra living off this! New Orleans - Cool, in the 50s and 60s as we anticipated, kind of gray, but a great experience. We had wanted to go there for a long time. We took a horse and buggy ride with another couple for $20 each for an hour tour of the French Quarter and the cemetery. Great experience. We walked all over, went to the French Market. DON'T BUY ANYTHING UNTIL YOU GO THERE! We had walked through tons of stores selling masks for $5-$12 each and beads for 2/$1. Then we went to the French Market and bought the SAME ones, masks 2/$5 and beads 12/$2! We had a great time there at the French Market. We also stopped by the Cafe Du Monde and tried an Beignet, good experience also (although I still prefer a Krispy Kreme any day, which was across the street!). Overall: Great Trip! We just know that we prefer a cruise leaving from Miami or a more southerly port as we prefer the warmth, and that we like the Destiny class better (all our own personal taste). I hope this has been helpful, and if I offended anyone, I did not mean to, I just wanted to give everyone my personal opinions of everything. Also, a big thank you to everyone who helped with the planning of this trip, I appreciate it. I picked up a lot of information that helped make this trip a success! jmkokopeli@hotmail.com April 2003 Read Less
It was wonderful!! This was the best cruise I have been on, and I have been on all lines. Embarkation We went into New Orleans a day early and stayed at the Sheraton. We had a Club Level room on the 47th floor. The view was ... Read More
It was wonderful!! This was the best cruise I have been on, and I have been on all lines. Embarkation We went into New Orleans a day early and stayed at the Sheraton. We had a Club Level room on the 47th floor. The view was amazing! The hotel was nice, the rooms kind of small. We arrived at the pier about 1:00. There was a long line, but we made it through and onto the boat in under an hour. One thing I would like to say is that if people filled out their documents before hand like they are supposed to, the line would move so much quicker. We got our cards and zipped right on. First Impression WOW! I checked for carpet stains, broken things, smells etc. Nothing! The ship is spotless! I have to admit, my expectations weren't that high. But I was very impressed. The dEcor is not like a Princess or HAL, but it was bright and a lot of fun. The piano bar is so cute! The Candlelight lounge was pretty as well as the Paris Lounge. After exploring, we went to our rooms. We had U32 and U36. Just inside rooms. It had been a while since I had sailed with CCL. I have been on Princess and Royal Caribbean most recently, and CCL?s rooms are huge compared to them. Our room was very clean and in great shape. We had plenty of hangers and plenty of space. Then we went to the Lido deck and had lunch. Yummy! We were tired and watched the ship sail, went to dinner, looked around some more then crashed. Dining room We had requested a table for 4. We ate in the Mardi Gras dining room main seating table 166. Robin was our waiter and Angela the assistant. They were awesome! Each night he would tell us tips about the boat or the ports, and give us puzzles to figure out. Angela was so sweet. I have never eaten in the dining room more than once, this time, we ate there every single night. The food was excellent. (loved the pumpkin soup) I tried all kinds of things I don't like at home and loved on the ship. The desserts of course were to die for! One thing I really was impressed by was the smiles on everyone's faces. I had always worried about the waiters and staff feeling like show ponies since they have to perform for us. They all were grinning from ear to ear when they were singing and dancing. Robin pulled me and my friend Alana up and we did the Macerana and the Conga line with them. I am a stick in the mud, so I made sure a lot of pictures were taken to prove it to people back home hahaha. Activities I am a reader. Usually on a cruise, you will find me on the deck in a chair with a book in my hand. I took 3 books this time, and didn't read one! There is so much going on, we never stopped. Of course, the Newly Wed Not So Newly Wed game was a riot. It is always funny. We also went to Survivor, Hairy Chest competition, Ice carving, Slot tournament you get the picture. One thing we enjoyed was the El Nuevo Caribe show. The girl singer was great, the guy ok. The dancers were great and had a lot of great costumes. Ports First stop was Montego Bay. We did the Black River Safari. One thing I was not aware of was the 2 ½ hour bus ride each way to the tour. But the ride was interesting. We got to see the real Jamaica. The safari was so cool! If you like Crocodile Hunter, you need to go. You get in pontoon boats and go up the river. There are alligators everywhere. They call them like dogs and they come!!! The crocs swam right up to the boat and ate out of the guides hand! We learned a lot about the birds and trees etc. It was fun. After a nap on the way home, we shopped at the shops at the pier and went to the boat. Next was Cayman. It was beautiful as always. We did the Cayman Experience tour. It took us to Hell, the turtle farm and to the Tortuga Rum factory. Then to Sting Ray City. I have been there 4 other times, but I love it more every time I go back. This time was a little different. Our guide (Uncle Joe) picked up the rays and put them on our head like a hat. It was too cool. Of course we got the back rub from them too. After the tour, we shopped again then went to the boat. Last was Cozumel. We went to Chankanaab. I was disappointed this time. I have been before and saw the sea lion show. They didn't have it that day boohoo. That was the reason we went. Other than that, I loved it again. The ruins and gardens are beautiful. If you like margaritas, get one at the restaurant by the beach. They are awesome!! I don't even like Margaritas, and I loved it!! Then we went to shop. I think we bought everything they have. We bargained and had such a good time. Our friends went back to Chankanaab and did the dolphin swim. She loved it! She said it was the best thing she has ever done in her life. We went to Carlos and Charlies, looked for a minute and then left and went to the Fat Tuesdays by the port. We had a tropical itch and a sex on the beach. They were great. It was a lot calmer and very quick service. We shopped through the tunnel again and went to the boat. We were so tired and our feet were killing us! Debarkation was the easiest I have ever had too. We were on the Upper deck, and off the boat by 9:30. It was perfect. One word sums up this cruise - PERFECT! I have no complaints. One of the best parts was how friendly everyone was. The staff on the boat knew us all by name. They would just stop by to say hi and see how our day was. I thought that was so sweet. When we left, our waiter and assistant gave us hugs and kisses. The other passengers were friendly too. Much more so than some of the other lines. I am a travel agent, and will recommend this to anyone. As a matter of fact, we got back on Sunday and I booked for the Inspiration again for May of next year. We are excited about the itinerary change. I cant wait! Feel free to email me with questions. I know I have left a lot out, so if you need anything, just email! smallory@aaasouth.com January 2003 Read Less
My husband and I, who are in our 40's, just returned from our June 2000 Carnival Inspiration Dutch Treat cruise. It was a fantastic cruise with the best port in the world, Aruba. We left our Southern California home on Friday, ... Read More
My husband and I, who are in our 40's, just returned from our June 2000 Carnival Inspiration Dutch Treat cruise. It was a fantastic cruise with the best port in the world, Aruba. We left our Southern California home on Friday, because the trip takes so long. We flew from Orange County to Dallas, then on to San Juan. The trip took all day and there was a lot of turbulence (yuck). We arrived at about 8:00 p.m. in San Juan and took a taxi to the Marriott hotel. We spent all day Saturday in San Juan where we just stayed at the hotel, swam in the pool and made a donation at the casino. Having been to San Juan before, we had no interest in sightseeing or shopping, as there is not much to do or see there. Sunday morning we took a cab to the port and arrived at about 11:30 a.m. Unfortunately there was a delay in offloading the passengers from the previous cruise (something about a Customs problem). At 12:30 the boarding began and by 1:00 we were on the Lido deck having our first pina coladas! We had requested the late seating dinner, but our Sail & Sign cards indicated that we had gotten the main (early) seating. We went to the maitre'd line to put in our request for late seating. We tried to tip (bribe) the headwaiter, but he wouldn't take it! The first night's dinner is Open Seating, where you go to your dining room at the assigned time and are seated with whomever. By the time dinnertime rolled around, I had so many pina coladas that I just wanted to take a nap(!) so we skipped the first night's dinner and had pizza at about 9:00. About 11:00 we set sail from San Juan and were on our way! I had been corresponding with another woman on the Cruise Critic message board, so we met up the first night and ended up getting along so well we hung out together the whole cruise. The first port was St. Thomas, where we went ashore for shopping. We had all been to St. Thomas previously and taken the various tours, so we decided to skip them this time. The weather was not too good -- it was raining on and off and the seas were kind of churned up. After a strenuous day of shopping, we returned to the ship and found we had been switched to the late seating dinner. One thing I noticed on this cruise was that about half the passengers were from San Juan, so a lot of the entertainment and announcements were for those who spoke Spanish. There was quite a large group of families celebrating their daughters' Quincenera (sp?) so there were many private parties and functions going on. I did not see many other teenaged kids. In fact, there were far fewer kids on this cruise than on any other we had taken, and we always go during summer vacation. This leads me to think that this is not the best cruise for families if part of the fun is meeting other kids! The next day's port was St. Lucia. Although this is a beautiful tropical island, it is extremely poor. The streets are in very bad condition and the people live in abject poverty. It is even more poor than Jamaica. We walked around the port area, where there is a sort of flea market set up. There was not much there except cheap T-shirts and junky souvenirs. While walking through this area, a woman tried to give me her baby! It was also a food market, and what the people eat there would turn your stomach. We opted not to do a shore excursion here, because the only one that sounded good (the Soufriere cruise) took 7 hours. I had heard that the volcano trip was also a long bus ride up windy mountain roads (not my thing at all)! I really don't know why the cruise ships stop here. I have no desire to go back! The next day was a "Fun Day at Sea" which really was fun! We finally got some sunny weather and spent the day at the pool, doing the water slide, more people-watching, etc. I got a pedicure at the spa, and even though it cost three times what I would pay at home, it was a treat! Curacao is the loveliest port. All the buildings are painted in bright colors with white gingerbread trim and there is a floating pontoon bridge which opens up for the ships. We took a trip to the Seaquarium Beach, which is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the ship. You get admission to the beach, a beach chair and soft drink with this excursion. The beach was kind of rocky, but it was protected by a jetty from the waves so it was a good beach for just wading in and floating around. After a few hours we returned the ship for a change of clothes, then walked into town and looked around. Curacao is very clean and prosperous and the people were pleasant. We enjoyed this island very much. The next day ended up being the best - Aruba! One of our group wanted to try the Beginning Scuba diving trip, so the rest of us went to Palm Beach (where the scuba diving was). This is the most beautiful beach in the world. The sand was like white sugar and the water was turquoise blue and warm! This is the resort area of the island, and someday I want to go back and spend a whole week there. We hired a taxi to take us on a tour, where I saw my future retirement home (I wish!) Unfortunately, we had to leave that afternoon, but I definitely will be coming back! The last day was another day at sea which we spent at the pool, the casino, etc. You can see that we are not the most "active" people, in that we did not do a lot of shore excursions or snorkeling. But we did spend a lot of time on the ship and really enjoyed ourselves. I had heard a lot of negative comments about the decor. It is kind of garish and not something I'd like for my own home, but it was okay for a cruise ship -- kind of like Las Vegas. The ship itself was extremely clean and well maintained. What really makes a cruise great is the way you are treated by the Carnival staff, and this trip was the best! Everyone was extremely courteous and attentive, and I never saw anything negative. The Cruise Director was Steve Cassel, who we had seen 3 years ago on the Imagination. He's still telling some of the same jokes, but overall he was entertaining and funny. I liked him much better than Haste Merchant, who we had on Destiny. As far as the ship's entertainment, the late night comedy show was hilarious, the R&B band, "Fantasy Band" was excellent, and I heard good things about the "Shout" show. The DJ in the disco was lame. The calypso band on deck was really good. I avoided the big production shows and the passenger talent show. We ate all our dinners in the Carnivale Dining Room. The food was exactly like every other Carnival cruise -- well presented, sometimes not quite hot enough, sometimes weird combinations of ingredients, but always acceptable. It is not gourmet food by any stretch, but there was always something we liked. The food in the casual dining room is typical buffet fare. I think they take the leftovers from last night's dinner and recycle it into something else which is served over rice! We mostly stuck to the pizza and burgers when we ate there. The breakfasts are the least imaginative -- they serve the exact same thing every day -- scrambled eggs, cantaloupe, grapefruit, bacon, sausage, hash browns and cold toast. Boring!! One area Carnival could definitely improve is the Photo Gallery. It is next to impossible to find your pictures in there. By about the third day there is no more room so they just stack the pictures in bins for you to thumb through. I got sick of looking, so I only bought the two on the wall I could find. And they do the same photos on every Carnival ship! Besides the embarkation photos and formal night pictures, they have the ones with the pirate, the showgirl, etc. Does anyone buy these? All in all it was a GREAT cruise! I'm glad to have done this one without my kids (teens) because I don't think they would have liked it -- there weren't enough kids like them on board. Read Less
The pre-cruise things: Booked two hotels pre-cruise in East Lansing, MI ($50) and Tampa, FL ($40) through Prieline.com and flew on Northwest Airlines that we had booked on our own. Since our hometown of Muskegon, MI was hit with an ice ... Read More
The pre-cruise things: Booked two hotels pre-cruise in East Lansing, MI ($50) and Tampa, FL ($40) through Prieline.com and flew on Northwest Airlines that we had booked on our own. Since our hometown of Muskegon, MI was hit with an ice storm the night before our flight, the choice of overnighting in East Lansing was the right one. Also booking a night before in Tampa took out the worry factor of getting to the Port of Tampa on time or not at all. The ship: I found the Inspiration to be much like it's sister ship The Sensation we sailed on last year but much more subdued in decor. Overall layout was the same with the exception of the Pizza Station and bar locations in the Brassiere Grill. Wear and tear was noticeable but understandable since it has been in use for some time now. A glitzy ship it isn't but for me it will do. Occasional breakdowns in the ice cream machine, lemonade dispenser, and ice machines were obvious throughout the cruise. . While I haven't experienced other classes of Carnival's ships, I do like the fact that this class of ships has or appears to have more open decks. The sight lines in the Paris Lounge do leave a lot to be desired and I would hope this has changed on future classes of ships. Our inside stateroom, E184, size was adequate for two people and I don't see how it could be comfortable with more. The location of this room on the Empress deck was ideal for us to access all parts of the ship especially the Brassiere grill and Aft pool area. We did get some noise from the staircase when the kids would run around but it wasn't such that we were annoyed and probably would pick this room again. Even though there was 2,000+ onboard including 500 children, you never were overwhelmed by crowds except of course around the main pool area during the day. The activities: There seemed to be a better scheduling of these compared to our last cruise. We always could find something to do and only a few activities overlapped each other and very few "dead" spots the whole cruise. Most activities were in rooms adequate for the crowds with the exception of one horse race game and of course karaoke is never held in a big enough lounge. Comedy shows were the same ones we saw last year but we did make it to two of the midnight shows which we missed last year. The main shows, El Caribe Nuevo and Shout, were very good but we didn't care for the magic show at all. The Russian dance couple was outstanding in what they could do especially the ending number were she seemingly slid down is body to the floor. The Talent Show, Mr. &Mrs. Game, and the Bedtime Story were the best of the other activities onboard. The Talent Show is always great and on this cruise it was no exception. The seven acts were outstanding especially the thirteen year old female singer who was fantastic. During the Bedtime Story, our cruise director Greg Kneale was knocked to the floor by a rather large lady while doing the routine and this "brought down the house" and was the topic of choice for the rest of the cruise. The Mr. &Mrs. game had the same answer to the question "When was the last time you made whoopee?" that we have heard on three previous cruises. Of course it was on the Lido deck the night prior and this came from a retired Baptist minister yet. It was also very embarrassing to another couple who had children in the audience to have to admit they made love in a golf cart when asked :) All in all these were the same activities offered on our previous Carnival cruises but we enjoyed them. The staff: Much like our other Carnival cruise the staff was exceptional and they all greeted you when passing except for the security people. While I never did personally meet our cabin steward, our room was done up twice a day. Our waiter, Iggy, in the Carnivale Dining Room was the "hit" of the room during the singing and such and we enjoyed his service and that of his assistant waiter. They would ask you if you wanted something else if they saw you not eating the dish you received. And it wasn't ever a problem getting how much you wanted since I usually went with a couple of desserts each night since I just couldn't decide on one. Maitre D' actually stopped at our table a lot and wanted to know how everything was going. Any of the staff would stop and talk to you at length anytime you wanted to talk to them and actually had very interesting stories about themselves and where they are from. Always saw some type of maintenance going on throughout our cruise. The people: With one out of every four passengers being a child I would have expected some problems. But we didn't experience many except for the expected running around and such. All the passengers we talked to were friendly and would engage in a conversation freely. This is something we have always noticed while on a cruise. It was also primarily an American crowd consisting of, from audience reaction at the shows, most of the residents from Atlanta, GA. Seems these folks find the need to get out of town when the Masters golf tournament is played there. Might have something to do with renting their houses for the week for the cost of a cruise! The itinerary: The Western Caribbean itinerary of Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and New Orleans, is our itinerary of choice. We have done it three times and each time found new things to do. The plans we made were more nonscheduled this time and made for a perfect choice without the need to be somewhere at a certain time. Snorkeling at Eden Rock in Grand Cayman and Dzul Ha in Cozumel were great as was the Cozumel mini golf even though it rained a little there. In New Orleans the carriage ride and streetcar ride were both something we hadn't done before and we enjoyed them both without tiring ourselves out. Our perceptions: The one thing we couldn't help but notice was the fact that the passengers onboard were so much more of what you would see in real life than what is perceived to be a cruise crowd. Formal nights were very absent the "tuxedo look" that we have seen on past cruises but was more of a wedding reception, prom night look than anything else. I feel this cruise was such that some could feel comfortable on and never be overwhelmed by too much sophistication while others would disdain the lack of formality on this cruise. Even though there were a few problems, we enjoyed this cruise as much as any other we have done and feel it was a great way to spend a week. The "What we liked the best": The fact that we could eat whenever we wanted. Free lemonade and coffee 24 hours a day. Announcements over the loudspeaker seemed to be less than Carnival usually provides us, lol. Room service even if we did only use it once. Of course the staff was friendly and always made you feel comfortable. The "Wasn't quite right": Well of course the ice cream machine not working properly was a "bummer". Debarkation was not an enjoyable experience but was expected. The pizza station just required a little patience to get pizza. Food overall in The Brassiere Grill wasn't much better than "buffet" food and the selections weren't to my liking. (But I didn't starve.) Dining room food for the most part was excellent but there were a few dishes that must have snuck by "quality control". I would prefer they grill instead of frying the steaks, hamburgs, and such. The crowded conditions of the aft deck pool area that we don't remember being so bad last year. GREG2305@aol.com July 2003 Read Less
Below I posted a summary review of our trip on the maiden voyage of the Inspiration from the New Orleans port. experience. Embarkation - You first must realize that this was the first time the Inspiration had left from the New Orleans ... Read More
Below I posted a summary review of our trip on the maiden voyage of the Inspiration from the New Orleans port. experience. Embarkation - You first must realize that this was the first time the Inspiration had left from the New Orleans port. My wife and I arrived at 1:15 pm only to find out from one of the porters that our names were not on the manifest. We carried our luggage to the terminal and I found a Carnival employee who was very helpful and found out our cabin assignment so we could get our luggage picked up. I had booked an inside room and was upgraded to an outside room with two portholes. The terminal was a little overwhelmed by all of the passengers. The New Orleans port had never handled a ship this big or this many passengers. Considering that, I thought they handled it well. After boarding the ship, my wife and I spent the next couple of hours just looking around the ship and becoming acquainted with the surroundings. This is a big ship and it was very clean. Two Sea Days - We had two sea days until we were to port at Montego Bay. Some folks don't like sea days buy we loved it! The Lido deck and the casino and being able to sleep in after dancing all night was great!! We had requested the late seating but were assigned early seating. Before going to dinner on Sunday night we stopped by and spoke with the Maitre'D, Peter. We put our name on the waiting list and when we got back to our cabin after dinner there was a note saying we had been changed to the late seating!! This was great! We had great dining table and met some wonderful people and our service was splendid. We did luck out because the table we were seated at was a VIP table (I can't tell you why for obvious reasons) but we received some nice perks. The VIP at our table was staying in one of the Owners Suites and we were invited to go see the suite and it was unbelievable!!! Jamaica - Our first port was my least favorite. We did some shopping but we had gloomy weather and the Jamaicans can be quite overbearing. We found some good deals on souvenirs but that was about all we did. I would have much rather spent two days in Grand Cayman and not go to Jamaica at all. Grand Cayman - We did the Stingray Sandbar tour and it was amazing. We got to feed squid to the stingrays and the water was beautiful. We also did some shopping and self touring around the city close to the port. I would highly recommend the Stingray tour. You will never see anything like that anywhere else. Cozumel - We went on the Fiesta Party Boat and it was quite a party!! Free rum punch and margaritas!! It took us to a private beach club where you could do all kinds of water activities. It was a blast if you like the party atmosphere. Sea day - We had another sea day on Saturday during our return to New Orleans. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were pretty rough sailing as we had lots of rough seas stemmed from Hurricane Keith. But still it wasn't too bad. The first part of the week was very calm and you forgot you were on a ship at times. Again, we loved the sea days!! Disembarkation - This was a disaster. Because of waiting on the Coast Guard to pick up the refugees we rescued we were two hours late getting to New Orleans. We requested early debarkation which was granted but we still missed our flight. Thanks to Delta for getting us back home Sunday night!!! Getting your luggage is like finding a needle in a haystack. They just put it in rows in this big warehouse area and all of your luggage is not together so it took some time to find our stuff.10/04/00 Read Less
My husband and I just returned from Inspiration's first cruise out of New Orleans. This was my first cruise and my husband's second (his first was on NCL). For the most part, we had a great time. On our second full day at sea ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from Inspiration's first cruise out of New Orleans. This was my first cruise and my husband's second (his first was on NCL). For the most part, we had a great time. On our second full day at sea the crew rescued four Cubans in a dinghy with a sail made of T-shirts that had been headed for Jamaica. They had been at sea for 14 days and were in distress. They ended up staying on the boat the entire week, as no other country would take them. Seeing the captain maneuver the huge ship right next to the tiny makeshift boat was really something. I especially enjoyed "dirty bananas" at the bar. This is a frozen banana drink with kahlua and some other yummy stuff in it. I highly recommend buying the drink coupons. This drink would have ended up costing me more than $5 with a tip, but I used my coupons, which only cost me $3.75, tip included. Our stateroom was way better than we had expected -- in fact larger than a few hotel rooms I've stayed in. We were guaranteed the cheapest room (4A, inside bottom deck) and ended up with an outside room with porthole on the upper deck. Quite nice. Very clean. Good room service and cleaning. And while this really was an amazing vacation (I gained 8 pounds. So while I wasn't overwhelmed by the food, I certainly enjoyed the constant availability of it) it's going to sound like I have a lot of complaints. We took a shore excursion at every port. Every excursion left late and took at least an hour longer than it was scheduled to -- therefore not once did we get a chance to explore on our own. I have a feeling some of this was due to this being Inspiration's maiden voyage on this route; and some of it was probably due to weather (we were dodging storms the whole time). The ruins at Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, was may favorite excursion, as the bus was air conditioned, and free beverages (including unlimited beer) were served on the way back. The ruins are on a cliff overlooking the most beautiful beach. Hint- take bug spray. And if your tour guide goes off on a 1-hour speech trying to sell you something, don't be afraid to walk away and explore on your own. We regretted we didn't. He had told us we'd have an hour "tour" with him (the "tour" ended up him standing in one spot trying to sell stuff for an hour) then an hour on our own, but 20 minutes of that were needed to walk back to the bus. It was a trip of a lifetime, and we wasted most of it standing in one spot. If only we'd had time to swim on that beautiful beach. Swimming with the stingrays in Grand Cayman was also fun -- but we spent way too much time standing in the hot sun waiting for the bus (15 minutes). Then even more time standing on the dock waiting for the boat (25 minutes). Then only about 30 minutes in the water. Then back on the ferry to the bus, and before we knew it was time to get back on the ship! All the way up they were telling us about feeding the stingrays, but there were so many people on the sandbar there was never any bait left in the bucket when it got to us. Dunn's River Falls was awesome, but what was called a 1:40 minute ride turned out to be a 2:30 ride. Plus we made an unscheduled stop to shop for 30 minutes on the bus ride back. By the time our bus returned, it was time to get back on the ship again. And here I go complaining some more. We thought our dining room service was a bit mediocre. Our waiter always seemed to be rushing us. We never had a chance to order seconds, he never offered any explanations or recommendations, even when we were having trouble deciding. Sometimes he'd take the bread basket away when we were still eating it. We were forced to take early seating, even though we'd requested late and paid for everything about 5 months ago. Since we work nights, eating dinner at 6 p.m. was just way too early for us. We always felt rushed, and never made it to the early breakfast. Our request to change was denied while three other people at our table were granted theirs. And since the two other couples often did not eat in the dining room and the people who changed were not replaced, we often found ourselves eating alone while we had looked forward to meeting new people. Plus, all activities seemed to revolve around late-seating people. The clubs and many of the shows did not open until after 9 p.m.; but we were done eating and rushed out of the dining room well before 7:15. My husband has sailed on NCL, and felt there were way more daytime activities. There was a shuffleboard deck on top, but I never saw any instruction on where to get shuffleboard equipment or even how to play. I would have loved to learn. There was a volleyball net -- but never a volleyball or anyone playing. There were ping-pong tables, and the same people were always there. Organized games would have been a fun way to give everyone a chance to play. The pool-side trivia games ended up always being won by the people lucky enough to get seat near the stage -- nearly impossible on a ship of 2000-some people. There was never a lack of bingo. Bingo, bingo, constantly, at $10 a card. Wonder why? Ok, I have complained a lot. But we did enjoy our cruise. I simply think that next time we'll sail with a different cruise ship. But, here's the clincher, we tipped at least the minimum tip for everyone, and threw in lots extra for our assistant waiter (who went out of his way to make up for our bad head waiter). I saw many who did not tip. How cheap can you be?10/04/00 Read Less
I am writing this review because [others were] so helpful to us before we took our cruise! We had sailed on Holland America in the past and had a wonderful time, but this time we were taking our children 13 and 18, so we decided on ... Read More
I am writing this review because [others were] so helpful to us before we took our cruise! We had sailed on Holland America in the past and had a wonderful time, but this time we were taking our children 13 and 18, so we decided on Carnival since they cater to a younger crowd. We drove in from Mansfield, Texas the day before and stayed at the Fairmont Hotel (5 star- and wonderful). We arrived at New Orleans- Julia St ship terminal around 12:30 pm. The terminal was already crowded and the luggage carriers were busy unloading luggage out of the cars. What we didn't know was that the ship had mechanical problems on the trip previous to ours, therefore had got in late. The passengers from the previous trip were still on board the Inspiration; therefore the parking lot for passengers to leave their cars was full and would not empty until around 4:00p.m. This left us with no place to park our car. We were told by a parking lot security officer to drive our car around until the lot opened. (Yeah Right!) A kind man told us about the Hertz rent a car parking lot just around the corner. We drove there and parked the car ($7.00 a day-cheaper than the cruise ship terminal). Hertz shuttled us back to the terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal we were asked 4 times for our birth certificates and picture I.D.'s (I was glad-after September 11th-I would rather be safe than sorry). After standing in a line, we were given a boarding pass and placed in yellow chairs to wait until called. The chairs were almost full when we saw chairs just for us in the corner. We were given a paper informing us that the ship had some difficulty on the previous trip, therefore would be boarding late. At around 4:20 they began to load the passengers on the ship. The terminal had filled up and the crowd was beginning to lose their patience. When they opened the door to go to the next area the crowd started pushing and some of them were cutting in line, therefore making others very angry. Carnival did not do anything to get some of the employees for crowd control until people started yelling. It was a bad situation that could have been worse. One lady was accusing others (including us-who had been there at least one hour before her) of cutting in the line. After a final security check, we were allowed to board the ship. Once onboard, we were directed to our cabins. We were pleasantly surprised on the space and the cleanliness of the ship. The dEcor was wild, but this was going to be a fun cruise-I could tell. We had plenty of space for all our clothes and belongings. We did not know what to expect since we had a bad time boarding the vessel. The dining room was lovely and the wait staff- Adem, Indiana and Dewa were pleasant and wonderful. They were so patient and continued to fill our glasses with tea and water at the first sign of the glass emptying. The food on the trip was good. I have read complaints about the small portions, but considering the fact that there is first a starter, then salad, then main entrEe and last a dessert, we were always very full. My 13-year-old son always asked for 2 salads and they were ever so happy to get it for him. The bread was wonderful. The food on Holland America may be better, but everything we had was good. Our room Stewart, Troy was great, friendly and always helpful. He kept the room clean and the beds made. He made us a towel animal every night. The games that were continually going on were fun to watch. We enjoyed the cruise director (Brett) and all his jokes. The Paris lounge was very comfortable and pretty. The shows were very good. The dancers on board the vessel were very good (Jimmy was outstanding-Hollywood material is my guess). The singers were very talented as well. We enjoyed the comedy too. I cannot think of one bad show. Every night after dinner, (early sitting) we looked forward to seeing the shows. Now for the Ports Of Call JAMAICAWe took a taxi to Doctor's Cave Beach and snorkeled. The beach was very pretty. It was fun and the changing room and restrooms were clean. At lunch we walked to Margaritaville. This was so overrated. We had to sit on the top level in the hot sun with half an umbrella. We paid $9.50 for a dry cheeseburger no bigger than a sausage patty. The margaritas were very good, but they were very small and $6.75 each. The waiters add the tip in the bill automatically. When we were ready to leave we were almost overtaken by the taxi cab drivers wanting to take us back to the terminal. There must have been 30 of them waiting for you to exit the restaurant to pounce on you. Overall- The Island is beautiful (I love the trees with the red flowers on them). The people are very pushy and cannot drive very well at all. GRAND CAYMANWe split up for this one. I took the city tour while my husband and the kids swam with the stingrays. They had a great time and my husband said he would never forget the experience. He also said it was worth the 39 dollars per person. The stingrays were docile and loved the humans. The city tour was good, but in order to get it all in you feel rushed. We went to the Tortuga Rum factory and sampled rum and watched them making rum cakes. We were off to the green turtle farm. This was very interesting but I went away feeling very sad. The people of Grand Cayman eat the turtles and dolphins for their main source of food. The turtles are swimming in giant holding tanks. Some of the tanks are for breeding while others are for eating. The green turtle was once extinct. When the U.S. banned them from being imported for this reason the owner of the turtle farm almost went bankrupt. The Cayman government took over saving the farm. We then boarded the bus and went to HELL. It is a rock formation that is very unusual. It was nothing more than a gift shop and a 50-foot by 50-foot rock formation. I was disappointed. The bus took us back to the dock and we shopped for about an hour. We purchased rum cake and rum at Tortuga. COZUMELShopping! Shopping! Shopping! We took a taxi to downtown (3 miles) to Touch of Gold and started shopping our way back toward the ships. If you are looking for jewelry, this is the place. The prices are good and you can bargain them on most things. I highly recommend Bruno at Diamond International by the pier. He was very knowledgeable, fair and nice too. We will definitely be using him for future purchases too! Viva Mexico was fun. They had dancers and nice items for sale. And air-conditioning. They have a lot of Silver jewelry. We shopped for 7 hours straight. So we were exhausted when we got back to the ship. The rest of the cruise was fun and we were sad to be headed back to New Orleans so fast. I found myself constantly comparing the two cruise lines and I must admit, we had a lot of fun with our children on this cruise line. My children rated it a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. My 13 year old made a lot of friends and stayed out late most nights with his friends in the Brassiere Grill and had 24 hour pizza and ice cream. My 18 year old had fun too! She wants to go again. In spite of the bad experience embarking, my husband and I will definitely try Carnival again~! Scarlet103@aol.comJuly 2002 Read Less
Hi all! Just got back from our first cruise (honeymoon) last Sunday and had a great time! I read many cruiser reviews and just wanted to let ya'll know what we thought! Embarkation - Yes, this was a mess and we had to sit around and ... Read More
Hi all! Just got back from our first cruise (honeymoon) last Sunday and had a great time! I read many cruiser reviews and just wanted to let ya'll know what we thought! Embarkation - Yes, this was a mess and we had to sit around and wait a long time due to the Cuban refugees they picked up the week before. Most of the Carnival people who we dealt with were very friendly, if a bit confused. We got different answers from each person we talked to. They told us we would have to wait 2 hours after checking in to get on the ship, but we saw a line and got in it and were on board in our room about 30 minutes later. Cabin - Since this was my first cruise, I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the room. We were on the Empress deck and had a window, so I felt like we were in the middle of everything and didn't get one bit claustrophobic! We never saw our room steward until the last night, but the room was always clean when we got back (it's like they know exactly when to go in) and we had lots of cute towel animals. Dining room - We had a great waiter and assistant waiter (Petrica and Gaspar from Romania), they made all our meals fun. The food wasn't always good, but most of it was, and the desserts were wonderful. I loved having late seating because we didn't feel like we had to rush to get ready. Sometimes we even took a nap! The pizzas weren't as wonderful as I'd heard, but they were good and you could always find something to eat when you were hungry. Monday and Tuesday were at sea days and we always found something to do. You can't be bored unless you just want to be. The weather was gorgeous and there were always plenty of deck chairs empty. The shows at night were great, and the CD, Brett, even made the shopping and other talks interesting. Jamaica - our excursion wasn't till one, so we took a taxi to the city center to go shopping. We got some cute souvenirs, but the taxi drivers and store clerks will drive you crazy trying to pull you in one direction or another. We were glad to go back to the ship for our excursion. I don't remember the name of it, but it was a catamaran that took us snorkeling and then to Margueritaville. It was crowded on the boat, but the crew was great and gave us instructions on snorkeling (our first time). I still can't believe how beautiful the water was, you could see forever! The snorkeling was great, but you have to watch out for the reefs, because some of them come right up to the top of the water. After that we had free rum punch (WAY too strong) and $2 Red Stripe beer on the way to Margueritaville. It seemed like a great place to drink and party, but we only stayed 40 minutes. They also have a 110 ft water slide that the brave folks said was awesome. All in all, we had a great time and like I said, the crew was great! Grand Cayman - We did the Stingray sandbar tour here. It was a really neat experience. There were stingrays everywhere and they were huge. I got to pet them and my much braver husband fed them. They like to rub against your legs like a cat, it fells weird, but they were beautiful. After stingrays we only had an hour to shop, so we headed straight to the Tortuga store for rum and rum cake. The rum cake is sooo good! We had quite a few free samples and then had to go back to the ship. Cozumel - Definitely my favorite excursion, we went on the catamaran sail, snorkel and beach party. First you go snorkeling in some gorgeous water (no reefs, but lots of fish) and after that the free bar opens! After two Mexican beers, everybody was having a ball! Then you go to their private beach, where they have more free drinks, volleyball, hammocks, kayaks, floats, chairs, etc, etc. There's even a cheeseburger in paradise stand! When we got back on the boat the crew was leading dancing on the deck (you better learn the macarena). We had a great time and the crew was the best we met. This was a great excursion and I plan on doing it again! After Cozumel there was one day at sea and then we had to go home. The decor on the ship was a little gaudy in places, but most was nice. We loved the piano bar we discovered on our last night (Greg, the piano man is great). We also went to the Candlelight Lounge to see the Fantasy Band and the late night comedy, both were great and we danced all night. We did notice that the ship seemed to rock a lot, especially when we were in the Mississippi, but it didn't bother us at all, we just looked drunk walking down the hall. We loved this cruise and are planning to sail with Carnival again as soon as we get out of debt from this one! If there's any questions I might can answer let me know, and I'll try. I'll leave you with advice from our CD, Brett Alans, "Take half as many clothes as you think you'll need, and twice as much money!"10/15/00 Read Less
Cruise dates: September 29-October 5, 2002 Ship: Carnival "Inspiration" Itinerary: "Western Caribbean," to and from New Orleans, i.e., Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel were the scheduled ports of call We were ... Read More
Cruise dates: September 29-October 5, 2002 Ship: Carnival "Inspiration" Itinerary: "Western Caribbean," to and from New Orleans, i.e., Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel were the scheduled ports of call We were between the two hurricanes you may have heard about at the end of September/first week of October, 2002. So, they announced that our itinerary would be reversed. Instead of Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, it was to be Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. That was O.K., and understandable. BUT, when we got to Cozumel, all tours, both land and sea, were CANCELLED. No jeep trips through the jungles to the pyramids, no SCUBA diving, etc., owing to hurricane damage, they said. The Mexican Navy/Coast Guard was enforcing this. That was disappointing, but still... Then, I met a couple at the bar at Senor Frog's who had come in on a different (also Carnival) ship. They said that they, too, were originally going to Grand Cayman, but because of hurricane damage, they were told that NO ships were being allowed to tie up there, and so THEY were going to Playa del Carmen or some other port in Mexico. OUR ship had not been told that. As a matter of fact, passengers were assured that yes, indeed, we'd be going to Grand Cayman. BUT, AFTER we left Cozumel, an announcement was made that we would NOT be going to Grand Cayman, and that we'd be spending another wonderful day at sea! And, for our inconvenience, we'd receive a $20 ship credit! TWENTY DOLLARS! Whoop-de-doo! So, instead of going to Grand Cayman or an alternate port like that other ship did, we got to spend an extra day at sea to spend more money in the casino or junk shops onboard the ship! I expected a MUCH MORE substantial restitution than we were given! For instance, they should have refunded us the port taxes they charged for the missed port, and given us about a $300 credit (1/3 the cost of the one-week cruise) for a future booking! I also did not care for some of Carnival's "rules," e.g., one is not allowed to bring one's own liquor onboard, and even the booze you buy in the "Duty Free" shops onboard is held for you until the end of the cruise, obviously to make you spend money at the bars onboard. Another passenger, something of a gambler, remarked how interesting it was that at the BINGO games that followed the "free" shows, over $7,000 in BINGO cards were sold, yet the prize was only $750! I'm no BINGO expert, but that seems outrageous to me. I got so mad I refused to tip our attendants, in the hope that they might be incited to make a mutiny against that no good bum of a captain that LIED to us! (They probably got their tips anyway, as I had purchased the prepaid gratuity option; But I didn't leave the coupons in the cabin as instructed.) I also tried to "jump ship," but it was too difficult and expensive to fly from Montego Bay back to New Orleans. I even had the Purser's office check on the availability of flights! They were not very helpful. I got even a little bit by sneaking a bottle of liquor on board at Montego Bay, and having FOUR (4) lobster tails on lobster tail night! (You only get lobster ONE night aboard the ship, so you have to make the most of it!) Other irritant: They charge you for EVERYTHING extra, including soda pop and bottled water! There a waiter was, at the gangplank, waiting to sell bottles of water to you as you ventured into the tropical heat of Cozumel or Jamaica... BTW, generally speaking, the food on board was of banquet quality, i.e., you're not going to get anything like what you would get at Morton's or Ruth's Chris. More like about what you'd get at Denny's. As for the ports, in spite of having my Cozumel SCUBA tour cancelled, I enjoyed boozing it up at Senor Frogs. Montego Bay is a pestilent slum, but the bar in the casino in the hotel (I don't remember the name) across the road from Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" tourist trap has Red Stripe beer on tap for $1.50, and you can get a good platter of jerked beef, chicken, or conch for around $10. (BTW, I was told part of the reason our stop in Montego Bay was so bad was that we weren't there on the "regular" expected day for cruise ships, which I believe is Wednesday. We were there Thursday.) My recommendations if you insist on going on a Carnival cruise: 1. Sneak your own liquor (and soft drinks!) onboard in your "checked" luggage. 2. Do NOT purchase the prepaid gratuity option. That way, you can withhold tips if something goes wrong. Now, if you don't buy the prepaid gratuity option, they'll charge you about $9.50 per day on your bill. But, the rules assure you that, if you wish, you can have these charges removed by going to the Purser's office. The PROBLEM with that is that you have to stand in a long line to do that. So, to avoid that; 3. Do NOT establish credit with a credit card when you check in; Tell them you want to establish credit with CASH. For that, you have to go on board and see the Purser and fork over $150 cash. But, if you never bother to do that, you won't ever get charged for anything. Of course, you'll be inconvenienced when you try to buy anything on board, but there's nothing on the ship you want anyway! Do all your "Duty Free" shopping in the ports. You'll get a better selection, and (probably) better prices. 4. The night before you arrive back, find out what color luggage tags are associated with the higher-class cabins. Obtain a supply of such luggage tags from outside the Purser's office and attach them to your luggage. Then, the night before arrival, place your luggage outside one of the upper-class cabins with the associated color tags. That way, in the morning, you won't have to wait three hours to debark, as debarkation announcements are made according to luggage tag colors! (Now, I've been told that this is unnecessary-that you can leave the ship as soon as the door is open, and your luggage ought to already be available. But I would put the "early" color tags on the bags, just to be sure.) I shudder to think what's going to happen on future trips of the "Queen Elizabeth 2" AND the new "Queen Mary 2," now that Carnival has taken over Cunard! It was, indeed, the proverbial "Cruise to hell," except for one very important reason: The town of "Hell," from which everyone mails their postcards home, is on Grand Cayman, and we didn't make it! P.S. I thought the baggage handlers at the Julia Street port in New Orleans were a bit "pushy" regarding tips. And one MUST surrender one's luggage to them, as there is no "self service" baggage check, e.g., there was no conveyer belt upon which to leave one's luggage. nergd@rcip.com February, 2003 Read Less
Our family sailed on the Carnival's Inspiration out of New Orleans on July 14, 2002. Our family includes myself, my husband and our two daughters, who are approximately ages 18 and 20. This was our first cruise and we all had a ... Read More
Our family sailed on the Carnival's Inspiration out of New Orleans on July 14, 2002. Our family includes myself, my husband and our two daughters, who are approximately ages 18 and 20. This was our first cruise and we all had a wonderful time and hope to do it again someday. We wished we would have gotten a map of the Caribbean before we departed...next time we cruise we will definitely get a map of the area we will be visiting. We arrived in New Orleans two days early and explored the city. It's a very friendly and easy to get around kind of place. We got our hotel through priceline.com. You have to select a category of hotel and then put in a price that you are willing to pay. Then submit your price without knowing what hotel you are going to get. We had never done this before either. We selected the highest rated hotel category and put in $60 per night. A message came back telling us that our price was too low and we were unlikely to get a hotel at that price, so we raised it to $75. We got the same message, but decided to submit it anyway. Within 15 minutes we were confirmed at the Marriott. (Of course, now we wonder if we could have gotten it at $60!) We thought we would probably be given rooms that were their least favorable, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that our rooms had a beautiful view of the river and the bridge. Our first night we went to Bourbon Street. I guess you should go once, just so you can take in the whole scene, but we weren't too impressed and neither were our daughters. On the whole, we found it to be rather dirty and smelly. And watch out for people getting sick! We took a city tour the next day and that was a good way to see some of the city and hear some history. Then we went shopping in the French Market and had lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margarita Ville. We had to duck into the Flea Market to dodge an afternoon thunderstorm...but it had some of the best shopping of our whole trip. The next morning when we got up we could see the Inspiration from our hotel room window. We took a taxi down to the pier about noon. We gave our bags to a porter to put on the ship, and then my husband and one daughter went to the D-Day Museum, while my other daughter and I went shopping at the River Walk mall which is right at the pier. We met back downstairs at 3:30 to board the ship. The lines were much shorter by this time. We still had to wait for the final portion where they scan your body and carry-on bags, and then you are finally able to head up the walkway to the ship. You are on your own as far as finding your room, so try to have some idea which direction your rooms are before you go aboard. (We had a room at the forward end of the ship with a window. Really enjoyed having a window. Saw some beautiful sunrises and enjoyed looking out the window whenever we were in our room.) We were told to pack anything we would really need before dinner in our carry-ons, as the luggage sometimes doesn't arrive until after dinner, and our bathing suits so we could swim and lay by the pool as soon as we got on. However, our bags were waiting outside our rooms when we got there and the pools are filled with salt water from the ocean, so they didn't have any water in them until the next day! The other thing we didn't know prior to this cruise, is that the pools are emptied out every evening and refilled in the morning. So, if you think you are going to sit in the hot tub and look at the stars...you won't be able to. And, I believe the water slide is only open between 10 and 6. The first two days you are at sea and the sea is a beautiful dark blue. We were traveling through partly cloudy skies, but let me tell you, it's not long before you are glad for a few clouds! There are shows in one or the other lounges every night and plenty of activities going on. However, it's really hot and humid out on deck and then you go inside and the air conditioning in some places is too cold. The dining rooms are especially cool...I think because they don't want you showing up in tank tops and shorts, and they want to get you in and out quickly. The big lounges where the shows are held are also quite cool. Be sure to take some sweaters and long pants for the air-conditioned rooms! We enjoyed three comedy shows and one Vegas style show. If you want a seat up close, be sure to go early. Some things fill up quite fast. I found some shows to be a little too loud. Even the "informative" talks they give are just a little too loud and salesman-like for me. Be aware that everything besides your meals is going to cost you. Bingo was $25 for 3 cards the first night. Use of the Internet, virtual golf, etc., and anything you want to drink, besides water, coffee, tea, lemonade or punch you are going to pay for. Plus a tip is automatically added to every drink. And, you can't use cash for anything. Everything goes on your sail and sign card, which means it's going on your credit card. This includes any purchases you want to make in the gift shop. Because we had our two daughters with us that meant we had 4 persons' charges going onto one card! My daughters and I would rather have paid cash for some things. It did keep us from spending as much as we might have otherwise, because we didn't want everything showing up on the credit card! You can make arrangements ahead of time to pay some cash up front, which is credited to your sail and sign card. We didn't know about that until later, and we heard a lot of calls our last night out for people who had gone over their prepaid budget to come and make payments! Our waiter was Sassa and he was very entertaining. Our daughter's loved him. He is from Hungary and he had a great time playing small tricks on us. Our bus person was Natalia and she was also very nice. Sassa said she was his sister, but we learned early on not to believe everything he told us! Our first stop was Jamaica. I had set up a shore tour on the Internet with Carolyn Barrett of Barrett Adventures. You can visit their web site at http://www.barrettadventures.com/. Carolyn's email address is advent@n5.com.jm . They have several tours to pick from. We chose the South Coast Adventure II, which included YS Falls, a gourmet lunch at Culledon Cafe and the Rockland's Hummingbird sanctuary. Carolyn's husband, Errol took us. It was just our family in a small van. It's quite a long drive out to the falls so you get to see quite a bit of the countryside and learn a little about Jamaica from Errol as you go. (One thing we didn't anticipate was the need for tip money. Everywhere you go when you're on a shore tour, expect to encounter people who expect tips!) I had brought enough cash to pay for our tour and figuring we wouldn't be shopping I almost didn't bring any additional cash. At the last minute I did bring a little and it was a good thing! When we got to the falls there was a little gift shop and bar. From here you get on a jitney which is pulled by a tractor. This takes you up to the falls area. Then you walk a short distance to the falls. One daughter didn't want to try it, but she video taped the rest of us swinging on the rope swing and then dropping into the pool below the uppermost fall. Be sure to plug your nose! Apparently, there is a cave behind the falls, but when we were there they weren't allowing anyone to swim there. For awhile we were the only ones there. By the time another family came, we were ready to go. Just down below the falls is an area where they have a manmade pool and a place to buy something cold to drink, but you should have Jamaican money. (Errol purchased our drinks for us and we gave him American money.) It's very tropical here, vines coming down from the trees and beautiful flowers, butterflies and birds. When we were ready, we got back on the jitney and headed out toward the cafe. Errol stopped along the way and bought himself some "fry fish and bammi bread" from street vendors. (Everywhere you go there are little shacks set up on the side of the road selling everything from grocery items to souvenirs. And cows and goats are frequently seen on the side of the road or even in the road.) He was happy to buy us some too, but we said we would wait. We did taste his bammi bread. It was very smoky tasting. At the cafe you can choose to eat inside, on the patio or down by the water. We chose down by the water. The food was very tasty and artfully arranged. I should have taken a picture of the fruit plate, it was beautiful. We also enjoyed playing with the two dogs, Cleo and Jasmine. While we waited for our lunch we went down on the beach and picked up small conch shells and beach glass. I even found a marble. We liked these souvenirs as much, if not more than any store bought ones! After lunch you make the long drive back toward the cruise ship, but just before we got back we made my favorite stop. The hummingbird sanctuary. (The road getting to it is pretty bad.) If you are a bird person, this is a must see. It's just a small patio area at someone's home covered in vines and vegetation. You sit in chairs and hold a small bottle of sugar water and the birds come and sit on your finger to drink from the bottle. We saw many different birds, but my favorite was the Doctor bird, a type of hummingbird with two long streamers for his tail. Again, we were the only ones there. It was a nice day of getting away from the ship and so many people. I highly recommend taking one of the Barrett Adventures tours. The people we talked to when we got back to the ship had not enjoyed their tours nearly as much as we had, and had apparently been constantly pestered by people trying to sell them something ... everything from drugs to braiding their hair. Many did return to the boat that day with braided and colored hair. The next day you arrive in Grand Cayman. You have to take tenders in to get to shore. Sassa warned us to take an early tender in, so we went in about 7:30. His advice was good. Going in was not bad, but coming back there's a long line and it starts as early as 1:30. (We got in line to come back to the ship about 2:15 and we didn't get on a tender until 3:00.) We had about an hour and a half to shop until our tour. Most, though not all, of the shops were open. Be sure to try some of the many flavors of rum cake. Free samples are available. We took an early tour to Sting Ray City. Sting Ray City is a sandbar where you swim and can hold sting rays. We got to hold and "kiss" one particular black female known as Dorothy Vader. We enjoyed this tour very much. There are hundreds of people out there and we didn't see anyone get hurt. We were more concerned about the stingrays getting hurt by the people. You have to be careful not to step on them. They'll swim up behind you and you don't know it. If you choose to, you can feed them squid. You should also know that most likely there will be a photographer on board the boat that takes you out to the sand bar and they will take your picture holding a stingray. (So, be sure to bring money for that if you want one. Ours were $12 a piece and for that you get a picture on a floppy disk.) We wish we had set up a snorkel tour here as well. This place is known to have great snorkeling. Guess we'll have to go again! We spent the remaining time in the shops, which by now were quite crowded. It would have been better to finish our shopping before our 9:30 tour time! We were going to go out to 7 mile beach and relax on the beach after the sting ray adventures, but a thunder storm came in so we stayed in town and shopped. The air-conditioned shops felt great. The next morning we docked in Cozumel. We got off the ship early for our tour to the Mayan Ruins. We had to take a ferry over from Cozumel to the main land, and then we had a long walk in the humid heat to our bus. Our daughter accidentally left her tour ticket on the ferry and we were afraid we weren't going to be able to go without it, but the guy was very nice and took our room #. He said a ticket had been found and hopefully it was our daughters. The bus makes a shopping stop, which we wished it wouldn't have. It was an expensive jewelry mall for the most part. We would rather have had time to shop in Cozumel itself or more time to shop out at the ruins. We bought nothing at this stop, except the $5 tanzanite earrings. (You need a magnifying glass to see the tanzanite.) There are also several booths out at the ruins themselves, selling the typical Mexican wares. Though you won't have much time there. The ruins are very interesting and in a beautiful setting. If you wear your bathing suits you can go swimming in the ocean out there. It was very hot there. The water looked so inviting. We were glad to get back on the bus and out of the heat by the time it was time to go, and very happy to be served cold beer or pop. We got back to the pier at Cozumel with about 1/2 hour to spare for shopping at the duty free mall which is right on the dock. It turns out we had more time than that because 3 couples were late getting back to the ship. They made it just before we were supposed to sail, with one couple arriving back by police boat. I'd sure like to know what their story was. The people on the ship booed them as they got out of the van that brought them up the dock from the police boat. I guess everyone figured that if they had to make it back to the ship in time then those people should have too. Saturday morning we watched the flying fish "fly" out from the bow of the boat. They can really fly quite far and from up on the deck they look like birds. As the day went on it was sad to watch the water turn from a beautiful blue to brown green and finally quite brown as you head back into the Mississippi River. (By the way, bring along some binoculars for looking at things as you get closer to shore and if you are up early enough you may catch sight of Cuba on your way to Jamaica.) All in all we had a wonderful time and saw some places that we would like to go back to and stay for more than a day. Our daughters said it was the best vacation we had ever taken, and I would agree. If you have any questions, please contact me at KITTYMAGIC@aol.com.September 2002 Read Less
I just recently returned from a cruise with my sister Becky. She is 28 and I am 15. Just to let you know. Anyway, we got to New Orleans a day early to see Bourbon Street and to eat at a good Cajun restaurant. Well, we live in Texas and ... Read More
I just recently returned from a cruise with my sister Becky. She is 28 and I am 15. Just to let you know. Anyway, we got to New Orleans a day early to see Bourbon Street and to eat at a good Cajun restaurant. Well, we live in Texas and miscalculated the time, so we got there around 9:00 p.m on Saturday night. It was dark and we didn't know where we were going and we couldn't find Bourbon Street (hard to believe but true) so we went back to our hotel and ate at a fast food restaurant. The next day was Sunday (St. Patrick's Day) and we arrived at the cruise terminal about 10:00 a.m. When we got there people were still getting off the ship so we waited around 5 minutes. Then we were checked in and got a guy to take our luggage. It was still too early to get on the ship so we went to the Riverwalk and picked up some things that we forgot. I highly recommend getting one of those little waterproof cases that you wear around your neck to hold your money and identification if you are going snorkeling. We shopped for about 2 hours and then boarded the ship after sitting and waiting for 15 minutes. I don't see why they take a picture of you getting on the ship when there are people you don't know behind you in your picture. And they expect that you to want to buy it. Thats okay, its just 20 dollars that was still in my pocket. Since it was just me and my sister we decided to get the cheapest room possible the upper and lower room. I was amazed at how roomy it was. I expected it to be small and cramped, but we were fairly happy with it. The 2 days at sea were fun. I especially liked High Tea Time. Our room steward's name was Menino, he was very attentive and earned every penny we gave him. Our dining room staff was Paul our head waiter from Romania and Mica our assistant waiter from Croatia .They were okay, but I expected better. I was just recently looking at our Carnival brochure and our waiter Paul is in there. I was surprised to see him. Anyways, the first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica. I arranged with Carolyn Barrett over the internet...I would highly recommend her. When we got off the ship she was there with a sign that had my name on it. She told us that her husband would be taking us instead. He was such a great tour guide. First he took us to Y.S. Falls. When we got there we were about the only ones there. It was soooo beautiful. One guy that was there took us underneath the waterfall, he also took us to a part that when you sat under the waterfall it felt like a back massage. That was fun. He then took me over to this rope and he expected me to get on it and swing into the water. Well, he and his friend helped me get on it and I did it twice. After that we swam around for a while and then were on our way. By the way, our tour guide's name was Errol. So, Errol took us to this cute little cafe. There was a part inside for people to eat and a part outside under a hut .Errol thought it best that we sit outside because of the breath-taking view .It was soooo gorgeous. And we were the only ones out there. I had shrimp soup for an appetizer and so did my sister and then for my main course I had chicken and my sister had crab cakes. Just thought you guys might like to know what we ate. Anyways, I found a couple of conch shells on the beach and Errol went down and got them for me. I picked one to take home, hey it's a free souvenir. So when he was down there he found a hermet crab and I held it. Since we only had a certain amount of time in Montego Bay we had to hurry and go to the Hummingbird Sanctuary. We stayed there for around 20 minutes. We fed the finches and they would land on your hand, and of course the main attraction were the hummingbirds. They would come and scare me and my sister to death because they sounded like wasps, but after the first couple of times of them coming up to us we were okay. After that we went back to the ship so we could be there at least thirty minutes before the ship was due to leave. The next morning we were in Grand Cayman. I had arranged to do Captain Marvin's three hour tour to a coral reef, a coral garden, and to Stingray City. It was fun. My sister was scared of the stingrays. Every time one came by she would jump on my back. I was a little scared at first but then I fed one twice and I held a baby one. We had a great time there, and it was only 39 dollars.The next day we were in Cozumel, Mexico. That day we went shopping. It is well worth the 10 dollar taxi ride to get down town. I don't think I could have walked that far and back in time to get on the ship, plus it was very hot and humid. First we went to all the jewelry shops to find the bargains we had heard about at the shopping seminar on the ship. My sister got the free pair of Tanzanite earrings and I got the Cozumel silver charm. Which is good because I have a charm bracelet. The only thing is, instead of them putting Inspiration on the back they put Carnival. But I prefer the Carnival instead. After our shopping we went back to the ship to eat. Then we took a taxi ride for 8 dollars to Chankanaab National Park. We paid 10 dollars to get in. When we got there we wanted to go swimming, but when we got in the water these little nasty things were all in it. So we just decided to lay in the sun. Well, the sun lasted for about 15 minutes and then the sky got dark and it began to rain. Not hard but it rained. So we went to the botanical gardens. I wasn't very impressed. We waited for the rain to stop, but it didn't so we layed under a hut. After around 2 hours we left. I probably wouldn't go back to Chankanaab and pay ten dollars to get in and $8 for the taxi ride.The next day was a fun day at sea and for some reason it was really cold and windy. But other than that our vacation was sunny weather the whole time. Out of Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Mexico our favorite port was Jamaica. Overall I had a great cruising experience and can't wait to go on another cruiseBubblegum14EBApril 2002 Read Less
We sailed the Inspiration during Spring Break with our two teenaged sons 16 and 17 and a friend aged 19. This was our 5th Cruise (boys 2nd) and our 3rd with Carnival. Embarkation was a little slow. We arrived at 12:00 expecting to ... Read More
We sailed the Inspiration during Spring Break with our two teenaged sons 16 and 17 and a friend aged 19. This was our 5th Cruise (boys 2nd) and our 3rd with Carnival. Embarkation was a little slow. We arrived at 12:00 expecting to board soon. We were able to check in, but were sent to wait in chairs in another room. We waited another 45min to an hour to begin boarding. This was ok, probably due to new increased security. We never were told. We were able to go to our cabins, unpack and head for the buffet. We then explored the ship, had a drink and waited to set sail. We sailed about 6:30, it was really a treat to leave after dark, the bridge and lights along the river were beautiful. I won't give a day-by -day account, but try to hit the highpoints. The food was excellent, as has been our experience with Carnival. The boys each ate 2 lobsters at dinner on formal night. Our waiters were EXCELLENT! they were very busy, it almost seemed that they were lacking waiters in the dining room, but they did a great job. My only complaint would be that they did not have time to really visit with us, it is always fun to find out a little about them. We did stay late several nights and get a chance to talk with them some. The shows were great also. We are not big comedy fans, but the other shows were very good. The teenagers loved the comedienne and never missed a show. There was plenty to keep everyone's interest while on board. Service was good. Our room steward was not the best we have had, but adequate. The ports were good. Jamaica is not the best if you do not take a tour .We heard this from almost everyone else. So be advised. We just shopped and the boys wanted to go to Margarittaville. Very expensive. Would not recommend it as a destination. Fun to see, but take a tour. Grand Cayman's Stingray Tour was the best tour we have ever done. The kids and parents would take it again. Carlos and Charlies of course for the teens. They have moved to a lovely new mall, between the cruise pier and downtown. Great place to relax .Go on downtown for shopping. Cozumel is a great place to just relax, unless you choose to snorkel or see Tulum. This was a great family vacation. Our sons said it was a blast. The ship was very well maintained and a great resort on the sea. We have booked the Conquest for next Spring Break!!!! Similar itinerary (Ocho Rios rather than Mo Bay. It is our oldest sons graduation year, so we decided to take the new ship. We would recommend the Inspiration to anyone!!! Bon Voyage! Winepres@aol.comApril 2002 Read Less
A little background first and then the review. This was our 6th cruise. We have gone on a cruise the last 5 years now. The last four were in February but this one was during the summer. My family consists of myself at 48, my wife 50, ... Read More
A little background first and then the review. This was our 6th cruise. We have gone on a cruise the last 5 years now. The last four were in February but this one was during the summer. My family consists of myself at 48, my wife 50, daughter 14 and son 17. We picked the Inspiration for a number of reasons such as departure from Tampa, ports of call and a seven-day cruise. My wife insisted on a summer cruise which I will never do again (more later on that). We arrived in Tampa a day early and stayed at the Sailport Resort. I chose it because of the suites available. I would have rather stayed at the Marriott Waterside Hotel because of its proximity to the port and other activities in Tampa such as Ybor City. We arrived at the ship around 10:30 am. Embarkation was smooth and was inside the building by 11 am. At 11:45 am we were headed on the ship. We were originally scheduled for early dining and were pleasantly surprised to see we received late dining 8 pm. I grabbed a bucket of beer and proceeded to lie out by the empty pool. By 1:15 pm we already had our luggage. Lifeboat drill was uneventful but nice that we did it inside instead of standing out in the heat. I'll revisit each day and then return to individual departments and activities on the ship itself. Monday was our first day at sea. I was up early and when I went back to the cabin at 8 am to take a short nap there was little or no chair saving in place. I was real surprised when I went back out at 11 am to find almost all the chairs being taken. Most actually had people in them. Not like the times on the Destiny where rows and rows were full of chairs with towels and nothing else. I found a couple after a little search and relaxed all day. Tuesday was Grand Cayman. We had done the stingray and turtle thing (highly recommended) in the past and opted for a prearranged horseback ride along the beach with Honeysuckle Stables. Very reasonable, $10 booking fee and $50 for the actual ride. They picked us up near the port and the ride went along the beach, into the water and then also a short stint inward. A nice time that I would have preferred riding side by side instead of nose to tail but they said some of the horses don't like to be next to each other. Cayman can be very expensive to eat and drink so we went back on the ship. Wednesday was Costa Maya. Someone who had been there before wrote that it seemed like a "private island" type of stop. I would have to agree except give it credit for a lot more than that. They have everything you need as you get off. Pools, shade, restaurant, live music (great band), shopping and a lot more. I had done a little investigating prior to sailing and found there was a small fishing village Majahual 5 miles away. You could rent an taxi at $5 per cab, rent bikes at $10 per day or rent a golf cart for $12 an hour or $50 per day. Knowing they would go lower due to comments by prior cruises I got them down to $10 and $40 and he also threw in a coupon for 4 free cervezas at his stand. I took the all day option and headed off to the town by way of nice paved roads. We went back and forth from the dock to the village a few times and got my money's worth plus my teenagers were able to ditch us and do a little exploring on their own. If you just want to see the village and then go back rent a taxi. Almost everything is in a short 4-5 block long area. The bikes looked like a nice option but it was real hot and I wouldn't recommend that option. The village was great. Most locals were real friendly. We were invited to sit at a beachside area across from the hotel. $2 beers and $1 sodas and some delicious salsa and chips. After that we started shopping and they definitely will bargain. Things that started out at $20 got down to $8. Some items they moved on more than others. I brought books, toys and candy for the kids and they and their parents were very thankful for those items. We stayed there awhile and then headed back to the beach resort. Natalie and Jay went swimming in the pool and Julie and I headed for the live band. There was food and drinks available which were slightly higher than the fishing village but reasonable for sure. A great band was playing and got the crowd going. After an hour or so we were heading back to Majahual to do more shopping and drinking via the golf cart. I sat outside a bar and took in the scenery and the fresh ocean breezes. As we left we stopped to get our free beer and had a delicious nacho plate. Costa Maya was a great all round stop in my opinion. Thursday was Cozumel. There was a medical emergency on the ship just as we left Costa Maya. The captain brought the ship up to full speed and announced that we would be arriving in Cozumel around midnight. They weren't sure if passengers and crew would be able to get off but they were going to request it. All the crew was of course concerned for the well being of the ill passenger but were ecstatic about being able to have an evening in port. They said this happens maybe 2 or 3 times a year. If I was to guess 65% of the ship got off. They did allow the crew and passengers off around 1 am. I was too tired to go into town and stayed in bed. My teenagers were up and saw the Celebration leave shortly after we pulled in. The Holiday was also in port due to a tropical storm. In the morning we headed to Chananabab National Park were I had reserved the dolphin swim for the girls months in advance. It was pricey but everyone who had done it before us raved about it. I could see why because both girls loved it. Jay and I were allowed to go on the pier with them and experience it and also take pictures. I thought about doing the Sea Trek (Helmut diving) but considering where they were doing it and the cost I decided against it. For those of you who have never been to this park there are plenty of other things to do. They have a small beach and lagoon for small ones. There are a considerable amount of areas to snorkel and dive. Numerous shacks rent all the equipment you need at competitive prices. There is a restaurant for food and drink, which were reasonably priced. There was also a sea lion show that we had planned to see but timing wasn't right and the girls were hungry. Cozumel has recently redone the area where the cruise ships dock. It now has all the shops and some of the famous watering holes nearby. The last time we were in Cozumel, which was a few years ago, we had to take a taxi to town to shop, eat and drink. I enjoyed that part of it compared to the artificial shops with roll up door fronts. Friday was Belize. I had investigated a number of excursions. The most popular seems to be tubing down a river into caves. There are private and ship sponsored tours. After a lot of debate we decided it wasn't for us. It involved a 1-hour bus ride there and back along with a 30 to 40 minute walk with your inner tube. Most people I spoke to enjoyed the river part but seemed to bring up the bus and the walk. I arranged a riverboat fishing/sightseeing tour with Action Belize. We never did catch any fish but enjoyed the sightseeing part of it. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the country and the area. Overall I was a little disappointed in what I received considering the cost. I think I was expecting this big fishing and wildlife extravaganza and it never developed. My family and I enjoyed it but no one was overwhelmed. I still don't think the tubing is the answer although I didn't do it. Belize is noted for snorkeling and diving and if I were to do it over again I would have gone snorkeling. We did walk into town and it was rundown but the people were friendly and there was plenty of police present. You could be safe for a short walk but don't get off the main streets. There really isn't much so don't plan on doing more than a short walk, stop in for a beer and soda and head back to the ship. Saturday was our final day at sea. I always got up around 6:30 am. It's hard to adjust your sleeping habits for a week and I enjoy that quiet time on deck. I grabbed a couple of chairs but it really didn't start filling up until 11 am. We watched the ice carving, hairy chest contest and for the first time I went to the not so newlywed game, which was funny, and I recommend it. Sunday was debarkation day. We had an early flight out and the purser's desk accommodated us with early departure off the ship. We were off the ship by 9:50 am and at the airport shortly thereafter. And now to the ship: Everyone has an opinion and it is interesting how everyone's differ but I am happy to share mine. Food: A- I thought the dining room food was very good. I honestly can't think of a dish I ordered that I didn't like. I would normally order two starters, skip the salad and order two entrees. The portions seemed to get larger as the cruise went on to where I should have only ordered one entree but they never question it and it was fun experimenting with all the different food. They didn't offer ground pepper on the salads and some of those small things that people expect but I was very pleased. Natalie had a few fish dinners that weren't perfect but wee all shared and certainly didn't starve! Desert was great and toward the end of the cruise we stopped ordering it because we were getting so full after dinner. Carnival does the usual singing and dancing on certain nights. It was neat on the first few cruises but now it has lost its appeal to both of us. I was doing the Macarena 10 years ago! We had a tables near us show up every night 20 to 30 minutes late! It was so rude of these people to do that to the wait staff but they just rolled with it. A new thing with Carnival but something we experienced last year on NCL was the option of buying a bottle of wine and you could either save it for the next night and it would be at your table or take it back to the room with you. The Brasserie Bar and Grill offered plenty of options morning noon and night. We never ate there at night but found the afternoon and breakfast set-ups satisfactory. The breakfast was the same thing everyday except rotating between pancakes and French toast. I really enjoy corn beef hash but none was available except in the regular dining room breakfast seating. I found the omelet ingredients not hot enough. He wouldn't allow the cheese to melt or the ham to warm up. I quickly corrected that the next time by asking him to cook it more. The whole family loved Danish. Let's face it, it's a steam table and unless you have it right out of the oven it losses some appeal. The grill out by the pool served some cold salads and the usual hamburgers, hotdogs and fries. I liked all three. There was a frozen yogurt and ice cream machine that got a lot of use. People were constantly transporting ice cream 24/7. Never made the midnight buffet. Pizzeria was good. Lounge/Bar Entertainment: C This rating is for the lounge acts and not the main shows. My biggest disappointment was the non-existent disco! One factor is they turned it into a teen disco until 10 pm. After that it was still overrun by teens. I think it was a great idea to have a spot for the teens but the entire cruise and the entire time the disco was open? I would guess the average age on the ship (speaking of adults) was 25 to 55. Please don't tell me that that is still not a disco crowd. The piano singer Darin even commented on how all the "Disco Dj" was playing was hip-hop and "who wants to dance to hip-hop?" I never went in there except to stick my head in it. There was never an adult, and the teens were NEVER dancing but just goofing off. Please remember I brought two of my own teens, 14 and 17 with me so it's not like I'm out of touch. My point is why not let the teens have it for a period of time and then release to the adults. Next on my bashing was the horrific singing of "Jimmy" and his guitar. I would walk through the casino to get away from him. I must admit he had people there every night but it was so loud and he sang every artist you could think of but in my opinion he didn't have the range to accomplish that. The Karaoke bar was fun. I didn't get the nerve so I waited till the last day and did two songs. Previous cruisers complained about the smoke but I never saw that as an issue. It could have been larger but you just have to make due. There was a band called Music Network that did pretty well. Not bad and only one of two places I would even consider sitting. Darin has a great voice and range. His strongest points are Billy Joel songs and he was really good on others. The Lido deck band wasn't what I've heard in the last four cruises. Now I will admit the typical Lido band exhausts there song list by day one but these guys had no good or bad songs. They all kind of sounded the same. Paris Lounge Entertainment: N/A It wouldn't be fair for me to rate this because all I went to was the main show Shout and that had a lot of nice things and a few ok skits. My teens went to most of the shows and what I got out of them was most of the other shows were good. Casino: A First night out to sea I walked up to the roulette table and won 5 out of the first six numbers I played with only three chips on the table per spin. That was a quick $130 or so. Interestingly enough I won every night except the last night and walked away with over $200 in winnings. That's pretty good for me as I am a somewhat conservative gambler. Casino staff and management were very friendly. I saw a lady win $400 and then someone else win $100 on a quarter slot machine. Someone else won about $300 on the two end 5-cent machines. Cabin: B It was your typical Carnival cabin. The Fantasy class has a larger bathroom. The last four cruises we took had balconies so we missed that but the ocean view window helped. Cabin Steward cleaned the room and nothing else. Never would say hello and didn't figure out that we had late seating until the second to last day. Lido Deck and Activities: B Plenty of space to lay out and lots of chairs. What ever happened to the late night or daytime congo lines singing and dancing or the limbo game. Instead they did the hairy chest contest and a game with beanbags and golf balls. I thought the staff didn't do enough or be creative. Total Grade: B I like the Fantasy class ship, as they were easy to get around. There were enough bars/lounges etc. if they only would have been put to good use. I will never cruise in the summer for a few reasons. I never understood the increasing chances of tropical storms and hurricanes. We fortunately missed any our week but there was one before and after our cruise. I didn't enjoy all the kids on the ship. Gosh, I must be getting old! Please remember I brought a 14 and 17 year old on with us. It just seemed that the 13 to 16 age groups didn't have enough to do. Everywhere I saw more than 8 of them they had a security officer following them around at night. The younger ones were fine and well behaved. My teens didn't interact with any of the others as they hung out together or with us. My daughter loved Camp Carnival when she was younger. The problem for that age group is there really wasn't anything for them to do but roam. I've been to the Western Caribbean twice now and probably wouldn't go back. If you have never done it is a great area of the Caribbean to visit. glentally@yahoo.com July 2003 Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
Inspiration, Jan. 2-7, 2006 Embarkation: What a breeze! We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express-Airport/Stadium (nice motel except they had a problem with their water heater and we only had cold water) and our wonderful shuttle driver ... Read More
Inspiration, Jan. 2-7, 2006 Embarkation: What a breeze! We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express-Airport/Stadium (nice motel except they had a problem with their water heater and we only had cold water) and our wonderful shuttle driver picked us up at 10:30 to take us to the pier. We arrived at the pier at around 11:00AM (lots of traffic due to the Outback Bowl) We checked our luggage, took the escalator up, walked right up to the counter to check in and were assigned Group #4. We embarked at about noon and were having lunch at the Brassierie by 12:30. Cabin: We found our cabin at about 1:20 and met our room steward, Mohammed. He was very nice and always kept our cooler of bottled water full of ice. There were 3 of us in an inside cabin on Upper deck and it worked out quite well. We had plenty of space in the closets and the roll away didnt take up much room at all because it was pushed under the counter during the day. Dining Room: We had late seating (8:30) in the Mardi Gras dining room and it was wonderful! Our waiters name was Catelin (or call me Bobby-everybody does!) and he made dinner such fun every night, our whole table was in stitches! He danced for us and was very funny and friendly. Our assistant waiter was named Joel and he was nice, too. We had a table for 9, which included my 19 yr old daughter, 78 yr old mother and myself (46), a couple from Canada and their 18 year old daughter and a couple from Minnesota and their 18 year old daughter. We all seemed to have a lot in common and got along quite well. The food was very good. My filet mignon was cooked to perfection and very tasty. Formal night I, of course, had lobster and I expected it to be rather chewy like the lobster Id had on the Miracle last year. I was pleasantly surprised to find it very tender and tasty. The only thing I didnt like was the grouper one night. It didnt seem to have much flavor. We ate in either the Brassierie or the Lido Deck Grill for our other meals and both were good. Shows/Activities: We went to the Welcome Aboard show the first night and the comedian was pretty funny. His name was Tony Esposito. We went to Name that Tune-we didnt do very well, only got 10 ½ out of 15! Fear Factor was a lot of fun to watch, as was the Hairy Chest Contest! My dd and I went to the Deck Party the night after Cozumel. Fairly light attendance (too much Carlos & Charlies?!) but we had a good time anyway. The only other show we went to was the Fire Gauchos/Blues Brothers Show. The Fire Gauchos were great but I didnt really care for the Blues Brothers. The Gala Buffet was beautiful. We took pictures, but were too full from dinner and too tired to go back and eat. Ports: Grand Cayman was our first port. We booked an excursion through Captain Marvin for 8:30, so we needed to be off the ship on the first tender. We simply blended in with the ship excursion people, got on the first tender and were at Captain Marvins with about 20 minutes to spare. I think we had 28 people in our group, all from the Inspiration and most of them (coincidentally) from Iowa like us! We got to the stingray sandbar and held, kissed and were massaged by the stingrays! I had done this before, but it was definitely a new experience for my mom and daughter! They really enjoyed it and we took lots of pictures! Next we went to Stingray City. I didnt see the big stingray there, but my daughter saw it and took a picture. I did get lots of pictures of fish. My mom didnt get in the water for that part of the trip, because she doesnt swim and it was deeper there. We tendered back to the ship and had lunch on board. Cozumel was our second port and we had to get tickets to tender to the Island. We were in line for tickets by about 8:15 and they started giving them out at 8:30. We were in group 2 and got on the first tender at 9:25. We were on Cozumel by 10:00. We grabbed a cab and went to Paradise Beach where we had lunch. Cab fare to Paradise Beach was $13 one way. At Paradise Beach, we had Shrimp Ceviche, Guacomole and chips, 2 yard Dos Equis and a bottle of Dos Equis and our bill was less than $40. Very good food!!! My dd got a henna tattoo for $10 and we each got braids in our hair for $2 per braid. We stayed at Paradise Beach until about 2:00. We got a cab back to Puerta Maya, did some shopping at Los Cinco Soles and had a margarita (wow&strong!) at Panchos Backyard before we got back on the ship. Weather: The weather in Tampa, pre-cruise, was wonderful! We wore short skirts or capris, tank tops and jackets. The jackets didnt last long&the temperature was probably about 80! Our first 3 cruise days were very warm also, but the weather took a drastic turn on our last sea day! Right after we left Cozumel the water became a little choppy. Our last sea day was VERY uncomfortable! Being in our cabin was bad, being in the Paris Lounge was REALLY bad. We discovered the 2 best places to be: the lido deck in the open air, even though it was cold or the Promenade on the window seats. It was very cool in Tampa when we got back on Jan. 7&I think it was 42 when we left the ship. Disembarking: Not bad, actually. We chose relaxing disembarkation. We ate a leisurely breakfast in the Brassierie (didnt eat much, we were still rocking and rolling from the day before!) and then sat in the Paris Lounge to relax until they called for us to leave. We waited until most people had left the Lounge and the line was a little shorter. We handed our custom form to the custom person, they waved us through and we were off to find our luggage. A port person noticed my mother struggling with her carry on and sent us down to the warehouse on an elevator. My daughter and I parked grandma by a wall with our carry on luggage. We walked over to the purple tags, picked up our luggage, found a porter who found us a cab and we were off to the airport very quickly. I think we got to the airport by about 10:00, plenty of time for lunch and shopping before our 1:44 flight (which got delayed to 2:30!). All in all, it was a great trip! I was pleasantly surprised to see most people in the dining room dressed appropriately. Most people dressed nicer than I had expected even on the casual nights. There were a lot of children on board, but I didnt see any misbehave at all. A couple younger boys got a little overly excited during a scavenger hunt and were running, but a Carnival employee put a quick end to that and I never saw them misbehave again. I did see security kick a couple kids out of the adult hot tub a couple times. There seemed to be a lot of chair saving, but we never had trouble finding some when we wanted them. One complaint that I can say I have was the tickets for the tender to Cozumel. There was a little confusion over where we were to wait in line to get the tickets, but I hesitate to even mention this, because we ended up being among the first in line and were on the first tender! The tender to Cozumel was very nice. It looked like an airplane inside and was a very smooth ride to the island. Another complaint I have is that the photographers on the ship were a little annoying. I enjoyed the embarkation picture and the pictures taken in the dining room on the first night and formal night. I also enjoyed the optional stations available for photos, but the others were just annoying. Like the guy who shoved the life ring around my head and insisted on taking my picture or the woman with the sombrero who jammed it on my head at dinner. They dont even give you time to smile!!! I didnt like that at all, but it was a small price to pay for the rest of the cruise. One tip I have is to take lots of small bills...it seemed like between taxis, porters, etc we were tipping ALL the time! But I didn't mind because everyone was so nice and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
I found Embarkation very easy. We printed the fun passes, but they weren't really needed. My only regret was that we didn't fly into Tampa the night before so we would have been refreshed for our first day of the cruise. I highly ... Read More
I found Embarkation very easy. We printed the fun passes, but they weren't really needed. My only regret was that we didn't fly into Tampa the night before so we would have been refreshed for our first day of the cruise. I highly recommend this, and will do this next time. We went to the Lido deck, but for the most part, the food on the Lido deck is nothing short of gross (hamburgers, hot dogs). I did like the ice cream though! The entertainment was fun, and being a little crazy I also got into the action and participated in the games. I won a really nice bag. I also threw a couple of dollars in the slot machine and won 100 dollars. I took my coins, cashed them in and walked right out. I saw some poor idiot with his head in his hands. Some people sadly can't just walk away. :( The absolute, most important tips I got, were from Cruise Critic. I originally booked my shore excursion through Captain Marvins for 35 dollars. Thank God I did! That morning, all the people who booked through the boat shore excursions had their Stingray City tour cancelled. For those who booked the stingray/Hell/Turtle Farm excursion they could do the two out of the three (But Carnival did not tell them that they would not refund part of the money so people paid over a hundred for what they would have paid 10 on the dock.) So I went to my excursion with about 13 others (those who also booked because of Cruise Critic) and it was the most amazing time. We also snorkeled on this gorgeous coral reef and I felt like I was in another world. One important note. In order to get to my excursion, I had to make sure i was on the first tender. YOU HAVE TO BE ASSERTIVE ABOUT THIS. Carnival only wants the people who booked THROUGH THEM to go on the first tender. Bring your paperwork and show them that you have to be where you need to be for your excursion. I told them that manager approved it and it went off without a hitch. I also bought a huge bottle of grand marnier for 25 dollars. Mexico was wonderful. Because of Cruise Critic, I took a cab to San Miguel (12 dollars) and went walking way back down the side streets (away from the touristy sights). If you go far enough they stop charging U.S. and only in peso's. But you also lose English speaking sellers as well. Seen some neat stuff and bought tons. Also got some beautiful mexican blankets at Los Cinco Soles for 4 for 11.95 (not kidding!) Bought some vanilla but for only 2.50 a bottle early on in San Miguel. From there, we took a taxi to Paradise Beach (13 dollars). Seen so much destruction on the way there. The restaurant was awesome and we had nacho's, enchilada's and other stuff. Seriously, they served the best darn Pina Colada's (and strongest) I have ever had. The weather was crappy, but I still had a great time. Word to the wise. Get to the Paris Lounge EARLY and say you are on a tour (ie, shopping tour) to get on the first tender to Cozumel. Our friends didn't and they didn't get off the boat till 11:30!! That is when their group was called. Eat in the Dining Room. It is so much better than the buffet. It is worth the time to get dressed up. We took the early dinner and if I had it to do over again, I probably would have done the late. The lobster was to die for. As was the Baked Alaska, and the bread..and butter. It was a fat person haven. We had some really rough days at sea's and were just rocking and rolling. So glad I brought the big box of bonamine. My poor kid was green. She really enjoyed Camp Carnival but didn't go in it until half way through the cruise. When I originally took her, there were no other kids, so obviously she didn't want me to leave her (and I didn't.) When she started making friends around the pool they all started going to the camp. She enjoyed it, and won a medal which she has worn around her neck for about five days now. She also did the good bye t-shirts and made some great memories. I researched the heck out of this vacation, so there were a few things that surprised me. First, I can't believe how darn spooky the ocean is at night when you're out there all by yourself and there is fog on the water. Creepy. Two, I love, I mean love sleeping on a boat. You feel like a baby being rocked to sleep. Three, the boat is smaller than what I expected. Five days was perfect for a first cruise, but I would need to do a seven the next time. Fourth, and most important, this was the most economical vacation I have ever had. As long as you don't buy into all their promotional crap (pictures, yadda yadda) It's great. I tipped myself and removed their gratuities. I gave a reasonable amount for those who had a direct impact on my vacation (waiter, housekeeping, etc..) I think the frozen drinks are a rip off and don't have hardly any alcohol in them. But if you ask for a Long Island Ice tea, at 4.25 you will be hammered after three!! Pina colada's are nice, but they have no kick nor do most of the specialty drinks. The prices on board were reasonable. Debarkation was not nice. Long boring, and being a Canadian meant getting up at 5 a.m. for immigration. I am also still feeling the effects of the boat and am rocking (for last two days.) Well that is all. We had a great vacation, ate, partied, jacuzzied, swam, saw sting rays, snorkeled, drank, tanned, and watched some awesome shows. Can't ask for much more considering I only paid like 350 dollars for it! Thanks Cruise Critic for all the tips. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
Carnival Inspiration 01/02/06, out of Tampa, FL, 5 nights, Grand Cayman and Cozumel ports of call. GENERAL: 8th cruise, 1st on Carnival and apprehensive about it as we are 60 and prefer an older, quieter crowd. Have been a happy ... Read More
Carnival Inspiration 01/02/06, out of Tampa, FL, 5 nights, Grand Cayman and Cozumel ports of call. GENERAL: 8th cruise, 1st on Carnival and apprehensive about it as we are 60 and prefer an older, quieter crowd. Have been a happy RCL/Celebrity customer. Pleasantly surprised. While the crowd is younger, drinks more and is a little rowdier, there were no incidents involving drunkenness that I saw (but we retire by midnight). While the crowd is different, it was definitely not a "show stopper" for us even though we're older more sedate travelers. Great value. Monday to Saturday, 5 day schedule is convenient. Tampa is an excellent departure city. Great kids programs. We prefer children "to be seen but not heard," and that's exactly how it played out. Carnival is noted to have very good children's programs. It seems they do as I never saw a miserable, whining child anywhere on the ship. I've seen plenty of miserable complaining older adults who are not happy about anything on Celebrity/RCL - there are less of those on CCL. A nice change. It all balances out. EMBARKATION: Modern, efficient airport and cruise terminal in Tampa. 20 minute cab ride from the airport ($24.05 for 4). Porters take your bags, you proceed to check-in ($2 per bag is standard tip). Late arrival at Terminal (about 2:45) we were the only passengers being processed. Took 10 minutes to clear and board the ship (fill out your embarkation details on line, print out fun pass and present it to embarkation personnel - saves time). I'd recommend late arrival for families with small children who don't like to wait. A breeze and a quantum leap better than Miami and Fort Lauderdale arrival experience. The Ship: Older ('95) but very clean and in good repair throughout. Cleanliness improved on day 2 - 4 which indicates good ship's officer supervision of maintenance staff. Difficult to move forward and aft because of partitioning but not a major drawback. Gaudy colors (purple and orange) and design in buffet dining area and elsewhere. Looks better at night. Somewhat cramped public spaces which we do not use a great deal anyway. Lots of open deck space and outside seating with tables compared to other ships - a nice feature that we liked. Beverage and serving stations well located and convenient. Typical pool arrangement. Cabins/Pricing: We always book a guaranteed inside cabin to get the lowest rate about 90 days out and usually get upgraded to an outside cabin. It worked with Carnival. Typical price for the 5 day cruise is $400 for passengers 1 and 2 and $290 for passengers 3 and 4. There are benefits to being on the lower decks and amidships in the more "iffy" cruising months like January. You can experience some rough weather - we had one day (the last at sea day enroute back to Tamap) of 50 MPH winds and 25 foot seas. We had our 2, 20 something daughters with us in a 4 berth room. It worked out OK since no one ended up killing anyone despite shoes and hair dryers everywhere. Bath area as spacious as any I've seen. No 115 AC outlet in the bath area for hair dryers and no hair dryer provided. Bring one to plug in at main cabin desk. Very comfortable mattress and bedding. Poor AC controls and cabin tended to be on the cold side. Storage not well designed in cabin but adequate for 4 on a 5 day trip. Would be inadequate for a 7 day trip or more for 4. Good storage above the sink in the bath area. No shelving in the shower area but you can use the large sink surround - that works fine. Cabin service on a par with RCL/Celebrity maybe just a tad less visible but no problems. Stewards were friendly and responsive when asked. ENTERTAINMENT. There was one good production show out of 5. We enjoy the shows so I was a little disappointed but not outraged. Sight lines are not optimal in the theater area but adequate if you watch where you sit. The seating is flat from back to front. Not good. Get there early. It fills up fast and the best seats go quickly. CCL pushes the photos - take advantage. You can have all the photos done you want for free. Get several at different locations on formal night. At the end of the cruise, pick just one or two that you really like. Its expensive to buy a bunch but if you get a couple of good shots of your party, its worth every penny to buy the best two. Be disciplined. You can spend a ton on drinks. Set a budget and stick to it. Bring your own soft drinks and a sports bottle to hold water from the taps. You can save by bringing a couple bottles of wine. I did not get charged the $10 cork fee by my head waitress (she got that back in tips - good move on her part). Can't say that's policy. She'd probably get hammered by supervisors for not charging me if they knew about it. Liquor and Perfume are duty free - you can get some good buys from the ship. Some jewelry is favorably priced. I'd still shop at reputable stores ashore in Cozumel for jewelry and bargain. Its more fun. DINING: Buffet with good variety and tasty foods. Salad, fruit/cereal/yogurt/pastry, omelet, sandwich bars. Good pizza, burgers, fries and hot dogs. Food a-plenty available all the time and conveniently located. Good and always available beverage service in the buffet area and near the pool. Great pastries and cookies. Buffet dining area staff slow to clean up tables which indicates poor ship's officer supervision in this area. Wait staff was eager to do anything you asked though. Don't hesitate to ask them. There are plenty standing around. Uninspired but good sushi after 5PM on deck 8 in a lounge area - it was fine and I ate plenty of it. A good deal of outside table seating in the buffet area - we like this. We dined twice in the Mardi Gras dinning room - once for breakfast, once for lunch. It was fine although I prefer the buffet. We selected late dinner seating in the Mardi Gras dining area (8:30). We always do this and ask for a large table of 8 or more as we like meeting other guests - a highlight for us. We've never had bad table mates and this cruise was no exception. Table service was slightly rushed. Nicely varied menu. Wait staff discouraged substitutions in subtle ways but you got what ever you wanted if you persisted. Small portions - that is fine with us. Great desserts. Frankly, this was the best run dining room and best food I've found on 8 different ships (except Celebrity specialty restaurants but you pay extra for it). A pleasant surprise. CCL is reported to have invested a great deal of effort and money to improve its food and dining service. Its very apparent on Inspiration. ITINERARY: This is our first 5 day cruise. 6 years ago, our first cruise, we traveled for 10 days and loved it thinking we could never get used to less. Less can be better - its cheaper and tends to fit better into busy work schedules when you can't afford to take too much time off. Traveling on Monday and Saturday, to and from the cruise port is also cheaper, less stressful and less crowded. You have a weekend before to pack and a Sunday after to unwind and get ready to go back to work. I recommend departing from the lesser used ports such as Galveston, Mobile and Tampa. We had a very good experience arriving and departing from Tampa compared to Miami or Fort lauderdale. Ports of call included Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We've eliminated future cruises with Grand Cayman on the itinerary. Been there 3 times and my impression is that locals don't particularly care about cruise travelers even though the Cayman government pushes the cruise lines to keep coming there. Why do I want to pay $10 for a bracelet made in China in a Cayman shop with rude employees when I can buy it for $5 at Target in the US. The whole shopping experience is like that. There are good jewelers in Cayman but its high end stuff at discount but high end prices. Some like the 7 mile beach (nice if you like beaches) and the snorkeling with the sting rays. Its a personal thing with me but I think this is over-priced and over hyped. Cozumel is coming back following the hurricanes and I have high praise for businesses that stuck it out and are trying to make a come-back. Compared to Cayman, these people want your business and work hard to get it. There's still a good deal of obvious damage but the downtown area and shops around the ports are open and in good repair. Plenty of restaurants now open. Most resorts on the beaches are still closed having sustained extensive property damage. We've started booking tours on the internet instead of using the cruise tours - just watch your times as the ship won't wait for you on privately booked tours. Its a better value. Try Cozumel Sailing. We chartered a 38 foot catamaran from 10 AM to whenever you wanted out of Porta Debrigio - about 20 minutes from Porta Maya and a $12 cab ride. $70 per person. We had all the food (prepared fresh on the boat) and all the drinks we could have wanted. Grilled Chicken in a great sauce, steak fajitas, tortillas, guacamole, pasta salad. We sailed, snorkeled, fished, ate, drank, went to a beach and rode a spinnaker. Wow - it was a great value. Both Cayman and Cozumel use tenders, Cozumel because the cruise piers are gone, Cayman has always done it. Be prepared for a wait both debarking and embarking but it works out OK as long as you plan for it time wise and are patient. Its well organized at Cozumel, not so well organized at Cayman. Cozumel has two ports serving the cruise ships both about 5 minutes apart from each other by taxi. Porta Langusta is right in the center of downtown. Porta Maya is newer and has a nice shopping area located at the dock (what's left of the former cruise ship terminal). If you book a tour on the ship, you'll get priority debarkation. If you didn't book a tour and want to get off the ship early, for Cayman get in line by 7:45 on deck 4. Cayman tenders are small (maybe 70 seat max) and frustratingly infrequent. In Cozumel, the ship used a numbering system. Pick up your number tags from activity staff on the pool deck by 8:00 AM EST (ship stays on EST but Cozumel is an hour earlier on CST). Tendering for non tour booked passengers starts at 9 AM EST. We were in group 8 and got on the first tender which held about 200 folks - yes, they're big. Smaller ones held about 90-100. We were ashore and in a cab by 9:55 EST (8:55 CST or Cozumel time). Don't get confused about times - stay on ship time or you'll miss the embarkation and the ship. FITNESS: Gym was a tad small but adequate. Not enough tread mills/elliptical trainers. My wife and I cruise to exercise together. We like step and floor aerobics classes. We've found that all the ships we've been on suffer a declining level of well run fitness programs. Steiner - a private contractor that has a corner on the market - provides fitness staff and programs. The cruise lines are not involved in fitness or spa programs except to hire a contractor to provide these services. Steiner has de-emphasized free aerobic and stretching classes to focus on the revenue producing Yoga, spinning and Pilates classes ($10 each) and useless body analysis programs that they actually charge money for. Can't believe people actually buy this. 3 of the 4 free fitness classes were cancelled - 2 for unacceptable reasons. This has become typical. Steiner appears to me to be uncaring about complaints - why should they care. They have no competition. The cruise lines don't seem to care much either. If you are as unhappy about this as we are, start complaining to the cruise lines. Maybe they'll start thinking about dumping Steiner and re-competing when their current contract expires. TIPPING: Included in your sign and sail account is a $10 per day/ per person charge that goes to the cabin and wait staff. You can adjust this amount up or down or give money directly to your waiter or cabin steward (which I did). You are asked to tip the Matre'de separately and I did as the dining room service and food were top notch. FINAL COMMENTS: I was impressed with CCL and Inspiration despite my initial apprehensions. While the ship is perhaps a little gaudy for my tastes and the cruise/activity staff a little more active than I like (lots of announcements and overly energetic staff), I'd still recommend Inspiration to flexible, open, older travelers who are looking for good value. Its great for families with young kids and/or teens. As RCL and Celebrity prices rise, CCL is holding there's down and working to provide the same level of service and food that's a given with Celebrity and RCL - I think they've achieved it. While CCL/Inspiration is definitely service oriented toward a younger crowd who wants to party and to families with young kids, I found it to be a nice, low priced alternative. I'd go back. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2002
This was our 2nd cruise and a late 13yr anniversary for us. Getting there: We drove to New Orleans from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and stayed the night in a hotel. Embarkation: We took a brief walking tour of New Orleans. I recommend ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise and a late 13yr anniversary for us. Getting there: We drove to New Orleans from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and stayed the night in a hotel. Embarkation: We took a brief walking tour of New Orleans. I recommend checking in before doing this. The warehouse where we sat to wait for embarkation and check-in was extremely hot and crowded. Things got a little better when we got to a place where we could sit to wait, but it took maybe 40 minutes for the whole process. It did seem like a long time in the heat. When we finally got onboard, we wanted to put money on our shipboard credit card and get it activated. Everyone had the same idea. Several terminals for doing this were unmanned while we continued to wait for over an hour. People in line began to grumble. I finally got up the courage to ask if they could open up some unmanned terminals. I found a guy in a carnival coat who turned out to be one of the activity directors. I explained that we had been waiting for over an hour and his response was a sarcastic, "And???...." Maybe he wasn't the person to ask, but he could have at least directed me to someone who could help or at least explain why my request could not be fulfilled. Things improved after this. Cabins: We were on the Riviera deck. Only crew were below us. Still our room seemed large with a large shower and closet. We had a porthole. I was very happy with our cabin. It was kept immaculately. My only complaint is that you can't seem to get a real bed for two. They push two beds together and bridge them with a foam pad or something. Not the same as a bed for two. Food: Awesome breakfast, I'm a creature of habit, so I had my daily french toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs in the cafe at the rear of the ship. We always ate outside on the deck out of the wind, but with the Caribbean sun and sea as our view. The food other than breakfast in the "cafe" (I forgot the name) is fair to good. Sometimes there is a wait for breakfast in the morning or for pizza. We usually got lunch poolside. The burgers were great. The drinks were awesome. The best food was dinner. I especially remember the filet mignon and the best carrot cake I have ever had, ever (that's saying something). Breakfast was nice in the dining room also, but kind of a stuffy formal feel so early in the day. It's better to get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Snack food in the bars was the same choice everywhere (ad nauseam). Best snack choices were poolside followed by the cafe. Entertainment: Above average. The entertainers do a good job of putting on a happy face and performing well, but if you talk to them for any length of time you'll find most are not happy. Apparently, pay, leave time, and living conditions are not what most of the crew and entertainers envisioned when they signed on. The comedian was best suited to our tastes, and was so popular, I only got an obstructed view from just outside the doorway. We came late and only happened upon that show. Both comedians were very funny and popular. Next, we enjoyed the karaoke, though this seemed to be dominated by the rowdy recent high school grads from rivaling Alabama and Oklahoma. It was crowded, but fun. We spent quite a lot of time in a bar area in the thoroughfare between the casino and the disco where a singer/piano player was set up playing James Taylor type 70's music along with music from other genres and eras that fit in. He was fantastic. Though he confessed to feeling like a "human jukebox" going through the motions. The guy in the actual piano bar was bitter about not being let off the ship at every port. He grumbled between songs and made it clear that he was quitting as soon as possible. He was o.k., but gave off a negative vibe. The broadway style shows were great, some better than others. Some a bit cheesy with a Vegas flare. Fit the casino style lounges. Poolside reggae band was just the right mood for relaxing by the pool and watching the participation games the activities people set up. Mock game shows were also very entertaining. They should have kept these and karaoke going nonstop. Bingo was available, but we didn't play. Service: Other than the rude activities director, everyone was unbelievable, down to the last detail. We never went without any request or waited long for anything. Everyone was friendly and accommodating. This seems amazing to me considering that they are so underpaid and overworked. My husband and I began to feel we were on a slave ship of sorts. We were discretely told that the cooks (who get no tips) were paid only $300/month. Below decks, the living conditions for crew are crowded, noisy, and unfriendly. International cultures sometimes clashing. For the public, this is imperceptible. We got the chance to speak openly with some of the crew. Our cabin steward should be given an award for patience. Though we never had a complaint about our cabin, the drunken spoiled brat teen two doors down was whining loudly that she wanted this poor guy (who was busy trying to get the entire deck's luggage off the ship) to make her a towel animal because she messed hers up. He did it, but not before calmly smiling and speaking a few words (in an African dialect) to his co-worker. I turned to him, smiled sympathetically, and said, "I bet you're glad she doesn't understand your language." He and his co-worker about fell over laughing. He was tipped generously. Ports of Call/Excursions: Our first port of call was JAMAICA. Jamaica is a poor country. This is obvious when you see Montego Bay port and the countryside. We chose the Dunn's River Falls climb in Ocho Rios. If you do this. Make sure you wear your suit under your clothes. I never really got a chance to change and went in denim shorts. This tour was neat, our driver "didn't waste time" and the guide was informative and friendly. The trip was a little rushed. We got off the bus, were herded up the falls, hand in hand. If someone slipped, it was up to the people holding their hands to help them up. A few times the guys who kept the herd moving up the falls lent a hand. 3/4 the way up, they push you down in the water (sitting) and snap your picture. Then they herd you up to the top. It's done. I kind of longed to jump into the Caribbean at the beach at the foot of the falls. I thought surely there would be a chance to do that, but no. At the top, you are shown your photos for sale, then you have the opportunity to go through a shopping village on the way to the parking lot. We were greeted at the gate by a man who led us directly to his booth where we were guilted into buying something. This happened twice more before we escaped the "village". My husband began to stress and said to me, "I cannot support the whole Jamaican economy single-handedly, let's get out of here." His opinion was that the shopkeepers were pushier in Jamaica than anywhere he'd ever been, including Thailand and Mexico. I was fascinated by the British colonial holdovers juxtaposed by the Jamaican culture. Notably, the British traffic turnarounds with pigs roaming free on them. Livestock ran free everywhere. Cows in the road, goats sunning themselves on raised burial plots. There seemed to be a sting running where government officials undercover would sell marijuana to cruise passengers, then tip the customs agents off as to who was carrying. We ran into a fellow passenger (youth group minister) who was being continually pestered to buy marijuana. The guy asked if he could join us, so maybe the guy would leave him alone. Back onboard, another couple told us they got a day pass at one of the resorts. Beach time, pool time, drinks included. Nobody pestering you. I had no idea you could do that. We wished we had known. We plan on doing that in Cancun this year. Next port was CAYMAN ISLANDS. Gorgeous. We chose the island tour which included the sea turtle farm, the Tortuga rum cake factory, the town of Hell, and the highlight of our entire vacation: Stingray City. The turtle farm was cool. My favorite part was plucking the baby turtles out of the water for a closer look. We didn't stay here long, but it was fun. I could have done without the rum cake factory. Hell was a funny little stopover. A sign on a church lawn points the way to Hell (away from the church, "Turn or burn, baby!"). Just a gift shop and outcropping of coral turned black that has a hellish appearance. Cute little photo op. You can buy postcards in the gift shop that say Greetings from Hell, Wish you were here. Kinda funny. All the t-shirts are puns along the same lines. The cashier takes great joy in shouting, "Who in Hell's next?" Last, Stingray City was not to be believed. Never would I imagine how friendly and fearless, and gentle stingrays are with humans. Feeding them is kinda like putting a kleenex in a vacuum hose. They are so graceful and will let you pet them. One of the crew even briefly lifted a stingray up for us so we could see the underside. (It looks like a smiling face.) We could stand on the soft sandbar, or snorkel, or just swim to the bottom with our masks on. Incredible experience. Bring your underwater camera. We ate lunch on the patio of a little restaurant after some shopping. The view was unforgettable. We grabbed a real estate magazine on the way back to the boat. That's how much we loved this place. It's a playground for the rich, though. My husband described it as "Santa Barbara on steroids." Next time, we'll skip shopping, the turtle farm and the rum cake factory. We'll go straight to Stingray City and spend the rest of the time on a public beach. There are no private beaches in the Cayman Islands, but they all appeared to be immaculate, beautiful and fairly empty. Next stop, COZUMEL/TULUM: This was an enjoyable stop. A boat took us from the ship to Playa Del Carmen where we were escorted to a bus that took us to the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Lots of walking from the front gate and at the site. Wear comfortable shoes, bring money for cold drinks, you'll want one for the tour and one after. The tour was interesting and informative, but wear your suit under your clothes again. There is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen over the cliff that ruins sit atop. There are no amenities here, but you'll wish you had more time. If the Mayan history doesn't interest you very much, you may want to ditch the tour and head for the path under the arch at the far south (right) of the site. Take a gander at the vista below before you do. Get your camera ready, it's a Kodak moment. This is the place I picture most when I need to de-stress or clear my thoughts. It's that good. After the bus ride back (air conditioning, Pepsi, Sol Beer) we were ferried back to Cozumel where I did some shopping while my husband found a bar for a beer or two (It was very hot.) The owner was an American who came on vacation and didn't want to leave. We had margaritas, chips and guacamole on a nice little patio where we were serenaded by 3 mariachis playing for tips. Caught a taxi-van back to the ship. It was depressing as hell to watch the crystal Caribbean waters slowly change to muddy brown as we approached the Mississippi delta. Debarkation was quick and painless, with crew joking that they could sneak you back on for a bribe. Sigh. Public Spaces: Way above average, but in an over the top Viva Las Vegas kind of way. I really liked the piano bar and the casino for decor. Every part of the ship was decorated, nothing was bland. I did wish the disco was a little bigger. The 70's piano guy could have easily been on a stage that wasn't being used instead of a busy thoroughfare. Debarkation: July 2003 we stayed in the Tulum area at Bahia Principe Akumal for a week instead of taking a cruise. You can read my review of this on TripAdvisor.com. For July 2004 we will be taking a "Texaribbean" cruise, (4 ports out of Houston: Cozumel, Honduras, Belize, and Cancun.) I'll try to post a review then. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
Where to begin, first of all heaven forbid anyone greet us! We had raw sewage come up into our bathroom (shower sink toilet) even before we set sail. We were told that this was normal. They did come clean it up without changing the shower ... Read More
Where to begin, first of all heaven forbid anyone greet us! We had raw sewage come up into our bathroom (shower sink toilet) even before we set sail. We were told that this was normal. They did come clean it up without changing the shower matt or picking up my liters of shampoo & conditioner so needless to say there was still the *mess*. Okay, then we had the *friendly helpful happy fun* crew...NOT! No one would even smile when we would say hi! The crew was not what we had heard all about in all the ads!!!! We were snubbed several times !!! And not at all the *party* ship! By 1:00 am all were in bed! We had several run ins with the pizza man (that's the only place open after the midnight buffet). He actually refused to make us a few calzones one night! Had a crew member actually grab the glass I was holding out of my hand because I told him that the drink wasn't diet soda! He the tossed the drink into the sink and slammed it down, slammed ice into it that overfilled it before slamming in in front of me saying there's your diet! We had called room service several times and received NOTHING! Then there's the captain's cocktail hour! My friend asked for the martini that was on her tray and she just snubbed him not once but TWICE!!!!!!! Gave me my drink but actually snubbed him! Now the formal dinners were interesting!!!!!! We had late (8:00) dinners and were done with dinners at 8:20! RUSHED you think!?!?!?!! Every time I was to put my silverware down they would just take my plate! Well I guess I was done with that. You think?! Our first night with them was very friendly! We had tried and tried to get them to talk a bit but NO WAY! Not until the third dinner (which was my friends last time for that!). It's was sad that we couldn't wait to get off the ship! The excursions were AWESOME! Had run into the cruise director once on land and it was like yeah, so your on the same ship good for you, whatever!! I can tell you this we will NEVER go on carnival again !!! We talked to several people on this cruise and they thought the same if not worse, so think twice before getting your ticket on carnival because take it from me it wasn't what they claim it to be! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
A little background. We live in the land of the tourist down in Florida. After 25 years of being married we have been on family trips to mouse world, MGM, Universal, B. Gardens, etc. more times then we can count. To the point that the kids ... Read More
A little background. We live in the land of the tourist down in Florida. After 25 years of being married we have been on family trips to mouse world, MGM, Universal, B. Gardens, etc. more times then we can count. To the point that the kids would say "not again !". We live on the west coast with some of the finest beaches in the U.S. and warmest water, great sunsets. We see gators, deer, fox, bobcat, manatee, dolphin, etc. a lot. We are spoiled a little and take for granted what others pay a high price to enjoy for just a week. That said this was the best vacation we ever had, just wish the kids had been with us to share it with. This was our 25th wed. ann. and we had never been on a cruise before, my wife who gets sea-sick on a elevator had no desire to ride the waves of the great blue. But after years of hearing co-workers and friends stories of their cruise's we cast caution to the wind and set sail. We also made sure that my wife had the little patches for sea-sickness that go behind the ears. We had family take us to port (only a hour drive for us) and gave our bags to the porters, also got our cabin number from them since we booked TBA. All we asked the travel agency for was a O/V. We were early and embarkation was long but after 9/11 we rather have them safe and not sorry. The line was inside and cool, much better then any line at any of the tourist parks. We found our room right off on E deck, to the right and down the hall. The room had more than enough room for us and everything we had in tow (enough for a 3 week cruise). Next was the life vest drill, dull but needed. We made our way back to the room to return the vests and were pleased to find our bags were already there. After unpacking we went a-wandering, being this was our first time on a cruise we were in awe of the size and beauty of the ship. They are really something for a first timer. Made our way back to the rear deck, had the drink of the day as we watched Tampa fade away. When we went to book the cruise we asked the agency for a cruise for our age (mid 40's) and likes. My wife loves to dance, I like music but we're in that middle group were it's hard to go out, either the music is all rap or elevator in the clubs. And we both just wanted to have fun. We aren't very formal and more laid back. Price wasn't a big concern, they said either Royal Car. or Carnival. We tossed a coin and it came up heads, Carnival it was and we weren't sorry. I'll give you the worst first. It was the dining room for us. They sat us at a ten top with only one other couple by the doors. If they didn't show up we were the only ones at this big table with everyone walking by. Our waiter was lack luster and we seemed more of a pest to him. We had a late seating so they would clear the table for the next day half way into our meal making us feel rushed. The last day we ate in the dining room was on our 25th ann. which they didn't make mention of even though other tables had theirs done up right during the week. They knew about it, even got a card for a discount from the spa, but our waiter could care less. In all fairness everyone else who had a different waiter were treated like kings and queens. After that night we ate in back or up on lido and the service was great and the food was wonderful. Room service was great, the room was always clean, workers and crew were helpful, cheerful, and great to deal with. If you can't have fun on a cruise you are either dead or dead wood. There is so much to do we couldn't have covered it all if we had two weeks. Every kind of music, action, lights, games, always something going on. And just walking the decks at night under the stars late at night was great. In Coz. we booked the fury cat. onboard, can't say enough about that trip, it's great. In Casa Maya we just shopped and took a drip in the port. Very nice, clean, pretty, good music, good food, nice people. Belize, take a tour or not much to do. Went to the ruins and climbed the temple, great. Even the long bus ride was nice. In Grand Cayman I have to give the Captain bonus points. It was very rough and it looked like we wouldn't make shore leave. What he did was very cool. He backed the ship between a royal car. and the mickey ship using them as wave breakers and we were able to board the tenders. We were the only ship to make port that day. We met some of the others from those ships the next day at the next port and they weren't happy. The mouse ship had stayed a extra day there and still never left the ship. All of them were ready to jump ship and join us on Carnival. The ship had some kids on it but we didn't see many unless it was when we walked past where they had a camp going on, also try to remember you were once kids also. They don't rub off, you won't catch a case of children. Debarkation was a pain because some non-American guest's didn't show up for the head count and no one can leave until they are located. Once again after 9/11 one can't be too careful. You are on board with 2000+ people, most others just wanting to have fun and many that are interesting and easy to talk to. If you want to be all alone stay home and watch the travel channel, you will be happier and so will everyone else on the ship. If you want a jumping ship, nightlife, great people, great food, dancing, music, action, great tours, and most of all a lot of fun then book asap. We loved it so much that after 2 weeks of being back we booked another cruise with Carnival for later in the year. Dollar for dollar when you compare hotel cost, food, car rental etc. with what you get on the cruise, the cruise wins hands down. It's all in what you make of it. P.S. my wife didn't get sea-sick, even on the elevator. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
My wife & I took a belated Honeymoon aboard the Inspiration the week of Jan. 11/04. We booked airfare through Carnival & arrived in Tampa at 2:20 p.m. from Toronto and were immediately greeted by Carnival staff. We quickly boarded ... Read More
My wife & I took a belated Honeymoon aboard the Inspiration the week of Jan. 11/04. We booked airfare through Carnival & arrived in Tampa at 2:20 p.m. from Toronto and were immediately greeted by Carnival staff. We quickly boarded a waiting bus with 20 other passengers from our flight & arrived at the terminal about 2:50 p.m. Gave our luggage to the pier workers (with a tip) and waited about 15 mins to sign in, then we boarded ship by 3:20 p.m. I booked a 5A guarantee & didn't know where our room was until we arrived at pier. We got upgraded to a 6A (nice start to the trip). We were on Riviera Deck 240 at aft of ship (3rd from rear). Great cabin, super clean, very quiet, elevators were close too. Bathroom was nice & clean, good supply of toiletries, shampoo & conditioner provided free of charge. There was a safe in our closet. High Seas Romance package that I ordered 2 weeks prior was waiting when we arrived. We were immediately thrown into the muster drill, which was a bit disorganized. It took about 45 mins, and the only bad part was that everyone missed the sail away due to the drill. Luggage was delivered to our room by 5 p.m. We chose late dining and felt it was a great decision because we never felt rushed throughout the week, and didn't miss the best sun of the day (4:30-6:30 p.m.) and the quietest time on the sundecks. We felt sorry for people wandering the deck at 5:30 p.m. in dinner attire. Our table service was outstanding and our tablemates Andrew & Paul from England made dining the highlight of each day. The menus were always outstanding & rivaled any great restaurant we have been to. Wine list was also great. On evenings when we couldn't decide what to eat, the waiter brought 2 entrees. Each evening the dining room was entertained by the waiters during dessert. Monday & Friday were formal nights, MAKE SURE TO HAVE THE LOBSTER. Each night from 4p.m.-9p.m. you could eat buffet-style in the brasserie instead of dining room if you wanted, but why bother when you could be spoiled in the dining room. There was a 24hr pizzeria in the brasserie that was great. Hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers & fries were always available during daytime on the Lido Deck. Breakfast & Lunch buffets were always served in the Brasserie. Same each day for breakfast, although you could custom order eggs & omelettes. Lunch was always super & was a different national theme each day (ie Indian, Italian, American, French, Chocolate etc.) Room service was available 24/7 with a pretty broad menu. On several occasions we would post the breakfast room service checklist outside our door the night before (don't forget to tip the porter). It was nice to have a pot of coffee delivered to the cabin rather than fight for cups in the brasserie. Also, if you are tempted to drink the coke provided in the cabin, be prepared to pay $2.50/bottle (my wife found this out first day!) After first day on board, it never felt crowded. We never waited for an elevator or fought for a deck chair (and there was 2500 people on board). The seat savers must have been on another ship that week. We preferred the aft deck during the day, as it was much quieter than lido deck. There was a nice pool & 2 jacuzzis, which were never crowded. The same cannot be said for lido deck pool/Jacuzzis although that was where most of the activities were each day, incl. Caribbean Band. Show lounge was beautiful, always seats available. Each show was put on twice (8p.m. & 10 p.m.) to accommodate both dinner sittings. The major productions were on the formal nights, with comedians, jugglers, balancing act filling out rest of the week. Productions were pretty good, rest of the entertainment was okay. Still entertaining provided you had a few cocktails. The casino was always active when the ship was at sea. Piano Bar seemed to be the hot spot each night, beware if you don't like smoke! My wife enjoyed some of the services in the spa/beauty salon too. In Grand Cayman we went to Stingray City with Capt. Marvin, which we booked online. It was GREAT. Only 14 people on our boat vs. 100 on the ship-sponsored shore tour. In Costa Maya, we just enjoyed the facilities at the pier. There was lots to do, incl good shopping. Cozumel is absolutely gorgeous, we did the Fury Catamaran which was by far the highlight of the week. It was so relaxing, 45 minutes of snorkeling, then sailed to a private beach for a while, you could swim, sunbathe or use their kayaks for free, and best of all, FREE BEER & MARGARITAS the entire time. On the sail back to the ship, the crew organized an impromptu dance party onboard. This tour can only be booked through Shore Excursion desk & worth every cent. (don't forget to tip the crew, especially bartender who just about force feeds you!) Belize was beautiful too, we just spent the morning wandering through the tourist village. Next time I will book a shore excursion because it does feel confining in the tourist village after an hour. The ship anchors about 2 miles offshore in Belize & it is a 20 minute tender to port. WE NEVER WAITED FOR TENDERS OR IN LINE TO LEAVE SHIP WHILE IN PORT. Tenders were always quick, one waiting behind the next, and the crew was efficient with security check-in. I was worried we would always wait in line to leave or board in port and that never happened. Disembarkation when we arrived back in Tampa was a bit slow, but that was mostly customs-related. IF YOUR NAME IS CALLED, PLEASE DO AS YOU ARE TOLD. Otherwise it holds everyone up. We were off the ship by 11 a.m. though. I was impressed that we could even get room service on the morning that we arrived back in Tampa. That was great, I highly recommend it as the brasserie was a cattle line that morning. Carnival shuttle promptly brought us back to airport, though it was not near as fun on the way back. As a footnote, I would highly recommend to those booking their own flights that you NEVER book a morning return flight. We never would have made it based on the disembarkation wait, and the week before, we were told the ship was 3 hrs late getting into port. In summary, the ship was beautiful AND CLEAN. This was my second Carnival Cruise (wife's first) and we were never disappointed. Food was great, I highly recommend the Dining Room for night meals, as you can do buffet for breakfast & lunch. Bar Service was always great, staff were friendly. The cruise represented a very broad spectrum of people from all ages, walks of life. Everyone had one thing in common, they were there for fun. We wouldn't hesitate to take another cruise on this wonderful ship. I also want to say a special thanks to those on Cruise Critic who took the time to write reviews as I found the information invaluable. After hours of scouring the boards for information & advice, we felt very prepared for this trip and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. A cruise is whatever you make of it. This summary is based on OUR EXPERIENCES only, but I am convinced if you go aboard with a negative attitude & looking for problems, you will find them. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Just got back from our 7 day cruise out of Tampa on the Inspiration. We got to the port early and had several hours to kill. We were told we could most likely get on the ship around 11:00 a.m., so we arrived early. Don't waste your ... Read More
Just got back from our 7 day cruise out of Tampa on the Inspiration. We got to the port early and had several hours to kill. We were told we could most likely get on the ship around 11:00 a.m., so we arrived early. Don't waste your time. They weren't even done unloading the ship until almost 1:00 p.m. We went to the aquarium which is right next to the pier. I think it cost around $15 per person. It was interesting. We were told it takes an average of 3 hours to go through, it took us about an hour. It is very nice though, kids would really enjoy it. On the ship: I was very hesitant about the ship prior to boarding because I had read so many negative comments about it on this website and others. I had tried to keep an open mind about it going in. We went immediately up to our cabin which was suppose to be a nice suite. We were a category 11. We walked in and were extremely disappointed. The cabin was very tiny. The floors were stained terribly. The balcony was extremely small compared to the Destiny also. Our mattress had safety pins holding it together. Just imagine if one came undone in the middle of the night!! OUCH!!! We towards the very front of the ship and could see right into the captain's area. Also, everyone on the deck on the front of the ship could look right into our cabin, and believe me every single one did. They would also feel it was their duty to try to start a conversation with you. Find and dandy, but we were on the cruise for our anniversary and wanted the deck for some quit, romantic, alone time-WRONG! Being at the front of ship was also very WINDY! On past cruises we were able to leave our balcony door open at night to listen to the ocean. It was way too windy and everyone was way too nosy to do that this time. The muster-drill took forever this time also-way over an hour. We couldn't watch the shore as the ship pulled away and there was no bon voyage party to speak of. Dinner was ok. Our wait staff was EXCELLENT!! We had Veronica from Bulgaria I believe. She was very efficient and nice. Our cabin steward was also wonderful. She went out of her way to take care of us. The overall service was very good. Really, my only complaint about the ship itself, is the ship itself. It needs to be retired. It is showing massive wear and tear. Carnival should give people better rates if you're cruising on the older, run-down ships, not the same price for a suite on the old ship as you would pay for a suite on one of their new ships. The shows: Feel free to miss them. The only semi-decent one was Shout, on the last formal night. The lead female singer is terrible and stuck in the 80's I think. Speaking of stuck in the 80's, for anyone who knows what a mullet is, I've never seen so many mullet hair-dos in my life as I did on the ship. Also, 90% of the people on the ship were about 75+ years old. We did meet some fun middle-aged Brits at dinner that we enjoyed conversing and dining with though, and a few fun New-Yorkers. The ports: Grand Cayman-Beautiful as ever. We booked a private tour on a catamaran that took us to stingray city, Coral Gardens, and the Barrier Reef. Not much time with the stingrays this time. Also, since we were there last (in 1999), there are about 10 times as many boats that head to stingray city, so it is extremely packed. Snorkeling was nice, except for getting kicked in the head by out of control kids. Costa Maya-We went to the ChocChoben Ruins. They were outstanding. There are several pyramids and other ruins. They were just discovered in 1972. You feel like you're in an Indiana Jones movie when you're walking around. There are some fun little shops on the pier, a swimming pool, beach, and lots of restaurants, but kinda spendy though, we had 4 drinks, nachos, and a couple tacos and it was almost $50. Cozumel-We went to Chakkanab Park. It's about a 5 min cab ride and costs about $12 to get there. It's one of the best beaches I've ever been to and great snorkeling. There are also little ruins and a rainforest you can walk through. You can rent snorkel or scuba gear there, shop, and get drinks in a pineapple, which we drank, a lot of! Then we went back to the ship and changed and took a cab to Carlos and Charlies. For those of you who do not know, it is THE hot spot. Very fun and out of control! We got there just as the congo line was starting for all the cruise people. You get a free shot of tequila about every 10 feet in line, and get about 10 shots before you're done. Then we drank the giant hurricane drinks (several) and danced on the stage! It's a pretty out of control place, but a lot of fun! Don't forget to ask for a shot from one of the girls blowing the whistle, I'll let you find out what they do to you (guy or girl)! Belize: This was a very poor, but beautiful place. We did a private excursion for the cave tubing through X-treme Cave Tubing. It was great. The jungle hike (approx. 1 hr) prior to tubing was beautiful and the caves are phenomenal. Caution though, you do have to work quite a bit in the water or you could get caught up in rapids. There is a lot of paddling required. Also there are giant spiders! My husband waited to tell me about the swimming spiders until we were done! Fun day at sea: Packed up, did some shopping. It was kind of chilly as we got closer to FL. Debarkation: Sucked. It took way longer than it should have, but we were waiting for the lost French people to go through customs before the U.S. citizens and the rest of the ship could get off. Overall, you need to look at the reason you are going on a cruise-for the destinations. If you're just going for the ship itself, don't take this cruise ship. We have always been satisfied with other Carnival ships, but this one is definitely getting tired. Destination wise-it's the best. These 4 ports were wonderful. I hope I haven't discouraged anyone from their upcoming cruise. You will still have fun and make many memories that will last a life time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
This was our first cruise and we so much looked forward to it as all first timers do! The first half of my life I had the good fortune to travel all over the world. But not the Caribbean. We are both 49 and not dead yet! We booked through ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we so much looked forward to it as all first timers do! The first half of my life I had the good fortune to travel all over the world. But not the Caribbean. We are both 49 and not dead yet! We booked through a local travel agency,radio promo. everything worked out, flights, cabin and all but now we know the ropes and will probably book our own next year. (or sooner)!We arrived on board a little late 3:30 or so and activities and fun had already begun, so we found our cabin and headed back up on deck to watch our departure and dream of the week ahead. The ship, not brand new, but well kept and beautiful. Our cabin, we were there to change and sleep. We were always doing something and did not mind the few stains on the carpet or that little chip on the desk! Our cabin steward Roxanna, this young lady was THE BEST. My wife and I agreed we wish we could take her home with us! We ate each night in the dining room, the food was always good and our waiter Vlad and waitress Victoria were outstanding and we will miss them. Our cocktails were at our table waiting for us each night and our names were remembered after our first night! The buffet was also outstanding, and each time we entered, we were welcomed by the officer in charge who seemed to always be there and was most gracious. We had a "fun pass" (all drinks free)and we smoke, so we usually stayed at the starboard side bar on the lido deck. The bartenders seemed to take their time serving you and didn't fully dress some tropical drinks, which never happened when a deck waiter got our drinks. One fella, Giri, always called me by my first name, which I liked and was always happy, unlike the bartenders, and I tipped him well before we left. Ports of call, Grand Caymen was nice but shopping typical and no real bargains, We swam with the stingrays and it was cool! We booked before we left on-line and saved some money! Book well in advance with nativeway sports! Costa Maya was our favorite. We didn't book any tours, went off on our own and had a blast with the locals. Shopping and such best here. Go into Majahal for the best deals small, rustic, and they will bargain and be grateful. We walked only a mile or so back to the port and there are some secret places and things! Very commercialized port area,not owned by the locals you will enjoy but take the time to go into town. Cozumel was cool too though pricey and I scuba dived for the first time in 20 years with a new friend from another ship in port, also from Illinois so that was neat. The diving is most pristine and comparable to VI or far east. Swam with the dolphins pricey but my wife loved it soooo! Belize was nice but very poor. We booked a horseback riding excursion well in advance and did enjoy it, nice place called maruba resort and spa. People nice and friendly and very few bugs! Took an 1 1/2 hrs to get there and the same back on very rough road. Probably won't do that again. This is where you want to go see the mayan ruins and such. Because of limited time, I would book through the ship, just in case! When we got back, we had to do some rush shopping!! This must be just like living in paradise, and we did not want to go home.Overall-Magnificent. Read Less
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 2.0 0.0

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