1 New Orleans Carnival Inspiration Cruise Reviews

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 July 2002
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.1
Rates 2.0 4.3

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