Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by R. Wals Other (Specified in Review) September 10, 2012
Cruise: Catalina, Ensenada Mexico
A very pleasant cruise and an overall excellent service, this is our 4th cruise with Carnival.
The one terrible flaw: the "live shows" the performers were not really singing but "screaming", I do not believe it is necessary to scream their heads off. Not everyone is deaf or semi-deaf you must realize that there are many people with very sensitive sense of hearing, perhaps you can offer at the entrance of the theater a set of ear plugs in order to attenuate the awful sound or maybe to lower the volume of the amplifiers. Needless to say, we had to leave the show after only 3 minutes.
Thank you very much indeed: Ramon Wals
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Manish Shukla Mexico February 17, 2012
Worst company ever encountered. not at all empathetic to customer's situations. i should have booked from Disney or princess or any other which i will do for my next cruise.
Cons - - guest admin doesn't acknowledge genuine problems faced by the customers. - delayed and rude responses to emails.
i know you guys wont refund my money. enjoy with my $1000. i should have spend it on a new laptop or on Hawaii trip rather than this shitty company.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Cruznut2 Western Caribbean November 14, 2011
Carnival Inspiration, November 14th - 19th 2011
Parking - We used the valet service parking at the Port of Tampa. A nice feature that I rather liked. Cost $95.00
Boarding: We arrived around 12:00 PM which is later than I like but I had others with me. I think if we had arrived earlier we would have had a swifter process. We stood in line for endless amounts of time. The terminal was very hot and our carry on bags seemed to be gaining weight. We finally crossed the gangway and entered the atrium around 1:20 PM. We went to our room which was just a few doors down from the atrium. We rested a short while then took off to find lunch and explore Inspiration.
Inspiration The ship was well kept for an older ship. I thought that she was quite plain for a Carnival ship of that era. After being on Sensation with her loud and proud PURPLE and blue Inspiration was the plain sister. I really enjoyed the serenity area and used it quite a bit. Bothtimes I found myself falling asleep while I watched the wake slip away behind us. The public rooms were nice and I was happy to find that more of the casino was given over to non smoking. Not that it made much difference. A non smoking area in a room is as effective as a no pee area in a pool.
Dining The buffet lines in lido were never bad. The food was as usual for lido fare. Good but not special. I always enjoy the early morning coffee and was up before the others in my party having coffee while they slept. One of my favorite things is the croissant rolls and they had plenty.
Mardi Gras Dining Room:I loved the model of the Mardi Gras that stands in the entrance to this dining room. It brought back many fond memories of my cruise on her in 1984. We chose anytime seating and I really enjoyed this. We had an array of dining companions at dinner none were overly friendly beyond a hello. I was disappointed as I like to chat with my table mates. Maybe I am too friendly and outgoing. I found the food to be good and enjoyed the choices. Bev and I shared an order of the alligator fritters and they were good. I was trying to get the courage to order the frog legs. I asked my companions if they would try it if I ordered but they declined. Bev and Sandy both tried the meatloaf. Sandy sent it back and ordered another entree. Bev was less than enthusiastic about it. Bev was more adventurous about trying things which surprised me. I have known her 40 years and she is usually a fussy eater. Sandy had no sense of adventure when it came to food. She stuck mainly to the every day choices. Most days we went to the dining room for lunch and breakfast. We all found the choices and service to be more enjoyable than the buffet line.
Entertainment The production shows could be summed up in one word, Excellent. I always find that Carnival excels in this. One evening they did a line dancing class in the main show room. It was entertaining to watch and Sandy actually got up there and participated. I was in the promenade and heard the "Not So Newlywed Game" going on in the showroom. It made me smile as it brought back memories of watching Ray and Helen participate in this a few times. They were always delightful and always won. The ship had lots going on most of the time. I was disappointed that my friends were bored. I would leave them a copy of the day day schedule before I left the room but it seems they never used it. I would leave them a copy on the dresser every morning when I left. I also told them that they were available in most of the public rooms. They just never knew what was going on and when.
The Ports Grand Cayman Sandy was the only one that went ashore at this port. Bev was intimidated by the tender process. She has trouble with he legs and uses a cane to get around. She and I stayed aboard. Cozumel We all went ashore for this and walked around the shops there. So much has changed there since my last visit. There were more drinking places on the pier where once there was open walkway and great views of the ships. We took a few pictures and browsed the souvenir shops. We went into Diamonds International to dream a bit.
Disembarkation This process was as usual on Carnival. Too many people chose the self disembark in the hopes of getting off earlier. That always seems to end up a mess with too many people trying to manage too much luggage. Eventually they called the rest of us to leave. I was off by 9:00 and there were still self disembark people struggling along. This program needs to be revamped if not scrapped altogether. Leave the luggage handling to the crew and relax. Have another cup of coffee and leave when you are called.
All in all it was a good cruise for me. I always enjoy a cruise under any circumstances.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Brian R. Fey Sr. Western Caribbean November 8, 2008
My Wife and I set sail on the Inspiration for a second time this year, this one was to celebrate my wife's birthday.
For anyone who has read my review of my first cruise on the Carnival Inspiration, you may have noted that our next journey together was to Hawaii to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Tragically, while in Honolulu my wife's mom passed away, bringing a sad and depressing ending to our trip. This set the tone for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. Although nothing can repair that somber trip and memories, I wanted to allow us an opportunity to rebound a bit and a birthday cruise just seemed to be in order.
We set sail on Saturday, November 8th on the 5-day cruise. The day started off perfectly, other than being stranded in our driveway that morning by Super Shuttle who called an hour after they were supposed to pick us up. They said that they could not find a way to get through a triathlon that was underway to getto our house so they CANCELLED our pick-up! Well with no one else at home and my keys locked inside I had to break into the house, get my keys, load the car, and drive at warp factor seven to get to the cruise port. Yes, I found a clear, and legal way to get through the triathlon too!
OK, now I can say that the day was back in the perfection mode. Embarkation was fairly smooth and easy. Once on board it was lunchtime on the Lido deck followed by the required muster drill and the deck party. We were able to get to our cabin around 1:30 and found that the "Happy Birthday" decorations that I ordered from the Carnival website were already up and filled the entire cabin. They were just incredible!
We shoved off around 4:10 and made our way out of Tampa Bay and under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge about 2-hours later. Our first day "fun day at sea" was just that -- Fun! Lot's of activities throughout the day, sunny skies, smooth seas, great food, followed by the formal night in the Mardi Gras dining room. The "new" Maitre d' -- Wilson -- set a very nice tone for each and every dinner, and both the food and service were superior.
Our first stop was Grand Cayman that had just barely escaped a direct impact from Hurricane Palamo just a few days earlier. We did however have to debark from Spots Bay on the south side of the Island. This meant that we had to take a 20-25 minute bus ride to Georgetown for our excursion. We did the "Reef and Rays" snorkel trip that took us out to the barrier reef for 45 minutes of snorkeling and then over to Stingray City to snorkel with some very large stingrays. Despite my own cautions about being stung, I did find the gumption to get close enough to touch and "pet" one. Because of the travel issues of getting both to and from the ship there was no time to stop and tour Georgetown, but it looked like a very clean and friendly town.
The next day we went to Cozumel and once again we took part in the Fury Catamaran Snorkel excursion. To me, this is by far the best value and action packed tour available. Lots of fish to see, including barracuda and plenty of free beer and margaritas too!
On the way back on our second "fun day at sea" it was a little overcast and breezy but nothing that kept anyone away from the pool or from having fun. There were also plenty more great activities throughout the day and night. The new onboard comic -- Percy Cruz 2 -- was hysterical and filled with great humor and energy.
Debarkation day too was smooth and fast-paced and we were back on shore around 8:30.
We had another great time on the Inspiration and in all probability will sail on her again as we only live around 20 minutes away from the cruise port. Nevertheless, our next cruise will undoubtedly be yet another "birthday" cruise -- next October on the Legend for my 50th "Halloween" birthday. Although no one actually likes getting older, I just can't wait to turn 50 on the Carnival Legend!!!!
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Dave the Wave Western Caribbean October 2, 2008
Being a diehard Royal Caribbean fan I decided to give Carnival another try after my ill-fated Sensation cruise exactly 4 years prior. I was pleasantly surprised. A friend asked me to go on this cruise as it was a gift and paid for. How could I say no? Please reference my photo galleries to get the real picture. The Captain was Giulio Basso.
Embarkation The Port of Tampa is 25 miles from home and very easy to get in and out of. Parking in the garage is up to $14 a day now!!! Ouch! We arrived around noon and were onboard having our first beer before 1PM. The large TV's by the pool were nice as the Rays game was on this Thursday October 2nd, 2008. Quite an assortment of fellow cruisers many of whom were from the Bay area and around Florida were gathering on the pool deck for the sail away. This is a great long 4 night weekend! We cruised under a cloudless sky under the Skyway bridge at about 6:30 PM and intothe Gulf of Mexico. Dinner was at 8:15 and we were seated with 3 other couples that were very nice and fun and about our age -- 40's or so. Service was excellent and over the course of the cruise I had a nice steak, lobster, salmon and something else I can't remember. Never tried any desserts as I prefer to save room for drinking.
Fun Day at Sea -- Day 1 I really wanted to see the changes made to the pool decks of this Fantasy class ship. Moving the slides aft and opening up the main pool area was a great idea. Also eliminating the ugly colored tiles and putting the umbrellas and palm trees around the pool was a nice touch. I also checked out the slides and the Serenity deck. Did not use it though as I like to be where the action is. No BS! I committed to following my at home workout routine so I went into the fitness center on the two sea days. Friday morning for my normal chest, shoulders and triceps routine followed by a two mile run. 22 laps around the rubberized (great to run on) track on the top deck. This was immediately followed by a nice cold orange juice and vodka to start the day! We had sunny skies and temps in the 80's. This was the day for the "Hairy Chest Contest" I did not participate in this one but it was fun to watch. The guy that won was also wearing a bad toupee!
Cozumel -- Day 2 This day dawned overcast and rainy which was fine with me. We caught the sunrise from the bow as we approached Cozumel. We had reserved a VW thing for the day and when we arrived at Less Pay Rentals, they did not have it. The guy told me it wasn't running well. Surprise! So we took a Jeep instead that wasn't much better. It was an 80's model with a manual transmission, grinding gears and only worked after a siesta like the Mexicans. I have never circled the island so we thought it would be fun to cruise around to the east or wild side and check out some bars and restaurants along the way. This was a great time. Again reference the photo galleries. We stopped at Margaritaville and then headed back to the ship to enjoy the pool for a couple hours before dinner. In the evening, they had a deck pool party (pool closed!) with the Phillipino rock and roll band. I had my picture taken with Funship Freddie and ended up buying one of the hats.
Fun Day at Sea -- Day 3 Did my back, biceps and abs routine in the well equipped fitness center followed by another 22 laps around the track listening to the Theme from Rocky on my IPOD. Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum and wound up drinking all night. No, actually ran into a friend with a bottle of tequila who made me drink 6 ounces of it right after I finished running and then handed me a beer, so I was well on my way to a good buzz on the last day at sea. We had a good spot near the pool and made a day of fun in the sun with all of our new friends. Sometime in the afternoon I decided to go down the slides in my Speedo and then figured I may as well wear it the rest of the day. It was a big hit around the pool. My Funship Freddie hat and blue Speedo made a great ensemble.
Cruise Director Risa Barnes was not bad but did not see much of her. The Inspiration Singers and Dancers were very good. We saw the Shout show the Friday evening and Fiesta Latina on Sunday. Diana Ford was the featured comedienne and really very funny even though I had never heard of her. The late night comedy the last night she proved to be quite raunchy which I enjoyed. The other entertainment options included the rock and roll bar, a dance club, Rhapsody in Blue piano bar (very fun) and the Candlelight Lounge that was used for the comedy shows and Karaoke. I sang "Why Don't We Get Drunk" the first night and a great rendition of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" the last night.
Overall this was a great cruise for a 4 nighter. As a big RCI fan I always found myself making comparisons. You would have to compare this vintage ship to RCI's Vision or Sovereign class which I have sailed extensively. Overall, the food and service were about equal -- to my surprise. The actual ship was not as elegant and nice as any of RCI's but it was clean and well kept. The cabin was not much bigger and did not have the nice little storage around the dressing table. I much prefer the big mirrors on the wall in RCI inside cabins to the fake window of Carnival. I still like the bigger and nice pool areas on RCI. But I hate to admit, the lounges and entertainment options were better on this Carnival cruise.
I would recommend this cruise to anyone. If you have any questions PM or email me.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by ShotoJuku Western Caribbean May 1, 2008
To begin, my wife and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary (in style) aboard the Carnival Inspiration that sailed out of Tampa to Cozumel on May 1st 2008 -- 25 years to the day that we both said "I DO" to one another. This was our first cruise.
As many others have stated in their reviews, each day of the 4-day cruise was packed with fun and excitement throughout each and every day; it just never seemed to stop.
In general, the ship is amazing and befitting her name -- "Inspiration." The ship had recently gone through a refit of sorts and everything seemed to sparkle and shine. The food was plentiful and incredible while the entertainment was exciting and professionally produced. Our accommodations (an oceanview room) were extremely spacious and exceptionally clean. It seemed that every time we turned around, the wait staff went out of their way to ensure that either our table was clean, glasses were full and that we never really had to ask for a thing.
The formal dining was top-notch with attentive waiters and dynamic cuisine.Here again we were overwhelmed with the high level of the professional staff and exquisite meals -- OPA!!!
When on Cozumel my wife and I experienced the "Fury Catamaran" excursion that consisted of a great day out on the water on a catamaran followed by snorkeling in the clear turquoise water, and kayaking off the beach. An overall great excursion!
Although this was our first cruise, it will not be our last as we are looking forward to, planning and saving for our next -- Carnival Legend anyone?
In the interim we are (flying) to Oahu, Hawaii in July 2008 for an extension of our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration. So until our next cruise review all I can say is Aloha!
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Becky Western Caribbean March 10, 2008
Just back from the Carnival Inspiration, and we had a fabulous time. I had some concerns in advance of this trip about this ship, so I hope my comments are helpful to others reading here. I am a single mom, traveling with my 21 yr old daughter, celebrating her Spring Break from UNC (Go Heels!) and her legal adulthood. This is my fourth cruise, second on Carnival.
I bought this trip because it was cheap, we have good direct flights to Tampa, and we couldn't do 7 days, but I was concerned that this was a second-tier ship that had received some mediocre reviews. For others with similar concerns, you have nothing to worry about! The staff was excellent, the entertainment was great (better than my last RCCL cruise), the food was very good, and the fun factor was outstanding. Our mid-March trip was heavy with Spring Break college kids, and there were a few visible cases of drunkenness, but overall the kids were great. They add a lot of life to the cruise, participate in the activities, and were respectfuland well-behaved. The disco was open until the wee hours, and they packed it up. We spent a lot of late nights in the Karaoki lounge, and the college kids were enthusiastic, and often quite talented.
Embarkation was smooth. We were at the Port by 9:00AM due to an early flight, and it is safe and pleasant to walk around, but nothing much is open. We used a porter to take our luggage, and it arrived safely at our cabin around 2:30PM. Carnival let us into the terminal about 10:30AM, processing took less than 5 minutes with the online Fun Pass completed. We had to wait until about 11:30AM to board, but lunch was waiting and life was good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Brasserie every day, and the selection is outstanding and the quality generally very good. They have a great salad bar every day. We had late dinner, so we often stopped in for some bread and cheese to tide us over until 8:30 dinner. The breads were great, especially the foccacia.
Carnival did a great job of seating us at a table for eight with other adults traveling with college-age kids. We made good friends immediately with another mother/daughter team from our dinner table. The service was excellent, and the food was generally excellent too. Stay away from ethnic food: the Italian and Mexican dishes were a bit off. But the beef is always an outstanding choice, the lobster was great, and I was told the chicken was good too. Fish can be good, but also risky -- I think it is harder to keep it warm for lengthy periods and it can dry out. The salads were very good, especially the Caesar and spinach w/ walnuts and blue cheese. Per the Carnival allowance, I brought two bottles of wine on board with me, brought them to the dining room opened (on formal night and the last night), and our waiters gladly poured without hassle or charge.
After dinner, we did the show every night. Do not miss the Shout show, or the Latin show, which are both terrific. The dance troupe is excellent, but the ballet/contortionists Dmitri and Maria are unbelievable. I was thrilled with the quality of the entertainment, great costumes, and great production values. The magician and comedians were also good, although the adult-comedy gets a bit raunchy for me.
The musicians on this cruise were outstanding. The Caribbean deck band, the Filipino bar band, the lobby piano player, and the ship's orchestra were all just terrific. There is good music to be found almost any time of the day or night, and my main complaint is that I could not find any single male swing dancers!
One complaint about this itinerary is the stop in Grand Cayman is too short. The ship leaves by 2PM, so it is a very limited day. We booked the sting ray trip with Native Way ahead of time, and could have bought it for $10 less at the dock. Sting Ray reef is like Grand Central Station, but I guess that is typical -- there were five ships in port that day. The sting rays were very cool, however, and I'm glad we did it. The snorkel site they took us to was not worth the stop. We hit Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville on the way back and gulped hard at the prices in Cayman dollars, $30 US for two margaritas and some chips! It was packed though.
I had planned to go to the national park in Cozumel, but my daughter wanted to go with her new friends to Playa Mia (?), where $49 each buys unlimited watered down drinks, a lunch buffet (mediocre), clean bathrooms, an OK beach, a small pool, use of non-motorized water toys, a formed-fiberglass beach chair that does not allow sunbathing on one's stomach, and a huge crowd. Umbrella is extra -- that irritated me. Add taxi for $14 each way. But T-shirts and other souvenirs are still cheap in Cozumel, and there are plenty to choose from in the gauntlet of shops you must transverse to get on and off the ship.
Some other notes: No hair dryers in the rooms, but available from the steward at no charge. I brought mine, but couldn't plug it in because the transformer plug was too big for the outlet (hard to explain). Shampoo and shower gel dispenser in the shower, but bring cream rinse. Bathrobes provided, very nice. Beds were great, again better than RCCL last year. My only complaint is that the Inspiration is UGLY -- worst decor I've ever seen, black glass and horrible neon, and weird sculptures that look like they were lost from a sci-fi movie set. I was appalled when we first walked on board, but you get used to it.
We had an early flight back, carried our luggage off, and were able to disembark by about 8:15AM. Cabs were waiting, standard $22 to the airport. Easy. I highly recommend the Inspiration, and feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by SkyMaster Western Caribbean March 10, 2008
We sailed "Inspiration" on Monday, March 10th, 2008, and our first impression was very, very positive, as the port of Tampa was very easy to do, as far as parking, and getting aboard the ship. We literally "walked aboard" and were at the buffet by 11:45 A.M. Our cabin, M10 was outstanding, with excellent service, and plenty of room. We found all of the recent upgrades GREAT, and especially liked the serenity area, but also found that it was a bit too small, as it was difficult to find a lounger on sea days. The only thing that area lacks is a shower to cool off on hot days.
Entertainment was outstanding, with two big production shows, and various other acts, and activities. The only down side was comedian "Kenny Miller," who we had heard before, and who hasn't gotten any better over time. I'd recommend skipping his show and opting for something better, perhaps karaoke or the piano bar.
Food and service in the Mardi-Gras dining room was excellent. Our waiter and bus-boy went out of their way toserve us. Food was very, very good.
We've cruised so many times that we seldom leave the ship, and opt for long quiet days aboard ship by ourselves, while others go ashore to enjoy their excursions. We especially enjoyed the serenity area during those times.
We sailed during Spring Break, and I was a little bit concerned about rowdy youngsters, but I must say, that all the kids aboard, and yes there were a lot of them, were very well behaved. In fact, we really enjoyed talking to them, and found them to be very respectful, and very wonderful young people! I'd cruise with any of them again in a heartbeat!
The ship overall, looks outstanding, with new carpet, new upholstery in the lounges and dining room, and lots of new stuff in the cabins, including new flat screen t.v.'s both in the cabins, and throughout the ship. The new "water works" or whatever it's called is great as well. I didn't try the new slides, but they certainly looked like fun. Guess I'll have to do that on the next cruise.
Disembarkation was very easy at Tampa once again. We are Platinum, which got us off the ship right after the "self assist", so we were back on dry land by 9 a.m., and on our long trip back to Lakeland, Florida, some 40 miles away.
All in all, a GREAT cruise, one that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Stacie Renee Western Caribbean February 25, 2008
We booked our first cruise for a 5-day trip from Tampa to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and then back to Tampa again. Since we live close to Tampa we drove and parked in the long-term parking which costs about 60 dollars total. The Port Authority was close by and not a long walk from the parking garage at all. I thought getting through Port Authority was going to be a nightmare, but once there porters will take your bags and it is customary to tip $1 per bag. It took about 40 minutes the get through the security checks; have your picture taken for your sign and sail card that is tied to your credit card and then on to the ship! We arrived around 1:30 and lounged around the lido deck. First thing you will notice is the offering of the drink special of the day. You get a tall souvenir glass for about 7 dollars and then discounted refills. The drinks were not bad and they did not skimp on the alcohol at all. After that wegot lunch in the Brasserie Grill. The food was great with a hot buffet, salad bar, sandwich station, pizza station and many types of desserts. After 2PM we were allowed to get into our room. Greg our steward was very courteous and introduced himself to us both. Even after, every time he sees you he will address you by name, which was really nice. In fact every single crewmember says hello with a genuine "hello." Every day our room was made with chocolates, fresh towels and towel animals and they put our personal sunglasses and hats on them. It was hilarious.
Before we set sail at 4PM we had to muster for an emergency drill. We read the information posted on our door about our muster station. Took the life vests from the top shelf of our closets, met at our muster station (the Paris Lounge), listened to the instructions, did the drill in front of the lifeboats and that's it. Painless. It took about 40 minutes in all.
The ship was in good condition and I was expecting worse because of the other reviews. This being my first cruise however, what do I know? But, I did not see any broken glass or laminate peeling off. Maybe I was just in areas where I did not see that. I also didn't see people smoking except where there were designated areas in some of the lounges and casinos. The ship has a very good ventilation system and it was contained nicely. My boyfriend liked to smoke his port-acquired cigars (stinky) and the air was contained and filtered nicely. I was also apprehensive because I've read some reviews that it was a drunken party ship or a college party ship. Maybe we went while college was in session but we had a good mix of families, seniors, young party kids and middle aged people. There were late night parties on the lido deck that were fun and rambunctious but every adult had a great time. The only complaint I have is that our room was a connecting room. We did not know that at the time but looking at the ship deck map online, I now know what the little triangle meant. Duh. If you get a connecting room, be prepared to hear every single uttered word from your neighbors. They weren't even trying to talk loud. They were just talking normally and you can hear every word, sigh, everything. Don't get a connecting door in your room because there is no sound proofing at all.
One of the neat things about the staff is that they are from all over the globe from Indonesia to Britton. Their name and country will be on their nametag and it was interesting to meet the crew, talk with them and learn about them.
Our mealtime was in the Mardi Grass dining room for 6:15. We were lucky because we got a two-person table and didn't have to sit with people that we don't know, plus, it was a romantic getaway so it was perfect for us. Our headwaiter and his assistant were excellent. I'm sorry, I do not remember the headwaiter's name but Ely, the assistant, was from the Philippians and told us he had been working for Carnival for 10 years for 8 month stretches at a time. It is all done to support his wife and three kids and he hopes to retire soon. He smiled the whole time, ran around with controlled urgency to serve everyone, and did so very happily. It was nice to see him entertain and play with the kids at the table next to us. They both were great. The food was very good and each meal had a vegetarian option for me and filet minion, T-bone etc. for my boyfriend. There was also a very nice choice of starters, salad, and desserts including wines and cheeses. It was probably some of the best dining experience I've ever had. All that and each night they danced, sang and even got everyone included in a conga line.
There was one formal night and it was great. Every one dressed up and it was like being able to go to prom all over again. Throughout the trip there will be photographers set up to capture your every moment. We had many pictures taken by about 5 photographers but by far all the pictures that we purchased were by a man named Dimitri from Belarus. As we were narrowing down our choices we noticed all the pictures we choose were all done by him. His pictures were very professional and made me look awesome and in the top of the best professional pictures I've ever had taken in my life as well. The pictures are 8x10 and they are posted in the Promenade deck. If you don't want to purchase them you don't have to, but they are $21.95 per photo so it can get expensive. Dimitri's photos were worth it.
We got to the Grand Cayman and I had booked the shore snorkel adventure. I would not recommend this one because the snorkeling site was not very spectacular as there were not many fish or coral to see. It was also very hard to get in and out of the water without someone pulling me out so I mostly sat on the tiny little beach. Getting back to the right ship was confusion and pandemonium. There are not piers in Grand Cayman so you have to take the right ferry back to the ship. That day, there were 4 other ships and the ship's ferries were not very well marked until you got right up to it. I passed it once, and there were so many people butt to butt all over the street I wasn't even sure I was going the right way. My boyfriend booked the "Off the Beaten Path" Jeep tour excursion. He drove but got stuck with a couple of women who did not like the bumps so he had to drive around them which missed the whole point of being "off the beaten path." If you book this one, be in a group of four.
Cozumel was awesome and my favorite photographer, Dimitri, was one of the crew showing us onto the Pier. You start to notice the same crew working different jobs and they do work their fanny off. We booked the Myan Ruins of Tulum. It took a 40-minute boat ride to mainland Mexico. Now, let me warn you that the waters are very choppy and you will get sick. At the beginning of the boat ride a nice woman passed out bags to everyone. I didn't make it as well as about 5 other people. The Boat is equipped with many restrooms though. If you purchase Dramamine from "la farmacia" it will cost you 12 US dollars or you can get the Mexican branded equivalent called Vomisin for 6 US dollars. Just be prepared. Then, we took an hour air-conditioned bus ride to the ruins and were entertained by our tour guide Carlos who was a descendent of the Myan people. He was very informative, entertaining and shared some Myan as well as Spanish language with us. He was very educational while explaining the purpose of the temples, how they were discovered, and the ancient people. We were then given an hour to explore on our own before we had to be on the bus. The walled Mayan city is built on a cliff that over-looks the most beautiful beach. I just wish we had more time to spend there.
For your expenses, everything is paid with your sign and sail card that you assign a credit card to. Extra expenses can add up like the $21.95 per photo but I also spent $99.00 on a "spa taster" which included a facial and back massage. The therapist I had was very knowledgeable and I was pleasantly surprised at her knowledge of sports massage, shiatsu and human physiology. I've had an on-going muscular problem and she took extra time with me, which was really nice and unexpected.
Additional charges will include 10 dollars per day per person so there will be another 50-dollar charge on your sign and sail account. This is for tipping all the waiters and stewards. It makes it very nice to not have to remember to tip everyone but they did such an excellent job and really go out of their way to make you happy that we gave them more.
If you get any drinks from the bar, alcohol or soda, (even in the main dining room) it will cost extra. For soda, you can buy a 20-dollar soda card for unlimited glasses. If you frequent the sushi bar, Café Des Artistes, or Internet café, spa, or special classes like kickboxing you will pay extra charges as well. Only your dining room and Brasserie Grill, coffee, tea and juice beverages are completely free.
Debarkation day went smooth. The day before, there was a debarkation briefing in the Paris lounge, which we didn't attend. There is, however, a channel on TV that runs Carnival information, which I called the "ship show." On that day they re-ran the taping of the briefing. It gave us all the information we needed to know from the breakdown of how to fill out your US customs forms and declaring what you are bringing in to the U.S., when and how to debark. It also informed me that I couldn't take my roses off the ship because of customs. So, Carnival does an excellent job informing you of the who, what, when, where and how's. In fact, people from other ships at the ports were complaining their cruise ship company didn't inform them of returning times, etc. We didn't have a problem with that with Carnival.
All in all it was an excellent time.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Ashley Abbott Western Caribbean February 7, 2008
Day Before Flew into Tampa the day before the cruise to explore the city. My friend Sarah, who was joining me on the cruise, had lived in Tampa until she was 10 years old. We rented a car so she could see all of the changes and the house she grew up in. We headed to Clearwater to walk on the beach and enjoy the Sunset. Very pretty! Over all I really enjoyed my time in Tampa. We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn near the airport. It actually ended up being a great choice in that it was clean and perfectly located to the airport and the Port. A good price (thru Hotwire) and served its purpose for 1 night accommodations.
Embarkation Day We drove around the Tampa Bay area and found ourselves at the Cruise Terminal around 11am. Before we returned our rental car we decided to drop off our luggage with the porters. It took 2 mins for them to take our luggage and for us to tip them. We then headed to the Marriott amile away from the Terminal to drop off the car. Hertz had a Shuttle that took us back. This whole process took less than 15mins. We were back at 11:30. The check-in process was smooth and amazing. We had checked in by 11:45 and were on the ship no later than 12:15, though we couldn't get into our room until 1:30. Everyone that we encountered was very friendly. One thing I thought was a good change was that you took the picture for your S&S card before you left the terminal, not when you entered the boat like the other 2 cruises I have done. Helps with gridlock entering onto the ship.
We walked into the Atrium and it was BRIGHT! It looked very similar to the Elation which was my 1st ship. You can tell the ship has had a face lift and everything looked so shiny and new. We walked around for a few mins and then headed up to the Lido Deck to grab lunch. We found the typical offerings and enjoyed our lunch at the aft window in the restaurant. Yummy as always.
When we finished lunch we walked up to the renovated "Evolutions of Fun" area. It LOOKS amazing. Granted I am not a waterslide fan but it looked great and I can see why everyone has been raving about this upgrade. It's worth raving about. We also ventured to the Serenity area which is great as well. Though good luck on EVER getting a seat as EVERY last one of them everyday was either being saved or occupied.
The main pool area has been improved as well and the renovation is nice. It looked a bit more like the Conquest ship with the tiled area around the pool. And it had nice benches and stools with umbrellas around it.
We finally were allowed to head to the room. We were in room R66 which is a 1A and was right beside the Mid-ship elevator bank. It's in the very middle of the Rivera deck. This was the 1st inside Cabin that we have booked and I admit I was a bit nervous about it. This nervousness was unfounded though. Our room ended up being great and much more spacious than I ever would have expected. The layout worked really well too. It had 1 bed and 1 bunk that were perpendicular to each other. I slept on the bunk and I loved it! I would not hesitate to book this category room for a shorter cruise (for our 7 day cruises I can't give up my OV). My only complaint was that the bunk was folded up when we arrived and was that way until we returned from Dinner. I felt bad for lounging on part of Sarah's bed while we were relaxing before getting ready for dinner.
Our room steward, Jamor, stopped by to introduce himself. Jamor, BY FAR, has been the best room steward that we have EVER had. Very polite, responsive, and did a great job. I asked him in our initial meeting if he would leave the bunk down instead of folding it away. This was not a problem at all. In addition to all of that we were treated to 4 amazing towel animals, which Sarah and I had not seen before (cat, turtle, crab, frog). This was the 1st cruise that we ever left anything extra for our steward and he deserved it too.
One cool thing about sailing out of Tampa is going under the Sunshine Bridge. The ship's funnel clears it by about 9 feet. Huge groups were outside watching. It was quite the sight. Also it was VERY windy, and people on the front of the ship were having a hard time walking against the wind. I will try to post some video of it soon.
Food wise, dinner was great, however Sarah and I were the only 2 people who showed up at a 10-person table. We are best friends and all, but meeting people at dinner has been one of the highlights of every cruise. We talked with the Matire'd and he said that if no one showed up the next night we could move to the table behind us (which we ended up doing).
We went to the Welcome Aboard show, which is the same as the other cruises. Our Cruise Director Felipe and the social staff were introduced. Felipe chatted for a few mins and then comedian Kenny Miller did his "clean" act. He was pretty funny.
After the show we just walked around and then headed back to the room to go to bed.
Day 1 -- At Sea The weather was BEAUTIFUL though a bit windy. It actually was nice because you never got hot. Heck I don't even think I broke a sweat. While on deck we watched the Ice Sculpture demo. During this time I learned that Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel and her crew were onboard taping a show. She did some of the sculpture and talked with the man doing the sculpting (and Felipe was the one emceeing the event). They had a woman carrying around the Waiver board, which basically said that by being on deck we agreed to be filmed.
Then came the hairy chest contest which is always funny. Sarah and I went inside to do one of our favorite activities -- BINGO. Wouldn't you know it? We FINALLY WON! It would have been $250 dollars if someone else hadn't called it as well! Blah! We were on cloud nine and we walked our butts up to the spa deck and booked a Port day Massage special and then went down to the purser's desk and put the money on our S&S cards. It paid for half of it.
We played some trivia, grabbed some sushi, and headed to dinner. After dinner was the production show SHOUT. The show itself was good though I must say I wasn't too impressed with the execution. The male dancers were NEVER in sync and were to the point of being distracting at times. This aside, the women were pretty good, the singers ok, however they had a couple featured in the shows and they were AMAZING!
After Shout, Kenny Miller did his R-rated comedy show. He was funny, but he was no Happy Cole!
Day 2 -- Cozumel Sarah and I had decided to do the Jeep 4x4 Cavern/Snorkel beach combo excursion thru Carnival. We really enjoyed this and would recommend it. We took a ferry over to the mainland. Afterwards we met up with our guides Kekay and Ruben who were great. We snorkeled in this amazing cavern about 20 mins drive from the ferry and then we drove 25 mins to a remote beach. At the beach we had an amazing lunch and had some time to just chill and relax in this oasis. My only negative comments about this excursion were that though the caverns were amazing, I would have liked to have had more time at the Beach. On the Jeep ride back to catch the ferry, Ruben halted the line of Jeeps and we had to pull the tops on. This was a good thing because about 2 mins later the sky opened up and dumped tons of rain on us.
After we returned to Cozumel we went shopping, for about an hour, rolled our eyes at those at Carlos and Charlie's and headed back to the ship to clean up before our massages.
As for the massage, it was wonderful. I upgraded and added hot stones. It was worth the price. Glennda did a wonderful job and did the required sales pitch afterwards. I however was not swayed. From what I was told, Sarah enjoyed her massage as well! 4 thumbs up for the newly renovated Spa Carnival! Our only complaint was that in the new Relaxation room they had this wonderful serene music playing and then the flat screen TV was showing CNN and all of the election drama. Not very relaxing.
Now for the funniest part of our cruise. Sarah and I decided that we wanted to do the Battle of the Sexes Trivia. It started around 7:30pm. We got there and only about 10 people were there. Sarah was picked to be the women's captain. She did a great job and at the end of the questions the women were up. Then Phil and Morganna (our 2 favorite social hosts) said it was time for the Physical part of the challenge. Sarah was told to pick 4 people who could run and jump and not have a heart attack. Sarah picked me, and 2 other women, and she competed as well. We were told to blow up a Balloon the size of our head and tie it off, place it between our knees, put a T-shirt over our clothes, and a straw hat our on heads. We then had to hop down the stage stairs, down the middle aisle, around the back of the bench seats and up the sides back to the stage, hop back up and pop the balloon which then signaled the next person to go. I was the 1st for the ladies. Blew up the balloon, had the shirt and hat on and hopped my little heart out. I popped the balloon and before I knew it the other girls were helping to remove the t-shirt. However they didn't realize that they had lifted MY shirt up in the process. I started screaming, MY SHIRT!!!! The audience (that had grown to about 400 people since trivia ran late and bingo was next) did a collective GASP and Phil the Social Host just doubled over laughing and screaming. I just fell on the stage laughing all while pulling my shirt down. Everyone in the place was red from laughing so hard. It was hysterical and I of course was mortified. Anyway, the girls came from behind and pulled out the defeat. My flashing of 500 people was not in vain. I bared my chest and all I got was a lousy Carnival medal! I should have at least won a 24-carat ship on a stick!
Dinner was great and this was the 1st night at our new table, which was the table right behind the original one. We had a new waiter who wasn't half as good as our first one and he really wasn't all that nice. It was sweet because our 1st waiter and his assistant kept coming by and asking if we were doing ok. We told him numerous times that we missed him!
After dinner there was a Magic show and the comedian Brad Tassel. Both were pretty good. Then came the Pirate Invasion Deck party, which was a BLAST! Phil and Morganna were AWESOME! There was lots of dancing and people just having a blast. Shortly after the official party was over it started storming pretty hard and most people cleared off the Lido deck. This was our sign to head to bed after a VERY full and exhausting day.
Day 3 -- At Sea After an exhausting day Sarah and I slept in a little. We were up and ready to go around 10am. We ate breakfast and then headed to the lido to grab a chair for the daily festivities. The sun was shining and it was beautiful, however the wind was blowing very, very hard. I honestly never took off my cover-up pants. It was a little too much wind to be comfortable for me. Granted there were others in their bikinis that seemed to be fine, but I was freezing. We watched Survivor at Sea, which was funny as always, and about the time it was over my ears were hurting from the wind.
Sarah decided to try out the Water Slides (I am personally not a fan). She raved about them and went down a few times. She said it would be hard to go on a ship that doesn't have them. Also while she was back there Samantha Brown was going down as well, however unlike Sarah, she was holding a camera and had to go down multiple times with said camera. Samantha said she enjoyed them very much.
After we went inside we tried to our hand at the Win a Cruise Raffle and to win again at Bingo. Our efforts were not successful though. We wandered around a little more and then decided to get ready for dinner and pack.
The late seating had the early show, which was Fiesta Latina. Most people raved about it. I wasn't overly impressed except for the featured couple (Dmitri and ____). Dinner again was wonderful and the waiter FINALLY cracked a smile. I guess my North Carolina charm finally wore him down!
We went to Brad Tassel's R-rated comedy show, which actually was MUCH better than the clean one. And all in all it wasn't really that scandalous.
We headed back to the room to finish packing and to put our bags out for the next day.
Day 4 -- Disembarkation Sarah and I were in group 22 since we had later flights. We went to eat a leisurely breakfast and just walked around 1 last time to say good by to the Inspiration. We headed back to the room to grab our stuff and head to the Promenade deck until our number was called. We were off the ship by 10 and headed to our prearranged post cruise transfer to the airport. We waited on the bus for about 30 mins before we left for the airport. We were there no later than 10:45.
All in all, it was a very smooth disembarkation. There is nothing I can really complain about.
Final Thoughts I had a wonderful time on this cruise! The social staff was AMAZING and we had a blast getting to know them. Felipe our CD was awesome and the most visible CD that we have ever had. (I think he is actually an assistant CD, but since Risa Barnes was at the CD conference on the Victory, he was filling in.) He was great and Sarah and I enjoyed chatting with him quite a few times. There were over 290 Red Hatters on our sailing. This was the only down side. I am sorry if I offend anyone, but every single one that I encountered on the ship was unpleasant. Quite a few other non-Hatter passengers that we talked with ran into the same issue. They were especially nasty when it came to seats and seat saving in the lounge even though Felipe and Phil mentioned quite a few times that it wasn't allowed. Anyway, I know that not EVERY Red Hatter is the same and I am sure there are nice ones around. I just never experienced them first-hand on this cruise.
The renovations were noticeable and were amazing! I can't wait for everyone to experience it themselves! After sailing on the Glory, a Conquest class Ship, I must say that I prefer the smaller ships. Honestly, with the renovations I wouldn't hesitate to pick a Fantasy class over a Conquest class any day!
Sorry this ended up being longer than I originally planned. Hope it was helpful and enjoyable!