Sail Date: December 2011
We flew into Tampa 2 days early and were booked into the Holiday Inn Rocky Point. We felt this was a good choice as they had shuttle service not only to the port but would pick you up at the airport as well as take you anywhere within a ... Read More
We flew into Tampa 2 days early and were booked into the Holiday Inn Rocky Point. We felt this was a good choice as they had shuttle service not only to the port but would pick you up at the airport as well as take you anywhere within a four mile radius of the Hotel. The rooms were very nice and exceptionally clean plus the Hotel offered a great morning breakfast. The only downside was that the only restaurant close was the Bahama Breeze and it is a very popular spot, so you had better have reservations. We found the food there to be excellent. Embarkation-- Could not have went better. We arrived at about noon and as this was the first time we were considered VIP's, the whole process took less than 20 minutes. Once aboard we met up with the other two couples we booked this cruise with. The Good: The ship was in great shape and the crew was constantly working on it,painting,cleaning and making sure it was top notch. The crew was uniformly courteous and friendly. Quick with a smile and a greeting. We were booked into an obstructed balcony room. While this is sold as a suite it is really nothing more than a balcony room, however the balcony is very small. I have read a lot of comments on these boards regarding these rooms and I must say that we found this room more than adequate for our needs. The extra space was great and the balcony, while small was sufficient for what we used it for. The view is partially blocked but it was not a great hindrance to seeing what you desired. Our room steward was lights out. He was always pleasant, kept the ice bucket full, and met any other needs we had. The room was always spotless and he even loaned us a bottle opener for a bottle of wine. Great crew. The Bad: We had early seating for dinner and a table for 10 (5 couples) including the two couples we we sailing with. The first night we were seated and it took over an hour before we got any food and then it was cold. The next night 4 of the five couples went to the buffet. The Maitre d came around and asked what the trouble was and the remaining couple told him. He said the problem was that of the 2100 or so passengers aboard, about 1900 of them opted to eat early. While the anytime diners can eat at 5:30 the early seating doesn't eat until 6:00. My question would be that if they knew that, why not put some extra help in early dinning room. He suggested that we come at 5:30 for dinner. So we started that and never had any further problems, in fact after that the service and food was great. While not five star cuisine it was more than adequate. I must say though that having been on two previous Carnival cruises as well as sailing on two other lines, the quality of the food and selections have diminished in my opinion. It is also apparent that they have reduced the staff and while the ones serving you are terrific they are over worked. The buffet basically had the same food as the dinning room but the addition of the sandwich station, pizza station and poolside grill made it a good choice for lunch. All three stations had great food. The downside to the buffet besides the crowding was the decor. The room looks like a large bunch of purple worms with their ends covered with orange and overlaid with a black webbing. Our group referred to this area as "The Colonoscopy Room". Whomever their designer was for this is indeed a sick individual. The Ugly: Every single disembarkation we had on this trip, whether it was for an excursion or for the final disembarkation was a total scr%@#ed up mess. Never once did we get off on time. In Costa Rica we were over three hours late to our excursion and in hindsight should have just cancelled it as many others did. The excuse was the tides and not being able to match the boarding ramps to the dock. The Paradise had been in there two days previous, maybe they might have learned something from them, or failing that went to the nearest hardware store and bought a tide book for less than a dollar. In Cabo we were the first ship on anchor, followed by Disney and another ship, both of which started disembarking passengers shortly after anchoring. We were still messing around an hour and a half later. I noticed the other ships were disembarking pax's on the lee side of their ships while we were trying to get people off on the Oceanside which made it rougher. simple little thing. The disembarkation at long beach was a complete joke with many passengers missing their flights.( I know of at least four personally). There was a complete lack of coordination and it was apparent that one hand did not know what the other was doing. Unfortunate as it was this led to a lot of discord amongst the passengers. The differing announcements--go to the Paris lounge--no--go to the lido deck and have lunch--no--go back to the Paris lounge really showed to all a failure of those responsible for running this disembarkation. There surely is a better way of doing this. Final Analysis: Hey, it was a cruise! We enjoyed seeing the sights we got to see-- the Panama Canal, Cartagena, Costa Rica. We enjoyed the great warm weather and being pampered, if only somewhat. I have heard it many times that a cruise is what you make and I have to say that is the truth. Sure, there were problems but we still had a good time. Would I do it again? My wife says not on Carnival but I have not closed that door yet. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
The loud music at the pool....should be limited especially when it was well known average age onboard was over 60!....There is not enough room on the solitude deck for all those who want peace in the daytime. Most other spots were way too ... Read More
The loud music at the pool....should be limited especially when it was well known average age onboard was over 60!....There is not enough room on the solitude deck for all those who want peace in the daytime. Most other spots were way too close to the "beat" Entirely too much drink selling when it is obvious loungers are deep in their fascinating books and do not want to be DISTURBED. The decor in the buffet room needs redoing(the colors!)...and it is too crowded, but it never was impossible to find a seat with some inventive searching. If people who have finished eating on the outside decks should move on in an effort to be compatible and helpful to others instead of taking up a whole table to read a book.. buffet-life would be heavenly . Politeness does not seem to be paramount in the behaviour of some passengers. Jumping lines, crowding and grumpy faces...didn't we all learn better in kindergarten? The crew was first class wonderful, the gift shops were fun and inexpensive and the entertainment always worth seeing. I found the adult comic uncomfortable, but i just never went back after the first time. A tide book for ports...yes, it was discussed in our group re problem in Puntarenas. It took entirely too long to disembark at Long Beach and we did nearly miss our homeward flight. Customs guy said "we weren't expecting you" but could that be possible? The food in the dining room was terrific, never disappointed and the staff always welcoming. We never waited for our table, using anytime dining. We always had a variety of choices on the menu and good advice in choices. There was a slight smell of sewage several times on the trip, strongly when leaving Tampa, forgive us Tampa, we blamed you. But, it reared it's ugly head again when we were at sea, something I have never noticed on any other ship. All and all, I would cruise Carnival again, perhaps on a slightly newer ship. Oh and parents, watch your little ones on the slide deck, the railings could be slipped through easily. A child was lost off the Golden Gate bridge several years ago, when skipping playfully ahead she fell through the tiniest space: so each time I saw a little one climb up the rail while traversing the Canal my heart was in my throat. Parents need to be more aware! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our second cruise on board the Inspiration. We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves. This trip my in-laws came with us in a separate cabin. My mother-in-law turned her ankle during the muster drill during a freak accident. ... Read More
This was our second cruise on board the Inspiration. We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves. This trip my in-laws came with us in a separate cabin. My mother-in-law turned her ankle during the muster drill during a freak accident. The medical staff was great. I don't know why, but I confuse fore and aft on this ship a lot, but not on others. That's probably more my fault than theirs. The ship is very clean and we saw people cleaning all over the ship on a regular basis. The food in the MDR was good, except the first night. The service in the MDR was excellent. That night none of the dishes really appealed to me. We ate in the Lido regularly and found it very good. The lines were long, but moved quickly. Our stateroom was clean and our stewards were the best I've ever had. They regularly asked what towel animals my kids would most like to see and they made them. We enjoyed the shows much more this trip than last year. Last year it seemed like they had 3 days worth of shows for a 5 day cruise. This year they had ample shows, comedians, etc for the full cruise. The comedians were very funny. Again this year was better than last year. Last year we complained about the long line at the Camp Carnival check-in as a result of people not pre-filling out their paperwork and then doing it one at a time at the check-in. That situation has been resolved and I never was more than 3rd in line to drop my kids off or pick them up. My kids loved going to camp carnival and even asked to go during the day this year. They especially wanted to do the Night Owls party, which we allowed. My 6 year old stayed out until 1am and my 9 year old stayed out until 3am. They loved every second and didn't want to leave even at those late hours. The counselors were great. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
First of all this was my sixth cruise my DH fourth cruise and my DD first one she is almost 2 and a half. My mother also went with us this was her third cruise. We booked two interior cabins R98 and R102. We have traveled with an ocean ... Read More
First of all this was my sixth cruise my DH fourth cruise and my DD first one she is almost 2 and a half. My mother also went with us this was her third cruise. We booked two interior cabins R98 and R102. We have traveled with an ocean view however never with a balcony and for us interior is just fine. We drove 10 hours to Tampa and stayed in the Hyatt Regency the night before it was a great hotel and exceeded our expectations. We won it on Priceline for 60 dollars a night which was a steal for such a nice hotel. They did have parking available for 10 dollars a night compared to 15 a night at the port however we chose to park at the port since we had DD and she was needing a car seat. Embarkation was great no problems we arrived around 12:00 and were on the ship about 12:45 there was a line however it moved quickly. We arrived on the ship ate and it was time to go drop off the carry on luggage to the room. We tried camp carnival everyday however it never worked out for our daughter she has never been to daycare and even though they tried and were very welcoming to her she just continued crying when we would leave so they would call us on the free cell phone they provided to tell us to come and get her. Overall i think camp carnival was a great program and she would have enjoyed it if she were a little bit older or had more experience being left alone. They had about 14 kid in her age group enrolled in the program so there were always kids in there. We went and did the dolphin encounter and turtle farm in Grand Cayman and loved it she didn't care too much for the turtle farm and they only allowed us 30 min there but it was a good experience and not much to see when all they have are turtles. The dolphin encounter was great and clean there were changing rooms and lockers for free that you could put your belongings in even though the Carnival papers stated the minimum age was 3 they allowed her to participate. i just had to hold her and they had smaller life jackets available she really cared more about the water than the dolphin however she still had a great time and we got a great picture of her with the dolphin. The only complaint was that they wouldn't allow underwater cameras and it was very obvious that it was so they could sell their pictures to you they were 25 dollars each!!!! or you could buy a CD of them for 139 of everyone in your group. It was a major rip off but we bought one of our daughter cause we wanted to remember it. Overall i am glad we did this excursion it was our second time in Grand Cayman and we had already done the stingrays so there really wasn't much else we wanted to do. In Cozumel we left our daughter on the boat with my mother and my DH and I went and did SNUBA it was amazing this was our third time to Cozumel and the other times we snorkeled and wanted something closer but not yet ready for SCUBA diving snuba was such a great experience we stayed under the surface for 32 min exactly once again i was very annoyed that the use of underwater cameras are not allowed i don't see the point of the ship selling them if they aren't allowed on excursions and feel like this should be something that is disclosed before you purchase it. This was however an experience of a lifetime and we are now excited about Scuba on our next trip. The days at sea were great as always and the food i thought was very good. The service overall was good. The room steward didn't keep ice in our room we had to ask for it they only filled it up one time without being asked. This was something i didn't understand as it seemed so simple and it was necessary for us as our daughter still takes a bottle so we needed to keep the milk cold. Overall it was a great cruise and we are definitely looking forward to another one. I would recommend this ship great layout great service the two show that they had were great. The comedians weren't wonderful but for a free show i would recommend going. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. We were really surprised at the number of children on this cruise. We were told that of the almost 3,000 passengers on board, 800 were children. We recommend getting to the ship by 1200. Check-in really is a breeze. The cost of parking is about $75. Before you park, drop your bags off and have them delivered to your cabin. When you return from parking, have your passport ready. Expect 15-20 minutes to get through security and checked in. We also recommend bringing as many cases of water on board as you can carry. We didn't know they would let us, but we wished we had. Once you're on board and settled, take a tour around the ship. This is not a huge ship, but one can get lost often enough. Shortly after sailing, you'll have to go through the muster drill. This too is very simply and Carnival does this drill by zones. Once the drill is complete, consider attending the Camp Carnival introduction. This is a free day care service which our daughter actually had fun participating in. They offered a list of daily activities and again, our little really enjoyed this. The food was not so great, but good enough for a cruise. Carnival does not offer open seating which we prefer, but we were lucky enough to sit with a very nice family. I'm not sure why, but Carnival did not have a lot to offer in the form of entertainment. Besides one really good show at the end of our cruise, there really was nothing offered. I mean outside of "Hair Chest" competition, gender wars, music trivia, etc. NCL & RCCL offer great shows. Overall, we would do it again. We didn't expect to be this happy with this cruise, but we were. On a scale of 1-10, we give this cruise a 7.5. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the ... Read More
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the Embassy Suites at $93 for Sat and $103 for Sun and found that to be the average in Westport. The Wyndham was more than adequate and nicer than expected for the price. Unfortunately they discontinued the M&M's at the desk. I asked about it and the manager told me it cost on average $5,000 per month to keep M&M's on the front desk. They still have bags, all you have to do is ask. Recommend against the "Stay and Sail" package. The transportation folks will pick-up and drop off at the airport and the cruise port without the package. Save your money. The drivers don't see any of the $ from the package deal anyway, so our party of 6 tipped $30 each way and they were very appreciative. Embarkation: Standard porter haze, they won't let you check your own bag, so porter/tips are part of the deal. I guess $2 isn't too much to ask, I just don't like not having the option. Most of us did the "roll on" option and it was painless. The "Platinum Class" process looked very quick and efficient. The regular folks (us) were in line about 45 minutes. We've have definitely seen less efficient and comfortable operations. The Cruise itself: Ship- adequate, but lacking in many of the modern facilities of the newer ships. The ship only had a small pool and two hot tubs, no "jumbotron" for MNF or movies for the kids and an older somewhat inefficient design for traffic flow. Overall the ship was in decent shape but showed a very hurried dry dock where many of the finishing/cosmetics were rushed or incomplete. The carpet for example was not trimmed properly in areas or was left uneven. This is not a big deal but something that even a casual observer would notice. Our daughter was in the 9-11 year old kids program and quickly bored with the program. They do more babysitting than actual programs. Not terrible though, but anticlimactic after our last cruise on Disney. Food: Hit or miss. The dining room fare vacillated between above average to totally uninspired. The Lobster, prime rib, and chocolate melting cake were all good. The rest was mass produced and lacked inspiration and freshness. The Eggs Benedict had a hard crust every morning on the hollandaise sauce from sitting under the heat lamp. The service was polite but often deplorable. I use the empty water as a metric of service and we had to ask for more water every single meal. The servers are spread very thin and appear harried and undermanned. The days of personal service and building a report with your service staff are apparently over on the big box lines. JMO We never did room service, our daughter enjoyed the pizza and it looked fresh and good. The buffet on the Lido was often overrun with guests loading up on platefuls of medium quality fare. Entertainment: The comedians were fine, not to my taste but my wife laughed at Valerie Storm's show. The Variety show was actually well done. Not to Disney standards but well above the amateurish NCL star crew we saw last year on the Star. Ports: Grand Caymen- Walk outside the fence and book your own excursion, you end up at the same place and in our case the very same boat, at half price or less. Cozumel- We took a taxi to Palancar, I dove a single tank (Columbia, and Palancar gardens) and my wife and daughter snorkled. It wasn't cheap but very relaxed and low key. The dive was first rate ($60) and the snorkel equipment for the girls was $10 each. Mario the beach server was a genuinely nice man that doted over our daughter. Summary: Have fun but manage expectations before time so there are no major disappointments. Carnival is better than we remember but it's still very entry level. The rooms at 185 square feet are better than most and our steward Gabby was first rate. he definitely deserved the extra gratuity. The only negative comment I have about the stateroom was the dirty exterior of the window. Enjoy your vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go ... Read More
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go all out and get the Grand Ocean Suite. The ship was nice. The food was good but not outstanding. The ports of call were beautiful and the kids were out of control. After weeks of research we decided to go with Carnival. They had the best price on their 5 day trips to the Western Caribbean and the best price on their Grand Ocean Suites. If we ever go on another cruise the Grand Ocean Suite will be a must! The suite is a great escape when one gets ready to sit back and relax for the evening. You get a large room with a king size bed, sofa sleeper, sitting area, walk in closet, full size bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, large balcony, refrigerator and a nice size LCD TV that had a good choice of cable channels. The suite was an excellent choice! The ship, the Carnival Inspiration, is an older ship that has been kept in good condition. Everything was clean and for the most part up to date. There is only one formal dining room but there is a second dining area that one can get food anytime of the day or night. The food was all good but nothing to brag about. The one formal night in the main dining room they did serve lobster, steak and shrimp. The other nights they had a choice of other meat dishes, fish and chicken. We are not the type to over indulge but I was told before the trip by others that had been on a cruise that you could order as much as you wanted at dinner, this was never offered in the main dining room. In the second, cafeteria style, dining room you can eat as much as you can stand. Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico were both great ports of call. The ports were clean and the water was unbelievable! In Grand Cayman we to a really nice bus tour of the island and in Cozumel we did our own thing with a taxi into the downtown area. The people were all overly friendly and helpful. The only downside to our experience was the parents on our deck who pretty much their kids to run the ship. The parents went off to have their vacation and let their kids do whatever. At night there was running in the halls, yelling, screaming and banging on suite doors. Many calls were made to security but many times nothing could be done because the parents could not be located. One day I'm sure we will again take a cruise. It is a great getaway and a fun experience. We have since found that there are adult only cruises for those who want peace at sea, that will be our next cruise! Here is a link, http://ostrowsky.net/lifestyle.html , to a site where I have posted pictures if you are interested in seeing the Carnival Inspiration. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
I have posted a complete and VERY long review of our experience and impressions on the Carnival Inspiration page, but this review will cover the highlights! We sailed on the Carnival Inspiration on October 3-8, 2011 to the western ... Read More
I have posted a complete and VERY long review of our experience and impressions on the Carnival Inspiration page, but this review will cover the highlights! We sailed on the Carnival Inspiration on October 3-8, 2011 to the western caribbean, leaving from Tampa. This was the first cruise for both of us and we are late thirties business owners. We left the teenagers at home! Check in was very easy. From curb-side to boat was less than 30 minutes and all the staff we encounted in port and when entering the ship were friendly and knowledgable. Finding the port was somewhat difficult as our GPS insisted on sending us over a bridge that was closed for repairs! Food was very good, the staff were mostly great and most of the cabin stewards knew our names by the second day! We only ate in the dining room for one meal (the one formal night) and service was not as expected for that meal but the food was very good. Buffet was good most meals, salad bar was great, pizza is exceptional and mongolian wok was very good. The ship was very clean, although it did have an occasional odor on the port side hallway on the Empress deck that was very unpleasant. The pool area is a bit too small for the amount of passengers and was packed to capacity at all times. The serenity area is great for adults only and would be even better with a pool! Standing at the front of the ship, on the top deck, became our favorite place as we entered and left ports and a covered deck on the rear of the ship, outside of the buffet, became our favorite outdoor area during general cruising. This trip was mainly about relaxing and that was best accomplished by not planning activities but taking things one minute at a time. Just sitting in the fresh air, watching the wake from such a huge ship, viewing the sunsets and enjoying a few drinks was how we enjoyed this journey. Valerie Storm, the female comic, put on a great adults only show but we did not attend any other shows or activities. We did visit the casino and played some slots, blackjack and roulette. We enjoyed the casino but did not win. The shops on board were interesting, but strangely hidden. The only one that is overtly visible is the package store which you must travel through to reach the other shops. Overall, this was a great experience and a great value! We loved the cruise and will be looking for more great deals to book again! The weather was great for most of the trip but became rough on the last day as a storm began to move in. Even so, the boat remained stable and I felt safe. We loved the overall feel of the ship and will miss the Inspiration as she moves to California in December. We are looking forward to giving her sister Paradise a try! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We wanted to do something special for our 25th Anniversary, but recognizing that in a few years 2 of our 3 children will be in college - we decided to celebrate on a trip for all 5 of us. The first half of our trip was 9 days in Orlando, ... Read More
We wanted to do something special for our 25th Anniversary, but recognizing that in a few years 2 of our 3 children will be in college - we decided to celebrate on a trip for all 5 of us. The first half of our trip was 9 days in Orlando, FL enjoying all that the theme parks have to offer - and when we were trying to decide what to do the rest of our trip, my husband, after all my years of pestering him, to my surprise suggested a cruise. I knew that Carnival was the only cruise line that has cabins that accommodate 2 adults and 3 children - so we decided to narrow our search only to Carnival. After looking at a ton of options, we decided on the Inspiration going to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We love to snorkel, but have only done it on the pacific so were very excited about Grand Cayman as we read that it's the location of the best snorkeling in the world. We were also very excited about Cozumel because we LOVE Mexico. Unfortunately due to storms, our stop in Grand Cayman was cancelled. Here are the "facts" and things we did right or would do differently. The end of the review will be more narrative if you decide to keep reading. Cabin: we chose the least expensive cabin that was available when we booked (interior on the lowest floor) but about 6 weeks before embarkation we had an email from Carnival offering us an upgrade to an Ocean-view for only $50 more We were on Empress Deck - which was great! The room felt spacious even though there were 5 of us. Closet space is great and bedding is very comfortable. We had 2 uppers and a king size w/a trundle. We brought an outlet strip to accommodate all the electrical things since there is only one outlet (thanks Cruise Critic Members for that hint!) WEIGHT GAIN and CRUISING: We had just been in Florida walking 6+ miles a day at theme parks so we decided to take the stairs as much as possible on the cruise. We ate more than we usually do, but 3 out of 5 of us lost weight on the trip! Take the stairs - it's great exercise.Soda Card/Bar Coupons: Before we left we gave our children the option of us buying them the "bubbles" card ($25) or giving them $25 cash to spend on the trip. They chose the cash, so I went on to the website (Bon Voyage) and bought each of them a gift which was 4 "tickets" for soft drinks on the ship ($7) It was a great way for them to order soda when they wanted one in the restaurant or by the pool. We also brought 3 12 packs with us (you are allowed one 12 pack per person) but since we were usually drinking water or iced tea, we ended up only drinking about one 12 pack. We also made sure that our kids knew to NEVER drink any of the water bottles or soda that are left in the cabin for our convenience (thanks again CC members!) I did the same for my husband - but with bar "coupons" for 4 drinks ($23.) These were not as good of a deal as the soda ones - they only gave you $5.75 off any drink, but most drinks were $7 - $9 so there was always an "upcharge" and we didn't really save anything - but we were able to offset some of the expense by "pre paying" for a lot of the drinks. Also - you can get any of their yummy drinks without alcohol for the kids usually for only $4.50. The wait staff was always around to take your order and were very good about any special requests. DINING: We had heard a lot about assigned tables/table mates so we decided we wanted the "full cruise experience" and opted for late dining (8:15.) The first night when we arrived at our table, the head waiter greeted our son by name and was very friendly to all of us. Our son was a little sea sick (actually all of us were a little off - waves 15 - 20 feet) and our waiter brought him crackers and when we left dinner that night sent us with a stack of crackers. Both the head waiter and assistant were fantastic. Dinner was probably one of the best times on the ship for us because of the great food and the great waiters. Unfortunately our dining partners (another family of 5) never came to dinner - so we always sat alone. The dining room was our favorite place to eat all of the meals, but for convenience sake we often ate on the lido deck for lunch. In the dining room, the breakfast menu was the same,lunch had some variety and dinner had one side of the menu consistently the same and the other side unique. The food was consistently DELICIOUS but the portions were way too much and our family felt badly that every night more food was thrown away than eaten at our table. I'm recommending to Carnival that they offer "small" and "large" portion options. Having photographers at dinner almost every night got to be a bit annoying, as was evident in our families pictures towards the end of the cruise. The other options for dining included a variety buffet inside the lido deck restaurant, Mongolian wok on the lido deck outdoors (lunch only) and a grill on the lido deck outdoors as well (chicken strips, burgers, hot dogs, etc...) In the evening there was also sushi on the promenade deck. Ice Cream was available 24 hours a day as well, and for a small price, the Coffee bar had beautiful and delicious desserts ($3 and $4.) We also ordered from room service a few late nights (hot chocolate and cookies or cheesecake.) Make sure you tip them. :) TEA TIME: On the 2nd day at sea we found "tea time" in the Rhapsody in Blue Lounge. It was the best way to spend a relaxing hour in the afternoon. Beautiful setting, soft piano music, delicious tea and yummy cream puffs, cucumber sandwiches, cakes, etc... (another good reason to choose late dining!) Get there early as the 2nd day we tried to bring our kids and had to wait quite a while for a table to clear.ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the Paris Lounge for the talent night (7 passengers performing) but the quality of most of the entertainers that night was not very good(there were 2 that actually were on key...) We enjoyed the karaoke and the "superstar" karaoke where there was a live band playing the songs. We did stop in at a show in the Paris lounge the last night on the ship but it was quite boring and our son asked if we could leave. We did attend a "family friendly" comedy set one night - but unfortunately they only had that one night - the rest of the nights it was "adults only." The piano players were great - but every night there was a guy playing guitar and singing either by the casino or in the atrium lounge bar area and he was awful - it was almost like a joke - but he kept coming back. DEBARKATION IN PORT - COZUMEL: since we had to cancel our stop in Grand Cayman due to the weather, we actually got into Cozumel 1 day early and were there from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday. It was actually really nice because we went downtown to shop and eat on Wednesday and then could focus on the water and other sites on Thursday. The port you arrive at is not near anything - you have to walk to the exit of the port and get a taxi or rent a car. The taxi's have a set price and everything is in dollars - so that is nice. Make sure when you get a taxi to take you back to port you confirm the same price you paid coming into town ($11 each way when we were there.) There are usually 3 - 5 ships in port there every day, but due to the bad weather all the ships had cancelled for 3 days so the vendors were like piranha's when we arrived downtown. I used to live in Mexico and speak Spanish fluently so we did ok getting them to leave us alone. One thing you have to know is that when the quote you a price, it's probably twice what you should pay - so always cut their price by 60% and work your way up from there. Also - if you just walk away - they will usually come chase you down and continue to bargain. We asked a local for a recommendation for an authentic mexican restaurant and he directed us to a little hole in the wall outdoor place (in a carport) about 8 blocks from downtown. It was delicious, but if you don't speak spanish fluently - probably should stick to downtown "gringo" restaurants. When we got back on board that night they made us walk through the "duty free" shop which I found annoying - especially with 3 tired kids. Getting on and off the ship was fairly easy and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes except right before our departure as so many people had to turn in their liquor purchases (me included - 2 bottles of Kahlua for $20!) We did not purchase any ship excursions, instead rented a jeep to explore the island ($75 w/tax right there in port.) It was great - all 5 of us, the top down stopping along side the ocean to swim whenever/wherever we wanted. This was definitely the BEST part of our trip! We also went to the San Gervasio Ruins - definitely NOT worth it! We wished we had skipped that and stayed in the ocean longer. Make sure you bring bottles of water with you and lots of sun screen. Other Ship "Stuff" Water slide was not that exciting - but maybe it was because we had just been in Orlando. The pool has saltwater and was almost always full. The hot tubs by the pool were always full. The Serenity Deck is Adults Only and we sometimes found a seat there - but it was often crowded. The photo gallery is fun - but they take so many pics that you feel bad throwing so many away when you sort through what you want to buy. We had decided to buy pics as we never have our family pictures taken. Best purchase we made - the pictures were great and we got 5 portraits, get one free ($22 each) from formal night. We also bought some watches and other trinkets on the ship - lots of the prices were pretty good. Miniature golf on the sports deck was fun and windy! Our son went to Camp Carnival activities for his age group - but he said his counselors were always grumpy and yelling at the kids - so we only went to a few things each day. Our daughters went to their club and the counselor was great. Lots of teens on the ship were drinking as their parents and other family members were buying drinks for them - that was disappointing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Inspiration -â€" Uninspired This was my 10th cruise, 7th on Carnival and 2nd on the Inspiration. So -â€" I knew what to expect from Carnival. The Inspiration's days are numbered out of Tampa. Soon, this ship ... Read More
Inspiration -â€" Uninspired This was my 10th cruise, 7th on Carnival and 2nd on the Inspiration. So -â€" I knew what to expect from Carnival. The Inspiration's days are numbered out of Tampa. Soon, this ship will be on the west coast and the Paradise will be taking its place. The Paradise is the same ship, same age, different décor, so I don't expect it to be much different. Here are the high- and low-lights: Food: The main dining room still provides good food. It seems like the waiters have bigger areas to serve, as service was slow. Highlights off the menu continue to be Warm Chocolate Melting Cake, Prime Rib, Farmer's Salad and BBQ Ribs. Bread was hot and fresh one night and cold and somewhat stale the next. Outside grill continues to serve hot and tasty hamburgers, fries and chicken nuggets with very good honey mustard sauce. The inside buffet lines ranged in themes from French to Caribbean and none were inspired. Lots of carbs -â€" not so much protein. Breakfast at the buffet was the same every morning. You have to go one place to get sweet rolls, one place to get (and toast) your bread, one place to get your omelets and another place to get your drink. By the time you are done getting your food together, some is cold and then you have to find a place to eat. We usually get our table set-ups and drinks, find a place and then go get the food. The coffee machines in the buffet area did not work properly the entire time. Very frustrating. When they were working, coffee was terrible. Entertainment: The live entertainment on the 5-night cruise has been cut to 2 production shows. The Latin-themed show was excellent. The Shout! show is about 2-3 years old and the costumes look it. The other nights are lame. The piano player in the main atrium was great, but there are so few seats in the area, that you have to just stand around if you want to listen to him. The other groups I heard throughout the ship were mediocre and one duo was so bad, I winced while hearing them while I was in the casino. Entertainment Staff: Some of the best I have sailed with. Matt, especially, has a lot of personality and a great sense of humor. Stephanie, the Cruise Director, was adequate, but it seemed like we heard a little too much of her over the loud speakers. The crew was, as usual, nice and helpful throughout. One last thing: music was too loud everywhere: especially on deck and in the Paris Lounge. Bring some earplugs. Miscellaneous Hints and Tips: 1. There are no fridges in the staterooms. 2. Bring an extension cord. There is one plug in the stateroom and no plugs in the bathroom. 3. If you have "Anytime Seating" for dinner and you like where they put you the first night, remember to write down your table number and waiter's name, so you can ask for them for the rest of the cruise. If you don't like where they put you the first night or your waiter, you can ask for someone else the next night. 4. One bottle of liquor and one carton of cigarettes per person. That's it. If you buy more, you must pay duty when you re-enter the country. Duty on one carton of cigarettes is over $23.00!!!! 5. Cappuccino after dinner is included -â€" no extra cost. Even for the money, this cruise was disappointing. My first Carnival disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just got off the Carnival Inspiration for the third time. We had done a previous 7 night western and a southern on her. The ship is such a great layout. Not too big, not too small. The addition of the waterworks is great. Since we ... Read More
Just got off the Carnival Inspiration for the third time. We had done a previous 7 night western and a southern on her. The ship is such a great layout. Not too big, not too small. The addition of the waterworks is great. Since we were traveling with our 3 kids we originally booked two interiors but were upgraded to a grande suite for just a few dollars more and jumped on it. The balcony was great, bathtub was a huge blessing and the extra space was wonderful. Was supposed to go to Grand Cayman and Cozumel but could not tender in Cayman. Port charges were refunded but we got to Cozumel at 5 p.m. the night before we were originally slated to get there. Where was great since we had a night in cozumel. Kids in camp carnival and mom and dad in Fat Tuesday. We had the cmp phone so that they could contact us if any problems. Camp said phone might not work but it did. Camp carnival staff was wonderful. This was the first time we used it and my son was pissed if he was late or missed something. Cannot wait until the littlest turns 2 so he can go. Staff was amazing as always. Everyone does such a great job and they really make such an effort to make your vacation super. Especially with the kids. Thanks to Tanis and Alaina in the Brassiere for going above and beyond. Cannot thank you enough! My suggestions to carnival which are not complaints. Maybe some sort of divider in the suites. Curtain perhaps. Also it would be great if you could only put lights on in 1/2 of the room. You can put outside lights on, inside lights on or bedside lights but in the suite I woul like no lights by the sofabed or king bed (if that makes sense). Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
The ship itself is very dated and tacky. The Promenade-Galleria area is 1980's neon and black and many of the bars and discos were small and ugly. Our ocean-view room, though, was neutral, and a decent size. The Carnivale dining ... Read More
The ship itself is very dated and tacky. The Promenade-Galleria area is 1980's neon and black and many of the bars and discos were small and ugly. Our ocean-view room, though, was neutral, and a decent size. The Carnivale dining room is downright ugly; however, the food was pretty good. We never had a "bad" meal. Our waiter was friendly and very attentive, but the food service was slow. We would get to the dining room at 6:00 and left at 7:30 - 7:45. One night we left as the 8:00 diners were entering! We would wait about 15 minutes between each salad, appetizer and main course. What I absolutely hated was the Maitre d'. When we finally got our main entree, he would get on the microphone and sing annoying songs, and demand that everyone get up and dance and wave their napkins. It probably wouldn't have been as annoying if he would have done that during the appetizer or salad serving. We would finally get our main entree, we would start to eat and enjoy it, and then all this noise and loud singing would erupt. It was very difficult to enjoy diner time with the family. The two days at sea were great. We never had a problem finding lounge chairs around the pool area for the 6 of us. Bar service around the pool was slow, but I have found this to be true on every cruise I have ever taken. The "pool games" were funny to watch, and there was usually something going on in the afternoon that we attended. The Brasserie buffet dining area on the pool deck was pretty good, too, though the decor is hideous. It looks like a bad science fiction movie set. There is a pizza station, Deli station, a Chinese Wok station and burger/hot dog station. I loved the Deli area where two cooks make deli sandwiches to order. You can get cold sandwiches or paninis. The Chinese wok area and the burger/hot dog area were always really crowded, so we did not eat there. There were two comedians that preformed in the evenings in the Candlelight Lounge. One guy was really horrible and the other guy was pretty funny. But, they didn't start until 10:00pm and then their set was only 30 minutes long. We went to the casino a couple of times, but didn't stay long because of the cigarette smoke. A few video poker machines are "smoke free," but smoking is allowed at all the table games. Yuck! One thing that I found extremely bizarre that I have never seen before on other cruise lines is that people can carry on cases of soda and bottles of alcohol on embarkation day. It is really tacking standing in line with people all around you carrying cases of soda and holding bottles of wine. It was almost like people were going camping!! I guess Carnival is considered a budget cruise line, and those are the type of people that would be attracted to that. Overall we had a nice time celebrating my boyfriend's parents' 50th anniversary. One nice touch is you can order anniversary/birthday cake for less than 10 dollars, and they bring it to you at dinner. It was a really nice touch, and the cake was pretty good, too. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
This was supposed to be a 5 night cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Because of the weather we were given a itinerary change via letter the day we boarded the ship. We would no longer be going to Grand Cayman. :( We had the dolphin ... Read More
This was supposed to be a 5 night cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Because of the weather we were given a itinerary change via letter the day we boarded the ship. We would no longer be going to Grand Cayman. :( We had the dolphin swim booked there so they credited our sign/sail acct by the time we got on the ship. We went to guest services and re-booked the same excursion in Cozumel. Over all we had a good time on this ship. We had nothing to compare it to though other than stories of friends and family who have cruised before. The time we spent in Cozumel was awesome and we actually stayed in port from 5pm one night, overnight and until 8pm the next day. Apparently this was the 1st time Carnival has done this. Many of the crew members were very excited because they got to go out on the town once done work that night. Food: was pretty good. We had late dining and I highly recommend that. We ate in the dining room every night but one. Steak is awesome, lobster was good and of course the choc melting cake can not be passed up. I was disappointed that they have taken the shrimp cocktail off of their "regular menu" and its only available on formal night with the lobster. We kind of complained to our waiter and the mait re de and they ended up bringing us the shrimp each night. Only our table though. The food in the buffet area was pretty good, salad bar was excellent, the sandwich stand was good. The ommlettes by the poolside grill were excellent and if you like spicy then go have a stir fry from the Mongolian grill. The burgers and fries poolside were so so. Cabin: we purchased the inside open cabin selection so Carnival put us where they wanted. Saved money this way. We ended up on the top floor of passenger cabins at the front of the ship. I have to say it was a excellent location. If I had of picked my own cabin I would have picked one near a elevator but we NEVER had people walking by our room ( aka kids running) and waking us up etc... it was nice and quiet by our room and we liked it a lot. The bed was converted into a king for us and it was VERY comfortable. The cabin was big enough and kept very clean. Our room steward was fantastic ! Pool Area: absolute nightmare !! LOL We avoided it at all costs. There is only 1 small pool on this ship for 2500 passengers. If you like to hang in a pool with 50 screaming and jumping kids then ....enjoy ! hehe. Could not take the noise from the kids and the loud announcements, poolside games and loud music. We hung out on the adult only serenity deck all week long. The serenity deck is awesome however it's only got 2 Jacuzzis for the 60 adults that want to be there all day, and they are hot and not refreshing at all. Would love to see it get an adult pool. Please note with this that we are early 40's ,love to drink, dance and go out, but the pool is not a place to relax at all. The kids are in the hot tubs too, ugh. Entertainment: We loved loved loved the 2 comedians that were on board. The comedy lounge was PACKED each night they were on stage, go early to get a good seat as it ends up being standing room only. Do NOT sit in the front rows if you don't want to be singled out by the comedians ;) Never caught any of the shows, there was some talent shows but we watched them on the tv in our cabin and they seemed lame. We did go see the "love game" and it was pretty funny. Extras: We had no issues getting on or off the ship. Each went quickly and smoothly. We were on the boat in 30 min and same with getting off. The staff were kind and courteous and were constantly cleaning. The ship was spotless. I have 4 children and the way the kids/teens were supervised on that ship was outrageous. It's almost as though they were not cruising with any adults at all. There were packs of teenagers roaming the ship day and night and never once did I see them talking to an adult. They were between 12-17yrs old and usually drunk or smoking cigarettes they had stolen or found. Carnival does NOTHING about this. Cozumel was amazing, we really enjoyed ourselves. The Dolphin swim was worth the money and you can take along a waterproof camera and avoid buying their photos for outrageous amounts of money. Get out of the port area though and start walking down the main street to those vendors, you can get MUCH better deals out there than right in the port. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just a quick review of our recent Inspiration cruise! I had all intentions of taking notes as we went through the week... but didn't take the first one! So this is all from memory... Embarkation: I have to say, without a doubt, ... Read More
Just a quick review of our recent Inspiration cruise! I had all intentions of taking notes as we went through the week... but didn't take the first one! So this is all from memory... Embarkation: I have to say, without a doubt, this is the easiest embarkation we have ever had! From the time our in-laws dropped us off till we were on the Lido deck was maybe 20 minutes! I also have to mention that we had heard horror stories about the security catching all of the smuggled alcohol..... We had our two bottles of wine in my shoulder bag that weren't even looked at... and in our rolling suitcase; we had a 12-pack of water, a gallon of light fruit punch and a 2-liter of diet coke. The security girl opened the suitcase, looked at the fruit punch to ensure it was sealed and picked up the water and shook it... never even looked at the diet coke...we did manage to smuggle in some alcohol - but i don't want to say here how we did it (cause I want to do it again next year). If you are curious... send me a message.... Ship, food, etc: No complaints whatsoever about the ship itself - occasionally there would be a faint odor in some hallways, but it never lasted and wasn't horrible. Everything was clean and fresh. Staff and crew were fantastic - always had a smile on their faces. We had breakfast and lunch at the Buffet and Dinner in the MDR (Carnivale Dining Room late Seating) every day. Food was good. I had lap band surgery earlier this year, so I didn't eat a lot - in fact, I actually lost 3 pounds on the cruise - but what I did eat was good. DH and our friends tried some of the Didja foods and had mixed reviews. Biggest disappointment was with the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. Let me start by saying this is one of the things my DH looks forward to the most on the cruise - he always orders it every night for dessert! I don't really care for it but do like to sometimes dip my fruit in his! As expected he ordered it every night, but for the first time on any cruise, it was way overdone all but one night. As in it was a cake, not a melting cake - not even possible to dip my fruit in at all! Again, small disappointment, but a disappointment nonetheless! I was a little disappointed in the Serenity area - I was expecting a larger area with a few more seats. There were no clamshells or hammocks - only loungers and a few regular chairs under the cover. The two hot tubs were nice there - but so incredibly hot they weren't really refreshing in my opinion. That being said, there was one night after dinner that DH and I went up there to look at the stars and fell asleep for a good 20 minutes, so it was relaxing! Our friends who went with us are trivia buffs - so generally if there was a trivia game going on anywhere on the ship, they were there! In fact, together the six of us won 5 ships on a stick from trivia! We enjoyed the bartenders (Perri from Thailand) at the Violins bar most every afternoon and evening and spent time in each of the other bars throughout the cruise. One of my most anticipated things to do was Superstar Live! Karaoke.... And it didn't disappoint at all! We were able to participate in 2 of the 3 sessions and got to sing 2-3 songs each! While the song selection was limited, we had no problem finding songs to sing and the thrill of singing before a live band was awesome! Wren, the hostess, did a great job of making you feel comfortable and providing some backup singing as needed! Regular karaoke will never be the same again! Ports: Our ports were Grand Cayman and Cozumel, both of which we had visited before. Grand Cayman was not a favorite - we aren't into snorkeling or sea creatures.... So we didn't book an excursion. We did take the tender to the port and walked around a bit, but after having 2 drinks in a beachside bar for a total of $21....decided to head back to the ship where drinks were cheaper (never thought I'd ever say drinks were cheaper on the ship!). Our friends never got off the ship here - they waited for 30 minutes for a tender before giving up and spending the afternoon on the Lido deck. Cozumel was great - we went to Nachi Cocum and had a wonderful afternoon - even though it rained most of the day. The staff there kept the drinks flowing and the food was great! Conclusion: This was a great cruise! Other than a few minor disappointments and the weather, which Carnival has no control over, I wouldn't change a thing! We'll definitely be back on board a Carnival ship next year - in fact, we bought a Future Cruise Certificate to ensure we'll be back! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to ... Read More
For 22 years now I have suggested to the wife that we take a cruise, she gave in this year. We decided on a 5 day trip in October thinking that this would keep the children at a minimum. Since this was our first experience we decided to go all out and get the Grand Ocean Suite. The ship was nice. The food was good but not outstanding. The ports of call were beautiful and the kids were out of control. After weeks of research we decided to go with Carnival. They had the best price on their 5 day trips to the Western Caribbean and the best price on their Grand Ocean Suites. If we ever go on another cruise the Grand Ocean Suite will be a must! The suite is a great escape when one gets ready to sit back and relax for the evening. You get a large room with a king size bed, sofa sleeper, sitting area, walk in closet, full size bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, large balcony, refrigerator and a nice size LCD TV that had a good choice of cable channels. The suite was an excellent choice! The ship, the Carnival Inspiration, is an older ship that has been kept in good condition. Everything was clean and for the most part up to date. There is only one formal dining room but there is a second dining area that one can get food anytime of the day or night. The food was all good but nothing to brag about. The one formal night in the main dining room they did serve lobster, steak and shrimp. The other nights they had a choice of other meat dishes, fish and chicken. We are not the type to over indulge but I was told before the trip by others that had been on a cruise that you could order as much as you wanted at dinner, this was never offered in the main dining room. In the second, cafeteria style, dining room you can eat as much as you can stand. Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico were both great ports of call. The ports were clean and the water was unbelievable! In Grand Cayman we to a really nice bus tour of the island and in Cozumel we did our own thing with a taxi into the downtown area. The people were all overly friendly and helpful. The only downside to our experience was the parents on our deck who pretty much their kids to run the ship. The parents went off to have their vacation and let their kids do whatever. At night there was running in the halls, yelling, screaming and banging on suite doors. Many calls were made to security but many times nothing could be done because the parents could not be located. One day I'm sure we will again take a cruise. It is a great getaway and a fun experience. We have since found that there are adult only cruises for those who want peace at sea, that will be our next cruise! Here is a link, http://ostrowsky.smugmug.com/Cruise/Carnival-Cruise/19552192_sgS3Tn#1534813964_gKPP6Vd , to a site where i have posted pictures if you are interested in seeing the Carnival Inspiration. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Embarkation -- Port of Tampa was great! We were on the ship within 30 minutes after parking. Inspiration -- Old but well kept ship. The pool always had tons of people in it. The pool is way too small and the lido deck was very very ... Read More
Embarkation -- Port of Tampa was great! We were on the ship within 30 minutes after parking. Inspiration -- Old but well kept ship. The pool always had tons of people in it. The pool is way too small and the lido deck was very very very crowded especially during sea days. The serenity lounge was awesome and very quiet. We spent most of our time there. Dinner Service -- We opted for the "anytime dining". First night we chose a table for two since it was only two of us and we wanted to have a nice dinner. We had a horrible waiter and completely ignored us throughout the whole dinner. People that had arrived after us for dinner were starting dessert and we had not even received our dinner! I even had to waive him down for service. We decided to give dinner a second chance and had dinner the second night. Different waiter but the SAME scenario as the previous day. Very poor service. We decided not to give dinner service another chance and ended up having dinner elsewhere on the ship. We never went back to dinner service. Staff -- The staff was great (other than the dinner crew, see above). Disembarking -- We were off the ship and in our car for the drive home by 830am. That was GREAT! Again, port of Tampa was very organized and experienced. Conclusion -- Inspiration was nice but a bit old, small and crowded. I may give another cruise line a try. Carnival has been great these past 5 cruises but I want to see how other cruise lines compare. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We dont have anything to compare the Inspiration to but it was Clean, always being maintained and in good order . Getting on the ship was a breeze! The buffet food was pretty good although the temp of the food was hit and miss. The main ... Read More
We dont have anything to compare the Inspiration to but it was Clean, always being maintained and in good order . Getting on the ship was a breeze! The buffet food was pretty good although the temp of the food was hit and miss. The main dining was excellent, the staff was spot on. The staff on the ship is very nice. If you pass a staff member on the ship they always say hello or something to that affect. The comedy shows are excellent along with the main cruise shows. You must get there early or will not find a seat. The chair hogs are not a myth they are real. The pool is always full and way to small but it worked. The Serenity deck was relaxing. I was really worried after reading some reviews about this ship but I can honestly say that the people who have negative experiences must be going into this ship with very high expectations and are very hard to please. I would book another cruise on this ship in a heart beat. We were extremely pleased with our inside cabin R14. It was EXTREMELY quiet! The only time we heard any ship noise was when they were setting anchor or letting ropes out. I could not imagine spending the extra money for a balcony or ocean view on "this" ship unless the price was cheaper than a inside cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Introduction: After five previous trips on Inspiration I felt that it would be appropriate to take one more before she gets reassigned to the West coast. Several family members and a few friends joined my wife and me on the ... Read More
Introduction: After five previous trips on Inspiration I felt that it would be appropriate to take one more before she gets reassigned to the West coast. Several family members and a few friends joined my wife and me on the four-night cruise to Cozumel. We all left out the morning of the cruise; it takes about two hours for us to get to the Port of Tampa. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around noon. The embarkation process went smoothly, as is usual for the Port of Tampa. Our traveling companions were only a few minutes behind us, even though we went through the VIP line. We were on the ship about twenty minutes after parking. The Ship: Very little has changed aboard Inspiration since my last cruise on her back in early 2009. The only noticeable improvements were made to the guest elevators. They have been re-floored and have new wall coverings. They have also gotten new controls and digital displays. Overall they were much improved, the last time I was onboard they looked pretty shabby. Food and Service: The food in the main dining room on this cruise was top notch. Chef Michael is running a great kitchen and it was a pleasure to dine each night. Our serving team, Juan and Emilio, were outstanding. They knew all of our names after the first night and were very friendly. The Brasserie buffet was the usual fare, so I stuck with the deli's offerings. I wasn't at all impressed with the food from the new Mongolian Grill, or the service from the pizzeria. I have said before, and will say again, that they need more than one man at the pizza counter. I went to afternoon tea on both sea days and enjoyed it a lot. Entertainment: I did not attend any of the shows, but I did go to see both of the comedians in the new Punchliner Comedy Club. They were both pretty good, and I like how Carnival is offering multiple shows each night. It is a good idea, but it still has not reduced the overcrowding in the smallish aft lounge. If you have a party that all want to sit together you'll have to arrive very early. This is a continual problem that they could easily fix by having the popular adults-only comedy acts in the main theater. Cozumel, Mexico: I can't share any stories about our time in Cozumel because we did not leave the ship. I'm really beginning to enjoy just staying on the ship when we visit the same old ports. It's so nice to be able to enjoy the hot tubs, water slides and the (only) pool without the throngs of fellow passengers around. The pool is seriously overcrowded on sea days since it is the only one on board. It's a shame I have to wait for everyone to debark to enjoy the Lido area. But now that the ship has lost two hot tubs and a pool, the Lido deck is nearly unusable due to overcrowding. The (lack of) Guest Relations Desk: I suppose I should count my blessings that in my 15 previous cruises with Carnival I have never had any major issues with the crew. Unfortunately that streak came to an abrupt end on this voyage. The problems began pretty mildly on the first day. My wife went to the Platinum desk to ask a question. The crew members working the desk looked over at her and obviously knew she was there. After finishing with the guests they were attending to, they motioned more folks over from the regular line. It was as if they just assumed she was in the wrong place. They eventually came over and helped her, and it wasn't really a big deal, but it foreshadowed things to come. Later that same day she had to return to the Guest Relations (GR) desk because our group amenities ($25 OBC and a bottle of wine per cabin) had not been added to our booking. The GR folks were just as unhelpful on the second visit. They could have easily contacted the Group Booking Department as a pleasant gesture, but instead decided that it wasn't their problem. So my wife had to take care of it on her own cell phone. Thankfully we were still in port. The amenities were eventually restored, no thanks to the ships GR people. On our first sea day we again stopped by GR to reserve our spots for the Platinum Galley Tour. The guy at the desk took down our names and cabin numbers, and even allowed us to bring the rest of our group. He told us the tour would meet in the Mardi Gras Dining Room on the last sea day at 3 PM. Things seemed to be looking up. On the last sea day we all arrived at the empty Mardi Gras Dining Room. When I say empty, I mean totally deserted. One crewman walked by and knew nothing of a tour. So I again got to visit the GR desk. The lady at the desk informed me that the tour had been at 10:30 that morning. Great! My wife and I informed her that her counterpart told us that the tour was to be at 3 PM. She spoke to him about it, and his retort was that he "didn't recall saying that". Wonderful! She then rather brusquely said that the tour had always been at 10:30 since the Inspiration started sailing. My wife and I both found that last statement to be a bit dubious. The ship nerd in me figuring that Inspiration is now 15 years old, and the girl was all of 25. So it's fairly unlikely that she has been working on the ship since she was in grade school. My wife's reasoning was a bit more helpful. She had taken a cruise with her girlfriends on the Inspiration in May; and the galley tour was indeed at 3 PM. So it was not always at 10:30 AM. But what was done was done, and they offered no apologies for our trouble. The issue would have been minor had it only inconvenienced my wife and I. But the other six members of our group left what they were doing to attend the tour. We took down the crewmembers names, and we plan to send a fairly lengthy letter to Carnival about the issues. I don't expect people to be perfect, and I'm far from hard to please. But it bothers me when I get dirty looks, lies and attitude from people being paid to help out. Conclusion: In spite of the glaring problems both ignored and caused by the Guest Relations people, we all still had a great cruise. Since I have cruised more on Inspiration than any other ship, I am glad that I got to see her once more before she leaves us for California. She has been sailing from Tampa now for several years now. If she has the same longevity on the West coast, she may not return to Florida before being retired from the fleet. That is a shame, but I look forward to many good cruises on Paradise in the future. Farewell Inspiration, thanks for all the good times! My full pictorial review on the Cruise Critic Forums can be viewed at this link: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1486168 Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Our August 4th cruise was the second time on the Inspiration this year and our 7th Carnival cruise and 13th cruise overall. This cruise was like the last cruise, a 4 day trip with a day at sea, followed be a day at Cozumel then a day at ... Read More
Our August 4th cruise was the second time on the Inspiration this year and our 7th Carnival cruise and 13th cruise overall. This cruise was like the last cruise, a 4 day trip with a day at sea, followed be a day at Cozumel then a day at sea. Although the actual cruise was the same, there were some very distinct differences, as well as many similarities. Embarking: On our cruise in February we arrived at the port shortly before noon. The baggage area was packed with cars and it took us 15 minutes to escape that craziness. This time we got there a little after 11 am, dropped the bags off and to the parking garage took a little over 5 minutes. Here is a tip: get there earlier than later. Checking In and getting on the ship was about the same for both cruises, about 30 minutes or less. Regarding the ship, we have been on two other Fantasy Class ships (Sensation and Ecstasy) and the Inspiration by far is a ship in better condition than the other two, with the Ecstasy being better than Sensation. We are going to miss the Inspiration as it moves to CA. later this year. I am concerned that the Paradise will not be as in good condition as the Inspiration, but I will have to wait and see to make that judgment. The most significant difference we noticed on the cruise was regarding the cruise staff and the entertainment. First the cruise staff: on our February cruise Stephanie Meads was the CD. I can say she was the worst CD I have ever witnessed on 13 cruises. At the shows she only appeared on the first night, then you only heard her threw the PA system, and wondered if you were listening to a recording. She was not engaging and was a huge disappointment. The August CD had Felipe Cuoto. He was very engaging and was also very visible. He did tend to ramble on a bit, it was better than Stephanie's non-engaging non-appearance. With all that being said about Ms Meads, the staff from the February Cruise was by far more entertaining than the August cruise. Lee was better than Nick as assistant CD. One thing that did irritate me on both cruises is the fact that both CD's on the first night wanted everyone to stand during the show and shake hands with the audience. OK, I am not at church, but I am on a contained vessel where germs spread like wild fire. Carnival are recommending that CD's encourage this? I will not shake hands with some stranger and get sick because that person carries some virus. If Carnival allows this, shame on them. We refused to stand shake hands with total strangers. Not being snobs here, just don't want to share the germs and get sick and ruin my cruise. The other big difference is the comedians. The Feb cruise had Chris Wiles. Let me be clear here, he SUCKS. The August cruise had two different comedians throughout the entire cruise. They were great. One guy did great sound effects and was extremely funny in a more classic style of joke telling. The other gentleman was from Tampa and was very edgy and was slightly funnier than the first guy, but both were Las Vegas style shows. I hope Carnival moves to this format with more comedians, because it is great fun. The food was very good on both cruises. We did ATD on both and the longest time we waited was 10 minutes (August Cruise, Elegant night). Both cruises we did Paradise Beach, but this past August will be the last time for a while. PB is going downhill fast. The wait staff has always been slow; but the equipment was always in good shape. But not anymore, the inflatable toys have numerous handles missing or broken, but the biggest disappointment was the paddle boards, or should I say paddle board. They only had one board available, but they had four boards hidden to the side but they were broken (fins - I guess - according to their staff). The drinks are extremely weak and overpriced. If I am required to buy a wristband to use the toys and toys are broken or unusable then I feel I am getting ripped off. If I order a drink and the bartender uses some device to limit the alcohol that is poured in the drink and charge me a price more expensive than the Cruise Ship, I guess I need to find another place to hang out when I am in Cozumel. I think PB has lost their edge and is just another tourist trap. One other thing I noticed, when we were there on Feb 20th the place was packed, but on Aug 6th it was very quiet. I guess people have gotten the word about PB being a tourist trap and I just ignored the memo. The final day a sea was very enjoyable on both cruises. It was sad to see the August cruise come to an end because we knew that when we got home it would be time to get the kids ready for school. Debarking: We did self assist and it went quickly. We were in our car by 8:45 am and in two hours we were home working on the back to school list. Finally, our plans are to go on the Paradise in February and I will then compare the Inspiration to the Paradise. I would think the Inspiration has an upper hand, but you never know. Of course if I get on the Paradise and Stephanie in the CD then the Inspiration wins, because Stephanie isn't on the Inspiration putting those passengers to sleep. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We had a blast. Usually I can't eat out anywhere because I have Celiac and I get very sick to any exposure to Gluten. I mentioned this to my travel agent. Next thing you know, I have staff giving me a menu specif to a gluten free ... Read More
We had a blast. Usually I can't eat out anywhere because I have Celiac and I get very sick to any exposure to Gluten. I mentioned this to my travel agent. Next thing you know, I have staff giving me a menu specif to a gluten free diet, prepping stations were gluten free and the gluten free foods were fab! My teen boys and 8 year old daughter wanted to check out the boat while I had dinner with my group. The boys didn't watch her well and she became lost. She did what we always told her to do..."Go to a person in uniform". They took her to Guest Services, who then contacted me via phone within minutes. I got her right away. When I picked her up, my heart was racing. I asked her if she was scared. She said, "At first I was scared and then I went to a person in uniform and they took me downstairs and they played with me and gave me cards to keep forever." She said she didn't need to cry because she was having fun. Excellent trip! Most memorable for our family thus far! My mother was also on board. We live many States apart. The kids got to go play in the water slide while mom and I enjoyed a Long Island Iced Tea and enjoying the beautiful ocean. The staff was so much fun. I had to give our hostess Ekatrina a big hug on the last day. The entire staff is just a joy! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
On August 18th we boarded the Carnival Inspiration after the very fast and easy embarkation procedure. This was our 3rd time on the Inspiration for a 4 night cruise. The Inspiration is a Fantasy class ship so she's smaller and older ... Read More
On August 18th we boarded the Carnival Inspiration after the very fast and easy embarkation procedure. This was our 3rd time on the Inspiration for a 4 night cruise. The Inspiration is a Fantasy class ship so she's smaller and older but in excellent condition. The 1st and 2nd time we had the same maitre d' (Yusuf from Turkey) who we also had before on the Legend. He remembered us both times and made sure we got a great table. This time though he was not on board. We heard he was now on the Conquest (lucky Conquest). We got our lunch on the Lido deck and at 1:30 headed down to our cabin. At 3:15, as we exited our room to attend the safety drill and we heard someone say "Mr. Jon, Miss Holly!!!" We turned around and there was Ronato our cabin steward from our cruise the previous year with his new assistant, Richard. It was like seeing a friend we hadn't seen in a long time - just a happy moment! After asking about how everyone had been, hand shakes and hugs all around we continued on to the safety drill. After the safety drill we went up to the highest deck to be there when we cruised under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and when we returned there were extra pillows in our cabin - Ronato had remembered without us even having ask. This was a fantastic start to our much needed time away from work. We went to dinner and then to the show and off to bed. On our first sea day we ate breakfast in the dining room, stopped in at the library and got a couple books (they now have board games as well), spent some time watching some of the events, reading on the serenity deck, reminiscing with Ranoto and just relaxing. I also did the teddy bear build. I do this on every cruise and name the bear after the ship as it's a great inexpensive souvenir.We dressed up for dinner because that what we do on formal night and enjoyed Thomas Brown for the third time. (funny is funny no matter how many times you hear it). For our day in Cozumel we had signed up for the Dolphin Swim and Lunch through Carnival and we were at the end of the pier by 8:45am. This excursion was $130/person. I realized I had forgot sunscreen so we ducked into a store and got some for $31 Yikes!!! After a very short taxi ride to Dolphinaris and a safety drill (oh yeah, no sunscreen allowed) we were in the water with about 5 dolphins. No cameras allowed, they have staff doing still shots and video. All the dolphins looked very healthy and happy. Our group included another couple and a family with 2 young children (3 and 5 years old). We spent about an hour in the water with the dolphins swimming back and forth in front of us so they could get to know us by us touching them, getting the token kiss (you have to kiss the dolphin back), flipper shake, splashing and an amazing belly ride. The staff was very friendly, knowledgeable, informative and happy to answer any questions. FYI, Mexico does not capture wild dolphins any longer and about half the dolphins at Dolphinaris were born there. We were then escorted around the pools so we could see the baby (only 200 to 300 pounds) dolphins, Of course, we exit through the photo area where you can look and buy your pictures and videos. The prices are, as usual, high, however, we said we would come back later, changed into dry clothes and got our lunch. Lunch was better than expected. We had the fajitas and quesadillas and they were both very good. When we did go back to the photo store they said they would give us everything for a much lower price.....hhhmmm? Of course we bought the whole package (DVD and photos) have shown them to anyone that would watch. Taxis run about every 5 minutes and we and headed back to the port about 1:00pm. We would highly recommend this excursion to anyone that wants to do a dolphin encounter. This price is half the cost of Discovery Cove in Orlando and there you're lucky to get 20 minutes with the dolphins. FYI - we were able to return the sunscreen for a full refund. Our last day is always a sad day since it's the last day. We enjoyed breakfast in the dining room, finished our books on the serenity deck and attended some events in the lounge, packed and went to the dinner and comedy show. The comedy show was Thomas Brown again and he was trying out new material, We laughed until our sides hurt. This was a short cruise but it was also one of the best we've had. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
My daughter and I decided we needed some "Me" time and since it was my birthday, we decided to take a cruise. Overall, the cruise was very good. The room was quiet, we were the last room in the back of the ship. Wish we could ... Read More
My daughter and I decided we needed some "Me" time and since it was my birthday, we decided to take a cruise. Overall, the cruise was very good. The room was quiet, we were the last room in the back of the ship. Wish we could have had a balcony but the ocean view served the purpose of seeing sunsets and when we reached our ports. I love sitting on a balcony with a cup of coffee and watching the sea go by. It's better then any tranquilizer! If you can afford a balcony, go for it! The room was clean and pretty comfortable.If we needed anything, like extra hangers, the stewards brought us what we needed. My daughter and I pack like we are leaving for a month, "wishful thinking" so I am sure the stewards had to jump over a few things to get their cleaning done. The food at the buffet and in the dining room, was very good and the service in the dining room was outstanding. I like it when staff members remember your name. Even when we were in the buffet, if any of our servers saw us, they came over and addressed us by our names. Following is where I feel Carnival has the opportunity to do better: The hots tubs on the pool deck were always filled with children, we never had the opportunity to use them. The service in the Adult Only Area was very poor. We ordered drinks and 45 minutes later we received them. The outside deck area surrounding the buffet was never cleaned up on a regular basis. Cups,plates and napkins when it was windy were flying around and in some cases ending up in the sea. The dance club was OK but they did have 18 and older nights, which can be a turn off for those us over 21. Overall for the money and the limited time we had it was a fun cruise for us! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2011
With years of being an ocean liner nostalgic (reading dozens of books on the golden age of transatlantic liners of a bygone era), I boarded the Carnival Inspiration with mixed feelings. This ship was the one chosen by the group I traveled ... Read More
With years of being an ocean liner nostalgic (reading dozens of books on the golden age of transatlantic liners of a bygone era), I boarded the Carnival Inspiration with mixed feelings. This ship was the one chosen by the group I traveled with, a mixed group of Deaf and Hard of Hearing folks, hearing family members with a Deaf relative, and ASL interpreters. I was most curious to see how Carnival would handle staff/crew interaction with Deaf guests using ASL on a daily basis - and to see how Deaf-friendly the cabins would be. This cruise was part one of a three-part vacation, and out of three hotels and one ship cabin, it is clear that the ADA has a long way to go when concerning Deaf guests. Giddy with the prospect of boarding a realio trulio ship after touring the RMS Queen Mary several years prior, I was among the first to board the 4-day cruise out of Tampa with a port of call in Cozumel. Once I was on board, I found the interiors to be a tad too 'kitschy' for my taste, but then, I have been spoiled by the gorgeous pictures of public rooms found on ocean liners. With that in mind, I took off for the upper decks instead with positive results. I did miss the wooden deck chairs and a wraparound Promenade deck but delighted at the fact that I had the lifeboat deck to myself - apparently not many discovered the secret glass doors separating the pool/sunbowl area and the lifeboat boarding deck. This is where I found my private haven - and a nod to the past. Instead of a deck chair, I made do with the life-jacket storage bench or stood at the railings. The cabin itself was... interesting. A cookie cutter inside cabin - I didn't expect too much - a cabin is a cabin and I spent very little time in mine. What interested me the most was the ADA supplies that the Carnival folks had installed prior to my visit. They had set up a flashing light alert for both fire/emergency and the door. With the door flasher, a doorbell was attached to the door itself (with only a few cases of Ding Dong Ditch from the youngsters on board). Once someone pushed the button, a white light (similar to fire alarms, imagine my confusion in the morning when I was awakened by this, thinking it was an emergency - but no, the room service steward had only stopped by to drop off our breakfasts). A bed shaker (which I used to ensure I woke up before the sunrise in order to have breakfast on deck and watch it rise) and a TTY were also provided. We take calling the concierge desk and room service for granted. Despite attempts by several cabin stewards, nobody could get a connection on the TTY, let alone order room service. Ironically, the same situation occurred at the hotel I stayed overnight prior to the cruise, and the hotel at Universal Studios after the cruise. What's up with TTYs on ships and at hotels? The poor outdated machine sat forlornly on our vanity for the entire time, unused. As I traveled with a group of 30 ASL users, we had six sign language interpreters on board. This was a fact that I loved - being able to peruse the Carnival Caper, highlighting the items I planned on attending, and be ensured that an 'terp or two would show up. (They even showed up to high tea to keep the old nostalgic me company while the "modern" cruisers went off to the pool or other Carnival-type activities.) Another perk that I loved about this cruise was dinner time - we had the early dining seating, and our ASL group was able to sit together, thus avoiding the much-dreaded Dinner Table Syndrome where a Deaf person is seated among multiple hearing people that do not sign, which leads to frustration and boredom during mealtimes. With DTS avoided, dinners were my favorite time during the cruise, aside from the midnight walks on deck. During dinner, our sommelier took great joy in learning the signs for different types of alcohol while our waitress learned the basics - "hello"; "thank you"; "enjoy", etc. This shows great effort on the staff's part to make us Deaf passengers feel welcome. Perhaps it is something that international folks and Deaf folks share - the cultural and linguistic thing? Those same staff were willing to gesture with us when a 'terp wasn't around to interpret. This is a far cry from the average hearing person interaction whereas they resemble a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car. So instead of "Deaf? Eek!", we had "Deaf? Hmm..." Aside from the missing forward-facing lounge, wooden deck chairs, and a wraparound promenade deck of yesteryear, I enjoyed this cruise very much. For a first time cruiser, Carnival is a welcome step into the unknown world, and I look forward to more cruises in the future, with Carnival or another cruise line. And as always, those towel animals greeted us each evening with chocolate. I hated to dismantle them for use. Fortunately, we took pictures of those adorable creations. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Six time cruiser. First time on Carnival. Having been on some of the newest and most modern ships in the world, the Inspiration wasn't quite up to par. However, to be perfectly fair I offer the following. The ship was in great ... Read More
Six time cruiser. First time on Carnival. Having been on some of the newest and most modern ships in the world, the Inspiration wasn't quite up to par. However, to be perfectly fair I offer the following. The ship was in great shape and the crew was fantastic. We had one minor problem in our stateroom with the hot/cold water regulator in the shower. One call and fifteen minutes later it was fixed. The room was in perfect shape, comfy pillows. A little tight for the four of us but our room steward did a nice job and we were comfortable. Plenty of storage room. The only complaint regarding cleanliness was the number of cups and plates left around the public areas. On one occassion I counted 17 cups on the Lido deck early in the morning left over from the night before. Two hours later those same cups were sitting there despite a couple dozen deck crew walking right by. Food was good. Wait staff for "Your Time" dining was good. Funny. Great service. The Your Time dining was nice. The longest we waited in line was 10 minutes. Entertainment was so, so. If you compare it to Royal Carribean there is no comparison. The "production" shows were very basic. Seems as if Carnival just didn't want to put any money into entertainment. The sales pitches and pushy photographers got old very quickly. On other cruises we've been on the Cruise Director made announcements to let you know about the fun stuff happening around the ship. On the Inspiration most, if not all, public announcements by the Cruise Director were sales pitches. We were laughing so hard yesterday because every announcement, with the exception of the Captains weather report, involved you parting with more money. The photographers were VERY pushy. Obnoxious is more fitting. Good example. I was relaxing yesterday in the adult "Serenity" area when a photographer hovered over me, literally waking me up to ask if I wanted a picture of me relaxing. You've got to be kidding. Kids program (Circle C - age 12 to 14) was great. Our son had such a good time. Thank you Carnival staff for making his week. Gym - Very nice. Changing areas, showers, steam room, sauna. Well done. Embarkation and Debarkation were a breeze. We were off the ship 20 minutes after the announcement was made. Overall view of the cruise? You be the judge. If you want to cruise at a good price on a ship mainly focused on partying the Inspiration is for you. If you want something a little more laid back, not quite so pushy, look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
My husband and I sailed on July 30, 2011 on the Inspiration. This was my 2nd time on this ship. The cruise was fantastic! The food was great, the shows outstanding and the crew was so personable!! I really have nothing negative to say ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on July 30, 2011 on the Inspiration. This was my 2nd time on this ship. The cruise was fantastic! The food was great, the shows outstanding and the crew was so personable!! I really have nothing negative to say except that this boat although very beautiful, is a bit small by today's standards. There is ony 1 pool, very few balconies, and a small shop. We still had such a great and relaxing time. By the time my husband and I were disembarking, I kept on thinking there was no way this cruise could have been any better. If you are looking for BOTH a relaxing AND fun filled time, this cruise is for you. There were so many activities during the day on the ship and we tried to do a little of everything incuding just lounging around and yes, stuffing our faces. Grand Cayman and Cozumel were beautiful islands with great beaches. We did the 7 mile beach on Grand Cayman and another beach on Cozomel. There was the Mayan ruin excursion that was also available for those who wanted to take in history. I can't wait to go on my next Carnival Cruise!!! 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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