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We booked this cruise shortly after returning from another one on the Elation. We had such a great time that we could not wait for another one. Let me preface this review with we had a great time on this cruise. Although this was the vacation from hell in many aspects, we had fun and would do it again. Let me start by giving you a brief history of booking this vacation. We originally booked on the Paradise for a 7 day 4 port trip. A couple of weeks later, Carnival cancelled this trip. We rebooked on the Inspiration leaving the latter part of September. A month later, this itinerary was cancelled. We rebooked again on another itinerary but had to cancel because of work schedules of some of our group. We learned that the Inspiration was available with the same itinerary that we wanted, just a week earlier, so we booked that one. During this whole ordeal, our travel agent was awesome and took care of all the details including switching flights and such. In speaking with the travel agent, she told us many times that this was very uncharacteristic of Carnival to change so much. You also need to understand that there was a large group of us travelling together. The majority of us work together in a small Police Department. It was very difficult for us to arrange our schedules to be able to take this trip. After several months of frustration and switching around several of us wrote letters to Carnival voicing our frustrations. To this day Carnival has not acknowledged our complaints. Our travel agent spoke with her Carnival Rep several times about the problems we were having. The Rep would not call her back and was not very helpful. Let me skip to the actual cruise and I'll let you know how this all turned out in the end. EMBARKATION: We arrived in Tampa after flying all night from Las Vegas. We had to hang out in the airport several hours until the Carnival Representatives arrived. This was not so bad because we were all excited to get on the boat. We arranged our transfers to the ship through Carnival. This worked out great. We arrived at the pier at about noon. We were in about the second group called to get on the ship. We only waited maybe 30 minutes from the time we arrived until we were on the ship. This was very painless. IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP: When we walked on to the ship we were greeted by the ugliest statue that I have ever seen in the atrium. This actually became a point of humor with our group throughout the week. The decor of the ship was kind of like a cheesy Vegas casino. There are a lot of purple and green neon lights. I only have one other cruise experience to compare this with. I was very disappointed with the gaudy appearance of this ship. We were also on the last cruise before the ship was sent to dry dock to be refurbished. It was in need of an overhaul. CABIN: We were in Cabin E29. This was an inside cabin on the Empress Deck. There was ample space for clothes and storage. We had our beds pushed together to make one big one. The beds are not very comfortable. The cabin was clean and the shower was nice. It is big enough to move around in and the water pressure was good. Our cabin Steward was George. He came and introduced himself soon after we got there. We had high expectations of George because he seemed so nice and attentive. During the course of the week there was one day when our room was never made up. We also only received towel animals on three of the seven nights. We only received candy on our pillow three nights. This stuff isn't that big of a deal, except for the fact it is the little things like that that impressed us so much on our last cruise. Overall the cabin was comfortable. We were just a little disappointed with the level of service. FOOD: Overall the food was great. It is always the same things served in the Brasserie for breakfast. The food is basically buffet quality. We ate lunch in the Brasserie for the most part. Actually we ate so much food that the meals just kind of ran together. The hamburgers on the Lido deck were great as was the pizza. I grew quite fond of the goat cheese pizza. The other bonus of the Brasserie was the 24 hour ice cream and hot chocolate. We spent every night there with our friends wondering what we were going to do without it when we got home. The main dining room was good. We ate dinner there every night. I'm not sure what happened to the regular waiter. Our waiter was a "pool waiter". He had been recruited to work in the main dining room for some reason. He had no personality and did not understand English very well. It seemed like our water glasses were always empty and we never got bread on a couple of nights. Again this is a small detail, but it was starting to add up. HURRICANE IVAN: Now is a good time to mention that this cruise took place during Hurricane Ivan. From the time we left the port we were unsure of what our actual itinerary was going to be. We spent a couple of days circling in the Gulf of Mexico trying to avoid the storm. The water was rough. We had 8-10 foot waves. That boat was rockin and a rollin. The curtain on the stage would sway about 8 feet. There were people smashing in to walls while trying to walk down the hall all over the place. Not to mention all of the "sick buckets" sitting outside of the doors in the hallways. There were also several instances of people getting sick in the hallways. I felt bad for the cleaning people who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep things cleaned up. Our itinerary called for us to stop in Grand Cayman. Unfortunately Cayman was wiped out on the day we were supposed to be there. Instead they informed us that we would attempt to stop in Progresso, Mexico. At 1:00 AM when we went to bed they were saying that the storm had shifted and we would not be going to Progresso. When we woke up in the morning we were docked in Progresso. ENTERTAINMENT: The comedians were all hilarious. There was one night that there was a juggler. He deserves hazard pay for juggling fire and such with the boat rocking as bad as it was. He did a great job for having to run all over the stage to keep his balance. The Karaoke Bar was a lot of fun. I have to apologize again to the late John Denver for what we did to one of his songs. The shows and games were well organized and a lot of fun to watch and participate in. Progresso MEXICO: We were bummed to be in Progresso. We had been there before and weren't impressed. The pier in Progresso is about 5 miles off shore. You have to ride the shuttle bus across a narrow causeway to get to shore. The roadway actually sits about 15 feet above the ocean, (this will be important in a minute). We are not fans of the shore tours on the ship. We learned from the first cruise that you can book the same stuff on shore for a lot less money and a lot fewer people. We went to the flea market in the center of town. From there we took a $2 city tour on a double decker bus. You have to be careful because the power lines and trees are not very high. If you are sitting on the top level get ready to duck a lot. After the tour, which takes about 20 minutes and shows you places to spend you money, we walked around the downtown area. There was one establishment with half naked dancing girls out front. A man was offering to let you have sex with his sister if you would come in and drink. We declined the offer. When we first got to shore, the weather was beautiful. As we were hanging out we could see a black wall of storm coming across the ocean. Apparently Ivan had changed courses again and decided to hit Progresso after all. We ran back to the shuttle bus area, along with everyone else that was there. When we were driving back out to the ship on the causeway, the waves from the ocean were hitting the side of our bus, (remember the 15 feet). When we reached the port, the wind was about 70 MPH with buckets of rain hitting us. I never thought about it but hurricanes are warm. I felt like a guy from the Weather Channel only without the microphone. Progresso is not a very god port to visit unless you are interested is visiting Mayan ruins. Chitzen Itza is nearby. As far as the city goes, it is dirty and poor. It is typical Mexico. COZUMEL: We love Cozumel. We are avid scuba divers. It is hard to beat Cozumel for the diving. The water is clear and warm and there are plenty of creatures to look at. We always book our dive trips with Victor Casanova of Wildcat Divers. We did a two tank dive with equipment rentals for about $60.00 each. There were only the four of us in our group with the boat to ourselves. The ship charges about $189.00 each to dive with about 50 other people. I would highly recommend Victor and his crew for Cozumel diving. After our dives we took a cab in to town to shop a little. Our cabbie tried to go the wrong way on a one way street and nearly got us in to a fight. I love Mexican cabs, they are better than a carnival ride. We made it back to the boat in time for a nap and shower before dinner. BELIZE: We love Belize as well. We had been on the cave tubing expedition before and loved it. We took all of our friends cave tubing. We got off the boat and found a guide by the name of Joel. We talked him down to $60.00 each instead of $65. Remember that the ship charges $90. We drove to the park where the cave system is in a newer 15 passenger van. We had a great time hiking through the jungle and floating down the river. They give you an old inner tube and a beat up miner headlight. It is a lot of fun and an easy hike. It was nice to be in a small group with our guide. He pointed out many interesting plants and critters in the jungle. When we finished the river trip we took a tour of Belize City with Joel. We were back to the port in plenty of time to catch the tender back to the boat. I should mention that last time I was in Belize I ate lunch at a little restaurant in the jungle. I became deathly ill. This time I didn't eat anything off the ship and stayed healthy. They are very proud of having a safe water supply in Belize. I'm not sure what made me sick but it wasn't worth the risk for me to eat or drink anything. COSTA MAYA: This was our favorite port. I spent a lot of time on Cruise Critic researching this port. The port area is a tourist trap that caters to the cruise ships. The thing to do is catch a cab to the fishing village of Majahual, about 10 minutes away. I can't say enough good about this place. This is a great place to relax and have some beach time. There are a lot of little shacks and tents along the main drag selling the usual jewelry and Mexican trinkets. These people are very good to barter with. I even had a guy offer to sell me some marijuana. I failed to mention to him that I was a cop and my buddy that I was with was the prosecutor. We just smiled and turned him down. We got drinks at a little bar on the beach. I can't remember the name of the place but it had rope swings hanging from the top to sit on. There were plenty of beach chairs spread along the beach to relax in. There is a barrier reef about 200 yards off shore so that the beach is very protected. The water is only about 3-4 feet deep all the way to the reef. This is a great place to swim and just relax. There are massage tables set up along the beach. They offer $20 for 30 minutes for a full body massage. We went over there a little later in the day when business was a little slow and got 45 minutes for $20.00. That was great, the water lapping up under the table and the whole beach thing. It felt like I was the star of a Corona commercial. We loved Costa Maya and would love to go back. We had some friends take a cab to the Mayan Ruins that are nearby. They loved it and said that the ruins were more spectacular than any others that they have visited. DEBARKATION: This was smooth. It didn't take us long to get off the ship. SUMMERY: Overall this was a great week. We were bummed that we had to trade Cayman for Progresso. We were a little disappointed at the service on the ship. It seemed like wherever you went the ship's crew was talking about their upcoming vacations. There were members of the ship's crew hanging out in all of the clubs and bars, as well as eating in the restaurants. I'm sure that you get a little stir crazy working on the ship for that long, but it just seemed a little bit unprofessional for the crew to be acting that way. I think that the crew cared more about going on their vacations than providing the usual service. The frustrating part of it was that I paid full price to go on this cruise but received about half the service that would normally be provided. One thing that I forgot to mention was the internet service. My wife is taking some online classes and was required to log on to the internet every day. The manager of the internet cafe had no idea what he was doing. He did not even know how to print a page. I had to show him how to make the program work. There was one day when the whole internet went down and was not fixed until the next day. This caused my wife to miss a class. On the last day of the cruise the internet was supposed to be available until we had to disembark. They stated that they weren't going to sell any additional minutes but if you had time remaining on your plan you could use it until disembarkation. They closed the internet cafe the night before and told us that it didn't matter if we had minutes left or not. The manager said that he was going off duty and the service was to be closed. He then shut off the computers and left. There was one more little disappointing sidenote. When we arrived home, our travel agent called to see how things went. I told her about it. She asked how our upgrades and gift baskets were. I told her that we didn't get any upgrades or gift basket. She told me that she had been told by her Carnival Rep that there was a 99% chance that we would have our cabins upgraded and that there would for sure be a gift basket and champagne in our rooms upon our arrival. This was to make up for all of the trouble in scheduling in the first place. She told me that she didn't tell us what the rep said just in case Carnival screwed up again. Apparently the message never got passed on. I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. Carnival is not the fanciest ship on the water. For the price I believe that the usual Carnival Cruise is the best value out there. Unfortunately this was not the greatest experience for us, but like I said, it was a lot better than being at work. We are in the process of booking another cruise. I think that we will try a different cruise line this time to see if we have better luck. We may sail with Carnival again and we may not. I think that you can make of it what you want. We were able to spend a week in a beautiful part of the world with some of our best friends. It doesn't get much better than that.

Carnival Inspiration - Western Caribbean

Carnival Inspiration Cruise Review by MikeandAmy

Trip Details
We booked this cruise shortly after returning from another one on the Elation. We had such a great time that we could not wait for another one. Let me preface this review with we had a great time on this cruise. Although this was the vacation from hell in many aspects, we had fun and would do it again. Let me start by giving you a brief history of booking this vacation.
We originally booked on the Paradise for a 7 day 4 port trip. A couple of weeks later, Carnival cancelled this trip. We rebooked on the Inspiration leaving the latter part of September. A month later, this itinerary was cancelled. We rebooked again on another itinerary but had to cancel because of work schedules of some of our group. We learned that the Inspiration was available with the same itinerary that we wanted, just a week earlier, so we booked that one. During this whole ordeal, our travel agent was awesome and took care of all the details including switching flights and such. In speaking with the travel agent, she told us many times that this was very uncharacteristic of Carnival to change so much. You also need to understand that there was a large group of us travelling together. The majority of us work together in a small Police Department. It was very difficult for us to arrange our schedules to be able to take this trip. After several months of frustration and switching around several of us wrote letters to Carnival voicing our frustrations. To this day Carnival has not acknowledged our complaints. Our travel agent spoke with her Carnival Rep several times about the problems we were having. The Rep would not call her back and was not very helpful.
Let me skip to the actual cruise and I'll let you know how this all turned out in the end.
EMBARKATION:
We arrived in Tampa after flying all night from Las Vegas. We had to hang out in the airport several hours until the Carnival Representatives arrived. This was not so bad because we were all excited to get on the boat. We arranged our transfers to the ship through Carnival. This worked out great. We arrived at the pier at about noon. We were in about the second group called to get on the ship. We only waited maybe 30 minutes from the time we arrived until we were on the ship. This was very painless.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP:
When we walked on to the ship we were greeted by the ugliest statue that I have ever seen in the atrium. This actually became a point of humor with our group throughout the week. The decor of the ship was kind of like a cheesy Vegas casino. There are a lot of purple and green neon lights. I only have one other cruise experience to compare this with. I was very disappointed with the gaudy appearance of this ship. We were also on the last cruise before the ship was sent to dry dock to be refurbished. It was in need of an overhaul.
CABIN:
We were in Cabin E29. This was an inside cabin on the Empress Deck. There was ample space for clothes and storage. We had our beds pushed together to make one big one. The beds are not very comfortable. The cabin was clean and the shower was nice. It is big enough to move around in and the water pressure was good. Our cabin Steward was George. He came and introduced himself soon after we got there. We had high expectations of George because he seemed so nice and attentive. During the course of the week there was one day when our room was never made up. We also only received towel animals on three of the seven nights. We only received candy on our pillow three nights. This stuff isn't that big of a deal, except for the fact it is the little things like that that impressed us so much on our last cruise. Overall the cabin was comfortable. We were just a little disappointed with the level of service.
FOOD:
Overall the food was great. It is always the same things served in the Brasserie for breakfast. The food is basically buffet quality. We ate lunch in the Brasserie for the most part. Actually we ate so much food that the meals just kind of ran together. The hamburgers on the Lido deck were great as was the pizza. I grew quite fond of the goat cheese pizza. The other bonus of the Brasserie was the 24 hour ice cream and hot chocolate. We spent every night there with our friends wondering what we were going to do without it when we got home. The main dining room was good. We ate dinner there every night. I'm not sure what happened to the regular waiter. Our waiter was a "pool waiter". He had been recruited to work in the main dining room for some reason. He had no personality and did not understand English very well. It seemed like our water glasses were always empty and we never got bread on a couple of nights. Again this is a small detail, but it was starting to add up.
HURRICANE IVAN:
Now is a good time to mention that this cruise took place during Hurricane Ivan. From the time we left the port we were unsure of what our actual itinerary was going to be. We spent a couple of days circling in the Gulf of Mexico trying to avoid the storm. The water was rough. We had 8-10 foot waves. That boat was rockin and a rollin. The curtain on the stage would sway about 8 feet. There were people smashing in to walls while trying to walk down the hall all over the place. Not to mention all of the "sick buckets" sitting outside of the doors in the hallways. There were also several instances of people getting sick in the hallways. I felt bad for the cleaning people who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep things cleaned up.
Our itinerary called for us to stop in Grand Cayman. Unfortunately Cayman was wiped out on the day we were supposed to be there. Instead they informed us that we would attempt to stop in Progresso, Mexico. At 1:00 AM when we went to bed they were saying that the storm had shifted and we would not be going to Progresso. When we woke up in the morning we were docked in Progresso.
ENTERTAINMENT:
The comedians were all hilarious. There was one night that there was a juggler. He deserves hazard pay for juggling fire and such with the boat rocking as bad as it was. He did a great job for having to run all over the stage to keep his balance. The Karaoke Bar was a lot of fun. I have to apologize again to the late John Denver for what we did to one of his songs. The shows and games were well organized and a lot of fun to watch and participate in.
Progresso MEXICO:
We were bummed to be in Progresso. We had been there before and weren't impressed. The pier in Progresso is about 5 miles off shore. You have to ride the shuttle bus across a narrow causeway to get to shore. The roadway actually sits about 15 feet above the ocean, (this will be important in a minute). We are not fans of the shore tours on the ship. We learned from the first cruise that you can book the same stuff on shore for a lot less money and a lot fewer people. We went to the flea market in the center of town. From there we took a $2 city tour on a double decker bus. You have to be careful because the power lines and trees are not very high. If you are sitting on the top level get ready to duck a lot. After the tour, which takes about 20 minutes and shows you places to spend you money, we walked around the downtown area. There was one establishment with half naked dancing girls out front. A man was offering to let you have sex with his sister if you would come in and drink. We declined the offer. When we first got to shore, the weather was beautiful. As we were hanging out we could see a black wall of storm coming across the ocean. Apparently Ivan had changed courses again and decided to hit Progresso after all. We ran back to the shuttle bus area, along with everyone else that was there. When we were driving back out to the ship on the causeway, the waves from the ocean were hitting the side of our bus, (remember the 15 feet). When we reached the port, the wind was about 70 MPH with buckets of rain hitting us. I never thought about it but hurricanes are warm. I felt like a guy from the Weather Channel only without the microphone. Progresso is not a very god port to visit unless you are interested is visiting Mayan ruins. Chitzen Itza is nearby. As far as the city goes, it is dirty and poor. It is typical Mexico.
COZUMEL:
We love Cozumel. We are avid scuba divers. It is hard to beat Cozumel for the diving. The water is clear and warm and there are plenty of creatures to look at. We always book our dive trips with Victor Casanova of Wildcat Divers. We did a two tank dive with equipment rentals for about $60.00 each. There were only the four of us in our group with the boat to ourselves. The ship charges about $189.00 each to dive with about 50 other people. I would highly recommend Victor and his crew for Cozumel diving. After our dives we took a cab in to town to shop a little. Our cabbie tried to go the wrong way on a one way street and nearly got us in to a fight. I love Mexican cabs, they are better than a carnival ride. We made it back to the boat in time for a nap and shower before dinner.
BELIZE:
We love Belize as well. We had been on the cave tubing expedition before and loved it. We took all of our friends cave tubing. We got off the boat and found a guide by the name of Joel. We talked him down to $60.00 each instead of $65. Remember that the ship charges $90. We drove to the park where the cave system is in a newer 15 passenger van. We had a great time hiking through the jungle and floating down the river. They give you an old inner tube and a beat up miner headlight. It is a lot of fun and an easy hike. It was nice to be in a small group with our guide. He pointed out many interesting plants and critters in the jungle. When we finished the river trip we took a tour of Belize City with Joel. We were back to the port in plenty of time to catch the tender back to the boat. I should mention that last time I was in Belize I ate lunch at a little restaurant in the jungle. I became deathly ill. This time I didn't eat anything off the ship and stayed healthy. They are very proud of having a safe water supply in Belize. I'm not sure what made me sick but it wasn't worth the risk for me to eat or drink anything.
COSTA MAYA:
This was our favorite port. I spent a lot of time on Cruise Critic researching this port. The port area is a tourist trap that caters to the cruise ships. The thing to do is catch a cab to the fishing village of Majahual, about 10 minutes away. I can't say enough good about this place. This is a great place to relax and have some beach time. There are a lot of little shacks and tents along the main drag selling the usual jewelry and Mexican trinkets. These people are very good to barter with. I even had a guy offer to sell me some marijuana. I failed to mention to him that I was a cop and my buddy that I was with was the prosecutor. We just smiled and turned him down. We got drinks at a little bar on the beach. I can't remember the name of the place but it had rope swings hanging from the top to sit on. There were plenty of beach chairs spread along the beach to relax in. There is a barrier reef about 200 yards off shore so that the beach is very protected. The water is only about 3-4 feet deep all the way to the reef. This is a great place to swim and just relax. There are massage tables set up along the beach. They offer $20 for 30 minutes for a full body massage. We went over there a little later in the day when business was a little slow and got 45 minutes for $20.00. That was great, the water lapping up under the table and the whole beach thing. It felt like I was the star of a Corona commercial. We loved Costa Maya and would love to go back. We had some friends take a cab to the Mayan Ruins that are nearby. They loved it and said that the ruins were more spectacular than any others that they have visited.
DEBARKATION:
This was smooth. It didn't take us long to get off the ship.
SUMMERY:
Overall this was a great week. We were bummed that we had to trade Cayman for Progresso. We were a little disappointed at the service on the ship. It seemed like wherever you went the ship's crew was talking about their upcoming vacations. There were members of the ship's crew hanging out in all of the clubs and bars, as well as eating in the restaurants. I'm sure that you get a little stir crazy working on the ship for that long, but it just seemed a little bit unprofessional for the crew to be acting that way. I think that the crew cared more about going on their vacations than providing the usual service. The frustrating part of it was that I paid full price to go on this cruise but received about half the service that would normally be provided.
One thing that I forgot to mention was the internet service. My wife is taking some online classes and was required to log on to the internet every day. The manager of the internet cafe had no idea what he was doing. He did not even know how to print a page. I had to show him how to make the program work. There was one day when the whole internet went down and was not fixed until the next day. This caused my wife to miss a class. On the last day of the cruise the internet was supposed to be available until we had to disembark. They stated that they weren't going to sell any additional minutes but if you had time remaining on your plan you could use it until disembarkation. They closed the internet cafe the night before and told us that it didn't matter if we had minutes left or not. The manager said that he was going off duty and the service was to be closed. He then shut off the computers and left.
There was one more little disappointing sidenote. When we arrived home, our travel agent called to see how things went. I told her about it. She asked how our upgrades and gift baskets were. I told her that we didn't get any upgrades or gift basket. She told me that she had been told by her Carnival Rep that there was a 99% chance that we would have our cabins upgraded and that there would for sure be a gift basket and champagne in our rooms upon our arrival. This was to make up for all of the trouble in scheduling in the first place. She told me that she didn't tell us what the rep said just in case Carnival screwed up again. Apparently the message never got passed on.
I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. Carnival is not the fanciest ship on the water. For the price I believe that the usual Carnival Cruise is the best value out there. Unfortunately this was not the greatest experience for us, but like I said, it was a lot better than being at work. We are in the process of booking another cruise. I think that we will try a different cruise line this time to see if we have better luck. We may sail with Carnival again and we may not. I think that you can make of it what you want. We were able to spend a week in a beautiful part of the world with some of our best friends. It doesn't get much better than that.
MikeandAmy’s Full Rating Summary
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